The Left Done Right

The Diplomat‘s Zachary Keck is one of the smartest mainstream commentators writing today. He’s either an enemy to be respected, or a dark side infiltrator to be left undercover. In either case, he’s always worth reading.

Observing that democracy promotion no longer works, he advocates a Neoreactionary foreign policy as the only effective path to the eventual realization of Cathedralist goals. If this wasn’t a classic opportunity for Modernist means-ends reversal to show what it can do, there would be every reason to worry about being out-maneuvered. Zeck’s proposals are sufficiently cunning to raise the question: Who’s subverting whom?

One of America’s top foreign policy goals, particularly since the end of the Cold War, has been promoting democracy across the world. In the minds of American foreign policy elites, there are both moral and strategic imperatives for spreading democracy.

Regarding the former, Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, believe that liberal democracies are morally superior to other forms of government. As for the strategic rationale, American elites point to the fact that liberal democracies don’t go to war with one another, even if they aren’t any less warlike (and may be more warlike) when interacting with non-democracies. One can quibble with these rationales, but they are deeply held by American elites and, to a much lesser extent, Americans in general. […] But if the American foreign policy community is going to continue trying to promote democracy, it must come to terms with one simple irony: it has become less successful at spreading democracy even as it has made democracy promotion a greater priority in U.S. foreign policy.

How, then, to spread democracy successfully? Obviously, by forgetting all of the ‘democracy’ nonsense:

The bottom line is that if the U.S. is going to promote democracy, it has to get better at it. It is irresponsible and immoral to promote democracy if it is likely to lead to anarchy, no matter how pure initial intentions were. And if the U.S. wants to get better at promoting democracy, a good place to start would be by promoting forward-thinking authoritarian leaders who base their legitimacy on economic growth and integration into the global economy.

If the Cathedral recruits enough smart people to build itself a Neoreactionary wing, a wide range of presently mindless discussions are going to become a lot more interesting.


December 9, 2013admin 29 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy , World


29 Responses to this entry

  • Steve Johnson Says:

    Zeck’s proposals are sufficiently cunning to raise the question: Who’s subverting who?

    Ahem, who’s subverting whom.

    Normally minor errors like that don’t matter but “who/whom” is one of our best shorthands.


    fotrkd Reply:

    Pedant (that’s a compliment, obviously).


    admin Reply:

    You’re right — I’ll fix it.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 4:22 am Reply | Quote
  • Cimon Alexander Says:

    A Neoreactionary foreign policy? Like a return to hard colonialism? Anything less would be cruel to peoples with no talent for self rulership.


    admin Reply:

    Tough-minded neocolonialism sounds like the best thing on offer right now — but it’s early days.


    Thanatos Reply:

    No. You guys aren’t paying attention. They’re putting up a buffer against people like us,this is the mollusk coating the sand grain. Look:”And if the U.S. wants to get better at promoting democracy, a good place to start would be by promoting forward-thinking authoritarian leaders who base their legitimacy on economic growth and integration into the global economy.”

    The bolded should be read globalist economy. It’s a Marxist battle line they’re drawing.


    admin Reply:

    Is “integration into the global economy” so unambiguously despicable? It seems to be a precondition for any kind of economic functionality. Autarky has been as tested to destruction as any social idea in history. I agree, of course, that Cathedralist globalism is altogether loathsome, but reading across from one to the other is not straightforward. The correlation might even be negative.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 7:04 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    forward-thinking authoritarian leaders who base their legitimacy on economic growth and integration into the global economy.

    That’s an awful lot of words to use instead of ‘sophist apostate.’ The point of democracy is to ascend liars to power. The sophists will never compromise on that.

    Or I could talk about how the Cathedral loves putting Oxford and Harvard grads in power in Africa, which means a sophist heathen has even less chance. No social contacts.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 12:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    This is just a rehash of an old line of thought from the counter-fascist, contra-anti-liberal era. See Karl Loewenstein’s “Militany Democracy and Fundamental Rights” (1937). David Reisman and Lewis Mumford said the same to much enthusiastic reception in the 40’s.

    FDR’s “New Deals for the world” international strategy was consciously and overtly about installing ‘scientifically trained’ enlightened despots on top of nations at backward levels of social development, with the understanding that, under such enlightened stewardship, they would eventually evolve and advance and converge to the new consensus of welfare state social democracy.

