The progressive reaction?

Rod Dreher:

as Alasdair MacIntyre has observed, all parties in American politics are devoted to Progression. It’s simply a matter of whether you are a “conservative” progressive, a progressive progressive, or a radical progressive.

Or, it appears, a reactionary progressive.

There a lot of talk of winning and what to do next around these parts lately (I believe it started here). Some of this talk makes clear that there’s a contingency within the self-identified reactionary community that is definitely reactionary progressive.

Maybe I read too many primary sources from the ’40s and ’50s, but as I read these threads it gets difficult – at times – to distinguish the “reactionary” from the communist. A fair number of us seem to believe that we need to win, and to do so all we need to do is get the proles to rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie.

No thanks.

When Moldbug wrote about the reboot, step one was getting the elites on our side. Anything else is destructive of order, and better left to some branch of progressivism. A surprising number of “reactionaries” seem to have missed this basic point. (The elites shouldn’t actually be all that hard to convert, since they generally act like reactionaries in their personal lives).

(Incidentally, if you’re really trying to figure out how to reorient USG, you should probably pay more attention to the Communists. After all, they were last ones who did it successfully. They had certain advantages that we don’t have, but still, they did it).

I consider myself the (perhaps wannabe) intellectual heir of a line of thought that has been around forever, that generally loses, and that’s always proved right (alas, no one pays attention). In other words, if you’re here for the short-term winning, you’re in the wrong place.

At a minimum, it would be nice to be clear that the goal is the restoration of functional government and the preservation of order, not the toppling of what’s left of it. If you’re here for the revolution, you’re not a reactionary.

It’s awesome when you’re struggling with a thought and then somebody puts it better than you could:

Modern politics became psychotic when agitated scribblers convinced themselves that they had the tools, the right, and even the duty to re-order the world in accordance with their pamphlets. This is a Left tradition that few have yet derided enough.

Count me among those unfinished with the deriding.

Here as well:

What exactly is the difference between a Moldbug and a Carlyle, a Land and an Evola, a Sailer and a Mencken, and Auster and a Davila? Innumerable differences to be sure, both of belief, style and quality.

And yet. Are they not fulfilling similar roles? Are they not serving as our teachers? Were the canonical authors not Sages themselves in their own time? Should the Sages of the Neoreaction all perish, their thought would live on in their writing, and continue to inspire, just as the Sages of times past continue to do so.

That may have to be good enough. It’s not small feat.

Anomaly UK adds some optimism:

Take one example: at some point in our lifetime, it will become obvious to everyone that the great Global Warming scare was false. When that happens, the debates that happened, the books that were written, will still be around in memories and on bookshelves. This is a new thing — by the time that the failures of, say, female suffrage or decolonisation had become obvious, the accurate predictions made in advance had become obscure and mostly forgotten. After twenty years, the argument over AGW is still current, and in twenty years time, the scientific establishment will be completely discredited by it.

Alas, I’m not so sure. It’s still fashionable to oppose colonialism. AGW can always be right around the corner . . . just wait 20 more years.

All this is not to say that I think we have no chance of success. There does indeed seem to be something in the air around these parts. I certainly think we’re on to something.

The hardest problem we’ll have to overcome is our tendency to be progressive – after all, we were all raised that way, we know nothing else. These recent discussions nicely illustrate just how difficult this will be.


97 Responses to The progressive reaction?

  1. Anomaly UK says:

    I agree – my “optimism” is based on the possibility that the increasingly visible failures of the state could lead to a general change of mind spreading even within the elite. I see no prospect whatsoever of overthrowing the Cathedral without either persuading a substantial proportion of them or, less likely, growing a large, educated “shadow elite” outside its walls.

  2. Your last paragraph:


    I have been really butting my head with people who are already temperamentally reactionary that cannot wrap their minds around the fact that the Founders were– contemporaneously– progressive radicals.

    For all his faults, this is something that WFB actually understood. He just embraced it.

  3. Thumotic says:

    It is plainly obvious to anyone with half a brain that the reactionary position on colonialism, suffrage, or AGW were and are correct.

    The obstacle is not availability of information, the obstacle is that most people choose their beliefs to optimize status and warm fuzzy feelings, rather than truth.

    I see this Conservative trope all over the latter 20th century. Mainstream Conservatives constantly feel that, with the latest egregious leftist abuse of power and reason, finally the blind will see and rise up to take up arms against the progressives. Larry Auster, RIP, wrote several times that while Americans had tolerated a century of increasingly odious progressive policies, the ACA was a bridge too far and the line would be drawn.

    Not a decade later, and the ACA is entirely absent from the news cycle and the public consciousness.

    The capital-R Right has been small-r right for as long as they’ve existed. It hasn’t exactly been a game changer.

    • RS says:

      So Greg Cochran, that dude with the 158-170s(?) IQ, is a fool since he thinks AGW might be true? Good to know.

      • stann says:

        He’s not a fool in general but if that’s what he believes then he is certainly a fool on that particular topic.

        Geniuses makes mistakes to you know. Newton believed in alchemy.

      • Thumotic says:

        Believing in AGW doesn’t make him a fool.

        Believing that:

        1) Significant AGW is certainly occurring
        2) The consequences of AGW will certainly be negative
        3) We must certainly spend trillions of dollars to avert the negative consequences of AGW, and
        4) Dissent on any of these points is a capital crime

        Does make him a fool. If this is in fact what he believes.

        In any case I seem to recall Cochran getting his ass handed to him fairly often in old 2Blowhards comments threads, so I’ll refrain from taking his opinion as the word of god for the time being.

      • Bill says:

        He said he knew little about it and was not much interested. Compare to what George Borjas said about Richwine’s work. It’s almost as if that line is a, what do you call it, term of art amongst academics.

        That line does not always mean “I refuse to answer that question for political reasons,” but it means as much pretty often.

