A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 9a)
Today you begin your irreversible descent into black, unthinkable madness.
In retrospect, of course, the process will appear as it is—an ultimate ascent. Out of the Computer’s infinite fluorescent maze. Into the glorious air of pure, unfiltered reason. The last hatch is unlocked above your head. The ladder is at your feet. Warm sunlight, green grass, and real reality—this alone is UR’s program. Dare you continue? It is not too late to turn back.
For this chapter brings the true red-hot pill of sodium metal—now igniting in your duodenum. Smile grimly! You have almost passed through the flame. You know what history really is, and what it really has to teach us.
Now, all you need to learn is what to do about it. What is the Reaction? The Procedure? The Three Steps? Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy. One day, your kids will come home from school and explain it all to you.
(I feel it’s essential, at this tense moment, to break the ice with a link to the best Wikipedia page ever: Glossary of the Greek Military Junta. Read the whole thing. While UR could use a glossary itself, it must bend its neck before this awesome, and totally unknown, Hellenic masterpiece. Who needs a Modern Structure—when we have a Synodiporia? What is Universalism—but the Skotadismos? And what is true peace—but isichia, taxis kai asfalia?)
Anyway. Obviously, like any real phenomenon of history, the Greek colonels’ regime had its pros and its cons. I am not equipped to measure them. I just like the doxology.
Real things happen. Usually without a plan. They have to be judged as what they are. One can still plan, however. And since we cannot plan the real, we can plan only the ideal.
The Reaction is an ideal plan for a discontinuous transition of sovereignty, or reboot. The Procedure is what you can do, dear reader, to help make the Reaction happen.
A sovereign is defined by its decision structure: the institutions and mechanisms by which it decides to do whatever it does. A reboot is any complete and instantaneous replacement of a sovereign decision structure. The new management inherits full control over all the assets and liabilities of the old enterprise, discarding its procedures and discharging its employees. It is of course free to retain both, but it probably won’t.
For example, your old decision structure might be: the Constitution of the United States of America, under the laws of Congress and the several states, as executed by the President and judged by the Supreme Court, answering through free and fair democratic elections to the self-governing American people. Your new decision structure might be: Chuck Norris.
So, at 11:59:59 p.m. on Reaction Eve, the Constitution, etc., etc., is as valid as ever, and you get yourself just as arrested as ever if you try to fsck with it. At 12:00:00 a.m. on Reaction Day, the Constitution is out and Chuck is in.
So what do you do on Reaction Day? Go to work, or school, or church, or whatever a decent citizen like you does with your peaceful, productive day. In theory, the Reaction could happen on a Tuesday night and the rest of your workweek would continue as always. In reality, it may be impossible to prevent spontaneous outbreaks of massive partying. If you haven’t already seen the silent majority in the streets, grilling hotdogs and grinning like fools, you’ll see them now.
In short, a reboot has about as much in common with your common, or garden, revolution as a beautiful young woman has with a Gila monster. The two are, quite simply, opposites. Whether your reboot is the true Reaction, dear reader, or some improved model of your own design, please do not use that other R-word. For to describe it as soiled, is to describe shit as shitty.
Of course, the Reaction does not actually hand USG over to Chuck Norris’s tender mercies. Not that I would object to any such thing. Just that I suspect better outcomes can be achieved. So let’s rewind the tape, and remember that our little Vulcan nerve pinch is an engineering problem, not an action movie.
First, as practitioners of political engineering—a discipline of nontrivial antiquity, much neglected in our time—we’ll have to start by getting our terms straight.
Before the Reaction, sovereignty is held by the Modern Structure. After the Reaction, sovereignty is held by the New Structure. Its predecessor, renamed to connote its new status as museum furniture, becomes the Old Structure. The Procedure is so slow, the prospect of any New Structure so remote, that for now it’s easy to just talk about the Structure.
(Please remember that this term, despite its sick Logan’s Run ring, is quite neutral. Every institution, sovereign or otherwise, has some decision structure by which it decides its actions. The term constitution, as in unwritten constitution, though synonymous, is easily confused with some capitalized formality. If a structure is poorly engineered, formal power and real power inevitably diverge over time, leaving the former as fraudulent camouflage—in Carlyle’s simple word, a sham.
For instance, no sensible person could describe the Constitution of 1789, as now amended, as an accurate description of the process by which Washington, in 2009, makes decisions. But still, true if feeble sovereignty, the imperium maius, exists in Washington. It is held by the Committee of Nine, who dictate the Central Record. If you have never heard of these fine institutions and cannot remember whether or not they appear in Logan’s Run, they are otherwise known as the Supreme Court and constitutional law. Neither has much to do with 1789.)
In our American Reaction, we’re replacing the decision structure of USG. This is an inherently discontinuous transition. To make the change as clear as possible, the new USG will need a new name. Let’s be unimaginative, and call it NUSG—versus OUSG. NUSG is to inherit all assets and liabilities of OUSG, and none of its decision structure. The transition is nondestructive, instantaneous, and unconditional, like any civilized change of management.
