Musings On Moldbugism

I no longer recall the first time I heard about Mencius Moldbug. I want to say it was seven or eight years ago, but I’m not sure. What I recall is someone asking me what I thought of Mencius Moldbug and not having the slightest idea what was meant by the question. I was soon reading through his blog, skimming mostly. The person who had asked about it was younger than me and a fan of Moldbug, so I felt obliged to thank him for the link and say some nice things about it, even though it was really not my thing.

My first impression was that it was for young males who were part of third wave internet culture and gaming. By third wave, I mean those who came along with mobile computing and immersive on-line gaming. The second wave were the folks who came along with the PC revolution. The first wave were the people who built their own computers, started a dial-up BBS and enjoyed hours of free long distance, courtesy of phone phreaking. I fall somewhere between the first wave and the second wave.

I would read the Moldbug blog a few times a month and maybe read some of the other guys in the NRx thing when I had the time or interest. I’m guessing that peak neo-reaction was half a dozen years ago. That seems like when the term was popping up all over the internet, associated with the phrase Dark Enlightenment, which I think was coined by Nick Land. Since then many of the bloggers big in the movement have closed up shop and the terminology has mostly fallen out of usage. NRx seems to be dead.

For those unfamiliar with Moldbug, looking to kill a few days reading his work, his blog posts are archived here. I’ll caution you that they tend to be long and meandering, bordering on stream of consciousness. For a shorter and more concise reading of Moldbug and the core of NRx, you can read this retrospective at Thermodor. People in the movement may quibble, but it strikes me as a clean and concise summary of Moldbug and the NRx movement in general. The criticism at the end is also worth reading.

As far as criticism, the most potent and accurate is the simple observation that Moldbugism, and to a lesser extent NRx, was not able to outlive its creator. Once Curtis Yarvin gave up blogging, the internet movement he created quickly faded away. Maybe a better way to state it is that it was quickly gobbled up by the alt-right, alt-lite and other manifestations of dissident politics. My guess is a fair share of his fans simply went back to the safety of techno-libertarianism. Regardless, Moldbugism is no longer a thing.

As an aside, an indication of just how out of touch and superfluous the Buckley Right has become is the fact that they never felt the need to disavow NRx. In fact, they were largely unaware of its existence. Instead they were still obsessed with rounding up the remaining paleocons and casting them into the void. National Review finally got around to addressing neo-reaction and Moldbug, when their in-house homosexual took on the topic, confusing a bunch of things, in the process of trying to make sense of Buckley Conservatism.

Anyway, there are two possible explanations for the end of Moldbugism. One is that his arguments were not original, just stated in a new way. His assertion that Progressivism has its roots in Puritanism, for example, is not new. I was making that point 25 years ago in Usenet debates and I know I’m not the first guy to notice it. His criticisms of democracy have been around since the Enlightenment. Old ideas restated in modern terms eventually just fade into the tapestry of the intellectual movement that spawned them.

The other possibility is that the people attracted to Moldbug’s ideas, including Moldbug, came from the Left ideologically. Young people raised on Progressivism were attracted by the subversiveness of these old ideas. They moved right into Left-libertarianism, then Right-libertarianism and then eventually dissident politics of various flavors. Put another way, the Dark Enlightenment guys were merely going through a phase as they first experienced the outlawed ideas from the outlawed past. Now, they are onto other things.

Moving from libertarianism, often Left-libertarianism to the alt-right is something you hear a lot on the alt-right. Mike Enoch, of The Right Stuff, has talked about his political evolution and it matches this pattern. He was in a Trotsky movement at one point, then moved through libertarianism and eventually to the alt-right. Maybe neo-reaction is like withdrawing from heroin. Going cold-turkey from Progressivism leads to all sorts of reactions, but eventually they fade and the patient can begin a normal intellectual life.

In this regard, Moldbugism should be a cautionary tale for those into dissident politics, particularly the alt-right. Discovering outlawed ideas from a bygone era is liberating and exciting, but there is a reason that those ideas were outlawed. The reason we find ourselves in a Progressive theocracy, is that those old guys with all of their sound ideas about human nature, lost the fight with the Left. Studying their failure will probably count for more in the coming fights than digesting and internalizing their philosophy.

Another angle here is that Moldbugism never got much traction from paleocons, paleo-libertarians and Southern populists. If like me, you were a Buchanan man in the 90’s, NRx felt more like an echo than a calling. Further, neocameralism has a whiff of libertarian dreamer about it that biological realists find ridiculous. Therefore, the more potent minds in dissident politics were never attracted to Moldbug. Long after many NRx bloggers were onto other things, guys like Steve Sailer are still going strong.

