On why propertarianism is not acceptable within absolutist neoreaction

Over at the GAblog, Adam has made some very interesting observations regarding the various Alt Right programs, and comes to conclusion (which seems correct) that in effect, all of these programs are calling for absolutist governance. Of course, the modern liberal state by setting the political options allowable by modernity has refused this option by default, so of course they cannot articulate it properly. Instead, it comes out garbled and in the form of a plea for actual governance, without an idea of how it is to be pursued.

Fortunately, there are plenty of “new” ideas on the Alt Right which are built atop liberalism, so offer the promise of running around in new and interesting circles for the foreseeable future.

Today, I would like to have a look at propertarianism, which is neoreaction friendly, but not absolutist neoreaction friendly.

To begin, we should go back to Moldbug’s Why I am not a libertarian:

“The libertarian revolutionaries of the 1770s, using the Lockean theory of “homesteading” that Rothbard inherits, believed that only those who worked land could truly own it. The British Crown and its Loyalist followers essentially believed that the Crown exercised primary or sovereign ownership over the American colonies, although complications of British history perhaps prevented them from expressing this opinion as clearly as today we might prefer. The question was put to arms and the former prevailed, creating a new distribution of property.

The US government today has no king. On the other hand, it is certainly a distinct entity, and we can regard it as a corporation, that is, a virtual person with a single identity. Under libertarian theory, this corporation is illegitimate, since it has no true property right in the land it controls, having never done any farming or tree-cutting or whatever. Any fees it charges are no more than extortion and stationary banditry.

Under formalist theory, this corporation (which here at UR, we call “Washcorp”) is a normal primary or sovereign property holder. Washcorp is thus a sovereign corporation, or sovcorp. Its primary ownership of its swath of North America, which to avoid confusion with political entities we call “Plainland,” is an absolutely normal relationship. The validity of Washcorp’s ownership of Plainland does not depend on the Constitution, the last elections, or any other magical rite, but simply on the stable and exclusive military control it exercises over the territory. As for the fees that Plainlanders pay to Washcorp, they are the normal cost of property rental.”

Here Moldbug is making a clear argument which has taken a while to sink in fully. Property on the basis of Locke is rejected. The entire premise of Locke can be boiled down to property being antecedent to the state. He was arguing against absolutism, and against primary property of the monarch. From this, you get all of the anarchisms and theories of why the state comes about. This is in a word total bullshit and is based on an anthropology which is 16th century gibberish. To keep this working you need to operate with all sorts of bizarre ideological contraptions and myth building.

Absolutist neoreaction maintains that property is posterior to the state and society. Without a state and society there is no one to recognize your property, no one to protect it, and no one to trade it with. I would go further and make the point that everything is posterior to society and the state, as all thoughts are made with language and thought patterns inherited from society and all understanding of how to act are provided by socialisation – the is no individual without society, and there is no society without the state .

But there is a bridge of communication here with libertarians using the homesteading principle and defence of property as Moldbug notes in How Dawkin got pwned (part 7):

“The basic difference between neocameralism and anarcho-capitalism is that I don’t think this sort of self-enforcing property model scales militarily, at least not anywhere near to the level where individuals are sovereign. I mean, someone is crazy here, and I don’t think it’s me. But then I wouldn’t, would I?”

We can go further than Moldbug does here and point out again that not only does this self-enforcing property model not scale, but the anthropology is wrong. Men simply cannot act on the basis outlined by anarcho-capitalism. Without a state there is no society, without society there is no individual.

Of course, by rejecting property as anterior to the state, we have rejected liberalism and the modern conception of private property. Instead we now have primary and secondary property on a similar basis to feudalisation and sub-feudalisation, and if we look at economics on this basis, a great deal of the problems faced by economics begin to take on a new light and we can bypass the convoluted myths created by modernity.

The issue of property is a corner stone to the division between liberalism and all its guises, and absolutism, as it is binary. Is property anterior to the state, or posterior? Of course, propertarianism under all its bluster is devoted to property as anterior to the state so is nothing new.  All of this traces back to Locke, Hobbes et al and their gibberish.

Wikipedia and absolutism

Wikipedia, whilst being a dubious source of information if approach on the premise of neutrality , provides great summaries and is sometimes exceptionally insightful. On the topic of property, it is especially so. There are two wikipedia pages on the the topic in particular which are quite fascinating.

