Možda ovi ljudi misle ozbiljno no ovo je otkačen, bizaran misaoni eksperiment (jedan od najpametnijih suvremenih teoretičara, Nick Land, je s njima). Dakle, ako demokracija ne valja, vratimo se u sredenji vijek, živjela monarhija! Politička teorija za ljubitelje fantasyja koji su pobrkali maštu i zbilju.
if after all these centuries of trying to improve society based on abstract ideas of justice have only made life worse than it would have been under pre-Enlightenment social systems, the time has come to simply give up the whole project and revert to traditional forms whose basis we might not be able to establish rationally, but which have the evidence of history to support them. - anomalyuk.blogspot.com/2013/04/introduction-to-neoreaction.html
Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries
Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.
Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.
You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.” And though neoreactionaries aren’t exactly rampant in the tech industry, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has voiced similar ideas, and Pax Dickinson, the former CTO of Business Insider, says he’s been influenced by neoreactionary thought. It may be a small, minority world view, but it’s one that I think shines some light on the psyche of contemporary tech culture.
Enough has been written on neoreaction already to fill at least a couple of books, so if you prefer to go straight to the source, just pop a Modafinil and skip to the “Neoreaction Reading List” at the end of this post. For everyone else, I’ll do my best to summarize neoreactionary thought and why it might matter.
Who Are the Neoreactionaries?“Reactionary” originally meant someone who opposed the French Revolution, and today the term generally refers to those who would like to return to some pre-existing state of affairs. Neoreaction — aka “dark enlightenment — begins with computer scientist and entrepreneur Curtis Yarvin, who blogs under the name Mencius Moldbug. Yarvin — the self-described Sith Lord of the movement — got his start as a commenter on sites like 2blowhards before starting his own blog Unqualified Reservations in 2007. Yarvin originally called his ideology “formalism,” but in 2010 libertarian blogger Arnold Kling referred to him as a “neo-reactionary.” The name stuck as more bloggers — such as Anomaly UK (who helped popularize the term), Nick Land (who coined “dark enlightenment”) and Michael Anissimov — started to self-identify as neoreactionary.
The movement has a few contemporary forerunners, such as Herman Hoppe and Steven Sailer, and of course, neoreaction is heavily influenced by older political thought — Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola are particularly popular.
Anti-DemocracyPerhaps the one thing uniting all neoreactionaries is a critique of modernity that centers on opposition to democracy in all its forms. Many are former libertarians who decided that freedom and democracy were incompatible.
“Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the ‘People,’ such as Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems,” Anissimov writes. “On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.”
Exactly what sort of monarchy they’d prefer varies. Some want something closer to theocracy, while Yarvin proposes turning nation states into corporations with the king as chief executive officer and the aristocracy as shareholders.
For Yarvin, stability and order trump all. But critics like Scott Alexander think neoreactionaries overestimate the stability of monarchies — to put it mildly. Alexander recently published an anti-reactionary FAQ, a massive document examining and refuting the claims of neoreactionaries.
“To an observer from the medieval or Renaissance world of monarchies and empires, the stability of democracies would seem utterly supernatural,” he wrote. “Imagine telling Queen Elizabeth I – whom as we saw above suffered six rebellions just in her family’s two generations of rule up to that point – that Britain has been three hundred years without a non-colonial-related civil war. She would think either that you were putting her on, or that God Himself had sent a host of angels to personally maintain order.”
ExitYarvin proposes that countries should be small — city states, really — and that all they should compete for citizens. “If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move,” he writes. “The design is all ‘exit,’ no ‘voice.'”
That will probably sound familiar if you heard Balaji Srinivasan’s Y Combinator speech. Although several news stories described the talk as a call for Silicon Valley to secede from the union, Srinivasan told Tim Carmody that his speech has been misinterpreted. “I’m not a libertarian, don’t believe in secession, am a registered Democrat, etcetera etcetera,” he wrote. “This is really a talk that is more about emigration and exit.”
