Political Theology in the 21st Century 4: The Return of the King


Image: illustration from J. J. Astor’s book A Journey to Other Worlds (1894) set in the distant year 2000. 

In the last few posts we have been discussing the recent rediscovery of the ideas of Carl Schmitt. I spoke at length about the the role played by the concepts of the katechon and oikonomia in our contemporary world and also about climate change as a possible “state of exception”. Here I would like to turn towards the recent discovery of Schmitt by European and American reactionaries, which is frankly not an entirely unpredictable occurrence. Whereas someone like Giorgio Agamben  engages in a genealogical history of “political theology”, reactionary Schmittians simply seem to want to pose an alternative “state of exception.” In order to achieve this they require apocalypse: a “convergence of catastrophes”, a “second great depression”, the miraculous emergence of space to create a new empire.

This is going to be a long post – over ten thousand words. The reason for this is not  because reactionary Schmittians are terribly complex (they aren’t). Rather, I think this topic gives us a wonderful opportunity to utilise both Schmitt’s and Voegelin’s ideas for talking about the dissonant role of the absolute ruler in Western thought. Of especial interest is the recent American neo-reactionary prayer for a soterical king’s sudden appearance in an age without kings. This, I adamantly believe, can lead nowhere but towards “political religions” that usurp God and install in his place a God-Man. Such a saviour, through exception and emergency, is given free reign to exercise his libido dominandi, whether over the world or the imperium in imperio of his own little exceptionalist kingdom. Neo-reactionaries cannot avoid the question of the millenarian Dux e Babylone – the delusion of the beneficial Anti-Christ ruler who comes to destroy the current katechon to produce a new age of earthly salvation. Our neo-reactionaries exist long after monarchism has largely disappeared as the assumed symbolic “way things just are”. In their hands it becomes a caricature and a naive millenarian fetish.

1. From New Empires to Self-Help. 

First of all let’s us begin with the European “New Right” and its cousins. Schmitt is very important to French “New Right” thinker Guillaume Faye and his belief that the world is heading towards a catastrophic Ernstfall (emergency situation), which he calls the “convergence of catastrophes”: mass migration, climate change, economic collapse. Out of this only the cultural “exception” of Europe (which amounts basically to folk-destiny and vitalism) will be able to rise as the new post-apocalyptic hegemon with all kinds of groovy transhumanist technology.[1] This is a millenarianism and a half, if ever there was such a thing.

Fellow “New Right” thinker Alain de Benoist’s Carl Schmitt Today is a little more “normal”. It argues that globalisation has not brought apolitical peace, but is instead paving the way towards the emergence of Schmitt’s multipolar world of federated “large spaces”. [2] Benoist is famous for his coining of the term “ethnopluralism” – a reactionary alternative to multiculturalism – where every ethnos deserves to be granted its own ethnostate (which would most likely have to involve a fair dose of ethnic cleansing to achieve). If you believe in multiculturalism you’re probably quite sure to think that ethnopluralism means fascism (and yes, you’d be somewhat right about that).  If you believe in ethnopluralism, you probably think multiculturalism is code for global consumerist monoculture. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong about this either. Both views of course lead back to Johann Herder in the Enlightenment and his obsession with the diversity and authenticity of folk “culture” as always threatened by evil monocultural empires. [3]  This “ethnopluralism” has strongly influenced the US “alt right” conception of a “white ethnostate” through people like Richard Spencer, if one was wondering.

Nonetheless, it would take a rapid eclipse of both the hard and soft power of the post-war American katechon for “ethnopluralists” to opportunistically insert themselves and rile up the populace to do much more than punish their liberal “betters” in the ballot box or by sharing memes online. So far, yes, we’ve seen a little bit of reaction and it seems pretty clear that the American Empire is in decline. But decline is a very long process, a shifting of centres, and a “creative destruction” at that. Rome was not burnt in a day – it just gradually decentred itself militarily towards Northern Europe as the church in the West inherited its imperium; in the East Constantinople went on for another thousand years, considering itself thoroughly “Roman”. Yet, the liberal katechon thus far has barely had to lift a finger beyond a bit of public wailing and Nazi-banning to convince everyone that “business as usual” still remains the only possible world. “Never again”, the negation of all other possible millenarian political experiments, remains its white-hot core. It is terribly jealous of any other millenarian imitator. Reactionaries are picking a fight with a well-oiled reaction-destroying machine. As a result the prayer for apocalyptic Event is really the best thing they have.

In spite of all this, Benoist’s Carl Schmitt Today is well worth a read, if only for being perhaps the best wrap-up of all that was said about Schmitt and American “exceptionalism” during the Second Iraq War. One can also see more than a little of Schmitt in Russian Nazbol mystic Aleksandr Dugin’s misery about “end of history” liberalism as “post-political” and futureless. So too in his preoccupation with the history of Eurasia as an ongoing war between thalassocracies and tellurocracies (sea-based and land-based empires).[4] For Dugin the only way out is the formation of a tellurocracy led by Russia as grand protector of Eurasian cultures against liberalism and Americanisation. “Ethnopluralism” is in residence once again. Yet, Dugin is a very melancholic thinker, at least equally convinced that no one is willing to die for any cause anymore. Nonetheless, for Dugin’s conscious obsessions with angels and millenarianism, Faye’s pagan folk-magic, and de Benoist’s wide-reading, we never come close to any sort of consideration of “political theology” using Schmitt.

But there is also another group who seem to be discovering Carl Schmitt – the American “trad NRx” (traditionalist neo-reactionary) crowd who hang out at places like Social Matter – a website that boasts “statecraft for American Restoration”. This basically seems to be code for plotting against liberalism by LARP-ing the Middle Ages. I wrote a while back about NRx in relation to the “techno-commercialists” Mencius Moldbug and Nick Land. At the time, because no one had explored even these formative thinkers very much, I had little to say on their “trad” cousins, who seemed largely a limp shouting in the wilderness about the degeneracy of “Weimerica”. A year or so on, no one over there still really seems to have developed anything in the region of the sort of insights or program that we find even in Land and Moldbug. Social Matter’s crowdfunding Patreon reads:

Social Matter is producing American samizdat for 2016. We are producing the theory, insight and commentary that would get you fired from your office job, expelled from university, and smeared in the press. In Germany and Britain, this is the kind of theoretical work that would merit you a visit from the police.”

Well that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But as one of their regular contributors, an Arthur Gordian, decided to say something about my old “Return of the Reactionary” essay in an article called “Reaction and a Charge of Gnosticism: A Discussion on Voegelin”, I think I will return the favour. I only found Gordian’s article recently and it has been a very, very busy past few months, so my apologies on being rather slow to reply. Maybe we can be jolly good friends and read Schmitt and Voegelin together.

Gordian doesn’t seem to like me very much. I can say that I’m a little embarrassed that he thought he might introduce Voegelin to his friends by using me as an archetypal “liberal” (eww) Voegelinian whipping boy. Perhaps my sins are dual. On the one hand, when I wrote about reactionaries, I decided to speak about silly Space Nazis and neo-tribes rather than good old wholesome homecooked Christian monarchist reactionaries like Social Matter. Perhaps this offended them, for monarchist “Whites” seem to fear nothing more than to be thrown in with Nazi “Browns”. On the other hand, to a reactionary Voegelinian like Gordian one should apparently be talking about the evils of the left liberal “social justice warrior” menace or something. I just wish I could take my licks in good faith and say that I believed in the katechon (though like everyone I remain a subject of “cynical reason”), or thought liberal democracy is somehow the best of all possible worlds. But I really cannot. I feel a bit sorry for both Gordian and myself.

Here we go. I’m a Platonist – an impossible spiritual “palaecom” to put it in the most crass and simple terms. I have been for a very long time. People might be haunted by the undead “spectre of Marx”, but we’re all still haunted by the speculations of Plato two and a half thousand years on.  The Republic is impossible, though its discourse is the jewel of speculative political anthropology. Certain Forms – certain glints and hints and moments of its Justice still appear from time to time in human interactions, in people overcoming their accidents of birth in an unjust consumer capitalist mass society, to rise to the level of the heroic and the erotic search for wisdom, the dedication to what my old master used to call “proper work”. Voegelin has now fallen into the hands of an irresponsible post-modern Platonist – the sort of awful mongrel who reads everything and is interested in everyone. A post-modern Platonist, who, for the record, actually managed to acquire himself an undergraduate education years ago from Guénonians: real reactionaries. Many were the afternoons I spent at 19 years old hearing of the evils of Darwinism, the industrial revolution and democracy. I feel very lucky for this. It was certainly more interesting than Foucaults in turtlenecks all the way down.

It would appear that Gordian on the other hand, having studied six years with Straussians at the heart of the American academic empire, finally one day decided to go full reactionary because his lot were a bit too soppy. A friend of mine tried to get my old Platonist master who very firmly believed that democracy was inherently evil to read Strauss for years. He’d say “Oh no, not that shit. At least what Derrida had to say about Plato was interesting.” Too true. I’m going to stick with Voegelin on this.  Dikaion physei (just by nature) is a symbol to describe a noetic experience and is not to be reified and dogmatised, especially as Strauss does by turning it into a monster of a thing for mowing down religious experience. Nonetheless, by the time we get to Gordian, apparently “natural law” means that ending quack race science was bad and mean and “justice” means eradication of liberals like what happened to the Assyrians in the Book of Nahum, as he was polite enough to announce in his “Discussion”. We’re not going to see eye to eye on things like this, oh no, but Gordian is just a little too interesting just to call a Fashie and move on. All the same, it’s a little funny now looking back on those silly Shadiah Drury and Adam Curtis conspiracies about Sithlord conservative Straussians and Schmittians from the era of the Iraq War. Here you have it in broad daylight by imaginative mutative accident. Cute and blunt. Not a jot of the old esoteric cover-up to be found at all.

The fact is that before a few of my Guénonian friends got into Moldbug (which puzzled the hell out of me), I don’t think that anyone I knew from the old “trad” philosophical crowd who was anything but resignedly apolitical (the common pure ideology of our era). Their infatuation was brief but intense. I don’t think they could keep up the front for more than maybe three or four months before realising Moldbug was a godless little technocrat with some fancy chops (albeit with a pretty good taste in poetry). That’s the social world I live in – well somewhere between that and a bunch of commie continental philosophy freaks I talk to online. I try to avoid the “centre” in my dealings, even if that’s where most of the Voegelinian audience seems to reside (good for them), because I like to collect and talk about oddities like the filthy idiotes I am. But I’m more than happy to keep playing “false moderate” (as Gordian calls me), as long as the illusion of theoria keeps holding out and interesting ideologies keep happening. And at very least NRx is interesting, largely because it’s so goddamn flawed.

What has drawn this hermit from his cave is the fact that it took someone like Moldbug, as alien from “trad” ideas as one could get, to convince the incredibly resigned people I knew that history was not “over”, and that there was nothing to look forward to but fatalist collapse ever further into the “reign of quantity.” None of them had even been into Julius Evola beforehand either and I seriously doubt the validity of the recent enthusiasm I’ve seen for the idea that Steve Bannon, deep down, is a Guénonian.[5] I don’t think he knows much about Evola or Guénon at all, even if people of all sorts of political stripes wish he did just to make the world more interesting.[6] Nonetheless, millenarianism is the opiate of the Kali Yuga, as one should remind Guénonians, and I cannot read Evola’s ridiculous matriarchies and Aryanism without laughing anyway. He did write some good books about mountain climbing, though, so I’ve heard. But in all seriousness, Guénonians are indeed susceptible to the “black pill” of abject spiritual desperation about the way of things. I’ve never really been able to get fully into that fatalism, even if stuff does look pretty damn bleak when one looks at the fun combination of mob mentality and total selfism that liberalism seems to be good at bolting together these days. It is Dionysus from both sides, the most undead of deities. Nonetheless, when it comes to black pills, Guénonians make a few lame American NRx reactionaries complaining about “social justice warriors” look a bit like amateurs. How long is left of the Kali Yuga? I dunno. A few thousand years at least. Just keep swimming.

However, it is the question of technology and libido dominandi that interests me as Realpolitik because this decides the world we live in, no matter how resigned or esoteric we might want to be. When I decided to write on the links between reactionary ideas and millenarian fantasies about technology, the only way to introduce the audience of Voegelin View to this stuff “beyond the pale” (as one Voegelin scholar on Islamic terrorism of all things said to me), seemed to be with a bit of pantomime: “who would even believe in this?” and so on – milking the silliness of it all a little. In the same way the rhetorical use of a little bit of apocalypticism at the end was simply to draw attention to the need to consider reactionary techno-politics in the long term (which I do think we need to). If irony and apocalypse has been the way into reaction, then to even get ordinary people to sit down and think about it without screaming, would seem to require something similar. What I came up with was more than a little rough because I only had two weeks available in order to write the whole three-part thing from old notes I’d scribbled down in my spare time from 2014-16. It’s all probably a little dated by now. Some people like sailboats – cataloguing and questioning weird ideologies is my hobby. But the point was that it was a basis for further thinking. I haven’t really started on anything I want to say yet.

