Curtis Yarvin

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Curtis Guy Yarvin
Mencius Moldbug.jpg
Yarvin's speaker biography photo from the 2012 BIL Conference
Born 1973 (age 43–44)[1]
Residence San Francisco, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Mencius Moldbug
Alma mater
Website Unqualified Reservations
School

Curtis Guy Yarvin (born 1973), also known by his pen name Mencius Moldbug, is an American computer scientist, political theorist, and neoreactionary thinker.[1] His writings have played a foundational role in the formation of the neoreactionary movement.[5] He is the creator of the Urbit computing platform,[6][7] through his startup company Tlon (backed by Peter Thiel),[8] and the author of the blog Unqualified Reservations.

Yarvin's work on neoreaction inspired English philosopher Nick Land to brand the wider neoreaction-sympathetic movement the Dark Enlightenment.[9] Neoreaction and the Dark Enlightenment form part of the philosophical underpinnings of the alt-right.[1][10]

Life

Yarvin dropped out of a graduate computer science program at U. C. Berkeley in the early 1990s[11] and helped code a WAP browser for a large startup in 1998, making enough money to support his life as a scholar for several years.[citation needed]

Philosophy and politics

Yarvin originally called his political philosophy of insisting on the alignment of property rights with political power formalism,[9][12] from the concept of legal formalism, although he later renamed it neocameralism, explaining, "The word is mainly picked for its Google virginity, but it should also be reminiscent of cameralism, the governing philosophy of Frederick the Great, whose Anti-Machiavel is good reading for anyone wondering what went wrong in the 19th and 20th centuries."[13]

The label "neo-reactionary" was applied to Yarvin's philosophy by Arnold Kling in 2010 and adopted by Yarvin's followers;[9] Yarvin accepts the label but self-labels as "restorationist", explaining that the restoration he has in mind is a sovereign bankruptcy with restructuring to produce "a new era in which secure, responsible and effective government is as easy to take for granted as tap-water you can drink, electricity that is always on, or a search engine that returns porn only if you searched for porn."[14] Yarvin differs from monarchist neoreactionaries in that under his proposed system, neocameralism, governments would be organized as joint-stock republics.[15]

Although Yarvin once considered himself a Misesian, he later became a Carlylean. He notes, "When I went from Misesian to Carlylean, my vision of the ideal state did not change. I, and others like me, want to live and should be able to live in a liberal regime of spontaneous order, which is not planned from above but emerges through the natural, uncontrolled interaction of free human atoms. Hayek in particular, though no Mises, is eloquent here. What my conversion to the cult of Carlyle has changed - completely - is my understanding of the means by which this free society must be achieved."

Yarvin describes himself as a royalist because, he says, "all organizations, big or small, public or private, military or civilian, are managed best when managed by a single executive. Hence: royalism. However he or she is selected, the title of such an executive, in a sovereign capacity, is King - or, at least, anything else is a euphemism."[16] He prefers his refined form of royalism, neocameralism, because it eliminates hereditary rule in favor of hiring the best executives regardless of bloodlines or nationality. While finding "libertarian government an extremely desirable outcome" he notes he does not consider himself a libertarian because, he says, "as a moral imperative, or a political design, or a historical tradition, libertarianism does not strike me as an effective means to this end."[17] Rather, he views neocameralism as a more effective way of achieving libertarian goals by aligning self-interested financial responsibility with moral responsibility.[18]

Yarvin also describes himself as an extremist[19], a pronomian (pro-law).[20] and a Jacobite (not to be confused with Jacobin).[21] He denies being an anarchist,[22] an anarcho-capitalist,[23] an anti-Semite,[24] a fascist,[25] or a white nationalist.[26] He views progressivism as the opposite of his philosophy,[27] explaining that in his view, "Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime" and that he has chosen "to construct a very clean value system in which order is simply good, and chaos is simply evil."[28]

Yarvin views U.S. President Donald Trump as having "no ideology at all" but says that he would like to see "a CEO with a real track record of strategic execution in a large enterprise — an Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — running against Trump" regardless of ideology.[29]

