Neoreactionary Glossary

darkenlightenment

Map of Neoreaction by Scharlach

Aristocracy Evola: “Aristocracy” is an indeterminate concept. Literally speaking, “the best ones” is a relative term. “Best” in terms of what, in view of what?” But also, “certain men have been followed, obeyed, and venerated for displaying a high degree of endurance, responsibility, lucidity, and a dangerous, open, and heroic life that others could not; it was decisive here to be able to recognize a special right and a special dignity in a free way. To depend on such leaders constituted not the subjugation, but rather the elevation of the person; this, however, makes no sense to the defenders of the “immortal principles” and to the supporters of “human dignity” because of their obtuseness.”

Aristocratic Republic — The original intent of the Founding Fathers of the United States was a Republic with a de facto “natural aristocracy,” which has since morphed into a Demotist system. The Roman Republic is an example of a successful aristocratic republic which eventually transformed into a monarchy. Some Reactionaries advocate the return of the United States to this form of government. Thomas Jefferson called natural aristocracy “the most precious gift of nature”.

The Cathedral — The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil. Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women’s suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage. A defining feature of Progressivism is that “you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that’s left is to work out the details.” Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms.

Complementarity — The view that “men and women complement one another as separate parts that together make up a composite whole.” Also called complementarism. Related to the empirical view that men and women have different psychologies and are thus suited to different, complementary roles in society. Both men and women are seen as responsible for contributing “civilizing influence” to society as a whole, beginning with the atomic unit of society, the family. Among Reactionaries, most strains of feminism are seen as exacerbating male-female conflict and mortgaging long-term social vigor for the fleeting rewards of frivolity, hypergamy, and juvenilism. By the same token, misogyny, adultery, domestic abuse, fatherly irresponsibility, and the incessant whining of “men’s rights activists” are frowned upon as encouraging the same conflicts. Reactionaries acknowledge that securing the future depends on raising children in a stable and nurturing environment with a father and mother, and that the selfish desires of parents are secondary to this central goal. Without children, a culture simply self-terminates. Idolizing childlessness is a form of cultural suicide.

Dark Enlightenment — A new intellectual current made up of Reactionary components. The unifying factor of the Dark Enlightenment is a critique of Democracy, bluntly summarized by Peter Thiel when he wrote, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” The “Dark Enlightenment” is a term coined by British philosopher Nick Land, who explicated the concept in his Dark Enlightenment sequence. This sequence, along with the writings of Mencius Moldbug, make up the core literature of the movement. The Dark Enlightenment is a Reactionary project that rejects modernity, universalism, and Democracy in favor of Traditionalist, particularist, and aristocratic values. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with “neoreaction” or “neoreactionary”.

Demotism — Rule in the name of the People. The term has been recently popularized by Mencius Moldbug. Democracy and Communism are seen as two types of Demotism. Reactionaries view Demotism as a form of mob rule, where politicians pander to what they see as the popular will, rather than making their own decisions as independent leaders. A quote of unknown attribution, which first appears in print in 1951, sums up the Reactionary view on Demotism: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” Reactionaries see the Reign of Terror and Stalin’s Purges as classic consequences of Demotism. Though monarchies have historically persecuted religious and ethnic minorities within their borders, none have shed blood on the scale of the French or Russian Revolutions and their subsequent purges. Quoting Erik von Keuhnelt-Leddihn: “The renaissance of democracy marked the beginning of the Age of the “G”—guillotines, genocide, gaols, gallows, gaschambers and Gulags.”

Julius Evola — Italian political philosopher and esotericist who wrote from 1920 until his death in 1969. Evola has been described as “aristocratic, masculine,  traditionalist,  heroic and defiantly reactionary.” An Italian scholar wrote, “Evola’s thought can be considered one of the most radically and consistently antiegalitarian, antiliberal, antidemocratic, and antipopular systems in the twentieth century.” Evola’s political work revolves around the concept of the “Organic State,” a hierarchical and natural society that encourages a measure of human freedom, autonomy, and flourishing while integrating individual men and women into a larger coherent system that elevates them, gives their lives meaning, and makes them part of a purposeful whole. Like other Traditional systems, the Organic State is antidemocratic, delegating political decisions to an aristocratic elite. Evola emphasized higher “spiritual” (merely a term to refer to higher values, not to the supernatural) values like civic belonging and heroic accomplishment over exclusively material achievements. A good place to start reading Evola’s work is his book Men Among the Ruins. A compilation of short quotes from Evola may be found at the Traditionalist Notes blog.

