The Dark Reformation Part 8: Dark Philosophy

(This part is an attempt to present a systematic reactionary philosophy. Here I attempt to present a coherent worldview from a reactionary (or neoreactionary) perspective. To do this, I will make use of the traditional categories of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics.)

The modern philosophical reactionary begins with the following formulation:

God or Nature? Nature or Nature’s God? (GNON)

Does it matter?

Well yes, if you want to go to heaven and have your way with seventy-odd virgins.

The purpose of this formulation, however, is not to argue about revealed religion or even argue about natural religion (the first depends on books, prophets and messiahs, the latter on philosophical arguments). The point of the formulation is that, regardless of whether God or Nature is the ultimate metaphysical brute fact, reality is real. Philosopher, and neoreactionary thinker, Nick Land writes:

Primarily, and strategically, it permits a consensual acceptance of Natural Law, unobstructed by theological controversy. Agreement that Reality Rules need not be delayed until religious difference is resolved.

The Cult of Gnon

The philosophy of the Dark Reformation is that we first understand reality before we can change it.

Reality exists. Reality rules.

No matter how much you wish, no matter how much you desire, no matter how much you want things to be a certain way — they are the way they are. There are natural laws, and laws, when combined with actions, produce predictable consequences. Human nature is real, and real differences exist between people. The strategy of GNON — this new metaphysics of man, God and Nature — allows reactionaries to agree that either God or atheistic evolution is ultimately responsible for this fact. The point is that human nature is real, stable and predictable; not arbitrarily created and thus subject to radical change by “culture.”

In the last part, I described (following Thomas Sowell) two conflicting and competing visions of human nature: the constrained vision (or view), and the unconstrained vision. The constrained view is that man has innate constraints —limits — but also potentialities, preferences and natural desires. By contrast, the unconstrained view views man as a kind of blank slate. Anything can be written on a blank slate; the possibilities for change, therefore, are endless.

The Dark Reformation claims that the constrained view of man is the real one, or closer to human nature as it actually is. Man is not a blank slate. Man has instincts, desires, preferences, possibilities and limits.

The Dark Reformation accepts the reality of radical human diversity. Not all humans have the same potential, the same desires or desires of the same strength. The Dark Reformation acknowledges that progressives do think differently, do feel differently, and desire different things (as we will address in the next part).

The Dark Reformation accepts that not only does man have a nature, but that his nature is often horribly flawed. Why does, for instance, human evil exist?

The constrained view, the view of the Dark Reformation, is that man frequently has evil inclinations and dark desires ( need to dominate, humiliate, aggressive and competitive, status orientated, tribal, exploitative, selfish, vindictive, sadistic). The unconstrained and enlightened progressive view, however, is that man is born good — it is society that corrupts him.

GNON allows for religious and non-religious reactionaries to accept the dark reality about human nature, but can agree to disagree as to whether one should attribute this fact to either God or Nature.

This is the fundamental metaphysical principle of the Dark Reformation. GNON is not a statement of truth (God or Nature’s God) but a Pyrrhonian suspension of judgement.

The second fundamental principle of the Dark Reformation is human diversity.

The third fundamental principle of the Dark Reformation is that humans broadly fall into two spectrums in their thinking about human nature and social organisation: the constrained v unconstrained vision of human nature, and the corresponding tragic v utopian vision of politics.

Reactionaries correspond to the constrained and tragic pole, while progressives fall into the unconstrained and utopian pole.

The tragic vision of politics is the acceptance of the inescapability of conflict and competition, the intellectual and moral imperfectability of man, and that trade-offs among competing goods and competing people will always exist. The tragic vision of politics is prudential. It seeks to minimise destructive conflict and anti-social behaviour using unplanned and evolved systems of incentives (religion, custom and tradition, law and the free market) to regulate, channel and constrain human behaviour in order to achieve pro-social results. Social problems, in the tragic view, cannot be solved, they can only be managed.

