Brett published a better piece today about what he calls the ‘crisis of neoreaction,’ which has been bubbling up in my comment section, in e-mails, and all around.
From the article:
People on an individual level respond more energetically to pleasant visions with an emotion (not factual) basis. Ideas like equality, freedom and pacifism appeal to all of us because they abrogate the struggle of life, which is Darwinism itself: the struggle to adapt. When civilization is founded, adaptation switches from reality to civilization itself, and with that, decay begins.
This does not mean that civilization is bad, but that it must be aware of these problems, much like we still use fire and internal combustion engines despite the possible dangers associated with them.
Liberalism succeeds because it creates fanaticism. The thought of what “should be” swells people with a sense of purpose, which appeals to the vast majority of humans who are — since we are speaking frankly — evolutionarily unfit for anything but subsistence living. Left to their own devices, they ferment the potatoes and eat the seed corn, then exist in perpetual alternation between apathy and starvation. Never forget our glorious simian heritage and the fact that most humans want to return to that state if they can.
The right has no such fanaticism. Its members merely want to adapt to reality and set up the best society they possibly can. This goal does not break down into issues, talking points or ideology. It is a gut-level instinct that incorporates as well the highest function of the brain, which is integrating and synthesizing many issues into a big picture.
Liberalism denies the big picture by replacing it with ideology and attacks the conservative majority on “issues” by looking for exceptions which are presumed to invalidate rules. The ultimate goal of liberalism is to abolish all social standards so that the individual is unconstrained by any accountability, and yet can still enjoy the benefits of civilization. It fails because liberals do not understand time and how over time, society changes with liberal alterations and what is left offers few of the benefits of civilization.
Conservatives create 18th century Europe; liberals create 2015 Brazil.
The left grew exponentially after 1789 despite constantly creating disasters, the two biggest of which are the Napoleonic era and the Bolshevik revolution. Where prosperous societies once stood, third world ruins remained. France went from being a superpower to a nobody and quickly fell into radical social decay, prompting in part the first world war. German intervention in WWII saved much of their society from utter confusion, if nothing else by giving them an enemy.
But as Evola observed, all of us in the post-war period are men among the ruins, because with WWII liberalism achieved its final victory over conservatism. In Europe, states became what we might call 60% liberal, in contrast to the 100% liberal of pure Communism in the Soviet Union. The United States, hovering at 50%, shot upward such that in the present day it hovers in the 90s somewhere.
Neoreaction rejects not only liberalism as politics but its social effects, comprised of the twin dragon-heads of Cultural Marxism and mass culture, as well. Where conservatism has traditionally tried to hold on to power, Neoreaction remains fond of the idea of “exit,” which originates in its post-libertarian theoretical roots.
This leads to two suggestions: first, Neoreaction needs a goal, and second, it needs to start making hard decisions about what is relevant. Too many bloggers trying to differentiate themselves will come up with “unique” theories as a means of advertising themselves, and will create a fragmented philosophy that rapidly becomes internally inconsistent. This will attract opportunists, who will use the “radical” image of Neoreaction to pose and self-advertise — think of flowers offering up bright colors to bees, or the sexual display inherent in the plumage of tropical birds — while doing absolutely nothing.
Like a liberal society, Neoreaction will accumulate dependents because they make Neoreactionary writers famous.
To counter this, Neoreactionaries can regain control of their movement by keeping it on topic. This is a cultural rather than governmental approach, which means the best people must begin to take unpopular stances and exclude those who do not understand them. This includes telling many bloggers that their endless theorizing is calcification and decay rather than innovation.
I don’t mind most of the criticism, and think it’s generally correct. It’s what other people agitate me to do regularly, even when I’m short capacity to achieve most of those things.
I’ve generally not tried to portray myself as some sort of original thinker. Any original thought that comes out of me has happened by unintended consequence or some chance unique observation.
The part that I do mind is the bit about fame, which is an unavoidable byproduct of actually organizing people to achieve certain goals. Jesus had his apostles, followers, and divine powers, but the rest of us who are less holy than Jesus must use time, money, material, power, and energy to achieve our political ends.
Popularity and admiration are natural byproducts of success. It’s generally good to downplay them and shed the byproducts when it’s feasible, but such behaviors can’t be eliminated entirely.
You can’t succeed and also remain obscure. You cannot be a leader without followers. The fame ought not to be an end within itself, but a means to achieve a given end. Managing fame is a high cost activity (the cost actually starts at around $3-5,000 a month at the low end), and most people can’t and don’t want to handle the annoyance that comes with it. It’s a luxury habit, like a heroin addiction, unless it’s used as a means to a profitable end.
