In the comments, Jgress asks:
How would acceptance of Darwinism fit into this picture? My impression of most of the neoreactionary blogosphere is that evolution is not questioned and is more or less held to account for everything significant about human nature. I see only the Christian Traditionalists as being perhaps a bit skeptical, but my reading of blogs like Bruce Charlton or Chronicles indicates that whatever philosophical or theological problems they see in Darwinism, they are unwilling to embrace creationism or ID.
The Cathedral does not preach evolution; the Cathedral doesn’t believe in evolution, except as a tool for shaming fundamentalists and beating them into submission about other issues. If certain Traditionalists in the reacto-sphere don’t believe in evolution, that puts them on the opposite side of things in this one case. They know it, I suppose, and that’s why most of them just don’t bring it up.
The fact is, most creationists and ID’ers have more in common with the Cathedral than they would care to admit. Dinesh D’Souza’s book What’s So Great About Christianity has an entire section devoted to “Christianity and Science,” in which D’Souza* toes the same line as the Cathedral: evolution stops at the neck, and it’s something that happened a long time ago, doesn’t concern us today. He quotes Stephen J. Gould at multiple points in order to “refute” the likes of Dawkins and Dennett (who, for all their flaws, are much closer to HBD than Gould). Watch Ben Stein’s Expelled, the intelligent design movie. At one point, Stein starts equating evolution with Nazism, and he sounds just like a Professor of LGBT Studies equating sociobiology with racism. A lot of creationists are big fans of G.K. Chesterton, who advocated for a political system called distributism, which was essentially repackaged Communism. Conservative evangelicals—especially the ones combating The New Atheism—are always jumping at the bit waiting to tell you about how it was Christians (good, anti-Darwinian Christians!!) who were at the forefront of the abolition movement and the Civil Rights movement. Lutheran and Catholic charities—the ones importing third-world refugees by the vanload—are typically run by the same sorts of Christians who buy Dinesh D’Souza books; they’re anti-evolution at the bare minimum, creationists by default.
You need to ask yourself: how many evangelical, Bible literalist church-goers do you think would love to come together for Bible study, fellowship, soda pops, and some old fashioned discussion about the failure of American democracy and the average IQ of Asians versus Haitians?
Outside the American South, the Christian Traditionalists of the reacto-sphere would be pariahs in any evangelical community espousing Bible literalism and disregarding evolution. Such communities are on the fringes of the Cathedral, yes, but still miles from neoreaction. Even the most “conservative” religious communities in Southern California—my homeland—would never suffer conversation about issues discussed in the reacto-sphere. You send one of those pastors a link to Chateau or Foesti—hell, even hbd chick—they’ll start praying for you.
But none of this should be a point of contention for the anti-evolution Traditionalists. The Dark Enlightenment is Dark precisely because it has followed the evidence where it leads, which turns out to be—in a great historical irony—right back to some of the conclusions (emphasis on some of the conclusions) reached by certain Christians pre-Darwin, the intellectual descendants of whom now inhabit the Christian Traditionalist end of the reacto-sphere.
The great divide between, say, John Derbyshire and Dalrock is that the former is a reactionary because he realizes society is ordered against natural reality; the latter is a reactionary because he realizes society is ordered against an old-school understanding of God—a God who doesn’t care all that much about earthly equality, who told the Israelites not to race-mix, who said the poor are always with us, who proclaimed the husband head of the wife, who ordained Original Sin, who doesn’t want mankind trying to bring Heaven to Earth. (Most Christians have abandoned this God in favor of Buddy Christ; the Christian Traditionalists have not.)
In other words, the HBD worldview turns out to be remarkably similar at certain junctions to the ancient Christian worldview, though very different reasons buttress the worldviews. The Christian Traditionalists believe the world is Fallen and awaiting its Savior. The rest of us believe the world is naturally Fallen. And any utopian Leftoid trying to “fix” it wholesale is just gonna make things worse. The Christian Traditionalists believe in gender roles because God said so. The rest of us believe in gender roles because there’s a thing called testosterone, and men make more of it, and we’re fucking sexually dimorphic hominids for Christ’s sake, not fungi.
