First, this article is entertainment not a rebuttal of neoreactionaryism–this ideology is so utterly vacuous that it is not deserving of refutation. Time would be better spent howling at a monkey or thumping your chest at an ape. At any rate, to refute every point of this movement would take multiple lifetimes. Much neoreaction core material, such as Nick Land’s 100,000 word Reactionary FAQ and Mencius Moldbug’s 10-years of 100,000 word blog posts, are the very definition of periphrastic; using one million words where you could have used one thousand sets a very high barrier to criticism (but if you want a detailed rebuttal, The Anti Reactionary Faq is a highly detailed read).
Their verbosity also makes them hard to critique on specific subjects since they turn every simple point into a bibile-length novel. That these points are turned into millions of words does not make them more valid; indeed, the details are full of so much more quackery that I’m probably going to provide a better representation of their position than they themselves project.
If it were not for the unfortunate acquisition of notable transhumanist Michael Anissimov into this movement–which I consider intellectual suicide on his part–I would not be giving it a single moment of thought. Neoreaction is an idea profoundly clashing with transhumanism, a concept as backwards-thinking as this is not something that belongs anywhere near the transhumanist community.
So what is the the dark enlightenment aka neoreactionism? It’s hard to sum exactly what it is for a few reasons:
- It’s an absolute mess of an ideology, composed of a loose coalition of a few dozen groups and people, all with vary opinions on the details. Think: the Abrahamic religions and its thousands of splinter cells.
- it’s loosely connected to countless subcultures, all with their own spin on it. Most of them also destructive and inane: Men’s Rights Activists, pickup-artists, manospere, HBD (Scientific racism).
- its history, and the current status of its leaders, are an absolute mess.
But here goes, in general: Neoreactionaries believe that democracy, and increased social equality are damaging to society, and that the world is being steered in this direction by a mainstream, progressive elite, who control all institutions, including education, science, and media. They seek to reestablish pre-enlightenment era gender and racial roles (women stay in the kitchen, blacks do manual labor), social order (gays are bad) and government (autocracy).
We’ll cover four of their most basic positions with quotes from top figures in the movement.
Return to ‘traditional’ gender roles
Women are children seeking guidance” […] “Women are interested in being told no, from time to time. This does not mean a man should never express agreement with her […] women are interested in men who can be their foundations in a tumultuous world, the demonstration of sound and coherent principles is far more important than merely being able to say “no.” Think of it as children. A child, in coming to his parent and asking a question, should be told yes so much as he is correct and no so much as he is incorrect. […]” Bryce Laliberte
Well-educated people overestimate the degree to which we can mess with traditional gender roles.[…] if a man chooses to stay home and raise children, many other men will think less of him. No amount of progressive propaganda and reeducation camps will change this, because it’s hard-coded into our brains through millions of years of evolution. Men respect other men who go out into the world and do masculine things. […] “Women are less happy today than they were 40 years ago, despite all the alleged advances made by feminism during that time.” – Michael Anissimov
[…] Suppose Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime […] walks in the room. […] your best personal outcome is likely accepting the Arnold as the alpha in this situation, and your own personal excellence flows from accepting the guidance of someone with a greater social status. While this means the Arnold gets to have first pick of the women, if you are second to Arnold and he gives you attention as a beta who can serve, you will get second pick of the women. If you lose a standoff, the Arnold will get not only the first pick but also your pick, and you will get none. But even Arnold will appear beta in the worst way if he lets contradiction by a woman affect him negatively. – Bryce Laliberte
Wanting a traditional (with a small t)and feminine women should be every normal man’s goal […] Women’s sexual mating strategy and true nature should be known […] Pushing back against feminism is worthwhile […] the only women I will date now are ones that cook and demonstrate an enjoyment of cooking. […] A common feminist refrain is “Where have all the good men gone?” – well in my opinion they left when you stopped providing them with a decent cooked meal and a smile. […]That it is no longer normal for women to have been taught how to cook, to enjoy cooking and to want to cook shows how far the decline has come. […] A woman is in a correct role if she can dress well, looks good, if she wants to please a man […] What civilisation requires are things like enforcement of duty, men working together on great projects, initiation and bonding, and the respect and reward of women – esoterictrad
There’s not much to say about this. It parodies itself. This is the reason I used the primate in a suit picture for the start of this article: very, very crude caveman-level thinking, wrapped up in a pompous writing style.
People are not, and never will be, equal.
