The Null Device

The Dark Enlightenment

The latest idea making the rounds of the fringes of the Libertarian Right (and, to be fair, the Libertarian Right is a fractal body that is 99.999% fringe): Neoreaction, also known as Libertarian Monarchism or, among those partial to wearing fedoras and goatees, the “Dark Enlightenment”; the idea that, perhaps, the Enlightenment and the rise of democracy wasn't such a good idea, and a return to absolute monarchy would be better for freedom:
“Demotist systems, that is, systems ruled by the ‘People,’ such as Democracy and Communism, are predictably less financially stable than aristocratic systems,” Anissimov writes. “On average, they undergo more recessions and hold more debt. They are more susceptible to market crashes. They waste more resources. Each dollar goes further towards improving standard of living for the average person in an aristocratic system than in a Democratic one.”
Exactly what sort of monarchy they’d prefer varies. Some want something closer to theocracy, while Yarvin proposes turning nation states into corporations with the king as chief executive officer and the aristocracy as shareholders.
Funnily enough, neoreactionary ideas overlap considerably with the Pick-Up Artist movement (which is probably where the aura of diabolic mystique that comes from calling it the “Dark Enlightenment” comes in handy); I would be surprised if the Mens' Rights movement didn't also get a look in. I wonder what else is correlated with Neoreaction: Anton LaVey-style Satanism, perhaps (which, to be fair, is essentially Ayn Rand with a Sixeventies countercultural mystique added), and/or John Norman's Gor books (as manuals for intersexual relations).

Neoreactionaries also believe in what they term “human biodiversity”, i.e., that some people and/or ethnic groups, for reasons of heredity, are simply better than others, and that current society is in the grip of a vast left-wing conspiracy (and, when you regard the Enlightenment as a mistake, everybody's left-wing) which they term “Progressivism”, or “the Cathedral”, which enforces a politically correct silence about such issues.

And here is Charlie Stross' take on the matter, where he speculates that Neoreaction is a reaction to the collapse of Neoliberalism, by removing the polite fiction of democracy and a large, prosperous middle class, and also adds the spectre of lapsed Trotskyists seeking to accelerate the collapse of Capitalism by embracing it as hard as they can:

We get former Trotskyites who have decided that the best way to achieve Communism is to encourage the worst excesses of Neoliberalism, until the system implodes under its own weight and it becomes apparent that the only way out of the rat-trap is forward on full afterburner into the Accelerationist future. They therefore establish Libertarian fronts and enthusiastically encourage the worst excesses of capitalist globalization, including the application of the shock doctrine to the western economies that originally applied it to their former colonies ... all the time living it up. (Because, let's face it, right wing think tank gurus might plausibly get to wear expensive suits, snort cocaine, and drive expensive BMWs rather than sitting around in dismal squats with leaky roofs holding self-criticism sessions like silly old-school Maoists: which lifestyle would you rather have? Alas, I am informed by Ken Macleod that the folks at Spiked Online are not in fact Gordon Gekko-like creatures of the night. Damn, I'll just have to file that caricature away for a near-future novel ...)
We also have former libertarians who, in despair at the failure of the tin idol of the free market, conclude that the Enlightenment was all some sort of horrible mistake and the only solution is to roll back the clock. Today, we are all—except for the aforementioned Neo-reactionaries—children of the Jacobin society: even modern Conservativism has its roots in the philosophy of Edmund Burke, who formulated a radical refutation of and opposition to the French Revolution—thereby basing his political theories on the axioms of his foe. As Trotsky observed, "Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one's enemies." Despair is a common reaction to defeat, as is Stockholm syndrome: with the impending death of neoliberalism becoming clearer to the many libertarians who assumed it would bring about the small government/small world goals of the paleolibertarians—as it becomes clear that the fruits of neoliberalism are instability and corporate parasitism rather than liberty and justice for all—is it unreasonable of them to look to an earlier, superficially simpler settlement?
And here is David Brin's take on Neoreaction.

There are 1 comments on "The Dark Enlightenment":

Posted by: Andrew Joseph Galambos Fri May 9 04:53:45 2014

It Usually Begins With Mencius Moldbug

Want to say something? Do so here.

Post pseudonymously

Display name:
URL:(optional)
To prove that you are not a bot, please enter the text in the image into the field below it.

Your Comment:

Please keep comments on topic and to the point. Inappropriate comments may be deleted.

Note that markup is stripped from comments; URLs will be automatically converted into links.