Principles of Reactionary Thought

1. People are not equal. They never will be. We reject equality in all its forms.
2. Right is right and left is wrong.
3. Hierarchy is basically a good idea.
4. Traditional sex roles are basically a good idea.
5. Libertarianism is retarded.
6. Democracy is irredeemably flawed and we need to do away with it.

1.  People are not equal. They never will be. We reject equality in all its forms. 

This is the most basic tenet of Neoreaction/Reaction. Equality is a lie. Neoreaction and Reactionary thought are fundamentally opposed to it. Aristotle said, “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.” The idea of equality ruins organic differentiation and makes humanity into a uniform, grey mass. Inequality does not necessarily mean “superior” or “inferior” (though it very well may), but it does mean different. Things which are different are not equal. They can never be. Equality is a failed ideal. It destroys excellence. We could not be more fundamentally opposed to the notion of equality. Evola was extremely clear on rejecting equality in favor of authority and auctoritas. In Men Among the Ruins, he said:

Let us begin with the egalitarian premise. It is necessary to state from the outset that the “immortal principle” of equality is sheer nonsense. There is no need to comment on the inequality of human beings from a naturalistic point of view. And yet the champions of egalitarianism make equality a matter of principle, claiming that while human beings are not equal de facto, they are so de jure: they are unequal, and yet they should not be. [...]

I believe these are mere empty words. This is not a “noble ideal” but some-thing that, if taken absolutely, represents a logical absurdity; wherever this view becomes an established trend, it may usher in only regression and decadence. [...]

From both perspectives, it is rationally well established that the “many” not only cannot be equal, but they also must not be equal: inequality is true de facto only because it is true de jure and it is real only because it is necessary. That which the egalitarian ideology wished to portray as a state of “justice” is in reality a state of injustice, according to a perspective that is higher and beyond the humanitarian and democratic rhetorics. In the past, Cicero and Aristotle argued along these lines. Conversely, to posit inequality means to transcend quantity and admit quality. It is here that the two notions of the individual and the person are differentiated.

If Reaction/Neoreaction is against anything, it is against equality. If someone argues for equality, they are not a reactionary/neoreactionary, but something else.

2.  Right is right and left is wrong.

To reactionaries, this is axiomatic. The phrase was popularized by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddhin, who along with Carlyle and Evola, is part of the central canon of neoreactionary thought. If someone disagrees with this phrase, they may be a perfectly delightful person, someone I’d enjoy having tea with, but they would not be a reactionary. Moldbug cites this phrase in his “Journey from Mises to Carlyle” post. In “A Gentle Introduction to Unqualified Reservations,” he says:

On the other hand, it is also quite easy to construct a very clean value system in which order is simply good, and chaos is simply evil. I have chosen this path. It leaves quite a capacious cavity in the back of my skull, and allows me to call myself a reactionary. To you, perhaps, it is the dark side. But this is only because the treatment is not yet complete.

Again, basic stuff. He also writes:

The left is chaos and anarchy, and the more anarchy you have, the more power there is to go around. The more orderly a system is, the fewer people get to issue orders. The same asymmetry is why corporations and the military, whose system of hierarchical executive authority is inherently orderly, cluster to the right.

3.  Hierarchy is basically a good idea.

In general, hierarchy promotes stability, order, direction, cohesion, and so on. Reactionaries object to the rigid hierarchies of totalitarianism, which turn men into cogs in a machine. (See Fascism Viewed from the Right by Julius Evola for a reactionary critique of fascism, or chapter four of Men Among the Ruins.) If you have trouble distinguishing reactionary thought from fascism, you must read chapter four of Men Among the Ruins, or you will never get it. Rather than advocating rigid hierarchies that crush human autonomy, reactionaries support the “organic State,” which Evola describes:

Every society and State is made of people; individual human beings are their primary element. What kind of human beings? Not people as they are conceived by individualism, as atoms or a mass of atoms, but people as persons, as differentiated beings, each one endowed with a different rank, a different freedom, a different right within the social hierarchy based on the values of creating, constructing, obeying, and commanding. With people such as these it is possible to establish the true State, namely an antiliberal, antidemocratic, and organic State. The idea behind such a State is the priority of the person over any abstract social, political, or juridical entity, and not of the person as a neuter, leveled reality, a mere number in the world of quantity and universal suffrage.