The utopian vision of politics is the belief that social problems can be solved, however. War, famine and pestilence, along with inequality, exploitation, corruption, oppression and violence can be eliminated. The end point of the utopian vision is an egalitarian society of some kind: social, economic and sexual egalitarianism. This is achieved firstly by identifying, discovering or creating correct (true, good and useful) beliefs and virtuous thoughts by philosophers and then inculcating these beliefs and virtues in the wider population, by philosophers, priests, teachers, professors, authors, etc. However, inculcating these beliefs into the wider populace largely requires and is usually achieved by centralising power in the hands of the wise few, or a “vanguard” or a Party, or a group of managers. These “managers” make changes to the system and changes aim at directly bringing about the desired goal; which, as I said earlier, is usually an egalitarian goal of some sort.

Now, I will attempt to sketch out the rest of a reactionary philosophical system. The following are my own thoughts on reaction. Here I am attempting to create a synthesis between reaction, older conservative thought and some “contemporary”, but controversial, ideas. This will include epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and politics. I put forward five principles:

1: Empiricism

2: Reductionism and Consilience

3: Darwinism.

4: Determinism.

5: Utilitarianism.

I will now say a few words on each of these things.

1: Empiricism.

The simple definition of empiricism is that all knowledge is based on experience. It assumes, firstly, an individual experience as primary; secondly, it derives knowledge from the senses. Empiricism also allows testimony ( which would include history) and causal reasoning (science).

This conception of empiricism (when applied to politics and society) is, however, much too simple. What I mean by empiricism is more expansive. In fact, my view of empiricism when applied to politics and society is influenced by David Hume — the great Scottish philosopher and empiricist.

The conservative scholar, Stephen Wolin, writes that Hume worked to create a science of politics that was “grounded in experience, supplied by historical inquiry and based on observation of existing societies.” Wolin continues that for Hume politics was: “To be an investigation into the interaction between institutions and human nature.” Hume thought that the “function of political institutions had been to channel and control human behaviour.” (Hume, despite being an “enlightenment philosopher” was not a Whig — yesterday’s progressive. Indeed, he was light years away from Jean Jacques Rousseau — the arch “progressive” or unconstrained thinker.)
Empiricism studies social organisations, historical patterns and structures of incentives. To begin with, the individual is fairly ignorant and limited in their knowledge and knowledge-gathering abilities; their stock of knowledge — compared to the rest of knowledge that is diffused in society — is minuscule. Even a polymath will be a total ignoramus on most things. Consequently, we need to understand, firstly, the social process in which individuals acquire knowledge, norms and values; secondly, we need to evaluate this process of knowledge acquisition in terms of reliability and veracity.

Consider education as an example. The two prime directives of theoretical (academic) education is knowledge transfer, and cultivating critical skills in students that allows them to: 1. Evaluate information for truth. 2: Learn how to acquire new knowledge.

Empiricism, when used to understand politics and society, requires systematic understanding of political, social and military history; furthermore, empiricism studies society and politics as a complex set of systems — such as ecology.

Studying the past offers us the closest thing to freely occurring experiments in politics and society. The study of history offers us the chance to spot patterns, to notice recurring features, to learn from mistakes and successes of the past. It can offer, at its best, a resource for trying to understand, predict and control future events. I think, however, that history offers us two key things specifically. Firstly, to notice the ever-present reality of arms-races, competition, conflict and Thucydidean traps. Secondly, the study of history allows one to notice signs of social disorder and decay, degenerative trends and to recognise cults and mass movements of madness —In short, human stupidity.

Political empiricism seeks systematic understanding of political phenomena. Most people approach politics in two ways. Firstly, they engage in, as James Burnham defines it, “politics as wish.” They want X or Y and think the government should, therefore, do X or Y. Secondly, I contend, that the majority of people think in terms of intentions, labels, categories and “buzz words”. We need to be X, we need to be Y. He is an A, or she is a B — they are bad, stupid or mad don’t listen to them. Real reasoning on political issues outside of narrow spectrum seldom occurs.

The empiricism of the Dark Reformation does, however, make use of three assumptions and makes use of three theories to analyse, evaluate and predict political phenomena.

Firstly, it assumes the overriding importance of good consequences and not good intentions. Secondly, it assumes the each individual and the various groups within society are largely self-interested (though not necessarily “rationally” self-interested). Thirdly, it assumes that human behaviour must be understood in terms of a system — a structure —of incentives. The Three theories are game theory, public choice theory, and Bertrand De Jouvenal’s theory of unsecure power.

