Mencius Moldbug, 10 years later: a critical retrospective

[Also on Thermidor.]

Who would have thought that some kid, a civil service brat and the grandson of dues-paying members of the CPUSA, who came of age on Usenet discussing SunOS Unix login semantics and apparently submitting text files for cDc’s ezine [who are somehow still kicking around], would become an infamous blogger widely credited as the one who kickstarted a tendency in political thought called “neoreaction”?

April 22nd, 2007 was Moldbug’s debut on 2Blowhards.com, publishing his formalist manifesto, to be republished as the first article on Unqualified Reservations a day later. Having ostensibly secured himself a reasonable amount of discretionary income in the dot-com boom, he took a sabbatical to read some books, old and new.

The product of UR was a series of lengthy blog posts with long-winded digressions, liberal use of quotations and extended commentaries on books written before 1922 offering perspectives that are unsettling to children of (very) late modernity. Between this were frequent spats with other bloggers (something Moldbug would come back to do again after Scott Aaronson urged action against Trump’s Executive Order 13769). See, e.g., his exchanges with Liberal Biorealist: [1][2].

Continue reading

American anti-communism: infested by pinkos (1956)

[I’ll be away during Easter break and for a while after. Except for a draft I have ready and set to be published next week that isn’t directly related to the legitimist mission that this blog has set for itself, my hands are empty for the time being.

Until then, here’s a quick dose of your beloved 1950s Amerikwa that many people want to go back to.]

So I was digging through old texts on American diplomacy when I stumbled upon some documents and minutes of a 1956 meeting of the House Un-American Activities Committee, that dreaded and vile scourge of McCarthyism, entitled: The communist conspiracy: strategy and tactics of world communism.

We are introduced to the hearing thusly:

Among the duties of the Internal Security Subcommittee, pursuant to Senate Resolution 366 of the 81st Congress, is the duty to make a continuing investigation of the extent, nature, and effects of subversive activities in the United States, its Territories and possessions, including, but not limited to, espionage, sabotage, and infiltration by persons who are or may be under the domination of the foreign government or organizations controlling the world Communist movement or any other movement seeking to overthrow the Government of the United States by force and violence.

It is abundantly clear from the numerous projects which the Internal Security Subcommittee has completed pertaining to the Communist conspiracy in the United States, that this conspiracy here is only one tentacle of a worldwide octopus which has as its principal target the United States of America.

If we are adequately to appraise the operation of the Communist conspiracy in this Nation it is essential that we keep abreast of the world strategy and tactics of international communism. Accordingly, I have appointed a task force of the Internal Security Subcommittee, consisting of myself as chairman with Senators Herman Welker and Pat McCarran as members, for the purpose of maintaining a continuing study and investigation of the strategy and tactics of world communism.

The hearing today is the first in a series of hearings on this general subject matter which has many facets, each of which we shall explore as we receive the testimony of a number of witnesses who will be scheduled over the course of the next several months.

Now, before HUAC introduces its exhibits, we get an introduction consisting of, among other things, a summary by none other than AFL-CIO President George Meany on the grave nature of the threat America is facing, and the ways that one can stop communist imperialism.

I have to caution you, this is extremely counterrevolutionary material here. Even hardened High Tories will find it a tad too much to stomach.

Having warned you:

That is why the Communist parties are not political parties in the democratic sense of the word. They are only national sectors of a Russian-directed world body. The military weight and material resources of the Soviet state are the base, the heart and head of Communist activities everywhere. This brute force is combined with a phony religious fanaticism. The Soviet state and its foreign branches constitute a godless church-state. This godless church-state fights on all fronts, in all walks of life, and with any and all means. Its central aim is the extension of the present Moscow-Peking Empire to include the entire world.

[…]

Too many in the free world fail to see the real nature of Communism as the mortal foe of everything that we hold dear, of every moral and spiritual value. Too many in the free world are still prisoners of the illusion that Communism is, historically speaking, a progressive system — extreme liberalism temporarily making bad mistakes. Actually, Communism represents darkest reaction. It is an anti-social system in which there are embedded some of the worst features of savagery, slavery, feudalism and life-sapping exploitation manifested in the industrial revolution of early-day capitalism.

