Wednesday 22 October 2014

Monarchial Leftism (a terse definition of Neoreaction) - i.e. Neoreactionaries are anti-Christian (hence on the Left) but pro-Monarchial (hence opposed to mainstream Leftism)


It seems that it is a core belief on the secular Right, including Neoreaction, that modern Leftism, political correctness, was caused by Christianity; and that Christianity is intrinsically pro-Left.

This is
just plain wrong; and I and others have refuted this on many occasions and argued the (almost) opposite view with a piling-on of evidence - that Leftism was anti-Christian in its very foundations, and continuing (very obviously - in materially supporting and concealing the almost complete obliteration of Christianity in the Middle East over the past decade); however, this is one of those many situations when argument does not make any difference.

So, accepting that Neoreaction cannot share the following analysis; what is  Neoreaction from the perspective of the (real) Christian Right? 


(The (real) Christian Right being the shared political perspective of all 'real' Christians - as contrasted with the fake pseudo-anti-Christianity of 'liberal Christianity' - which is the religion of the majority who self-identify as Christians. This distinction between real and fake Christians is about motivation rather than doctrine; and in this respect liberal Christians are analogous to the vast majority of dishonest, career-orientated fake-pseudo-scientists who self-identify as scientists but are in reality merely docile bureaucrats. Real science is about the honest intention to understand the natural world; not about hype and funding, power, prizes and peer review. . By analogy, real Christianity is about aspiring to
structure society by Christianity, aiming at that goal using whatever means - and there are large disagreements here, rather than the opposite liberal (pseudo-) Christian goal of structuring Christianity by society.)


Neoreaction is (it now seems) founded upon anti-Christianity - but not in the sense of 'being nasty to Christians'. Neoreactionaries aren't usually nasty to Christians, quite the opposite - they try to enrol Christians on their side. But anti-Christian in genuinely blaming (their definition of) Christianity for causing what Neoreactionaries themselves regard as the greatest evils in the modern world. 

From the Religious Right perspective, therefore, Neoreaction
shares the anti-Christian foundational belief of the Left.  

Ergo Neoreaction is of the Left.


But clearly Neoreaction is
not of the politically correct mainstream Left - to whom Neoreaction is very hostile. 

So if anti-Christianity was historically the primary belief of Leftism, then it is probably at the
secondary level of belief that Neoreactionaries differ from the politically correct New Left. 

Historically, anti-Christianity was the
primary doctrine of Leftism, and the secondary doctrine was being against the King: was anti-Monarchial (i.e. Leftism was 'Republican' in a broad sense that includes English, French and American Revolutions).

And this is
exactly where Neoreaction diverges from the modern mainstream PC New Left: Neoreaction is pro-Monarchial forms of government - when Monarchy is conceptualized in terms of a unified, formal and mandatory hierarchical structure of social organization with a single Man at the top.

Of course, being anti-Christian means that the Man at the Top cannot be divinely sanctioned - so Neoreactionaries think in terms of a society run by a Dictator, or a Chief Executive rather than a real King.

But this pro-Monarchial foundation is the explanation for some of the most striking aspects of Neoreaction where they most sharply diverge from modern Leftism - such as being explicitly pro-slavery (because absolute opposition to slavery, with no regard for cost or consequences, was a very early dogma of the Left).


So here is a terse definition of Neoreaction seen from the Christian Right perspective: 

Neoreaction is Monarchial Leftism


(Alternatively, Neoreaction is in favour of non-Christian Monarchy - i.e. a dictatorship, or a society structured like an ideal-type of an effective modern institution or corporation.)



Aimless Gromar said...

It's too easy to go off the rails if you don't quote actual neoreactionaries. I think you'd have a very difficult time substantiating the arguments. What you'll find is that we say modern Christianity since Luther is cladistically left, hardly a unique claim. And cladistics is not at all the same as intrinsics.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AG - I don't need to quote - I was in-on NR from the beginning - Modlbug early-mid 2007 (H/T Arnold Kling); and my blog is (erroneously, but frequently) listed as an NR blog - and I get a lot of traffic from NR accumulators. I know a lot about NR, bottom-up; from inside and outside.

Bruce B. said...

I think leftism can be thought of as a secularized Christian heresy. A heresy in that it steals but also expands and deforms certain Christian beliefs and tendencies. It’s so far removed from orthodox Christianity that “heresy” might be too generous. I think (but I may be completely wrong) that Jim Kalb says something like this and he’s not a neo-reactionary.
“real Christianity is about aspiring to structure society by Christianity, aiming at that goal using whatever means”
I don’t mean to seem like a jerk, but this statement seems wrong to me and borderline blasphemous. Aspirations to structure society by Christianity are noble & good but not what real Christianity is about and we’re not permitted to aim at that goal using whatever means. I may have misunderstood you, though.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB- The trouble with that 'heresy' formulation is that it disregards motivation: it would be more accurate to call Leftism a Christian *Apostasy* - in that it is an abandonment of and hostility to Christianity.