    Tracing it back a little further, you could look at Palmerston’s aggressive ideological interventionism. John Stuart Mill was an even more intensely ideological militant interventionist (who disagreed with Palmerston about not siding with the Union during the American Civil War), and contemporaneously he went to work for the East India Company for several years in his hopes to forcibly reform the social and gender relations of backward South Asians, with the hopes of raising them to the level to adopt evolving Anglospheric forms of government.

    Paul Gottfried’s “After Liberalism” is very useful in laying out the history.


    admin Reply:

    Kirkpatrick also an essential reference. We should be cautious with “just a rehash” though — things never get exactly rehashed.

    Innovation emerges masked in precedent.


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    It’s basically colonialist ideology–‘rule the darkies for their own good until they are ready for democracy’-but with an acceptable fig leaf in making the colonizing autocrat plausibly local in race and ethnicity.


    Handle Reply:

    Close. There are several versions of colonialism.

    1. Biological: Actually send a seed-population of your people someplace else and have them set up little outpost copies expanding your civilization into that foreign land. They may interact with the locals, but it is more in terms of commerce and conflict instead of control. History is not kind to the stability of diversity in colony contexts, and eventually, ‘there can be only one’. In the long run, it’s crush or get crushed. If the foreign land is already inhabited, then historically it was usually at a much lower level of social development and organization. Today we have the reverse phenomenon with the barios.

    2. Corporate / Hostile Takeover / Regime Replacement: A military conquest that cuts off the head of the snake of a foreign civilizations and replaces it with new imported leadership for mostly economic, but also some compatible military global-strategic reasons. It mostly leaves the indigenous system ‘in place’ except perhaps with the gradual ideas for ameliorations imported from a higher form of civilization that will improve economic output. Plenty of examples throughout history.

    3. Religious and Cultural Conquest: Those with power to shape ideas, by the sword or otherwise, and who believe they have discovered the One Enlightened Truth and feel a need to evangelize, preach, and spread it across all humanity; and that, save for backward or evil resistance, all humanity will by uplifted when they come to recognize that truth and embrace it with sufficient time and development. Anything necessary to achieve this long term strategy in the most expeditious manner possible is a mandatory duty for all true believers.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 2:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • SOBL1 Says:

    Reading that last snip, does this mean they will use a Pinochet model? They might want to start rehabbing his reputation for the masses who have been told Pinochet was the devil for killing possibly 10K people.


    Dan Reply:

    Considering that Communism murdered 100MM, dropping Chile’s Communists from an aircraft into the ocean was thoughtful and evenhanded.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 2:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    May I suggest we – We The United States [should We Re-Appear] – leave them alone?

    A Central flaw of Neo-Reaction is the unquestioned intention and wished for policies of also interfering with everyone else but from the Right Side of the Stage. We TOO shall SAVE YOUR SOULS but from the Right Wing, Traditionalist, and most Sinister HBD view.

    Because we’re not Progs. We’d never to anything to harm you…oh well actually that’s not true at all…but we’d only Help you or Harm you for your own good..

    We don’t need another Global Slumlord. If the Wogs can’t govern themselves [not true] then leave them alone.

    If local vibrancy can’t govern themselves, then it’s “a local problem” which is what the much maligned Southern Sheriffs were saying. Crime, Vagrancy, Vice are indeed local problems.

    The Best solution that NR/DEC can offer for instance “The Dire Problem” is to leave it alone.

    In fact that’s the point in General, we’ll leave you the Hell alone…but in NR/DEC it absolutely becomes the opposite the instant any particular problem is raised. People just can’t seem to help themselves from fucking around where they know damn well they have no business, instead of not attempting to re-program with Right Coding instead of Left.



    RiverC Reply:

    They will try to incorporate the flavor of neoreactionary ideas, in the same fashion that Progressives have always borrowed the salt of Christianity to liven up the gruel of self-hatred.

    I feel also that isolationism follows the proper tack in regards to international affairs; tomorrow has trouble enough for itself, to create trouble for one’s self is inadvisable. We will be dragged into wars, has the policy of supposedly choosing them made them any more successful? Is it not true when you have to claim you’re helping others that they will clamor to create those ‘pre-conditions’ necessary for your intervention? So it is that pre-emptive wars don’t allow you but a decade or so of fighting on your own terms.

