Reading about the ancient empires — Inca, Maya, Angkor Wat, Minoans, Cahokia, Aztec — always fills me with a sense of sadness. Who were these intensely vital people, so committed to living the heck out of life, and why are they not still with us? It is a putrescent shadow of mortality: nothing gold can stay, it seems, and death takes all good things.
That might swell your heart with lightless emptiness. To think that the good is doomed, and that life is merely a mechanical process by which the coarser always wins out over the finer, is to depress yourself thoroughly. Another way to view it is that life contains certain traps or pitfalls which are invisible to our minds, and until we discover their mechanism, they will keep dooming us.
We are now in the midst of one of those periods. Against the advice of the ancients, our society took an individualistic path, which is where people care more about their personal power than doing what is right in order to maintain the order of tribe, civilization, nature and the gods. Abstract order is invisible to all but a few, and the perpetually angry and voracious mob wants to hearing nothing of it!
Because we accepted a bad decision as fact, and have since that time been corralled by that assumption into its inexorable endgame of a third-world style civilization ruled by corrupt politicians, postwar Western Civilization has ended. No one credible has faith in “the system” anymore; we know that we made a fatal choice, and now our only thought is to escape.
This means that we are no longer fighting to save democracy, the West, America, Europe, or even our retirement funds. We are fighting to escape the mental conditioning toward doom — that is the biggest fight — and then to escape from or take control of the dying society so that we can enact The Purge on its failed parts, and nurture The Remnant of good people back to health in a new civilization.
But what will this new struggle look like? Mencius Moldbug gives us the basic topography of this question:
There are two basic ways of executing this divorce. We’ll call one a soft reset and the other a hard reset. Basically, a hard reset works and a soft reset doesn’t. However, a soft reset is more attractive in many ways, and we need to work through it just to see why it can’t work.
In a soft reset, we leave the current structure of government the same, except that we apply the 20th-century First Amendment to all forms of instruction, theistic or “secular.” In other words, our policy is separation of education and state. In a free country, the government should not be programming its citizens. It should not care at all what people think. It only needs to care what they do. The issue has nothing to do with theism. It is a basic matter of personal freedom.
…In a hard reset, all organizations dedicated to forming public opinion, making or implementing public policy, or working in the public interest, are nationalized. This includes not only the press and the universities, but also the foundations, NGOs, and other nonprofits. It is a bit rich, after all, for any of these outfits to appeal to the sanctity of property rights. They believe in the sanctity of property rights about as much as they believe in the goddess Kali.
He essentially advocates two forms of libertarianism: one which relies on rule of law (soft reset) and one which converts all law into civil law (hard reset) by destroying current organizational culture — the Establishment and “deep state” — and replacing it with people who admit their self-interest and in return, obligate themselves to deliver a service.
This fits within one of the more pertinent criticisms of Moldbug, namely that he is not really an innovator so much as a marketer:
Anyway, there are two possible explanations for the end of Moldbugism. One is that his arguments were not original, just stated in a new way. His assertion that Progressivism has its roots in Puritanism, for example, is not new. I was making that point 25 years ago in Usenet debates and I know I’m not the first guy to notice it. His criticisms of democracy have been around since the Enlightenment. Old ideas restated in modern terms eventually just fade into the tapestry of the intellectual movement that spawned them.
The other possibility is that the people attracted to Moldbug’s ideas, including Moldbug, came from the Left ideologically. Young people raised on Progressivism were attracted by the subversiveness of these old ideas. They moved right into Left-libertarianism, then Right-libertarianism and then eventually dissident politics of various flavors. Put another way, the Dark Enlightenment guys were merely going through a phase as they first experienced the outlawed ideas from the outlawed past. Now, they are onto other things.
For those of us who remember the Old Internet, Moldbug represents the type of writer like Pietro Scaruffi or Justin Hall who essentially brought a new style of writing and scholarship to the nerdly internet. They had read broadly in the humanities, and so could discuss concepts that were somewhat alien to the mostly-techie audience of the internet of pre-iPhone era.
