Volver, or Christianity and the Degenerative Ratchet

“Christianity is dead” is an extreme categorical statement with which one can quibble, but one cannot deny that Christianity has lost whatever power it once possessed to guide civilization. As a political force, it is non-existent. It is even less powerful than that ancient gathering of a few dissident Jews in Palestine. At least they had potential force.

Reactionaries who think they can “revive” the religion of their ancestors, who think they can “restore” their throne and altar, are forgetting the core neoreactionary insight: the degenerative ratchet. Once something embarks on leftward movement (as Christianity has done since, at least, the Reformation), there can be no stopping its leftward movement. One cannot go back along the same leftward path. The way out of the degenerative ratchet cannot be the way in.

Ultimately, those who use the language of  “return” or “regeneration” or “restoration” seek only one thing: to turn back the clock on Christianity. Back to the 1950s. Back to the 1850s. Back before that drunken German monk ruined everything. It doesn’t matter when. Volver. The idea is to move backward along the leftward path, to move rightward once again, to return, to go back to some point in the past before the leftward movement became so extreme. The idea is to get out the way we came in. Which is impossible. 

The only way to stop the leftward movement—the degenerative ratchet—of Christianity is  . . . catastrophe.

A degenerative ratchet can only progress, until it cannot go on, and it stops. What happens next is something else—it’s Outside. Moldbug calls it a reboot.  History can tell us to expect it, but not what we are to expect.

. . . This is why NRx is dark. The only way out of a degenerative ratchet is catastrophe.

Does the Bible itself not bear this out? God does not return His people peacefully to Eden. God reboots. God resets. Catastrophically. When He saw that all of mankind had fallen into utter degeneracy, he sent a world-destroying Flood, rebooted the earth, and began a completely new covenant with Noah. Whenever Israel misbehaves in the Bible, God scatters it. And what else is Jesus’ Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection but the complete turning-on-its-head of everything Israel had expected? What else is the Gospel but a complete reset of the “kingly” Messianic expectation? God does not return things to a golden age of the past. He lets things fester until He decides they can’t fester any longer, then He washes everything clean in a divine catastrophe.

There can be no “return” for Christianity. There can be no “restoration” of some imagined pagan past. The degenerative ratchet has done its work, and we can’t look behind us down that already-traveled road. Better to look forward to the generative catastrophe ahead.

A Monopoly on Violence

The tribal urban protests happening in American cities bring most forcefully to mind this simple question:

Who, if anyone, is to have a monopoly on violence?


The Western provides the archetype:

A small town on the prairie, full of good, hardworking folk, is being terrorized by a roving band of horse and cattle thieves, or perhaps by a land baron forcing the community under threats of violence into selling their farms for well-below-market value. What are the good townspeople to do? They are not violent by nature, and even if one can find a few strong men to fight the good fight, everyone knows the dark truth: a defensive blow from their side would simply result in an even stronger blow from the cattle thieves or the land baron. Thus would be initiated an ever-escalating battle, with uncertain ends. Too much to lose.

In rides the Man With No Name. On horseback, six shooters at his side. He hails from nowhere and nothing. He takes up the cause of the townspeople. He rides out to confront the roving band of thieves or the land baron. Not only does he fight the enemy, he kills the enemy. He wins not only the one fight but all future fights, so that the town might live in peace even once he has gone.

And he must go. The Man With No Name must ride into the sunset. He cannot become part of the community he has saved; there is too much blood on his hands. He has saved the town through viciousness. He has saved it with bullets and with mortal wounds, the only way to save it, but luckily, The Man With No Name has saved the town not only from its physical threat but also from the moral threat of guilt. Thanks to the Man With No Name, the town did not have to summon its own monstrous viciousness to confront and defeat the monster. 

The Man With No Name is a sin-eater. He has a monopoly on the violence which is necessary to save the town, so that the town needn’t deal with the truth, that moral terror is necessary to combat moral terror.

One of the central questions confronting any society is how to deal with the threat of violent individuals or groups that exist within it. The answer has generally been to give the state or some other centralized power a complete monopoly on the violence necessary to ensure protection against internal threats to harmony. Generally speaking, this monopoly is to be Nameless, hailing from nowhere and nothing, which is why the horseman in the Western has No Name and why the executioner wears a mask when he beheads the criminal. The executioner, like the horseman, is a sin-eater. He combats terror with terror so that the community or the individuals victimized do not have to, that they might remain innocent.

