Curtis Yarvin

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Curtis Yarvin (born 1973), also known by his pen name Mencius Moldbug, is an American computer scientist, political theorist, and neoreactionary thinker. He is the creator of the Urbit computing platform and the author of the blog Unqualified Reservations.



  • In reality, intellectuals have always worshiped power and they can be expected to always do so. Historical periods in which intellectuals are estranged from power are the exceptions. We just remember them better, because they have resulted in most of the progress of civilization. But if we are in one now, you definitely could have fooled me.
  • When you create a category called "religion" which lumps together all the delusional traditions that people who are not like you have inherited unquestioned from their intellectual ancestors, you are making it harder, not easier, to question your own assumptions.


  • "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims. Similarly, not all conservatives are cretins, but most cretins are conservatives." - A Formalist Manifesto, (April 23 2007)[1]
  • Democracy is to power as a lottery is to money. It is a social mechanism that allows a large number of hominids to feel as if their individual views affect the world, even when the chance of such an effect is negligible.
    • "The Price of Muscle-Flexing".
  • In fact, natural selection tends to favor the ascent of ideologies which not only are ineffective, but actually iatrogenic. In other words, the solution is actually causing the problem it purports to be trying to solve.
    • "Roberts and Easterbrook".
  • Technical advances have masked, and continue to mask, the signs of decay that would otherwise be obvious.
  • In fact, the word racism is applied in almost exactly the same way, by almost exactly the same authorities, as atheism in 1811. It is an omnibus epithet for a tremendous variety of ideas and opinions which responsible authorities find dangerous or displeasing.
  • A common error […] is to identify tyranny and monarchy, which in fact are quite unrelated political forms—all they share is the coincidence of personal rule. We may not all know it, but we'd almost all rather live under the "autocratic" and "absolutist" tsars than under Stalin.
    • "Friction in theory and practice".
  • […] tyranny is best seen as a sort of static civil war. The tyrant's office differs from the monarch's in that the latter's legitimacy is assured by law, whereas the former's is a matter of personal power and prestige.
    • "Friction in theory and practice".
  • Tyranny […] is essentially informal and unstable. At least in the modern era, they tend to evolve into juntas, which tend to evolve into oligarchies, which tend to evolve into democracies. […] With each of these steps, legitimacy and internal security increase, and the state becomes stronger and harder to overthrow. Unless Gaza is your idea of fun, a strong and secure state is a good thing.
    • "Friction in theory and practice".
  • Perhaps the principal error of modern libertarians is their failure to distinguish between weak government and small government. My ideal government is extremely small, extremely efficient, and extremely strong—its authority cannot be challenged. It does not repress its citizens not because it is physically incapable of repression, but because repression is, far from being in its interests, directly opposed to them.
    • "Friction in theory and practice".
  • […] a foreign traveler in 1864 […] asked some random American to explain the war. "It's the conquest of America by Massachusetts," was the answer. Massachusetts, of course, later went on to conquer first Europe and then the entire planet, the views of whose elites as of 2007 bear a surprisingly coincidental resemblance to those held at Harvard in 1945.
  • Conservatives cannot admit that conservatism is futile, because then they'd have nothing to do. No man will willingly abolish his own occupation.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat".
  • […] the problem with genius is not promoting it, but suppressing it. It takes a very large and intricate system to perform the latter task, but it works pretty well as you can see.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat" (June 22, 2007).
  • Are we really to believe that Marx, on his own, invented the idea that all men are brothers, despite living in a society dominated by a religion whose creed taught exactly that?
    • "Some objections to ultracalvinism".
  • […] never trust a German when he tells you he's an atheist.
  • Power corrupts not by repression, but by seduction.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat" (June 23, 2007).
  • If you have a rule that says the state cannot be taken over by a church, […] the obvious mutation to circumvent this defense is for the church to find some plausible way of denying that it's a church.
  • Academic politics is a murky and brutal game, and a small finger on the scales can steer it quite effectively, especially over time.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat" (June 25, 2007).
  • […] I hope you can agree that the Harvard faculty in 2007 by and large believes in human equality, social justice, world peace, and community leadership, that the faculty of the same institution held much the same beliefs in 1957, 1907, 1857, and 1807, and that in any of these years they would have described these views as the absolute cynosure of Christianity. Perhaps I am just naturally suspicious, but it strains my credulity slightly to believe that sometime in 1969, the very same beliefs were rederived from pure reason and universal ethics, whose concurrence with the New Testament is remarkable to say the least.
  • Ethics are fundamentally aesthetic.
    • "The Rawlsian god: cryptocalvinism in action".
  • Cosmic righteousness and consistent, objective law are not just different things. They are actively opposed. Arbitrary rules whose derivation is entirely historical, but whose result is absolutely clear—such as property titles—are often the only way to define a consensus that everyone can agree on peacefully.
    • "The Rawlsian god: cryptocalvinism in action".
  • Law is obeyed because people who disobey the law are put in jail.
    • "The Rawlsian god: cryptocalvinism in action" (July 1, 2007).
  • This Rousseauvian idea […] that government is possible only when the governed love their governors has been responsible for literally centuries of bloodshed. It is killing people right now as we speak in Iraq. One hundred years ago, all sane people assumed that the purpose of the state was to enforce the law, not to be loved. The British governed half the world, with a much higher quality of service than exists almost anywhere today, under this theory, and did so quite successfully.
    When they were finally convinced to abandon it, […] the result was massacre, disaster, corruption, and poverty. Where would you personally rather live? In the Cairo of Lord Cromer, or the Cairo of Mubarak? The Basra of Gertrude Bell, or the Basra of Tony Blair?
    • "The Rawlsian god: cryptocalvinism in action".
  • I distrust all velvet gloves. Take the abstract ideals off and show us government as it really is. Law enforcement is not a bad thing.
    • "The Rawlsian god: cryptocalvinism in action".
  • Surely, after the legal realists plunged us into a century-long nightmare of litigation and government by judiciary, precisely as its critics warned, we can see the value of legal formalism.
    Law is inherently objective and consistent because it is defined as such. If it isn't inherently objective and consistent, it is not the rule of law but the rule of men. Which we have far too much of these days.
    • "The Rawlsian god: cryptocalvinism in action".
  • You get rid of the system by making it fashionable, among the most fashionable people, to believe the system needs to be gotten rid of. It is certainly possible to build a system of government that can withstand, in a purely military sense, the disapproval of its own elites, but such is not the case with ours.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat".
  • The system will be defeated when most intelligent people realize that The New York Times is a government gazette and Harvard is a government seminary, and when they form alternate institutions that fulfill the same role in a way that is genuinely independent.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat".
  • In any conflict between X and Y, there are three paths to peace. X can prevail, Y can prevail, or X and Y can agree to leave the battle lines where they are now.
  • Ultimately, a pacifist is just an activist whose strategy for victory is to suppress the military efforts of his enemies.
    • "The mystery of pacifism".
  • The problem with the permanent bureaucracy is that any enterprise controlled by its own employees tends to expand without limit.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat" (July 2, 2007).
  • […] the moderate ideas of one generation are the extremist ideas of its parents, and the whole system shifts gradually over time.
    • "Why conservatives never quite catch the boat".
  • […] if you actually want to abolish politics, you have to deal with the existing power structure rather than the ideal form it pretends to be.
  • "Why, when, and how to abolish the United States", Unqualified Reservations (July 3, 2007).
  • Stability is much underappreciated, especially by those who enjoy its benefits.
    • "The mystery of pacifism" (July 4, 2007).
  • […] the law itself is arbitrary—a product of history, just like all other distributions of property. We support it because it's stable, and we like stability.
    • "The mystery of pacifism".
  • The entire intellectual system of the West was corrupted by its twentieth-century connection to government. Public opinion reflects press opinion, press opinion reflects academic politics, and academic politics are driven by power-struggles in which the attraction of the state is clear.
    The victory of Keynesian over Misesian economics, for example, is a classic case of this. Theories of economics which led to jobs advising the state were adaptive. Theories which didn't weren't.
    • "Why, when, and how to abolish the United States" (July 7, 2007).
  • All the great crimes of the recent past have been committed by states which portrayed themselves as profoundly ethical actors. Removing this mask, eliminating the ability of the beast to portray itself as good, uninstalls an essential module in this perverse system.