His core idea, couched in an imitation of nineteenth century writing that befits his Victorian fascination, is that government acts like a corporation, and markets are the only “objective” way to measure success or failure thus “rightness,” so it makes sense to hire a government instead of the other way around. Citizens would subscribe to a government service and in exchange, receive smaller government.
His “soft reset” describes what the Alt Lite desires, which is equality with freedom of association and speech. These are tempting ideas until one realizes that civilizations have structures, and someone must decide what that is, and government action or inaction will damage or promote such structures. There is no escape from the question of what kind of civilization we want to have.
Even more, as the past two decades show us, pluralism or the idea that people can have their own cultures within a larger culture, does not work. Each culture seeks to dominate because otherwise, it is under attack from competing visions of reality, and people are mostly foolish and will wander off to whatever seems cool that week. With pluralism, no one gets culture, values or civilization.
Most people like the Alt Lite/Libertarian vision because if asked, in a utilitarian sense, most people think they want anarchy with grocery stores. Then they realize that this means that the most vicious and brutal will dominate them, and they go running to government and make it totalitarian to banish their fear of loss in a Darwinian conflict. This is the history of democracy and how it leads to tyranny.
As a writer who came before Moldbug, and encountered these issues before, libertarianism was dead to me as a concept from an early age. Socialism was even more dead, which is why people like me support capitalism, but do not believe it to be a substitute for culture or leadership. Then again, people like me are Edwardians, not Victorians, at heart.
But if you take that nascent Anarcho-Capitalism viewpoint, merge it with nationalism, and add some Anarcho-Monarchism, you have a relatively complete idea: a society ruled by culture, with a caste hierarchy of leadership, in which people are able to market their skills and products within a range appropriate to their caste. This is a complete idea. Moldbug and Rothbard offer nothing that can compete.
However, in praise of Moldbug, what he did was something every computer geek since the dawn of time knows well: he made a compendium of code fragments, a type of ur-stylesheet from which people could draw ideas to use in argument. In that, he was not a mere marketer, but a marketer who defined the frame of the market. This was no small achievement, in that it allowed former Leftists to participate in the Right.
That is a nice way of saying that the answer to civilization decline is not found in Moldbug, although he brings up the word that most of us should be using: restorationist. This means one who wants to bring back civilization after it has failed:
If I had to choose one word and stick with it, I’d pick “restorationist.” If I have to concede one pejorative which fair writers can fairly apply, I’ll go with “reactionary.” I’ll even answer to any compound of the latter – “neoreactionary,” “postreactionary,” “ultrareactionary,” etc.
The term formerly referred to those who wanted restoration of the monarchy, which also applies, since without democracy, our only options are military junta or oligarchy, that is, if we refuse to see the wisdom of monarchism.
However, one cannot restore civilization from within modernity, which is the political form of individualism. Nor can one resurrect virtue from an outside-in or materialist method. Not only that, there is no method which works except, as Michel Houellebecq reminds us, the resurrection of our desire to be good and thus, to have a functional civilization. Without that, there is nothing!
For this reason, many think that our future will be of the “patchwork” that Moldbug envisions, but a more organic type, and here they are more likely right, if we follow the hard reset path. This “balkanized” future involves a restoration of tribalism, where each group separates to its own geographical communities, based not just on race but ethnic group, caste, religion and most likely politics.
The foremost writer on balkanization, Billy Roper, expresses an idea found in Old White Nationalism, namely that nothing will change until the system crashes and dissolves. He gives us a vital insight in his description of the transition to this state:
The crisis trigger scenario which will cause massive riots, ethnic conflict, and systemic collapse is inevitable, now. In ninety days’ time, at noon, the power grid will go down and not return. The United States will begin Civil War II and balkanization. Millions of people will die of starvation, disease, and violence. Millions more will become refugees from ethnic cleansing. Whites will have a shot at an ethnostate, but there will be a chaotic period of struggle which could last years, in the meantime.
