A response to Dark Reformation on oligarchy and democracy

I hate to go back on my word but Vincent Hanna over at the Dark Reformation blog has tempted me into writing this post.

In his post, he writes a number of criticisms of the speculative claim, which a number of us have been exploring, that a monarchical point of governance always exists. On a number of points he is exactly correct, but on a number of other points I believe he misses what is being claimed.

Firstly, Hannah hits the nail on the head when he locates that the core issue with this claim of the preservation of the monarchical structure is the existence of collective decision making. This is easily dealt with by denying that collective decision making in the sense implied by oligarchy or democracy exists. This instantly does away with the mealy mouthed flight to small scale democracy and direct democracy that is the recourse that everyone turns to when they discount large scale democracy. Hannah, for example, provides the case of the Supreme Court, but I would deny that they are sovereign, and to explain this thinking requires a little bit of a detour.

I have been working on a number of papers for the upcoming promised journal (it is really going to happen, it’s very close) and one of the areas which it covers is the concept of anarchistic versus absolutist ontologies which has been worked on in the background by a couple of us. An anarchist ontology frankly includes every single political theory in existence. All of them are based on a form of anthropology that implies anarchism. The difference between them all is the level of awareness and intellectual coherence of the advocates. Anarchists are the most honest in following through the implications of this anarchism, and they seem to be often the ones most likely to be led to some form of sanity, or even partial sanity, by virtue of their extreme adherence to the logic of the position. So, for example, we see the flip of syndicalists to Italian fascism, which is the most sane variant of western political theory for the past 500 years, yet still lacking drastically. Once the most robust thinkers concluded that the workers were not a vehicle for class warfare, they identified the state as the vehicle for their aims, then they followed through the implications of admitting the role of a political organisation. Conservatives, liberals, white nationalist etc. are completely deluded and have no care for following through the implications of their underlying premises. This seems to me to be because they are often working from a vision of what they think should happened which is sociologicaly impoverished, a product of their specific and limited life experience and biases. Or it is because they are caught up in the perpetual political conflict of the cretinous and vile democratic system.

Now, the anarchist ontology is basesless, stupid and completely devoid of sense. It requires that the human agent simply appears. It has direct roots in Biblical exegesis and did not originate with Locke. Hannah in identifying Filmer as having responded to Locke is in error, Filmer was responding to Grotius, Suarez and Bellarmine in particular. The first you may notice was a Dutch protestant and the second and third were Catholics. It seems to be the case that anarchist ontology is a result of political conflict. The anarchist ontology of man not being a product of authority is basically a lie that collapses on the simplest examination, and was promoted for power attainment. Filmer is pretty clear on this as well. He identifies accurately that the Catholic Church was a major culprit in this regard, and it is an unfortunate misdirection that this process has been occluded. This is not to blame the Church specifically, as all segment of governance in Western Europe were guilty of this. Not only the Church, but also the nobility and the parliament/ bourgeois, and also the monarchs themselves were promoting this lie as a means to undermine each other, it is the high-low alliance of De Jouvenel.

A major underlying assumption of this anarchistic ontology is that groups of people can make decisions collectively, but we have to ask is this actually possible. The concrete example of the Supreme Court is an excellent one, does the Supreme Court actually decide in the act of voting? I don’t think they do. The vote is not a decision in any real sense, it is really a show of strength to force through a particular decision made before it. A decision can only be made by a single person within their head. This follows in my opinion for large scale democracy “decision” making as well. The entire mystical premise of the general will or public opinion is a joke, a decision cannot be made by a multitude, only a single person can, and then they impose that decision by mobilizing numbers to impose their will by force, or threat of force, by means of voting. The vote is a threat of force.

There are many other angles from which we can dismiss small scale decision making, but they can wait for another day. For now, having dismissed the premise of small scale collective decision making as mystical nonsense which covers up the reality of human social structures, which are always hierarchical, we can continue with the logic of absolutist ontology and see if the image of society is helpful to analysis. We set it to work in effect. To do this we can draft in some help from the Italian Elitist School of Pareto, Mosca and Michels, and also the German theorist Carl Schmitt.

The elitists claimed that all organisation is oligarchy, but we have just dismissed small scale collective decision making, so what they really mean is all organisation is monarchical in structure. A government is an organisation, so a government is a monarchy. But this leaves us with some confusion. Just who is the sovereign then? Well from the position of decision making, the delegated sovereign decision making role moves depending on the question. But are they the sovereigns? No. They make decisions that are effect make them the pinnacle of governance, but they are not sovereign. They are acting as delegates of the sovereign. To determine the true sovereign here, we again can turn to Schmitt with his state of exception. It is curious that in Polticial Theology Schmitt makes the claim of the sovereign being “He” who decides on the exception but is then unclear if this can be a group or must be an individual. I conclude it must be an individual because a group cannot make a collective decision in the sense implied by this exception. The decision always rests behind the vote, the vote being a factional proxy conflict resolution device.

