Romantic Delusion

Among the reasons to appreciate More Right for sharing this passage from Evola is the insight it offers into a very specific and critical failure to think. Neoreaction is peculiarly afflicted by this condition, which is basically identical with romanticism, or the assertive form of the recalcitrant ape mind. It is characterized by an inability to pursue lines of subtle teleological investigation, which are instead reduced to an ideal subordination of means to already-publicized ends. As a result, means-end reversal (Modernity) is merely denounced as an aesthetic-moral affront, without any serious attempt at deep comprehension.

Capitalism — which is to say capital teleology — is entirely ignored by such romantic criticism, except insofar as it can be depicted superficially as the usurpation of certain ‘ultimate’ human ends by certain others or (as Evola among other rightly notes) by a teleological complication resulting from an insurrection of the instrumental (otherwise identifiable as robot rebellion, or shoggothic insurgency). Until it is acknowledged that capitalism tends to the realization of an end entirely innovated within itself, inherently nonlinear in nature, and roughly designated as Technological Singularity, the distraction of human interests (status, wealth, consumption, leisure …) prevents this discussion reaching first base.

Of course, the organization of society to meet human needs is a degraded perversion. That is a proposition every reactionary is probably willing to accept reflexively. Anyone who thinks this amounts to a critique of capitalism, however, has not seriously begun to ponder what capitalism is really doing. What it is in itself is only tactically connected to what it does for us — that is (in part), what it trades us for its self-escalation. Our phenomenology is its camouflage. We contemptuously mock the trash that it offers the masses, and then think we have understood something about capitalism, rather than about what capitalism has learnt to think of the apes it arose among.

If we’re going to be this thoughtless, Singularity will be very hard indeed. Extinction might then be the best thing that could happen to our stubbornly idiotic species. We will die because we preferred to assert values, rather than to investigate them. At least that is a romantic outcome, of a kind.

February 9, 2014admin 33 Comments »
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33 Responses to this entry

  • Igitur Says:

    It’s very possible that at its core the dialectical tension within NR is “telos” vs “tradition”.

    This is why pas de enemis à droite doesn’t work: at any given moment people want to convert any (neoreactionary, theoretical or group-cohesion) gains from “deterritorialization” into support for a basic cause for conservatism understood literally: tradition as crystallized catallaxy and “IQ-economizing device”, as insists Steve Sailer. But if the telos of capital indeed exceed the purposes of human desires — much in line with Fanged Noumena, still –then we don’t have as much “reaction against the future, towards conservatism”, but “reaction against humanist enlightenment, in the direction of — something”, for some value of {yudkowskian singularity, kurzwellian singularity, teilhardian singularity, Vauung, Robocop, ultracthtech,…}

    Now, how do we make this Dark Enlightenment something other than a right-Miserabilism?

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    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 6:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    Land is saying that sometimes it’s the Neo-Over-Reaction.

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    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 8:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • J. Says:

    “Until it is acknowledged that capitalism tends to the realization of an end entirely innovated within itself, inherently nonlinear in nature, and roughly designated as Technological Singularity, the distraction of human interests (status, wealth, consumption, leisure …) prevents this discussion reaching first base.”

    This doesn’t seem much of a stone’s throw away from recognition by someone with the opposing position. The real difference is why should we care–why should we subsume ourselves into what’s been vaguely defined as “intelligence”, be overawed by this novelty? Of course it is wise of you to speak of “intelligence”. It fits in with the naturalistic superstition of your audience, and to a lesser extent, our time. We have the same brains as religious humans have had for thousands of years, with the conceit of Children of the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, Modernity–the conceit of those who feel themselves to be much more evolved, modern, “intelligent”, than they are. Utilitarians are idiotic because they are impressed with themselves having a metric, having learned to count. They are like the early pythagoreans. As scientists, engineers speak, so the rest speak. Leftists are “scientific” in things like their non-ethnocetrism, egalitarianism, cooperation, non-x-centrism. A discovery has been made by refusing to make a distinction. Utilitarianism is scientific. Certain elementary particles are indistinguishable. Why not humans, too? It simplifies things. And prevents me from having to exercise will–will probably doesn’t exist either, so modernity, leftism, what I’m doing/how I am right now is unalterable, the culmination of the universe, and scientific. Evola is picking over the scraps of Nietzsche.

    We can do better.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 8:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • futuremurder Says:

    The NR faction (as opposed to the DE faction) has a basic problem metabolizing modernity. The end result is a position that looks remarkably similar to the Counter-Current reactionaries. More Right & Anarcho-papist discuss capitalism as if it were something that could simply be turned off & on as needed. This is especially dissatisfying when More Right begins discussing AI with regards to monarchy.

