As a young man growing up in Texas, in the Bible-belt in the heart of “God’s Country” I dabbled with fire, I entered the dark waters, touched the serpent of that crazed god of the underworld of the U.S.A. My family was not only conservative, they were of the tribe of Paleoconservatives that came out of depression era economics: in the United States, the Southern Agrarians, John T. Flynn, Albert Jay Nock, Garet Garrett, Robert R. McCormick, Felix Morley, and Richard M. Weaver among others, articulated positions as paleoconservatives. Some have even offered up William Jennings Bryan, T. S. Eliot, Allen Tate, John Crowe Ransom, Cleanth Brooks, and Walker Percy as major paleo influences.
What this was all supposed to lead up to was my own counter-reaction to the web’s new Bad Boys: the NeoReactionaries. As I began moving out from Nick Land’s site over on Outside In I followed the trail to the tributary flow-boys that seem to make up this post-futurist paleodrome, a throwback to that Burkean matrix of rock gut conservatism they are now calling the Dark Enlightenment. The Neoreactionary movement is comic fanfest for the middling professional, an open joke that purports to offer ideological charms for the mystified net runners. Surfs up, the neo-reactionary tribes are on the loose. Let the surf wars begin.
Most neoreactionary writing consists of detailed criticism of particular progressive reforms, with particular emphasis on the flaws in one specific idea — democracy.
Ultimately, however, 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. (quote from Anomaly UK)
So here it is, the basic platform: they seek to overthrow what they term the Cathedral, a metaphor that encompasses our modern progressive society in Europe and the U.S.A. The Cathedral seems to fit their conspiracy theories of how Communism took over the world through internal techniques of control by infiltrating our Government, the Academy, and our Think Tanks. One can find this on any great entertainment conspiracy site, one doesn’t need a mindless neoreactionary spouting well trod bullshit for us.
For a supposed philosophical rendition one can hop over to Scott Alexander’s blog where one is offered up Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell. Just what is this nutshell philosophy of the Reaction? He opens with his own perplexity, a quip and anecdote about his own confusion:
“I keep on reading all these posts by really smart people who identify as Reactionaries, and I don’t have any idea what’s going on. They seem to be saying things that are either morally repugnant or utterly ridiculous. And when I ask them to explain, they say it’s complicated and there’s no one summary of their ideas. Why don’t they just write one?”
So he did, and this is the fruit of it: click here… Right off the bat he affirms that this movement isn’t about philosophical postulates and principles as much as it is about “poetry”. That’s right, folks, poetry… hmm, did I hear Plato rolling over in his grave? The more you read this little excursion into the philosophical underpinnings of this reactionary movement the more you realize it’s a little bit like following the trail of Manson and his minions across the planetary wastelands. He seems to have gotten his knowledge from the scrambled posts of Mencius Moldbug and a few shady denizens of IRC channels.
One of the key attributes of a neoreactionary he tells us is that they must “be highly politically incorrect and offensive, because that’s what Reactionaries do.” I want bore the reader with any quotes from the post. The point of the exercise for him was to understand the main point of the neoreactionary mind: that can be summed up easily – we are all captives of the modern liberal (Communist/Progressive) world, and it would be better to return to earlier more aristocratic regimes modeled on the power of God, Faith, and Country. So what’s the point? Even the neoreactionaries themselves state that there ideas are not new. Even that hypernihilist of the effete elite, Nick Land, himself sums it up:
…neoreaction is a time-crisis, manifested through paradox, whose further elaboration can wait (if not for long). Disordering our most basic intuitions, it is, by its very nature, difficult to grasp. Could anything easily be said about it? (Neoreaction for Dummies)
Yet, as Land continues with quote after quote from other like-minded neos of the reaction noosphere we learn a few things:
1. it seeks to subvert all forms of “social justice” and to return us to traditional forms (i.e., religion and kings);
2. it seeks to overthrow the radical enlightenment of light with darkness, to wipe the slate clean of progressive thought and ideology, and return us beyond a failed myth of Reason;
3. because all neoreactionaries define themselves through antagonism to the Cathedral, and the Cathedral is the self-proclaimed consummation of Enlightenment rationalism;
4. there are two lines of thought within the neoreactionary scenario: traditionalist and futurist.
5. under these are three sub-branches: religious/traditionalist branch, the ethnic/nationalist branch, and the capitalist branch.
6. the Burkean junction, where neoreactionary agreement begins, is also where it ends.
Ultimately we discover that the neoreactionary forces strive for divine revelation, racial continuity, and evolutionary discovery, which are sources of ultimate sovereignty, instantiated in tradition, beyond the Progressive State, but they are self-evidently different – and only precariously compatible. Awkwardly, but inescapably, it has to be acknowledged that each major branch of the neoreactionary super-family tends to a social outcome that its siblings would find even more horrifying than the Progressive alternative.
So is there any coherence to this madness? As I have wandered around in this muddle I am left completely mystified by the sheer idiocy of these ideas, or is there some dark wisdom under the hood that I have yet to discover? These are not so much ideas as they are a program for a comic barbarism, a return to the irrational systems of our forbears that the Age of Reason tried so desperately to overthrow. Who in their right mind would truly want such a return to pre-Enlightenment values? Is this really the wave of some neofuturist avant-garde? Or is it more likely the return to some neo-Nazis fetishization and a theatrical dramatics in outer and inner forms of the Cult of Death?
Nick Land of course is a follower of such thanatropic chaos and accelerated madness. He relates that Mencius Moldbug is the place to start if you want to discover the risible intellect of the tribe. So I’m off to meet the Wizard…. toto in tow…
Here is a list of Neoreactionary blogs – the names tell it all:
- Anomaly UK
- Bloody shovel
- Bruce Charlton
- Chariot of Reaction
- Chateau Heartiste
- Deconstructing Leftism
- Diversity Is Chaos
- Habitable Worlds
- HBD Chick
- Jim’s blog
- Malcolm Pollack
- Mencius Moldbug
- Occam’s Razor
- Outside in
- Steve Sailer
- The Occidental Observer
- The Reactivity Place
- Toilet Nation