When the N-COVID-19 pandemic struck in earlier this year, the online “dissident Right” was divided between those who saw N-COVID-19 as a unique threat and those who thought the risk was overblown. The former group hoped or feared N-COVID-19 would deliver an unprecedented shock to the system of the modern world. The latter group expected an event more in line with the painful epidemics that are seen every few years.
So at the height of the crisis on April 4th, Curtis Yarvin stepped forward with his widely anticipated thoughts on the pandemic. As readers may already know, Yarvin had achieved fame (or infamy) under the pseudonym “Mencius Moldbug” as the author of the blog “Unqualified Reservations,” a lengthy and entertaining critique of the American political order and even the basic idea of “democracy.” In simple terms, Moldbug argued on that blog that we would be better off to be ruled by Kings, real Kings in an absolutist monarchy, like that of Louis XIV.
One measure of Moldbug’s influence in the dissident Right is the recent publication of the first two parts of a multiparty essay series in the Claremont Institute’s “The American Mind” online journal. One could infer from this that Michael Anton and his colleagues at Claremont view Moldbug’s work to be the most serious Right-wing challenge to Claremont’s project of a classical liberal renewal of the American constitutional order. Indeed, an earlier essay there by Yarvin had described the Chinese phase of the N-COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to retreat from globalist uniculturalism.
The essay published on Medium entitled “Plan A for the coronavirus” decisively placed Yarvin’s acquired prestige behind those who found the N-COVID-19 pandemic to be a unique world-altering event requiring an extraordinary response, one for which the American government was unprepared and incapable.
As everyone can now see, the coronavirus is a test of every government. This test — which the US is failing — is already a tragedy. It has barely begun. In the next few months, you or someone you love will drown of a cough.
Just for the record, neither I nor anyone I love drowned of a cough. We’re not coughing at all. Or sneezing, sniffling or blowing our noses. We’re fine. But what we, indeed all America, are suffering from is the continued impact of lockdowns and other restrictions (“Wear a mask! Wear gloves!”) that are ever more increasingly detached from reality, as N-COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline from already low levels.
You can look elsewhere on this site for ample evidence of what I just wrote. But in this piece, I am motivated by one howler after another to give Yarvin’s essay an old-fashioned “Fisking.” Once we are done, we can turn to the question of how we should evaluate and use Mencius Moldbug’s body of work and to how we might want to view Curtis Yarvin and his current and future projects.
Speaking of the lockdowns and other “public health” measures, Yarvin went on to write:
The bad news: they are nowhere near sufficient to put the fire out. And there is no realistic way to end the lockdown while the epidemic is still burning — at all.
This statement is completely wrong, both now in retrospect and at the time it was made. There is no reason to believe anything anyone did made any difference to the life cycle of the disease. Like all other historical epidemics, it came and went with little regard for what Curtis Yarvin or anyone else had to say about it. Indeed, Yarvin’s essay was published at almost the exact point the curve topped out and started going the other way, without anyone doing any of the things he described in his essay.
Now in a fit of hysteria, Yarvin lays out the planks of an authoritarian, indeed totalitarian, response to N-COVID-19. This response is his “Plan A.” Note again: we are not talking about an invasion. We are not talking about civil war, terrorism, or civil disturbance. We’re talking about the flu, basically.
What is at the center of his Plan A?
The strongest possible response will come from a new agency, built as a startup. This Coronavirus Authority will scale up faster than any existing organization can execute.
The point of this “Coronavirus Authority” is to replace the current elected government of the United States and its various states and their enormous bureaucracies, because Donald Trump has failed and “should resign”:
And all the CVA needs to do its job is plenary (unconditional) authority over all federal, state, local and private actors. In theoretical terms, its sovereignty is absolute — but both temporary (limited in time, to the end of the war) and partial (applied only to its specific mission or scope).
Perhaps it is too easy to point out this proposal is a trifle unrealistic, starting with the fact that Donald Trump did not resign and is in the White House right now. At least the Mencius Moldbug version of Curtis Yarvin posited an idea about how this sort of total regime change could be accomplished, what he called the “True Election.” In a True Election, a candidate or party would pledge to exercise plenary authority if elected, regardless of constitutional niceties. In a True Election, democracy removes itself.
But nobody was running a True Election campaign in April, and they aren’t now. So what would have been the process for the Coronavirus Authority to become the unelected dictator of America? Yarvin doesn’t say. Was the American people’s experience with closures, mandates, prosecutions and suspensions that the government lacked political and police power? Or merely that it lacked the ability to prevent and cure disease?
We can pass over briefly Yarvin’s proposal for a “national bankruptcy,” which Moldbug mooted before in the least convincing parts of “Unqualified Reservations.” Basically, all extant financial instruments would be replaced with new instruments with different terms using the “block chain” or some other trendy technology popular in Silicon Valley. Would it be as churlish to note that nobody believes this can be done as to note that nobody believes it is necessary?
More worrisome is Yarvin outlining ideas that are a mixture of faculty-lounge Progressive totalitarianism and that of the more effective kind found in Communist China.
Americans all have phones too. If they don’t, one costs $50. Why can’t we use this effective solution? Why haven’t we started full population control — with involuntary tracking, testing, and isolation — yesterday?
