Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

“Darkness, yeaah”

… that was (ex-)Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle, from the final episode of True Detective (in case you didn’t recognize it). At the brink of the end, a near-mortally wounded Cohle underwent a descent through the loss of his “definition”, and beyond the darkness touched upon “another, deeper darkness, like a substance” where lost love is restored in de-differentiation. The reference to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde was unmistakable. It was TV-format Schopenhauer.

true-detective-season-1-finale

As philosophy, Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective is deeper than Wagner, because it holds tighter to the integral obscurity that is the ultimate object of horror. Where Tristan und Isolde finally reaches musical resolution and release into eroticized extinction, True Detective ends inconclusively, with a puzzle. Cohle and his old cop partner Martin “Marty” Hart, who has earthily absorbed Cohle’s acid nihilism throughout the previous seven episodes, switch stances momentarily in the closing scene. Recalling a previous conversation about the stars, Marty observes that in the night sky “darkness has a lot more territory”. Cohle corrects him — “Once there was only darkness. It looks to me as if the light is winning.” Following a long, soul-excruciating season in the shadows, the show’s nihilist fan-base were only dragged back from the brink of insurrection-level rioting at this point by a single, residual suspicion. In a cosmos where consciousness is the realization of hell, can the triumph of the light be interpreted as anything except torment strengthening its grip?

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July 1, 2014admin 30 Comments »
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Dysgenic Reactions

Michael A. Woodley, Jan te Nijenhuis, and Raegan Murphy respond (in detail) to critics of their 2013 paper on the dysgenic implications of Galton’s reaction time data. Their adjusted evidence indicates an increase in reaction times among US/UK males over the period 1889-2004 from 187.1 ms to 237.1 ms (44.6 ms over 115 years), equivalent to a decline in g of 13.9 points, or 1.21 points per decade. They propose that 68% of this decline is due to dysgenic selection, with the remaining 32% attributed to increasing mutation load.

If these figures are even remotely accurate, they portray a phenomenon — and indeed a catastrophe — that would have to be considered a fundamental determinant of recent world history. Given the scale and rapidity of dysgenic collapse suggested here, skepticism is natural, and indeed all-but inevitable. (The proposed rate of decline seems incredible to this, radically inexpert, blog.) It should nevertheless be reasonable to expect counter-arguments to exhibit the same intellectual seriousness and respect for evidence that this paper so impressively demonstrates.

June 12, 2014admin 53 Comments »
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Fascism

The whole of Robert O. Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism (2004) is available here. In the final pages (p.218), following detailed historical analysis, it cautiously advances a cultural-political definition:

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraint goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

Since the topic regularly re-surfaces, it seems worth recording Paxton’s formulation as a reference point, especially as its emphases differ significantly from those this blog (and its critics) have tended to stress. An important conclusion of Paxton’s study is that no purely ideological account of fascism is able to capture what is an essentially historical phenomenon, which is to say a process, rooted in the degeneration of democracy. (Wikipedia offers some background on his work.)

June 12, 2014admin 20 Comments »
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Reaction Points (#9)

Foseti is back, doing something of great importance. This titanic contribution to Moldbug digestion from Peter Taylor comes immediately to mind (it wins the ultimate Outside in accolade of a place in the ‘Resources’ list, under ‘Meta-Moldbug’).

Walter Russell Mead’s list of 2013 losers consists entirely of democratic countries and movements, with the exception of ‘The Syrians’ (#9). ‘Democracy’ as such, and in general, is given a category of its own, and takes fifth place.

People have been seeing something of an informal Neoreactionary ‘zeitgeist’ in this piece on Frank Luntz.

Neoreaction receives some more mainstream media attention. Is this going to be a 2014 up-curve? Lewis’ piece quotes Jordan Bloom: “For the last 500 years or so, history has mostly been a matter of polities consolidating. Fewer, bigger countries and empires. We’re on the cusp of things starting to move in the opposite direction, to the point that it’s reasonable to predict that secession will be the most important political idea of the 21st century.”

Criticism from the traditionalist right. (Useful boundary-setting, I think.)