Public attention

Yarvin came to public attention in February, 2017 when Politico magazine reported that Steve Bannon, who served as White House Chief Strategist under U.S. President Donald Trump, read Yarvin's blog and that Yarvin "has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary..."[30] The story was picked up by other magazines and newspapers, including the Atlantic, the Independent, and Mother Jones.[31][32][33] Yarvin commented, "I have never met Steve Bannon or communicated with him, directly or indirectly."[34]

Controversy

Yarvin's opinions have been described as racist, with his writings interpreted as supportive of slavery, including the belief that whites have higher IQs than blacks for genetic reasons. Yarvin himself maintains that he is not a racist because, while he doubts that "all races are equally smart," the notion "that people who score higher on IQ tests are in some sense superior human beings" is "creepy". He also disputes being an "outspoken advocate for slavery",[6][35] but has argued that some races are more suited to slavery than others.[36] Yarvin regards the idea of human neurological uniformity as "a mutated and metastasized version of the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light. Basically, all humans must be neurologically uniform because we all have the same little piece of God inside us" and argues, "Thus what we call hate speech is merely a 20th-century name for the age-old crime of blasphemy."[37]

In 2015, his invitation to speak about Urbit at the Strange Loop programming conference was rescinded following complaints made by other attendees.[38][35] In 2016, his invitation to the LambdaConf functional programming conference resulted in the withdrawal of five speakers, two subconferences and several sponsors.[6][39]