So, given the above, we can look at a concrete example of a sovereign becoming clear, and of the state of exception being employed in the case of the Nazi party and the usage of article 48 of the Weimar Constitution and the introduction of the Enabling Act 1933. The article was supposedly balanced by the ability of the Reichstag to cancel the emergency decree by vote. This concept rests on the actors acting within the institutions and rules set out by the constitution and being able to make a collective decision. So Hitler enacted Article 48 and passed the Enabling Act by usage of non-formal actors (the SA and SS) to stamp his authority on the voters to vote in accordance with his decision that a state of exception pertained. The voters then didn’t vote in accordance with their faction, but in line with his faction. The voting process showed itself to be the expression of factional dominance, not a decision in the sense assumed by oligarchy and democracy. So in the US system, whoever can force the Supreme Court to act in line with their faction and decide/determine a state of exception pertained is the sovereign. It was always a factional conflict device, and Hitler clearly understood this and acted accordingly. This example shows us that if we look at the formal structures specifically, and don’t include non-formal structures, we fail to see what is happening. We can only do this from an absolutist ontology which holds us to always looking for the sovereign, as it cuts away the misdirection created by a fluffy belief in a sort of psychic mind-meld collective decision making, a belief that is more in place in a science fiction story then political theory.

The idea has been put to me that oligarchy, aristocracy, democracy etc. can then be reformatted, if you really wish to keep these categories, by concluding that the delegated sovereign decision making is contained in differing groups, a wealthy group in oligarchy, a group tied by marriage in aristocracy, anyone in democracy, and so on. This is a significant break from Aristotle and the western tradition.

So, in summary, all organisations are monarchical in structure, not oligarchical. The turnover of these monarchical points can increase in velocity, or decrease in velocity, and they can be formally clear, or not clear. The sovereign is he who can decide on the state of exception and is therefore the final point of call. They always exist because laws cannot cover all contingencies and are merely tools, not actors.

If anyone wishes to comment, please do so on reddit or your own blog post, as the comment system on wordpress is horrible, and I never check it.

Also, check out Adam’s Generative Anthropology blog for far more erudite thinking on this topic.

(Almost) The Final RF post

My last post seems to have been too ambiguous, and I can assure those who have emailed me that I will most definitely continue writing. I have previously mentioned I am looking to set up an online journal and have been keeping a set of papers on ice for far too long. That will be coming soon and my last post will link to it.

The project which I was referring to was specifically the RF one of trying to develop certain strands of Unqualified Reservations within the the reactionary sphere. This was a failure. I think rejecting links to Moldbug might be useful as well. Consider me a De Jouvenalian/Filmerite/Carlyean.

I no longer consider the ideas developed here as reactionary, neoreactionary or otherwise in any shape. I am certain that these reactionary/neoreactionary areas are simply tired versions of liberalism. The key is in the actors’ inability to define liberalism as anything other than an internal condition or a mythical force. The only conclusions that the fundamental anarchism of liberalism allows. Merely adding a negative slant makes no difference. (Some are so brazen they declare themselves liberal and are still considered neoreactionary.)

These groups are operating with obvious liberal background beliefs, or positing thinkers without having an underlying model of their own allowing them to take observations and modify them without being dragged into liberalism.

Any attempt at serious theoretical engagement results in absurd statements. One minute they will nod along to De Jouvenal and the claim that it implies that power structures shape culture, then they will publish a post arguing such things as liberalism as a psychological issue, or that spontaneous order is correct. Astute reader may notice these are contradictory. Pointing this out results in more stupid claims that either retread stupid libertarian criticism of central planning or try to make some middle ground which always reduces to liberalism.*

*liberalism is the political doctrine of placing the liberation of the individual from society and authoritorial constraints as primary. This doctrine is promoted by centralizing powers in an insecure system – hint, Martin Luther and the rest of the gang didn’t sprout Reformation genes or convince everyone with pamphlets. (Zippy is actually right on this one)

The end of this project

I am fairly certain that the reactionaryfuture project is nearing an end, and the blog and reddit sub will likely soon be left dormant. I find that discussion within the neoreactionary sphere is basically finished in any meaningful manner. Not only is there an impossibility of synthesis of the present views in this area, I also find that any possibility of reasoning anyone else into other positions is impossible. Most demonstrate a singular inability to follow complex discussion and will claim agreement and then immediately make pronouncements which completely contradict this agreement, whilst being adamant that they do not disagree. It is Kafkaesque at times.

