Spending all your time figuring out what kind of “-ism” you and your friends believe in so that you can call each other “whatever-ists” is no way to improve the world.

It’s come to my attention over the last week or so that a new (to me) group of folks has taken a shining to some of my writings.i

Exhibit A: A trackback

Outside In - trackbackExhibit B: A tweetii

butch leghorn tweet

So this thing calls itself “neoreactionism,” its adherents are therefore known to one another as “neoreactionists,” and they’re quite taken with the fact that someone with a superficially similar worldview seems to know a thing or two about this Bitcoin thing everyone has been talking about for the last few years. That’s cool. Nothing wrong with that.

But what is “neoreactioism,” or “nrx,”, anyways? And why has it taken them so long to grok Bitcoin and “the real world” ?

Starting quite naturally with the comments in response to Nick Land‘s republishing of my post,iii flowing from the article seen in Exhibit A, it appears that your run-of-the-mill neoreactionary’s head is little more than a whacky zoo of blatant confusion. To whit:

Exhibit C: Selected quotes from Kgaard

The real question to ask: How do you create a crypto-currency whose value is stable against, say, a basket of gold, commodities and fiat currencies? Then you might have something … [...]

Egold … I like the sound of that. But of course now we are confronted with a meta-problem: A ridiculously low barrier to entry to get into the crypto-currency business, leading to a proliferation of crypto-currencies. Taken as a whole, crypto currencies themselves are a form of fiat! Even worse than fiat, actually, since you can’t use them to pay your taxes … [...]

By the way that Dushenski essay is horrible. We have gone far, far beyond every point he makes here on this blog, 10 times. He also makes a bunch of dumb mistakes that we have corrected here as well. [...]

Over time I could see bitcoin going to zero, actually. It will be like the beer can collecting craze of 1976, which cost me a couple hundred bucks when the bottom fell out. [...]

I contend bitcoin is fundamentally flawed and that a zero valuation is one among several possible scenarios. Its only use is providing anonymity. I presume there are other ways to do that — and if there aren’t yet there will be soon. [...]

bitcoin is utterly, completely useless and is properly worth zero. It’s not a store of value, not a widely-accepted medium of exchange and not a widely recognized unit of account. It can’t grow into the two latter functions because it is not, and never will be, a reliable store of value. So it’s useless, and thus worthless.

Basically, some dood who thought that beer cans were beanie babies thinks he understands a lot more about economics and money than he really does. But hey, that’s just one example, right?

Exhibit D: Selected quotes from soapjackal

https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Open_Transactions

competition.

Obviously bitcoin is a commodity that has many similarities to gold but trying to just upend the entire economy sphere with one commodity isnt going to work out so well. OT just takes the useful functions of bitcoin and expands upon them into not just crypto-currencies but a full sweet of crypto market tools. [...]

The bitcoin debate has come to the point where people realize its not going to usher in the new era and honestly it doesnt have the rhetorical bite it used to.

Yes, this is what self-described neoreactionaries think Bitcoin is – a rhetorical device! – not, y’know, what it actually is: a WMD. But that’s just two of them right? They can’t all be this bad!

Let’s give Nick a shot at defending the good name of the neoreaction/nrx. From Premises of Neoreaction:

1. Democracy is unable to control government. With this proposition, the effective possibility of a mainstream right is denied.

My reading of history is that democracy seemed to work pretty well for the British, the Romans and the Greeks when the franchise included only land-owning men who knew how to stay rich, that is, the voting class was composed of gentlemen with the time, energy, and resources to reflect, debate, and at least have the potential to consider something other than their own self-interest.

The post-post-modern democracy, on the other hand, wherein the ability to find the voting booth on the right day at the right time is sufficient to have a voice, is unsurprisingly borked. Whether it can “control the government” is a matter of perspective. If you’re inclined to grant the locus of control to a lentivirus, even if it eventually kills its host, then surely the democratic form is similarly capable. I mean, who says that control means indefinite survival? Nothing last forever, the difference between superior political forms and inferior ones is what’s created while they’re around. If your system creates presidential bottle openers that break off in your hand, it’s inferior. If your system creates art and bowling pins, it’s superior. Simple as that.

Also, what’s with this obsession with “mainstream” ? Since when is anything good and worthwhile “mainstream” ? Ask the redditards how that little plan is working out for them.