Insofar as Christianity has a political dimension, I am at a loss to imagine what that might be unless it involved structuring society by Christianity!

Should Christians be indifferent to or even hostile to a society run on Christian lines - obviously NOT!

Therefore Christians must *surely* want society to be organized such that it tends to allow, sustain, protect, nurture Christianity.

(There will be massive disagreement about how this might be accomplished, but *that* must be the hope. Otherwise what have modern Christians to complain about when they are punished for their beliefs and practices, forbidden to practice their faith, forbidden to educate their children in the faith etc.)

Of course that political aim is NOT a core and essential aspect of Christianity - but here we are talking about politics.

Anonymous said...

The thing is all the basic criticisms of Christianity- that Christians are hypocritical warmongers and it's cruel to restrict people with a bunch of rules- come from Luther criticizing Catholics. Once you have Luther you can go straight to leftism. The English Protestant path was more roundabout, but came to the same point.

Joel E. said...

From my personal experience, I would say that most neoreactionaries would like to be Christians, and often make serious efforts in that direction. But they are blocked by epistemological concerns.

Bruce B. said...

I think it's the way you phrased it, "real Christianity is about...." which sounds like the structuring of society is it's chief aim. I should have known you didn't mean this so my comment was stupid.

JP said...

Neoreaction shares the anti-Christian foundational belief of the Left.

Ergo Neoreaction is of the Left.

If everything anti-Christian is of the Left, then Nazism is of the Left.

Neoreaction is not of the politically correct mainstream Left - to whom Neoreaction is very hostile.

And Nazism is not of the politically correct mainstream Left, to whom Nazism is very hostile...

being anti-Christian means that the Man at the Top cannot be divinely sanctioned - so Neoreactionaries think in terms of a society run by a Dictator, or a Chief Executive rather than a real King.

Ironically this is close to what the Old Left wanted from their leaders - a competent, results-oriented technocrat unburdened by any need to appeal for votes to the grimy rabble.

Anonymous said...

Bruce B. - Christianity is not a structure for society or state, but a leaven. There may be a Christian republic or a Christian monarchy. Christ did not sanction one form of government and forbid another, anymore than he could be said to, say, sanction marriage and forbid friendship. But to say grace does not change the character of these things, is just to deny it. Note, this is separate from the question of which 'structure' is more or less perfect simply as government (or as relation).

A.G. - NRx prides itself on (what it takes to be) old sources and new, adaptive ways of thinking. Regarding the old sources, Monarchist thinkers were the revolutionaries when they wrote in the 16th and 17th centuries. Cuius regio, eius religio - putting God at the feet of the King - is as much a legacy of the Reformation as were the Levellers and Roundheads.

I'll happily agree with your implication the Reformation was leftist, insofar as it was a revolution. But this means, cladistically speaking, government since Henry VIII, and as 'formalized' at Westphalia, is leftist. And anyone apologizing for that kind of government was a leftist.

A descent from Filmer or Cromwell, therefore, only serves to answer the question, 'Chimpanzee or bonobo?'


Bruce Charlton said...

@dl - Yes, but Luther was not anti-Christian; he was a far more serious Christian than most of his enemies. And Protestants make up most of the real Christians in the modern West. So while there is a *grain* of truth in what you say, it is misleading.

@JP - Of course Nazis are on the Left! There full name is a clue. However they were anti-communist Left, which is how they got their modern reputation of being 'Right wing' - since the modern New Left have never repudiated communism.

@Joel E - Insofar as this is true (as it is for MM himself) then I don't have any worries about their ultimate salvation.

pweyll said...

Bruce, do you think that it is possible to be a pro-Christianity non-Christian? My impression of neoreaction is that it's made up of Christians (of which I am one) and non-Christians, but that the non-Christians bear the Christians no ill-will, and even encourage them in their Christianity. (Example: MM enthusiastically congratulating me on my conversion to Catholicism.)

Adam G. said...

My opinion: neo-reaction is too inchoate for your take to be completely accurate.

Put differently, as a matter of definition you are, of course, right. As a matter of crystallizing observation, you are on to something but overreaching.

Anonymous said...

I think it's fairly obvious that the form leftism takes in the West is a sort of pastiche Calvinist Episcopalian heresy. That seems to be the substance of the neoreactionary criticism of Christianity. Otherwise, quite a few people who fall into the neoreactionary category are plain old throne and altar reactionaries.

Most people who have this opinion acquired it from "Mencius Moldbug" -who, while occasionally insightful, is in sore need of an editor. Paul Gottfried wrote a three volume book on the subject which is definitely worth your attention if you care about the issue. Moldbug mostly just asserts things by analogy. Gottfried is a scholar who traces the ideology through time and space.