Human social life is one long game of cooperation and conflict. Game theory, therefore, allows one to map situations that are either zero-sum conflict (winner takes all) or positive-sum (win-win) cooperation. Game theory can be used as a method of analysis and as a normative (strategise) guide to make decisions. Game theory can be applied when the following four conditions occur: players (agents who make decisions), information, actions and pay offs. Game theory can be applied as an analytical tool to morality, economics, politics, voting, war and negotiating. As a practical tool its chief benefit is to aid decision-making under conditions of uncertainty; secondly, it provides a framework for trying to engineer cooperation and trust in a group or between groups.

Public choice theory is a subset of game theory when applied to government agents (such as bureaucrats). The chief insight I take from public choice is that the incentives of agents in a system will never perfectly align with the purpose of the system. Institutional designers should seek to align the self-interest of actors with those of the system as closely as possible.

While the previous two theories are well-known, French philosopher, Bertrand De Jouvenal’s theory of power, however, is not widely known. De Jouvenal’s theory of unsecure power is a central analytical component of reaction or neoreaction. What is it? I will let one of the best writers on reaction explain the core of the theory:
“Unsecure power is power with no potential to act in accordance with reason, and no incentive to act in a virtuous manner. Unsecure power follows its own logic, which is automatic destruction of society.”

“The current Liberal-Democratic system is unsecure power which is not formalised”

https://reactionaryfuture.wordpress.com/the-reactionary-summary/

The game of politics is to win power. While all power is unsecure, some powers are more unsecure than others. In a multi-party democracy, power requires winning elections. Winning elections requires winning over a sufficient number of people. Political parties, politicians and their supporters can try to appeal to voters using reason: facts and logic. However, most people are usually (and blamelessly) ignorant of the issues involved; furthermore, they often have no desire to be informed; and thirdly, many would not be capable of understanding the issues even if they tried. The result is that the system (democracy) incentivises politicians to use any and all means necessary to win (including fraud, deception, bribery and coercion.)

This creates an “arms race” of “dark arts”. However, this is not the core of the De Jouvenal’s theory. The core is the “high-low strategy”. We have roughly three groups in society: the political elites, the middle classes, and the lower class. The elites are those with wealth, power and influence. The elites and their supporters are the politicians, aides, spin-doctors, bureaucrats, capitalists, lawyers, journalists, professors and teachers, political activists and community leaders. The elites are, however, a minority. They are substantially different in their thinking than the vast majority of even their fellow countrymen.

The middle classes are the professional classes. They are largely indifferent and unconcerned with politics. They are the technicians, the managers, the police, the doctors — people who keep society running.

The lower class are indigents, criminals or those who work in low-paying, unskilled or service jobs. The lower class outnumber the middle and the middle outnumber the highs. While the lower could never govern a country, the middle class could, however. The fear of the political elite, because their power is insecure, is that a middle-class reaction occurs which displaces them from power.

Consequently, the elites (the highs) form alliances (a system of patronage) with the lows against the middles. In a democracy, numbers win the game. However, in a modern democracy, the command and control of information and ideology are essential to winning and maintaining power because political behaviours are (in large part) consequences of beliefs. The system that maintains this control, is what Mencius Moldbug (Curtis Yarvin) terms the Cathedral. The “Cathedral” appears throughout Moldbug’ epic blog “Unqualified Reservations”, here is a good description, from his “gentle introduction” of what the Cathedral is and how it works:

The information organs secure their authority by their control of public opinion. It is this power that makes the journalists and professors’ own opinions important. It is why they matter. However, the cycle of power from professor to election is, though certain, not fast. One would expect a more direct connection, and indeed one finds it.

Journalists and professors are part of the larger matrix of permanent power in the Modern Structure, which we can call the extended civil service. It is extended because it includes not only the civil service proper—formal govern- ment employees—but also all those who consider themselves public servants, including journalists, professors, NGOistas, etc. Note that regardless of the formal details, the same superiority to politics is enjoyed by all.