I have become extremely convinced that  the project of rejecting imperium in imperio is one which can be successfully fused with the work of Alaisdair MacIntyre, and such a move would require rejecting a great deal of Moldbug’s theorizing. Moldbug worked heavily with the tradition of Mises, and therefore Hume and Smith, to whom Mises is a derivative. This theory contains a very specific conception of man which rejects the functional status of men, hence the fallacious “is-Ought” distinction and Mises (derivative) relativism. There really isn’t much in Mises which wasn’t already elaborated by Smith and Hume’s moral theories, and Mises transformation of this conceptual scheme into an assertion of objective contextless axiomatic certainty is unconscionable. It is really a tradition, with clear roots going back from Mises to Smith and Hume, who themselves were just justifying a set of contingent Calvinist/ English Protestant ethical positions. Their project failed, and Mise’s project failed.

The ramification for any political theory which is to escape liberalism, is that an admittance of the status of both tradition and the rational scheme within which any claim is made must be explicit. All modern liberal theory rejects this, and if you wish to determine if your position is really just a variant of this modern liberal structure, simply ask the following questions 1) do you claim your position is based on some point of abstract truth which can be comprehended as such by all regardless of their circumstance and background 2) do you claim that your positions is not in any way rooted in a tradition of any sort 3) do you hold that the preferences and order of goods of any individual is intrinsic and prior to society. If you answer yes to any of these, then you are evidently within the modern liberal scheme, a scheme derived from protestant voluntarist positions. By forcing the admittance of a tradition, it must be accepted that the modern liberal project is functionally insane.

MacIntyre paints a very vivid picture tracing this tradition as it transformed into secular liberalism, and the great missing piece in his genealogy is an explanation of how it occurred, which is something he is evidently aware of with his call in After Virtue for a unified history of the modern period. I am convinced that De Jouvenal’s analysis of the role of power and the social structures and currents it promoted provides this missing piece, and will continue to develop this further elsewhere.

So, unless a libertarian can admit that the genealogy goes Mises->Hume/ Smith-> Locke->protestantism and then reason through the ramifications of this, there is no possibility of rational discourse. Unless a nationalist can admit the genealogy Nationalism-> Rouseau->Locke -> Protestantism, there is no possibility of rational discourse. The same can be done for any other special position in the alt-right or neoreaction, be it liberalism in the guise of genetic determinism AKA HBD, or Tech Comm hyper liberalism shouting at imaginary enemies with their calls for everything we already have in the form of extreme individual human rights, zero restraints for secondary property holders and guaranteed exit (just who is blocking exit in the world? Who is constraining capital? – states are shoveling free money into markets, and who is denying the right for humans to self determination? We can even chose our own gender now.)

In summary, as everyone is busy claiming (or assuming) that their positions don’t rest on an overall rational scheme, no rational discourse can take place. It is as simple as that.

MacIntyre on the Enlightenment project’s logical incoherence

“The moral scheme which forms the historical background to their thought had, as we have seen, a structure which required three elements:
untutored human nature, man-as-he-could-be-if-he-realized-his-telos and the moral precepts which enable him to pass from one state to the other. But the joint effect of the secular rejection of both Protestant and Catholic theology and the scientific and philosophical rejection of Aristotelianism was to eliminate any notion of man-as-he-could-be-if-he-realized-his-telos. Since the whole point of ethics-both as a theoretical and a practical discipline – is to enable man to pass from his present state to his true end, the elimination of any notion of essential human nature and with it the abandonment of any notion of a telos leaves behind a moral scheme composed of two remaining elements whose relationship becomes quite unclear. There is on the one hand a certain content for morality: a set of injunctions deprived of their teleological context. There is on the other hand a certain view of untutored-human-nature-as-it-is. Since the moral injunctions were originally at home in a scheme in which their purpose was to correct, improve and educate that human nature, they are clearly not going to be such as could be deduced from true statements about human nature or justified in some other way by appealing to its characteristics. The injunctions of morality, thus understood, are likely to be ones that human nature, thus understood, has strong tendencies to disobey. Hence the eighteenth-century moral philosophers engaged in what was an inevitably unsuccessful project; for they did indeed attempt to find a rational basis for their moral beliefs in a particular understanding of human nature, while inheriting a set of moral injunctions on the one hand and a conception of human nature on the other which had been expressly designed to be discrepant with each other. This discrepancy was not removed by their revised beliefs about human nature. They inherited incoherent fragments of a once coherent scheme of thought and action and, since they did not recognize their own peculiar historical and cultural situation, they could not recognize the impossible and quixotic character of their self-appointed task.