Let’s now return to the point. Schmitt has only just begun to catch the attention of the reactionaries over at Social Matter. I wish that there was a great deal to say about Schmittian NRx, but really there isn’t. Instead I will have to use Schmitt to look at the “trad” NRx obsession with monarchs and imagined “Second Great Depression” emergency situations that they think might set them up in power. We’ll get to this in a little. For now, however, let’s have a look at what actually has been said about Schmitt so far. For NRx-er David Grant, Schmitt seems to represent the power fantasies of Christian monarchists angry at liberalism’s “neutral culture” and disdain for authority – a sort of lite Duginism without the mysticism and primordial communism (i.e. without the interesting bits).  However, some of Grant’s observation using Schmitt are interesting all the same. At the end of his essay “Carl Schmitt and the Historical Evolution of Leftism”, he writes:

“And if one chooses a particular bastion of authority to champion, one will invariably be disappointed, as not only are they all manifestly unworthy of power, but they don’t even want it anymore. Neoreaction addresses this problem by means of a different, though by no means new, central domain: virtue. The rallying cry of neoreaction is not some version of “Power to the ______!” but rather “Become worthy.” Since even before Plato, wise men have observed that only the virtuous truly deserve power and esteem, though the world often conspires to rob them of their proper station. But in times of chaos, people seek out bastions of order and strength. Neoreaction is also the perfect foil to the immaturity of leftism. Where a leftist demands that the world reorder itself to become congruent with his petty conceits and childish fantasies, a neoreactionary understands that the world is not his to command, and he should focus his attention first on those matters within his sphere of control. Only after he has proved himself worthy of greater power should he presume to exercise it.”

There are a couple of very important things to discuss here. The first is of course the reactionary cliché that everyone who isn’t some sort of believer in absolute monarchy or oligarchy of Thirty Tyrants is a leftist – a sort of mirror image to the anarcho-communist’s “all liberals are fascists. They get the bullet too.” In the techno-commercial reactionaries like Nick Land this gets to the point that anyone who doesn’t believe in accelerating social atomisation and Social Darwinism is a “communist” – which would naturally seem to include most of his “trad” second cousins.  One might then likewise logically assume that to someone like Grant, Land and the techno-commercialists are “leftists” because of their faith in neutralising conflict in the world system with techno-capital. The “patchwork” is, after all, the “shortest way to world peace”. Moldbug was about the Exception of the absolute ruler within his own little imperium in imperio sandbox state. Externally Moldbuggery is about ending the Political on an international level through privatisation and “gentle commerce”. If one is to try to bring back city-states, pushing the “neutralisation” envelope is probably not an entirely daft idea, for the history of Ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy certainly prove that if there’s one thing city states are good at, it’s warring with each other. No one wants a Peloponnesian War with WMD’s.

Curiously, Moldbug never mentions Schmitt in the long history of UR, not even once to my knowledge. In some ways Moldbug’s language might at first seem to make him opposed to Schmitt in regard to the absolute ruler. Under democracy with all its chattering there is too much politics to Moldbug. [7] The single ruler ends politics.[8] But as with Schmitt and Hobbes it is the same idea that the One, the single ruler as imitation of God, who is able to solve all problems for the masses. In relation to “political theology” and the One’s imitation of the potentia absoluta Dei, Moldbuggian absolutism is all about how totalitarian mass murder only happens when the One does not have enough power. Moldbuggery requires all kinds of science fiction technology to achieve this imagined omnipotence and omniscience. This should give the game away: we’re dealing with a Gnostic God-Man fantasy here of the most bizarre sort, the revelation that  human beings possessing absolute power is a hubristic absurdity, no matter how one limits the parameters of space and time down to a tiny sandbox in which such a thing might fleetingly seem to exist. I’d say the same thing about Deleuze and Guattari’s Nietzschean notion of the despotic state producing an “infinite debt” of eternal popular resentment and the tyrant’s eternal revenge against this. States and living men are not infinite things, though their souls and forms might partake in an analogical likeness to God’s infinity. Nonetheless, Moldbuggian technocrats pressing buttons to disarm the mob and punishing people by putting them to sleep in virtual reality seem more efficient, more “divine”, than simply “trad” NRx-ers waiting for social collapse to take over government or going in through the democratic backdoor and then declaring a permanent emergency and exception, à la Hitler.

As I said back here, in 1932-3 Schmitt proposed that the only way to prevent democracy being taken over by some party who would then be rid of it, was the depoliticisation of the masses by handing over of the media to the State. Moldbug, on the other hand, just seems to think that by retiring all the bureaucrats (RAGE) and being rid of the NGOs that the liberal media would continue to exist, but become powerless. If anything, he’s convinced that the superior running of the state by a CEO dictator would render leftist complaints powerless and they would likely become as risible as reactionary ideas are today (or more accurately, as reactionary ideas were a decade ago). However, I would have my eye more closely on the liberal katechon than on NRx fantasies when it comes to the urge to depoliticise. The more that reaction seems to stir, the more the Hobbesian “lizardbrain” of liberalism will come down hard on it to keep it out of the”meatspace” public sphere and even to force it off the internet, as we’ve already seen. Liberals can be very foolish, but they’re not so foolish as to allow the Fall of Weimar 2.0 to happen any time soon, especially seeing that all reactionaries have been capable of thus far is a bit of cheeky memetic warfare, a few pathetic protests and naively thinking that boring old Donald Trump had at least some of their same interests in mind.

Let us return to Grant. Both “Power to the___” and “get worthy” in his piece are of course direct references to the ideas of Mencius Moldbug. As I have pointed out elsewhere, the most glaring problem with Moldbug is that he did not give any instructions on what “worthy” might mean – all he did was concoct a rather vulgar image of a future ruled by Silicon Valley CEOs like Steve Jobs and say some pretty obvious stuff about a liberal elite who aren’t exactly super at running the “American Empire”. It’s like Noam Chomsky, but instead of all the talk of “freedom” being a cover for being greedy, the “elites” really believe in the “freedom” talk because they’ve been infested with liberal academics, and these people are apparently insane hypocrite puppet-masters (oh yes some indeed are).

This is one of the problems with Moldbuggian NRx’s view of its Other – it’s never quite sure if they’re “zombies” or if they’re Illuminati geniuses. I don’t know – does it hurt people to think that those in charge can be both very greedy and genuinely believe in some great, deluded millenarian political program? Perhaps this makes their head hurt, and so too that of the “elites” themselves. The “end of history” neutralisation is one more fake millenium, simply one more katechon. Thus, it must continuously immunise itself through violence against the possibility of any other world, whenever and wherever neutralisation in the world system starts to wear a little thin. In the underdeveloped world you foment online revolutions and then bomb them when they go wrong; in the First World sandbox you simply kick people off the internet and maybe send them to gaol for saying naughty things. Empire is gonna Empire, and the current post-war Empire is wired to be paranoid about reaction because it has legitimised itself almost entirely on a negative, on “never again”, a We Are Not-X. And X of course is Nazism, the only generally recognisable “reaction” towards which liberalism will always conflate all other forms if it should meet them. It’s a mimetic process, as after all, reaction today, long after the collapse of monarchism, is an epiphenomenon of liberalism and little more. It’s liberalism in panic. And thus, should reaction show it’s head, the liberal “end of history” Leviathan will always come back more reactionary, more Hobbesian than any daft Nazi or “trad” aggressor.

But more to the point Moldbug’s theory of hegemony simply seems to be a pretty standard rhetorical trick. Your Chomskys and Žižeks on one hand and your Moldbug “palaeolibertarians” on the other both feed on the same basic principle of “entryism”: the recognition that liberal people really do believe in “freedom”. Therefore, you simply point out that people are not quite as free as they think they are because there are bad people in charge brainwashing them. This causes the liberal to panic. Thus one suggests a millenarian solution in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance inherent in the katechon: it says I’m free and this is as good as it’ll get, but really I’m not free. You must choose: communism/NRx or slavery.

But in the same way Moldbug is saying hierarchy does exist and will always exist, it’s just that currently the wrong people are in charge. The right people will give you your freedom. I don’t really disagree on this basic principle because I’m a Platonist, and I don’t think that authoritarian communists like Žižek would even really disagree with this (sniff sniff Stalin was too moral, repeat Lenin without actually repeating him: the Master, but no superego). It’s simply a question of who the right people are, and finding and growing them is of course very, very hard. Once again, Moldbug’s choice of SV CEOs was a pretty crass idea, an appeal to nothing else but neutralisation. People who want to make lots of money won’t do bad things because that will hurt their share-price. This is the extent of Moldbuggian “worthiness” to rule. Personally I’d rather not live in some glass and steel shopping mall owned by Amazon or Google. At very least the “trad” NRx-ers should be able to agree that the architecture would be atrocious.

A couple of weeks ago I finally got my hands on a copy of Phil/Elizabeth Sandifer’s long-awaited Neo-Reaction: A Basilisk, just as I had already finished this essay. There Sandifer asks (in jest) if from Moldbug’s analyses of the “Cathedral” a “Marxist” Moldbug might be possible. Any Marxist like Sandifer who reads Moldbug can immediately nod their head in assent at much of Moldbug’s analysis of liberalism and its flawed and Byzantine world order. It’s just that Moldbug won’t really ask about Marxism.  Sandifer draws attention to Mark Fisher’s concept of a  left liberal “vampire’s castle” of elites who keep the Marxist left down.[9] How come Moldbug’s understanding of hegemony did not include this very obvious and central cog? Surely if “Cthulhu always swims left” and America was always more commie than the USSR, we should be up to our necks in “real existing” communism by now. But of course we aren’t.  Moldbug is “haunted” by Marx, as Sandifer would say – he glosses over him, he is so deep in TINA that he does not seem to think that Marxism is really anything to worry about, while at the same time seems to think that because of the “Cathedral’s” pursuit of global democracy and equality, that America was always more Marxist than Marxism, that the USSR really won. At very least Moldbug and his children should put more effort into understanding how the “Cathedral” punches left and steals, undermines and disarms Marxist ideas, as much as it is a reaction-destroying machine.

But the fact remains that Moldbug’s “get worthy” is a kind of black hole around which the “trad” NRx-ers circle as they try to plug it with bits of thinkers such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Carl Schmitt and occasionally Eric Voegelin. It must be very hard to try to make an aristocracy from scratch. Plato’s theoretical Phylaktes (Guardians), for all the inborn quality they might have, were still the product of a lifetime’s work. Off to see the blood and guts of battle at age five and all that. If more people knew about these NRx guys they’d probably laugh at them for being pretentious and ridiculous, but there you have it, that’s “cynical reason” in action, which is a parodic discipline in itself – a series of repeated actions that produce an automated, neutralising form of life that takes a lifetime to truly learn. There’s nothing wrong with reading books and getting fit – heck – the current jaded remains of the millennia long cultivational program of humanitas could do with a bit of oomph, compared with its eternal parasite, “cynical reason” (and that’s not the cool kind of cynicism where you live naked in a barrel and tell the God-king to get out of your heckin’ sunlight. That’s an even rarer askesis these days).

It is this quest for “worthiness” that was one of the things that was most curious about the “alt right” too. The “alt right”, while it seemed living, operated at least partially as a kind of weird “self-help” community – get fit, get girls, get religion, read books, learn how to use guns and so on.  There is a profound vitalism to this, like Sorel, Schmitt and Spengler’s beliefs that men had become sub-par for the Political – unworthy lumps. In reality there’s not much new here, even if today people might seem so deeply “nerfed” by neutralisation that the only civil war they can have is a “meme war”. It’s a bit funny, no?  Nonetheless, the narrative of cosmic and especially qualitative human degeneration is the backdrop against which just about all the ancients thought, from Homer and Hesiod to Plato, the Epicureans and Stoics. The last of these were even convinced that no “virtuous” man had ever existed, but one had to try anyway.

But modernity recasts and annuls this pursuit of humanitas in a form of strange and resentful mass-produced middle-class self-embarrassment that has grown from Rousseau through Nietzsche to the self-help industries of the present. Much of reactionary “get worthy” is a kind of brother to middle class leftist Steppenwolf’s attempts to distance himself from his sedate and boorish origins. However, the far-right don’t talk about becoming “Anti-Oedipus” and killing the imagined policeman-father in their heads, they talk about becoming the “worthy” policeman-father who’s going to teach those damn hippies a lesson.

