On Goulding

James Goulding is a thinker of truly extraordinary brilliance. His intellectual stance is closer to that of Outside in than almost any other blog listed in our sidebar. It is with considerable sadness, therefore, that I have sought to comply with his shifted self-definition by moving the link to suspiria de profundis out of the ‘neoreaction’ category.

Goulding is subtle, complex, and difficult, and his central ideas remain only partially digested here. In addition, my grasp of the stakes in his new direction is extremely unformed. There are nevertheless a few preliminary remarks that I hope are worth making.

Neoreaction, or the Dark Enlightenment, has as its most essential tendency the insistence upon an alternative to fascism. Its realism does not embrace optimism readily, so it would be insincere to pretend that this alternative is destined for success. What cannot be convincingly denied, however, is that a reaction to the Cathedral is coming, that fascist modes of political rectification are well-placed to profit from it, and that Western — indeed all modern — societies default to fascism during crisis conditions. By separating himself from the new reaction, Goulding risks surrendering it to ominous potentialities that might otherwise be avoidable.

This matters. Whatever Goulding’s talents [add well-deserved superlatives], marketing and propaganda are not among them. He has never been less convincing than when suggesting that ‘Movement X’ is a credible attractor for the disenchanted. As conservatism dies of chronic failure, what replaces it will be a reaction to the status quo, unashamed to identify itself as such, and positively exulting in the abominated label reactionary. Goulding seems to be sure that this prediction is wrong, for no very obvious reason, and this certainty plays to his own greatest intellectual weaknesses. I beseech him, in the bowels of Gnon, to think it possible that he may be mistaken.

The practitioners of Machiavellian politics are politicians. They expose each other every day through their political machines, and House of Cards is already popular culture. Everybody knows this stuff, and it has no deep consequence. Politics is porn, an inane tangle of primate idiocy. It is unworthy of Goulding’s focused intelligence.

We have suffered our first wound. It seriously hurts.

ADDED: Note to trolls (e.g. ‘Donny Farp’) if you can bring yourself to stop sounding like a jerk, I’ll stop deleting you. This blog has a zero-tolerance policy for anonymous snark.

June 2, 2013admin 58 Comments »
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58 Responses to this entry

  • Thales Says:

    This makes as much sense as the Bull Moose Party, the Reform Party or New Coke. “X” is a pejorative, something you slap on the Other, like a generation of slackers or the leading brand. Calling it “Movement X” makes me think he’s speaking of the Cathedral itself, but in code to avoid lawsuits.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 4:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • James Goulding Says:

    ¡¡¡Your enthusiasm is overwhelming, but misplaced. I am not that smart; and clearly my eccentricity is, through the Internet, transformed into drama. I apologise on behalf of myself and the host, and please enough of this!!!

    *****

    I am a fan of your blog. However, I think that our Internet hobby should start to live up to its lofty ambitions, i.e. stop being intellectually lazy, eclectic and inclusive.

    The problem, as was discussed here recently, is that blogging software doesn’t allow us normal levels of nuanced discrimination. Therefore, until the software changes, ritual violence is necessary to cleanse and cleave communities. Here is James Burnham on the subject:

    [T]he growth of the humanitarian and pacifist ideologies, this effort to hide the force that nevertheless continues operating in vicious and distorted ways, to place reliance for rule upon cunning and fraud and bribery and corruption, rather than frankly used violence, is the mark of a social degeneration. It is not only the masses who are lulled and degraded. The rulers, too, decay. The rulers rule hypocritically, by cheating, without facing the meaning of rule, and a general economic and cultural decline, a social softening, is indicated. […]

    An open recognition of the necessity of violence can reverse the social degeneration. Violence, however, can serve this function, can be kept free from brutality and from mere vengeful force, only if it is linked to a great myth. Myth and violence, reciprocally acting on each other, produce not senseless cruelty and suffering, but sacrifice and heroism.

    But, by what is only superficially a paradox, the open acceptance of violence, when linked with a great myth, in practice decreases the total amount of actual violence in society. As in the case of the early Christian martyrdoms, which research has shown to have been surprisingly few and minor, the absolute quality of the myth gives a heightened significance to what violence does take place, and at the same time guards against an endless repetition of vulgar brutalities. […]

    This seeming paradox, that the frank recognition of the function of violence in social conflicts may have as a consequence a reduction in the actual amount of violence, is a great mystery to all those whose approach to society is formalistic. If men believe and say that they are against violence, if they express humanitarian and pacifist ideals, it must follow, so formalists think, that there will be less violence in the world than when men openly admit the necessity of violence. Historical experience does not, however, bear out this hope, as all the Machiavellians understand. The humanitarian ideals of much of the French aristocracy in the 18th century did not in the least mitigate the enormous bloodshed of the Revolution and may indeed have greatly contributed to its excess. It cannot be shown that humanitarian conceptions of criminal punishment, such as have flourished during the past century or more, have decreased crimes of violence. Pacifist, “anti-war” movements are a prominent feature of modern life. They have not at all served to stop the most gigantic wars of history. They have, rather, in those countries where they were most influential, brought about a situation in which many more men have been killed than would have been if political policy had based itself on the fact that wars are a natural phase of the historical process.

