Retro-Dialectics

Nobody familiar with contemporary Western societies can be intellectually challenged by the idea of a great dialectical resolution to the problem of liberalism. Coercion and liberty are fused in a political order that directs authority towards the maximization of choice without consequence. Stupidity is sacred, and neither tradition nor natural necessity has the right to inhibit it. Preserving the freedom to fathom the limits of dysfunction in every direction is the primary social obligation, with the full resources of Leviathan behind it. If that’s not exactly where we are, it will be soon.

Against this backdrop, Neoreaction emerges as a de-synthesizing impulse, splintering along multiple paths, but especially two. In reacting against authoritarian irresponsibility (or ‘anarcho-tyranny’) it tends to a restoration of the Old Antithesis: either hierarchical solidarity, or a ruthless dis-solidarity (and as it undoes the progressive dialectic, ‘either’ fragments into ‘both’ — separately). Only the state protected irresponsibility of resolved Left-liberalism is strictly intolerable, because that has been historically demonstrated to be an engine of degeneration. Neoreaction, initially conceived, is anything else.

As the West unravels back to the Old Antithesis, the primary argumentative polarity of Neoreaction is exposed with increasing clarity (Neoreaction is this exposure). Given that irresponsibility is not to be protected, is it to be prevented (by a new paternalism) or abandoned to its intrinsic consequences (through reversion to Social Darwinism)? In other words, is the dominant theme hierarchy or exit? Any attempt to force a rapid decision — however tempting this might be — is to trivialize the submerged grandeur of the abyss. The degenerative dialectic has at least half a millennium of heritage behind it — and perhaps at least two millennia. The Old Antithesis is far greater than either of its constituent ‘options’.

When More Right outlines its ‘Premises of Reactionary Thought’ there can be no doubt which side of the antithesis is being promoted. It thereby declares that the Left-liberal synthesis is dead, establishing itself as the articulation of a Neoreactionary stance. Its partiality, however, is overt. (Outside in advances a counter-partiality.)

If failure is — eventually — no longer to be sustained, it either has to be prevented, or intensified. Neither stop it failing nor let it fail are remotely equivalent to let it continue failing forever, but neither are coercion and neglect commensurable to each other. The Old Antithesis is going to keep us on edge during 2014. If Neoreaction can even more explicitly be the unraveling, it will go far, but it will not obviously be one thing. The ‘one thing’ is virtually dead. What comes next arrives in pieces.

December 29, 2013admin 18 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , Political economy

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18 Responses to this entry

  • Handle Says:

    I like a Titanic analogy. The left-liberal ship’s captain is slowly blundering towards the Iceberg. Two insubordinate ex-crewman in trapped in a lifeboat serving as their ‘brig’ are screaming, respective, ‘All Reverse!’ and ‘Full Speed Ahead!’.

    The ‘All Reverse’ sailor was warning about icebergs from the beginning, likes the Titanic just fine, and just wants it to go back to Southampton.

    The ‘Full Speed Ahead’ sailor also warned about the icebergs, but has come to feel confident that there’s no way to convince anyone to go back and that an iceberg crash is inevitable. So the sooner it happens, the sooner he is freed, so he might as well accelerate the journey as much as he can. The ship will go down, but he will survive on his little lifeboat and find a way to salvage what’s left and rebuild upon better principles.

    Both sailors are in general agreement that, whatever happens, something like ‘Southampton’ should be the goal, whether the old one, or a new one.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    If a sailor wants Southampton, why does he become a sailor?

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Best not to overextend the metaphor.

    Or if you must, I could alter it somewhat. Replace destinations with directions and ‘Southampton’ with ‘Southerly Route’.

    You could say that he loves sailing, but he doesn’t want to go on journeys that crash into icebergs. He was persuaded to leave Southampton with promises of New York, and persuaded furthermore that the Northern passage was the most efficient way to get to that glittering utopia.

    But he eventually recognized that the Northern Passage can only lead to icebergs. Both sailors agree that, in the post-iceberg rebuilt future, Northern Passages will be avoided and Southerly Routes preferred.

    Or something … like I said, it’s just a metaphor.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    I liked the metaphor. I was just asking what JC (Joseph Conrad) would say?

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    over extending metaphors is how one accesses greater wyrd. that which is above can only be contingently expressed from below.

