Cladistic Meditations

Neoreactionaries have a thing about Puritanism. Whether or not this trait is conceptually essential is a question for another time. The important point, right now, is that it serves as a cladistic marker. Whatever it might be that neoreaction speciates into, it bears this trait as an indication of cultural ancestry, bookmarking the root-code archive of Mencius Moldbug.

When reconstructed as an argument, the Moldbuggian clade proposes a species of ethnographic categorization on a loosely Darwinian (and strongly evolutionary) model, according to which cultural phenomena are logically nested, in tree-like fashion, revealing a pattern of descent. When considering an English Darwinian Evolutionist, who is also an example of contemporary political progressivism, Moldbug makes this mode of analysis explicit:

My belief is that Professor Dawkins is not just a Christian atheist. He is a Protestant atheist. And he is not just a Protestant atheist. He is a Calvinist atheist. And he is not just a Calvinist atheist. He is an Anglo-Calvinist atheist. In other words, he can be also be described as a Puritan atheist, a Dissenter atheist, a Nonconformist atheist, an Evangelical atheist, etc, etc.

This cladistic taxonomy traces Professor Dawkins’ intellectual ancestry back about 400 years, to the era of the English Civil War. Except of course for the atheism theme, Professor Dawkins’ kernel is a remarkable match for the Ranter, Leveller, Digger, Quaker, Fifth Monarchist, or any of the more extreme English Dissenter traditions that flourished during the Cromwellian interregnum.

If there were a Thirty-Nine Articles of neoreaction, some suitably compressed version of this cladogram would constitute the primary tenet of the creed. Among the logically most attenuated twigs of this scheme, sub-speciated to the limit of cladistic definition, is found the globally-dominant sovereign instance of advanced modernity — the Cathedral (the enemy).

It is not surprising, therefore, that the ‘Puritan question’ remains the core preoccupation of the neoreactionary Dark Enlightenment. This has been illustrated with consummate clarity by an article posted by J. M. Smith at The Orthosphere, contesting the Christian genealogy of the Cathedral, and the subsequent rejoinder by descendants of the neoreactionary clade — of varying religious persuasions — Jim (here), Foseti (here), and Nick B. Steves (here, here, and here). Foseti reacts with some bemusement to the polemical framing of the Smith text, because what he encounters is an argument without disagreement:

At The Orthosphere, there’s a post purporting to argue that the Cathedral was not constructed by Christians. Presumably the title was changed by someone other than the author of the text of the post, because the post ably demonstrates that Christians did in fact build the Cathedral. Indeed, the post is recommended.

Cladistic method contributes significantly to an understanding of these relationships. In particular, it is essential to grasp the logic of taxonomic naming, which perfectly corresponds to pure genealogy, and the ideal reconstruction of evolutionary relatedness. The crucial point: A cladistic name refers to everything that is encompassed by a splitting-off, speciation, or schism.

At the risk of superfluous explanation, it might be worth rehearsing this logic with a colloquialized biological example (using familiar rather than technical taxonomic descriptors). Paleontologists are supremely confident that amphibians evolved from bony fishes, and reptiles evolved from amphibians. This can be reformulated, without loss of information, as a cladistic series (of branchings), with bony fishes including amphibians,which in turn include reptiles. In other words, as a cladistic name, a ‘bony fish’ describes an initial speciating split from an ancestral clade, which — projected forwards — encompasses every subsequent speciation, in this case amphibians, and reptiles. Both amphibians and reptiles are bony fish. So are mammals, apes, and human beings. Bony fish, as a clade, comprehends every descendant species that has bony fish ancestry, whether extinct, still existent, or still to come. Nothing that has bony fish ancestry, however distant, can ever cease to be a bony fish (whatever else it becomes, in addition). Cladistically, it is obvious that humans are bony fish, as well as far simpler and more primordial things.

Smith writes:

… a Great Schism rent American Protestantism in the early nineteenth century, with the sundering fissure tearing through denominations, and even congregations. Protestants on one side of the fissure called themselves “liberals,” those on the other side called themselves “orthodox.” … Liberal Protestantism is a new, post-Christian religion that in its early stages opportunistically spoke in a Christian idiom, but nevertheless preached a new gospel.

We have seen, however, that from a cladistic point of view, nothing arising as a schism from X ever becomes ‘post-X’. There is no such thing as a post-bony-fish, a post-reptile, or a post-ape. Nor,  by strict logical analogy, can there ever be such things as post-Abrahamic Monotheists, post-Christians, post-Catholics, post-Protestants, post-Puritans, or post-Progressives. It is a logical impossibility for ancestral clades  to ever be evolutionarily superseded. To have Christianity as a cultural ancestor is to remain Christian forever. That is no more than terminological precision, from the cladistic-neoreactionary perspective.

Steves elucidates the same point in a closely-related vocabulary: “… there are atheist Catholics. Why? Because being Catholic is cultural. It is not only that, but it is also at least that.” Cultures are genealogically or cladistically organized — that is the neoreacionary presupposition. (Lateral complications are not entirely inconceivable — link to a truly ghastly Wikipedia entry on an important thought: the non-treelike network. That’s not for now.)

What, though, of neoreaction itself? What did it split from? Like everything else under investigation here, unless it is comprehended as a schism, it is not comprehended at all.

