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Revolutions Eat Their Parents – Article by Peter St. Onge

Revolutions Eat Their Parents – Article by Peter St. Onge

The New Renaissance Hat
Peter St. Onge
January 13, 2015

Left-wing revolution is one of history’s biggest bait-and-switches. Both for the intellectuals who hanker for the grapeshot, and for the marginalized peoples who get concentration camps instead of the anti-capitalist utopia they were promised.

“Revolutions eat their children.” This observation, by a journalist during the French Revolution, was only partly true. In reality, revolutions eat their parents. In particular, history’s left-wing revolutions eat the left-wing intellectuals who made them happen. By “left-wing” here I mean revolutions that explicitly aim to use government power to reshuffle society. To remake society so it matches whatever version of “justice” strikes its promoters as attractive.

Of course, in such reformist revolutions the eggheads are just an appetizer. History’s reformist revolutions move straight on to the main course: the marginalized and minorities who were often the revolution’s most passionate supporters to begin with.

The left-wing revolutions of the twentieth century have all followed this pattern: midwifed by utopian intellectuals, power is quickly seized by political entrepreneurs who play to the basest instincts of the common people. Even in the most “civilized” places, such as “anything goes” Weimar Germany or 1950s “playground of the stars” Cuba, these newly enthroned are happy to see those eggheads and their “perverted” friends interred, tortured, hung from the nearest lamp post.

The litany is depressing. Especially for any tenured radical drawing taxpayer money to cheer on the violence. Mao famously boasted of “burying 46,000 scholars alive” meaning he shipped them wholesale to concentration camps so they would shut up and die. Pol Pot’s radical communist movement famously executed intellectuals in the thousands, extending to anybody who wore glasses. Even the supposedly “cool” regimes like Fidel Castro set up concentration camps for homosexuals, while the Soviet Union illegalized homosexuality for over fifty years, outdoing by a mile that light-weight hater Putin.

Most ironically, given his campus stardom, radical hero Che Guevara gleefully and personally executed homosexuals, whom he detested, while helping set up Fidel’s network of camps across the county to torture gays and effeminate men into renouncing their allegedly wicked perversions that were supposedly the product of morally corrosive capitalism.

Why do reformist revolutions enjoy executing both left-wing intellectuals and the very “vulnerable groups” so near to the leftist heart? Because power has its own logic. Because any government based on violence has to constantly watch its back. And that means it has to appeal to the basest instincts of the masses. If the masses hate gays, or Jews, or the eggheads, then the government will do what it’s told, stuffing the Gulags with gays, Jews, and eggheads. What the basest people hate, omnipotent government hates.

Why are intellectuals so blind to this horrible pattern? Presumably, they hope this time is different and that the campus radicals and their pet politicians will hold on this time. If history is a guide, they will not. Instead, their revolution will get snatched from them by political entrepreneurs and turned into their worst nightmare: a revolution that is anti-intellectual, anti-gay, racist, and anti-Semitic. No matter how pure the birth of the revolution, history suggests this is what it will come to.

This gives no pleasure to point out. None of us want radical leftists hanging from lampposts, or executed in Che’s office for his entertainment. What we do wish is that violence-promoting reformers would have a bit more respect for the fire they play with. For them to study a bit more history. To understand why it is, always and everywhere, so dangerous to ride the tiger of unlimited government.

The left thinks it can control the tiger of the masses unleashed. It cannot, and indeed it will be the first to hang. And that would be very sad for us all, left and right.

Peter St. Onge is an assistant professor at Taiwan’s Fengjia University College of Business. He blogs at Profits of Chaos.

This article was published on and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Eternal Life Fan Club Review of “Death is Wrong” – Article and Graphic by Roen Horn

Eternal Life Fan Club Review of “Death is Wrong” – Article and Graphic by Roen Horn

The New Renaissance Hat
Roen Horn
April 28, 2014
This review was originally posted on the Facebook page of the Eternal Life Fan Club, a community created by Roen Horn to share philosophy, research, and strategies to help humans increase their chances of living forever.

I finally got around to reading the new transhumanist children’s book Death is Wrong. I was impressed with the simplicity and clarity of the message, and my impression was that children could easily digest the information. It’s about time there was a children’s book promoting the message of indefinite life-extension. This book should be mandatory reading in elementary schools. I was pleased to see that the book gave mention to Aubrey de Grey and SENS Research Foundation. Besides explaining the logical reasons for why death is wrong, I was delighted that the book spoke about the frailness of life and the overwhelming sadness of death. The book also specified the importance of vigilantly avoiding dangerous behaviors which would endanger one’s life, and the importance of taking care of one’s health. I think that message is especially important for young children to hear. The book leaves the reader with the optimistic outlook that death does not have to be inevitable. If we know that death is wrong, then we must wage war on death and never give up until we have won this fight. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Wendy Stolyarov, Illustrator of "Death is Wrong", at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 Conference - March 1, 2014

Wendy Stolyarov, Illustrator of Death is Wrong, at the Transhuman Visions 2.0 Conference – March 1, 2014

Technology as the Solution to Existential Risk

Technology as the Solution to Existential Risk

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
April 2, 2012

What is the relationship between technology and existential risk? Technology does not cause existential risk, but rather is the only effective means for countering it.

I do not deny that existential risks are real – but I find that most existential risks exist currently (e.g., risks from asteroid impacts, a new ice age, pandemics, or nuclear war) and that technological progress is the way to remove many of those risks without introducing others that are as great or greater.  My view is that the existential risks from emerging technologies are quite minor (if at all significant) compared to the tremendous benefits such technologies would have in solving the existential risks we currently face (including the biggest risk to our own individual existences – our own mortality from senescence).

My essay “The Real War – and Why Inter-Human Wars Are a Distraction” describes my views on this matter in greater depth.

In short, I am a techno-optimist, one who considers it imperative to restore the Victorian-era ideal of Progress as a guiding principle in contemporary societies. The problem, as I see it, is not in the technologies of the future, but in the barbarous and primitive condition of the world as it exists today, with its many immediate perils.

As a libertarian, I believe that the entrepreneurship and innovation in even semi-free markets can address existential risks far more effectively than any national government – and bureaucratic management of these efforts would only hamper progress while incurring the risk of subverting the endeavors for nefarious objectives. (The National Security Agency’s recent attempt at a total surveillance state is a case in point.)

But fears of technology are our greatest existential risk. They have a real potential of halting progress in many fruitful areas – either through restrictive legislation or through the actions of a few Luddite fanatics who take it upon themselves to “right” the wrongs they perceive in a world of advancing technology. I can point to examples of such fanatics already exploiting fears of technologies that are not even close to existing yet. For instance, in a post on the LessWrong blog, one “dripgrind” – a sincere and therefore genuinely frightening fanatic – explicitly advocates assassination of AI researchers and chastises the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence for not engaging in such a despicable tactic. This is the consequence of spreading fears about AI technology rather than simply and calmly developing such technology in a rational manner, so as to be incapable of harming humans. Many among the uneducated and superstitious are already on edge about emerging technologies. A strong message of vibrant optimism and reassurance is needed to prevent these people from lashing out and undermining the progress of our civilization in the process.  The Frankenstein syndrome should be resisted no matter in what guise it appears.