The recent Times article on coordination between anti-Trump leftists as a significant factor behind the 2020 election shenanigans has caused a lot of thought. Many “emergentists” are reassessing their prior assumptions. But they’re not the only ones. This article and another event, the half-forgotten “Coomercaust,” has made me reassess the practical difference between emergence and coordination.
Emergentists generally deny that powerful people explicitly coordinate to achieve goals. Rather, they believe that such people are merely following rational incentives. Previously I have represented their views in a way that makes them seem quite ridiculous: I have said that they deny that these people influence each other at all. But, in my recent experience, when pressed, emergentists readily admit the importance of elite inter-influence with regards to elite behavior. In other words, they recognize the thoughts of other elites as a significant factor in an individual decision maker’s incentive-environment.
In my essay “Centralization and Coordination,” I conceptualized coordination in a simple way, as the extent to which the elite influence each other’s decisions. In that paper, I used the term “formal” to describe the extent to which the ruling class coordinates explicitly. Evidently what emergentists mean by “coordination” is, per my parlance, “formal coordination”; the same goes for most coordinationists, myself included, at least before I wrote the aforementioned essay. And what the Times article demonstrates is the reality of formal coordination, not coordination in general.
So, does it matter whether coordination is formal? Are the outcomes different? It depends which outcomes we’re imagining. But two major questions are informed by the extent to which the elite is found to be formally coordinated. These are, upon reflection, the questions I’ve really been asking. They are questions people seem to care quite a lot about, in contrast to the extent of informal coordination, something emergentists discuss without hassle. The questions are: “who has power and what motivates their use of it?”
Centralization in my parlance is perfectly analogous to the first question, but coordination is only one line of evidence that can inform the answer to the second. This is unfortunate, since I realize now that I care little for coordination on its own but greatly for the question I was trying to answer through it, because the latter is a key to predicting the movement of history. The difference between a little or a lot of (formal/informal) coordination matters little except insofar as it informs us of the degree of centralization (i.e. who is in charge) and what motivates those who possess power. This is why emergentists will accept significant degrees of informal coordination without a fuss. Their issue is really with who has power and what motivates them, not with the extent to which they influence each other per se. Emergentists are generally bent on asserting that the powerful are motivated by relatively innocent, lizard-brain incentives such as status, greed, and sex. There is this obsession with painting the elite as these clownishly unconscious agents that don’t have any higher motivations. Accepting the idea of informal coordination does not disrupt this picture, because it can be painted as unconscious; in fact, some of the smarter emergentists rely on the idea of informal coordination to explain away events like coordinated social media censorship. The idea of formal coordination, however, is too much for the emergentist. The existence of formal coordination lends plausibility to naughty thoughts regarding what really motivates the elite. If the ruling class consciously comes together and plans, it becomes difficult to paint them as unconscious agents who are probably only motivated by basic desires. They might have complex dreams, like human instrumentality or destroying white people. Let me demonstrate by considering the Time article.
Here’s the chain of events:
A weird thing happened right after the Nov. 3 election: nothing.
The nation was braced for chaos. Liberal groups had vowed to take to the streets, planning hundreds of protests across the country. Right-wing militias were girding for battle. In a poll before Election Day, 75% of Americans voiced concern about violence.
Instead, an eerie quiet descended. As President Trump refused to concede, the response was not mass action but crickets. When media organizations called the race for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, jubilation broke out instead, as people thronged cities across the U.S. to celebrate the democratic process that resulted in Trump’s ouster.
A second odd thing happened amid Trump’s attempts to reverse the result: corporate America turned on him. Hundreds of major business leaders, many of whom had backed Trump’s candidacy and supported his policies, called on him to concede. To the President, something felt amiss. “It was all very, very strange,” Trump said on Dec. 2. “Within days after the election, we witnessed an orchestrated effort to anoint the winner, even while many key states were still being counted.”
In a way, Trump was right.
What is the go-to emergentist explanation, particularly with regards to the actions of corporate America? It is precisely that those actions must have been motivated by basic incentives. Perhaps the business leaders wanted status (why anti-whiteness and wokeism is statusful is never addressed by these people). Perhaps there was informal coordination, and as a few true progressives turned against Trump, all felt the need to fall in line, without formal networks behind the scenes. Perhaps, for some unknown reason, all of these corporate leaders are true progressives. But it is inconceivable to the emergentist that there was an explicit plan to turn on Trump, because this implies the existence of a discrete class of rulers, who consciously plot amongst themselves and whose motivations could, consequently, plausibly transcend basic hind-brain impulses for power and wealth.Yet we find here that the corporate rulers who own the means of propaganda know it and use it consciously to their advantage:
But behind the scenes, the business community was engaged in its own anxious discussions about how the election and its aftermath might unfold. The summer’s racial-justice protests had sent a signal to business owners too: the potential for economy-disrupting civil disorder. “With tensions running high, there was a lot of concern about unrest around the election, or a breakdown in our normal way we handle contentious elections,” says Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. These worries had led the Chamber to release a pre-election statement with the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based CEOs’ group, as well as associations of manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, calling for patience and confidence as votes were counted.