And, importantly, it is one social network. Thus, for a faithful follower of the Party, there is never any doubt about what policies or ideas are legitimate or illegitimate. In the form of “public policy,” power flows directly from Cathedral to Congress, often leaving public opinion a decade or two behind. There is no reason to worry. The people, as always, will catch up with their leaders.

http://atavisionary.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/A-gentle-introduction-to-unqualified-reservations.pdf (Chapter Five: The Modern Structure.)

I will put aside the chicken or egg question as to whether unsecure power or progressive ideology is responsible for the Cathedral. Here I will outline the Cathedral structure.

In a liberal democracy, free inquiry and the free market of ideas is not only claimed to be real (that it exists in fact) but that it is objectively correct that true and good ideas win out in the end. The opposite, however, has been the case. This is because of the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is a structure which produces and propagates progressive ideology. It filters out (like an immune system) people and ideas that are contrary or harmful to the system and the system of beliefs. The Cathedral structure is an education-media-government-NGO feedback loop. It is a progressivist echo chamber; one that has created a closed loop in Western civilisation.

The fount of the Cathedral is the modern university. Many courses are nothing more than cadre training centres for progressives, such as gender, post-colonialist, or ethnic studies. Their purpose is to create a new generation of progressives; even those who undertake more “conservative” degrees such as law, politics or economics, or even philosophy, are still imbibing progressive ideas. These students then go on to become part of the larger Cathedral structure, and in some cases part of the ruling elite.

Today, however, the most powerful part of the Cathedral is the mainstream media (though its power is now waning somewhat). The media compromises of television, newspapers, and the internet. The media consists of reporters, columnists, pundits, public intellectuals and celebrities. They set and control the agenda. They are, if you will, the new priests.

Professional politicians, (and everyone else), is at the mercy of the media. Since the media acts a bridge (or gatekeepers or curators) connecting politicians and the people, this gives the media tremendous power. The media decides:

1: What to present.
2: What to eliminate.
3: How to present.
4: Who to present.
5: The “narrative”, the “Frame” of a news item.
6: That a “gaff” or a “mistake” or a “slip” has been made.
7: What is framed as controversial or “extreme”.

De Jouvenal’s theory is not only explanatory (of history and the current political situation) but predictive as well. It offers an explanation of the past, the present and allows for predicting the course of political conflict in the future. For example, the theory explains why the progressives would have incentives for allowing huge numbers of Muslims to migrate and settle in the West because they are new customers (new voters). Even if some Muslims carry out atrocities, it allows for the highs to practice divide and conquer. Divide society via race or religion or inequality, and set the two against each other. It allows elites to implement greater social control of the population. Conflict and fear are also useful for motivating people to vote — either for the left or “right.”

However, in modern Western civilisation, there is no real “right” anymore. So-called “conservatives” —who have not done a good job at conserving —are really only 20 years or so behind the “left.” The truth is that all the main political parties are just different strengths of progressivism.

In short, the Cathedral (or the modern structure) is an apparatus of ideological control. It is the means by which culture changes occur, slowly but always progressively.

This empiricist epistemology is a far cry from the simple sight, sound, hearing, taste and touch. It is, however, resolutely committed to observing the world as it is, how humans actually behave, and to understand the structural reasons why they behave as they do.

2: Reductionism and Consilience.

The principles of reductionism and consilience neatly tie in with empiricism. These principles are the operating methodological principles of modern science. These three principles (empiricism, reductionism, consilience) form the core of the Dark Reformation’s science of politics. Reductionism means understanding phenomena (human behaviour in this case) in terms of more fundamental and simpler constituents. In short, this means understanding politics in terms of human psychology, and psychology in terms of biology.

Consilience is the second main goal (and the overarching one) of science or simply our effort at understanding the world. Science offers not just observations but systematic or unified knowledge. If reductionism is vertical then consilience is horizontal. In particular, it aims at unifying our understanding between the natural and human sciences and the understanding we have of humans in religion, art, philosophy and everyday life. The philosopher, Dan Dennett, using a term from Wilfred Sellars, considers this the modern task of philosophy the problem of reconciling the scientific and manifest image of man. From a physical or naturalistic perspective, how do we reconcile matter, molecules and motion on the one hand, and mind, meaning and morality on the other? The task is one of creating greater coherence in our web of beliefs. The Dark Reformation is about reforming our understanding of human nature, and that partly requires removing inconsistency and basing our understanding of human nature and society on the strongest evidential grounds available. The next two principles will bring out the tension very clearly between the two contrasting visions of human nature.

