The three Estates of the Realm are part of our deep heritage, and are an expression of gene-culture co-evolution specific to the Western genome. The Spandrellian trichotomy is a natural echo of the Three Estate model. The Political Triangle is likewise an echo of the Three Estate model. The Three Estates are emergent phenomenon, expressions of complex genetic interactions, which can play a role in analyzing when and how social systems lose equilibrium and trigger intense selection events. Good government is a system of rules designed to maintain an equilibrium between the genetic demands expressed through the Three Estates.
The First Triangle: Spandrell’s
Let’s start with Spandrell’s Trichotomy, as visualized by Nick B. Steves. This identifies three groups: Theonomists, Techno-Commercialists, and Ethnicists/Nationalists. Apparently these three groups were identified from a poll, and it was determined that the voices in neoreaction could be roughly divided in this manner. This can be viewed as a snapshot of thought in NRx at the time.
Steve’s offered this note on Spandrell’s Trichotomy:
We must remember that Spandrell did not seek to define neoreaction so much as simply point out who the current crop of reactionaries were… potential allies in overthrowing the progressive machine. (After which they would, of course, immediately turn on each other for dessert.) It has of course come to represent something far more fundamental to neoreaction and also remains a constant source of confusion. A source of confusion because people see it as representing branches of partisan pull. But such pull, while always a temptation, is always away from the core of neoreaction (which subsists in the embrace of all three) and into the respective old-school partisan reactionary wankery.
So, the Trike is no more than the current crop of reactionaries? Yet, it has come to represent something more fundamental? What then is that fundament? It remains a source of confusion?
I’ll bet it does. Yes, this triangle is fundamental. I believe that the confusion may arise in thinking that this triangle is not fundamental, in the notion that it somehow applies only to neoreaction. The rational thought has been the application of the triangle to neoreaction, but there is an intuition of a deeper meaning. Would the triangle be more fundamental if we could find it at the center of political discussion a millennium ago? I believe it would.
First, lets look at the three sections with quick word associations. Obviously, these are my associations, not any sort of reactionary consensus. I find these sets of words to be connected, though loosely and on an intuitive level.
The Soul (neither animal nor robotic): godly, heavenly, holy, moral, intuitive, divine.
The Church. Pope or Bishop. Representatives of the poor, the sick, the widowed and the orphaned. Champions of those who cannot compete, asking mercy and shelter from Darwin’s laws. Cultivar’s of memeplexes, masters of mind-control: evocative of moral intuition, embedded through repetition (song/cant). Short and long term planning. Judicial branch. Focused on the Abyss. Tendency to unlimited cooperation.
The Brain (not animal): intelligent, cunning, inventive, individualist, Machiavellian, robotic.
Competitors engaged in all-against-all competition, war, masters of war. Officers of War. The King or CEO. Absolute Darwinism. Masters of technology (War<=>Commerce<=>Computers). Organizers of production. Long term. Executive branch. Focused on the call beyond the Abyss – the sense of space. Tendency to unlimited competition.
The Heart (not robotic): workers, producers, earthly, natural, pragmatic, family, kinship, loyalty, collectivist, animal.
Limited Darwinism. The General, Union Leader or Dictator. Medium term. Legislative branch. Focused on the path over the Abyss. Limited competition and cooperation through blood-ties.
Visualizing the Three Points
First we had the Venn diagram provided by NBS. Then Jim re-imagined it as a (beautifully rendered and shaded, 3-D) Celtic knot, the Trefoil. Then RiverC re-imagined it as the Trike.One thing that is important about NBS’s, Jim’s and RiverC’s renderings is that they can all be simplified into a single triangle. Keep that in mind, it will be helpful when we get to the Modern Politics section.
In neoreaction we talk about hierarchies because it appears that the most effective organization of humans is the hierarchy. The best visualization we have for the hierarchical human arrangement is the pyramid, remembering that a pyramid is a three dimensional object. I use three sided pyramids, with a three sided bottom — in order to keep with our theme of threes. My visualization is of three merged pyramids sitting flat on a plane. Each section will have its hierarchy and leaders: the Pope or Bishop (theonomists), The King or CEO (techno-commercialists), and the General, Union Leader or Dictator (ethno-nationalist). Here is my rather poor attempt at such a visualization.