    • "Why, when, and how to abolish the United States".
  • […] we have long since learned that offering any resistance to any kind of a mob is incompatible with our great American tradition of civil liberties.
  • Someday Westerners will learn that what matters about a government is what it does, and what doesn't matter is the race, creed, color, sexual preference, or country of origin of its employees. Unfortunately, I suspect we may have to learn it the hard way.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • […] plenty of perfectly stable and peaceful societies […] have been governed by a ruling caste which was culturally distinct from the body of the population.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • Colonialism ended because political changes in the colonizing countries made it impossible for the colonial governments to govern.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • It is physically impossible to win a war by arresting an invading army and trying each of its soldiers.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • Iraq simply cannot be governed by a military effort, no matter how technically advanced, well-trained, and well-funded, that thinks of itself as a combination of a SWAT team and the Salvation Army.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • The Western world certainly has all the physical and human tools it needs to restore civilization in the Third World and resume the work of Lord Cromer. But it lacks the legal and political tools, and until it has those it shouldn't even try. As in Vietnam, it ends up just handing victories to its adversaries, who use the result as simply one more piece of evidence that demonstrates their invincibility.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • […] the burden of being a dissident is that you have to be right all the time, not just most of the time.
    • "I wonder if Jonah Goldberg talks about this".
  • The entire intellectual system of the West was corrupted by its twentieth-century connection to government. Public opinion reflects press opinion, press opinion reflects academic politics, and academic politics are driven by power struggles in which the attraction of the state is clear.
    The victory of Keynesian over Misesian economics, for example, is a classic case of this. Theories of economics which led to jobs advising the state were adaptive. Theories which didn't weren't.
    • "Why, when, and how to abolish the United States" (July 7, 2007).
  • All the great crimes of the recent past have been committed by states which portrayed themselves as profoundly ethical actors. Removing this mask, eliminating the ability of the beast to portray itself as good, uninstalls an essential module in this perverse system.
    • "Why, when, and how to abolish the United States".
  • I'm quite happy to be an anti-intellectual, actually. It is the modern equivalent of anticlericalism, and it is long overdue. One can oppose specific institutions without opposing thought in general. In fact, sometimes it is even necessary.
  • Everyone who spins a myth claims to be debunking one.
  • […] if there is any constant in history, it is that philosophers are very bad at predicting the future. Even when the policies they propose are followed, the results tend to be quite different from predictions.
  • The charge that universities are directly responsible for almost all the violence in the world today […] strikes me as essentially accurate.
  • […] most of the advances in Western scientific history, contrary to popular belief, occurred when scientists were not servants of the state.
  • "My Navrozov moments".
  • […] the university, which was established as a refuge whose purpose was to pursue truth without regard for the opinions of the world, has become a power center whose purpose is to impose its own opinions on the world.
  • "My Navrozov moments".
  • […] this idea that intellectuals have a duty to lead the non-intellectual masses is a lot of how we got into this mess to begin with.
  • Unless you are one hundred and seven years old and a veteran of the Austrian Landwehr, you probably associate democracy with peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity. Since I associate democracy with war, tyranny, destruction and poverty, we certainly have something to talk about.
  • A political formula is a belief that makes the ruled accept their rulers. Since the former tend to outnumber the latter, a political formula is, if not absolutely essential, an excellent way to cut down on your security costs.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • Democracy means that popular opinion controls the state; intellectuals guide popular opinion; ergo, intellectuals guide the state.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • […] public opinion in a democracy is a sort of funhouse mirror that reflects—albeit inaccurately, imperfectly, and often quite reluctantly—the views of the governing elite. To be fair, it also has a certain filtering effect which discourages some of the nuttiest intellectual fads, if only because they can be positively incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't been to Harvard.
  • The permanent contest for political power that democracy creates is an extreme case of limited war, in which no weapons at all are allowed, and battle is resolved by counting heads.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • […] a free, prosperous democratic society is like a person who's so strong and healthy he can take a dose of arsenic every day—or at least, every four years—and still survive, sort of. The free, prosperous democratic society might be remarkably unfree and unprosperous compared to an undemocratic society that never took the arsenic, but so few of the latter survived the last two centuries that we have no basis for comparison.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • […] the undemocratic, tyrannous societies are not those which failed to take the democratic arsenic, but those which took it and found it fatal.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The temptation to reform, rather than abandon, the adaptive fiction is omnipresent.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The difference between a monarch and a dictator is that the monarchical succession is defined by law and the dictatorial succession is defined by power.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The royal family is a perpetual corporation, the kingdom is the property of this corporation, and the whole thing is a sort of real-estate venture on a grand scale. Why does the family own the corporation and the corporation own the kingdom? Because it does. Property is historically arbitrary.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • From the perspective of its subjects, what counts is not who runs the government, but what the government does. Good government is effective, lawful government. Bad government is ineffective, lawless government. How anyone reasonable could disagree with these statements is quite beyond me. And yet clearly almost everyone does.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The reason it's so difficult to oppose lawful democracy is that we have so few alternatives to compare it to.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • One of the classical symptoms of decadence is that young aristocrats spend all their time on political scheming, and it'd be hard to say we don't see this now.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction" (July 26, 2007).
  • Limited government simply has no motivation to stay limited. And so it doesn't.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The war in Iraq is an American civil war by proxy. The real prize of this war is political power in the United States. If the US military wins, the Republicans win. If the US military loses, the Democrats win. We saw the exact same thing in Vietnam, and given that, in general, the Republicans are the Democrats' punching bag, the result is pretty inevitable.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • Corruption in Third World countries is a case of the formalist pattern trying to reemerge. A Third World government, far more than ours, is a system for distributing dividends, which even in the worst countries on earth are nontrivial. It is just a hellaciously intricate and absurdly informal system.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The fact that governments are useful to the inhabitants of their territory is a purely secondary and emergent property. They need to be useful, because a government that does not provide at least basic security will not find itself with any rents to collect.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction" (July 30, 2007).
  • Democracy was not a movement of peasants and artisans. It was a movement on behalf of peasant and artisans. Communism was not a movement of workers. It was a movement on behalf of workers. Civil rights was not a movement of African-Americans. It was a movement on behalf of African-Americans. If the only people who had supported these movements were the designated sufferers themselves, none of us would ever have heard of any of them.
    • "Universalism and original sin (guest post by Michael S.)" (August 3, 2007).
  • Conflict is an inescapable part of life. Uncertainty is not.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction" (August 3, 2007).
  • Law is impartial by definition. If it's not impartial, it's not law.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction" (August 4, 2007).
  • Fairness is unachievable. Any distribution of rights will be perceived by someone as unfair. If it starts as equal, it will not long remain so. If you try to set it back, you can only do so by breaking the law.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction".
  • The usual pattern is that tyrannies depend on supporters whose lawlessness they have to ignore, and whose depredations they are not powerful enough to formalize.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction" (August 5, 2007).
  • Of course, since the government is sovereign, it can break its own laws any time it likes. But it will not do this unless it has a good reason, because the value of a lawless state is much lower than that of a lawful one.
    • "Democracy as an adaptive fiction" (August 6, 2007).


