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    … will ignore you, like a total aspie, if you bring up any other subject.

    Well, he’s got colorful ways to describe behavior. Or, just: insulting.

    The problem with moldbug is that he will use a “hundred thousand words” to may seem innocuous to make it all seem civil. (Coda puts that nicely: https://twitter.com/coda/status/713087150871289856 )

    There are issues many here, though:

    a) He tries to play a 2-persona game. I’d like to call the bluff. I know no one that separates their political personality from themselves fully. Many people don’t accept 2-persona games, me included.

    b) I especially want to call the bluff that urbit is “just technology”. It is an upfront political project. It even says so on the projects medium page. https://medium.com/@urbit/design-of-a-digital-republic-f2b6b3109902#.4ft5994gs

    c) He postulates that everyone interprets his writing of one of his personas wrong anyways. There’s a huge amount of secondary writing on his stuff, dissecting what he wrote. He basically calls all of them as reading him wrong. That’s a tall order.

    d) At no point does he interact with the fact that LambdaConf made an upfront diversity statement when announcing the conf. As someone writing about power structures in thousands of words and details, this must be a conscious omission.

    This person is a very political person and I’m willing to respect that to a large extend. And that means that we should fight him on this terrain, which is what currently happens.

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      The author’s writing style is interesting, if nothing else.

      I think the article could’ve been served by splitting out the defense of Moldbug into its own thing, because the core thrusts of the article seem to be:

      1. “Come to LambdaConf, don’t worry about meeting this other charcter who has no place there”
      2. “Here’s an explanation from the source of why Moldbug may be seen as racist”
      3. “Let’s talk about the negative effects of intellectual elitism and why it fools nerds into being jerks”

      1 is useful and on point, 3 is kinda interesting, 2 serves to distract the susceptible from either of the others.

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        The author is someone who’s previously said “If you ask me to condemn [mass murderer] Anders Breivik, but adore Nelson Mandela, perhaps you have a mother you’d like to fuck,” called slavery “a natural human relationship”, who’s been cited for spouting “casual racism” at conference goers a few years ago, and said “If Americans want to change their government, they’re going to have to get over their dictator phobia.”

        These are extraordinarily hurtful and divisive words, that would cause a large portion of the potential LambdaConf audience to feel unwelcome, even if the author has since had a change of heart. I don’t believe the author has had a change of heart, not least because every old post is still available without retraction. It is also going to take more than the author stating “I’m not a racist” a few times to make me believe that.

        This is not someone worth giving a platform to, full stop.

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          So, if you actually read the links you provide, they do paint an odd picture.

          The first tweet you link is immediately followed by the same author saying:

          He’s a pretty good programmer but will never be anywhere near the troll @rabite is, and if you’re afraid of Moldbug, you’re silly. The end.

          The Baffler piece seems to be a cheerful smear piece–their dismissal of his writings on humanities is rooted not in a critique of his ideas, but instead in credentialism. How many folks studying CS are you aware of that took very many classes outside of their primary coursework? It of course has the usual modern dismissal of alien political ideology, again without thought or rational argument.

          The Spears tweet is an alarming excerpt–until you read the whole essay, which is an exploration of Carlyle writings and slavery. The article is hardly advocating for a particular form of slavery–say, as practiced in the American South–but i stead is attempting a much broader examination, especially in terms of “why does this power structure, under various names, come back again and again?” Whether or not he ends up answering that, or in making a useful Carlylian critique of Afghanistan or San Francisco, is a matter of opinion–what is not, though, is whether the article was trying to paint minorities as untermensch.

          Your final link is basically an essay saying that the author views a single general ideology as underpinning modern politics in the world, goes on to point out that we could do worse by having for example lost to the Nazis, and finally just kinda goes on a tangent about how morbidly curious he finds the Nazis and tries to suggest parallels witn enviromentalism. This sort of stuff would be a good debate at a bar, but shouldnt frighten anyone.


          Basically, I do think your categorical denial of a platform (full stop) is not justified by the evidence you bring up here.

          In fact, more time spent reading the source material whenever it is quoted tends to do wonders for quality discussion–thoguh it does take more time and effort than crying bigot and seeking the consensus of similarly harried commentors.

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            The first tweet you link is immediately followed by the same author saying: He’s a pretty good programmer but will never be anywhere near the troll @rabite is, and if you’re afraid of Moldbug, you’re silly. The end.

            The assumption there is that “casual racism” is harmless and/or can be ignored. I guess the whole point is there are a lot of minorities who view those statements quite differently; for whom “casual racism” conjures up photos of white people smiling while black people hang from trees. Lynchings happened in the United States less than a hundred years ago and if it happened to people who look like you, you are bound to think differently and feel differently about a person who calls your race “more suited for slavery”, than white people will. Especially when you pair the “casual racism” with the written history of praise for Nazis, fascism, and fascination with slavery and race, I don’t see why this is a person you would want to give a platform to.

