This is the first of three essays on the topic of Biological Leninism, the organizational principle of the contemporary left. You can find the second part here, and the third part here. I also gave an interview with some more thoughts on the topic which you can read here.
It's 100 years now since the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Union. Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Leninism. It's been 100 years already, but you realize how present the whole thing remains when you look at the press these days. People are still praising or damning the revolution. As if it mattered anymore. As if it were something more than history. As if the left and right of today had remotely anything in common with the left and right of Lenin's day.
I won't praise Lenin, an evil man. But great men are often quite evil. I'm not very interested in Lenin, the man; but I'm very interested in Leninism. Lenin is very dead (if not yet buried, I wonder what Putin is waiting for); but Leninism is quite alive. And the Western press has just realized that China, the second power in the world, in place to become the first in a few years, is a Leninist state. It's taken 5 years of Xi Jinping shouting every day about the Leninist orthodoxy of the Communist Party of China for people to realize. Now the West is scared.
The West is scared because Leninism is effective. Yes, sure, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991; but lasting 74 years is no mean feat. And at any rate, the very establishment of the Soviet Union was a superhuman feat. It was something amazing, and amazed was the whole intelligentsia of the Western world for many decades. The kind of people who read my blog might not realize this, but Marxism was huge. Still is, really. Marxism completely captured the intellectual classes of the whole world for over a century. In China it's still the official orthodoxy, taught in schools. In the West it's still with us, if in the morphed form of Cultural Marxism.
It's a staple of the right to speculate about why intellectuals hate capitalism. Reagan had a lot of quips about it. As usual, the right was good at cracking jokes, but it just never understood the problem. Which is why it lost, and keeps losing, and now we have gaymarriage and black transexuals running for office.
To understand Marxism you have to understand the world Marx lived in. 1848. The Liberal Revolutions. Europe had gone a long way since feudalism, through the absolutist wars of the 17th century, the rise of the modern state, and then the series of liberal revolutions starting in France in 1789 all up to 1848. A common thread on all this history is the rise of the bureaucratic state. Feudalism is a very natural form of government. It's basically transposing the hierarchy of a conquering army into peacetime. China started like that, 1046 BC. The German tribes that conquered Western Rome also run like that. The king at war becomes the king at peace. The generals become counts. The colonels become earls. Everyone gets a peace of land, a set of rules of behavior, a set of duties of fealty.
It works pretty well at keeping loyalty. It's not perfect, of course, after generations pass, the original ties of loyalty between army buddies aren't quite the same. But it worked reasonably well. Feudalism in both China and Europe lasted about 1,000 years. The problem with feudalism is that it's really hard to get anything done. It's hard to raise taxes, it's hard to get anything built. Everybody is very zealous about their inherited status and they won't tolerate the smallest change. Then the most centralized and obedient Ottomans come in and the most free and decentralized Kingdom of Hungary is slaughtered at Mohacs.
A state, like any organization, but even more so, wants to get things done. It wants to grow, expand its power and influence. And so feudalism led to absolutism. And absolutism led to liberalism. Liberal states were strong, had armies of bureaucrats and tax revenues that feudal states could only dream of. But while they were effective, they were a mess. Feudalism is good at generating loyalty. Liberalism is awful at that. And loyalty is very important. The fundamental problem of politics is the distinction between friend and foe, said Schmitt. A friend is someone who is loyal.
The 19th century, which destroyed the Ancien Regime in Europe, was an economic and scientific golden era, but politically it was a mess. A revolution every decade, governments which lasted months, huge scandals every week. Elections were a violent and chaotic affair. If anything got done at all it was because the political chaos gave way to economic freedom, and the private sector got things done. A lot of things done. But the intellectuals weren't cool with that. Intellectuals are always the reserve army of the bureaucracy. They want the government to get things done.
