Once upon a time, a group of people were shipwrecked on an island. There was a fishing port nearby where they could get help, but only if they could sail there.

Roger, a bright but awkward man, thought he might be able to build a raft and figure out how to sail it, though he did not know all the details yet. He offered to do so.

William, the de-facto leader of the group, thought this was a good idea, but he proposed that they should build the raft as a group, with everyone’s opinion taken into account, so as to maximize the information available. He gave an eloquent speech in favor of this approach.

After a few days of meetings and debates and a small bit of progress towards deciding how to put the raft together, Roger suspected that this method wasn’t going to work. Though he wasn’t a persuasive speaker, he tried to speak up, and said that they were all going about it all wrong, and that good ideas were being drowned out by an uninformed consensus, and they should just let him do it.

William, again wary of the “social instability” of allowing Roger to dominate the project, cleverly turned group opinion against him. How dare he suggest that they were incompetent? How dare he go against what the group had decided? Did he think he ought to be leader? How presumptuous.

With the group all unanimously telling him he was wrong, and urging him to just go along with things, Roger started to doubt himself. He apologized and backed down.

But despite his capitulation, Roger could not shake the feeling that this was not a hard problem, and that he could do better. He resolved to secretly build and learn how to sail a raft.

Roger could clearly benefit from the cooperation of others in building his Private Raft. But who would help him? Who could he trust? A large fraction of those willing to be convinced by his ideas will nevertheless turn out to have psychological traits that make them unsuitable for the work, which mostly involves simply following Roger’s instructions. If people are at each others throats in the camp of the Public Democratic Raft, you can just imagine the dramatic proceedings in the Private Raft camp, the participants in which were selected overwhelmingly for their stubborness and sense of self-importance.

-thus neoreactionaries.

All we who write put me in mind of sailors hastily making rafts upon doomed ships.

When we break up under the heavy years and go down into eternity with all that is ours, our thoughts like small lost rafts float on awhile upon Oblivion’s sea. They will not carry much over those tides, our names and a phrase or two and little else.

They that write as a trade to please the whim of the day, they are like sailors that work at the rafts only to warm their hands and to distract their thoughts from their certain doom; their rafts go all to pieces before the ship breaks up.

See now Oblivion shimmering all around us, its very tranquility deadlier than tempest. How little all our keels have troubled it. Time in its deeps swims like a monstrous whale; and, like a whale, feeds on the littlest things—small tunes and little unskilled songs of the olden, golden evenings—and anon turneth whale-like to overthrow whole ships.

See now the wreckage of Babylon floating idly, and something there that once was Nineveh; already their kings and queens are in the deeps among the weedy masses of old centuries that hide the sodden bulk of sunken Tyre and make a darkness round Persepolis.

For the rest I dimly see the forms of foundered ships on the sea-floor strewn with crowns.

Our ships were all unseaworthy from the first.

There goes the raft that Homer made for Helen.

–thus Lord Dunsany

the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.

And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?

And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools.

And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.

And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.
Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.

And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.

And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine

-thus Nephi

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