(I’ll assume the sovereign being rebooted is USG. For one thing, USG is the only true sovereign in the world today. Even the independence of Russia and China is dubious. But for UR’s readers overseas—if you want to be an independent country in the 21st century and you’re not the United States of America, you need to do two things.
One: withdraw from the UN and other “international” institutions. These are actually American institutions—duh. By remaining in them, you’re declaring that you remain one of America’s outer provinces—client, satellite, and dependent of the Beltway, at least in some ideal future. You must make it clear that, to you, this future is dead as the Holy Roman Empire. Declare unilateral independence; revert your foreign relations to classical international law; equalize your balance of payments; expel all foreigners who are not tourists or businessmen. If America needs to talk, it has your email.
Two: restore your intellectual independence. A regime is not independent unless it can think for itself. Your bright, shiny New State needs a new history and a new economics for certain; even the hard sciences could use a good bit of auditing; and actual theological work is by no means out of the question. At present, you import all these commodities from America—specifically, Harvard. Some are good, others not so good. It is not worth your time to tell the difference. We must deal with Harvard, and we will; you can keep your smart young people at home and pay them to think and write. They will. Your nation’s success depends on the extent to which they arrive at actual truth, rather than the old democratic nonsense or some new pile of wack.)
Of course, there’s already a term for a complete transition of sovereignty: regime change. There’s even a term for an internally-initiated regime change. That term is coup, or (more Teutonically) putsch. We resort to UR’s customary weakness for invented doxology because, while every reboot is a coup or putsch, not every coup or putsch is a reboot.
And the Reaction is a reboot, but not every reboot is the Reaction. To be precise: the Reaction is a nondestructive and unconditional transition in sovereign control to a new decision structure which is secure, effective, and responsible.
Everyone to whom this sounds scary and awful, please raise your hand! See, it’s not so bad. In plain English, all the Reaction does is toss out the present grinning, incompetent bastards and replace them with actual adult supervision. What could be simpler, or more desirable?
The only catch is that the Reaction has to work perfectly and on the first try. We’re performing an unprecedented experiment on a hot, running sovereign. If it blows up—anything can happen.
Hitler, for instance. We may not have Hitler. We may not be Hitler. But we could clone Hitler! (And if the Russians have lost that skull fragment, we can back-breed a new race of Hitlers. Indeed, this has already been done—with cows.) Without any field-testing at all, with only one try to get it right, can we satisfy ourselves that the result of the Procedure will be actual sane government—and not Hitler?
Indeed we can. But not through hope, good thoughts and the power of positive thinking. There is only one dark, half-magical art that can produce reliable quality on the first try. It uses no newt blood at all. It is called engineering.
The Reaction is Hitler-free because its engineers understand the Hitler-phenomenon precisely, and to avoid it take precautions effective and redundant. Unlike Wernher von Braun, we at UR care where the rockets come down.
Rocket science is a perfect analogy. Every time NASA fires off some colossal shoulder of techno-pork to some random, godforsaken interplanetary destination, it ships one or two hundred custom widgets, each of which is designed to work perfectly on the first try. Often, all do. Sometimes, one or two fail. Then backups take over, and work a little less well.
Political engineering is rocket science, too. It demands no less cogency and care. In particular, romantic illusions are as misplaced in the political engineer’s cubicle as a topless calendar in the gynecologist’s office. The reactionary takes the biped as she is. Reality alone—bleak, elegant, mindless reality—is the null device on her black flag. Anyone who tells the truth, who believes her own lying eyes, who knows whereof the fsck she speaks, is in that moment as bitter and uncompromising a reactionary as ever put foot on the earth.
(The classical colors of reaction: black, white, and orange. In any tricolor pattern: red-white-black. A fleur-de-lys can’t hurt, either, and St. George’s Cross is not to be mocked.)
And best of all: we don’t have to make it all up from scratch. Reactionary political engineering, in the spirit of Machiavelli, or Hobbes, or Filmer, or Dean Tucker, or Michels, or Jouvenel, or Burnham, is not an entirely lost art. We cannot obtain our dead white males’ actual advice. But thanks to Google, everyone on earth owns their complete works to 1922. The reactionary may have no friends in real life, but the Balrogs in town are all on his side.
(Perhaps the best blueprint for reaction ever published was Daniel Defoe’s The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters, still a smashing read—we’ll have these damned Puritans shipped to the Indies yet. (Defoe was a tricky fellow after my own heart. He too expects you to add your own salt.) But speaking of shipping and the West Indies, I would trust anything I heard from Admiral Semmes or Professor Froude over today’s ad usum Delphini. If you follow these links, you’ll see that UR’s flavor of reaction is actually quite moderate.)