Personally, I think the substance of such "criticisms" is defacto useless, excepting as a barb to infuriate leftists. What are we supposed to do about it? Rejecting Christianity, or turning it into ad-hoc liberalism is what brought us to this unpleasant state of affairs. The neopagan and rationalist sets are practically speaking, worthless. The lowliest Jehovas Witness kingdom hall has accomplished more in the corporeal world than all of the neoreactionaries and neopagans combined. They organize people into regular meetings, have charities which help people, influence people's lives in very important ways, and own physical property. Neoreactionaries and neopagans only exist on the internet. In their ordinary lives, they live exactly like everyone else. As such, I more or less agree that they're "leftists" as they act like leftists in their day to day lives, and don't seem to have any actually life-changing beliefs (throne and Altar reactionaries excluded).

If you wanted to place neoreactionaries in some sort of belief taxonomy; maybe they could be considered a 19th century Episcopalian heresy. Most of their ideas seem to originate there abouts.

josh said...

@JP - Of course Nazis are on the Left! There full name is a clue. However they were anti-communist Left, which is how they got their modern reputation of being 'Right wing' - since the modern New Left have never repudiated communism.

Not sure about this. The Nazi phenomenon was clearly counter-revolutionary. It rode to popularity on the popular disgust with the sexual decadence of Weimar as epitomized by Magnus Hirschfeld. Hitler himself used Hirschfeld in his speeches as the epitome of the Jewish cultural revolutionary promoter of degeneracy. I realize that the SA was originally SA, but what ended up being Nazi Germany was not the party of the SA.

Unknown said...

Neoreaction posits that leftism is descendant of Protestantism. As the church changed - becoming more egalitarian and throwing out the hierarchy - so too did society.

Envy is the sin of leftism. The devil was the first Whig.

Neoreaction is friendly to Christianity in that many neoreactionaries believe a Christian state would be preferable to our secular state.

There are many Catholic and Orthodox neoreactionaries. I think the protestants get heckled out.

Bruce Charlton said...

@LE "Neoreaction posits that leftism is descendant of Protestantism. As the church changed - becoming more egalitarian and throwing out the hierarchy - so too did society. "

That's the fallacy in a nutshell! - society did not change because the church changed - the church changed because society changed. The reality was much closer to the opposite: the church failed to be Christian and failed to lead - but instead became secular - and followed the world.

HofJude said...

Josh + Bruce - the German historian Ernst Nolte put it best: Communism and Nazism/Fascism are essentially anti-bourgeois movements; the younger branch splits off from Communism and adds to the shared passionate hatred of bourgeois society a secondary hatred of Communism. Mussolini was not just a youthful socialist, but one of Italy's leading socialists before WWI; and Hendryk De Man, Belgium's collaborator-in-chief, had the same role in Belgium pre and post WWI. In Bruce's formulation, Neoreaction has a similar relationship to the Left that 20th century Fascism did to Communism: it is a subclade, devoted to destroying - and replacing - the elder branch with a more efficient version. (I say this without special or "Jewish" rancor for neoreax, whose adherents are intelligent, amusing and stimulating.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@HoJ - Sounds right.

Another factor is that when a movement begins to attain power it changes. The 'pure' ideology lacks power to get people motivated and to get them to cohere - this is where pride and hatred comes in.

My view about the current Neoreaction (Neocameralism, harking back to the Stuart monarchs of England minus the Christianity - is that it is at present just a set of pick and mix ideas - taking a time slice-out of what was never a stable and self-replicating form of social organization (not even for a single generation was 16th-17th century England really stable).

So, either the movement will dwindle and die - or else it will mutate into something capable of motivating and combining people - and that something can only be a variant of fascism/ national socialism - i.e. a secular reaction-against specific aspects of Leftism).

There is nowhere else for it to go.

Bruce Charlton said...

The essence of the Neoreaction Christianity 'debate' is what caused what?

And this is a matter of identifying sides: who's who?

Neoreactionaries believe that Christianity (which they equate with the church and self-identified-Christians) drove secular Leftism: Christianity *made* society Leftist.

Christians believe that Christianity is a real and objective thing, and is only a (sometimes very small) sub-set of the church/ self-identified-Christians.

To equate Christianity with the church/ self-identified Christians is like blaming the Right for the work of Leftist False Flag operations, or the work of Leftist infiltrated Right wing organizations.

But the Left works *mostly* by false self-identification and labelling

(e.g. by labelling moderate Leftists - such as GW Bush-style conservatives - as evil extreme Right Wing fascists),

therefore, insofar as we simply accept Leftist strategic self-identifications, and refuse to acknowledge a reality behind mere labels, then the Left win.

The fact that the secular Right are so *keen* so accept Leftist Christian self-labelling (while being extremely skeptical of other examples of covert Leftism) is both 1. an act of foolish self-destructiveness, and 2. evidence of covert malice against Christianity.

Urban IX said...

Neoreaction does not blame Leftism on Christianity, but rather a heresy of Christian origin.

Leftism is no more Christian than Catharism is Catholic.