I have to ask, OP: why is your username waffle_ss? Perhaps this is a PC overreaction on my part, but it makes me uncomfortable. (It’s close to Waffen-SS.) If that’s not intentional, then I apologize for bringing it up.
On Moldbug… I don’t find myself much liking the guy, but on the same token, I’m unnerved by the rapidness of the reaction to him. I feel like people are overly focused on Mencius Moldbug and not the question that the organizers have to ask themselves, which is, “Does the presence of Curtis Yarvin make the venue less safe?” The rapid pull-out of conference sponsors seems to be an overreaction.
It’s quite possible that Yarvin has written worse things than what I’ve read, but I haven’t encountered anything that’s made me believe he’s a danger to conference-goers. He also seems to be getting hit with guilt-by-association: many neoreactionaries (NRx) are racist, and he’s an NRx, ergo he’s racist.
We don’t throw out the work of Wagner, Frege, or Ezra Pound even though their politics were disgusting. All of them were much more clearly racist and anti-democratic than Mr. Yarvin, at least by what I’ve seen.
Also, as one who’s been “de-platformed” (not at a conference, but on Quora and Hacker News) as well as effectively fired (Google) for my political views (leftist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, leaning pro-union) I can’t really get up a good feeling when I see it happening to someone else, even if I find his politics to be repulsive.
When I was in middle or high school I played Counter-Strike with my friend; he went by pancake_nazi so I came up with waffle_ss to fit in with the Nazi breakfast theme. Very clever pun, I know. I’ve just been too lazy to think up anything else.
For the record I hold both Nazi and NRx ideologies (well, what I’ve heard of NRx since I don’t have time to read Yarvin’s screeds) in very low regard.
Anyway the name pun is an attempt at levity / poking fun of Nazism, not an endorsement. I do take my waffle-making seriously, though.
For the record I hold both Nazi and NRx ideologies […] in very low regard.
Garden path sentence much?
I learn from the best
Don’t worry. I’m not offended. It’s almost impossible to offend me. I just found it awkward to be replying to someone with that screen name, given the topic.
Neoreaction is, indeed, an ugly philosophy. I find it intellectually interesting, just to scout “the other side”, but there’s only so much I can take before I get depressed. Also, many of his analyses are simplistic or flat-out incorrect. While Yarvin maintains that he isn’t racist, most of the people under the “NRx” tent are. And don’t get me started on so-called “HBD”, which is just nauseating.
Here’s a different approach, which explains this quite reasonably: LambdaConf made a lot of effort to contact organisations involving PoC, introducing diversity scholarships etc. to gain some fame. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, they decide to run a person which is clearly incompatible. These organisations cut their ties and oppose the project they supported. It’s all very unsurprising. You can’t shout “everyone is equal, please spread!” and then invite someone on the speakers list who wrote hundreds of thousands of words how he thinks people are fundamentally unequal by disposition and some should be slaves.
I’d be far less aggravated if LambdaConf had just been a run-of-the-mill conference, but it tried to be the diverse conference in FP. Now it shows that they actually meant “libertarian”. Appropriating terms like “inclusive” or “diverse” for that is just a recipe for disaster.
I don’t think the word “platform” gets us anywhere. I prefer “spaces” nowadays. LambdaConf chose to be a temporary, short space where anything goes unless it’s not physically violent. What they communicated was something different though. And that difference is biting them now, making sponsors jump off and people protest.
Spaces that are larger and have longer time-spans obviously follow different rules. I would disagree with a ban of Yarvis from Hacker News. I’m not sure how I would feel as an employer, especially as my company does take public stances on diversity issues.
Political issues are nasty and I can see arguments for both of the boundary. It is a boundary though and there will be conflicts around that. Still, I found the protest against LambdaConf appropriate and many people made the effort to also read the statements of LambdaConf critically and it is also okay to approach sponsors. People even opened up a competing conf. Especially if you hold libertarian views, these should be very valid forms of protest.
Excluding people from spaces is something that should rarely be done, but something that will become an issue over time. Especially when people are fundamentally incompatible with others (what’s compatible or not for the organiser to decide). I’m moderating Bulletin Boards and running Meetups and Conferences for 15 years now and usually subscribe to “have the ban-hammer in the corner, but keep it visible” as an approach there. Erring on the side of not kicking people out is also important, but if you end up spending hours and hours writing high-level things of meager philosophical value, something is broken and you have probably fucked up. In my book, Moldbug though would be uninvitable after I contacted the first organisation supporting PoC (which often had actual slaves as ancestors) for support.
I for one note that people suddenly feel like writing thousands of words about all these topics after the fact. It would have been nice if LambdaConf had, for example, spent the equal amount of time on writing on how to include disabled people, PoC and other marginalised groups. But, here’s the catch: even if this whole thing hadn’t happened, they wouldn’t have. And that’s a lot food for thought about how inclusive they really are.
Man all I want to do is see his talk on Urbit. I’m just glad I don’t have to goto an NRx rally to do so.
LambdaConf made a lot of effort to contact organisations involving PoC, introducing diversity scholarships etc. to gain some fame.
The devil of it is, another reading is that those same groups were incredibly fickle.
I hate to be cynical, but it seems that a reasonable conclusion for the majority would be to continue business as usual: if you do, nothing changes other than token kvetching online, and if you don’t you may well end up with a huge PR disaster on your hands.
This whole debacle can be interpreted–in the souless business sense–as a big message that trying to include potentially sensitive groups can backfire tremendously.