What is Neoreaction?

revolt_against_the_modern_world

Neoreaction is in crisis because it does not know what it is.

As formulated by Mencius Moldbug, expanded by Nick Land and others, Neoreaction is what happens when conservatism adopts social engineering. Conservative goals however do not resemble liberal ones, which are ideological. Conservatives are consequentialists who aim for results in reality, not pandering to what is popular which is inevitably illusion.

While some in Neoreaction may doubt its conservative roots, its philosophy is essentially identical to that of conservatism, which is the way things are traditionally done: responsibility for actions based on their results in reality. It cuts ideology out of the equation entirely.

Conservatism exists as a term only to describe what is not-liberal. When the liberals first seized a European state in 1789, the congress in that State separated into left-wing, who supported the new ways, and right-wing, who wanted to retain as many of the old ways as possible. To liberals, conservatives are evil; to conservatives, liberals are misguided and incompetent. They are civilization destroyers. The right wing has been staging a rearguard retreat ever since because conservatism is less popular than liberalism and always will be.

People on an individual level respond more energetically to pleasant visions with an emotion (not factual) basis. Ideas like equality, freedom and pacifism appeal to all of us because they abrogate the struggle of life, which is Darwinism itself: the struggle to adapt. When civilization is founded, adaptation switches from reality to civilization itself, and with that, decay begins.

This does not mean that civilization is bad, but that it must be aware of these problems, much like we still use fire and internal combustion engines despite the possible dangers associated with them.

Liberalism succeeds because it creates fanaticism. The thought of what “should be” swells people with a sense of purpose, which appeals to the vast majority of humans who are — since we are speaking frankly — evolutionarily unfit for anything but subsistence living. Left to their own devices, they ferment the potatoes and eat the seed corn, then exist in perpetual alternation between apathy and starvation. Never forget our glorious simian heritage and the fact that most humans want to return to that state if they can.

The right has no such fanaticism. Its members merely want to adapt to reality and set up the best society they possibly can. This goal does not break down into issues, talking points or ideology. It is a gut-level instinct that incorporates as well the highest function of the brain, which is integrating and synthesizing many issues into a big picture.

Liberalism denies the big picture by replacing it with ideology and attacks the conservative majority on “issues” by looking for exceptions which are presumed to invalidate rules. The ultimate goal of liberalism is to abolish all social standards so that the individual is unconstrained by any accountability, and yet can still enjoy the benefits of civilization. It fails because liberals do not understand time and how over time, society changes with liberal alterations and what is left offers few of the benefits of civilization.

Conservatives create 18th century Europe; liberals create 2015 Brazil.

The left grew exponentially after 1789 despite constantly creating disasters, the two biggest of which are the Napoleonic era and the Bolshevik revolution. Where prosperous societies once stood, third world ruins remained. France went from being a superpower to a nobody and quickly fell into radical social decay, prompting in part the first world war. German intervention in WWII saved much of their society from utter confusion, if nothing else by giving them an enemy.

But as Evola observed, all of us in the post-war period are men among the ruins, because with WWII liberalism achieved its final victory over conservatism. In Europe, states became what we might call 60% liberal, in contrast to the 100% liberal of pure Communism in the Soviet Union. The United States, hovering at 50%, shot upward such that in the present day it hovers in the 90s somewhere.

Neoreaction rejects not only liberalism as politics but its social effects, comprised of the twin dragon-heads of Cultural Marxism and mass culture, as well. Where conservatism has traditionally tried to hold on to power, Neoreaction remains fond of the idea of “exit,” which originates in its post-libertarian theoretical roots.

You might know “exit” of this sort under the names of libertarianism or “freedom of association.” The idea is simple: we remove the obligation to the State for anything more than military, and run the State like a corporation that provides certain services to citizens. Gone is the egalitarian imperative that arose after WWII to not just consider citizens equal, but to subsidize them so that they are equal in surviving at least.

However, Neoreaction keeps the 1789 portion of liberalism. If we divide liberalism into major movements, it splits into its 1789 variant which demands political equality, and its post-WWII socialist variant, which demands subsidized social equality. Neoreaction goes back to political equality but uses it as a weapon, saying that if we are to have freedom, that includes the freedom to associate with people like ourselves.