When cladistically approached, the primordial split is the ineluctable question of identity, or persistent ancestry. We can, perhaps, postpone it momentarily, but it will eventually lead us in directions that are more than a little Lovecraftian.

What was the last thing that neoreaction was submerged within, before arising, through schism? (That investigation has to await another post.)

September 4, 2013admin 73 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction


73 Responses to this entry

  • fotrkd Says:

    Tantalising. May I quote some Thomas Mann in support of the Dark Enlightenment attachment to Puritanism(?):

    “[L]iberal theology” is a contradictio in adjecto, a contradiction in terms. A proponent of culture, ready to adapt itself to the ideals of bourgeois society, as it is, it degrades the religious to a function of the human; the ecstatic and paradoxical elements so essential to the religious genius it waters down to an ethical progressivism. But the religious cannot be satisfied in the merely ethical, and so it comes about that scientific thought and theological thought proper part company again. The scientific superiority of liberal theology, it is now said, is indeed incontestable, but its theological position is weak, for its moralism and humanism lack insight into the dæmonic character of human existence. Cultured indeed it is, but shallow; of the true understanding of human nature and the tragic nature of life the conservative tradition has at bottom preserved far more; for that very reason it has a profounder, more significant relation to culture than has progressive bourgeois ideology.

    Here one sees clearly the infiltration of theological thinking by irrational currents of philosophy, in whose realm, indeed, the non-theoretic, the vital, the will or instinct, in short the dæmonic, have long since become the chief theme of theory. At the same time one observes a revival of the study of Catholic mediæval philosophy, a turning to Neo-Thomism and Neo-Scholasticism. On these lines theology, grown sickly with liberalism, can take on deeper and stronger, yes, more glowing hues; it can once more do justice to the ancient æsthetic conceptions which are involuntarily associated with its name. But the civilized human spirit, whether one call it bourgeois or merely leave it at civilized, cannot get rid of the feeling of the uncanny. For theology, confronted with that spirit of the philosophy of life which is irrationalism, is in danger by its very nature, of becoming dæmonology.


    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 5:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    My point had originally been that an atheist protestant doesn’t self-describe as a (cultural) protestant because culturally (heh!) protestantism (a fortiori as found in the low church varieties) is largely (even sometimes entirely) about a slate of doctrine. Once you reject the doctrine, you are ipso facto not that kind anymore. But you are right, Nick, that such a one still is in fact that kind of Atheist (a calvinist atheist, a leveller atheist, a quietist atheist, whatever). He just happens to come from a line that requires DIS-belief in claddistics—a property the apostate is likely to retain.

    There is a book in this. A really BIG, FAT book. With lots of genealogical diagrams in it. With dashed lines showing cross pollination, etc.

    Whence neo-reaction? Mainly from reaction. From Throne-n-Altar conservatives. But there’s quite a bit of anarcho and/or libertarian cross pollination I think.


    Thales Reply:

    You can take the boy outta the hood, yet extracting the latter from the former is no mean feat.


    Jack Crassus Reply:


    I disagree that neo-reaction comes mainly from conservatism, if only because Moldbug is no conservative. While there are other branches of neoreaction, Moldbug is such a titan that it makes sense to examine his intellectual lineage in isolation.

    His attack on modernity is based largely on the fact that it is a process of decay, that it is worse than what came before. But if we look at his positive ideology, his suggestions for a future order, they are largely of the techno-libertarian variety. The Moldbuggian future is optimistic about man’s ability to generate a new social order.

    Certainly I am a post libertarian, as are some other neo-reactionaries I know. And the phrase describes Moldbug as well. To the extent that there is no such thing as a post-X, then we are both libertarians.

    It is odd to think of it as “descended” from libertarianism though, as its evolution comes from the rediscovery of older ideas. Physical genealogy never readopts discarded genes. It makes for messy cladograms.

    Meanwhile, we should not discount the uniqueness of Moldbug’s genius. Like Nietzsche, he is more defined by his enemies than his influences.

    We also need to take seriously Moldbug’s love of Carlyle. If Moldbug’s ideas have two parents, then one parent is late 20th century techno-libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism, and one is reactionary Carlylian monarchism – rediscovered through the techno-libertarian institution of Google Books and funded with the monetary proceeds from one internet bubble.

    Carlyle’s lineage was thought dead, but in reality the gestational period was just longer than normal.

    “The centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”


    admin Reply:

    I agree that the ‘neoreaction’ label (cladistic marker) is best reserved for the lineage through Moldbug. There’s no good reason for the throne-and-altar people not to be satisfied with simple ‘reaction’ — what use do they have for the ‘neo-‘ prefix?


    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    There’s no good reason for the throne-and-altar people not to be satisfied with simple ‘reaction’ — what use do they have for the ‘neo-’ prefix?

    If Throne & Alter types can be seen as “neoreactionaries” the image that comes into my head is a pious knight… in space marine power armor.

    Anomaly UK Reply:

    Cladistically, neoreactionaries are certainly not reactionaries – we are progressives, suborder libertarian. Bats among birds.

    However, what was the distinctive doctrine of this clade is shared by some descendants of the reactionaries, and the practical division is not on a cladistic basis, but seems to find concrete expression in the attitudes to the 19th century.