In the end, Curtis Yarvin should be remembered as an important part of this thing, if for no other reason than he normalized and made interesting, the critique of the prevailing orthodoxy for a generation of smart people. By calling into question some of the shibboleths of the ruling elite, he helped make it possible to question all of them, including their most cherished beliefs. Whether or not Yarvin gets all the credit for that is debatable, but he was part of an effort to get smart people asking questions about this stuff.

The lesson of the Left’s dominance is that they institutionalized a critique of Western civilization. For as long as anyone reading this has been alive, it has been hip and cool to question the culture and customs of the West. Like water dripping on a stone for a century, the Left has eroded Western civilization with an endless stream of small challenges. If this counter-culture we see forming up is going to succeed, it will have to develop a culture of endlessly questioning and challenging the prevailing orthodoxy.

The Death of Official Conservatism™

Over the last year or so, corresponding with the rise of Donald Trump to the nomination of the Republican Party, there has been a lot of talk about what is the alt-right and what it means. This also corresponds with the term itself, alt-right, being transformed from the narrow white nationalism stuff of Richard Spencer, to a catch-all term for the growing number of people criticizing the orthodoxy from the Right. In fact, this thing they call the alt-right is no longer much about race and much more about culture, Western Culture.

Another way to think of it is to imagine a town with two social clubs, organized for the same purpose, but they disagree over the goals and how to go about it. Over time, one club has fallen into quarreling and regularly kicked out its best members. Many just quit out of frustration. The result is there are more that agree about what is wrong with the clubs than are in still the clubs. The reason the dissenters have a name is the people still doing the old social club racket gave the dissenters a name they thought was insulting.

Steve Sailer has a fun way of looking at it in his Taki column, comparing the alt-right to punk rock. That’s a good way of looking at, but within that column he quotes himself from the olden thymes, where he pointed out that jazz lost its audience because it became elitist and esoteric. That’s a good way of thinking about what is happening to Official Conservatism™ today. The people scribbling and thinking for the orthodoxy have become elitist and detached, consumed by esoteric hair splitting and purity tests.

A good example of this can be seen in this piece on National Review regarding Ann Coulter’s appearance on a Comedy Central roast of actor Rob Lowe. According to the news reports, it was a setup so the beta male comics could feel butch by calling Coulter a “cunt” over and over. A normal man would wonder why such a thing was permitted to happen, but not Christian Schneider. He is only concerned about the image of Official Conservatism™ as he thinks Coulter being pilloried makes his weird little identity cult look bad.

That’s Official Conservatism™. It is a bunch of men standing aside as men from the Left assault whomever happens to be to their Right. It is a movement that never moves. It remains relatively stationary, fixed to a spot just to the Right of the Progressives. When they are not refining the narrow differences they have with the Left, they are expanding the list of people to their Right that are no longer welcome in the club. Official Conservatism™ holds its audience in contempt, preferring to focus on itself and its peculiar aesthetic.

Sailer’s jazz reference works at another level. In the first half of the 20th century, jazz was the most popular form of music because it was fun and functioned as the soundtrack for the young and rebellious. By the time rock and roll came along, jazz was no longer fun. The kids looked at it as the music of their parent’s generation. That’s what’s happening with Official Conservatism™ now that the internet has opened the field to all sorts of new voices and ideas. Much of it may be crap or crazy, but it’s fun and rebellious.

There’s more to it, of course, but being new and fun is the energy that is making the alt-right work right now. The bigger issue is the fact that Buckley Conservatism has nothing to offer. An ideology that leads men to stand aside while thugs from the Left assault the institutions of society is not much use to people, who would like to preserve their culture. It’s hard to be inspired my a movement that thinks it is OK for men to call a woman a “cunt” on TV, just as long as it does not reflect poorly on their movement. Why would anyone sign up for that?

It’s why the threats from the geezers about purging the alt-right from Official Conservatism™ are met with roars of laughter and funny memes on twitter. If you are a young guy that thinks Progressivism is a cancer, what has Jonah Goldberg ever done for you? What has Hugh Hewitt ever done, beside collect a paycheck and lecture you to be quiet? The answer is nothing. When the bully boys of the Left come to put a beating on you, these two will be penning articles about how you tarnished the brand.

Skepticism, about attempts to define the alt-right, is wise as the people doing it have an agenda. Some are hoping to elevate their status as media personalities, while others are just hoping to tar members of the establishment, by associating them with something scary. The reality is it is just a new label for what Nick Land called the Dark Enlightenment. I’ve always found this map to be useful in understanding the wild and crazy world of alternative media on the internet. As you can see, there is a lot of overlap, but a great diversity in starting points.

The Right has always been a perspective from a number of starting points rooted in the human condition, biological reality. It has never been a fixed ideology and that is why Official Conservatism™ is dying off now. It was a long attempt to build a fence around the free range of thinking, to set borders and apply rules within it. It is why the Buckleyites look increasing like the Progressives they claim to oppose. In the end, ideologues all come to agree on the same thing – control.