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    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 8:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Says:

    “what capitalism has learnt to think of the apes it arose among.”

    It’s starting to think that most of these apes aren’t really necessary.

    But it forgets that we’re not just any apes, we’re killer apes.

    What kind of killer apes would we be if we self terminated just because a sophisticated ideological construct said we were no longer necessary?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Fiercely cunning killer apes, taking the fight to capital teleology, is something I’d respect (if not necessarily align with). Romantic dismissal of capitalism based on aesthetic revulsion to mass consumer culture, on the other hand, is no more than the pathetic squawk of a hypnotized prey animal.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    Why can’t the romantic dismissal of capitalism based on aesthetic revulsion to mass consumer culture be the banner under which cunning killer apes taking the fight to capital teleology mobilize? If one wants to think the possibility of the survival of our species thousand years into the future then quitting Facebook seem as an obvious first step.

    I think the proper relationship humanity should have with capitalism/self-assembling distributed AI is the relationship a nuclear engineer has with uranium – it is what you derive your power from but you do not want it to get out of your control and you certainly do not want it to contaminate your personal life. I understand you deny any permanent sustainability of this arrangement but as someone who still has some sentimental attachments to human species I see no other possibility then to somehow dial back the technological immersion of humanity to pre-industrial levels before the reactor overheats and explodes while also maintaining advanced enough technology in certain key areas necessary for the permanent sustenance of civilization. If there is a value in “reactionary” thinking it is precisely in its possibility to envision going back in time in some aspects of societal organisation without collapsing into luddism.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 9:09 pm Reply | Quote
  • SGW Says:

    Just happened to have read a fairly relevant piece, written by a fellow who posts on LW, evaluating certain aspects of Neo-Luddism. He basically argues that it could be possible that currently the productivity of modern forms of production have reached a point where capital starts substituting labor rather than complimenting it. The result of this would be permanent structural unemployment, which currently may get covered up through make-work in the public sector, reduction of working-hours, an aging population and so on.

    I know this all sounds rather Marxist on the surface, but it is isn’t quite as bad as that. He doesn’t fully commit to either side of the structural unemployment debate and seems to be quite darkly enlightened. If it is true that the economic recovery is partly hampered by the issues he mentions, then it would seem to be the case that everything is still on the right track despite the problems monkeys occasionally cause by tampering with a very complex machine in the hopes of increasing the amount of peanuts it gives them.

    Regardless of where you stand on the simian question, I imagine that you’d find reading the piece worthwhile.

    The piece: http://www.gwern.net/Mistakes#neo-luddism

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes, thanks, there’s a rising concern about that topic which is going to feed the question in an important way.

    Martin Hutchinson on this.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 9:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • GoingPro Says:

    I think your Horror pieces are good for stripping the ideology of NR away from whatever it is that it thinks.

    I personally see more than a little venom in some responses (i.e. Modernity “merely denounced as an aesthetic-moral affront”).

    Ideology is directly tied to the idea of personality. Outside In, whether it likes it or not, right now, has a personality.
    If thinking wanted to happen with an aim towards Capitalism as teleology, at some point, personality might be lost in shared ideas for attaining growth and stabilization. If it desired to be “true to itself”, I would venture to say that something like NR might look more like the Warrior Forum for example.
    But would posters and responders who self-consciously look for themselves in venn diagrams showing different schools of thought be happy with thinking on the run, in always changing states of mind?

    Like all philosophy, NR is a hobby for those who can afford it. For those who can’t, there’s nothing to see here. For those who can, and still choose to ignore it…well, I bet they have wealth and don’t make the time to have hobbies that aren’t directly linked to value production and wealth accumulation.

    Moldbug made money, wrote for a little while, then went on to start a new OS. Is there any shared desire in NR to create something practical and useful to something outside of itself?

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 10:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • orlandu84 Says:

    @ admin “Until it is acknowledged that capitalism tends to the realization of an end entirely innovated within itself, inherently nonlinear in nature, and roughly designated as Technological Singularity, the distraction of human interests (status, wealth, consumption, leisure …) prevents this discussion reaching first base.”

    What kind of “capitalism” are we speaking of? When most people speak of capitalism, they usually mean different things. When I use the term I only mean the voluntary trade of services and resources. The capitalism of large corporations, however, is the great, great, great grandson of this type of interaction. Corporate capitalism, and its twin brother communism, seek to control as much as possible because consolidation promised greater returns. To phrase that in another way: absolute gains in wealth were thought to come from relative gains in power. In this line of thinking the best thing for the Internet would be for Apple and Google to merge.