The fact is that lots of daft leftist kids are still somehow playing the Freud-Marx-Nietzsche game of social and sexual liberation as though it is 1969, long after all that became a massive industry of commercialised identity, self-help, social workers and doted-upon complaint-factories (and most don’t know their Freud or Nietzsche much anymore compared with those in the 60s who just knew them very badly). The kids aren’t exactly “great” at rebelling against the Boomer father, they just think that he was a sell-out and that they can keep pushing his ghost onwards into an unknown future (before, à la A Clockwork Orange, simply repeating the cycle of the death of Dionysus by selling-out again and again). The cult of “worthiness” is simply the fact that the world from before the social revolutions of mid century has been occluded and pejorated, but the spectre of your great-great-great-grandfather’s conservatism, monocle and all, has not quite gone away, largely because it’s a great dead horse for the dumber parts of the Left to keep lying around the house for easy flogging. The rotten old nag stuffed full of straw begins to tempt people because it is seen as so bad that it surely must be powerful. It has to be reconstituted from books, from historical computer war-games and the like, which have somehow managed to keep the Great Man narrative on ice. As R.G. Collingwood said, much of the success of a moral upheaval is dependent upon whether people feel themselves satisfied under such things:

“In time, the tradition which keeps alive the forbidden thing, and keeps alive at the same time the desire for it, may die out. Its disappearance will be greatly accelerated if the new way of thinking and acting proves to be one in which the converts find themselves successful and satisfied… Where you find the new ways of thinking displayed with more than a low degree of success, you may take it as certain that the discarded ways are remembered with regret, and that the tradition of their glories is being kept tenaciously alive.”[10]

Collingwood, indebted to Hegel as he was, is speaking rather dialectically. But the fact remains that certain things do become tempting when they do not quite die and are tabooed just a little too hard. Perhaps, in retrospect, reaction was to be expected when there is so much dissatisfaction about, veritable academic and media industries of “rage porn”, and a whole internet upon which to preach it. But in the end with all the “worthy” talk, under TINA one is doomed to the same niche “lifestylism”, to perhaps an arcane place in an “alternative” service industry, but that is that (tip in Bitcoin please). You can do all the chin-ups in the gym and read as many books as you like, but in the end there will be no gap, no Event that could put this into use. Getting fit for the apocalypse that never comes is the only thing one can do not to go crazy.

But where is this king supposed to come from? Perhaps Social Matter have some king-producing machine hiding out the back or something; maybe they have the phone number for Plato’s Statesman herdsman-of-the-bipedal-flock on standby, just like Ahmadinejad used to claim he could get the Mahdi on the phone any time he liked. Maybe like in that terrible old Kevin Costner film The Postman, the future dictator is out there being a menial copy-centre boy, just waiting for social collapse to give him his chance. Like the Marxists, they are waiting upon the coming of the great millenarian Event to overturn a fallen world in an eventless, apolitical age. All they have is faith. I respect them for this, as too do I respect the quest for worthiness. But I think it is misplaced. It could be better used rebuilding real existing communities that have been decimated by global oikonomia, urbanisation and gentrification instead of online political fantasy chambers. Politics, sad to say, still comes from having to deal with real people, especially in our age when it has been so neutralised into oblivion by money and communications technology.

Arthur Gordian also has a few things to say about Schmitt, but I am left disappointed. All that seems important is Schmitt’s Manichaean friends vs. enemies designation. This, so we are told, will  lead, someday, to the dread “social justice warriors” receiving a sound thrashing (but not really):

“When the existential moment of Schmittian politics arrive, however, there is no reaction versus liberalism but only Friend versus Enemy. This moment is not “the Reset” or the “Second Great Depression” that many on the Right LARP over. It is the moment in an ordinary day when you are thrust into a confrontation with a leftist. It will not be grandiose. You might not notice it at first, until your boss calls you in for a talk. It is the subject of Vox Day’s SJW’s Always Lie. In this conflict, one must be willing to crush the enemy, to in short, ruin the lives of anyone who stands on the side of the Enemy. They will do whatever they can to annihilate you. Their very existence is a threat to yours. They must be destroyed. There can be no pangs of conscience or mercy for the Enemy. The great question, “Who Are We,” is ultimately irrelevant in the moment of war, which is the struggle for existence. As Schmitt tells us, all politics is such a struggle, and until we are clear that the Left and all its minions are enemies deserving of destruction, we do not deserve victory. This means no pity, and it means that nothing and no place is off limits for political retribution. It means erasing everything the enemy is and has done.”

This is very curious. We have a tacit acknowledgement of the improbability of the Great Event, or at very least that it is a long way off and that a great deal of mundane practise will be needed long beforehand. Schmitt becomes a kind of personal trainer. Shouting at “social justice warriors” in an office argument replaces the Political. I’m not really sure how this “annihilates” them and the lives of their chums without one looking like a colossal douche. Certainly Vox Day’s gormless whinge of a book made him look like one, if he was not already well and truly set along that path already. I don’t know. Maybe a bit of panache might be in order: a little Socratic feigned ignorance and dramatic irony could do the trick, or some more of that right wing Situationism and Alinkyism that the “meme war” was so good at for the ten seconds it lasted. Yet, Gordian doesn’t actually suggest any strategies for how one might annihilate one’s foe in a Manichaean office bloodbath, especially when that foe is far more organised, embedded and acceptable than any self-declared reactionary ideology.

Gordian ends his article with the show that he has just enough power to erase someone’s complaint in the margin of his second-hand copy of The Concept of the Political that “us vs. them” is a bit mean. This “everyday Schmittianism” is pretty banal stuff indeed. However, people need practise if they’re going to do a merciless revolution, one supposes. After the word “retribution” in the quote given above from Gordian, comes the only footnote in the piece: “This article, of course, does not advocate the violation of any law, in whatever jurisdiction is applicable to the reader.” I don’t think his mother gave him the name Arthur Gordian, so I’m a little curious as to why he might be so keen to pull his punches online when most reactionaries certainly do not. Maybe it’s the gentlemanly thing to do.  Gordian’s only practical political suggestion, given in another article, is a kind of Goodfellows for down and out reactionary victims of liberalism called the “Plinth”. It is to be run as a corporation. All he can really seem to believe in is survival, at least for the moment, because the fact is that there is no organised reaction. The Left might be morose and all hate each other too, but at least they know how to organise.

Yet so we are told in the Schmitt article: “the great work of a reactionary movement in theory, philosophy, art, and culture is work that needs doing and is absolutely necessary to the establishment of a truly humane and sustainable regime.” Perhaps architecture and the suits might be nicer – that’s one thing going for trad NRx – but overall I feel a little confused about Gordian’s hope. It is reminiscent of Theodor Adorno or Derrida – Utopia is impossible, but we must believe in it anyway. There is such a thing as playing “the long game”, but that would require a plan. Like the so called “social justice warriors” I have seen, there is no plan to be spoken of at Social Matter. We have passed out the other side of Gnostic history where plans have become impossible to seriously consider.

This is perhaps why Mencius Moldbug was so unique and his children are not. He dared to outline a system, a “plan”, when just about no one today would even dare to. This was even if both Moldbug, and especially Land, do not dare challenge the god of oikonomia – they hypertrophy it to the point that mere mortal politics must be rid of democracy in order to better synchronise with the cosmic market system. Their fear is that their god may well be mortal, and will empty itself out in a kenosis of social collapse, cancelling the hi-tech future. The Moldbuggian “restoration” or “reset” is a quiet sort of affair, a simple liquidation and privatisation, or escape to some city-state like Singapore.

But there is a hidden “second Moldbug”, found in part 9d of his “Gentle Introduction”, from whence Gordian takes his term the “Plinth” and with which most of Gordian’s ideas seem to have far more in common. In this Moldbug outlined the idea of creating a reactionary vanguard and “Antiversity” think-tank to produce right wing populism. With this one can win an election, thereafter cancelling democracy. This is the “populist”, even fascist Moldbug Nick Land doesn’t want you to know about, because it does indeed seem to contradict with Moldbug’s belief that populist revolution, even right-wing populism in general is impossible: a mile wide and an inch thick. The “Cathedral” would crush it.

But it is this sort of thing seems to be what Gordian is all about: talk about how to create a tightly bound oligarchy of high-trust “lions”, an image he borrows from Vilfredo Pareto, that singer of Mussolini’s praises. Curiously Gordian never uses the term “Plinth” to describe this; it is retained only for his reaction-protecting corporation. What is more interesting is that Gordian as an NRx-er is not obsessed with the single ruler, the God-Man One, as Moldbug and so many others have been. In Moldbug’s “neo-cameralism” the One was indeed hired by the Several, by those with controlling interest in the city state who desired for it to be prosperous. But the Moldbuggian version of the “Plinth” and Gordian’s “lions” remove us from the realm of “neutral culture” to the war-room of Thirty Tyrants, and the problems involved with trying to keep them from each others’ throats.  The funny thing is, however, that Gordian isn’t daft. He may well end up in some generic right wing think-tank in a few years. A reactionary “long march through the institutions” is probably highly likely at some point, when they realise that they can’t really do bugger all. If I was a normie neo-con GOP guy I’d be putting these dudes on an escort-off-the-premises-with-a-big-stick list in the same way Google do this to Curtis Yarvin.

Yet I am puzzled why no “trad” NRx-er seems to speak of economy, to call capital sin and the market the “Lord of this World” (or the world run and ruined by money the Devil’s arsehole like Martin Luther did). Man cannot be the servant of two masters: why so silent on oikonomia/Mammon? But there is not a peep on “trad NRx” economics, except perhaps maybe one thing I found once about government management of the supply and demand of real-estate (?), which I have never been able to find again. Where are the Carl Marlo reactionary guild enthusiasts? Where are the Distributists? Where is reactionary self-sufficiency and the beautiful Luddism of a Wendell Berry? They aren’t there, at least as self-conscious NRx. Moldbug and Land aside, neo-reactionaries suck. They can’t even do a good fantasy Utopia, let alone be half interesting “realists”.

Mind you Social Matter can’t even have a conversation about environmentalism without fearing that to accept climate change would be to accept leftist lies. They have somehow forgotten that prior to WWII ecology belonged not to hippies and cyberneticians, but to Christianity – the Holy Earth[11] – and to reactionary Romantics like Klages, and the old land-management traditions. “Trad” NRx is unconsciously a servant of TINA and immanent oikonomia and that is its greatest failure – far more than the petty racism Social Matter seems full of. Yet, as one of Nick Land’s minions said in a comment on his Xenosystems blog years ago, with Moldbug they had their “John the Baptist” – they were still waiting on their “Christ.” [12] I don’t think it is Land (he used up all his magic powers years ago), and it is certainly not anyone from Social Matter. I think they will be waiting forever for someone with half a brain to turn up to do some thinking for them, in the same way that they will be waiting forever for the “return of the king”.

2. God-Kings and Gnon-Events. 

It is one thing to get into Voegelin, as Gordian has a little, and recognise that those who preach global pacifism have a fun tendency of wanting to “exhaust the transcendent”. It is another to realise the possibility of the king usurping the transcendental aspects of God, which is what Schmitt is all about, as I began discussing in a post a the outset of this series exploring his ideas (wow that was ages ago!). That’s why I put up with having Political Theology on the shelf. Mika Ojakangas in the spirit of the Radical Orthodoxy thinkers hits the crux of the issue dead on. The problem is that of the nasty old univocity of Being, of treating the existential nature of God as exactly the same as that of man or a rock or a lollipop:

“…unlike the Schmittian constitution-making power, God’s potentia absoluta was not, in medieval theology, originally intended as a description of some form of divine action: the absolute power of God referred to the total possibilities initially open to God… It became a theological notion with Duns Scotus’ theory of univocity: the power of man has the same meaning as the power of God.”[13]

Perhaps Schmitt made a mistake, we might say, and simply did not know his theology well enough. And yet anyone who has read Ernst Kantorowitz’s masterly The King’s Two Bodies should know that comparisons between the king and Christ or the king and God recur again and again throughout the Middle Ages. [14]Maybe we do our mediaeval precursors a disservice to assume that they meant such things literally rather than analogically. And yet the position of the king in relation to God has always been a difficult one.

Univocity of being or otherwise the Abrahamic religions are troubled at their core by the problem of the Two – of God/world, God/Man, soul/body, transcendent/immanent. Much of Voegelin’s life was of course spent attempting to break the problem of the hypostatised Two in order to get back to some primordial participatory “flow” of reality. However, the Two haunts what Roberto Esposito would call the “machine of political theology”.  It divides and then must attempt to get back to one again and again, which always comes at the price of one of the pairs. Schmitt, Esposito claims, knew this, which is why against Eric Peterson’s efforts to use the Holy Spirit as a wedge between politics and theology, all he could do was claim that Christ already settled the problem with his dual nature.[15]

To Schmitt this apparently meant that there was no exit to the friend and enemy division, between the inside and the outside. This of course makes the Christian God a war god, forever dividing the world into his people who synchronise with his covenants and those outside the temple. And yet as Jan Assman has said on the differences between Egyptian and Abrahamic political theology, with the latter the greatest dissonance and violence tends to take place not between the inside and the pagans, but within the community over how to overcome the Two and synchronise with God properly. [16] There is forever paranoia about heresy and an eternal production of heresies attempting to solve the Two. There is also, of course, the endless problem of the people failing to live up to the covenants again and again – especially the kings.

