[Previous related material: “Red Pill Rescues: Risky or Not?” which also links to good material by AnarchoPapist and Aimless Gromar. Also, I’m shamelessly ripping off Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex’s format for this post.]
Neoreaction. If you grok it, you grok it, the end.
If not, explaining it is a hell of a task. Some of the challenges of expressing this have been on my mind for quite a while.
Neoreaction is big. Because it is intimately related to the rest of the so-called Dark Enlightenment, it is worth showing this once again:
Any movement which requires such a map is a cognitive beast. It is almost impossible to explain in a linear, verbal fashion. This leads to the next two challenges.
In any discussion of a contentious topic, the opposing party is always looking for weaknesses in your argument. Good lawyers win cases by anticipating and avoiding or parrying the attacks the opposing counsel on their arguments. When you are trying to express an idea as large as the one portrayed in the map above, the cognitive surface area presented for such attacks is massive. Further, the target “convert” is well-versed in the defense mechanisms of the standard worldview, and has a lot of mental territory in which to hide their forces and launch their attacks. Advocate traditional gender roles, and you’re a misogynist. Counter with evidence of genetic/hormonal predisposition to certain behaviors, and you’re a soulless genetic determinist who is also highly suspect of being racist. Try to discuss race in terms of clusters of genetic phenotypes and race as self-reinforcing culture based upon voluntary affinity between similar-looking people, and you become an ethnocentrist. Is is the epistemilogical equivalent of beheading the Hydra.
Advocating neoreaction means presenting an entire worldview. As such, it will be placed in a category with and compared to other worldviews. Broadly speaking, America has two of these: liberal and conservative.
The mere existence of the liberal world view isn’t a problem to explaining neoreaction. Conservatism is, however, because it is very easy to lump us in together. In large part, this is because we trigger almost all of the defense mechanisms mentioned above: even the most mild neoreactionary could quickly get himself called all sorts of names in an honest discussion in “polite company.”
So it seems that the biggest challenge is differentiating neoreaction from conservatism in the mind of a person totally unacquainted with the concept. For a moment lets dial down the discussion one level of difficult from “explain” to “identify.”
Q: How does one identify a neoreactionary discussion when one overhears such a thing?
A: The jargon.
We know we are obscure. Some of our most commonly used words are names of Lovecraftian horrors repurposed to symbolize concepts. Others are inventions of obscure bloggers. Some are words which mean different things inside our community than they do outside. A quick survey yields:
- Multipolar Traps
- Human Biodiversity
- Malthusian Trap
- Sexual Market Value
- Marriage Market Value
- IQ Shredding
- Genetic Determinism
- Blank Slatism
- Culture (as a word with an actual meaning)
- Jonathon Haidt’s 5 moral senses (esp. with regard to Liberal obsession with purity)
It is highly, highly unlikely that any average “conservative” would mention, think about, or even encounter any of those phrases routinely. Neoreactionary discourse is full of them.
Now let’s ramp back up from “identify” to “explain.” The problem we will immediately encounter is that despite the jargon being unique, most of these ideas are at least passably related to typical conservative ideas or counter-ideas:
- Cathedral – “The Liberal Media”
- Formalism – “Might makes right”
- Neocameralism – No real equivalent
- Ethno-Nationalism – “White Supremecists.” (Curiously, other race-based pride movements get a pass)
- Techno-Futurism – Slash-and-burn industry vs tree-hugging naturalists
- Monarchism – “Old Men in Power/Patriarchy”
- Cthulu – “Moral Decay”
- Gnon – “Work or Starve”
- Moloch – Not sure if there is an equivalent
- Multipolar Traps – Not sure if there is an equivalent
- Human Biodiversity – “White Supremacy, Eurocentrism, Ethnocentrism.”
- Singularity – “The Man,” “The (Soulless) Corporations”
- Malthusian Trap – Not sure if there is an equivalent
- Sexual Market Value – “Sexism/Misogyny”
- Marriage Market Value – “Sexism/Misogyny”
- IQ Shredding – “Country Boys vs City Slickers”
- Ultracalvinism – “Political Correctness”
- Super-Protestantism – “Political Correctness”
- Demotism – “Moral Decay, Bread and Circuses, Whites Afraid of Becoming a Minority”
- Genetic Determinism – “Racist, Sexist, Cis-Heteronomativist”
- Blank Slatism – “Racist, Sexist, Cis-Heteronomativist”
- Culture (as a word with an actual meaning) – “Ethno/Eurocentrist”
- Jonathon Haidt’s 5 moral senses (esp. with regard to Liberal obsession with purity) – “Intolerant, Backwards”
To my eyes, this is a pretty damning list and a formidable challenge. It is also well beyond any attempt to “Agree and Amplify,” because here is the best possible way that can turn out:
Yes, we are racist, sexist, cis-heteronormative Eurocentrists, but when you combine all of them together, it’s not so bad anymore!
Conveniently, this was posted today, and it goes a long way towards what I wanted to write about today:
When I started following neoreactionary writers and blogs a while ago (at first, unintentionally, since there was no formal label to it) I began to collect impressions — informally — of the way in which neoreaction expresses itself. While some thrived on the notion of the different parts of neoreaction as being different, I looked instead for the reason why they were somehow able to cling together.
This is by no means exhaustive; these concepts are emergent and I have only included those that I have become certain of due to emphasis and repetition. 1. Survival…2. Exit….3. Chaos
The post is well worth a read in its own right, and I can’t quote less than the whole thing the properly express the point I’d be trying to prove with the quote.
Neoreaction has been called a critique of democracy. The Dark Enlightenment is obviously the opposite of the ideas of the Enlightenment. But what exactly does this mean? Working backwards, we see that each is a post-hoc critique of relatively modern ideas and their results. They identify failure modes which were widely unanticipated and/or currently broadly ignored. These failure modes are not so much critiques of the inner workings of the ideas themselves, but rather the result of these system’s failure to properly interface with observable reality. A creature which ignores its needs dies, and a civilization which ignores its needs likewise vanishes. Neoreaction recognizes that while the Platonic form of democracy, equality, etc, cannot die, instances of democratic, equal people living in instances of democratic, equal civilizations can. Hence the neoreactionary emphasis on survival, and the conservative/liberal’s total neglect of the subject. It is not a description of a Platonic ideal nearly as much as it is a frank assessment of our living conditions. It is concerned less with what could be or what should be, and more with what is. Does that make it an aesthetic more than a political philosophy? I’m not yet sure.
Perhaps neoreaction is an aesthetic. But let’s return back to the problem: how does this help us persuade anyone of our point of view? Simply to return back to the fact that it is an aesthetic that covers almost every facet of human life? And tell the listener that they just happen to be wrong about all of the things? Convince them that lowering their defenses for long enough to fully absorb a new aesthetic, identical to conservatism to an outsider, is a good decision?
The fact that conservatives don’t believe in anything other than “not changing” has been beaten to death in our community. I don’t conflate neoreaction and conservatism. But how does one express this to those familiar to conservatism?