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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Question I’ve been meaning to ask. George Washington is said to have contracted a cold, which transitioned to the pneumonia that killed him. Are people ‘dying from Covid’ in the same way that Washington died from a cold ?
Dale: Sort of. Many viruses kill by the patient developing pneumonia. It happened with AIDS/HIV, too.
Been coughing violently for 25 years. So it’s just another day. So is the sneezing—pollen season. Not locked down, not wearing a mask (though if forced to wear one, I have some cool fabric that is probably 50% porous and can have some fun sayings put on it….).
We are ruled by kings—plural. The elite now OWN THE COUNTRY. Every crappy name-brand idiot out there is bowing to BLM. I will never buy another name-brand as long as I live. Actually, I buy next to nothing now….I HATE MARKETERS, CORPORATE OFFICIALS AND ALL ***-KISSERS.
Judges replaced elected officials. No way they give up power to a “new” authority. They already own the entire electorate and they do not share. Elections are irrelevant. Trump really had zero to do with this. It was happening for decades, slowly and steadily while everyone denied it.
“So what would have been the process for the Coronavirus Authority to become the unelected dictator of America?” Just the 50 years we taught American children, unloved by their parents, that the government is god and is their parent. No need to speculate. The framework is all there and was used very effectively.
Agreed. The Chinese perfected locking up healthy people decades, maybe centuries ago and have been building the foundation in other countries for at least 50 years. They are very, very good at this and everyone else is very, very bad at paying attention to what is going on. (I believe Hitler used “relocation” to haul Jews into ovens, which involved healthy people in a perfectly good place being moved by the government.)
Yarvin is 1000% correct in his answer. Americans are spoiled, stupid brats. They will suffer for their stupidity and arrogance.
I have a suggestion on what should be done to Fauci….It does involve painting a target on his person…..
Evil is no longer punished, which is why all hell breaks loose and cities burn. Lies are the new truth.
Again, elections do not matter. If the elected person is not what the elite want, the court destroys anything the elected person does. THE COURTS rule this country. The corporations make sure everyone follows those rules or have no jobs.
Smart phone=electronic SOMA. You volunteer to be a captive useful idiot when you carry one.
A friend of mine said she always told her son that we should be watching the Chinese, not Russia. I believe she was very correct.
@JQP – Good work, I agree with your analysis and conclusions. But I may be able to add some background.
I have a long term interest in Moldbug/ Yarvin; having been an early commenter on his blog and I was an e-mail correspondent with him in the middle noughties. I have written about him on my blog aseveral times, over the years.
My personal interpretation is that Moldbug was – for sure – moving towards becoming a Christian, specifcially a Roman Catholic – and perhaps SSPX. This, or something like it, was an entirely logical extrapolation from his socio-political views.
(As well as Christianity being true, obviously.)
However, this did Not happen; and Moldbug – having failed to move forward into greater coherence; and stasis being impossible; therefore Yarvin retreated backwards into incoherence, and the usual blend of off-the-peg pseudo-analysis and careerism.
Obviously, therefore, I also have no interest in Yarvin (except as yet another case study in the way that nowadays Not-religious people Always sell-out); whereas Moldbug was interesting, for a while.
Question: Why is Curtis employed by the conservative, ‘American Mind’. He can’t be helping business or, maybe, he’s there in the interest of both balance and humor or something.
Any thoughts on why would be appreciated.
…the juice isn’t pink. Sometimes pleural effusion can have a pink colour if there is a small about of blood present. The watery ‘effusion’ is not the same as sputum associated with pneumonia. The real deal looks like thick apple milk shake. Plural effusion is another consideration.
Here are a few apolitical non controversial facts: As people seem to be easily led astray by political banter.
Any ordinary cold or inflammation of lung tissue can result in pneumonia.
There are different types generally due to different causes. Atypical pneumonia, which can be an indication of HIV, for example and often affects younger people, where the top/apical lobes, become consolidated, the most common pneumonia affects the basal lobes for physical reasons. Aspiration pneumonia, where vomit or food back tracks into the lung causing secondary inflammatory effects then, to pneumonia. Even ice cream going down the wrong way could potentially cause pneumonia.
People will be familiar with the idea that hot inflamed, damp tissue is more prone to infection.
The common pneumonia which occurs in the base of the lung has a clear distinct pattern of presentation. Each type, as a result of the cause, will generate specific patterns of pathology.
The sort most people think of is usually very painful initially until the body begins producing copious pale green phlegm with a distinct odour, at which point as long as the person can adequately clear their secretions they make a recovery without much assistance required.
In ANY case where patients cannot clear secretions, for a variety of reasons, whether physical, physiological, neurological,, environmental, or psychological, pretty much. Anything interfering with the ventilation of the lung can conspire to cause it. Sputum cultures inform about treatment.
Viral pneumonia is what is happening to patients with covid. It doesn’t mean some don’t have other kinds of infection.
The sudden death and deterioration is due to clotting and diffuse emboli or larger ones which effectively remove lung tissue from the game of breathing in an instant. Knock on effects and positive feedbacks create compound effects.
The increased frequency of adverse exaggerated inflammatory/immune responses are the challenge in Covid 19. Different from a cold or flu. The response takes time to accumulate but particularly those staying home did not necessarily realise how close to the line they left it. Don’t mess about with shortness of breath symptoms unless you know the cause for certain. Never assume. Saying you’re not scared won’t save your life.
The silent spread and speed of spread make a toxic mix for public health managers.
ANY new disease that is infectious enough will pose such challenges if they are respiratory or
airborne. So what?
On the politics and the BS:
It seems to me that some in power have become attached and some under the thumb, addicted, to the Dr patient relationship that government has found itself in. Any honest politician or Dr would recognise this and nip it in the bud. The media is resisting all the way though. Wavering between calling government negligent or interfering depending what day it is.
