In the past few posts on this blog we have talked about the increasing interest from all across the political spectrum in the ideas of Carl Schmitt and his “political theology”. We’ve talked about the American Empire, Agamben, and climate change, the New Right and NRx. Following on from the previous post on NRx I am going to look in detail at the recent reactionary discovery of some of Voegelin’s ideas, epitomised in the apparent censuring I received from Arthur Gordian a while back now over at Social Matter. I am also going to offer a speculative theory about neo-reactionary thinker Mencius Moldbug’s ideas, a very odd one that might make some people a little uneasy and want to tell me off. I think that this should be the point. The purpose of the following is to draw attention to certain nastier aspects of liberalism that should be thought about a great deal more. Perhaps it will provoke something.
This is another long post, about fifteen thousand words. I’m not going to cut it up. If one is prone to TL DR (you barbarians) then the content here can very simply be summarised as follows: if something like techno-commercial NRx happens (and it already is), it’s going to be the left liberals who do it. The only thing capable of stopping this might well be Moldbug’s dread enemy: “applied Christianity”, “creeping Calvinism”. Whiggery must be turned in against itself in order to save it from its own pathological elitism and technologically-enabled will-to-social-atomisation.
1. Voegelin and Democracy.
So then, let us deal with Gordian’s complaints about liberalism and “liberal Voegelinians”, which largely seem to be that liberal democracy is millenarian as hell. To Gordian with his James Burnham’s Suicide of the West, which one presumes he found by going sideways from Moldbug’s discourse on “creeping Calvinism”, Anglo liberal democracy is not much more than the secularised protestant lust for earthly equality. “Liberal guilt” is characterised in Gordian’s reading of Burnham as a “Calvinist” attempt to replace Christian salvation with mere guilt and self-hatred, an endless process that can never be satisfied. Finally, it collapses into a mad zeal to end whiteness, Christianity, patriarchy, borders and all that lot. At his smartest Burnham approaches Spengler (but sadly misses) – liberalism is some “late” ideal to make you feel good and comfortable while the “West” declines due to civilisational exhaustion.
But here is the problem: Moldbug, the father of NRx, was talking about five hundred years of “Whiggery” and Protestantism (see here and here), as was Voegelin when he spoke of the Anglo liberal democratic tradition. Burnham, bore that he was, is talking about 20th c. phenomena, almost in order to try to seal off everything that went before as magically good. But of course Burnham was a generic war-mongering, ex-Marxist, New Deal hating, neo-con type, so there was no way in Hell that he’d denounce liberal democracy and the social aspects of the Enlightenment completely, even if he had vague ideas to the effect that the “West” should just pull itself together, shout about how great it is and go and do a bit more conquering. I struggle to find Burnham a “reactionary”, even if Gordian indeed is. I think that Gordian has maybe even had to embellish the “Calvinist” connection he sees in Burnham a little. I don’t think Burnham said much more than that liberal progressivism operates like a religion and that many 18-19th c. liberals had been religious. He did not say that it is the product of the secularisation of protestantism, as Voegelin and Moldbug did. Here Voegelin, Moldbug, Gordian and I agree. It just depends on what one wants to do with this little genealogical fact and its historical baggage.
To Gordian the Calvinist Elect become the downtrodden of the Earth worshipped by the liberal. Fair comment? Only in ignoring how vital victimology, the historical destiny of the oppressed and mercy for the Other, is to the political history of Christianity in general. Reaction is also primarily grounded in victimology to legitimise itself. Reaction is sacred as ideology, oh yes, because it lost, because of all the political positions today it’s so eccentric that it’s basically playing politics on the hardest setting. Reaction is not the katechon keeping out the millenarians and keeping order – “end of history” liberalism is. Perhaps reaction’s core sin before the liberal is that it can only ever see itself as victim of history imminently about to be redeemed instead of always having to project this outwards on to the sacred Other? Selfish reactionaries! No, I think like most of Burnham’s ideas this understanding of liberal victimology is a little too Space Age. As I’m going to argue in this essay we are increasingly dealing with a kind of competition over membership inside the victimological liberal community – it has become an entity that selects inwards more than projecting telescopic altruism outwards.
If Gordian wants to get in a huff about me talking about ressentiment and competitive victimology, maybe he should read some René Girard, whom I’ve written about here and here. I admit that when I started thinking about these matters I was using Peter Sloterdijk’s Nietzschean re-appropriation of Girard – largely to stir up some thinking. But as I have continued thinking, just as I have about Moldbug and NRx, I have learned a thing or two I think, or at least so I hope.
At very least I can agree on one thing with Gordian – American liberalism is millenarian as hell, at least in a sort of odd ateleological fashion today, a broken toy reduced to a banal and anticlimactic “constant dawning of the third age”. Even from down here in Australia, a first-tier satellite of the US Empire, it often seems mighty wacky and anxious back at the Mothership. In the apt words of Jonathan Kirsch, America is the land of “two tectonic plates” of millenarian thinking, and it has been since the beginning been imagined as the exceptionalist zone in which Revelation is to play out. One “plate” is primordial – the sort of thing that takes the Rapture deadly seriously, when one would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the Western world where such ideas remain so strong. The other “plate” is that of the secularised, millennium that developed out of this during the nineteenth century – that of America as the magic land of moral and technological progress. There is no America and its many parochial Manifest Destinies without both of these plates. What more is American “culture war” than puritans from the past and puritans from the future fighting over something not quite as good as either?
So where do we start? Voegelin indeed knew that liberal democracy was dangerous – he’d seen it fail in Weimar. He did indeed see long before John Gray during the aftermath of Iraq 2, that forcing this imagined parochial “end” on the world would lead to war, disaster and one more dead millenarianism.  Voegelin also agreed with Santayana that the imagined ideal Anglo liberal democratic subject, a kind of “patrician” capable of looking at society holistically and not merely at culture war “hobby horses”, was basically impossible. Voegelin did indeed also seem to believe, as Gordian would like to hear, that different political systems may work well with different peoples where they have a living, healthy history of other forms of government.  Well, yes, this is silly sooth and I don’t doubt it. This is expressed especially in the rather Herderian/Spenglerian and “relativist” side of Voegelin: that of the symbolic ecumene and multiple humanities, best outlined in the wonderful fourth volume of Order and History. Surely everyone should be getting to work on thinking hard about what the best system should be, from Cameroon to Cambridge MA. The best thing that “globalism” might bring is another “Axial Age”, as Renaud Fabbri would call it – an opportunity to think hard about the theologico-political problem in the face of the rapid derailing of reality going on as the world accelerates. I’m down for that, even if at present there’s not a lot of it about except some generic reactionary territorialism. Don’t do: think remains the only reasonable imperative.
The problem at present is that there are very few living ecumenical symbolisations of humanity besides that of the post-war liberal “global village” and “whole earth” descended from Christendom and its conceptions of a universal humanity. Universal humanism remains sacred to most (and is ever expanded to include this or that minority and even “non human persons” as a valid part of Man, and will probably turn some day into some post-human thing still spouting the personhood of Man to describe itself). But outside of the remnants of Christianity and Islam, there is certainly not anything like the ecumenae Voegelin studied, in which he saw “one mankind…by virtue of participation in the same flux of divine presence.” Perhaps to this we could add China, but we do not yet know what a global universalism of its “all under heaven” might look like; so too Russia’s own version of the West as epitomised by the ritualistic concert of civilisation that was held at the ruins of Palmyra in Syria a couple of years back now. What shall become of the Third Rome? We do not know.
Ecumenae are the “hollow shells” made by the coming of empires, which then needed to be filled with a symbolisation for their inhabitants thereafter. This is the tragedy: there are no universalisms without empire, and empire generally cares little for matters of divine flux except as a crutch to substantiate itself: “Even today we suffer from empires that seek their “world” by means of expansion rather than metaxy into the flowing presence”. The reactionary is just bitter that his magical Western exceptionalism conquered the world, and then, like all advanced empires enters a multicultural stage, as it did with the Persians, Hellenistic Greeks, Romans, Mongols and so many others. Why? Because for all the panic of the conquerors not to mix with the conquered, no immunological device of a limited Roman citizenship, altan urag, or Ius Europaeum can last long without everyone wanting a slice of it. Everyone wants to be a Roman or a Chinggisid or an Inca or an American. “Hard power” makes empires, “soft power” makes universalisms work.
However, as was discussed at length in the previous post, we cannot lazily assume some uncritical “cyclic history” in relation to the forces that emerged from a small horn of Eurasia to produce the global ecumene over the past five hundred years. The empires have ridden a great non-linear boom of communicative and metabolic expansion, the office of “top dog” having passed from one hand to the next, but it is this peculiar ongoing expansion of the “hollow shell” per se and the attempts to fill it up with symbolisations of order that is the real matter to which we should be drawn. I have spoken in previous posts about the concepts of katechon and oikonomia in relation to all this, but the fact remains that we just do not know and cannot know where it is all going. Crash and apocalypse are kitsch – far too easy – and little more than prayers for it all to be ended and an answer as to whether this odd “miracle” has been some punishment or reward. We will not live to see an earthly Answer given, a final one, for history keeps going and is forever reread. Rereading is the eternal duty and all that can be done to work out how to make things liveable.
But the problem, as with the formulation all universalisms, is the parochialism of the symbols available. Creating a world ecumene for the first time. has meant the extension of European humanity and the Treaty of Westphalia nation state system to all. If in the 19th c. Europeans worked hard at inventing mass-produced “national culture”, then in the 20th c. from the USSR’s “minorities question” to decolonisation, this meant trying to extend this to the whole world. But encouraging everyone to invent their own national cultures and stay in their lanes without getting too aggressive towards other states in the name of nationalism has been the problem of course. The League of Nations/United Nations built itself on Kant’s old “universal peace” concerning the European states, but this has meant that a “guardian” has been necessary: the dominant Empire, first the British and then the Americans gets to take its cut in the name of keeping the “peace”.
As Carl Schmitt said, and which Alain de Benoist of all people has reformulated so well, the global liberal order under the American Empire, Neo-Kantian human rights and all, is obsessed with the bellum iustum – the “just war” fought in the name of its conception of universal Humanity. Ergo, those it declares enemies to its katechon, wicked and twisted as it can be, are reduced by Manichaean logic to the inhuman, to “bare life”, to the pretender. It is the descendant of the crusade.  Leviathan will break your fingers, boys, and you haven’t got diddly squat to use against it. No one’s going to be allowed to leave the reservation; we’re all swimming in the same bowl of soup. As will be argued later in this essay, the problem may well be that Moldbug, king of the reactionaries, with the “patchwork” may well have come up with a universal system better suited to the current trajectory of liberalism than good old Westphalia or conspiracies about “world government”. As we will see, this isn’t something to be particularly cheery about.
But the obvious fact remains that anyone shilling for some supposedly pacific Herderian “ethnopluralism” where everyone gets their own purified, immunological Lebensraum, is, at this point, the inhuman enemy of a katechontic ecumenical existence that has long since left them and all other ethnonationalists behind and will continue to do so. Most of the Rest (as opposed to the West) of the world that was shaped by the 20th c. “national culture and nation state for all” drive will probably never catch up with the multicultural “world interior of capital”, as multiethnic as many “nation states” of the Rest are (through colonisers drawing random borders when they left or otherwise).
But just as Third Worldism failed for the left, since the Arab Spring’s failure there has increasingly been a strange kind of quiet about the agency of the “Third World” among leftists and liberals. Is this to say that such peoples are not active players in history as Hegel or some reactionary with his chocolate box Zephyromania might? Well, let us just say that even in the magic “hot” West both the Marxists and reactionaries are no less powerless, no? The katechon binds absolutely – it binds, it makes men neutralised puppets, it reduces them to “bare life” if it must. It is an Empire with a powerful katechontic negativity to it, a cancelling of everything but itself forever. It’s plan to “save the world” and turn everyone into a generic “end of history” Anglo has failed, but that does not mean that the katechon has fallen. This undeath leads to increasing inwardness and necessary forgetting of the Rest by the liberal and what passes for the “leftist”. Liberalism curls in upon itself, becoming weirdly rabid and futureless in its social causes, while the flows of capital keep streaming outwards flattening the cosmos. Yet even this does not magically turn the Rest on the “outside” into the baizuo (white leftist).
Nonetheless, “soft power” is always more powerful than hitting people with a stick for keeping an ecumene functioning. A major part of this is the Christian universalism we see first in Las Casas’s Destruction of the Indies – the recognition that everyone in the New World is human too, which has been steadily secularised over the past few centuries, down to post-colonial guilt today and the need to be rid of the sin of the invention of “whiteness” for limiting those in the community. But our universalism is also been backed up by a strange desire to flatten everyone through “neutralisation” – a universalism achieved through and aiming for little more than a “long now” of borderless consumer capitalism for all. That, oh my, is what “tolerance” is for. As I talked about here concerning the ideas of Kojin Karatani, this wilful giving away of one’s exceptionalism as industrial One led to Japan and Germany copying the British Empire and WWII. As to whether, so Karatani think, this might be repeated again between the post-industrial USA and China, leading to WWIII, is another question entirely. In the last post similar things were also said concerning the ideas of Oswald Spengler on technology.
This said, let’s turn to America and liberal democracy and what Voegelin said of them. During his first visit to America as a student in 1924-5 American at first frightened him, but it but ended up “immunising” him, so he said, from both a Central European and an American “parochialism”. What a rootless cosmopolitan! He continues:
“I gained an understanding through these years of the plurality of human possibilities realized in various civilizations, as an immediate experience, an experience vecue, which hitherto had been accessible to me only through the comparative study of civilizations, as I found them in Max Weber, in Spengler, and later in Toynbee.”