So, must you accept evolution to be a neoreactionary? Yes. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that you must accept the world as it presents itself, not as we wish it to be. Whether you accept it as the result of “evolution” or of “God’s ordained existence” is a philosophical argument that, I hope, will not divide the Derbyshires and the Dalrocks.
*I’m using D’Souza to make a point here, not to frame him as a Cathedral mouthpiece. His books are worth reading, and he makes a lot of good reactionary points. He’s a champion of Western Civilization, if nothing else. But, like any mainstream conservative, he just can’t take his reaction too far.
I think many Christian traditionalists would quibble with calling a nature ordained by God equivalent to evolution. I see what you’re getting at: both Christians and HBDers accept the idea of innate human behavior that also varies by gender and race (Chomsky also believes in innate behaviors, but he doesn’t accept innate behavioral diversity). Both Christians and HBDers understand that these innate behaviors can’t be wished or willed away by political action or social engineering.
However, I think taking an evolutionary view of human nature still allows for the possibility of changing and “improving” that nature, if not by social, then by genetic engineering. Traditional Christians, as you may recall, oppose eugenics as much as they oppose progressive education.
The Christian traditionalists who have accepted Darwinism and therefore membership in the neo-, as opposed to paleo-reactionary crowd, are always going to be tottering on that precipice of following through with the implications of Darwinian science. They might argue that a properly humble attitude about our scientific knowledge should hold our eugenicist urges in check, but I think you can see how a belief in a naturally evolved human nature can still mean something quite different from a divinely ordained one.
April 24, 2013 at 12:25 am
I think many Christian traditionalists would quibble with calling a nature ordained by God equivalent to evolution.
Yes, I’ve updated the post to include some alternate wording.
However, I think taking an evolutionary view of human nature still allows for the possibility of changing and “improving” that nature, if not by social, then by genetic engineering. Traditional Christians, as you may recall, oppose eugenics as much as they oppose progressive education.
That’s a good point. I think the greatest divide would thus be between the techno-futurists, who are open to private tinkering with eugenics, and the Christian Trads.
Most on the Left are opposed to eugenics, as well, so this is another point of contact between Trads and the Cathedral.
April 24, 2013 at 11:45 am
That’s going to depend entirely upon what you mean by eugenics. Forced sterilizations and abortions are one thing. Turning back financial awards for social pathologies and stemming low-skilled immigration are quite another.
April 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Traditional marriage, stable homes, affordable family formation, homeschooling, taxpayer non-supported high birth rates, and sound money are (at least somewhat) eugenic.
April 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm
Biological Evolution and Natural Selection are but one instance of an abstract, general, empirical, materialist theory of how the characteristics of the members of systems change over time through variation and competitive selection. The Traditionalist Christian has no problem believing in “survival of the fittest” when the topic does not present issues of theological sensitivity.
For instance, the Traditionalist Christian believes in evolution as the basic explanation of how the “ecosystems” change in the following domains:
Business: Especially in capitalist free markets. Companies grow, adapt, change, die, are born, etc. Mostly they compete with each other for customers and will only survive if they remain successfully competitive.
Military History: Questions of conquest, imperial expansion, and arms races, are tales tellable in terms of competitions and selection.
Linguistics: Even Traditionalist Christians who believe in the story of Babel know that, for example, all the Romance languages emerged from Latin as reflected in recorded history after the time of Jesus, and that seemingly distinct languages show similarities, fall into “families” which certainly have common proto-origins. Biological analogies like “genetic drift” are apt and non-controversial.
Some Traditional Christians are even willing to concede to biological evolution for 99% of life existence, excluding the origin of life itself (not an absurd position, in my view), and the origin of homo sapiens. So, it’s not that they reject these principles of system dynamics in general, but only in the one area -man- where it becomes theologically incompatible.