The alternatives to monpolized violence slide quickly toward vigilantism or mob rule, scenarios in which any community or individual may be called upon to resort to violence in order to combat violence.

Neoreactionary law would be minimal, protecting negative rights. The only acts punishable in a neoreactionary society would be acts that materially harm or that intend to materially harm body or property.

What, then, does the neoreactionary society do with a Michael Brown, or even a Tamir Rice? (A neoreactionary society would not have bothered Eric Garner, because a neoreactionary society would not decree laws against the free trade of cigarettes.)

What does the neoreactionary society do with internal threats? It is not enough to answer “Exit” for every internal threat, for there is no escaping the problems of internal criminality and violence. We must address those internal threats. How do we address them?

Do we give some central power a monopoly on the violence necessary to combat internal violence?

Do we outsource the violence?

Do we distribute it?


According to ThinkProgress, which would surely paint the worst possible picture, the CIA held 119 individuals for torture. The Torture Report itself tells us that only 39 individuals were actually tortured. These individuals were tortured in the following way:

(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.

With the exception of (9) and (12), there’s nothing in this list that doesn’t occur in military training or during fraternity hazing. And unlike the Japanese, who buried people alive for real, the mock burials conducted by the CIA did not result in actual burial. That leaves (9), waterboarding, as the only technique that could possibly be defined as “torture,” unless one is willing to apply the designation to military training and fraternity hazing.

The “dungeon” in which these “tortures” occurred was not a 5 star hotel, according to ThinkProgress, and this is cause for alarm:

Detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste.

According to the Washington Post, however, such interrogation never lasted longer than 2 weeks. According to the Report itself, only 39 individuals went through these interrogations.

– – – –

I’m of the opinion that enhanced interrogation, torture, or whatever you want to call it is probably ineffective 90% of the time, which may or may not mean that it is worth doing for the sake of the 10% of the time that it produces valuable intelligence.

I am not going to defend the CIA because the CIA is an arm of the Cathedral, and its psychotic operatives, who follow whatever commands trickle down from the White House and the Pentagon, would just as soon waterboard a dissident blogger as a jihadist. However, because the majority of the 119 “tortured” individuals were enemies of my country, men who would kill me if they had the chance and who were involved in a movement to kill Americans, I see no reason to be angry that the CIA roughed these men up. I’m not even angry that one of them died of hypothermia, although I do think someone should have been dishonorably discharged over that fuck up.

There is an appropriate level of moral distaste that one might feel upon reading the Torture Report. War is a dirty affair, the men who volunteer for it may not be the best of men, and whatever occurred during these enhanced interrogations is certainly not a war story about which the soldiers and operatives can be proud. However, those on the Left who are rending their garments over this report have shown themselves, again, to possess moral compasses that are broken beyond repair. Consider it: here are a mere 119 men, degraded, surely, but who are alive today and did not receive any permanent injuries at the hands of their captors. If Abu Zubaydah is any indication, most of these men have been high ranking members of para-military groups involved in para-military action against the U.S. and her allies—in other words, they have attempted, successfully or otherwise, to blow things up and take American lives. And yet roughing them up, keeping them in dark rooms, pouring water over their faces, these are actions for which America is to be deeply troubled and ashamed. These are actions which show us to be, indeed, the Great Satan that the jihadists (rightly) believe we are.

Of course, very few people rending their garments over the fact that 119 jiahdists had to shit in buckets for a few weeks have ever made a show of rending their garments over the many atrocities that occur across the world on a daily basis, atrocities that leave headless children, limbless men, and deflowered women in their wake. Sandra Fluke has piped up to say she is “horrified by the torture report,” but spend time scrolling down her Twitter feed to find how many times she has commented on horror at anything but the gender pay gap. You will be scrolling quite a while. ISIS beheads four children, but 39 jihadists getting water poured over their faces is “the horror! the horror!”

We are familiar with the motivation on display here. There is one standard of behavior for white Westerners and another standard of behavior for everyone else. Abu Zubaydah commits his life to jihad, helps plan the 9/11 attacks, all par for the course, can we really blame him, but here now, you pour water on his face and make him piss his pants, it’s time for the European Court of Human Rights to step in and award him 30,000 Euros for being submitted to such horrors. We have to show these Arabs who are their moral betters.