The essence of any 21st-century reaction is the unity of these two forces: the modern engineering mentality, and the great historical legacy of antique, classical and Victorian pre-democratic thought. The adept, to achieve reactionary enlightenment, observes that both yield the same result. What can it be, but the truth for which all good men seek? Armed with this sure and fearless faith, the Reaction conquers all.
Dear reader, I admit it: nothing quite like the Reaction has ever happened. But why not try it anyway? Lots of things happen for the first time. Nothing quite like the world of 2009 has ever existed, either. The forces against you are unprecedented. So are those at your disposal.
Dear dedicated reactionary: can you really overthrow USG? It can’t be easy, surely? It isn’t easy. For one thing, I can’t imagine it being done in less than 10 years. 25 is probably more realistic. Let’s be safe, and call it 50. For another, by definition you can’t replace a sovereign decision structure without someone shooting at you—either metaphorically, or actually.
And so what? As Švejk might have put it, regime change isn’t as simple as taking a dump. It’s not soft and easy to chew, like a hamburger, and it may not be as fun as lying on the beach in Coney Island. The Reaction demands balls and brains, prudence and pure craziness, both vast ambition and genuine humility. It will take you not months or years, but decades. Deal, or don’t.
That said, let’s jump right in to the Procedure. The Procedure comes in Three Steps:
- Become worthy.
- Accept power.
You think I’m kidding. But I’m not. Let’s go straight to the—
“Become worthy.” What could this possibly mean? Is it Zen? It sure sounds like Zen.
It’s Zen to the bone, bitches. The First Step is the most difficult of the Three Steps. To be frank, it’s quite possible that your Reaction will never make it past this step. It’s more than possible. It’s almost certain. But waste your time on the First Step—and what have you wasted?
Confucius said: to set the world in order, first set yourself in order. Neighbor wasn’t kidding, either. He may well have been reading Eugen Herrigel, who taught us that to release the arrow, one must first not-release the arrow. Fact: not even UR is as reactionary as Zen.
Another fact: if you show up for your first fencing class, they don’t just hand you a bardiche. The Procedure too is dangerous. It too has its prerequisites, although it has only one.
Before you begin any positive work on the First Step, you must master the daunting spiritual discipline of passivism. This exercise itself may consume a lifetime. But with UR’s simple and down-to-earth instructions, it will go much more quickly. You may even find that you have already completed it.
The steel rule of passivism is absolute renunciation of official power. We note instantly that any form of resistance to sovereignty, so long as it succeeds, is a share in power itself. Thus, absolute renunciation of power over USG implies absolute submission to the Structure.
The logic of the steel rule is simple. As a reactionary, you don’t believe that political power is a human right. You will never convince anyone to adopt the same attitude, without first adopting it yourself. Since you believe others should be willing to accept the rule of the New Structure, over which they wield no power, you must be the first to make the great refusal. They must submit to the New; you must submit to the Old.
The reactionary’s opinion of USG is that it is what it is. It is run by the people who run it. And at present, the present management may well be the best people in the world to run USG, and even if they’re not he can’t imagine what might be done about it—short of replacing the whole thing. This simple and final judgment, like the death penalty, admits no possible compromise.
In particular, passivism is to Gandhi as Gandhi is to Hitler. Hitler, before 1933, was a violent democratic activist; Gandhi was a nonviolent democratic activist. Passivism is not any sort of activism. Passivism is passivism. In plain English, you may not even begin to consider the rest of the Procedure until you have freed yourself entirely from the desire, built-in burden though it be of the two-legged ape, for power. Break the steel rule, change your name to “Darth,” don’t expect to keep your internship at the Jedi Council.
As a matter of both principle and tactics, the passivist rejects any involvement with any activity whose goal is to influence, coerce, or resist the government, either directly or indirectly. He is revolted by the thought of setting public policy. He would rather drink his own piss, than shift public opinion. He finds elections—national, state or local—grimly hilarious. And if he needs to get from Richmond to Baltimore, he drives through West Virginia.
The passivist has a term for democratic activism directed by the right against the left. That term is counter-activism. Passivism does not dispute the fact that counter-activism sometimes works. For instance, it worked for Hitler. (We’ll say more about Hitler.) However, it only works in very unusual circumstances (such as those of Hitler), and is extremely dangerous when it does work (e.g., the result may be Hitler).
In case this isn’t crystal-clear, the steel rule precludes, in no particular order: demonstrations, press releases, suicide bombs, lawsuits, dirty bombs, Facebook campaigns, clean bombs, mimeographed leaflets, robbing banks, interning at nonprofits, assassination, “tea parties,” journalism, bribery, grantwriting, graffiti, crypto-anarchism, balaclavas, lynching, campaign contributions, revolutionary cells, new political parties, old political parties, flash mobs, botnets, sit-ins, direct mail, monkeywrenching, and any other activist technique, violent or harmless, legal or illegal, fashionable or despicable.
