Boundaries

Neoreaction is interesting and important because it provides a bridge from libertarianism/progressivism to reactionary thought. It is brand new and fragile.

Whether anyone likes it or not, neoreaction is a movement. Whether we approve of the connotations behind the word “movement”, that’s essentially what it is. Pick some euphemism for “movement” if you like, it makes no difference.

As neoreaction grows, it is causing people to change the way they think about progressivism, democracy, and modern governance. To maintain this property, it needs to contain a certain concentration of people who understand its principles and can communicate them.

Because neoreaction is quickly growing, it is at risk of becoming diluted by hostile groups. Today, the most prominent adjacent hostile group are libertarians. This puts us in a difficult position because we also gain many new recruits from libertarianism.

At some point along the way, some neoreactionaries picked up the idea that having standards or expecting people to adhere to standards is a feature of Leftism. This is mistaken.

Many libertarian anti-authoritarian types rightfully see neoreaction as a threat. They have every reason to. This is because neoreaction provides a theoretical and practical justification for authority, which they detest.

Because certain neoreactionaries have things in common with libertarians, there is some tendency for them to associate. For instance, both neoreactionaries and libertarians are critical of the excesses of progressivism.

The problem arises, however, when a critical mass of anti-authoritarian libertarians blends in with neoreaction, takes an interest in it, and fools outsiders into thinking that their views are typical for the group.

Pretty soon, neoreaction becomes watered-down Free State Project libertarianism. It is swallowed up by a failed philosophy and its original insights are destroyed. This is accomplished by innocuous fraternization between libertarians and neoreactionaries, what Evola called “the tactic of dilution”. What neoreaction was, its original values, are diluted beyond measure until they are gone or irrevocably compromised.

Neoreactionaries have observed what is called “holier-than-thou spirals” among Leftists which are arms races of self-righteousness. This causes us be to naturally cautious about condemning others for not being ideologically pure, which can be healthy—in moderation.

Danger arises when it becomes socially unacceptable to enforce any ideological standards, and the group begins to evaporate, blending in with the hostile libertarianism that surrounds it. Neoreaction is then destroyed, because it failed to set standards for itself or create ideological boundaries.

For something to continue to exist, it must protect itself, and set boundaries between itself and other objects. There is some crucial threshold where a failure of a group to protect itself and set boundaries leads to the death of the group and the principles it used to believe in.

If someone cares about the group, and the principles it stands for, they don’t want it to die. They want it to retain a bare minimum of coherence and adherence to its original principles. Specifically, this may involve discouraging the group from moving in the direction of libertarianism.

If any efforts to ensure the integrity of the principles of the original group are condemned as “holier than thou posturing,” the group will eventually evaporate, due to the influence of the greater numbers of the hostile group trying to destroy or swallow it.

The key is to strike a balance; allow room for disagreement, while clarifying that certain minimum standards must be met for someone to qualify as a “neoreactionary”. If any libertarian can call themselves a “neoreactionary” and get away with it, the integrity of the group will be fatally compromised through dilution. This is exactly what anti-authoritarian libertarians want.

In the same sense, an organism can only continue to exist if its immune system destroys foreign cells and protects native cells. An organism in a hostile environment will be surrounded by other organisms that want it to die; they want it to die so they can tear it apart and digest it for nutrients. Any embryonic philosophy or worldview faces the same threat.

Neoreaction is now facing a new risk because there is actually a defined group forming that is libertarian, vaguely passes itself off as neoreactionary, and passes off its opinions as if they were neoreactionary opinions, though they come from an anti-authoritarian ideological space. This is a tumor that wasn’t there before.

For any group to achieve its aims, it must set certain standards and adhere to them. It also requires some social selectivity. Because many neoreactionaries are former libertarians, they get along with libertarians, exchange ideas with them, and so on. Some of this is harmless, but it’s a matter of degree. There is some threshold where neoreaction becomes so saturated with fraternization with anti-authoritarian libertarians that it loses its identity. If this happens, much effort will be wasted.

Response to Anti-Reactionary FAQ, July 2014

Someone on /pol/ commented on my refutation of Scott Alexander’s Anti-Reactionary FAQ.

On suicide: suicide rates are greater today than in traditional societies. The main reason is probably because civilization has forced us into socially alienated roles that are completely at odds with our genetic programming and our needs as human beings. Here’s a couple bullet points:

  • Suicide rates among adolescents and young adults in America nearly tripled between 1952 and 1996.
  • Between 1980 and 1996, suicide rates almost doubled among 14-15 year olds and rose by 14% in the 15-19 age group.

The linked source specifically mentions social isolation as a risk factor for suicide. Given Japan’s unhealthy obsession with work and neglect of family, it isn’t surprising that it has such a high suicide rate. Also given that whites tend to work longer hours and spend less time with family and friends than blacks, it isn’t surprising we have a higher suicide rate. The same cause is probably why men commit suicide more often than women.

See how one simple theory about suicide (social alienation and overwork) predicts the data? Social isolation has doubled since 1950 (according to Bowling Alone) and suicide among teens and young adults has tripled. The connection is obvious.

