16 October 2012

Integrating Theory and Practice

Alan Roebuck has found an essay by Eric Heubeck, “The Integration of Theory and Practice”.

It addresses the most difficult of questions: what to actually do about progressivism, given that conservative democratic politics is self-defeating.

Heubeck’s approach is to fight primarily on the battleground of culture. Traditionalists must find each other, and build informal and formal institutions in order to escape the progressive institutions and break their cultural dominance.

The practical starting point he puts forward is the study group, for determined traditionalists, and the book club, to broaden the reach of the movement and increase its base.

I’m not certain about the whole book club thing, but the ideas behind it certainly make sense. Ideas become respectable when you can actually see people practicing them. And as I’ve said before, reactionary ideas currently suffer more from lack of respectability than from lack of persuasiveness.

The difficult thing is how much to compromise to build the start of a movement. There are a reasonable number of people around who oppose multiculturalism, widespread promotion of promiscuity, large-scale benefits culture. There are very few who oppose the democracy and egalitarianism that produced them. Trying to organise with the first group will create a merely conservative organisation, not a genuinely reactionary one. But there aren’t enough of us to create reactionary organisations — just a few hundred that can be identified at this point, scattered across the Anglosphere.

For the Heubeck strategy to be workable, we need a larger base to build on. We don’t need anything like the numbers required for actual political work, but we need sufficient density that supporters can interact with each other. If a town of 100,000 has 10 people who can form a study group, the strategy is up and running.

I seem pessimistic about this — if I’m over-pessimistic, that’s because of another problem: many of the people we do have aren’t exactly clubbable. Possibly I’m over-generalising from my personal situation, but the movement as it exists on the internet seems to consist primarily of Angry Young Men and Computer Nerds. As one of the latter, reaching out to form a group of people to meet regularly and build social connections with is slightly outside my core compentence.

However, Heubeck wrote his article while Mencius Moldbug was still developing a WAP browser. The internet does now give us at least the capability to connect in spite of our pitifully low density (and our inferior social skills), though I don’t believe that can replace the sort of activity Heubeck proposed. The point of the social catalysis is to become visible and relevant to the people around us, a living demonstration that the existing culture is not the only way to think and live.

The thing that would make this work would be if I were missing something: if the real movement is not the nerdy ex-libertarian bloggers, but some other, larger section which we can join up with. That could be, but I don’t know who they are, at least in England. The churches are if anything the hard core of progressivism. The BNP/EDL type nationalists do not seem to exhibit anything in the way of real conservatism, and are so persecuted that allying with them is strategic suicide anyway.

The somewhat contradictory* connection between the reactionary worldview and the more thoughtful element of the Game/PUA community is promising in terms of bringing leadership skills into scope.

The biggest obstacle is that the enemy understands the strategy, having practiced it so succesfully itself. Any open advocacy of traditional thought, however mild and however limited the context, will be attacked. Employers, venues will be put under pressure. But that’s the reason this is so necessary: right now, speaking out against changing a currently in-force law is enough to get you suspended from a job. The reason why it’s possible for the progressive establishment to sack people for supporting a law that it isn’t currently possible for them to change is that their dominance of the culture is accepted even where it isn’t liked.

The biggest reason for optimism is that rejection of democracy, in particular, is gaining ground rapidly. We might not quite have the critical mass yet to start adopting the Heubeck strategy, but we could be ready quite soon.

* The contradiction is defined in a tweet by Heartiste, who is largely responsible for the connection between the two groups: “Like Obama, I carry a duality. I intellectually know paleo right policies are better for the nation, yet I prefer to live liberally”


Aaron Davies said...

Interesting material. I’d recommend studying the Ayn Rand Institute for some more inspiration on how to structure a cultural movement.

Relatedly, I came across two interesting things on Wikipedia recently: the Imperial Court System and the role played by the Situationist International in the French uprisings of May 1968.

I find it fascinating that I’d never even heard of the former, and as to the latter, I find the sentence “The active ideologists (‘enragés’ and Situationists) behind the revolutionary events in Strasbourg, Nanterre and Paris, numbered only about one or two dozen persons” both terrifying and encouraging.

I believe Mencius once quoted Lenin as saying something like, “Three people fully understand the movement. The success of the revolution is now assured.” (I can’t find the specific quote.)

sconzey said...

I've been thinking about this a little. Based on some of the things James G wrote, and then based on James G's disappearance.

I suggest we cut with the grain, and work with the generally nerdy computer-literate nature of the alt-right-o-sphere currently. I suggested on one of Jim's comment threads that someone put together a legal torrent containing copies of Moldbug's posts, comment threads, out-of-print and out-of-copyright books, etc.

sconzey said...

As far as a reactionary book club is concerned, might a private IRC server suffice? Exclusive 'club-style' membership, with sponsorship and universal approval required for new members. If you wanted to be super paranoid, you could probably do something with tor hidden services and pkc

Anomaly UK said...

We can bat ideas around online all we want. I'm in favour of that, though I'd like to add the discipline of aiming for a usable library of works, rather than an unedited mass of blog threads and irc logs.

But we also need to go beyond that and become visible in the broader culture, and that's the function as I see it of Heubeck's suggestions. Discussing books isn't the point; the point is hearing real people express the ideas, in actual social engagement.

We don't need a majority, but we do need a kind of mainstreaming. The man in the street should be aware that there are people saying we should do without democracy, and he should know who one or two of them are, and that they're not just weirdos on the internet. That makes the idea plausible as a response to some kind of crisis when it comes.

We may not quite be ready to take the debate into meatspace, but it's a valuable reminder that that has to be our strategy.