I don’t know Srinivasan, but it sounds like he’d find neoreactionary views repulsive. And exit is a concept that appeals to both the right and left. But there are others in the Valley pushing ideas much closer to the neoreaction. Patri Friedman, who co-founded the Seasteading Institute with Peter Thiel, specifically mentioned Yarvin’s blog in a reading list at the end of an essay for Cato Unbound, and Yarvin was scheduled to speak at the Seasteading Institute’s conference in 2009 before his appearance was canceled. Thiel, meanwhile, voiced a related opinion in his own article for Cato Unbound: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
Incidentally, Thiel’s Founders Fund is one of the investors in Srinivasan’s company Counsyl. The co-founder of Yarvin’s startup Tlon was one of the first recipients of the Thiel Fellowship. Anissimov was the media director of the Thiel-backed Machine Intelligence Institute (formerly known as the Singularity Institute). It’s enough to make a conspiracy theorist’s head spin, but I’m not actually suggesting that there’s a conspiracy here. I don’t think Peter Thiel is part of some neoreactionary master plot — I don’t even necessarily think he’s a neoreactionary. But you can see that a certain set of ideas are spreading through out the startup scene. Neoreactionary ideas overlap heavily with pickup artistry, seasteading and scientific racism (more on that later), and this larger “caveman cult” has an impact on tech culture, from work environments to the social atmosphere at conferences.
To be clear though, pure neoreaction is an extreme minority position that will probably never catch on beyond a tiny cult following. But there has been an explosion of interest since late 2012, despite the fact that Hoppe, Sailer, Yarvin and others have been writing about this stuff for years (and neoreaction’s European cousin archeofuturism has been around even longer). And this interest just happens to coincide with growing media attention being paid to the problems of the tech industry, from sexism in video games to “bro culture” in the tech industry to gentrification in the Bay Area.
And many professionals, rather than admit to their role in gentrification, wealth disparity and job displacement, are casting themselves as victims. This sense of persecution leads us to our next neoreactionary theme.
The CathedralNeoreactionaries believe “The Cathedral,” is a meta-institution that consists largely of Harvard and other Ivy League schools, The New York Times and various civil servants. Anissimov calls it a “self-organizing consensus.” Sometimes the term is used synonymously with political correctness. The fundamental idea is that the Cathedral regulates our discussions enforces a set of norms as to what sorts of ideas are acceptable and how we view history — it controls the Overton window, in other words.
The name comes from Yarvin’s idea that progressivism (and in his view, even today’s far right Republicans are progressive) is a religion, and that the media-academic-civil service complex punishes “heretical” views.
So what exactly is the Cathedral stopping neoreactionaries from talking about? Well, the merits of monarchy for starters. But mostly, as far as I can tell, they want to be able to say stuff like “Asians, Jews and whites are smarter than blacks and Hispanics because genetics” without being called racist. Or at least be able to express such views without the negative consequences of being labeled racist.
Speaking of which, neoreactionaries are obsessed with a concept called “human biodiversity” (HBD) — what used to be called “scientific racism.” Specifically, they believe that IQ is one of — if not the — most important personal traits, and that it’s predominately genetic. Neoreactionaries would replace, or supplement, the “divine right” of kings and the aristocracy with the “genetic right” of elites.
To call these claims “controversial” would be putting it lightly, but they underpin much of anti-egalitarian and pro-traditionalist claims neoreactionaries make. Delving into the scientific debate over race, genetics and IQ is beyond the scope of this article, but I’ve included some links on the topic in the reading list.
It’s not hard to see why this ideology would catch-on with white male geeks. It tells them that they are the natural rulers of the world, but that they are simultaneously being oppressed by a secret religious order. And the more media attention is paid to workplace inequality, gentrification and the wealth gap, the more their bias is confirmed. And the more the neoreactionaries and techbros act out, the more the media heat they bring.
We don’t need more public shamings and firings — what we should want is for neoreactionaries to change their minds, not their jobs. As Jessica Valenti wrote for The Nation about the firing of John Derbyshire — a cause célèbre for — neoreaction: “After all, what’s more impactful—a singular racist like Derbyshire or Arizona’s immigration law? A column or voter suppression?”
