Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thoughts on the Neoreactionaries



I had resisted blogging about the so-called "Dark Enlightenment", because the name is just so silly. The main champion of the movement is a guy who, for reasons unfathomable to me, blogs under the name of "Mencius Moldbug". That sounds like a perfect name for a Rainbow Brite villain, and the "Dark Enlightenment" sounds exactly like a sort of steampunk-looking machine that said villain would create in order to destroy all rainbows and cover the world in shadows!!!

In addition to the irredeemably goofy terminology, Moldbug's blog is written in a style that is, to put it mildly...garrulous. I mean, I'm a long-winded guy myself, but Moldbug never fails to use 10,000 words when 1000 would have sufficed.

But then I came across the blog of Michael Anissimov, a smart, thoughtful guy who is also part of that movement, and who prefers the more sensible name of "neoreactionary". So I started thinking about the neoreactionary movement, and what it is, and what it could do for our society. My understanding of the movement, who it is, and what it wants comes not just from Anissimov's blog, but from various Twitter feeds, from the comment threads of articles like this one and this one, and from whatever amount of Moldbug I could manage to slog through without dying of boredom. Here's what I think I've pieced together.

First, what is neoreaction all about? Anissimov says that it's basically an aesthetic, but it's more than that. It's a very old concept of what Western Civilization should be like. I'm pretty sure that in some form, the neoreactionary ideals have been around since at least the time of the Carolingian Empire, and maybe before that.

Essentially, neoreaction is the dream of a society of mostly white people, living in a hierarchy based both on group membership (aristocratic lineage, gender, race) and individual ability (IQ). The neoreactionaries do not demand total racial purity. But many seem to think that if multiple races live in the same country, the races should be placed in a hierarchy of power, status, and freedom, apparently based on the average IQ of their racial group. Since the movement is about European traditionalism, it's not clear whether white people would be given a special place in the hierarchy, even above those groups whose average IQ is higher than that of whites. 

As for women, many neoreactionaries appear to want them to return to traditional social roles - homemaking and child-rearing - and to submit more willingly to the sexual desires of men. Finally, there is some sense that within these group boundaries, the neoreactionaries might want a limited meritocracy - in other words, maybe the smart should rule. However, some neoreactionaries (particularly Anissimov) praise the idea of aristocracy, apparently believing that naturally superior people would manage to win the titles of nobility, and that their descendants would remain superior.

In other words, the neoreactionaries want the West to be a lot like the Ming Dynasty, but for white people. I've often thought of Europe as "the China that never quite made it"; neoreaction seems like the latest manifestation of a dream that refuses to die. 

The neoreactionary social ideal naturally has great appeal for certain groups of people. To white people who feel stressed at having to live in a diverse society, the emphasis on racial homogeneity must be a nice feature. To those whites who feel superior to other racial groups - for example, Steve Sailer and the racist "Human Biodiversity" community - the group hierarchy aspect is appealing. And for certain geeky men who never quite felt that society was giving them their due, the idea of demure, submissive women handing out free BJs to anyone with a 130 IQ (and then mopping the floor) must sound like the right and natural state of things. 

Of course, I would not like to live in that sort of society, but that's no reason to get angry at the neoreactionaries, as science fiction author David Brin frequently does. They are interesting to talk to. Their ideology, which is already present in various watered-down forms in American conservative circles, is highly unlikely to triumph, and in the meantime it may have some positive effects.

Because really, this is a post about libertarianism.

In case you haven't noticed, modern American libertarianism really annoys me. Much more than it probably should, given the fact that I share many of that movement's ideas - distrust of government, respect for personal liberty, etc. But that's exactly why libertarianism annoys me so much: it's so much like me in some ways, and yet so maddeningly different in others. It's smack dab in the uncanny valley of affiliation.

There are two things that annoy me about libertarianism. The minor annoyance is ideological inflexibility; a number of otherwise smart libertarians fetishize the Robert Nozick idea-package to the point of catechism. But much more annoying is the fact that libertarianism has become a hideout for a bunch of white racial nationalists. At the grassroots level there are the Ron Paul people. But at the elite level, the movement includes people like Jason Richwine and Garret Jones, who love to talk about race-IQ correlations. And even non-racist libertarians like Bryan Caplan nevertheless often support the idea of individual-level IQ-based elitism. Then, of course, there are the "Austrian economics" people.

It is easy to see why libertarianism appeals both to white supremacists and to elitists. The logic is that in a free competition, the Naturally Best People will win. That is appealing to anyone who thinks he is one of the Naturally Best People, whether because of his group membership or his individual abilities.

So the neoreactionaries and some factions of libertarians have things in common as well. And, as with me and libertarians, similarity breeds conflict. Mike Anissimov hounds libertarians constantly in his Twitter feed, associating them with anarchy, moral degeneracy, and other thinks he doesn't like. Just as liberals like me are in a tug-of-war with libertarianism over the right to champion personal freedom, the neoreactionaries are in a tug-of-war with libertarianism over the right to champion elitism.

Part of me would like to see these two simultaneous tugs-of-war split the libertarian movement down the middle. Let the Ron Paul people and the Richwines turn to neoreaction, which is a more natural home for them anyway, and give me the intellectual libertarians who just want society and the government off their backs. But part of me worries that this result would polarize American society unnecessarily; libertarianism, annoying as I often find it, may act as a buffer preventing the kind of bitter fights between leftists and rightists that one sees in European countries. I still haven't made up my mind about this.

So what other good things do I see coming out of the neoreactionary movement? Actually, there is one big one. Neoreactionaries want to live in a homogeneous, traditional society, but they're not alone - lots of conservative Americans yearn for these things. Of course, it's just not going to happen - America is too diverse already, and the internet makes a mockery of traditional life. But that doesn't stop some Americans from wanting these things. And I think they need to see where that path really leads. The neoreactionary movement shows, very clearly, where the path of homogeneity and traditionalism would eventually take us. 

So I think that the neoreactionary movement can do America a great service by bringing far-right ideas out of the shadows and into the light, where people can decide if they like those ideas or not. I'm betting on "not".

But anyway, I had better stop before this turns into a Mencius Moldbug monster-post. 