Let me quickly allow the master to show us all why that is a failure:

And there is another class in democratic States, of respectable, thriving individuals, who can be squeezed when the drones have need of their possessions; there is moreover a third class, who are the labourers and the artisans, and they make up the mass of the people.

When the people meet, they are omnipotent, but they cannot be brought together unless they are attracted by a little honey; and the rich are made to supply the honey, of which the demagogues keep the greater part themselves, giving a taste only to the mob.

Their victims attempt to resist; they are driven mad by the stings of the drones, and so become downright oligarchs in self-defence. – Plato, The Republic, Book VII

In other words, the sheer weight of populism will doom any attempt to both be free from the others and thrive. Mobs take what they want; democracy is mob rule. There is no exit. This must be repeated:

There is no exit.

On a personal level, exit consists of running off to some place where the disaster has not reached and becoming prosperous enough to keep it at bay. That only works until social disorder increases to the point that crime takes wealth from you, and/or political order increases to allow the government to seize such property. If that does not do it, the corruption of late democratic states will do so.

A cynical historian will see “limousine liberals” as an attempt to achieve exit. By endorsing liberal ideas, they think they will be popular with the herd. They then voluntarily dump their money into the impoverished horde as a means of bribing them like mercenaries. However, this creates a feedback loop where people who are receiving money want more money, and simultaneously blame those with the money for the plight of “the poor,” a term used in self-pity by the masses who are by now far from poor. Leftists think they can buy loyalty, forgetting that when the money is insufficient, the crowd sees only a binary: “rich” or “like us,” and they take from anyone richer than subsistence living.

Liberalism has one basic tenet, which is egalitarianism. All of its many theories exist in support of this and for no other reason. A nihilist sees liberalism as advertising, the same way big companies push each other out of the way trying to donate to third world rescue missions, inner city education, peace-in-our-time etc. and other “populist” notions which pander to the emotion need of the herd to escape risk. The crowd wants to avoid conflict because its individuals fear being losers. It forms a warm buzzing hivemind around any idea that argues that conflict is unnecessary and can simply be bought off. Its core is submission in order to avoid losing.

This philosophy gains the epithet of civilization destroyer for a simple reason: liberalism creates a feedback loop where egalitarianism separates intentions from their consequences in real world, causing disaster wherever implemented, but the zombie ideology recognizes only a lack of egalitarianism as its enemy, so it pushes for even more egalitarianism. The solution to the problem is more of the problem. Liberal societies follow the Franco-Russian pattern: glorious revolution, many happy things, then pervasive and unshakeable social and economic problems doom the society to third-world status, at which point it launches wars to mobilize its citizens toward productivity.

Neoreaction like the New Right in Europe tries to counter the liberal expansion by stopping conservative retreat. Instead of solely pointing out problems with liberalism, the New Right illustrates the type of society it wants, which might be described as an identitarian libertarian socialist society. Its libertarian wing consists of what classical liberals accepted, which was that most people fail at life by being mentally disorganized, lazy and self-deceptive (as well as self-pitying, another feedback loop) and that therefore, society must reward citizens only for productive acts. Anarcho-capitalists and libertarians wish to bring this “Social Darwinism” back in the present time instead of the subsidy before productivity that is the hallmark of socialist states.

Unlike the New Right, Neoreaction has both a pure libertarian flair and a social engineering outlook. It attempts to restore freedom of association and Social Darwinism, but adds a method to restrain government: government should work like a corporation, and be accountable for the results of its own programs, instead of justifying those programs with ideology and measuring “results” in terms of achievement of ideology and popularity. As we look at ruinous programs like the War on Poverty, War on Drugs, Civil Rights Struggle (e.g. “war”), Social Justice crusades, and other unaccountable government programs we see something in common: they act on ideology alone and when they fail, they blame the enemies of this ideology, whipping the population into a witch hunt lynch mob which desires to destroy ideological enemies.