Neoreaction reading listFoundations of neoreaction:
Michael Anissimov: Neoreactionary Glossary
Michael Anissimov: Empirical Claims of Neoreaction
Nick Land’s Dark Enlightenment Sequence
Mencius Moldbug: A formalist manifesto
Mencius Moldbug: Against Political Freedom
Mencius Moldbug: An open letter to an open-minded progressive
Heroes of the Dark Enlightenment
Scott Alexander’s Anti-Reactionary FAQ
Alexander’s Response to the “Empirical Claims of Neoreaction”
Popehat: Free Speech Does Not Include The Right to Be Free of Criticism
Alexander on the historical forces that shaped modernity
Alexander on racism, sexism and social justice
Genetic Similarities Within and Between Human Populations by D.J. Witherspoon et al.
Genetics Made Complicated: Is Race Genetic?
Ron Unz on race, IQ and wealth
Research on the cognitive effects of poverty
Tim Maly on seasteading and other technocratic exit strategies
Correction An earlier version of this story accidentally misidentified Pax Dickinson as Pax Dickerson.
When you think about it, it’s pretty funny how much Neoreactionary discussion has fixated on the nature of Neoreactionary thought. We went meta and we never really stopped. The whole thing calmed down a bit before I started blogging, but it still hasn’t truly stopped.
Now that we’ve (mostly) gotten out of our existentially-charged adolescence, we’ve started to settle down and really understand ourselves a bit. As a result, it’s now possible to pick out certain Neoreactionary writings and define them as being central to the philosophy.
This list presents what can be considered the core Neoreactionary Canon, the sacred scripture, if you want to think of it that way. This is what you need to read if you really want to understand Neoreactionary thought. I played no personal role in compiling this list, but I do endorse it completely and utterly.
(The above serves as my introduction to the canon. You may read the official introduction here if you so desire)
Neoreactionary CanonMajor Works:
The Dark Enlightenment (NICK LAND)
An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives
Reactionary Philosophy in an Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell
What is Neoreaction: Ideology, Social-Historical Evolution, and the Phenomena of Civilization
Introduction to the Neoreaction
Neoreaction (for Dummies)
The Reactionary Consensus
What Unites Neoreaction?
A Formalist Manifesto
Potential Approximations of Neoreaction
Oaks vs. Sandboxes
Premises of Neoreactionary Thought
Taking the Red Pill:
How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary
An Introduction to Group Dynamics
Material Conditions, Mass Psychology
How Democracy Fails: Brecht’s Solution
The Part is Subordinate to the Whole: Female Outliers
Language is a Badge of Tribal Membership
Three Reasons Diversity isn’t Working
Postmodernism’s Final Causes and Pyrrhic Victory
Making Neoreaction Simple
The Cathedral and the Bizarre: Benjamin Crump’s Manufactured Consent
A Decent Life for Decent People
Conservatism and the Cognitive Miser
The Biological Vote: Its Implications for Conservatism
Clausewitz, Lenin, Robin Dunbar
The Monkey Trap
Screwed Since 1913
How to Make a Society from Scratch:
Myth, Rhetoric, and the Dark Enlightenment
Stability as Virtue of Civilization
Reconciling Transhumanism and Neoreaction
Inaccessible is Ungovernable
Chinese Eugenics and Why Losers Don’t Win
The Power of Myth
The Cult of Neoreaction
Neoreaction, Liberalism, and Conservatism: Reject the Isms
Tinkering with Ideology:
Taking on the Cathedral
Transhumanism and Palingenesis
To Light a Fire Under the Ass of the Neoreaction
Game, Dark Enlightenment, and Reaction
The Dove Sketches Beauty Scam
Real Men Want to Drink Guinness, But Don’t Expect Them to Pay for It
A Typology of Magic
Orwell and Newspeak
Wittgenstein, Ideology, and Signaling
UPDATE: Michael Anissimov over at More Right has added a books section, which I shall include here as well:
Men Among the Ruins by Julius Evola
Ride the Tiger by Julius Evola
Democracy: the God That Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Liberty or Equality by Erik von Kuenhelt-Leddhin
Patriarchia by Robert Filmer
Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan
(I will also point out that several of these titles can be found in “The Patrician’s Library“)
Further Update: If you care to read all of the Major and Minor Works in one location, you may do so here.https://iamlegionnaire.wordpress.com/core-works-of-neoreaction/
What is Neoreaction: Ideology, Social-Historical Evolution, and the Phenomena of CivilizationBryce Laliberte
A Gentle Introduction to Neoreaction (for Libertarians)A puckish new brand of right-wing radical subverts the postmodern power machine each day over Twitter and RSS for fun and praxis. It’s a real hoot to watch. These rudely triggering firebrands are denounced by the people who matter as wrong-thinking zealots of the most problematic variety—to the masochistic vindication (and occasional sacking) of our impish dissidents. Their freakish messages seem almost tailored to demand attention in our outrage-driven world of social media signaling. Libertarians, meet the neoreaction.
