Sunday, 26 January 2014

Is it correct to state that Neo-Reactionaries of the 'Dark Enlightenment' are 'Neo-fascists'?


The Neo-reactionary bloggers of the 'Dark Enlightenment' (e.g. those who regard 'Mencius Moldbug' as a guide and mentor) have been noticed by the mainstream mass media, and subjected to some hostile (albeit contradictory) rhetorical attacks.

In particular, they are being called Neo-fascists.


Is this correct? In a nutshell, my answer (below) is that yes it is correct, yes the N-Rs of the DE are Neo-fascist; but not for the reasons that the mainstream journalists give.

The mainstream Leftists regard fascism (whether Old- or Neo-) as bad because it is anti-Left; but as a Christian I oppose fascism (and hence oppose Neo-reactionaries of the Dark Enlightenment) because fascism is essentially non-Christian, and in practice strongly tends to be anti-Christian.


I have written fairly extensively against the Dark Enlightenment/ Neo-Reaction from my perspective as a Christian who is fundamentally opposed to any secular anti-Christian ideology; and one who regards repentance as the absolutely-necessary first step towards any good political change.

(And yes, this makes me a pessimist.) 

If you want to read the stuff, I suggest you word-search this blog. 

Anyway, the present situation was one which I anticipated a few years ago.


The intellectual quality of the articles on the Neo-Reactionaries is, of course, poor: they are careless, ignorant and dishonest.

This is not exceptional, since that is the nature of the modern mass media.

But, when the Dark Enlightenment gets called Neo-fascist by these mainstream journalists this is interesting; because the name is strictly correct - albeit right for the wrong reasons.

(On those rare occasions that the Left is correct, it is almost always right for a wrong reason!)


The mainstream journalists have called the Dark Enlightenment/ Neo-Reactionaries fascist because of their attitude to race, their 'race-realism'.

But this emphasis betrays that the journalists are engaging in gang warfare rather than analysis. Because fascism-as-such has in essence nothing necessarily to do with race. (Mussoloni - the first successful self-described fascist - was not racist when he took power.)

Actual fascism is historically a very recent ideology and has been very rare. Fascism is essentially a post-communist phenomenon - in practice only becoming powerful after the Russian Revolution of 1917 (although of course its roots can be traced further back).


On the other hand, Neo-fascism is indeed focused on race; but only because it is a reaction against the modern, mainstream, politically correct Left (the Left that rules the developed world - noting that 'the Left' includes all the mainstream 'conservative' or 'republican' parties): and of course PC is race-obsessed.

Thus any opposition to dominant modern Leftism will necessarily oppose politically correct anti-racism - not because this is a central focus to the the opposition, but because race is a central focus for the mainstream modern Left.


(In fact, on the whole racism was much more of a communist and Old Left thing than it was a fascist thing. Communist societies engage in all sorts of racism - albeit inconsistently; since communists are too unprincipled to be consistent when that is inexpedient - e.g. the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939. In various phases, Soviet Russia tried to exterminate Christians and eliminate Christianity; and (mostly) killed, or long-term imprisoned, many thousands of bishops, monks and priests, plus some tens of millions of faithful believers (Yep, they did - it was a larger scale although less 'efficient' operation than the Nazi Holocaust.). They were also intermittently anti-semitic. And it was the Trades Union-dominated Old Left which preserved race-based policies and practices in the USA in the post Civil War era and up to the 1960s. It is only since the domination of the New Left - ruled by the upper class intellectuals with their 'personal' (not economic) issues such as feminism and sexual license - that anti-racism has been co-opted as a Leftist cause, and bigotry has become regarded as the worst of all possible sins.)


(By analogy, religious opposition to dominant modern Leftism will necessarily oppose the sexual revolution - not because traditional sexuality is a central focus to (or 'obsession' of) traditional religion; but because the sexual revolution is the major and most effective weapon used by the Left to weaken, subvert, colonize and invert traditional religion. Naturally, therefore, sexuality will become a major battleground.)


Neo-Reactionaries/ the Dark Enlightment are indeed fascist - because they are:

1. A secular Right wing movement

2. Intellectually in-reaction-against the Left

...hence they are 'fascist' - because that is what fascism is: it is secular anti-communism - a non-religious reaction-against communism.

Plus, Neo-Reactionary/ Dark Enlightenment bloggers are 

3. Reacting against the New Left - i.e. the politically correct, post-nineteen-sixties Left - hence they are indeed 'Neo'.


So the label of Neo-fascist is accurate, albeit being applied for the wrong reasons.

Where the Left are objectively wrong is in lumping all their enemies into the fascist category - by putting the real fascists who are secular together with the religious Right.