It seems a lot of people are just playing snail racing with the epidemic and trying to position themselves ahead of time in the right camp. I suppose they’re missing the horse racing.
You don’t have to predict what’s going to happen in order to respond appropriately, once worst and best cases are considered and enough is known about the disease, a sane person trusts their own response will be measured without having to prove it to some arbitrary judge in the public arena.
Thanks for this write up.
My personal opinion is that Moldbig’s Beer flu take was so bad it invalidates his entire canon.
Yarvin is a dilettante who likes to listen to himself. With that essay, he has finally jumped the shark, though it was clear from his UR writings that he was attempting to be accepted into the “elite” society in the most original, non-mainstream way. Like a more special hipster.
It’s all about channeling the public mind into double plus good right
thinking. Just look at the BLM launch with the “take a knee death”
and “I can’t breath meme” how ironic is that? Dovetails perfectly with
the current zeitgeist now taking on a knee of it’s own. The one thing he got
right is the middle class has been nuked but just doesn’t know it yet.
I see fire sale bankruptcy bargains in the next round of this tragicomedy
soap opera that will be passed off as history.
Far Left, Far Right – no difference for the average Joe and Jane, as they both desire to impose totalitarian measures on Joe and Jane.
I always took moldbug/Yarvin with a grain of salt. I do think it’s valuable to read/listen to his stuff and take what seems on point, and discard what doesn’t. He’s kinda hit and miss. He definitely looks like an ass with the covid prediction essay. But most of his political theory is coming from a very unique vantage that I don’t think it’s smart to completely write him off.
No person and no Christian ever becomes or is created divine.
God bless, C-Marie
No person and no Christian ever becomes or is created divine.
Jesus Christ was a person and was divine. According to scriptures and depending on which gospel you’re allowed to read and which one you prefer because they all imply differently.
No monarch is divine EITHER, which includes the pope. he is a monarch and a man.
Mount Quarantine in the Jordan Valley is where Jesus Christ fasted and prayed for forty days in preparation for His public ministry.
The devil tempted Him with our ancient and permanent temptations- The World, the Flesh, and the Devil – and He defeat al temptations and told Satan to get behind Him.
In America, our Quarantine is well past forty days and we have bent our knees before our Satans – Trump, Fauci. Brix and a legion of other putative experts.
If only our Quarantine was but forty days.
There is no ‘We’, as one of the now absent readers used to say.
Moldbug never was a monarchist. Not a proper one. His formalist vision of state as joint stock corporation is hardly a monarchy. Neither was he far right as mentioned above. He is a libertarian rejecting inconsistent parts of libertarianism and taking libertarianism to its logical conclusion.
Moldbug was never a libertarian of any kind. But neither was he ever reactonary of any kind. He just drew points from literature of those movements. He is an absolutist. The proper word for the form of government that he supports is tyranny (as in ‘government by one man unrestrained by anything and having total sovereignty’, not as in ‘usurper of legitimate authority’), not absolute monarchy, because “absolute” monarchy in practice was anything but. Neocameralism was merely a suggestion. He’s also fine with any other way of establishing total power (up to and including revolutions — see him praising Robespierre and Mao in recent interviews, in short hurr durr singularity bad, but their legacy doubleplusgood).
Recently I read an article on Yarvin which summs up his worldview as a Silicon Valley brand of “left-fascism.” It’s an apt descriptor, given similarities of his ideology to Juche.
We now know that it was not Yarvin per se. it was Yarvin the doting husband of an unfortunately very ill woman. That’s not a defense of him as a thinker, but I think it is sufficient defense of him as a man.
I’m just reading this almost a year and a half later. I’m one of those “post libertarian” types who because of 2020 abandoned virtually all of the seemingly childish tropes of idealistic, atomist, completely fantastical, and some would say delusional God-less, God-substituting libertarianism. I still hold some fondness for Rothbard, but likely the only real influence I still have from that camp is the still-great Hans-Herman Hoppe.
A lot of us were influenced by Mr. Yarvin. Well, almost all of us. I was not and have not been. Many saw him as providing clarity and focus and a realistic grounding that the rest of the “liberty sphere” absolutely could not and as an inherent structural flaw of the philosophy. I found his writing insufferable, as if I were reading a teenaged girl, a real scion of 21st century pop culture, pontificating with all the illiterate trappings and anti-cultural, anti-language nonsense that children today throw off like so much dandruff. When you find a person’s written words annoying, what can you say about the ideas they are trying to express? But, there was something deeper. There was something about the Moldbug Cult that bothered me. And this being a card-carrying Hoppe Cult member. Frankly, I smelled bullshit. Between the insufferable language and the just barely unique ideas, I could barely get through one of his blog posts, let alone a long-form essay.
After 25 years, I made the conscious choice to return to the Church during this period, as well. Not the mushy, pop and folk church of the Novus Ordo, that wholly theologically bankrupt carcass, but the true Church, the real faith of antiquity and of my fathers, both the West and the East. I found in the Church everything that Yarvin was trying to say, everything that Hoppe has been saying for decades, but without the prickly veneer.
Yes, man looks to monarchy; it is wired in him. Yes, the liberal order from which libertarianism springs is wholly morally bankrupt. Yes, the so-called Enlightenment was an utter failure. Yes, culture matters and matters desperately. Yes, degeneracy disguised as “liberty” is the road to damnation.
But, I don’t need a snarky, upper-class, Jewish Yankee pseudo-intellectual to tell me this with too many “supers” and “literallys” and nonsense anecdotes and references that no one understands. The Church has been saying this, well, said this, for 1,900 years. I knew this in my bones; now I have confirmation.