Let us go back a long way. As far as I recall, God didn’t like those idolatrous, flawed Old Testament kings very much. He pretty much only let the people of Israel have a king in the first place because they kept on moping about it to the prophet Samuel that they wanted to be like everyone else. Seeing that most of the rulers of the neighbours of Israel venerated their kings as God-Men, the Lord was right to be a bit suspicious. In the end God just lets them have one because the people had basically forgotten that He was their king:

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”

Samuel then lists all the new obligations the people would now be under with their king. They’re not too great. Finally he says:

“And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.  And the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.” And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, “Go ye every man unto his city.”[17]

And so they did, and it turned out pretty badly, at least until Christ, the real King of Kings turned up (even if His Kingdom may not be of this world, whatever that is to mean some day when all is said and done). After Christ the situation changes, and, as the rest of this essay endeavours to show, the problem of God and the king was not solved one jot. The “cataclysm” of Christianity opened the way to tendencies far worse than simply the Israelite kings’ endless falls into idolatry. What do I mean by this?

I think we need to add to Schmitt’s problem of the king as God-Man imitating the potentia absoluta Dei with a small “political theology” investigation of our own. Where to begin? With the attempt to marry Athens and Jerusalem of course, which begins with Philo Judaeus, and is then taken up by the church fathers in the Late Roman Empire.  As Voegelin said so well in The New Science of Politics, Christianity as “political religion” has been troubled by the gap between the conceptions of Eusebius and Augustine in its attempts to negotiate with worldly power. Eusebius invoked the singular Christian emperor as a worldly mirror of the One God – a coincidence of the eschatological promise of peace on Earth through the Logos and the Pax Romana. The Emperor, who had literally been a divine pagan figure, simply became an “end of history” earthly imitation of God instead.

But of course, like all earthly things, this did not last. Thus, Saint Augustine, during the late days of the Western Empire, claimed that God had permitted the Roman Empire to happen because the Romans had been brave, but the “earthly city” of the Church would out-survive them. One king or empire can succeed another, but the Christian ecclesia survives them all. As Voegelin notes, when the Roman emperor in the ‘West” disappeared, he whose singularity mirrored the One God, and the Church alone inherited his imperium, this was the “end of political theology in orthodox Christianity.. ” For all the various “protectors of the faith” and new Holy Roman Emperors who would come, in the West “the sphere of power was radically de-divinized”.  This remained simmering in the background through the Middle Ages, and, as Voegelin claimed, led finally the Gnostic “re-divinization of society” in modernity through the millenarian figure of the Dux e Babylone[18] We shall return to this Dux figure later.

For now, however, I think that Voegelin let a lot untouched in his analysis. He needed to have spoken more about the rise of the nation state and the Absolute Monarch, both a product of the metaphysical-juridical mess the Middle Ages inherited from the political theology of antiquity. Late in the Roman Empire the corpus that would become The Digest of Roman Law pencilled in the lex regia (royal law) in order to legitimise the ending of the Roman Republic. The idea was that the populace had at some imagined point handed over their bottom up consent to be ruled to the single imperial ruler.[19] What was this lex regia going to do to mediaeval Europe? Europe had many rulers and the Mother Church too – all of which increasingly vied with one another for power. Who was in charge? Is everyone the Roman Emperor in his own domain? This was the proposed solution to this issue, which gave rise to the legitimacy of the absolute monarch and nation state. But solving this wasn’t so easy. “Bottom up” assent as the grounds for legitimacy had already been admitted. King due to the people and their social conventions, their ius gentium, became a fixture. Populus maior imperatore

This could only spell trouble for the symbolic dualism of mediaeval Christianity: that of secular politics on one hand and the pastoral duties of the church on the other, which were expected to work together as a harmonious flowing whole. But the problem of course was that they did not. Secular rulers and the papacy were constantly treading on one another’s turf. Thus, the task became exactly how to think who had what turf. Could the church exercise political power? After all they had been handed the Roman imperium and scholars were trying to claim that the rulers too could possess plenitudo potestatis (fullness of power). How does one deal with more than one emperor/king anointed by God? Attempting to make this work led to the division, hypostatisation and collapse of these symbols. A gap began to consciously appear between God-grace-church and on the other hand Nature-popular assent- the king. The result of this process was the pushing of the former side into an increasingly smaller corner, divorced from the Political and Nature.

We see this in Bartolus of Perugia’s use of the lex regia to claim that the people control the king and can make whatever decisions, customs and laws they like; we also see it in Marsilius of Padua with his “what touches all should be approved by all” – that the Pope should have no worldly power but everyone in Christendom should be able to vote on him and control him.[20] So too Dante Alighieri with his “two swords” and world emperor to control the lesser kings and keep the church out of politics. [21] These thinkers were already divorcing God and grace from the world and the church from any power, only to hypertrophy the king, populace and state at their expense long before the thinkers of the Age of the Wars of Religions. It is just that Spinoza, Hobbes and Locke and Rousseau would be in the right place at right time, when the state had become powerful, the capital-pump of Moloch was edging its way across the globe, and the single church fractured. They could immanentise authority, divide church from state and be thought of as “original” Enlightened thinkers for doing so. In short perhaps a little maxim reactionaries should be aware of: there is no such thing as a “modern” theologico-political problem, only a mediaeval problem that got worse. This is what the genealogy of “political theology” is all about.

The body of “natural law” rose up and ate the soul and the immanent was filled with mana as the result of the reduction to solely this bottom up legitimacy:  D. R. Harding’s “law of conservation of mana” outlined in his fabulous old The Hierarchies of Heaven and Earth. The “two bodies of the king”, we might say, become those of bottom-up “nature” and the hubristic theft of the glory of God, rolled into a single corpse. As Carl L. Becker wrote of “Nature’s God”, that Enlightenment obsession: “they had only given another form and a new name to the object of worship: having denatured God, they deified nature.”[22] It is with this immanentised oikonomia that we find ourselves looking at the cosmologies of modernity square in the face: the “three oikoi” of economy, natural ecology and globalising communicational ecumene – autopoetic systems seen to march on endlessly as God and then so too modernity’s Gnostic humanist agency fades away into some touted “end of history”. The “systems” make history and take care of themselves. This is the ultimate bad faith punchline of “modernity without restraint”.

If we are to search for some of the most important political roots of modern autopoetic, immanentist oikonomia, then we may see it in both Hobbes and Spinoza. Hobbes is the first to think of society and the market as self-making natural systems. Money is the blood of the colossal machine-body of Leviathan, pumped around here and there in a series of proto-infomatic flows; all value is based upon the subjective appetites of the contractor and what they are happy to give. He is the first true cybernetician, who shuts out God for the sake of a machine that builds and adjusts itself to keep order. Spinoza, in comparison, is the first to produce a materialism, not from atoms and merely the Stoic conatus vitae, but by way of theology: a doctrine in which all there is, is the pantheistic immanent. God is nature, God is the multitudo that makes democracy. [23] 

There is nothing more suspicious than “nature” after the Enlightenment, because “nature” becomes god-in-the-system. Maybe in the days of ye olde cybernetics it used to be a “Hegelian” immanent God that adjusted the system back towards “balance in nature”, but that myth of “order” has long since passed out of scientific naturalism and systems thinking  to be replaced by the delicate, rather more Whiteheadian “edge of chaos”.  For the image of a transcendental God acting through nature to be entertained after all this causes us to be thrown back upon the mystery of a difficult theodicy. We are unable to deduce if we are being punished or rewarded because the massive tangle of immanent networks and acceleration of consumer metabolism we are part of just keep on keeping on.  We must be silent and wait. Maybe we will have to wait three hundred years, maybe five for the exceptionalist liberal “miracle” of the unnegatable “end of history” to come to an end. Have neo-reactionaries considered that? We might call this “awful horror” something like “normie extremism”. It’s a good speculative thought experiment, as silly as it might sound. What would one do if this might be the case?

With this “nature” problem in mind, let us then turn to something Gordian had a complaint about when I wrote about Land’s weird deity Gnon (Nature or Nature’s God). Gnon started out as something ontologically indeterminable which stood in place of God or even Spinoza’s substance:

“Gnon is no less than reality, whatever else is believed. Whatever is suspended now, without delay, is Gnon. Whatever cannot be decided yet, even as reality happens, is Gnon. If there is a God, Gnon nicknames him. If not, Gnon designates whatever the ‘not’ is. Gnon is the Vast Abrupt, and the crossing. Gnon is the Great Propeller.”[24]

Gnon was a way of trying to pose “radical realism” and a sort of abstract deism without really agreeing to either. Gnon in “original form” is like Heidegger’s Being – so abstract that it doesn’t really mean or say anything except perhaps trivially that for an unknown reason something is. Land hoped that one day the “Dark Enlightenment” would become more interested in “ontological arcana”, but of course this hasn’t been the case. Very quickly Gnon slipped into a way of talking about cause and effect, and then into a kind of Lovecraftian deity to be enchanted against one’s enemies.  Sandifer in Neo-Reaction: A Basilisk defines Gnon as a kind of “compromise” or “bridge” to try to hold together Land and Moldbug’s atheism and the Christianity of “trad” NRx-ers. Sandifer may well be right that the real “bridge” is simply between Land’s mental breakdown articulated in his essay “A Dirty Joke” and the search for some kind of “God” to save himself.[25] But on electric paper at least Gnon doesn’t do anything. It’s hardly “an awful inescapable realization about the way the world is”, as Sandifer seems to think. Is not Land’s whole project one colossal dose of a man trying to convince himself of an “awful inescapable realisation” with no let up? I don’t think there is a break here. Gnon went back to what it had originally attempted to be rid of for the sake of suspension: the intention and definition of Deus sive natura vult. Land couldn’t help himself.

Land, to use Heidegger as an analogy, could not help but confuse beings with Being. Basically Gnon could be whatever one wanted to project onto it as “being the case”. For a kind of anti-foundationalist foundationalism it sure seems to have quickly collected a lot of qualities. This would be completely fine if it were to admit to just being a “speculative” anti-foundationalist thought like Voegelin’s but it cannot – quite simply because of the Gnostic panic Land has about the future and collapse of society because of his longing for suffering and pain, which is so patently obvious throughout the whole history of his work. Funnily enough, I do believe that some aspects of Land’s ideas are worth considering. I seem to find myself writing about them more often than I probably should. I think that just about every honest speculative “process” thought today must engage with the obvious fact that we are caught in a “great acceleration” of consumption and information that does have a sobering “realism” to how it is derailing and remaking the world. This is an aspect of the world we cannot ignore. Man is a creaturely being of a day, as Voegelin would say, who finds himself:

“an existent among others; he experiences a world of existents of which he is a part. Moreover, in discovering himself in his limitation as part in a field of existents, he discovers himself as not being the maker of this field of existents or of any part of it. Existence acquires its poignant meaning through the experience of not being self-generated but having its origin outside itself.”[26]

Voegelin continues on to say that it is through illumination and the Nous that questions of origins arise. But there has been very little consideration of this by anyone, when one might think that now would be a very good time to try to return to the Ground of Being and work out how and why history has come to where it is. At present I’m busy trying to work out a Voegelinian “process philosophy” answer to accelerationism and the nature  question. It’s nearly done. Bear with me. I’m very busy.

Nonetheless, the idea of Nature, since at least the Epicureans and Stoics, has always been a concept dangerously open not only to personification (idolatry?), but a “veiled” being tantalising the thinker as that which is immanently responsible for all causes.  This is certainly not what Plato and Aristotle had in mind, I think, when they pursued their questioning on how to synchronise a society with divine harmony, even if such a thing might not be possible. Yet, things decayed away from their impossible speculations of order and we got dull old “natural law”, Stoicism and the like instead, which steadily dominated the Platonic and Aristotelian inheritances in Christianity.

For instance, the Digest had strong Stoic leanings, but could still give away the fact of just how much a Byzantine minestrone it was on the “natural law” question very easily. Are all men born equal and inequality just down to fake old ius gentium (muh social construct)? Why add a third one, ius civile, then? Is “natural law” just the law which ought to be observed by everyone and ius gentium exists to universalise this culturally? Does ius naturale just mean, as Ulpian said, nothing more than “what nature has taught all animals” – that they exist to pair up, breed, teach their tots and die? [27]  This should teach us that there is no naive realist free lunch, and that if reactionaries want to play with “natural law” and “nature’s God” then they have to realise that they’re playing with something which is inherently universalist, flattening and anhistorical, as much fun as it might be to try to elevate one’s pet political system or fleeting exceptionalist ethnos to “that’s just how things are.” Yet, paradoxically, the core problem of “the nature question” begins for Plato and Aristotle with the assumption that things are currently not the way they ought to be. This is inscribed on their legacy. To speak of nature means one always-already smuggles in the assumption that society is out of whack with it. A similar parallel is Herder with the concept of “culture”, which was formulated against the backdrop of fear that oral epics, songs and histories were always-already in danger of dying out. There is no culture without implicit kulturlos. Can much then be made of this nature business?

