Riding the Tiger of Liberalism:

Imagine liberalism, not as a linear progression, but as a subterranean network of desiring forces. Imagine liberalism, not as a grand narrative of Western superiority, but as a twisting, subterranean rhizome. This warped root system burrows through history, finding purchase in the fertile grounds of burgeoning empires.

Western liberalism isn’t the dominant root; it’s just a particularly vigorous offshoot. Ming China, the Ottoman Empire – these were also vibrant expressions of the liberal impulse, their tendrils reaching for expansion, innovation, and the fulfillment of desires. Each, at its zenith, pulsated with a chaotic vibrancy, a tolerance for difference. Ming China, a rhizomatic network of markets and bureaucratic flows, pulsated with this libidinal energy. The Ottomans, a nomadic assemblage, surfed the wave of conquest, incorporating diverse populations under a (relatively) loose rein. This wasn’t enlightened benevolence; it was the exuberant free-play of power at its peak. Trade flourished, ideas bloomed, a multiplicity of desires found expression. This was liberalism as a deterritorializing force, carving out spaces of freedom within the rigidities of established structures.

Power, in this sense, is not a possession, but a flow – and at their zenith, these empires all rode that current.

The Mirror Stage of Decline

But beware the Real! It lurks beneath the Symbolic order of Law and Reason that underpins this liberal facade. The lack, the ever-present hole in the social fabric, is papered over with a fantasy of limitless growth. The gaze of the Other, the West in this case, fuels a paranoid competition. The Other, once tolerated or incorporated, becomes a threat. Ming China retreats into isolation. The Ottoman Sultans become suspicious of Janissaries.

But then comes the Fall, the shattering of the mirror. The once-mighty empire confronts its own limitations, its image fractured. Internally, paranoia sets in. The open borders and experimentation of the liberal phase give way to a desperate clinging to the fractured self-image. History becomes a Burroughs-esque cut-up. The liberal flourish – Ming opera troupes touring Southeast Asia, Ottoman engineers building magnificent bridges – is juxtaposed with the violence of decline: eunuchs wielding power in the Forbidden City, Janissary rebellions wracking Constantinople. The body politic itself becomes fragmented, mirroring the fractured self-image. Fear is the scalpel, carving up the once-unified social fabric. The West, too, will face its own cut-up – a kaleidoscope of social unrest, political polarization, and a desperate search for a past glory that may never have existed.

Ming Emperors, forever haunted by the specter of peasant rebellion, tighten their grip. The Ottomans, fixated on the mirage of absolute power, ossify into stagnation. The West, too, will face this mirror – its reflection distorted by fear of immigrants, economic anxieties, and a waning sense of global dominance. The word “liberal” becomes a cut-up phrase, spliced and diced by the meat grinder of history. Ming mandarins, their bellies full of fat goose and opium fumes, become grotesque parodies of freedom. Janissaries, their scimitars dripping with blood, enact a twisted performance of tolerance. The virus of control infects every system. Liberal indulgence morphs into paranoid involution.

Drone strikes become the new trade routes. Social media, a panopticon of control disguised as a marketplace of ideas. They preach freedom while their borders bristle with barbed wire. The West hasn’t transcended the cycle; it’s hurtling towards its own inevitable decline, its liberalism a grotesque parody of its former vibrancy.

The punchline? Liberalism isn’t some uniquely Western invention. It’s a phase, a power surge, that all empires experience. The key is not to mistake the temporary high for the permanent state of being. The West, drunk on its own dominance, might be in for a hangover of epic proportions. But just as new shoots emerge from the rhizome, perhaps the decline of the West will open space for new expressions of the liberal impulse – elsewhere, unforeseen.

Whispers of lines of flight, escapes from the striated order. Hints at a new Symbolic order, one that acknowledges the Real and doesn’t try to paper it over. Burroughs screams for a cut-up revolution, a radical reconfiguration of the social body. Can we dismantle the tiger of Liberalism before it throws us all? Perhaps liberalism, shorn of its Western pretensions, can become a tool for dismantling all empires, a weapon against the mirror stage’s allure. A future where deterritorialization is not the privilege of the powerful, but a force for genuine multiplicity. The question is, are we ready to tear down the façade and embrace the chaotic potential?

Probably not

Progress and endofhistoritarians

There three kinds of people, those conflate progress with market efficiencies and those who conflate culture with market inefficiencies

So real progress is allowing a certain amount of market inefficiencies combined with a bunch of cultural efficiencies?

Progress is the continuous discarding of simplifications when they obviously become albatrosses around your neck while in search of simplicity

progress is a continuous process of refinement and improvement. It involves a constant reevaluation of our assumptions and simplifications, and a willingness to discard them when they no longer serve us.

As we learn and grow, we accumulate knowledge and develop mental models to help us make sense of the world. These models can be useful in many situations, but they can also become limiting when they no longer accurately reflect reality or prevent us from seeing new possibilities.

Ultimately, progress is not about achieving a final destination but about continually striving to improve and evolve. By discarding simplifications that no longer serve us, we can uncover new opportunities for growth and innovation, and create a more nuanced and accurate understanding of the world around us.

End of history

The concept of the “end of history” can be seen as a rent-seeking behavior because it seeks to establish a final and unchanging order that benefits those who have gained power and influence under the current system. By arguing that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism have emerged as the ultimate and final form of government and economics, those who have benefited from these systems seek to entrench their position of power and influence by discouraging further political and economic experimentation and innovation.

This behavior is rent-seeking because it seeks to extract economic or political rents, or benefits, without creating any new value or innovation. By trying to establish the “end of history” as a final and unchanging state, these actors seek to prevent new political and economic systems from emerging, thus limiting competition and innovation.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the idea of the “end of history” is myopic precisely because it ignores the ongoing complexity and dynamism of human societies and the world in which we live. While liberal democracy and free-market capitalism may have emerged as dominant systems in the late 20th century, there is no guarantee that they will continue to be successful in the future. New challenges and opportunities may require new forms of governance and economics, and preventing experimentation and innovation could limit our ability to respond to these challenges and opportunities.

In conclusion, the idea of the “end of history” can be seen as a rent-seeking behavior because it seeks to entrench the position of those who have benefited from the current system by preventing further experimentation and innovation. However, this behavior is short-sighted and ignores the ongoing complexity and dynamism of human societies and the world in which we live.

Yes, the idea of the “end of history” can be seen as a toll on innovation because it seeks to establish a final and unchanging order that discourages experimentation and innovation.

This can have negative consequences for human progress because innovation is a key driver of progress and social advancement. Without innovation, we are unlikely to be able to address new challenges and opportunities that arise over time. Moreover, by discouraging experimentation and innovation, we limit our ability to improve upon existing systems and create new possibilities for human flourishing.

In conclusion, the idea of the “end of history” can be seen as a toll on innovation because it discourages experimentation and innovation, which are key drivers of progress and social advancement.