Crypto-Imperialism: An Anglo-American Adaption to Empire.

Moldbug argued that modern day Progressive, Tranzism, Universalism, Liberalism is a memetic descendent of Protestant Christianity.

The name he gave to this set of beliefs or “memeplex” was cryptocalvinism

Cryptocalvinists do not think of themselves as Calvinists or Christians and would resent the charge that they are.

Cryptocalvinism is perfectly adapted to allow anyone who holds these beliefs to bypass the First Amendment:

Another benefit of secularization is that cryptocalvinism, unlike “super-protestantism,” can twist the First Amendment and the general humanist tradition of religious tolerance into a weapon to assault its enemies, the unreformed revelationist Christians. Before the 1950s, the nature of the US as a Christian nation was generally accepted. But when the Warren Court revised this tradition, it had the letter of the law (if not its historic meaning) on its side. Effectively, cryptocalvinism rose to power through Christianity, and then used that power to “pull up the ladder” – a classic Machiavellian maneuver.

(We have set out our thoughts about the “crypto” theory here and in our Power Selection Theory here.)

Moldbug said that there were four key values in the cryptocalvinst worldview:

the four ideals of cryptocalvinism: Equality(the universal brotherhood of man), Peace (the futility of violence), Social Justice (the fair distribution of goods), and Community (the leadership of benevolent public servants).

We want to add a new ideal to this infamous list. We don’t have a name for it yet –  perhaps it could be called “Global Justice”. However, the meme we want to push is called Crypto-Imperialism.

We owe this term to Niall Ferguson, who wrote in his book Colossus that:

Only when the United States could cast itself in an anti-imperialist role—first against the British Empire during the Second World War and then (more wisely) against the Soviet Union during the cold war—were Americans able to perform their own cryptoimperial role with self-confidence.

American Tranzis deny that America is an empire. They find such a thing odd – as odd as the suggestion that they are cryptocalvinists.

“But we are all against that” they will say.

Indeed, and that is its adaptive advantage with Imperium in Imperio.

In the same way that CCs are able to outcompete their domestic rivals with a slick, linguistic pivot, with Crypto-Imperialism they can camouflage their own imperialist beliefs and values by claiming that America is an anti-imperialist, benevolent power that does not impose itself via force and fraud on the rest of the world.

Virtually all Americans are prey to the Crypto-Imperialist delusion; it affects Left and Right, Republicans and Democrats, Neoconservatives and Progressives. It is only the likes of a Chomsky or a Pat Buchanan – who are well outside the “Overton window” – who see (different) parts of the elephant and say so.

Even erudite, talented and hard-nosed bloggers like Undiscovered Jew still reside in the delusion (or is it Machiavellian cunning?) that America is not an empire; yet, to anyone else in the world, especially someone from Britain, it is an obvious fact, as Ferguson points out:

(You can read our long, ongoing exchange with TUJ on the question of empire here.)

Again, like with cryptocalvinism, and its low-church, English ancestors, Crypto-Imperialism has distinctly English, Christian roots. At times and towards the end of its imperial life, England would justify itself as not just any old empire, but an empire that was in service to proto, Progressive Ideals.

For instance, Ferguson begins the chapter Going Home Or Organizing Hypocrisy with the following:

Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators…. It is [not] the wish of [our] government to impose upon you alien institutions…. [It is our wish] that you should prosper even as in the past, when your lands were fertile, when your ancestors gave to the world literature, science and art and when Baghdad city was one of the wonders of the world…. It is [our] hope that the aspirations of your philosophers and writers shall be realized and that once again the people of Baghdad shall flourish, enjoying their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws and their racial ideals.

GENERAL F. S. MAUDE to the people of Mesopotamia, March 19, 1917

The government of Iraq, and the future of your country, will soon belong to you…. We will end a brutal regime … so that Iraqis can live in security. We will respect your great religious traditions, whose principles of equality and compassion are essential to Iraq’s future. We will help you build a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens. And then our military forces will leave. Iraq will go forward as a unified, independent and sovereign nation that has regained a respected place in the world. You are a good and gifted people—the heirs of a great civilization that contributes to all humanity.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH to the people of Iraq, April 4, 2003

The Anglo empires formally say they do not go to war for power but for principle. In reality, however, these principles serve the interests of the Ruling Elite which, over the course of British and American political evolution, came, more and more, to be and Elite of “priests” as opposed to soldiers or merchants.

This is one of the principal problems with American foreign policy conducted by the State Department, the New York Times and Harvard – lack of self-awareness, coupled with invincible ignorance, astounding arrogance and terrifying self-righteousness.

Anyone who wants to develop an Imperial Mindset must see through this illusion; they must realise that America is a global colossus – a power like nothing the world has never seen before, one which comes with serious responsibilities.

It is not clear to us that even American reactionaries grasp (emotionally, politically and strategically) this fact. For instance, while there has been much theorising done about the Cathedral, what should be done about the State Department, the embassies and the foreign NGO’s that cause so much chaos around the world?

Ferguson’s book is filled with many insights and interesting comparisons between the formal British and “informal” American empire, the men who ran them and why they did so.