3: Darwinism. Darwinism all the way up, and all the way down: From gene to meme, from people to politics. If we have variation, competition and retention, then we have Darwinism. Darwinism as a theory of life, human behaviour and culture is a product of empiricism, reductionism and consilience. The task of consilience is to integrate this understanding into, well, everything: metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, politics, economics and culture.

If Darwinism is true then diversity will be true. Darwinian natural selection depends on three main principles: variation (diversity), competition and heredity (retention). The first two are clearly observable facts concerning humans and human society. The third principle (heredity) requires a replicator. Genes are the biological replicators that pass along information — Darwin could not have known about genes when he wrote Origin. The study of the human genome is still ongoing, but already it is safe to say that genetics have effects on human behaviour that are greater than zero. I choose zero because even a very slight genetic influence is sufficient to refute the most extreme of blank slate views (the unconstrained vision) which see human behaviour as socially constructed.

If you believe in Nature’s God, then you can believe that God used natural selection to bring about man. In Christianity, man is a fallen, sinful creature. Greed, sloth, lust, envy, rage, pride, gluttony are the seven deadly sins that man all-too-frequently exhibits. If you believe in a purely naturalistic view, however, you can understand these behaviours and emotions as a consequence of natural selection.

A Darwinian perspective, as Dennett aptly notes, behaves as a “universal acid” eating through everything. It is the core of the core of the Dark Reformation. It is the ultimate “Red Pill.” The Darwinian bounty is simply mountainous, so I will restrict myself to some essential pickings:

1:Human nature exists. There are human constants and universals, but there is also human diversity as well.

2: The inescapability of competition and conflict.

3: Multi-level competition: Gene and Meme —biological but also ideological, cultural and civilisational competition and conflict.

4: Humans believe things and behave in certain ways, not because the beliefs are true or that the behaviours are useful, but because they are adaptive.

4: Determinism.

There is no free will. The Dark Reformation acknowledges that humans have no free will, that they are fully caused beings. Free will is a Christian invention designed to get around the problem of evil; it has never made any philosophical sense, and now science is creeping towards a greater and greater deterministic view of man.

Determinism can be true but so can voluntary rational behaviour as well. Voluntary behaviour is behaviour that is under the control of the individual (it is not forced). The individual desires something as a consequence of their psychology, and then they act to acquire it. Rational behaviour is simply behaviour that is likely to achieve one’s goals. I take voluntary rational behaviour as both possible and frequently actual behaviour of humans. Determinism does not threaten these things.

Determinism, however, does have ramifications for our metaphysics of man, and political and social philosophy more generally. First of all, if man is determined, then he is constrained (by causes he cannot and could not possibly control). This vindicates the constrained (tragic, reactionary and conservative) vision of man. However, ironically, determinism may also serve to justify some progressive goals in terms of welfare and criminal justice reform.

Determinism transforms our understanding of man and society in many ways. Here are two of the most important:

Firstly, it will transform our understanding crime and punishment; secondly, economics. If free will does not exist, then moral responsibility (moral blame and retribution) must be either justified anew or abandoned. This means that concepts like guilt and retribution are, philosophically speaking, meaningless. Economically speaking, determinism puts paid to self-made man myths, and charges of laziness and indolence in people, or the possibility of fully eliminating welfare. This does not require giving up law, order, free-enterprise and a good society —not at all. But it requires putting these things on a truer and more stable foundation. That foundation is utilitarianism.

5: Utilitarianism.

Before I get to utilitarianism, I will say a few things about ethics and morality.

Some philosophers (Bernard Williams for example) draw a distinction between ethics and morality. Morality is a subset of ethics; it concerns the question of right and wrong action. Ethics is broader in scope, meanwhile. Ethics embraces concepts such as a “good life” values, codes, role models and virtues.