What they lack, therefore, is the open-minded capacity to achieve a full appreciation of the insights and explanatory / predictive power of disciplines like Evolutionary Psychology. But in the end, like you say, it’s not necessarily important whether the ‘why”s are different (metaphysically based on theology or empiricism), so long as the ‘what”s regarding human nature are the same, and, of course, correct. Agreeing on human nature forms a basis for also agreeing on implications – either for skillful psychological application (sales, advocacy, persuasion, leadership, game, etc.) or models of functional social organizations.
And, in a bit of irony, the “full program” religions themselves – the ones that serve as complete societal organizing principles and dictate a method of living and interaction for individuals, families, and communities – are also constrained by human reality. Their laws, customs, and ways of life – under conditions of low technology and harsh competition from outside groups – has to be “real and true” enough, or else the adherent societies would become weak and/or unstable. It makes sense that the view of man’s tendencies of traditional full-program religions would eventually “evolve” to map correctly onto actual human nature.
So, common enemy, common facts, and common conclusions. Only different explanations. 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. That should be enough for friendly coalition. The necessity of tolerating different metaphysical lines to similar positions on human nature is why I think the Gnostic approach can play a positive role in the future of this sphere.
April 24, 2013 at 12:26 am
Your second-to-last paragraph is excellent, and I think I was trying to obliquely get there with my post. Most things “traditional” map neatly onto reality because most things “traditional” developed in the Real World over centuries or millennia, unlike, say, sociology, which has developed in academic echo chambers over only the last few decades.
April 24, 2013 at 11:49 am
Thank you for pulling this out of the comment box. It is important to hash out and discover what the distinct clines of (neo)reaction do, in fact, share in common.
Catholicism, for the record, has for a long time been comfortable with evolution as an explanatory model for the diversity of life. Aristotlean-Thomists like Ed Feser have, in fact, argued (convincingly IMO) very much against creationism and ID.
What is important is that we believe the “lies” before our eyes–that the Emperor, as it were, really isn’t wearing any clothes. The explanatory model of sex differences, for example the impulses or instincts toward polygyny and hypergamy in men and women respectively, is of little importance compared to our agreeing that however it may have developed, they are there now and unlikely to go easily away. That nature or nature’s god or both have “intended” it that way is simply self-evident.
I averred over at Nick Land’s recently something to the effect that there is no necessary contradiction between the propositions: “all men are created in the image of God” and “some men are natural slaves”. On the contrary, belief in God, properly interpreted, necessitates belief in heirarchy all the way down: God the Father:Jesus :: Man:Wife :: King:Subject :: Parent:Child :: Master:Slave. So belief in God happens to agree with what nature (his own creation, we are told) tells us. This ought not be surprising.
April 24, 2013 at 1:11 am
In your mind, Nick, is there a meaningful distinction between neo-reaction and other kinds of reaction, or are they the same thing? Does the “neo” prefix mean anything at all?
April 24, 2013 at 1:42 am
Since neoconservatives are not conservative in any way actual conservatives would recognize, and neoliberals are not liberal in any way actual liberals would recognize, I would take neoreactionary to mean not reactionary. But those are just word associations. Reaction is a vector, a turning away from the Founding Myths of modernity. If you’re on that vector, then there’s hope for you.
April 24, 2013 at 4:10 am
Unknown to many, the roots of the current Intelligent Design push go back to Marxism:
April 24, 2013 at 2:28 am
As I said on the other thread, many conservative Christians are universalists, which is diametrically opposed to the Dark Enlightenment. Race is a good litmus test to see where Christians stand in terms of universalism, as it quickly separates the wheat from the chaff.
April 24, 2013 at 3:00 am
I agree that it is a litmus test, but what exactly would they have to say to pass the test? Someone can be a race-realist without having it affect their passions very much.
The American Revolution, good (mostly) or evil (mostly)? is at least as good a one. If good, then “conservative”. If bad, then reactionary.
April 24, 2013 at 4:13 am
You actually now have many conservative Christian leaders implicitly telling whites not to have white children but to go to Africa adopt black children. This is the maladaptive current state of conservative Christianity.