    Recent discussions are only the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and an agile response to the glacial malaise of “Reaction”, rather than trench warfare, is optimal.

    I’m confident that “Movement X” will attract good participants—indeed the signs are already promising—and if not it sets a useful tone for the future of my hobby. If you esteem me so excessively, you should update more heavily towards my beliefs.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “If you esteem me so excessively, you should update more heavily towards my beliefs.” — We operate at different speeds, so I’m sure my glacial convergence with your ideas is disappointingly retarded (although, to take only one recent example, your Salter take-down is now basic to my grasp of racial politics). You, on the other hand, could usefully show a little more patience if your goal is momentum. No one will get on board Movement X, unless they’re confident it will not have transformed by next week into Movement Y — especially if they would then be in any way exposed, and able to consider themselves ‘left in the lurch’.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 4:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Diversity is our strength, non?

    [Reply]

    Severen Reply:

    Actually, diversity can be a strength in the sense that diverse movements make for a more amorphous target (and thus, a more difficult target to nail…amorphous targets are more resistant to stickiness). I think that Ryan Faulk may be utilizing this with his All Nations Party approach (hope this comment isn’t too off-topic).

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:22 pm Reply | Quote
  • James Goulding Says:

    As conservatism dies of chronic failure, what replaces it will be a reaction to the status quo, unashamed to identify itself as such, and positively exulting in the abominated label reactionary. Goulding seems to be sure that this prediction is wrong, for no very obvious reason, and this certainty plays to his own greatest intellectual weaknesses. I beseech him, in the bowels of Gnon, to think it possible that he may be mistaken.

    One reason is the centrality of legal procedure to politics. (You see to carefully read Szabo is, like Moldbuggery, something that can fundamentally change one’s perspectives.) Even if there were a Reaction to the status quo, the mechanisms of coercion are counter-intuitive. Given the intellectual level of existing OWS-Tea Party-Reaction, they’d probably try to install that popular favourite, direct democracy. This certainly wouldn’t give them what they want.

    It follows that in the absence of a thorough understanding of how to realise good object-level beliefs through stable institutions, no sensible and intelligent person would prefer Reaction to the status quo. Hence, Reaction won’t happen until phenomena like Movement X are successful.

    The practitioners of Machiavellian politics are politicians. They expose each other every day through their political machines, and House of Cards is already popular culture. Everybody knows this stuff, and it has no deep consequence. Politics is porn, an inane tangle of primate idiocy. It is unworthy of Goulding’s focused intelligence.

    I think the opposite. “Reactionaries”, and libertarians, are far too eager to congratulate themselves for having accurate, object-level beliefs about race, welfare, Keynesianism, etc. Their intellectual superiors in the Cathedral could effortlessly grasp all of this, were it to their advantage, but they happen to be playing a different game.

    Movement X, or whatever you want to call it, says let’s start playing their game. Not everyone grasps everything in the post you link. In fact, almost no-one understands any of it very well. That’s why it’s worth researching.

    We have suffered our first wound. It seriously hurts.

    Which heuristic suggests that this is a good thing?

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:33 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    I think the opposite. “Reactionaries”, and libertarians, are far too eager to congratulate themselves for having accurate, object-level beliefs about race, welfare, Keynesianism, etc. Their intellectual superiors in the Cathedral could effortlessly grasp all of this, were it to their advantage, but they happen to be playing a different game.

    Interesting. My gut impression is that they are not aware of playing, but do go on.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • James Goulding Says:

    Spandrell, you might be interested in this book.

    lying is deeply embedded in our subconscious as a result of evolution. Most of the book’s stories are linked to this theme. […]

    In the evolutionary context, living things that lie do not intend to lie, mislead or deceive. […]

    What emerges from the reading of “Why We Lie” is a sense that as species become more advanced they automatically and inevitably become better and more sophisticated liars and the discoverers of lying. The discoverers lag behind and the survivors spiral to higher levels of lying.

    The notion of a “person” who is “aware” of his deceptions does not cleave reality at its joints. Rather, in some admittedly mysterious way, we humans do things with subconscious intent but conscious innocence. Keith Johnstone’s book Impro also explains this well.