The Second Triangle: The Three Estates
This is a part that is rather weird to me. I have searched and searched, but I can find no connection in writings of neoreactionaries between the Trichotomy and the Estates of the Realm, the Clergy, the Nobility, and the Commoners. The connection is so plain, so obvious, so direct. Is it possible that no-one in neoreaction has seen the simple parallel? What does that mean that no-one has, considering all the attention that it has received? I feel like it means something, but I cannot name it.
I now see clearly the genius of the Europeans of the Middle Ages. In 1909, Johan Huizinga wrote in The Waning of the Middle Ages that “Medieval political speculation is imbued to the marrow with the idea of a structure of society based upon distinct orders.” Well, that sounds reactionary as hell to me. Wiki writes, “[Huizinga] here reinterpreted the Late Middle Ages as a period of pessimism and decadence rather than rebirth.” So the dawning of the Enlightenment was the beginning of decadence, not rebirth. That sounds awfully reactionary to me, too.
As an aside, I think that we need to rename both ‘the Enlightenment’ and ‘the Renaissance’. Those terms do not serve us at all, as the ‘rebirth’ was the birth of decadence and the ‘light’ was merely ideological/metaphysical propaganda. Also, never suffer another man to refer to the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages. This is a shibboleth. If he says Dark Ages, he is either ignorant or an enemy.
Another quick side note on nobility and chivalry. In Chapter 3, The Hierarchic Conception of Society, Huizinga writes,
Nevertheless an assiduous reader of the chronicles and literature of the fifteenth century will hardly resist the impression that nobility and chivalry occupy a much more considerable place than our general conception of the epoch would imply. The reason of this disproportion lies in the fact, that long after nobility and feudalism had ceased to be really essential factors in the state and in society, they continued to impress the mind as dominant forms of life.
Do you notice a preoccupation with nobility and chivalry among the neoreactionaries? I do. I have noticed it especially when taking the side of the PUAs in discussions. I believe that neoreactionaries tend to disdain the PUAs for their lack of nobility and chivalry.
In retrospect this seems obvious. Here in the West, we have conceived of this division for at least a thousand years: the Three Estates of the Realm. Let us remember the reactionary consensus view of deep heritage. Let us also give special note to gene-culture co-evolution theory, which I assert is the engine of deep heritage. NBS quotes in Proposition Δ1—The Naturalness of Deep Heritage:
As a key component of all human cultures, Deep Heritage develops naturally as a way of collectively solving complex social problems in a roughly locally optimal way; it therefore a phenomenon unlikely to be explained primarily by imposed ideology, or as a cynical way of manipulating outcomes so that one party is unfairly favored at the expense of another.
I put forth the proposition that the Three Estates is part of our Western deep heritage, driven by the particular peculiarities of European gene-culture coevolution. This leads to the understanding that this is not a universal social organization, rather it is a roughly local (to Europe) means developed to collectively solve complex social problems. I further contend that the components of neoreaction as organized in Spandrell’s trichotomy align with the Three Estates, not because that particular crop of neoreactionaries was aligned in that way, but because all of Western society is aligned in that way, including neoreaction. If neoreaction is concerned with the social problems of Western society, then it should at a minimum be aware of the Three Estate model.
If the Three Estate model is part of our deep heritage, then that means it is still relevant today, unless we have somehow radically evolved in the past millennium. I personally find a genetic shift of that magnitude possible but unlikely. Some might want to make the case that I am somehow calling for a ‘restoration’ of the Three Estate model, essentially LARPing. I am asserting that Three Estate model is an essential model of Western civilization, one that our ancestors wrestled with in the Middle Ages, and that we still must wrestle with today.
This is why Spandrell’s trichotomy maps so easily onto the Three Estate model:
Clergy: Theonomists. Do I really have to explain this one? I think not.
Nobility: Techno-commercialists. The Nobles of the middle ages directed production and commerce, just like CEOs and Presidents direct production and commerce today. The Nobles had to keep up with the latest advances in the most important technology of the time: warfare. In the middle ages it was the stirrup, today it is bitcoin. You are aware of the Great Stirrup controversy aren’t you?
Commoners: Ethno-Nationlists. No offense, dear EthNats. The commoners of the Middle Ages were a population which included the middle class and upper middle class, which brimmed with many talented and intelligent individuals, just as they do today, the cream of which undoubtedly forms the neoreactionary Ethno-Nationalist camp.