With all the scientific advances of the last centuries, the 18th and 19th century intellectuals were just brimming with excitement with all the things they could get done. All those plans of social engineering. Utopia on earth! It just seemed so feasible. And yet they could never pull it off through the political process. They just couldn't pull it off. The politicians and bureaucrats just weren't loyal enough. Constant factionalism and infighting made any real reform impossible.
Until Leninism, that is. Now Leninism is most likely mislabeled. Lenin did indeed found the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But Lenin died in 1924. And the Soviet Union was still a huge mess in 1924. It was Stalin, general secretary of the CPSU since 1922 who, through the means we all know, really built the Communist Party and stabilized the Soviet government. Stalinism is used to refer to his brutal purges and his approach to criminal justice, but it would be more accurate to use Stalinism to refer to what we today call Leninism; the structure of rule of single-party Communist regimes.
Say what you will about the Soviet Union: the Communist Party was loyal. They got things done. Every crazy and stupid thing that the Politburo approved got done. Yes, it took a while to achieve that result. Stalin had to kill a lot of people. But it wasn't through sheer terror and cruelty that the Communist Party worked. The Communist Party had a system. Which worked. It still works today in China. You might have noticed how people in the West today talk about China in these same terms. China gets things done, it does them fast and cheap. China got the world's biggest high-speed rail system in the time that it takes to dig a tunnel in Boston. And for not that much more money. That's not a coincidence. That's Leninism at work.
Any country has a ruling class. What I call "loyalty" you could also call asabiya; the coherence of the ruling class as such. Their ability to stick with each other and gang up, keeping the structure of rule stable. Feudalism got that; the nobility was the ruling class, they formed a society very much separate from that of the peasants, and they took much care that their rule was never contested. The destruction of that world by enlightened liberals resulted in a ruling class which was orders of magnitude less cohesive and orderly. You might be a libertarian and think that is a good thing, and you may have a point. But any organization wants to fight entropy and ensure its stability and reproduction. Liberalism historically has shown itself incapable of that. Leninism was the first solution to that problem.
Leninism is, of course, applied socialism. Socialism was huge before Leninism was even a thing, and that Marxism was and is still popular is not due only to Soviet patronage. Socialism works by hacking the Social Calculus Module that humans have in our brains. Remember, humans care deeply about status. Status is what drives human behavior. Everybody works to achieve more status, and to avoid losing status. Socialism of course sells egalitarianism. It tells people with low status that they can get some more. The Industrial Revolution had forced millions of peasants into the cities, and they all felt they had lost status in the process. Economists will tell you that the standard of living of industrial workers (according to some measures) had actually improved. And that may be so, but the workers didn't think so, and they were pissed.
So these socialists come by and tell them they have this plan to make them gain status, big time. That was huge. Yes, sure, Christianity had also started promising the meek that they were morally higher than rich people; they'd all go to heaven unlike those perfid rich guys. But that didn't translate into actual, real-world status. Socialism was promising actual goods. And so it became huge. It's still huge. It's pretty much catnip for humans. It's instant check-mate.
Socialism works not only because it promises higher status to a lot of people. Socialism is catnip because it promises status to people who, deep down, know they shouldn't have it. There is such a thing as natural law, the natural state of any normally functioning human society. Basic biology tells us people are different. Some are more intelligent, more attractive, more crafty and popular. Everybody knows, deep in their lizard brains, how human mating works: women are attracted to the top dogs. Being generous, all human societies default to a Pareto distribution where 20% of people are high-status, and everyone else just has to put up with their inferiority for life. That's just how it works.
Socialism though promised to change that, and Marx showed they had a good plan. Lenin then put that plan to work in practice. What did Lenin do? Exterminate the natural aristocracy of Russia, and build a ruling class with a bunch of low-status people. Workers, peasants, Jews, Latvians, Ukrainians. Lenin went out of his way to recruit everyone who had a grudge against Imperial Russian society. And it worked, brilliantly. The Bolsheviks, a small party with little popular support, won the civil war, and became the awesome Soviet Union. The early Soviet Union promoted minorities, women, sexual deviants, atheists, cultists and every kind of weirdo. Everybody but intelligent, conservative Russians of good families. The same happened in China, where e.g. the 5 provinces which formed the southern Mongolian steppe were joined up into "Inner Mongolia autonomous region", what Sailer calls "consolidate and surrender".