        OTOH, the time I read him addressing CAGW, he did it by way of making an absolute hash of the controversy over “Mike’s Nature trick . . . to hide the decline.” So, perhaps he knows as little as he claims.

      • RS says:

        Well Bill I >0.6 believe your claim about him messing up. You have a lot of credibility with me and it’s not like I think Cochran is infallible. Consider my priors updated.

        As for him erring on the side of PC, I suspect not: he bluntly stated grave doubt that people would curtail carbon emissions much in any case. How’s that for PC?

      • RS says:

        > [(1) – (4)] Does make him a fool. If this is in fact what he believes.

        vide supra

      • Marc Cabot says:

        I have said it before, and I will keep saying it until either Our Gracious Host asks me to stop, or until people stop making it necessary to say it.

        Really intelligent people frequently believe in the same damnfool ideas that everyone else believes. And they are HARDER to convince that they are wrong because they are so used to being right.

        If you don’t believe me, connive your way into reading the Intertel or Triple Nine mailing lists – it’s not that hard. You will soon see the same idiotic behavior you would expect on your average Salon comment thread. (I’d tell you to read the Mensa lists, which are even easier to get at, but anybody with the brains to comment on Internet threads is already pretty close to the average Mensan.)

      • Marc Cabot says:

        Bill: It’s a term of art both among academics and the ignorant intelligentsia, who like everyone else are fond of spouting off their uninformed opinions, and will usually respond thusly when caught out.

        *Bill Murray voice* “Well, that’s what I heard!”

    • asdf says:

      Indeed. As I’ve said before the fundamental aspect of the elite is that they are self serving narcissists. Even “altruistic” policy support should mostly be seen as status signaling rather then actual altruism.

      As such the actual truth of reality doesn’t matter. Whatever the truth is, whatever the evidence is, whatever the circumstances are, the elite will serve themselves at the expense of everyone else. It doesn’t much matter if that takes on the character of right, left, or from outer space. As long the fundamental heart of it all is about manipulating politics and culture to get the most for oneself the particular lies being bandied don’t matter.

      What are we trying to convert elites to? That reactionary policies would be good for the country? Elites don’t give a fuck what is good for the country. They care about what is good for themselves. What is the reactionary answer to that? If your goal is power there will always be some twisted and evil method of obtaining it, whether that be left, right, or otherwise it will suck for most people.

      The only kind of conversion I want elites to go through it to actually start caring about their countrymen as kin, and to put their needs above their own from time to time out of GENUINE charity.

      • nydwracu says:

        Why do elites support leftist policies? Why do different types of elites support leftist policies, when only certain types benefit? Professors, for example, have nothing to gain from increased immigration as professors — only as agents of the Cathedral do they benefit.

        So: how would rightist policies appeal to types of elites that don’t benefit as said type? Professors, for example. Some must be getting worried about the increasing academic restrictions; and since those academic restrictions are leftist, rightists, on taking power, would remove them. (And then likely institute their own, but by then those professors will be dead.)

  4. survivingbabel says:

    As clarification, I don’t think our chances of success are 0% (although we certainly aren’t the favorites), I’m simply stating the truth: in polite Western society, status is mostly achieved through Cathedralist structures. Of course, many of us ourselves have various Cathedral-approved positions, achievements, and honors, but most of us would also lose them if our political inclinations were publicly broadcast. People who consider themselves “serious people” generally have a lot to lose.

    My larger, disjointed point is that, if you desire temporal, personal status, reaction is probably not for you. We can’t depend on the help of people primarily motivated by status at this current stage. Our duty is to start building a structure which, at some point in the future, could offer status. The Antiversity and reactionary gov’t-in-exile, per Moldbug.

    In other words, if you’re here for the short-term winning, you’re in the wrong place.

    At a minimum, it would be nice to be clear that the goal is the restoration of functional government and the preservation of order, not the toppling of what’s left of it. If you’re here for the revolution, you’re not a reactionary.


    Count me among those unfinished with the deriding.

    This is why I advocate the “mock and disengage” strategy. Any time you see a leftist violate their own “principles”, point it out, deride, and move on. Once you get entangled with a leftist, they can cast “special pleading” and “unprincipled exception” and regain some face. We’re in guerrilla warfare mode, no meetings on the pitch should be scheduled just yet.

    • VXXC says:

      Oh Dear. And what if things get impolite…anyway?

    • Anonymous says:

      ” People who consider themselves “serious people” generally have a lot to lose.”

      This is why the american revolution was such a big fscking deal. The people at the top (almost to a man) had a LOT to lose. They weren’t just going to have to give up a cushy job and a home in a nicely gentrifying walkable neighborhood and have to go become a prole, they were going to hang.

      • VXXC says:

        People who call themselves serious people are serious about themselves. As Finance now recruits for mens rea [born with it I swear] Government recruits exactly..that. The Crown didn’t…

        Which is why when vulnerable matter how formidable they appear…go they should. Serious people seriously out for themselves go not into ditches.

  5. Taggart says:

    I’m torn on this subject. Obviously I’d like to see society transition to a public policy based on a logical and self interested basis (self interested for the people it’s logical to be interested in), but it ain’t gonna happen. You can be “standing athwart history yelling stop”, or even “go back”, but it won’t happen, (and if the off chance it does it won’t for long). So what are the alternatives? Most people enjoy being right, so if I can predict what will happen regarding immigration, finance, culture, education, whatever, and I realize I can’t hope to alter it, why not “ride the wave” so to speak? Progress ain’t stopping for nobody, so why not try to gain as much from it as I can? If we raise the minimum wage to $25/hr, ban firearms, and open our borders (three “united” ideas), I can’t stop it, I can only prepare myself for it and hopefully strategically place myself to benefit the most from it. Instead of being mad at it for happening, accept it and try to insulate where I can. It’s gonna happen (to some degree) anyway so why not enjoy the ride, try to get what I can, and feel self satisfied that I called it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Unless by your strategic placement, you can build generational wealth, this is not a very useful strategy.