Eric Hoffer said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Official Conservatism™ is well into the racket stage. The adherents, if they even believe in anything other than personal enrichment, defend the cause solely because it is where the money is at the movement. They are ideological Willie Suttons. They are “conservatives” because right now that’s where they can make money. When the time comes, they will move on to something else.

Hash Tag You Suck

If you are on twitter, you no doubt have seen the twitter meme #cuckservative popping up on or against right-wing (allegedly right-wing) twitter feeds. Or is it twitterers?  If you put the term into a Google machine you get a decent array of stories discussing it. This summary from VDare does a good job describing its origins. Here’s a bite-sized story on the origins of the “social media fire storm” otherwise known as a tempest in a tea kettle.

A year or so ago I was made aware of the cuckold fetish by the usual way we stumble onto strange things these days. I put the word into Google, which I often use for spell check or to research the etymology of a word. I had no idea there was such a “thing” as a cuckold fetish, so I was more than a little surprised at what came back from my search. I admit to being a bit of prude so maybe all the cool kids are into this and I’m the weirdo.

It’s that prudishness that causes me to turn my nose up at this trend and the phrase itself. The word itself, cuckservative, just sounds disgusting. Some words are naturally pleasing to the ear, even when they describe disgusting things, while other words sound harsh and crude. The term for this effect is synesthesia.  In this case, cuckservative sounds crude because it is crude.

That said, big-foot journalists are noticing it and feel the need to comment upon it. The people rallying to the cause tend to make for colorful stories in the liberal media about the need to crack down on racism so my guess is this turns into a fiasco for the people championing it. The media will find a couple of colorful nutters ranting about the “Negroes” and make them representative of the racist bogeymen the left swears are lurking around every corner.

That’s the media circus. The real story, I think, is that ultra-fringy types have been able to get the attention of the for-hire conservatives that have come to dominate Conservative Inc. The reaction seen on twitter suggests to me that these people have been caught entirely unaware of the deep resentment toward them amongst many on the Right. Erick Erickson, for example, has been going around thinking he is a man of the people only to learn that the people are laughing at him.

I’m picking on Erick Erickson here only because I saw his twitter spat the other night. For all I know he could be a rock-ribbed conservative with impeccable credentials. I don’t read his site very often. I just look at foaming at the mouth rants like this one he posted and I suspect he’s a guy who likes speaking down to people like me. If I’m wrong I will be grateful for the correction.

What’s striking about this to me is we saw something similar in Europe where utra-fringy groups, branded as off-limits to decent people, gained support mocking the ruling elite over issues like immigration. They had their share of cranks and wack-jobs dressing up as Hitler, but they also had snarky amused types who made sport of the very serious people  warning about the comedic threats on social media. Before long a lot of normal people started joining in on the fun.

The best example of this phenomenon is Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. It’s best weapon has been mockery. It’s very hard to demonize someone who is laughing and having a good time. This was something the American Right said they learned from Reagan. They were running around calling each other happy warriors throughout the 90’s, but that was mostly to hide the surrendering. Now, the Right is nothing but dry technocrats.

Donald Trump is where he is right now because he is good at mocking the very serious people in the GOP and in the media. Ted Cruz is probably even more critical of his party and the media establishment, but he is about as funny as cancer.I saw him on television the other day and I was reminded of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, except Cruz is not as self-deprecating.

The ground is shifting under the feet of the ruling classes. They can sense it, which explains the hysterics over Trump and to a lesser degree Sanders. Kevin Williamson, the very serious person at National Review, has written dress-over-the-head rants about both Trump and Sanders this month. In fact, he has written two rants about Sanders and two about Trump, all of them implying they are Nazis and their supporters insane.

Not being a seer, I have no idea what will come of this #cuckservative thing. My inclination is to say it will flame out and go away. Similarly, the people in charge will figure out how to deal with the growing tide of popular discontent. No matter how revolting the leaders, the people will not revolt. It’s no longer in the fiber of the people. But, maybe I’m wrong.

Rambling About NRx

From time to time, I have been checking in on this blog, which I’m led to believe is a popular neo-reaction site. This site, from what I gather, is a clearing house of some sort for what is lumped into the NRx bucket. I have not followed the neo-reaction thing closely for a while, but I try to pay attention to it.

I can’t say I was ever a big fan. That’s not to say I’m against it. I just don’t have strong opinions about any of it. I’m not even sure “it” is a thing or just a catch-all term for opinion that does not fit the popular templates. Put another way, anyone who thinks egalitarianism is ridiculous and is not all that concerned about being called a heretic, gets lumped into the neo-reactionary bucket.

Years ago I found  Mencius Moldbug and decided his thing was probably not  for me. The main reason is I am not sitting around reading 16,000 word blog posts. I’ve been doing this internet thing in one fashion or another since the 80’s and I’m not easily impressed. In the early days there were a lot of young males thinking they were going to change the world. They’re old men now and the world has not changed. That and I’m not much of a joiner.