Where to begin? We might think our post-scarcity anarcho-capitalist sex-positive brunch-laden anti-war techno-utopian open borders global activism is pretty avant garde, but these guys have moved on to fashion intellectual foundations for the glorious reinstatement of the rightful House of Stuart (among other anachronisms). They’ve been blowing up the extended artisanal blogosphere in a big way. We’re going to get lumped in with this crew more and more as they gain exposure (they’re not happy about it either), so you should probably know what we’re up against.
I first learned of these rapscallions after one Steve Sailer left a comment on an old Ümlaut article poking fun at Malcolm Gladwell. The article he had linked was interesting enough, so I added his blog to my RSS feed. Another fellow libertarian! Why not?
But something was amiss. Interspersed among the interesting enough commentary on movies, politics, and demography was uncomfortable discussions of international PISA scores and potshots at feminism—thoughts far from the libertarian brand. I left the comfortable sterility of my RSS reader to do some digging and found a treasure trove of top-shelf heterdox samizdaty badness. His website quickly primes you for what to expect: “Immigration – Darwinism – Race – Sports – Gender – IQ – Mexico – Genetics – Politics – Crime – Interracial Marriage.” Oh my. This intrepid Sailer clearly left no stone unturned. Then of course came the dust-ups with Bryan Caplan. But Steve Sailer was really just an early layer. Things got weirder from there.
The gravitational pull of the Steveosphere conveniently catapulted me to one of the many roads that lead to King Moldbug, the intellectual laureate of the neoreaction. His eminence reinvents the internet as mild-mannered computer programmer Curtis Yarvin by day and revises Whig history as reactionary pamphleteer Mencius Moldbug by night. For seven years, his blogthone, “Unqualified Reservations,” has drawn a growing number of dedicated disciples who conspire like Galileans in the catacombs of his comment section. In his inimitable style—an oaky blend of H.P. Lovecraft, the classic men of letters, and 1337-speak—Moldbug holds forth on the follies of democracy, America’s communist present, political realism, and how Dawkins got pwned. With average articles that top 7,000 words, Moldbug is not so much immediately understood as experienced. Spend some time with his exquisite corpus. He is a strange and fascinating bird.
It might or might not surprise you that a mad computer scientist blogger who thinks the Declaration of Independence was a shameful propaganda document is actually a fellow traveler, but there you go. He likes Mises, but prefers Carlyle. He’s been a minor presence on libertarian blogs like EconLog and Overcoming Bias—Robin Hanson once debated Moldbug on futarchy. Having handily rejected an initial impulse to merely declare “‘Read Rothbard‘ and call it a day,” his distinct charisma has since firmly established Moldbug as the premier contemporary catalyst for right-wing (tr)anarchist agitation. Whatever, stranger things have happened before.
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This motley band of techno-futurists, traditionalists, seduction artists, funnymen, reluctant Sedevacantists, inconvenient ethnonationalists, monarchists, communitarians, general heretics, homebrewed evolutionists, and one dedicated Jacobite to guide them all is perhaps easier for libertarians to initially understand through what they commonly oppose than for what they separately advocate. It’s simpler than you might think. You could say that these cats take Carlyle, Hobbes, and Darwin pretty seriously. They, like our premier techno-libertarian emissary, do not believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. They reject egalitarianism to a consistency that would have impressed even our old grizzly Bard. Some of them out-Hayek Hayek on social justice, too. Like Mises, they intuit and repudiate the anti-bourgeois mentality of political and cultural Marxism. According to the neoreactionary narrative, these false gods beguile and confuse the masses of unwitting postmoderns into worship of the Cathedral.
Understanding Moldbug’s Cathedral is key to understanding this Dark Enlightenment. Think of it as a public-private partnership that promotes and protects the entrenched secular Puritan paradigm (long story) that neoreactionaries believe runs the world. Or, in the parlance, it’s a cosmos sprung from a taxis that justifies the progressive right of the International Community. Take that rascally State we all rail against and add its cultural allies. Voilà: you have #realpolitik.
