Short nerdy post. Neoreaction is more of a morbid fascination than anything actually important. It serves a few useful purposes, though, by acting as a foil:
- Its Dark Enlightenment form/cousin displays racist and sexist arguments openly; this allows us to actually become familiar with them, and better argue them down, rather than simply relying on speech codes. We are much more credible when we can actually beat racism in an argument than simply saying “that’s horrible, don’t say that!” and sputtering when pressed for a reason.
- It’s a weird and experimental approach to the state form, a sort of Right-wing improvement/hybrid on fascism and anarcho-capitalism. (Against this we need the Left counterpole of socialist & anarcho-communist hybrid of anarcho-statism ie civic anarchy, ie tech-enabled direct democracy at the national level, devolution of state functions to popular participation, especially in terms of policing, etc.)
- Studying right-wing logic is useful, not because they are politically relevant in the sense of having a mass adherence, but because right-wing beliefs express themselves in subtler ways throughout the entire population, forming components of the mixed consciousness most people have (there are strong left components too). Studying these can help us understand the assumptions most people carry often without even realizing they do or being able to articulate them.
But none of that is what this post is really about.
The simple issue would be, neoreaction is caught between market and state. But that’s not the real issue – most societies have possessed both market and state. The issue is more that the states which neoreactionaries dream of require a spirit of collectivism which is completely contrary to free market individualism.
Anyone familiar with NRx knows that there is a conflicted “trichotomy” to it: “Christian, Caucasian, and Capitalist.” Nick Land rightfully asserts that among the three, only Capitalist is really consistent. Traditionalists and Racialists are collectivists of a sort, if a highly exclusive and reactionary type of collectivist. Their traditional strictures and tribal loyalties could sometimes impede capitalism’s honorless, soulless, mechanical, inexorable, Terminator-like demands for expansion and commodification.
The crux of the problem is that neoreactionary states require special bodies of armed men, and special bodies of armed men require a collectivist identification to function well as military units.
Every body of armed men is based on and requires a strong camaraderie and esprit de corps. You see it in every police department, in every infantry unit. You can’t have people risking their lives together without it becoming a strong bond. And this tends toward some kind of cultural collectivism. Indeed, it is this very cultural collectivism of brotherhood in battle which probably attracts a lot of the neoreactionary demographic.
These men can be held together by some fancy, civilized, old-school concept of Virtue (that would be Nick B. Steves’ approach). They can be held together by raw necessity in little more than a gang structure, essentially Mad Max barbarians (see Jack Donovan). But whether you’re a Roman or a barbarian, it’s basically the same shit; groups (typically men) form strong bonds based on violence, and this phenomenon can become the basis for a society or state, and the same sort of spirit and ethic winds up defining the special bodies of armed men in states once established.
A quote from Land to explain some neoreactionary logic about the way these themes end up tying a society together:
“Reactionary theonomists, ethno-nationalists, and techno-commercialists share a fundamental aversion to rationalistic social reconstruction, because each subordinates reason to history and its tacit norms – to ‘tradition’ (diversely understood). Whether the sovereign lineage is considered to be predominantly religious, bio-cultural, or customary, it originates outside the self-reflective (enlightenment) state, and remains opaque to rational analysis. Faith, liturgy, or scripture is not soluble within criticism; communal identity is not reducible to ideology; and common law, reputational structure, or productive specialism is not amenable to legislative oversight. The deep order of society – whatever that is taken to be – is not open to political meddling, without predictably disastrous consequences.”
(Here we could see the reactionary kernel of Stalinism still strongly present within the Chinese state – hierarchy brings order, order brings production, it is right to trust and follow the Party leadership, etc.)
Even if the ultra-capitalist alternative “productive specialism” prevails as the deep fabric of society (as opposed to Tradition or Race being the glue that holds it together), the collective spirit within the state would spontaneously form. Even if your state’s special body of armed men consisted of a bunch of heartless mercenaries, their very situation would probably over time give them a collective spirit. If not, the armed men would not be effective. They would not succeed as a state or portion of a state. This collective identification is itself critical to the success of the very state which neoreaction calls for, in spite of its otherwise strong identification with individualist market capitalism.
Is this just a tension within neoreaction? Hell no. This is a tension within most societies. Their mishmash of glorifying entrepreneurial individualism, versus glorifying selfless virtue, civic duty, and public & military service, is a real tension existing right now in America, also in Land’s beloved China, and not just in some bizarre little Internet corner.
And as usual, capitalism handles the synthesis badly, more to the point it doesn’t accomplish it at all.
Want to be a legionnaire-type hero and embody all the noble ideals that you are probably projecting on it? Try actually serving the people.