I’ve written before that there’s a Dungeons and Dragons quality to a lot of it. Maybe it is the endless fascination with the return of monarchy that has me thinking that many of these guys watch Game of Thrones dressed as their favorite character. Maybe it’s that there’s so much overlap with the Vox Day world. I don’t know, but stuff like this is so common with the self-professed neo-reactionary types I think I’m on the right track with the D&D angle.

Recently, there’s been some sort of disruption in the NRx universe. I don’t know enough about it to comment on the particulars, but it appears that they had formed some sort of little club or secret society and now there is a power struggle within that club. Free Northerner reports on it here and Nick Land comments on it here. I have no idea what any of it means, but there it is.

Steve Sailer often points out that fringe movements are often cluttered with misfits and weirdos. The reason is these people have no home in more stable movements so they are available for recruitment by the new thing. There’s also the fact that new mass movements are by their nature opposed to the orthodox and mainstream. That means they are the natural home to the unorthodox and the strange. Some of those people will be crazy.

That’s probably why I’m getting a Judean People’s Front –  People’s Front of Judea vibe reading about whatever it is that’s going on with these people. Inside these movements, the issues loom large, dominating the minds of the participants. Outside the movement these fights seem weird and comical in their triviality. It’s like watching ants fight over a crumb. Entertaining, but wholly unimportant.

The funny thing is the great wave about to sweep over social science and therefore political science is biological realism, driven by genetics and processing power.Technology is cracking open the secrets of human biology and big data is casting a light on the dark corners of social behavior. This should be a the salad days for a philosophical movement that rejects the Standard Social Science Model.

As I said at the start of this post, I don’t follow it closely enough to understand the details of their struggles. My guess is they are running into the problem that all fringe movements face and that’s a lack of agreement over most everything, other than enemy. They all agree that multiculturalism and globalism are unworkable, but that’s where the agreement ends. Building a coherent philosophy from that is impossible.

That’s the challenge that awaits biological realism. The kabbalistic new faith that has emerged around the principles of egalitarianism, anti-racism and multiculturalism may be irrational and at odds with observable reality, but it fills the spiritual void of the ruling classes. You don’t defeat a spiritual movement with facts and reason. You offer an alternative.

Maybe that’s why obscurantism is so common amongst NRx bloggers. Moldbug was maddeningly long winded and often incoherent. He invested a lot of his time in creating an aesthetic, rather than making points. Like the Beats and their clove cigarettes, NRx spends a lot of time signalling to one another. It is the sense of belonging that makes them tick, not the intellectual rigor of their arguments. It’s church for dorks.

Sad, Rabid Puppies and the Front Lash

Going through my unread issues of The Weekly Standard, I found this piece on the war within the science fiction writers world. If you read Vox Day regularly, you probably know all about it. I’m not a regular reader of his site so most of it was a mystery to me until I stumbled upon this article. It seems to cover the issue well enough, but I’m by no means an expert on the topic.

Not that long ago, if you’d spun a dystopian yarn about some future society where culture wars were so pervasive that nobody could enjoy reading a novel without first approving of the author’s politics, it would have been almost too fantastical to be believed. But within the insular world of science fiction, that future is becoming a reality.

One of the things that makes me nuts about members of the Professional Right is that they accept all of the premises put forth by the CML. One of those is that the past never really happened. In this case, Mark Hemingway is shocked, shocked! to learn that fiction has been politicized. Yet, that happened a long time ago with serious fiction, which is why no one reads it.

The schism over the Hugo Awards is aesthetic as well as political. For some time now, a handful of stars in the science fiction firmament—notably popular author John Scalzi and some polarizing editors associated with Tor, arguably the most influential publisher—have been pushing to elevate the genre by embracing certain literary and political themes. Critics contend that in practice this means an overabundance of “message fiction” where, say, encounters with an alien civilization become leaden metaphors for gay rights and other politically correct themes. The fans opposed to this want science fiction to stay focused on story-telling and adventure—and they are annoyed by the attempt to banish cherished genre conventions, such as book covers with buxom babes and musclebound heroes.

The literary crowd counters that the science fiction traditionalists are a bunch of white male retrogrades. There’s some truth to at least part of that characterization—a 2011 reader poll by the Guardian produced a list of the 500 most beloved works of science fiction. Just 18 were written by women.

The only area of fiction with a male audience is sci-fi/fantasy. So-called serious fiction was taken over lunatics and feminists to the point where it has no audience outside of the academy. The fiction that sells best is the rape fantasy stuff popular with middle-aged white women. Otherwise, fiction for men is mostly aimed at harmless weirdos who prefer to be the female character in on-line games.

