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Bear Traps

It is very clever how Moldbug chooses extra-provocative phrases and examples—for instance, extended reflections on the successful infrastructure projects of the Third Reich. He likes to purposefully trip social justice trip-wires, as if he's a literal Nazi naïvely unaware that certain rhetorical choices are way beyond problematicHe's playing a two-level game. Any calm, half-intelligent person with the patience to hear him out will see he has no interest in white supremacy or Naziism, but anyone at all inclined to outrage will be so quickly overwhelmed with the smell of evil that they'll turn away. These latter individuals will be rendered either speechless and therefore innocuous, or they will be launched into expressing something somewhere (always a win for any project of public communication). The only people who won't be scandalized by such ridiculously bad "optics" across such long texts will be, by definition, above-average in discernment and conscientiousness.

Compare this devilish rhetorical strategy to all of the public intellectuals today who seek to criticize overly sensitive outrage tripwires, such as the Intellectual Dark Web clique. These folks dedicate the utmost care and attention to not tripping the trip-wires they are criticizing: such souls continue to be surprised and saddened when they realize they've accidentally tripped one, probably because its threshold was turned down a notch since they last checked. Go directly to jail. Do not collect $200 for your impeccable commitment to not breaking any rules whatsoever. Contemporary, mainstream public intellectual life is like a large forest with so many open bear traps scattered everywhere, that you can't tip-toe around one without hitting another.

People such as Moldbug — and Nick Land, too — seem to grasp the underlying, actually operative rule of what is and is not acceptable to express: 'thou shall not approach what is unacceptable.' Intuiting the long-run equilibrium of such a rule, and realizing that for any seriously thinking person it would be worse than death, they choose to run, jump, and do a big ol' somersault right into the center of the biggest bear traps they can find. It turns out these bear traps have a weird design flaw, in which they fail to kill large bipeds who land on them with sufficient force.

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