Moldbug’s concept of passivism is one of his least understood. Passivism means that a simple procedure is required to gain power.
- Become worthy
- Accept power
At first glance, the procedure seems absurdly simplistic. Are you saying that all I need to do is sit around and blog post in order to rule a country? Passivism also means that one who desires authority must reject any claims to authority. This assertion rubs many folks on the Alt Right the wrong way since it would seem to mean that all public activism is pointless. Moldbug observed that the demonstrations of the 1960’s were actually a victory lap for the left. The political left had already assumed power (De Facto), by gaining control of almost all of the institutions that matter. (Courts, Media, Universities) The ability to stage unruly public demonstrations simply formalized the fact that they were assuming power. (De Jure) The few remaining nominally right wing institutions (police, military) failed to prevent lawlessness in the streets.
Let us consider these two objections in order. Of course, we must do more than internet activity to rule a country. A more detailed procedure might read:
- Become worthy
1a. Be seen as worthy by people that matter.
- Accept power
Who matters? The common people like me do not matter much. A reactionary does not seek a peasant’s revolt. Occasionally a charismatic individual or group is able to gather enough popular support to motivate torches and pitchforks. The problem with a peasant’s revolt against the problems caused by leftism is that the peasants will demand even more leftism as the fix. We are hungry. We want better health care! Give us stuff!
If commoners do not matter then perhaps, the military is the solution. All power comes out of the barrel of a gun after all, but military organizations are highly hierarchical. The subject of why soldiers obey orders at all, and how they choose whom to obey is one on which a great deal of ink has been spilled. It is unlikely that a successful military coup would occur unless at least a few higher officers were involved.
People that matter are only those who have the ability to grant the transfer of power, or facilitate others to transfer power. In some societies, the only people that matter are those who command the guns—North Korea comes to mind. Fear, coercion, or intimidation is powerful motivation. In the west, power is usually a bit more subtle. Good governments are those that provide transparency and consistency. The west is a lower trust society than it was in 1960; however, the west is still a better place to do business than most of the world.
I need to buy a new bar for my chainsaw. I may choose to buy it online from either Wal-Mart site to store, Amazon, or Ebay. If I chose to buy the bar from any of those three, I am actually purchasing the bar from a vendor, who has been granted the privilege of selling in that online space. Even Wal-Mart is not really the seller—I just get the bar through Wally’s website and distribution network. Wal-Mart, Ebay, or Amazon is actually selling governance. These online giants have created a set of rules for participating in a marketplace, and a means for redressing grievances if transactions do not go as expected. Ebay in a sense is doing a better job governing than most of the US court system. I will choose to get my chain saw parts through the governing body that seems to offer the lowest total transaction cost. (Time, money, hassle)
Global capital functions in a similar manner. No sane billionaire invests billions in Zimbabwe. The cost of labor and land in Zimbabwe may be low, but the overall cost there is high. Governments such as the EU or USG offer a better overall deal. The US dollar has often been referred to as the cleanest dirty shirt in the drawer. Global crony capitalism has many flaws, but still offers a good return on investment. Moneyed and powerful people will not support an alternative to globalism until the alternative is seen as being a lower cost option. This could be done by creating a system, which offers transactions that are more truthful. Stamping out corruption, creating a better court system, and using stable fiscal and monetary policy, are all means of increasing transparency. The other option is less appealing—raise the cost of the status quo. (As the IRA did in Ireland)
The second objection, that passivism means abstaining from all public activism, is in the process of resolving itself. A major Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA did not go as well as the organizers had hoped. Most of the key figures in the Alt Right have taken on a slightly different tone post C-Ville. Public events will still take place, but certain of the more inflammatory symbols are discouraged. Participants are told to obey all state and local laws to the letter. Protests are geared toward raising awareness of the threat to heritage, hearth, and home. Unlike the militia movement of the 1970’s, who ran about with guns, and even robbed a bank on one occasion, today’s Alt Right is trying to appear worthy. Critics may say that the Alt Right does not have all the answers, but remember that no governing body needs to be perfect. We just need to be slightly cleaner dirty shirt than USG.