In Communist countries pedigree was very important. You couldn't get far in the party if you had any little kulak, noble or landowner ancestry. Only peasants and workers were trusted. Why? Because only peasants and workers could be trusted to be loyal. Rich people, or people with the inborn traits which lead to being rich, will always have status in any natural society. They will always do alright. That's why they can't be trusted; the stakes are never high for them. If anything they'd rather have more freedom to realize their talents. People of peasant stock though, they came from the dregs of society. They know very well that all they have was given to them by the party. And so they will be loyal to the death, because they know it, if the Communist regime falls, their status will fall as fast as a hammer in a well. And the same goes for everyone else, especially those ethnic minorities.
Ethnics were tricky though, because they always had a gambit which could increase their status even further: independence. Which is why both Russia and China soon after consolidating the regime started to crack down on ethnics. Stalin famously purged Jews from the Politburo, used WW2 to restore most of the Tsar's territory, and run such a Russia-centered state that to this day people in Kyrgyzstan speak Russian. The same in China, a little known fact of the Cultural Revolution was the huge, bloody purge in Mongolia and the destruction of many temples in Tibet. After that was done with, the Communist party became this strong, stable and smooth machine. The Soviet economy of course worked like shit, and that eventually resulted in the collapse of the system. But as China has shown, central planning is orthogonal to Leninist politics. China, of course, had to know. It had been running a centralized bureaucracy for thousands of years. Leninism was just completing the system.
So again, the genius of Leninism was in building a ruling class from scratch and making it cohesive by explicitly choosing people from low-status groups, ensuring they would be loyal to the party given they had much to lose. It worked so well it was the marvel of the intellectual classes of the whole world for a hundred years.
Meanwhile, what was the West doing? The West, that diehard enemy of worldwide Communism, led by the United States. What has been the American response to Leninism? Look around you. Read Vox. Put on TV. Ok, that's enough. Who is high status in the West today? Women. Homosexuals. Transexuals. Muslims. Blacks. There's even movements propping up disabled and fat people. What Progressivism is running is hyper Leninism. Biological Leninism.
When Communism took over Russia and China, those were still very poor, semi-traditional societies. Plenty of semi-starved peasants around. So you could run a Leninist party just on class resentments. "Never forget class-struggle", Mao liked to say. "Never forget you used to be a serf and you're not one now thanks to me", he meant.
In the West, though, by 1945, when peace and order was enforced by the United States, the economy had improved to the point where class-struggle just didn't work as a generator of loyalty. Life was good, the proletariat could all afford a car and even vacations. Traditional society was dead, the old status-ladders based on family pedigree and land-based wealth were also dead. The West in 1960 was a wealthy, industrial meritocratic society, where status was based on one's talent, productivity and natural ability to schmooze oneself into the ruling class.
Of course liberal politics kept being a mess. No cohesion in a ruling class which has no good incentive to stick to each other. But of course the incentive is still out there. A cohesive ruling class can monopolize power and extract rents from the whole society forever. The ghost of Lenin is always there. And so the arrow of history kept bending in Lenin's direction. The West started to build up a Leninist power structure. Not overtly, not as a conscious plan. It just worked that way because the incentives were out there for everyone to see, and so slowly we got it. Biological Leninism. That's the nature of the Cathedral.
If you live in a free society, and your status is determined by your natural performance; then it follows that to build a cohesive Leninist ruling class you need to recruit those who have natural low-status. In any society, men have higher performance than women. They are stronger, they work harder, they have a higher variance, which means a fatter right tail in all traits (more geniuses); and they have the incentive to perform what the natural mating market provides. That's the patriarchy for you. Now I don't want to overstress the biology part here. It's not the fact that all men are better workers than women. In a patriarchy there's plenty of unearned status for men. But that's how it works: the core of society is the natural performance of men; those men will naturally build a society which benefits them as men; some men free-ride on that, some women get a bad deal. Lots of structural inertia there. But the core is real.
