Fundamental Laws of Politics

Below are gathered some useful “fundamental laws of politics”.

Adams’s Law: A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

Conquest’s Three Laws:

  1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
  2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.
  3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Goldstein’s Law: “Throughout recorded time, and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world, the High, the Middle, and theLow. They have been subdivided in many ways, they have borne countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude towards one another, have varied from age to age: but the essential structure of society has never altered.”

Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. [This is almost certainly a corruption of Robert A. Heinlein’s phrase: “You have attributed to villainy conditions which merely result from stupidity” (Logic of Empire, 1941). See also the link for similar aphorisms.]  See however Clark’s Law: “Sufficiently advanced incompetence is functionally indistinguishable from malice.”

Samuel Johnson’s Law: “[W]hen a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” NCT’s corollary: the best check on preening narcissistic moralizing is exposing a man to the consequences of his own prepositions when implemented.

Lincoln’s Law [apocryphal]: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

McArdle’s Law [unsourced]: “The party in power is insufferable. The party out of power is insane.”

Michels’ Law: All forms of organization, regardless of how democratic or autocratic they may be at the start, will eventually and inevitably develop into oligarchies.

Muggeridge’s Law: Satire can never compete with real life for its sheer absurdity.

Pournelle’s Iron Law: “[I]n any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative[s] who work to protect any teacher, including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.”

Reagan’s Observation: “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” (Remarks at a business conference in Los Angeles, March 2, 1977)

Sowell’s Law: In human problems, there are no solutions, only trade-offs.

Sumner’s Law: The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. The radical vice of all these schemes, from a sociological point of view, is that C is not allowed a voice in the matter, and his position, character, and interests, as well as the ultimate effects on society through C’s interests, are entirely overlooked. […A and B] ignore entirely the source from which they must draw all the energy which they employ in their remedies, and they ignore all the effects on other members of society than the ones they have in view. […T]he State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man [C] who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man. [The title of Amity Shlaes’ book about the Great Depression and the New Deal pays homage to Sumner.]

Thatcher’s Law: The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

Three Laws of Sociodynamics [an anonymous cynical physicist’s parody on the Three Laws of Thermodynamics]:

  1. Law of conservation of misery
  2. Every spontaneous bureaucratic process strives for the maximum degree of idiocy
  3. The absolute moral nadir cannot be reached in a finite number of steps (i.e., no matter how low people have gotten, they can always get lower).


Antonov’s Observation on Santayana’s Law: “There is a mistaken proverb which tells us that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it. In fact, they’re lucky if they’re allowed to repeat it. More probably, they’re condemned to something even worse than the past. This is doubly true of those who believe that their ignorance somehow makes them morally superior to those who don’t share it.” (Spoken by the fictional admiral Ivan Antonov in David Weber and Steve White, “In death ground“.)

Heinlein’s Dichotomy: “Political rags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into
those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” (From “The notebooks of Lazarus Long”.)

Benefit of the doubt never really works except in Poker and Trading

I used to second guess human intentions, even though nobody ever second guessed me. But it turns out nasty people are just as nasty as they at first advertise. There is no softer core inside. There is no frog prince.

Poker on the other hand has sand baggers. And in trading there are the faders who fade a trend to hunt for stops. So second guessing really works there. Buy in the fade (adjusted for volatility).

Objective Morality Would Be A Nash Equilibrium

A general theme among various flavors of moral codes, is the assumption that other people ought to give up certain tempting courses of action in order to be moral (e.g. aggression). It is always about how other people should behave because nobody actually behaves the moral way. Everybody is a hypocrite.

Therefore people act in a way which is almost always moral, but immoral at certain convenient times. Most immorality is also done with good intentions, and excuses.

Thus we come to the actual nature of morality which goes unstated in all moral precepts, and that is: “We are only kidding. Don’t take this too seriously unless you are stupid enough to believe”.

Since all morality is just people trying to fool others into becoming predictable and meek, actual morality is something that everyone has no choice but to follow, without screwing up what people care about in general.

Problems with money


Should we ban lending money for interest like Christians and Muslims did in the middle ages?

  • Pros if we do: No bank runs. No credit crunches.
  • Cons if we do: Shortage of money to go to war (taxes aren’t enough in an emergency), and other public welfare projects. Nobody will risk lending such large sums to the government unless they get interest for it.

Should it be backed by (have constant exchange rate with) gold/silver? Should the total supply be constant?

  • Pros if it is: Supply of money cannot be changed to make a few politically connected people (e.g. goldman sachs ) to become rich enough to influence the king/government.
  • Cons if it is: Interest rates will be higher with a constant supply of money because there is fewer money to go around, so even kings will have to collect more taxes to pay off loans borrowed by the government. Since supply of money only changes with new metal, money is hoarded by irrational actors in the economy, until there is not enough invested or lend out to make economic activity happen.

Should money supply change when central banks or governments want?

  • Pros if supply changes: The king/government has a source of low interest money to go to war, or do welfare and other legitimacy building projects, if the need arises.
  • Cons if supply changes: Supply of money can be changed to make a few politically connected people (e.g.court Jews and government contractors ) to become rich enough to influence the king/government.

Elites do not need our consumption to be rich

There is a common assumption among the Marxists/Socialists/Communists/Social Democrats/Technostists/Basic Income Advocates etc, that the elites need the consumption of the plebs in order to be rich. This is wrong.

What does getting rich mean? Getting rich means being be able to afford the labor and ingenuity of other people. Example: you are rich to the extend that you can afford the labor of your waiter and chef at a restaurant. A richer person will be able to afford the labor of a better waiter and a better chef.

With better automation, being rich means being be able to afford better automation.

With better automation, The rich people today will simply start affording automated labor, and they will start consuming the products of such labor directly. They wouldn’t increasingly need plebeian consumption much like they don’t increasingly need plebeian labor.

The rich would certainly fear our rebellion if we were large in number, but thanks to panopticons, contraceptives, abortion and low marriage rates, that problem will fix itself.

Teleological Obsession

Modern humans i.e. the ones since the advent of religions practiced today, have a tendency for teleological reasoning. As such, it takes considerable intellectual discipline to override this with logic.

Most of these modern humans cannot function without some sort of worldview whereby teleological reasoning is applied, even though teleological reasoning is inconsistent with how the universe actually functions.

Religions provide a systematic and semi-coherent worldview that appeals to the teleological reasoning of the human mind. How well or poorly the particulars of a religion cleave to reality is irrelevant. What matters is natural selection, on the civilization level. Those religions that reinforce functional behaviors within a society are selected over those which do not.

It is not therefore surprising that a few religious traditions (Abrahamic, Confucian, Hindu) have come to dominate. Though none of these religions provide believers with any real understanding of the universe, they do provide societies with a set of norms that lay the foundation for sustained growth.

What you see in slow-motion collapsing civilizations, from Rome to the US, is a rejection of the norms that brought them success in the first place. It is based upon a flawed belief by intellectuals (in modern terms this includes both leftists and libertarians) that, once freed from religion, the populace will somehow magically become a beacon of logic and reason.

As those of us here all know, all that happens is that the established religion is simply replaced with another one. However, the upstart dogma has not been subject to the selective pressures of the more ancient one, and is almost always degenerate. Thus, instead of heroes like Hercules and martyrs like Jesus, whose stories (true or not) exemplify the better aspects of human nature, you instead get Columbia’s Mattress Girl, whose tale is nothing short of glorification of vice.