    • Don’t ever use the term “public policy” again. Public policy is pretty much how the progressive New Deal regime runs. There is no reactionary “public policy” just judgment of accountable, highly public individuals.

  6. let it burn says:

    agw? they changed the name to climate change for a reason. climate is always changing so they will always have a hobby horse to ride. skeptics woefully underestimate the willingness of people to believe in magic.

    • RS says:

      So that physicist guy, Cochran, is willing to believe in magic. OK cool.

      • Takoshi says:

        Snark elsewhere please.


      • Anonymous says:

        Greg, if that’s you, yes, we really do think you’re a fool.

      • Marc Cabot says:

        The Peter Principle works both for everyone and in multiple dimensions. It’s possible, for instance, that somebody could be SO brilliant at, say, physics, that they could climb to the top of the physics world and still not have hit their level of incompetence. (Or at least, not at that time.)

        What will happen is that if they leave their field of brilliance, they will find their level of incomptence in another. A highly relevant example is Dr. Stephen Chu, who was a decent enough physicist, but an absolute disaster as a political appointee.

  7. Red says:

    Foseti, Moldbug, and a few others want to take the centralized USG and re-orientate it towards sanity. I think the age of centralized government control is about to go away for a while. I’m not here for the revolution, I’m here for the decentralization collapse and rebuilding. I want to see the knowledge gained by this period of high civilization and centralization persevered for the future. I care nothing for the army of mindless proles and a revolution to save our dying society. Things must break apart to be rebuilt.

    The west’s period of building centralization was a very long one by historical standards. But now we’ve reach the peak of world empire in form if not in name. Our parasites floweth over. Our bad ideas are at all time highs. The only way forwards is down and out.

    • Thales says:

      “I want to see the knowledge gained by this period of high civilization and centralization preserved for the future.”

      This. This is the prize.

      • survivingbabel says:

        No, it’s the baseline and contingency plan. There’s still a shot to turn this ship around without massive regression and small pockets of knowledge retention. Space beckons, but we do require a failsafe. I’m sure we can do both, with enough planning and effort.

  8. […] you’re in the wrong place. After a week of some (neo)reactionary existential angst, turmoil and apple cart upsetting, Foseti […]

  9. porphyrogenitus says:

    Reactionaries need to think in terms of being “cadre types” in the sense Rothbard used it. This is actually how Progressivism took power, itself.

    The idea of mobilizing a mass-movement, that came later (when at all) for both Progressives and Marxists. This is why the typical Progressive has disdain for (generic) “populism.”

    Progressivism itself started within circles of elites, and despite their own mythology of being a “democratizing”/”grass roots” movement, these elites acted *against* the mass-democracy instruments of their age (which consisted of mass-movement ideological parties, long ballot elections, urban machines – all the things they portray now as “corrupt” that Progressives “overcame.”)

    The point is not at all to say Foseti is wrong here, but to highlight the very point he made (and alluded to when he mentioned how communists gained power in the USG; they certainly didn’t do it in accordance with Marxist Mythology of mobilizing the masses).

    Reactionaries need to think more like “cadre types” and less like “tea party types” (not to say they identify with that movement, but sometimes some of them certainly express themselves as if that is the kind of reaction they are looking for).

    • VXXC says:

      Totally agree. That’s my Tribunes point. Cadre is another word.

      Um. when I say Tea party I am thinking of the material, not a fantasy of reversing the Cathedral at the ballot box. Voting now is..romantic. Ritual. I have no illusions about elections. It would be restore them however.

      I like Tribunes because Restoration of the Republic is something people would get behind.

      As far as converting the elites to Reaction. Hmm. That’s on the order of the Jesuits converting the nomenklatura of the USSR. That didn’t happen. It didn’t happen in Poland, where a conversion would have had the best chance. What happened in the USSR/Warsaw pact collapse was several important things, the PROLES returned and rallied behind the faith, a Labor Union leader, low born by name of Walesa…at the same time the USSR economy and leadership was imploding, and Reagan finally convinced Wall street to stop the loans and close the books on project USSR.

      It also helped that Reagan was a man. As was Thatcher. As was John Paul II.

      So..your elite conversion plan requires a William Casey. You also need to convince the Financial Sector that Project Cathedral, like project USSR before it, has become too unstable and sclerotic to survive. That’s gonna be tough as the funding for Finance is now coming from…the Cathedral. Total mutual capture. I’m sure the author of this blog could enlighten us.

      Also a Reactionary Protestant Pope.

      You need President Gorbachev.

      You need to convince the Cathedral it’s not in their interests to fight it out when the tide turns against them.

      You need to recognize that elite conversions don’t happen when it’s against the interests and very existence – a comfortable one at that – of the elites. I am unaware of elites de-establishing themselves and giving up power unless the alternative was extremely unpleasant. Forced in other words. The USSR minons could quite imagine a different fate for themselves.

      Very few in History surrender power out of sheer grace. Please understand that’s Plan Conversion’s key provision. Grace isn’t a word I associate with the current clergy.

      This isn’t reality based. Did being Communists stop Rich Americans from being capitalists? We could go on. Plan conversion isn’t reality based.

      What’s really, really interesting about Reaction besides being grounded in History, Tradition and Hard Reality is so much of the really interested parties are talking out of school, or at least the faculty lounge. Now…why is this…?

      Of course this is the internet. So…signalling…we’ll see.

      BTW you might want to check out John Robb’s Stimergic Signalling.

      • Baduin says:

        Walesa was a secret police agent. The whole “revolution” worked out quite well for the Communist leadership – of course, some people fell under the bus (suicide by multiple shots into belly), but those most agile and best connected benefited a great deal from the whole operation.