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January 7, 2014admin 28 Comments »
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Luciano Pellicani

Mark Warburton passed this masterpiece along (Revolutionary Apocalypse, by Luciano Pellicani). A couple of tiny morsels from its consistently brilliant — and eerily familiar — analysis:

With Puritanism, an absolutely new element was introduced into Western civilisation: (revolutionary) politics as fulfillment of God’s will, with the objective of consciously building “a new human community, that could substitute the lost Eden” and produce a prodigious “change in human nature.” For centuries, politics had been conceived as a “cybernetic art” (Plato) or as a technique for the accumulation of power (Machiavelli). From the Puritan cultural revolution on, politics was conceived as a soteriological practice, dominated by an eschatological tension toward the Kingdom of God on earth, therefore as a calling, whose methodical objective was to overturn the world in order to purify it. The slogan originally used by the Taborites and the Anabaptists was revived: “Permanent warfare against the existing, in the name of the New World.”

And:

An all-powerful state is essential for communism, since the total destruction of civil society is the only way to destroy capitalism. By civil society we mean the “society of industry, of general competition, of freely pursued private interest, of anarchy, of natural and spiritual individuality alienated from self.” But since capitalism — Lenin’s definition is correct — is a phenomenon that is generated spontaneously, whenever the ideological power relaxes its watch, the effort to prevent mammon from raising its head must be permanent. It is a matter of annihilation that requires mass terror, since the main enemy of communism is “widespread petit bourgeois spontaneity.” Thus, the “revolutionary project challenges the normal course of history.” It is a huge effort to prevent humanity from moving spontaneously toward a bourgeois society. This is only achieved through permanent terror.

If Pellicani is already being widely discussed in the reactosphere, I’ve missed it. My guess: he’ll be considered an indispensable reference by this time next year.

January 3, 2014admin 49 Comments »
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2013 Reaction points

Multiply the world population by 365 and it comes out as something significantly north of two trillion human days in which to make things happen. It has impressed me, then, to note that roughly 20% of the last year’s Gross Global Occurrence Volume has taken place in the comments threads of this blog. (I received an activity report from WordPress this evening that suggested I thank VXXC, fotrkd, Spandrell, and Thales in particular for being cranked-up comment monkeys.) Tack on the rest of the reactosphere, and what remains of the planet has been fighting over scraps (which we’ll get to later).

The first — tentative and unconvinced — post here went up in mid-February, so Outside in is a creature of 2013. There’s nothing remotely unusual about that. Other 2013 reactionary monster babies include RadishAnarchopapist and Occam’s Razor (January); Habitable Worlds, The Reactivity Place, and Amos & Gromar (April); More Right (May); Theden (July); Handleshaus and The Legionnaire (August) … which is just to scoop from my regular reading list. The sheer quantity of explicitly reactionary writing has to have surged by at least an order of magnitude this year. This timeline (by Handle) sharpens the contours of the phenomenon (expanded to encompass the burgeoning new genre of excited anti-reactionary push-back). Even if many of the greatest Outer Right blogs preexisted this wave of dark energy, 2013 was surely the year in which Neoreaction really established itself as a thing.

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December 31, 2013admin 19 Comments »
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An Enduring Faith

Nathaniel Hawthorne knew his Puritans (from The House of the Seven Gables):

“It appears to me,” said the daguerreotypist, smiling, “that Uncle Venner has the principles of Fourier at the bottom of his wisdom; only they have not quite so much distinctness, in his mind, as in that of the systematizing Frenchman.”

November 26, 2013admin 6 Comments »
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Neoreactionary Problems

I’m under a sacred obligation to review Bryce Laliberte’s ebook What is Neoreaction? Ideology, Social-Historical Evolution, and the Phenomena of Civilization. Thankfully, this solemn duty was not specifically scheduled. Working towards its accomplishment is a thought-provoking process, which is a good thing.

As a trivial matter, I’m forced to ask: Is that supposed to be ‘phenomena’? ‘Phenomenon’ would be more stylistically persuasive, even if the plural is defensible on conceptual grounds. That kind of side-issue, however, is symptomatic self-distraction. There are serious questions at stake here, and elusive ones.

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November 14, 2013admin 69 Comments »
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Elysium

Having finally got around to Elysium,  one point in particular bears emphasis: There’s only one interesting character in the movie, and she’s a neoreactionary heroine. That’s not a matter of ideological preference. Among the tiny number of characters who might imaginably be thought to know what they’re doing, Secretary of Defense Jessica Delacourt (Jodie Foster) is the only one to be treated with the slightest seriousness.

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October 1, 2013admin 28 Comments »
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