    Calling a cow a bony fish may be cladistically accurate, but is apt to cause some confusion.

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 5:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • James A. Donald Says:

    The Dark Enlightenment was and is a schism or heresy of libertarianism. Its acceptance of the reality of this world means that it accepts game as a description of human nature, without necessarily attempting to practice game as a skill.

    Consider that one of the Dark Enlightenment blogs is “anarcho papist”

    Consider Xenophon slaughtering, looting, and burning his way across Asia. Consider the various piratical adventurers that founded what became the British empire. Raffles killed a lot of people, was apt to murder competing merchants, destroy cities, shake down rajas for gold and land, and so on and so forth. Yet one cannot help forming a compelling impression that Xenophon, Raffles, Clive, and most of the rest of those piratical cuthroats and slave raiders were upright, honest, virtuous, and decent men.

    The problem with libertarianism is that it really only works if libertarian rules are generally enforced, accepted, and felt to be right, only works if other people practice libertarianism. What, then, do you do with the large majority of mankind that are disinclined to live by these rules, or incapable of living by these rules?

    We are always in a state of anarchy, in the sense that the government’s ability to be obeyed rests largely on bluff and social pressure, in the sense that any place you rely on police to keep you safe, is a very dangerous place, in the sense that we have a lot less government than we pretend we do.

    Since we are never entirely out of a state of nature, always in anarchy to some considerable extent, libertarianism only works in a community of well behaved people.

    Anarcho capitalism is anarchy where most people adhere to natural law as described by Locke, peaceful orderly anarchy. But Hobbesian anarchy, Hobbes’ state of war is, if not as universal as Hobbes argued, common enough to normal. Xenophon, Raffles, and the rest, and the rest were upright men dealing with a world that is with great regularity in a condition of Hobbesian anarrchy, where highly unlibertarian policies and programs, grossly negative sum policies, unambiguously damaging policies, are frequently just and necessary.


    fotrkd Reply:

    I’m not disagreeing with any of the above but your choice of term – dark enlightenment – as opposed to neoreaction, begs the deeper question. After all, the (symbolic) history of light goes back a lot further than the enlightenment (and libertarianism).


    admin Reply:

    That type of abysmal metaphysics has to be explored through (some more) Miltonic Regression — but I think it just cross-hatches confusingly over the neat ethno-cladistics at this point.


    fotrkd Reply:

    We have to do more?? Bugger. You need to get into telomeres – the key to eternal life so I’m told. Then I could relax a little.

    admin Reply:

    Yes — and the discomfort begins when we advance to drawing up an integrated cladogram for this. If neoreaction is a libertarian schism, and libertarianism is a species of puritan progressivism, then neoreaction is no longer able to pretend that it is anything other than a subspecies of neo-puritanism. This seems to me — cladistically speaking — to be an almost indisputable fact.


    fotrkd Reply:

    But isn’t this where the clade structure breaks down? (See Thomas Mann quote above: “…At the same time one observes a revival of the study of Catholic mediæval philosophy, a turning to Neo-Thomism and Neo-Scholasticism.”) I’ll quote some more Buchan (apologies for digital misspellings – too amusing to correct):

    “The story of Jacobitism can best be told by weaving it round the life of its most conspicuous figure. But it must be remembered that Charles, though the central figure, was not the sole, or indeed the most important, cause of the movement. It was a complex husiness, huilt up of many sabtle instincts which had been long waiting in the North. It was the last assertion of a separate national existence in the smaller country. It was the last word of feudalism and the middle ages, partly in &>your of exploded fictions, but partly on behalf of a real theory of politics. Medievalism and tradition against a bald eighteenth-century rationalism, the little organisation against the big, nationality against interest, the eternal Tory against the eternal Whig, the old coloured side of Scots life as against monotonous Presbyterian ideals,— such is a small part of the meaning of the ’45”

    Excerpt From: Buchan, John, 1875-1940. “Some eighteenth century byways and other essays.” Edinburgh, London, W. Blackwood & Sons, 1908.

    But the shift to (Wee Free) Presbyterianism never fully eclipsed “the old coloured side of Scots life”. A genealogical system doesn’t allow for these two cultural impulses to co-exist, yet that is precisely what we have (had). Cultural clades take things too seriously forgetting the notion of lip-service (which a good Scotsman never does). To reduce neoreaction to neo-Puritanism is surely to forget that?


    fotrkd Reply:

    In other words: what happened to camouflage?

    admin Reply:

    Thought-provoking — I need a cognitive time-out to mull on this (and all the related lateral / alliance / convergence relations that Moldbuggian cladistics has to side-line methodically). In the interim, though, I prickle at your “reduce”. Is man ‘reduced’ to a bony fish? Surely not. But man is a bony fish.

    “… what happened to camouflage?” — Great. That’s the sign under which to search the side-lines.

    fotrkd Reply:

    Fair enough! We’ll go with reduced in the sense of the reduction of a fine sauce – evaporation (ends up finer, no?)

    James A. Donald Reply:

    I don’t think so. Libertarianism cuddled up with Exeter hall, (Puritan descended) but then was expelled into the outer darkness, and to this day is deemed racist, sexist, and so forth.

