Friday, February 14, 2014

OK, here we go

I'm apparently arriving somewhat late to the party.  While I've been busy withdrawing in disgust (not the same as apathy), for a few years and accelerating in November of 2012, an ideology has been taking shape in the interwebs that pretty much nails it for me.  As it turns out, I am a Neoreactionary.

There are tons of ways into this topic.  I'm not going to attempt a large overview of the topic of the Dark Enlightenment, or my place in it, at least not yet.  For right now, I'm just going to start with a few posts on individual ways into the topic.

Here is Michael Anissimov laying out his 6 principles of Neoreactionary thought.  They are:

1.  People are not equal. They never will be. We reject equality in all its forms. 
2.  Right is right and left is wrong.
3.  Hierarchy is basically a good idea.
4.  Traditional sex roles are basically a good idea. 
5.  Libertarianism is retarded.
6.  Democracy is irredeemably flawed and we need to do away with it.

There is a lot to say on all of these principles.  I'm pretty much on board with all of them, with various caveats.  Suffice to say, I am on board with the traditional organizing principles of European Judeo Christian society, which more or less emerged organically through generations of trial and error, and emerged thus for a reason, with massively beautiful and successful results.  I firmly oppose the notion that traditions of millenia should all be put on the table and, if found wanting by the smart set of the previous 5 minutes, discarded.  What colossal arrogance.  So I'm against gay "marriage," I'm for the Catholic church (at least as it existed until the 1960s or so).

Libertarianism, I have always been suspicious of.  I have never been fond of Ayn Rand, because when you pick up one of her novels in a bookstore sometimes a blow-in drops out advertising the "Objectivist society."  I never liked that.  What kind of philosophy requires a club?  Answer, the same kind that, in my experience, appeals to young people who are kind of smart but also have a nasty streak, and who lean leftist even though they're reading Ayn Rand -- i.e., they hate Christianity which they see as weak, they value power, they probably smirked on 9/11, they think abortion is funny.  (More down the road re: whether the basic neoreactionary principles speak equally well to people who currently find themselves approaching neoreaction from the left, as opposed to from the right such as myself -- to include reflections on modern liberalism's monarchical, anti-democratic, and racist impulses.  Are we, modern left and right, really that different after all, or is it just a matter of which illusions fall away in which order?  Is it possible that they've been ahead of me all along?).  Ok, libertarianism.  I've never liked Ron Paul's appeal to 9/11 truthers and anti-semites (I am pro-European, pro-Israel, pro-war, and anti-Islam, and that aspect of my political awakening has been unchanged over the last decade including since the rise of Obama; if anything, what is revealed is the impassable distance between my ideal world and the world as it currently exists -- thus, disengagement).  For now, suffice to say that libertarianism doesn't work for me because it isn't a system that exists, or could exist for long, in the real world. 

Equality: I'm thoroughly on board with pretty much everything John Derbyshire has ever said on this topic.  This includes, it bears noting, that

"[t]he default principle in everyday personal encounters is, that as a fellow citizen, with the same rights and obligations as yourself, any individual black is entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to a nonblack citizen. That is basic good manners and good citizenship

This is the main caveat I would advance in this regard, and it seems like Derbyshire enunciates a principle that is at odds with Anissimov's rejection of equality "in all its forms," since I do think you should be basically equally nice to everybody unless there's a reason to do otherwise.  I'm not sure I'm ready to reject the fundamental modern conservative principle of equality under the law either.  Other than that, yeah, obviously human populations are not equal, any way you look at it.  By the way, that's a good thing, because I actually value diversity and want different countries to have their own cultures and traditions, unlike everyone in the world who says that they value diversity (to borrow from Mark Steyn and Tyler Durden, the modern leftist bromides about valuing diversity are pure crap, meant to absolve the good liberal from any curiosity at all about the noble, hard working, brown people of wherever).  So what I would do is start out with an ethnically homogeonous society, which it seems to me is, in any case, a prerequisite for a state that is sustainable over the long term (and, importantly, in which freedom can actually be maximized).  Starting with a populace who are of one general ethnic group such that civil war is not inevitable and a unique culture may be preserved, I'd then grant rights of citizenship based on one's stake in the society -- e.g., the US founding fathers providing for the vote to property owners; and my own notion (shared by at least some neoreactionaries) that anyone on the dole should not get to vote.  I expand "dole" to include anyone who works for the government.  