85 comments:

  1. There is a lot of common ground between certain libertarian groups and neoreactionaries, which Michael sometimes downplays. The micro-sovereigns (aka seasteading, free cities) movement would have little problem with neoreactionaries, nor would Peter Thiel or Patri Friedman. It's about diversity of governance and free association. There is a sense in most ideological circles that effective governance of a country as large and diverse as the US is increasingly impossible, only the boogeyman "holding back" one agenda or another differs. Micro-sovereign states are one way to solve this problem. Another is constitutional reform that provides more effective representation for diverse views, like a Congress based on Mixed-Member Proportional (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_member_proportional).

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    1. Another is constitutional reform that provides more effective representation for diverse views

      There is a school of thought that says that the role of Congress is a debating shop where every point of view should be represented. I believe that Congress is there to decide among a shortlist of ideas which have attracted broad support. Every point of view can be debated in the media, on the internet, in primaries and in elections - it is not necessary or desirable that every point of view be represented in Congress.

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    2. In fact, in my view the current constitutional arrangement already fragments decision making power to the point where you can suffer from a tyranny of the minority who exercise power by being obstructionist.

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    3. Those problems arise from procedures and rules, not the diversity of opinions represented. The US use of first-past-the-post voting forces us into a two-party dichotomy inevitably. The result is and always will be two parties that are hardly differentiated and thoroughly for hire in backroom deals. An MMP system lets more diverse opinions have voices in Govt, which doesn't necessarily result in more gridlock. Gridlock is driven by committee system and threat of primary challenges.

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  2. But much more annoying is the fact that libertarianism has become a hideout for a bunch of white racial nationalists.

    So your big problem with an ideology is not the actual ideas it contains but some of the people that it attracts? That makes little sense to me.

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    1. I believe that ideologies are defined by the ideas of the people who claim to affiliate with the ideology, not by the ideas in the foundational texts.

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    2. Anonymous1:42 PM

      It's an image thing, you know, what the liberal are all about.
      Joke aside, did Noah have in the past said why he disagreed with Bryan Caplan?
      Is it about the study he use or is it philosophical?

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    3. Anonymous1:53 PM

      It seems reasonable to me to question an ideology if it attracts people with ideas you think are repellant.

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    4. What about the ideas in non-foundational texts? What about the ideas being put forth by, for example, Reason, the Cato Institute or Rep. Justin Amash?

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  3. Steve1:36 PM

    When you use the term "libertarian" you seem always to be referring only to right-wing libertarians. They are not the only libertarians out there. There's a whole spectrum of approaches that fall under the banner of "left-libertarianism." Check out the Alliance of the Libertarian Left webpage. As someone who use to identify very strongly as liberal/progressive, I find myself much more in sympathy with left-libertarianism than I would have ever thought possible, particularly because of the current president's absolute disregard for civil liberties.

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    1. My views are very in line with left-libertarianism too. But I can't call myself a "libertarian" as long as there are so many white racial nationalists in the overall movement. I just can't. Immigration, and national cohesion, are just too important.

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    2. I think of immigration as the issue that causes me to continue to call myself a libertarian, instead of a conservative.

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    3. "particularly because of the current president's absolute disregard for civil liberties."

      In my view he's acting like a Republican or conservative, not left or liberal. Just like when Obama says the government must balance its checkbook like a family. Obama is just echoing conservative views in that instance.

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  4. It is easy to see why libertarianism appeals both to white supremacists and to elitists. The logic is that in a free competition, the Naturally Best People will win. That is appealing to anyone who thinks he is one of the Naturally Best People, whether because of his group membership or his individual abilities.

    So it's pretty much Social Darwinism in new packaging? They had similar views, that the Best People should dominate - the "best" of course being themselves, because they were dominant at the time.

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    1. I didn't even know the packaging was new.

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  5. Kenneth2:02 PM

    It does seem like many of these people are white I.T./Silicon Valley types; as they increasingly are a minority among many Asians in these fields, perhaps it's fertile ground for conspiracy theories the same way conspiracies theories have traditionally flourished in minority communities.

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    1. Anonymous11:39 AM

      Though in general the "DE" seems to be heavy on admiration for Asians... Asian values and work ethic are prized, Hong Kong and Singapore are seen as model states, and leaders like Lee Kwan Yew and Park Chunghee are admired. So it's less a matter of ressentiment and more a sense that, "hey, these guys are doing what we *used* to do before we got rich, fat and carried away with leftism..."

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  6. Interestingly enough, I've moved in the opposite direction even though I consider myself a "left-libertarian" in some ways. I used to think that allying with right glibertarians like the Reason blog and CATO was useful (see the Marijuana Super Bowl and gay marriage in Utah and Snowden and immigration) but in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and lousy recovery, pro-business libertarians have shown no capacity for self-reflection. $5 trillion in lost output, millions of under- and unemployed? A huge loss of freedom and liberty. For them the problem is Healthcare.gov (meanwhile Target.com etc etc etc are all hacked.)

    Glibertarians see any governmental regulation of the financial sphere a loss of freedom. (That's where they get their checks from.) So let them fund business-friendly glibertarianism - and hard-money insanity. I'll go with promoting Obamacare (a government intervention in the economy) which has increased financial security (and hence freedom) for millions.

    As far as the nomenclature goes, I see left-libertarians more easily described as liberal or leftwing. Whereas it is more useful to distinguish between rightwing glibertarians and rightwing authoritarians. In my experience, there are more authoritarians on the right than on the left. You need the backing of authority to pepper-spray the unruly masses and deport immigrants; to criminalize cannibus and ban gay marriage; to curtain democracy by domestic spying and surveillance (just as disenfranchisement by Republicans bureaucrats curtail democracy.)

    Is glibertarians' fighting for Freedom Inc. right to pollute the West Virginian water supply a fight for freedom and liberty? Not for West Virginians who had to go without usuable water for an extended period of time.

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    1. Was intended as response to Steve.

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    2. Strange... My reaction to the 2008 financial crisis was to wonder if a crackdown on drug use in the financial community was warranted.

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    3. At least you don't blame it on Fannie and Freddie.

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    4. Anonymous12:25 AM

      "Strange... My reaction to the 2008 financial crisis was to wonder if a crackdown on drug use in the financial community was warranted."

