Gloom and realism can be hard to distinguish, but it’s important to carry on. Curmudgeonry without stubbornness isn’t worth a damn. Even in the worst case, relentless, sluggishly deterioriating ghastliness can at least be interesting. It shouldn’t be necessary to cheer up, in order to continue, and there might be some lessons worth attending to in the slough of despond.
I’d go further. Despair can get things started, if it means the abandonment of diverting idols. A full, immersive soaking, which leaves no doubt about certain things being over, is morbidly therapeutic, and even something like a first step (at least a first slouch). There are hopes that have to die, and the sooner the better, although if they die slowly and horribly, they are perhaps less likely to need killing twice.
Here’s the argument: Nothing is going anywhere without preliminary disintegration. That’s the cheerful part. It seems to me an absolutely irresistible claim, and this post was to have been designed to rally consensus around it. Then I made the ‘mistake’ of watching this.
Allow me to walk you into this little knot of gloom in stages, punctuated by theses, each of which marks an essential but incomplete discussion. The meta-assertion is that there is no other way. Push-back against that, met at any of its way-stations, will make the dire swamp-thrashing to follow worthwhile.
Thesis-1: There is no more basic preliminary to effective neoreactionary transformation than schism. This can take many forms. Simple retirement into the private sphere — as strongly advocated by Nick B. Steves in particular — represents one significant pole. At the other lies secession, and other forms of macro-political disintegration (with science fiction variants extending from seasteading out to space colonization). The essential point is that a consolidation of disagreement in space is substituted for a resolution of disagreement in time. As far as practicality is concerned, this is the overwhelming priority.
Thesis-2: There can be no agreement. The recent flurry of interest in Emmanuel Todd should suffice as confirmation (this critical summary by Craig Willy is excellent). In a very small nutshell, Todd argues that “… political ideologies in the modern age are projections of a people’s unconscious premodern family values.” Europe has four basic family types (all exogamous), programming its varied political ideals.
The inegalitarian (classical) liberalism of mercantile North-West Europeans, corresponds to the ‘Absolute nuclear family’.
Weird Franco-Italian ‘egalitarian liberalism’ corresponds to the ‘egalitarian nuclear family’ (Todd’s own ancestral type and value model).
The Germanic ‘Authoritarian family’ tends to German stuff, and
The (Slav-Orthodox) ‘Community family’ breeds communists.
If you haven’t read Willy yet, you’ll be glad you did. The sole take-away here: People are different (oops, that’s a signature judgement of the inegalitarian liberal type), with no tendency to converge upon common ideals, even among Europeans. There are people who think communism is natural and good, and they’re not going to be argued out of it. Only a small minority think what you do, and that isn’t going to change. You either have to kill them, dominate them, be dominated by them, or escape them. Escaping them is best.
Thesis-3: It’s America that matters (for Anglophone neoreactionaries, at least). It’s the only country with traditions of freedom that can be broken into large and influential pieces, and its residual federal structure provides a virtual template for doing exactly that. For practical purposes, therefore, the future of liberty — even if you want to read that as the liberty to conduct experiments in ethnonationalist or theocratic government — is entirely dependent upon the development of American federalism. Further centralized consolidation is losing, and disintegration is winning. Compared to that, in terms of political practicality, everything else is of vanishing irrelevance. Dreaming up schemes for ideal authoritarian regimes, in particular, is simply a hobby (but you know that already, right?).
The only road to the future, or the past, leads through a Disunited States of America. Now listen to those Bloggingheads again, and wind up the gloom to scream volume. It’s absolutely clear from a strictly technical point of view that the sole conceivable platform for an escape from Leviathan’s degenerative ratchet would be a Confederate States of America, and we can probably agree that historical sensitivities make that a non-starter. Setting out on a path away from futile arguments — between people who will never agree — leads straight back into America’s racial nightmare, and horrible, draining, unresolvable wrangling that amounts to: Freedom is banned forever, because … what happened to black people.
Those arguments are stupidity itself. They go nowhere. And that is precisely the point.
[Don’t kill yourself, or shut down your blog — but a stiff drink is positively recommended]
ADDED: Why the GOP has to die.