    So, I’d suggest that a lot of the high-level bureaucrats are superb liars, in this intentional/unintentional sense. You might also watch this video carefully, and observe how at ease Bernanke is with himself in comparison to Ron Paul. In fact, at the very end of the video I think we can clearly see the lie/truth cogs turning.

    On the other hand, one supposes that his actions are quite constrained by the distributed political order, in comparison to an arch-Machiavellian like Talleyrand. How much so is the kind of information that we should seek.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I found this a good explanation of why we lie

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kvQHGZU86A&list=PL6F98B69CCC755C6B

    He looks like he knows he’s lying and liable to being punished though.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Nick, we don’t have to hold a wake. James Goulding is still thinking and still blogging. Just leave the door open (everybody). Your suggestion the reaction is wounded by this risks petulant comments from anyone who feels abandoned, and that would be the surest way to lose him forever.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    OK, I’ll call off the wake.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Good. Now, I’m going away for a couple of weeks and I expect a reaction to come back to. I’ll work on my usefulness while I’m gone. For what it’s worth, I think you (roughly: ‘they’ll look back and see it’s already begun’) and Foseti (’something is in the air’) are right, so don’t get too disheartened. One more time: thanks (sincerely).

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 6:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • Tom Says:

    Neoreaction, or the Dark Enlightenment, has as its most essential tendency the insistence upon an alternative to fascism.

    Are you speaking for your personal sphere of Neoreaction/Dark Enlightenment? There are fascists and those sympathetic to fascism that fall under the category of Neoreaction/DE., no?

    Or are you saying that Neoreaction/Dark Enlightenment precludes fascism by definition?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “… are you saying that Neoreaction/Dark Enlightenment precludes fascism by definition?” Yes, but it’s complicated by the fact that both ‘fascism’ and ‘dark enlightenment’ remain poorly defined, and further by the fact that — by any strict definition of the former — it is hard to identify any regime on earth today that is not structurally fascist in its political-economic model (which is why any alternative to fascism is a reaction).

    [Reply]

    nydwracu Reply:

    Sympathetic, maybe, if you define it broadly enough. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I were the only one who’s read any Sorel.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Sorel is “broadly enough”? He’s on the main highway.

    [Reply]

    nydwracu Reply:

    Right. But taking ‘fascism’ in the capital-F sense, it doesn’t seem like many people in the DE have read enough near it to be sympathetic to it. All this futurism and no Marinetti!

    In the lowercase-f sense, there are a few Evolians, but that seems to be all.

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 6:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • Vladimir Says:

    Given that James’s reaction (heh) was prompted by my comments in a recent thread at Foseti’s, and that I’m another regular commenter with some reputation in these circles who shares similar concerns, I think it’s appropriate for me to comment on this topic here as well.

    The fundamental problem is that the recent explosion of the “neoreactionary” internet meme is a grave danger to the whole loose community of quality thinkers and writers who fall under this moniker. It will attract large crowds of people — too tiny to matter in real life, of course, but still far more numerous than the number of people who can contribute usefully to this discourse — who will be attracted by its symbolism and image, or just by the vain desire to air their uninteresting opinions, and who will drown all interesting and worthwhile discussion. (Witness the gradual decline of Moldbug’s comment section from dazzling heights to a hideous cesspool, as his readership expanded and he didn’t bother policing it. Or the similar decline of Less Wrong, as hordes of newbies poured in, attracted by the prospect of building a “rationalist” image.)

    Furthermore, as a more immediate concern — which is relevant even now, before a serious decline has taken place — we’re facing a situation where the “neoreactionary” meme, along with the key terminology that we use as a shorthand for our shared insights (e.g. “the Cathedral”), will acquire a particularly ugly and low-status “nerd porn” connotations, as a result of the newcomers’ efforts to express their new-found image in ways they mistakenly believe are cool and witty. “Reactionary” was a wonderful name to co-opt, but the recent trends of this sort (culminating in those “magical hero” cards) have already made it somewhat embarrassing for me to be identified and associated with this word. The progress that we’ve made in inventing useful theoretical vocabulary will be negated if the use of this vocabulary becomes embarrassing because it will inevitably invoke this sort of image.

    A further concern is also the recent push towards a “big tent” image where the “reactionary” moniker will start acquiring all kinds of undesirable connotations and associations, especially given that all sides of the Trichotomy have fairly close connections to various milieus dominated by stupid or malignant ideas, as well as mediocre or worse individuals. (This is another sin exemplified by the “magical hero” series.) There is absolutely no benefit from forging such an image of a “big tent” neoreactionary scene, and definitely a lot to lose.

