An Open Letter Chapter 4 - Dr. Johnson's Hypothesis

An Open Letter Chapter 4 - Dr. Johnson's Hypothesis

Full Title: Chapter 4: Dr. Johnson’s Hypothesis | An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives | Unqualified Reservations by Mencius Moldbug
Creator: Mencius Moldbug (Curtis Yarvin)
Publication Date: May 8, 2008
Alternate Link: Audio: An Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives - Chapter 4 - Dr Johnson's Hypothesis - YouTube


Dr. Johnson's Hypothesis: "And I have always thought the first Whig was the Devil"

  • Yarvin recalls his parents/grandparents called themselves "progressives" aka Whigs
  • They were all members of the Communist (aka progressive) Party
  • This made Yarvin suspicious of "progress" as something "creepy and weird"
  • He had first-hand evidence that there was an international Communist conspiracy
  • Modern progressives aren't Communists, rather anti-anti communists
  • Think communism is a mistake, yet doesn't condone attacks on it

The relationship between "progressivism" (communism) and American institutions:

  • He breaks societies into type 1,2,3 based on relationship between opinion and authority

Type 3: The Open Society (where we want to live)

  • Thoughts compete on basis of their resemblance to reality
  • Good ideas outcompete bad ideas in a type 3 society because most would rather be clued in rather than deluded.
  • Intellectuals compete to see reality as it really is.
  • You can expect that the "best thoughts" are readily available for those willing to think them.
  • People who want to understand reality will cluster around the truth

Type 1: The Loyal Society

  • Thoughts coordinated by government
  • Public opinion a matter of state security - because people are freakin' dangerous
  • The State establishes 2 categories of thought: Good and bad and reward/punish accordingly
  • The State supports official information organs (used to install good thoughts in people's brains, cradle to grave)
  • Information organs have one viewpoint, one set of doctrines, one official story = a sypnosis
  • There is NO intellectual conflict allowed; disagreement means instability
  • A single leader (or single institution of authority) maintains synopsis via executive power

Type 1 Societies are historically right-wing.

  • Most common in history
  • Default structure of human government: god-king
  • Christians called it ceasarpapism
  • Anglo-americans: throne and altar state
  • American separation of church and state: antipathy for type 1 society

20th Century Type 1 Societies:

  • Fascist (ceasaropapist without Christian theism)
  • National Socialism: epitome of type 1
  • Communist: More institutional, less personal
  • Power decays from state (essentially the church) to institutions

21st Century Type 1 Societies:

  • China (not such a bad place to live)
  • N. Korea (a horrible place to live)

Type 2 Consensus Society: The Cathedral & Synopsis

  • Post 1945 western society
  • These are like type 1 information organs, but no central coordination
  • They consistently push the idea that they ARE a Type 3 society.
  • Post 1945 synopsis: The Synopsis
  • Institutions producing, spreading the Synopsis (Mainstream academia, journalism, education, entertainment industry): The Cathedral
  • The concept of The Cathedral is one of Yarvin's most important contributions to NRX thought.

Consensus Society traits:

  • Press and universities control the state (inverse of type 1)
  • Formed when central authority in type 1 breaks down
  • Hallmark of a Type 2 Society is spontaneous coordination without a clear central authority
  • The Cathedral is the dominant information system
  • Captures resources/powers of state
  • Professors and journalists control public opinion
  • The Synopsis strengthens The Cathedral
  • There is no way in current society to receive a mainstream education, watch or read the mainstream news, and actually believe them, and not be a Progressive.
  • So The Cathedral produces an official information system, which in all other respects resembles a Type I society, but which is not responsible to a central authority.

Coercive Power Distortion vs Attractive Power Distortion

  • The Cathedral acts as a power center, but if view divergence occurs (inevitable without outside coordination), they compete in two ways:
  1. On the basis of intellectual righteousness (truth)
  1. On the basis of political power (power)
  • Truthers are at a disadvantage to those who view everything in terms of power and use them as weapons

Coercive Power Distortion

  • Type 1 pathology
  • Political power distorts the playing field of ideas, with the State-favored ideals being artificially supported and opposing ideas harshly discouraged.

Attractive Power Distortion

  • Type 2 pathology
  • Ideas are pushed/favored based on their ability to serve as coalition-organizing ideas.
  • From a Type 3 perspective this is just as dangerous because it doesn't promote idea supremacy based on reality.
  • Nonsense can be a more effective organizing idea than the truth.
  • Virtue signaling: belief in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty
  • The Synopsis includes only political propositions which strengthen the Cathedral when adopted (and weaken its enemies), rejecting all other propositions.

Additional Notes on Type 2 Societies

  • Expands not in the landscape of truth, but in that of Power
  • The first Type 2 movement in modern history: The Reformation
  • Through the Reformation, we reach the Enlightenment
  • The post 1945 type 2 Western regime appears final and irreversible: whig millennium
  • Satisfies demand for power only by expanding
  • Whig principles appear noble but are only concerned with seizing power
  • In line with the doctor's hypothesis: Whigs (Progressives) are only concerned with their own power rather than state of society.
  • They would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven


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