        The whole leadership, Party members (with the exception of a few superannuated true believers), mass media were converted to capitalism and subservience to USA (instead of USSR) nearly immediately, and without any difficulty.

        They had a lot of training in such things. Communist theory always taught that the truth depends on the stage of progress. When they learned that at the current stage they are capitalists, and it is their duty to conduct the “primitive accumulation” by stealing everything, they understood it immediately.

        There was even a minor party (Liberal-Democratic Congress) with an election slogan “the first million dollars must be stolen”.

        It was a bit too obvious, and the party finally disappeared. But their members prospered. The current prime minister of Poland used to be the leader of Liberal Democratic Congress.

        It will work the same in the USA. You do not need to persuade anybody. Those people who have real power – not lower level government officials or mass-media drones – know quite well what is going on, and will be quite ready to come out with the new miraculous plan to save or restore the Republic, when the time comes.

        And when the new “program” is announced, anybody who disagrees will be treated as Richwine now – no matter what the program will be.

        But it will not happen for some time. First, people must grow desperate. They must long for a saviour.

        All Bernanke is doing is buying time. Reasonable people are going to use that time to prepare for the collapse of the financial system – and to design a new, better (for them) system.

        “A new hope” is a very good way to get the proles to agree to painful sacrifices.

        In Poland, after Solidarity “won”, the first thing that was done (by the financial specialists who were sent for training in USA by the Communists – specially for that purpose) was starting a high internal inflation, with the dollar price held stable. This corrected the artificially high price of dollar which obtained under Communist rule. The connected people were borrowing as much dollars as they could, converting them into zlotys, and putting them into Polish banks on 50% interest – quarterly, not yearly. And then again borrowing even more dollars with the first deposit in the Polish bank as the security, and so on. The general population was accustomed to save in dollars, and was wiped out.

        People who had loans were informed that their loans are also on a 50 % interest – quarterly, and were bankrupted.

        You can expect similar ideas in USA and Europe-with heavy propaganda describing them as scientific, necessary, salutary etc.

        In other words, do not teach your grandmother to suck eggs. The higher levels of the elite will do very well. The mass-media drones, the would-be intellectuals in lower-tier universities, and the lower-level government workers will learn the difference between aspirational elite and true elite.

  10. VXXC says:

    Don’t burn down society even to save it.

    Dear Foesti – that is the function Sir exactly of your employer. Without the saving part, that left 50 years ago.

    As to not tearing down what’s “left” – Dear Sir that is exactly what the Cathedral is doing the last 50 years. There’s a watershed in Progressive Politics in the 1960s when destruction of the West, not it’s perfection becomes the explicit goal, and is pursued tirelessly since that time.

    For whatever reason Five decades ago the New Dealers were succeeded overnight by “Jackalbins” who are quite busy tearing down everything moral, social, financial they can touch, and their reach is ever expanding. As they profit from this personally and certainly have no internal checks, this will continue ..until it doesn’t. This may take awhile longer, but it’s not “a long game.”

    Now if you’re worried about prying eyes…understand. Mind you..stop now. Seriously. A few clicks and you are safer from that quarter. You can’t keep handing out red pills and expect a disclaimer is sufficient.

    Now that contentment requires blindness to the continued destruction of your nation, it’s people, the entire Western Civilization and all it’s ruin can drag down with it.

    Which of course has nothing to do with anyone here…so..I suggest…before Mother Progress notices..delete the blog and all references. Then become quite visibly progressive.

    Of course the world goes on …

    • Foseti says:

      Dear VXXC,

      Virtually everything you write is consistent with the methods of revolutionary Marxists and other progressives.

      History is replete with revolutions. All of them have brought death, chaos and disorder. We’re to avoid death, chaos and disorder. We therefore must reject revolutionary methodologies.

      It’s, of course, fine for you to believe that we need some “cleansing” death, chaos and disorder to bring out our ideal society (again, this is consistent with all sorts of progressive revolutions). However, that the opposite of what the reactionary seeks.

      • VXXC says:

        I said that?> “cleansing”? Was it late at night or early morn?

        I’m in favor of Restoration. HOWEVER that might look very much like…_______. Restore the Constitution and the meaningful but by no means total democracy in either the franchise or it’s powers that existed during the 19th century. That’s not an ideal society. I try to avoid using the word ideal except as a pejorative.

        Consistent with Revolutionary Marxists and Progressives. Hmm. That’s odd. I hadn’t discussed methods at all. NO in a word. However it’s fair as I haven’t discussed methods.

        Death and Destruction, chaos and disorder.

        Dude. Your employer is bringing the party to us. We don’t have to do anything.

        If the Reactionary is seeking to become the Highest Alpha in his office in order to bring functional government, see my rejection of plan conversion above. That’s a fantasy. If it came true what to do with the mob of dispossessed lunatics out of power? >>Your central problem Foesti being you are neither stupid or mad. That’s why this blog exists. <<

        If you could convert enough of the office – 11% being a tipping point – to believe –next then why Sir do they act against their own interests?

        This government was built by FDR. He had Depression, fear, Fascism, Huey Long, Father Coughlin and Communism as his whips of reality to drive society to the New Deal. He also had elites that had a concept of Duty, and he had a moral and capable if mistaken and inexperienced, wise body of men young and older to draw on. FDR was himself quite skilled. I won't go on you know your History. Tell me Sir – do you see such men and women around you? Do you see men of Virtue and Patriotism – at least not to the point of hating their own people – around you? Virtue – can they be trusted with money? Can the public trust them?

        If we could resurrect the New Dealers now and place them in power, Harry Dexter White and Hopkins all our situation would radically improve instantly.

        IT'S.OVER. The best we could get from this crowd is Brazil. With less hope of improvement. And they know it.

        They're cashing in while the cashing's good. Straight up Banana republic. Even if they believe in all 10,000 tenets of Progressive theology with the fervor of Bernadette, unlike Bernadette these are whores.