    My understanding is that James sees all this as a clear sign of ongoing decline, and wants to sever ties with the whole “reactionary” business before they become too embarrassing. I think he’s correct, and this is corroborated by multiple past examples of internet communities that fell from excellence to decay. I myself plan to stick around for as long as there is opportunity for interesting discussion, since I don’t care much about the image attached to this particular online persona — but I’m afraid that, given the trends, this may not mean a very long time.

    Take this as a concern expressed not only by myself, but also implicitly by all future potential interesting participants in the neoreactionary discourse who will never be attracted to it, due to its decline in both substance and style.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Perhaps your diagnosis is all true, but what then is the appropriate response?
    In any case, your patience with these frustrations is appreciated, and if you finally throw in the towel I’ll be sorely tempted to throw another wake with much wailing and gnashing of teeth (before Fotrkd gets me to call it off).

    [Reply]

    Vladimir Reply:

    Unfortunately, the entropic tendency of open-access internet forums is still an unsolved problem. But if there is a chance of resisting it, I’d say it’s in the combination of:

    1. Keeping the quality of content consistently high (and consequently demanding for readers), while resisting the temptation to get into any sorts of low-brow diversions that might have a broader popular appeal.

    2. Ruthless deletion of all comments that have even the slightest whiff of trolling or bad attitude. (Some people would argue that this approach has its own potential dangers, but while their arguments are sensible, these dangers are dwarfed by the otherwise unavoidable fundamental forces of decay.) I haven’t seen the comments that prompted the recent warning to potential trolls, but I welcome it by all means.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’re extremely good in this brutal super-ego role — it’s roughly equivalent to the responsibility of what British parliamentarians call a ‘chief whip’. We’re all benefiting mightily from it IMHO.

    little hans Reply:

    It’s no surprise that a group of people obsessed by exit and the outside begin to drop out when encountering an attempt at organisation: as with all ethics/politics, the tendency or impulse comes first; any given intellectual rationalisation is merely an arbitrary superstructure to justify that starting position and as such, disposable / exchangeable for anything else that does the job.
    Anyway, as someone who has been reading the dark enlightenment for a while now, it has to be said that it has always been a nerdy, seriously weird corner of the web; if it took these cards to show it, that demonstrates a void of self awareness over the last months.
    There’s the old adage that ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, but it almost seems that intellectual-theoretical neo-reactionaries can’t survive contact with their neo-friends and the broadening, shallowing and – as I have mentioned – strange bedfellowing it entails. Strategically, would it be preferable at this stage to engage the intellectual cadre of the left (or whatever the other lot are called) in a war of high theory, rather than slip down the long, laggy slope of splendid, isolated decline? To attack when Intelligence(=organisation) is at its peak?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    At least two good points here. In response:
    (a) Perhaps the Exit-oriented need to tilt artificially against their impulses, treating consistency as a reputational issue? The ‘herding cats’ phenomenon is obviously very real, in any case. I’d be disappointed to see total fission occur before we’ve strengthened some strong, (and among ourselves) widely-consensual conceptual principles. We can then …
    (b) … deploy them on the ideological battlefield against real enemies, with the hope of eventually perturbing public debates.
    (c) My own sense of it is that the building a ‘neoreactionary movement’ is not a real goal, but only an elaborate precursor to undermining the credibility of Cathedralist doctrine as widely as possible. ‘Neoreaction’, as an abominated term, intrinsically expresses complete indifference to Cathedralist sentiment and judgments. That is its importance.
    (d) I agree with Vladimir (and Goulding?) that “splendid, isolated decline” is far from the worst thing that could happen. There are ‘success’ modes that would be far worse.

    [Reply]

    craig hickman Reply:

    C

    I think this is the key. Even if I’m from the Left I see, along with you, that the common enemy is the ‘Cathedral’ as your camp has defined it. What we need is more intellectual interaction, and at a higher level, rather than in-house / out-house bickering over opposing ideologies.

    A. If the Cathedral is the enemy, then we need a better exposition of its history, philosophy, strategies, weaknesses, etc. An applied Machiavellian critique in your vernacular.

    B. The need to gather in what you have gained: a marked decisional accounting of your core ideas – a sort of neoreactionary manifesto setting out the basic premises, postulates, and axioms of your ontological/epistemological notions.

    C. A house cleaning, rather than a blood-letting, gathering in of the talent within you community even if that entails the creation of private forums and Teamspeak or Ventrilo sessions where people can truly get to talk and communicate with each other in voice rather than the distantiating distancing of the cold web blog.

    I’m not truly your enemy, just from another path that acknowledges a different set of criteria about what we want to replace the Cathedral with. Yet, being the realist and an heir of that same Machiavellianism I, too, realize that we must all live together after the war is over; else, we too, will impose tyrannies and gulags and become our own worst nightmares all over again. Even if I’m of the Left I’m no fool and no fanatic, I realize that your tribe do have notions that we will need to survive in the coming times.

    spandrell Reply:

    FWIW I am a great fan of Razib’s comments policy and have no intention of letting the college students run wild on my blog.