The Voting Rights Lab and IntoAction created state-specific memes and graphics, spread by email, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, urging that every vote be counted. Together, they were viewed more than 1 billion times. Protect Democracy’s election task force issued reports and held media briefings with high-profile experts across the political spectrum, resulting in widespread coverage of potential election issues and fact-checking of Trump’s false claims. The organization’s tracking polls found the message was being heard: the percentage of the public that didn’t expect to know the winner on election night gradually rose until by late October, it was over 70%. A majority also believed that a prolonged count wasn’t a sign of problems. “We knew exactly what Trump was going to do: he was going to try to use the fact that Democrats voted by mail and Republicans voted in person to make it look like he was ahead, claim victory, say the mail-in votes were fraudulent and try to get them thrown out,” says Protect Democracy’s Bassin. Setting public expectations ahead of time helped undercut those lies.
The emergentist delusion that the ruling class does not explicitly coordinate, using their forebrains to advance their agenda, is efficiently dispelled. Other questions are raised. We only know of this widespread, integral formal coordination by the grace of Times. What are they not willing to report? Furthermore, what are they lying about? The article is filled with blatant spin against evil Nazi demon Donalf Blumpfler. For instance:
Trump addressed the crowd that afternoon, peddling the lie that lawmakers or Vice President Mike Pence could reject states’ electoral votes. He told them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell.” Then he returned to the White House as they sacked the building. As lawmakers fled for their lives and his own supporters were shot and trampled, Trump praised the rioters as “very special.”
The reality, of course, is that Trump denounced his supporters in an embarrassing Twitter video wherein he told his supporters to go home. The context of him calling his supporters special was roughly “You guys are special b-but please go h-home, o-ok-k??” No more words on the dishonesty, people either know this already or are incapable of understanding. The question remains, if they are willing to write shit like this, what else are they lying about? It is amazing that they have allowed us to see, so much more clearly than before yet still so obscured, the true extent of formal coordination behind the scenes of important, historical chains of events. We should not assume that what was not reported did not happen. What we should recognize is that, if formal coordination among the ruling class is so commonplace yet hidden that a shoddy Time article is a revelation, the potential for big secrets is much higher than what emergentists can mentally. It is no leap now to hypothesize that the ruling class may have explicitly coordinated to rig the election by manufacturing and counting fake ballots in certain areas.
We are even told by the article that conspirators knew how many Biden votes would come in during fraud-events (the massive, homogenous, 4 AM spikes in Biden ballots). In fact, they had been hard at work modelling how many votes Biden would need to beat Trump, a massive waste of energy if the goal was simply to net Biden as many real votes as possible. As a result of this knowledge, the conspirators even called off anti-Trump protests.
Election night began with many Democrats despairing. Trump was running ahead of pre-election polling, winning Florida, Ohio and Texas easily and keeping Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania too close to call. But Podhorzer was unperturbed when I spoke to him that night: the returns were exactly in line with his modeling. He had been warning for weeks that Trump voters’ turnout was surging. As the numbers dribbled out, he could tell that as long as all the votes were counted, Trump would lose.
So the word went out: stand down. Protect the Results announced that it would “not be activating the entire national mobilization network today, but remains ready to activate if necessary.” On Twitter, outraged progressives wondered what was going on. Why wasn’t anyone trying to stop Trump’s coup? Where were all the protests?
Podhorzer, meanwhile, was warning everyone he knew that polls were underestimating Trump’s support. The data he shared with media organizations who would be calling the election was “tremendously useful” to understand what was happening as the votes rolled in, according to a member of a major network’s political unit who spoke with Podhorzer before Election Day. Most analysts had recognized there would be a “blue shift” in key battlegrounds– the surge of votes breaking toward Democrats, driven by tallies of mail-in ballots– but they hadn’t comprehended how much better Trump was likely to do on Election Day. “Being able to document how big the absentee wave would be and the variance by state was essential,” the analyst says.