        I'm sorry but you've got nothing to work with. There was more to work with in postwar Europe.

        The Great Question remains before us: What do we Do now, What do we do next? That's if we accept it's *our watch.*

      • >All of them have brought death, chaos and disorder. We’re to avoid death, chaos and disorder. We therefore must reject revolutionary methodologies.

        The most successful reactionary of them all was General Monck. He had to fight a few battles, kill quite a few people, followed by a few judicious hangings.

        Which produced a century and half of order and progress.

    • Baduin says:

      Exactly so. “Closing of the American Mind” by Bloom – Nietzsche replaced Marx. And Nietzsche is the Darkest Enlightenment there can be.

      In fact, Dark Enlightenment, or simply Nazism, is the ruling ideology since 1968. But, because Truth is Power, the rulers are carefully preserving the truth for themselves.

      They consider – correctly – the (white) masses and the democracy to be their enemy, and do everything they could to weaken them. First of all – teach them lies, so that they will destroy themselves.

      • nydwracu says:

        Nietzsche is popular within academia, but he’s not German enough to be a Nazi: the academic Nietzsche, as far as I’ve seen, is a proto-Frenchman concerned only with observing the effects of power on discourse and deconstructing binaries and all that stuff about will to power and nobility and the overman goes out the window unnoticed.

      • Baduin says:

        Do you expect the leading lights of Western universities to gather weekly to sing Horst Wessel Lied?

        The similarities to Nazism are only implicit, and nearly nobody is speaking about them. But the observation is not new; it was described in Allan Bloom’s “Closing of American Mind”,

        Tom Rockmore On Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy Online

        Their theory is Heideggerian, and Heidegger proposed his theory as the Nazi official theory, but was not accepted. They agree with Nazis and Heidegger that America as a social system must be destroyed; obviously the method of destruction they propose is different. They share with Nazis – implicitly – the view of reality, but not the proposed policy.

        And they are purely destructive; if there is anything good or positive about Nazis and Nietzsche, they obviously won’t share it. For example, they have no interest in Autobahns.

        And they consider Whites, not Jews, to be the devil race – with much more justification.

  11. VXXC says:

    “Jackalbins” – Jimmy Breslin was watching a “peace” group meeting during JFK’s administration. A Kennedy aide also attending whispered to Breslin that all these people were “a tragedy to their families”. Someone else called them “Jacobins”. Breslin being an ink stained wretch wrote “JackalBins” the next day in his column on the peace movement.

    I mention it so I’m not thought of as one of those <90 IQ proles.

    Oh and…That's your employer. And that's what you fear. Their grand diaper rash actually.

    Bail out.

  12. Vladimir says:


    In this context, let me try to restate some of my points in a way that will be hopefully easier to understand.

    My benchmark of success is very modest: it’s simply to have a few places where we can have intelligent discussions unencumbered by the all-pervasive ideological conformity, places where we can get interesting insight and a confirmation that we didn’t go crazy when we started doubting the official authorities on various subjects. And even those who have greater ambitions should consider that this is the first necessary step before we can even reach some basic agreement on what else might be possible and desirable.

    Now, as you point out, the only way you can make your ideas influential is if you make them a mark of status and prestige among the elite. (They will then flow to the rest of society like water flows downhill.) This is an extremely unlikely possibility for us — “us” in the sense of people sharing some of this well-founded skepticism against the key ideas and institutions of modernity — and expectations of such victory would be unreasonable. However, there is a much more likely possibility, which is a sort of perverted mirror-image of such victory, and which will have the opposite effect of destroying the loose intellectual community that has grown around your blog and similar ones.

    What I have in mind is that if our shared views become recognizable under some moniker and identity as an internet meme — which is currently happening with the “(neo)reactionary” meme — they will probably become a mark of prestige and “cool” among a certain number of people, whose numbers won’t be large but will still be much larger than the number of people who actually have something interesting to say to us. Their presence in these forums will drag down their quality and eventually destroy them. Just think what will happen when instead of a dozen or two commenters, all of whom have interesting things to say (and are sensible enough to speak only when they do), you have five times as many of those who are attracted because they want to be R3actionary 1337, or who see your blog as just another place to vent the same old worn out loser rightist ideas. (Arguably, we’re already seeing the beginning of this process. Your comment section is much more active than a year or two ago, but the average qualty of comments has certainly declined, and one can for the first time see downright tiresome commenters on a regular basis.)

    I don’t know if this process can even be avoided or reversed. Maybe it’s inevitable however you turn it. But my main point is that by accepting and encouraging the growth of this “Reactionary Cool” internet meme, you are strengthening and catalyzing these forces of decay. (Not to mention that its expressions that overlap with nerd culture, like those magic hero cards, are in my opinion apt to attract a particularly undesirable audience.)

    • Foseti says:


      I did intend to criticize some of the commenters, however you were not among the ones I intended to criticize at all. While I don’t agree with everything you said, I sympathize with all of it. Even when I disagree with you, I think you have the correct goal in mind.

      • Vladimir says:


        I didn’t interpret your post as criticizing me — on the contrary, we are in almost complete agreement.

        Where we disagree is in our opinions about this recent proliferation of the internet “reactionary” meme. You seem to view it as fun and cool, whereas I see it as a dangerous threat to the existing small but valuable forum provided by your blog and a few other ones.

      • VXXC says:

        He wants you to censor. It might be wise.

        I’m not abandoning them – M’uricans – to their fate. BTW what makes anyone think it goes on as it is? Usually things get better or worse, indications are worse. Trend of events is worse. Intentions of those in power are – worse. What they’ll have to do to retain power – worse. Inertia [the financial train wreck] – worse.

        I think you know where I stand. With mine, warts and all. Good evening.