Insofar as any political movement retains its allegiance to the democratic mechanism, it conspires in the ratchet of government expansion, and thus essentially dedicates itself to leftist ends.

It would seem to me that this left-right dichotomy is entirely artificial, distinct from democracy as such, and that this two-party thinking is a brand of retardation unique to the American mind. I swear, nowhere else on the planet do we see such rigid adherence to platonic forms. Just because FDR pooched the US federal government, doesn’t mean that democracy is pooched too.

The gateway from Libertarianism to Neoreaction opens with this understanding. As a corollary, any politics untroubled by expansionist statism has no reason to divert itself into the neoreactionary path.

Interesting. So apparently there’s a somewhat normative route for those who arrive at neoreactionism, they’re libertarian drop-outs! I guess it makes sense that libertarians would eventually figure out that you can’t just live in the jungle of Chile, you just sorta wonder why they take this particular “gateway.” I mean, it’s not like nrx is any less of an undergraduate-level circlejerk.

2. The egalitarianism essential to democratic ideology is incompatible with liberty. This proposition is partially derivative from #1, but extends further. When elaborated historically, and cladistically, it aligns with the Crypto-Calvinist theory of Western (and then Global) political evolution. The critique it announces intersects significantly with the rigorous findings of HBD. The conclusions drawn are primarily negative, which is to say they support a principled rejection of positive egalitarian policy. Emergent hierarchy is at least tolerated. More assertive, ‘neofeudal’ models of ideal social hierarchy are properly controversial within Neoreaction.

With regards to the absurdity of egalitarianism and its associated progressivisms, neoreactionists and I have little dispute. I’ll give credit where credit is due. In fact, I’ll do one better, I’ll even let another one of the neoreactionairies, Butch of Exhibit B fame, expand on this point :

Homogeneous states exist because throughout time, one ethnic group always either subsumes, ejects or kills the other groups. This is humanity. Like it or not. To say that we should not behave that way is to be Utopian,  and is to ignore the reality of human interaction. To think that one could educate populations to coexist peacefully is Utopian. To believe that competitions amongst the human animal can be arrested, that the Hobbesian war of all-against-all can be negotiated, that the evolution of the species can be halted, is disastrously ignorant of the true nature of the human life.

Currently, Myanmar is trying to deal with its Muslim minority through deportation and second-class citizenship. This is actually the nice way to handle it.

Quite so. Now back to Nick:

3. Neoreactionary socio-political solutions are ultimately Exit-based. In every case, exit is to be defended against voice. No society or social institution which permits free exit is open to any further politically efficient criticism, except that which systematic exit selection itself applies. Given the absence of tyranny (i.e. free exit), all forms of protest and rebellion are to be considered leftist perversions, without entitlement to social protection of any kind. Government, of whatever traditional or experimental form, is legitimated from the outside — through exit pressure — rather than internally, through responsiveness to popular agitation. The conversion of political voice into exit-orientation (for instance, revolution into secessionism), is the principal characteristic of neoreactionary strategy.

Basically, neoreactionists are advocating for a lot of niceness and a lot of warm huggy peace. I guess I’m starting to see how one goes from libertarianism to this after all… Still, it’s pretty naive posturing and quite ignores what it means to take and hold power. As such, their not-entirely-broken-but-not-entirely-whole notions of how they’d like the world to be will never see the light of day.

Because yes, life is war, life is a competition, and life is a matter of having the resources to see your ideas through. And no, life is not about how you represent yourself to your friends and parents. Let other people worry about what to call you. Make your job to improve the world. Make your job to go for the fucking throat.

All in all, Nick’s blog, and the others like it that I came across, spend a lot of time and energy defining, redefining, debating, and trying to encapsulate their ideologies into a variety of “isms” so that the authors can then call their little cohort a “whatever-ists.” The neoreaction movement, such as it is, appears to be little more than some young men looking, somewhat aimlessly, for a shepherd to give them a sense of identity.

Ultimately, this is the difference between neoreactionaries who spend days, weeks, months, and years screaming “this is what we believe!!1″ and La Serenissima, which says quite matter-of-factly and without further philosophising, “this is what we do.”

This is why they have slapfests and we put heads on spikes.

That’s just how the world works.

___ ___ ___

  1. This would certainly be the advantage of a blog over the pretend-powers of social media. Whereas social media only catches the attention of people you directly know or have paid (via clickscams) to have see your latest blurb, your own blog is just there, ready and waiting for someone to stumble across it and interpret it through their own existential lens. It’s a beautiful thing, this. []
  2. “In the real world!” At last!

