Moldbug’s Liquidation

Moldbugs liquidation would be a Pareto improvement on the present government. Large numbers of people would be made better off, and no one would be made worse off.

Once upon a time there was a man who was infested with parasites, that were gnawing his flesh and relieving themselves in his blood.  The man said to the parasites:

Why don’t you come out of me, and I will serve you a wonderful four course meal with wine and cheese, and we will all be better off and no one will be worse off.  It will be a Pareto improvement.

To which the parasites replied:

The moment we come out, you will wrap us up in newspaper, and cast us onto the fire.

Government is insane, destructive, and self destructive in large part because power has been distributed amongst the winners in millions of tiny little bite sized morsels.  This leads to the tragedy of the commons, not exactly the mobile bandit problem but similar.  So Moldbug’s plan is to make the government into a rational organization that is run in reality the same way it is supposedly run (formalism) and distribute shares in this government among all the existing beneficiaries of government, to compensate them for the fact that they will no longer be receiving benefits in the convoluted and corrupt way that they used to receive benefits.

Now, what share do we allocate to a consultant for obtaining approvals for land development that might theoretically adversely effect sites of potential archaeological interest?

Someone wishing to develop land has to show umpteen bureaucracies that it would not adversely affect umpteen things, some of them remarkably obscure and improbable.

To get such approval, you hire a consultant.  The bureaucrat lets a lawyer know which consultants have the magic power to persuade the bureaucrat, so you consult with the lawyer, and pay a lot of money to the consultant, and lo and behold, the bureaucrat is, surprise surprise, persuaded.

Obviously how big a share we allocate to the consultant and how big a share to the bureaucrat depends on how much of the consultancy fee the consultant is passing under the table to the bureaucrat.

But, supposing this is sorted out, the bureaucrat gets his share, in compensation for the fact that he used to be fireproof, and is now no longer fireproof.

And, no longer being fireproof, is instantly fired, because his entire department’s activities are corrupt, crazy, and stupid, leaving his pet consultants similarly unemployed.

And after the firing, it rapidly becomes apparent to everyone that he and his department’s activities were corrupt, crazy, and stupid.

Where upon, it is apparent that his share is a payoff for no longer doing the harm he used to be doing.

Light the fire.

14 Responses to “Moldbug’s Liquidation”

  1. […] Jim points out that some situations cannot be formalised. Moldbug advocates retiring useless government […]

  2. Nick Land says:

    This is a really superb formulation of the formalist idea, but there is one obvious problem: the parasites are too deluded to recognize a generous pay-off when they are offered one. Their projections of the future value of USG, incorporating — of course — their own altogether marvelous contribution to national prosperity, has become so completely detached from any plausible scenario that it would make realistic bargaining impossible. If everybody was bought out at their own estimation of a reasonable rate, the sum would be very many multiples of US net worth. Some seriously harsh disillusionment has to come first.
    Still, Moldbug’s thought experiment is a critically important aid to thinking, and you’ve succeeded in tightening it up significantly.

  3. SOBL1 says:

    Enjoyed this post. I also think the allocation of human capital to other sectors would be a huge boost to societal welfare.

    I’d also add that there is a formal channel for money staying within the cathedral loop through the business-consultant-bureaucrat cycle. Bribes surely exist, but so do unofficial bribes like buying plates or entire tables at a charity of the bureaucrat or simply pushing money into the system. I’ve been thinking up a post on the diversity kumbaya crap.

  4. rightsaidfred says:

    But, supposing this is sorted out, the bureaucrat gets his share

    But so much of the appeal of the priesthood is from the exercise of power: the cutting off of hands; the taking of children away from their parents; the burning down of cult compounds. I’m not sure how you pay off these people. Give them a gulag to run?

    • Alrenous says:

      “after the firing, it rapidly becomes apparent to everyone that he and his department’s activities were corrupt, crazy, and stupid.”

      The attraction of bureaucracy for too many bureaucrats is the opportunity to act crazy, stupid, and corrupt without being seen as crazy and stupid. This is but one more example of many raisins of inherent informalism baked into the system.

  5. Candide III says:

    This demonstrates that Pareto optimality has the same weakness as the Coase theorem: it only works if coercion is not on the menu. Nick Szabo explained about the Coase theorem in an old post.

