As promised in my recent video “Pareto, Residues, and The Circulation of the Elite,” this article will follow up some of the points raised there, and some in my previous post here on Substack as well. You can view the video here read the full script here on Substack as well.
The topic is the failure of Trump to cross the proverbial Rubicon during his tenure as president. What this metaphor meant will different from person to person, but to clarify it for my purposes here, it meant the use of force in some capacity by Trump to ensure a second term for himself as president. This could have been through the executive power, via federal law enforcement and the military, via the masses, or some combination of both.
After the events of January 6th, 2021, it was quite clear that the masses were not going to factor into any such operation, and it became increasingly unlikely that anything was going to happen at all. Nevertheless, as BAP so well put it, the potential was certainly present in some capacity:
Impossible as a matter of honor for Trump not to make the call now, knowing what he knows about the enemy. Hopefully Pence and his staff perfidy and disloyalty will move him to anger. All it would take is a word from him or Flynn and this joke occupational class ends in 4-6 weeks
Bronze Age Pervert @bronzeagemantis
Local police and military will stand down before the will of the people. The security state police is serving an impostor Cartel and is housed in the FBI and CIA compounds. They are part of an attempt to overthrow the American people. https://t.co/7ssd8buwoc
There are many lessons to learn from the events of January 6th. The most salient one is to be found in my previous post, where I laid out several scenarios that could unfold on that day. The one I spent the most time on was the scenario where President Trump used force insufficiently, and was not inaugurated for a second term; which is exactly what happened, the lesson in this case being: “when you have the mob at your disposal, you use it for the one purpose it serves, and that is as an element of force that is personally loyal to You, the dissatisfied elite that seeks to depose the ruling elite. No law, no fox, and no combination can stand in its way.”
The uselessness of the mob in any other capacity is now demonstrated. There were not one, not two, but three mass gatherings of people in Washington. D.C. in the last few weeks of the Trump presidency. What purpose did these masses of people serve? Nothing; no purpose at all.
This is not simply a point to be lamented; there are lessons in this. One is that the masses are essentially impotent in their political aims without leadership, without an elite to direct them. The masssess and the dissatisfied elite may only achieve mutual ends in a properly cooperative relationship.
The major failing on January 6th was on Trump, who was unprepared for one reason or another, to make use of the masses, and it was not the first time he had made this error. Nick Griffin wrote very presciently on November 16th, 2020, in his article “Whither America?”:
“The moment Donald Trump drove through the MillionMAGA march to play golf was the moment America’s fate was sealed. It was as if the Continental Army had marched to Valley Forge, only to see Washington saddle up and head back home for the winter, giving his men a kind word and dismissive wave as he rode away.”
The writing was on the wall in mid-November, and to my knowledge, Trump did not even show up at the second Million MAGA March. Indeed, he scarcely even seemed to realize that they were even being organized.
Trump failed to understand his own movement. Indeed, even calling it “his” movement is perhaps a linguistic step too far. As the single driving force behind virtually all right-wing political rallies over the last four years, it is easy to see it as Trump’s movement, and perhaps it was, for a time; but it moved beyond that, and when it did so, Trump appeared to have been unable to comprehend that the masses could generate a will of their own, and organize or their own, without him.
He failed to understand that the unguided masses crave a leader to direct their energy. The Million MAGA Marches were self-directed by lower level elite, but mostly amounted to people simply wandering the capitol in search of interesting events. A mass with a single-minded purpose, organized behind one man, is a powerful weapon indeed; but like the dog who caught the car, Trump had no idea what to do with this prize when it landed in his lap, or perhaps we should say, on his lawn.
Quoting Nick Griffin again:
“All this and more was there for the taking but, as we know, the priceless opportunity was missed. Could the man responsible suddenly wake up, learn from his mistake and seize the moment next time? In theory, yes, and if Donald Trump happens to read this and belatedly decide to act, all those thousands of people – and more – would come again if he asked them personally.
