The history of thought leading up to New Right, neoreaction, and dark enlightenment


We pretty much know the origins of the New Right, which was a post-WWII regrouping by the right to re-invent itself with leftist methods of acquiring an audience.

But the recent spate of paleoconservative movements jazzed up with new nameplates includes Neoreaction, Dark Enlightenment, and variations on Anarcho-Capitalism, Monarchism and Libertarianism. Where did these start?

Stirner provides a good introduction:

The twentysomething reactionaries have little concept on just how long the NRx payload has been cooking. I have been an observer of various offbeat intellectual schools for over 20 years, and witnessed firsthand how it all evolved:

NeoReaction: Yes, it’s all footnotes to Moldbug, but folks like Brett Stevens, Bruce Charlton have been treading on these grounds for years. Larry Auster spent nearly 20 years making the case for traditional conservatism and pissing off perhaps every ally on the right. James Kalb was bitchslapping the Cathedral around online for years before finally writing and publishing “The Tyranny of Liberalism”. Occidental Quarterly and Counter Currents has been keeping the old right alive and trying to rebrand WN for over a decade now.

The Manosphere: Warren Farrell wrote The Myth of Male Power back in the 1990′s. Around 1999 Game/PUA was developed in the discussion forums of One of the leading Game theoreticians? Some magician with the handle Mystery. Yeah, that Mystery. Later, Roissy (in pre-Heartiste) days was one of the first Game bloggers to specifically make the connection to to modern nihilism, and begin to align Game with hardcore rightwing thought. (Shout out to In Mala Fide for also forging early connections between game and right-ideology).

HBD. Of course, Steve Sailer invented the term. He has been at this since the dawn of blogging. Not to be forgotten is “La Griffe du Lion” who came up with “Smart Fraction” theory. There are old rumors that La Griffe also used to be married to Linda Gottfredson, one of the few academics that has survived prior waves of HBD purging. Razib Khan was also a big HBD heavy hitter, when there was no-one else out there and it really counted.

Here is the point of my history lesson in a nutshell: all of of these various thinkers and groups have been largely doing their own thing, and making their own investigations for the better part of 20 years. The NRx payload has been evolving on the internet for all of that time, with weak arguments getting abraded away, NRx insights getting ground down into diamond sharpness, and gradually distilling practically a dozen distinct zones of independent areas of thoughtcrime into rock solid perfection.

All that was required was the final catalyst: Nick Land coins the concept of “The Dark Enlightenment” taking this entire zone of thoughtcrime, and bringing it all under under one concept. Anomaly UK coined Neoreaction, finally providing a new label for this next generation of right wing thought. Then our host and a few others began mappping out the landscape of Neoreaction and the broader dark enlightenment. After that, it was off to the races.

I’d add this: Generation X was the division.

We were the postwar kids. That is, our parents were the spawn of WWII and we were the kids who inherited the world that those 1968er Baby Boomer types thought was ideal. In other words, we were the laboratory for the post-Nazi/post-fascist theories of the post-WWII world order.

And let me tell you: it was utter failure. Latch-key kids had trouble making emotional attachments, as did children treated as accessories by their Me generation parents. Divorce and sexual libertinism by the Boomers put most of us off marriage, if not off sex totally. Worst of all, we grew up in a hybrid of the Soviet Union and a shopping mall which made us distrust society and basically, just want to escape. We were ground zero for all those great cultural Marxist and consumerist experiments of the 1960s.

Bill White’s had a huge role to play as well, as did those who were active on early USENET and internet forums. But really, the art of generation X kicked it off. Much of this was stuff like black metal music and aggressive music that was mostly vocals, whether Boyd Rice or Mark Stewart.

Even more, our literature affirms the helplessness of it all. In Gibson and Easton Ellis alike, the more humans try to “perfect” and moralize, the more they create a vast wasteland of ruined hopes. Just like the Baby Boomers did, come to think of it.

It’s good to see this ancient history come to light. What will even be better is when the Neoreaction/Dark Enlightenment guys get brave enough to break the taboo and admit their origins are 100% paleoconservatism. I think the New Right has already figured this out and dialed back the “act like leftists to recruit leftists” idea because it doesn’t work.

We live in interesting times.

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8 Responses to “The history of thought leading up to New Right, neoreaction, and dark enlightenment”

  1. Stirner says:

    I’m smack dab in the middle of GenX. Millennials might be digital natives, but I was 17 and accessing BBS’s at the rate of 1200 baud. The net is older than they might imagine.

    I can relate to your desire to set the record straight, and highlight the paleocon roots of NRx. At this point it doesn’t matter though. NRx has picked up the most essential points, and the old wine in new bottles is probably more appealing for the generation coming online. They can parse it however they like, but they damn well better remember those who built the foundations of what they are standing on.