Yet I have the uncanny feeling that Gordian in his Western exceptionalism probably believes that somehow what fits the “West” is absolute monarchism or some gentlemanly aristocracy or something, which no longer has any symbolic purchase on how people live. Ressentiment of monarchy and aristocracy after hundreds of years of liberalism would grind the idea into the ground at the very mention of it, which is why Moldbug had to put so much post-ironic legwork in even to sell the idea as conceivable through talk of corporate “meritocracy” and competition. And even then he stuffed up big time by comparing privatised government with McDonalds always making a better hamburger than the state. That’s the point where a lot of progressives would stop reading, even if for all their complaints about McDonalds, they still love it anyway. This will be a major point later: the difference between liberal “virtues” and liberal reality.
In spite of its obvious weaknesses we have detailed, Voegelin thought that through liberal democracy there might be a chance on home ground at least to do something about Gnosticism. He believed the strange course of fate that had left Anglo liberal democracy as the “oldest” living political tradition in the modern West was a “reprieve” – a kind of second chance: “to use it to the utmost to repair the damage that the age of ideologies has inflicted on Western substance.” Even during his 1924-5 stay in America as a student the young Voegelin had noticed something decidedly different about it compared with Austria and Germany:
“There was the strong background of Christianity and Classical culture which was so signally fading out, if not missing, in the methodological debates in which I had grown up as a student. In brief, here was a world in which this other world that I had grown up in was intellectually, morally, and spiritually irrelevant…The priorities and relations of importance [for me] between various theories had been fundamentally changed, and as far as I can see for the better.”
Voegelin’s eventual theory as to why this might be the case was that the Anglosphere had experienced a “second reformation” through Wesleyanism and other later protestant movements: “For in the critical period of the Industrial Revolution and the forming of the industrial proletariat, the second reformation carried Christendom in England to the people; it Christianized the working population and small middle class and thereby virtually immunized them against later ideological movements.”  The idea is that society is a large Christian commune of equals in which increasingly everyone participated under God:
“The English reformers of the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, from Wycliffe to John Wesley, who were political as well as ecclesiastical reformers, achieved the essential for the democratization of the West when they took the life of the Christian community and of the community-constitution to be a model for the existence of citizens in a national society also in secular matters. This attempt has not occurred without severe conflicts and derailments… Although the reformers were Christians, their political dream as inspired by their study of the Bible was the theopolity of Israel: the idea of God’s chosen people and its rulers under God and His law… Some of what had acute relevance then is forgotten today— for instance, the projects to make the legislation of Moses the civic law of England instead of the common law. Other occurrences had world-historical consequences, such as the emigration of Puritan communities to America to organize themselves as God’s people in the new Canaan according to the biblical model. Out of the heroic struggles for the right political form of existence of a Christian people emerged . . . the great idea of civil government, namely, the idea that a national community of Christians should not make its ecclesiastical-organizational and dogmatic differences the object of political struggles and that there would be a specific civil sphere of life to which political authority is limited by its legal organization. It is such civil government that we call democracy.”
In the same volume of collected essays (but easily accessible off the bat here) Voegelin summarises the situation quite nicely as follows:
“Democracy, the thesis may be formulated briefly, is secularized Independency. “Modern democratic theory” originates in the communities of the elect where the possession of the “call,” overriding all other qualifications, makes for democratic equality. These “communities of grace and inspiration” are essentially churches; but the Puritans of the Left applied the procedures developed in such communities “by analogy” to the conduct of state business. In order to expand such a theocratic church-state beyond the confines of a sect to embrace the nation, the idea of the “elect” must be secularized so that every citizen will be counted as “elect” for political purposes. The national society, in fact, takes the place of the church of the elect, while the “state” acquires the characteristic of an “instrument” for the purposes of “society,” in the same manner as formerly the temporal power was an instrument for creating the proper environment for a community of Christians. This ultimate transformation found its expression in the work of Locke.”
Prone to millenarianism and immanentism? Absolutely – especially when notions of a “call” overriding all other concerns come into play. “Elect” Manifest Destinies and Gnostic amor sui (love of the self) are embedded in the edifice from the start as possibilities – a trajectory towards a nationalist “church state” that believes that it can always-already save itself, but at the same time, though Voegelin seems to have only touched upon it a little in the article just given, “Independency” and amor sui also mean the hypertrophy of personal desire over conscience. The state will save all, but it is composed of special little atoms, each assuming their own sovereign conscience.
It is this that I have always found so odd about America: its fear of the State, but its obsession with its military and nationalism to preserve this “freedom”, as epitomised in that weird speech Ayn Rand gave at Westpoint; its strange banality of Prohibition and other attempts to save all the souls, juxtaposed with the pursuit and adamant defence of a right to personal pleasure and luxuriance. What epitomises this more than the endless abortion debate: what is more important, the universal “right to choose” of those who are already here, or the universal “right to life” of those who could potentially be here? Such a thing cannot be solved without taking control of the State to liberate those souls deemed worthier of mercy than the others. America has not solved the mimetic debt of resentment and the revenge of the despot against this any more than any other community in history, Christian or otherwise. Because of its millenarian and “elect” pretensions, it remains, as Voegelin said of it, “Manichaean”. However, so one might say from a Schmittian perspective, due to the nature of the attempted techno-capitalist “neutralisation” we find in liberalism, these Manichaean “culture wars” tend to be bathetically “nerfed” media content cycles: all talk, sound bytes and viral images. Real war and violence is reserved for beyond the polis, in other nations, in the ghettos, in the prisons, which is then converted into infotainment and “viral” content for the media cycle. No wonder Baudrillard claimed the Gulf War never happened.
This all seems very fragile indeed. Perhaps Voegelin was wrong that there was a “reprieve”, or at very least is a “dated” Cold War thinker, who had escaped from a Europe overturned by ideologies to a relatively quiet post-war America at the height of prosperity and hegemony. He could let his hair down. If it was 1968 I’d be handing him winter issue 1 of The Whole Earth Catalogue and telling him to write about it, because it would be this that would change the future. But then again in 1968 no one would have known that. But if this “reprieve” was so damn fragile, then it is not alone in Voegelin’s way of thinking – just about everything is. Even the Gospel of John, as Voegelin correctly saw, is deeply Gnostic and leads down to Hegel, because the dissonance between the “God of the beginning” and the idea of the “God of the Beyond” means that: “the Beyond brings the problem of the Beginning to intense attention. When the formerly unknown god of the Beyond reveals himself as the goal of the eschatological movement in the soul, the existence of the cosmos becomes an ever more disturbing mystery.”
Voegelin is especially good at painting what looks like an obituary of Reality from the start – the Beyond was always too far away and thus created a panic to immanentise; problems of theodicy and being rushed from pillar to post were always going to provoke the biblical prophets towards eschatological symbolisations of order to escape anxiety. In the same way Neo-Platonism was always tempted to fall into dualism and become Gnostic, and, with the “egophanic revolt”, Renaissance Platonism becomes the Cartesian technocrat subjectum. But we wouldn’t expect reactionaries to think about this sort of thing because they are so hung up on vengeance. That’s the issue with this new internet “traditionalism”. It has a lovely exoteric dogmatism to it, a children’s fundamentalism grasping for the concrete because of how much that has been stripped away: “and sometimes the reaction is worse than the tradition against which it critically reacts”. It doesn’t like to ask questions, except ponderously obvious ones about left liberal cognitive dissonance that a twelve-year-old dosed up on sufficient “enlightened cynicism” could ask. Philosophy is all about asking the difficult questions to which there are very few answers except noetic experiences and ever-flawed symbolisations to try to convey them. I think here we could repurpose Voegelin’s language about phenomenology’s attempt to deal with the rapid collapse of spiritual tradition during the 19th century to talk about the sudden realisation that so many people are having before the current bout of “future shock” that sends them off to the reactionary archives:
“In such a situation, an attempt to begin anew is not only legitimate in the sense that an old symbolism cannot be honestly used when its value of communication has declined, but it is also the indispensable requirement for the development of a new, more adequate symbolism. Protesting against such a new beginning in the name of a tradition is nothing more than a symptom of spiritual sterility.”
The reactionary may say the same about the sterility of the Anglocentric liberal democratic project of course, and to a strong degree I wouldn’t blame them. But the fact is we’re going to need new symbols to reinvigorate the old ones. Reheated angry Joseph de Maistre “throne and altar” stuff is going to do bugger all, largely because if anything is understood about such symbols today, it is the assumption that they are wholly evil, or perhaps to many people just a bit hilarious or indistinguishable from the only form of “reaction” they have any cultural grasp of: Fascism. The reactionary, at very least, must put some work into convincing everyday Joes that these symbols mean something other than a closed Cold Iron Box, which means having to go back beyond the dead face and punishing rictus of 19th c. reaction and the occasional nod to Fascism. If the emphasis remains on punishment, control and jealous hatred for a world that has left one behind, this stuff is going to stay nothing more than Saturnine brooding in the pits of the net. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Moreover, it puzzles me as to why reactionaries would be interested in Voegelin – an anti-foundationalist, whose conception of God is pre-intentional. I don’t think he was an atheist, but at least one person (Robert Heilman) thinks Voegelin admitted at some point: “of course there is no God. But we must still believe in Him.” One presumes that what he was saying was not some daft “Noble Lie” to keep society together, but an expression of the old via negativa or Brahman Nirguna – of the God who does not “positively” exist, who is beyond the web of analogy. Dare one say it, Voegelin was “post-modern”, because he was responding to the age of ideologies by questioning how their ponderous self-certainty had made them so very dangerous. But, of course, he was nothing like the ontologically flat “hall of mirrors” and relativist stalemate of post-structuralism, nor its naive Whig counterpart we find in the American academy, which deconstructs only to mendaciously reconstruct better. 
Voegelin, for that matter, never produced his own theodicy of order in history (as much as he was preoccupied with it in others). He did not give any clear passage for worldly politics beyond millenarianism, though he did try to recover the esoteric himself. His project is unfinished and that is what is inviting. It was never intended for an informational age in which the millenarian “grand narratives” would be so undead they would be reduced to social media computer games. Nor one in which there are no longer images of a just society or Utopia to believe in or laugh at, as is epitomised, to me at least, in the people Gordian lives in terror of, those naughty “social justice warriors”. When was the last time the reader saw an image of what an “SJW” Utopia would look like? Clue: there aren’t any. We are not in the Space Age. There is no future. What is left is just the undead knee-jerk reflex of continually derailing stuff with no perceivable telos. There is no Fascist, Space Age liberal or Soviet agitprop images of happy families in nice clean hi-tech cities to slap up on posters. All futures have been cancelled by a “long now”.
American reactionaries like Moldbug and Gordian seem strange to me because, to them, the past, when looked at with one eye open, was always better because there was less millenarianism. But in the end they have to retreat into European feudalist fantasies because the whole thing has been diseased all along. Moldbug’s great error was to complain about American Protestantism as hippy “Quaker thuggery” (yes, he was right to a degree), but to conveniently forget to answer Weber’s “protestant work ethic and spirit of capitalism” thesis, quite simply because that’s the bit of America he likes. It seems strange that one could have one aspect of the proddie cultus of immanentised futureal salvation brought into question and not the other.
We’re dealing with white-yellows, here, the demented American fantasy fusion of reactionary monarchism and libertarianism, something that never really existed even in the relatively free markets of the nineteenth century. It’s a neologistic worldview fathered by people like “palaeolibertarian” Hans Hermann Hoppe’s panic about “planners” that leads down to a new “covenant community” of the “propertarian” monarch. Just as the US New Left could only do an aestheticized left libertarianism of sex communes, self-help and hippies levitating the Pentagon, the parochial American reactionary, from the “alt right” to the “trads” can only do an aestheticized right libertarianism. In the end it’s a throne of skulls draped in the Confederate flag like some bad heavy metal t-shirt; a parallel universe where George Washington took up the offer to be king. More than anything it’s just bloody silly.
But as Christianity in America via the second “tectonic plate” earns its stripes as the “religion for exiting religion”, it must indeed be painful to see that there is greater “piety” in the liberal atheist egalitarian than in Christian America, as it evaporates into lack of attendance and interest, ignorance of its basic myths and exoteric undeath. Yet, I do not think that this left liberalism is really even a “Quaker thuggery” – there is very little that is genuinely communitarian about it and I do not think that it is even sophisticated enough to think about either pacifism or revolution. We are not dealing with hippies, whose great emptiness in the end can be summed up in the title of that old book about the US New Left: Without Marx Or Jesus. We are dealing with what became of the hippies and their children, with their insurmountable failure, with a Summer of Love and May ’68 that became pure sappy “selfism” – “social kitsch” – as a friend of mine likes to call it. Nail tolerance or empathy to anything and it gets eaten up, commercialised and put on the fridge like a child’s drawing. This prevents any kind of deeper consideration of things, it has become a factory. Most of us are left with the ideology of the old Boomer social worker who might know that what they say is a bunch of hollow Hallmark rubbish, but they still keep saying it anyway because the possibility that someone would not just accept a synthesised version of the latest “social justice” craze is impossible to think.
Now of course, it all seems to be accelerating because the spiritual and literal descendants of the New Left got a free lunch to start their own social media revolution first. And, as was predictable, “reaction” happened. Voegelin even in the 50s recognised the negative effects of communications technology in liberal democracies, how it bred cynicism and decay, but like Habermas’s communicative reason, he believed that noetic reason should be able to shine through. Let us hope there is still a chance because the arrow of time is not leading, I think, down towards the “primeval forest” of mythic Sorelian violence – “Civil War 2: This Time It’s Personal”, but the tightening of the katechontic vice of “the end” against any attempt to interrupt it and prise open the closure of spiritual and political reality it presents. Dugin, nutter that he is, is right perhaps – there will not be fire, only a tamed lightning – Fukuyama is “already a robot”.