The first is the wikipedia page on land tenure in England in which Wikipedia informs us that:

“In order to legitimise the notion of the Crown’s paramount lordship, a legal fiction – that all land titles were held by the King’s subjects as a result of a royal grant – was adopted.”

I am curious as to how you define a legal fiction, actually, no I am not. I know exactly how you define it.

So here you see that at one point, all was under the lordship of the crown (can this not be reduced to ownership?) and then it was deemed a legal fiction at some point.

The second Wikipedia page is the one on private property itself. Here it is on John Locke:

“John Locke, in arguing against supporters of absolute monarchy, conceptualized property as a “natural right” that God had not bestowed exclusively on the monarchy. Influenced by the rise of mercantilism, Locke argued that private property was antecedent to, and thus independent of, government.”

In case you didn’t catch that, absolutism entails that property is posterior to society. The state in the form of the crown has total lordship and then allows usage (but not alienation) of the property by subordinates and subjects. This makes sense. Locke and Hobbes et al then produce a natural rights theory using the labor theory of property to place property as antecedent and not reliant on the state. Following from this the question then arises – why do we even need a state then? and of course this has been the political and economic discussion of the western world ever since. After this we get Smith following this tradition, and then we finally get to Marx who then (still following this tradition) asks the question which in hindsight is obvious – if you don’t work, then why do you have property.

This whole process is then a group of people from the same tradition arguing over collectively agreed premises. Liberals, Marxists, libertarians, anarchist, socialist – they all have the same conception of property. See the Wikipedia page yourself.

But lets back up a second. What if this conception is wrong? I would argue it is drastically wrong, and that would explain why economics is basically nonsense. The whole edifice is built on 16th century mysticism.

You have primary property maintained by defense capability, and all subsequent ownership within this perimeter is secondary. Property is therefore posterior to the state.





I have set up a subreddit for discussion of absolutist neoreactionary ideas. This is not to be confused with other current strands of neoreaction.

The subreddit can be found here – https://www.reddit.com/r/Absolutistneoreaction/

There are particular mod rules as such, as long as the topic is kept to.

Rule of law and Aristotle

A reader of the blog has asked me to flesh out my issue with the claim the Rule of Law is not a central pillar of Western Civilization, which is a fair point (Luckily I have some really intelligent readers.)

My understanding of rule of law is that it is a recent concept, specifically an Enlightenment era concept which is utterly incoherent in relation to political structures prior to the collapse of monarchies. Referring to Wikipedia which is always a reliable advocate of the mainstream opinion on such matters is an interesting exercise, here is the opening paragraph:

“The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individualgovernment officials. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behaviour, including behaviour of government officials.[2] The phrase can be traced back to 16th century Britain, and in the following century the Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford used the phrase in his argument against the divine right of kings.[3] The rule of law was further popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey. The concept, if not the phrase, was familiar to ancient philosophers such asAristotle, who wrote “Law should govern””

This gives away clearly that it is a modern concept as I thought from my previous reading around the Milner group and Lionel Curtis, in which Dicey played a major influence.

The reference to Aristotle got me curious, as it did not ring a bell, so I followed the link to the wiki translation of The Politics, book three, chapter sixteen here. The translation is really poor, but does appear to support wiki’s contention that Aristotle supported rule of law:

“ As for an absolute monarchy as it is called, that is to say, when the whole state is wholly subject to the will of one person, namely the king, it seems to many that it is unnatural that one man should have the entire rule over his fellow-citizens when the state consists of equals: for nature requires that the same right and the same rank should necessarily take place amongst all those who are equal by nature: for as it would be hurtful to the body for those who are of different constitutions to observe the same regimen, either of diet or clothing, so is it with respect to the honours of the state as hurtful, that those who are equal in merit should be unequal in rank; for which reason it is as much a man’s duty to submit to command as to assume it, and this also by rotation; for this is law, for order is law; and it is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws, for the supreme power must be placed somewhere; but they say, that it is unjust that where all are equal one person should continually enjoy it. But it seems unlikely that man should be able to adjust that which the law cannot determine; it may be replied, that the law having laid down the best rules possible, leaves the adjustment and application of particulars to the discretion of the magistrate; besides, it allows anything to be altered which experience proves may be better established. Moreover, he who would place the supreme power in mind, would place it in God and the laws; but he who entrusts man with it, gives it to a wild beast, for such his appetites sometimes make him; for passion influences those who are in power, even the very best of men: for which reason law is reason without desire.”