    Moldbug’s own writing died before his comment section died, that he neglected to policy it is a sign he stopped giving a shit. Besides the ’embarrassment’ of having thousands of kids swearing at the Cathedral in Tumblr I don’t see the damage that popularization can do. It’s not like we can stop them from liking what we write and imitating us.

    As long as someone gives a shit there will always be a blog somewhere where you can go have a nice discussion. The internet is a big place.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    As a fairly casual outside observer who finds much of interest and value in the serious discussions here ongoing, I have to admit that what I’ve come to think of as the “Dork Enlightenment” elements (your “nerd porn,” Vladimir) are a problem for what you collectively seem to be trying so variously yet in such vigorous concert to be going for (if it’s really, ultimately “an alternative to fascism”). You do risk dismissal of your serious arguments by some who might be sympathetic to significant degrees because of the sheer goofiness factor (this goes, for me at least, all the way to the foundational and super-hackneyed–Moldbug “red pill/blue pill” trope). Such dismissal might well be unfair, sure, but as you really real real-world realists of reality know too well, the world is unfair.

    I think it’s interesting, by the way, to consider the role of “embarrassment” in the functioning of groups and of individual behaviors within and among groups in various stages of formation, growth, stagnation and dissolution. (Is something like, say, the very name “Mencius Moldbug” embarrassing, at least in mixed company? Do you desire to carry your “dark” message–sorry, have to use scare quotes there or I’d feel a bit embarrassed–beyond this community?) I realize that a part of the problem might well entail how markers of status and an increasing emphasis on managing and programming affect within the “Cathedral” (koff koff) create and maintain in-group/out-group boundaries in nefarious ways, and that, therefore, one might wish precisely to maintain one’s dignified distance by sporting one’s metaphorical steampunk cape or whatever, but…

    […but seriously, here’s an example of how such embarrassment functions for me: I scan the “manosphere” blogs that are a click or two from this very spot and I can’t help but see–forgive me for my insensitivity–a bunch of resentment-clogged dorks who couldn’t get laid like normal guys and have to use their exceedingly tiresome braininess to come up with a bunch of “game” nonsense* to justify their resentment and assuage their bruised high-IQ egos and compensate, compensate, compensate. So, after a few embarrassing minutes reading Jim or those Heartiste dudes on “game”, say, I’m embarrassed for them (while also thinking that they could probably use a bit more bullying from some jocks and preps because their sheer whiny dweebishness on the subject of men-getting-laid and getting r-e-s-p-e-c-t approaches the insufferable… and I’d rather read The Onion’s parody columnists). And one side effect of such encounters? I feel that I can hardly take a blog–like this one–that links to posts by either of the aforementioned terribly seriously. Then, of course, I shake it off read a blog like this on other subjects and I think again and think quite differently, but still… if I were to want to talk to say, certain colleagues or friends about a substantive idea presented here or on another “neoreactionary” blog, I’d have to be all like, “I know the guy looks like he just got back from a weekend of role-playing at the Renaissance Faire or the Lovecraft Love-In Con or whatever, and he’s kind of socially retarded and seems to have never gotten over being made fun of by other kids in high school for winning the Math Bee and wearing a pocket protector, and he’ll probably leer at your cleavage if you have cleavage or engage in weirdly knee-jerk behaviors to prove that he’s a “real man” if you’re a man, but really, try not to snicker and do pay attention to this one very interesting thing that he has to say about how deeply screwed we are in this historical moment and how we can begin to perhaps fix it in ways that might surprise you until you really think it through …”]

    ___
    *yeah, yeah, it’s “science”–which might well be precisely the problem

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Sure, without dysfunctional social conformity mechanisms, we’d have nothing. Escape is necessarily unusual. There’s certainly room for some further disaggregation of oddity though — I agree that a comprehensive sweep, followed by an averaged portrait, turns up something that looks near-institutionalizable.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    escape≠escapism. role-playing games≠rocket propelled grenades.

    survivingbabel Reply:

    The fundamental problem is that the recent explosion of the “neoreactionary” internet meme is a grave danger to the whole loose community of quality thinkers and writers who fall under this moniker. It will attract large crowds of people — too tiny to matter in real life, of course, but still far more numerous than the number of people who can contribute usefully to this discourse — who will be attracted by its symbolism and image, or just by the vain desire to air their uninteresting opinions, and who will drown all interesting and worthwhile discussion. (Witness the gradual decline of Moldbug’s comment section from dazzling heights to a hideous cesspool, as his readership expanded and he didn’t bother policing it. Or the similar decline of Less Wrong, as hordes of newbies poured in, attracted by the prospect of building a “rationalist” image.)