    So I would say that libertarianism was briefly in coalition with the puritans, and has ever since been begging like a spanked puppy for that coalition to be renewed.


    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 9:53 pm Reply | Quote
  • Cladistic analysis of neoreaction « Jim’s Blog Says:

    […] As humans are bony fishes, and the Cathedral the heretical spawn of Cromwell’s puritans, the neoreaction is the heretical spawn of Libertarianism and anarcho capitalism.  Consider for example the blog title Anarcho Papist. […]

    Posted on September 4th, 2013 at 11:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Oh dear.

    With a shriek of horror some finished the Lovecraft link, and ran off into the moors of Arlington never to be seen again.

    But what have I been saying.

    Which continues to fascinate and titillate. Within the Heart of the Court Party, not mere heresy but anathema itself.


    admin Reply:

    Yes, this is a vindication of your argument (although ethno-cladistically rather than institutionally formulated). The potential for ancestral horror is a junction-crypt. (Is your political-genealogical work getting the shrieks of anguish it deserves yet?)


    VXXC Reply:

    No. Not yet.

    However the Chicago Police Force and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel have hit upon the most marvelous strides forward for diversity since Forced Busing.

    Whole Foods in Englewood. Englewood sounds like what it is, because it is…

    “On the bright side, there aren’t many folks (or people) who will be shoplifting heads of organic lettuce.” – SCC

    I think this has tremendous potential. In fact I think forced busing is due a comeback, especially for Swipples. Swipple if you missed Caplan’s intern’s rejection note – is “inappropiate and insensitive”.

    Swipple is racist.

    Swipple is RACE.

    As all the data we have indicates Swipples [and Asians, who have pissed me off yelling “racist”] aren’t integrating. Clearly it’s time for forced busing, and forced Whole Foods to make a comeback.

    This is also consistent with my channelize policy.


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 12:16 am Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    Brilliant and tantalizing, indeed. However, I wonder if we shouldn’t be more ‘fluid’ with the evolutionary framework here. After all, we’re talking about cultural rather genetic evolution, and cultural evolution (like linguistic evolution) is bound to reticulate.

    I quote Alfred Kroeber:

    [In the tree of culture as opposed to the tree of life], there is a constant branching-out, but the branches also grow together again, wholly or partially, all the time. Culture diverges, but it syncretizes and anastomoses too . . .

    This doesn’t precludes a cladistic understanding. Not at all. It simply allows the post’s question to be approached less rigidly, I think.


    admin Reply:

    For sure (which is why I added the scrappy little rhizome reference). Lateral complexity was too noisy to be helpful at this point though.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    What is this cladistics metaphor actually good for? As a propaganda tool, it may be deeply insulting to the self-styled “reality-based community”, and may therefore warm the hearts of neoreactionaries, but what would you do differently depending on whether or not you took it seriously?

    If Progressives act like Puritans, that’s damning enough. We don’t need to push dodgy metaphors or genetic fallacies.


    admin Reply:

    Why is it a metaphor? The genealogical structure of cultural systems is probably a lot leakier than that of biological populations, but both leak, and both reveal dominating cladistic patterns.


    Peter A. Taylor Reply:

    It is a metaphor because a religious DNA molecule doesn’t really exist.

    I don’t even think it’s a good metaphor. A former president of the board at my “Puritan” church was a full-fledged Santeria priestess. This is beyond leakage. The structure you’re looking at isn’t a tree. It’s more like an art museum, or a “Chinese” buffet that serves pizza and ice cream.

    In order to paint Pol Pot as “Christian”, you have to do so much violence to the language that it makes communication impossible.

    What if the problem isn’t religious heritage, but the breakdown of religious heritage? God died, and some ill-considered substitute, some Lovecraftian elder god from the ancient past, from the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA), got sucked into Pascal’s God-shaped vaccuum. The elder god resembles the previous God because the human brain resembles itself, and for the same reason that a nautilus shell with a hermit crab in it resembles a nautilus.

    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 1:01 am Reply | Quote
  • peppermint Says:

    Sounds nice; neoreaction comes from libertarianism. Here’s how Moldbug talks about the libertarianism he used to embrace.

    Libertarians can be classified according to their wrong answers to this question [of how to limit government]. If you are a democratic libertarian, you believe that government should be limited by popular sovereignty. You also probably haven’t looked out the window in the last 200 years. If you are a judicial libertarian, you believe that government should be limited by judicial sovereignty – ie, by a judiciary committed to Constitutional principles and the Anglo-American common law. And you haven’t looked out the window in the last 75.

    Here is a simple Carlylean puzzle for Misesians. Answer the following questions: (1) Do you live in a city? If not, why not? (2) If so, can you safely walk anywhere in that city, at any time of day? (3) If not, what authority is restricting your freedom?