Leftism — The Reactionary Right sees Leftism as an ideology that seeks to tear down exceptionalism and Traditional structures so that the lowest common denominator can satiate their feelings of envy and pathological altruism. A capitalist, leftist society primarily legitimizes accomplishment in only a couple domains — money and hedonism — at the expense of all higher values, including long-term societal stability. Instead of encouraging individual accomplishment, Leftism is driven by a “leveling dynamic” summarized by the pithy slogan “everyone gets a trophy”. Social “progress” is defined in terms of maximizing short-term individual hedonism at the expense of general societal health. Promoting an “anything goes” mentality, the end result is a cloud of largely indistinguishable, atomized individuals, rather than anything resembling social coherence or strength. “Culture” is seen as a fluid construct, to be thrown out casually and replaced with a new alternative at the slightest whim. Moral and cultural relativism reigns. No system can be seen as better than any other, lest the proponents of the inferior system take offense.

Mencius Moldbug — An influential blogger who breathed new life into the intellectual Far Right with his distinctive long-winded and mercurial monologues on politics and history, primarily written from 2007-2010. Moldbug is seen as the intellectual founder of the “neoreactionary” movement, a term coined by a blog commenter in 2009 and popularized by economist Arnold Kling in 2010. Moldbug’s most important sequences are his “Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives,” “A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations,” and “A Formalist Manifesto,” about a couple hundred pages in all. The near-complete Moldbug corpus is 4,470 pages long and is available as an ebook. Very few of Moldbug’s fans have read anywhere near his entire corpus; reading a couple hundred pages will give you the idea.

Monarchy — The favored form of government among reactionaries. For academic discussions of why monarchy is a good idea, see Democracy: The God That Failed by Hans Hermann-Hoppe and Liberty or Equality by Erik von Keuhnelt-Leddihn. Monarchies are relatively libertarian by current standards, in the sense that the government generally consumes 2-5% of GDP, unlike modern social democracies which consume 40-80% of GDP. Legally speaking, monarchies tend to have fewer laws, but enforce them more strictly, following Tacitus’ dictum: “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.” In general, monarchies put more power into the hands of local government. A key argument in favor of monarchy is that leaders tend to have a lower time preference, meaning they have a greater personal stake in the long-term well being of the country, compared to career politicians oriented towards four-year election cycles. There is a debate in the reactionary community about succession rules, whether adoptive succession or hereditary succession is preferred.

Neoreaction — The novel reactionary movement that developed starting in 2007 around the writings of Mencius Moldbug, with the term itself coined by a blog commenter in 2009. Neoreaction has a more analytical, abstract approach to Traditionalist Right thinking than historical Reaction. Neoreaction can be seen as a part of the Reaction in general, with which it has a complicated relationship. Ultimately, the goal of neoreaction is to provide a concrete body of political and administrative policy which can be used to form a new government.

Radical Traditionalism – The philosophical perspective and societal vision developed by Julius Evola.  The term is also used for a movement of Catholic conservatives. Among Catholics, the primary Radical Traditionalist organization is the Society for St. Pius X (SSPX). Since the term carries a double meaning, clarification may be needed. At More Right, the term is used to refer to Evola’s ideas unless otherwise noted.

Reactionary — It is important to recognize that the term “reactionary” was coined as an epithet, referring to French monarchists. When modern-day reactionaries use the term, they are not necessarily advocating literally returning to a status quo ante, but moving society in the direction of forms based on order, higher aesthetics, hierarchy, stability, peacefulness, aristocracy, tradition, cultural coherence, family, and the like. The steps in this direction have to be tailored to a specific time and place, based on perennial principles in harmony with human nature rather than literally turning back the clock. Rather than a chaotic “sandbox” of clashing cultures warring through democratic proxies, reactionaries aspire to an “oak” society that fosters strong interpersonal trust, monoculture, and a unified vision.

Reactionary authors — Notable reactionary authors and figures contributing materially to contemporary reactionary thought include Edmund BurkeNicolás Gómez Dávila, Joseph de MaistreJulius Evola, Klemens von Metternich, Oswald SpenglerWilliam Faulkner, Yukio Mishima, Mencius MoldbugErik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Evelyn Waugh, and Hans Herman-Hoppe, to name just a few.

Whig history — A form of historical revisionism that seeks to portray all of history as inevitably improving up until the present regime. A form of “history is written by the victors”. Obviously, the present system has every incentive to portray itself as superior to all past systems. Reactionaries point out this is not the case, and actually see present society in a state of severe decline, pointing to historically high levels of crime, suicide, government and household debt, increasing time preference, and low levels of civic participation and self-reported happiness as a few examples of a current cultural and historical crisis. The demographic crisis in First World countries is cited as another example of decline.