That’s why the lunatics are making war on sci-fi and fantasy fiction. They sense this group of white males are weak and can be bullied. After all, a guy who gets beat up for wearing his Frodo costume to school is not going to push back against the heavy weights of the genre. At least that’s the assumption. It’s why the cult has made a fetish of bullying, by the way. They want it as their exclusive tool for socializing children.

Correia has a large and loyal blog audience, so he decided to mobilize it to start openly campaigning for a slate of Hugo Awards nominees. Correia called his campaign the “Sad Puppies,” because “boring message fiction is the leading cause of Puppy Related Sadness.” As his tone suggests, Correia didn’t set out to game the awards. He described what he was doing this way:

1. I said a chunk of the Hugo voters are biased toward the left, and put the author’s politics far ahead of the quality of the work. Those openly on the right are sabotaged. This
was denied.

2. So I got some right wingers on the ballot.

3. The biased voters immediately got all outraged and mobilized to do exactly what I said they’d do.

4. Point made.

After two years of organizing a Sad Puppies slate with mixed results, Correia handed the effort off to Torgersen this year. The third Sad Puppies campaign dominated the Hugo ballot, causing no end of consternation and drawing a surprising amount of media attention to the internecine battles of the science fiction world. Almost none of that coverage was fair. The headline at Entertainment Weekly was typical: “Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign.” And the correction eventually appended to the article was a doozy:

After misinterpreting reports in other news publications, EW published an unfair and inaccurate depiction of the Sad Puppies voting slate, which does, in fact, include many women and writers of color. As Sad Puppies’ Brad Torgersen explained to EW, the slate includes both women and non-caucasian writers, including Rajnar Vajra, Larry Correia, Annie Bellet, Kary English, Toni Weisskopf, Ann Sowards, Megan Gray, Sheila Gilbert, Jennifer Brozek, Cedar Sanderson, and Amanda Green.

Torgersen answered critics calling him racist in part by posting a photo of himself with his black wife and mixed-race children. For that he was attacked by Salon and Daily Beast columnist Arthur Chu, who called Torgersen’s wife and kids a “shield” for his latent racism.

The error people make when fighting the Cult is to assume they can “prove” them wrong. In the process, they end up letting the Cult shape the debate. In this case, by conceding that racism is germane, Torgersen let the focus shift from the lunatics trashing the Hugo Awards to whether or not he is a racist.

You can never win playing defense. Instead, he needed to ignore the charge and return fire, maybe finding a way to insinuate that one of his critics likes to dress up as Hitler or drives a candy van to local schools.

The key is to turn the tools of Progressives around on them. Use the passive voice and use the false choice method. “Some people are saying that [fill in name of critic] has a history of intolerant remarks. That they are always forcing their extreme values on others. I reject that sort of name calling and prefer to address what they did….”

But, that requires two things we rarely see outside the Cult. One is an understanding of the enemy. Mark Steyn is probably the only mainstream guy to get it and fight it. His fight with the voodoo wing of science remains a debate about Michael Mann’s intellectual integrity, because Steyn never stops talking about it.

The other missing piece is the desire to win. In the culture war, we have one side trying to impose their strange new religion on society. The other side just wants to be left alone. The attackers never stop attacking because they define winning as converting the unfaithful. It’s what keeps Jehovah’s Witnesses going. Everyone else thinks “winning” is avoiding a fight with the Cult.

Unfortunately, combating accusations of racism and sexism has been difficult because the Sad Puppies have been unfairly conflated with an unaffiliated group calling itself the “Rabid Puppies.” The Rabid Puppies are led by a polarizing writer and video game designer named Vox Day who does hold racist opinions and managed to score a few Hugo nominations for some writers who so lack merit their appearance on the ballot seems to have no other explanation than electioneering.

Even more troubling is the Rabid Puppies slate had some of the same nominees, and this association caused one writer, Marko Kloos, to withdraw his name from the ballot. “I have no issue with Larry [Correia] or the Sad Puppies. I’m pulling out of the Hugo process solely because Vox Day also included me on his ‘Rabid Puppies’ slate, and his RP crowd provided the necessary weight to the ballot to put me on the shortlist. I think Vox Day is a [expletive] of the first order, and I don’t want any association with him,” said Kloos.

This is why the Cult always wins. Vox Day and his people are a little nuts, for sure, but racist? I’m at a loss to think of anything he has written that a normal person would call racist. Even if he is a member of the Klan, so what? The debate is not over his fidelity to the every changing standards of racial harmony. The debate is over the Cult’s war on science fiction.

But, that’s the fundamental problem with the Professional Right. They all have a big picture of Neville Chamberlain hanging over their bed. They truly believe that if they sacrifice enough of their own to the Cult of Modern Liberalism, they will achieve peace. It’s why Churchill knew he had to get rid of Chamberlain. You can never win with these guys on your side. It’s why the Cult of Modern Liberalism wins every battle.