    • nydwracu says:

      Ah, some of us do know — then again, some of us grew up in households with UNIVAC tapes for doorstops.

      Someday someone ought to do a study of internet progressivism; none of that originated on Tumblr, and very little even on Livejournal. There were ‘otherkin’ on Usenet.

      So the question is: how did it blow up? Certain concepts associated with Tumblr are beginning to catch on; what did they do to make it happen? A lot of it is from feminist theory, so you have the long march through the institutions and all; but some, like the rise of overt communism from Gawker and Buzzfeed, has to do with the degree to which Something Awful shaped internet culture. The commies captured SA, and SA captured Max Read; that’s one reason why this happened.

      (No matter how much they talk about overthrowing capitalism, they don’t deserve the capital C. It’s best not to give it to them.)

  2. […] ADDED: Brett Stevens visits the Stirner comment, and annotates it. […]

  3. Joël Cuerrier says:

    While this is interesting and certainly worth elaborating around, I’d say you are not using the word paleoconservatism correctly. It’s invented by Paul Gottfried this word. It is for pure constitutionalists.

    Joseph Sobran called himself a reactionary in the 1980’s too, but by the end of his life, he had converted to anarcho-capitalism.

    You may be confusing things with paleo-anarchism, anarcho-primitivism me think, Green Anarchy, your avatar kind of gives you up.

    I went a bit beyond Ted Kaczinsky when I noticed he would have to destroy 99% of the human race to make his ideal possible… and even then, what for? A world without a written language? Is that it? Back to the tribes?

  4. Joël Cuerrier says:

    I think I was telling you 10 years ago why I opposed all forms of anarchism. It’s pretty clear for me that paleoconservatism is just americanism. Trads are not in favor of americanism, it was decried over a century ago by French authors. Americanism was what reactionaries of yore were opposing way before communism became a “thing”.

    “America is the most progressive nation on earth”
    -Karl Marx, 1847 (before he wrote the manifesto)
    Yes, that’s an unfair quote, since he also said in the same sentence that the US would collapse without slavery.

    Anyway, if you want the longer view on reactionaries, check the antimodern.
    Léon Bloy wasn’t writing just yesterday. Honoré de Balzac was a while back too.

    I don’t know if one can find Henri Delassus in English, but he wrote a vehement rebuttal to Americanism in the XIXth century. Nothing new indeed to being a reactionary. It’s an opposition to the Revolutions (Glorious+American+French).

  5. Joël Cuerrier says:

    Well, it is available in English, but it may be hard to find:

  6. Dan says:

    I came upon HBD largely on my own, as have others. I have been working with patents for 13 years and almost from the beginning I noticed that some groups (and genders) invent at 10x or 100x or 1000x the rate of others.

    In college I noticed that I other guy friends had to work like hell to get attention from girls whereas girls needed to do little. I literally worked out the sexual marketplace from first principles.

    That said, if we are going to go acknowledging the labors of our forebears, I suggest gen X owes a debt to our forebears.

    There some landmark books that need mention:
    The Bell Curve (Charles Murray, 1994)
    IQ and the Wealth of Nations (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2002)
    Human Accomplishment (Murray again, 2003)

    Authur Jensen and Philippe Rushton deserve special mention.

    These giants published so many hundreds and hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and books that the science of of HBD is unassailable. It is difficult for agenda driven fibbers to create bogus science in the cognitive realm now, because they are very late to the party. No doubt they would like to very much.

    And don’t forget Patrick Buchanan and Mark Steyn, two veritable giants. For a little balance, don’t forget Ann Coulter.

    All of these people endured direct personal protests, legal problems and great ridicule for telling the truth including the truth about HBD.

    Stephen Pinker deserves a little praise for The Blank Slate, but he is not as brave or honest as those I mentioned ahead of him.

    And credit to Rev. Moon and the Washington Times for a hard voice for conservatism and against Communism from 1980 until today. For a long time, they were the only daily source in America that was both reliably conservative and not a tabloid. Remember, this is long before Rush and the rest of conservative radio, before Fox news, before the web. It was the only paper Reagan would read. Run at a loss in the Billions because the man came out of North Korean concentration camps and saw the pure evil of Communism. They break lots of stories and would have a number of Pulitzers if they weren’t on the Right.

  7. The real beginnings are even further back, but a grounding in history seems to be missing in the New Right as a big tent. Which is why they aren’t really conservatives in any meaningful sense of the word.

    Of course, I come from a perennialist and distributist framework and I also read /watch/listen to primary source material from before 1980 covering many of the themes, concepts and ideas the New Right thinks they invented or discovered, so I would say that.

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