Let’s take morality first. Those with the constrained view see man as having a mixture of traits, dispositions and preferences. Some of these traits and preferences will be “good” or pro-social, and some will be “bad” or anti-social. Those with the constrained view are aware that conflict is always possible because it is an inescapable part of life. Limits in human life abound: limited resources, limited time and different time preferences, limited rationality and limited empathy. The constrained view seeks to minimise conflict and maximise cooperation. It seeks to create a system of rewards and punishments (incentives) that efficiently and effectively get the “job done”, so to speak.

How this is best achieved is a completely empirical question. Morality, therefore, is best conceived off as a social technology. The Dark Reformation asserts that there are right and wrong answers to the question of how to minimise conflict and maximise cooperation.

Now, those with the unconstrained (progressive) view agree that conflict is bad and that cooperation is good. However, progressives have different methods of trying to achieve this. They have different methods because they have different basic assumptions about human nature.

Those with the constrained view design systems (political and economic systems) which incentivise desired behaviour. Chiefly, they use material rewards and punishment: pleasure and pain. Now, this does not overlook man’s nobler motives or aspirations, nor should it.

By contrast, the unconstrained view relies on the use of intentions: virtuous intentions and “correct beliefs”. The focus is on ideology, ideological indoctrination and, to use a recent but apt phrase: “virtue signalling.”

Constrained or reactionaries design systems that produce satisfactory results.

Unconstrained or progressives preach, instil and implement good intentions and virtuous beliefs that may or may not produce the desired results (history teaches they frequently do not).

These are the basic principles of the two views.

Ultimately, however, the question of truth and consequences must be addressed. The claim that kicked off this blog is that modern life is rubbish. Modern life is increasingly violent and unstable, full of conflict; it is repressive, inefficient and ineffective. Ultimately, these results are because the basic assumptions of Western culture are not in sync with reality.

When one focuses on results, when one designs systems in terms of consequences, then one is thinking in a utilitarian or consequentialist fashion.

There are, unsurprisingly, many meanings of utilitarianism (U). I mean something different to how Peter Singer, for instance, thinks of utilitarianism. I conceive of utilitarianism as a public philosophy that should guide the decisions of decision-makers. Furthermore, U can also be used a criterion of judging something good or bad, in this case, institutions.

What do I mean by utilitarianism? Firstly, U can be used as either a criterion of right and or a decision theory. Here, I intend it here in both senses. According to U, the right thing to do, or the right rule or system to implement is the one that promotes the best consequences. What kinds of consequences? The answer to this question is consequences for institutions.

What distinguishes my conception of U from other kinds is that it governs the design of political systems or institutions — not specifically or necessarily individual conduct. The following is an approximation of how this would work.

Firstly, U assumes certain goals. The goals that I outlined in an earlier part are the protection of life, liberty and property. U takes into account any and all empirical knowledge for how best to achieve and maintain these goals. Then, the “political engineers” design a political system. A system consists of various interconnected parts that are designed to achieve a goal or goals. This is the constitutional design of a political system.

However, publicly articulated rules (laws) are required. They are required because they create stability, predictability and allow trust and cooperation to emerge among people. For example, clear, unambiguous and stable laws regarding property are a necessary condition for a stable society and a modern economy.

Nevertheless, while some problems can be anticipated, not everything can be decided beforehand. The clearest example of this is war. War evolves, and the nature of threats evolve. Security systems and defence protocols can be gamed, exploited and infiltrated. Simplicity and adaptability are then essential requirements of any security or defence system. Utilitarianism serves that purpose. Utilitarianism is an extremely adaptable system that can evolve to meet new challenges. It focuses on results, rather than good intentions. It is sensitive to evidence and changing conditions unlike other forms of moral thinking.

There is one final point I want to make about U. David Hume was the first western philosopher to make the concept of utility central to politics. While Hume was not a utilitarian (in Bentham’s or Mill’s sense); Hume analysed political systems in terms of their usefulness to society. Two criteria that Hume used were stability and longevity. Hume considered stable systems (ones that avoided factionalism and fanaticism) to be better. Secondly, and connected with the first, Hume considered the longevity of a system (an institution) to indicate that it was stable and therefore conducive to utility.