As a broad analogy, the passivist’s relationship to USG is much like the relationship of an American expatriate in Costa Rica, to the government of Costa Rica. He has no illusions about it. He submits to its authority in every detail. He is happy when it succeeds, and sad when it screws up. And he’s about as likely to try to horn in on its decision structure as he is to move to Iran and run for Grand Ayatollah.
One excellent way to make this relationship concrete in your mind is to use the word “subject,” rather than “citizen.” If by some unfortunate coincidence you remain a resident of the British Isles, you are already taught to say “subject.” So you’ll have to shift to something even more demeaning, like “peasant.” This may still overstate your political impact.
The steel rule has one exception that demonstrates the rule. As a passivist, you can still address direct, individual petitions to the sovereign—e.g., calling your Congressman. Individual petition does not violate the steel rule because any petition from subject to sovereign is already a confession of abject submission. Only the powerless beg. The rite, of course, is ancient.
Voting is a borderline case for the passivist. Is it an aggressive act of defiance to refrain from voting—or does electoral participation constitute impermissible political intervention? Either way, you might be breaching the steel rule. Perhaps the most careful policy is to always vote for the candidate or measure that the newspapers expect to win, abstaining only in close contests.2
But obviously, the impact of all votes of all passivists put together will be trivial. Or if it isn’t, someone has been evading the steel rule, and the name no longer means itself. As a passivist, your vote is an irrelevant detail of personal conscience. It’s improper to even mention it.
And obviously, in urgent matters of self-defense, the steel rule (and the entire Reaction) go out the window. The Procedure is a long and difficult preparation for future winter storms, to be started in spring’s calm sunshine. If a freak May blizzard strikes in the First Step—if the midget race war breaks out—obviously, no one can blame you for resorting to more direct strategies.
And that’s the steel rule. I don’t think it gets much clearer. But, um—why?
Why, exactly, are you a passivist? You thought you were trying to seize power. But here you are, renouncing it irrevocably! What’s up with that?
Ah. But there is no contradiction at all.
Passivism is Zen. It is non-Zen. It is counterintuitive and romantic. It is trivial and cold-blooded. It is deeply principled and tactically deadly. Passivism is only the first step of the First Step—but its spirit informs the entire Reaction. Let’s take a quick peek ahead, and see why.
In the First Step, passivism is a no-brainer. Why should you be interested in influencing OUSG? You’re trying to replace the Structure, not join it.
Even in the precarious and impossible Second Step, the steel rule should hold. In the Second Step, you do not seize power. You accept power. As we’ll see, it’s totally different. And even if this bold assertion is not perfectly validated, your long and rigid training in the steel rule will help you guard your soul from any inadvertent or unavoidable contact with the plutonium.
Some lingering contamination is acceptable—because in the Third Step, you relinquish any power you may have held. Undivided personal authority is achieved. Someone reigns. But that someone is not you, nor anyone else associated with the Reaction. Sorry! Perhaps there’s some other coup that would suit you better.
Thus, passivism is no obstacle to any of the Three Steps. With this obvious objection disposed, we can look at the four major tactical benefits of passivism. I’m sure there are more than four—but these four should be enough.
First tactical benefit: the passivist immediately drops off the Structure’s defensive radar screen. While it must at all times be kept in mind that the Structure is not a conspiracy and has no star topology, it can be described as the organization of all those corrupted by power. If there is one thing these people understand, it is activism—the art of controlling USG from outside its formal boundaries. It is their art. And they sure don’t like it when it’s turned against them.
If there is one thing progressives are good at, it is identifying and targeting a competing activist who is attempting, futilely as we have seen above, to out-mafia the mafia. Right-wing activism acts as a sort of adjuvant to the Structure’s immune system. It activates every possible defense mechanism. Some of which are really quite nasty.
Since the Left is now thoroughly in control of the State’s bone marrow, there is only one way for the Right to evade quick, efficient destruction by its T-cells: avoid deploying any surface protein that the Left recognizes. The Left’s own weapons are trivial members of this set. And this is why counter-activism is basically a bad idea.
What does the difference between activism and passivism look like in practice? Let’s take blogging. Obviously, in a democracy or anything like it, a blog is a political weapon. But the correct tactics for activist and passivist blogs differ.
The activist blog, which seeks power through democratic means, must seek to build an intellectual clientela of the largest possible size. Unique reader count is the best possible metric for the success of an activist blog. Naturally, anyone who reads blog X has that much less time to read blog Y, so X and Y, activist blogs, must be competitive. And obviously, anyone who seeks power must seek to take it away from someone else—activism is inherently aggressive.
The passivist blog does not seek power by any means at all. Its activities are neither aggressive nor destructive, but constructive (ideally leading into a reaction center, as we’ll see later). Therefore, it is concerned not with the number of people who read it, but with the quality of people who read it. If it takes the next step and becomes a reaction center, its construction workers must be found among this motley crew.
Result: a counter-activist blog, if it achieves any success, will automatically (a) be identified by the T-cells as a dangerous, quasi-fascist Internet cult, and (b) attract a clientela who live up to exactly this dossier. Either way, any further effectiveness is precluded.