Our only chance is to pursue the awakening of political theology and bring it into conversation in the mainstream. The theologico-political question must be raised. Those who somehow still believe in one of the several undead variants of “progress” have no conception of why they even believe at all, so it often seems to me. It is all reflex movement, an automated action. Frankly an actual “cultural Christianity” conscious of its history, one that believed in some sort of shared, empathetic community instead of online virtue signalling and nerfed “culture war” beat-ups might be the most beautiful and dangerous idea possible in this limited age of ours. I think that I’m going to stand up for it because, as we will see later in this essay, it’s a damn sight better than what the alternatives might be using the available symbolism of the present.
2. Nature Man and the Glass Palace.
If we have begun to talk about “cultural Christianity” and the American “covenant community”, then let us follow it through. Covenant communities are communities constituted through an oath binding people under God. They have their origins in the covenants of Noah, Moses and Christ of course. Protestantism was crazy for them and this has been carried down through its many communard experiments to the internet today. Weird notion? One should never forget that the first public internet was built by Whole Earth hippies after their communes folded and that the values behind this were used in the 1990s to build the web we have today. The “electronic frontier” was to make up for the failed communes – a new commune where people could be themselves and find their tribe. It is but one in a long line of American communes. Another keen example is the deeply Catholic Marshall McLuhan, that mutant son of the American Agrarian tradition, who decided that there was only one exit to industrial nihilism: the return to the superstition of the primitive village through new technologies. Thus was the “global village” born. As Franco “Bifo” Berardi, a Marxist misery-guts, but an observant man all the same, has put it:
“The Puritan imprint on American culture is not only a mark of religious dissidence from the history of European religious wars, but is also the project of the purification of the future from the slag heaps of the past. Puritanism, indeed, is the name of the desire to create a new world in a space that is pure of history and culture, and distinct from reality itself: in this religious space, virtualization was conceived. This is why America (and not the United States) is the future of the world. America is the deterritorialised dimension of digital dis-identity. A virtual and recombinant dis-identity. Desiring to be American while simultaneously hating the United States, is the paradox of many world populations.”
Berardi then goes on to claim that the only obvious way to resist this colonisation is to “destroy the world” – the project of fundamentalist Islamic nihilism. He’s not shilling for that of course – he wants everyone to admit they’re powerless and to work together with what they have here and now. This is not such a bad idea, if only people could recognise what they do have and the history behind the values which so many of them at least nominally still consider sacred.
But, so it would seem to me, when it comes to NRx, that it is from within the very bounds of the two millenarian “tectonic plates” of American culture – between exceptionalist primordiality and accelerating the world into “purified” networks – that were are seeing one of the most profound dissonances. Is neo-reaction on the side of the United States and America the name for the processes of infomatic globalism? Not quite. The United States might be good enough for alt lite civic nationalists, but it itself was born too modern for “trad” NRx, and so fantasies about European “deep time” must be borrowed. This is the amusing paradox of the recent boom in especially “alt right” reaction: the net has allowed ethnonats from all over the world to connect with one another, only to transmit to all the same cut and paste European “New Right” squeezed into an American post-libertarian mould. The universalism of this parochialism is delicious.
Yet at the same time what is more “American” than Moldbug’s “patchwork” and Nick Land and the techno-commercialists praying for absolute deterritorialisation? It is hard indeed to read this very recent accelerationist write-up about the “patchwork” concept and not see little settler colonial puritans in funny hats throwing History over the side of the boat as they make their great crossing of a New Atlantic: the world flattened by techno-capital, which will allow everyone to just start all over again to try out their own pet social project. The nation state will die so that a thousand communes afflicted by the spirit of capital might live. In short I think we must say that the “trads” are the Burkeans of NRx, the “outside party” doomed to fail. They are the rootless ones because, at very least, from the liberal to the accelerationist, there is a sort of aboriginal Puritan quality – a nativity to this Gnostic “purified” electronic space without boundaries.
To rediscover as our accelerationists now do that their father Nietzsche in Human, All Too Human prophesied privatised government as part of the “philosophy of the future” is not at all surprising. What is surprising is that is that they are to yet realise their own puritanism and that of Nietzsche himself. The throwing of History over the side remains an ideal cooked up in the Old World, a Faustian hunger for an infinite transcendent God beyond quality, space and time requiring a “cloud of forgetting” to be erected between the seeker and the World. It became an immanentised thirst for expansion of the egoist libido dominandi over infinite space and time, as Voegelin and Spengler have said so well. It is an infinite thirst requires the discarding, deconstruction and demythologisation of everything except what the Gnostic in his parochial Will desires to institute.
Thus Nick Land, especially here in this interview with Red Ice TV (esp. 28 mins onwards), is indeed very correct to see liberalism as a secularised Christian universalism, but he does not seem quite able to realise that he himself is also one of the side effects of this process. Like Nietzsche he is Christian, all too Christian in a very mundane heretical sense. As Land said twenty years ago, the decline of Christianity produces “cults” to fill the gap, but for all his cult of pain and Chthells, Gnons and the rest of the Lovecraftian bestiary, the accelerationist is the purest of puritans, I think we must say, a creature of radically creepy cleanliness who takes capital to be the balm able to wash all the sinful weight of history and its “old age of the world” inertia away. This is where the protestant work ethic and capital finds itself in the end: in a pure, childlike idolatry of capital – praying for salvation to be doled out by the immanentised oikonomic God of Providence.
However, as to whether anyone will ever be let go to play their fantasy communard games in “meatspace” is a completely different question. The world has run out of endless horizons for the settler; the katechon has it bound up tight with its little “end of history”; it has run out of Faustian “eternal mornings”. All there is, is the mash of fantasy covenant communities that is the internet, some new “Nomos of the Cloud”. Let us consider the covenant community-machine that it is. Just as it has been possible to ask “who murdered the covenant community?” using Voegelin’s ideas, I think we must come to the conclusion that one more commune culture has failed and crumbled with the internet. I’m pretty sure Carl Schmitt would find this failure of one more “neutral ground” delicious.
But old indeed are the origins of the abusive parting shot that comes when someone leaves one voluntary electro-commune of a Facebook group after another due to some ideological disagreement. Once upon a time it went like this: “I came from England because I did not like the Lord Bishops, but I cannot join with you because I would not be under the Lord Brethren”. The internet is an endless frontier of temporary communes, people coming and going from here to there at high speed, unable to live under this lord or another. What covenant binds them? Very little, one would say, for the codes of conduct for the social media platforms seem to exist to be broken. Perhaps “net neutrality” is the only recognised “natural law”, which is little more than the idea that the Lord Bishops are going to take your commune/sand pit away from you. This libertarian myth grew up in conjunction with the internet, the terror that one’s rhizome might be made arborescent. What’s the proposed cure? Only more of the same: more decentralisation, more creep, more running away.
But what remains of “the real world” beyond the cold, clean Puritan plain/plane? It is a damn ironic and bittersweet turn of events for someone like Mark Zuckerberg to turn around and realise that everyone is now “bowling alone” in the real world. His suggestion to solve the problem? Bring your Facebook group out into the real world. This is apparently how we are to make up for and reconstitute all those community groups, clubs and churches that have died. I’m not sure about you, but the thought of meeting up with the sort of people one associates with in Facebook groups, with their eternal one-upmanship and mediated abuse, doesn’t sound exactly peachy. I don’t think I’d like to share my picnic lunch with them now or ever.
But something else besides simply human fickleness, and the “death” of a God or some other transcendental purpose to bind the oath of covenant, has gone wrong with both the “real world” public sphere community and the electro-commune. Above them, in the words of Lewis Mumford, there hovers immense technocratic “cybernetic deities”, far more powerful than any we have had in the past.  To Mumford in the 1960s the issue was “a highly centralized super-organic system” – a simple top down cybernetic arrangement because only a few social scientists and engineers controlled the computers. Today everyone has a networked PC, but they are utterly beholden to the large technology producers and information-farmers who let them use this. The little people bicker while the big people clean up the data, the internet is always on in every home. “Cybernetic Deities” does indeed sound like a kind of weird information age “political theology” – and it is. Mumford in The City in History outlined the theory that cities had begun as a “democratic technics” where ideas, religions, tools and goods were traded, but had quickly been subsumed under pharaonic god-men. In the post-war period he saw this legacy continued under the emerging power of the computer and its technocrats to program society, as it decays into a sprawling and alienated “necropolis” or “tyrannopolis”. Mumford is setting up a dualism, a Good City and Bad City like Augustine, which recur through history and he is very much on the side of guilds, the covenant community and democracy.
In 1961 Mumford’s answer to these “deities” was to create an “invisible city” using the growing electronic networks of the time. From within the dying city a new one would be born. The idea sounds rather like a prophesy of the internet. However, at the time, interlibrary and intermuseum loan were the closest he could come to for the hope that something “organic” might emerge between cities and their citizens. That same year, 1961, Paul Baran theorised the first internet as part of the US government’s “dispersal” project to disperse important infrastructure in case the USSR bombarded the country.  There has been very little to bind it this covenant “city” except the “natural right” of net neutrality, the myth of resistance to authority and the nihilistic imperative of the dispersal of more information as far as possible.
The ready-at-hand of premade platforms to acquire infopower (controlling life through information) and the inertia that comes with this “free” feast is how one conquers the world. Everyone is teased by being doled out a little bit of power at the push of a button (doxxing, Google books, Wikipedia, hacking, things to paste into social media arguments etc.). But if we want to look at the history of infopower, then we must realise that every urban civilisation has engaged in census-keeping. And it is a kind of ominous magic indeed, for one’s “name to be taken”. There is a “political theology” too here, one of earthly omniscience: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works… And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” One should recall that William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday book as much to scare the hell out of people as to get a survey of his new property. If someone knows everything about you, down to the names of your farm animals, then you are in thrall to them.
To the illiterate having one’s name “put in the book” is a kind of binding – someone knows you better than you know yourself. Compared with those who scoop off and hoard the world in databanks, we are like dirty-faced peasants asking the preacher or lama to read out some scripture to make the crops grow. Perhaps teaching all the kids coding or how to use the Blockchain will turn everyone into members of the priest-class, like Joachim of Fiore’s millenarian “Age of the Monk”, but I have far more difficultly believing in internet magic and electro-anarchism than I even do in the Third Ages of the desiccated old progressive political religions, now reduced to memes. I’d more easily believe that Blockchain presents the opportunity for more governmental infopower than ever before. Imagine if everyone had their “own” little currency, hooked up with all their data, identity and genetic information.
Recently I met me a techno-optimist left liberal who was shilling exactly for this idea. “Imagine if there was a natural disaster or a refugee crisis,” he said, “we’d be able to work out where everyone is and who they are and help them.” God bless those who have become as innocent as little children. I’d be looking to see what somewhere like “state capitalist” China does with this technology, and then what might follow elsewhere. Got bad “social credit”? No train ride for you. It would be very easy to simply press the divine button and cast a person into outer darkness. The US government is already thinking about making everyone give a long list of their social media handles when applying for visas. Is now an appropriate time to quote the old line about those who bore the mark were not allowed to buy or sell which was so commonly uttered concerning microchips and credit cards by American Christian libertarians in the 1990s?
Let this be said. The internet “invisible” city has now become thoroughly visible – there is nowhere to hide if one disagrees with the way things are run. Rather than having to fish or force people’s information out of them, they now give it away totally for free online. The future looks so “bright” it could burn your eyes out. The increasing realisation seems to be the need to construct a new “invisible” community – a politics that totally avoids the glaring brightness of the “society of control” entirely – while there is still a gap to do so. Gordian’s “Plinth”, anarcho-communist Andrew Culp’s “dark” version of the Deleuzian “nomad”, even the anarch in the forest of that first disappointed “accelerationist” Ernst Jünger. The old Landian fear of the “Turing Cops” keeping you away from plugging into the sacred internet is going stale, I think. These few odd examples could not seem more different from one another, but they all belong to a vector that perhaps only now is becoming clearer. Bare survival is about as good as it gets for anyone in a totally illuminated age, especially those outside the Overton Window. Perhaps the “new internet” will even be no internet as this sort of vector develops. Mumford said: “it may need another century or two before their contributions will have dethroned our Cybernetic Deities and restored to the centre of our existence the images, and forces and purposes of Life.” So be it. The only game is the long game.
What of the long game? I suppose one should at least try to push the pure ideology of the “end of history” as far as it can be pushed. By this I do not mean “accelerationism” – cheap stuff that it is – I simply mean the notion that we take Mumford’s prediction of a “long game” seriously. We say, okay, everyone wants to complain about a lack of Event– then let us simply accept as “fact” (at least as thought experiment) the idea that it will be at least two hundred years more from now without Event. We might call this possibility “normie extremism” just for fun, as I did in the previous part of this essay.
One can roll around in Old Testament theodicy like Arthur Gordian all one likes about the leftist moral hegemony of a “Cathedral” of elites being doomed to destruction. It’s pretty cheap. It’s the trembling prayer of “dear God, please just let it die!” But oh no, I do not think it will just end. We’re in for the long haul here. For every Book of Nahum there is a Babylonian Captivity to follow. And indeed all the complaints from NRx types about the current liberal “Cathedral” may mean relatively little compared with how weird things are probably going to get. “Build the Cathedral v. 2.0” chant Nick Land’s leftist #Altwoke and Xenofeminist offspring – a post-gender, trans-everything hi-tech society – ideas fathered by one of the few examples of hilarious old “horseshoe theory” – an anarcho-communist who became the most important current thinker of neo-reaction. Kind of makes those Marxists like Burnham who turned into neo-cons look a bit sappy, huh?