Natural law like Nature is a question and a place for speculating the strange possibility that everyone and even every thing partakes in and is affected by something in common, even if they never know about it. This should be disconcerting, for while what we would call “gravity” seems to clearly exist and shapes entities, whether one defines it as simply the element of Earth possessing heaviness or through complex equations, there may well be many “natural laws” that remain unknown to us, and may never be known or symbolised in any manner.

If anything, Gnon is at least an improvement on Land’s old god Cthelll (see here) – a kind of primordial mass of suffering that infects the entire Earth since its “geotraumatic” creation. But why would I call Gnon a “chaos god” as I have previously? Because Land’s beliefs work that way and imprint absolutely on the colourless ontology of Gnon. Land is all about the panic that the monster of capital will fall apart and we’ll die before the robots turn up to replace us (he’s never been much of one to care about people – they’re a pointless “degree zero in history”). He also believes that reality can be caused to come about just by thinking it, through a kind of magic called “hyperstition”. In short, when such a person speaks of “reality”, even when dear old Gnon originally might have seemed so very anaemic – nothing more than an ontology that “shit happens” – it is Land’s Gnostic “second reality” and ontological insecurity that colonises it.

Thus, it is immensely bizarre to see “trad” types with their “Wrath of Gnon” memes playing around with something like this as though it would mean some harmonious living in accordance with nature and what the Christian God has planned. The whole point of Land’s accelerationist cosmology is that such a “balance” is impossible – he thinks we exist far from equilibrium after the death of the Christian God plummeting towards extinction and better make the most of it. All said and done, the next time you see a “Wrath of Gnon” meme, especially one quoting Heidegger, ask yourself if the gnoning of gnon is not itself a Gnon because Land couldn’t help himself. He wanted to confuse the ontological difference of Being and beings in the name of sorcery. He wanted a god that would punish his enemies, an entity, rather than an ontology.

Yet I’m still trying to understand why to Gordian I owe Karl Marx a citation for saying that Nick Land’s concept of nature is a spurious fantasy. I’ve read Marc and a lot of Marxists, so maybe it’s secretly rubbed off on me and I don’t realise (I say with tongue in cheek). If I squint hard I think that I can guess that Gordian somehow mysteriously means the Marxist concept of reification where people fail to see things caused by economic relations by assigning them to gods, nature, inanimate objects and so on instead. The king is only a king because we call him so. But this would be very poor Marxism, because to the Marxist the king is called the king because of the economic base. Otherwise this would simply be a silly old “relative independence of the superstructure” which has led to nothing but a “culturalist” and identitarian post-Marxism. I can’t stand the stuff. Give me a properly mad, teleological millenarianism of economy any day of the week. You know where you stand with that, preferably far away from it when it goes off.

But paradoxically, at the same time, there is indeed a potent deification of the economic system in our age, and so too the other two “oikoi” of ecology and endless expansion and reweaving of the communicative “global village” ecumene. For the most part it is liberalism and not what is left of Marxism engaged in this fetishism of human beings as nothing more than parts of self-making systems. Althusser took the humanism out of Marx and turned it to one more “ideology”, but no one gives a toss about Althusser much anymore (though Zizek, Badiou and Laclau all bear his marks). And yet the general neo-liberal “common sense” is to believe that “it’s the economy stupid”, that one cannot fight the endless waves of globalisation, that “nature will find a way” after human beings might wipe themselves and all the other creatures out. Who’s to blame? Why are the “normies” so engrossed in base economism when the “Marxists” seem allergic to it now? It’s simply the fact that the project of immanentising oikonomia took place alongside the Gnostic humanist political projects, but when the latter were seen to have failed by the late 20th c., the former was all that was left for “post-political” man to make his world.

This fetishism is hypertrophied in Nick Land perhaps more than anyone else. He was a Marxist-Anarchist who “went bad” simply because he took the agency of capital to be greater than any human agency to change things, and when one does that, one makes the market one’s god and men but parasites to it. This “posthumanism” and “accelerationism” is there in proto-form in the vitalist immanentism of Deleuze and Guattari of course, but Land exacerbates it to the point of absolute belief in a naive naturalism about race science. Why? When he says “capitalism is an ethnicity” does this mean he really like Anglos and Chinese because he’s an ethnonationalist? No, they’re just the instruments he thinks are required to push capital to bring about a post-human future, thereby rendering themselves obsolete. It’s not much of a reward for being The Chosen of Nature, is it?

Land is so fixated on this that he forgets Deleuze and Guattari’s statement that in their materialist “concept creation” they were never doing “science”. It is as though their doctrine that “desiring machines” don’t split the difference between the social organisation and technology cannot simply be transformed into Land’s obsession with the social history of Anglo tendencies towards social atomisation, but has to be bolstered with race science conspiracies just in case[28] Perhaps Land thinks that crank race theories are the outsider mana of a rebellious Anglo Malthusian “nomad science”, though I’m sure Deleuze and Guattari would call him a fascist and be done with it. Every day and in every way he increasingly turns into the strawman Kant of his old far leftist article “Kant, Capitalism and the Prohibition of Incest” – a figure terrified of letting the colonised Outside invade the soft body of European imperialism. It’s a little funny. How do you make a Nazi? asked the young Reichian Land in “Making it With Death”. I dunno, maybe convince him that the post-war Father will permit anything but that transgression, that Liberaldad ™ draws his power from “never again”. Being a racist prat is the only way to be genuinely edgy, the only “outside” to liberalism, the only “lifestylism” not permitted. Once again it is very sad.

But more to the point one doesn’t end up with an understanding of capitalism as a monster like Nick Land has from being a “reactionary”. As Mark Fisher has said, perhaps Land’s “absolute deterritorialisation” suicide machine is the “real existing capitalism” that neo-liberal types don’t want to think about.[29] Land thought about it so hard he became convinced that going reactionary was the only way out. He had to come through what Deleuze and Bataille had done to Marx’s ideas through Spinoza, Bergson and Nietzsche – the creation of a vitalist cosmology of waste and sprawl, an absolutely immanent magic. Marxism was always “dynamic Spinozism” as Plekhanov called it, and from Negri to Balibar, Marxists can never get enough of Spinoza.

Land comes out the other side of this Spinozist conatus vitae cosmic vitalism as a self-admitted “lemurian sorcerer”, obsessed with Lovecraftian deities, kabbalah and the belief he can enchant the future into existence. The person who introduced his ideas to me was actually a reactionary occultist. But it does make me laugh a little for Gordian to claim that Land isn’t a real thinker compared with another angry ex-communist, James Burnham, who reads like your boring alt lite uncle at a family barbecue. On Land’s influence alone, no one since Alexandre Kojève has probably been more influential to both right and left. One cannot ignore him. Twenty years ago he was an eccentric lunatic. Today a lot more people are willing to believe that all one can do is “accelerate the process”, that there is no Event or negation coming, only more capitalist deterritorialisation until everything is dead. People really need to cheer the hell up a bit sometimes.

But, all said and done, Gnon is not innocent, though he may have been born as such. Gnon is not “just how God made the world”. Gnon is a magic spell for killing humanity to make cyborgs if one is Land. This is because in a supposedly totally immanent material world with no meaning, the end of humans is the only game worth playing. Death to “Nature’s God” and immanent oikonomic naturalism everywhere, I say. The only way to do this, I think, if back to the question of a transcendental process theology which allows the strange metabolic rift of acceleration to be understood as part of an “order in history”, as something to be accepted and dealt with rather than just one more “transcendental miserablism”. As will be said later in this essay, I don’t think that the symbolism of cyclic history can cut the mustard in relation to this, any more than the idea of the old waiting period of the saeculum senescens leading irrevocably to an immanent and imminent apocalypse and metamorphosis. Get thinking.

3. The God-King. 

Let’s get one thing straight. I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with monarchy or responsible hierarchies based on the moral quality of people in some speculative sense and I never said so, even if Gordian would seem to think I have.[30] But we do need to acknowledge that Christianity had problems trying to negotiate power with worldly rulers from the start, as I attempted to show in the previous section. Christ was surely being facetious when he said render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, holding a coin that bore his idolatrous image as pagan God-Man. Indeed Christianity had to learn to live in the world alongside secular power, and from Paul to Eusebius and Augustine it had to make consolations. And yet Christianity survives, two thousand years later after so many empires and katechontes have been and gone, but the Anti-Christ and returning messiah have not come – only short-lived political imitations. So too does Judaism still survive, and they’re still waiting on the messiah to come even once.

Thus, more importantly we need to try to come at the “political theology” of the problems of the restoration of monarchy as magical solution. And it is a magical solution. It’s a fetish because monarchism in Europe was defeated, by revolution and constitution, and today means relatively nothing except something one finds in fairy tales (which is not to pick on fairy tales. As a folklorist I love the dang things). Yet monarchy is certainly not “just how things work” in most people’s minds, the “natural state” of Western culture or anywhere else anymore. But to a few “trad” NRx-ers it somehow is and somehow would ritualistically also drive out all the things which they seem to think makes the world so fallen: people will suddenly be good, moral patriarchal Christians, will respect their ancestors, will work hard and be more responsible and all that and the gays will probably evaporate or something. This is a remarkably naive view of the past, strangely often matched by an enthusiasm for good old fashioned brutalism, for a will to the return of the Political and Vico’s “primaeval forest”. My what a generous fellow the king is! He brings everything in his train!

I don’t expect Social Matter to even come anywhere near this sort of realisation. They’re a sort of American Conservative on a bad hair day. There’s no way, even in the bizarre and hilarious impossibility that if they hoarded enough guns and bibles that somehow seized power, that Social Matter would do anything but produce just one more fascism panicking at its own shadow, Thirty Tyrants selling each other out. Why? Because that’s how every reactionary movement has done it so far. And then you get the tyrant, and no one, especially the intellectuals, ends up happy about that (ask Junger, Spengler, Niekisch, Schmitt, Evola…) Reaction like all political movements in modernity has to engage with the mass culture problem, and Social Matter are a little too high and mighty to do this. Reaction plus mass culture creates fascism, and it’s always going to be that aspect of the “alt right” mass that dominates, even if from the perspective of some “lion elites” in the ivory tower trying to keep order in their ranks through internecine long knives, the overall plan might look very different.

Good luck to them if they think they might just be able to forcibly stuff America into some authoritarian Christianity and make all the liberal victories of the past century or so evaporate instantly: abortion, women’s and gay rights, the social capital of atheist resentment of God and the liberal resentment of one’s preordained “place”.  This will require blood, huge gouts of it, and continually so (I think Gordian and friends are probably quite okay with that), and control of all media (which is now pretty much impossible and is the only reason the far right have a voice). To occlude such things would simply reverse Collingwood’s observation about history: it might just make liberalism and democracy look sacred rather than the jaded stuff of “cynical reason”. Imagine it, how people might speak of the “eight good emperors” between Nixon and Obama, a period in which mankind had never been happier or freer. It sounds naff and hilarious, but perhaps such a romantic discourse might be possible in a reactionary world. A law of human nature, should one dare to speculate, is that man is never happy with what he has. The immanent Good is always before or after.[31]

The simple truth, however, is that I just don’t trust reactionaries desperate for a soterical human king. And this is the problem. “Trad” NRx-ers don’t want to just grab some guy who’s good at chopping up people and whack a crown on his head. There have been more than enough tyrants, dictators, bad kings, weak kings, and robber barons. They want the legendary “good king”, a rarissima avis. Both Plato and Confucius ended up “realists”, quite simply because the wise king, dare one say philosopher king, is not a creature so easily found – the tyrant is forever more likely, especially following democracy, if Plato is to be trusted (and I think he should be on this one). Like Diogenes we are compelled to go about with a lantern looking for the “good” man, but the problem may be that as products of liberal democracy we would not even know where to start to spot the difference between a good ruler and a bad ruler. We’re not even great at finding good rulers for democracy – simply post-industrial office managers minding the fort for oikonomia.

In short I will always side with Leo Strauss against the Kojèves of the world who think that their Stalins vindicate the realisation of the great, benevolent “philosopher king.” When faced with figures of this sort the philosopher has to remember his or her duty to be like Simonides before Hiero – to dare to speak the truth and educate the ruler, even if this cannot help but fail or end in exile or death. In such a world Apollonius of Tyana’s attitude and words to Vespasian are needed more than ever: “Nero freed the Greeks in play, but you have enslaved them in earnest.”[32]

Like Bonald, DeMaistre and other nineteenth century reactionaries, the contemporary “trad” reactionary simply sits there simmering, hoping for the day when a divine miracle of brutalism will overthrow an intrinsically not merely sinful, but evil humanity, for its crimes of leaving the middle ages.[33] He isn’t very reactionary in fact. It’s not as though these guys are theologists like John Milbank going okay let’s go back and read Nicholas of Cusa and John Scotus Eriugena because something has gone terribly wrong with the “nominalist-voluntarist” Christianity we got, or Voegelin going back to the start and realising the terrible fragility both Christianity and Platonism possessed all along. The neo-reactionary gets about as far as the nineteenth century and its myths of the Middle Ages and that is about it: Männerbünde, neo-gothic kitsch, race “science” and the magic of “whiteness”.