      Dude, that's awesome !!! I'm going to have to steal that line.

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  7. Anonymous2:26 PM

    Hmmmm....bitter fights between rightists and leftists in Europe annoy and presumably
    scare you if they become common here.
    Political unity, go along to get along at all costs uber alles:the production of mediocrity
    aka mass materialism.
    Personally I hope Dugin's Euro-Russ vision manifests and the US Empire is dismantled
    by hook or crook. It's time for a multi-polar world-exit the Amer-Israeli behemoth.
    Only then can the naturally best people here carve out the territory they need to be true to their Destiny/Cultural Imperative.

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  8. Anonymous2:51 PM

    If you don't like libertarianism but like some ot their ideas, then start a new movement: the Noahthoritarian movement!

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  9. Anonymous3:09 PM

    "The logic is that in a free competition, the Naturally Best People will win. That is appealing to anyone who thinks he is one of the Naturally Best People, whether because of his group membership or his individual abilities."

    Noah, can you point me to where you came to that conclusion based on the Hayek link?

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    1. "The liberal, of course, does not deny that there are some superior people — he is not an egalitarian — but he denies that anyone has authority to decide who these superior people are."

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    2. But when one wears the "veil of ignorance" you really don't know that your are one of the best people. Still, you would want to be treated with dignity as an equal member of the community and therefore have a duty to treat all others with that same equal dignity. I believe most people in the elite are their through accident of birth and circumstances. Perhaps the did the most with those circumstances, but being born white and upper middle class or upper class in American society gives one immense privileges, and you have to travel a far piece and place oneself in other societies where your status as white, upper-middle to upper middle class American is not so high. For me the gift was seeing how my British friends and acquaintances spoke of the Irish (I only being two generations removed from the Emerald Isle.), to see how "Naturally Best" is not so natural and its meanness.

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    3. "The logic is that in a free competition the naturally best people will win". The quote from Hayek might just involve acknowledgement of the fact that some people are smarter / stronger / faster etc. than others, saying nothing about whether these people thereby have superior rights. One of the points Hayek makes in Constitution of Liberty is that it is dangerous to base the claim for equal rights on equal capacities, because this implies that if capacities were shown to be unequal then rights would have to be unequal too. Hayek may simply have accepted a threshold view, like lots of other people, e.g. Rawls. Lots of issues here, but nothing to suggest that Hayek supported social hierarchy. The aspect of Hayek's thought that conflicts most strongly with the view that competition leads to the triumph of the best is his criticism of the principle of distribution according to merit. Hayek, like Friedman and his teacher Frank Knight, insisted that the market involved and had to involve a lot of our luck. He admitted that the distribution of wages within any one occupation would correlate highly with merit, but said that across different occupations it would be influenced by factors such as changes in technology and social preferences that no one could predict with any accuracy - I suppose the invention of the printing press and its presumably downward effect on wages for calligraphers (is that the word? people who wrote out books long hand) would be an example.

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  10. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Jason Richwine and Garett Jones are serious researchers. Bryan Caplan already indicated that he agrees with their empirical work -- though not with their more traditional instance on immigration policy (i.e.: skill/IQ based instead of "open borders). Noah Smith wrote an article with Adam Ozimek in which he basically said that skill based immigration is allright. So, Noah agree more with Richwine/Jones in this issue than with Bryan Caplan. Why point fingers in Richwine/Jones, if he agrees more with them than with Caplan? I simply can't understand. I think it is mere posturing: everyone knows that "skill based" is almost synonymous with the proposal of Richwine of "IQ based" immigration. But it is not "cool" to admit this fact, and Noah only addas to the stereotype that in debating ideas liberals seems to value "form" above "content".

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    1. Skill based is not the same as IQ based, it's based on what skills are needed by the country at the time. Shortage of plumbers? Plumbers get more points in the immigration application. Too many plumbers, not enough accountants? Accountants get more points, plumbers get fewer.

      Caplan is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, btw. He's the guy who thought AmericanSsociety was freer in the nineteenth century because Small Government.

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    2. I love high-skilled immigration, which is also high-IQ immigration. But I don't see race as an important proxy for IQ. There are lots of high-IQ Africans out there, I say let's get em!

      But I also agree with Caplan that high-IQ and low-IQ workers are complements, and I want to give low-income people in other countries a chance to move here too, so I support low-skilled immigration as well...but again, I don't want to base it on race.

      Does that answer your question?

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    3. "Does that answer your question?"

      No, it is too nuanced and therefore :does not compute:

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    4. Anonymous11:05 PM

      Smith (2014): "I love high-skilled immigration, which is also high-IQ immigration. But I don't see race as an important proxy for IQ. There are lots of high-IQ Africans out there, I say let's get em!"

      Jason Richwine (2009): "(...) despite its low average IQ, there are over one million sub-Saharan Africans alone who have IQs greater than 115, which is one standard deviation above American whites. (...) improved material conditions in Africa would make that available number even higher. (...) Highly intelligent people can be found all over the world, with all sorts of phisical and cultural characteristics."But much more annoying is the fact that libertarianism has become a hideout for a bunch of white racial nationalists. At the grassroots level there are the Ron Paul people. But at the elite level, the movement includes people like Jason Richwine and Garret Jones, who love to talk about race-IQ correlations." (Noah Smith, 2014).

      For the record, I prefer Caplan's open borders approach to this issue. But immigration policy is controversial: reasonable people can and do disagree al the time.

      What I can't stand is THIS kind of highfalutin moralizing from someone that essentially AGREES more with Richwine than with Caplan.

      Like I've said: "form" above "content"; Noah's position -- at least his published opinion in the article with Ozimek -- is ALMOST identical with Richwine's. But it wouldn't seem "cool" for a hip liberal to admit like-mindness with a "racist" scholar and notorious witch (already hunted and burnt, by the way). After all, it is so much easier to throw stones, slurs and names, isn't it?

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    5. Hey, just because Richwine annoys me doesn't mean I disagree with everything he says. He's right that there are a lot of smart Africans, and I agree we should be recruiting them to come here, though I don't see why he has to toss out IQ numbers or talk about racial averages (what's the damn point?).

      He and I can agree on certain points without me buying into his overall worldview...right?