The only other possible motivation for rending one’s garment over 39 jihadists shitting in buckets for a few weeks (while not rending one’s garments over dead American soldiers) is that one sides with the jihadists. Such a motivation has precedence in the history of the Left. 

A Letter to Dr. Michael White

There are debates in linguistics about how to categorize languages and dialects; Nicholas Wade has reignited the debate over how to categorize human populations.

Michael White’s recent article is titled  “Why Your Race Isn’t Genetic,” although at the end of his essay, he writes, “Without natural genetic boundaries to guide us, human racial categories remain a product of our choices. Those choices are not totally arbitrary, biologically meaningless, or without utility.” So, perhaps a better title would have been “Why Your Race Isn’t Only Genetic.”

I recommend you read the article before reading the following letter.

– – – – – –

Dr. White,

In your article, you cite Templeton’s “Biological races in humans,” where Templeton argues that all humans share a common lineage and that races are not sub-species because the five major ‘races’ of humans account for only 4.3% of cross-population human genetic variation—well below the 25% threshold set for sub-species categorization. But, later, Templeton himself writes that “this finding does not mean that all human populations are genetically identical. Past founder events, isolation-by-distance, and other restrictions on gene flow ensure that human populations are genetically differentiated from one another, and local adaptation ensures that some of these differences reflect adaptive evolution to the environmental heterogeneity that our globally distributed species experiences” (9).

So, there are genetic differences between human populations, but the argument offered by you and Templeton is that those differences don’t meet the standard for classifying different human populations as sub-species. I accept this argument completely insofar as “sub-species” is given an objective cut-off point, but it still doesn’t tell us how to classify (or whether we should classify) the differences that do exist between human populations. With that point in mind, here’s my first extended question:

I mentioned dog breeds on Twitter, and it seems that variation across breeds is near 27%, while human genetic variation has been found to be somewhere on the range of 5-10% (Parker et al. 2004), though, as just noted, Templeton puts it at 4.3%.

However, all of these numbers take large swaths of humanity (or dog breed-dom) into consideration. Ostrander and Wayne 2005 note (Figure 2) that within certain clusters of breeds, there is considerably less variation between one breed and the next. Two other papers (Erdogan et al. 2013 and Ye et al. 2009) have shown that cross-breed genetic variation drops well below 25% in certain contexts. Genetic variation between labs and springer spaniels, for example, is set at 0.09.

That dog breeds are the results of artificial breeding is inconsequential for this discussion about categorization. We know a priori that the notion of “breed” in dogs is a valuable classification system. So, if it’s true that among certain breeds, cross-breed variation drops well below 25%, then why isn’t it possible to have such a classification system to describe variation among human populations, which likewise drops below the 25% threshold for sub-species categorization?

My next extended question is related to this idea of variable genetic distance:

You make much of the fact that human populations are fuzzy and not distinct; the reticulating nature of our human family tree makes any kind of intra-human categorization moot:

. . . . But as it turns out, our species’ family history is not so arboreal. Geneticists have methods for measuring the “treeness” of genetic relationships between populations. Templeton found that the genetic relationships between human populations don’t have a very tree-like structure, while chimpanzee populations do. Rather than a family tree with distinct racial branches, humans have a family trellis that lacks clear genetic boundaries between different groups.

But doesn’t the truth of this statement wax and wane depending on which parts of the human family tree you’re talking about? I could be wrong here, so it’s an honest question. There can be fuzzy boundaries in Northern Europe and fuzzy boundaries in Southwestern Africa, but does that mean that the boundary between populations in Northern Europe and populations in Southwestern Africa is equally fuzzy as when comparing within those geographic boundaries? Isn’t this the point of Figure 2 in Templeton’s paper?

There’s a lot of fuzziness between dialectical boundaries in English and dialectical boundaries in Ojibwe, but not nearly as much fuzziness between English and Ojibwe. If boundaries are as universally unclear as you imply here, what’s the use of FST scores, and how is it that scientists manage to know a person’s ancestry down to a small geographic area?

Templeton argues for an isolation-by-distance model of human genetic variation, and I don’t disagree at all. But isolation-by-distance plus small but not negligible amounts of allele frequency variation between populations . . . . sounds a bit like allopatric speciation to me, at least when you’re comparing the far ends of that isolation cline?  But then, I’m a linguist, not a biologist, so I’m willing to be corrected.