The goal of the organic State is to foster “a process of individuation and of progressive differentiation” of persons, rather than a universalist, leveling aesthetic. Some people are natural leaders, others are not. This is not about all reactionaries fantasizing ourselves to be natural leaders, destined for a spot up the totem poll Come the Revolution. The idea is creating a society that offers a pleasant differentiation and individuation from top to bottom. There are reasons why this actually makes being at the bottom a better and more interesting experience than it is now, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

4.  Traditional sex roles are basically a good idea. 

It’s tiresome to go into this one, since the feminists are so rabid about it, but reactionaries basically approve of traditional sex roles.  In traditional societies, women did in fact take on some jobs and roles that might be considered careers by today’s standards. They were not all stay-at-home wives, and even if they were, many were extremely industrious. I’m not sure why staying at home, making clothing, cooking, gardening, and raising children is any less empowering or worthwhile than male activities like digging ditches, welding, or sitting at an office desk on a computer all day.

Conversely, if a man chooses to stay home and raise children, many other men will think less of him. No amount of progressive propaganda and reeducation camps will change this, because it’s hard-coded into our brains through millions of years of evolution. Men respect other men who go out into the world and do masculine things. Similarly, the pressure to conform to gender norms is stronger in all-girl schools than in mixed schools, exploding the myth that it is men who instigate and police gender norms, to the detriment of women. People can and do create bizarro-world bubbles where these roles are turned upside-down, but they are not very stable.

Women are less happy today than they were 40 years ago, despite all the alleged advances made by feminism during that time. One reactionary woman I’ve spoken with has said that feminism is fundamentally dishonest because it is a movement for women without children, while it portraying itself as helpful to all women. Another woman says, “I would prefer that norms strongly support functional families and that anyone who wants to do something else has to swim upstream”, which is a fair summation of the reactionary position.

5.  Libertarianism is retarded.

Many reactionaries are post-libertarians, i.e., not libertarians. A rite of passage into reaction/neoreaction is the renunciation of libertarianism. I was never a libertarian, so it’s taken me a bit of time to fully understand the relationship between libertarianism and neoreaction, but I understand it now. Libertarians make personal freedom axiomatic, and refuse to consider the negative externalities of that freedom to traditional structures like society and the family. This is anathema to reactionaries.

Neoreaction has a close relationship with traditionalism, which upholds social obligations, norms, some degree of group conformity/homogeneity, and so on. Neoreaction has libertarian qualities, such as advocating for a smaller government and the exclusion of government from traditionally private spheres, but rejects libertarianism overall.

Libertarianism, if it could work at all, would only be suitable for a portion of the population, maybe 15-20%, who are willing to go Galt and lock themselves in a metaphorical fortress against the world. If a libertarian society would leave many out in the cold, libertarians seem not to care. Meanwhile, reactionaries foster community, family, and social cohesion. A couple months ago, I stated, “The “socialism” that traditionalism advocates is family and friends helping each other of their own free will.” That sums up the reactionary position on mutual assistance, which is theoretically compatible with libertarianism, but is not compatible with the mood and spirit of libertarianism as it is in fact lived and practiced. Also, reactionaries tend to view libertarians as excessively materialistic.

For a final tidbit of food for thought on this one, someone on Twitter said, “if you took libertarianism but made the basic social unit the family rather than the individual you would come close to what neoreaction is”. Debatable, but interesting.

6.  Democracy is irredeemably flawed and we need to do away with it.

Democracy has been a disaster. Read Democracy: the God That Failed for an explanation. If you have not read at least some of this book, you will be lost. At the very least, reading some of it will give you exposure to serious academic discourse on the failure of democracy. Dismissing anything anti-democratic as “fascism” simply marks you as an idiot, a man of no intellectual depth. At least people like Scott Alexander are capable of going a little deeper and providing a defense of democracy that avoids relying on the fascist boogeyman.

That’s it.

I considered including “opposition to the Cathedral,” here, but decided to leave it out since “Cathedral” is just a lame neologism to outsiders, and I want my posts to be digestible by normal people with no prior exposure to reactionary thought. Also, the question of what the Cathedral is, exactly, is a very complicated one.

I limit the premises to six because I want them to be definitional and exhaustive — anyone who does agree with all six of these premises is almost certainly a reactionary, or at least on the Far Right, while anyone who disagrees with any one of them is almost certainly not a reactionary. We have to draw the line somewhere. Having in-groups and out-groups is another premise of reactionary thought.