[…]

This change of character, resulting from the disappearance of any connection between the precepts of morality and the facts of human nature already appears in the writings of the eighteenth-century moral philosophers themselves. For although each of the writers we have been concerned with attempted in his positive arguments to base morality on human nature, each in his negative arguments moved toward a more and more unrestricted version of the claim that no valid argument can move from entirely factual premises to any moral or evaluative conclusion-to a principle, that is, which once it is accepted, constitutes an epitaph to their entire project. Hume still expresses this claim in the form of a doubt rather than of a positive assertion. He remarks that in ‘every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with’ authors make a transition from statements about God or human nature to moral judgments: ‘instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I met with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not’ (Treatise Ill. i. 1). And he then goes on to demand ‘that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it’

[…]

From such factual premises as ‘This watch is grossly inaccurate and irregular in time-keeping’ and ‘This watch is too heavy to carry about comfortably’, the evaluative conclusion validly follows that ‘This is a bad watch’. From such factual premises as ‘He gets a better yield for this crop per acre than any farmer in the district’, ‘He has the most effective programme of soil renewal yet known’ and ‘His dairy herd wins all the first prizes at the agricultural shows’, the evaluative conclusion validly follows that ‘He is a good farmer’.
Both of these arguments are valid because of the special character of the concepts of a watch and of a farmer. Such concepts are functional concepts; that is to say, we define both ‘watch’ and ‘farmer’ in terms of the purpose or function which a watch or a farmer are characteristically expected to serve. It follows that the concept of a watch cannot be defined independently of the concept of a good watch nor the concept of a farmer independently of that of a good farmer; and that the criterion of something’s being a watch and the criterion of something’s being a good watch-and so also for ‘farmer’ and for all other functional concepts-are not independent of each other. Now clearly both sets of criteria-as is evidenced by the examples given in the last paragraph-are factual. Hence any argument which moves from premises which assert that the appropriate criteria are satisfied to a conclusion which asserts that ‘That is a good such-and-such’, where ‘such-and-such’ picks out an item specified by a functional concept, will be a valid argument which moves from factual premises to an evaluative conclusion. Thus we may safely assert that, if some amended version of the ‘No ~ought” conclusion from “is” premises’ principle is to hold good, it must exclude arguments involving functional concepts from its scope. But this suggests strongly that those who have insisted that all moral arguments fall within the scope of such a principle may have been doing so, because they took it for granted that no moral arguments involve functional concepts. Yet moral arguments within the classical, Aristotelian tradition-whether in its Greek or its medieval versions – involve at least one central functional concept, the concept of man understood as having an essential nature and an essential purpose or function; and it is when and only when the classical tradition in its integrity has been substantially rejected that moral arguments change their character so that they fall within the scope of some version of the ‘No “ought” conclusion from “is” premises’ principle. That is to say, ‘man’ stands to ‘good man’ as ‘watch’ stands to ‘good watch’ or ‘farmer’ to ‘good farmer’ within the classical tradition. Aristotle takes it as a standing-point for ethical enquiry that the relationship of ‘man’ to ‘living well’ is analogous to that of ‘harpist’ to ‘playing the harp well’ (Nicomacbean Ethics, 1095a 16). But the use of ‘man’ as a functional concept is far older than Aristotle and it does not initially derive from Aristotle’s metaphysical biology. It is rooted in the forms of social life to which the theorists of the classical tradition give expression. For according to that tradition to be a man is to fill a set of roles each of which has its own point and purpose: member of a family , citizen, soldier, philosopher, servant of God. It is only when man is thought of as an individual prior to and apart from all roles that ‘man’ ceases to be a functional concept.”

p54-59 After Virtue

No telos means you are left with deontology, consequentialism, utilitarianism etc.

Spontaneous order does not exist

I have recently concluded that spontaneous order is frankly nonsense. Now, I have received push back on this along the lines that A) Moldbug wrote posts in favour of spontaneous order and that B) my understanding of spontaneous order is not “true” spontaneous order.

The first point of contention is less relevant than it may first appear. I have repeatedly made the point that I consider the identification of imperium in imperio as a disastrous solecism, and the resultant project of reasoning through the implications of this in relation to governance as the project, and not the attempt to follow Moldbug along every claim he made. The idea of using Unqualified Reservation as some guide like a manual is absurd, especially as I have made the claim on a number of occasions that it seems clear to me he was working through the implications of rejection of imperium in imperio – 2007 positions don’t equate to 2010 positions.