Final question:

We can all agree, I think, that there is variation in allele frequencies between human populations, and that geography is a decent proxy for the occurrence of those frequencies. (This is all that I, and most people, mean by “race.”)  Where we disagree is on whether or not that variation is worth codifying with a classification system. Some people think it is; you think otherwise.

Not all human populations are genetically identical, and insofar as some of us think the study of genetic differences in human populations is interesting, we need a word for those differences. If you want to abandon “race,” fine, but what word would you use? Or would you not use any word because you don’t think these differences are meaningful or worth studying?

Discrimination is natural

Social Darwinism is just Darwinism. Social Darwinism is just the rational assumption that mankind does not exist in a special bubble, cut off from forces we see at work every time we turn on National Geographic.

The common retort is that “social Darwinism” is merely a  just-so story concocted post-hoc to explain away the effects of discrimination. There are haves and have-nots, power and oppression, and in my mind it is an obvious statement to say that such things are inevitable or “natural” given the dynamics of life on Earth. To others, however, by saying it I am erasing the real culprits, the real agents of inequality among humans: discrimination, privilege, and so on. Nothing natural about those. Combat them, and you will see equality flourish.

But this is a misunderstanding. Discrimination and privilege are absolutely a part of the natural order of things that we see at work on National Geographic.

Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) have a stark hierarchy of who does and who does not get to soak in the hot springs. There is a certain class privilege given to young macaques who are lucky enough to be born to dominant females. They get the warm waters of the hot springs; the others are quite literally left out in the cold.

Elk regularly face discrimination—the ones who are weak, elderly, retarded are the ones who will be eaten by the wolves, not the ones who are strong, young, able. Clearly, ageism and able-bodied privilege are at work on the arctic tundra, and the consequences are not psychological but a matter of life and death.

Rape-culture is rampant in nature. Just the other day, at the zoo, I saw a male lion humping a female lion despite her obvious displeasure and anger. Yet she was weaker and smaller than the male lion, and had nowhere to run.

Privilege, discrimination, rape-culture . . . the academic concepts of the Progressives are merely labels for behaviors that we see across the animal kingdom, and it is the existence of privilege, discrimination, and rape culture across the animal kingdom that completely undermines the utility of these concepts—they are supposed to name uniquely human (and therefore alterable) phenomena. But as spending five minutes in front of a wildlife documentary will demonstrate, they are not uniquely human phenomena. They exist in the non-human world. So the onus is on the progressives: what makes you think you can change the behavior of the human animal any more than you can stop dominant macaques from keeping the other macaques out of the hot springs?

Dark Matter

Dark Matter won the neoreactionary journal title poll by a landslide. Personally, I was pulling for “Northern Latitudes Quarterly,” but that was near the bottom. Humorous write-in titles included “Compendium of Pseudo-Intellectual Suggestions”, “The Radish is already doing this”, and “Basement Dwelling Losers Anonymous.”

Here’s the link:

I’m sure there are some bugs, so if you find them, let me know.

Someone had suggested putting up .mobi as well as .pdf files, but I found that the .mobi files were acting quirky, and anyway, there are several different file types people use for e-readers, all of which are easily convertible from .pdf.

Why did I set this up? I set it up for the same reason other bloggers set up an individual site for Land’s “Dark Enlightenment” sequence and for Moldbug’s best posts. It’s important, I think, to save our more interesting posts from archival obscurity. 75% of what we produce is probably throw-away, just like 75% of what any writer produces in any context is throw-away. But the things that are worth saving, we should save in a more permanent, edited form.

Obviously, as a quarterly journal, Dark Matter serves a very different purpose from that served by the excellent, which you can and should visit frequently. And, yes, the Radish is already doing this, but DM’s content will have a broader scope. It will also be, for better or worse, far less witty, ironic, visual, and humorous than the Radish.

A Dialogue

After the Tech Crunch article was published, I had a very long Twitter conversation with a self-styled “anarchist.” I’ve transcribed it here (with minor modifications). It demonstrates plainly that even in radical anarchists we find the Puritan’s universalist impulse to re-make the world in its own eyes, with its own moral compass as a guide, consequences be damned.