    This form of capitalism, however, has been dying since the USSR fell apart. The new form of capitalism that is growing is predicated on the inverse proposition: absolute gains of wealth come from decreases in relative power. In this line of thinking, the best thing for the Internet would be a whole bunch of Apples and Googles each doing their own thing. Specialization and distributed systems of support is the key both for the corporation and the individual: you never put all your apples in the same google (; If the above describes the emerging situation, how do we arrive at a Technological Singularity? I can imagine that we arrive at technological singularities in which distributed markets of users and producers provide for their needs. What I cannot imagine is this process leading to any one thing all encompassing.

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    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 11:09 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    insurrection of the instrumental (otherwise identifiable as robot rebellion

    There’s an old Doctor Who serial about a decadent future human society kept afloat by humanoid robot servants. A “very mad scientist”, raised from infancy by robots, decides to “free my brothers from bondage”. He dons robots’ clothing, coats his face in silver greasepaint and foments a revolution among the positronic proletariat. Predictably, he dies at the hands of the robots, who see him as just another inferior meatbag: a man, not a brother.

    Not to be flip, but how can a human being such as yourself do otherwise than judge capitalism in terms of its human (or divine) meaning? Fair enough, you see it as an essentially impersonal process divorced from such considerations. But to welcome or seek to facilitate it is surely to assign it an inescapably human value. Even contempt for stupid apes is apelike — capitalism doesn’t feel contempt.

    One also wonders (perhaps naively) what a posthuman capitalism might look like in concrete terms. Say capitalism’s “telos” is no more or less than its infinite self-replication, how can it function without production and consumption, buying and selling? “Robots would have no existence without humans,” says Doctor Who. Do you envisage some kind of literally completely automated process or are you speaking of a “way of seeing” or level of description (in which case you’re still trapped within the skull of an ape)?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Divine” meaning is precisely what I’m looking to re-install into the discussion. Admittedly, there’s a lot of work ahead.

    The degree to which anyone here is compelled by existential necessity to adopt the “human” perspective on this problem is a direct (inverse) function of the degree to which capital teleology has co-opted human nervous systems to do its thing. Illustrative biological analogies are not hard to dig up, but the classic (Deleuze & Guattari) Wasp + Orchid suffices for now — insofar as our brains have been captivated, they’re freed to think species-eccentric thoughts.

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    Sporting of it to let us know what it’s up to. (Though revelation of the method is a risky strategy.)

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    insofar as our brains have been captivated, they’re freed to think species-eccentric thoughts

    Our (monkey) flesh doesn’t give up without a fight, though. As you recently commented on Bloody Shovel:

    My concerns are my children, their unborn descendants, and the cosmic escape of intelligence from the prison of idiocy.

    If your latter concern comes to fruition, the escapee might see your first two as a dangerous COINTELPRO.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 9th, 2014 at 11:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • thos ward Says:

    All values are biases. Catallaxy reduces Shannon entropy. The end is the singularity.

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    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 1:01 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Our phenomenology is its camouflage.

    Too many of these comments assume (human) agency. Though, admittedly, admin’s final paragraph does hint at some limited potential for this(?) – and could do with explication. (I wasn’t here btw, just a drunk bot-programming imitation).

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 1:10 am Reply | Quote
  • subforum Says:

    (Citing the tweet because it’s a useful precis of your argument:)

    Because Evola has no insight into the telos of capitalism (technological singularity), he sees only surface effects.

    I don’t know enough about Evola to evaluate this, but his Traditionalist School predecessor Rene Guenon saw it quite clearly. In Guenon’s metahistorical schema, the transformation of human experience by quantitative optimization is an accelerating process which ends in the eschatological destruction of the universe. (Hello, paperclips!)

    He was against this, of course. To put what I understand to be his argument in contemporary terms: Guenon, who lived as an orthoprax Sunni Muslim but claimed to speak for the esoteric core of all traditional religions, views qualia as a gift from God, inextricably tied to the human body and human culture(s). Their supersession by an optimization process is a decline to be mourned, inevitable but nonetheless regrettable, which brings about the final privation of the Good.

    I’m never quite sure how seriously I take Guenon, but in moods where I do, your project here (particularly with its hints, never quite made explicit, of occult communication with a personal Outside), strikes me as his Counter-Initiation made manifest.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Guénon is little more than a name to me as yet, but this cluster of ideas is extremely intriguing. It adds some weight to Evola’s description of capitalism as ‘demonic’.

    (I have some considerable skepticism viz the idea of a “personal Outside” btw — surely impersonality has an inherently greater affinity with Outsideness? The Buddhistic cascade of cosmic intelligences downwards from the well-spring of the impersonal makes far more intuitive sense to me than the Occidental-Theological alternative (even if Gnon does not judge between them))

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    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 1:33 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    . Extinction might then be the best thing that could happen to our stubbornly idiotic species.

    You lost me here. Who’s making a moral argument?