    Posted on December 29th, 2013 at 6:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Mai La Dreapta Says:

    In a functional society (which we do not have), hierarchy and failure are two pincers of a single strategy. In conservative sexual morality, for example, the triplet of chastity, monogamy, and childbearing are both positive values which encourage you not to fail, but also a set of punishments social, fiscal, and legal leveled against those who do fail to make them fail harder.

    My personal take is dualistic. As regards my own family, church, village, etc., I pursue hierarchy and order, and hope to preserve all the good that I can. But with regards to society as a whole, fail fast, baby. Fail fast and hard.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 29th, 2013 at 7:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Brilliant.

    The Unraveling could spawn the genre of political horror. Quick get Neil Blomkamp on the line…he will get it.

    @Mai – society will not unravel. America will not end. Their “society” which exists as much in graves, ghettos, social workers, rehab as well as television, celebrity and their endless parties is unraveling.

    Which doesn’t mean The Unraveling doesn’t need and richly deserve all the help it can get.

    [PS– Thanks, I just emailed the link to my Catholic father with a happy birthday, you’ve lived long enough to see reaction and monarchists come into fashion.]

    [Reply]

    Mai La Dreapta Reply:

    Re “society”, of course you’re right. Societies rarely vanish entirely. I should have said “the Cathedral” and the social-political superstructures it inhabits.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 29th, 2013 at 8:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    “Preserving the freedom to fathom the limits of dysfunction in every direction is the primary social obligation , with the full resources of Leviathan behind it.”

    And yet, it Quacks.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 29th, 2013 at 8:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Igitur Says:

    Welp, this is amazing.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 29th, 2013 at 11:59 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    Just checking in. Ran across the comments section on the Umlaut, and wanted to see what was up at xenosystems. This semester got crazy and my reading went downhill. I’ll try and write some entertaining comments over the next month, it’s winter break.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 30th, 2013 at 1:08 am Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    It is the possibility of exit that makes hierarchical solidarity tolerable and the threat of failure and disaster that gives it authority.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 30th, 2013 at 3:39 am Reply | Quote
  • etype Says:

    Retro-Dialectics:
    “And now good Countrey men let us (I pray you) consider, what honour or policie can moove us to imitate the barbarous and beastly maners of the wilde, godlesse, and slavish Indians, especially in so vile and stinking a custome? Shall wee that disdaine to imitate the maners of our neighbour France (having the stile of the first Christian Kingdom) and that cannot endure the spirit of the Spaniards (their King being now comparable in largenes of Dominions, to the great Emperor of Turkie) Shall wee, I say, that have bene so long civill and wealthy in Peace, famous and invincible in Warre, fortunate in both, we that have bene ever able to aide any of our neighbours (but never deafed any of their eares with any of our supplications for assistance) shall we, I say, without blushing, abase our selves so farre, as to imitate these beastly Indians, slaves to the Spaniards, refuse to the world, and as yet aliens from the holy Covenant of God? Why doe we not as well imitate them in walking naked as they doe? in preferring glasses, feathers, and such toyes, to golde and precious stones, as they do? yea why do we not denie God and adore the Devill, as they doe? ”

    James I; 1604

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 30th, 2013 at 5:16 am Reply | Quote
  • Francis St. Pol Says:

    There is a quote I have been unsuccessfully trying to find the origin of. El Goog is being singularly unhelpful, giving me, variously, Aristotle, Kant, Thomas Fuller and Pietro Pomponazzi. I suspect that the phrase is from none of these, but rather an emergent paraphrase that (in various forms) second-hand writers have found themselves converging upon. Certainly the underlying thought is anything but unique:

    “Virtue is its own reward, Vice its own punishment.”

    Replacing Virtue with our host’s axiom of Intelligence Optimization (and Vice with Intelligence Corruption), yields two pretty spirals, upwards and downwards. John Q. Public is bored. He decides to read. He has questions about the subject, questions that can only be answered by further reading. And thus he spirals upwards. John Q. Public is bored. He decides to try a little heroin. And thus he spirals downwards.

    The downward spiral is limited first by habituation (hedonic treadmill) and finally by biological reality (overdose and death). The upward spiral is limited also by habituation (standards increase, questions multiply, better competition, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Queen_hypothesis) and finally by biological reality (brain can’t foom).

    Technology and civilization amplify these spirals. Neither books no heroin existed in the ancestral savannah. Both are superstimuli.