    This is a very important and very revealing point as to the base of the neoreactionary philosophy. Neoreactionaries are entirely cognisant of their fantastical dreaming and yet somehow seem to imagine that mebbe if they just refine their points sharply enough, mebbe if they find a catchy enough label to “go mainstream,” they’ll be able to move out of mom and dad’s basement! While they deride progressives for their utopianism, they’re every bit as enslaved by the same type of magic thinking.

    Must be an American thing. []

  3. Kudos to Nick for actually having his own blog and his own hosting. While there appears to a sizeable NRx blog network, a truly shocking number of them are using blogspot and wordpress freebies.

    Because what better way to change the world than by putting your balls in the enemy’s mouth, amirite? []

14 thoughts on “Spending all your time figuring out what kind of “-ism” you and your friends believe in so that you can call each other “whatever-ists” is no way to improve the world.

  1. kgaard_fan says:

    Kgaard is real NRx. The rest are just entryists using the label to give it a bad name.

  2. Alrenous says:

    Land’s comment is to be taken in the long term. Restricted democracy always leads to universal democracy, or rather what you call post-post-democracy. Further, the focus is on ‘mainstream right.’ Without widespread suffrage, the ‘mainstream’ is irrelevant anyway. In either model, there is no mainstream right.
    Finally Land is probably using his own idiosyncratic, ‘outer’ right definition, which means nomotropic rule with some spices.
    The actual point is to remind NRx not to make doe eyes at Republicants just because they’re not quite as toxic as Demobrats. This also applies to Putin.

    http://alrenous.blogspot.com/2014/07/exit.html

    Come to think, a restricted democracy isn’t. It’s an aristocracy with a somewhat broadened definition of ‘aristocrat.’ This conflict between political theory and practice is all you need to predict the universal suffrage teleology. (Also it’s dumb. “Let’s have an aristocracy but let some of the slower kids play too.” How about not?) The game theory is harder.

    • Land’s comment is to be taken in the long term.

      Speaking of Nick, I found Quote Notes (#63) to be a useful complement to the above explanation of neoreactionism. From which: The first point is valid. The second point is ignorant of Bitcoin businesses, which are also properly sovereign, but this is a wicked one to grok so it’s completely understandable. The third point misses that “good government” isn’t a thing to speak of, it merely survives or it doesn’t – that’s its efficiency. Point four is true for Bitcoin businesses but I don’t see that it would apply to businesses burdened by geography and therefore the whims of its hosts. Point five is pretty damning – this “never been tried but I swear it’ll work” philosophy can only be predicated on a new technology, which doesn’t appear to be part of the equation here. Point six needs to better define “success” to make sense. Point seven is bang-on: the Internet is fucking shit up. Lastly, I’m sympathetic to the vision of city-states proposed by point eight. Heh, maybe I should’ve ran with this Nick Land manifesto instead…

      Further, the focus is on ‘mainstream right.’ Without widespread suffrage, the ‘mainstream’ is irrelevant anyway. In either model, there is no mainstream right.

      Then we agree. Down with mainstreamism!

      Finally Land is probably using his own idiosyncratic, ‘outer’ right definition, which means nomotropic rule with some spices.

      Nomotropism, for those following along as home, is ‘acting in light of rules, though not necessarily in conformity with them.’ You NRx’ers and your dictionary-busting verbiage! In any event, how a set of rules can be spicier or blander is quite unclear to me. My guess is that simply having more rules isn’t the key here and that what you’re suggesting is more along the lines of exotic laws, such as “No walking faster than 10 kph,” “No talking at more than 84.4 dB,” or “No Bengalese tigers in daycares between the hours of 8 am – 5 pm.” Any state crazy enough to make up rules like this, or even rules limiting free speech, should be exited without further delay.

      The actual point is to remind NRx not to make doe eyes at Republicants just because they’re not quite as toxic as Demobrats. This also applies to Putin.

      NRx’ers don’t like Putin? But he understands how the world works!

      Thanks for the link. One quote in there clarified the “Exit” position nicely:

      To truly have Exit, the institution’s survival must be under the power of its putative beneficiaries.

      Basically, Exit = strong form of opt-out that’s more than a skipped restaurant bill and less than a visit to the pearly gates. I’m slow, but by golly I think I’ve got this one.