In addition to this, I have been trying to make the point that I hold to MacIntyre’s conception of traditions as always conserved. Every thinker operates in a tradition, the claim of finding universal maxims or abstract universal truths is nonsense of the highest order (but central to modern liberal thought.) Further to this, traditions are, and must be, subject to continual contest and rational re-appraisal in line with their inherent rationality. This is in stark contrast to tradition as per Burke for example, for whom tradition was wisdom without thinking and spontaneous – the action of so many unguided individuals clearly – one can see here the Whig and anarchist conception of society ordered without ordering. This has relevance not only for my reasoning for why Moldbug cited spontaneous order favorably is irrelevant, but also for why I consider spontaneous order as a concept to be a political assertion, and not a neutral observation.

In regards to Moldbug and this conception of tradition, I consider the project of reasoning through rejection of imperium in imperio to be continual and requiring creativity and intellectual questioning of every concept in accordance with it – therefore everything Moldbug wrote should be subject to robust and honest criticism to test its rational coherence in line with this project.

As for the second pushback on spontaneous order, it is clear that as a concept it has confused, and continues to confuse us all especially those that produced it. At its core, regardless of any particular conception that is considered true, there is a central claim that action organises spontaneously by the un-coerced actions of individuals with no planning. If we stray from this, then we are not talking about spontaneous order, but everyone wants to do this for a number of reasons. For the purpose of this post, please consider me to be dealing directly with Hayek’s conception.

To really see what the concept of spontaneous order is pushing, it really must be placed firmly in its historical and spatial (both location, and societal) positions. It has to be considered as a contingent concept with a history and a tradition within which it makes “sense.”

Spontaneous order, and this is something I doubt will be disputed by libertarians et al. finds its roots directly in the work of both Hobbes and Locke, but ultimately they were both reasoning on the same premises of the nature of individuals. Fundamentally, both thinkers set themselves the task of trying to explain ordering by individuals. It is the philosophy of anarchism, but with an inherited background of conservative considerations of ethics. The Scottish Enlightenment thinkers continued this process, with Hume, Reid, Smith et al. Burke also expressed the same sentiments, with Menger, Hayek et al. resurrecting it in overt propaganda form in the 20th century, even though it is in reality central to liberal thought and central to modern society. Any governance attempts based on this fundamental foundation of modern thought (such as nationalism, communism, fascism, liberal-democracy) is inherently unstable, contradictory and insane, as demonstrated by historical example.

So what is the context of this theory of spontaneous order? In its origination in Locke in particular, it is the work of someone from a particular part of society, promoted by particular segments of society that opposed monarchical governance, and were trying to justify the oligarchic governance post 1688. As for the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, I am again in agreement with MacIntyre that they were in a position of being external to English culture, yet in the process of adopting it, and in so being in such a position, were able to observe, and had to engage with it, in a way in which English people (for whom it was merely a given) were unable to do, or didn’t see the need to do. You find the same thing with Burke (an Irishman) and Hayek, Menger, Mises (Austrians). For those in any culture in which certain standards have been set and imposed, and not open to further discussion, it requires those with outside models and conceptions to be able to analyse and explain. These thinkers in effect became radicalised anglophile thinkers.

Now, in effect, all of these thinkers are trying to justify a specific form of societal organisation. Spontaneous order is then a concept brought into to justify how society forms without organisation and planning(it doesn’t and can’t.) Spontaneous order is then a loaded concept, as all concepts are. To repeat what I have already said, it asserts that spontaneous ordering by the uncoerced actions of individuals with no planning is possible.

So, what are the underlying assumption here? I have already mention one – that society can order without governance, but there are other obvious ones such as that society forms from the voluntary interaction of individuals (if not voluntary then it cease to be spontaneous) and that all actors are then fully fledged moral actors. In a word the underlying assumptions pretty much match directly to liberalism. Now, by having these assumptions, spontaneous order takes them as a given and then in effect asserts them. It is clearly not a neutral observation of reality at all (something not possible.)

So, we have gone from spontaneous order being an impartial observation (not possible) to being a concept which is a legitimization of a particular social configuration (liberalism.)

Now, we can push this a little further and demand spontaneous order explain events, and we can quite easily find that not only does it not explain anything, but it actively conceals the roles of power centers in forming cultural trends, promoting ideas and maintaining traditions. In a word, it has no functional usage beyond being a justificationary piece of fiction.