But then again, it is the “postconservative” and “techno-commercial” line of Moldbug-Land-Jacobite Magazine which is doing the thinking when it comes to “highbrow” English language reactionary thought. It is interesting, often monstrous and godless stuff, but it thinks. Even libertarian gun-maker Cody Wilson, when he wrote something for Jacobite, was able to recognise in the spirit of Peter Sloterdijk that the failed “alt right” is something which could only happen “after history” – a whole lot of angry young men not even really sure why they are angry or how to be constructive with it. The Social Matter types with no ideas of their own borrow Nick Land’s ridiculous entity Gnon as though it is the God of the Old Testament, while Jacobite asks whether the past five hundred years is the history of “Late Woman” and that through technology she will soon disappear. Nature has been cruel to her, she is an aberration that needs to be remade. At very least the techno-commercialists and far left “Xenofeminists” agree on something, largely because Land’s influence is now everywhere.
If, as a “trad” like Gordian one’s height of complaint is that the “elites” really don’t believe in all that gender constructivism business and that they only say they do to force mainstream conservatives to be shamed and fall in line, or that God/nature will destroy left liberals for the genocide of abortion, then one is probably going to have a bit of difficulty understanding that when it comes to the intersection between liberal amor sui “selfism” and biopower, the only limit is “access to tools” and imagination. One of the most interesting things that has been written using Giorgio Agamben’s ideas about political theology is by Penelope Deutscher on abortion. Abortion has never been legalised in America, Australia or Europe, claims Deutscher. It exists in a state of exception to the power of the state, which simply forgets to step in and utilise its powers that it has guaranteed itself to prevent abortion. As a result, abortion cannot help but end up being mythologised as a fight between two sovereigns: that of the state and that of the woman. Prolife advocates end up viewing the woman who has an abortion as a kind of traitorous challenge to the State and its claim to make decisions over life and death.
Access to biopower is what it is all about, and as technological control over life slips further into computational infopower we are left with a strange possibility – who hands out the Exception? Waving the wand of “social construct” has its limits, as I have tried to say before, and this is causing a swing towards scientism as instrument of liberation. “Social constructionism” does indeed have a long history in the ius gentium vs. ius naturale and Vico’s man-made “common sense” – the idea that a people can collectively change its customs whenever it likes. But it takes Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals to properly produce the Whig version of “postmodernism” everyone’s dad has recently started complaining about as “SJWs” – the idea that the origin of a thing is unimportant: only the becoming-master of a “chain of signs” under the Gnostic belief that:
“… everything that occurs in the organic world consists of overpowering, dominating, and in their turn, overpowering and dominating consist of re-interpretation, adjustment, in the process of which their former ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ must necessarily be obscured or completely obliterated.”
This is where the free lunch of social engineering comes from. It stands behind every left Nietzschean Foucauldian “genealogy” of sex and power, and every Deleuzian “concept creation” and “becoming minoritarian” with the queer warmachine excreting a thousand tiny sexes. “Becoming minoritarian” as opposed to “becoming master” should reveal the strange paradox, or the blatant stupidity and suicide of Nietzsche’s ideas, at very least. Post-modern becoming-master is legitimised by remnant Christian victimology: and the meek shall re-engineer the world (or at least their academic patrons who speak for them shall). I’m willing to go out on a limb here and speculate that the future feminism will be “Xenofeminist”, the techno-science of Shulamith Firestone and Donna Haraway, not the constructivism of Judith Butler – though the latter lays the basis for such a thing to arise in many ways. There’s something more than a little suspicious about her little sovereign performative subject that gets to reshape the flesh into whatever it wants. The old Cartesian technocrat “ticklish subject” is still hiding in there, waiting for the day it can rearrange the body like a wardrobe of designer wear to be donned and doffed.
Any leftist who says anything like this of course ends up showtrialed as a “brocialist” or “TERF”, whispering “moya oshibka” over and over again as their spiritual ancestors did in the 1930s. In the same way while “accelerationism” is often booed on the left for being brutal, masculine and colonialist, the some thing coming from Xenofeminism invites no such criticism. It is immune to critique. The “church of Bacon” may have been founded on analogies of torture, rape and hunting, but I cannot see “feminist” orgies of scientism treating its Mother Earth with any more care as liberalism eagerly gobbles up and commercialises the notions of a few batty and powerless Marxists. All the complaints about constructionist science and nature deniers, as phatic as they are, are not going to mean a whole lot if people decide its their “natural right” to re-engineer a nature they take from the very get-go as inherently botched and unfinished, right down to their sacred “self”.
As the reader might recall from previous things I have written (such as here and here), I consider the “nature of things” to be a perpetual question, one requiring great openness to an anti-foundational Reality much larger than is usually assumed today. But that does not mean that the libido dominandi people attempt to exert over the nerfed “second reality” of their materialisms is an illusion. Techno-power terrifyingly reaches down deep, into the heart of the operations of entities for the sake of a few glib moments of Faustian control. It is powered on assuming that what it assumes to be the immanent Real of All Nature exists to be superseded by a Gnostic “second nature”. Conjoining this with the logic of “social justice” means a force that no Christian or secularised discourse on “human nature” would be able to compete with, in the Anglospheric public sphere at least.
If our reactionary and conservative friends cannot even summon a decent and convincing discourse against left liberal moralising about transgenderism, then they have already lost any battle they might ever choose to fight against transhumanism. So it goes. Consider this: even if any of those tabooed race/gender and IQ “facts” reactionaries love so much turned out to be true (Gnon be praised!), then all this would do is exacerbate this “natural right” for all to be remade. But of course it is highly unlikely that all would or could be in some “one world” ecumenical sense of a universal humanity-post-humanity. We’re talking liberalism here: the monetarisation of biopower and infopower as consumer goods for those who have the cash. Maybe some of our accelerationist friends are willing to sit about and wait for scarcity and political control to magically evaporate into rainbows and rhizomes, but I think they will be waiting forever.
One must start from the realisation that these people are Gnostics. In one of his perspicuous moments in his critique of my old “alt right” essay, Gordian is only too correct to say that liberals have put too much emphasis on “spirit” rather than matter when it comes to their beliefs about race and personality. The spirit must take control of matter, Cartesianism 101. Yet seeing that the first “sexual revolution” just created better ways for consumerism to farm “identities”, I cannot see why any Marxist would support the “second” without realising that it is the left liberal “vampire’s castle” that has the power and is always going to win and water down the ideas of the radicals. This isn’t “cultural Marxism”, it’s “cultural neo-liberalism”, and it needs techno-power, and it needs to concentrate it for the benefit of those it considers its sacred inner members. I have no doubt that something in the ballpark of transhumanism is the future of liberal selfism and I’m going to keep on saying it at least to get people thinking. But how the “vampire’s castle” already feels an awful horror should it actually come face to face with the great unwashed from beyond its pod. And so too the great unwashed will increasingly look upon the trans- everything Other that has been cossetted and reared in its pamperological chamber and feel nothing but total confusion and alienation because they could never keep up with the “future shock” of what is supposed to be believed. Perhaps it will be like Nietzsche’s famous image of when Dionysian and Apollonian man meet and find the other totally monstrous. A “humanity of two speeds” indeed.
The more central genderism becomes, the greater the demand to accelerate medical technologies to accommodate it will be. “Natalism” – the imperative of “more babies!” is no longer a social necessity and what remains “sacred” in it for the general populace is little more than Hallmark kitsch. Let one add that holy NRx Singapore has the lowest birth-rates in the world (Land calls it an “IQ shredder”), second only to hyper-trad Hungary, if one politely discounts the Romani for a moment. Social reproduction, beginning at least with mass education, communication and industrialism, has been paving the way towards the relegation of biological reproduction and the family to a lower tier. Industrial natalism from the USSR to Nazi Germany was about woman as baby-factory, an increase of the secular millenarian church through production. The post-industrial does not work like that, it is based increasingly only upon transmission – the rapidly mutating “imagined community” without solid boundaries, the shattering into a plurality of networked “public spheres”. Perhaps the great religions and their ecumenical “leaps into the universal” began this, but only now has the idea of shared “spirit” become instantly transferable through the magical substance of information.
As every real “reactionary” should know, the stripping down of the socius to the alienated nuclear family, mummy-daddy-me, was a degeneration – one that has been itself put through the wringer by mass culture, and increasingly, the social band-aid of electronic networks. It takes a village to raise a child, as they once said, and now it takes a plethora of networks to pick up the slack. One might joke in Deleuzian terms that the capitalist nuclear family isn’t daddy the scientist-businessman and mummy the Earth full of goodies and little Oedipus who wishes he had access to her too anymore, but the permissive liberal father who owns the Platforms, mummy the flows of Data and Oedipus permitted a little bit of her in order to give to daddy all of what he makes in perpetuity. You get a little, Father takes a lot. People are controlled through their thirst for data, they are raised by the internet more than by their parents and teachers, grown by it, born into it now. Unsurprisingly they are feeling very empty, far emptier than in the old days of the leather couch and silly old Freud’s fixation on the sicknesses of the nuclear family. But an exit to it remains the craziest idea there is because it is increasingly the only socius that they know. All they can do is try to recoup something by forming temporary little tribes, by fantasising about politics. And oh my, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet of what this nihilism, alienation and resentment might be capable of, even if they are just doomed to more and more powerless “neutralised” lashings out online.
Although Gordian would have me “project” on to reaction the problems of liberalism (when I was pretty clear that liberalism is a sick pup and has produced the “alt right” among its many pieces of selfist nihilism), I think one must be even clearer. Liberalism from the Toleration Act and Hobbes onwards expected people to throw off their tribes to become an abstract, atomised “citizen” subject. The sort of thing that can do the “imagined community” of nationalism if you increasingly poke him with a stick to keep it going, but not much else. Political parties were supposed to replace tribal allegiance, which is curious because where democracy is introduced off the bat into some country that has not been as atomised as North Western Europeans, the tendency is always towards parties forming around ethnic lines. To the “developed world” nothing could be more barbarous and alien. And indeed a party is often voted in, then bans democracy and exterminates some other ethnicity. Everyone goes very quiet. In this the supposed individualistic “hot” nature of the West, as Gordian would call it, digs its own grave through its pathological individualism, but never gets in it. It refuses to suicide, like our reactionaries would cheaply desire. It just stands there by its own graveside until it becomes Other.
Let us get down to basics and consider the ideology that has grown up with the liberal subject since it wrenched its self away from Feudalism to hide in the towns. Run, run, run along “lines of flight” is all it ever does, and a great deal of it is in just about all of us. Previously I have tried to look at the genealogical history of the psychology of the modern liberal subject through the influence of Nietzsche and Descartes. We need many lenses, I think, many vantage points and sideways glances if we are to try to understand the history of the Steppenwolf and the Bürgertum. Here I will add one more reading to provoke a few things. I will say that it is Rousseau’s “nature man” who stands behind much of the middle class liberal sophisticant. “Nature man” is an impossible primordial “sensitive and passive being” which lives in harmony with everyone but exists absolutely for itself in an amour de soi:
“These times of barbarism were the golden age; not because men were united but because they were separated. Everyone, it is said, considered himself to be master of everything.”
When we think of Rousseau we tend to think of the revolutionary “general will” of society or the cloying colonial image of the “noble savage”. But “nature man” is far more important than the “noble savage”, who is at best a facsimile of the sort of gloriously basic creature Rousseau longs for. This “nature man” is like the orangutan – all sense and not a moral care in the world: “his desires do not exceed his Physical needs, the only goods in the Universe he knows are nourishment, a female and repose; the only evils he fears are pain and hunger.” All Rousseau has is guilt – loss for primordial naivety, the shame of becoming a “human” in history bound by the social contract, forced from its ignorance into the rules and presence of Others.
As Roberto Esposito so aptly pointed out in his insightful book Communitas, this “nature man” was Rousseau’s reply to the “double nihilism” of Hobbes cutting down community to the bond between ruler and inherently selfish subject. With this the first articulation of the nascent modern “nomad” mass subject begins – watery “egophania” (as Voegelin called it) for all, guilted about a lost community, but terrified of falling back into the mass of others and their obligations. Rousseau’s “nature man” is stuck because of Hobbes on two fronts. It is atomised yet it longs for “community” yet it cannot deal with the obligations to others which come with living in a small tightly-bound social sphere. It can only try to force an impossible mythic “second reality” and claim that it loves itself so much that it could not possibly want to hurt anyone else.
When it comes to the history of the liberal individual Larry Siedentop’s Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism may well be very much correct. He claims that mediaeval Christianity could not help but produce it – everyone having a soul burdened by conscience and enacted through baptism and the confessional, propped up by egalitarian undercurrents in Canon Law. Spengler and Foucault certainly recognised the importance of these sacraments in producing the “Western individual” and the Reformation and what followed. Carl Becker with his amusing old image that the Enlightenment threw the immortal soul out the front door and smuggled it back in through the kitchen window as “humanity” is certainly not so incorrect. You all have a “soul”, you’re a special troubled individual, even if you do not know about it. But in the end the emergence of the subject as individual sheep herded by the Christian shepherd monarch flowers into the mass of networked selfish units first articulated by Hobbes, which Rousseau could only make worse.
The first thing that liberal kids everywhere do is bail out of the small town they came from to seek their fortune and others like them with which to network. Perhaps they are the last of the Vikings, pirates, cowboys and other uprooted Anglo rovers and colonists who built the basis for capitalist modernity. I would pay good money to hear Oswald Spengler talk about the twenty-first century West. My bet is that he would realise that the only thing left is Anglo viking capitalism and a lacklustre Caesarism of informational “entrepreneurs”. Not Great Men Fausts, Galileos wishing to overturn the current order, but tiny kitsch-pedlars of infotainment who “make life easier”. Spengler if he were around would probably sound an awful lot like Nick Land: accelerate social atomisation and the machines! (I’ve had a go at trying to work out what he’d sound like here).