This American flavor to Neoreaction separates it from the New Right, but not by much. All of these are conservative philosophies and ultimately will be absorbed and become intellectual threads within conservatism. The broadest distinguishable idea always assimilates related ideas unless they distinguish themselves as entirely distinct. Since liberalism is the interloper in politics that consists of illusion, everything not-illusion is a strain of conservatism. Using the percentage system above, we might say that American Republicans are 60% conservative, the New Right is 90%, and Neoreaction is 85%, where the post-Roman German tribes are 100%.

A perpetual internal conflict in Neoreaction arises from not only the clash between latent leftist elements in libertarianism, but within the personalities themselves. As described by Henry Dampier, one of the other Neoreactionaries worth reading regularly:

The biggest difficulty in working on the cultural fringes is the crab bucket mentality, which is common on the fringes of neoreaction, but is really a sort of basic human behavior that requires a lot of moral instruction to counteract, having its roots in the sin of envy. – Henry Dampier, “Responding to Kantbot’s ‘Rentention’ Criticism,” April 15, 2015

The crab bucket mentality is the same thing as a quest for attention. Whether at the bar with friends, or a product looking to brand itself, or a politician in a democracy trying to make his idea seem unique and emotionally-gratifying enough to rise above the rest, this is populism.

Let that sink in for a moment.

What is subverting Neoreaction is what Neoreaction was designed to avoid: “demotism,” or a substitute for leadership where whatever idea is most popular is chosen. Demotism occurs in politics through democracy, in economics through consumerism, and in socializing through flattery. Neoreaction has been subverted by its inability to purge its opposite from itself, because when emerging from a political system the most common tendency is to carry over unseen elements of that system into the post-revolutionary future society.

The same conflict that crushed Napoleon crushes Neoreaction. He wanted to be a King, but with the revolutionary ideology of egalitarianism behind him. These two ideas conflicted, and so he became a tyrant, using the advertising of the ideology of altruism to justify his seizure of power and wars to enforce these ideas on others.

Neoreaction has stopped moving in a linear direction toward a goal, and instead is circling itself, trying to rid itself of an entryist it cannot identity.

This leads to two suggestions: first, Neoreaction needs a goal, and second, it needs to start making hard decisions about what is relevant. Too many bloggers trying to differentiate themselves will come up with “unique” theories as a means of advertising themselves, and will create a fragmented philosophy that rapidly becomes internally inconsistent. This will attract opportunists, who will use the “radical” image of Neoreaction to pose and self-advertise — think of flowers offering up bright colors to bees, or the sexual display inherent in the plumage of tropical birds — while doing absolutely nothing.

Like a liberal society, Neoreaction will accumulate dependents because they make Neoreactionary writers famous.

To counter this, Neoreactionaries can regain control of their movement by keeping it on topic. This is a cultural rather than governmental approach, which means the best people must begin to take unpopular stances and exclude those who do not understand them. This includes telling many bloggers that their endless theorizing is calcification and decay rather than innovation.

Next, Neoreactionaries need a goal. Much as the New Right in France influenced the shifts in platform between Jean Le Pen and his daughter Marine Le Pen who is currently winnning elections in France, Neoreaction can influence both libertarians and Tea Party style conservatives (70%) into adopting many of the Neoreactionary ideas as part of their own outlook.

Revolutions only occur for the left. Highly energized, the mob supports what is basically a riot given the veneer of military activity, and take revenge on the existing hierarchy by destroying it, then replacing it with their own version. We all know how revolutions end, which is in civilization failure, so there is no point taking this route.

The right, on the other hand, takes over by demonstrating viability and then disenfranchising people to protect them from themselves. It is worth repeating: as individual humans, our worst enemies are ourselves. Our desires, judgments and feelings mislead us where factual reality would help us, but we reject it because it is both emotionally un-fulfilling and scary because it does not attempt to banish risk like ideology does. Our own decisions doom us. We do best with social order that keeps us in line.

As this line of thought advances, it takes us to 100% conservative ideals, which we might describe as our civilization before decay set in. This is the type of civilization which has been adopted throughout all of human civilization by civilizations which rise above the third-world levels of existence under which most humans, at all times in history, labor. A 100% conservative civilization will have a strong identity, caste distinctions, social standards and values imposed by culture, and a thriving aristocracy. It will replace the State and throw it away as the unnecessary relic of a failed time that it is.

