If you haven’t heard just yet, there is a new political ideology making headway mostly in the online world: neoreaction. A friend of mine, Nicholas Pell, has given the basic rundown of this movement complete with useful introductory links for Taki’s Magazine. It will be worth your time to familiarize yourselves with this movement, regardless of what you come to think of it or may think already, as I believe it will only grow with time. For those who don’t know, by the way, I’m your local, friendly, fringe political theorist 🙂
Though the neoreactionaries appear to be a diverse group, ranging from your familiar traditional Catholic monarchists to godless futurists and trans-humanists, they are united by one common belief: that democracy has failed. It is this singular belief, in my view, that distinguishes neoreactionaries from conservatives, at least in the United States. Many of the other beliefs I have seen expressed by NRs, such as a strong preference for hierarchy, order, rational discrimination, and things of this nature are acceptable to most conservatives who aren’t, say, Huntsmanites. Of course I distinguish conservative politicians, whose expressed views are subject to public scrutiny, from the average voter.
Neoreactionaries identify the object of their derision as “the Cathedral”, the amalgamation of individuals, institutions, movements, policies and the like, that create and defend the reigning ideology of the status quo: multiculturalism, diversity, “social justice” – in a word, egalitarianism. With Murray Rothbard they might say that egalitarianism is a revolt against nature. On that note, NR’s founding father, Mencius Moldbug, appears to have originally been inspired by the Austrian school that Rothbard helped popularize in the mid-20th century. These days NRs also draw inspiration from the writings of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (who acknowledges his debt to Rothbard). A critique of democracy has long been a staple of Austrian-libertarian circles, so it is natural to see NR as an outgrowth of, if not Austrian economics, at least Austrian political theory.
I am sympathetic to this movement and its general aim, which is to expose the irrationality of the egalitarian status quo. This goal is also mine. I am also quite reactionary as a Catholic: aesthetics, liturgy, theology, all of it. Wind back the clock, I say! I haven’t the slightest moral or general theoretical objection to monarchy or aristocracy, though I might prefer an elective one to a hereditary one. My pen name is taken for one of history’s greatest reactionaries in deed (though let it be remembered, as you read on, that he lead a popular insurrection).
However, I cannot identify as a NR, because I don’t see democracy as the problem – at least not right now. The introduction to Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed provides an example of what I think is a misguided critique of democracy. In it, he blames democracy for cultural decline, abortion on demand, and other social ills:
In the U.S.; less than a century of full-blown democracy has resulted in steadily increasing moral degeneration, family and social disintegration, and cultural decay in the form of continually rising rates of divorce, illegitimacy, abortion, and crime. (xiii)
And yet we who have been active in pro-life politics for years know that policies such as legalized abortion were foisted upon us not by a popular democratic vote, but rather by activist judges following the theories developed in ivory towers quite distant from the masses of Archie Bunkers whose taxed labor supported their efforts.
Speaking of which, after all, who wants us to be soft on crime? Archie Bunker, or Meathead? Who thinks the family is outdated? Who thinks no-fault divorce is a spectacular blow for the liberation of women, seconded only by the right to legally murder their offspring? Who supports every filthy and perverted trend imaginable? We know who.
It is really only in the last decade or so – perhaps even half-decade when it comes to issues such as gay “marriage” – that so many of these issues became important to masses of people, and then, only roughly half. The Cathedral is a rickety ship attempting to hold together minorities who have socially conservative views with liberal whites, and particularly young single females. Below the ivory towers and judicial chambers, beneath the offices of studio executives and clueless corporate executives, it is a coalition of spite united in the promise of free stuff from Obama’s limitless stash. Will it hold? Does it represent the ultimate triumph of irrational egalitarianism through the democratic process?
I say it is too early to tell, and far too early to give up on candidates who seem genuinely interested in restoring the founding ideals of this country. That said, democracy is certainly not beyond critique or even rejection. It is not a divine commandment that we shalt have democracy. It isn’t even really an American ideal. But when the elites are rotten and corrupt to the core, and at least half of the people are willing to vote for and support what I value in the broad sense of things, I have no choice but to defend democracy in the present context. Talk to me again if and when we start a new political society, and you likely won’t find me too enthusiastic about it.