    Suppose nydwracu’s Birch was set up as a walled-off, private, distributed content creation space, such that there was a reputational requirement for each stage of participation. X current members would have to “approve” a new member for read access. A time elapsed or content rating threshold would be required to enable commenting, then Y trusted users would have to approve before you could create new content. New members would be “recruited” via current wide-open-media sources. Total number of “commenter” and “creator” slots could be limited, proportional to the total user base (although starting conditions may require breaking this rule until critical mass is achieved). That, or more explicitly embrace hierarchy, and give admin powers for account rights to one or a few respected reactionaries.

    In any case, I do agree that “openness to outsiders” is a recipe for eventual intellectual stagnation, although I disagree that we are already nearing the precipice. That’s the case for reaction as well as Movement X. Do you think a carefully maintained user space, with hierarchical account rights, could create an Eternal August environment?

    [Reply]

    James Goulding Reply:

    Survivingbabel,

    What you describe could be easily implemented using existing forum software. One would need a ratings page (or even just PMs), and a couple of custom user groups.

    The problems with any such scheme are almost entirely social. If potential members can’t read the content, it’s hard to attract a sufficient number of participants, or achieve escape velocity in the first place. Secondly, good potential users are unlikely to wait to comment unless the forum is already of unusually high quality.

    Attempts to design attractive new fora in which the social problems are ameliorated are likely to fail because were this easy, they would already exist.

    Although a small innovation such as comments filtered by email is not out of the question, for the foreseeable future, informal conventions and attitudes are likely to be more important than coded solutions.

    [Reply]

    survivingbabel Reply:

    What you describe could be easily implemented using existing forum software. One would need a ratings page (or even just PMs), and a couple of custom user groups.

    Agreed, I’m thinking more of use cases, not the particular technology required. Birch is just one potential solution. A custom cryptographic component would probably be wise for whatever solution were imagined.

    The problems with any such scheme are almost entirely social. If potential members can’t read the content, it’s hard to attract a sufficient number of participants, or achieve escape velocity in the first place. Secondly, good potential users are unlikely to wait to comment unless the forum is already of unusually high quality.

    Attempts to design attractive new fora in which the social problems are ameliorated are likely to fail because were this easy, they would already exist.

    This is why secret fraternities and occult orders are founded, why mystery cults flourished in the Classical world, and why the Qabbala was once restricted to 40 year olds. I have been thinking about meta-cultural evaluation metrics; “How is dangerous knowledge withheld from the masses?” feels like a good one. The Cathedral’s PR response is “no legitimate line of inquiry will ever be restricted” (but of course the reality is that any line of inquiry that jeopardizes Universalism will be swiftly excised from respectable discourse.)

    Reaction’s answer needs to be different. Michael Anissimov’s very compelling apologia for reaction makes a strong case for the absolute necessity of hierarchy. With dangerous knowledge embedded in dangerous technology and potentially available to the masses, civilization demands a realistic control mechanism. We’re all Grand Inquisitors now.

    Posted on June 2nd, 2013 at 10:48 pm Reply | Quote
  • Randoms | Foseti Says:

    […] Indeed: “We have suffered our first wound. It seriously […]

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 1:15 am Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    Digital, networked media invite bizarre appropriations and proliferation, moving every node in a given network towards a rapid meta-awareness of itself that descends into self-parody as often as it generates newer, better content.

    James G is not amused. But if he wants to purify his project of all undesired networking, linking, and appropriation, he’d better choose a different medium. Perhaps a private journal stuffed into the back of a drawer at the end of each day?

    In all seriousness, I appreciate J.G.’s desire to move the best of Reaction’s ideas into a new register that might appeal to a broader, mainstream, Cathedral-approved audience. But I think he seriously, seriously, seriously overestimates the openness of this imagined audience. I say that as one who has attempted in a dozen seminar rooms and pubs to feed Moldbug and Land in small, baby’s milk doses to the academic Left. Even these light doses were quickly deflected and routed.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I say that as one who has attempted in a dozen seminar rooms and pubs to feed Moldbug and Land in small, baby’s milk doses to the academic Left. Even these light doses were quickly deflected and routed.

    That’s a blog post waiting to be written.

    [Reply]

    nydwracu Reply:

    It’s all about memetic immunity. I’ve managed to get it across just by lowering the terms down below the technical level and making it seem like a sequence of offhand observations, but once I start dropping names and jargon, they usually tune out.