But the “trad” NRx-ers are not apologists for an existing system like Bodin or manglers of the system like Hobbes, or even jurists like Schmitt opportunistically trying to graft their ideas on to Hitler with the Führertum doctrine. The liberal “end of history” order is the katechon and the oikonomia of goddess TINA reigns, having absorbed the immanent power that was once installed in the ruler. Yet the problem remains that the king does not exist and that to the NRx-er the emphasis is on his coming as an act of salvation from an accursed liberalism. The king is a canvas of projection, he is treated naively. Who is to keep in check and remind him that he serves God and not his own personal will to libido dominandi? Is there some unified church to do this? No. Will he listen to a bunch of NRx intellectuals squeaking “that’s not how you do it!” as happened with communism and Nazism. Shall there be a “leftcom” faction of NRx calling all the potential kings who turn up nothing but “opportunists”? It is very easy to be disappointed when deified tyrant saviours turn out not quite as they were hoped for.

In fact the “trad” NRx monarch who comes at the end to save a damned society, destroy the old order and reboot the “West” is suspiciously millenarian- he can only be a miraculous, random “emergent property” of the system. His reign would be all Exception, his only legitimacy the Ernstfall emergency situation granted by God or immanent “Nature’s God”-  oikonomia. It kind of sounds an awful lot like the what Voegelin was saying about Hitler and the millenarian obsession with the futureal Dux e Babylone, the “beneficial” Anti-Christ, who comes to bring the apocalypse and new order.[35] A major part of this, I think, as I have been saying about Schmitt, the lex regia and so on, is that there is always that nasty vector towards god-man. As Geoffrey Ashe wrote on King Arthur, with reference to the ideas Norman Cohn had explored concerning the millenarian Dux:

“Outside of Britain there were medieval fancies about an “emperor” who had lain asleep for centuries and who would wake up to perform marvellous feats. One or two such tales, current around the time of the First Crusade, probably took shape without any Arthurian influence. It was sometimes rumoured that Charlemagne himself would rise to lead the crusaders. But these were cruder and shallower notions. The Titan Themes – the sleeper’s association with a lost golden era which was other; his tragic supplanting and eclipse; and his future reinstatement – played no vital part in them. Later would come the German tale of the emperor Frederick who would come again… Arthur is the original; Frederick is a carbon copy considerably smudged.”[34]

Voegelin saw something similar in that hero of the Joachites, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II:

“The problem of the political institution, which Augustine had not considered important, now takes centre stage; and consequently, it is only a question of what the historical situation will be when the political institution will break away from its subordination under the feudal church and usurp the sacral contents itself. Frederick II had already taken this step. Following the conquest of Jerusalem and his self-elevation as the Messiah-king, the emperor speaks as an autocrator, a heathen god-man. The ancient Justitia becomes the declared state virtue; her cult the state religion… the pope declares the emperor an antichrist. The first inner-worldly political religion has been established on the soil of the Christian ecclesia.”[35]

The idea of becoming-asiatic-god-man, of a falling into Akhenaten, Alexander, Chingis Khan or the Achaemenid emperors is something that is guaranteed to upset and terrify the “reactionary” Christian thinker. One might joke that every absolutist “sun king” is but a step away from Elagabalus, transgender sun god. Voegelin is right, Augustine did not consider the capacity of whoever was the keeper of the katechon to usurp the sacral contents, for the king to become benevolent Anti-Christ who brings the apocalypse for the sake of the millennium. At least in Egypt the problem with Akhenaten was not an excess of the political over the theological, as Assman would say, it was an excess of the theological. [36] In Egypt the Two meant the unity of kingdoms and thus stood for the unity of all things, and the pharaoh had always been an appendage of the divine. Akhenaten damaged that by trying to subsume all the people’s gods into a monotheism. They tried to scratch his name out of history for that. The Two in the Abrahamic religions, on the other hand, has been nothing but the temptation for one element to destroy the other in order for the One to be returned. Perhaps dear old Hegel and his sorcery was always to be expected. His solution is nothing more but the Gnostic attempt to steer the problem to finality through its own means.

But most importantly, Voegelin also noted the parallels between the “royal restorer of order” in Plato’s Statesman and in Joachite millenarianism. He observantly realises that the millenarian Dux arises to institute the final order of things, and that he appears when a civilisation is going through a rapid decline and growth simultaneously. The Statesman, on the other hand, comes during a “real” decline and the opening up of a new “spiritual substance”.[37] After so much millenarianism and Christian history can one tell the difference anymore? What NRx-er would claim that the order he wishes to install would not be the last? Would he ever say ‘Well, we’ll do this and it’ll probably work for 200 years maybe, and then there’ll be something else. Maybe liberal democracy will come back again, or something we don’t know.” Too much historical consciousness takes the wind out of the sails of revolutionary movements. It was after all this impermanence of orders that Leo Strauss in his one awesome moment worth reading used against Kojève’s “end of history”. History keeps going even if you don’t want it to.

Moreover, I’m curious what new spiritual substance these NRx-ers have to offer because they seem to be stuck arse-deep in the lowest kind of exoteric “trad” dogmatism. As said above, we’re not dealing with mystics here. For that matter, the convergence of rapid decline and growth and the Dux Voegelin speaks of, makes me think of Accelerationism and deterritorialisation. Voegelin’s question always was: how can a society seem to progress and decline at the same time? This is the mystery of Saint Augustine’s rash declaration of living in the saeculum senescens, the Old Age of the World, the wait/weight of the indefinite period before the Apocalypse and millennium, when everything just keeps on going long after it might seem to have ceased being a joke. I’ve said it before here, that because of the “creative destruction” of modernity’s capital pump, that millenarianism was the best option on the table for mediaeval people to think of the destiny of their rapidly derailing world. Thus, I’m not so convinced that “trad” NRx escapes the Dux. A few transsexuals and the “browning of America” and they start shrieking for a king to totally annihilate the current order for them, to eradicate any evidence it was ever there, as Gordian seems to desire.

Thus far all I have come across in relation to recognition of the problem of the king usurping by Social Matter and its associates is this three hour podcast called “Reminding the King That He Serves God”, which seemed rather lightweight for such a long discussion, except perhaps the attempt to prove at c. 37 mins that absolute power of a sort is possible within a limited domain (the “secret service” apparently – I thought the US secret service just guarded the president and stopped people from burning banknotes). All silliness aside, any pretension to earthly absolutism is always-already hubris, always an attempt to usurp God. No monarch has ever been absolute, no mortal person has ever held absolute power. It is a childlike overstatement to think that they do, one which invites deification of mere men.

The fact is that like Islam, Christianity made its deal with worldly power to produce an ecumene, and in the end the immanent order won – Christendom extended over the globe- only for the imperial fundament on which it was standing to congeal under the weight of its own belief in a finalisation that has not been final. Why? Because all symbolisations of order and all empires are mortal. As Voegelin pointed out in the few words he ever said about Islam:

“…it reveals in its extreme form the danger that beset all of the religions of the Ecumenic Age, the danger of impairing their universality by letting their ecumenic mission slide over into the acquisition of world-immanent, pragmatic power over a multitude of men which, however numerous, could never be mankind past, present, and future.”[38]

The world keeps going. Here we might as easily be speaking of the neo-liberal katechon’s inability to understand that the world can change or understand anything but itself, as much as its bitter reactionary grandfather that has been risen from the dead. The wish for the soterical God-Man is a millenarian terror at the inability of the past, present and future inhabitants of the ecumene to stay the same.  The return of the king to save the day and dole out totalising judgement is a panic at a universality perceived to have got out of hand. How they run back to that ever-changing conqueror’s hypochondria of “whiteness”, back to European exceptionalism, to the libido dominandi for a world in which there is some new colonial frontier, perhaps in space, for Social Matter do love their naff pictures of spaceships a great deal.

4. Gnostic Miserablism. 

Of all things I am fundamentally surprised that none of the “trads” have really been interested in Thomas Carlyle again (the Carlyle Club and Radish seem to have been dead ends and Land cast out Carlyle almost immediately in favour or his nemesis, Malthus). Nor have any of them since Moldbug been able to write like the beautiful, crazed proto-Nietzsche that Carlyle was. Carlyle was a Gnostic Fichtean Romantic. He bathed in the idea of the millennium and the coming of a soterical Great Man: “Carlyle’s search for a new god succeeded in the discovery of a Gnostic man-god”.[39] Towards the end he became very desolate about it all. As Raymond Williams, one of the few people to have said much of quality (or at all) on Carlyle in the past century realised: “what he lacks, or feels himself to lack is power; and yet he is conscious of power; conscious too, of the superiority of his insight.”[40]  And it was a great insight into the irresponsibility of the politicians of his day, something greater than personal conceit, but it was a thwarted and miserable insight indeed. I think Moldbug too had some good insights – he wasn’t daft. In fact I think, as I will explore in the next part of this essay, he may well be looked back upon as the first of a kind – not as a reactionary, but a new kind of liberal. That will have to wait for later.

But like dear old Carlyle the “trad” neo-reactionary is a Gnostic because he hates the world. He is always-already outside of living tradition, come too late into a society that would laugh at him (or throw rocks) if he started talking to them about benevolent tyrants and the “redemption of Ham” or whatever. He can LARP all he likes with his reassembled “invented traditions”, but he cannot be anything but a “reactionary modernist” – a fascist throwing “white shariah” about, if handed the keys to the current world after hundreds of years of liberalism and the colossal techno-capitalist edifice. As Oswald Spengler (my favourite reactionary, who, like Voegelin knew that Joachim of Fiore was at the core of the libido dominandi of modernity) would say, our reactionary suffers from the pathology of “eternal morning”. He always believes that the primordial cultural roots of the Middle Ages are somehow still alive. That because of blood or simply magic he will keep getting another chance, that we haven’t truly seen anything of him yet.

As Yuk Hui has said, the “unhappy consciousness” of the “trad” reactionary is that he is forced to realise that his “God” of a pure reactionary version of the Enlightenment never existed, and so he obsesses over fantasies of social collapse. If I can’t have it my way, then no one can have it! It’s very childlike. The reactionary can never work out the terrible theodicy: why God does not seem to punish his enemies and why he himself is not allowed a second chance. He can buggerise on about the magical “hot” West, but cannot process the possibility that it is mortal. When Hegel wrote those words “unhappy consciousness”, he was using them to announce the “Death of God” and its effects. Nietzsche was yet to even be born at the time. God’s doing okay out there in the big wide world beyond the edge of the overdeveloped Western world, even if liberal Gnosticism doesn’t like to see much of him in the public sphere because he seems more like some conservative daddy or something. As has already been said earlier in this essay and also here, even this kind of Feuerbachian projectionism is getting old, because the father figures aren’t as hard old bastards as they supposedly used to be for the most part. But this only seems to rub in the power of neutralisation: people can get as soft as butter, but this society isn’t going to be falling over tomorrow. The liberal office manager “caretaker” ruler is still one hundred thousand times more powerful than every commie and reactionary combined. That’s the real black pill, no?

As a result of this terrified will to negate someone else taking his place, the reactionary has a profound tendency towards “cyclic history”. But he makes sure never to get too close to the idea to inspect it, because then he would realise it to be a rather dubious thing indeed, inextricably mixed in with the linear – at very least since Christians first got hold of Virgil’s fourth Eclogue. The great linear eschatology of Christianity itself poses a return of Jerusalem and a new Eden. Aristotle saw a cosmos with no creation or heat-death in which societies simply came and went, either coming up to his speculated bar of moral and artistic excellence or not. Even Giambattista Vico, that most archetypal of post-mediaeval cyclic thinkers concerned with the return to the dark age “primeval forest” between cultures, must still admit that if Dante is the new Homer, then the former must be better because he is a Christian.

Here of course one must also realise that Athens and Jerusalem are not in Western Europe – it is as though the “cyclic” must move in space like the House of Loreto, that old Catholic myth of the house in which Mary had lived being transported around by angels from Jerusalem to possess buildings in Europe. Even in Plato, the cycles move from Atlantis to Egypt to Athens; in Spengler it is adamantly the case that when the vital juice has been used up a culture is over and it is someone else’s turn to do things completely differently. Spengler believed it was the Russians’ turn next and that there would be nothing “Western” about what they would do.