Whereas the passivist blog will appear, at worst, harmless and extremely strange. There’s something going on here, Mr. Jones. But you don’t know what it is—do you, Mr. Jones? As an existential enemy of USG, the reactionary may well deserve some immune attention. But he won’t get it, and he is quite happy with that.
True fact: the author of UR has received over 7 zillion very interesting emails, all of which deserve responses, often long, that most have not received (but will). Number of hostile communications received, in over two years of blogging: zero. One can ascribe this result to many hypotheses, not all flattering, but I put it down to passivism.
Second tactical benefit: the problem isn’t just that stimulating the left’s immune system is harmful to the right. If it was harmful to the left as well, that might be tactically acceptable.
But since leftism is a decentralized movement, not a centralized conspiracy, stimulating the left’s immune system just means stimulating the left. So the counter-activist loses on both sides of the equation. He brings hell on himself, and he donates energy to the Death Star.
In case this isn’t obvious, let me digress for a moment, and illustrate it. I am not sure most conservative (counter-activists by definition) understand their place in the progressive psyche.
One of the best ways to sample the evil Sith energy of the leftosphere is to take a deep breath, summon up your inner Herakles, and perform the Augean labor of reading the purest, nastiest, most Vyshinskyesque progressive blogs you can find. Sample the baths of clear venom that ooze from the scaly, withered lips of la Hamsher. Incline your pate before the government philosophers of the well-named Crooked Timber. Or suffer all the vices of both in one, with Brad DeLong.
It matters what these people think. They exist, and they are powerful. If you want to live in the present tense, you have to decide whether you want to serve as fuel for their hate machine.
In your tour de Left, you’ll notice many oozing zombie wounds and heinous, glowing Ringwraith “tells.” The varieties of adaptive propaganda are uncountable. However, one of the most common tropes you’ll notice is a willingness to excuse self-serving ethical deviations through arguments tu quoque. This is one of the major metabolic reactions of the progressive movement. Basically, dear conservative, your struggle is its food. Without you, it dies.
In the tu-quoque mindset, any form of resistance to progressive government is defined as naked, illegitimate aggression. It naturally produces a counter-reaction which is just as aggressive, often more unprincipled, and always much stronger. A fine example is the complete extirpation of the pre-Buckleyite American right, which repaid McCarthyism ten dollars on the dime. If you imagine an America in which Communism suffered the same fate as McCarthyism, you imagine a very, very different America.
Perhaps the most diabolical instance of this Poland-invades-Germany syndrome was the legal–realist movement, which in the 20th century converted the Anglo-American common law from asset to liability. The legal realist reasons as follows: the vast right-wing conspiracy™ does not really believe in natural law and textual interpretation, but is a big liar and legislates from the bench for reasons personal, venal, or conspiratorial. Therefore, we, the Left, are suckers if we don’t fight just as dirty and spin just as hard.
Qui vult decipi, decipiatur. As Voltaire said, if you can make a man believe absurdities, you can make him commit atrocities. The VRWC is really no more or less absurd than its Jewish counterpart. There are no Elders of Zion, and nobody dances on Halliburton’s strings. But there is a Left, though it is a movement rather than a conspiracy. And the Left, in power, must pretend to contend against some great, imagined enemy, which it naturally models on itself.
I.e.: there is a Structure. There is no counter-Structure. But the leftist, knowing his own world, finds it very easy to visualize a symmetric and opposite edifice in loving and fabulous detail. In a word: he projects. It’s only human.
For example, one thing I always had trouble understanding about the history of World War II is why Japan never attacked the Soviet Union. Clearly, Japan and Germany could easily have defeated Russia by attacking from both sides, splitting Eurasia between the Axis. Or at least, this is an obvious strategy given the ad usum Delphini version of this historical event.
So why didn’t it happen? The simple answer is that there was never any such entity as “the Axis,” at least not in the sense that there existed “the Allies.” The former imaginary entity was a pure product of fascist propaganda organs, whose opposite numbers were happy to play along. In reality, “the Axis” was three separate countries—Japan, Germany, and Italy—none of which really trusted each other at all, but had put their names together on a treaty or two. Given that all parties to these pacts were on the record as considering all treaties worthless scraps of paper, we know exactly what they were worth in private.
Nothing like the joint military planning of the Allies existed between the Axis. There was no great plan to create a Nazi South America, a Japanese Australia, etc., etc. And there was very little to suggest to the Japanese that, in the long run, they would come out better if they added another enemy to their war. After all, Japan was already fighting an obviously losing battle for its life against the US.
Thus, the standard terminology of the war is an exact inverse of the reality. The Allies were an axis, cooperating ruthlessly and efficiently; the Axis was an alliance, cooperating grudgingly and without trust. The Allies were the Empire; the Axis were the rebels. The Axis never had a real plan for world domination, whereas the Allies had it figured out long before. Again, projection. (And note that this structural analysis tells us nothing about the relative goodness or badness of either side.)