    [Reply]

    Vladimir Reply:

    Scharlach,

    The percentage of credentialed experts who could be attracted to a fortright discussion of controversial topics is very small, and it’s indeed likely that there won’t be any in a randomly selected conference room (let alone any willing to speak publicly on the spot). But they do exist, and when they can be attracted, the resulting discourse is of tremendous value — if anything, as a crucial reality check and filter against unsound and crackpot ideas that can all too easily infect any contrarian intellectual community.

    For example, I gained a lot of confidence in Moldbug’s insights into the maturity transformation problem only when he debated the issue with Arnold Kling, which was a supremely valuable reality check. There are very few economists with elite credentials like Kling who would be willing to engage such wildly contrarian ideas in an honest and open-minded way instead of the usual sneering, evasion, and stonewalling, but still more than zero, and the same is the case in other controversial fields as well. But they certainly won’t be attracted to people who project a goofy, immature, and crackpot image.

    Think of the primary purpose of seeking out such people as the reality check and the potential for novel insight, not impact and movement-building.

    [Reply]

    Scharlach Reply:

    Think of the primary purpose of seeking out such people as the reality check and the potential for novel insight, not impact and movement-building.

    That’s helpful, Vladimir, thank you. And I suppose that those providing the reality check will often operate in a more mainstream milieu, so engaging them can, potentially, provide both insight and impact.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Could you be talking about some sort of Dark Academia?

    I mean this came up at the DC meetup: Harvard gives Richwine a PhD. Distinguished professors, at least one a devout Leftist signs off on the dissertation. Richwine is one of the club, a card-carrying member of The Cathedral… one of the Holy Us. No. Problemo.

    Richwine goes to Heritage… decidedly not the Cathedral… well not exactly not the Cathedral, but the outer party (Outer Courts) of the Cathedral. Richwine’s opinions, perfectly cool, perfectly legitimate, perfectly scientific, perfectly within bounds of civil discourse with the Hallowed Halls of Harvard, are suddenly way too hot for Heritage to handle. He’s “Richwined”. (Note: his dissertation probably would not have been deemed acceptable to second tier university faculty… in this the second tier schools are a lot like Heritage.)

    What if there was a place for card-carrying members of The Cathedral to really play. I.e., to bring the natural diversity of opinion which (we have ample evidence) does exist within the inner santum of the Cathedral out to the bright light of day… but in doing so skipping the outer courts of the Cathedral entirely, and into the outer darkness, where no one gives a fsck about pretty lies?

    I mean the medieval universities were hotbeds of dissent from the then dominant ideology (Catholicism, neat). You could say stuff (even believe stuff) there that you could never get away with anywhere else. The inner sanctum of the Cathedral, the Universities, which all others try to emulate, perform precisely that same function. They’re cool with stuff.

    If you could build Dark Academia to be strong enough to start tearing at the mainstream narrative, i.e., create a diversity of opinion which the West hasn’t seen in at least 40 years, on select issues…. well that would be really something… something which could arise to unseat the Cathedral, or at least get a lot of very comfortable professors to feel the how powerless it is to lose control of the narrative.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If what you are saying about Harvard holds up, doesn’t it follow that the Cathedral already has its own “Dark Academia” and the Antiversity-type innovations being suggested would be denounced by insiders as irresponsible populism? ‘Movement X’ probably exists already, it’s just that none of us have membership cards. (I’m far from convinced about this, but then I’m so far from being an insider I just wouldn’t know.)

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Well it exists… carefully protected by 8 ft thick lead walls and clean-room protocols… where it can do no harm to existing hegemonic stranglehold on the Consent Manufacturing Industrial Complex. Seriously, WF Buckley used to be on P(freakin’)BS, Firing Line, remember that? Yeah, neither do I. That was back when Public TV, being “public” actually felt a duty (a noblesse oblige say) to present diverse views… And today? Diversity is how people look or what orifices they prefer to have penetrated and how. There is no (publicly accessible) diversity of opinion on any matter of importance… just sweetness and light 24/7.

    Letting stuff like this out and giving it a non-crackpot, non-tinfoil-hate, non-Hitler face would be profoundly destablizing. Once the AP Style Guide names this source as formally unreliable and unquotable, you can bet people will be interested. Llike intellectual bitcoin, it may not be easy to control once it reaches critical mass.