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    6. Anonymous11:37 PM

      The above commentator forgets to mention that in Richwine's dissertation there's a bizarre tangent about our innate "tribalism" and his feeling that non-white immigrants simply "look too different" to ever truly integrate. His language is slippery, and yes he tries to soften it by emphasizing IQ and skills, but it's obvious to an impartial reader that he's deeply uncomfortable with the idea of a multiracial society regardless of other factors.

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    7. Anonymous1:14 AM

      "though not with their more traditional instance on immigration policy (i.e.: skill/IQ based instead of "open borders)."

      Assuming that "traditional instance" is traditional stance, how is skill/IQ based immigration traditional ? Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe blah blah blah, remember ?

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    8. Noah, I am a little put off by your view that we should be attracting high-IQ people from Africa and other parts of the world. Don't you think developing countries need doctors, teachers, nurses, and engineers? It's bad enough that countries like Australia are openly trying to poach foreign-educated people in those groups, appropriating the taxpayers' money of those countries and depriving them of needed services; why should the US move even more in that direction? "Brain drain" is alive and well, too well.

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    9. So are remittances from immigrants to countries of origin. Philippines is a net beneficiary I believe, from both high and low skilled immigration.

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    10. Anonymous8:14 AM

      ”Assuming that "traditional instance" is traditional stance, how is skill/IQ based immigration traditional?"

      Is it easier for a poor and intelligent foreign student or for an even poorer and desperate haitian family to obtain a green card and live in America without fearing La Migra? Some countries, like Canada and Austrália (both cases are mentioned by Richwine in his infamous PhD thesis) are more open about this Sport of "skill based" immigration. The intelligentsia in the USA always approved skill based immigration (may e the are partial for their all kind?). The liberal establishment, too. The beautiful poem you just quoted is not factual USA policy at least since the beggining of the twentieth century. But if you are like me, Caplan and other open borders people (this movement is mostly libertarian,by the way, though Noah would like you to think that se are a bunch of white supremacist types, only because some of US a knowledge the well established FACT that immigrants from some countries have lower IQs, in general), you think that future generations will see immigration like de see slavery today: a human rights issue that the mainstream public opinion (liberals included) tragically failed to ser through. Stupid people do have rights too, including the right of fleeing from third world hellholes and seek happiness in a more prosperous and civilized place. Like Caplan, I'm astonished by the phoniness of mainstream position, especially liberal (conservatives at least are more coherent and candid) on this issue:IQ and Immigration:

      Only a Slight Caricature, by Bryan Caplan, May 6, 2010, on EconLog, where he writes:
      Mr. Human Biodiversity: The average IQ of immigrants from Mexico is 11 points less than ours. Therefore, let’s hunt them down like animals and cast them back into the fiery chasm from whence they came!

      Dr. Mainstream Intellectual: Only a monster like you would say such a horrible thing about their IQs!

      Me: ?!

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    11. Anonymous11:33 AM

      "The beautiful poem you just quoted is not factual USA policy at least since the beggining of the twentieth century."

      I see. So "tradition" starts whenever it is convenient to your ideology.

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    12. Anonymous11:54 AM

      Sorry, but I'm not a natural English speaker. If the use of "tradition" in this context offends you, I'll just try to convey the sense that I seek; can you suggest a better adjective for the following conotations: "common, usual, popular, respected and old" -- all at the same time [let's say "traditional", for brevity's sake].

      But, like I said, Noah Smith and Jason Richwine share this "traditional" stance on immigration policy. Noah Smith is more offended by the fact that Richwine emphasizes the FACT of IQ disparities among populations/ethnicities/coutries than with the fact that Richwine defends limitation of "low skill/low IQ immigration".

      See for yourself: "He [Richwine]'s right that there are a lot of smart Africans, and I agree we should be recruiting them to come here, though I don't see why he has to toss out IQ numbers or talk about racial averages (what's the damn point?)."

      Noah's position, synthesized: "How dare you base your policy so similar to mine on facts about IQ disparities? Just say "high skill immigration", and I'm ok with it."

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    13. Anonymous12:27 PM

      I am afraid I can't help in your quest for a single word that captures american immigration history in a way that suits you ideological predispositions since that history certainly wasn't "common, usual, popular, respected and old" as you seem to understand it. But in the interests of increasing the language proficiency of a "not a natural English speaker", let me suggest that you try "immigration that's restrictive according to my biases" to convey your meaning in the future. I hope this helps.

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    14. Anonymous12:47 PM

      Oh, please. I'm just saying that the idea of "high iq/skill" immigration is "common, usual, popular, respected and old" in the USA. Open borders immigration -- not so much, at least since the last decades of the XIX century, or the beginnig of the last century, when immigrations barriers were gradually raised.

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    15. Anonymous3:21 PM

      "Open borders immigration -- not so much, at least since the last decades of the XIX century, or the beginnig of the last century, when immigrations barriers were gradually raised."

      Good grief, this dude is immune to the irony in that sentence - that period covers most of american history ! Must be the language skills.

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    16. Anonymous3:40 PM

      But not the last century or so... Right? Good grief this thread is dead. Can you actually argue on the merits?

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    17. Anonymous5:43 PM

      "But not the last century or so... Right?"

      Wrong. The restrictions were from 1924 to 1965. That's not even most of last century.

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    18. Anonymous6:14 PM

      U-hu! That's a respite. As I always say: when you stop criticizing the language of your interlocutor, and began adressing the merits of the issue, we have real progress.

      So. America had one of the most laudable and progressive immigration policy from the foundation of this great coutry well through the 1870s. It was almost a libertarian open borders paradise, but -- like all good thing in life -- it couldn't last.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_laws_concerning_immigration_and_naturalization_in_the_United_States#19th_century

      "After the immigration of 123,000 Chinese in the 1870s, who joined the 105,000 who had immigrated between 1850 and 1870, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which specifically limited further Chinese immigration. Chinese had immigrated to the Western United States as a result of unsettled conditions in China, the availability of jobs working on railroads, and the Gold Rush that was going on at that time in California. The xenophobic "Yellow Peril" expression became popular to justify racism against Asians.