Perhaps Nietzsche can elucidate:

We see exactly the opposite with the noble man, who conceives the fundamental idea “good” in advance and spontaneously by himself and from there first creates a picture of “bad” for himself. This “bad” originating from the noble man and that “evil” arising out of the stew pot of insatiable hatred – of these the first is a later creation, an afterthought, a complementary colour; whereas the second is the original, the beginning, the essential act of conception in slave morality.

Although the two words “bad” and “evil” both seem opposite to the same idea of “good”, how different they are. But it is not the same idea of the “good”; it is much rather a question of who the “evil man” really is, in the sense of the morality of resentment. The strict answer to that is this: precisely the “good man” of the other morality, the noble man himself, the powerful, the ruling man, only coloured over, reinterpreted, and seen through the poisonous eyes of resentment.

Here there is one thing we will be the last to deny: the man who knows these “good men” only as enemies, knows them as nothing but evil enemies, and the same men who are so strongly held bound by custom, honour, habit, thankfulness, even more by mutual suspicion and jealousy inter pares [among equals] and who, by contrast, demonstrate in relation to each other such resourceful consideration, self-control, refinement, loyalty, pride, and friendship – these men, once outside where the strange world, the foreign, begins, are not much better than beasts of prey turned loose. There they enjoy freedom from all social constraints. In the wilderness they make up for the tension which a long fenced-in confinement within the peace of the community brings about. They go back to the innocent consciousness of a wild beast of prey, as joyful monsters, who perhaps walk away from a dreadful sequence of murder, arson, rape, and torture with exhilaration and spiritual equilibrium, as if they had merely pulled off a student prank, convinced that the poets now have something more to sing about and praise for a long time.

At the bottom of all these noble races we cannot fail to recognize the beast of prey, the blond beast splendidly roaming around in its lust for loot and victory. This hidden basis from time to time needs to be discharged: the animal must come out again, must go back into the wilderness — Roman, Arab, German, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, Scandinavian Vikings — in this need they are all alike.

It was the noble races which left behind the concept of the “barbarian” in all their tracks, wherever they went. A consciousness of and a pride in this fact reveals itself even in their highest culture (for example, when Pericles says to his Athenians, in that famous Funeral Speech, “our audacity has broken a way through to every land and sea, putting up permanent memorials to itself for good and ill.”). This “audacity” of the noble races, mad, absurd, sudden in the way it expresses itself, its unpredictability, even the improbability of its undertakings – Pericles emphatically praises the rayhumia [mental balance, freedom from anxiety] of the Athenians – its indifference to and contempt for safety, body, life, comfort, its fearsome cheerfulness and the depth of its joy in all destruction, in all the physical pleasures of victory and cruelty – everything summed up for those who suffer from such audacity in the image of the “barbarian,” the “evil enemy,” something like the “Goth” or the “Vandal.”

The deep, icy mistrust which the German evokes, as soon as he comes to power – even today – is still an after-effect of that unforgettable terror with which for a century Europe confronted the rage of the blond German beast (although there is hardly any idea linking the old Germanic tribes and we Germans, let alone any blood relationship). — Friedrich Nietzsche, “Good and Evil, Evil and Bad,” On the Genealogy of Morals

The blond beast is what we need to restore. The blond beast is humanity at its best: heedless of danger, asserting what is right that it can see with an inner genius. An aristocracy of blond beasts provides the only sensible leadership for us because it can achieve what the rest of us cannot.

Why did the blond beasts die out? Their plans worked. They made great societies, much like Neoreactionaries, and then all the people who could not do that surged in, made money and took the blond women on that basis. The result is a mixed hodge-podge of genetics like we have now.

Golden ages may be restored, but not solely by typing theory onto the internet, and not by radical and ill-conceived plans of revolution and “action” that consists of wanton violence. The solution is to re-take our institutions and dismantle them, bypassing libertarianism for outright Social Darwinism that disenfranchises those unfit to make leadership decisions, and from that to for the first time in history move a society from decay to health.

The path for Neoreaction and New Right thinkers who wish to achieve this goal is not to make ourselves another demotist community that thrives on the votes (or Google AdWords impressions on blogs) of the masses, but forms a cultural consensus among the natural elites to work toward this end. We do not need more theory and closed-circuit intellectualism. We need to clarify our ideas, simplify them and begin putting them into actuality.