Religion of the West

When listening to that Richard Spencer interview on Red Ice, the thing I found most interesting is the bafflement by people in the Dissident Right as to why the people in charge of the West seem to have a death wish. John Derbyshire calls is ethnomasoichism, a form of self-hatred that extends to everyone like them.

Listening to Spencer fumble through an explanation, he said one thing that caught my attention. He kept coming back to the idea of a spiritual awakening or renewal that he thinks will precede a restoration of national identity. He was not all that clear on the point so I may be misunderstanding him.

Regardless, it brought to mind something about the Roman Empire from the second century forward. That is, the proliferation of odd cults, mystics and what we would think of as Eastern mysticism. Hadrian was into the Eleusinian Mysteries. One of the later emperors fell in the grips of a mystic whose name escapes me at the moment. Of course, Christianity got going in this time, starting from a Jewish heresy into a full blown religious movement.

None of this would be possible if the old gods and the old ways were still satisfying the people. After all, there’s no need for a new religion if the old religion is scratching that itch that is there in every human society. One of the things that’s true about the Roman empire is it was a miracle it did not collapse at any point after the reign of Commodus. The reason the people, including the ruling elite, were looking for new religions is they had largely lost faith in the old one.

We tend to look at the West as a collection of countries and people located in Europe, jostling with one another for supremacy. Another way is to look at the West as the Christian flowering, the Christian era. Starting from the second century, Christianity evolved and spread until it was largely formalized in the fourth century. The fall of the Western Roman empire in the fifth century let Christianity spread throughout Europe with the conversion of barbarians over the next two centuries.

What’s happening today is Christianity is dying out in the West. No one in the European ruling class is animated by his Christian faith. In fact, they mostly mock those remaining Christians in their own lands. In the US, No one in the ruling party is Christian. Some fake it for old time sake, but otherwise there are no Christians in the Democratic Party. The GOP still has some Christians, but most of that is for show, as their party is the natural home of the remaining Christians in America.

It’s a conceit of the modern ruling elites that they have shrugged off the sky gods and the oogily-boogily, but it is just a conceit. Belief is one of the oldest of human traits, co-evolving with speech. Belief, like all traits, varies from person to person and between groups. To think that this trait suddenly fell out of the human animal a generation ago is simply ridiculous.

That does not mean there always has to be an invisible man in the sky. An anthropomorphic god or gods probably came along long after the first conceptions of the super natural. There are plenty of modern examples of belief without the man-like god or gods. Buddhists, for example, have no invisible men in the sky. Natives of the Americas did not have man-like gods.

The point here is that the collapse of Christianity as a legitimizing and organizing faith has left the people in charge searching for a replacement. Socialism and Communism filled the void until they were laughed off the stage by reality. Even the Soviet rulers threw in the towel on the spiritual side of Bolshevism after Stalin.

The grasping around at these crazy fads like climate change and anti-racism is just a search for some legitimizing answer to the eternal why. Even silly materialist fads like Apple and Uber are driven by the need to the fill the spiritual void. It’s not an accident that every dedicated Apple user has  memorized the standard response to why they over spend for a bit of electronics.

This is a blog post, not a dissertation so I’m going to keep and short and stick with the broad outlines, but I think what’s driving this weird worship of the alien, specifically brown people migrating north, is spiritual envy. They envy the natural identity and belonging these people have as members of the oppressed. Generously inviting the noble savages into your neighborhood scratches that age old spiritual itch.

The cults and mystic faiths that floated around the late Roman Empire borrowed heavily from the old ways. Even Christianity cherry picked items from the old pagan religions. Climate change obviously borrows heavily from the Jewish Bible. Cultural Marxism looks a like liberation theology, without the Christianity. It’s Gnosticism updated to the modern era.

The absurdity of these weird cults and theodicies suggest we are in that transition period between the end of the old ways and the birth of some new way. Something is going to take the place of Christianity, just as Christianity took the place of the Greco-Roman gods. I have no idea what, but I will not be around to see it.

This is obviously a huge subject and I’m still noodling my way through my own thoughts on it.

Richard Spencer

I’m torn on Richard Spencer and his white consciousness movement. I’ve always thought “white nationalism” is a bit nutty, mostly because the advocates tend to be cranks and lunatics. That’s unfair on my part, but certain words and phrases get associated with negative images and there is nothing to be done about it. Life is unfair. That said, Spencer is very smart and makes some wonderful critiques of Cultural Marxism, in addition to being very sensible on issue of race. The right answer is to hear him out and then decide.

Listening to him, I’m not really sure he is prepared to handle the charge of being a white supremacist. I have not followed his career closely enough to say for sure, but that’s my sense at the moment. Maybe his critics have been answered and I missed it. Then again, there is no good way to respond to those sorts of accusations. The point is to condemn the person, without hearing their response. Regardless, he is a rising star and this long interview is a pretty good place to start.