I know some are going to claim that Ethnonationalism is not a class (or group of classes), which is correct. They will also claim that being involved in technology or commerce does not make you a noble, which is correct. This is exactly why I am using the concept of the Three Estates, because it is older and therefore should merit thoughtful consideration. I am making the argument that the Three Estate model is valid, the fact that Spandrell’s trichotomy maps to it at all is a point in the favor of that argument. This mapping should make better sense in the next section.
Side Note: In my piece, Is Neoreaction Right-Brahmin Signalling?, I make the argument that the difference between a reactionary and a neoreactionary is caste. The consensus is that this is correct. I now think it is a bit deeper than that. Neoreaction is comprised of the three groups (Spandrell’s), with members from each group, meaning that Neoreaction is comprised of members of the Three Estates. However, I believe that the target of influence by neoreaction is the First Estate, the Clergy (the Brahmin, the Cultivars of the Memeplex). So, the signalling is primarily to the First Estate, while Neoreaction itself is a cross-section of all three estates, and somewhat a cross-section of the ranks of the estates, going up and down the pyramidal hierarchies from higher to lower ranks of each estate (a little, heavily weighted at the top).
It is also important to note that each of the three estates should not be simplified in the mind to a caste or a class. This why my visualization is of three merged pyramids. Each estate is organized into a pyramidal hierarchical structure. For example, at the Apex of the first estate is the Pope, in the middle of that pyramid we could place the clergy, and at the base we could place the people, with a special place reserved for those that the Clergy protects from Darwinian competition: the poor, sick, weak, elderly, widowed, orphaned, etc.
The Three Estates, Time Preference and Reproductive Strategy
We can also look at the Three Estates through the lens of time preference. Time preference is a technical term used by economists, which I find to be named backward from the way in which I think. Low time preference means long term planning,and high time preference means short term planning (or no planning). If I rank the Estates by the time preference of their constituents, from short term planning to long term planning, then I produce the estates in this order: Clergy, Commoner, Nobility.
The reason for existence of the Three Estates in the West could be a simple as a difference in time preference, or it might be better to say that it is as simple as difference in reproductive strategy. I believe that reproductive strategy drives the expression of time preference. In the r/K selection theory dichotomy, a K-selection strategy is expressed as low time preference behavior, and an r-selection strategy is expressed as high time preference behavior.
Though the Clergy speaks quite often of forever in heaven, it wants changes in behavior today. It wants food for the needy now. It is true that the Roman Catholic Church is also the longest standing institution in the West, so no lack of planning there. However, those special groups that the Church seeks to protect from the Darwinian struggle: the poor, sick, weak, elderly, widowed, orphaned, etc., they are all focused on right now. Notice that the Church provides a contradiction, a paradox: it appears to hold the longest planning outlook and also the shortest. I think this is important. Perhaps it is that the Church must switch between the two reproductive strategies, at times encouraging more reproduction (r-selection strategy) and at other times encouraging better reproduction (K-selection strategy). Perhaps the Church functions as a regulator in this regard.
The Commoners exhibit a medium term outlook, with a range of short to long term constituents. If a commoner’s outlook is too short term, then he risks falling into one of the Church’s protected classes. If a commoner exhibits a very long term outlook, saving and investing, then he can rise in rank, possibly even marrying into a noble house. In our modern era, most of the commoners exhibit a medium outlook, capable of saving for a rainy day, or saving enough for an investment such as a house or farm or retirement. They range in rank from blue collar workers to highly technical professions such as rocket scientist or electrical engineer. Reproductive strategy will vary from r-type (low class) to K-type (high class), highly influenced by the memeplex cultivated by the Church.
The Nobility exhibit the longest term outlook. They seek to build multi-generational wealth and power. They seek to build estates, kingdoms and empires. In the modern era, they run financial empires, or entire countries, or are captains of industry. The modern nobility is comprised of talented commoners who rise to the equivalent of peerage like Elon Musk, of Tesla motors and SpaceX, or be born into multi-generational wealth and title like Evelyn de Rothschild, their common focus is relentlessly on the future. Reproductive strategy is K-type.
The Third Triangle: Modern Politics
We see the Three Estates model echoed in the modern American political system. The three branches of the Federal government: Judicial, Executive, and Legislative, which maps to Clergy, Nobility, and Commoners. The Judicial branch is the most overtly holy, parading in their black robes, consulting their ancient texts, intoning solemnly to convey the weight of their holy power as they decide what is moral and right for the Nobles and Commoners. The Executive branch is the most obviously entrenched with the true American nobility: the capitalists (techno-commercialists), who buy influence within the true bureaucratic power structure with sinecures and revolving doors to lucrative positions and board memberships. The Legislative branch is where the Commoners are allowed to pretend that they have influence on the system, though they are easily overruled by either the Executive or Judicial branches whenever necessary.