[…]

Not until we of the free world can give rebirth to a vibrant moral attitude, to a burning indignation against such frightful bestialities, can the freedom-loving people be sufficiently stirred to gather the moral strength for resisting and defeating the totally anti-moral dogmas and deeds of Communism at home and abroad. Yes, this means above all a moral struggle against Communism.

[…]

Communism is the very opposite of liberalism. Communism is the deadliest enemy of liberalism. Liberals should be the most consistent and energetic fighters against Communism. Liberals must also be on guard against developing a certain type of McCarthyism of their own. They must shun like a plague the role of being anti-anti-Communist. Only by refusing to be thus entrapped can liberals shed every vestige of subconscious and conscious regard for Communism as a movement with which they have something in common.

Much more regard must be shown by the democracies for principles — for the principles of human rights and human freedom. We must never sacrifice principles to expediency. This means being rigid in support of our principles.

Freedom-loving, all-American anti-Bolshevism: it’s worse than the John Birchers thought. The dark forces of Communist reaction bringing “feudalism” and “life-sapping exploitation manifested in the industrial revolution of early-day capitalism” are certainly out of the way, however. Now we have a benevolent feudalism and a managerialism so beautiful it would reduce the old cameralists like Justi, Pfeiffer and Sonnenfels to tears. Or perhaps indignant rage at how the Kammern no longer have any coherent income-expenditure flows to speak of.

[X-Post: Thermidor] Sociobiology as the Freudianism of the Right

[Published here on Thermidor.]

[This one is going to rustle some jimmies. I intended to write comments on the various applications of HBD I see in political thought much later down the road. However, in the aftermath of the Syrian missile strike ordered by the Trump administration and the ensuing disillusionment, the magazine’s editor was in the mood for some controversy. So I came up with this.]

[I’ll be back with your regularly scheduled royalism next time.]

In the aftermath of the UNESCO statement on race in 1950, the triumph of post-war social democracy and its attempt to instill guilt over crimes of various regimes generally characterized as “fascist,” the subject of race was to be made an indefinite taboo that lasts to the present.

This would come at a very awkward time. Just as race had been declared as nothing but an indefensible social construct, advances in population, behavioral and molecular genetics were being made that would fine tune the definition and precision of race to degrees greatly surpassing the older schools of physical anthropology. As a result, we are caught in the rather paradoxical situation that we are penalized the most when talking about race at just the same time that we know the most about it. Quite begrudgingly and usually unacknowledged to the public, race remains an acceptable research avenue in pretty much only two mainstream areas: forensic and biomedical sciences.

These circumstances, along with the pronounced demographic crises emerging from population migrations, declining fertility, and a general malaise in the relations between the sexes, have made the race question a prominent fixture of right-wing thought, indeed increasingly becoming the very foundation.

On one hand, this is not surprising. Indifferentism defeated Christendom, nationalism defeated legitimism, Lockean liberalism wiped out the idea of the virtuous prince and made his existence inherently tyrannical, Jacobinism rooted out the chartered liberties and fueros of the old regime, and mercantilist welfarism has crowded out the informal institutions of self-help. Alienated and atomized men without spirituality who have to live in a dysfunctional state around other ethnicities—this is a natural target demographic for these ideas to leave an impact.

On the other hand, it is nevertheless quite astonishing how thoroughly the race question (a specific take on it, too) has been made the ultimate theory of society and of history of the modern far-right, subordinating all other concerns as being a mere “superstructure” to the “base” of genetics. Today’s alt-right essentially consists of a synthesis of revolutionary ethnonationalism with sociobiological materialism. True, these were the animating ideas of an older white nationalism, also. But today’s right is seeing a determinist racialism incrementally growing into a consensus position. Around this racialism, a sort of clownish archetype of what “European civilization” is supposed to be has formed around it, an archetype I have difficulty describing except as a Greco-Roman-Nietzschean composite.

Continue reading

Gobineau, the Royalist

[UPDATE: Now also on Thermidor.]

Just about everyone has heard of, if not actually read, Joseph-Arthur, comte de Gobineau, the racial theorist.

