Brin and Gray

I just re-read David Brin’s NeoReactionaries drop all pretense: end democracy and bring back lords.

If I may summarize his argument, it is that those who oppose the Enlightenment want to create a New World Order of Monarchies to rub their hands maniacally and guffaw maliciously as they stamp their Nazi jack-boots on the faces of the oppressed. Did I get close enough there? Well, hysterical, might be a more succinct label.

He praises the Enlightenment, dubbing it the Enlightenment Miracle. He denies that Democracy and Communism are kissing cousins. Of course he references anti-NRx posts, with precious few references to actual NRx thought. Why should he bother to actually intellectually disprove the assertions of the Dark Enlightenment, when you can simply slander and ad hominem it? He employs the typical racism and sexism slanders, though does not stoop to fascism. The article is a commonplace attempt to evoke an emotional response while posing as intellectual commentary. I won’t bother re-hashing any arguments against the Enlightenment, just read the Neoreactionaries themselves for definitive debunking of it.

I think that Brin should read False Dawn by John Gray.

The book cover itself is interesting, the initiated will recognize the seal on the back of the one dollar bill, with the banner reading Novus Ordo Seclorum, translated as New Order of the Ages. Some see this as New World Order symbolism. The image is often used as an Illuminati reference by the conspiracy-minded. I personally see the pyramid simply as the graphic representation of human order: hierarchy. The eye is known as the Eye of Providence, which is they eye of God. I don’t find the image particularly frightening or sinister, but I think it currently represents an idea, and it is fitting that this idea is symbolized on the US dollar bill: the idea of global capitalism.

This is the false dawn, where a Western capitalism is universalized around the globe, and a new Utopian age of peace and prosperity rises over the horizon to bath us in the clear bright light of the Enlightenment. Anyone at all familiar with Neoreactionary thought, as David Brin clearly is not, will understand that Univeralism is one of the key pillars of Enlightenment thought, along-side Egalitarianism and Individualism. I express individualism as [1], and egalitarianism as [1=1], and universalism as [1=1=1=1…∞].

Only a believer in the Enlightenment could conceive of a New World Order of Western global capitalism enrapturing the entire world. Reactionaries cannot. We understand that Market functions must be built around the needs and worldview of the populations they serve. Markets must take the shape of their containers — the civilizations in which they are cultivated.

Perhaps the best way for you to get a feel for the book is a few quotes from a hatchet-job book review by the Libertarian Cato institute which dubs it “a relatively sophisticated version of reactionary globalphobia.” The article also appeared in the Libertarian masturbation journal of choice, Reason Magazine:

Now he rejects not just free trade, not just liberalism, but the whole “Enlightenment project”—or at least his caricature thereof. (In The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel identifies Gray as a leading voice of what she calls “reactionary stasis.”)

Hmm, a reactionary denial of the Enlightenment project?

Indeed, at the bottom of Gray’s hostility to the world economy is its supposed Enlightenment pedigree. “A single global market,” he writes, “is the Enlightenment’s project of a universal civilization in what is likely to be its final form.” In an invidious and oft-repeated comparison, he portrays global capitalism and the now-defunct ideal of collectivism as two sides of the same rationalist coin: “Even though a global free market cannot be reconciled with any kind of planned economy, what these Utopias have in common is more fundamental than their differences. In their cult of reason and efficiency, their ignorance of history and their contempt for the ways of life they consign to poverty or extinction, they embody the same rationalist hubris and cultural imperialism that have marked the central traditions of Enlightenment thinking throughout its history.”

Let’s be clear about this: A single global market is the Enlightenment’s project of a universal civilization in what is likely to be its final form. I don’t expect in-depth knowledge or logical consistency from David Brin on these matters, though I would appreciate it.

Fukuyama made the Enlightenment argument for liberal democracy and global capitalism in 1992 in The End of History and the Last Man. He subsequently came to a more moderate position in 1995 in Trust: Social Virtues and Creation of Prosperity where he came to realize that culture and economics are co-evolved, or as I stated above: Markets must take the shape of their containers — the civilizations in which they are cultivated. He still labors to make the Enlightenment functional, as many conservatives do. He will have a tough time of it until he realizes the majority of his assumptions are pseudo-scientific Enlightenment nonsense.

Read John Gray if you would rather have a dose of reality.