Such an impossible creature as “nature man” can only exist through the acceleration of technology. It sucks up obligation and mediates others to a safe distance. This leads towards, I would venture, the grinding down of human beings into an Otaku Last Man subject that is hyper-interconnected but socially alienated.  For all the misery that might come from this, it will not give this up. In fact it needs to build itself a shell, an immune system. This is because the world out there seems basically disappointing and not amendable to giving this fantasy life to everyone. “Nature man” is a creature of inwardness for Rousseau:
“…outside of themselves and their family, the whole universe was nought to them…such naturalness and such inhumanity, such ferocious ways and such tender hearts, so much love for their family and aversion for their species. All their sentiments concentrated among their near ones and therefore the more energetic. Everything they knew they held dear. Enemies of the rest of the world they neither saw nor knew, they hated only what they could not know.”
As long as “nature man” doesn’t have to think about being ruled or see its effects, any more than being under obligation to other “nature men”, he is totally fine. One does not need absolute power for dealing with such creatures, only the increased rarification of the means of power. The networks become so omnipresent and “invisible” that one cannot even see that they are strings. Society is mediated out of existence by communications technology to “make life easier”. The primary quality of nature man is his animal “innocence” of any right or wrong because it takes society for such a thing to come about. The Last Men, as Kojève pondered, would be a “return” to nature – creatures making their nests out of instinct in an artificial Eden.
This is what we are looking at, I think, a sneakily emerging shell of clouds of electronic apps, sex robots, internets of things and machine to machine computing. It does not come as Event, but as an increasing intensification of trajectories already well and truly set up. The “trust” society is mediated, managed by electronic buffers; someone/something else can deal with the Other. For if not then the very anxiety of having to deal with other human beings, face to face, becomes a terrifying monstrosity revealing that history is not over, that people are still a great black hole, an unknowable “night of the world”. If there is a powerful symbol that the “trad” reactionary might love only too much it is that Donna Haraway now writes books about the moral imperative of getting to know your pets and making “kin” with other species over having children. Another is that Shulamith Firestone died friendless and alone and was not found by anyone for weeks. The future is going to be a very lonely place for many I think.
The fact is that while it is all too easy to spot what looks like an increasing Great Retraction into nationalism from an accelerating globalism, the Cold Iron Box of reaction, it takes a little more perspicacity to spot a similar inwardness among the “nature men.” Peter Sloterdijk has a wonderful term for the “world interior of capital” – the overdeveloped urban centres of the West. He calls them “the glass palace” after the 19th c. Victorian Wunderkammer, the Great Installation, erected to show off the spoils of the British empire. Today the inner cities become climate-controlled shopping malls of overabundance – “diversi-zones” so one might say. And there is indeed no phatic concept more suspect than “diversity” – it is a kind of immanentised flattening of the Great Chain of Being, a pleromatic fullness. God does not withhold what he could create, and the God of our era is Spinoza’s flat old God indeed.
Let us be honest. “Diversity” is the hyperreal ideology of the HD 3d TV blaring out nature documentaries of plants growing at accelerated speed. It contains at its core I sometimes think an implicit terror that perhaps the world “outside” is getting poorer and greyer as globalisation flattens the cosmos. To make up for this, the imperative becomes concocting a microcosm of overabundance by bringing the spoils inside for “nature man” to produce a paradise (a walled garden). Whether it is the safespace, the sanctuary city, the college town, the cut and paste hipster suburbs and farmers markets, or the giving up on politically “saving the world” in order to bring millions of people inside the edifice, it is all an inwardness. This is what happens when one slowly realises that the rest of the world is never going to buy all the new future shock moralities, let alone end up magically liberal democratic in some atomised Anglo sense. It’s just too parochial. You can give China, Russia and India Iphones, but the moral soft power attached to these icons does not necessarily transfer. One has to be boiled down and pampered in a kind of closed society obsessed with novelty, resentment, escaping social obligation (even to equals) and the hypertrophied “self” to even consider such things.
But here is the thing. This “glass palace”, its moulding practices and its language, are not spatial in some old-fashioned sense of a walled city or state. It is saturated and intensified in some places, yes indeed, but it brought by its inhabitants with them wherever they go, like a snail with his shell. And, should we continue with the silly snail analogy, we might say that it extends a trail in its passage, albeit one of networks. Gordian like so many other reactionaries can cut and paste “rootless cosmopolitan” (bezrodnyy kosmopolit!) as their dread Other (add anti-semitism to one’s taste), but they fail to articulate how rootlessness is never quite totally deterritorialised – only to the point of an increasingly mobile yet self-referential, enclosed life support system. In a recent article about Roam, a chain of emerging workspaces/hotels for the “digital nomad” we read concerning Bruno Haid, its founder:
“Haid’s entire pitch to consumers is that cities and countries today can be refashioned as backdrops behind a laptop screen to be swapped smoothly at will. Indeed, a glossy placelessness is part of Roam’s core product. “You always need a sense of place and home,” Haid said later in the day, as we wandered through the area’s blocks of quiet, rundown apartments. “The question is, does it need to be geographical?”
The centre is everywhere and nowhere – we may well be heading back to the smooth sphere as the cosmological symbol par excellence and not the “flat earth” that I often prefer to use. The nature of the emerging tendencies is indeed one of increased “smoothness”, one might say, of the prevention of any friction, which is perfectly in keeping with the increasing demands made upon the nomadic, disposable, short-term contract workers of “cognitive capitalism” and its pathological need for viral, fleeting concept creation for media. Poor little bastards. I’m pretty sure someone like McKenzie Wark would try to claim that this is not even capitalism anymore, but I have trouble trying to understand why this is so, except perhaps that he wants to make some point that we all groan “neo-liberalism” as though it is eternal and unchanging, without ever really trying to think where the hell it’s going.
What all this points to is a meta-network, as I have said, within which the subjects are endlessly remade and remodelled as they move from one micro-project to another. They are endlessly reshaped clay golems that never get around to solidifying. Most importantly, anyone like Wark nursing leftover 2000s Zeitgeist that information workers and “hackers” might somehow be a revolutionary subject to make up for the Marxist loss of the proletariat and for the failure of Third Worldism, is in a very silly and naive place indeed. It smacks of a remnant Hegelianism, a dumb belief that the real is the rational in some progressive sense – that whatever liberalism excretes, however awful and stupid, from its twee idpol and videogames to its “cognitive capital” and AI and cyborg fantasies, is still always paving the way to Marxism and post-scarcity paradise. No wonder Spengler called Marxism “capitalism for the poor”- a great deal of it in the Anglosphere, where it was first theorised around British industrialism, is always bound up in simply giving the fetishes to all, of mere orgiastic covetousness, of mass producing the low desire of the worst sort of “nature men”. Sorry, but “nature men” resent, they complain, they make memes, but they are not revolutionary, and they especially do not give a toss about the lowly except as something symbolic to talk about in order to talk about themselves. They’re whole way of life is organised around the mediation of real existing humans.
In the Anglosphere where Marxism was born it has never yet existed; when it has been applied beyond the Anglosphere it nearly always turns into some Nazbol monster distasteful to liberal sensibilities. Yet, if there is one thing that causes the Anglosphere Marxists I know to wonder if the real is in fact the tragic, it is of course the possibility of rapidly accelerating climate change. Yet dear old “degrowth” does not stand a chance at this point, and, as outlined in this post, climate change may well prove a serendipitous occurrence for the American liberal Leviathan to reassert its global dominance, at least symbolically. Reducing Empire to a war economy and rationing is very unlikely, as too invading countries for using non-recyclable plastic bags. Currently the magical thinking of liberalism is simply that at the eleventh hour the market will spit out magical cure-all technologies. For this of course it would likely ask and need Google, Amazon and friends to do much of the work for it, or at very least to produce pamperologic zones to forget about the rest of the world beyond them that is metabolised to keep them going.
This is the problem. The katechon of “end of history” Empire is not growing a new replacement katechon with the “metanetwork”, but growing a bizarre new organ within itself. Liberalism is outgrowing the nation state and the ponderous slow world of democratic process, but this new organ cannot and does not desire to simply wrench itself from the body and become independent. It does not have the will to do so, it has very little political aspiration at all, because what is taking place is almost unconscious, an unexamined form-of-life. There is no grand plot, no illuminati – simply the pamperological inwardness of the liberal soul which have allowed Google and friends to flower and which increasingly encourages them to do everything for it. One votes every few years, but the “metanetwork” is growing at light-speed every day.
But what if we want to go much further, and I want to say something far worse (for me at least). What if we were to look at the lifeworld of the contemporary American left liberal “cognitive worker” as a sort of “parody” of Aristotle’s “virtue ethics” system? The point should be that it is an endlessly changing performative praxis, where the only “end” is performing well in itself. In order to learn this morality, one must be in close proximity to learn where to be moderate, where to imitate, where to call for “distributive justice” and “restorative justice” in relation to the latest inverted feudal system of victimology. And just as a student might start reading Aristotle and assume that when he speaks of society, virtue and happiness he means everyone in the whole community like we would mean, before realising he means a small “gentleman” elect, one needs to make the realisation that this “ethics” is not for everyone and never will be. It is a social lubricant for the “smoothness” needed for producing a certain sort of new human being.
If you can accept the constant future shock to your moral system, then you are obviously the sort of person capable of accepting just about any other future shock to how, where, when, why and for whom you work. The “new morality” brings inwards into a select community, a few minorities made into academics or businessmen now and then, it enfranchises new identities as legitimate consumers by putting a transsexual in an advertisement. It really does not do a lot for the masses of people living in indentured poverty, who will never have access to this world. “Dear White People” is how one sells internet clicks, not how one deals with long-seated social fissures. “Social justice”, so one would usually assume, means a radiating outward through society of an image of radical “right”: the elect state that saves all. No, no, the covenant community has discovered that geography need not limit it. This entity only gathers in and virtuously performs.
For the rest of people at the edge or outer of this gathering, they are not elite speakers of this moral discourse, they haven’t had enough practise. They let the logic choppers get on with things, they accept, they mangle the words like hicks from the sticks when asked to talk. They are kicked off the reservation if necessary. This is an exclusive commune, but it only becomes truly visible in its most well-developed forms, such as good old Antioch College in Ohio. Back in the 90’s this college was mocked by just about everyone for its strange attitudes to sex and socialisation. Now the rest of the American academic world has caught up to it, and what goes on currently at Antioch College today sounds like something halfway between a post-modern hippy commune and an anarcho-capitalist strawman vision of the future where everything has become social contract. This is what “peak liberalism” looks like, so one might say, a heavily legislated atomism. Please don’t shake anyone’s hand without asking for their consent first. Please sign all the forms before coming on campus.
Something like this college may sound bizarre, a sort of “tectonic” mirror of the Amish covenant community, and likewise it will probably remain an eccentricity far out ahead of what everyone else is up to. Its instinct is towards the territorial, towards internalisation, like some monastery outside the polis with its own elite form-of-life to which people are ascetically consigned. It is as though we are looking at the “liberated” Thelamite monks of Rabelais, who do as they please, so they say, but really all do what one of them at a time decides is liberated. Like them the new monk still requires complex rules for life to prevent their fallen soul from sinning by relapsing back into the bad old rules. If the Freud-Marx-Nietzsche sexual revolution of the ’60s with its Reich and Marcuse was naively Rousseauian, it forgot the simple fact that “nature man” does not like having other people too close very much. It only helped accelerate atomisation to the point that mediating all with contracts and networks becomes to be the only way to keep a semblance of a society still going. One form of life gives way to another, and brings a whole host of different problems with it. Man cannot be without rules.
But my indeed are many people puzzled in dealing with this virtue system when they seem to put a foot wrong and try to deduce why they have been swamped by a Twitter-horde. The internet remains, for the most part, parochially centred over American left liberal “culture”, but as the Other is let into the net as it expands, the baizuo is revealed to be a weird alien gibbering away in the corner. Most of the world is still having trouble even trying to understand the idea that it’s okay to be gay. I can’t really see it dealing with Heinz’s 67 genders. Such a colonialism of parochial, enlightened “social justice” is impossible, so it does what colonialism does best and builds insider zones in which to exercise social reproduction upon that which is taken in from the rest of the world. The endgame is for all inside to become “nature man”, “the nomad”, Homo Starbucksensis, call it what one will: slightly differently coloured and be-gendered people who all believe the same dang thing but who do not bother one another too much. As John Gray has recently said about this bizarre “hyperliberalism”:
“The politics of identity is a postmodern twist on the liberal religion of humanity. The Supreme Being has become an unknown God – a species of human being nowhere encountered in history, which does not need to define itself through family or community, nationality or any religion. “
This should be the key – that the subject in question is now an “unknown God”, something Puritanical cleansed of all quality. Gray is right, as he often is, to bring millenarianism into this, but I do not think he spells out quite clearly enough the strange futureless quality of this stuff, its “long now”, its amnesia, its zealotry for little but the viral. If romanticism was “spilt religion”, as Hulme said, then this is “spilt chiliasm”. It’s broken, but, as I have being trying to argue, it has long been coming. Berardi’s “America”, Rousseau’s “nature man”, Sloterdijk’s “glass palace” – these all add up to parts of this same strange animal.
