It is now time to begin reflecting on what Moldbug has achieved. The reactionary reaction he has inspired.
Philosophy is the act of reflecting upon our concepts, our values and our practices. In philosophy we try to define concepts, test them for internal coherence and then see if the concept is consistent with other concepts.
So, we want to try to define what reaction is; secondly we want to examine the consensus or lack of on the concept of reaction and how it relates to Moldbug’s work.
Why the focus on Moldbug? Two reasons. Firstly, it is fair to say that for many reactionaries,Moldbug’s work has greatly influenced them; secondly, he has personally influenced me. So, I work off Moldbug’s analysis and set of prescriptions.
I understand some might claim that this is an appeal to authority. However, appeals to authority are legitimate if the authority is an authority within a tradition with a set of practices and principles. Moldbug is like the trunk with which many branches and various twigs sprout. In the same way that Spinoza, Marx or Mises started an intellectual tradition, Moldbug has started a new school of thought.
Firstly, however, let’s look at how some other prominent reactionaries define the concept and general program of reaction.
1: What are the basic premises or principles of reaction?
Relevant link: http://www.xenosystems.net/premises-of-neoreaction/
Working of Land’s entry on Michael Anissimov we have six principles for Neoreaction:
- People are not equal. They never will be. We reject equality in all its forms.
- Right is right and left is wrong.
- Hierarchy is basically a good idea.
- Traditional sex roles are basically a good idea.
- Libertarianism is retarded.
- Democracy is irredeemably flawed and we need to do away with it.
What is the connection between these principles and Moldbug’s?
Moldbug would, agree with principles 5 and 6. Principle 1, however, is a little more ambiguous. It is true that Moldbug has written about what he calls Human Neuro Uniformity or what the broader reactionary sphere calls Human Bio Diversity (HBD). However, Moldbug’s point in bringing this up was to demonstrate both the Lysenkoism of the Cathedral and its repressive, hypocritical nature towards those who ask questions regarding IQ and race. Nevertheless, Moldbug does claim that it is unlikely that humans are equal in cognitive abilities (as they are in physical ones too); he does not, moreover, in my view, raise this to the status of a first principle or consider it really central to his work.
Furthermore, regarding the concept of equality, we need to separate the facts from the values. For example, it is possible to claim that humans are cognitively diverse but morally equal as a moral principle (this is Stephen Pinker’s position in The Blank Slate). So this needs to be clarified and kept in mind. It appears Anissimov is both attacking the fact and the value of equality.
The question is how important is this rejection. In my view, rejecting this fact and value has momentous consequences for Western self-understanding and practice.
It means, not only rejecting democracy and progressivism but in essence Christianity as well. Some reactionary bloggers out there say the West needs a new religion. No. The new religion would be the old one: Roman Paganism with the gods Mars and Minerva (Ares and Athena). It means embracing a kind of Nietzschean ethos. What Christian reactionaries make of this I do not know.
Principle 2 is Kuehnelt Leddihn’s principle that left is wrong and right is right. Moldbug would certainly agree with this. There can be no doubt about this to reaction.
This rejection of leftism, progressivism, socialism etc is the absolute master-principle of any reactionary thought. It means rejecting conservatism as much as any modern day progressivism as well. It means, essentially, going back to the root of the problem — Lurther’s moral and epistemological individualism and then going forward and tearing down the principles of the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
The key question is when we say the left is wrong, what do we mean?
The left is wrong, firstly in terms of fact. Secondly, in terms of value. Thirdly, in terms of its self-conception.
The left is wrong about human nature (HBD, the black slate and the noble savage). It is wrong about the causes of crime and violence. It is wrong about Islam. It is wrong about, and for the most part, entirely ignorant of sound economics.
Its various schemes of social improvement using the coercive power of the government will produce the opposite of its stated goals.
The left is wrong about even itself. It is not a movement for justice, for equality or liberty. It is a move for freedom from responsibility, gerrymandered equality and, above all, power, prestige and pleasure. It operates under massive false consciousness. It is Nietzsche’s slave morality.