This inversion is a permanent feature of the leftist optical system. The leftist, in all times, of all races, in all nations, is really, genuinely convinced that the right, although evil rather than good, works exactly like the left. Except more so, of course.
The left is one vast alliance—proverbially, a leftist sees no enemies to the left, and no friends to the right. So doesn’t the rightist see no friends to the left, and no enemies to the right? The left has a party line. Doesn’t the right? The left is full of people who have obviously mortgaged their souls for power. But isn’t the right?
For example, it’s very easy to excuse the relationship between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama, when you realize that Dick Cheney is a longstanding personal friend of Klaus Barbie.
If you actually know anything about the American right, you realize that it is a tiny pimple on the ass of the American left. For one thing, the right has no Rockefeller or Carnegie or Guggenheim. (It had a Pew and a Ford, but the money was stolen.) On the right, the most blatant acts of desperate corruption, extracting the most grudging of contributions from the most disreputable of sources, yield a tiny, sporadic creek of cash, like the dribble of an 85-year-old man.
Whereas on the left, heaven pisses money like an African bull elephant. You’ll see this pattern whenever you compare the two apples-to-apples—for example, compare the funding for anti-green research to the funding for pro-green research. Or compare the political affiliation of celebrities, a fine proxy for the feelings of the ultra-rich.
But thanks to constant, near-unconscious bombardment with evidence of a vast right-wing conspiracy, the progressive mind is the eternal slave of an imaginary golem. Quite a percentage of the binding energy of progressive activism consists of man’s strongest emotional glue: fear. Just as with anti-Semitism, no invention is needed to create this nightmare—just magnification.
Like the Republican of 1859, the Democrat of 2009 is genuinely convinced that he is defending his tribal village from a vast onslaught of ruthless, pitchfork-wielding Huns, all trained to chant and march in lockstep at the synagogue of Satan. Against so barbaric and deviation a foe, any hesitation is fatal; any mercy is a crime; any scruple is tantamount to suicide. Therefore, Han must shoot first.
Do I have that right, libs? Of course, what your lib does not realize is that, since his cause is advancing, his opponent’s must therefore be reversing. Therefore, Euclid tells us that he is attacking and his foe is retreating. A strange thing, this retrograde aggression! Progress convicts itself, through its own name.
The terrifying Jesus monster you see, libs, is quite real. It is a small house spider of the genus Suburbia—species, minivanii. Stay out of its hair, and it will stay out of yours. Otherwise, it might bite you, and you might get a small, itchy spot.
It’s true that massive, deadly arachnids in this family are found in the fossil record. It’s also true that they’ve been shrinking steadily for the last 30 million years. You might well be face-to-face with a living fossil. Anything can happen. But first, look without your reading glasses. I suspect you may have the magnification set too high.
Take an example: where was gay marriage in 1979? The era of Anita Bryant and the Briggs Initiative? Of the Hard Hat Riot? Dear progressive, you can hardly admit that progress hasn’t happened—by your own definition.
But this means your cause is going forward and your foe’s is going backward, which means you are attacking and he is retreating. So shouldn’t it be the spider who’s afraid of you, not you who’s afraid of the spider? I know I am beating a dead horse here. But you probably have friends who haven’t seen the light yet, dear reactionary. Try this one out on them.
And to get back to the point: fear is seldom found on its own. It almost always generates another emotion. That emotion is hate. Living in San Francisco, I have seen plenty of both fear and hate. But one thing I haven’t seen much of is: hate in the absence of fear.
Since, as all external observers can agree, the progressive movement is largely held together by hate, active resistance from the right is not just a waste of effort. It actually contributes to the left’s metabolism. I am not the first to notice this: call it the Dabney effect.
If the Dabney effect is feeding the parasite, cutting off the Dabney effect can only starve the parasite. Thus, passivism should in theory act as a kind of antibiotic or chemotherapy against the left. Or if you prefer sports metaphors, it’s just the old Rick Mahorn move of pulling the chair. Mr. Mahorn was not renowned for his overall gentleness in the post position.
It’s even possible that if the entire conservative side of the fence could somehow convert itself to passivism, a prospect which is of course inconceivable, progressivism would lose too much energy to continue existing. It would reach its Roche limit, so to speak, and collapse of collective apathetic sclerosis like its cousin, Communism. (Think of what the Kremlin would have paid for a tame opposition which was credible, loyal, often irritating, and never dangerous.)
The alternative, of course, is to crank up the activism until the 85-year-old man actually outpisses the bull elephant. The belief that this has a chance of working sits oddly with the general tragic vision of the conservative. It is not the only such inconsistency.
