Wolf Tivy on democracy, “governance futurism”, Palladium, religion and transhumanism

Elite aesthetics.
  • A mechanical engineer by training.
  • Lawyers vs. engineers (there are too many lawyers in power vs. engineers).
  • The project is to influence the most important people on a 20-50 year timescale and contribute to the consciousness of the Western elite by taking the most sophisticated view possible.
  • Democracy doesn’t matter, the question is elite competence. Democracy is an elite ideology, it’s an incentive for elites to govern well. Do the elite believe they need to govern well?
  • The goal is a collective political community that does great things. What is the inspiration and energy amongst the elite that will lead toward those things?
  • The real question of functional democracy: can the elite agree about who should be in charge and get feedback from the population? In China they get “big data” feedback from the population.
  • Democracy is a big public ritual that reaffirms the elite ideology. The ritual of democracy is distracting. We have incredible inefficiency that isn’t necessarily caused by democracy but encrusted upon it.
  • The 60’s revolution was somewhat justified in trying to “stop the machine” but that’s all it did and now we’re “frozen”.
  • Palladium aims at elites but those outside of the current paradigm vs. those at the top of the current setup (those taking a chance on creating something new vs. those invested in the status quo).
  • “Noblesse oblige”, “skin in the game” (concepts introduced by interviewer) come down to elite ideology, even in a democracy the elite can stagnate for decades and face no accountability.
  • We have an entrenched regime of the upper middle class. “When you become powerful you can use that power to entrench yourself.”
  • People’s opinions are shaped and organized by the system in order to sustain the system. Elections and organizing are happening ways the system knows how to digest.
  • Elites are accountable to God because if elites stagnate they won’t be prepared for exogenous threats (subjects can become warlords, you can be conquered from outside etc.).
  • Do the elites of a system have a vision to do something? Do they have the discipline to do the work? If yes, they will be fine. The question for elites is “what do you care about”.
  • But if the focus is “I want to retire on my yacht” or “go to Epstein’s island” that’s doomed.
  • In democracy subjects become liabilities rather than assets (“we have to brainwash them”) vs. people to be lead in pursuit of something great.
  • Interviewer question: “Is there anyone in charge right now?. No, to the extent there is a regime, it’s failing.
  • Dissident scenes (like the “conservative world”) complain about being oppressed but if you actually try to do anything you will win by default because the regime is in its death throes.
  • The regime/system is actually good in that it’s holding back chaos and giving us “time to work”. The job is not to oppose the system but to create a coherent elite in order to inherit and steward the system/civilization.
  • The WASP elite failed and nothing really replaced them. There are conspiracies and interest groups but no one is in charge. No one is able to “act above the institutions” and direct them.
  • It’s a spiritual question: one faction of current elite have a spiritual commitment to the pleasure of the self (it’s not “material” but still transcendent in its own way).
  • Liberal-individualism in it’s original conception was a serious/interesting ideal (heroic individualism like Mills and Emerson), but it became “we are going to retreat into the pleasures of the self”.
  • Rather than answering questions with exploratory individualism liberalism turned to stopping thought. Popper says “destroy anything that could actually create change” (his admittedly negative reading of Popper).
  • Better to put individualism on equal footing with other ideologies like “theism”.
  • Utilitarianism is an evil ideology.
  • The key question: “what is the vision that I have for the cosmic order and my place in it?” Once you’re thinking about that you’ve evaded the “thought stopper”. “Which visions are we compelled by?”.
  • It doesn’t have to be religious in the sense that most people mean but it is religious in the original mean of the word: “binding”. “Are you bound by some system of principles and transcendent values?”
  • The secular modern scientific worldview is a religious one.
  • The “thought stopper” could be seen as a defence against what science actually implies because if you take science and technology to their full potential you get a religious vision.
  • The work has not been done to update Christianity in light of science nor to drive science forward to deal with theology and value.
  • Anti-transhumanist in the current day but “ultimately we end up there” if you take the scientific/modern worldview seriously (but OPPOSED to the “self-worshipping” and “fake” transhumanism of the current day).
  • “Is mankind the perfect being?”. No, we can create a being that will surpass us. It’s the principle which animates being that is important rather than humans as is.
  • “God is manifesting into the world the kind of beings he wants to have a relationship with”
  • “I am a religious ideologue”
  • “Governance futurism” and “luxury political theory”
  • Governance futurism is concerned with “elite and regime formation”. The aim is to lay a definitive foothold in a subject with each issue of Palladium.
  • “Luxury political theory” is the aesthetic element (an issue of Palladium can look beautiful just sitting on your coffee table).
  • We are not in the game of subversion, rather construction (maybe circumvention). Subversion is a “standoffish” and “avant garde” approach.
  • Recommends Thoreau in the vein of “quit your job” as Thoreau questioned a life based on acquisition and thought humans should be worthy of material progress.
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Germany’s unique romanticism

“Romanticism took different forms in different national contexts but everywhere it was part of modernity. At its center stood the celebration of the self. In France and England, it partook of democratic and egalitarian traditions to a far greater degree than in Germany, where it combated such claims. No one understood this better than Thomas Mann. Commenting on the ‘melancholy history of German Innerlichkeit,’ he said that the ‘romantic counterrevolution against the Enlightenment’ had made decisive contributions to Weimar’s ‘old-new world of revolutionary reaction’ as well as to National Socialism. Speaking of Hitler’s Germany, he wrote that ‘there are not two Germanies, a good and an evil one, but only one, which through the cunning of the devil turned the best to the service of evil.’ National Socialism reconciled Innerlichkeit and modern technology. The reactionary modernists were German ideologists who selected from their own national traditions those elements that made these cultural reconciliations possible.”

The smartphone screen as railcar window

“With speed, there is quantitatively more for the brain to deal with. This is not specific to the railroad but part of modernity more broadly, including the rise of the city. The classical social theorist Georg Simmel described this urban perception as an ‘intensification of nervous stimulation,’ as opposed to slow, lasting impressions which ‘use-up, so to speak, less consciousness than does the rapid crowding of changing images.’ The modern condition was thought of as a general onslaught of things to pay attention to, newly positioning the urban railroad-riding individual as a kind of spectator to an existence slipping quickly by.

The railroad positioned the world for the traveler as some thing passing, distant, to be taken as scenery framed by a cabin window. Schivelbusch expands on philosopher Dolf Sternberger’s description of this way of seeing as a ‘panoramic vision,’ a view that foregrounds the back—the passenger barely noticing that which is most near, reduced to an incon sequential blur by rapidity—and detaches the passenger from this space immediately surrounding the train car. Opposed to slower travel, where the passing landscape can be lingered upon and seen in great detail, railway speed produced a panoramic vision where the landscape is not seen for as long or intensively, its particularities are instead taken in as a part of an ongoing flow instead of discreetly. Always quickly vanishing, the landscape becomes more impressionistic, evanescent; panoramic vision is seeing the world as montage. This panoramic vision produced by the rapid succession of imagery is a useful way to frame the contemporary type of vision that social photography encourages, both in how we make and consume the images. The social photo is often viewed through the grid, stream, or story to be finger-scrolled, swiped, and tapped. The images in their proliferation and rapidity create an emergent stream in aggregate, and for the person doing the swiping, there is a more panoramic view of social life, akin to the montaged scenery from the train window.”