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 2:07 am Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    Ultimately, if anything is ever going to come of all this beautifully eloquent and highly intelligent neo-reactionary theorizing, it is going to have to somehow connect with folk at street level, and – here in the UK at least – i just can’t imagine how it’s ever going to happen.
    For instance, I had the misfortune a while back to be in a pub invaded by the EDL, who, so far as i could ascertain, were nothing more than a bunch of football hooligans (mainly Millwall) looking for some out of season aggro, leading me to conclude that if people like that are going to be the neo-reactionary “jackboots on the street,” then something along the lines of a night of the long knives is going to be required at some point.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    That’s precisely why the ‘movement’ model is misconceived. Whatever is going ‘to come’ out of the Dark Enlightenment, I for one hope that it has nothing to do with taking on responsibility for steering skinheads.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 2:57 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ David
    “escape≠escapism. role-playing games≠rocket propelled grenades.”
    — The near-future might complicate your first inequality (viz the Simulation argument, and its nebula, for instance). As for the second inequality, if forced, I’d definitely side with role-playing games over rocket-propelled grenades — the sociological affinity with intelligence augmentation is quite unambiguous. (Nice RPG pun, btw.)

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    Are you serious here? I thought “escape” ultimately implied physical escape.

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    i.e. physically fleeing currently dominant sovereigns and establishing new ones.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Bitcoin? That sure as Hell counts as an escape for me.
    We don’t know enough about where physics ends to draw dogmatic boundaries around experimental escape routes. How about downloading your brain functions into a DNA computer installed in a bacterium? Is that ‘physical’, or is it just a simulation?
    Still, given our current state of ignorance and incapability, there are obvious reasons to privilege crunchy, politico-geographical escape strategies — off planet would be best, but massive secession-driven fractioning of the earth would be a provisional substitute.

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 5:58 am Reply | Quote
  • JF Says:

    Neoreaction, or the Dark Enlightenment, has as its most essential tendency the insistence upon an alternative to fascism. Its realism does not embrace optimism readily, so it would be insincere to pretend that this alternative is destined for success. What cannot be convincingly denied, however, is that a reaction to the Cathedral is coming, that fascist modes of political rectification are well-placed to profit from it, and that Western — indeed all modern — societies default to fascism during crisis conditions.

    It’s not that societies default to fascism during crisis conditions. Modernity itself is a crisis condition for conservatism and reaction. Conservatism is at odds with modernity and mass society, which is why religiosity, piety, authority, obedience, cultural and racial hygiene, and communitarian ethics (ethical socialism) have to be maintained and enforced by the managerial apparatus under modernity i.e. “crisis conditions”.

    The assumptions of reaction essentially belong to an early modern period, when a robust and truly private sphere of life existed that was discrete and insular from political affairs and when absolutism remained vested in the person of the King rather than attaching to a unitary state. The brief period between the decline of monarchy and the rise of the State is not in some way a distilled microcosm of Western tradition, nor does it exemplify the perennial institutions. If anything, the Third Reich was a return to the traditions of the Western world, not a deviation from them. If you consult Dumezil’s extensive oeuvre on the structure, rites, theologies, mores, and modes of authority of the West you will find that the trifunctional social order is the traditional order. Rule by petit nobles and commercial barons, situated throughout arbitrarily appropriated land in contrast is distinctively modernist.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    This sounds highly insightful and persuasive — I hope we’re going to get a chance to explore this thesis in detail, and draw out its implications.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 9:16 am Reply | Quote
  • rrxp Says:

    >By separating himself from the new reaction, Goulding risks surrendering it to ominous potentialities that might otherwise be avoidable.

    You make it sound like a cult, which it probably is (becoming).

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Do you have an argument, or even a definition, or is this just some attempt to win a troll survival contest?
    Remarks exhibiting this level of smug, vacuous aggression will usually be deleted without explanation.

    [Reply]

    Posted on June 3rd, 2013 at 5:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] bet Harvard is. But that’s a separate […]

    Posted on June 4th, 2013 at 5:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • NRx_N00B Says:

    Where can a guy find a working link to Goulding’s infamous “Salter Take Down”?!

    [Reply]

    James G Reply:

    I hear he decided to stop writing essays and return to his career.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It was an important article, so a great loss if it’s no longer available.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 9th, 2014 at 2:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Irving Says:

    admin, do you mind giving a brief explanation of what Goulding meant by ‘movement X’? It looks as if he was making an interesting argument, but I can find the article that he wrote on this issue.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Goulding went into hiding. Despite my immensely high regard for his work, I’m afraid I abandoned all hope of keeping track.

    [Reply]

    Erebus Reply:

    For what it’s worth, many of Goulding’s articles are archived here: http://web.archive.org/web/20131109205423/http://suspiriadeprofundis.net/author/james-goulding/

    Including “How to Join Movement X”, which was linked to in Admin’s post.

    The Salter post has been saved for posterity here: https://victoriespyrrhic.wordpress.com/2015/08/03/a-refutation-of-salterism/

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks. I’ll try to hold onto those links.

    [Reply]

    Posted on March 23rd, 2016 at 5:57 pm Reply | Quote

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