  • A good test for whether or not anything should continue to exist: if it didn't exist, would anyone invent it?
  • The only problem with colonialism was that it got nationalized. Which was enough. Colonialism chartered company–style is profitable. Colonialism as a government department is a disaster.
  • For example, in many ways nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth. Anyone can believe in the truth. To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army.
    • "Open Letter 4: Dr. Johnson's hypothesis" (May 8, 2008).
  • History is a branch of literature, not a field of science.
    • "Your generation was more violent" (June 25, 2008).
  • […] far from advancing toward tolerance for all, Western civilization is being overrun by an aggressive and intolerant monoculture.
    • "Post-Modernism and Stuff White People Like".
  • The US military fails in places like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan because it is operating under a doctrine designed to fail.
  • If the US was a unified, effective actor which intended to conquer and civilize Iraq and Afghanistan, it would abolish the native puppet governments of Maliki and Karzai, place all lawless areas under martial law, create military formations with US officers and native troops, create civilian governments with US executives and native employees, and in general do what the British did in India, Egypt, Burma, etc., etc.
    • "Andrew Bacevich, Reluctant Obamacon".
  • Of course empire works. Conquest works. It has worked for the entire course of human history. It is not only effective, it is profitable.
    • "Andrew Bacevich, Reluctant Obamacon".
  • Yes, the US military should leave Iraq and Afghanistan. But it should leave not because it is impossible for a modern military to defeat a bunch of tribal warriors. It should leave because it is fighting an American civil war by proxy. One, this is just sick. And two, the right place to fight a civil war is always at home.
    • "Andrew Bacevich, Reluctant Obamacon".
  • Did you ever wonder why nationalism seemed so similar, right down to the names of the parties in, say, Algeria, Indonesia, and Vietnam? What did Algeria, Indonesia, and Vietnam have in common? Certainly nothing that could be described as Algerian, Indonesian, or Vietnamese. Oh, no. What they had in common was that they all had friends—or, more precisely, sponsors—at Harvard.
    • "Andrew Bacevich, Reluctant Obamacon".
  • Men fight because they expect to win. Period. When they know they'll lose, they surrender.
    • "Andrew Bacevich, Reluctant Obamacon".
  • Conservatism is a disaster. What we need is full-on Bourbon reaction—offense, not defense. Whatever is done, it needs to eradicate leftism, not just ameliorate it or try to slow it down. You don't argue with cancer. You cut it out.
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..."
  • The Left cannot be appeased. It can only be smashed.
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..."
  • Who knows more about human biology? You, or James Watson?
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..." (October 7, 2008).
  • In reality, progressives don't like actual Negroes any more than they like democracy. They have no love at all for the poor. What they love is to pick them up, turn them into feral barbarians, encourage them to devastate civilized society, and provide millions of jobs for themselves caring for the animalistic, burned-out shell of what was formerly one of North America's great cultures.
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..."
  • If we want to end the era of chaos, democracy, and revolution, we need to deal squarely with the poisonous legacy of the Puritans.
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..."
  • You are probably used to worrying about the crimes of your government overseas, but not in this way. You have an eagle eye for the crimes of the Defense Department. When it comes to the crimes of the State Department, you have the approximate visual acuity of the average snail.
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..."
  • The strong government executes firmly and decisively. The weak one is fickle and inconsistent, and as a result has to be much more vicious to achieve any given level of security.
    • "They Say "Racist!!" Your Reply Is ..." (October 8, 2008).