We now know not merely in theory, but in fact, that the masses self-organized for a second Million MAGA March, and returned yet again for third rally that Trump himself asked for personally.
One must truly wonder what he actually hoped to accomplish in calling forth his supporters to the capital. The first two MAGA marches were utterly useless with no specific aims, and here, his chance to direct his legions of followers in whatever way he saw fit was finally presented to him, and yet, his instructions were essentially to just do what they had already done twice before – to walk from the meeting point near the White House to the capitol, and then just sort of… stand around. It may have come as a surprise that spontaneous right-wing rallies of such magnitude would come together so quickly; nevertheless, it is incumbent upon an elite to both understand the mechanics at play, and seize the opportunity when the moment arises. Trump did neither.
However, the point here is not simply to beat the dead horse of the Trump presidency. There are more lessons to learn. Trump’s supporters should have learned their lesson the first time, as Nick Griffin did. They should have learned earlier to not put blind faith in the man. Most of the support for Trump was essentially unconditional. Without ever being held accountable, he was not forced to make the hard decisions that his supporters really wanted him to make. Only by restricting their support of an elite can the masses motivate that elite to implement their desires, in order to maintain that support.
This is a central observation of Burnham in The Machiavellians, but it is worth seeing for ourselves how the masses can fail to achieve their aims even when they ostensibly have an ally in the elite. If the power of the elite is not dependent on the support of the masses, provided only conditionally in regards to certain objectives being met, then the incentive structure between the masses and the elite is malformed.
In the case of Trump, and all presidents, there is a problem where that dependency is only really manifested once every four years. This is a general problem in American politics; representatives may only serve two-year terms, but senators serve six. Clearly Americans cannot rely simply on the basic political mechanism of elections to hold their elite accountable.
The central problem with holding the elite accountable in this system or any alternative is organization. Trump supporters were incapable of coordinating to effectively incentivize certain behaviors from Trump. The masses in general do not naturally exhibit the type of coordination necessary to effectively direct a long-term political movement. The MAGA marches themselves were a good example of spontaneous coordination, as well as the recent chaos in relation to GameStop, AMC, and other stocks; however, although these are related to larger social movements, they are all one-off events. Arbitrary massive attacks can do a lot of damage, but they are unlikely to constitute a decisive blow.
Spontaneous coordination of this variety is extremely useful – this is the essential output of The Cathedral – but to hold specific elite accountable, formal power structures are necessary to provide sustained and focused incentives. The three massive Trump rallies in the capital consisted of many organized minority groups, but they were unable to leverage influence effectively without these structures.
Only a human consciousness is capable of determining and executing a long term strategy of decisive action, and a leader is only capable of doing so if some number of followers perform duties based on the leader’s orders. The ideal form for this is an organization of formal obligations, such as a corporation, or an army. Informal structures depend on informal ties, which are much more difficult to discipline; reward is possible, but punishment is hard. When the scope of punishment includes the cutting of a formal tie, there is much more pressure for members of a group to obey. Indeed, the idea of a “member” itself is suspect in any informal association, as people may associate or dissociate themselves with a group essentially at will. An army can hardly be called an army if members can simply detach from it upon receiving a disagreeable order.
Examining several of the groups present at the Trump marches, we can see that the lines of association and ends of the groups vary, but none possess all of the key qualities. For any organization to successfully influence an elite, it must do so via:
1) Logical aims.
2) Adequate membership in the organization to achieve the aims.
3) Formal leadership directing the organization to achieve those aims through logical actions.
Most of the emerging right-wing groups are too small, too informal, or both. Taking examples from my personal experience, the America First crowd is small and informal. However, it does at least seem to have a semblance of logical aims and logical actions being taken to achieve them. The Proud Boys, on the other hand, are more numerous, and more formal, but take entirely illogical actions. Their ends of right-wing political victory are not at all achieved by their actions of hunting Antifa in the streets.