However, we will not be looking much at his racialism, although we will ultimately have to draw some observations on it near the end. Instead, this article is about the lesser known side of Count Gobineau – the intransigent royalist, Bourbon legitimist and conservative pessimist. Although his background and his historiographic debt to the elitist theories of Henri de Boulainvilliers are frequently acknowledged, it goes deeper than that. It is not possible to understand his infamous Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines (so horribly butchered by its American Southern translators) without knowing his background as a man of ancien regime temperament trapped in “le stupide XIXe siecle,” as Leon Daudet was to memorably describe it later.

It is a curious thing that Gobineau is overwhelmingly remembered purely for his Essai. In his lifetime, he was an intellectual with a diverse repertoire – serving in many diplomatic posts, writing novels, travelogues, gaining authority as an Orientalist and admirer of East and Central Asian civilizations [which is one of the reasons why judging Gobineau’s views by his Essai alone is highly misleading] and mingling with major figures of the day. He was one of the first men to recognize the literary genius of Honore de Balzac at a time when most of his contemporaries overlooked him. In addition, despite his disdain for the principles of the Revolutions of 1848, he may have actually inadvertently contributed to them in his capacity as a French minister to Greece, by being a capable defender of the liberal nationalist statesman Ioannis Kapodistrias, a man who was distrusted both by Klemens von Metternich and Friedrich von Gentz, two of the primary architects of the conservative order established in the Congress of Vienna.

A complex figure, indeed.

We will focus on a posthumous ouevre of Gobineau’s, La troisième république française et ce qu’elle vaut [What the French Third Republic is Worth] (1907), compiled from his manuscripts by Ludwig Schemann, a German enthusiast of his, a racial theorist who translated Gobineau’s Essai into German, and a man who inhabited volkisch circles.

Continue reading

[X-Post: Thermidor] Balzac on the tax-gatherer mentality

[Second piece on Thermidor, available here. My shortest so far, but also more succinct and to the point. Covers some of the subjects that I’ll be elaborating on further throughout this blog.]

Honore de Balzac writes:

When it beheaded Louis XVI, the Revolution beheaded in his person all fathers of families. The family no longer exists today; there are only individuals. When they wanted to become a nation, Frenchmen gave up the idea of being an empire. By proclaiming the equal division of the father’s property, they killed the family spirit and created the tax-gatherer mentality! On the other hand, they paved the way for the weakening of the better elements, and the blind impulses of the masses, the extinction of the arts, the reign of self-interest, and opened up the path to conquest.

The family! I repudiate the family in a society which, on the death of the father or mother, divides up the property and tells each member to go his own way. The family is a temporary and fortuitous association, which is dissolved immediately by death. Our laws have broken up our homes, our inheritance,  and the perennial value of example and tradition. I see only ruins around us.

There was once a wretched taxman, Giuseppe Prina, a man of liberal principles who worked as a servant to Napoleon Bonaparte, the self-styled Napoleon I, King of Italy. Lombardy had fallen, and in 1797 a constitution was proclaimed for the newly declared Cisalpine Republic. Napoleon said of it:

Many years have passed away since the existence of a republic in Italy. The sacred fire of liberty was extinguished, and the finest part of Europe was subject to a foreign yoke. It belongs to the Cisalpine Republic to show to the world, by its wisdom, its energy, and the good organization of its armies, that modern Italy is not degenerated, that it is still worthy of liberty.

Eight years later, it was to become the “Kingdom of Italy,” and liberty did indeed follow.

War must pay for war. Accordingly, half of the state budget was devoted to maintaining Napoleon’s Crusaders on Italian soil. In the name of “just equality among taxpayers,” Prina had uniform land assessments imposed for the levying of a property tax, which he placed under direct ministerial control. Church estates were expropriated, and clergy were forcefully turned into mouthpieces for conscription. The Napoleonic Code was imposed, along with an administrative system based on departements, wiping out customary law. Civil marriage was introduced and ecclesiastical marriage made legally void. Tax collection authority was removed from local communes and given to the Finance Ministry. Repressive personal income taxation (originally imposed in much lighter form during Austrian rule of Lombardy) was forced on the rural population. A wide variety of duties were imposed on consumer goods (most notably salt), leading to price hikes on staple foods that burdened the peasantry further. License fees imposed on millers sparked an insurrection in July 1809 that left approx. 2000 dead.

