Conquest’s Second Law

Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

-John Derbyshire, Conquest’s Laws

I have thought about this question on and off, for the past two years. Every time I’ve approached it, I ended up discovering it more important than I previously imagined. It seems difficult to even have a bird watching society or cycling club, let alone a church or book club that doesn’t eventually end up spending its resources on pushing the ideological goals of Progressivism. If you can’t think of an example of such leftward drift at all, stop reading now to compare Henry Ford to the Ford Foundation.

Explicitly right-wing organizations seem to be surprisingly susceptible to such leftward drift as well. If we could discover why this happens we could fortify a hypothetical institution against such leftward drift. If you don’t think it could, merely because of our starting positions, I recommend you take a look at the history of various American right wing organizations in the second half of the 20th century.

I believe having a good model of this phenomenon would bring quite a bit of clarity to our plausible guesswork for why our society moves to the left. It would be a much needed additional filter, to help distinguish the futile from the promising. Should we join and take over some right wing think tanks to acquire their resources? Is the best approach inactivism of the sort advocated by Moldbug? Or perhaps gaining influence in the tech industry as he hints at elsewhere? Is Eric Heubeck’s essay an inspiring road-map or wishful thinking?

More importantly, the Communists tell us an individual is a zero. In the long term, they are right. If you are unable to scale without growing risk of such mutation, working towards restoration of traditionalist society and values is impossible.

Why is the Ford foundation in particular unquestionably to the left of Henry Ford? Horace Rowan Gaither? The CIA? I would say the details of the foundation’s drift are only one data point. You can come up with particular explanations, of the mechanics of the transformation, for nearly all institutions. It reminds me of how you can come up with all sorts of particular explanations for why this or that old person died, but it doesn’t seem to have brought anyone much closer to say curing aging in general. This comparison brings me to one possible general explanation. If leftism is just political entropy as some have suggested, then any and all organizations are pulled by a thousand different things away from their formal goal and when they stop pursuing that goal they end up being “leftist”, because disorder is what that adjective means.

Can one perhaps see some useful common patterns? The Rockefeller Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the MacArthur Foundation might have moved left over time because they are bolstered by ongoing public donations. This should put on them some pressure to maintain a level of support from public opinion which over time drifts to the left. This can divert them from the path envisioned by their deceased founders. I’m not sure this works for the foundations in question, because they seem to precede even the opinions of the “educated public”, much like say opinions common on Yale rare elsewhere do. But I’m sure you can think of churches, political organizations and companies where this seems to fit. Some organizations may be a bit ahead, others a bit behind, due to random factors, but the main reason they are moving is that they are pulled by mankind marching towards enlightenment, justice and mass graves.

This second explanation tells us there is nothing more to Conquest’s Second Law than it being a special case of Cthulhu swimming left. Whatever explains that, explains Conquest’s Law. This still leaves the march to be explained, it works if one thinks society moving left is caused by something other than organizations moving left, otherwise you’ve built inanity. “It moves because it does.” If the institutions composing the Cathedral circuitry are currently driving it, this is all there is to be said. But be careful before you settle on that, since if you expand, the fraction of organizations you think part of the Cathedral, too much, it doesn’t explain anything, as you just shift the question to why so many organizations are part of that circuit and Conquest’s Second law becomes the observation that organizations over time integrate into it.

The third explanation I’ve seen is entryism by progressive aligned groups being very common in our society. Members of one organization infiltrate another usually larger one to divert its funds or resources to their cause. James A. Donald gives a good explanation of how this works, and makes the case that this is happening. We have many confirmed examples of Communists doing this in the 20th century.

The fourth explanation is also related to his thinking. It relies on the model of leftism as Phariseeism. He uses the word Pharisee to mean a person who reckons that since he is holier than you, you should obey him. If this is an effective strategy you will see competitions among them to be holier than each other. He proposes this holier than thou spiral as a rough fit for what we know about how American Progressivism evolved from American Protestantism. The carriers of Puritan descended memeplexes where becoming holier and holier until they became holier than Jesus. This requires either claiming the same title for yourself or demoting him from the position of Son of God. They chose the latter, giving him the new title of Chief Community Organizer and having done so were free to demonstrate holiness by advocating violently freeing slaves, outlawing alcohol and rebuking St. Paul’s advice on marriage. After a short trip along this branch, the only way to escalate is a smooth transition from being Unitarian to being holier than that fictional god person in general. Welcome to liberal secular humanism.

If you aren’t very good at bird watching, or programming, or painting, or cycling gaining status by signalling holiness via progressive causes and initiating a local instance of such a spiral seems a good strategy. If so, it is likely one our social brain evolved for, it could easily be sensed and enacted without our conscious mind even noticing we are doing so. This is a plausible reason why this could sooner or later corrupt all institutions, it just takes a small push, under the right conditions that come about, sooner or later, for the ball to start rolling.

I’ve heard other possible explanations, but these seem to me the most promising to investigate and compare. We should do so. More than one process may contribute but assuming the law of the vital few will apply, seems prudent. Once this is done we should compare and investigate the historical track records of old strategies for avoiding this drift, if those prove too weak to be useful for the great task we should carefully and with a sense of intellectual humility attempt to craft new ones.

This piece was reposted from our previous blog.