An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives
Chapter 1: A Horizon Made of Canvas
This chapter and book as a whole serves to introduce people into Moldbug's ideas. Mencius Moldbug (aka Curtis Yarvin) wrote regularly in a blog called Unqualified Reservations (Unqualified Reservations by Mencius Moldbug) during the mid-2000s to mid—2010s.
His series of posts known as An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives is a tour-de-force of neoreactionary thought, leading the reader through a series of concepts over what, in published book form, amounts to just under 350 pages. It is deep and quite rambly, so for this book, it will be broken up into one article per chapter. You are highly encouraged to read the original, which is still available for free on his site (see above), but can also be found with AI narration on YouTube and in published form both physical and kindle formats.
Contrasting Catholicism vs Progressivism
MM starts by setting up a contrast between Catholics and Progressives. "If you are an open-minded progressive, you probably are not Catholic." But they are both WorldViews through a set of beliefs.
- Catholic values: Religion, Faith regarding spiritual things
- Faith is required because no person alive has actually seen the Holy Ghost
- Lose your faith and it's difficult/impossible to remain a Christian
- Progressive values: "Pure Reason" about the physical world and things you can see, Trust
- You trust that your worldview accurately reflects the real world
- Lose your trust in that worldview and it is hard to remain a progressive
- Stumbling block to progressives - they think they have to become conservative if they're not progressives
- He uses the example of David Mamet, who converted from progressivism to conservatism.
- But most progressives are the way they are because they feel something needs to be done about conservatives.
- They believe that conservatism is mass delusion.
- Believe that conservatives have been systematically misinformed.
- What if NEITHER progressives nor conservatives worldview has a consistent relationship to reality?
- Conservatism is a theory of government held by a large number of people who have no personal experience of government.
- Progressive view of American democracy: a contest in which their side (truth and reason) are pitted against "conservatives" - a quasicriminal political machine built on propaganda, ignorance and misinformation.
- But... What if Democracy is just a contest between two quasicriminal political machines?
- What's up with the Third World? The Concept of Independence
- Independence movements led to freedom, but also often to civil war, poverty, corrupt government and the collapse of medical care.
- He uses Zimbabwe as an example to point out the hypocrisy in calling Zimbabwe independent and how it has been reported at various times.
- This also points out how the press is used for political means
- What is nationalism? Is it good or bad? Ambivalence regarding Nationalism
- Nationalism (from the Latin natus, birth) is when people of a common linguistic, ethnic, or racial heritage feel the need to act collectively as a single political entity.
- Can you be a nationalist if you believe that national identity supersedes biological attachment to an ethnic group?
- Is all nationalism plagued by racist chauvinism?
- Why are the Nazis considered to be so much worse than other comparably murderous groups? Selective aversion to human rights violations
- Nazis were bad because they committed mass murder (Holocaust)
- But none of those fighting the Nazis ever seemed to give a whit about the Jews or the Holocaust before or during the war
- One of the parties on our side (Soviet Union) had a record of mass murder at least as bad as the Nazis
- The Allies reveled in aerial mass incineration of Germans and Japanese civilians, killing 1-2 million as well.
- Allies lent hundreds of thousands of German prisoners as slave laborers to the Soviets.
- Communists are worse numerically by an order of magnitude compared to the fascists The Black Book of Communism - Wikipedia