Moreover, if counter-activism somehow actually does work, we arrive at the converse of our third benefit. That is, of course: Hitler. While successful counter-activism might not always produce Hitler, we cannot avoid the fact that it did produce Hitler. Thus…
Third tactical benefit: Hitler prevention. To an orthodox reactionary, Hitler is basically the poster child for what happens if you break the steel rule. Fascism is reaction, but laced with cancerous tumors of democracy—“right-wing populism,” as people say these days. If it loses it loses; if it wins, the tumors grow. An improvement on Communism, but not much of one.
Just about all of Hitler’s shtick, right down to the name of his party, was ripped off from the Left. Who introduced nationalism to the Continent of Europe? The Hapsburgs, or Garibaldi? Under this camouflage, which never convinced anyone with a college education, Nazism was never in any way leftist. Rather, it was a demotic corruption of the old Prussian tradition.
Even before WWI, the tradition of Frederick had become heavily contaminated with romantic-populist jingoism. By the ’30s, the German right was armed with all the nastiest brass-knuckles that the international left could supply. Everything evil that the Nazis ever did, the Bolsheviks had done first. Everything there was to learn from George Creel, Goebbels knew.
Contra Jonah Goldberg, even contra Kuehnelt-Leddihn (whose jockstrap Goldberg is not fit to carry), Hitler was not a leftist. He was a rightist. Leftism is like a club: you can’t just say you’re a leftist, and be one. You have to actually be accepted into the club. You have to be part of the Left, and if you’re not you are part of the Right—i.e., the set of all those competing, unjustly of course, with the Left.
On a social network graph, it’s very obvious who is and who isn’t. And National Socialism was never, ever part of the graph. It had very few friends, connected very weakly, in the US and Britain. Compare it to Leninism, and you’ll see the difference instantly. Hitler and I are not in the club, and nor are you—and if you are, you won’t be for long.
(Since the Right is a negative set, unorganized by definition, rightists cannot be expected to share any consistent pattern of attributes, or to cooperate effectively on any positive project. Thus, they tend to lose—an almost infallible historical marker of rightism.)
Since most people are neither historians nor philosophers, the fact that Hitler was on the extreme Right, and this Reaction is also on the extreme Right, raises some natural concerns. Again: the only way to face these concerns is to (a) provide a complete engineering explanation of Hitler, and (b) include an effective anti-Hitler device in our design.
The reactionary’s basic answer to the Hitler Question is the Law of Sewage. (This is not my invention, but I don’t know where I got it. Heinlein, perhaps?) The Law is: if you put a drop of wine in a barrel of sewage, you get sewage. If you put a drop of sewage in a barrel of wine, you get sewage. You’ll find that this rule applies perfectly to many fields of human endeavor.
Thus, Nazism contains a great deal of reactionary wisdom, because those who created it were quite familiar with the old Continental tradition of government. However, the Nazi movement originated as a democratic political party. Thus Nazism combined the venom of democracy with the experience and efficiency of Prussia, an understandably dangerous combination.
The mixture, again, was sewage—and I say that as one who has plowed through both Sven Hedin’s Germany and World Peace, and Cesare Santoro’s Hitler Germany as Seen by a Foreigner. (Margherita Sarfatti’s 1925 The Life of Benito Mussolini, though, is not entirely unentertaining.) The best fascist work of the ’30s I’ve found is British: Francis Yeats-Brown’s European Jungle. The best Nazi memoir may be Reinhard Spitzy’s How We Squandered the Reich. But none of this is saying a lot. Here at UR, our diligence is your indolence.
You can say one thing for Hitler, at least the young Hitler: he was successful. 1933 in Germany was a real reboot—as was 1945 in Germany. (Here at UR, we feel free to learn from both. Wine will be found in either barrel, as will sewage. The mix goes in the test tube, not in your mouth.)
But 1933 was a revolution, not a reaction—just as wine mixed with sewage is sewage. Like all 20th-century regimes, the Third Reich controlled its subjects by seducing them with the mirage of mass political power. As Robert Michels had already explained, “the People,” by any name, can never hold power. Power is held by an oligarchy at most. Whether Nazi Germany was more monarchical or more oligarchical can be debated, but it certainly embraced the principle of popular sovereignty. The classical monarchy and the 20th-century one-party state are very different political forms.
How does this work in practice? In practice, an activist policy attracts supporters because humans (of all races, alas) are apes, and apes are attracted to power. Typically the activist’s superego explains this in terms of the noble goals which he will achieve with said power. (These noble goals are generally found to include making other apes dependent on him.) His good old ape ego, however, is attracted to the work—the feeling of collectively struggling for power.
This is where passivism, by abjuring democracy, vaccinates itself against Hitler. True: at a higher level, the reactionary seeks to cause a transition in power, and thus in a sense seeks power itself. But he is not an activist, because he is not working for power. His actions do not excite the human political instinct, the love for forming coalitions and tearing hell out of the apes across the river.
For one thing, said actions bear no resemblance to normal politics. For another, they cannot bring any actual power to the actors, even if they succeed. Which, however likely, must remain intuitively implausible—if not laughable. And thus the project of reaction does not attract those with a real taste for power, which if nothing else is very un-Nazi-like.