Traditionalism puts more emphasis on family and social networks, thus traditional societies suffer less social isolation, therefore less suicide. See the suicide rate of places like the Philippines, where family living is almost universal and the suicide rates are about a fourth that of the United States. Scott posted a graph that suicide rates in the United States have not increased in the last 50 years, that is average suicide rates. Here’s a graph that shows how suicide rates among the 15-24 age range has increased, especially among males:

suicide

We’ve gotten so much richer and freer, with diversity and all that great stuff, so why are young men committing suicide at 3-4 times the rate they did in the backwards, sexist 1950s? I’m not really impressed that the average suicide rate has stayed level if young men are blowing their brains out at three times the recent historical rate.

Suicide also correlates with divorce. The divorced are 1.7 times more likely to end their own lives. Sexual revolution, contraception, and no-fault divorce laws enable hypergamy which causes divorce which leads to suicide. 75 percent of divorce is initiated by women, which probably leads to greater relative suicide among men.

The problem with evaluating historical suicide rates going back further than 1950 is that I can’t find any data. Suicide was more taboo and statistics would have been fudged. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the suicide rate in civilized countries of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were not 3-6 times lower than the suicide rate in America today. Even the suicide rate of Greece today is one-fourth that of America.

My overall position on suicide is that 1) it is a problem, 2) social alienation and divorce contribute greatly to it, 3) it can be fixed by improving social participation, fostering strong (non-Internet) local networks, encouraging marriage and discouraging divorce.

Onto the next issue: debt. The commenter seems to think that the vast increase in government and public debt over the course of the last century “doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.” With all due respect to the commenter, I don’t think this is worth arguing against. The data on this is all very clear and public. My source is the Long-Term Budget Outlook, a report published annually by the Congressional Budget Office. Anyone interested in the government debt can begin there.

The next issue is crime. The commenter says, “He claims there are many sources out there showing how crime has gotten worse, but never specifies exactly which ones. Meanwhile, Scott provided numerous figures and data showing that crime has not increased.”

First, Scott has come closer to my view since my original post. We agree that crime has dropped since 1985, but I don’t consider this very significant relative to the vast gulf in crime between the United States and Japan or the United States of 1931 and the United States of 2014.

Second, I have specified precise sources and showed that the murder rate has not only greatly increased, but that if it weren’t for better trauma medicine, the murder rates today would be between 7.5 and 28.75 times greater today than in 1900. (How did I get those numbers? Murder rates today are five times greater than in 1900, and the authors of the trauma medicine article estimated a 1.5-5.75 dampening factor on assault deaths due to better medicine. That is, murder rates would be 1.5-5.75 times higher without modern medicine. Five times 1.5 is 7.5, five times 5.75 is 28.75. If you actually go and read the article, the authors lean strongly towards the higher values–that is, the result that murder rates would be 20-30 times greater today if it weren’t for better medicine.)

People are using deadly force on one another at 20-30 times greater than the rate in 1900. Doesn’t this bother anybody? Why are neoreactionaries the only people making a fuss about it?

In addition, in my crime post I cited a source that said that aggravated assault is up by 750 percent since 1931.

I’ll leave my speculations on why the homicide/assault rate has exploded over the past century for another post. I’ll bet my readers have some good ideas of their own. These rates are slightly down in the last decade due to better policing, but still 20-30 times greater than they should be.

Regarding other points, the commenter says I was handwaving. I will address the other points if other people want to hear more on them, otherwise, I consider my initial response to be adequate.

A Brief Defense of Necessary Evil

Evil is when everyone else in the peaceful fairy forest is frolicking having happy time and and a big feast, and you are stealing and hoarding the food, stopping people from having fun and forcing them to do military training instead, trying to drive away or even kill the new fairies from the other forest, and so on. Now why in the world would you be evil like that?

Because winter is coming and the other fairies have forgotten that summer doesn’t last. Because things aren’t so peaceful outside the forest and the undead are being seen in disturbing numbers. Because the fairies from the other forest aren’t just like you, and are actually fleeing others like themselves.

We have recently gotten very rich and comfortable, and it’s gone to our heads. The big jump has made us too optimistic, but also taken the fight out of our hardworking ambition. We imagine that it will always be like this, so we can just iron out a few details and everything will be perfect. We’ve forgotten how mean reality is, and started overdrawing our accounts to maintain the illusion. We’ve taken to accusing anyone who dissents from this rosy picture of being evil.

One of the central fallacies of progressive thought is that you can naively avoid the ugly realities, like that some people’s lives are going to really suck, or that we have to do hard things in the short term to survive in the long term. If you don’t make sure fertility is eugenic, Gnon will destroy you. If you deconstruct all your social technology because it hurts some people, Gnon will destroy you. If you bend all your resources towards making sure no one has it significantly worse than anyone else, Gnon will destroy you. If you reason that we don’t have to take drastic steps to keep civilization running, that civilization grows on trees, Gnon will destroy you. If you decide that fighting, mining, blue collar work, and dirty industry is too ugly to be done, Gnon will destroy you. If you take necessities from your future to pay for luxuries in the present, Gnon will destroy you. While we may at some point through grit and hard work be as rich as we think we are, we are currently not. For now, reality is harsher than anyone is willing to admit.

We can either take the pain and sacrifice and become metal enough to face that head on, or eat the seed corn and get destroyed by Gnon. The former is evil, but the latter is naive.