(I know they do this, because when I was a Leftist it is exactly what I did too!).

The Religious Right is essentially utterly different from fascism, because it is religious! The Religious Right wants to put religion at the centre of national life (note: this is not synonymous with a system of 'theocracy' - theocracy is only one way of trying to make religion the focus of life).

This does not seem like an important difference to the Left; because the Left are secular and don't believe in religion, think religion is nonsense, and therefore don't take religion seriously.


(For example the Left always explain-away religious martyrdom as being due to either social/ economic factors or mental illness - they cannot believe that religion is a real, powerful motivation - indeed the most powerful motivation - because they themselves do not share it. This is another thing I know from personal experience; when I was an atheist, I simply could not believe that religion was a real cause of anything significant - but I always looked to some other explanation for human behaviour, such as class differences, nationalism, economic self-interest, organized crime... I saw religions as merely a mixture of wishful thinking fantasy and rationalized hatred; hence not the kind of thing which could motivate extreme commitment.)


A few years ago I predicted that the Left would call any secular Right movement fascist, and that in doing so they would be broadly correct.

I also predicted that so long as the secular Right denied the fascist label they would be powerless, but if they ever felt strong enough to accept the fascist label openly and explicitly and were able to survive the backlash... then that would be the time to worry about them.

Therefore, when mainstream Leftist journalists call the Dark Enlightenment Neo-fascist, they are testing it; testing whether the movement is likely to be dangerous.

If Neo-Reactionaries fight the fascist label - then that is fine: they are revealed as lacking clarity and self-awareness, as craving acceptance, as having insignificant commitment, motivation and power.

To reject the fascist label demonstrates to the ruling Leftist elites that Neo-Reactionaries can easily be controlled by some mixture of mockery and demonization, and subversion by recognition, and buying-out (and this latter may be a motivation for some of the leading N-Rs of the DE - they are covertly hoping to sell-out and be co-opted by the mainstream!).

But if, when tested, the fascist label was accepted; then the response would be serious suppression by the usual Leftist means. This would be hard/ impossible for the Dark Enlightenment to survive - but if the Neo-Reactionaries did become explicitly fascist AND also survived the consequent suppression; then it would be a case of Be Afraid: Be Very Afraid for the Leftist elites. 


I predicted this current situation when I wrote my book Thought Prison: the fundamental nature of political correctness

I have emphasized the relevant passages in bold.


Could a party of ‘common sense’ replace political correctness?

With the profound weakness of mainstream Christianity in the West (due to subversion by Leftism and subordination to PC), and with the weakness of old-style nationalism (led by the lower levels of the upper class – teachers, minor civil servants and journalists - who are now the most zealous of the politically correct), and with the unlikeliness of a new nationalism of the tradesman/ NCO class – then the most likely opposition to political correctness (especially in the USA) currently comes from populist, reactionary, secular groups based on common sense.

From a Christian perspective, such groupings are seriously sub-optimal - at best a temporary expedient. Nonetheless, supposing that common sense secularism was actually to become powerful - what then? Could it, would it provide a better alternative future than PC? What would that future be?

This can be predicted by considering the probable characteristics of such a grouping - and weighing-up the pros and cons.


Since so much of Western society is now corrupted by Liberalism and implicated in PC, such a group would have to come from outside this - and in rejecting the psychotic delusionality of PC it would need to offer a common sense alternative which would be obvious to plain, middling, productive people outwith the intelligentsia and their underclass of state-dependents.

And since a common sense party would be reactive against PC, we can infer its main features.


Here is a non-exhaustive list (in no particular order) of characteristics of a possible Common Sense (CS) party contrasted with the politically correct (PC) party.

CS v PC:

1.      Natural and spontaneous versus Human designed

2.      Reality is real and fixed versus Reality is relative and plastic

3.      Coercive force versus Propaganda

4.      Face to face versus Mass media

5.      Concrete versus Abstract

6.      Immediate versus Utopian

7.      Instinctive versus Educated

8.      Native versus Immigrant

9.      Popular culture versus High art

10.  Practical versus Theoretical

11.  Invention versus Science

12.  White versus Non-white

13.  Heredity versus Culture

14.  Apprenticeship versus Formal education

15.  Men versus Women

16.  Recognition versus Certification

17.  Selfish versus Altruistic

18.  Personal authority versus Bureaucratic procedure

19.  Heterosexual versus Homosexual

20.  Heart versus Head

21.  Gut versus Intellect

22.  National versus International

23.  Tribal versus Outcast

24.  Family versus Universalist

25.  Real versus Ideal

26.  Morality versus Law

27.  Natural law versus Moral inversion

28.  Courage versus Tolerance

29.  Loyalty versus Subversion

30.  Useful versus Useless

31.  Duty versus Self-development

32.  Productive versus Ideologically-sound

33.  Money-grubbing versus Parasitic

34.  Responsibilities versus Rights

35.  Charity versus Needs

36.  Hierarchy versus Egalitarianism


This list suggests that secular modern politics boils down either to political correctness or what could be (and almost certainly would be) termed a kind of ‘fascism’.

