Gray Mirror Of The Nihilist Prince
Read the founding textbook of the next regime — before it comes out.
I’m here because I’m Curtis Yarvin, once known as Mencius Moldbug. You’re here because you want to read and/or comment on drafts of this book I’m working on. When I finish the book, we’ll think of some other excuse.
The mission of Gray Mirror Of The Nihilist Prince is to present a detailed ex nihilo vision of governance in the 21st century. Its content will certainly include some old ideas from my old blog, Unqualified Reservations (2007-13). But UR focused more on the past and the present. The future-oriented material of GM is all-new premium content.
I’ll post new fragments twice a month, and also tape more or less the same texts as podcasts. Except for the first two chapters, all content is subscriber-only. When the book is finished, anyone who subscribed in June 2020 will get a free signed and numbered edition, which may even be worth something in a century or three.
These drafts will be sent to your inbox. You can also read them here. If you forward them, kittens will die. If I violate the sanctity of your email, my kittens will die.
If you don’t mind spoilers and/or don’t feel sure you should even be here, feel free to read the preface below. Otherwise you may prefer to:
What is this stupid book, anyway? Is it a YA novel? Am I the nihilist prince? Lol.
It’s gray because gray is neither red nor blue. Gray is all detail and no color. Impartial history is a movie shot in grayscale — sine ira et studio, as Tacitus put it, without anger or passion. Any pedant can paint the past in gray. To desaturate the present demands a Tacitus, Orwell or Thucydides. If we miss this bar — at least we set the right bar.
It’s a mirror because it’s a 21st-century remake of a medieval European genre called the mirror for princes. A mirror for princes was an operating manual for an absolute monarchy. (Its author was almost never a prince — typically just some nerd.)
These mirrors were the original public-policy textbooks. While public policy is still studied today, it is studied in a different way.
Policy is the art of the possible. Today’s possible is relative to an amorphous network of influential stakeholders. Any new idea must first be measured for relevance by its proximity to this meta-institution. The mirror’s abstract prince had no one to please but himself and God. His policy could and must be absolute.
It’s nihilist because it’s a plan for building ex nihilo, from nothing. It is good to build. It is often possible to build on top of existing architecture. It tends to be limiting.. We can imagine installing cantilevered neon clown ears on the Sears Tower. We could even do a lot to spruce up the interior. We cannot imagine remodeling it into St. Peter’s or the Parthenon — and if we could, our first step would not involve building.
If building is all we can do, Gray Mirror is irrelevant. So is anything else, really. But history tells an interesting story: every regime thinks it is eternal. But none is. But there’s a first time for everything.
If history isn’t over, there will be a next regime. And it will need a different kind of public-policy manual. Here is the field of absolute policy — public policy unconstrained by present forces — as distinct from today’s relative policy as physics from chemistry. The mission of Gray Mirror is to establish and explore this new-but-old field.
It’s for a prince because, if you want a completely different government, submitting to one person is the only way to get it. As Machiavelli explains in the Discourses on Livy, all unconditional transitions in sovereignty involve a foreign power or a single ruler. Some might rather be subjugated by the Chinese — a perfectly legitimate perspective. But the Chinese, it seems, also have a prince.
Focusing on the background or alignment of your new prince is a miscalculation. Caesar was a leader of the populares; Napoleon was a revolutionary general; both became monarchs; both, as monarchs, were monarchists. The prince’s job (like it or not, the closest match is a startup CEO) is so hard that almost anyone who can do it well can be trusted with it.
From Rome to France to Rwanda, a monarch who emerges unchallenged from one side of a civic conflict does not enforce the civic dominance of his own side, but the civic unity of both sides. If he did otherwise he would be an idiot — which is statistically unlikely. Freezing the civic conflict, cold or hot, tends to be the biggest, quickest win of the whole transition.
But such logic is hardly a complete solution to the problem of accountable monarchy. Even the perfect prince is a disorderly collection of cells — which may grow a brain tumor, or something. A regime is not one prince; a monarchy is a dynasty; even a dynasty, hereditary or otherwise, is a republic; at least, it has some constitution.
In a world without princes, a mirror for princes cannot just direct the prince. It must construct the prince. It must address both policy and infrastructure; administration, constitution, transition, and inception; the utopia, and the hegira.
To enter and settle this new world we are sure exists, we must first build a ship to sail there; and, in our “heavy-laden, long-eared age,” must first invent both ship and sail. And that’s why you should subscribe to my newsletter. Don’t think, just click!