For a while now I have been skimming the posts at National Review Online under the blog Post-Modern Conservative. I don’t know how long it has been running, but it is not new, just new to me. I see the phrase “post-modern” and I assume that what is behind it is awful. Post-modern is weird for the sake of being weird. It’s also an abuse of language.

There are two people posting there, neither of whom are familiar to me. I’ve learned with the modern media to research the credentials of writers as they are often just actors. Economic “experts” are journalism majors with no business experience. Legal experts are reporters who got a JD at night school between jobs, but never bothered to take the bar. It’s all a big show. Carl Eric Scott is a mystery, but Peter Augustine Lawler is a college professor and a regular at conservative publications.

I hesitate to call them neo-reactionary only because I hate the term and it seems to cover just about everyone not on red team or blue team. Putting John Derbyshire and Steve Sailer in the same bucket as Jayman and Nick Land looks like a category error to me. This map always struck me as a great way to map the stars outside of conventional thinking. The change I would make is to put the modes of modern thought in the center in relation to one another and have the Dark Enlightenment guys surrounding the core, sort of like an asteroid belt or debris field.

I must admit that I could never get through Mencius Moldbug’s series of posts. The opaque style never did it for me. Plus, I think you need to get to the point in blog posts. People are reading this at lunch or on break. They don’t have all day to look up obscure references and contemplate the use of language. Having gone to Jesuit schools where writing is taught to be a utilitarian task, I guess I have no appreciation for the aesthetics of the DE. It is that aesthetic that I see on the NRO blog. The posts are long winded and plaintive, as if they were written by men on death row.

There’s an age thing here as well. I’ve always got the sense that Mencius Moldbug and Nick Land spend way too much time working on their Frodo costumes. It is not that they wish to roll back the enlightenment and return to feudalism. They wish to roll back time and return to their childhood, reading Tolkien and dreaming of life in Middle Earth. There’s a graphic comic book quality to their writing that I find a bit off-putting.

These are small criticisms and mostly about style. I think their view of the managerial state as a fusion of class and religion is pretty close to my view of the modern West. The other difference here is I don’t pretend to have invented a philosophical school around this observation. Paleocons like Sam Francis and Paul Gottfried were writing about this stuff when Moldbug was in diapers. James Burnham was working out the details of the managerial elite before the managerial elite existed.

Getting back to that NRO blog, it is much more of a paleo thing than a DE thing, in that they don’t get into the LoTR stuff or call for a return to feudalism. Unlike the paleos, they are assiduously avoiding the elephant in the room, which is race.  Lawler is a college professor so he has spent a life being cautious about the ever changing list of proscribed topics. Instead, they seem to be focused on the shape and direction of a post-liberal world where 18th century ideas of liberty are no longer relevant.

What’s interesting to me is NR purged all of its paleocons a decade ago. The last few holdouts were purged within the last decade. John Derbyshire and Bob Weissberg were the last two from the paleocon tribe. NR bringing back a sort of paleocon-lite is a curious development. It suggest that maybe Conservative Inc recognizes they are in an intellectual cul-de-sac. They can’t come out and say Pat Buchanan was right about the Bush family after all, but maybe the wheels are finally turning with the professional Right. They are noticing that the cage door is now closed, not locked yet, but closed.

National Review started as a rejection of the accommodations made by the Old Right, in reaction to the growing excesses of the Left. Here we are at the end of another Great Liberal Awakening, in which the conventional Right has been defenestrated, and National Review is showing some signs of grasping in the dark, so to speak, for a new reason to exist. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds. I’m skeptical as long as they avoid biology, which remains the elephant in the room of Rousseau-ism. But, it bears watching.

Rich and Dead

This Peter Frost column on the Parsis is getting some attention on the fringe. Fertility rates are a bit of a hobby-horse issue on the fringe, but for good reason. In every branch of natural science, reproduction rates are a key measure of health. A species with a declining fertility rate is assumed to be under stress or its environment is under stress. In fact, it is usually the key metric waved around by the greens when demanding some new rule on humans.

The exception is humanity. No one ever applies the same metric to the human species. The great irony of the environmental movement is that they insist humans are not part of the environment. For them, we are everywhere an invasive species.

Mangan has a take on it:

It seems more and more clear that the demands of the market economy come at a price. The enthusiasts for capitalism like to point out how much wealthier it has made us. Before capitalism, or before the Industrial Revolution, incomes were barely above subsistence level, whereas now everyone can afford iPads. But they elide over, or don’t even recognize, the trade-offs that are made to become wealthier. Until relatively recently, even under capitalism and as recently as the 50s and 60s in this country, families still had more than enough children to further their patrimony. But as we become ever wealthier, and opportunities for doing do become more widespread, capitalism steadily erodes what’s left of the old ways, including family ways, of doing things. That would be my interpretation anyway.