In other words fascism is approximately what you get when political correctness is opposed with common sense.

Of course, the Left has been calling the Right fascist since the mid-1960s: I am suggesting that in doing this the Left are broadly correct.
However, there are two important qualifications 1. that the fascist label properly applies only to the secular Right – not the religious Right; and 2. fascism is not synonymous with the Nazis - who were substantially a socialist and Leftist party, as the name of National Socialism implies.

Maybe at some point the secular Right will eventually stop fighting the ‘fascist’ label and become openly and explicitly fascist - but distancing themselves from the National Socialist type of (semi) fascism?


The religious Right is not fascist: fascism is secular hence modern; and the religious Right is pre-modern and much more ancient than fascism. Indeed the religious Right was pretty much all there was in pre-modern times: conflict being between different varieties of religious Right.

The huge difference between religious Right and secular Right is that the religious Right seeks to rule society primarily by religious principles, by religious goals. By contrast the common sense secular Right (fascism) is justified on the basis of this-worldly common sense goals: such as the aim to make its supporters happier and richer; to provide a glorious national or ethnic purpose; to forge a new community of the heart.




Anonymous said...

I don't have any problem with anyone calling me a fascist, aside from the obvious problem that this term refers specifically to an Italian political philosophy and party of the early 20th century. I like "phalangist" better, but ethnonationalist is probably the most accurate.

I don't see how "racism" or race realism is incompatible with Christianity. Everybody knows it's true, and you can deal with this by openly admitting it, or by pretending it doesn't exist, harshly punishing those who say it does, and trying to make people into things they can't realistically be.

The "religious right" isn't fascist because it isn't really politically incorrect at all, it only prefers religious reasons for political correctness to secular ones.

Bruce Charlton said...

@dl "I don't see how "racism" or race realism is incompatible with Christianity."

Neither do I; since such beliefs were universal through most of Christian history.

"The "religious right" isn't fascist because it isn't really politically incorrect at all, it only prefers religious reasons for political correctness to secular ones."

You must be talking about different people and about pure theories/ words.

In actual practice, the religious right are, and have been, the only people to live-by non-pc values - but of course the religious right do not conform to the ideals of the secular right - since these are purely aspirational and conjectural and there isn't any reason to believe that they are even possible.

Historically, fascism never lasted even a single generation - its motivations are so temporary and unstable.

George said...

It seems this "realism" leads to Nihilism.

I have tried to imagine it myself - the "perfect" New Right society. Maybe everyone is physically perfect, rich, no crime, more advanced technology, etc....

Really, it is just the Star Trek fantasy future with some extra "realism"... But ultimately life is still completely empty without religion. It would logically lead to a dead-end for souls. No matter how many endless desires are endlessly satiated, man still needs an ultimate purpose and meaning to existence. He needs a transcendent connection to the divine.

Jonathan C said...

While I like this whole post, the standout paragraph is the parenthesized one connecting religion to extreme motivation. That would be well worth writing more about, because so many people are unaware of it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JC - OK - I'll make it a separately-titled post.

JP said...

"Historically, fascism never lasted even a single generation - its motivations are so temporary and unstable."

The fact that the international Left crushed fascism militarily had a lot more to do with it than its inherent instability.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - That isn't a knock down argument by any means. At the time the fascist regimes emerged in Italy and Germany, they were expected to last a long time. The question is did Germany have to occupy the surrounding Germanic areas, and so quickly - I would say that they did: the regime absolutely needed this conquest and war to survive. What about Italy? I expect it would have unwound into a traditional military dictatorship/ theocratic society - as happened in Spain - because without sustained and intense nationalistic fervour, the fascist state either needs the cohesion from a strong church; or else would evolve the other way, into communism.

Also, if fascism was a real and solid alternative self-organizing system (a 'strange attractor'), it would surely have popped-up here and there around the world (as was expected in the 1920s and 30s).

Bruce B. said...

I thought fascists were characterized by violent suppression of rival political groups as the name “fascism” implies?

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - "I thought fascists were characterized by violent suppression of rival political groups as the name “fascism” implies? "

But that isn't at all specific to fascism - and wasn't particularly characteristic of Mussolini (not by world historical standards, especially).

pwyll said...