      The act excluded Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States for ten years and was the first immigration law passed by Congress that targeted a specific ethnic group. Laborers in the United States and laborers with work visas received a certificate of residency and were allowed to travel in and out of the United States. Amendments made in 1884 tightened the provisions that allowed previous immigrants to leave and return, and clarified that the law applied to ethnic Chinese regardless of their country of origin. The act was renewed in 1892 by the Geary Act for another ten years, and in 1902 with no terminal date. It was repealed in 1943, although large scale Chinese immigration did not occur until 1965."

      This kind of repulsive legilsation became more and more common -- and here we are. After a century of encroachment on that comendable and liberal policy, "open borders" is seen today -- by the voters, the mainstream policy makers and the talking classes all like -- as the stuff of legend, and of cranks and cloud walking, all right.

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  11. But part of me worries that this result would polarize American society unnecessarily; libertarianism, annoying as I often find it, may act as a buffer preventing the kind of bitter fights between leftists and rightists that one sees in European countries. I still haven't made up my mind about this.

    Interesting. From a European perspective the tribal fighting and inability to talk to each other is much worse in the US as in Europe.

    Maybe that is because you only know a superficial caricature about the debate on the other continent and see much more nuance for your own continent/country.

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    1. Well, most European countries currently have a far-right party. America does not. Also, remember the early 20th century.

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    2. The US has a far right party. It is a part of the GOP. The two party system just internalises such factions.

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    3. The Tea-party is larger in congress as most European far-right parties, which are only more visible because most European countries have representative democratic systems. A representative democracy provides "a great service by bringing far-right ideas out of the shadows and into the light, where people can decide if they like those ideas or not. I'm betting on "not"."

      Also, remember eugenetics and segregation in the (early) 20th century?

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    4. "The Tea-party is larger in congress as most European far-right parties, which are only more visible because most European countries have representative democratic systems. A representative democracy provides "a great service by bringing far-right ideas out of the shadows and into the light."

      ^Good point. Imagine if the TP were actually able to act as their own party, rather than being forced to caucus and align with the larger GOP. And even without this they have become prominent and well-represented in the US legislature.

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  12. This description of the world "neoreactionaries" seeks sounds suspiciously like the old Indian caste system.

    Honestly, I'm not seeing any difference ... other than that presumably these neoreactionaries would blanche at polytheism.

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  13. James5:46 PM

    Murray Rothbard:

    “If, then, inequality of income is the inevitable corollary of freedom, then so too is inequality of control. In any organization, there will always be a minority of people who will rise to the position of leaders and others who will remain as followers in the rank and file. Robert Michels [fascist sociologist] discovered this as one of the great laws of sociology, "The Iron Law of Oligarchy." In every organized activity, no matter the sphere, a small number will become the "oligarchical" leaders and the others will follow."

    “If, then, the natural inequality of ability and of interest among men must make elites inevitable, the only sensible course is to abandon the chimera of equality and accept the universal necessity of leaders and followers. The task of the libertarian, the person dedicated to the idea of the free society, is not to inveigh against elites which, like the need for freedom, flow directly from the nature of man. The goal of the libertarian is rather to establish a free society… In this society the elites will be free to rise to their best level… we will discover "natural aristocracies" who will rise to prominence and leadership in every field. The point is to allow the rise of these natural aristocracies”.

    http://mises.org/fipandol/fipsec4.asp

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  14. Anonymous6:02 PM

    I salute you Noah for taking the time to semi-seriously engage their ideas. For me its hard to take a lot of neoreactionaries or libertarians serious when most of them are chinless beta-male types who seem to have limited access to both financial resources and sexual favors of the fairer sex though. Of course they want female submission, because in their mind its the only way they can have access to the female's they think they deserve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks!

      My only point of disagreement is the popular misuse of the term "beta male", which in primate biology is actually closer to a wingman; wimpy males who can't get sex (and who thus often turn to gang rape) are called "omega males".

      Delete
    2. Anonymous2:00 PM

      >most of them are chinless beta-male types who seem to have limited access to both financial resources and sexual favors of the fairer sex though.

      You could say the same thing about mathematicians. Do you have a hard time take math seriously?

      Delete
  15. "But part of me worries that this result would polarize American society unnecessarily"
    No i disagree. Both parties spend a lot of time catering to people who think they are libertarian - either libertarian on social issues, but not economic issues; libertarian on economic issues but not social issues. And when I say "libertarian on economic issues" I mean libertarian in the true sense that government should be limited to addressing externalities, not the kooky Ann Rand or Mises people. Republicans are the party of small government, unless it comes to your reproductive rights or bloodstream; democrats are the party of choice, so long as you are in a public sector union not private enterprise. Profits are evil on the progressive left - especially by companies in banking, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, energy , mining , real estate , utilities, technology , retail, or private education. Especially THOSE companies.

    Splits on the left and the right are rarely easy to see until that party is out of power. But, they happen and are normal. The problem with the concept of "libertarianism" is that people weight their preferences for certain liberties very differently; Everybody is a libertarian on the issues peculiar to them. Parties split when people re-weight their preferences. Frankly, I think you should be a lot more optimistic about the future of "libertarianism" in the sense I think you mean it. There are a lot of trends that suggest people are re-weighting their preferences and de-emphasizing big govt when it comes to the drug war, spying, and a lot of other issues. As the economy accelerates, you will also see a clamoring for the govt to get off the back of business (a lot of business groups are gearing up for big spends in 2014 primaries to defeat extreme tea party republicans). The drug war will end in 5 years, something I never thought I'd see. The future is so bright i gotta wear shades.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You haven't even taken the time to make a case for why homogeneous ethnic groupings are a bad thing - the implicit criticism throughout your entire piece is that majority ethnic groupings are bad. This sits at hilarious odds with, what I must assume, is your interest in Japan.

    Japan if anything embodies an ethnic politic many white nationalists would be happy to see.

    Many of your ilk hold up Switzerland as some kind of example to emulate; the direct democracy, the relatively liberal business laws, very low tax rates, large degrees of freedom. But you then ignore WHY this works and it works because Switzerland has been a very homogeneous community for 100s of years and excluded foreigners from voting to change or disrupting their way of life.

    This doesn't even have to be a matter of race - plenty of Swiss bemoan the influx of Germans as creating a less secure environment. No other nation do I know of where you can swim in a lake in a public park leaving your belongings unattended and expect to find them there on your return.