The thing to remember about modernity is that it is a bully. Hiding behind rules, it hits people where they are weak to provoke them, and then cries victim when attacked. This is why all Communists seem to point to their stays in jail as proof of having been “oppressed” when usually they were engaged in collusion toward crimes and terrorist activity. It is also why modernity defends perpetrators as much as actual victims.
Bullies tend to make their victims furious, and most people who have finally awakened to the fact that the modern West is falling just like Tenochtitlan are now enraged. They are mad that they were deceived, which requires the partial participation of the person misled, and mad that while they were trying to have normal lives, the herd has been working fanatically and pathologically to destroy everything that it can.
Since the bullying has made people enraged, the vision of blood, fire and death that Roper writes of seems quite pleasing. We all want The Purge on some level, and would be glad to see all of those who are guilty die in writhing pain. But looking at the patterns of history, we see that this vision is not quite likely as stated.
For starters, we have abundant data about how civilizations collapse because we are surrounded by their remnants. In each case, caste revolt did them in, with lower castes overthrowing the upper and then proving unfit to rule as the society plunged into chaos. But that chaos was not of the Hollywood apocalypse variety, but more like modern-day Brazil: a slow descent into crime, corruption, stupidity and filth.
Some always survive those. If you want to look at patchwork in action, see southern Brazil. There, the remnants of German communities — many now hybridized with native Brazilians or Spanish imports — stay in isolation and spend most of their time earning money to pay for the taxes that keep the rest of the country afloat.
There is also the problem that the Confederate States of America encountered, which is that if you set up a patchwork, and there is a larger group nearby, they will invade you and take your stuff. In the age of international travel, this could be China, either buying up or outright invading America. Disunited, self-interesting tribes will not unite in time to repel an invasion, recapitulating the experience of the Amerind tribes who could have resisted European conquest but failed to do so.
Another problem occurs with genetic assimilation. Small groups in the country seem fine for awhile until a girl or boy goes into the city and finds a new partner, or comes back with a half-and-half baby. Over the generations, trace admixture infiltrates the group, much as it did with the remnants of Greece and Rome. The original tribe is genocided by outbreeding, which is inevitable because young people select partners from those that are around them, and are oblivious to the threat of someone who is one-eighth something else.
Already we are seeing signs of the slow decay which will lead to division and eventually, genetic absorption of our people by the far more numerous Other:
An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the US-backed international order established after World War 2 is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing”, leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.
…Observing that US officials “naturally feel an obligation to preserve the US global position within a favorable international order,” the report concludes that this “rules-based global order that the United States built and sustained for 7 decades is under enormous stress.”
…The document is particularly candid in setting out why the US sees these countries as threats — not so much because of tangible military or security issues, but mainly because their pursuit of their own legitimate national interests is, in itself, seen as undermining American dominance.
In other words, “rule-based” systems have failed, and clash of civilizations style tribalism and self-interest are rising. Although this report was written about lands outside of American borders, there is no reason to think it does not apply within the US as well, which means a de facto ethnic segregation with the most numerous group (Asians, a root race which includes Amerinds and Hispanics) absorbing the others.
That leaves us with an uncomfortable realization: the transition to tiny libertarian states is not going to work, and the balkanization that occurs will happen slowly, resulting in gradual biological assimilation. This leaves us with one option, which the realist will embrace: we either master our out-of-control countries and send away the Other and those who would thwart us, or we die out.
Unfortunately, this requires a greater plan than simply “nationalism.” Hunter Wallace shows us what form such a plan would have to take:
We do need to do a better job though of articulating our greater overarching vision of a new social order to replace the one that is failing. We have to vanquish this beast though before political change will become possible.
This is the challenge before us. Challenges of this nature are more fun than most will admit because they are hard problems which reward bold solutions and clear thinking. But no matter how we slice it, the old order is dead and we are entering uncharted territory, which means that we will be fighting for our lives — and the ability to restore our civilization.