When confronted with formal coordination of this magnitude, my immediate thought is … “Why?!” From here we can see how the answer must ultimately be “emergent” from gene-environment interactions. But the proximal answer to “why” is informed by the extent of formal coordination. If the ruling class are so comfortable with explicit coordination, why would their goals be any less conscious and complex than their plans to fulfill them? There is no reason. The emergentist hypothesis that, for instance, the media pushing the idea that ballots would take a long time to count was simply due to the status-drives of journalists is a million miles from conscious, secretive, malicious plotting. But the reality, that careful, thoughtful, formal coordination among elites was the proximal cause of the media narrative, is only an inch away from malice. In their drive to defeat Trump the elite formally coordinated. But why did they want to defeat Trump? Do you think they don’t discuss this at their secret “economic” summits? Do you think they don’t explicitly coordinate their attitude towards things like Trump at their dinner parties? At some point desires are ultimately emergent, but there’s no reason to think that these people don’t explicitly discuss, oh, I don’t know, their plan for national demographics. In fact, they almost certainly do discuss these things. The elite are smarter than neoserfs, the adjacents ones I know love this type of discussion. The only question is if they’re honest with each other about their fundamental motivations. Is the Jewish inclination towards open borders emergent of Jewish ethnic hatred of white gentiles or something else, and are they, among themselves, honest about what that something is? Are they consciously aware? All are interesting questions, but one thing is certain: they all know they love open borders and they will plot explicitly to get there. They know they’re the impetus behind open borders. The Time article conspirers knew that the election would have gone to Trump without them. It was the thesis of the article:
As I was reporting this article in November and December, I heard different claims about who should get the credit for thwarting Trump’s plot. Liberals argued the role of bottom-up people power shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly the contributions of people of color and local grassroots activists. Others stressed the heroism of GOP officials like Van Langevelde and Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, who stood up to Trump at considerable cost. The truth is that neither likely could have succeeded without the other. “It’s astounding how close we came, how fragile all this really is,” says Timmer, the former Michigan GOP executive director. “It’s like when Wile E. Coyote runs off the cliff–if you don’t look down, you don’t fall. Our democracy only survives if we all believe and don’t look down.”
In light of there being high levels of explicit, formal coordination, there’s no reason to think that they aren’t aware of each other’s true motivations (Culture of Critique is very relevant here). If you listen they will even tell you.
Just, you know, only occasionally and with the right tone. Emergentists should appreciate such prudence as it is most plausibly emergent; using myself as a case study, my closest would know my real motivations while my media would generally obscure them, totally or with tone, were I a billionaire, knowing that not everyone agrees with me and it is my job to persuade them. Whereas the idea that if I had class and power I would not ever explicitly coordinate with my peers is absurd. Of course I would, of course we would plot to overthrow Trump, of course I would talk about how much I can’t wait for white people to be gone at dinner, of course we would discuss good ways to spin things in the media that my friends and I help control. Of course it would slip out that I really do hate “whiteness” and that this isn’t just for status, and no, in Nazi Germany I would not be a Nazi because I hate white people because I am not a white person and Nazi Germany happened or something.
What of the white elite? Perhaps they are simply weak-willed. That seems to be MacDonald’s thesis, anyway. I cannot do this question justice here, because it is a topic for serious investigation.
The point is that motivations allow for prediction. If it’s all just a status shell-game, anti-whiteness might be able to be replaced. But if the elite are motivated by white hatred at their core, then anti-whiteness is a property of our elite. They cannot be changed.
In fact, I advance that “who are they and what do they want?” is THE predictive question. Let me illustrate with the Coomercaust.
“The Coomercaust” refers to the chain of events that occurred in late 2020 that ultimately ended with Pornhub removing the all “amateur” content, the vast majority of their videos. On the surface, it went like this: Nicholas Kristof wrote an article published in the New York Times that was deceivingly titled “The Children of Pornhub.” A day or two later, Mastercard and Visa deplatformed Pornhub. Shortly after, despite rumblings that Pornhub may shift to Bitcoin or create their own payment processor, Pornhub launched the Coomercaust.
This situation lends itself to differential analysis along the lines of emergentism vs. coordinationism. The emergentist narrative is something along the lines of, “Kristof, seeking clout, decided to Think of the Children. Mastercard and Visa, feeling pressured and seeking accolades, deplatformed Pornhub. Pornhub folded rationally. The end.” If this were the case, we might infer that Thinking of the “Children” is a human constant, and wherever it happens, similar patterns as observed here will emerge. It furthermore may be implied that the attitude of the mass is consequential to some degree. But if we consider the Time article, and postulate that there was formal coordination that preceded this seemingly-natural chain of events, we should make different predictions. Thinking of the Children may have merely been a cover to obscure the true motivations of Mastercard and Visa. For instance, the people who run those companies could own shares in a “service” like Onlyfans. Purging “free” amateur pornography via sex crime hysteria drives coomers towards such paid websites. Knowing formal coordination to be the case here can imply secret, intelligent motivations, which lead to different predictions than those made under emergence. But suppose there was coordination, but on an off chance they only coordinated because they really do Think of the Children. In this case, our predictions are no different than with emergence. Therefore, “who are they and what do they want” is THE predictive question. Coordination only informs our answer to this question.