This is why we can’t have nice things

August 24, 2016 § 42 Comments


Proposal: modern politics is analogous to a black hole, because at its very center is a self contradictory logical singularity where all reason breaks down.

The model is incomplete (as we should expect), and far from perfect.  I’m not really sure what I think of it myself, even though I drew it. But in the Internet age folks seem to like diagrams as a basis for discussion: I remember seeing question-begging text based libertarian diamond diagrams on Usenet way back in the late eighties or early nineties, years before the first web browsers.

Because modern politics – liberalism – is insane and self contradictory, it can be very difficult to describe as an objective phenomenon situated in reality.  This is mostly a description of how things look from various positions inside the modern mind trap. Locally, politics looks kind of like a spectrum from left to right.  When left liberals look to the right they see through the translucent right liberals to the nazis beyond.  When right liberals look left they see through the translucent left liberals to the Stalinists beyond.   What you see when you look around depends very much upon where you stand.

And just about everyone is trapped in the inescapable gravity well.


§ 42 Responses to This is why we can’t have nice things

  • Kristor says:

    Nifty. You could superimpose the libertarian diamond, with the singularity at the center of the centrist box,

  • donnie says:

    Somehow it should be shown that this black hole is always in motion; always moving to the left.

    So if you pick a particular issue espoused by right-liberals today (say for instance, border security) in twenty years that topic will be well beyond the event horizon of perceived Nazism, in the realm of the ‘Alt-Right’. And a particular view that is today considered ‘Alt-Right’ (like say, race realism) will be completely off the map in a couple decades.

    Meanwhile, whatever intellectually detestable thought garbage that passes for ‘Alt-Left’ today will in twenty years time be the pressing mainstream political issues of our day.

  • donnie says:

    In other words, it should be clear that issues escape the black hole just fine. What doesn’t escape are we the people.

  • Zippy says:

    What I had in mind for “alt left” was for example Dorothy Day: views actually fairly far from the undistilled liberalism at the singularity, but inclined to support the political left on (some) policy grounds. Trump for example is a right liberal, but alt-righters are inclined to support him.

  • donnie says:

    Interesting. When I think ‘alt-left’ I don’t think Dorothy Day. I think more along the lines of how Bernie Sanders is a good example of someone whose views would have been considered ‘alt-left’ in the past, but are now firmly within the realm of mainstream left-liberalism. An example of how Cthulhu always swims left.

    I would say also that the graph quite clearly needs to be 3 dimensional. Not just because real black holes are 3 dimensional, but also to illustrate how the event horizon is a sphere; lest we forget that fascism really did grow out of socialism.

    But if the black hole of liberal politics really is better represented in 3D, that begs the question: what is measured along the Z-axis? I don’t know. But I’m sure it’s important.

  • Zippy says:

    A couple of thoughts.

    Sanders is probably just a left liberal, leaning toward communist. Pretty much the left-side version of Trump, inside the event horizon not outside. There are probably very few people outside the horizon, period, even among those who would claim to be.

    Instead of thinking of leftward motion, think of everything being captured by and pulled into the unreality of the singularity (to the extent the metaphor works). Communists and Nazis are liberals mugged by reality — that’s why they are further from the singularity.

    But I’m sure the picture needs work.

    Even someone who unequivocally rejects the liberalism at the center is strongly influenced by it, if only materially. Thus the gravity well outside the event horizon.

  • Zippy says:

    IOW communism and naziism are what happens when reality interferes with utopian liberalism.

    If it helps you can think of the singularity as “the leftist singularity”. It is the impossible-to-even-coherently-conceptualize utopia which emerges when “authentic” liberalism from all directions is finally actually achieved.

  • Elostirion says:

    So, If I understand this correctly, anything outside of the event horizon is no longer liberalism? Are the differences within based on proscriptive attitudes or just exceptions? I suppose I’m making too much out a cartoon, but that’s about all I’m qualified to do.

    An aside: I must admit, graphs like this always make me wary, since they need to quantify and, well, you know…

  • Jill says:

    What’s really neat is that quantum mechanics makes everything magical. So all that energy that gets sucked in can be spit back out. Those particles that get spit back out are angel dust. Yeah, really. So it’s cool; it’s all good. Recycling will save us. Peace.

