23 March 2014

What’s wrong with Paleoreaction?

Up until this point, I’ve been careful to avoid arguing against old-style Throne-and Altar reaction. The main reason is that neoreaction and paleoreaction simply aren’t in competition as ideologies: their resemblance in conclusion is a kind of coincidence, as they are built on entirely different premises. Nobody who considers themselves even close to one of them has any possibility of agreeing with the other. Meanwhile, the similarity in conclusions means that neoreactionaries and paleoreactionaries are potential allies in spite of utterly different assumptions, and effort is better expended on creating critiques of one’s enemies than one’s allies.

The reason for addressing now the shortcomings of paleoreaction is not to isolate from paleoreactionaries, but to explain why neoreaction is important.

In a phrase, liberalism beats reaction. Reaction exists, and has existed for as long as liberalism has been upsetting the old order, but it has not stopped Cthulu swimming leftward, and, based on the premises of the old order, it never will.

Liberalism claims that it is right of the people to alter or to abolish a form of government, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Reactionaries have traditionally held that the people have no such right. The problem is that is a very difficult proposition to argue for, particularly once the opposite view has become well-established. There just aren’t arguments that will work against a “self-evident truth”.

Neoreactionaries might succeed where paleoreactionaries have failed because they do not need to dispute that self-evident truth. The neoreactionary response is not “you have no such right”, but “you may indeed have such a right, but having the right to do crazy shit like that doesn’t make it a good idea.”

That might not be very convincing either, but at least it’s a basis for an argument. Since neoreactionaries start out as liberals, even if heterodox liberals such as libertarians, we know it is possible to persuade liberals to a neoreactionary point of view. Whether this path can lead to victory is not certain, but there is not two hundred and fifty years of failure to demonstrate otherwise.

This vital difference expresses itself in strategy. Because paleoreactionaries cannot persuade liberals, their strategy is instead to fight or escape them. The priorities that result from that strategy are to organise and to grow in numbers.

For neoreactionaries who hope to subvert the existing elite from within their own culture, the priorities are completely different. Heading for the hills does not help to transform our own societies, and street-fighting does not separate us from the existing political sphere. The priority is to improve the arguments, build the theory, expand the intellectual community able to provide an alternative to politics.


Hurlock said...

A great post, you nail the most fundamental point of divegence very well here.

“you may indeed have such a right, but having the right to do crazy shit like that doesn’t make it a good idea.”
Exactly. I think everyone will agree that Louis XVI was a bad king. A terrible king even. Because of his utter inability to efficienty run his kingdom he was basically asking to get overthrown. That of course doesn't mean that the French Revolution was a good idea. Au countraire. It was a very very bad idea. I think we all agree on ranking it as one of the biggest disasters to ever happen in history. But you don't fix a disaster with a disaster. That just won't work. I think if stuff like this is properly explained it doesn't sound that crazy anymore. And if we get the rehetoric about democracy, egalitarianism and etc. out of the way this stuff would actually be common sense.

"Whether this path can lead to victory is not certain, but there is not two hundred and fifty years of failure to demonstrate otherwise."
Exactly. Sometimes it seems that what trad. reactionary-monarchical types seem to be saying when they talk about why we should go full monarchy and disregard developing neocameralism is "Look guys, there is no way to know that this (neocameralism) will work and in fact, there are good reasons to think it will fail so let's instead go for something that we know has failed (monarchy)"

In the end theoretical divergence leads to serious practical divergence (or is it the other way around?) and with them forming a positive-feedback loop the two camps end up trying to pull NRx in pretty much opposite directions.

Konkvistador said...

I don't consider myself paleoreactionary at all. Being an atheist former LessWrong-cultist living in an Ex-Communist communist country.

That one might fight Cthulhu on the battlefield of the human mind and win seems wildly optimistic.

Cthulhu is the human mind, or rather the great mass of human minds in a particular civilization arranged in the patterns described by us at length in blog posts.

Leftist ideas win not because they are correct or they work, but because they sound good. You will never sound better.

Rightism's advantage is that it works. And sometimes humans are desperate enough to want what works rather than what sounds good.

@handle I already explained that I'm not arguing that we should go back to something that failed, but that Monarchy beats Neocameralism for several important reasons as something potentially sturdy and anti-fragile enough to chain Cthulhu away from power.

I think many are now suddenly rejecting Monarchy as a viable option, because they associate it with backwardness. You see some poor souls even trying to rescue Limited Franchise 1800s America and Constitutional government in Outside In's comment section because saying 1776 was a big mistake is just too hard. On twitter many responses are simply "wow just wow". I think its clear that advocacy for Monarchy with Neocameralist arguments offends residual Progresssive memes in some people's heads.

I've seen basically no engagement with my points on twitter, a lot of straw manning and people aggressively signalling I'm outgroup because of them.



"Wow just wow this is 2014 Kings won't work."

@anomalyUK: Didn't you at one point write on a restored Monarchy? I don't see anything incompatible with incorporating Neocameralism into a Monarchist system. Indeed I *explicitly* say safe experimentation is desirable, because it will be necessary.

Hurlock said...


(wow I actually have to post this in too comments, lol)

First off, Handle? I will take it as a compliment. (though I don't think I yet deserve to be confused with him)

The fact that MoreRight doesn't have a comment section does not help to improve communication. Since I don't run a blog my only possible option is basically twitter, but because of its obvious limits I find it hard to engage more detailed discussions. But since I have the chance I will here give my initial thoughts on your 4 questions.