The conversation begins with my trying to explain that the coupling of “monarchy” and “neoreaction” is overly simplistic:

Scharlach: The core of neoreaction is not monarchy. The monarchy angle is oversold in the Tech Crunch piece. There are a few earnest monarchists in the neoreactionary ranks, but most of us simply believe that monarchy would in some ways (certainly not in all ways) be better than universal democracy. Defending monarchy is an intellectual point we like to make, not a solid policy proposal.

Anarchist: Fine. So what is the core of neoreaction, if not an apologia for monarchy?

Scharlach: In a few words? Neoreaction is a critique of democracy and demotic excess.

Anarchist: That’s just as absurd as the monarchy business. Everything we enjoy in the West today is thanks to democracy. Democracy is the most positive force in the history of the world.

Scharlach: Quite the opposite. I’d argue that everything we enjoy in the West today has occurred in spite of democracy.

Anarchist: That makes no sense. You must be a racist.

Schlarlach: Can I at least give you some examples of what I mean before you write me off as racist?

Anarchist: Alright. Go ahead, racist.

Scharlach: As one example, I know that every department at my university is very un-democratic when it comes to accepting students. We require both undergraduates and graduates to score well on the SAT and GRE, respectively. There is no voting, no policies to accept all students equally (like at a community college). Once in, students have no say whatsoever in their graduation requirements. And yet my university is ranked in the top 50 nationally and in the top 10 in at least a dozen specialties. As another brief example, how about every successful tech company in existence? Do the janitors at Google get a say in how the company is run?

Anarchist: Okay . . . so you have examples of un-democratic systems that aren’t absolutely shit in every situation. So what?

Scharlach: Oh, but I have lots of examples! I can list them for you if you want.

Anarchist: Spare me.

Scharlach: So why is it then “racist” to suggest that non-democratic social orders might be worth trying?

Anarchist: But non-democratic social orders have been tried. In fact, I’m tempted to argue that the obverse is true. We’ve seen a lot of examples of tyrannical systems trotted out with “democracy” written all over them.

Scharlach: And you don’t find it a bit . . . interesting . . . that so many tyrannical systems seem to find “democracy” a useful cover?

Anarchist: What? Huh? I don’t get what you’re saying? Huh?

Scharlach: Nevermind. I agree that we don’t have anything like true democracy in America or anywhere else on earth. But I would argue that wherever you find things working—in government or in the private sector—you’ll find very little that resembles a democracy in any sense of the word.

Anarchist: Then how about we try democracy? It seems like trying more non-democratic models would be trying the very same things that aren’t working.

Scharlach: Wait. Didn’t we start this conversation based on the assumption that a lot of things are working?

Anarchist: Huh? What? I don’t get what you’re saying? Huh?

Scharlach: Nevermind. How do you define democracy? What is this system that you claim to venerate even though it has never really been tried?

Anarchist: Democracy, as I define it, is a system of governance by which individuals group together to decide on those things that impact the whole.

Scharlach: So everyone should have a say in everything. Sounds very unstable.

Anarchist: No, let me clarify: individuals group together to decide on things that impact them.

Scharlach: Sounds like a tricky distinction to make. In such a system of governance, it’s only a matter of time before political leaders convince people that everything impacts them.

Anarchist: That’s not true. It seems like there will always be a clear distinction that can be made in any given context whether something directly impacts you or not.

Scharlach: Alright. So why do people in Vermont get to vote on Mexican immigration, when said immigration only impacts people along the border states? Or why do I get to vote on same-sex marriage laws when such marriages have no impact on me whatsoever?

Anarchist: That’s not democracy in my anarchistic sense of the word. Under the current authoritarian government model, people get to vote on these issues. But I don’t like how you’re putting immigration and same-sex marriage together here.

Scharlach: Why not? In both cases, we’re talking about people voting on things that don’t directly impact them.

Anarchist: What? Huh? I don’t get it? Huh?

Scharlach: Nevermind.

Anarchist: No, wait, I have an answer: if there is true democracy, “immigration” and “Vermont” become meaningless concepts. Sexuality, in contrast, is a universal human constant.

Scharlach: How would democracy override geographically bound populations and population movement? Those seem like universal human constants, as well.

Anarchist: Uh, uh, uh . . . not every decision is geographical. Consider internet protocols and transnational standards.

