Forward Optimization

More Dark Enlightenment self-reflection via Spandrell.

We can thank Nick Land for coining the phrase “optimize for intelligence” because it provides a terministic frame for discussing the vital heart, the gravitational center, of neoreactionary thinking. We all agree, as Spandrell says, that progressivism is no good. Why isn’t it any good? Because it optimizes for stupidity, dysgenic breeding, racial spoils, resentment, a crumbling infrastructure, corporate cronyism, an ever-decreasing space exploration budget, an education policy that caters to retards, 30 low-IQ immigrants into the West for every Brahmin genius, et cetera, et cetera.

Critiquing these facts is fine, but we must also ask the obvious follow-up question: For what should society optimize instead? What should we incentivize, and what should we disincentivize?

I side with the techno-capitalists in saying that we should optimize for intelligence and scientific advancement. I don’t know about you, but I like living in a world with electricity, penicillin, indoor plumbing, air-conditioning,  airplanes, automobiles, the internet, chemotherapy, SpaceX, cell phones, breathable fabrics, artificial limbs, 3d printing, and the possibility of avoiding human extinction at the hands of a rogue asteroid or natural climate change. Part of the reactionary awakening is the realization that technological advancement is not guaranteed, and that the West had better reclaim its mandate for scientific excellence unless it wants the Far East to take the mantle.

If there’s any intellectual project that should go forward in the reacto-sphere, it should be a collaborative study of the history of science, in order to better understand under what conditions intelligence thrives and scientific advancement leaps forward.

Of course, if the West is incapable of sustaining its techno-commercialist trajectory, then optimizing for ethno-stability seems a second best option. Europe still has enough time, barely, to curtail its suicidal immigration policies and, following Switzerland or Liechtenstein, to settle into a comfortably regionalist (though technologically stagnant) existence. America is a lost cause in this regard; white Anglos will be only half the population in our lifetimes. This demographic reality is one of the major reasons I side with the techno-capitalists; ethno-nationalism is not a luxury afforded to a white American circa 2013. And anyway, I’d much prefer living life in a world run by high-IQ East Asians than in some ethnic bunker, limned on all sides by barbarian hordes.


21 responses

  1. Nick B. Steves

    “Optimize for intelligence” can have a very literal meaning: something like “Do what we can to get the best and brightest, and ever more of them, working on the niftiest stuff that will make us more intelligent (and comfortable and happy)”; and it can have a meta-meaning, “All that plus preserve it going forward with low negative externalities.”

    The techno-capitalist route is hedonic–it’s rational as far as it goes, but it is not the full human story. Optimization for hedonism has, as the last two generations capably demonstrate, costly (bankrupting, possibly fatal) externalitites–things that got left out of the “equation”, but which today threaten not only hedonic improvement, but our very capacity to carry it out.

    So while it is well and good to speak of optimization for intelligence, we should think about that intelligence in terms of wider space and time scales (peoples today and future generations, even if in concentric circles of concern). In a way, culture represents a sort of meta-intelligence: better (and worse) ways of passing on genes and memes and technology so that our neighbors and our grandchildren (and their own) will be materially better off. And thought of in that way, you bring in an essential conservatism, a disposition not to do nothing (even the Amish have technology), but to be careful of the impact that new technologies have on the extant cultural infrastructure–which, tho’ not any single person’s optimum, nevertheless reflects a lot of successful adaptation to both local social conditions and stubbornly intransigent aspects of human nature.

    Dennis Mangan is a veritable treasure trove of cautionary tales about modern technologies. We always need someone or something smarter than just the merely smart.

    May 1, 2013 at 12:52 am

    • You can’t be conservative, because if some of your neighbour is not, and invades your country, then you’re fucked. In that sense conservatism died with Napoleon. Let’s call it Historical Darwinianism: the nastiest, more advanced, with less scruples win.

      Techno-commercialism is about giving up and joining the nasty plutocrats in the creative destruction rat-race.