People are not equal. They never will be. We reject equality in all its forms. This is the most basic tenet of Neoreaction/Reaction. Equality is a lie. Neoreaction and Reactionary thought are fundamentally opposed to it. […] If Reaction/Neoreaction is against anything, it is against equality. If someone argues for equality, they are not a reactionary/neoreactionary, but something else. – Michael Anissimov
“To thrive, blacks need simpler, harsher laws, more vigorously enforced, than whites. The average black cannot handle the freedom that the average white can handle. He is apt to destroy himself. Most middle class blacks had fathers who were apt to frequently hit them hard with a fist or stick or a belt, because lesser discipline makes it hard for blacks to grow up middle class. In the days of Jim Crow, it was a lot easier for blacks to grow up middle class.” – Mencius Moldbug
[…] Jewish members of the elite tend to think of themselves as non white, and hate whites. Indeed they hate whites and Christians so much that if destroying the white race and Christendom destroyed the Jewish race and Judaism, as seems rather likely, they would be fine with that. […] By and large, fatherlessness is a bigger problem than race. We would get more mileage making it hard for the fatherless to vote, than hard for the black to vote. – James Donald
[…] obesity is largely genetic, so I don’t think we should shame fat people any more than we should shame low-IQ urban blacks for dropping out of high school. […] Neither neoreactionaries nor Black Panthers are going to war because that might cost them their Netflix and Starbucks, not to mention the USG would be quick to throw them all in jail. […] [slavery] was primarily an economic immorality—it was wrong not because blacks were picking cotton and being mistreated but because blacks were picking cotton, being mistreated, and not being paid for it.- Scharlach
”HBD, broadly conceived, is simply a fact. It is roughly as questionable, on intellectual grounds, as biological evolution or the heliocentric model of the solar system. No one who takes the trouble to educate themselves on the subject with even a minimum of intellectual integrity can doubt that.” – Nick Land
Of course, this is a cretinous misunderstanding of what legal equality is: equality is equal opportunity for all people, no one of note has ever argued that all people are equal in an objective sense; that’s just silly.
It’s hard to beleive people with such sound understandings of formal logic could be this deluded. It makes me suspect that more likely, they are being purposefully dishonest; for whatever reason. I don’t care to guess. There’s lots more self-parody and disinformation here. Mostly though, these are just warped and destructive worldviews; not the sort of thing that can be rationally debated.
Fierce opposition to progressive society in general (or ‘Progressivism’, which they call ‘The Cathedral’).
The Cathedral: The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil.
Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women’s suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage.
A defining feature of Progressivism is that “you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that’s left is to work out the details.” Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms. – Michael Anissimov
The idea of the Cathedral[…] is almost certainly the defining insight of the Dark Enlightenment[…] A high degree of coordination, most specifically between the institutions of the universities, media, and non-profit organizations, undoubtedly exists, and I do not think the reality that we are speaking of a systematic and institutionalized set of power relations between itself and society can be strongly disputed. Indeed, the pro-democratic modernists should be strongly in favor of this state of affairs, for it entails that the governance of society is taken on by the demos, at least as represented by the academic, consensual, and philanthropic elite. – Bryce Laliberte
At its heart, neoreaction is a critique of the entire liberal, politically-correct orthodoxy. The Cathedral, a term coined by Moldbug, is a description of the institutions and enforcement mechanisms used to propagate and maintain this orthodoxy. – Scharlach
[…] the media, the professoriate and the bureaucracy […] The Cathedral is more than just the collection of these groups, it’s also meant to refer to their religion and the method by which they exercise sovereignty over the country.
Who controls the law? The Cathedral. Who controls “science” and public opinion? The Cathedral. Who sits on committees and exercises authority? Members of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral is the seat of secularist, universalist, progressive power. – Nicholas James Pell
Basacly, the cathredral is anyone who disagrees with them–so, most of developed, educated, humanity. It’s basically a variation on the classic New World Order conspiracy theory, with all of academics, scientists, and public and private institutions working to suppress the truth of neoreaction. The diffence is, they don’t beliave it’s an ocrstrated goal, just a prodect of intertia. Doesn’t make them any more intelligence than your classic Truther or Young Earth Creationist.
democracy is a force of destruction, and should be done away with
What is England’s problem? What is the West’s problem? In my jaundiced, reactionary mind, the entire problem can be summed up in two words – chronic kinglessness. The old machine is missing a part. In fact, it’s a testament to the machine’s quality that it functioned so long, and so well, without that part. – Mencius Moldbug
The sexes are biologically distinct, genetics matter, and democracy is deeply flawed and fundamentally unstable.
[…] everything we enjoy in the West today has occurred in spite of democracy.
An assumption linking all neoreactionary camps is that the ideal of universal democracy—of universal voice—leads only to demotism, idiocracy, tyranny, or all three at once. We are anti-universal democracy[…] – Scharlach1
Democracy is irredeemably flawed and we need to do away with it. Democracy has been a disaster.
The Dark Enlightenment is a Reactionary project that rejects modernity, universalism, and Democracy in favor of Traditionalist, particularist, and aristocratic values. – Michael Anissimov
The Dark Enlightenment is a big tent, but there are some common points of agreement. Democracy is seen as a dangerous scam, inevitably tending toward Morlock mob rule. Order is more precious than “justice,” which is really just a code word leftists use to bully everyone else.