For neoreactionaries, the Cathedral is not a rationalistic model of conspiracy—or at least it shouldn’t be, although it can strongly come off that way (sometimes because they do make this error)—so much as it is a taxonomy tracing who holds the property rights to modern power, who seeks its cultural rents, and who pays the price.
You will recognize its agents and wards: Ivy League planners and financiers. Necrophiliacademics still bathing with Marx. The radical chic, Mau-Mauers and their flak-catchers. Foreign interventionists (both military and “humanitarian”). Most aggrieved identity groups. Marketers and media moguls. Gracchi brothers galore. All classes of government stooge, and of course the close-to-zero marginal product (but lovable) lumpenproletariat that turns up to endorse the rotten basket of malignant organs at the ballot box every few years. “Moochers,” Ayn Rand would have called them. Come to think of it, libertarians aren’t exactly the toast of this Town, either.
We share common enemies partly because we apply similar tools. The incentives that bind and blind this intersectional community behind Cathedral Inc. should be decipherable to those steeped in the Virginia school tradition. Think of the neoreaction as an early attempt to build a kind of “meta-politics without romance.” They just add a dash of Jonathan Haidt in the mix.
It extends our toolkit of rational decision-making, revealed preferences, and political allocation beyond analyzing simple economic class to consider culture, status, and tribal political behavior. Indeed, libertarians have come to recognize our deficiencies in cultural analysis, as ongoing economic research projects from scholars like Deirdre McCloskey, Douglass North, and Virgil Storr aim to rectify. With their own broadened focus, neoreactionaries believe they see the writing on the wall that we libertarians are simply too scared or myopic to consider.
The core similarities seem to drop off there. Unrelenting democracy combined with short-term demographic trends render the libertarian political project doomed in the world of neoreaction. They hate open borders. They love Defamation. They are clearly not dynamists. They will work with us to seek an exit, but they do not harbor our Hayekian sentimentality for the transformative promise of rigorous liberal intellectualism. Many find our unusual reverence to abstract market forces to be shallow, degrading, or even autistic. They will not submit to tiptoe-ing around cultural Pharisees’ statist sensibilities to earn a slim shot at marginally reforming the Export-Import Bank. What’s the point? The deck is stacked and the Cathedral always wins. Might as well Troll the Tiger and maintain a good (pro-civilization) blog presence. Needless to say, the personal priorities of certain neoreactionary strands will disgust most libertarians. That a white ethno-state founded on voluntary association and private property would not technically violate the non-aggression principle does not make its passionate activists or potential existence any less creepy to this libertarian. (To be fair, some neoreactionaries feel the same way). Despite what Will Wilkinson might think, libertarians do not believe we serve as “stalking horses for white identity politics.” On the other hand, as mindless slaves to the Cathedral, we would react like that, wouldn’t we?
Jokes aside, there is no escaping the core neoreaction rejection of egalitarianism. They do not only believe that partially-innate behavioral differences among groups can statistically exist, or that outcome divergences can be natural and predictable, they loudly and proudly discuss the taboo implications as their main hobby. They will defend what even libertarians find indefensible: sexual restraint, gender specialization, temperance, ethnic exclusion, and nationalism. Our great-grandparents’ legacies, more or less.
It’s not a “statist” thing, either. Like the left, the new radical right largely promotes their values and beliefs through the more potent mechanism of social transmission—albeit to obviously less effect. They are “obsessed,” yes, but no more than the left is possessed to constrict all social analysis within its reconstructed race, class, and gender straitjacket. The problem here is that their beliefs and values are problematic.
Truthfully, their biggest sins are aesthetic. It’s one thing to diplomatically apply scholarly methods to unearth new speculations about questions that the left has monopolized, as the High anti-Cathedral admittedly does. It’s another to irreverently smear these uncomfortable suggestions in the feeds of such dastardly unsuspecting Catheraldrones as your unmarried Aunt Cathys who adjunct at Columbia or your Redditor buddies who suddenly realize they don’t Fucking Love all Science. To them, neoreactionary Twitter jockeys understandably look like losers, trolls, or worse—mega-haters.