What I haven’t articulated directly is that some of Brett’s criticism to me seems to be that we ought to have divine powers, like Jesus, which would prevent us from having to get our hands dirty with the whole money and manipulation business, because sheer purity and disinterested practicality would carry the day. This may be my resentful misinterpretation of his criticism, but it’s my instinctive reaction nonetheless.
Although I respect Brett and have enjoyed his work, much like Moldbug, my thinking is deeply rooted in the works of the Austrian economists. The tension there should be predictable, because Ludwig von Mises made no effort to conceal his admiration for the revolutionaries of 1789. He’s called the ‘last knight of liberalism’ for a reason. And libertarianism is the Monty Python parody of the knights of liberalism’s broken round table.
This tension and near contradiction is also present in Moldbug’s work, which is what brought me from my former outlook to my current one. Brett is generally skeptical of capitalism as a means of organizing people, and tends to have a more of a mystic’s attitude towards what moves the human creature. I can appreciate it from an aesthetic point of view, even a symbolic one, without completely buying it from a practical perspective.
Neoreaction can influence both libertarians and Tea Party style conservatives (70%) into adopting many of the Neoreactionary ideas as part of their own outlook.
…which is a perfectly fine goal; one I’m willing to compromise and cooperate on. It’s one we’ve made a fair amount of positive progress on, indeed on a shoestring budget, with no money at all, really, just gumption, effort, and magic persuasion powers.
It’s just a whole lot easier to achieve that goal without a lot of odd mystical hang-ups about the use of money and the art of politics. Having no magic powers, not being mythical aristocrats from outer space or the center of the earth, we must make do with the tangible tools at our disposal.
Alas, I only have blue eyes, but no blond hair. And when looking for practical advice on the use of power, my favored Italian adviser is Machiavelli, rather than the others.
This is not the first episode of this sort of disagreement, between the mystics who believe in magic, and the more mundane types who don’t. Jim already addressed it in greater detail, to a different article.
Hoping that the state will whither away or become obsolete is a hope shared by the communists and the more radical libertarians who, like Hoppe, logically deduce that there is only one moral form of government, which is anarcho-capitalism, so perhaps this confusion and conflation between the New Right and Neoreaction, to the extent that either are coherent concepts, was baked in from the beginning.
The other tension is between the continentals and the ocean-goers, which is setting up to be the next World War. The continentals have a certain outlook and desire that isn’t shared by the ‘Atlanticists.’ America’s unique geography makes it so that tension is also internal, with the conflict between the decadent coastal culture and the sick, besieged culture of the interior.
Without getting too obscure and intellectual, this conflict is healthy, normal, inevitable, and transcends ideological questions of left and right. It’s a practical question of statecraft which isn’t globally applicable.
It’s also a little odd for ‘traditionalists’ of a certain tradition which claims to be an ur-tradition to speak as if their tradition is universal, and then to berate rival traditions as being false rather than particular to a certain culture and geography.
So, for example, I get along much better with American and English traditionalists. Because that’s my background and ancestry. I can’t pretend to be a Spanish traditionalist, a Russian, or a German, because my roots aren’t there. Pretending otherwise would be pretentious and false.
When I went along the ‘sick journey’ with Moldbug, I assumed that I was also leaving behind my fantasy, which was fervently held, that the state and aggression could be done away with. The modern, popular nation-state is on the way out. That much is becoming obvious even in mainstream elite political thought. What will replace it will be either civilization lead by natural elites, or it’ll be barbarism.
I also generally agree with Brett’s criticism of the fantasy of ‘exit’ — I’ve modified some of my views in that area. He also describes the roots of the champagne socialist phenomenon quite well.
For that matter, it’s a good jumping off point for me to reiterate the goal that I made up for this website for this year: to investigate the passing of the grand tradition of higher education and to make some progress towards restoring it in a practical way for the people who read this. It’s also always been my approach to focus on the natural elites, and to disdain the others.
That means that I’m mostly looking to appeal to professionals, doctors, lawyers, and the occasional disaffected right-wing academic, small business person, engineer, and investor. I also especially want to get to know and appeal to parents of large families who are right-wing. I generally don’t care about young people or derelicts unless they’re ambitious, at least trying sincerely to be morally upright, and on the make.
Making direct appeals to the natural followers is pointless for this sort of cultural project.
I’ve never really tried to conceal that — rather the opposite — but it bears some restating in a way that can’t be misinterpreted.