Published by

Brett Stevens

Brett Stevens has written about realism since the late 1980s. His work can be found at RightOn, American Renaissance, Return of Kings, Counter-Currents, Alternative Right and Aristokratia.

12 thoughts on “What is Neoreaction?”

  1. Man, what happened to the layout? It’s been a while since I’ve commented here. I miss the big hamburger on top of the site.

    Anyhow… I’m making these comments only from the perspective of a distant spectator:

    This essay is good, especially the dismissal of the idea of “exit,” but the conclusion is pretty low-energy for having a bunch of high-energy ideas that precede it.

    It’s kind of lame, but I think most of the infighting is about the intellectual property of the word “neoreaction” above all else.

    When you say that “Neoreaction needs a goal,” you undermine your own appreciation for the goal of neocameralism. You’ve identified the concept, it’s an easy-to-understand goal, and it seems like something distant yet somewhat possible to at least try. However, no one is actually thinking about how it would functionally work or anything like that. I would love it if a NRx guy wrote a blog piece called, “Why neocameralism would not, in fact, quickly lead to a military takeover” or something, but it’s not happening. It’s an afterthought. Most of the NRx theory wavers between boilerplate conservatism and calling everything vaguely left-wing “communist.”

    I have no problems whatsoever with Nick Land saying “neoreaction = neocameralism” and the more I think about it, the more I consider that a wise move. But he has failed to use the two words interchangeably, which belies his own suggestion. I’m not a neoreactionary and have no dog in the fight (in fact, I don’t get why ‘neoreactionary’ is such a precious word that everyone fights for sovereignty over it) — but if I did, I would start doing that.

    Inanimate Aluminum Tube made a very solid point the last time Land brought up neocameralism, which was: there’s no need for the trichotomy if that’s the goal. If anything, the trichotomy is nothing but a hindrance. The only response was, “No, neocameralism would necessarily imply realism about sex and race” or something like this. Would it? I’d love for a neoreactionary to explain why or how, because I don’t buy that for a second.

    It seems to me that theorizing is fine and dandy, but most of it gets off the rails, not because of leftism or populism, nor even because of the attention-seeking from people inventing zany ideas up from wholecloth (you’d have to name names for me to see it), but mostly because of the semantic vacuity of the word “neoreaction” itself.

    Let’s say, for a moment, that I’m some pervert who wants to talk about the Ancient Roman glory of child molestation, and I want to talk about its importance and virtus from the perspective of integral traditionalism — but the problem is, every respectable institution has chased me out of its confines, and I am left only to find sympathetic outsiders. Where do I turn? Would I turn to an ethno-nationalist group? Maybe. How about theonomy? Perhaps. Techno-comm? Nah… but the word “neoreaction” is just so inviting that I couldn’t possibly resist being part of its big umbrella. It might even look like some loser house where anyone can just randomly show up and get on a soapbox. Without a doubt, I could definitely get some people to see the light! In this situation, I’m not deliberately being wacky to get attention; I’m being open and honest about who I really am.

    This is why I think that when neoreactionaries theorize about what the “true” meaning of NRx is and how “true NRx knows itself,” they’re being embarrassingly naive. They seem to miss the reality of written language — its lack of intrinsic connection to the speaker — its conventionality — the fact that once it’s out there, it’s out of control. I’m not really a follower of Barthes or Derrida, but if there were ever a time for “the death of the author” theory to make an appearance….

    (On that note, pay attention to what happens with Gnon, by the way — another concept too semantically vague yet aesthetically attractive for fools not to be seduced by. I predict that in a year, it will have turned into something very different, or perhaps even splinter into several different versions)

    To conclude this rambling post, I would say for neoreactionaries: start identifying with one component of the trichotomy first, then “neoreaction” second. Shoot for specificity and semantic strength, not weakness. Then theorize till your hearts content.

  2. It’s easy to define who is not in.

    Nazi’s (and their crypto variants)
    Militant Positivists.
    Temperamental (System 1) “Conservatives” , i.e Conservakin
    Morons.

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