I don't think that this is fair to Moldbug - he specifically groups fascism with communism and democracy as all three are based on some nebulous idea of "rule by (or in the name of) the people, and all three sprung up as alternatives to defeated monarchy. Fascism can be thought of as an attempt by the right to adapt to a "people power" zeitgeist - a bizarre left/right hybrid.

Neoreactionaries reject the idea of rule by the people, so when they reject fascism, they are not being insincere.

Bruce Charlton said...

@pwyll - I know that Moldbug does not think he is fascist; but I am saying that he actually is fascist because there is nothing else to be in reaction to communism/ leftism when you are not religious.

Politics is very simple, at the level we can comprehend it; and nuances are illusory so MM is and will remain fascist (until he becomes religious)

George said...

@pwyll - Monarchy is good, but what is good comes from God. Denying God and the source of Monarchy's power causes it all to fall apart... without God, there is nothing to pull Civilization upward. Leadership and organization instead crumbles to present conditions.

The Monarch must understand he rules by power of God, or he is simply a secular Dictator ruling for utilitarian or personal ends. All of society's actions can only be organized upward if the Monarch/Emporer himself most closely embodies goodness.

JP said...

"the regime absolutely needed this conquest and war to survive."

This is true in the sense that the international Left was preparing to attack it. The USSR began mobilizing for war with Germany even before the Nazis came to power.

"if fascism was a real and solid alternative self-organizing system (a 'strange attractor'), it would surely have popped-up here and there around the world (as was expected in the 1920s and 30s)."

But you can't overlook the fact that World War II happened and that in the aftermath of WWII, the international Left was actively supporting revolution around the world. The elimination of Fascist power centers and the promotion of Leftist revolution made it impossible, as a practical matter, for Fascist regimes to "pop up" after 1945.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - I believe that nothing would have stopped fascism if it was a strong alternative; of course, one reason it is so weak is that it does not appeal to the officer class, but is a kind of NCO revolution as Moldbug also said in a different terminology (I riffed on this notion in Thought Prison).

But that is just another way of saying that fascism is intrinsically weak.

Here is an real life (ex) fascist intellectual and leader, whose biography exemplifies the point

I just *know* that the N-R/ DL intellectuals are very weakly motivated - it is obvious in everything they write - they are either playing with ideas, or looking for theoretical excuses to do what they want to do but feel guilty about (be selfish, hate people, be promiscuous etc) - or else they are en route to religion (e.g. MM).

When (not if) MM finally converts (either to traditionalist Christianity or Orthodox Judaism, or maybe LDS), publically, it will be an interesting thing to observe the response among his disciples.

pwyll said...

Bruce, I agree with you that religion is essential to a fully healed and whole society.

I still don't think it's fair to call NRs Fascist however... the word has a definite, specific meaning, and just because the Left has taken to using it to mean "something right-wing that I don't like" doesn't mean that we should do the same! You may not be in favor of, say, a "secular" monarchy - and for that matter, neither am I... but such a thing is very different from Fascism.

Bruce Charlton said...

@pwyll - The word does *not* have a definite specific meaning! Indeed, there is disagreement about whether there has been any fascist society except Italy under Mussolini. So any discussion of fascism must be, in part, a matter of definition.

If fascism is to be distinguished from traditional monarchial society, it needs to be seen as a secularist reaction-against communism/ leftism - and NR fits the bill.

graaaaaagh said...

"If fascism is to be distinguished from traditional monarchial society, it needs to be seen as a secularist reaction-against communism/ leftism - and NR fits the bill."

No, it doesn't fit the bill, given how many neoreactionaries are Christian monarchists.

Further, your equation of fascism with secular anti-communism appears disingenuous. Fascism is an actual ideology with specific tenets, and they are not quite as simple as mere secular reaction.

Bruce Charlton said...


"given how many neoreactionaries are Christian monarchists."

Yes, and I am saying they are making an *error* by putting an essentially secular movement above their Christianity.

" Fascism is an actual ideology with specific tenets, and they are not quite as simple as mere secular reaction."

Well, not really. That is exactly what fascism isn't. Once you move from the early years of Mussolini, then it gets very blurred. Just about the only distinguishing featured of fascism is its basis in anti-communism.

For example, in Spain the Franco regime began as mostly secular anti-communist fascist Falange but with a very close alliance with the Roman Catholic Church (secular anti communism allied with the Christianity to which communism was primarily opposed).

The alliance was so necessary that Spain ended-up as a generic military dictatorship mutually supporting with the church - a very traditional model of the state from pre-modern times - with nothing distinctively fascist about it.