Here is one difference. Ferguson points out that many of the second rank, colonial administrators not only came from the English, lower and upper middle-class (think Orwell) but from the Scottish and Irish hinterlands. After studying at university (such as Oxford) they went on to spend decades or even the rest of their lives helping to govern regions that are now India and Pakistan or running city-states like Hong Kong or administering Egypt, Iraq and Palestine.

(Consider men like Richard Wellesley, T.E Lawrence or even a woman like Gertrude Bell.)

In contrast to the British, how many American Foreign Service Officers, CIA or even its military officers would be willing to live permanently (with families) in places like Iraq or Afghanistan?

How many FSO’s or even CIA analysts and agents have spent years abroad and can speak foreign languages and grasp different cultures? More to the point, do they have the necessary mindset to operate in and govern a foreign country? Is Paul Bremer the best USG can do?

One more thing, which is an idea we have long had, but Ferguson also points to it. USG has a military man-power shortage and cannot defeat 4th Generation threats with its current, technocratic, tactics; yet, it has over two-million inmates (many of whom are black) in its jails. Why not use these men to put the fear into the likes of ISIS with some “diabolical brutality”? Then, once the regions are pacified, let them live there (colonisation).

Finally, it would be a good question to ask and answer which was the better (in every sense of the word “better”) empire, was it the British or American empire?

Here is Ferguson’s conclusion:

 The Victorian historian J. R. Seeley famously joked that the British had built their empire “in a fit of absence of mind.” Americans, however, have gone one better; here absent-mindedness has become full-blown myopia. Few people outside the United States today doubt the existence of an American empire; that America is imperialistic is a truism in the eyes of most educated Europeans.18 But as the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr noted as long ago as 1960, Americans persist in “frantically avoiding recognition of the imperialism [they] in fact exercise.”

Does imperial denial matter? The answer is that it does. Successful empire is seldom solely based on coercion; there must be some economic dividends for the ruled as well as the rulers, if only to buy the loyalty of indigenous elites, and these dividends need to be sustained for a significant length of time. The trouble with an empire in denial is that it tends to make two mistakes when it chooses to intervene in the affairs of lesser states.

And this brings us to the final respect in which the United States resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. In military confrontations, the United States has the capability to inflict amazing and appalling destruction, while sustaining only minimal damage to itself. There is no regime it could not terminate if it wanted to—including North Korea’s. Such a war might leave South Korea in ruins, of course, but the American Terminator would emerge from the rubble more or less unscathed. What the Terminator is not programmed to do, however, is to rebuild. In his wake he leaves only destruction.

All I mean is that whatever they choose to call their position in the world—hegemony, primacy, predominance or leadership—Americans should recognize the functional resemblance between Anglophone power present and past and should try to do a better rather than a worse job of policing an unruly world than their British predecessors. In learning from the history of other empires, Americans will learn not arrogance but precisely that humility which, as a candidate for the presidency, George W. Bush once recommended to his countrymen.

Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. Niall Ferguson.

Moldbug:

The world of 2009 is the root-ball of one ancient gigantic, shaggy and rotting redwood: the Anglo-American tradition we call Universalism. In the redwood’s shade are the seedlings she has thrown among the blackened stumps at her feet. Some of them have prospered and some have not. Some have even evolved a little, but all began as redwood seeds.

In a typical Orwellian fabrication, we call the “nations” of the UN era independent countries. Most are American satellites at best, possessions at worst. Even those that have recreated something like sovereignty, Russia and China, are sterile and uninteresting upstarts, with no real relationship to the old-growth civilizations of the Romanovs or the Ch’ing. Europe also contains some genuine trees, though their independence is questionable and their individuality is nil. They are pallid clones of Massachusetts, planted in grim, mechanical rows. Latin America is a shambles – a festering sink of crime, tyranny and disorder. Africa makes it look healthy.

And everywhere, everywhere – except of course the Anglo-Saxon core – tyranny and rebellion, war and destruction, anarchy and murder, dragged their plow at least once across the land. And not always once. For many, they remain permanent conditions of normal life.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Crypto-Imperialism: An Anglo-American Adaption to Empire.

  1. “[W]hat should be done about the State Department, the embassies and the foreign NGO’s that cause so much chaos around the world?”

    Before answering that question, first we must answer WHO would do it? Foggy Bottom doesn’t follow orders, it gives them.

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  2. This strikes me as rather obvious. Yes, one can count on the dolts who populate voting booths to avoid seeing the truth in front of their faces; however, there is no sign that the governing clades of the “Anglo,” Empire are similarly dim-witted. I place that moniker in quotation marks because it is entirely unclear to me that the Anglos are indeed running the show for themselves. It appears just as likely that they might be the first iteration of a truly capitalist imperial endeavor. That is, selling both access to, favor from, and destruction of their own institutions. The only thing truly remarkable about this empire is that anyone believes it will survive to mid-century. The sheer IQ short-fall of America and Europe over the next twenty years is going to be a moral wound to their effective operation and continuity. Absent some technological advancements here to for unknown, they will scarcely be able to govern the remains of their cities, much less facilitate the military exhibitionism that characterized their 20th century.

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