This perception stems from several sources, few of which neoreactionaries can do much to control. Genuine discussants will be tarred as trolls unless they change their message. They could just shut up and keep their thoughts to themselves, but I don’t like that road. Libertarians would not do well in a society that compels individuals to renounce or repress their non-violent and honestly-held beliefs and values because enough people have decided that they don’t like them. Besides, that “solution” could be an indicator of a much bigger problem. Is that really where we are? Are we truly so afraid of mere ideas? Who gets to decide which ones make the cut? The mind boggles. What about some good faith PR? They could compromise by dialing down their passion, but that’s just what the Cathedral wants. In all seriousness, most would sympathize with their plight. It doesn’t take a born again royalist to notice the blatant militarization of our culture. (Watch the comedians.) Creeping progressive imperialism has quietly re-branded many reasonable Enlightenment hypotheses of human nature as some of today’s darkest heresies without the accompanying definitive falsifications that you might expect from such a Golden Age of Science. There may be no human way to frame these ideas in a manner acceptable to the cultural gatekeepers. Plus, they’re dangerously close to the abyss. Quoth neoreactionary-by-techno-commercialism philosopher (and personal favorite) Nick Land:
Yes, there really is ‘hate’, panic, and disgust, as well as a morbidly addictive abundance of very grim, vitriolic wit, and a disconcertingly impressive weight of credible fact (these guys just love statistics to death). Most of all, just beyond the horizon, there’s the black hole. If reaction ever became a popular movement, its few slender threads of bourgeois (or perhaps dreamily ‘aristocratic’) civility wouldn’t hold back the beast for long.Grim stuff, this neoreaction. Then again, it was no less a reactionary than Thomas Carlyle himself who immortalized our own intellectual heritage as the “dismal science.” We should check our now-marginally-more-fashionable intellectual privilege and try to extract any useful insights where we can.
Neoreactionaries are most instructive to libertarians in their critique of culture. Let’s face it: we’re in a bit of a rut. Preaching permissiveness against the same tired arguments of the left and the right just ain’t what it used to be. In the present, progressives now seek to put government in the boardroom and the bedroom (to say nothing of the sacristy) at the whim of their kindly dictator and associated adhocracy. Conservatives are too neutered and wedded to effectively dissent. Libertarians unknowingly still fight battles that were lost decades ago.
Our deficient cultural literacy may shortly be our undoing. Heterodox neoreactionary thought is therefore useful to libertarians to help us consider the elements we may have heretofore overlooked. It’s not that they are necessarily right about anything, but that we should at least have the capacity to effectively argue why they are wrong. Where we cannot, we must work on the planks in our own eyes.
Anyways, neoreactionaries are mostly benign. Their numbers are small and their symbols are dense. Crazier individuals escape scrutiny by flying under mainstream ideological banners. And besides, we have fewer stones here than we might like to think: The Ethics of Liberty is hardly a vanilla read to the vast majority of humans. We like to argue, they like to argue. Why not heighten the contradictions? Just mind the abyss.
Europe’s Neoreaction Is Scarier Than You Think
Andrea’s post on neoreaction—or ‘Dark Enlightenment’—provides a good overview of this odd blogosphere- and Twitter-based intellectual phenomenon. But it would be a mistake to dismiss the views advanced by Mencius Moldbug and his followers as inconsequential, if quirky. The very same opinions, with slightly different labels, are making headway in Europe, already affecting lives of millions of people.
If that sounds like an exaggeration, you just haven’t been following the news lately. Here’s a report on last week’s remarks by Hungary’s Prime Minister’s Viktor Orbán at a retreat of Hungarian political leaders in Romania:
“I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations,” Orban said, according to the video of his speech on the government’s website. He listed Russia, Turkey and China as examples of “successful” nations, “none of which is liberal and some of which aren’t even democracies.”True, Orbán is more likely a populist than a committed neoreactionary ideologue. But his dismissal of liberal democracy is not accidental. It reflects a genuine intellectual undercurrent spreading not just through Hungary but through much of Europe.