    It was hard to take the rest of your criticisms seriously because you're clearly lacking real world experience of multi-ethnic areas with low trust and live in a fantasy world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You haven't even taken the time to make a case for why homogeneous ethnic groupings are a bad thing - the implicit criticism throughout your entire piece is that majority ethnic groupings are bad. This sits at hilarious odds with, what I must assume, is your interest in Japan.

      You're right that Japan is an ethnically homogeneous place, and that I like it!

      But you're wrong that I think ethnically homogeneous societies are bad. I don't. I think they often have distinct advantages, though they might have some disadvantages as well.

      The parts of neoreactionaries' ideal society that I dislike are 1) the hierarchy, and 2) the traditionalism. I don't like things like aristocracies, I like the idea that anyone can get ahead. And I don't like traditionalism at all.

      It was hard to take the rest of your criticisms seriously because you're clearly lacking real world experience of multi-ethnic areas with low trust and live in a fantasy world.

      ...I live in New York.

      Delete
    2. New York had 410 murders in 2012. That's not indicative of a high trust environment. I've lived in London which is similar to NYC in many respects.

      I stand by my point you're living in a fantasy world shut off from reality if you're going to ignore the facts.

      Hierarchy is a necessary part of a healthy society (but of course I would say that). An aristocracy doesn't prevent people from getting ahead - it simply installs a ceiling.

      The presence of traditionalism in NR is something that explicitly removes it from libertarian thought, again I think this suggests your linkage of the two is flawed.

      Delete
    3. Hierarchy is an emergent property, not something that can installed or fixed. Countries that practice aristocracy see these institutions crumble when the aristocracies become relatively incompetent, and new elites rise.

      The ironic thing here is that racists, sexists and traditionalists are way down in our society's hierarchy, even to the extent that they have to hide their true views. I can only suggest that this is because they are suffering from an excessive supply of bad ideas and overgeneralization, and a lack of imagination. If racism, sexism, aristocracy and traditionalism could win in the marketplace of ideas, they would. They have lost in most Western countries because other ideas — namely, democracy and egalitarianism — have proven stronger. Even in Switzerland and Japan they are losing their grip.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous10:02 PM

      410 murders...

      ...out of a population of 8,336,697 people.

      lol, you can't make up this kind of silliness.

      Delete
  17. anyone with a 130 IQ

    I guess they have to set the bar that low to make sure they would make the cut.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous9:56 PM

    I'm fairly certain Moldbug pilfered almost all of his ideas from Hans-Hermann Hoppe and from Hoppe's mentor Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian aristocrat. If you want to know where Jonah Goldberg got the idea that Fascism and Nazism were "leftist," read Kuehnelt-Leddihn.

    I think you have too idealistic a view of Libertarianism and why most people are drawn to it. Hoppe stated the real goals of most Libertarians bluntly:

    "[T]rue libertarians cannot emphasize enough [...] that the restoration of private property rights and laissez-faire economics implies a sharp and drastic increase in social “discrimination” and will swiftly eliminate most if not all of the multi-cultural-egalitarian life style experiments so close to the heart of left libertarians. "

    "The current situation in the United States and in Western Europe has nothing whatsoever to do with “free” immigration. It is forced integration, plain and simple, and forced integration is the predictable outcome of democratic one-man-one-vote rule. Abolishing forced integration requires the de-democratization of society and ultimately the abolition of democracy. More specifically, the power to admit or exclude should be stripped from the hands of the central government and reassigned to the states, provinces, cities, towns, villages, residential districts, and ultimately to private property owners and their voluntary associations. The means to achieve this goal are decentralization and secession (both inherently undemocratic, and antimajoritarian). One would be well on the way toward a restoration of the freedom of association and exclusion as is implied in the idea and institution of private property, and much of the social strife currently caused by forced integration would disappear, if only towns and villages could and would do what they did as a matter of course until well into the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States: to post signs regarding entrance requirements to the town, and once in town for entering specific pieces of property (no beggars, bums, or homeless, but also no Moslems, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, etc.); to expel as trespassers those who do not fulfill these requirements."

    This is the real reason Libertarians advocate decentralization, states' rights, freedom of association, and the abolition of the welfare state: because it would make it easier for them to practice discrimination and set up a Social Darwinist hierarchical society. If that sounds cynical, well, just take a look at the writings of people like Mises and Ayn Rand. Then observe the sorts of people the movement attracts. It speaks volumes.

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    Replies
    1. James6:25 AM

      Hans Hermann Hoppe:

      “the natural outcome of voluntary transactions between private property owners is non-egalitarian, hierarchical, and elitist. In every society, a few individuals acquire the status of an elite through talent. Due to superior achievements of wealth, wisdom, and bravery, these individuals come to possess natural authority... Moreover, because of selective mating, marriage, and the laws of civil and genetic inheritance, positions of natural authority are likely to be passed on within a few noble families."

      http://mises.org/etexts/intellectuals.asp


      “The best one may hope for… is a policy of utmost discrimination: of strict discrimination in favor of the human qualities of skill, character, and cultural compatibility… it implies that all immigrants must demonstrate through tests not only (English) language proficiency, but all-around superior (above-average) intellectual performance and character structure as well as a compatible system of values – with the predictable result of a systematic pro-European immigration bias.”

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/hans-hermann-hoppe/on-free-immigration-and-forced-integration/

      “For the purpose of illustration, let us first assume an anarcho-capitalist society… All land is privately owned, including all streets, rivers, airports, harbors, etc…. Clearly, under this scenario there exists no such thing as freedom of immigration. Rather, there exists the freedom of many independent private property owners to admit or exclude others from their own property… There will be as much immigration or non-immigration, inclusivity or exclusivity, desegregation or segregation, non-discrimination or discrimination based on racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural or whatever other grounds as individual owners or associations of individual owners allow.

      “Note that none of this, not even the most exclusive form of segregationism, has anything to do with a rejection of free trade and the adoption of protectionism. From the fact that one does not want to associate with or live in the neighborhood of Blacks, Turks, Catholics or Hindus, etc., it does not follow that one does not want to trade with them from a distance. To the contrary, it is precisely the absolute voluntariness of human association and separation – the absence of any form of forced integration – that makes peaceful relationships – free trade – between culturally, racially, ethnically, or religiously distinct people possible”.