Principle three is hierarchy, which is a necessary logical consequence of rejecting equality as an organising principle. Moldbug never places much stress on this as a social or moral principle. However, the principle of hierarchy is implicit — central and pervasive— in his political thought. However, in my view, hierarchy emerges as a solution to a problem — governance. While he does not argue explicitly for a neo-feudal society, he certainly does not argue for a racially or religiously stratified society. However, it would be clear, that if Moldbug’s vision was realised it would almost certainly result in an “unequal” society because of HBD as well as culture and religious diversity. So yes, hierarchy is a premise, the other side of the coin of rejecting equality. However, it should be stressed, I don’t think Moldbug rejects equality or moral grounds; he rejects it firstly because it is not likely to be true (cognitive and physical diversity). Secondly, Moldbug prises truth and efficiency over abstract principles , and let’s face it, equality is for adults in the same way that all prizes for children in school are.
As for principle 4, Moldbug never (to my knowledge) engages the subject of sex and feminism AT ALL.
However, quite a few reactionaries have brought up the subject. So, that will need to be addressed.
It is a good list, but it is missing some essential points. Firstly, it misses Moldbug’s central concern, his central twin masterpieces — the Cathedral and the BDH V OV conflict. Finally, it says nothing about solutions.
Nick Land, responding to Anissimov, attempts to reduce the premises down further to three principles.
- Democracy is unable to control government.
Yes, without doubt. However, there is a subtle issue here. Democracy cannot control government because it is unstable, irrational, mob-like and driven by, as Land says “appetites” and therefore functions with a high-time-preference. Furthermore, It cannot fight strategically, it cannot manage an economy and it cannot provide liberty or safety for its citizens.
However, the subtle issue here is that the West does not have democracy — it has the Cathedral instead. Keeping that in mind (and it easy to forget) then Moldbug would, of course, agree.
- The egalitarianism essential to democratic ideology is incompatible with liberty.
Yes. As Kuehnelt Leddihn put it you can have either equality or you can liberty but you cannot have both. This is the essential choice between reaction and progressivism. To embrace equality means embracing state interference without limit in order to enforce equality. Again, Moldbug would have no problem with this.
One brief point regarding hierarchy. Land helpfully says that
“Emergent hierarchy is at least tolerated. More assertive, ‘neofeudal’ models of an ideal social hierarchy are properly controversial within Neoreaction.” Good point. How is the hierarchy to be constructed? Will it be by merit or loyalty?
- Neoreactionary socio-political solutions are ultimately Exit-based.
The concept appears to be central in Land’s work. While Moldbug does give the concept of Exit importance because, like in a free market, one can take one’s custom elsewhere, it is not, in my view, a key plank in his work.
Firstly, Moldbug’s main concern is preventing mass political violence – not Exit. The concept of Exit applied now has some defects. Firstly, Moldbug does not advocate Exit, he advocates restoration. Secondly, there are practical and, well, moral problems with Exit.
Firstly, it is now impossible for millions of people in America and Europe to escape. Escape to where? China? Impossible. Russia? Possible, but unlikely. Morally speaking, or rather, from the concept of group loyalty (moral particularism) a few lucky individuals who escape to China or Japan or Russia is leaving the rest of “tribe” behind to be decimated by progressivism and Islamist hordes. Make of that what you will.
So far, what emerges is the rejection of both equality and democracy. They thus stand or fall together, you cannot reject one, but not the other.
Nevertheless, these principles don’t really tell us much. They don’t really get to grips with Moldbug or his work in a insightful way — in my view.
What consensus, or lack, exists among reactionaries?
(1) There is a substratum of neoreactionary consensus, involving a variety of abominated realist insights, especially the contribution of deep heritage to socio-political outcomes. Whilst emphasis differs, an ultra-
Burkean attitude is tacitly shared, and among those writers who self-identify with the Dark Enlightenment, the importance of HBD is generally foregrounded.
(2) Neoreaction also shares an enemy: the Cathedral (as delineated by Mencius Moldbug). On the nature of this enemy much is agreed, not least that it is defined by a project of deep heritage erasure — both ideological and practical — which simultaneously effaces its own deep heritage as a profound religious syndrome, of a peculiar type. Further elaboration of Cathedral genealogy, however, ventures into controversy. (In particular, its consistency with Christianity is a fiercely contested topic.)
(3) As neoreactionary perspectives are systematized, they tend to fall into a trichotomous pattern of dissensus. This, ironically, is something that can be agreed. The Trichotomy, or neoreactionary triad, is determined by divergent identifications of the Western tradition that the Cathedral primarily suppresses: Christian, Caucasian, or Capitalist. My preferred terms for the resultant neoreactionary strains are, respectively, the Theonomist; the Ethno-Nationalist; and the Techno-Commercial. These labels are intended to be accurate, neutral descriptions, without intrinsic polemical baggage.