However, this behavior is not at all surprising; as Pareto noted, humans often tend to behave illogically, and the masses tend to express Class II residues more than the elite, which was the case with the Proud Boys, as well as on January 6th, when the masses were prepared to use force against the governing elite, but their own elite, Trump, was unable to go along with it.
The primary mistake of Trump was that he attempted to challenge the elite on the grounds of combinations, that is to say, on what passes for law in this country. But the governing elite are masters of the domain of legislative and judicial combinations; the law provides for whatever is convenient for them. All legal challenges have no standing.
Therefore masses must seek to support an elite that is willing to overturn the governing elite in the other way, through the means of force. No other type of elite can be sought. The masses must understand this fully: that the problem with Trump was simply that he was unwilling to use force, and not some other criticism; otherwise they will not be able to replace the governing elite.
The must also be willing to take the difficult steps necessary to do this. Elections are a lazy method provided by the governing elite to make ultimately trifling changes to the government. A mechanism provided by the elite will never circulate the elite, as we saw in the 2020 elections. Weak attempts to overthrow them by other means, as on January 6th, will only end with further restrictions on the freedom of the masses, and increase the cost of future attempts.
Although the crude display of a militarized inauguration was an expression of power, it was also motivated by a deep fear of the masses. The governing elite genuinely and rightly fear a revolt of the masses, led by a dissatisfied member of their own ranks. Even if only vaguely threatened, they still seized on the opportunity to present a show of force to deter future activities.
Now that the regime of the governing elite has brazenly established itself as the one Party that rules, the question left to the masses is, what to do now? Well, if you weren’t convinced before based on theory and empirical observation, the media has now flat-out told us that they control elections, and they, not the people generally, will decide who wins them. All of the formalized democratic methods in The United States are now utterly ruled out as logical options.
If one is able to properly locate sovereignty, which is in the media, this gives us a clue where to start.
The standard model of sovereignty physics says that sovereignty is wrapped up in a self-balancing system of three branches of government:
Executive: Executes laws.
Legislative: Creates laws.
Judicial: Makes judgements on laws and their execution.
However, the formal political apparatus of the US is merely the executor of sovereignty, not the source. If we correct the model, we consolidate the above and consider the US government as whole, combined with corporate and technological power, as the new executive power. We then take The Cathedral, and break it into its two components: the universities and the media. The universities have legislative power, and the media has judicial power. The new model is thus:
Executive: Government combined with techno-corporatists execute scientific government.
Legislative. Universities publish science, which guides laws and corporate decisions.
Judicial: Media makes ethical judgements on the execution of laws and the actions of corporations and individuals.
In both formulations, the judicial is the most powerful. Why is this? The judicial power is the power to make ethical judgments, and ethical judgements drive human action. Good and evil or good and bad will have a far greater effect over people than legal and illegal. Legal and illegal are defined by ethics, so of course the power over ethics is superior.
To be the good guy fighting the bad guy is prestigious. The media defines who is good and who is bad; therefore, the media can generate (or destroy) prestige. Prestige attracts wealth and power, as we see with the expansion of Elon Musk’s prestige – not only has he built companies far beyond the capacity of one man, but mere tweets can influence the destiny of other companies and commodities. Success attracts success, and just a little prestige can generate a feedback loop that catapults one into power.
Media is the domain of sovereignty. If a right-winger has the goal of sovereignty, then the logical action for a right-winger to take is to develop media that can generate prestige for dissatisfied elites. Note that the “can generate prestige” part is critical. Anyone can spam content into the media space, but not all media generates prestige. Prestige can also be thought of as class – prestigious media is classy; class is fashionable, and to be fashionable is to be prestigious. Any counter-cultural media of any significance will be attacked by the Party media; nevertheless, sufficient class will generate prestige in spite of this.
Put simply, if you want elites, elites need good press, and you can’t get good press without a press. The road ahead is arduous but full of opportunity. Good luck.