            There are plenty of people who are “not as bad” as Andrew Auernheimer (Swastika tattoo, threatened and harassed Kathy Sierra off of the Internet) who I would also not be willing to invite to a conference, let alone give a talk. That’s an unbelievably low bar.

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              (am going to break my own rule about making one point at a time, because I don’t want to clutter this up with several replies, though it would be interesting from a “vote on what you agree with, flag what you don’t” perspective)

              The assumption there is that “casual racism” is harmless and/or can be ignored.


              in the jeep to the ranch house where everyone was staying, he started up with the casual racism, and everyone ignored him.

              So, it seems like a valid assumption in this case? And this would’ve been in a small intimate setting (interior of a car) instead of a conference where people could freely dissociate from the fellow. And yet, they managed to have an enjoyable discussion otherwise at the conference (again, after the conference is when he started up with the ignorable conversation, if you read your own quote).

              If you read carefully, he doesn’t directly claim that a particular race is more deserving of slavery. From your source, he makes the points that:

              1. Some humans are better suited to slavery than others due to natural variance in phenotype. One may say the same about, say, metabolic requirements or fitting into a small space.
              2. Different populations (colloquially, races) are expected to have different rates of natural variance and to have variance in different qualities.
              3. Spaniards and other slavers found that, because of 1 and 2, certain subgroups were better for enslavement than others.

              Frankly, I think that #1 is a nebulous claim. I don’t think that he does a good job explaining how power relationships are somehow influenced by genetics (though if pressed, I think the way to start would be in the nature-or-nurture questions about human sexuality, and explore in the direction of folks doing power exchange stuff, but that’s all quite besides the point here). #2 is basic math. #3 is, without referencing documents from the time period, pure conjecture on the part of Moldbug (perhaps the journey was shorter and more lucractive, or the skin color a more desirable shade, or maybe it was marketing all along).

              The point being, he doesn’t say “African Americans deserve to be enslaved”. You continually act as though he had, which is incorrect and unfair given the docs you are citing here.


              Especially when you pair the “casual racism” with the written history of praise for Nazis, fascism, and fascination with slavery and race, I don’t see why this is a person you would want to give a platform to.

              First, you keep making this weird linking error of bringing in (potentially valid) issues of “casual racism” and then acting like they are automatically applicable to Moldbug. Somewhat bemusedly, I will observe that a “casual” racist would hardly spend so much time researching and writing about their opinions on race! What exactly do you consider casual racism?

              Moldbug never describes himself as a “casual racist”–in fact, the only one to do so (other than you) is the author of the first tweet you mention. Said author does not define their usage, which is fine; however, when you then bring up @swannodette strongly emotional remarks regarding lynching and whatnot upon exposure to the term “casual racist”, one questions if indeed the two sources are using the term to refer to the same thing. Your argument assumes that they are, which may not be a fair equivalency.

              Second, your dismissal of their “fascination with slavery and race” needs better explanation. Great chunks of history are molded by racism and the coerced labor of humans, and so it would seem natural that such a thing might be an object of study and curiosity. Indeed, one might even levy the same complaint against @swannodette. And before you say that that is unreasonable, consider that under the “less than 100 years have passed” horizon you yourself suggested, the same interest in Nazis and fascism rather apply.

              Also, if you read even a handful of essays of his (which is exactly what I found myself doing in researching my replies to you here), it becomes pretty obvious that he’s truly a reactionary and does not agree (however inarticulately) with democracy-as-inherently-good. From that, of course he’s going to be interested in alternative power structures, e.g. fascism. That hardly makes him a bad person, unless you are so tribal that you immediately consider democracy as an unquestionable Good.


              Like, I get that you find Moldbug’s areas of interest icky, rightly or wrongly. That’s fine.

              What’s not fine is to continually condemn another person using only second-hand word-of-mouth and to pillory them for things that they actually aren’t claiming.

              You want to screed against evil racists, you want to prevent lynching at conferences, and so forth: unfortunately, you and many like you have decided that Moldbug/Curtis is the embodiment of those things you despise, when he’s really not.

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            called slavery “a natural human relationship"

            I wonder: isn’t it a natural human relationship? That isn’t to say it’s ok but rather that it seems to fit how humans end up naturally organizing themselves. I don’t know if this is what the author meant, though.

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              Yeah, you could say slavery is “natural” without saying it’s “good”. The fallacious appeal to nature is relevant here.