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/hans-hermann-hoppe/on-free-immigration-and-forced-integration/

      Delete
    2. James6:29 AM

      Ludwig von Mises in a letter to Ayn Rand:

      “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.”


      http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_4/21_4_3.pdf

      Ludwig von Mises:

      “the average common man is in many regards inferior to the average businessman. But this inferiority manifests itself first of all in his limited ability to think”

      http://mises.org/daily/2179
      


      “It is true that the masses do not think. But just for this reason they follow those who do think.”


      http://mises.org/books/socialism/part5_ch35.aspx

      “certain races have contributed nothing or very little to the development of civilization and can, in this sense, be called inferior.”



      http://mises.org/humanaction/chap3sec6.asp

      “It is perfectly legitimate to assume that the races are different in their cognitive abilities and in their willpower and accordingly are unequally suited for the task of setting up societies, and that the better races are characterized in particular by their special ability to strengthen social bonds.”
      


      Ludwig von Mises, The Market Economy, 1932, p. 297

      “It may be admitted that the races differ in talent and character and that there is no hope of ever seeing those differences resolved. Still, free-trade theory shows that even the more capable races derive an advantage from associating with the less capable and that social cooperation brings them the advantage of higher productivity in the total labor process”. 



      Mises, L. von. 1951. Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Ala. pp. 325-326.

      Delete
  19. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Another comment: I think of Moldbug as a sort of Dr. Frankenstein who has long since lost control of his creation. Every time I look at a blog or comment section full of Dark Enlightenment/HBD types, the majority of them -- not all, but a majority of them are full-on White Nationalists, and a significant segment of them take their cues from people like Kevin B. MacDonald, who blames The Jews for America's immigration woes, civil rights movements (black/women/gay), cultural decline, and every other sunspot and sidewalk crack.

    I think Moldbug himself would not feel comfortable in the kind of society most of his nominal allies seek to create.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous12:59 AM

    I first read Moldbug and immediately felt wrong for doing so, but couldn't stop. I disagree with almost all his points but sometimes I just like having a spaghetti full of rhetoric thrown at my face. To get where this guy is coming from look up Thomas Carlyle. I think he, like Carlyle just had an unfortunate life experience that led him to this philosophy.

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  21. Anonymous1:11 AM

    To elaborate, if you can stomach and ignore the Nuremberg apologetics and what feels like screed ripped from the bowels of storm front, I can understand the longing for some kind of order. For awhile he talked of having a dictatorship run by Meg Whitman. I honestly chalk this up to a lack of articulation. He wants an age of heroes that can direct social currents masterfully. It seems that he fears this society is incapable of that because of multiculturalism, pluralism, etc. I think he's wrong, great men arrive in clusters, he needs to take a chill pill and be patient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't believe in great men. Great men are great only because of the people who follow them.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous12:50 PM

      Bismark himself (the most great manniest of the great mans) said that the leader cannot direct history, he can only hear it coming, jump and grasp the hem of her garment, and hold on.

      Delete
  22. Anonymous6:28 AM

    I found this post illuminating but I want to push back on two points:

    1) there's no reason to get angry at neo-reactionaries as "they are interesting to talk to"
    2) their views on women are all about sex

    I interacted with neoreactionaries in an online forum with libertarians (and other types) for almost two years and was perplexed how much free roam the neoreactionaries were given. I accept their right to hold (and voice) their views but I strongly object to their silencing others with verbal hostility and not respecting others' views. I have a lower view of libertarians now after watching how they quietly support neoreactionaries.

    2) I suppose garden variety sexism might be partly a about a sex deficit (relative to expectations) or some past slights from women BUT I do not think that is all that is behind neo-reactionaries. It's a power trip (of otherwise powerless men) that is applied to women, ethnicity/racial minorities, foreigners, and anyone deemed 'low IQ.' I actually find Noah's characterization a bit insulting ... I think it's much worse, women and whole lot of others are viewed as basically sub human and that justifies (in their mind) a lot of hurtful behavior (sexual and otherwise). This is not a case of 'boys will be boys' but 'men can be evil.'

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    1. Anonymous5:33 PM

      There's a certain crossover between PUA/Game bloggers, especially the more stridently wannable sociologist types like Roissy, and the Dark Enlightenment. The politicized section of PUA might identify as neoreactionary. There's more to their sexism than sex, but it seems like a lot of these guys are more interested in getting laid, and the dynamics theorizing is just the intellectualizing of the process. Though over time, one could expect others less sex-focused, like the MRA/MGTOW/excessive acronym movements might get folded into the neoreactionary umbrella as well, since they're all vaguely regressive.

      The fact that the Dark Enlightenment supports both hedonist sex addicts and ultra-traditionalist monarchist Catholics/Orthodox blogger is both amusingly ironic and causes one to wonder if their movement has any possible chance of lasting.

      Delete
    2. Multiheaded10:50 PM

      "The fact that the Dark Enlightenment supports both hedonist sex addicts and ultra-traditionalist monarchist Catholics/Orthodox blogger is both amusingly ironic and causes one to wonder if their movement has any possible chance of lasting."

      But don't all movements to justify hierarchy work like this, combining contradictory apologies for it? Some apologists of the CSA argued from liberty and localism, others from racial supremacy. Some anti-socialists (even Keynes!) spoke of the natural inferiority of the proletariat, others (like Hayek) of how natural liberty is better than paternalistic care.

      Delete
  23. James6:35 AM

    Murray Rothbard, racist:

    “through the 1920’s, most American intellectuals were fundamentally “racist,” i.e., they upheld two guiding postulates: (1) that the white race in general, and the Anglo-Saxon wing of that race in particular, are inherently superior, intellectually and morally, to other races and ethnic groups, and particularly the brown and black races..."

    "Until literally mid-October 1994, it was shameful and taboo for anyone to talk publicly or write about, home truths which everyone, and I mean everyone, knew in their hearts and in private: that is, self-evident truths about race, intelligence, and heritability. What used to be widespread shared public knowledge about race and ethnicity among writers, publicists, and scholars, was suddenly driven out of the public square by Communist anthropologist Franz Boas and his associates in the 1930s, and it has been taboo ever since. Essentially, I mean the almost self-evident fact that individuals, ethnic groups, and races differ among themselves in intelligence and in many other traits, and that intelligence, as well as less controversial traits of temperament, are in large part hereditary.