April 24, 2013 at 3:06 am
Not nearly as maladaptive as their approval of contraception, late marriage and childbearing, women having “careers”, and muted opposition (at best) to no-fault divorce.
By comparison, a few brown babies in otherwise healthy white Christian homes is positively salutary.
April 24, 2013 at 4:24 am
The great divide between, say, John Derbyshire and Dalrock is that the former is a reactionary because he realizes society is ordered against natural reality; the latter is a reactionary because he realizes society is ordered against an old-school understanding of God
That’s a great line, but you should understand that, in the mind of the Traditionalist (and I think Dalrock a fair example) a society “ordered against an old-school understanding of God” would ipso facto be at odds with natural reality, too. Religious and Secular traditionalists are, I am convinced, responding to the same the reality. They tend to put different metaphysical spin on it of course, but as far as it visibly touches this earth, they see the same thing.
April 24, 2013 at 4:32 am
Religious and Secular traditionalists are, I am convinced, responding to the same the reality.
Yes, that’s exactly right, and exactly what I’m trying to point out in the post. Your other comments here are deserving of some more thought and a longer response . . .
April 24, 2013 at 11:53 am
What I want to get at is what precisely defines neo-reactionaries? What made the author of this blog choose to call certain blogs neo-reactionary, but not other blogs? I submit that what they all have in common is a belief in human biodiversity, informed by evolution. The reactionary bit is the belief that sexual and racial differences are more than skin-deep, something which the traditional Christian world always accepted as self-evident but which leftism denies. The neo bit is the evolutionary explanations advanced for this, something which pre-modern Christianity did not share and which it reacted quite strongly against when it appeared. In another forum I can go into why the anti-Darwinian Christian reactionaries have good reasons to fear Darwinism, even when it appears to support traditionalist ideas. But here I just want to work out what this neo-reactionary movement is about and what it’s common denominator is.
April 24, 2013 at 4:38 am
The author can answer for himself, but I take almost nothing from the neo prefix. It could be the inclusion of the techno-capitalists in the fold, which heretofore had not been specifically seen as reactionary. A lot of the secular right crowd comes at reaction (extreme rightism) from libertarianism (a rather pure form of liberalism), whereas religious traditionalist reactionaries tend to come from more conservative (patriotic flag wavers, god bless the usa) circles. So that could be the neo. Or maybe “neo” was just cribbed from an Anomaly UK essay a couple weeks ago, which is the first recent use I can remember.
But I don’t see how relations to Darwinism could play a big role. As I said, the Catholic Church has been open to Darwinism just about since Darwin published. Not many Christian reactionaries are totally anti-Darwinian. Some might be agnostic about it.
April 24, 2013 at 6:41 am
The common denominator found in the “neoreactionary” movement is the same common denominator to be found in the radical liberationist movement.
April 24, 2013 at 7:33 am
To a great extent, you’re right. But look, most of us just aren’t going to start with the assumption “only whites are bright enough to engineer a habitable social order, and everyone else needs to bugger off before they fuck it up.” Most of us start with a negative impulse: “not all groups are created equal.” The key, then, is to decide which groups fit well together and build society up rather than drag it down. I’m partial to Derbyshire’s Arctic Alliance idea in this regard.
In short, the reason many of us aren’t white supremacists can be summed up by what Jim Goad said: “Of course I’m not a white supremacist. Everyone knows Jews and chinks are smarter than whites.”
So, no, I don’t want to kick out high-IQ, hierarchy-loving, clean, cultured individuals simply because they aren’t Anglo. The key is to figure out how to get such individuals into our national communities without needing to import all the low-IQ helots as well.
April 24, 2013 at 11:39 am
When all you got’s a hammer…
Race realism ≠ White Supremacy
Mild natural preference for one’s own (white) race ≠ White Supremacy
Ending AA, Throwing in the towel on “Equal Outcomes” ≠ White Supremacy
Turning back 1964 Civil Rights Act ≠ White Supremacy
Belief that “Some men are natural slaves” ≠ White Supremacy
In what universe are the l-values above part of the radical liberationist movement? Liberationist from whom?