  6. VXXC says:

    Oh don’t, you’ll give them the vapors.

    BTW Gen Monck had his string of successes to letter Z because he began them at letter W or X. Y and Z are not so hard..when you have the New Model Army at your back. But to get there someone had to start at “A”. As that’s looking like Action…I’m sure you observed some rather rapid disclaimers this weekend.

    • jim says:

      Monk disbanded the New Model Army, so did not have the New Model Army at his back. He had what is now known as the Coldstream Guards at his back – a praetorian guard created with Cromwell to halt the ever leftwards movement.

      And, while Cromwell’s England might seem pretty conservative by today’s standards, it had a lot more in common with today’s social order than with Restoration England, so I would not say Monck was starting at W, but rather starting at G.

      • VXXC says:

        Jim that’s not the point.

        The point is he had decades of war, soldiering, and the model of the New Model Army and no doubt more than a few members to create the Coldstream Guards.

        IOW you don’t just fcking wake up one morning and have a good righteous Protestant shite and out comes an Army with not just a General but staff and soldiers who can win at low costs.

        History has many examples of Army’s that kick ass with low casualties. It has no example that comes to my mind that just POP is created that way. It takes years of soldiering and decades of war and the soldiering trade to get to there…yes it looks easy for the usual Professional reasons. Alexanders Silver Shields come to mind. Yeah. After Philip created the Macedonian Phalanx, after war was waged over the entire world …yes then you get people who make war look easy. The US has them now.* After decades of war, sure.


        It takes years or decades to make any trade or profession look easy. It’s not easy getting there.

        *They aren’t being allowed to win because the legal clergy has taken Command. Motivated by power and religion. But the fighting part they got down*

        • jim says:

          The point is he had decades of war, soldiering, and the model of the New Model Army and no doubt more than a few members to create the Coldstream Guards.

          Mohammad Mosaddegh on the other hand, merely had men willing to kill. Of course he was the left, while the Monck was the right, but I see no rule that right needs to have overwhelming superiority to get power.

          The left prescription for taking power, as exemplified in Czechoslovakia, is to appear to work through the system, while using fraud and illegal violence to ensure that the system works the way they want it to. The people carrying out that illegal violence are frequently few, and not all that competent.

          In Academia, when the far left took over from the left in the sixties, establishment academics were terrified, enraged, and frequently weeping.

      • spandrell says:

        What’s interesting about Monck is that he was utterly uninteresting in all besides his military skills, didn’t do much worth noticing after the Restoration, and wasn’t known for his good judgement in other matters.

        Why do you give him so much credit? Isn’t just likely that he just followed the general feeling of the public that wanted the Puritans out? It’s not like he drafted a new constitution.

        • jim says:

          Your cynicism is insufficient: To this day the Coldstream, Monck’s personal praetorians, guard the palace and the houses of parliament. Thus everything that was negotiated, such as the new constitution, was negotiated with Monck’s praetorians breathing down their necks.

          Monck marched into London and started “guarding” the houses of parliament, whereupon parliament spontaneously and entirely of their own accord decided that it was time for the puritans to go.

          • spandrell says:

            Not really contesting the history, but he was never known for being against the Puritans, always got along with Cromwell and was quite late to the anti-Puritan party. If Cromwell’s son had been a good leader he probably wouldn’t have left Scotland.

            Who decided that dissenters would be persecuted? Any evidence of Monck himself ever saying anything about that?

            • jim says:

              quite late to the anti-Puritan party

              He was quite early to the anti puritan party. Killed a bunch of them during the Civil War. When he was released from the Tower to serve Parliament in Ireland, he swore an oath before his fellow prisoners never to be an enemy of the King.

              In due course Charles the Second got involved in Ireland, and General Monck remained true to his oath.

              Who decided that dissenters would be persecuted? Any evidence of Monck himself ever saying anything about that?

              General Monck was a moderate Presbyterian. Moderate Presbyterians persecuted dissenters before the civil war.

              Cromwell himself persecuted dissenters, as Stalin persecuted communists. In the left singularity, it was obvious you had too many religions seeking power and all but one of them had to be put down hard. Cromwell himself organized Monck’s praetorian guard, and himself stacked it with rightists. So if Monck doubted that dissenters needed to be persecuted that would be surprising and anomalous.

Leave a Reply