              I think the problem with Moldbug’s writing is that he makes a lot of claims without providing evidence, or assumes that you already know the evidence he refers to, and obfuscates his actual logical argument. It’s kinda like how Nietzsche writes for a certain level of intelligence (e.g. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, can be read on multiple levels, and is intended to be read as such)… Except Nietzsche did good philosophy.

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                Given my recent exposure to his writings (caused by this thread), I would agree with you. He also seems to have this annoying tendency to zoom off in weird directions–the submission here, for example, honestly would’ve been far more effective if he hadn’t brought up Moldbug’s ideology at all, and had instead merely provided a link to the defense having been written elsewhere.

                We love to think our readers can process more than one thread at a time, but the most effective messages say one thing, say it well, and then shut up before they give the audience more ammunition to disagree with.

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              Should we now boycott medium as well for giving this person a platform?

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                Conference speakers must apply and get selected to give a talk, a process that implies a degree of selection and sponsorship of the speakers and the content; these people are acceptable members of our community. That’s the larger discussion: what is the community that attends LambdaConf? Who do we want to be a part of that community? Who will we not allow to be a part of a community? For better or worse, giving Yarvin a platform will make a large number of people feel unwelcome at LambdaConf. We can debate all we want but those people are not going to feel any more welcome.

                There is a “community” of people who contribute to Medium articles, and comment on them, but they don’t get together a few times a year, have those get togethers correlate with networking or career success, or collaborate with each other. I think the equivalent would be if Medium decided to promote this to their “Staff picks” or whatever, at which point I’d think their decision was similarly misguided.

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                  For better or worse, giving Yarvin a platform will make a large number of people feel unwelcome at LambdaConf. We can debate all we want but those people are not going to feel any more welcome.

                  Those people probably wouldn’t have even noticed it was Moldbug were it not for a bunch of other folks making so much noise about the fact.

                  Indeed, they probably wouldn’t be as uncomfortable if he was not constantly misreported as being some massive caricature of fascism and pro-African-American slavery.

                  Folks instead made him into this monster, and are now claiming that his presence would make people unsafe–all rather self-fulfilling.

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                    I thought LC made it fairly clear they accepted a talk, not necessarily a speaker and everything they believe.

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                I haven’t read much of Moldbug’s writings, but I’ve gone through some. I tend to think that his offensiveness has been magnified by the nonexistence of all-or-nothing transactions in political discourse. If “AB” is offensive and “ABC” is not, you still can’t say “ABC” without people hearing “AB” and getting angry about it.

                For example, the word “slavery” is triggering, because people focus on the extreme forms of it: American chattel slavery, modern sex-work slavery. Moldbug describes in his AMA that slavery is a spectrum, and he’s right. (I tend to be very opposed to the softer forms of slavery that many people accept, including a white-collar society in which previous managers and employers are given more credibility over one’s competence than evidence that a person, him- or herself, can provide. The fact that we live on our reputations, which employers control, is a form of slavery, albeit much milder than other forms.) Yarvin’s willingness to start from first principles, and reach conclusions that many find disagreeable, makes people uncomfortable, and the fact that he’s in an industry where many of the top people actually do believe offensive and wrong things (like that women shouldn’t vote, or that Silicon Valley tech barons should run the world, or that blackballing suspected unionists is a moral thing to do, or that colonialism was a just arrangement) makes it worse for him. If you take in Moldbug’s ideas in full, they’re still disagreeable (in my opinion) and some I consider flat-out incorrect, but they’re less flagrantly offensive than he’s been made out to be.

                I do feel like some of the anti-Yarvin sentiment is an overreaction to our humiliation as tech workers of either (a) the generation that lost the industry or (b) the one immediately after that. We work for startups that take money from billionaire VCs who believe some very illiberal things (although it’s uncommon that they express their opinions once famous, because Sand Hill Road will turn its back on you if your views become inconvenient to its self-branding as morally superior to Wall Street) and consequently work in humiliating open-plan/“Agile” cultures focused more on driving out “the weak” (the disabled, the “olds”, the pregnant) than getting anything done. We can’t do anything about those billionaires or those founders (who take in the same ideology) so, instead, we lash out at a relatively harmless person whose views are very different from our own.

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                  I think it is quite clear from the writing that the writer is not a racist, and for a better reason. I was never convinced by human neurological uniformity, because it seems clearly false. (Think about it: human height uniformity would be a ridiculous idea.) I arrived at similar conclusions myself to have non-racist belief without believing false premises.

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                    Why do you say that? His argument for why he isn’t “racist” is no different from all other racists…

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                    The same argument I’ve heard for decades, whether I was living in South Carolina or Chicago. But he wraps it in more words, terrible writing and what you’d expect from someone who thinks they are smarter than they are.