    However, myself and my friends came to neoreaction directly from mainline Democrat-voting progressivism, through realizing that

    * 50 years of affirmative action have not turned Blacks into Whites. Religionists can cling to theories forever, but scientific-minded progressives must accept the results of the experiment.
    * It’s Eurocentric to expect everyone to be just like Whites anyway. Erasing other people’s differences (note: ‘erasing’ is Progressive cant for ‘ignoring’) is something that privileged people should watch out for.
    * A hundred years of IQ testing has consistently shown differences between populations. Since genomics began 20 years ago, the door has gradually been wedged open to discussing genetic causes for this and other psychological differences.
    * Having smarter children is probably a good idea, keeping the same genes as we have always had may be a good idea; having the next generation be systematically dumber and have whatever personality traits are heritable in common with the kind of people who have children in our society is a bad idea.
    * Progressivism has a lot more in common with religion than I would have admitted before converting to neoreaction. In particular, the sanctimonious moral hysteria that is endemic to progressivism is one of the chief reasons I left it. I just couldn’t deal with constantly trying to out-sanctimony others.

    Does that mean anything? Moldbug mentioned that Brahmins mass-converting from progressivism would be the people to take neoreaction from a critique to a ruling philosophy. But I think a progressive who understands that human neurological uniformity has been tested and found wanting is inevitably a neoreactionary.


    admin Reply:

    In cladistic terms, the distance between libertarians and mainline progressives isn’t very great. The basic conclusions we might draw from a rigorous attention to cultural speciation events (schisms) seem to be comparable in either case.


    Puzzle Pirate (@PuzzlePirate) Reply:

    I would love to hear more about your Prog de-conversion story. Have you written about it on a blog anywhere?


    Thales Reply:



    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 1:38 am Reply | Quote
  • Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Says:

    Nope, it’s not correct to say that neo-reaction comes from libertarianism, not unless we’ve repudiated the reactionary visual trichotomy that was posted a while back and decided that only techno-commercialists are real reactionaries.

    Techno-commercialism probably comes from libertarianism plus some other stuff.

    Theonomism (or whatever we’re calling it) probably doesn’t. It probably comes from conservatism (or paleo-reaction) plus some other stuff.

    Ethno-nationalism was the third branch of the trichotomy. It has a variety of influences but libertarianism is probably not the primary one. Heh.

    But neo-reaction is bigger than those three circles.

    Neo-reaction is far less unified than progressivism. Neo-reaction is not a single ideology. Neo-reaction is a bunch of people from different schools of thought who have started to notice some very unpleasant facts about reality and about the consequences of progressivism. It is unified by agreement about certain facts but it is divided about what to do about them…once it is possible to do anything about them.

    Neo-reaction comes from progressivism one way or the other.


    admin Reply:

    You’re right that a lot more thinking-through is still called for, especially on the place of the Trichotomy within an integrated cladogram. This seems like a provisional point of intellectual convergence though:
    “Neo-reaction comes from progressivism one way or the other.”


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 1:59 am Reply | Quote
  • Contemplationist Says:

    This seems like a lame entry into the (couple months old) ‘Cathedral’ controversy

    BTW, are fascists neoreactionaries? I would say no.


    admin Reply:

    It looks to me (through your link) as though a potentially interesting sorting process is taking place, although it’s still at an early stage. I certainly agree that fascists aren’t neoreactionaries — they simply don’t share the same ancestral lineages (most obviously, the neoreactionary line through Anglophone puritanism, along which the intimate family entanglements with libertarianism and associated species of ultra-capitalism have evolved).


    Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Reply:

    “BTW, are fascists neoreactionaries? I would say no.”

    Reactionaries (of a sort) but not neo-reactionaries as the term is used in these blogs.


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 2:43 am Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    One can tentatively ask at point extreme attenuation renders this model unhelpful in getting to grips with the matter at hand (the enemy). Bony fish presumably branched off from something prior to themselves and so on back to the very first self-replicating life-forms. Is the organic a branch of the inorganic and are we all therefore unalive (Zack notwithstanding)? An undifferentiated blob looms. Can Abrahamic monotheism be understood as having speciated from paganism and to be classed as pagan forever? If so, how does this help us decide whether we like Abrahamic monotheism or how to fight it if we decide we don’t?

    In a debate with a floundering Catholic prelate, Professor Dawkins once made a curious pronouncement: “I also would like to clarify the point about whether there was ever a first human. That’s a rather difficult and puzzling question because we know that the previous species from which we’re descended is probably homo erectus and before that some sort of australopithecine, but there never was a last homo erectus who gave birth to the first homo sapiens. Every creature ever born belonged to the same species as its parents. The process of evolution is so gradual that you can never say, aha, now suddenly we have the first human. It was always a case of just a slightly different from the previous generation.”

    “Every creature ever born belonged to the same species as its parents …” ( ̄o ̄)y~~ Yet there are species, whatever their origins. In our dealings with our fellow men, we are not helped by the knowledge that they are fish. To be sure, we can discern similarities between progressivism and Puritanism or between progressivism and generic Christianity which might suggest an evolutionary line of descent. What then?


    admin Reply:

    “Can Abrahamic monotheism be understood as having speciated from paganism and to be classed as pagan forever?” — I don’t see any problem with this, in fact it seems essential to intellectual consistency. Unless human cultures were born ex nihilo from universal religions, how could they not still carry the old ‘pagan’ codes? Doesn’t deep heritage assume as much?

    As the Great AUK says above:
    “Calling a cow a bony fish may be cladistically accurate, but is apt to cause some confusion.”

    We already have the confusion (and attendant unproductive rancor), so we might as well harvest what theoretical clarity we can from a consistent understanding of cultural genealogy. I’m confident it can actually tell us things (and that it was by tapping this seam of insight that Moldbug revolutionized the Outer right).