Now it might well seem that all this ever-updated “new morality” is trouble because it means people bothering other people and that is just too much anxiety and hard work for “nature men”. Indeed, the great novelty machine is unlikely to rest in its need to roneo out new lore and identities and victimological claims, one after another, but at the same time these will probably be normalised faster in order to prevent anxiety – for this is already the primary plague afflicting “nature men”. At very least, people will be chosen on a “survival of the fittest” basis as to whether they can develop techniques for achieving such ends quickly and quietly. Novelty might sell in academia and entertainment, but it is a cute little game compared with the “Cybernetic Deities” who rule the city from above and harvest the data. Let people play their culture war games, let them have some minoritarian CEOs.
The identitarian revolutions of the 1960s were certainly reterritorialized hard, and I do not see how the current ones will not be in order so that people can get on with it all. I would happily be on the same side to the very end with any courageous “leftist” (or even “reactionary”) who resists this inwardness, this becoming-Buzzfeed, but seeing that the last lot of leftists let neo-liberal TINA happen, let the identity farm get its way, and for all the “long marches” let the universities be turned into publish or perish businesses, I have very little faith here. This is how we can even end up in a world where someone like Moldbug could pose what he does – the privatisation of government by CEOs – Hoppe for the kids. The sprawling public and private bureaucracies have now become so interwoven and imitative that it becomes possible to simply suggest swapping out one lot for the other. Someone had to say it.
3. The Coming of the Basilisk.
I consider it not unlikely that the coming “sovereign” of decision, who builds the “glass palace” world will be as Moldbug imagined: the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. A sort of god of the city, a “Cybernetic Deity” as Mumford imagined the pharaonic technocrats of the future looking down from their data-temples. But here is something that might make the NRx reactionary weep bitter tears. It seems very much possible to look at their enabler and father Mencius Moldbug as a “Basilisk” of a very different sort than what they might imagine – a monstrous idea which once thought, cannot be unthought. And the thought is: Moldbug is a left liberal coming out of the future into the present, to use that magical language of Nick Land. For someone who came in via Mises and Hoppe, Moldbug ended up shilling for a city state with a managed economy, welfare, groovy funky Steve Jobs as ruler. Last year Yarvin even admitted that single payer healthcare was a good idea (much to Land’s upset).
As we saw with Sandifer’s comments on Moldbug in the previous essay, Moldbug does not ever look socialism, let alone Marxism, straight in the face in anything he says. This blindspot seems to have a strange side-effect, I would surmise, that like the “Cathedral” and its TINA ideology, he can digest aspects of socialism without ever having to acknowledge being “haunted” by it. Belloc was perhaps right – there was no way laissez faire capitalism could last long without producing a “servile state” simply because the thing is so damn corrosive of society that it constantly has to be negotiated with until everything is legislated.  It is but a small step to simply privatise the law, as we already see with the contractualism of our “nature men”. Capital deterritorialises only to reterritorialise better.
More importantly, Moldbug’s ideal subject is the rootless liberal “nomad” with the money to move across global networks of urban “glass palaces”. The fact is that the “progressives” own the cities, dear reactionaries, and that Silicon Valley, a few “tech-bros” resisting smoothness aside, is full of people with lots of very groovy values. Recently a leftist thinker who seems to have no knowledge of NRx coined the term “left fascism” for an increasingly likely future of groovy urban city states run by Silicon Valley CEOs as their own private theme-parks, a “civil corporatocracy”. People are catching on. As to whether they do anything practical about it remains to be seen. I think it would be highly unlikely.
The triad of Google-Amazon-Facebook has colonised and conquered the net. The West has been won, so to speak, the frontier is over. Now they need something else to keep themselves busy. One only needs to look at how Google and Amazon colonise cities to see that there is something in this. Moreover, let us not forget that LGBT friendly (and also very prison friendly) Mark Zuckerberg, running on a universal basic income scheme so that everyone can be an “entrepreneur”, may well be a president of the US in the not too distant future, though it is hard to think of a single person more generally resented and depicted as inhuman. But Trump won after all – anything is possible. Perhaps he will not need to be president. The best sort of power, after all, is that which is so mundane that it is invisible.
So too should one note that Peter Thiel, that cousin to techno-commercial NRx, recently decided to bail out of Silicon Valley for LA because it was too “leftist”. Nonetheless, the data-mining company Palantir, of which he is a major benefactor, has been doing a great deal of predicative policing “charity work” for the Democrat administration in New Orleans of late (and thus, as “philanthropists”, somehow haven’t had to worry about procurement laws for data). Let’s see if he and others have what it takes to create something different (I don’t think it would be very different). So too might the Zucc have recently had to take out full page ads to “say sorry” about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and giving away people’s data and then had to testify to an angry Senate who understood nothing about computers, but for all the people playing at quitting FB this last week, this will all likely be forgotten very soon. Business as usual will continue and only intensify.
To Gordian we are supposed to tell that Zuckerberg et al don’t have any real power compared with the media, old money and bankers, because if the Zucc just walked into the US senate and asked for them to make him a law he wouldn’t have the power to do so. At the moment, at least, it might appear that way as he answers their strange and silly questions – it might certainly seem that Big Tech is simply a tool, that it must do as it is told, or at least appear that way. But it is a tool which is called upon to crack down when “tech-bros”, reactionary memes or paranoia about Russians gets out of hand. It’s now expected to be a wing of governance. As I have said elsewhere concerning the ideas of René Girard, this new Hobbesian tool has become necessary to keeping “society” together through the production of sacrifice to decelerate resentment. The fact is that for governments there is no alternative to this tool, and there is nowhere else to go if one wants access to the world of the internet – for Facebook, Google and Amazon are the internet now. Should the tool offend the hand, the hand would be compelled to realise that it cannot simply make a new tool of its own, any more than for all the angry reactionaries (or anyone else) who keep going on about creating alternative platforms to Facebook and the like, no one takes this up. Smile and nod and look contrite is all they need do for now. Democratic governance is a slow and ponderous business; the technological oligarchy grows at light-speed in comparison, it never sleeps.
In the language of Peter Thiel’s horrid pop-Girardian self-help book Zero to One, more than 0 to 1 (the leap from mere imitation and resentment to originality), the oligarchs of Silicon Valley are 1, they are the Exception, and China and the rest are yet to even get close to catching up to 0, to bare mimesis of their global grip. It is more than likely that SV will not even be a singular place or centre anymore, but a diffused empire of global nodes, the Puritan cultureless “America” invading and patched roughly into this or that lifeworld. I think the time has come to realise that a Moldbuggian “patchwork” of “glass palaces” – a “metanetwork” rising up above the rest of the world, is already taking place. Would everyone else simply be left alone? In a fashion, yes. They would simply be colonial subjects, a lesser mankind fished for “human capital”, whether they live in rural America or Sub-Saharan Africa. They’d be partly left to national governments just blundering away of course, and what government would ever dare to stand up and say “those people we completely depend on are our enemies“? What’s the chance of anyone with power ever suggesting using anti-trust laws against them, or, dare one say it, forced nationalisation?
One should not forget that recently many American “leftists” were somehow more than willing to sing the praises of Jeff Bezos and Amazon after Trump’s cack-handed attempt to have a go at the company. Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase, and the mainstream “leftist” reply to such a thing, even if it were said by a left liberal leader, is unlikely to be anything more than hollow like-and-share resentment to fuel the news cycle: as powerless as the criticism of oil companies, American imperialism and the situation of the legions of quasi-slave labourers who work for Amazon.
Sovereign is the Zucc who makes the decision. It might sound immensely amusing to hear such words. Nonetheless, the power is not in a few “trad” kids LARP-ing Charlemagne and wishing for some social collapse due to the refugee hordes – it lives in Big Tech. Moldbug was right, and Big Tech can build its own walled and gated communities to reach out across the world, should things should decay a little in the locality. This is even if once, in a late (2013) blog entry, Moldbug did pay tribute to the idea that it would be highly plausible that “when our dark age ends and the kings return, if ever, it will be under any banner but the Cross”, as is so popularly cut and pasted in those Wrath of Gnon memes. But the context to this passage is one in which Moldbug openly declares that he cannot be anything but a “secular humanist”, an atheist who considers Christ Santa Claus for adults. His realisation, like that of atheist Hegelian Slavoj Žižek’s about Christianity, is simply that Christianity is one of the last sources in the West capable of producing intense social cohesion, loyalty and the pursuit of justice. In an era when political revolution has become seemingly impossible, one would be very foolish not to take a leaf out of the book of the history of Christianity, both as father of the “political religions” of modernity, and also as a still-living force of community and idealism. But it is not the late Moldbug we need to worry about, nor the Moldbug of the fascist ‘Plinth” in the Gentle Introduction (2009) – it is the techno-commercial Moldbug of the “Open Letter” (2008).
This plurality of Moldbugs is very curious. Mr. Yarvin went out to his “shed” to “tinker about” to create a new ideology. But he couldn’t weld to save himself. The “trads” bought the monarchy PR sweetener, which was just there to largely make it all sound cool; the real power and ideology is in the techno-capitalist underbelly. I cannot treat Moldbug as some innocent “speculation” (though I wish I could), quite simply because he is a desublimation of the unconsciousness of the Valley. It’s just too close to the bone. And I cannot trust our SV friends to be “moral” in any sense beyond a love for money and a farming of humanity under an ultimate “neutral culture”, any more than any reactionary should trust them. But somehow the “trad” reactionaries seem to avoid having to deal with this, as though with one eye closed they can use terms like Joel Kotkin’s “Clerisy” of liberal elites, without mentioning its brother and Other, the “tech-oligarchy”. And of late Kotkin has indeed been collecting and writing some amazing and terrifying stuff about this “oligarchy” – Google wanting to build its own “smart cities”, various companies shilling for the enforced densification of populations. Get ready for Le Corbusier v. 2.0.
What then is to be done? The answer I think, the only answer, is very simple – at least to me as an alien on the other side of the world. It is that what remains of the “second reformation” must rise up and rebuild the United States as a covenant community in which everyone is a member with a soul and with value, whether its ecumene is based upon current borders or otherwise. It too is likely to be an inwardness, for there is no living ecumenic outwardness of the “West” now except the colourless Puritan “America” of networks and the hollow recourse to meaningless wars in the world system now and then by the US katechon, just to remind everyone that it still exists. This is an age for inwardness, of looking at what one already has and trying to find value, thankfulness and succour in it to share with others. Feed the hungry; clothe the poor; heal the sick.
Between “lone wolf” nihilists shooting up churches and schools, the opioid epidemic and all the inescapable bonds of debt and poverty, one would think that by now someone would have said: “Oh heck. It looks like the Dream is over. People have been fleeced, the Future is over and the Empire is going south. Maybe we should try to help each other out.” And indeed there are many good people who do spend their lives helping others out, both religious and areligious, but there need to be many, many more of them perhaps. There needs to be a “call”, and, oh my, I think that it will have to be a religious one for the most part, as much as a secular “cultural Christian” one. People need to be put under moral imperative, and what remains of Christianity in the Anglosphere in this age offers one of the few things capable of truly doing that. To do this I think that the remnants of the “second reformation” must avoid the death-trap for movements that is the internet – the “like and share” Hell of slacktivist nothingness that exists to keep the world at a safe distance. The next internet is no internet.The point of rebooting the “second reformation” should be to bother people, the very thing that “nature man” hates, both his liberal left and right libertarian wings, as they increasingly drift towards a mass production of the Wizard of Oz: tiny charlatans inside Big Machinery.
This theoretical movement must see everyone in its community as possessing a soul, as deserving of charity and mercy. And when one says charity and mercy, let us be clear that we should not mean schemes like UBI (universal basic income), which would perhaps not be so impossible for some Moldbuggian privatised city state to embrace. But-But what could be more charitable, more “progressive”? UBI is on the table because no one really wants to have to deal with real people unless they happen to be worth something for perpetuating how things are: for producing a single sort of desired subject at the price of all others. Zuckerberg and others like UBI quite simply because they imagine it would give everyone the chance to be an “entrepreneur” like them. But the world is made for much more than the endless miserable and cutthroat agon of “cognitive capital” entrepreneurs. It’s not a choice between the bare-life mercy of the grain dole and some no-handouts “protestant work ethic and the spirit of capital” anymore. The real question is asking what people are for. Are they just a blob from which “human capital” is squeezed, or are they all inherently worth something a little more?
This “second reformation” revived must declare the current neo-liberal oikonomia and its likely trajectory sinful, because it steals from God and from the future. Functionally, and sadly, given the symbols available, it may well have to be an millenarian “call” that drives out the undead post-millenarian will-to-escape of the “glass palace”. It must point out this inwardness and the drift towards “nature man” and his mothering by Silicon Valley again and again and again until people become ashamed of it and dispel it. It turns “Whiggery” against itself, it makes liberal “nature man” look like pretender; it gets under the creature’s skin and shows him up. It embarrasses his hollow like-and-share “community” fantasies. America remains a far more Christian country than anywhere else in the parochial Anglo liberal democratic world. It might then have a chance to do something when what remains of “politics” seemingly cannot except perpetuate eternal “business as usual”. If anything like Moldbuggery should come about, only its “creeping Calvinism” antithesis being reified from abstract spook into just so many “visible saints” under the imposition of “the call” can rescind it. I humbly leave this as a vector to think about, for others to sketch and consider.
But I will leave the reader with this last thing, something sufficiently Platonic and “cultural Christian” to annoy some reactionaries. In his article “Fides and Consent” Arthur Gordian tells us that there are apparently reactionary Voegelinians out there writing lots of interesting things about loyalty and community:
“One of the major insights of Voegelinian scholarship, especially those outside of the dominant, liberal, EVS school of Voegelinian interpretation, is that the fundamental experience of politics for man is not liberty, but obligation to others. For the first few decades of our lives, we are fundamentally unfree in the liberal sense, being subjected to the authority of nearly every person around us, yet those who exercise authority over us do so in a way which is for our benefit. In all but the marginal cases, we experience power with restraint, authority without abuse, and most importantly for this topic, benefit without cost.”
