At some point I need to read Curtis Yarvin’s latest missive The Clear Pill but it’s hard for me to muster enough intellectual energy to digest his dense, turgid prose. My last effort was all the way back in July 2013. But I came across something this morning that inspired a simpler exposition of Moldbug’s central thesis: that a quasi-religious group exercises power among an array of institutions which he calls the Cathedral.

The Democratic primary campaigns are in full swing and one of the candidates, Amy Klobuchar, is as of the time of this writing still in the race, despite polling at only two to five percent. This video of her from July 2019 popped up in my Twitter timeline today.

Looking at Senator Klobuchar, I see she’s an ethical, intelligent person whose family justifiably loves her. She’s very popular in the thinly-populated state of Minnesota. She’s also short and matronly and has the charisma and perspective of a career corporate lawyer and bureaucrat, which is to say she’s a formalist. She would be equally comfortable as a school principal or HR manager. There is nothing wrong with being any of these things, but they don’t make good Emperors. She does not look or act like a Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the most powerful, diverse country on Earth. Gravitas really is important, particularly to the cheering throngs and to the men with guns who are the only reasons government officials have any status whatsoever.

Looking at the Democratic candidates, I’d say the only one with command presence is Tulsi Gabbard, who of course is hated by the Democrat constituencies and denounced as Other-phobic, a literal Russian agent and, sub silentio, an attractive female heterosexual.

tulsi empress
Poster board-size. You’re welcome.

Any way, back on topic. Why are people like the short, matronly Amy Klobuchar or senile (yes, he really is going senile) Joe Biden or goofy homosexual Pete Buttigieg (here he is trying to figure out how to drink beer from a bottle) serious candidates for President? Why do they participate in these silly, micro-level rituals more suited to mayor of a small town?


And the Moldbuggian answer is:

Because it no longer matters who is President. The President is only the nominal sovereign. Obama was perfect as a nominal sovereign. The greedy, unhealthy Hillary Clinton would have been a good nominal sovereign.

Actual sovereignty is exercised by the Cathedral, that is, the judicial branch, the bureaucracy and the mass media/academy/trans-national corporations. (The U.S. legislative branch no longer exercises actual sovereignty; instead, they’re the world’s greatest investigative body). Trump had the effrontery to act like an actual sovereign, which is why the Cathedral’s hitting him with Russiagate and Ukrainegate.

Speaking of matters Slavic, Gorbachev was a nominal sovereign. Poor, doomed Yeltsin was a nominal sovereign. Putin is an actual sovereign, and he had to do a lot of ugly things to get there so he could reverse cratering Russian TFR and restore Orthodox Christian primacy in the public square.

Empires need their Sullas, and Trump could have been one but he really is a child of the halcyon 1980’s, and power is just too diffused, the American constituencies are too diverse and the system is just too corrupt at this point. But you should still vote for him in 2020 to get cultural and political space when an actual Sulla shows up.

10 thoughts on “Moldbuggery

  1. “But you should still vote for him in 2020 to get cultural and political space when an actual Sulla shows up.”

    Sadly, the only compelling reason.

    “The Cathedral.” Right. May he bring, among other things, the hundred and tenth.


    1. I’ve also been struggling to find a compelling reason to bother with voting. God knows I’m pulling for Trump, but from the lack of a wall (or anything of substance being done about immigration) to bootlicking for Israel to the intensifying deplatforming of the dissident right to the samizdat crowing about a great economy even though we all know it sucks, it’s tough to see the point. I’m not yet blackpilled, though, and I see the staggering opposition he faces, so I have sympathy and still have my hopes, so I’ll vote for him again, if for no other reasons than obstinacy, lack of a better choice, and the possibility that AntiGnostic is right.


  2. I’ve never been partial to Moldbug myself. And as Major says he’s a terrible writer. Or maybe he’s been obtuse? I think the people at Social Matter were into him but for the life of me I could never figure out what they actually believed in.

    And saying presidents have no effect isn’t right. They nominate judges. They hire people who run the government. They establish broad, general policy and even ram through congress bills and initiatives.

    More importantly, they symbolize and concentrate, in their person, the emotional needs and aspirations of the polis, however manufactured and false that image may be. Obama was able to project the image of a non-threatening negro, a kind of Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner; something most Americans deeply crave.

    This image supplied them with the illusion that blacks aren’t going to get what whites must give up – power. Which shows you why symbols, like logos, are so important. Because Obama, in fact, did just the opposite of an “empty suit”; all the while mezmerizing through complicit mass media. He even acquired the patina of prole-hipster chic from the Soviet style poster designed by Yale art school grad Shepard Fairey.

    So, no, Moldbug is not correct. The symbolic function of the president does an awful lot in shifting the culture, and subsequently power, in a particular direction. Even when the results are exactly the opposite of what people thought they wanted. Quite amazing, the subconscious power of images and gestures.


  3. We are probably splitting hairs, having reread your article.

    It’s interesting (to me) when you wrote on sovereign power vs. image and gesture. [Or that’s how I take it.] What is Trump being impeached for? Abuse of power! Which is pretty funny considering he may have tried to leverage creepy US involvement in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs. What are we doing messing around in Ukraine to begin with?

    In my opinion, the real problem they have with Trump is that he’s an unapologetic, heterosexual white man. Not only that but he ascended to the status of high priest as a heretic, overthrowing, in a way, their religion. Maybe Moldbug has already written about this. I don’t know enough about him and may be repeating things already discussed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think he also shattered a lot of “End of History” dreams on the Left and Right. The Left thought the new Golden Age of Wokeness had dawned with Obama. The Right thought all the thorny Culture War and demographic issues were quieted down and they could get back to haggling over the tax code. In other words, Trump threatens a lot of people’s religious belief in the civic eschaton. That’s my thesis on why he is hated on such a visceral level.


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