The madness ended on April 20, 1814, shortly before the dissolution of the Napoleonic client state. Prina was hounded by a mob who dragged, beat, mutilated and ultimately killed him as he was subjected to a protracted lynching. The afrancesado had met a similar fate to those that Jacobinism had slaughtered before and that made his career possible in the first place.

Continue reading

Reading some actual Nazis

National Socialism – the perennial bogeyman of right-wing politics. Yet at the same time a persistent morbid fascination all across the political spectrum. The most trafficked website on the “alt-right” appears to be The Daily Stormer, with 500k+ daily views.

Greg Johnson, the voice of the North American New Right, has a beef with the “Old Right” (his term for the interwar fascist movements), particularly National Socialism. The Nazis didn’t just stay in their ethnically “self-determined” patch of land, but expanded further and violated the “right to self-determination” of other ethnicities. I can’t help but laugh at this. I imagine a libertarian in a Gadsden flag t-shirt yelling “Stop initiating force against me!” while getting beaten. The Nazis were only helping the diaspora Germans “self-determine” along with them, after all.

Someone writing under the pseudonym of “Padishah Emperor Julius Ebola” over at TRS realizes this, however. He therefore advocates an active policy of containment and conquest for a future revolutionary Aryan state. So much for wanting to live separately, then.

Regardless, the Nazi chic has truly endured beyond belief. Forget about the Holocaust industry. Something about the Hugo Boss uniforms, the cool symbols, the marching girls of the BDM, the workplace aesthetics of Kraft durch Freude and the paramilitary ethics in a Nuremberg rally makes some people stamp their feet and say “This is what our people need!”. Where are all the Rexists, Metaxists, Brazilian or Lusitanian integralists, or even good ol’ Maurrassistes? A few French true believers might still adhere to some of the latter, but any influence on the Anglosphere is practically nil. Not that the Action francaise were like the other movements. Ernst Nolte made an error to conflate them. Still, they did intermingle.

Nazism is dead, but is it really? It’s a corpse that people can’t stop fornicating with, whether to desecrate it out of hatred, or as a token of appreciation.

“Don’t punch right” is pretty much a euphemism for “Don’t punch the Nazi, for he is the epitome of right.” Now, it can’t be that we have so many Nazi enthusiasts but little to no Maurrassistes because of the language barrier alone. Most AF works have not been translated to English, but neither have most NS works. And the ones that have are barely read (I’m implicitly counting out Mein Kampf — there was far more to NS as an ideology than Hitler the man). Does your average reader of The Daily Stormer nod at the robust framework presented in Gottfried Feder’s Die Neue Stadt? Of course not. Nor do they read Rosenberg’s verbose tomes. But, the NS movement was not a cadre of anti-intellectual power cultists per the stereotype. They had publishing houses – the Eher and the Kampf-Verlag, plus newspapers and journals. The tendency to dismiss their writings as “propaganda” or as bereft of value, is mistaken.

Yet even as Brett Stevens buries Hitler, he can’t help but sneak in quite a bit of praise.

Perhaps the far-right fondness for NS comes from a similar source to the 12-year old’s fondness for Cradle of Filth in shocking his evangelical parents? It’s there, but people don’t just listen to, say, Alice Cooper because he’s a shock rocker. They listen to the music. Similarly, people are drawn to the style of NS for deeper aesthetic and spiritual reasons.

One way to look at NS, per Ernst Nolte, is as a reaction against Bolshevism and the revolutionary waves of 1918 and 1919. That’s one part of it, but if NS were just a movement that wanted to go back to the Biedermaier days, I’d probably be one of the avid readers of The Daily Stormer today, if not donning the SA uniform and singing the Horst-Wessel-Lied, too. There was a tad more to it. It was a revolution from the right, as Hans Freyer called it.