    Not that I don’t think Evola is… underwhelming.

    You still haven’t said how capitalism isn’t going to result in auto-orgasmatization. The singularity sounds jolly good but all the signs we’re seeing out there is optimization towards getting people addicted to ads on Twitter so they can get high on being holier-than-thou and buy edgy-ironical products to signal their hipness.

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    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 7:54 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    “Who’s making a moral argument?” — sound criticism. (It was my feeble attempt at outreach to romantic moralists.)

    Is there any difference between the “auto-orgasmatization” problem and the requirement for a rigorous critique of utilitarianism? If not, I’ll focus on the latter.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    Utilitarianism may be unsound, but that doesn’t stop people from pursuing short term pleasure, and Capitalism goes on mobilizing resources towards its ultimate maximization, i.e. Soma-fueled Oculus Rift trips of unending orgasmitzation, complete with auto-tweeting of in-fantasy Achievements to all your (equally Soma-tripped) Social Network.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Sam Harris’ ‘moral landscape’ plan is basically just consequentialist empirical utilitarianism, and thus subject to the same arguments that have been made against utilitarianism since the beginning. That’s what I expect the ‘winning’ essay in his contest to say. Whenever you try to ‘optimize for any X’, then X can always be taken to some absurd or nightmarish extreme without the moderation and reasonable push-back from some competing value. There no way to avoid this.

    Except, perhaps, if you can come up with a good definition for ‘optimize for pragmatism and a moderating reasonableness in values which check and balance each other’.

    [Reply]

    Grotto Reply:

    I eagerly await the day that the Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Google Research vaults are opened, and we can find out just how true this statement is.

    What all this social-networking, social-media, online-gaming gaming has given us is an infinite number of status ladders to climb. The social engineers of these services realize this, and they are each trying their best to manufacture the illusion of social status, that the end-user can obtain with enough time or money spent in their social ecosystem.

    As society stratifies further into the cognitive elite and the worse-than-useless masses, the cognitive elite will pacify them by letting them run virtual status hamster wheels forever.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 8:44 am Reply | Quote
  • Konkvistador Says:

    There is a big division between people who think the universe has a purpose agents find in a universe and people who think a purpose is something an agent gives an universe. Strangely it doesn’t seem to map well to most ideologies, I can’t think of a single one that has adherents completely holding to one view or the other. Which to me suggests ideological questions are not about values. And since they aren’t about beliefs about the universe, well they are probably about themselves.

    Which suggest that ideological warfare in service of values shouldn’t care. You see Bane using leftism, well a Good Capitalist might want to use Traditionalism, and in a primitive diseased way we see this playing out in the GOP. And perhaps a good Traditionalist might want to use Capitalism as a weapon against the left.

    [Reply]

    Konkvistador Reply:

    To perhaps clarify. Ideological warfare in service of values shouldn’t care about the object level content of the ideology but its effect.

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    Thos Ward Reply:

    “Who, Whom”

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 9:24 am Reply | Quote
  • Konkvistador Says:

    Something I’m interested in is what is your opinion on the role of the Soviet Union in machine reproduction? It clearly had the capacity to innovate and was used by the AK47 and the T34 to spread themselves. Is that also Capitalism? State Capitalism?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    @rufio127 asked me something very similar. My knee-jerk response is Austrian, and so unconditionally negative, but something more intricate is probably called for. For me, that’s swimming against a strong tide. Doesn’t socialist organization suppress catallaxy, which is the capitalist social dynamic in its essence? I’m not sure where to look for wriggle room.

    [Reply]

    Igitur Reply:

    @admin

    Catallaxy is an “equilibrium concept”, not an “adjustment equation”, man.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 10th, 2014 at 9:27 am Reply | Quote
  • AI and Capitalism | The New International Outlook Says:

    […] is more ideologically focused, and is quite mad in the best sense of the word. He appears to see Capitalism as being uncontrollable, worse, he see it as alive, scratch that – he see it as alive AND […]

    Posted on May 20th, 2014 at 4:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • JRM Says:

    “Romantic dismissal of capitalism based on aesthetic revulsion to mass consumer culture, on the other hand, is no more than the pathetic squawk of a hypnotized prey animal.”

    Isn’t that statement formation itself a bit “Romantic”?

    Actually aesthetic revulsion might be a useful (and healthy) adaptive talent. Analogous to an olfactory warning against consuming putrid meat.

    On the other hand-“de gustibus”. Nevertheless, Aesthetics no doubt inform more of philosophy than might be apparent at first blush.

    [Reply]

    Posted on February 14th, 2016 at 1:15 am Reply | Quote
  • Ilusão Romântica – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on October 17th, 2016 at 12:12 pm Reply | Quote

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