Stephen S. Wolin, in his article Hume and Conservatism, writes that Hume’s approach to politics used “objective analysis” distrusted “obscurantism”, shunned the a priori, used “empirical data” and “had a strong emphasis on the criterion of utility.” Wolin further claims that Hume believed that “institutions were to be understood in terms of human needs.” Furthermore, “Historical time imparted to social arrangements a qualitative element. Time implied experience, and experience in turn provided the motive for gradual adjustment.”

Hume (in a very Darwinian way) considered both violent innovation and rationalist schemes (mutations) to be more likely to produce negative outcomes. Hume’s entire philosophical project was deeply skeptical of any kind of rationalism, including political “rationalism”. This is a point that many constrained (or conservative) thinkers have made often — Smith to Burke to Oakeshott to Hayek. For those with the constrained vision, the already existing, the tried and tested, is preferred to the untested, the fashionable and the new.

Prudence then, and not “social justice” is the key political virtue of those with the constrained view and that of the Dark Reformation. Prudence is concerned, firstly, with the basic, essential things (life, liberty and property) it seeks to avoid losing or degrading these things. Thus, it is concerned with decisions made over an indefinite time scale. Prudence is thus a low-time preference an attitude. Lastly, prudence is a attitude and a mental state of caution, skepticism and wariness; however, prudence can be decisive, bold and determined when the situation requires it.

Summary.

The foundation of the Dark Reformation is empiricism. Empiricism is the epistemology that attempts to understand the political and social world as it is, and not how we would like it to be. This is a different kind of empiricism to the one commonly presented in philosophy textbooks. Yes, it makes use of observation, testimony and causal inference; however, it resolutely seeks to understand human behaviour and human society not as we wish or want, or believe to be moral, but how humans actually behave.

The goal of inquiry is the replacement of doubt with understanding. The aim of science is systematic understanding. This is the same in political science. Like with the other sciences, our method and goal is reduction and consilience. Reduction attempts to understand and explain what one observes in human nature by reducing it first to psychology, then to biology. The task of consilience is one of constructing greater coherence between our metaphysics, biology, our understanding of psychology, ethics, politics and economics.

The two key implications from modern science for politics are Darwinism and determinism. Darwinism has enormous implications for nearly every area of our understanding. Chiefly, it has implications for how we think about human nature and cooperation, conflict and competition.

Empiricism, reductionism and consilience is process (information acquisition and structuring knowledge); Darwinism and determinism are product; utilitarianism is prescription. Utilitarianism uses the previous four principles as weights when attempting to design and implement social and political systems that will work, that will bring about the best consequences.

Consequences for whom?

A self-identifying political community. And that requires formalisation.

And formalisation requires contract.

Political formalisation via individual and social contract, I claim, is the essence of neoreaction.

Humans should be able to form sovereign, independent political communities based on their personal, political, moral, economic and religious preferences and natures.

Different communities can create different moral, economic, and religiously based systems of government.

There is no guarantee that they will be the same, or be equally successful (however you measure success. However, the point is that humans (because of their diversity) should have the freedom to choose how to live and who to live with. The choice to separate, segregate and self-identify is simply prudential. The main reason for this is to avoid destructive conflict.

Progressives can choose their preferred moral and political systems, while reactionaries can choose theirs.

In the next part, I will compare two enlightenments: progressive and reactionary.

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5 thoughts on “The Dark Reformation Part 8: Dark Philosophy

  1. Pingback: Dark Reformation Part 13: Meta Reaction. | "The Horror! The Horror!"

  2. John says:

    I think you go wrong when you are so tragic. The left is comedic, which is better to say than utopic. At the end of Plato’s Symposium it is suggested that there needs to be a fusion of the comic and tragic. This is broadly speaking Platonism in all its varieties. Gnon is absolutely useless as a substitute for having a metaphysical view. That it is so is proved by how off the mark your principles are. This is especially true of your Empiricism, Determinism, Utilitarianism. Your criticism of the notion of free will is simply wrong, because you don’t understand what the idea originally stood for. The idea that this was made up by Christians is historically false. Perhaps you could say it was “Platonists” but this view is also found amongst Stoics and Epicureans. Cicero, and I believe Aristotle, went so far as to deny divine providence in human affairs, because it would compromise the freedom of the will. The metaphysical view (that is a view which recognized the existence of essences, and held that being and knowing meet in the same, as per Parmenides, and that there is a disinction between being and becoming) in which it made sense, died, and the meaning was misconstrued and the idea was adopted into systems of thought in which it became nonsensical.