Nor do I regard Goodrick-Clarke’s linking of NS to Ariosophy and the occult to be very useful, either. In fact, the occult seems far more influential to the small NS groups post-1945 (in the form of Miguel Serrano, Savitri Devi, etc.) than the contemporary Nazis. Still, barely anyone reads those, either.

So we have a dead and extraordinarily demonized movement whose literary tradition is highly obscure, but is an unending staple of popular culture, of political rhetoric, of tarring your foe, and of far-right sensibilities in late modernity.

This means there is some attachment to the essence and tenets of NS. Well then, instead of yelling “Nazi!” at every hint of authority, or salivating over the eagle atop swastika, let’s take the Nazis at their word and see what is so passionately inspiring about Die Revolution von Rechts.

Continue reading

[X-Post: Thermidor Mag] On legitimacy and republicanism, with a nod to Kenneth Boulding

[This short and somewhat rough article marks my debut on Thermidor Magazine under the alias “N.T. Carlsbad”. It can be viewed directly here.]

[Thermidor appears to be one of the most recent publications on the “reactosphere,” and is thus still carving an identity. Nonetheless, it appears to have potential, and I do intend on writing more essays for it in the future.]

Legitimacy. Here is a principle that was once at the heart of politics, the guiding concept of the conservative order established by Metternich, Talleyrand, Castlereagh, von Gentz and others in the aftermath of the bloodshed and network of puppet states set up by Napoleon exporting the Reign of Terror to the continent.

In an age where we all autonomous commonwealthmen, virtuous citizens of a republic constituted by equal contract, such a principle seems antiquated and irrelevant. Legitimacy here means nothing more than the vector sum of votes in elections on the one hand, and the amplified voices in the press on the other. The nobles and priests have been hung by their entrails, so that each man may now be a priest of his own private volition, and a noble on equal footing with his fellow nobles, all given the one and same title of “citizen”.

The Founding Fathers were all readers of Cato’s Letters, one of the classic and most forceful statements of republicanism, published serially between 1720 and 1723 by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. Here, from Letter No. 35, is their description of that invigorating republican public spirit, and where it flourishes:

In popish countries, it is publick spirit to build and beautify many churches, at the expense of the poor people; who must also maintain, at a further expense, a long band of luxurious ecclesiasticks, to play tricks in them; or, in other words, to keep the heads and pockets of their deluded hearers as empty as they can. It is moreover great publick spirit, to adorn an old skull with pearl and diamonds, and to enrich a venerable rotten tooth with gold and emeralds, of a value sufficient to maintain a city and all its inhabitants, who yet perhaps are starved by doing it. It is likewise very publick-spirited there, for a man to starve his family and his posterity, to endow a monastery, and to feed, or rather gorge, a fraternity of reverend gluttons, professed foes to truth and peace, and to the prosperity of the world; idlers, maintained to gormandize and deceive. This, forsooth, is publick spirit; to rob the country of its hands, to rear up a pernicious and turbulent mob of drones, in principles destructive of liberty, and to bring up enemies to a country at its own charges.

In arbitrary countries, it is publick spirit to be blind slaves to the blind will of the prince, and to slaughter or be slaughtered for him at his pleasure: But in Protestant free countries, publick spirit is another thing; it is to combat force and delusion; it is to reconcile the true interests of the governed and governors; it is to expose impostors, and to resist oppressors; it is to maintain the people in liberty, plenty, ease, and security.

This is publick spirit; which contains in it every laudable passion, and takes in parents, kindred, friends, neighbours, and every thing dear to mankind; it is the highest virtue, and contains in it almost all others; steadfastness to good purposes, fidelity to one’s trust, resolution in difficulties, defiance of danger, contempt of death, and impartial benevolence to all mankind. It is a passion to promote universal good, with personal pain, loss, and peril: It is one man’s care for many, and the concern of every man for all.

Let us be thankful for the Protestant free countries in reconciling the interests of the governed and the governors.

But, I digress. It turns out that one of the good philosophical examinations of legitimacy is to be found in a very unusual place: a Quaker economist, Kenneth Boulding. In a paper about central banking, no less. But it is a worthwhile one. He enumerates six sources of legitimacy.

Continue reading