Because, in reality, who is it that has the plans for global domination? It is the deluded followers of the Enlightenment. John Gray says nothing other than what is patently obvious: that dream is dead. It was still-born because it cannot possibly function — Universalism is a false god of the Enlightenment. When David Brin is looking for the evil jack-booted thugs with plans for global domination, he needs to look in the mirror: it is Enlightenment Utopians like him that have that plan, not us. Read Gray’s words again, it is those like Brin who “embody the  same rationalist hubris and cultural imperialism“. We reactionaries understand that we must build walls around our civilizations and keep the pagan barbarians at bay. Running a civilization is a full-time job. We understand how hard it is to keep our own little civilization alive, and are busy working on that project. We will leave the plans for global domination to Utopian Universalists like Brin and his allies.

The Arc of History is Bullshit

I always read what Nick B. Steves has to tweet, because awesomeness:

By the way, read Roosh about #SJW.

So, it caught my eye when I saw Steves’ pointer to Theden and the Anti-Democracy Activist’s reply:

The Theden article’s basic premise is that the collapse is already here, and that just like the crash of 1929, crashes don’t feel very crashy to most people in the crash. It is reasonable that one would expect there to be a hard jolt in any crash, so crash is merely a histrionic, click-baity, headline-grabber. Decline and degeneration and collapse are more appropriate adjectives to describe the process. I suppose most of #NRx is thinking this way, as I noted earlier in October:

I found the Anti-Democracy Activist’s post enlightening, and much more scholarly than the overly-chummy prose you are now reading. I now see that my view of history has been cyclical for some time, and found it wonderful to see the Arc of History crystallized.

William F. Buckley wrote in Our Mission Statement in National Review in 1955:

A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it. 

Michael “Martin Luther” King stated:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey echoes King in the NY Times after announcing his resignation and proclaiming his gayness:

The arc of American history almost inevitably moves toward freedom. Whether it’s Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, the expansion of women’s rights or, now, gay rights, I think there is an almost-inevitable march toward greater civil liberties.

King and McGreevey are grooving along the arc, much as though they are riding on an arrow or a rocket-ship launched at some far away target. I see the arc as a scintillating rainbow, and stars wink and glitter around it and ABBA’s Dancing Queen fills the air as the progressives party their way to their final destination: Utopia. Buckley lurks in the shadows, dour and severe as he watches the youth board the ship, but helpless as the Catcher in the Rye, he cannot stop them. The kids party all the way to Utopia, and when they arrive it appears to be Heaven, but with lots of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. In the morning, awakening from a drunken stupor, surrounded by the sour smell of spilled beer and stinking of stale cigarettes and struggling to remember if they bothered to use a condom, they realize they’re at a tawdry gay dance club in a gentrified section of New Jersey. They fumble for their iPhones to call dour Uncle Bill and shamefacedly ask for a ride home.

Progress is progress along the arc. It is the Good News of Utopia proclaimed for all to hear. The problem is that the Utopia never arrives, the arc is just a joy ride to nowhere. The idea that merely moving in some direction is progress is bullshit. Justice is not a destination. Civil liberties are not a destination. Breaking the chains of women and the lower classes and telling them to run amok is not a destination. Liberty is a means, not an end. If one were inclined to listen to ancient dead white guys, one might heed the warning of the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca:

If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.

The business of civilization is just that: a business. We must work hard to understand its rules, and to judge our place in the market. We must measure and analyze and adjust our strategy on ever-changing sands. Survival requires that we understand our environment and that we exploit its resources to our advantage. It requires cunning and courage and eternal vigilance. Survival and business are war. In war, there are winners and losers. Either you are on a path to conquest, or you are waiting to be conquered; there is no middle-ground, no gay glittering rainbow pathway to Utopia arcing over verdant hills. The Utopians continue to lose direction, to steer the ship of civilization in meaningless gyres.

This is the business of Neoreaction: the business of civilization. It takes a strong stomach to run a civilization; it is either grow and conquer, or submit and die. Let the Utopians drug themselves into submission with lies of Heaven on Earth where a Brotherhood of Man lives in perfect harmony. With a clear head and a sharp eye, I choose growth and conquest – me and my brothers against the world.

Spandrellian Trichotomy
the Spandrellian Trichotomy

If Spengler’s view is correct, then there is a set of ideas that drive the growth of each unique civilization. It is the project of Neoreaction to analyze and categorize those ideas. So far, the Spandrellian Trichcotomy appears to be the best aggregation. AnomalyUK helpfully elucidates.

Which brings me back to awesomeness and Nick B. Steves, whom I believe to be the creator the image on the left.

Don’t just stand there. There’s work to be done.