      • Anon. says:

        The inimitable Lawrence Auster managed to be productive and cogent without the democratic commenting apparatus. If anything, he spared his readers tons of extraneous distraction and distress from a wide range of interlocutors. Intelligent and interesting comments were not in short supply. Talk about your “mark of prestige”.

    • porphyrogenitus says:

      A catch-22 develops if ideas don’t spread even to the ignoratii.

      Some of what is being said in the comments here implies almost a stasis; if we can’t speak about these ideas outside of a closed forum, they will never have the desired impact and likelihood of success decrees from “slim” down to “none.”

      Quality is important to maintain. If there is a one-word hallmark of “reaction,” it is “excellence” (as opposed to Progressivism’s “Equality”).

      But, lets face it, there is going to have to come a time for popularizers whose intellectual abilities and even capacity to comprehend all the nuances are not high.

      Vladimir is talking about a real problem (and the quality of Unqualified Reservations commenters declined sharply years ago, though regulars still make worthy observations). But the solution isn’t going to be something that implies continuous re-insulation.

      That said, many “Reactionary” blogs could benefit from adopting Laurence Auster’s comment-screening style. But that requires a blogger who is willing to read (and even edit) all potential comments before posting the ones he thinks are worth it.

      Then the chaff can read all they want without being able to intrude on the discussion with their inanities (or outright trolling).

      • VXXC says:

        porphyrogenitus is right. Although I hope you don’t mistake my frustration for trolling. I’m a problem solver. And that’s not what’s wanted. What’s wanted is a seamless office coup. I don’t think it’s in the most far out Tarot cards. But you do [from serious POV] need to at least censor. At least. Of course I realize who needs to be censored. Good Luck, you’ll need it.

      • porphyrogenitus says:

        I do have to correct, or rather amend one thing I said, though: “popularizers” should not be taken as meaning “appeal to the mass.”

        Simply a matter of even reaching an elite audience requires promulgation of ideas. Also, Albert Jay Nock’s “Isaiah’s Job” needs to be kept in mind: just because someone is at the top of the present society, does not mean they are elite in the relevant way (though capturing these people will be necessary; a lot of them are hardly intellectual giants, either. They’re just credentialed).

        So speaking out so that one can be heard and found by the Nockian Remnant is important.

      • nydwracu says:

        The only reason I haven’t set up Auster-style commenting is that I don’t check my email very often.

        I rarely read my own comment section. I’m not sure why I haven’t turned it off yet.

  13. JL02 says:

    1. There is no such thing as a gained cause because there is no such thing as a lost cause. —T.S. Eliot

    2. How exactly is reactionary action possible in a country with philosophical liberalism deep in its bones? Our influences, political and cultural, are Locke, Calvin, Paine, de Sade….for all their differences, they are not traditionalist right. They are revolutionary. Ours is, sadly, a revolutionary country, in its very bones….the founder of our “conservatism,” Burke (whom I like) was not only a Whig but a strong parliamentarian, and Wollstonecraft was exactly right to ask him: “what would you have us do, return to the worship of bread?” Proper reactionary thought, meaning that which leads to action, is impossible, though never a lost cause. France, Spain, pre-Whig England – places of ethno-identification and generations of the landed and long history, have the ability for reaction. We simply do not.

  14. Scharlach says:

    A fair number of us seem to believe that we need to win, and to do so all we need to do is get the proles to rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie . . . When Moldbug wrote about the reboot, step one was getting the elites on our side. Anything else is destructive of order, and better left to some branch of progressivism. A surprising number of “reactionaries” seem to have missed this basic point.

    You’re describing reactionaries who probably signed up for the Tea Party movement: folks who honestly trust the white proles and nominal middle-class to re-create 1950s America once they’ve sent all the progressives to the gibbets.

    It’s not a question of whether white proles could, de novo, create an ethnically and economically stable society. It’s a question of whether or not they have any idea how to do so given the demographic realities of the West (especially America) in 2013. A white prole revolution would be better than a black revolution, a mestizo revolution, or an Islamic revolution . . . but not that much better. Do we think the white proles would march on Washington with copies of Carlyle and Hoppe tucked into their rucksacks? The white proles and middle-class workers who possess the honest virtue which we thrust upon the entire population are, in my experience, exceedingly uninterested in social or political movements. The “salt of the earth” whites are the ones tending hearth and home—they want nothing to do with revolution. So, a white prole revolution would in reality look like this:

  15. Handle says:

    I’d add (as I usually do) that you could also learn from the gays, who have also achieved a Cathedral-enabled remarkably rapid revolution in law and opinion regarding their overall agenda.

    That the military would, in 2013, have mandatory gay pride observances and preparing to recognize “partner benefits”, would have been unimaginable by most people what, even 10 years ago? Today, it’s a boringly predictable fact. It’s already boring talking about when the trannies will get theirs too.

    First, build community. Socialization, conversations, brainstorming, bouncing ideas off each other in a civil, friendly, constructive atmosphere builds relationships, connection and trust. Gradually, the Vision of Order consistent with the Dark Enlightenment will coalesce and emerge from the fog. What the commies and homos had was a dream to work toward. Leadership, organization, strategy, and all the rest can all be figured out later. Try to enjoy yourselves.

    I eagerly await seeing all who can attend the meeting tomorrow in DC! First round’s on me.

    • porphyrogenitus says:

      The main reason they were able to do that is they framed their demands in terms that fit within the essence of Progressive-Liberalism; “the equal ability to satisfy preferences.”

      They were able to frame their demands as a demand for “equal treatment.”

      Reactionaries by definition are not going to be able to succeed by adopting the path of that movement, or the civil rights struggle, or any such. Because the demand reactionaries have is, essentially, to reject the paradigm that these other movements used to advance their claims.

      Reaction does not conform to the logic of “equal ability to satisfy preferences” so it cannot succeed on the terms of that paradigm.

    • Damn, even Blue Label?