Spengler’s greatest observation was that there is no “West” from Athens and Jerusalem to the present, but a series of breaks and radical “leaps” by very different cultural complexes. We might say that it is a coagulation of cultural memory, a “phenomenal surface” of signs we could in short-hand call Athens+Jerusalem+. And on and on it goes, reread and reused this way and that. I do not want to present some Voegelin avec Spengler here, for they are very different thinkers – one of symbolisations of ecumenic order that cannot ever articulate pre-intentional experience, the other of physical environment, blood and vitalism. But Spengler managed one thing Voegelin could not quite articulate: the fundamental openness of the future, not as millennium or as pessimistic decline, but of simply the continued becoming of Other earthly societies. It’s not an entirely wild speculation. Hell, some of them could be a whole lot more open to Reality than the undead Faustian/Gnostic closure which the symbolism of transcendent and immanent has led us pathetically down to.

But the fact is that the cyclic history of Antiquity is not simply the produce of a sacred analogy with the seasons of the year, it emerged in a world where many Iron Age empires rose and fell at rapid speed, Herodotus’s’ study of those towns once large but now small and those small but once large. How does one gather up the weird “exception” of globalisation since the Middle Ages into such a schema? Are the empires of the Spanish, Dutch, French, British and Americans simply epicycles within the cradle of “modernity”? If so I’d also want to add the Mongol Empire’s gift of kick-starting this great non-linear wave of globalisation for a “West” that was fortunate enough to be peripheral to it. What we’re dealing with is a non-linear boom, unseen before in the history of the world. It is a “state of exception”, a bizarre miracle, but there’s little chance we’re going to live to work out if its a reward or punishment for something. Maybe when you die God lets you in on the secret. That would make being Christian, and not just a filthy pagan Platonist like myself, very much worthwhile. Who would not sell their soul to learn the arcane secret of the whole order to history? It’s much easier to simply get impatient like Eusebius or Hegel or Fukuyama and declare the “end”, only for it all to keep on keeping on.

As John Farrenkopf has shown, even Spengler, in late largely unpublished work where he began to look into the question of human pre-history, seems to have drifted away from circularity and towards human history as a series of what I would read as “accelerationist” non-linear bursts.[41] How fast indeed did man move from the earliest stirrings of settled societies to a global modernity, and perhaps also the chance of his own imminent self-extinction, so Spengler pondered. It may have aggravated Leo Strauss to wonder if the stultifying “end of history” might keep coming back and would need to be opposed,[42] but parochial Western modernity coming around again seems unlikely because it has covered over the world, thus slowly enabling others to imitate it from within. “Post-conservative” reactionary Nick Land’s projection of his cyborg desires onto “Neo-China” may well be far more sensible in the end than the magically “hot” culture of the West going another round. We’re not heading towards the primeval forest, but towards something Alien. It is the theodicy of this order in history that we need to begin to think.

It is the very nature of the post-medieval “Faust” – to gain the world and lose his soul doing so. It’s possible to be so “hot” you burn yourself. To emerge from a small world to cover over the Earth, ending in the cracking and implosion of the metaphysical spheres of Christendom and the Ptolemaic cosmology and then their descendants –  the One-World, the Whole Earth, the Global Village – all scattered into a writhing networked maniness. The West of the washing machine, calculus, cogito and polyphonic music is not immortal and does not keep on getting infinite goes. If it comes to technicity (which Social Matter doesn’t talk about very much), then did not Francis Bacon, that very epitome of the West as “hot culture”, tell us that “invention” is a force that doesn’t care about the discreet cultures it comes from? It was exactly this, I seem to recall, which Oswald Spengler in Man and Technics claimed might well spell the end of Western exceptionalism: those who it had once colonised learning to master its technology and compete with it.[43]

There will be other alien but human all too human minds after us on this Earth gathering up and (mis)rereading the assemblage of Athens+Jerusalem+ we have added to, just as we have creatively (mis)reread it. There will be many things odder than Plato teaching Socrates, a minotaur with a cow’s body and a man’s head, and a Rome of white marble statues yet to come. There may well be far more bizarre imitations of classical democracy and the Roman Empire than we might ever imagine. I am a firm believer in the “natural right” of A Canticle for Leibowitz.[44] All symbolisations of order are mortal; the purported “decline” of the West is simply a matter of the inability for creaturely man to stop the passing of time and his own becoming-other. The future belongs to those who show up and those ideas serendipitously show up for them. A lone MS of De Rerum Natura is all it takes to make history swerve. Those who come after reserve the right to reread the “phenomenal surface” of history anew to get to the unspeakable “ontic underground”, without us being there to “correct” them at all.

As much fun as it is to rag reactionaries who discovered the “Western canon” five seconds ago and fitfully believe that Shakespeare is in danger of going unread (hint: he isn’t. Another hint: this official  canon generally sucks -where are Lucian, Eusebius, Bruno and Statius?), I think they need to realise that they should probably be more disturbed by the possibility that he will still be read in a thousand years by people who are utterly alien, as has been said, and which I will emphasise again. Not little green men – far from it. Simply men who do not think with the same assumptions about time, space, God, technology and human nature as we do. Who knows what will come after the forces of global ecumene-building that emerged from a tiny parochial horn of Asia? The Other is already in the building, it will just take a while for Spenglerian “pseudomorphosis” (the misshaping of other cultures through excessive influence) to wear off. [45] If you’re a “reactionary”, look after the books so that the aliens can read them as ladders to climb towards their own unforeseeable luminous experience and its symbolisation. I’d buy that “reaction” – it’s one which believes utterly in an “eternal morning” for the Sophia Perennis, maybe even a morning after millenarianism and the easily hypostatised language of immanent and transcendent, of the God of the Beginning and the God of History. Let a thousand alien Christianities and Platonisms bloom, and then let history too pass over them with the millennium and Golden Age still not yet come.

However, let us return to the truly glaring problem. Any new symbolisation must be able to speak the language and imagery of its society if it is to be accepted, and reactionary symbolisations cannot be anything but “new” to a populace that has never heard them in their lives. Novelty sells, but in short the people need to be “worthy” too. It seems a shame to stoop to argumentum ad Hiterlum to make a point, but if there was anyone more obsessed with Thomas Carlyle and the Great Man of Frederick the Great of Prussia in the last century than Hitler, it would be hard to find him. In May 1927 in an address to Nazi party leaders Hitler stated: “Carlyle wrote that Frederick the Great was not only a great monarch but also that the Prussian people deserved a great monarch. The people also have to be worthy.” As Timothy W. Ryback in his fantastic Hitler’s Private Library has pieced back together, this “Carlylean logic” of the people needing to be “worthy” stayed with Hitler until his death, becoming increasingly bitter towards the end of the War.[46] The people had failed to be worthy enough for Hitler – they deserved to starve and be destroyed under “Operation Nero”.

One seriously doubts that the Manichaean elect at Social Matter would know how to speak to the “people” because it means leaving the echo chamber and learning how to use what people already believe in order to introduce a new interpretation. The impression seems to be that the people, from the start, are not “worthy”. This is why the best that the reactionaries can hope for is an “accelerationism” of the worst, so that things break down and the democratic mob, unable to think for itself and make decisions, ends up a chorus of Graeculi singing the words of David Bowie:

“Someone to claim us,

someone to follow

Someone to shame us,

some brave Apollo

Someone to fool us,

someone like you

We want you Big Brother.”

If the “trad” reactionary has a chance at all, it would be in the form of a Dux who cancels all the debts. America especially is sinking under the weight of personal and national “bad debt” – weights that can never be lifted, never be paid. Perhaps he who likes tyrants should take a leaf out of Anti-Oedipus and the idea that the Despot arises and pays off everyone’s debts, thereby rendering debt “infinite”: one can never, ever pay him back enough. [47] As said earlier, such debt is not truly “infinite”, for nothing mortal is. Yet I think that in this the reactionary would have to compete with the Nazis and Marxists too, let alone liberal Leviathan, which is far better set up to make such promises. Whosoever first can make a soterical politics out of cancelling the debt gets to refound/refund the society, just as Solon and Lycurgus did respectively in Athens and Sparta (but perhaps far more unjustly, though Plutarch does record rumours that Solon and his buddies took advantage of this). In a Platonic spirit one might say that this Debt-Despot, masquerading as the Statesman, does not seem an unlikely possibility for triggering the transition of an incontinent democracy into tyranny.

But then again all said and done the “reactionary” has a profound “thanophilia” to him, a will-to-the-black-pill-of-nihilism.[48] To those of the Nietzschean variety it is the “reactionary modernist” idea that everything is already dead, thus removing all strictures and consequences, permitting the desublimation of the phantoms of the Will and longing for pure destruction (Jünger, Mishima, Land, d’Anunzio, even NRx snore-fest nihilist Brett Stevens). At least Spengler knew that there would always be more worlds. To the “trad” sort, it is that they simply give up on the world. The latter come in two varieties. One is simply the abandonment of the world: retreat into eremite seclusion and pursuit of the esoteric. There’s nothing wrong with this if he can give up the world. “Absolute silence” is what Kojève claimed the “end of history” would bring, but the long plateau we are on has brought endless powerless chattering – so much has been said that from all the activity it might well feel some days as though it has been 300 years and not 30 since Fukuyama announced the neo-liberal “end”. Rather instead of the silence of Hegelian “satisfaction” achieved by doing away with God and history, mysticism and the desire to move beyond discourse may well re-emerge (and probably damn well should).[49]

But it is the other sort of “trad” reactionary, who will not give up their attachment to the world, who is trapped in the “transcendental miserablism” of a dead world, who becomes millenarian. They are waiting for the miraculous dispensation of their god-king to come and slaughter their enemies. They are angry Gnostic prophets whom no one but a tiny elect will ever listen to. Perhaps in the end they come to a self-imposed mind-prison with “five stages of grieving”, which for some has now entered the “bargaining stage”: dear illuminati, please, please can we have African Christians as the “replacement population” instead of the Eternal Foe of Islam?[50] Unless Social Matter and friends ever learn how to speak the language of the culture in which they live (the “alt right” was at least reasonable at this with its Loki détournement), then they will remain completely harmless for the most part. But it is always worth checking up on them. I’d like Social Matter to write a whole lot more about Schmitt in the league of the European Reactionaries at very least. If they make a reply to this, it may well take me another year to get round to making a reply of my own. Maybe we could keep this up for twenty years. It’d make a nice book. I do so hope that it’s a decent reply and not just dumb kids’ faith in imminent social collapse or something. I really do.

In the next part of this essay we turn finally to the million-dollar question: why might Schmittian reactionaries like Arthur Gordian be interested in the ideas of Eric Voegelin?

[1] Guillaume Faye, Archeofuturism, Arktos, London, 201, p. 68, 152-3. Faye actually find’s Schmitt’s idea of the history of that state as that of identifying one’s enemies to not be as important as identifying who one’s friends and “folk” are. This seems to be because Faye imagines a future in which a hi-tech post-apocalyptic united European Empire is the exception and no one else is able to threaten it.

[2] Alain de Benoist, Carl Schmitt Today: Terrorism, the ‘Just’ War and The State of Emergency, Arktos, London, 2013.

[3] Idem, Beyond Human Rights: Defending Freedoms, Arktos, London, 2011. See also: Isaiah Berlin, Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2006, pp. 226-32. But also see pp. 291-3 in which Berlin points out just how much Herder had in common with Enlightenment ideals and believed in a coming age of universal human Enlightenment. He was not “outside” the Enlightenment, but a product of its complex currents.

[4 Aleksandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory, Arktos, London, 2012, Last War of the World Island, Arktos, London, 2015. Cf. Carl Shmitt, Land and Sea, Plutarch Press, Washington DC, 1997.

[5] The main person who stirred up this idea is: Joshua Green, “Inside the Secret, Strange Origins of Steve Bannon’s Nationalist Fantasia,” Vanity Fair, 17th July 2017, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/the-strange-origins-of-steve-bannons-nationalist-fantasia Green is claiming the bizarre idea that Bannon wants to be rid of the nation state (?!) because Guénon thought it was evil. See also idem, Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the Storming of the Presidency, Penguin, New York, 2017 where for all the bluster of the Vanity Fair beat-up there is close to nothing on Guénon and Evola. In fact the link comes from an interpolation of a question Bannon answered at a talk at the Vatican in 2014, in which he talks about fascism in Russia and alludes to Aleksandr Dugin and Evola but does not name either of them. This is his only reference to these thinkers ever given. For a full transcript and recording of the Vatican speech see here of all unlikely and bizarre places: J. Lester Feder, “This is How Steve Bannon Sees the Entire World,” Buzzfeed, 17th November 2017, https://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-is-how-steve-bannon-sees-the-entire-world?utm_term=.cmY0QQ5yr#.itGJ11Bq8

[6] See this reply: Alexander Shepard, “Does Bannon Accurately Reflect the Views of Guénon and Evola?” People of Shambhala, 24th July 2017 http://peopleofshambhala.com/does-bannon-accurately-reflect-the-views-of-guenon-and-evola/  Perhaps Bannon read Guénon when he was a naval cadet. The connection between the muslism mystic and the anti-islamic palaeocon seems as unlikely as the idea that Bannon is following Mencius Moldbug: Dylan Matthews, “Neo-Monarchist Blogger Denies He’s Chatting With Steve Bannon,” Vox, 7th February 2017 https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/7/14533876/mencius-moldbug-steve-bannon-neoreactionary-curtis-yarvin. Nonetheless it seems that even the vague association between Evola and Bannon was enough for this to happen: Anon. “Evola Soars to Top of Amazon Charts after Bannon Connection,” Alt-Right News, 13th February 2017. https://alt-right-news.blogspot.com.au/2017/02/evola-soars-to-top-of-amazon-charts.html all last accessed: 24th July 2017. If anything Bannon’s “cyclic view” of American history seems to come from this book: William Strauss and Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning: An American Prophesy, Broadway Books, New York, 2009.