  • Zippy says:

    What quantum mechanics cannot fix in these kinds of nerdgrams is the inevitable element of self satire.

  • TheFirstNowell says:

    Do you feel that you have escaped the inescapable black hole?

  • Zippy says:

    No. Not even groups like the Amish escape the influence of liberalism.

  • Mike T says:

    FWIW, Vox Day just posted a succinct explanation of what the Alt-Right is.

    You should set up a debate between the two of you. It would be very interesting.

  • donnie says:

    You know, this clever little chart kind of reminds me of an unholy version of this:

    Except instead of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost seen as an intensely bright point of light surrounded by worshiping angels, liberalism is the unholy and incoherent union of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity as that which sucks up all light (black hole), surrounded by adoring men.

  • Zippy says:


    With all of the adoring men chanting “Ouroborindra ! Ouroborindra ! Ouroborindra ba-ba-hee “. Including the ones who are about to be beheaded as sacrifices.

  • Gabe Ruth says:

    Your chart reminded me of Dante’s conical image of Hell. That its center is liberalism is also suggestive: what the demons promote as freedom is actually a stripping away of connection to the whole, so their liberation is actually a process of isolation, which leads to imprisonment in the disconnected self, incapable doing anything because there is no motive to do anything, you ARE everything, and there is nothing to do.

  • […] ‘on its own’ it would have no effect on reality.  But because it exists in reality it structures and orders that reality in more or less comprehensible […]

  • Zippy says:


    You could superimpose the libertarian diamond, with the singularity at the center of the centrist box,

    The singularity wouldn’t be at the center of the centrist box though. The singularity would be right in the middle of the libertarian box. The tip of the “statist” box would touch the event horizon on the inside.

    “Centrist” is a concentric circle in between the singularity and the horizon.

  • […] suggested that I superimpose the libertarian diamond diagram over my own drawing.  Here it […]

  • AdHominem says:

    Do you plan to do one more image with a libertarian circle and a centrist concentric circle?

  • Zippy says:

    I superimposed the libertarian diamond on my own drawing in this newer post.

    Keep in mind that it is just a visual aid. The meaningful dimensions are “left-right” and “distance from the center”: the “up-down” dimension is not really meaningful.

  • Zippy says:

    I am still chuckling at Jill’s image of hippies riding on Hawking radiation.

  • […] suggested that I superimpose the libertarian diamond diagram over my own drawing.  Here it […]

  • AdHominem says:

    I had seen the other post but still thank you. My confusion was not on that. I am more trying to understand what you mean with :

    >>“Centrist” is a concentric circle in between the singularity and the horizon.<<

    My current view of the thing (the high/low scale being irrelevant) view of where you put centrism seem to be between libertarianism and the left/right. I see it like that :

    You coul even add left-libertarian (Roderick T. Long?) and right libertarian (Hoppe?) but I wonder if it is useful too.

  • Zippy says:

    Yes, left and right are meaningful.

    A centrist (not a centrist libertarian, just a centrist) “lives” in between the singularity and the horizon, about equally distant from both, and tends to treat liberal principles as pieties or slogans. Some centrists are more left, some more right, etc.

  • Zippy says:

    Sorry, WordPress didn’t show me your sketch when it first showed me your comment. I think you’ve got it right. How to present the visual aid is an editorial choice of course. I suppose my choices were driven by the analogy, and an attempt to keep the meaningful dimensions limited. Once a graphic goes beyond two meaningful dimensions you start to lose a lot of people (including me!).

  • Zippy says:

    The ‘centrist’ ring constitutes the Overton window: people inside that ring tend to disparage all of the ‘extremists’ outside of that ring — whether inwardly toward the libertarian nexus-of-crazy or outwardly toward still-committed-liberals who have been mugged by reality but refuse to – or cannot see that they should – abandon their liberal commitments.

    I suppose it might be interesting to kind of ‘formalize’ the coordinate system and then argue over where various thinkers / movements lie. For example in the terms of the diagram even some folks who are considered fairly ‘extreme’ alt-right are really still right-liberals: their commitments lie inside the horizon not outside.

    Not to pick on James Donald, but his tag line “Liberty in an unfree world” gives it away: even though he is considered strongly alt-right or NRx and disparages equality, his commitment to liberty makes him a right-liberal inside the horizon not outside.