To get to the point: in 1960 we had a white men patriarchy. That was perfectly natural. Every society with a substantial proportion of white men will end up being ruled by a cabal of white men. Much of its biology; part of it is also social capital, good cultural practices accumulated since the 15th century. White men just run stuff better. They are natural high-status. But again, nature makes for messy politics. There is no social value on acknowledging truth: everybody can see that. The signaling value is in lies. In the unnatural. As Moldbug put it:
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.
Or as the Chinese put it, point deer, make horse.
The point again is, that you can't run a tight, cohesive ruling class with white men. They don't need to be loyal. They'll do ok anyway. A much easier way to run an obedient, loyal party is to recruit everyone else. Women. Blacks. Gays. Muslims. Transexuals. Pedophiles. Those people may be very high performers individually, but in a natural society ruled by its core of high performers, i.e. a white patriarchy, they wouldn't have very high status. So if you promise them high status for being loyal to you; you bet they're gonna join your team. They have much to gain, little to lose. The Coalition of the Fringes, Sailer calls it. It's worse than that really. It's the coalition of everyone who would lose status the better society were run. It's the coalition of the bad. Literal Kakistocracy.
There's a reason why there's so many evil fat women in government. Where else would they be if government didn't want them? They have nothing going on for them, except their membership in the Democratic party machine. The party gives them all they have, the same way the Communist party had given everything to that average peasant kid who became a middling bureaucrat in Moscow. And don't even get me started with hostile Muslims or Transexuals. Those people used to be expelled or taken into asylums, pre-1960. Which is why American Progressivism likes them so much. The little these people have depends completely on the Left's patronage. There's a devil's bargain there: the more naturally repulsive someone else, the more valuable it is as a party member, as its loyalty will be all the stronger. This is of course what's behind Larry Auster's First Law of minority relations: the worse a group behaves, the more the Left likes it.
This is also why the Left today is the same Left that was into Soviet Communism back in the day. What they approve of today would scandalize any 1920s Leftist. Even 1950s Leftist. But it's all the same thing, following the same incentives: how to build a cohesive ruling class to monopolize state power. It used to be class struggle. Now it's gender-struggle and ethnic struggle. Ethnic struggle works in America because immigrants have no territorial power base, unlike in Russia or China. So the old game of giving status to low-status minorities works better than ever. It works even better, unlike Lenin's Russia, America has now access to every single minority on earth. Which is why the American left is busy importing as many Somalis as they can. The lowest performing minority on earth. Just perfect.
If you think it can't get worse than transexuals or pedophiles, you're really not understanding how this works. Look at this NYT article: a black woman, ex-con, convicted of murdering her own 4 year old son. She served 20 years in prison, which she spent studying sociology or something. After leaving prison, she applied to study a PhD at Harvard, which rejected her. Progressives were up in arms. How could you!
Go to the link, and look at that woman. Look at that face. She never expressed any remorse over killing her children. She lied about it in the PhD application. She disposed of the body and never told the cops where her son's corpse is! This is utter and complete psycho. Nobody in their right mind would want anything to do with this woman. But that's precisely the point. In most human societies before 1900 she would have been killed, legally or extralegally. But precisely this kind of person, someone who should in all justice be the lowest status person on earth; that's exactly the people that the Left wants on its team. You can count on her extreme loyalty to any progressive idea that the party transmits to her. And so, yes, of course, she finally got her PhD, at New York University. And unlike 97% of PhD students out there, you can bet on her getting a full tenured professorship very soon.
Yes, it's all madness, but it works. It really works like a charm. The richest parts of America, California and New York, are now a one-party state. America has legislation which forces every private enterprise of size to have a proportion of women, of black people and sexual deviants; who of course know they don't belong there, and thus are extremely faithful political commissars. More faithful than the actual official political commissars that Communist China has also in their private companies.