We also see an echo in the Legislative branch: President, Senate and House, mapping to Clergy, Nobility and Commoners. The President can suggest and uses the ‘bully pulpit’ to exert his moral authority over the legislative process. The Senate are most aligned with the interests of the Nobility and most long term in outlook. The House is definitely the House of Commons and most aligned with those of short term outlook, the Commoners. This alignment is not as neat as the branches, but there are parallels.
The point is that we see the echo of the Three Estates in our modern day political systems. Of course we see it in Spandrell’s trichotomy. What else would we find? I told you to keep in mind that the visualizations of the Spandrellian trichotomy created by Nick B. Steves, Jim and RiverC could all be viewed as a single triangle. Here is that single triangle.
Which brings me to coldness and this final triangle, the triangle of unknown origin, the Political Triangle that keeps popping up:
This triangle is supposed to represent modern Western society, defined by political view, divided into Left and Right. To the Left is the lie of Utopia, the leftist singularity, a black hole of navel gazing from which no logical thought can escape — here lies anti-materialism, nihilism, and destruction of ego (Eastern mysticism). No truth which contradicts the Utopia is allowed, no Darwinism can be said to exist, not science and not race. All systems which march left eventually converge into a single point — the leftist singularity. To the Right is reality, which must be grounded in materialism, which is measurable. Here lies science. The right opens wide, diverges into two main types of material reality: the reality of the individual and the reality of the group. If the driving force of materialism is the individual, if it is ‘I’, then the ‘We’ is forgotten, the drive expresses itself as ever increasing interest in material goods, material science. If the driving force of the materialism is the group, if it is ‘We’, then the ‘I’ is forgotten, the drive expresses itself as ever increasing interest in the well-being of the group. Natural selection seems to favor a mix of approaches between the individual and the group survival strategy, but punishes harshly those that travel too far to the Left.
To the Right is life, but the struggle is harsh and Man wishes to flee from it. To the Left is death disguised as Utopia, a beautiful siren song calling Man to crash upon the rocks of insanity.
I contend that there is a deep heritage of the Three Estates in Western social organization. If this map is a map of Western society, then would it not follow that it will map the the Three Estates? I believe it does.
The point labeled ‘communism‘ maps to the Clergy (controlled by the church of Progress), denoted by unlimited cooperation. This is why neoreaction labels those currently in power, pushing Utopian Progressive lies, the Cathedral. Neoreaction recognizes hyper-Calvinism as a driving force within the Cathedral, coupled with a rejection of Darwinism, for that is what Utopia is: the promise of freedom from the struggle for survival, freedom from competition, freedom from Darwin. This Cathedral circumvented the Church, out-competing them in their control of the memeplex, through accretion of media control.
The rejection of Darwinism is a dynamic gone haywire: the drive within the Church to protect certain groups from Darwinian competition. Previously, the Church limited the protected groups to the poor, sick, weak, elderly, widowed, orphaned, etc. Obviously, we are wired with empathy for such groups. With the advent of Cultural Marxism, the church of Progress sacralized (see Haidt) an additional set of groups: the female, the black, they gay, the transgendered, and now every brand of special snowflake known to man. Now the groups are not merely protected, they are promoted, creating dysgenic breeding patterns that threaten to swamp the society if continued. The Good News of the freedom from competition is being spread in progressively widening circles.
The farther a society moves into this corner, the more deceptions are needed to maintain power, because the system moves further and further away from the reality of competition and Darwinism. In order to explain why the Utopia never arrives, the leaders invent a Satan who is preventing it, usually through Black Magic. Conveniently, the Satan will be whoever has resources to be expropriated (to keep the scam going just a little longer). In this way, a game of musical chairs is played, with the number of chairs decreasing as resources decrease, until eventually the music stops.
This maps to the ‘Theonomists‘ of the Spandrellian trichotomy. And , No, I am not saying that Theonomists are commies. I am saying that the job that should be performed by the Theonomists has been usurped by commies. Somewhere along the line, something went very wrong. I have the feeling that it has something to do with calories getting cheaper, but that will be another post.