Monkey shrieking sophistry

Any genuine discussion on political theory that is to be anything more than merely screaming our own preferences at each other dressed in incoherent statements must absolutely ensure that all participants have an understanding of the precise meaning of the language being used. Take the words capitalism, fascism, communism, Christianity, Islam, religion in general etc. all of these words possess differing meanings given different assumptions and background frameworks. Most, if not almost all political discussion revolves around throwing statements around without clarifying any of this, and then receiving a response which does the same, which results in mere shrill shouting across each other. Most of this is due to rank stupidity on the part of the participants, sometimes it is more cynical behavior on the part of more intelligent individuals with a mind to winning a rhetorical conflict, as opposed to pursuing any kind of truth. In antiquity these people were called sophists, and in modernity they are comparable to liberals. The constant delight of modern thinkers in looking into sophistry in antiquity and seeing themselves is a disgusting spectacle. That it arose in Ancient Greece in the context of a society on a divided power system is something worthy of research.

So, if we take a word like capitalism, we can either A) accept that it has various meanings dependent on the conceptual model (or tradition) of the person saying it and then endeavor to understand the difference and proceed from there or B) scream like chimps about capitalism as if both parties understood it as meaning X,Y or Z.

Capitalism is a superb example of this phenomena.

Ludwig von Mises described it as:

 “essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses.”

While Friedrich Hayek called it

“the system of free markets and the private ownership of the means of production,” which is an “essential condition of the very survival of mankind.”

Wiki has the following:

Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.”

We could go on, but what is the point. It is just various people absolutely refusing to acknowledge that what they are describing is a concept built upon a foundation of prior assumptions (a tradition.) This gets even worse when you acknowledge that these words (as all words do) have plainly got a genealogy, and are therefore plainly rooted in a specific times, cultural/ societal position and historical position.

It is notable that a member of the modern liberal individualist tradition absolutely denies this context for their words and concepts and can therefore claim them as being concepts time immemorial. The battle then becomes one of who gets to claim the mantle of objective truth, so everyone claims their “true” capitalism, or true religion with their definitions saying more about them and their position in the world than about anything else.

If we are to pursue any genuine political theory, then it must begin by acknowledging that the very words we are ourselves using have serious problems, and contain seriously troublesome assumptions that need to be examined.

 

Massive Tents

In the latest This Week in Reaction Nick B Steves has made the following claim:

“Generative Anthropology Blog (GABlog) deserves to be read a lot more. He’s tied for first in doing the best NRx theory right now, and he’s not even (officially) NRx. This week he discusses Principles: Imagining Sovereignty, Fantasizing Anarchy.”

with the following quote:

“To believe in a principle—say, “free speech”—is to imagine a mode of sovereignty. The government that grants free speech does so because it assumes that in the unrestrained discourse in which all citizens participate without coercion or intimidation the truth emerges along with a rational consensus for the government to act upon. Along with the imagined sovereignty, then, comes an anarchist fantasy—in this case, of free, rational individuals acting outside of government who choose, collaboratively, to act upon and, indeed, constitute the government.”

Yet earlier in the post he lists posts from Nick Land, Michael Rothblatt, Jim and a number of others who are neoreactionary who would disagree with the quote from Adam quite aggressively. In fact, they hold the exact opposite. They believe that society can and is formed in this peer to peer/ spontaneous order sense as per Hobbes et al. A straw poll of all the authors listed as neoreactionary would likely find that almost 100% agree with the anarchist interpretation.

So we have an odd situation. Adam is apparently creating neoreactionary theory which refutes the very anthropology all other neoreactionaries propose! Now, there are big tents, and then there are tents which seem to cover positions that are utterly opposed. You can therefore be a neoreactionary if you hold people can form governance peer to peer AND if you hold this peer to peer concept to be fantasy.

This would seem to point irrefutably to there being no central doctrine coming from Hestia, with existence in neoreaction then being premised on something else, such as in taking a negative position to various points of leftism maybe, like conservatism or the right wing. So Neoreaction is a boutique varient of the Alt-Right, no?

Discourse and the need to establish priors

To debate with someone who does not recognise that they possess underlying priors of set A, but instead continue making assumptions and arguments based on these priors as if they were just simply reality is to not really have a debate. Unless both parties can come to agreement as to the priors they bring to the debate, and what these entail for the words and concepts they employ, no civilized discourse can occur.

This brings us to neoreaction and zeroethsposition’s article again. Zerothposition can clearly be seen through his blog to be utterly clear about his priors. They are clearly libertarian. He seems to be influence by Rothbard, Mises, Hoppe among others, and this is all basically within the Lockean sphere. A discussion with such a thinker is possible, even if it is in disagreement. It can simply be pointed out that these priors are deemed false from position X, rendering further discussion civilised as long as both parties are aware of these differing stances. For example, I rejected Lockean anthropology for being a rhetorical device based on no observable reality which he (Locke) never tried to support by example. I hold it is quite absurd, and I consider all further attempts to provide arguments to support the concept of a pre-societal man of the state of nature variety to be failed in every possible. It would be interesting to conduct an investigation of previous occasions in which such an anarchistic interpretation occurred, and the status and position of those who brought it forward, as Filmer provides some examples from antiquity of this bizarre contraption.