      May 1, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      • Nick B. Steves

        I doubt that history bears this out. The Conquistadors were far more benign masters to new world peoples than the Mayans. Good-bye, human sacrifice.

        Cooperation (a la trust but verify, big stick, speaking softly) is far better for business in the long run than theft; the latter occupying the wrong part of the Laffer curve. Even the Amish have their defense mechanisms. By “conservative disposition” I do not mean “suicidal”.

        May 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm

  2. Handle

    I am struggling to write a succinct response to this. I may have to take you (and several others) up on that blogging suggestion sooner than I wanted.

    But, perhaps a preview.

    I would invite you to ponder, for a while, what it means when we choose to to ‘optimize’ for anything.

    At the very least, this has a kind of future-oriented goal. As opposed to being utterly indifferent regarding the future. And that requires a notion of values or an idea of what vision one prefers.

    It is worth working out, “Well, why have a goal? Why should I care about the future? If the Earth of 2113 teems with nothing but starving moron Jihadis, what’s it to me?”

    You could call this the time-horizon aspect of the ‘pure’ amoral-materialist view – Nihilistic, ego-driven, solipsistic, narcissistic, self-centered, hedonistic, cynical, exploitative, opportunistic, quasi-psychotic (lacking consideration for others, except, instead of by birth or brain defect, by choice). It’s Real Politic, except instead of Foreign Policy, it’s Personal Policy.

    I’ve read Roissy express this view, “Have as much fun as possible – which means getting as good at all the games as possible – before it’s no longer possible for you, then shoot yourself while watching videos of your best porn home-movies.”

    Branching out into taxonomies from the pure view, you have the various value systems and their families. Universal vs. Particular. Individualist vs. Collective. Bourgeois vs. Martial vs. Peasant vs. Noble. Egalitarian vs. Hierarchical, etc.

    Each of these views probably maps to at least one vision of a preferred future – itself really the preferred present, if only it were possible to bring about such a state of affairs. If you think it’s possible to eventually get from here to there, why waste time? Why not try to accelerate the velocity of transition? Wanting to immanentize the techno-eschaton is a version of this.

    The flavors of neoreaction, while united in opposition to the common enemy, are fissiparous and prone to dissensus because they break not only in terms of metaphysics, but in preferences, values and visions as well.

    It is one thing to ask, “What shall we maximize?”, as they did when the “Population Bomb” was a fad.

    It is another thing to wonder about it in the way that Nietzsche did, and settle upon a kind of perpetual eugenics-via-contests between increasingly super supermen, as a worthy goal for humanity to set for itself. Avant-la-lettre Transhumanism? The 1883 vision of the singularity, perhaps?

    But the core question remains the same: why choose a future?

    May 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

    • Nick B. Steves

      Yeah, what Handle said…

      May 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    • “But the core question remains the same: why choose a future?”

      All actions require a rationale, which requires an ultimate purpose. Why do anything at all?

      May 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      • Nick B. Steves

        What rationale has been chosen by Nature (or Nature’s God or Both): hedons or grandchildren?

        May 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    • Handle, I appreciate where you’re going with this. On certain days, I can be convinced to sit poolside with Roissy, not worrying about how present systems are shaping future worlds, only worrying about how to work whatever systems in which I find myself in order to optimize for getting tits and ass.

      I also understand the worries about Technology Loosed From All Constraints–tech is the LEAST democratic force there is. No one ever took votes on whether or not physics should unleash the atom or whether cell phones should be unleashed into the world. I know things get lost in the mad dash for profit and advancement. But as Spandrell said, there’s really no choice in the matter. Fighting it will only make you a bitter Luddite.

      In response to your final question, “Why choose a future?”, I suppose I’m just at a certain age–recently married, career getting started, kids in the near future . . . I’ve got another sixty or seventy years ahead of me, and I don’t want to die and leave my kids in what has become a Global Third World. To me, techno-commercialism is the best hedge against that possibility.