Sad to say I haven’t found any of these “outsider” Voegelinian thinkers, not a jot, and I read damn well anything I can find. But then again, I don’t even know what EVS means. Eric Voegelin Society? Well, I’m not a member, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those folks. They’ve always been nice to me and humoured my eccentricities. The only other person I can think of who seems a “reactionary Voegelinian” is Thomas Bertonneau. I thought his essay on the EU as a repetition of Greco-Bactria very interesting and some comments on it will appear in a later post on the idea of a “New Axial Age”. However there is no discussion of Fides and Consent in anything of his I’ve found. I will keep looking.
Yet, I think what Gordian is talking about, whether he has simply made these Other Voegelinians up or not, is silly sooth – a beautiful simple truth. We are unfree for the majority of our lives I would say, but in the apt terms of Roberto Esposito pure raw communitas (obligation to others) would destroy us – we develop strategies of immunitas (dispensations from obligation) and dwell in a lifeworld of unconscious assumptions we do not even think about. “Trust” requires suspicion that one could break an assumed relationship, so it is not even that on many accounts. Human beings are creatures capable of strangely abstract counterfactuals and imaginings. If they did not spend most of their time barely consciously assuming an order to their lifeworld, they would become paranoiacs terrified about everyone them meet, worried about being killed by falling meteorites or being stabbed in the street.
The age-old narrative of “things are less safe then when I was a boy”, bolstered by the news cycle’s obsessions to find any violent incident that they can and the reactionary hypertrophy of this, still does not give way to out and out panic. There just is not enough violence to produce a cargo cult of the Political. Why? Because in their lifeworld most people do not commonly experience such things. The only hope reactionary racism about immigration has is the acceleration of the worst, its piercing of lifeworlds with mistrust and terror. “If only things were far worse than they are and white people were more racist we might have a political subject!” No, there is something far more important happening.
Abuse of an assumed relationship does indeed and should draw the structure of relationships from an unthought trust into tight focus. It damn well should terrify – it nearly always does. People are built of “crooked timber”, they are sinners, and often the worst abusers have a lot of responsibility, which only builds up a powerless resentment to fuel the media-cycle pump, as though with a few viral tweets the magic of “awareness” could remake the Earth. It does not, and even the most zealous cannot think themselves a plan or Utopia, trapped as they are in the “long now”. Moreover, the more people begin to obsess over the post-Foucauldian grinding of every relationship into “microagressions” of asymmetrical power to be resented, the quicker they approach a kind of paranoid schizophrenia and disappearance into atomised nomads at war with one another, mediated back into faux “nature man” through technicity. There is no limit principle to this sort of thinking, except loss of interest and sufficient mediation. Wait till there are apps to negotiate hook-up culture and then everything else like little contract lawyers. One wonders what the monastery of Antioch College will have accelerated off towards by then. Our problem is that if abuse comes down to mere perspective and not some assumed universal standard to things (some Noble Lie natural law?), then personal contractractualism is the only solution. Can one see it? Little clouds of apps buzz through the hothouse, as basic AI algorithms and nascent Machine2Machine programming champ at the bit to turn social bonds into infomatic bandaids. What a strange world that would be.
This mediation and hypercontractualism makes people quite easy to rule, especially our “nature men”, if, for the most part, they cannot see or do not want to see the digital strings by which they are ruled. Inertia and habitus are two of the most powerful forces at work in the human being, I would venture. If you want to rule a man don’t simply impose something new on him and tell him he must do it; tell him that everyone else is doing this now, maybe even sign him up for it, but then tell him that he can take his list off the name whenever he likes. Most people will not do this. They will just phatically complain. That’s what cynical reason and the news cycles are all about: to give people something to say rather than to think. “Content” fills up space.
One of the biggest critics thus far of this hyper-contractualism of late has been Marxist thinker Slavoj Žižek, an authoritarian communist, who, admittedly is getting a little lacklustre with his recent articles, and perhaps a bit more “reactionary” than he used to be in the face of the recent booms in Americacentric so called “social justice” causes. Remember when Moldbug used to think that Žižek was the most evil man in the world, a figure of utter dotage? Well, it’s easy to get left behind by left liberal mores if you’re not directly in the eye of that storm. I think he’s pretty much banned from publishing on most of the big “leftist” sites and pages these days, but I still think he is right to bring this bizarre contractualism up when most people seem to avoid it. One can take or leave his neurotic and hopeless call for Christiaņ-Marxist “divine violence” – for the moment at least. But if we look closely at what Žižek has said in the past, it appears that he has a soft-spot for Rousseau and his belief that the egoist who loves himself so much that he doesn’t care to harm others. He says: “the primary vice of a bad person is precisely that he is more preoccupied with others than with himself.”  This gels well with Žižek’s desire to live in a society where whoever is in charge just gets on with it, he can be left to write his books, and no one would have to go to bothersome council meetings all the time to have input on things. Indeed, being bothered by others is a nuisance, especially if one is a philosopher.
It would be nice for stuff just to work and everyone to be happy, but that is not the case. What Žižek is talking about might seem quite close to Plato’s ideal that in a just society everyone would stick to their own business. But the fact is that we don’t live in a particularly just society, nor is it becoming particularly more just in any determinable sense, and no revolution to bring the Golden Age back for all is coming. More and more people increasingly seem to want to be like Rousseau and thus in the gap that is produced by this retraction comes simply technological mediation, legislation, surveillance and so on just to keep things working as “business as usual” while society gets thinner. The only option, I think, is to actively bother people, to cast off the daft bourgeois libertarian egoist thing, and take an active interest in the community of others. What remains of the “second reformation” must return as a sort of New Salvation Army.
Okay let’s step this up a bit. What is the most ambitious and ridiculous piece of American “cultural Christianity” ever envisioned? I think Kurt Vonnegut jr came up with it in Slapstick, or, Lonesome No More!, one of his more obscure books. It’s a very odd little book about many things (including the Chinese shrinking themselves), and I think someone once made an atrocious film of it. But the central idea is that of a man who runs for president in a decaying America, afflicted with disasters. His single idea for running for president is quite ridiculous, something he and his twin sister cooked up as children. Basically the plan is this: give everyone new middle names that represent a randomly selected extended family of ten thousand other people. It isn’t a replacement for existing families, it is simply an addition:
“I spoke of American loneliness. It was the only subject I needed for victory, which was lucky. It was the only subject I had. It was a shame, I said, that I had not come along earlier in American history with my simple and workable anti-loneliness plan. I said that all the damaging excesses of Americans in the past were motivated by loneliness rather than a fondness for sin.”
When the protagonist explains that everyone would get “ten thousand brothers and sisters…one hundred and ninety-thousand cousins”, he is greeted by people’s amazement at this number to which he replies: “Didn’t we just agree we need all the relatives we can get in a country as big and clumsy as ours?” And then comes the predictable question of what one should do if one ends up with a “fake relative” one does not like:
“Wouldn’t you say that perhaps that sort of thing has been going on now for perhaps a million years?…I will personally be very disappointed if you do not say to artificial relatives you hate… “Brother or sister or cousin,” as the case may be, “why don’t you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don’t you take a flying fuck at the moooooooooooon? You know what relatives are going to do Mr Grasso?” I went on. “They’re going to go home and work out how to be better relatives.” 
This is one of those bizarre (but not uncommon) cases of Vonnegut being ridiculous and sappy, but also painfully to the point. Perhaps this might seem a little like the dissonant other side of Žižek: that true love is when one can insult the Other. Perhaps this is so, and it should rub up against the Rousseauian side of what he says and reveal that if there is anything that can break through the little bubbles that “nature men” wish to construct, it is in learning how to socialise again by learning how to be productively rude to the Other, of the direct vulgarity of day to day life among other humans and not that of the mediated abuse of the internet. More communitas, less immunitas. The corpus mysticum on Earth is a wounded, porous body in need of generosity and love. Not the kitschy, naive agape of some Christian pop song that dispenses with conflict and suffering and evil, but the love which breaks through closed lifeworlds, the love that wounds in order to wake men up. Men should not think themselves Christ, but they should be humble enough to imitate him, to get down into the dirt of mankind in order to serve and care for it.
I think I’d stand up for “creeping Calvinism” of this sort Vonnegut is talking about any day of the week, or something like it. The choice is “Creeping Calvinism” or barbarism, and Moldbug the left-liberal represents a clean, plastic, lifeless barbarism of the worst sort. De Maistre-Moldbug who comes under the banner of the cross is a dead-end (at least as long as the neutralisation of our Cybernetic Deities lasts). But the banner of the cross and what is left in its secularised “second reformation” are not. They will be needed to fight Moldbug before the end. I’m deadly serious about this, well perhaps not exactly the sort of plan Vonnegut is talking about (though it’s not exactly impossible or entirely stupid as a speculation for dealing with alienation). But I am deadly serious that unless there is some way back to community for the United States and others afflicted by “America”, then it may well be a very miserable future indeed, one of “glass palaces”, the forgotten desert beyond and little else. And what is most frightening is the fact that this would likely take place without a shot fired and without any effort raised against it. Why? Because it is bound up tight by a terrible tissue of extremely convincing lies.
Patrick J. Deneen recently wrote a very illuminating article for First Things on the concept of a new “Noble Lie”. The thing about Plato’s “Noble Lie” (or Tall Story, should one prefer it), is that it supplies a social narrative where everyone is supposed to feel like that whatever function they perform, that it is important, that they have “skin in the game” as Americans like to say. The “Noble Lie” of current liberalism, claims Deneen, is broken because it is based around the refusal of highly-educated and privileged liberal elites to acknowledge that they are elites. For if they were to admit this, that would mean that they would have to take responsibility. The myth instead is that the left liberal and progressive, still LARP-ing the 60s, are the perpetual outsider, the brave creative and the underdog. Indeed, as Deneen intimates elsewhere, as if in the spirit of Lasch’s Revolt of the Elites, the core of left liberalism’s social reproduction is the boring old upper middle class nuclear family. This produces a stable platform to produce subjects who shill for everything but this and yet continue to perpetuate themselves with a stable class base. He is simply the wannabe “nature man” or Steppenwolf, the enjoyer of novelty of telescopic poshlost’. In America especially, where education does require big money, and which Deneen dwells upon in his thesis of elite-production, this certainly seems to be the case. But who knows what shall become of this class as it steadily switches away from human reproduction towards networked social reproduction, of the daddy-mummy-me of platforms, data and the subject of cognitive capital. Perhaps the post-60s “permissive” liberal father shall become some other entity, new social superego and all, and the university too shall be transformed into some corner somewhere of Gnostic Cloudland. Deneen writes:
“So long as liberalism was not fully itself—so long as liberalism was corrected and even governed by Christianity—a working social contract was possible. For Christianity, difference is ordered toward unity. For liberalism, unity is valued insofar as it promotes difference. The American experiment blended and confused these two understandings, but just enough to make it a going concern. The balance was always imperfect, leaving out too many, always unstably oscillating between quasi-theological evocation of unity and deracinated individualism. But it seemed viable for nearly 250 years. The recent steep decline of religious faith and Christian moral norms is regarded by many as marking the triumph of liberalism, and so, in a sense, it is. Today our unity is understood almost entirely in the light of our differences. We come together—to celebrate diversity. And today, the celebration of diversity ends up serving as a mask for power and inequality.”
Deneen’s article may be one of the saddest things I have ever read. I can honestly say that this silly sod shed a tear reading it because it spoke very simply about things which I had only been able to arrive at technically through thinking about Rousseau, Moldbug, Sloterdijk and Voegelin over the period of about a year. Perhaps I did not want to believe things were so bad, even if I have already found liberals strangely alien for many years. I still would not rather believe it, perhaps. Only now, having already written this essay have I acquired myself a copy of Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed.  It’s not bad – maybe a little plodding and certainly not as good as his article on the “Noble Lie”. It’s filled with the odd miasmic glow of a besuited neo-con political science professor attempting to learn how to think for the first time. And yet Deneen’s answer at the end of the book, to “turn the household into a small economy” to create some back to the Earth agricultural community is pure communard stuff, the escape trajectory as always, from The Whole Earthers to the Benedict Option and the NRx “exit”. I am disappointed.
No – no one gets to leave the reservation. “Abraham, go back to the civilisation!” as Hegel cried (I do paraphrase of course). The fact is that we’re all stuck here together. As I said here concerning oikonomia and the ideas of Angela Mitropoulos, the neo-liberal “ownership society”, that twee attempt to return to some sort of Aristotelian oikonomia, has done little but exacerbate the death of the political and alienation. Everyone shuts themselves in their little house and boards up the windows and doors. It’s especially amusing seeing that so many young people may if things continue as they are, never get the chance to own a house. Stuck in perpetual rentism, they are perfect nomad subjects. It remains that we are all chained to our debts to others – to the massive monster of financial debt both personal and national that the “end of history” has contrived, and to social debts to the society that grew us up, just as Socrates and Christ were. No exit. “Creeping Calvinism” needs to head back to the entrance.
If American protestants do not believe in salvation through “good works”, then that is no excuse to abandon communities and not to do good works. Perhaps a benefit of this doctrine is that in the end it also negates the selfishness of “prosperity theology”. It might look as though one’s nation is the New Israel chosen by God for eschatological salvation while history is in the ascendant, but when this changes, such things are rendered rather meaningless. Either you’re in God’s book or you’re not – end of story, no? But here’s the problem. As said, one is stuck in a “covenant community” that one cannot leave. The default “new covenant” then has to be that everyone is in the same boat – no one gets to escape from the Lord Bishops or the Lord Brethren to make their own commune. This is God’s test, perhaps, a social contract that cannot be broken, even as things slowly decay and the “metanetwork” attempts to crawl away. In the end, for now, it too is stuck with everyone else. It is just trying to mediate them away through machine magic.