The European neoreaction goes under different names, including ‘European New Right’, ‘identitarianism’, ‘archeofuturism’ or ’Eurasianism’. Labels aside, here are the movement’s key ideas, which make it a close relative of the American Internet neoreaction:
- ‘ethnopluralism’ and anti-immigration rhetoric,
- rejection of liberalism, both in its classical and modern form, and a distrust of democracy,
- rejection of egalitarianism,
- veneration of Vladimir Putin’s leadership,
- ‘Eurasianism’ (i.e. building closer ties with Russia) as a substitute for fostering trans-Atlantic political ties,
- a distrust of capitalism, especially of the international variety, which is seen as corroding the tradition and sense of community,
And what role is played in all this by Hungary? Well, it was in Hungary that “a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party” has recently become the second most important political group in the country. So it is only fitting that Budapest will be the venue of this year’s ‘Identitarian Congress’ (h/t).
The conference, with its sleek website, an optional walking tour of Budapest, and “evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvre,” is co-hosted by the white supremacist, Montana-based National Policy Institute, the Nordic ‘identitarian’ website Motpol, and the publishing house Arktos Media, which published not only Alain de Benoist’s The Problem Of Democracy but also his book on the Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt, as well as tracts with such charming names as The Northern Dawn, White Identity, or The Homo and the Negro.
The speakers at the conference include Márton Gyöngyösi, the Jobbik MP who once demanded that lists of Jews who pose a national security threat be drawn, American ‘racial realist’ Jared Taylor—who also spoke (surprise!) at Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s ‘Property and Freedom Society’ conference in Turkey last year—and Manuel Ochsenreiter, a German journalist who works for Russia Today and defends German ethnic identity “against de-nazification” in his spare time.
But, most importantly, there will be Aleksandr Dugin, the guru of the ‘Eurasianist’ movement and an advisor to the Speaker of Russia’s State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin. Using rather bizarre language, Dugin sees human history as a conflict between maritime civilizations (Carthage, Athens, Great Britain) and land-based ones (Rome, Sparta, Russia).
In more immediate terms, his agenda consists of a wholesale rejection of modernism, with its central element of decadence, liberalism. Because Marxism and fascism failed, liberalism is now “threatening to monopolize political discourse and drown the world in a universal sameness, destroying everything that makes the various cultures and peoples unique.” That’s why we need, Dugin argues, a Fourth Political Theory, which will understand the individual primarily as part of a community, rooted in tradition, and will blend collectivism, authoritarianism, and religion. In order to achieve that, says Dugin, we need to connect “the Third Rome, the Third Reich and the Third International.”
Having taken over Russia and Hungary, neoreaction is a genuine political and ideological force to be reckoned with. And the West is not totally immune to it either—just think of Nigel Farage’s professed admiration for Vladimir Putin, Nick Griffin’s infatuation with Russia’s democracy, Austria’s FPÖ’s defense of the annexation of Crimea, or Marine Le Pen’s red-carpet treatment during her recent visit to Moscow (note her picture with Dugin’s boss at the link).
Andrea concludes her assessment of American Internet neoreactionaries by saying that they “are mostly benign. Their numbers are small and their symbols are dense. Crazier individuals escape scrutiny by flying under mainstream ideological banners.” A look across the Atlantic may serve as antidote to such complacency. European neoreaction—with which the American variety shares much of its intellectual pedigree—is patently insane, well-resourced, and increasingly powerful. And that does not bode well for the future.
To start with, neoreaction isn’t a political movement per se—at least not yet and not for lack of trying. It’s more an intellectual trend that scrutinizes hatefacts away from “The Cathedral,” the neoreactionary neologism for the semi-official universalist secular religion of equality that ironically emanates from Harvard’s elites.
Neoreactionaries trade ideas on WordPress blogs and Twitter. Their disparate voices include British expat continental philosopher Nick Land, monarchist transhumanist Michael Anissimov, Catholic anarchist Bryce Laliberte, post-libertarian escape artist Jim, and the snarky satirists of Radish. On discussion boards, scattered Old Right fanboys and a gaggle of fresh-faced, clean-cut Southern men working on oil rigs, ranches, and forex markets discuss the relative merits of Frederick the Great, Lee Kuan Yew, and Thomas Carlyle. Theden is the popular daily record, a sort of neoreactionary Huffington Post—except way, way smarter, natch.
“Those who dismiss the Dark Enlightenment do so at their own peril. It’s home to some of the most intellectually rigorous and energetically principled folks to come down the right-wing pike in recent memory.”