      May 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm

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  4. John

    “low-IQ Ethiopian immigrants into the West for every Brahmin genius”

    We obviously don’t want any Ethiopians but you are overestimating Indians, even Brahmins.

    The average IQ of India is only 81.

    And even the smarter Indians are very clannish and corrupt:

    In fact, in the long term, the higher IQ Indians will probably do more damage to our country than the lower IQ ones.

    May 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm

  5. Conquistadors won because they had higher IQs. End of story.
    Ceteris paribus the nastiest and better organized wins.

    That usually involves violence and coercion. How many local traditions were destroyed by Rome? By Chingis Khan? How many by European imperialism?

    May 2, 2013 at 5:51 am

    • Nick B. Steves

      Sure, but nasty and better organized are negatively correlated, right? And how did Conquistadors get those higher IQs to begin with? Not by being nasty. Evil is stupid… at least statistically.

      May 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      • Nick, you may not like what I have to say in my latest post, which was inspired by your discussion with Spandrell here. “Were the Conquistadors nasty?” Yes and no. Depends the time, place, and position within the old and new hierarchies of the south american landmass. But we needn’t be afraid of answering “Yes” partially. What we should be afraid of is that the Cathedral wants to highlight the nastiness of the Conquistadors to the exclusion of all else, including the fact that the natives they conquered could be nasty, too. Instead of focusing on the sins or merits of the colonizers, we should focus on the sins of colonized, which have been completely airbrushed out of history at this point.

        May 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      • No. The Mongols were superbly organized. Conquistadors got their higher IQs through letting the stupid starve for generations.

        May 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    • DB

      This is a bit overstated.

      “Guns, Germs, and Steel” has a fair bit of politically correct garbage, but its argument that Eurasians gained a huge advantage from tech trade (facilitated by a very long east-west axis; east-west is a lot better than north-south because it reduces climate variation) seems essentially correct to me. Yes, the resulting higher-tech environments sometimes produced stronger selection for IQ, but I’m pretty sure the multi-millennium tech lead the conquistadors enjoyed over the Aztecs/Mayans was more decisive than the IQ difference.

      May 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm

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  7. survivingbabel

    I’m just playing around here, but I was thinking about this as a two-resource optimization problem, with intelligence on the x-axis and asabiyyah on the y-axis. I would say that both factors are absolutely essential in building a society that is both temporally successful, and has staying power for the future.

    Constraints are:

    100 < x < 160 (measured in average IQ of the populace)

    0 < y < 150 (measured as a reduction to Dunbar’s number)

    Okay, pretty simple so far, Let’s just get a population of 160 IQers in a properly proportional population, and we’re all set, yes?

    Not so fast. What if there is some sort of relationship between Intelligence and Asabiyyah, such that:

    Px + Qy = 1

    Now, the problem becomes murkier. if such a relationship exists, you can’t just collect a bunch of 160 IQ people from around the world and throw them into a society. Instead, you simply must derive P and Q in order to move forward. This derivation is philosophically the cause of the rift between the techno-capitalists and the other two branches.

    Does this make any sense?

    May 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm

  8. Simon

    I grew up in an ethnic bunker – it was pretty good – certainly promotes community cohesion/asabiya. Israel is nice enough for Israelis. It’s when asabiya fails, as it did for the Afrikaners in SA, that things get unpleasant.

    May 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    • Which ethnic bunker? I’m always intrigued by such lifestyles, especially because it’s so removed from my own Southern California upbringing.

      Re: Israel. I think that’s a model state for ethno-nationalist neoreactionaries. They obviously brought infrastructure and stability to the region, but I don’t know much about their scientific or cultural achievements. You’d think an ethno-state for high-IQ Jews would have started terra-forming the moon by now.

      May 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm

  9. Bloke

    You’d think an ethno-state for high-IQ Jews would have started terra-forming the moon by now.

    Thats not where jewish talents or interests lie by and large. All that high verbal IQ etc If they have build guns and fighter jets they can and will but Im not sure their heart is really in it.

    May 11, 2013 at 5:40 am

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