As for neoreaction, there is no possibility to hold any kind of civilised debate, anymore than there is to hold such a debate with a representative of the Alt-Right until they A) acknowledge that their priors are derived from Locke ultimately, rendering them part of the liberal superstructure (something McIntyre calls  Modern Liberal Individualism) B) examine the logicality and robustness of their assertions.

For example, we can take a number of neoreactionary thinkers and look at A and B briefly. We can begin with Jim as a good starting point. Jim would likely possibly admit his Lockean basis, but this isn’t at all clear. He may even look at examining the logicality of his assertions with regard to this, but so far has not. There are a number of occasions when he has made it clear he considers governance optional, which is precisely Locke’s position based on the state of nature. He has then advocated patriarchy quite in contradiction to this. If governance is not necessary, and people are therefore capable of living in anarchistic conditions, then at what point do women and children become in need of being put under patriarchcal stewardship? Is this to be a male only anarchy? At what point does the man become capable of anarchy? You cannot extricate the state of nature rhetorical device and anarchism from the rejection of governance. The only way to “achieve” this in any sense is to simply apply unprincipled exceptions to anarchism, which is precisely what he is doing. Men are exempt from state of nature because X, so are group Y and Group Z etc.

We also have Ryan Landry. He often writes for Social Matter, and it is exceptionally clear he has this same collection of priors. It is littered all over his writing. For example, in his article Amerikansky Zones we have the following:

“The Amerikanskiy Zone will enjoy the protection of Russian state forces and protective nuclear umbrella and comply with Russian federal taxation, but all internal policies will be determined by the political asylum seekers–with transitional guidance from Kremlin representatives”

What is assumed under this? Frankly democracy and libertarianism, and Lockean anarchistic anthropology. This in effect is a variant of multi-culturalism with evident self-determination of peoples as per Wilsonianism, which again is just Lockean anarchism.

From another article Unrestricted Warfare, If You Can Fund It we again see this evident anthropology with discussion of weaponised individuals. The figure of Land also makes an appearance with the reference to X-Risk Democratization. This entire article rests on an anthropology which is directly linked to the very same anthropology which zerothposition explicitly acknowledges: the sovereign individuals capable of acting independently and without support of power already in place. Land is quite clear on his position; others refuse to acknowledge that they hold the same position on this.

Next up we have Thomas Barghest who in his article Techno-Commercialism and Markets in Morality lays out a rabid liberal conception of markets in everything with morality and ethics reduced to markets. If I have to outline how this is liberal from the top to the bottom, then maybe we have a serious problem.

Another author pushing this same anthropology and sea of liberal assumptions is Mark Citadel, whom I have previously covered. In his post Individualism? Collectivism? Soboernost! We see blatent Hobbesian/ Lockean theory dressed up in Russian garb.

Now these particular writers are not being picked on specifically, I think pretty much most neoreactionaries fall under the same umbrella, it’s just that most stick largely to negative criticisms of current society, and thus haven’t exposed their underlying priors, but they can probably be located with more review of their writing. But on a more general level, one only has to look at the maintenance of concepts such as exit (a weaponised right secured by the individual,) the trike (a assertion of the lack of doctrine and the acceptance of mainstream anthropology under all three prongs,) nationalism (locke pure and simple,) the weaponisable sovereign individual, democracy, or any other number of incoherent concepts. Try reading the week in reaction and making sense of neoreation.

It is in effect a sub set of the Alt-Right, which like with the example of Vox Day, Spencer et al contains no one with the intention to examine the underlying principles which are just reality obviously. I mean, tell me Spencer and Vox day and the rest aren’t just crappy Locke and liberalism at 3rd hand.

Zerothposition’s critique of Social Matter

Zerothposition’s criticisms of SocialMatter’s article is worth reading, and for what it is, it is coherent. Zeroth’s positions and conclusions are logical given a number of premises. These premises are Lockean anarchistic premises within which individuals precede society and political organisation of humans, which therefore naturally and logically renders political organisation superfluous to the spontaneous ordering of these anarchistic individuals, in a word it is libertarianism.

