Yarvin's speaker biography photo from the 2012 BIL Conference
Curtis Guy Yarvin
June 25, 1973
|Residence||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Other names||Mencius Moldbug|
|Formalism, neocameralism, criticism of demotism|
Curtis Guy Yarvin (born June 25, 1973), also known by the pen name Mencius Moldbug, is an American political theorist and computer scientist. Writing in his blog "Unqualified Reservations," he played a fundamental role in the Dark Enlightenment and Alt-right movement. He is the creator of the Urbit computing platform, through his startup company Tlon, which is backed by Peter Thiel.
In the book Alt-Right: From 4Chan to the White House, Mike Wendling called Yarvin "the Alt right’s favorite philosophy instructor." He added, "Yarvin’s key contribution to the development of alt-right thought was a searing critique of democracy based on supposed genetic 'facts' combined with a dash of intellectual snobbery."
Yarvin believes that the seat of political power in the United States is an amalgam of established universities and the mainstream press, an entity he calls "the Cathedral." He argues for a “neo-cameralist” philosophy based on Frederick the Great of Prussia’s “cameralist” administrative mode. In Yarvin's view, inefficient, wasteful democratic governments should be replaced by sovereign joint-stock corporations whose shareholders, all property owners, elect an executive with plenary authority. The executive, unencumbered by liberal-democratic procedures, can rule efficiently.
Yarvin originally called his idea to align property rights with political power "formalism" (a concept based on legal formalism). The label "neo-reactionary" was applied to Yarvin's ideas by Arnold Kling in 2010 and adopted by Yarvin's followers; Yarvin prefers the label "restorationist."
Yarvin came to public attention in February, 2017 when Politico magazine reported that Steve Bannon, who served as White House Chief Strategist under U.S. President Donald Trump, read Yarvin's blog and that Yarvin "has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary..." The story was picked up by other magazines and newspapers, including The Atlantic, The Independent, and Mother Jones.
Yarvin's opinions have been described as racist, with his writings interpreted as supportive of slavery, including the belief that whites have higher IQs than blacks for genetic reasons. Yarvin himself maintains that he is not a racist because, while he doubts that "all races are equally smart," the notion "that people who score higher on IQ tests are in some sense superior human beings" is "creepy". He also disputes being an "outspoken advocate for slavery", but has argued that some races are more suited to slavery than others.
In 2015, his invitation to speak about Urbit at the Strange Loop programming conference was rescinded following complaints made by other attendees. In 2016, his invitation to the LambdaConf functional programming conference resulted in the withdrawal of five speakers, two subconferences and several sponsors.
Yarvin's parents and stepfather were career officers in United States Foreign Service. At age 12 he returned from abroad to attend public high school in Columbia, Maryland. Yarvin attended college at Johns Hopkins and Brown University (undergrad) and UC Berkeley (graduate student). Yarvin lives in San Francisco with his wife Jenn Kollmer and their two children.
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- Yarvin, Curtis; Bukowski, Richard; Anderson, Thomas (June 1993). "Anonymous RPC: Low-Latency Protection in a 64-Bit Address Space" (PDF). Proceedings of the USENIX Summer 1993 Technical Conference. USENIX: 175–186.
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- Mencius Moldbug (28 November 2013). "Mr. Jones is rather concerned". Unqualified Reservations. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
If I had to choose one word and stick with it, I'd pick "restorationist." If I have to concede one pejorative which fair writers can fairly apply, I'll go with "reactionary." I'll even answer to any compound of the latter - "neoreactionary," "postreactionary," "ultrareactionary," etc.
- Johnson, Eliana and Eli Stokols (February, 2017) "What Steve Bannon Wants You to Read." Politico. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
- Gray, Rosie (February 10, 2017) "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement." The Atlantic. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
- Revesz, Rachael (February 27, 2017) "Steve Bannon ‘connects network of white nationalists’ at the White House." The Independent. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
- Levy, Pema (March 26, 2017) "Stephen Bannon Is a Fan of a French Philosopher...Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter." Mother Jones. (Retrieved April 17, 2017.)
- Byars, Mitchell (6 April 2016). "Speaker Curtis Yarvin's racial views bring controversy to Boulder conference". Daily Camera: Boulder News. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- Gray, Rosie (February 10, 2017). "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
- Auerbach, David (10 June 2015). "The Curious Case of Mencius Moldbug". Slate.
- Townsend, Tess (5 April 2016). "Citing 'Open Society,' Racist Programmer's Allies Raise $20K on Indiegogo". Inc.com.
- Yarvin, Curtis (February 12, 2009) “A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations, part 5.” Unqualified Reservations (blog).
- Yarvin, Curtis (January 31, 2008) “How I stopped believing in democracy.” Unqualified Reservations (blog).
- Yarvin, Curtis (January 18, 2010) “The Hanson-Moldbug debate.” Unqualified Reservations (blog).
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