  • This is how Rothbard so frequently reasons himself from Lockean absolutes to sheer insanity. He is a master of the reductio ad absurdum, but so stubborn that he defends the absurdum.
The [British] Empire had to die not because it didn't work, but because it worked too well. The quality of imperial rule was starting to present evidence against democracy herself.
  • […] you don't want to be governed by a persistently unprofitable government any more than you want to eat in a persistently unprofitable restaurant.
    • "When I was a moron" (February 8, 2009).
  • The [British] Empire had to die not because it didn't work, but because it worked too well. The quality of imperial rule was starting to present evidence against democracy herself.
    • "When I was a moron".
  • A sovereign should never make any concessions in response to violence or the threat of violence, unless there is no alternative but surrender.
    • "When I was a moron".
  • The free market isn't something that just happens. It needs to be designed and invented. The past is at best an inspiration.
  • Economically, a fiat monetary system works exactly the same as a metallic monetary system in which the sovereign owns an infinite gold mine.
    • "There’s no reason for non-recourse" (March 2, 2009).
  • The definition of a sovereign is that a sovereign is above the law. Its will is its own law.
    • "There’s no reason for non-recourse".
  • To debauch a people, debase their currency.
  • To a true libertarian, "classical liberalism" is a moral imperative, not a prudent policy. To me, it is just a prudent policy, and it is only a prudent policy in those cases where it does not turn out to be imprudent.
  • Today's American has no idea what it feels like to live in an atmosphere of genuine public safety and order.
    • "What does the decline in homicide rates look like?" (August 6, 2009).
  • […] nothing corrupt, criminal, or mendacious can be described as reactionary.
  • Reaction is the reconstruction or restoration of the civilized mind, through political power, from any form of progressive or revolutionary degradation. In order to be a great reactionary leader, you have to have made your subjects more sane through the exercise of force—probably through the drastic, but effective, method of curing them entirely of politics.
    • "Open thread…." (November 11, 2009).