April 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm
Part of it is simply branding. It seems to me that more and more denizens of the reacto-sphere are finding their way into more mainstream outlets (the Daily Kos article, the Derbyshire affair, Steve Sailer getting shoutouts on Fox News, and apparently someone was just interviewed on HuffPo recently).
‘Neoreaction’ and ‘Dark Enlightenment’ were coined at Urban Future and Outside In–same blog proprietor at both–and I think they are, in part, simply a way to frame ourselves so that others don’t frame us with more hostile intentions. ‘Neoreaction’ is, to me, a way to reclaim ‘reaction’ without all the running dog baggage. It’s a way to proclaim that just because we are ‘reacting’ against fundamental tenets of the current order, it doesn’t mean we’re fuddy-duddies adverse to change. Take ‘neoreactionary’ to mean A New Kind of Reactionary Spirit that goes beyond mere generational conflict. Half of us around here are in our 20s and 30s, so clearly there’s something ‘neo’ to the reacto-sphere.
It’s also an invitation for others to talk about it, and I’m glad the conversation seems to be started. I imagine various other terms might take root, as well. (Though Dark Enlightenment seems to be the current favorite.)
April 24, 2013 at 11:30 am
Half of us around here are in our 20s and 30s, so clearly there’s something ‘neo’ to the reacto-sphere.
I’m in the other half….
April 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm
Thanks Nick and Scharlach. That more or less fits my impression. The neo-reactionaries or Dark Enlightenment wants to be reactionary, but not TOO reactionary. So they engage with modern science and try to use it to critique modern politics, rather than simply rejecting both wholesale as an older reactionary might.
April 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Oh, I think it goes deeper than merely engaging with or using science. It’s a return to actual science as was begun in the Middle Ages, and asking that it be freed from politics. See James A. Donald’s many astute of take downs of so-called peer review. Bruce Charlton also, coming from the Religious Trad side as a professional scientist and scholar, is a treasure trove of Truth, spoken to Powers of “Science”–who of course (almost?) completely fail to notice.
An End to Politicization is, I think, a very strong corollary to Reaction–an end to “Who?Whom?”. In science it is overdue, no less than in monetary policy.
April 24, 2013 at 6:38 pm
Interesting. I suspect your idea that medieval science was somehow pure and unadulterated, as opposed to modern, politicized science, is not one that all reactionaries, even neo-reactionaries, would share. I know some traditionalists would say that modern science is permeated by a prideful, irreligious and anti-traditional spirit, independently of and prior to the contemporary overt politicization. Others, those who emphasize the “Enlightenment” in Dark Enlightenment, would say that we really have made progress since the Middle Ages, and that modern science is very much preferable to the medieval sort, which was also ideologically constrained, by the Church rather than leftism.
Be that as it may, I think you have confirmed my notion that the neo-reactionary movement is defined by the use of modern science to support anti-modernist political goals. It will be interesting to see how far this goes before it collapses under the weight of its internal contradictions. 😉
April 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm
Well the Galileo Narrative has certainly gotten a lot of traction, certainly a lot more than it deserves. But back in the Bad Ol’ Days®, back before the victors got to (re)write the history, the Church and the Universities were about the only institutions of learning and inquiry. It was much more open than is commonly thought.
True enough, there were constraints, e.g., the nature and number of the Godhead, the hypostatic union of Christ’s divine and human natures, the nature and number of Christ’s sacraments, etc., but few such metaphysical constraints, could, even in theory, impede the revival and development of ancient learning as it touched earthly goods. To the medieval Church we owe thanks for the very invention of modern empirical science, free market economics, and the invention of modern notions of positive law, to name only a few.
Medieval science, patronized almost entirely by the Catholic Church, set the technical foundations for the Renaissance, and the age of exploration, after which Western Civilization came to first discover and then dominate most of the rest of the earth. Not bad for a bunch of white guys who couldn’t jump.