  16. mittelwerk says:

    bah. the neoreaction is apparently an ill-funded cabal of declasse intellectuals. you’re the irrationalist left

  17. mittelwerk says:

    the elite exists today by virtue of depoliticization. why would they possibly want to repoliticize? and have to actually “lead’? absurd

    if you’re talking about converting minds, you’re talking about cultural capital — of which you have none. except (largely) among the irrational. the white slave castes, the refied cathlolics, the nationalists. the only broadly rational element are the scientists — extending into social science and libertarianism, most of whom are repressed fascists.

    pollitically, you only make sense as a technocratic fascist dictatorship. presumably there would be a night of the long knives in store for the trads and stormfronters (how ironic!)

  18. Francis St. Pol says:

    Point taken, Foseti, I do have more than a shade of the progressive fondness for victory. I haven’t fully internalized Moldbug’s passivism yet. Really though, I certainly don’t want revolution. The proles overthrowing the bourgeoisie strikes me as implausible, certainly inelegant, definitely undesirable.

    My desire for victory is less rabid Marxist than that, victory at any cost might as well not be victory. All I would like is a plan. In fact, you don’t even have to tell me the plan. I would just like to know that there is one. The plan could just be “let’s socialize, build some community, and then we’ll be in a better place to make the real plan,” as per Handle’s comment. Frankly, this, in combination with Nick Steves’ admonition to “be fruitful and multiply” strikes me as the right thing to do.

    As an aside, I think superficial Communist attributes are actually not too much of a bad thing. It confuses the immune system. Moldbug’s description of the Plinth is extremely Communist in structure.

  19. s says:

    This is a great post. One of you best. I actually feel good

  20. RS says:

    It might help if we spread out some. Our destiny after all is Infinity. I have just framed up a new philosophical cathedral, click me.

    As Mencius once put it, feel free to sound off on random topics as long as it’s interesting.

    My biggest influences are Nietzsche, and among bloggers probably Thrasymachus, though I acknowledge a debt to Mencius.

    I’m reading Thucydides and will be re-starting Stirner. (I stall out often.)

  21. hardly says:

    I still dont get why reactionaries need to be kneejerk opposed to AGW. I think the science behind it sounds entirely plausible. While the horror scenarios painted by the leftist freaks may be unlikely to become reality, there is still a good chance that carbon emissions are heating the atmosphere.
    The ozone hole and cigarette-lung cancer thing were leftist freak shows which both proved to be correct, I think AGW will be the same. And perhaps even the pesticide-hormone imbalance thing.

    Reactionaries are expected to be realists, and being suspicious of the impact of technology and massive environmental change is supposed to be a reactionary impulse. I would honestly prefer to outright oppose any and all technology until and unless it is proven safer than anything it replaces.
    In other words I would support nuclear power, one reason being it pollutes less than coal.

    • Randy Miller says:

      I think the opposition is supposed to be considered rather than kneejerk.

    • Vladimir says:

      The worst consequence of the modern ideological and bureaucratic corruption of academia is not that we have lies pushed on us. (Though of course that also happens a lot, and is bad enough by itself.) The worst problem is that whole areas of knowledge become one horrible cloud of squid ink, in which enormous intellectual labor has been spent to obfuscate and obscure the important questions. An attempt to form a sensible opinion about them is thus made far more difficult than if they were completely novel and unexplored — because every source of information is hopelessly poisoned by ideologically motivated sophistries that are extremely difficult to pick apart. All questions relevant to the global warming controversies are certainly in this category nowadays.

      In this case, though, one must admit that if a strong catastrophist position were to be proved true, and uncontrolled CO2 emissions would really cause a civilization-ending cataclysm, this would basically constitute an irrefutable vindication of progressivism. It would mean that we are about to be destroyed by a global tragedy of the commons, which can be prevented only by installing an all-powerful world government of global regulators whose actions are guided by the prescriptions of official science. (In other words, by implementing the ultimate progressive ideal. Small wonder that progressives are so eager to treat this as a foregone conclusion!)

      It does however seem that such a strong catastrophist scenario is extremely unlikely, and for anything lesser one can still argue that the progressives’ favored cure would be worse than the disease. But the practical certainty is that whatever strong measures are taken to mitigate the problem, whether it’s is real or imaginary in the first place, in the real world of today they are going to be a de facto Enabling Act for the progressives.

      • hardly says:

        In several issues, however, it seems like a global governing body is the only thing that can keep us from tipping over the cliff. And they are all a consequence of modern technology (which, as opposed to pure science,strikes me as a progressive endeavor). One form of progress necessitating another form of progress, and so on in an endless cycle.
        Examples include overfishing, AGW, ozone holes, nukes, river water sharing disputes.. In the absence of a hegemon like the US, it does seem like every other country in the world would tear the planet apart in its search for an edge over its rivals.

        The field with maximum potential for intergroup rivalry, War, saw the quickest advances in technology over the centuries. And in the 20th century, military technology went so overboard that war became a decidedly bad thing, and along with the decline of war, there was a decline of masculinity and the warrior ideal in society. We don’t have knights and samurai and kshatriyas in today’s societies, because we no longer need them, and that is one major reason why our societies are so feminized. The fault does not lie with pacifists, but with the excellent inventors who ensured that our boys could massacre entire towns at the touch of a button.
        Does being a reactionary preclude acceptance of some sort of world government?

    • I don’t think its kneejerk. Reactionaries are skeptical about most things, and AGW has a whole boatload of dependencies about which to be skeptical. As an antimodernist, nothing would please me more than to find the very engine of modernity (cheap abundant energy stored up over 200 million yrs) would sow the seeds of its own destruction. But it is very, VERY implausible… and even if its true, then there’s every reason to believe that it would be a net benefit for humanity anyway.

    • Bill says:

      You are begging the question. The things Steve McIntyre and to a lesser extent Anthony Watts have revealed by turing over a few CAGW rocks are pretty unsettling.