And Biological Leninism is extremely powerful overseas too. The same way that Soviet Communism all had natural fifth-columns across the world, with industrial workers forming parties and all doing Moscow's bidding across the West; American Biological Leninism is also an extremely strong means of agitation all over the world.
The United States has been the only superpower on earth since 1991. But that's changing of late, with China's growth into almost economic parity with the US, and Russia growing a pair, plenty of countries are now not following USG's line. Southeast Asia is now pretty much China's backyard. So now the United States is running an agitation campaign all over the world trying to undermine Chinese and Russian influence. As I'm most familiar with China, it's very obvious what the USG line is. Appealing to women and homosexuals to become their fifth column. And it's working. Every single article you see out there by a Chinese writing about how China should be more progressive (i.e. more American) is written by either a woman or a homosexual.
I read this article a while ago, which is infuriating. It's about a particle accelerator that China is building. A Chinese-American writer interviews the head scientist there: and all she does is undermine his project, saying how Communist censorship means the whole project is tainted. The guy doesn't get it. Why are you doing this to me, aren't you a fellow Chinese?
No, she's not. You know what she is? An ugly woman on her thirties. I know China well and ugly women on their thirties are very much not high-status in China today. Unlike in the West, where they're the voluntary thought police, and you can't even look at them. So of course any Chinese, or Russian, or Saudi, or Indonesian ugly woman in her thirties is, to the extent that she's given access to US propaganda, going to become a fifth column against her country's independence. And of course the same goes for ethnic minorities, the dumber the better. You want to get funding as a China expert in Western academia? You better be researching about Uyghurs or Tibetans. Those dumb and hostile minorities. So much more important than the oldest civilization on earth.
The question of course is how Biological Leninism is going to evolve. Both Soviet and Chinese Leninism changed a lot during their tenure. Stalin purged the party very hard, and after some decades, when all the memories of the pre-Soviet era were gone, and their power was secure, the CPSU started promoting high-performing (by the requirements of a political party, not a rocket science department, that is) Russian males. Which didn't care much when the whole Soviet state collapsed. I guess they're doing quite ok right now. Same in China: today the CPC is by no means a peasants and workers party. It's a best-guy-of-the-class party. Loyalty is not ensured by the threat of landowners coming back to enserf them and their children; it's ensured with a next-gen surveillance and propaganda apparatus. Note that both Russia and China kept class-struggle as the official ideology which everybody was (and is) forced to parrot incessantly to keep their jobs.
But exactly that is what makes it vulnerable to progressive attacks. I just blogged about how women and minorities have even less power than before in China. Let alone sexual deviants. No gay politicians in China. That alone makes a huge constituency, hundreds of million strong, of people in China that would prefer a Progressive government. That's the people who America is now addressing, unlike the previous strategy of selling democracy and its free economy to the Chinese middle class. Those don't look so good right now that the Chinese middle class arguably has a better standard of living that America's. Certainly less stressful.
Let's assume (hope) that America's Coalition of the Fringes doesn't succeed in destabilizing foreign countries. How is it going to evolve though? Again as I said, Russia and China both stopped their peasant kakistocracies after a few decades. But they already had a nominal single party dictatorship, and centuries of tradition of autocracy to feed upon. America is still 20 years away (if not 10) from a single party regime; and it has a tradition of adversarial democracy which makes it very hard to stop the ratchet. Even if it stopped, the ideology is already there. In the best-case scenario where a Democratic single-party regime gets its Stalin to purge the country of agitators and stabilize the regime, you still get 2020 rhetoric frozen as the state religion: women are sacred, can't even joke about them, Islam is peace, transexuals get to retroactively change their birth certificates. It's not okay to be white. White men get to run the country but they must parrot all this stuff 5 times a day, facing at the Great Zimbabwe.
Or Brazilification collapses the economy and everything goes to hell. Yeah, that's more likely.