Perhaps because no nation in history prior to 2020, not even Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, imposed quarantines on healthy, not sick, people? Not even for extremely dangerous and highly contagious diseases like measles or polio, never mind ones with a fatality rate around 0.1% and an R0 falling below 1.0. The innovation of locking healthy people in their homes like prisoners came courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party. Yarvin’s admiration of Communist China turned out to be greater than Mencius Moldbug’s.
Instead Yarvin answers his question with the climax of the essay, a peroration worthy of Bill Kristol or David Frum:
Here is the answer, without sugar. Americans are children. They are puerile, spoiled and arrogant. When they look in the mirror, all they see is a king or a queen. To ask a king to wear a mask, so that a fountain of germs will not erupt from his mouth every time he breathes, coughs or sneezes — what an insult! Any king would rather drown in his own pink juice. And he will. Who says there is no God? That pride goeth not before a fall?
What is the source of this hostility? Only our skepticism that N-COVID-19 is as dangerous as hysterics say and our disbelief that lockdowns work.
Unlike the calumnies indulged by his critics, Mencius Moldbug in “Unqualified Reservations” was never contemptuous of “normies” and ordinary people. The royalism mooted there was not driven by an expressed sense of superiority over the unwashed masses. Indeed, the arrogance on display in the N-COVID-19 essay is typically found only in the regime elite organs, such as the New York Times editorial page, and only when aimed at the Country Class opposition to the Ruling Class and their planned Progressive Singularity.
Yarvin then joins with Bill Gates in pronouncing N-COVID-19 so dangerous that only a fool would deny the need for an entirely class of new vaccines to be imposed on the populace by force and without testing.
Making a candidate vaccine is easy. Modern molecular platforms (like those of Inovio and Moderna) produced vaccines in hours from the viral DNA. These vaccines probably work, and are probably safe.
Last, Yarvin echoes the “cancel culture” that resulted in his being disinvited to the technology industry conferences he attended as part of his day job once it became clear that he was the notorious “racist” Mencius Moldbug:
In a sane world, anyone with a public record of minimizing the coronavirus would be cancelled — unfit for any further employment, let alone in this crisis.
Note “minimizing” it. Those “maximizing” it, like Anthony Fauci, will presumably be allowed to enjoy undisturbed their careers, reputations and fortunes. While 40 million Americans are unemployed.
To be fair, Moldbug said similar things about the “criminals” behind Global Warming. But that was said in the face of the reality that it was simply inconceivable that anyone involved in Climate Gate would be punished in any way for their lies and deceptions. In contrast, N-COVID-19 “denial” is very much a crime against the regime that is punished by de-platformings, cancelations and book burnings.
Far from Yarvin’s grandiose prognostications, the WuFlu pandemic in America was largely two related crises:
- A New York nursing home pandemic exacerbated by an executive order mandating that these homes must take old folks sick with N-COVID-19.
- A New York public hospital pandemic where people sick enough to need to go the hospital ended up being given N-COVID-19, whether or not they had it before they got there.
How could all of this been avoided? Not by Yarvin’s otiose speculations. But instead by the boring, tedious, unsexy and jejune expedient of electing somebody like Rudy Giuliani as Mayor and George Pataki as Governor. Now you’re really rocking the boat! Didn’t you know Yarvin’s stepfather worked for Joe Biden? There are some proposals, like electing Republicans, that are really beyond the pale!
The thoughts in Yarvin’s essay reflect not reality but the obsessions of a particular class, one that lives in San Francisco, votes Democrat, and hangs up “Black Lives Matter” banners. N-COVID-19 allowed them to indulge a whole new battery of “woke” obsessions: mass testing, free PPE, experimental vaccines, virus-free workplaces, Orwellian smart phone apps, and tens of thousands of contact tracing apparatchiks who would have been the envy of the NKVD.
Mencius Moldbug/Curtis Yarvin is perhaps the quintessential postmodern example of the voice of the author being a character separate and distinct from the person doing the writing. While Moldbug the Character represents a single consistent view of the world that we may read with profit, Yarvin the Man acts in accordance with his personal and class interests. He has feet of clay. Yarvin is not Moldbug, and Moldbug is not Yarvin. I’d speculate the Yarvin the Man was very afraid of dying of N-COVID-19. He may still be afraid.
Moldbug would have seen clearly that the N-COVID-19 narrative, lockdowns and restrictions, and subsequent Antifa/BLM riots that broke open the lockdowns, were all a manifestation of a High & Low versus Middle dynamic, where the elites use the underclass against middle Americans who represent the only real threat to their rule. It is not an accident that the public closure directives fell entirely on small businesses, churches and volunteer civic society. In contrast, the Washington Post owning Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is bigger than ever.
Nothing we were being told by The Cathedral (media/NGO complex), and nothing The Polygon (Deep State/public health bureaucracies) was doing, could be trusted. Moldbug would have seen that N-COVID-19 was just a replay of the Global Warming hoax. Did we really need something like the Climate Gate e-mails to spot this fraud?
But when N-COVID-19 came, we got Curtis Yarvin, not Mencius Moldbug. When evaluating Yarvin’s current and future work, like his book project, “Gray Mirror,” we should keep his N-COVID-19 essay at the forefront of our minds.
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