      Come to think, a restricted democracy isn’t. It’s an aristocracy with a somewhat broadened definition of ‘aristocrat.’ This conflict between political theory and practice is all you need to predict the universal suffrage teleology. (Also it’s dumb. “Let’s have an aristocracy but let some of the slower kids play too.” How about not?) The game theory is harder.

      Ok, so let’s call it an aristocracy then. Still, showing a slow kid or two that there’s an open door to opportunities and wealth, even if said kid never have a real shot and never gets to physically walk through said door, could create a sense of competition among those legitimately jockeying for position. At least to the extent that all of the legitimate candidates have already been either taken in or blocked out permanently. This is probably a very nuanced thing for the leader to manage, but with this risk comes the reward of a less demanding and less stagnant aristocracy. A little competition is a good thing, but it’s up to each leader to decide where to draw the line.

    • Alrenous says:

      I might have broken your comment system, this might be a double post. Finding what I did wrong experimentally. If this works, it’s because every spam filter hates unqualified reservations, because apparently Moldbug really did piss off the establishment.

      By spices I mean Land’s idea of not-left has more to it than I wrote, but I think the details aren’t relevant here. E.g. techno-commercialism feeds off entropy rather than being destroyed by it.

      Putin does understand much of the world, but he isn’t your friend. Even if he was, ultimately he still works within a democratic system, which fact is likely to ravage Russia sooner or later.

      This is probably a very nuanced thing for the leader to manage

      There is a leader, then, who is then the head aristocrat. Might as well call him ‘king’ and have done with it. A king who has property right in the area, which is where anarchism and patchwork unify. Property because 1) that’s how it’s traditionally done, 2) that’s how you align incentive for long-term stewardship, and 3) Hurlock’s sovereignty.

  3. John says:

    Kgaard’s thoughts on Bitcoin are not representative of the neoreactionary take on the subject. He is a strong supporter of the current monetary system and is constantly taken to task on Land’s blog by other posters who do not agree that money printing is awesome and totally sustainable.

    The neoreactionary take on Bitcoin seems split between enthusiastic support and curmudgeonly distrust/disbelief.

  4. Alrenous says:

    Oh, and 6/10 bait, made me reply.

    And why has it taken them so long to grok Bitcoin and “the real world” ?

    https://twitter.com/Alrenous/status/555445766513496064 Posted before I read the above, I can’t be arsed to actually compare dates, but I suspect written before yours. Note who faved each one.

    unqualified” “-reservations.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-monetary-restandardization.html

    As with the other comment, spam filters hate and fear UR, so I broke the link on purpose. Again, too lazy to do it properly.

    • Alrenous says:

      You will of course object to the specifics of the UR link, but that’s not the point. The point is it was written in 2011, and I read it in 2011.

    • Putin does understand much of the world, but he isn’t your friend. Even if he was, ultimately he still works within a democratic system, which fact is likely to ravage Russia sooner or later.

      Every form of government ravages its people “sooner or later.” (And as to Russia, my guess is later). That’s just how the incentives align. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing either. For better or worse, humankind’s greatest feats are built on the backs of a million unknown, unseen, unheard underlings. We wouldn’t have the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, or even the more modest Palace of Versailles were it not for the toil of many. The trick, if there is such a thing, is to find yourself on the right side of the barrel, or at least holding the whip. Some of this we have control over, some not, it depends entirely on our individual net worth.

      There is a leader, then, who is then the head aristocrat. Might as well call him ‘king’ and have done with it. A king who has property right in the area, which is where anarchism and patchwork unify. Property because 1) that’s how it’s traditionally done, 2) that’s how you align incentive for long-term stewardship, and 3) Hurlock’s sovereignty

      Ok, so the leader of an aristocracy is a king. Not that kings can’t have elections, mind you.

      As to the “traditionally done” bit, that sorta falls apart with Bitcoin, which is essentially borderless property that can’t be coercively taxed. Sure, there will still be property taxes, liquor taxes, fuel taxes, and the like, but income tax will be entirely voluntary. Assuming you’re just renting, exit couldn’t possibly be easier.

      6/10 bait

      Then the threshold for a comment must’ve been 5.9/10. As I’ve quite enjoyed this conversation, I’ll take it.

      Note who faved each one.

      Ha! Well there you go. From his interest in my reactionary article, I figured Land had at least a passing interest in Bitcoin. Good to know that you do as well!

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