    From doctrines and ideologies, we are shifted towards lineages, with their schisms, mutations, and gradients. Neoreaction is already rooted in this type of explanatory landscape. We can’t choose to be suddenly reborn, elsewhere.


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 8:22 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Progs = Puritans = Roundheads = Endless War: these are marching orders.

    Enemy identified, and easily identifiable. People can associate “Puritans” with enemy.

    BTW there may be one class of average Americans who can identify “Roundheads”.

    The Military, because it’s part of our educational curriculum. The Roundheads had discipline so they won and so on. Roundheads vs Cavalier = IDENTIFY.

    These small matters are important.


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 11:47 am Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    This kind of thing seems pretty pointless to me. The obsession with it is one of the main reasons I wouldn’t call myself a neoreactionary.


    admin Reply:

    All drunked up and antagonistic as I am right now, I’m totally in the mood to argue with you about this, but you’re not giving me much to go on.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    (1) I mostly admire the Puritans. They weren’t pussies and they built a working society. They were the most successful settlers of the Americas. King Philip’s War was the deadliest and most dangerous war Americans have ever fought and the Puritans crushed. Modern-day leftists are wimpy failures. If cladistics tells us there’s a genetic connection there, cladistics doesn’t tell us much worth knowing.
    (2) I’ve seen no reason to believe that idenitfying where we went in the past will help us much figure out how to go right from now on. You can’t go home again.


    Thales Reply:

    More gasoline to get this OMGWTFBBQ going: wasn’t it admin who said, not to long ago, that the way out is not the way in?

    (“Fight! fight! fight!”)

    Scharlach Reply:

    @ Lesser Bull

    It’s probably a difference in intellectual temperament, but for many of us, trying to get a ‘distant reading’ of cultural phenomena (including the cultures we inhabit and/or identify with) is an important topic in its own right. Trying to figure out how we got to where we are is important for understanding other things that matter presently.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    No harm in that., Knock yourselves out.

    And because I love ‘ideo-twerking’ as much as anybody, I’ll suggest a hypothesis.

    What if the problem is literacy?

    What if successful engagement with literacy will tend to force your mind towards a few standard mental templates, one of which is some version of the progressive toolkit? Is it a coincidence that y’all are always going back and forth about whether the (european) Jews or the Puritans are the root of all evil and these two groups have historically been the most literate and text-centered? I suspect there’s something more going on there than just selective pressures for high verbal intelligence. The stereotype of the money-grubbing Yankee and the stereotype of the money-grubbing Jew–if there’s a dime’s worth of difference I can’t see it.

    Is there any connection to the fact (apparent at least to me) that both the Puritans and the Jews when under threat/frontier conditions form highly effective and even admirable polities, but otherwise tend to the worst kinds of obnoxious cosmopolitanism?

    Counter-examples would be eastern Asia, though there I suppose you could argue that the literacy wasn’t mass literacy. But then there’s also the Muslim world, which is highly text centered but doesn’t seem to have fostered a ‘Left’. Unless you say radical Islam is a kind of left, though the analogy is strained.


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 3:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Well at least on Cladistic tangent of Thede…this comment on NRA joins ACLU on lawsuit over guns registry… and speaking of fight, fight, fight…

    comment started a Torrent of same.
    White Caucasian Louis Renault • 3 hours ago −
    I think this would be a wonderful opportunity to pause for a moment and give thanks for the many great contributions of the Black community and their culture to our society. Their peaceful and generous nature make them ideal neighbors, lending testimony to their exceptional family values and parenting skills unrivaled by any other culture.

    Their commitment to academic excellence enriches our schools and serves as an example to all who hope to achieve prominence as a people. Real Estate values are fueled by the influx of African Americans into an area due to their caring and respectful nurturing of these communities, an example of all they have achieved by their enthusiasm for self improvement through hard work and a self-reliant can-do nature. Without their industrious and creative drive, we would be poorer as a nation.

    Presently enriching the cities of Spokane WA, Chicago IL, Philadelphia PA, Washington D.C., St. Louis MO, New Orleans LA, Los Angeles CA, Flint MI, Baltimore MD, Pontiac MI, Gary Ind., Newark NJ, Cleveland OH, Atlanta GA, Richmond VA, Memphis Tn, Birmingham AL, Camden NJ; and let’s not forget Detroit, the tourism capital of the world!!!!
    98 3 •Reply•Share ›
    98 likes. 3 dislikes denounced as self-loathers instantly


    admin Reply:

    Incredibly (and accidentally) you’re still on topic. Puritanism teleologically culminates in sarcasm dialed up to 11.


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 8:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Further on..

    “…..And its not from the KKK, it’s from Charles Darwin.”


    Posted on September 5th, 2013 at 8:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:


    Posted on September 6th, 2013 at 11:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jack Crassus Says:

    Moldbug writes:

    We can be post-communists but we can’t be pre-communists.

    In other words, we can only be descendants of lifeforms that survived.

    I’m still not sure how much I buy this hypothesis. But I will always have liberal/libertarian sympathies, I suppose, no matter how many red pills I swallow.