  2. Charles Royster, The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans (1991), pages 82–83

    Implicit in the call to defeat treason by all available means was the prospect of an American government, economy, and social order remade on the Republican model. During the 1864 presidential campaign a Democrat in St. Louis simplified the issue for a European traveler, saying: "This war is the conquest of America by Massachusetts."

  3. Auguste Laugel, Les États-Unis pendant la guerre (1861–1865) (1866), page 204

    Un démocrate s'écriait un jour devant moi avec colère : « La guerre actuelle, c'est la conquête de l'Amérique par le Massachusetts. » Il avait raison, mais cette conquête n'est pas celle de l'épée.

  4. Auguste Laugel, The United States During the War (1866), page 175

    A democrat angrily exclaimed before me one day, 'This war is the conquest of America by Massachusetts.' He was right, but it was not a conquest by the sword.

  5. Ernest Renan, Etudes d'histoire religieuse (1857), pages 417–418

    Quand un Allemand se vante d'être impie, il ne faut jamais le croire sur parole. L'Allemand n'est pas capable d'être irréligieux; la religion, c'est-à-dire l'aspiration au monde idéal, est le fond même de sa nature.

  6. Ernest Renan, Studies of Religious History and Criticism (1864), page 339

    When a German boasts of his impiety, he must never be taken at his word. Germany is not capable of being irreligious; religion, that is to say, aspiration after the ideal world, is the very foundation of its nature.

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