03 September 2012

The Neoreactionary Programme

I've not been sure, in the years since I started reading Mencius Moldbug and moving towards neoreaction, that we neoreactionaries really exist. Is this really a school which has a future, or is it just a wild idea of a handful that has probably always been around and probably always will be without going anwhere?

However, it seems that our enemies have noticed us, so it looks like the anti-enlightenment is a thing that exists. Since we exist, what is our programme?

The main thing about the neoreactionary programme is that there isn't one. A programme is something a political movement has, and we are not a political movement, we are an anti-political movement.

The nearest thing we have is what Moldbug put forward as The Procedure

Step 1: Become worthy
Step 2: Accept power
Step 3: Rule!!1!

We are not competing for power, we are preparing to accept power.

The time is not yet ripe for power to come into neoreactionary hands. It is fortunate that the time is not ripe, because neoreactionaries are not ready.

Indeed, we're not, or at least I'm not, even preparing to accept power personally. If we win, we will not rule, but our ideas will. The people who rule will probably be the same bastards who rule now, but with better ideas and a better political formula. After all, the idea of neocameralism is that rich people have power. The idea of monarchy is that the hereditary King has power. Neoreactionaries are in the business of producing theories for other people to rule by. I don't want to be a Royal Advisor, let alone a King, but I hope that some Royal Advisor will have read my blog.

Our activity for the present is not to enact our ideas, or even, primarily, to spread our ideas. It is to improve our ideas. What we have is little more than a set of principles: a loosely-connected collection of features of a good society. For example:
  • Competition for power is illegitimate
  • Equality is a false goal
  • The hierarchy of security needs: peace, order, law, freedom.
  • Government requires personal responsibility
The difficult question is what social structures can exist which would exhibit these features. I reject Moldbug's neocameralism as unstable. I suggest absolute monarchy as the alternative, but not with very great confidence. I advance the idea in order to test it: to understand how it might fail, and to search for alternatives.

For the last couple of months, I have been hanging out more with libertarians — more than I did when I actually was a libertarian. I've been doing that to talk to them about my ideas, in order to refine and improve them. I can talk to libertarians because I used to be one, and I can explain neoreaction as a development of libertarianism because for me that is what it is*. I am not talking to them in order to convince them (though I wouldn't mind that); I am talking to them in order to get their criticisms. And I'm not looking specifically for libertarian criticisms, it's just that they're the easiest for me to talk to. (Does that mean I'm looking for my keys under the lamppost? Probably).

(When I was a libertarian, participation in libertarian meetings was a bit pointless: "You think drugs should be legalised and taxes should be lower? So do I. No, actually I don't drink.")

So stage 1 of the Procedure is still in progress, and the essence of it is to improve our ideas to the point where they have a good chance of actually working. That means explaining how a neoreactionary ruler can resist challenges, and how neoreactionary principles can be applied in various plausible scenarios of future systemic breakdown. We really want a lot of detail on this — the equivalent of at least tens of books — and we need it to be good. (The list of principles I scribbled above could use some work, too).

Propaganda really isn't a priority. In the sort of scenarios where success is feasible, public opinion will be very fluid, and a small group who know what they're doing will be able to carry the public with them to the degree necessary.

It is worth keeping in mind that knowledge of the faults of democracy already exist in the public consciousness, just dormant or buried under strata of habit and conventional wisdom. It's not necessary for us to actively argue that (a) the present government is terrible, and (b) the other lot are more or less equally bad. Most intelligent people already accept both. We only have to wait for those facts to become relevant. At that point the task will not be to attack the old system, it will be to show a feasible and superior alternative. That's what we should be preparing for.

 *Of course, it doesn't have to be. One could come to neoreaction from mainstream conservatism, or from distributism, or from nationalism. In theory it would be possible to come via a kind of luddite environmentalism, but that would probably create a lot of friction.


Unknown said...

I am sympathetic to the reactionary worldview, but I my skepticism filter went off when reading this post (as well as MM's program). "Honing our ideas" is important, but sounds like it's just a way to make internet wankery sound like Important Business. More importantly, there's no measure of success on that front.

It's an important question though: what objective metrics of success should we be using? Propaganda is not worthless; I would indeed like to use something like "prevalence of these memes in elite and mainstream culture" as a metric - with specific memes that we agree on beforehand.

sconzey said...

Actually, I *do* want to be king.

candide3 said...

sounds like it's just a way to make internet wankery sound like Important Business.

This is certainly a temptation. On the other hand, Moldbug has explained why right-wing activism is wrong, and propaganda is a means which by its nature distorts the message leftwards. I don't pretend to know how to solve this dilemma. Moldbug did suggest a couple of things that might be useful — Uberfact, Antiversity etc. — but nothing was actually done as far as I know (his internet bounty ran out, his family increased fourfold and he had to go back into harness). I feel this is partly what Mr. McGuinn was getting at in this post.