    "when we as populists and libertarians abolish the welfare state in all of its aspects, and property rights and the free market shall be triumphant once more, many individuals and groups will predictably not like the end result. In that case, those ethnic and other groups who might be concentrated in lower-income or less prestigious occupations, guided by their socialistic mentors, will predictably raise the cry that free-market capitalism is evil and "discriminatory" and that therefore collectivism is needed to redress the balance. In that case, the intelligence argument will become useful to defend the market economy and the free society from ignorant or self-serving attacks. In short; racialist science is properly not an act of aggression or a cover for oppression of one group over another, but, on the contrary, an operation in defense of private property against assaults by aggressors."

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2136&chapter=195367&layout=html&Itemid=27
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/ir/Ch75.html



    “The Tutsi are an Ethiopid, Nilotic people. The Hutu, on the other hand, are short, squat Bantu, a closer approximation to what used to be called "Negro" in America. "Negroes" are now called "black," but the problem here is that the skin color of both the Tutsi and the Hutu are much the same. The real issue, as in most other cases, is not skin color but various character traits of different population groups.
The crucial point is that, in both Rwanda and Burundi, Hutus and Tutsis have coexisted for centuries; the Tutsi are about 15 percent of the total population, the Hutu about 85 percent. And yet consistently, over the centuries, the Tutsi have totally dominated, and even enserfed, the Hutu. How are we to explain this consistent pattern of domination by a small minority? Could it be – dare I say it – that along with being taller, slimmer, more graceful and noble-looking, the Tutsi are far more i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t than the Hutu? And yet what else explains this overriding fact?

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard74.html

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous8:39 AM

    If you are wealthy, then you spend a lot of time, effort and money preserving your wealth and station. Libertarians do this by elevating as the basic unit of wealth, property, to a pre-eminent position. This is not a Democratic impulse. It is an authoritarian impulse by those who possess wealth and station. I'm almost certain this is rightly called feudalism. There's nothing new here at all. Communism did exactly the same thing, but instead of property, they replaced property with government as the basic unit of wealth. Same destination, different path.

    ReplyDelete
  25. There is a false libertarian belief at the heart of your post:

    Exposing bad ideas to the light allows them to be defeated by good ideas.

    This goes wrong in multiple ways, including:
    1. What, were Nazi's trying to march in Skokie invisible?
    2. Massive resistance to segregation was a terrible idea right in the open that was defeated not by better ideas, but by Federal troops.
    3. When we already know these ideas are out there, the Internet doesn't provide any extra sunlight. What it does do is allow these people to get around the normal social control forces (like manners and discrimination against angry geeks) that used to prevent them from finding each other.
    4. When they find each other, one smart guy can craft a bunch of talking points that support racist ends but sound racially neutral, see also, the Tea Party.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be clear, I'm really complaining about two assumptions, the sunshine one described above, but also the assumption that we wouldn't know about these ideas but for some crazy guys on the Internet with names like fantasy villains.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  27. I wonder how many of these neoreactionaries watch My Little Pony, own a trilby hat, and have a neckbeard?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous12:32 AM

    Moreright.net questions modernity on the internet and accepts bitcoins.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Anonymous11:26 AM

    "So what other good things do I see coming out of the neoreactionary movement? Actually, there is one big one. Neoreactionaries want to live in a homogeneous, traditional society, but they're not alone - lots of conservative Americans yearn for these things. Of course, it's just not going to happen - America is too diverse already, and the internet makes a mockery of traditional life. But that doesn't stop some Americans from wanting these things. And I think they need to see where that path really leads. The neoreactionary movement shows, very clearly, where the path of homogeneity and traditionalism would eventually take us.

    So I think that the neoreactionary movement can do America a great service by bringing far-right ideas out of the shadows and into the light, where people can decide if they like those ideas or not. I'm betting on "not"."

    Of course you are right, their ideology is more clear than that of ordinary conservatives who hide their sexist, racist, anti-enlightenment and anti-egalitarian thoughts better. But you underestimate the danger of such a political ideology. In my own country a fairly moderate problem, the Great Depression plus Brüningian austerity, lead to fascism.
    Climate change, resource scarcity, overpopulation, financial stability, there are ample of large, interconnected problems (e.g. democracy depends on development, i.e. the world population would stagnate if the entire world would be industrialized ... yet natural resources are too scarce to support such a lifestyle, not to mention CO2 emissions resulting from this) in the 21st century.
    If fascists/reactionaries who wanna undo the enlightenment already exist today the above mentioned problems can easily make a majority out of a minority, a majority which is committed to literally catapult us into the Dark Ages or, given that the Middle Ages were not as horrible as popular imagination suggests, something worse.

    The liberal centre did not stop the rise of fascism in Germany. And the same liberal complacency, not taking people who are committed to undo the advance we made since enlightenment seriously, will not stop the potential rise of something similar or worse in this century.

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  30. Multiheaded10:33 PM

    Noah, from what I've seen of the neoreactionary movement, they care very little for (proclaimed) conservative ideals and (what we think of as) the conservative thought process. What they are is a radical elitist, social dominance-fetishizing group that's inseparably linked to the emerging tech-aristocracy of the modern economy. They only support conservatism where it might benefit them; when they see something they want broken, they instantly become a kind of far-right Bolshevik.

    Corey Robin has it right; in all ages, Reaction is a counter-revolution that seeks to imitate the drive and aggression of the Jacobins in the interests of the privileged. So they're not only monarchist and technocratic, but inevitably also white-supremacist (even if distancing themselves from the "crude" populist racism - yet they don't actually want a regime of Asians and Jews!), rabidly anti-feminist and anti-proletarian (even scornful of right-wing proles).

    So, get it, that's what's scary; a bunch of geeks on the internet is absolutely nothing, in its current state the "dark enlightenment" is even less threatening to the established order than the radical Left - but they might be an early expression of the new emerging socioeconomic reality.

    ReplyDelete