    (Free will is when the rational animal unforcedly acts according to its essence. It is said to be exercising free will when it is, unwaveringly and unforcedly, what it is. The whole point of freewill is to get beyond mere choice. Sophocles said to choose is to sin. God does not choose, unless one is a Calvinist. Choice remains on the level of reason (Ratio), which knows by way of division. In order to ascend to higher and more unified and universal degrees of knowing (intellectus, intuitus) (mathematical knowledge and the knowledges which are above that) one must move past division and past choice, but this can only be done only through divided reason and through the freedom of reason. Choice is the exact opposite of a free will. What is properly called free will is really the opposite (it is an unconstrained and natural will). When a Christian or an ancient person talks about free will, they talking about a man who works as he is intended to work. The whole thing rests on teleology and essentialism and idealism. Of course the empirical view denies this, and ends up denying knowledge itself. Empiricism has a place, as a kind of knowing, but not the highest place, and certain not as an absolute system, and when taken as such it totally undermines itself.)

    (Yes, “intended” to work. Just like the Epsilons in Brave New World. You won’t like this, and maybe I am being too harsh, but if this is free will then as Sam Harris has it: “free will amounts to no more than saying a puppet that loves their strings.” DR.)

    The comic view is that there is satisfaction on earth.
    The tragic view is that there is no satisfaction.
    The tragicomic view is that there is satisfaction outside of this earth, and that it is a fool’s errand, and a categorical error, to attempt to perfectly manifest ideals on this earth.

    This last view provides a place for tragic politics, but also gives what is due, and relies, as all politics must, whether or not it knows it, whether or not it wants to think about it, on concrete metaphysics. The whole of the tragicomic view rests upon the principle that being and knowing are the same and so different kinds of beings are known in different ways. The comic view and the tragic view are flat, each in its own way. The tragicomic view is hierarchal.

    The whole problem with the left is that they confuse the ideal with the real. They do not make distinctions betweens kinds of being and kinds of knowing, and so they attempt to manifest the ideal in the real, with the expected results. It is as absurd as to think that the 1 one draws is the sand is what one actually understands when one is doing mathematics. The opposite mistake is to think that that 1 in the sand is the only thing meant when we are doing mathematics; and both are equally absurd.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to read that and post such a long comment.

      GNON

      It is not a metaphysical principle entirely but a meta-epistemological one as well. Though, my rather glib outline of philosophy here was probably bound to get a response from the God side and not the Nature side.

      Free Will.

      Believe me I understand the whole thing very well.

      I didn’t spend any time really arguing the point, just really assuming it.

      Free Will is an Christian invention. Aristotle talked about voluntary and involuntary acts, never about free will. Christians invented Free Will because of the problem of evil, see Augustine.

      Note, I am a free will sceptic, not a hard determinist, though I believe determinism or some sort is true for large scale objects like the brain. It is just that we cannot really prove hard determinism, and because of Quantum Physics….

      Key arguments:

      1: Infinite regress argument. The logical refutation.

      2: The empirical argument. Genes, upbringing, early life experience, country, culture, accidents etc are things we are not responsible over, or chose. Furthermore, the Libet experiments cast doubt on the belief of conscious choice; finally, it is both obvious and scientifically demonstrated that the mind is the brain; thus, given that the brain obeys cause and effect – and many of those causes we have no control over — then the idea that we have free will is undermined (undermined, not refuted).

      3: Phenomenological. The illusion of free will is itself an illusion. If you pay attention to your own subjective experience, you will notice that you don’t actually experience having free will.

      The best book I read on the problem is the following:

      https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AvX1FeO76gYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

      Waller stills holds a free will position, but it is the Humean one: we are free if can satisfy our desires.

      Best

      Dark Reformation.

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