What else can be done? Well, one thing that could be tried, as alluded to very early in this essay, is to bring awareness about political theology and the theologico-political question into the mainstream. Agamben, Kotsko and others have popularised this in an academic fashion, but much needs to be done. Back when I was young and some generic Burkean conservative type would say “this is a Judaeo-Christian society” I would blink and think nothing of it because it seemed to be a kind of rather boring shoehorning, of irrelevant opportunism. There seemed no connection between such things and how people actually lived and what most where I lived believed. I think that is where a lot of people are at. We need to talk about secularisation theses, about millenarianisms and political religions and so on because, if for one reason alone, I do not even think that our “progressive” friends understand where their narratives of progress came from, and what genealogical baggage they bring with them. Amnesia is an issue, oh my, it is the worst issue. Microcosmically forgetting is to the psyche what entropy is to the world at large, to couch the problem in Platonic tones. I don’t know. Maybe some nice pulp book about political theology without any big fat words and footnotes might get people thinking. It could be a start at least, whatever might become of it.
But another more important answer is this: build an “invisible city” for the “long game”. You can make it as visible or invisible as you like. I prefer to think of it as rebuilding society from forgotten spaces, not as Mumford imagined: the increasing etherealisation of relations due to network technologies. No, no, we want to decentre our world away from that. But how the heck would one build such a thing? Easy. Go outside into that weird atomised thing where there used to be communities, clubs, churches and societies and damn well rebuild them. Make “we’re all bowling alone” a dead meme. If the “glass palace” runs on a bizarre “virtue ethics” praxis, then it’s time for people to develop mimetic rivals to it by finding themselves masters to learn from: people who set examples, who are good at things, who should be imitated. Find yourself a teacher. And even teachers need their own teacher. “Become worthy” to live in the world again as a human being among others, not for some impossible, vile and silly NRx coup. Very soon it may not be just idiots like me saying such things. Resocialising the human animal may well just get added on the pile along with all those other media cycle “national conversations” and cut and paste tragedies. What a waste that would be, what an undeath.
The basic fact, for those who still want to believe the Political to be possible beyond the creaking US katechon throwing some little country up against the wall now and then to prove its existence, it is this: if you have no community then you have no politics and no political subject. In the end that has to be it, the final word, for now at least, on Schmittian things especially. The Political is not going to come back until there is a sufficient gap in neutralisation, which means a great deal more than simply nerfed internet meme wars. As “America” and its glass palaces and puritan networks accelerate, that gap is getting smaller. However, at present the trail of deterritorialisation has left behind empty halls, empty libraries and empty churches which could be well used for producing something. At this point aiming for some mass political movement to derail the world is foolish. Sooner aim to give people back other people and all the good things and shitty relatives that come with it. Start a dang bookclub or knitting circle or something at very least. This is not much perhaps after all these words I’ve coughed out. An anticlimax? Yes indeed, but reality at first glance is often not quite as interesting as fantasies, largely because the reality of people, warts and all takes hard work.
 James Burnham, Suicide of the West, Encounter Books, New York,  2014. This book is now so painfully dated it sounds like your angry uncle’s “alt lite” rantings at Christmas. Perhaps a lot has actually changed topographically in politics in the past couple of years. Why is Nick Land not a “real thinker” compared with this person to Gordian? It’s a bit funny. Land is indeed noxious, but it is hard to think of anyone since Alexandre Kojève who has fathered more political philosophies on both left and right. There are now more “accelerationisms” than flavours of ice-cream, largely because while 20 years ago Land was a ridiculous eccentric, today a lot more people seem willing to believe that there is no revolution coming and that the only way out is to accelerate techno-capitalism until it pays out cool technology or breaks itself.
 Jonathan Kirsch, A Short History of the End of the World, Harper One, New York, 2006, esp. p. 185.
 All of this volume is well worth reading on this topic: Eric Voegelin,Published Essays 1953-1965, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Volume 11, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2000.
 See: John Gray, Black Mass. Cf. Eric Voegelin, Modernity Without Restraint, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Volume 5, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2000, p. 128.
 Eric Voegelin, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol. 31: Hitler and the Germans, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1999, pp. 84-5.
 Mind you, as Renaud Fabbri noted a while back, this is the same Voegelin who once in an interview said that everyone in India and elsewhere should abandon their traditions and read the Western classics because of the exceptionalism of Western classic philosophy: “One has to make this very clear. Becoming rational can’t be done by being proud of what we have”. As I have written here before, in a review of Fabbri’s book, Voegelin’s belief that Indian tradition has no “order in history” because it never had to rationalise any great cultural destruction or upheaval is bizarre, when balanced against Voegelin’s usually highly critical stance on the apocalyptic. Moreover, if there is one thing we should have learned from the 20th century it is that the children of noetic reason – critical, cynical and instrumental reason – merely demythologise in order to mythologise better. Even the speculative noetic reason of Plato and Aristotle was an anagogical ladder towards esoteric experience that could only in turn be symbolised through new myths and analogies. We need more noetic mystics and less “rationalists”. But I am pretty sure that people in India are in a similar boat to the Western world when it comes to the fact that traditions are disappearing rapidly and that a search through all the spiritual tools they have available is equally required. Maybe a bit of Plato will help everyone, but I think that any “noetic” Plato or Neo-Platonism would only seem to reflect or open up dialogue with certain similarities already present in Hindu tradition: the dialectic of the Upanishads, the life of the Sage of Plotinus and Jivanmukti, the work ethic of the Gita and the Republic, the One that is merely symbol for pre-intentional, inexpressible experience.
 Eric Voegelin, The Ecumenic Age, p. 376.
 Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth, trans. G. L. Ulmen, Telos Press, Candor NY, 2006, pp. 104, 161-70. Cf. Alain de Benoist, Carl Schmitt Today, Arktos, London, 2013, pp. 29-48.
 Eric Voegelin, Published Essays 1953-1965, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Volume 11, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2000, pp. 185-7.
 idem, “The American Experience.”
 Idem, Published Essays 1953-1965, pp. 71-2.
 Ibid, 61-2. One only need look at how social Darwinism had relatively little influence in 19th c. America, where the rich man was expected to be a patron of the community. Instead the Pragmatists attempted a “Hegelian” Darwinism where societies evolved as a whole. See: Cynthia Eagle Russett, Darwin in America 1865-1912, W. H. Freeman and Co, San Francisco, 1976, pp. 89-120.
 idem, Order and History Vol IV: The Ecumenic Age, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 1999, p. 63f.
 Idem, Anamnesis, p. 34.
Ibid, p. 35.
 Maben Walter Poirier, “Eric Voegelin’s Immanence: A man at Odds with the Transcendent?” Appraisal 7.2.2-3, 2008-9, pp. 28-9. This essay is a rather bitter reproach from a thinker who seems to have come to the conclusion that deep down Voegelin was guilty of being an “immanentist” and “atheist” thinker. It is largely refuted here, and very well by Eugene Webb, Appraisal, 8.2, 2010,pp. 42-56 but esp. p. 47.
 See especially this book: Eric Voegelin’s Dialogue With the Postmoderns: Searching for Foundations, ed. Peter A. Petrakis and Cecil L. Eubanks, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 2004.
 See: Eric Voegelin, “Necessary Moral Bases for Communication in a Democracy,” in Published Essays 1953-1965.
 Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Futurability: The Age of Impotence and the Horizon of Possibility, Verso, New York, 2017, p. 119.
 R. B. Nye and J. G. Morpurgo, A History of the United States Vol 1: The Birth of the U.S.A, Penguin Books, London, 1964, p. 44. This quote is from an unnamed protestant in the 1620s-30s who moved to Rhode Island when he found “pilgrim bigotry” in the Massachusetts Bay area unbearable.
 Lewis Mumford, The City in History, Harvest Books, London,  1989, esp. pp. 563-7.
 Katie Haffner and Matthew Lion, Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, Simon and Schuster, London and New York, 1996, pp. 53-65.
 Revelation 20: 12, 15.
 Lewis Mumford, The City in History, p. 567.
 Penelope Deutscher, “The Inversion of Exceptionality: Foucault, Agamben and ‘Reproductive Rights’,” in The Agamben Effect, special issue of The South Atlantic Quarterly, 107.1, 2008, pp. 55-70. Of course, Deutcher thinks that abortion is all fine and good – a necessary rebellion against the biopolitical power of the state, and that foetuses aren’t really alive. But I think that this represents something very important: that the State can conveniently forget to enforce its laws due to changing social mores. Yet at the same time, it has not changed its laws quite simply because of its “concern” for the abuse of biopolitical power by those granted an exception. This means that the 20th c. transformation of the State from simply protection to “looking after” the populace and offering them opportunities at life can only take place through benevolent suspension of the law. This is so that if something seems to go wrong, an exception to exception can take place – a counter miracle by the sovereign against the smaller sovereign that brings the law back into effect. Our “reactionary” friends should be mindful of this, perhaps, as too the fact that abortion primarily affects women who are poor. At very least they should propose some sort of state that is better at “looking after” the poor, so as to encourage people to have children. Abortion and post-natal abortion are as old as the hills. The dull old Orthosphere lie that Christianity stopped the Romans from doing it and that it hardly ever happened again until the evil 20th c. (because, you know, everyone always had a really good understanding of the modern Christian “person” and the doctrine that the soul didn’t enter the body till birth was never a thing) is very daft and naff indeed.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, trans. Carol Diethe, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought, Cambridge UK, 2007, “Second essay” section 12 p. 51.
 This is a book guaranteed to be hiding on every liberal female Baby Boomer’s shelf, but largely unread: Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, Verso, London and New York,  2015. This too of course remains of epochal importance: Donna Haraway, “Cyborg Manifesto,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women, Routledge, London and New York, 1991. Available online from here. What is particularly amusing is that some leftists I know posted this the other day and found it particularly amusing because for once it is as though Alex Jones might just have hit upon something by accident.
 This is too true for a different kind of sense than I think Gordian understands. I would humbly suggest he reads this. It’s what happens when a liberal does some research on Julius Evola to understand the “alt right” and then realises that his metaphysical concept of “race” is not really so different from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ understanding of Whiteness as a kind of “cursed medallion.” We’re deep in a land of the “spirit” here. Liberal whiteness neurosis is not simply a “bloodguilt”, I would say. It is a spiritual disease, a Fall, from which there is no escape except ending Whiteness as construct (can it really be done?). This is a very nasty “cultural Christian” guilt indeed and I am constantly surprised how many American leftists I know whom this keeps awake at night. Okay we get it. “Whiteness” was an 18th c. invention of colonial categorisation to mark an ingroup, as all conquerors utilise, and who’s in and who’s out has changed a great deal over the past couple of hundred years etc. People tried to water it down or be embarrassed about it, but it stayed alive and now it drives them nuts like a hollow tooth. I really couldn’t care less about the concept and its symbols, but at some point white liberals will have to invent some sort of “heart scarab” to cheat the gods they need to please, because otherwise their hearts are going to damn then when it comes to their secular Day of Judgment (which usually involves being personally interpellated for being inherently “racist”). “We should all just die out” is cheap and hilarious and proves a greater belief in the absolute existence of old race categories than even Nazis have. Reactionary “whiteness” beckons as a release mechanism for angry kids, but it will always have its fingers broken the moment is emerges into broad daylight. Domine liberate nos ex infernis.
 Donna Haraway, When Species Meet, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis MN, 2007.
 Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Discourses and Other Early Political Writings, ed. Victor Gourevitch, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 1997, “Discourse on the Origins of Language,” s. 6.
Idem, “Second Discourse,” s. 19.
 Roberto Esposito, Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community, trans. Timothy Campbell, Stanford University Press, Stanford CA, 2010, esp. pp. 41ff.
 Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, Allen Lane, London, 2014.
 Oswald Spengler, Decline of the West Vol 1, pp. 193-4; Michel Foucault, Politics, Philosphy Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977-1984, Routledge, New York, 1988, p. 67, idem, Essential Works of Michel Foucault: Vol. 3: Power, New Press, New York, 2006, pp. 333-5.
 Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophers, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1979, pp. 86-7.
 See this book especially on Kojève, the Last Man and the Otaku: Hiroki Azuma, Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals, trans. Jonathan E. Abel and Shion Kono, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis,  2009.
 Jean Jacques Rousseau, “Discourse on the Origins of Language,” s. 4-5.
 Peter Sloterdijk, In the World Interior of Capital, trans. Wieland Hoban, Polity, New York, 2014, esp. pp. 193-210.
 On the way these multinationals are taking over whole cities: Lucie Heath, “Will Google Finally Ruin Kreuzberg for Good?” 25th October 2017, Vice, https://www.vice.com/amp/en_uk/article/9kqbyp/will-google-finally-ruin-kreuzberg James Wilt, “Radical Municipalism: The Only Solution to Amazons’ Extortion of Cities,” Canadian Dimension, 23rd October 2017, https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/radical-municipalism-the-only-solution-to-amazons-extortion-of-cities
 Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State, Cosimo Classics, New York  2017.
 Joel Kotkin, The New Class Conflict, Telos Press, New York, 2014.
 Slavoj Žižek, Violence, Profile Books, London, 2009, pp. 77-8.
 Kurt Vonnegut jr, Slapstick, or, Lonesome No More!, Panther, London and Sydney, 1978, pp. 126-8.
 Patrick J. Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed, Yale University Press, NY, 2017.