"How well did it work?"
- As you note some research has already been done into this, but I think it is still lacking. And even if we find an old corporatist model that looks OK, further tweaking would definitely be necessary in order to make it suitable for our present unpleasant modernity. Same can be said about monarchy as well, actually. Monarchy did fail (and I will keep hammering this one) so if it is to be proposed as a workable political model today it too would require serious tweaking. If you have already done some theoretical work in this area, please point me to it.
On your point about monarchies being more stable than corporatist governments I would say that that is quite debatable. Monarchies were in fact quite unstable as the total performance of the state depended entirely on whether the king was competent or not. The relative prosperity of monarchies in fact followed a peak-and-dip pattern, with having a decent king followed by a bad king and occassionally a great king followed by some terrible king, or just a whole period of terrible kings in which you get conquered. You look at a thousand years of monarchical rule and say "Look at that stability!", but that is just bad research. With a more detailed analysis it actually becomes clear that monarchies tended to be quite unstable. The reason why there is this superficial stability is simply the fact that at that time it was the only possible form of government.
Also stability does not necessarily equal good government and prosperity. That should be kept in mind.

"Corporations likely have higher time preferences than many individuals"
- Ok, this just seems totally wrong. Short lifespan of corporations? Excuse me, remind me how old Coca-Cola is? There are companies from the 1600's still in operation today. I would say that 400 years is a pretty long lifespan. Yes, there are a lot of companies that get started up and then they quickly decline because their model was bad, or just poor management, but is this really an argument against corporations per se? How many kingdoms were founded only to collapse some decades later and get conquered? Should I be using those monarchies as exemplary of all monarchies? Obviously not, because weaker monarchies were simply absorbed by stronger ones, so my focus should be the latter not the earlier. The same thing happens in the corporate world. Companies with bad business models and poor management fail and get absorbed by companies with good business models and efficient management.
"Deluded about how long they are likely to last"? Is the monarch deluded to think that his son will inherit his kingdom? No? Then why is the CEO deluded?

"What is the proposed mechanism that prevents collapse into Cathedralization?" - This is actually much harder to answer and it is still a big issue. I am currently not capable of giving an adequate response and I think more work should definitely be done in this area. But if this is to be an argument against neocameralism it is to be an argument against monarchy as well, especially in a world where Cathedralization is rampant and proressivism has been fully developed. If you were to get enlightenment monarchy back, how would you prevent the French Revolution from happening again? And maybe even more importantly - how would you prevent Louis XVI from happening?

Hurlock said...

Last question:

"Vulnerable to corruption"
No, not really. Neocameralism is not vulnerable to corruption because the inevitability of corruption is one of its foundational premises. The aristocracy, government, or whatever you have always wants more wealth and it would gladly forgo its supposed duties if more wealth could be made in other ways. (everyone wants more wealth, because quite simply everyone wants to live better; to think otherwise is to already get everything wrong) Also, because of this, one of the most important problems that neocameralism aims to solve is how to align maximum profit for the producer (government) with maximum customer satisfaction (citizen). While monarchical rule overlooks this problem and because it essentially only cares about the relative well-being of the producer (king and aristocracy), you eventually get Louis XVI and then the French Revolution. By accepting the market principle of win-win exchange as fundamental neocameralism is already one step ahead than monarchy (at least theoretically).
"The profit motive is a powerful pull to direct the behavior of an organization, but it is not a good descriptor of human behavior even in a nominally for profit organization."
Most (if not all) human needs are essentially economic needs and can be analyzed from an economical view. This however would be extremely difficult to explain right now as presenting economics as the proper study of human action would essentially require me to at least summarize Mises' "Human Action", a task which I am incapable of performing right now. (maybe some other time)

This may seem somewhat incomplete, but should suffice as an initial response.

a59a9528-b2e7-11e3-b557-000f20980440 said...

> "their resemblance in conclusion is a kind of coincidence, as they are built on entirely different premises"

Not so:

the reason that I and Sunshine Mary agree is that we observe human nature, and she explains it by the fall and original sin, while I explain the exact same human nature by the fact that we are risen killer apes.

If the Dark Enlightenment is reality based, then all who subscribe to the Dark Enlightenment are apt to agree on most of what matters.

> "Reactionaries have traditionally held that the people have no such right. The problem is that is a very difficult proposition to argue for, particularly once the opposite view has become well-established."

Venezuela, Arab Spring, Rwanda, Algeria, Argentina, Weimar Republic.

Seems a pretty compelling argument against democracy to me.

Most people are stupid. We dare not let them vote.

> "Neoreactionaries might succeed where paleoreactionaries have failed because they do not need to dispute that self-evident truth. "

We do need to dispute that self evident truth, or we will be eaten like the Tutsis.

> "liberalism beats reaction."

Cthulhu always swims left. But this cannot continue forever. It always leads, in the end, to crisis and collapse.

The usual pattern of a left singularity is that it self destructs fairly rapidly. Last to self destruct is apt to rule the world, but this is survivorship bias.

Suppose you have a hundred dice. You throw them all. You smash all the ones that do not come up six. After three throws, one remains, that has come up six three times in a row. What is the chance that that dice is going to come up six again?

Of course, the fact that ever leftwards movement is bound to end does not necessarily imply it will end in sweetness and light, with neoreactionary intellectuals ruling the world.

The more common end is a lengthy dark age, during which the state people of the previous singularity get at best crushed, and at worst entirely genocided.