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ȘȈǤƝȘ 86: Enlightenment How?

6 min

"Man cannot appear to itself as a geological force, because being a geological force is a mode of disappearance." —Catherine Malabou

Brutalist Silence, interior by Annabell Kutucu
Welcome to Signs of Life, a periodic roundup letter from Other Life, the coolest newsletter in the world. If someone sent you this, subscribe for yourself here.

In this issue:

Come to the Imperceptible Mansion in November

This will be our third annual mansion meetup, which will be held on the California coast near San José on the weekend of November 4-6. The image shows the actual site.

The Imperceptible Mansion
The annual meetup of the Other Life community. November 4-6 in San José, CA.

This started as a small experiment in Los Angeles two years ago, it grew into a larger event last year in Austin, and now I guess it's officially an annual tradition.

This unique weekend getaway/conference/retreat is typically a combination of two types: Independent writers and creators, and software engineers. Anyone is welcome to request a spot, as long as you're working on something interesting, but this summarizes the center of gravity.

It's about 70% booked as of right now.

Stalin's War

In Stalin's War (2021), we learn that Stalin purposely sought to bring about World War II.

It turns out we somewhat overestimate Hitler’s responsibility for WWII and drastically underestimate Stalin’s. Consider...

Lenin and Stalin had a theory of “revolutionary defeatism.” The reason the Bolshevik Revolution succeeded in 1917 was that two coalitions of capitalist countries went to war in 1914.

As early as 1924—after world War I but before World War II—Stalin wrote:

“If war breaks out, we will have to take action, but we shall be the last to do so. And we shall do so in order to throw the decisive weight on the scales.”

According to McMeekin, even aspects of Soviet domestic policy can be understood in this light.

For instance, the forced collectivization of agriculture and push for rapid industrialization was really preparation for the next imperialist war—what they referred to as the “Second Imperialist War, a war that they hoped for and tried to bring about.

Stalin’s goal of fomenting world war was surprisingly effective.

For instance, in the first half of 1941, it was not implausible that Japan might become an ally of the United States. The main reason this never happened, with Japan choosing to attack the United States instead, is that the USSR successfully lodged Soviet spies in the US government.

Harry Dexter White, a Soviet agent in the US Treasury Department, pushed the idea of an oil embargo against Japan. The oil embargo forced Japan to attack the United States or else lose its empire (oil was Japan's most important import and about 80% of it came from the US).

As the war progressed, Roosevelt consistently received biased information about Stalin because he was surrounded by communist-sympathizing advisors. Pro-Soviet figures in the administration, like Joseph Davies and Sumner Wells, purged everyone who was not sympathetic to Stalin. They even dismantled the State Department’s Soviet library to this end.

Roosevelt and Churchill stupidly gave the Soviet Union $11 billion in Lend-Lease (that’s $222 billion in today’s dollar), even though the goods arrived too late to have any impact on stopping Hitler.

See Stalin's War by Sean McMeekin and The Warmonger, a review by Ian Ona Johnson for Claremont Review of Books.

The Museum of Nature by Ilkka Halso
“Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters. Yet the wholly enlightened earth is radiant with triumphant calamity.” ―Adorno and Horkheimer

This Week on the Other Life podcast

🎧 Charles Taylor and Paperclip Maximizers with Ellie Haine and Joe Edelman. Ellie and Joe are itinerant thinkers designing a new kind of social movement. We discuss what they've learned from Charles Taylor and Amartya Sen, why Effective Altruism can be so cringe, and Joe's role building Couchsurfing[dot]com.

🎧 Logistically Accelerating Techno-Economic Interactivity Crumbles Social Order. Logistical acceleration refers to the logistic function, otherwise known as an S-shaped growth curve. Techno-economic interactivity is a key postulate of Nick Land's ideas. Elsewhere, he will frequently use the adjective techonomic.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast player.

New York City writers only write about being New York City writers and now they have so little left to say that people with nothing to say move to New York City just to write about how they hate New York City writers.

Depopulation Metaphysics

Sam Frank sent me this newsletter called Holy is He Who Wrestles.

One recent piece, Depopulation Metaphysics, argues that the fertility crisis is caused by our reliance on debt, and debt is metaphysically akin to sin.

Whereas sacrifice gives up the present for the future, debt gives up the future for the present.

The author argues that depopulation is causally necessary now, because "the future has already been spent."

"Notice how almost every single hot button issue of the last fifty years has the same end. Gay rights. Abortion. Climate Change. Contraception. A.I. and immigration. Women entering the workplace… Every single one of them results in less babies being born. That is the single common thread in all our politics. Gay couples do not make kids. Abortions do not make kids. People worried about global warming do not make kids. People on the pill do not make kids. People outsourcing the labor that needs to be done by vigorous young people to machines and immigrants do not make kids. Women consumed by careers and burdened with 100K in student loans do not make kids."
Depopulation Metaphysics
The Burden of Debt

If you find this line of inquiry promising, you might also peruse Actually Understanding the Bible.

The Imperceptible Country

Highlights from our private community of more than 500 writers, creators, engineers, and investors.

Become a member

Rushdie and Dugan. "It is striking that we’ve seen two attempted murders against two independent writers this week. Granted these two men and their ideas are very different from one another... I believe it clearly shows we are in an age of 'dangerous ideas carry a personal price.' State-scale actors seem fine with that conclusion... This state of affairs shows both the power of the independent thinker, and the stakes." By Stephen Pimentel. Read more and reply in town.

What's Your Crystal Ball Got In It? "We all like to think we have a model of the near future, but what are you really, actually betting on with your time/money/effort right now?" This thoughtful discussion-starter by Annie Normal has received a couple of interesting long replies. Read more and reply in town.

Are You a De Vere Truther? Good discussion. Seems like a rough consensus on yes. Apparently there is a whole Urbit group dedicated to this. References and links in the replies. By ~hatryx-lastud in the city. Read and reply in the Urbit group at: web+urbitgraph://group/hatryx-lastud/other-life/graph/hatryx-lastud/b-3929/170141184505791504135410278169636241408.

Freedom of Speech: Ending The Conversation. An inspiring personal story/declaration drawing on the Marquis de Sade and Cody Wilson; on building software and publishing tools that end the debate on freedom of speech.

"Sade-pilled and Cody-pilled, I jumped on both trains, with freedom as my ultimate destination. My very first action was to stop being moderated in my writings, get 10% more psycho like Justin Murphy says... If you want your fight for freedom of speech to be successful, you need to empower your audience. This is why Charlie Hebdo failed: they were, in the French fashion, too much centralised, they never genuinely empowered their audience."

By ~witwep-pagwyn in the city. Read and reply in the Urbit group at web+urbitgraph://group/~hatryx-lastud/other-life/graph/~hatryx-lastud/b-3929/170141184505805414544754800839721222144.

You Shall Know Why You Believe

Eduardo Longo’s house in São Paulo
"Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. It is vain to hurry it. By trusting it to the end, it shall ripen into truth and you shall know why you believe." —Emerson


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