      The back of the envelope stories about how CAGW is supposed to work are plausible, I agree. But the details of what the science says and how it is done are very problematic.

      There is a strain of neocon “thought”on CAGW which is embarassingly stupid. But almost everything about neocon thought is embarassingly stupid. It’s also true that most paleos and reactionaries get there via one or another strain of neoconnery, so it takes a while for them to lose the stupid. None of this means that there is no smart case against CAGW.

  22. Wholeheartedly agree with this post. I couldn’t help but snicker when supposed ‘reactionaries’ were discussing ways to convert the proles or have them overthrow the elites. Perhaps they forget that things CAN ALWAYS get worse. Always, except perhaps in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. If you think the SWPLized, hyper progressive USA is hell, you’ll be pining for it after a smoldering revolution.
    No.more.revolutions. <- That should be our motto.

  23. there is a clear, concise, obvious, fully American, neo-progressive solution: Guaranteed Income / Choose Your Boss – the free market safety net.


  24. Orthodox says:

    When was the last time Anglo-Saxons went in for revolution? I’ve always thought a “revolution” would be along the lines of Pinochet, a hostile takeover. I don’t think it’s outlandish to think reactionaries could win over the proles in such a situation. There is no need to convert many of the elites because the point of such a revolution is their removal. They can still run banks, media and academia, but their access to politics will be severely restricted. Let them bake cakes.

    • spandrell says:

      No government can give up control of media and academia. They’re as part of the government as any other agency.

  25. spandrell says:

    “Does being a reactionary preclude acceptance of some sort of world government?”

    It precludes thinking it is possible. World government would collapse in weeks. The USSR was 80% Russian and it had to GULAG them into submission. Imagine a world government trying to assert its authority.

    • Vladimir says:

      It’s not like a world government would require every street in the world patrolled by cops with “World Government” badges. A world empire run by local satrapies would be completely plausible and workable. The USG-run Western world is already not very far from that.

      • Foseti says:

        Basically colonialism re-imagined.

        It’s also worth pointing out at a world government that actually represented the interests of the world’s population probably wouldn’t turn its immediate attention to protecting fish (and other decaying first world problems). The people in such a scenario would be Chinese and Indian.

    • mittelwerk says:

      it’s not “world government,” it’s “global civil society,” it’s real, it’s here, it’s happening — dialectically (your favorite word). bear in mind one of the primary architects the eu was former existentialist-stalinist philosopher turned eurocrat (and kgb agent) alexandre kojeve, authentic source of the updated fukuyama “end of history” thesis

  26. Arred Wade says:

    I’m not interested in the reformation of society because the natural order will assert itself regardless of historical human action. I’m skeptical, however, that individual freedom is part of that order, and I’m not sure the average reactionary will abandon that value as quickly as he does progress.

    So I am interested in seeing the conversation progress in other, less romantic ways, like identifying ways that reactionaries can exempt themselves and their heirs from the excesses of progressive corruption.

  27. A Lady says:

    If the 40s and 50s are your primary sources, you’re already a lost cause.

    • Foseti says:

      “If the 40s and 50s are your primary sources, you’re already a lost cause.”

      Depends on the subject, no doubt. It’s hard to find any earlier sources for the communists and USG, for example

  28. Most reactionary bloggers are in a dark room when it comes to politics.

    This isn’t to say I am a political expert, but rather that I recognize that I am less the black knight at the tournament and more the neurotic black rat raiding the catering pantry.

  29. SOBL1 says:

    There is value in reaching out to normies. You need a two pronged attack: get the elites to see the value of switching systems since they actually control things, but also get proles to see the awfulness of the current system so they don’t itch for a return of the old. Even if a junking of democracy was possible, there would be an itch to return to some voting unless enough people were persuaded that it has no value. Spengler + Vico both called for democracies to give way to Caesarism/monarchy. Modern reactionaries on the Internet are a symptom of that coming transition.

  30. Liquid Proxy says:

    I’m not sure if my comment is ending up in moderation or something, so here goes last try…

    I think your comment: “If you’re here for the revolution, you’re not a reactionary.”

    is provocative and I wanted to reply to it but my comment got way too long so I replied here:

  31. Christopher says:

    Very funny. This is the plot of The Illuminatus! Trilogy in a nutshell, with Foseti playing the repentant Satan.

  32. […] Foseti says the elites must be won. Which elites? We need a typology of them. […]

  33. […] added fuel to the already burning question here, attacking the growing dextro-Maoist wing of […]

  34. […] the sort that that can be used to acquire further formal power. Note that this is not necessarily progressive; in fact, current trends are pointing toward eventual violent implosion. Over a quarter of […]

  35. […] curmudgeonly cynicism about youthful enthusiasm, these concerns, and a strain of pessimism that accompanies the recognition that the Cathedral owns media […]

  36. The mob might be useful or it might not be. I think the key is more winning broad, but not deep support; Namely, getting people from different walks of life on board, with an emphasis on the elites. I find technological and military elites to be the most important.

    If there’s optimism, it’s precisely because winning over the gummed masses is besides the point. We are (the sycophants of) the one percent.

  37. […] Foseti exposes progressives among us! […]

  38. […] Foseti exposes progressives among us! (Gasps all round.) […]

  39. […] “Neoreactionaries are explicitly courting wealthy elites in the tech sector as the most receptive and influential […]

  40. The Crowd knows no master but itself. Thus any revolution, for any cause, will end up devolving to the same Crowd objectives.

  41. Dude, nothing chaps my ass worse than a “reactionary” posting Soviet propaganda not-ironically. If materialistic determinism and class struggle is part of your “reaction,” you probably deserve the oven just as much as the prog academic.

  42. […] strange as it sounds, Brin may be closest to the truth. Neoreactionaries are explicitly courting wealthy elites in the tech sector as the most receptive and influential audience. Why […]

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