    Posted on September 18th, 2013 at 7:47 am Reply | Quote
  • Qualified Reservations | A Reluctant Apostate Says:

    […] look at ideologies, with a focus on American progressivism in particular, as exemplified in this post by Nick Land and this more recent one from Foseti in which progressivism is treated as a highly […]

    Posted on January 8th, 2014 at 2:01 am Reply | Quote
  • Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » NRx with Chinese Characteristics Says:

    […] (at least some) of the manifold complexities involved, Outside in holds to a fundamentally cladistic determination of Neoreaction. NRx is irreducibly Occidental, emerging from a highly-specific twig […]

    Posted on March 18th, 2014 at 5:01 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    How much did Marxist DNA change Ultra Calvinism? Marxism must also be overprinted by some very ancient strands of thought. No?


    northanger Reply:

    Interesting if primitive accumulation were genetic-based; making LTV appear non-functional due to selective pressure from industrialization.


    northanger Reply:

    The epistasis from feudalism → agriculturalism → industrialization allowing capitalism to evolve in functionality.


    nydwracu Reply:

    Cladistics can learn from linguistics, which has already developed a vocabulary for clarifying cladistic questions. So you’re asking about whether there was an stratal influence from Marxism in Universalism. (Then the question is: superstrate or adstrate?)

    But was there a stratal influence from Universalism or its predecessors in Marxism…? Karl Barth called Hegel the Protestant Aquinas, so that’s one point of evidence in favor, even without bringing in the more-X-than-the-X pattern.


    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    NRx_NOOB’s question might need reformulation. I’ll just leave this right here as a partial hint (that can be quibbled with on some details) as to why:

    Ultra Calvinism – or ecumenical postmillenialism – first influenced Marxism before being influenced by Marxism.

    What made and makes Marxism, Gramscism, and the like appealing to the Ultra Calvinists is that from the beginning they shared the vision of the ideal society would look like and while they did not totally share the mechanism of how to get there, they did share three very important things with Marxism:

    1) a providencial view of history and humanity’s perfection.

    2) what that perfection would look like (egalitarianism; what came to be called “social justice”).

    3) ultimately a shared belief in the state as redeemer: the redemptive state led by a cadre of experts would create this heaven on earth.

    Note that #3 isn’t precisely found in Marx & Engles. But it became what actually existing communism used as their mechanism, and it was what progs tended to admire in Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc.

    So what happened could be called mutual influence, and ultimately prog DNA is inseperable from commie DNA because they had the same prior types (their lines of descent share many, many ancestors).

    It’s hard to say what influences on modern ecumenical postmillenialism are mainly Marxist (I might guess the Gramscian, but others will point out that elements of Gramscianism exist in ultracalvinism prior to Gramsci) and what are just intellectual strains they’d have ended up developing anyhow.

    It is true the more Ultra the ultracalvinist, the more overt the Marxist influences will appear to be. IMO mainly Marxism gave them a set of appealing arguments, slogans, and status-poses. It may have accellerated the secularization of postmillenialism.

    In other respects Earl Browder was right, though.


    Posted on May 10th, 2014 at 3:31 am Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Was Protestantism spawned from actual “teachings” found within New Testament texts?


    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    They’d say so. Their opponents would disagree.

    If you want a primary source, possibly turn to Fosdick’s “Will the Fundamentalists Win?” article. Fosdick was a Progressive theologian (who headed up Rockefeller’s influential Riverside Baptist Church, while his equally Progressive-Postmil brother ran Rockefeller’s influential Foundation).

    For an extended neoreactionary argument on all this, a place to go would be Moldbug’s “How Dawkins Got Pwned” series.

    p.s. progism: not just for ecumenical postmil protestants anymore. The Pope thinks social justice egalitarian = Christianity. Just see his recent tweet about inequality being the root of all evil.


    Posted on May 11th, 2014 at 5:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Was Baruch Spinoza a paleoprogressive?


    Posted on May 11th, 2014 at 6:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    @Porphy’s Attorney—great posts, thanks for the reading recommendations. There are so many deep thinking quality posters here, I feel like a kid that just stumbled upon a new candy store.


    Posted on May 13th, 2014 at 1:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • notes on Peart & Levy’s “Vanity of the Philosopher” | Vulgar Material Says:

    […] Though it was published too early for that to have been the motivation for writing it, this functions very well as inoculation against NRx for young libertarians – and not just because Mr. Moldbug’s hero, Carlyle, plays a significant part, or because of the object-level sympathies of the authors. (For those who are already neoreactionaries – and my trackbacks seem to suggest that there are more of you reading this than my actual comrades – I feel that you’re probably already been counter-inoculated, so I’m not sure it would do much good. Instead I’ll recommend Larry Tise’s Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840, not because I expect it to deconvert you either but because it is basically the spooky bedtime story that Nick Land warned he was going to tell you some day.) […]

    Posted on June 9th, 2014 at 10:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » T-shirt slogans (#14) Says:

    […] Grammatical flexibility enables several lines of sense to spin off immediately, some running through ἰχθύς, and some through other things. In any case, it’s helpful to remember that humans are bony fish. […]

    Posted on July 24th, 2014 at 1:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Fish Folkes – NEU ROMAN X Says:

    […] the opportunities for XS to agree (in advance) with PZ Myers don’t come along too regularly, it’s worth seizing upon those that do. For […]

    Posted on July 6th, 2016 at 6:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Meditações Cladísticas – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on October 5th, 2016 at 12:07 am Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    Anybody remember this concept?