At this point I have come round to another discussion I must promise for down the road, and that is the question of whether democracy is inherently fatally flawed, or whether, to paraphrase our friends on the left, it just hasn't been done properly yet.  If I find that the founding fathers basically had the right idea, but it was not properly implemented, that they got some details wrong, or that it did work out for a while (say, up until Andrew Jackson), can I still be a member of your dark enlightenment?  There is a lot to say about this question.  For example, it seems like in George Washington's ideal republic, there would not only be a homogenous population sharing a single culture, but also the world of things which are open to political resolution would be so narrow (as modern conservatives say, the government which governs least) that the evil is so minimized that a republic of like-minded property owning men could make a go of it.  The problems we see now, exemplified most dramatically by the Obama Problem (democracy leads ultimately to a scramble for the carcass, rapidly accelerating once you pass the tipping point of where more than half the people depend on government theft from the suckers who still work for their living), are perhaps not problems inherent in democracy, but just problems with implementation, problems with not foreseeing dangers down the road -- e.g., what happened to the "property owning" requirement for voting?  Did a majority of property owners vote that away?  Hard to imagine that happened.  In brief, could not George Washington's ideal republic not be just as good as life under an englightened monarch?  Hard to say.  What's so good about voting?  The problem today is so much is at stake in political life, the scramble is total, everything can be voted on, no rights are respected.  If government truly governed least, and we had a society which shared the basic values which were set out in the constitution, elections would not matter nearly so much.  Jefferson, or Adams?  You know, I'm basically pretty good either way.  Did democracy itself undo the conditions precedent that allowed for a George Washington style constitutional republic, while it lasted?  I don't know, and that's interesting, but kind of academic as far as I'm concerned.  There is ultimately no political solution, because the problems are at root civilizational.  Anyway, yes, I am in the dark enlightenment, regardless of whether democracy is ultimately complete crap or, alternatively, not total crap but only so long as it exists within an ethnically and culturally homogenous society and is severely limited in the range of matters to be decided, because I'm interested in peeling way, way, way back, not just to the questions that are weighed on Politico and NRO, and what Mitt Romney could have done better, but where we went wrong centuries ago (and because, as you see, I am long winded, and I love thinking about the Hapsburgs, Schopenhauer, De Maistre, all kinds of great stuff that helps me forget I'm living in the Age of Obama.  Hey, for some it's Lord of the Rings, I'll daydream about the 1890s and what could have been).  Romney losing was not a loss, it was the revelation of a loss that had already happened.  Was Obama's rise in 2008 a big mistake?  Were people simply swept up in euphoria and not paying attention?  No, as it turns out, it wasn't a mistake. It is actually indicative of where the country is.  In other words, America ended long ago.  Do I want whichever republican emerges next to defeat Hillary in 2016?  Sure why not, but as the lady herself might say, what difference does it make?  In the last decade, I thought there was urgent action to be taken in the field of politics.  I was wrong.  In fact, we have been on a dramatically wrong course for a long, long time, and I simply can no longer get myself worked up about any issue upon which I might conceivably have the opportunity to vote, as if my vote would mean anything anyway.  What remains is what ultimately remained for Voltaire -- keeping one's own garden, etc.  I'll try to make myself comfortable and hope Obama, his successors, and my fellow "Americans" mostly ignore me until I die of cancer or, more likely, am murdered by a gang of children at some point.