    Neo-conservatism, even, as being the offspring of disaffected but otherwise still liberal, liberals has the same problems. It may go to church and it may love the military, but it still sends both on the tip of a spear to ‘Enlighten’ the masses.

    If there is to be a colonialism, it must not be cloaked in notions of helping anyone but those who project the power to create the colony. The point of colonialism is to enrich the power making the colony, and this necessitates (if these colonialists are not fools) enriching and building up that colony. We care not if they are ruled well, but if we are ruled well. We care that they are prosperous and obedient, inasmuch as it makes us prosperous and secure.


    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    I am unaware of the “unquestioned intention… of also interfering with everyone else but from the Right side”. On the contrary, I think a strong bias toward non-interference is one of the few things that most neoreactionaries agree on.

    I am not attempting to be overly dense here…


    VXXC Reply:

    The Article linked to, the colonialist tendencies, and the HBD policy crowd would not NBS.

    I think you would, I would.

    The Dire Problem needs no solution except an end to subsidies.


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    The third world is an attractive nuisance. It’s disordered and badly run. Disordered and badly run places offer a profitable opportunity for conquest. Progs rule the third world and keep it a shithole because their ideology prohibits the necessary measures for ruling well.

    However, the most profitable business in the world is governance. It provides loads of money, resources and opportunities for young men of all classes from the first world to make fortunes and gain experience.

    If progressive world government disappeared tomorrow there would be a scramble to rule the third world (evidence: there was a scramble to rule the third world).

    If the USG disappeared tomorrow someone would hire Academi (nee Xe Services, nee Blackwater) and take over and recreate Rhodesia. That doesn’t happen only because it’s being stopped.

    admin Reply:

    You can suggest it, but I strongly suspect that the people making the relevant decisions won’t be listening.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 6:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    And why would we want to hold up State’s Empire?



    admin Reply:

    Does that “we” correspond to anything real?


    Lesser Bull Reply:

    VXXC’s conviction that such a ‘we’ exists is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for its existence.


    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 6:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    “….has interned at the Center for a New American Security”


    I have heard of them before. They sent McChrystal in to do “Triage” for the Afghan surge, and quite abandoned him when it went south and some of his staff bitched to Rolling Stone. This is Obama’s Afghan RAND Corporation.

    And BTW they were pretty dismally confident that Astan wouldn’t work. I was at the time for giving McC and the rest their chance. Apparently it went awry immediately.

    Zeck is then bad news by association, and will end well heeled for these adventures. Other people fighting of course.

    CNA$ is in it for the money, with Prog self righteousness thrown in. That’s Samantha Power, R2P, the rest of them. In other words pretty boy is deep in a nest of snakes and quite comfortable there.


    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    You haven’t heard of CNAS before?

    MM posted a lot of comments there for a time. Specifically at the Abu Muqawama blog they hosted.

    I think this was during a period when he thought there might be a chance (however slender) to plant some seeds in the minds of a number of midlevel military officers (some of who frequented the site). Of course that hope was folly because the U.S. Officer Corps is 80% lickspittle lackeys of the Cathedral (with at best private grumbling), no matter how they vote and how “hard” they consider themselves, and people get promoted for toeing the line, turning on every dime and bending over to say “thank you, civilian leadership, may I have another.”

    Nevertheless MM gave it the old college try. I’m not sure if he still posts there (I haven’t been back to the site in years, myself). But for a couple years he posted a flurry of stuff in their comments and that was one place where he would still engage people in discussion in comments.


    Handle Reply:

    There is a lot of sympathy for reactionary ideas in the officer corps – much more than you indicate. I don’t think Moldbug’s conversations on that particular site were very influential overall. Maybe a few people moved a few inches, here and there.

    What was, and remains, very influential is the absolute futile fiasco of our long experience in Afghanistan. The upper field grade Army, in particular, which has spent most of its professional life making round trips to that backwards hellhole and strategic nullity, has become devoted to a kind of open-secret campaign of resources and allocation-choices (in the face of a rapidly shrinking manpower and budget environment) that positions itself as unsuitable to pursue such ‘unconventional’ crusades in the future.