Scharlach: That’s a complete non-sequitur, but I’ll bite: lots of people are affected by tech standards who have no idea about technology. Should they get to vote on tech standards?

Anarchist: Actually, if you look at how internet standards are decided, the answers is, Yes: rough consensus among people who are actually coding. With the internet, the rules are a) anybody can participate, b) anybody can make a standard, and c) anybody can choose to use or not use it. And in practice, there is no voting. There is deliberation until rough consensus is reached among those who show interest and actually get involved.

Scharlach: “Deliberation among those involved until rough consensus . . .” That’s actually a mildly neoreactionary way of looking at things. Left-anarchy and neoreaction overlap here. But I’d also point out that we can define “those involved” in this context as individuals who have come together through a decidedly un-democratic process. In theory, “anyone” can participate in computing, but in practice, very few people have both the intelligence and the access to technology needed to code. So, “deliberation among those involved until rough consensus” works in the tech world because the people involved have been culled from the populous and are homogenous in many ways. So, in the end, I agree with you that what you’re defining as democracy can work—but only in small, homogenous groups. But the larger and more racially mixed the group, the more difficult it is to reach consensus about anything. Too many competing factions.

Anarchist: What does race have to do with anything?

Scharlach: Replace “race” with “culture” if that makes you feel more comfortable. Most of us neoreactionaries believe that some cultures are simply incommensurable with others. Impossible to reach consensus about things affecting the group when incommensurable cultures are forced to inhabit the same space.

Anarchist: Sorry, but how much have you traveled?

Scharlach: I’ve grown up in and around Los Angeles. Half my family is Mexican. I know plenty about cultural diversity, if that’s where you’re going.

Anarchist: So what’s wrong with cultural diversity?

Scharlach: It’s fine when there’s consensus about it, I suppose. It’s bad when enforced from the top down.

Anarchist: Cultural groups are not as different as you’re implying here. I’ve traversed enough of this planet to know that human cultures are very similar . . . the differences are relatively small.

Scharlach: The differences are small? That’s interesting. I heard just the other day that Afghanistan might go back to stoning adulterers.

Anarchist: What? Huh? I don’t get it? Huh?

Scharlach: Nevermind. I’d just say that your globe-trotting has most likely been from cosmopolitan city to cosmopolitan city. Everyone looks the same in those cities because they’ve all just adopted your Western norms and ways of living. These people are a minority.

Anarchist: Well, then, the key for democracy is to . . . . to . . .

Scharlach: To what? To make sure that no one on the globe really is all that different from anyone else?

Anarchist: You’re putting words in my mouth!

Scharlach: You just said a moment ago that you define democracy as a system of governance in which individuals group together to decide on things that impact them directly. So let’s look at the Afghan example: do you think it’s alright for Afghans to stone adulterers?

Anarchist: Of course not! That’s horrid! It’s especially horrid because it’s almost always the women who get punished, not the men! Misogyny!

Scharlach: Maybe. But I personally think Afghans have every right to stone adulterers if that’s their cultural consensus. Just as Americans have every right to jail anyone who stones anyone else, if that’s the American consensus.

Anarchist: So you have no problem with murder, slavery, genocide, so long as they’re “culturally consensual”?

Scharlach: I think that any attempt I might make—as an outsider—to solve a problem in Africa or the Middle East would only make matters worse. And you should agree with me, too, if you believe your own version of democracy just defined a moment ago. You need to ask yourself, if you’re such an anarchist, such a believer in organic decision-making among people involved in something, why do you feel this impulse to interfere with something happening in an alien culture five thousand miles away from you? Do adultery laws in Afghanistan “impact you directly”? Does slavery in Africa “impact you directly”?

Anarchist: First, even if it didn’t, we still need to take moral stances on some things. And, second, yes, it does: slavery in Africa makes electronics cheaper for me.

Scharlach: This is exactly what I was talking about at the beginning: in a democracy, it’s only a matter of time before everyone comes to believe that everything affects them directly . . .

Anarchist: [Silence]

Scharlach: And in the end, maybe everything does, in some Cloud Atlas kind of way, affect everyone at some level. Which is why the universalist democratic impulse is dangerous. When everyone has a voice about everything everyone else does, the world becomes its own tyranny.

At which point the anarchist blocked me from his Twitter feed.