    As described by our host, the liberal dialectic goes something like this (cribbed from La Wik):

    Thesis: anarchy + poverty (primitive communism, Thank you, M. Rousseau.)
    Antithesis: hierarchy + wealth (slavery, feudalism, and capitalism)
    Synthesis: anarchy + wealth (final communism)

    Ahh, the various imagined final communisms. The state withers away. Ancap security corps protect us from a world of pacifists. All money is Bitcoin, but with programmable matter, who needs money? A world without any scarcity especially the scarcity of scarce things.

    The Neoreaction holds this dialectic to be incorrect . It starts from the false premise that Man is socially atomic. The state of nature was neither bellum omnium contra omnes nor the noble savage. It was tribal. In the state of nature, without his tribe, Man simply dies. And what is a tribe without hierarchy?

    Behold, Man, the pack hunter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=826HMLoiE_o (persistence hunting is impossible without supporting runners).

    The Neoreactionary dialectic starts from a different thesis, and must therefore be entirely distinct in antithesis and conclusion.

    Thesis: Hierarchy, Substimulus (tribes, feudalism, paleoreaction)

    Civilization can perhaps be described as the process of Man developing his superstimuli. Writing, beer, campfires, recreational sex, clothes etc. etc. But for a very long time, those stimuli were unbelievably scarce. Extreme hierarchy was needed to develop them at all. Imagine the process of making beer from scratch, really from scratch.

    Antithesis: Anarchy, Superstimulus (industrialization, communism)

    Then, abruptly, superstimuli got much less scarce. Increasingly less hierarchy was needed to achieve the same or greater effects. Since less hierarchy was needed, hierarchy started to wither away. A process which has occurred before, but never at so great a scale (cf. Rome, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.de/2007/05/antisingularity.html).

    Synthesis: Hierarchy, Superstimulus (neoreaction)

    Which brings me back to upward and downward spirals (respectively, http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15308 and http://www.davidpbrown.co.uk/poetry/john-magee.html).

    The synthesis of the Neoreaction is that we need hierarchy, not just to create superstimuli, but also to master them. To not be destroyed by them. They are dangerous. An adult gives a child books rather than heroin. Or, if they do, the result is unsurprisingly vicious. And our world frequently gives heroin-class superstimuli to children, literal and metaphorical (e.g. democracy : power :: porn : sex). Resulting in unacceptable Intelligence Corruption. The downward spiral is just slow suicide. Do people have the right to suicide? Not inside my hierarchy they don’t.

    The implied solution of the Neoreactionary synthesis: Build hierarchy. Within hierarchy, optimize for intelligence, serve Cosmos. Spiral upwards. Let outside the hierarchy deal with itself. It’ll eventually ask to come in.

    [Reply]

    Francis St. Pol Reply:

    I feel compelled to make a clarification. On the scale of possible superstimuli, heroin is quite tame. Imagine fully immersive virtual reality. Imagine what an enslaved AI could do to your subjective hedonic experience. Actually, no, don’t imagine that. Fantasizing about the ministrations of a slave AI is Yudkowsky’s Basilisk. Very dangerous.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 30th, 2013 at 6:36 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    That is a brilliant permutation of Exit Admin.

    Let their own vices be their gallows.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 30th, 2013 at 11:03 am Reply | Quote
  • Neoreactionary Dialectic | Banner of Cosmos Says:

    […] few days ago, I wrote a long comment at Nick Land’s post on Retro-Dialectics. It’s long, rambling and sleep deprived, but I want to repost it […]

    Posted on January 1st, 2014 at 5:19 am Reply | Quote
  • a Says:

    ▬{ The key word here is hierarchy. As Dupuy reminds us it was the French sociologist and anthropologist Louis Dumont who came closest to apprehending it in its pure form. He called it “hierarchy,” while noting that this term was meant in its etymological sense of a sacred order (from the Greek word formed by combining hierós, sacred, and árchein, to rule). But what is it, really? Dupuy tells us that far from being a succession of levels in which a higher level includes or dominates a lower level, hierarchy, is an encompassing of the contrary” (KL 216). He goes on to say:

    One has only to recognize that the verb “contain” has another meaning— of blocking, inhibiting, repressing— in order to construe hierarchy, understood as the encompassing of the contrary, in an entirely different and much more disturbing sense, namely, as a system that is constantly in danger of being overturned. Just so, the most stable social order is the one that contains the threat of its own collapse, in the two senses of the verb “to contain.” (KL 245-248). }

    Whoever said it, he is right. Hierarchy is exit.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 8th, 2016 at 4:35 am Reply | Quote

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