This is not that hard to deduce, given the author is very clear on being libertarian and states as much in his section of “statist pathologies.” His formulation of reactionary libertarianism is again logically sound. Libertarianism based on prior political arrangements follows quite clearly. His major problem, however, is that he is critiquing neoreaction which unlike his conception, is not logical or coherent at all, in fact this lack of coherence is celebrated as something positive. Hestia and Land never explains their position in any logical way, they don’t lay out their doctrine collectively because they comprise of a number of individuals with different positions, some almost openly reactionary libertarian, others reactionary libertarian in denial. This was formally acknowledged with the trike (eth-nat, tech-comm aka libertarian and theonomist) conception. There is simply no formal doctrine, so in effect Zerothposition is far, far more developed than they, and far, far more logical and honest.  This leads the author to correctly see in them a similar theoretical framework (libertarian) and then to correctly apply libertarian principles, which primarily consist of libertarian anthropology, which is to say Lockean anthropology (aka the whole basis of the liberal web of modern theory.)

The result is that Zerothposition correctly rejects all of those aspects of analysis which can be said to have derived from Moldbug precisely to the point at which they conflict with libertarianism. This has already been done by Nick Land with the Dark Enlightenment essay in a more convoluted way, and with the neoreaction project as a whole. In fact, the clear congruence between between zeroth’s position on a range of points and with Nick Land’s, Jim’s and a number of writers at Social Matter for instance is striking. Moldbug and Unqualified Reservations have no dog in this fight. Divided power analysis, Cathedral analysis and the like approached from a libertarian angle, with libertarian precepts kept in working order become hollowed out and fitted out for libertarianism. Divided power becomes assumed to be a tiresome regurgitation of the principal-agent problem thus casting out De Jouvenel’s key insight of the duality of power as being both power pursuit and altruism/social and the therefore fundamental role directed nature of the human agent. The Cathedral becomes yet another silly conspiracy theory of secretly organising groups as opposed to the result of divided power in setting the roles and practical circumstance of the actors in society. Liberal anthropology in effect chases out anything inimical to it by default.

So we can see with Zerothposition that he greatly objects to the arguments for secure power on the basis of the people rebelling, or as in this passage on “Overthrow the Crown”:

“In his examination of absolute monarchy, Perilloux demonstrates a complete ignorance of how challenges to monarchical power occur and succeed. When people are denied a voice and are either unable or unwilling to exit, they effect change by revolt. The royal military is generally unfit to deal with a hostile populace, as it is meant to protect the realm from foreign centralized threats, not the sort of decentralized but violent revolution which could depose a monarch by rendering his lands ungovernable. As long as the dissidents do not make the mistake of attempting to fight Goliath on Goliath’s terms, they can create a nightmare for the Crown through the use of guerrilla tactics and disappear back into the general population before they present a target to the royal military. Though the royal military has powerful weapons which are denied to the public, the use of these weapons will destroy the lives and properties of innocent people, as well as infrastructure that the Crown needs. This will only anger the public and cause fence-sitters to side with the rebels.”

Zerothposition is correct as far as Lockean anthropology goes, and having read Social Matter one will be hard pressed to find them express a conception of anthropology which is not in accordance with modern liberal theory, which is to say Lockean. As a result, Zerothposition can quite confidently criticisize Perilloux’s approach as a non-Lockean precept has not been made clear, and is not evident at all. On the other hand, reading Land for example, or Jim, or Landry (or any number of other Social Matter authors,) makes it very obvious to a third party that a Lockean position is evident and they write under the neoreaction moniker. It would follow that all “neoreactionaries” would have the same understanding of anthropology, even if broadly, no?

From completely non-Lockean anthropology, which is implicit in most of what Moldbug wrote and explicit at a number of points, we can dismiss all of zeroth’s position in the above passage as being completely severed from observable reality. There is simply no successful rebellion which is not led by a segment of the power structure in place, and in fact, almost all rebellion is developed by actors within the power structure of any given place. Exceptions prove the rule . Man thus ceases to be capable of spontaneous peer to peer organisation (a continuation of that great fraud of the social contract in which individuals all merge together peer to peer), but is dependent on structure and organisation. Black Lives Matter for instance has clearly been funded and organised into existence by foundations and the Democratic political apparatus, as was the Civil Rights Era, while the Protestant Revolution appears to have clearly been sponsored and encouraged by various secular monarchs of Germany and North West Europe. It appears the current migrant crisis follows this same pattern, with either NGO encouragement and information distribution and now the uncovering of NGO ferrying. Spontaneity which rests on Lockean foundations is fundamentally laid bare for the fraud it is when one removes those foundations.

Neoreaction is locked in the continual battle of Lockean anthropology and Moldbug theory which Locke is clearly winning.