Wednesday 5 January 2011

Building a reactionary movement


This is, of course, a perennial topic among the secular right; but the secular right are intrinsically very impatient and seek to build a movement in a few months or years - at any rate before the next election or the one after.

This is doomed to fail. What looks like 'growth' over this timescale is mostly the random fluctuations of fashion.


In fact, it takes not several years but several generations to build a powerful movement.

For example, the domination of political correctness is the outcome of more than two centuries of radical and progressive ideology, which was fully formed by the late nineteenth century - although, of course, things haven't worked-out exactly as they were envisaged back then.

Nonetheless, most of the main ideas and problems of leftism were fully apparent to early atheists/ communists/ socialists and to their reactionary opponents from at least four generations ago.

And progressivism took all those many decades just to grow, to expand to power and domination.


The ways to build a movement are exactly the same as the ways to grow a religion: by conversion and by demography.

Of the two, conversion is indispensable in the early stages but demography seems more reliable over the long term, and probably more powerful.

Christianity remains the world's greatest converting religion, but for the past century is being outstripped by Islam which - by contrast - depends mainly on demographic growth.

Progressivism has grown by conversion and by the advent of an IQ and conscientiousness 'meritocracy' to replace the warrior and priestly ruling elite; but progressivism is being, and will continue to be, destroyed (within decades) by catastrophic demographic decline (quite apart from the fact that it is deliberately destroying itself).


The process of growth of a new religion from nothing to considerable significance has been documented by Rodney Stark in the Rise of Mormonism - from nothing in 1825 to about 16 million now: representing exponential growth with a doubling time of about 15 years.

Stark notes that early Mormon converts were drawn mostly from family and neighbours, and that although conversions via missionaries and other personal efforts remain significant, demographic growth has done a lot of the work in expanding Mormonism.


Another important factor in building a movement seems to have been geographical cohesion. e.g. For much of its history, Mormonism had a strong focus in Utah and the surroundings; and that remains the headquarters.

It is not clear to me whether the (?) 8 million Mormons thinly dispersed around the rest of the world would really be viable if they were subjected to pressure.

(I would guess, and it is purely a guess, that if Mormons again become subject to the kind of persecution they suffered in their early decades, or worse - and this seems quite likely, with the increasing strength of political correctness - then the Mormon diaspora might be 'recalled' to Utah and the surroundings, and Utah might again become an independent nation.)

By contrast, the secular right is dispersed, and indeed is mostly a 'virtual' movement united by modern telecommunications.

And while we know that geographically unified movements can survive and grow, the resilience of a dispersed virtual movement is entirely conjectural.


So, in contrast to the ideological, conversion-orientated and dispersed slant of the secular right with its (desperate?) rush for immediate expansion in line with its power base of reproductively-nearly sterile singles; I suspect that a successful reactionary movement would need to be geographically cohesive and its growth would happen on a generational timescale and would be based mainly on demography - on big families.



Alex said...

The foundations of modern paganism were laid by thinkers of the European enlightenment when trust in the scientific method and faith in reason and progress began slouching towards utopian goals. Political correctness or the "new morality" as it was described by a BBC producer a few days ago, is probably an inevitable development in the unfolding of this ideological trend. Modern educated opinion is saturated with pagan sentiment.

It might take several generations (if the Western world is spared that long) to repudiate current intellectual fashions and to repair the moral damage inflicted on Western societies by intellectual elites in the last couple of centuries.

rightsaidfred said...

Even with a suitable "new religion" to carry us into the future, a stumbling block is the inherent corruption that comes with administering a society. There is an osmotic pressure of the bad against the good, a tectonic force that has ground down every attempt to date. If we can get a handle on this, any belief system becomes much more viable.

Anonymous said...

a reactionary movement, can only be composed of young people, alienated from modern society, with basic principles based on classical disciplines.

Time, place, and memory are the fundamental factors necessary to such a movement.

Bruce Charlton said...

How about reactionary movements such as the 'Islamist' Muslims, the Amish, early Mormons or ultra-Orthodox Jews? All very successfully growing.

They are only based on youth in the sense of having high fertility, and so a high proportion of young people. But they are controlled by elders - specifically by old-ish men.

They are indeed 'alienated' at least in the sense of being distinct from, detached from, society - except for the Mormons who are often highly integrated in their working lives.