Personal life

Yarvin's father is Jewish.[40]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kirchick, James (16 May 2016). "Trump's Terrifying Online Brigades". Commentary Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2016. 
  2. Stanley; et al. (1 September 1988). "SMPY College Freshmen". Precollege Newsletter. Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth at Johns Hopkins University (10): 2. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Yarvin, Curtis; Bukowski, Richard; Anderson, Thomas (June 1993). "Anonymous RPC: Low-Latency Protection in a 64-Bit Address Space" (PDF). Proceedings of the USENIX Summer 1993 Technical Conference. USENIX: 175–186. 
  4. Johnson, Eliana (7 February 2017). "What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read". Politico. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  5. Dyga, Edwin (14 October 2014). "The Future of Australian Conservatism". Quadrant. 58 (10): 46–58. ISSN 0033-5002. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Townsend, Tess (31 March 2016). "Why It Matters That An Obscure Programming Conference Is Hosting 'Mencius Moldbug'". Inc.com. 
  7. van Wirdum, Aaron (11 July 2016). "Urbit: The Bold Pitch to Re-Decentralize the Internet, on Top of the Internet". bitcoinmagazine.com. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  8. MacDougald, Park (14 June 2016). "Why Peter Thiel Wants to Topple Gawker and Elect Donald Trump". New York Magazine: SelectAll. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Finley, Klint (22 November 2013). "Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries". TechCrunch. 
  10. Gray, Rosie (28 December 2015). "How 2015 Fueled The Rise Of The Freewheeling, White Nationalist Alt Right Movement". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  11. Pein, Corey (May 19, 2014). "Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich". The Baffler. Retrieved 17 October 2017. 
  12. Mencius Moldbug (23 April 2007). "A formalist manifesto". Unqualified Reservations. Retrieved 11 April 2016. 
  13. Moldbug, Mencius (16 August 2007). "Against political freedom". Unqualified Reservations. 
  14. Mencius Moldbug (19 June 2008). "OLX: a simple sovereign bankruptcy procedure". Unqualified Reservations. If I had to choose one word and stick with it, I'd pick "restorationist." If I have to concede one pejorative which fair writers can fairly apply, I'll go with "reactionary." I'll even answer to any compound of the latter - "neoreactionary," "postreactionary," "ultrareactionary," etc. 
  15. Steorts, Jason Lee (5 June 2017). "Against Mencius Moldbug’s ‘Neoreaction’". National Review. 
  16. Moldbug, Mencius (4 February 2010). "From Mises to Carlyle: my sick journey to the dark side of the force". Unqualified Reservations. 
  17. Moldbug, Mencius (13 December 2007). "Why I am not a libertarian". Unqualified Reservations. 
  18. Moldbug, Mencius (20 November 2008). "Patchwork 2: profit strategies for our new corporate overlords". Unqualified Reservations. 
  19. Moldbug, Mencius (13 December 2007). "Why I am not a libertarian". Unqualified Reservations. UR is, in fact, an extremist blog. 
  20. Moldbug, Mencius (26 June 2008). "OLXI: the truth about left and right". Unqualified Reservations. I am a pronomian. I endorse the nomos without condition. 
  21. Nicholas James Pell (January 29, 2014). "Overreacting to Neoreaction". Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  22. Moldbug, Mencius (23 June 2007). "Why I am not an anti-Semite". Unqualified Reservations. I am not an anarchist. 
  23. Moldbug, Mencius (13 December 2007). "Why I am not a libertarian". Unqualified Reservations. Libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, while they ascribe unquestionable spiritual validity to the existing distribution of secondary property, completely reject the existing distribution of primary property. In fact, a true anarcho-capitalist rejects even the concept of primary property, strange though this may seem. In its place, there is an almost mystical ideal of self-enforcing law that strikes me as quite unjustified by reality. 
  24. Moldbug, Mencius (23 June 2007). "Why I am not an anti-Semite". Unqualified Reservations. Why I am not an anti-Semite 
  25. Moldbug, Mencius. "OLX: a simple sovereign bankruptcy procedure". Unqualified Reservations. Nazis matter, because a Nazi-like outcome is the most catastrophic failure mode of any restoration effort. Restorationism is to fascism as a bridge is to a pile of rubble in the riverbed. Bridge collapses can be dangerous and unpleasant, but that doesn't make bridges a bad idea. 
  26. Moldbug, Mencius (22 November 2007). "Why I am not a white nationalist". Unqualified Reservations. I am not a white nationalist. 
  27. Moldbug, Mencius (19 June 2008). "OLX: a simple sovereign bankruptcy procedure". Unqualified Reservations. So when I call someone a "progressive," what I mean is that his or her creed is more or less the direct opposite of mine. Of course, we both believe that the sky is blue, apple pie is delicious, and Hitler was evil. And since we are both polite, mature, and open-minded people, we can converse despite our disagreements. But just as there is no such thing as a progressive reactionary, there is no such thing as a progressive restorationist. Or vice versa. 
  28. Moldbug, Mencius (8 January 2009). "A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 1)". Unqualified Reservations. 
  29. Matthews, Dylan (25 August 2016). "The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It’s that, but way way weirder.". Vox. 
  30. Johnson, Eliana and Eli Stokols (February, 2017) "What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read." Politico. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
  31. Gray, Rosie (February 10, 2017) "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement." The Atlantic. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
  32. Revesz, Rachael (February 27, 2017) "Steve Bannon ‘connects network of white nationalists’ at the White House." The Independent. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
  33. Levy, Pema (March 26, 2017) "Stephen Bannon Is a Fan of a French Philosopher...Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter." Mother Jones. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
  34. Matthews, Dylan (7 February 2017). "Neo-monarchist blogger denies he's chatting with Steve Bannon". Vox. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 Byars, Mitchell (6 April 2016). "Speaker Curtis Yarvin's racial views bring controversy to Boulder conference". Daily Camera: Boulder News. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  36. Gray, Rosie (February 10, 2017). "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  37. Moldbug, Mencius. "OL9: how to uninstall a cathedral". Unqualified Reservations. 
  38. Auerbach, David (10 June 2015). "The Curious Case of Mencius Moldbug". Slate. 
  39. Townsend, Tess (5 April 2016). "Citing 'Open Society,' Racist Programmer's Allies Raise $20K on Indiegogo". Inc.com. 
  40. "Why I am not an anti-Semite". June 23, 2007. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 

External links