[7] Phil Sandifer, Neoreaction: A Basilisk: Essays on and around the Alt-Right, Eruditorum Press, ebook, 2017. Sadly, there are no page references to give, accursed things that e-books are. Just search for “spectre”.

[8] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives,” Unqualified Reservations (blog), http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2008/04/open-letter-to-open-minded-progressives.html available in pdf form from: http://cnqzu.com/library/Philosophy/neoreaction/Mencius%20Moldbug/Open%20Letter.pdf, “OL7: The Ugly Truth About Government,” p. 131f.

[9] Ibid, pp. 55, 126.

[10] R.G. Collingwood, An Autobiography, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1978, p. 143.

[11] Liberty Hyde Bailey, The Holy Earth: Toward a New Environmental Ethic, Dover, Mineola NY, [1915], 2009. Cf. Ludwig Klages, The Biocentric Worldview, Arktos, London, 2012. Hell, even the Nazis were into this stuff: Frank Uekoetter, The Green and the Brown: A History of Conservation in Nazi Germany, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 2006. If Green and Brown are possible, why not Green and White?

[12] The commenter has the name “Ex-Pat in Oz”: Nick Land, “Fission II.” Urban Futures 2.0 (blog), August 6 2014, http://www.xenosystems.net/fission-ii/

[13] Mika Ojakangas, “Potentia absoluta et potentia ordinata Dei: on the theological origins of Carl Schmitt’s theory of constitution,” Continental Philosophy Review, 45, 2012, 505-17.

[14] Ernst Kantorowitz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology, Princeton University Press, Princeton, [1957] 2016.

[15]Eric Peterson, “Monotheism as a Political Problem: A Contribution to the History of Political Theology in the Roman Empire,” trans. and ed. M. J. Hollerich, Theological Tractates, originally published 1935, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011, pp. 68-105. Carl Schmitt, Political Theology II: The Myth of the Closure of Any Political Theology, trans. M. Hoelzl and G. Ward, Polity, Cambridge, 2008, pp. 82-3. Cf. Roberto Esposito, Two: The Machine of Political Theology, trans. Z. Hanafi, Fordham University Press, New York, 2015, esp. p. 62.

[16] Jan Assman, Herrschaft und Heil. Politische Theologie in Altagypten, Israel und Europa, Carl Hanser Verglag, Munich, 2000. See Roberto Esposito, Two: The Machine of Political Theology, trans. Z. Hanafi, Fordham University Press, New York, 2015, esp. pp. 71-5.

[17] 1 Samuel 8: 4-9, 1 Samuel 8: 18-22.

[18] Eric Voegelin, The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol 5: Modernity Without Restraint, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London, 2000, p. 172-4. For those just with The New Science of Politics, see the last pages of Chapter 3. As for primary sources see: Eusebius, Demontratio Evangelica, iii, 7, 30-5, vii.2.22, viii.3.13-15, Laus Constatini, 1-10; Augustine, Enarratio in Psalmos, xlv.13. I am currently writing the draft for a post at the moment on the Roman ecumene and the ideas of Peter Sloterdijk which will go into these ideas in greater detail, especially the legacy of Philo Judaeus and his fusion of Athens and Jerusalem to create the concept of the “cosmpolites” (citizen of the world).

[19] Walter Ullman, A History of Political Thought: The Middle Ages, Penguin Books, London, 1965, pp. 145, 214-5. Also see this super old classic: Otto Gierke, Political Theories of the Middle Age, trans. Fredrick William Maitland, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1900, pp. 34-45.

[20] Marsligio of Padua, “The Defender of the Peace,” esp.  Chapter 19 s. 6-13 in Cary J. Nederman and Kate Langdon Forhan (eds), Medieval Political Theory – A Reader, Routledge, London, 1993, pp. 196-99. Marsiglio was not merely channelling Aristotle’s Politics, but highly indebted to Cicero’s de Officiis and its belief that all men are obliged to serve others for the common good. It is the duty of very good Christian to call out those who disturb the peace, including the clergy. See: Cary J. Nederman, Community and Consent: The Secular Political Theory of Marsiglio pf Padua’s Defensort Pacis, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham MA and London, 1995, esp. pp. 17-20.

[21] Walter Ullman, A History of Political Thought: The Middle Ages, Penguin Books, London, 1965, pp. 194-9 on Dante. Pp. 204ff on Bartolus and Marsiglio. I wish I had more time to look into this in detail. These figures are fascinating.  See: Dante Alighieri, “The Banquet,” Book 4 section 4 easily accessible in Medieval Political Theory – A Reader, pp. 169-70.

[22]  Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the 18th-Century Philosophers, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, [1932] 1979, p. 63. See also: D. E. Harding, The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth, Sholland Trust, London, [1952] 2015.

[23] See Hobbes, Leviathan, XV s. 75, XXIV, s 130-1. Here at XV s. 75 Hobbes says that merit and value have nothing to do with justice, but are largely the product of the social contract covenant (social construct!. In the rare case otherwise they are “rewarded of Grace”. What does this mean? Is it that some things are found valuable due to being inherently good thanks to divine miracle? Is it just random luck in the system that some things are objectively better than others? Or perhaps the “grace” is simply inexplicable Zeitgeist: the fact that people all of a sudden decide they all value something? It’s hard to tell, but well worth thinking about. While Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Harvard University Press, New York, 2000 attempted to construct a very interesting dualistic theory of the past five hundred years as Spinozan and Scholastic “immanence” versus a Hobbesian “transcendence”, one has to be a Deleuzian or left Nietzschea at least, I think, to find anything “transcendental” in Hobbes. Ie. Because Hobbes is talking about hierarchy he represents an evil metaphysics of the “Judgement of God” and imperialism. They come close to a “political theology” here, but the point should remain that Hobbesian authority is the closing of transcendence by placing a materialistic God-man ruler in place of an unknowable and occluded God. It is the scent of theology in decay, pure modernity. The One of kingship subsumes the Heavenly One.

[24] Nick Land, “The Cult of Gnon,” Xenosystems, 30th May 2014, http://www.xenosystems.net/the-cult-of-gnon/. See also: Scott Alexander, “Mediations on Moloch,” Slate Star Codex, 30th July 2014, http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/

[25] Phil/Elizabeth Sandifer, Neoreaction: A Basilisk: Essays on and around the Alt-Right, Eruditorum Press, ebook, 2017. Sadly there are no page references to give, cursed things that e-books are. Just search for “Land”. For “A Dirty Joke” see the last essay in Nick Land, Fanged Noumena: Collected Works 1987-2007, Urbanomic, Falmouth UK, 2007. It’s pretty crazy stuff.

[26] On these key terms “phenomenal surface” and “ontic underground” see: Eric Voegelin, “On Debate and Existence,” in Collected Works Volume 12: Published Essays 1966-1985, ed. Ellis Sandoz, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1990, p. 47.

[27] Barry Nicholas, An Introduction to Roman Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1975, pp. 54-9. Cf.  A. P. Denteves, Natural Law, Hutchinsons University Library, London. 1952, pp. 21-8.

[28] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, trans. Robert Hurley et al, Continuum., London and New York, 2003, p. 35, idem, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis MN, 1987, p. 25.

[29] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, Zero Books, Winchester UK, 2009, pp. 45-6.

[30] Mind you a couple of people have said to me that what I said about Moldbug here wasn’t harsh enough – it was as though I liked monarchy, just as long as Silicon Valley weren’t doing it. At very least I have a great deal of trouble trying to imagine that Silicon Valley might understand what the “good man” might look like. In the end the bathetic fact is that Moldbug’s version of Carlyle, like Peter Thiel’s version of René Girard is one more “learn the business secrets of Chingis Khan” – a piece of horrible kitsch from the business self-help section that legitimises the idea that if you invent the next Facebook you’ve crossed the Rubicon. There’s a lovely old mediaeval story about some sailors and a mermaid I’d like to add here. The mermaid asks “Does Alexander live?” to which the sailors must reply “He lives and reigns”, lest humanity be sunk as Atlantis was. The mermaids want to be sure the philosopher king still exists, otherwise man is worthless. Can one imagine meeting the mermaid and saying “Oh gosh, we have Elon Musk. He put a car in space”? I don’t think it would go down well.

[31] A fun reminder: right-wing revolutionaries and terrorists are boring and garner no support from their own side. The Weather Underground and Toni Negri are cool; no one wants to be friends with an abortion-clinic bomber or a Norwegian watermelon farmer who shoots children in the name of stopping “Cultural Marxism”.

[32] Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, Penguin Books, London, 1970, p. 132.

[33] Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, pp. 53-66 is especially observant of this fact.

[34] Eric Voegelin, Modernity Without Restraint, pp. 49-50, 178-80.

[35] Geoffrey Ashe, Camelot and the Vision of Albion, Book Club Associates, London, 1975, p. 93.

[36]Jan Assman, Herrschaft und Heil. Politische Theologie in Altagypten, Israel und Europa, Carl Hanser Verglag, Munich, 2000. See Roberto Esposito, Two: The Machine of Political Theology, trans. Z. Hanafi, Fordham University Press, New York, 2015, esp. pp. 71-5.

[37] Eric Voegelin Plato, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1966, p. 157.

[38] Idem, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol. 17: Order in History Vol IV: the Ecumenic Age, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 2000, p. 198.

[39] Richard J. Bishirjian, “Carlyle’s Political Religion,” Journal of Politics, 38.1., 1976, pp. 95-113.

[40] Raymond Williams, Culture and Society 1780-1950, Penguin, London, 1979, p. 90.

[41] John Farrenkopf, Prophet of Decline: Spengler on World History and Politics, Louyisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2001, esp. pp. 195-200.

[42] Leo Strauss, On Tyranny: Corrected and Expanded Edition, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2013, p. 209. In an obscure work I am yet to read prima facie we apparently also find Eric Voegelin considering the same notion that even if some paradise on Earth should come about, it would eventually decay. It sounds like he’s channelling Plato’s Atlantis myth. Eric Voegelin, “La société industrielle a la recherche de la raison,” in Raymond Aron (ed), Colloques de Rheinfelden, Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1960, pp. 44-54.

[43] Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1946, pp. 44f.

[44] This is even if Walter M. Miller jr, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Orbit books, London, [1960] 1997 could not help but imagine a “return” of a high-tech Faustian sci-fi future at some point. This is the pathology we are talking about here – the terrifying Alien, which can only be filed away as “barbarian” for its inability to repeat “us”. Alisdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, Duckworth, London, 1985 famously used Miller’s book as an analogy for our fragmented moral condition.

[45] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1926, vol. II, pp. 241, 304ff. Spengler of course based his understandings of “world feelings” on the environment a people grow up. He also had a profound penchant for racialist thinking in his later work. He certainly believed the “Great Cultures” to be closed to one another, that true converts from one to another were impossible. Nonetheless, I think that his understanding of the “Faustian spirit” emerging through Gothic mysticism and millenarianism overlaps with some of Voegelin’s ideas.

[46] Timothy W. Ryback, Hitler’s Private Library: The Books that Shaped His Life, Bodley Head, London, 2009, p. 208.

[47] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, esp. p. 179 which is worth re-reading multiple times and considering how debt has its origins in simply the assumption that rituals will keep on being perpetuated as are forever. Damnit just read the whole dang chapter, naff mythopoetic fusion of Mauss, Strauss, Nietzsche and all. This is also the famous “accelerationist” chapter.

[48] I take this term “thanophilia” concerning reactionaries from here: Anon. “#AltWoke Companion.” Monoscope, April 2017, https://monoskop.org/images/f/fa/The_AltWoke_Companion_Apr_2017.pdf    The “Alt Woke” is/was an attempt at a left accelerationist meme war. It didn’t seem to do much except openly admit that its obsessions with pornography and cyborgs made it the “Deleuzian generation.” I think reactionary “thanophilia” is an apt observation, however – even if it was meant as a cheap way of claiming that reactionaries are dumb and just want a “race to the bottom.”

[49] On the irony of mystical silence being the ancestor of “end of history” satisfied silence see: Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, trans. James H. Nichols jr, Cornell University Press, London, 1980, note to 2nd edition esp. pp. 84, 108.

[50] This is explored and argued against here from a Spenglerian perspective: P. T. Carlo, “Africa Will Not Save Spengler’s West,” Thermidor, 4th August 2017 http://thermidormag.com/africa-will-not-save-the-west/

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