Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution offers up a critique of neoreaction that is at first baffling:
Or perhaps I should rephrase that question: what would neo-reaction be if it were presented in a more coherent analytic framework?
His point is: if we treat the term “neoreaction” like language and not a specific brand, we can see that it has two parts, “neo” (new) and “reaction.” This would imply any form of reaction that has occurred after the rise of Leftism. His list of neoreactionaries confirms this analysis:
Those who come immediately to mind are Aristotle, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Jonathan Swift, Benjamin Franklin, John Calhoun, James Fitzjames Stephens, Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, and Lee Kuan Yew.
In other words, as opposed to the branded movement advanced by Mencius Moldbug and others, neoreaction is just another form of reaction, when used in the generic sense. Since this generic sense is what motivated adoption of the name, Cowen’s approach is logical: understand a political movement by its ancestry.
Neoreaction might be seen by some of us as “extremist neoconservatism.” Its basic idea is that if you replace ideology with commerce, and formalize the relationship of government as a business providing freedom services to its citizens, then society will work out better than where motivation is concealed behind the double-blind of ideology, exemplified by politicians kissing babies that they will two decades later send to war. It dodges the question of restoring civilization through its pillars: race, culture, aristocracy, elitism, hierarchy, moral rectitude, responsibility and at the heart of it, consequentialism, or measuring value by results and not feelings.
If anything, this is why the alt-right will swallow up neoreaction: the alt-right thinks in terms of rebuilding civilization, where neoreaction is still caught in the individualism trap of modernity. Like other forms of rebellion/rejection based theory however, neoreaction opens a door by showing that Leftism is not “the only way” possible for us to live, as the myth of Progress tells us.
Several of Cowen’s individual points bear scrutiny from a Raging Realist™ point of view:
1. â€œCulturismâ€ is in general correct, namely that some cultures are better than others. You want to make sure you are ruled by one of the better cultures. In any case, one is operating with a matrix of rule.
Culture and race are inseparable. Not only is culture genetic, but the ability to appreciate a culture varies with ability. Most people do not “get” classical European culture because they are not wired for it.
2. The historical ruling cultures for America and Western Europe â€” two very successful regions â€” have largely consisted of white men and have reflected the perspectives of white men. This rule and influence continues to work, however, because it is not based on either whiteness or maleness per se. There is a nominal openness to the current version of the system, which fosters competitive balance, yet at the end of the day it is still mostly about the perspectives of white men and one hopes this will continue. By the way, groups which â€œbecome whiteâ€ in their outlooks can be allowed into the ruling circle.
This is a lot of sweaty circumnavigation around the ideas that (1) white males built something no one else could build or maintain and (2) the methods developed by Europeans are distinctive in that no one else in the world emulates them. And yet, these arise from culture, and the Western European outlook on the world, formerly called “Western civilization.”
Other groups may want to experience the benefits of this, but probably not live under it. To have self-esteem, a person must belong to a majority group that rules a land by its own cultural mores and values, and if it adopts foreign methods, it must do so slowly in order to make them its own. Diversity cannot work.
Today there is a growing coalition against the power and influence of (some) white men, designed in part to lower their status and also to redistribute their wealth. This movement may not be directed against whiteness or maleness per se (in fact some of it can be interpreted as an internal coup dâ€™etat within the world of white men), but still it is based on a kind of puking on what made the West successful. And part and parcel of this process is an ongoing increase in immigration to further build up and cement in the new coalition. Furthermore a cult of political correctness makes it very difficult to defend the nature of the old coalition without fear of being called racist; in todayâ€™s world the actual underlying principles of that coalition cannot be articulated too explicitly. Most of all, if this war against the previous ruling coalition is not stopped, it will do us in.
Very accurate. The core to this is what he calls “an internal coup dâ€™etat within the world of white men,” or in other words the class warfare agenda of the Revolution. Diversity exists because Western Leftists needed it in order to justify and propagate their war against hierarchy and moral standards.
4. It is necessary to deconstruct and break down the current dialogue on these issues, and to defeat the cult of political correctness, so that a) traditional rule can be restored, and/or b) a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended. Along the way, we must realize that calls for egalitarianism, or for that matter democracy, are typically a power play of one potential ruling coalition against another.
Here Cowen shines. Egalitarianism is always manipulation only; those who take it at face value are lobotomized robot-zombies. Therefore, we must desist from this path and restore traditional rule so that “a new and more successful form of that rule can be introduced and extended.” Translation: realize we took a wrong turn, go back to where we turned off, and develop that instead.
That all said, I think it is a category mistake to dismiss neo-reaction on the grounds of racism or prejudice. There exists a coherent form of the doctrine perfectly consistent with the view that different races are intrinsically equal in both capabilities and moral worth, even if such a variant tends to get pushed out by the less salubrious elements.
This is a more vague statement, but he seems to be describing nationalism: each group rules itself, and exists on its own terms, expecting every other group to act in self-interest and keeping them at arm’s length. He disguises this statement as if it were an endorsement for multiculturalism/diversity/internationalism/globalism, or all ethnic groups living together in the same nations, where borders are merely political constructs.
Overall, “What is neo-reaction?” is a masterpiece of cryptolinguistic exploration of forbidden topics. He has to tuck & cuck at the end:
On top of that, the overwhelming empirical fact is that people are far too willing to go tribal when it comes to politics. We donâ€™t need to encourage that any further, nor am I excited by the notion of setting tribe against tribe.
The center of neoreaction, if you ask me, is “formalization”: the idea of uniting text and subtext, or public “face value” meaning and private intended meaning, so that manipulation is less possible. In our modern society, the text is egalitarianism and the subtext is seizure of power and draining the carcass of Western civilization by people who are no more than parasites, which usually coincides with merchants, lawyers, politicians and other bloodsuckers.
Per formalization, we recognize self-interest as inherent and inalienable in every individual and group. For this reason, all tribes — ethnic, sexual, cultural, religious, political, class/caste — are inherently tribalistic and acting in self-interest. The difference is that when more competent tribes act in self-interest, they beat back the less competent who normally hold us back, and all of humanity becomes more prosperous, sane and stable.