The point labeled ‘individualism‘ maps to the Nobility, denoted by unlimited competition or unlimited Darwinism. The Nobles have always been willing to stand out from others and to pursue their own self-interest. For Nobles to pursue their self-interest, they must guide the workers, the commoners, and organize production and organize defense of that production. This is the ‘commercialist‘ side of techno-commercialism. The Nobles have also had to control certain types of technology, lest another competitor wrest power from them. In the Middle Ages, this technology primarily centered around war, but progressively centered on control of agriculture and commerce. In the modern era, this technology to control has expanded to finance and computers, in addition to nukes and fighter jets. Corporations and governments now conduct warfare on the internet and in currency markets. Multinationals care very little for blood ties with those whose countries they inhabit, and it seems that Western governments are acquiring this same view.
In the past, under Monarchy, the Nobles were forced to organize production of the masses, requiring identification with the masses, so we see monarchy closer to the Absolutism point. Modern international corporations, with their ability to shift wealth between countries are much closer to the individualist node, as they are not as tied to any body politic. Modern international corporations can manage populations of any race. Tribal solidarity is non-existent, but the creative destruction of the market is strong.
I think in the diagram above that Kingdom and Tribe (in white) should be switched, and that Nationalism and Monarchism (in blue) should be switched.
Here individualist Darwinian competition is at its strongest, breaking even tribal bonds. The farther a society moves in this direction, the more science and decouple from humanity, from its bonds of kinship. In this direction lies the trans-humanist singularity.
This maps to the ‘Techno-Commercialists‘ in the Spandrellian trichotomy. This should be a straightforward mapping to comprehend.
The point labeled ‘absolutism’ maps to the Commoners, denoted by limited competition and limited Darwinism. Here all Darwinian competition must be limited to competition between the in-group (the collective) and the out-group, cannibalistic competition is barred. This is blood, kinship and loyalty above all. This is populism and group-think. What happens when you take the ethos of the commoner and have the people push a leader to power? You get Hitler of Mussolini. In this node we see the collectivist drive (“We own each other”). We see National Socialism, which is collectivism around race. The farther the group moves to this corner, the harder it is for their leaders to keep up with the shifting demands of technology, and the need to be on the cutting edge of technology. Tribal solidarity is strong, but the creative destruction of the market is weak.
This maps to the ‘Ethno-Nationalists‘ in the Spandrellian trichotomy.
Why the Estates Matter
The estates matter because they formed based on real human drives, vectors of competition between gene frequencies within a population: individualist vs collectivist, low time preference vs high time preference, loyal vs disloyal, Utopian vs Darwin, etc. When you take a number of two dimensional traits that humans display, and combine them into a population, we get emergent behavior which can be conceptualized as the Three Estates. When we look at governments, what we see is group negotiation. This means that governments are the framework within which these separate reproductive strategies (time preferences) and drives can be negotiated. In order for a Western society to function successfully, it must have a method for doing the math, for calculating the necessary policies to satisfy the drives of the three estates. This is why there are houses of government, to represent the divergent interests of divergent populations of gene frequencies.
We have examples of what the Three Estates look like within healthy Western societies. It is possible to view history through the prism of the Estates, watching the interplay between the Estates. It appears that there must be a center of gravity, an equilibrium, maintained between the Three Estates; if the center of gravity tilts too far to one corner or another, then the system falls out of balance and we see an ‘intense selection event‘. Let me quote Bryce Laliberte from Neoreaction is Always to Your Right:
Why right? Because society should be arranged so as to produce the best. Leftism, which allies the rulers with the least against the middle, leads to the endless reproduction of the least in society while penalizing the reproduction of the best and subsumes the middle into the least. If this occurs during a period of unparalleled cultural acceleration, then an intense selection event triggered by Gnon shall occur. Gene-culture co-evolution entails that genes cannot get too far past culture, and culture cannot get too far past genes, without being snapped back to equilibrium.
I think that the Three Estates are part of our deep heritage, and are an expression of our gene-culture co-evolution — and are an expression specific to the Westerner genome. I think that the Three Estates are emergent phenomenon, expressions of complex genetic interactions, which can play a role in analyzing when and how social systems lose equilibrium and trigger intense selection events. I think that government, and good government in particular, is a system of rules designed to maintain an equilibrium between the genetic demands expressed through the Three Estates.