    We’re not getting rid of all the MRAPs for nothing! Strangely, The CAPE and CRB meetings are hilariously subversive of future reckless, missionary administrations in this regard, but also profoundly wise. A wisdom unnecessarily earned the hard way, alas. Moldbug played as much of a tiny-part as he was allowed to play in his time. But nothing teaches the lessons of reality like when reality hits your repeatedly with a 2×4. “Ouch, that smarts!” That kind of cognitive correction is worth a million Moldbugs.


    Handle Reply:

    I would add that Luttwak’s Dead end. Counterinsurgency warfare as military malpractice article, from early 2007 (pre Moldbug) was a thousand times more influential than anything Moldbug wrote. I’ve heard people discuss it countless times. With Petraeus’ reputation diminished with his sexual defenestration, more and more people are willing to question the ‘counterinsurgency’ approach to ‘small wars’.

    Gradually, people began to ‘get the joke’ at what was really going on with the publication FM 3-24. That is, that it is a political document of popular support public relations and has little to do with doctrine. It is semi-Straussian. The military has to pretend this is the doctrine, and has to take the risk that many junior officers will not ‘get the joke’ and take it seriously and try to implement it, and then grudgingly obey their superiors when they ‘inexplicable’ go against the doctrine.

    Gradually, after countless observations of the higher ups ‘going against’ doctrine, of not incorporating ‘lessons learned’ and ‘after action reports’ into ‘updates’ of the doctrine, one realizes that there is obviously something extremely wrong with the doctrine, and finally that it is not really the doctrine at all except to those that have been fooled in exactly the way it way designed to fool people.

    People who actually participated in the planning of The Surge know that success was not accomplish by maintaining much fidelity to the book. And it’s why success in Afghanistan was never, and will never be, accomplished. Luttwak (who advised throughout the experience) knew that too. But he didn’t want to play Kissinger and want it to be thought he believed in the ridiculous party line. You should read everything he writes.

    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    I agree that Moldbug’s efforts there had little impact. I’m not sure he *expected* more, but my guess it was worth a try, and worth the effort of planting some seeds in the minds of “reactionary officers” of why what happened, happened, and what might their best response be. An intellectual inflection point, if you will.

    I agree that not much came of it.

    I don’t disagree that much of the officer corps is *verbally* reactionary (but you might be surprised how many members of the officer corps are progs, too): sure there’s a reactionary component (my now-retired uncle is an inchocate reactionary – but, then, he retired for a reason). But what is their active response to any progressive meme inflicted upon their institution?

    To salute and enforce it. Not even to resign their commission with a letter of protest, much less more.

    To get promoted to Flag rank, you have to be or at least make yourself seen to be Progressive. Even then it might not be enough if you deviate even in small ways (witness some of the recent “early retirements.” No, I don’t suspect conspiracy there. But I do see a pattern. And it’s not a pattern that is followed up with much post-retirement protest about the direction of things).

    I was in the military myself until early 2009, as an NCO. Now one can’t generalize from personal experience to be true. But I delt with personnel a lot. All officers come from a standard Cathedral education. They are reactionary in spheres where face-to-face encouters with reality have compelled them to be. Many of them (but fewer than people might think) have good, solid, mainstream conservative Vaisya backgrounds. But not a few of them are Brahmins in belief as well as practice, and most of the ones who will make reactionary utterances in the right setting are operational henchmen of Brahminism. The ones who end up seeing that tend to retire and go live in the mountains. They don’t tend to do much more, and they tend not to be interested in reading long discursive abstract-intellectual essays (the kind that are necessary for any sort of informed neoreaction, given that you’re certainly not going to pick this stuff up in Cathedral institutions). (N.B. also I say “tend” – there are exceptions. There always are).

    Not that I recommend they become activist-reactionaries. After all, as we are taught, a reactionary is not an activist and activism is not reaction.

    (P.S. my tone is certainly negative and dismissive, but I would include myself in this set, even though I wasn’t a commissioned officer.)

    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    P.S. “we” are not so much getting rid of MRAPS as making sure every police force – including ones in Hooterville and Bugtustle – all across Plainland gets at least one.

    Worth noting.

    Posted on December 9th, 2013 at 11:58 pm Reply | Quote

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