The Dark Enlightenment is a big tent, but there are some common points of agreement. Democracy is seen as a dangerous scam, inevitably tending toward Morlock mob rule. Order is more precious than “justice,” which is really just a code word leftists use to bully everyone else. The world’s social order has been out of whack since approximately 1789, with cultural decline masked only by technological advance. Elitism—nay, aristocracy—is to be cultivated as the only antidote for the egalitarian dysgenic trend toward idiocracy.
Like any fringe movement, the DE has its own lexicon. The Cathedral is the seat of secularist, universalist, progressive power. One often hears the refrain “America is a Communist Country,” which is both a washing of the hands and a warning to cover your ass. Demotism means something between “democracy” and “populism”; it seamlessly encompasses fascism, Bolshevism, and Anglo-American liberal democracy.
It’s easy to see how TechCrunch, The American Spectator, and The Telegraph were so confused. There’s a lot to take in here, making it much easier to declare the movement an idiosyncratic form of monarchism or even (clutch the pearls) neofascism and move on without engaging it seriously. It’s even starting to scare some bloggers on the right who show a painfully shallow understanding.
To be fair, there’s nothing else out there quite like neoreaction. Archaeofuturism is close, but it’s a distinctly European phenomenon. The European New Right is too populist. The Alternative Right is too closely tied to paleoconservatism and right libertarian conventions, though it’s perhaps neoreaction’s closest ideological ally.
What’s more, neoreaction is hardly a monolith: Even the most visible faction, the monarchists (largely winning the PR war because it’s the sexiest angle for lefty clickbait articles) are divided on feudalism versus absolute monarchy. Still, this is a pleasant disagreement among friends.
All neoreactionary roads lead to pseudonymous blogger Mencius Moldbug, who alternately self-identified as a “neocameralist” and a “formalist.” His 100,000-plus-word “An open letter to open-minded progressives” is ground zero for the Dark Enlightenment. Moldbug, whose real name is Curtis Yarvin, asks pointed questions about democracy without easy answers: What does “freedom” even mean and what makes it a goal worth pursuing? If equality is the cure for what ails us, why then does the world get worse off the more of it that we get? Why do modern Westerners take for granted that there are massive sections of cities that they’re just not allowed to venture into?
You know, the type of questions that get you called names like “racist.”
Ah, yes. The race thing. If race is a Dark Enlightenment obsession, someone forgot to tell them. While there’s some overlap with human biodiversity (which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like and is thus a horrifying heresy to those of the universalist faith), it’s more a cousin of neoreaction; like the manosphere, it’s hardly a wholly owned subsidiary. On the matter of race, neoreaction’s biggest crime is its refusal to parrot the “White people…ewwwwwww!” meme that dominates much of progressive discourse; instead it offers a critique of the Cultural Marxist “critical race theory” that is an essential leftist article of faith.
Moldbug’s questions go beyond mere conservatism, even in its “paleo” form. He’s critical of the American Revolution, seeing the Boston Tea Party in much the same light as Occupiers. A Jacobite, not a Jacobin, he draws a straight line from the Puritans of Plymouth County to the social-justice warriors of Mother Jones. To him, “conservatives” are not allies, but yesterday’s progressives today.
While verbose, Moldbug is a prolific, thoughtful, and entertaining writer, a man who can challenge nearly every assumption you have about modernity without making you feel like you’re chasing bloodsucking reptilian creatures or hunting for UN troops along the Canadian border. Most who have written on neoreaction have given it the expected summary dismissal: “These guys don’t even believe in democracy!”
However, those who dismiss the Dark Enlightenment do so at their own peril. It’s home to some of the most intellectually rigorous and energetically principled folks to come down the right-wing pike in recent memory. It sneers at both “conservatism” and “libertarianism”; the former has failed to conserve anything for over 80 years, while the latter has largely declared that personal rights are important only when they don’t conflict with progressive cultural sensibilities.
It’s refreshing to see a wave of young people interested more in asking tough questions and teasing out hard answers than in throwing up political gang signs. The Dark Enlightenment has no skin in any established political movement. It is precisely the lack of fealty that allows it to ask questions that other ideologues consider verboten. It offers answers for those seeking real solutions, not religious platitudes masquerading as politics.