But compare this to the same section in the MIT translation:

“Now, absolute monarchy, or the arbitrary rule of a sovereign over an the citizens, in a city which consists of equals, is thought by some to be quite contrary to nature; it is argued that those who are by nature equals must have the same natural right and worth, and that for unequals to have an equal share, or for equals to have an uneven share, in the offices of state, is as bad as for different bodily constitutions to have the same food and clothing. Wherefore it is thought to be just that among equals every one be ruled as well as rule, and therefore that an should have their turn. We thus arrive at law; for an order of succession implies law. And the rule of the law, it is argued, is preferable to that of any individual. On the same principle, even if it be better for certain individuals to govern, they should be made only guardians and ministers of the law. For magistrates there must be- this is admitted; but then men say that to give authority to any one man when all are equal is unjust. Nay, there may indeed be cases which the law seems unable to determine, but in such cases can a man? Nay, it will be replied, the law trains officers for this express purpose, and appoints them to determine matters which are left undecided by it, to the best of their judgment. Further, it permits them to make any amendment of the existing laws which experience suggests. Therefore he who bids the law rule may be deemed to bid God and Reason alone rule, but he who bids man rule adds an element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers, even when they are the best of men. The law is reason unaffected by desire. We are told that a patient should call in a physician; he will not get better if he is doctored out of a book. But the parallel of the arts is clearly not in point; for the physician does nothing contrary to rule from motives of friendship; he only cures a patient and takes a fee; whereas magistrates do many things from spite and partiality. And, indeed, if a man suspected the physician of being in league with his enemies to destroy him for a bribe, he would rather have recourse to the book. But certainly physicians, when they are sick, call in other physicians, and training-masters, when they are in training, other training-masters, as if they could not judge judge truly about their own case and might be influenced by their feelings. Hence it is evident that in seeking for justice men seek for the mean or neutral, for the law is the mean. Again, customary laws have more weight, and relate to more important matters, than written laws, and a man may be a safer ruler than the written law, but not safer than the customary law.”

The second translation does not support wiki. In fact, if you read the section in context, Aristotle is recounting arguments in relation to absolute monarchy and the claim of law being sufficient for rule. If he supported rule of law in the modern sense, then it follows he would have mentioned that in the final part of The Politics, but he didn’t because that particular brand of crazy is again, a modern core aspect of the Cathedral, and if he did, wiki would not have to resort to confusing translations taken out of context.

The rest of the page is largely incoherent, with claims of the Magna Carta being rule of law being comical. I would normally just direct my readers to Moldbug on the issue of rule of law in the sense put forward by wiki, as he has effectively refuted in my eyes, but the issue keeps appearing from the other branches of neoreaction. I would hazard an educated guess that this whole concept of rule of law is the work of the Milner group et al, and the actions of American foundations pushing their super protestantism. It is not intellectually robust at all, and has been backfilled with bizarre historical manipulation.

Rule of law as commonly understood is so stupid as to be difficult to argue against. The first problem is that it is so devoid of sense that it requires approaching it in the same manner as trying to approach answering a small child as to why they cannot eat ice cream all day, every day. The key point is this- law cannot govern because only men can govern. The law is decided by a man (or men) and then acted upon by other men. The law is not an autonomous entity which can act by itself, and even if it was (as the liberal neoreactionaries wish), then you still haven’t resolved the fact that then the programmers that create the code are effectively in control. If the law code is sufficiently advanced to be effectively an AI, then you have just carted off control to an AI which will need to be encoded with the capability of judgement to function, because the alternative is to create a system that can account for all eventualities automatically. This is logically impossible.

Rule of law at present translates as rule by those who write the law, and those that interpret the law. We have a name for that – the Cathedral. The Civil Service makes laws in line with their imperatives, and the Supreme Court interpret law according to their ideological imperatives. To fall for rule of law is truly a stupid thing to do, but you can see why it is so appealing. The utopian claim that no one has to be in control if we follow the laws is something that an electorate being of the same intellectual capacity as the toddler wanting ice cream all day will lap it up. That this puts a certain group of people in control who deny being in control – because law is, is the problem which needs to be addressed.