It is a testament to the power of the Progressive faith that this assertion is still with us. The Left insists that prosperity eliminates the need for lots of kids. The logical end point is a replacement rate or even a click lower for extended periods. Children become a luxury item once they no longer contribute to the prosperity of the family.

That reduces all human relations to their material content.

It’s also mostly nonsense.

Children have always been a cost in Eurasia. Even in sub-Saharan Africa where low parental investment is the norm, children are a net drain on their families in most cases. Humans, like all living things, have an impulse to reproduce. Without it, we would not be here. The one thing every extinct species has in common is the failure to reproduce. Even those wiped out by predators simply failed to reproduce before it was too late. It’s why it is hard to eradicate rabbits.

Plummeting fertility rates remain a puzzle to the people who care about the topic. Fertility does track closely with religiosity in the West. When church attendance declines, marriage rates decline and then fertility rates decline. This is true within the US as well as across Europe. Poland is one of the better examples because of the accident of history. They were a Catholic society trapped in time during the Soviet era.

Then they were exposed to Western culture in a massive wave following the fall of the Iron Curtain. Church attendance rates collapsed and fertility rates collapsed. A similar phenomenon happened in Quebec, but without the communism. There is was most likely the language barrier that insulated the culture for so longer. Regardless, when church attendance collapsed, fertility followed.

Now, that does not mean one causes the other. But, the correlation is unmistakable.

There’s a line in the movie The Matrix where Agent Smith explains how the first Matrix was a disaster because it was perfect. Humans could not accept it. The machines figured out that their human batteries needed an imperfect world. The implication being that we evolved for a specific environment. While all species adapt over time, there are limits and the time line must be imperceptible. Put humans in a radically different environment and they quickly die off, just like any other critter.

That very well may be what we are experiencing in the West and what the Arabs are desperately fighting. Modern Western culture is almost entirely transactional. There’s no continuity with the past and therefore no understanding of the future. Ours is a material, sterile world, one for which we are poorly designed. Why would humans bring children into a world with an unknowable future? What’s the point?

There’s an old Greek proverb. In good times, old men plant olive trees whose fruit they will never taste.

The Cloud People

This story from the Beeb, as the Brits call it, is an excellent example of how globalism is eroding the nation state.

The Islamists who committed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris should be not be described as “terrorists” by the BBC, a senior executive at the corporation has said.

Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.

Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”

Mr Kafala said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”

This is an inevitable result of globalism. The BBC used to be a British company funded by British taxes. Now it is a global concern (still collecting British taxes) with more customers outside of Britain than within it. The elites running it naturally have little reason to be loyal to Britain or any other country in which they operate. Like their company, they are citizens of the world, which is a polite way of saying citizens of nowhere.

The global elites are the cloud people. They float above us, detached from language, culture and history. They have no loyalty to a country or the people and traditions of a country. It’s like the British Raj. The people in charge are fine with the rest of us engaging in our quaint customs, as long as it does not interfere with their looting of the resources. When the ground people cause trouble, then the cloud people step in to remedy it.

I suspect it is why our elites are berserk for mass immigration. At some level, the fact that clusters of people with a common ethnicity and common heritage exist is a challenge to the new post-national ideology. If Europe can be turned from a patchwork of peoples and cultures to a gray, featureless slurry devoid of cultural diversity, the elites will feel justified in their indifference to toward the people.

At other times I have used the word neo-feudalism to describe this new arrangement. The financial support of our elites comes primarily through government sanctioned skimming operations. The BBC would not exist without the British government and the British taxpayer. Much of the modern economy is simply socializing costs and privatizing profits with the former falling on the middle-class and the latter bubbling up to the elites.

Mere greed does not explain the berserk behavior with regards to immigration. It does not entirely explain why the BBC is willing to indulge in linguistic acrobatics in order to avoid describing reality. It turns out that Georg Lukács was right, but he was looking in the wrong direction. It is not the proletariat that achieved class consciousness through reification. It is the modern global elites.

The alienation that Marx and Lukács imagined as the natural result of a mechanized, material society never materialized as the lower classes always had other primary identities that trumped all else. The neighborhood, the gang, rooting for a particular football team are all ways working men give their lives meaning. No amount stuff can change that, particularly in a welfare state.

The modern global elites are formless and their dealings are entirely transactional. The rich and powerful of the Industrial Age used their wealth and power to build the cultural and political institutions of their country. They could look around them and see the envy and admiration of their tribe, they people, their country. Today’s elites hang out at Davos comparing Rolex watches and eating $50 hot dogs.

The class identity that our elites have realized is really an anti-identity. They hold the rest of us in contempt. That’s why the BBC looks for ways to poke the common Brit in the eye. It is why the NYTimes roots for whoever is fighting against the American service man, wherever he is sent to fight. It’s why elite academies keep retrograde companies like Chick-fil-A off their campus. They are who they are because they are not us.