    (It also makes his disparagement of equality either incoherent, since liberty implies equal rights, or it requires him to define large swaths of humanity as subhumans).

    This – the fact that their ideas are inside the event horizon – is true of most writers who are considered ‘alt-right’. So maybe my terms on the drawing are bad, and “Alt Right” and “Alt Left” should be considered inside the horizon: just the more extreme ends of the inner left-right gradient.

  • AdHominem says:

    It is now clearer. Thank you for your clarification.

    singularity : anarcho-tyranny, ultimate anti-realism
    libertarian : crazy, very irrealist
    centrism : avoid both extremes of far-sides and singularity, center of the overton window
    liberal : has more unprincipled exceptions
    the far sides : liberal mugged by reality but still liberal, cafetaria realism
    event horinzon : the limit between liberal and influenced by liberalism
    alt-liberal : lost commitement to liberalism but still influenced by it

    How I see the graph (horrible paint again) :

  • Zippy says:

    I’m not sure the vertical axis in your proposed isomorphism matches my understanding: that is, more generally, I don’t think your new drawing is isomorphic to mine.

  • AdHominem says:

    The original plan was not to have any vertical axe, I planned to only do a line, 1 dimension. I was brainstorming as I did the image. The black hole metaphore made me want to draw the gravitional field seen on the side. Temptation… I think it is quite useless after all. Outside of making me think.

    If most alt-right and alt-left are commited to liberalism, I would put them with far right and far left (but now it sounds closer to general wisdom who put them as such). Then outside of event horizon it is just “few people there”

    Is centrism also defined by the nominal belief of its members? Or it is just a side effect of its avoidance of both the singularity and event horizon?

    I stopped to think the overton window is important to get the graph.

    In a one dimensional graph, it gives (with the assumption far and alt liberalism are within the event horizon, else move alt-liberalism) :

    lonely place
    event horizon
    left liberral
    center left
    left libertarian
    radical left libertarian
    radical right libertarian
    center right
    right liberal
    far right
    event horizon
    lonely place

  • Zippy says:


    Is centrism also defined by the nominal belief of its members? Or it is just a side effect of its avoidance of both the singularity and event horizon?

    Centrism more or less by definition is the avoidance of ‘extremism’. Extremism exists at both the singularity and the event horizon, so centrism is the generous use of unprincipled exceptions – and refusal to think things through more generally – in order to avoid the extremes at the center and the horizon.

  • AdHominem says:

    Thank you. I think it is quite clear for me now.

  • […] Jesus surfer riding the Hawking radiation right out of a black hole to contribute to this nerdgram before I smacked myself out of it. But still. The angst. I can’t get over the angst of my […]

  • […] the contrary: as the Internet Clown has observed, “Not even groups like the Amish escape the influence of […]

  • […] Liberalism is first and foremost a political doctrine: an (incoherent) view about legitimate exercise of authority. It is true that once empowered liberalism cannot be contained and ‘leaks’ into everything else. But characterizing liberalism as a grand overall religious or anti-religious worldview rather than as a specifically political doctrine is a mistake: a mistake easily rejected by liberals as a caricature which creates a motte and bailey social structure from which escape becomes impossible. […]

  • […] is Ungoliant, a hunger which by its nature cannot be fulfilled or permanently contained: a black hole which will never be satiated even as it swallows the entire world.  Only Ungoliant can promise the […]

  • […] “cucks.”  It’s questionable how successful that program is going to be.  More importantly, as others have perfectly stated, this serves as a mind trap, preventing escape from the real self-inflicted horrors. Christians […]

  • […] they are pro choice they really mean it: the most “consistent” liberalism is an anarchism which forces itself on everyone.  Ultimately, maximizing objectively available choices means not making or even […]

  • […] are a means by which we understand ontic reality.  Political liberalism is not a mere idea, but a very real force which operates in society: a pervasive influence as inescapable, for individuals and small […]

  • […] as a kind of default, doesn’t cause mass murder.  What causes mass murder is the crushing impact of the liberal commitments of governing regimes , ruling classes, and whole populations as these […]

  • […] get me wrong, conservatives and liberals alike are all caught in the gravity well of the black hole that is liberalism. However, from my experience (and those of others), conservatives tend to be more fact oriented. […]

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