A question of anthropology

Absolutist neoreaction is simply incompatible with vast areas of the Alt Right, maybe all of it. The Alt Right is openly democratic, based on an anthropology which is utterly liberal by virtue of A) being from that tradition and not questioning the underlying assumptions they carry on an unconscious level (hint: you reside in a tradition and do not profess abstract reality) and B) being prole to an absurd degree. In fact, the prole attention seeking, crassness and lack of house training by the institutions of liberal democracy are all that separate conservatism from the Alt Right. The lack of intellectual rigour and justification is striking. I don’t see any Giovanni Gentiles or Mussolini’s hanging around.

Of course, I count the other strands of neoreaction firmly in the Alt Right category as they also run on liberal anthropology. The key giveaway is the assumption of the individual before society. So Nietzscheans, Game Theorists, Marxists, Deleuze and Guattarians, advocates of democracy, Adam Smith capitalists, Libertarians, Burkeans, Hobbesians, Lockeans, “signalling” theorists, propertarians – none of these are compatible with Absolutist Neoreaction.

Anthropology is the corner stone, and rejecting liberal anthropology which asserts the individual prior to society is the cut off point. There are many roads that lead to this realisation, but once there, the only logical conclusion is that the modern structures of governance are not only wrong, but positively immoral. Unfortunately, those intellectual areas that have come to these conclusions correctly have been hamstrung by the almost impossible task of considering absolutists structures of governance. The divided and immoral systems of governance built on the back of modern anthropology are effective in being self reinforcing.

This mental block placed upon the idea of political institutions which are not in conflict both horizontally, and vertically is pernicious and leads to either an apparent attitude of resignation, or the advocacy of entities which are clearly not feasible (usually in the form of some sort of commune.)

Three areas clearly with great potential of convergence with absolutist neoreaction are Girardians, Generative Anthropologists and followers of Macintyre. It is notable that among the last group, both Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat express curiosity in neoreaction (or rather Moldbug) and now GA has a fantastic intellectual engagement via this blog (must read).  Of course, there is also the odd link with Thiel (a Girardian) as well.

Put simply, rejecting liberal anthropology results in rejecting the political organisations if followed logically to its conclusion. As MacIntyre notes regarding these organisations in After Virtue:

“Modern systematic politics, whether liberal, conservative, radical, or socialist, simply has to be rejected from a standpoint that owes genuine allegiance to the tradition of the virtues; for modern politics itself expresses in its institutional forms a systematic rejection of that tradition”

Engagement with these institutions is acceptance of liberal anthropology and acknowledgment of the individual prior to society – a total nonsense and a fraud.

Alt Right

What the Alt Right is as developed by Vox day. The Alt Right is largely incoherent as a concept, except as a middle rebellion in the De Jouvenelian scheme. Like the right before it, it has no intellectual leadership (being anchored to democracy) and so remains excessively dumb, and only any good as a punching bag upon which the left can beat and wind up for a new round of expansion. It is the northern conservatism identified by Rev. Dabney . It is a conservatism tied to no real principles, because it cannot be – being democractic. So, in the the interests of putting it on record and distancing from it cleanly, here is my brief take on Vox Day’s manifesto:

  1. The political right is a function of divided power systems creating a middle which is always the junior partner in the game by definition. It is the middle upon which power beats with the assistance of whatever low is available.
  2. Not seeing much difference between Conservatism and the Alt Right here. Perhaps he should explain this more.
  3. This is what Kirk basically wrote down in the principles Vox Day noted in point 2.
  4. Christianity, ok. European nations?  -this need clarification. Rule of Law – this betrays zero knowledge of European history. The idea that Rule of Law is a foundational pillar of European Civilization is bizarre.
  5. Nationalism was a liberal project. Again, no historical awareness.
  6. OK.
  7. OK
  8. What is science, and what is the scientific method? There are many. It is a cesspit, and any claim to “it” being obvious is simple mindedness.
  9. No, politics (as in political structure) is above everything.
  10. So the Alt Right would have been against the Manchu dynasty, a giant chunk of the medieval monarchies of the world, and colonial governance due to a Wilsonian principle? and it’s not progressive?!
  11. OK
  12. Strange wording
  13. OK
  14. OK
  15. OK
  16. OK

All the OK points have one question attached to them – how exactly is this to be brought about? A vote? a constitution with magic paper? an equally magical blockchain? and what is the overarching intellectual justification for all of this?