Elitism—nay, aristocracy—is to be cultivated as the only antidote for the egalitarian dysgenic trend toward idiocracy. – Nicholas James Pell
As we move into an age of advanced technology, there are certainly arguments that could be made concerning the future of democracy. Even I have argued we may need to dismantle democracy in the future in order to keep an increasingly powerful population from destroying themselves and the rest of humanity. But that’s just theory.
At this point, all empirical evidence points to democracy as the most stable system. Analysing how it my need to be adjusted or maybe even removed in the future is one thing, arguing that we need to go back to systems that have proven themselves repeatedly to be unstable and damaging to progress is just plain ignorant.
It’s also quite strange that they lump communism and democracy in the same boat, considering them both apart of modern progressive thought, and therefore equally evil. I’m not sure how they reached these conclusions.
Simply put: they have turned the simple concept of biological differences between humans into an ideology of racism and sexism, one they claim to be based on empirical evidence. Hiding these values under a false pretense of science is no more justifiable than using an ancient religious book. In both cases, the end result is the same, and the backing argument lacking evidence. Turning biological differences into a dogma of support for racism and sexism is hardly new, it’s been happening since the beginning of humanity. These are ideas that society has functioned on for most of its history, and is only now beginning to move away from.
The dark enlightenment is backwards looking, seeking devolution rather than progress. Technology’s continued advancement changes everything for humans, but proponents of this movement turn a blind eye to human enhancement, and the radical changes it will make (and already has made) to the status quo. Societal views such as equality for all men and women are not based on objective reality, but on how progress society is choosing to move (or be moved). Using science to attempt to support sexist and racist veiws is no more effectual than the reverse.
Arguments can be made for any position, including the dominate rule of the white male over the world, but these arguments are not based on objective reality, and to try and slither them into the educated community via massive amounts of dated genetics and IQ data, is utterly insidious. While it’s an easy comparison to make, their science has no more data backing it than Hitler’s “Master Race” argument, in fact it fares worse for attempting to marginalize women despite equal IQ scores.
While transhumanism presents the possibility of transcendence and unlimited power for every person on the planet, neoractionistim restricts and disempowers, keeping each individual in their status quo group. Particularly, the groups views on gender and race are highly regressive. Surfacely, the philosophy is nothing more than an encouragement of 1800’s America, with white males in charge and women and blacks serving as slaves and servants. As much pseudo-intellectualism as this is dressed up in, it’s largely a straight-white-male supremacist group.
Basically, these guys are dicks, and they want to form a dick-tatorship. Call them out when you see them, and don’t let their pompous tone and dreadful prolixity scare you away.
Typically, the biggest threat groups like these pose is their ability to waste the time of people actually contributing to society (me writing about them is an example of that).
There are an unlimited number of fringe groups such as these, and it’s better to ignore them than to give them any attention. But this particular toxin has clawed its way into transhumanism. It should be brought to light so it can be extracted–or, more realistically, seen as the ape-in-a-suit that it is.
Comments from the web (or as neoractinoists would say ‘The Cathedral’):
[…] especially its infatuation with nineteenth- and early twentieth-century racial science. It’s bizarre and at times hilarious how Moldbug, Anissimov, and company present white men – particularly white men who dare to challenge so-called political correctness and openly assert their racism – as the key oppressed group in the United States. Of course they anticipate this charge of racism, but that makes it no less accurate or pertinent. Whiteness as system of privilege has come under threat over the last half century or so, and defensiveness appears to be a growing response, even though whites as a class are obviously doing quite well in relative terms. – Summerspeaker
“Traditional” in the endarkenment writings seems to mean an idealised view of European monarchy, rather than, say, Chinese Confucian bureaucracy, primitive communism, Mongol militarism, Islamic mercantilism, Sumerian temple structures… Funny that. And how strange that these people who think they are entitled to say how the whole of society should be run also seem to be terribly ignorant, inept thinkers with only a Cliff’s Notes awareness of human history, anthropology and law.
In any case, I think the cynical, “dark” and accurate view of these people is simply this: conservatism is intellectually dead at the moment. A statement like that would take time to justify, and this post is already long enough, but I think a serious and honest consideration of modern conservative intellectual activity would not find any prominent, compelling conservative intellectual movements out there. These dark enlightenment types are thriving because they at least offer white men a naked and unashamed embrace of certain weaknesses – authoritarianism, racism, sexism, self-importance – that have always been the dark underbelly of many political movements. – lucien_reeve
A perceptive reader does not need 50,000 words to determine that “Mencius Moldbug” is a long-winded pretentious self-important ass whose method of reasoning is flawed at best, but more likely dishonest, and his writings are wordporn for mental masturbaters. I’m billing blasdelf at my normal hourly rate for the time I wasted reading as much as I did and writing this response, which I fear is more elaborate and wordy than I normally would write, but apparently “Unqualified Reservations” contains some kind of mental ‘virus’ that causes unnecessary pomposity. Then again, there is always the possibility that the aptly named “Mr. Moldbug” is a self-parody along the lines of Stephen Colbert, but without an adequate sense of humor. – wendell