These three — Christian, Caucasian, or Capitalist are types or forms of reaction.
What, however, is the connection with Moldbug?
Moldbug is not religious and never endorses any religion. Moldbug rejects nationalism (which is a form of leftism) or any ethnic based society as both a principle and as a tactic. As for the Techno-Commerical approach, he does make noises that his New Structure may not fully endorse it — Capitalism —as he would understand it (Austrian economics).
What appears to have happened here is that different people with different interests have co-opted parts of Moldbug as ammunition for their own cause. This is perfectly acceptable and will not be contested by me, though obviously it does pose something of a coordination problem.
It should be said, however, that the Hestia Society has done a good job of simplifying and outlining Moldbug’s vision.
What Land does not mention is the need for power to be placed into either a king or a CEO or a very tight band of men. Hestia, however, make this clear as you can see from their principles here:
There is one more reactionary to discuss.
One reactionary blogger slyly named Reactionary Future the “Pope of Neo-reaction”. It is a telling remark in more ways than one. In my view, out of all the reactionaries I have read post-Moldbug, Reactionary Future (RF) is the person who has grasped, what I believe is the central pillar of Moldbug’s analysis.
The pillar is, as RF puts it “unsecure power”. This analysis is derived from Bertrand De Jouvenel. The key point is that democracy creates — incentivises — conflict because it is unsecure and uncertain. In a democracy you must compete for power, or if you have it you must maintain it. This creates an irrational set of incentives in terms of governing. However, and more seriously, it creates the conditions for mass political violence.
RF also continues Moldbug’s solution which is for power to be secure. That is, for power — the sovereign — to be absolute.
Furthermore, RF also brings forth an implicit claim in Moldbug (which Land has also raised) that is vital in Moldbug: the impossibility of limited government, protocol government and the inescapably of human judgment — unless and until an SI emerges perhaps.
The practical import of this is that someone always rules, someone always judges, someone always makes the final decision. USG and the EU are, therefore, shams. Their political formula regarding the concept of the rule of law is an impossibility. Why? Because any attempt to limit government can always be abandoned either openly or in USG case covertly or hypocritically.
RF has grasped this point better than anyone, which is why he brings up Aristotle, Aquinas and Alasdair Macintyre so much. Which is to say that in the virtue ethics tradition (which AAA propound), judgment is central and inescapable. In the virtue ethics tradition no set of rules or principles is sufficient to render judgement; good judgement — wisdom — is a trained and acquired ability, and if HBD is true, a partly innate one as well.
Thus, in my view, RF is an essential reactionary to engage with post-Moldbug.
Nevertheless, it needs to be said that RF also pivots into a new direction from Moldbug. Essentially, RF is working in a Catholic tradition. Again, Moldbug never endorses any religion or the virtue ethics tradition. Finally, RF seems to have rejected Moldbug’s Neo-Royalist model (absolute monarchy) combined with the joint-stock-corporation.
So, we have a range of views here and disagreements. What is to be done?
What is the essence of the Mencius vision?
Firstly, I believe there needs to some clarity about what Mencius Moldbug was arguing.
I believe that Moldbug’s work can be simplified down into three principles.
1: The problem of political uncertainty, tribalism, conflict and mass violence.
2: Orwellian mind control, lies and political and social oppression in response to deviations from the Orwellian (Cathedral mind control) state.
3: Democracy as a form of government is a major cause of 1; and the Cathedral (which is the progressives solution to 1) entails 2, which, ironically, produces 1 (conflict, violence and oppression).
The end result will lead to either communism, fascism or collapse.
In my view, if there is a post-communism collapse — perhaps in the next two decades — the consequences will likely be domination by other powers — Islam in Europe’s case or Russia or more likely China or South America in the U.S.
I believe the above three principles are the core of Moldbug’s critique. What then, is his solution?
The answer is Neo-Royalism and Patchwork.
What then, is Moldbug socio-cultural position? The short answer is that he doesn’t have one. If you mean by socio-cultural position that Moldbug is endorsing a religiously traditional society. In fact, in Moldbug’s view, he believes that a libertarian culture would be the effect of his system.
The reason is that if political power is secure, if a patchwork of cities and states exist, then violence and mind control is unnecessary. Different groups with different values can thus Exit and Enter into whatever social orders they want — if they contract with and are accepted by the sovereign of each patch.