    Let’s be real: cladistics is a glorified way of playing the blame-game.

    Hey, nothing wrong with that. I like to know whose fault it was, “just for the record”.

    If you’re one of the ones like me who isn’t content blaming the rot on protestantism and wants to keep taking a step back, and another, then you might want to investigate what is hinted at in my previous post- you will see that some of the blame for the destiny of the West can be traced directly back to someone before Socrates…


    I hold such irrational grudges about dead philosophers, you don’t even know the half of it.


    Wagner Reply:

    There were a few pingpong matches between other pre-Socratics to get to Parmenides, and then we always end up with the ur-bard Homer as our scapegoat (fittingly named in this context, no?)

    From this you could see a possible originary way of thinking that brought us to our present secularized christianity. And if you want to get autistic, this same originary way of thinking could get us out of our present secularized christianity.


    Posted on August 5th, 2019 at 6:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    Artxell will like (and dislike) this one. I wonder to what degree the revolution of the 60s is still with us today. To what degree do the Beatles et al. and Eastern religion permeate our political reality due to that fateful chemical-imprinting of the boomer race. Could progressivism be not merely crypto-calvinism but rather crypto-calvinism fused with crypto-hinduism? It’s also fused with another conspicuous world religion, that goes without saying though. Our current secular religion seems to be a unified pluralism of old religions, all in agreement about what their Satan is.


    Posted on August 19th, 2019 at 8:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    Just leaving this here…


    Posted on September 2nd, 2019 at 10:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    When will they realize (that we are one) 🤭


    Posted on September 8th, 2019 at 3:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    *Trump voice* “Sicilians aren’t good people, folks. If you can’t respect the rule of law you need to go back!”

    I live in 1770. Did Americans respect the rule of law then? What mindset do you think was “in the air” at that time?

    The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, all these from the viewpoint of 1770 are makeshift creations. I believe in a higher law. And so did those who amended the Constitution.

    I’ll tell you why I think our foundations rest on nothingness, it’s because all these sacred-legal documents are self-enclosed systems, much like the Bible. Why is this “God”? Because *this* says it’s God. Can someone show me a CONSTITUTION that says in it, The United States Constitution is the Constitution of Constitutions? No. So you see it only appeals to itself as The Constitution, and we pretend a more authoritative, unwritten CONSTITUTION doesn’t exist.

    “Why do we have to follow these Rules?” They call themselves the Rules, why else?

    Look at Unqualified Reservations as having been written in the 1760s. The revolutionary fervor was in the air. (The Crown = The Cathedral obvs). Now, in 1770 we’re wondering about new documents that would better reflect the CONSTITUTION in the clouds, the higher court of authority, that makes the quills that designed our founding documents shiver and rethink.

    If the President isn’t legally allowed to root out corrupt cryptopresidents, what do you know, “legality” doesn’t seem like something that should be legal in this case anymore.

    “Playing with chaos” this is, yes. So were those living on this land in the 1770s and it turned out pretty well for them, didn’t it?

    I’m saying in effect that it’s possible to “veto” the very foundations of this society.


    Posted on September 21st, 2019 at 10:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    The notion that these contain the telos that eventually results in ghettos and favelas is 🤯/🥴


    Posted on September 30th, 2019 at 9:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    If I were a Jew today I would–“We don’t care what you’d do you piece’a shit!”–I would pull a Strauss and relativize contemporary “atheistic” judaism of the social justice variety using the genealogical method

    In the way that Land is the conscience of the Brits, some clever Jew seriously needs to develop their own version of the ultracalvinist hypothesis. I say “seriously” because I know there are some sane ones out there that want to be replaced by mexicans and arabs as much as the 1488 crowd does. Just an idea for ye.

    Dugin gets into different typologies

    “Like the splitting up of Russians into “Whites” and “Reds” in the revolution, the Jewry also broke in political thought and in profound archetypical features of their rationales on deep lines, planned much earlier, into two camps within
    Judaism—Hasidic-Kabbalists (Bolshevists) in one, and Talmudist-rationalists (the Enlightenment, bourgeoisie-capitalists) in the other.”

    Are there ultra-kabbalists and ultra-talmudists out there today?

    Another way he spins it

    ““Jewish Orientalism,” (per Blomberg) or “Jewish National-Bolshevism,” (per Agursky) at its religious level includes Hasidim, Sabbateans, Kabbalists and at the secular level Marxism, revolutionary socialism, populism, and Bolshevism. “Jewish Westernists” are also a duality; in their religious plane coinciding with Maimonides’ rationalistic Talmudism (after the “Gaons” of Vilnius, the Mitnagedov centers, and the anti-Hasidic circles) and the secular versions expressing themselves as liberal-democratic, “enlightened” humanism.”

    Roots, amirite

    What about a third type, some might ask. Those ones might be their own version of NRx, a cladistic splinter itself.


    Wagner Reply:

    I read in the Ethnomasochism post that argument is irrelevant, then, THEN, two seconds later! two seconds later! I post here arguing ahahaha

    Oh well, for some of us this is just our idea of fun


    Posted on October 12th, 2019 at 11:35 am Reply | Quote

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