Whatever progress “modern” science has made, and it is not insubstantial, was made largely on the back of, and certainly not in spite of, the “medieval sort”.
To compare the Church’s alleged interference with medieval science with the Complete Politicization of Science under the auspices of the Cathedral is to compare apples with beat poetry. I end with one of Jim’s eternally priceless quotes:
April 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm
By “modern” science I mean the kind of science the neo-reactionaries imagine they are defending both from creationists and PC liberals, namely an imagined domain of inquiry that is only constrained by the “desire for truth”, rather than by dogma. For my part, I see this kind of science emerging essentially in the Renaissance, though I am sure you can find the seeds of the scientific revolution earlier on, just as you must believe that “pure” science can be found even today in some corners.
Now an authentic (in my view) Christian Traditionalist would point out that since our nature, including our reason, is fallen, it is not possible to imagine that our scientific endeavors will be unaffected by our passions, especially pride, which requires that we submit our scientific inquiry to the test of Tradition. A creature of the Enlightenment will tend to see this as essentially the same kind of ideological constraint as the constraints imposed on PC science. Indeed, I see parallels between the postmodern, Kuhnian critique of the possibility of objective science and the traditionalist critique. The difference is that the traditionalist does not deny the existence of objective truth itself, only the possibility of arriving at that truth by pure reason.
April 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm
Ummm… The Summa Teologica? Where Aquinas and Aristotle agree, you can be sure we are getting there by pure reason. Where they disagree, Aquinas is citing Divine revelation, or is simply smarter or better informed.
Only a Calvinist would declare that human reason is completely depraved. That’s why most Christian Trads find Calvinism to be a heresy. Scientific endeavors will indeed be affected by passions, and should therefore be systematic, well-documented and subject to falsifiability.
I assure you I believe the Pythagorean Theorem independent of any Divine Revelation. But there are still unprovable assumptions that feed the proof. Change the assumptions, assume Lobachevskian geometry for example (maybe… my non-Euclidean is a bit rusy) and Pythagoras falls apart.
The objective only gets us so far. Reason only gets us so far. Within any logical system, reason must work with a coherent, minimal set of unprovable, “self-evident” axioms natural to it. We must be careful not to assume what may be proven. We must be equally careful what we assume does not (appear to) prove too much (because it doesn’t). Epistemological humilty seems an apt term.
April 25, 2013 at 3:16 am
It does seem most of the neo-reactionary Christian Trads are Catholics, so that would explain their belief that reason was unaffected by the fall and can be relied on to apprehend the truth independently of revelation. But not all traditionalist Christians believe this, e.g. the Eastern Orthodox. I find that traditionalist Orthodox attitudes are not compatible with the neo-reactionary faith in science.
April 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm
The history of science is a fascinating but complex subject, and any attempt to map a narrative onto it would certainly entail many selections and deflections. But I think Nick is right to emphasize continuity over discontinuity. At the very least, the monastic schools and universities of the pre-Enlightenment period kept a spark of inquiry burning in Europe that may otherwise have been snuffed out. And one shouldn’t overlook the golden age of Persian science, which certainly diffused into Europe.
April 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm
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Disagree with this post. The Christian Traditionalists are right. Evolution is an important characteristic of the modern secular liberal Enlightenment. That’s why progress, evolution, progress, evolution (same thing) is always mentioned. If evolution is given weight here, corruption will follow.
April 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm
Neo-reactionaries are a bit similar to neo-conservatives. Neither are truly conservative, both are liberal in essence.
April 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm
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>>The common denominator found in the “neoreactionary” movement is the same common denominator to be found in the radical liberationist movement.
Yes. I’m against White supremacy because the morons running this civilization into the ground are white. The group who left the jews into the ruling class are all white. If intentionally destroying your own civilization and inviting in a million parasites to feed of the blood of your group shows the superior charactorist of white people, then count me out.
May 1, 2013 at 12:56 am
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