What is the position of the Dark Reformation then?
I work in the tradition of Moldbug and wish to extend his work in four key ways.
Firstly, for reasons of principle and persuasion I want to extend his Patchwork vision. Firstly, in terms of principle, I believe that humans are diverse — physically, psychologically, culturally, morally and religiously. The attempt to make everyone the same or conform to the progressives sham-doctrine of equality and diversity (which is really their own version of hierarchy and uniformity) is oppressive and, most importantly, a source of social and political violence. The solution is separation and security for each group.
In terms of practice, or tactics, the idea of Patchwork and a design of government that is very small, very strong, and very efficient can sell better. It is necessary to persuade as many people as possible, or at least emphasising the point in order to persuade the intellectuals, the well-intentioned and the prudent of each group that this vision can be a solution to political violence and the clash of civilisations.
Secondly, the clash of civilisations is both real and serious. Moldbug never really engages with Islam, Russia or China and the clash thesis. Here, however, I have emphasised that problem many times. Indeed, the clash model is Moldbug’s thesis of unsecure power on a global stage. The Patchwork vision is thus a solution in search of a problem and the problem is global conflict.
Thirdly, I carry on and extend his essentially naturalistic set of assumptions and methods. Moldbug is an atheist and his analysis does not depend on any supernatural force or assumptions. Again, I believe that a naturalistic reactionary analysis is essential in principle and for purposes of persuasion.
Firstly, in terms of principles because I believe that metaphysical naturalism is true and the principles of naturalism — Darwinism and determinism, in particular — are congenial to a reactionary worldview.
In terms of persuasion, meanwhile, the reason is intellectual fire-power. The great intellects of today and the knowledge they produce is naturalistic. Converting them to religion is impossible, but converting them to Moldbug’s political critique on naturalistic grounds is. Secondly, the tide of Western civilisation is, for the foreseeable future, a secular one. The aim then is to convert the new generation of young people to reaction.
Religious reaction is simply too much of step. However, while this is tricky, religion — Christianity — should not be criticised or mocked by reactionaries.
Fourthly, I continue Moldbug’s method which is essentially consequentialist and systems based – in other words, political engineering. The key is to study and understand the structure of politics and power. To understand how the consequences it brings about are a result of the structure and then to re-design the structure in order to bring about more preferable consequences.
Thus, here is how I would present reaction. It consists of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.
Step one. Describe the symptoms.
There are three key symptoms.
Firstly, we have insecurity of life, liberty and property. There is crime and violence, political violence and Islamic terrorism.
Secondly, threats to liberty. This includes people losing jobs, being jailed, and shamed for thought-crime.
Thirdly, we have rising poverty and decreasing living standards, job losses and financial mismanagement
Step two. Historical comparison and explanation.
Firstly, for example, contrast period T1 with period T2 and show with statistics that crime, terrorism and violence were different in an previous era. In addition, use the same approach regarding the various thought crimes and threats to freedom of speech.
Secondly, and most importantly, explain the behaviours and the changes over time as a consequence of the system’s structure: The Modern Structure, the cathedral and the central fact of unsecure power which produces the high-low conflict or the BDH V OV conflict. In Nick Land terminology this is the “leftist ratcheting” — a progressivist disease.
(https://darkreformation101.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/the-dark-reformation-part-1-modern-life-is-rubbish/ Note this introduction has been recast as Meditations on First (Reactionary) Philosophy. It contains a chain of “meditations” and comprehensive list of books and articles which provide grounds for think that “something has gone seriously amiss with modernity.”).
Prognosis Predictions and Projections.
1: Socialism, which will fail, which then leads to….
2: Collapse, which then leads to….
3: Fascism or Islamism.
Or, and in addition,
1: Increasingly polarised society and an irrational and oppressive progressive government leading to…
2: Fascism V Communism (a Weimar society).
3: Hitler or Mao 2.0.
4: War and or collapse.
5: The eventual triumph of Islam (In Europe).
6: Russian and Chinese reaction (can’t have Europe fall to Islam).
7: Russian and Chinese intervention in Europe and America (if a civil war or a collapse occurs).
1: A reboot.
2: Dismantle the Modern Structure.
3: Install the New Structure.
Time is running out. Whatever will happen, it is likely to not go the way that anyone wants or thinks. We can be sure, however, that violence will increase and break out and that innocent people will suffer. The only question is how limited will it be?