For those who have only recently transitioned to the Dark Side, one of the most important things to grasp about contemporary power dynamics is their structural Asymmetry.
Yes, there is a Left and a Right. And, yes, they each received a similar number of votes in the recent US presidential and UK referendum elections. But it would be dangerously naïve to conclude from this that political power is relatively equally divided between them.
It isn’t – not even close.
Irrespective of whether it’s the progressive Left or the conservative Right which controls the temporary, elected government – progressives always control the permanent, unelected parts of the state, which are far larger and substantially more powerful. In terms of ideological orientation, the people who work for the permanent government are overwhelmingly progressive. Therefore, even if the temporary government is uncharacteristically right-wing, as is the case with the current Trump administration, the decisions it takes and the legislation it proposes – which is only a tiny fraction of the vast number of laws passed and decisions actioned each day by the permanent government – must pass through a hostile administrative apparatus, which has both the power and opportunity to revise, rewrite and reformulate them to bring them into line with progressive objectives.
But this is only the beginning. Asymmetry is embedded much deeper in the marrow of our political and meta-political structures. In Western pseudo-democratic societies, the progressive Left controls the organs of information generation and dissemination – the universities, the school system, and the mainstream media.
Moldbug labelled this concealed nexus of power ‘the Cathedral’. The Cathedral is the state church of the West, equivalent to the Vatican and its tendrils of influence during the heyday of Catholicism. Religious doctrine, in the form of progressive ideology, is formulated in the humanities and social science departments of prestigious universities, then disseminated throughout the student body. Many students later go on to become professors themselves, or to occupy positions of social prestige and ideological influence outside the academy, which enables the system to reinforce and maintain itself.
But ideas and social prescriptions minted in the university are much more widely disseminated by the mainstream media and the school system. Not everyone goes to university, but everybody goes to school – even if your parents weren’t progressive, your schoolteacher probably was.
Therefore, you can be raised as a progressive within a progressive family, or indoctrinated into progressivism while at school, or converted to progressivism while at university. In short, progressivism is a proselytising religion.
Parallel to the education system, and persisting long after you have graduated from formal education, the mainstream media provides a continual, non-stop source of exposure to progressive ideology – an all you can eat buffet of orthodox ‘truth’. Because progressive opinion shifts inexorably further Left over time, the mainstream media also provides an invaluable signal to ensure that your opinions don’t fall too far behind ‘new improved’ officially mandated beliefs on gender, race, or any other ideologically sensitive subject. This is important, because even if you aren’t deliberately looking to status signal by becoming an early adopter of the latest progressive ideological trends, you still need to be alert to the danger of falling too far behind the curve of what it is acceptable to think – the opinions it is possible to express in public, without running the risk of appearing low-status, or worse, being exposed to ‘social consequences’ attendant to accusations of thoughtcrime.
Like a parasitic worm which controls the behaviour of its zombie host, the Cathedral has captured the State, entwined itself around it, and dug its probe deep into its cerebral cortex. From here the Cathedral manipulates the State’s brain function, using nefarious pheromones to manufacture consent for policy prescriptions among the ruling elite and administrative professional classes, which are subsequently rolled out to its subsistence class vote banks. At times its ideological crusade, which is a function of the pursuit of power and acquiescence by any requisite means, entirely bypasses an entire stratum of society. Instead, the next generation is ideologically converted via the established channels of indoctrination.
In effect, the Cathedral pours the lens through which you perceive reality. It controls the narrative frame, shapes public opinion and manufactures consent, in order to advance its own ideological and instrumental ends – to permanently secure the transtemporal power and spiritual authority of its Universalist creed.
8 thoughts on “On Asymmetry”
I define the beast, following Moldbug, this way:
1: The overall system is called the “Modern Structure.” MS consists of the following four sub-structures:
A: The Polygon. (The management structure.) This is the “extended civil service.” The judiciary, the civil service proper, the political parties and all their staff, the Fed, the big corporates and the “belt-way bandits – the Military-industrial-security complex, the NGO’s.
B: The Cathedral. (The information structure.) Firstly, the universities which design the blueprints and the source of “grand policy” and who train the people who work in the Polygon or the rest of the Cathedral. Secondly, the press who formulate propaganda.Top institutions are Harvard and the New York Times.
C: The Caste structure. (The social structure.) The Brahmins are the top dogs.
D: The religious/ideological structure. (Memes.) The Universalist religion.
Great comment. As a fellow student of Moldbug, I fully endorse your extended definition.
Interesting. What do you see as the ideal society? In other words, what would you replace ‘progressivism’ with? What does the world look like if your ideological opponents did not hold such power?
Apologies for answering a question with a link, but this is our answer:
Unfortunately, that’s only part 1 (there are 3 more) and further clarification can be found here:
Essentially, rather than trending towards one transglobal religion (progressivism) we would like to see greater fragmentation and ideological choice. We think there are fundamental problems with progressivism, which are impossible to reform because of the power of vested interests.
http://www.xenosystems.net/meta-neocameralism/ returns a 403 error message. (permission denied) Do you have another link please
It got nuked recently. I’ve got a backup but if you paste the link via web archive you’ll get it more quickly — its an absolute must read.