In fact, since Nazism violates the first two tactical advantages of passivism, we can wonder how it managed to work at all. Yet again, Hitler is the exception that demonstrates the rule. Yes: using activist tactics, Hitler rebooted Germany, although not cleanly. But why did these tactics work for Hitler? And why have they not worked, or come even close to working, for anyone since Hitler? Ponder that, John Tyndall.
My guess is that counter-activism worked for Hitler, and fascists in general, because they came to power in a society that still contained the carcass of an ancien régime. Wilhelmine Germany still existed beneath the surface of Weimar. Principles, traditions, and even many institutions remained intact. For example, the Weimar judiciary was notoriously indulgent to right-wing hoodlums. Try that today, kids.
Thus, in the 21st century, Hitler is exactly what he is supposed to be—a lesson in what not to do. First, lacking said carcass, any modern adaptation of Nazi techniques is a certain passport to FAIL. Second, even if it works, you end up with Hitler. In fact, I’m sure Hitler himself, who as a politician was just as practical as he was visionary (yes, I’ve also read Hitler—go for the Table-Talk, skip Mein Kampf), would endorse the first point. He would certainly find neo-Nazism of every flavor pathetic—much as he laughed at, say, Alfred Rosenberg.
Because Hitler—like Boromir, had Boromir been a little Jew-hating faggot—attempted to oppose democracy with its own foul arts, because he gazed into the Volk and the Volk gazed into him, and especially because he at first succeeded in this black design, evil crept into Germany. Ultimately, the Third Reich is best classified among the many strange, dark epiphenomena of the cult of the People. Chalk it up to the 20th century.
Fourth tactical benefit: passivism allows the Reaction to recruit both progressives and conservatives—so long as they abandon their activist programs. Tactically, this may be so obvious that it merits no discussion at all. But this is UR, so let’s say a little bit.
Needless to say, regardless of the passivist’s personal background, the steel rule bars any political affiliation with either “red-state” or “blue-state” sides of the “culture war.” How is this a tactical advantage? Two armies of rabid, determined, frothing-at-the-mouth cadres are available—and the passivist chooses—neither?
As we understand quite well here at UR, “red” and “blue,” Amerikaner and Brahmin, are no more and no less than the two main branches of American Protestant democracy.3 Anyone’s cultural roots are permanent—you can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the boy. But identifying politically with one side of a tribal conflict is a very different thing. And it may be the most spectacular way to flame out on the First Step.
(I mean: what are these people even thinking? A religious conflict can end with the eradication of one side or another. There are certainly a number of progressives who would like to eradicate conservatism. Which strikes me as a little drastic, but if it’s voiced honestly, one can respect it. It’s rather inconsistent with certain other progressive beliefs, but hey—nobody’s perfect. And what do conservative activists think will happen to progressivism, and how? I have never quite been able to discern this.)
It should be obvious that any responsible management will instantly shift USG to a posture of strict cultural neutrality, allowing both competing communities—Amerikaner and Brahmin—to live peacefully according to their own principles and preferences, and cleanly divesting both of their political aspirations. It will certainly not invest a single cent or breath in turning Amerikaners into Brahmins, or Brahmins into Amerikaners, or even in forcing the two to live as next-door neighbors in harmony as brothers forever. If this isn’t adult supervision, what is?
Of course, there’s no way to avoid the fact that in USG as she is today, it’s the Brahmins who hold the stick, and the Amerikaners who get its short end in the tail. Inside the Beltway, it’s always Giuliani time for the flyover states. The only question is how deep the plunger plunges.
In the reactionary’s book, the cure for this awful, degenerate scenario is not to give the Amerikaners more political power, but to remove all political power from both Brahmins and Amerikaners. After democracy, they no longer have any way to fight. Remaining belligerent pretensions become comical, the nasty political arms of their respective theologies atrophy, turn black and fall off, neither has to drink the other’s beer, and the common decency of both sides, despite the insufferable, naive pomposity of the Brahmins and the irreparable boorish ignorance of the Amerikaners, reasserts itself. Reaction can only succeed as a movement of national unity.
Again, the long-term tactical potential of this peace should be self-evident. It offers a decent deal to both sides of the war. In exchange for abandoning the hopeless dream of resistance, Amerikaners get to feel what life is like without constant colonic splinters. In exchange for abandoning the sadistic thrill of domination, Brahmins get to feel what life is like without the constant fear that Jesus is about to capture Washington and turn NPR over to Pat Robertson. All sing “Kumbaya” and “Dixie,” agree to disagree, the farce is over, and the show is cancelled.
Once again, this ending is a long way away. Traditionalist religious conservatives, in particular, should consider this: which traditionalist sects in America have been most successful in preserving their values and society? Answer: probably a tie, between the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Brooklyn Chasidim. What do both these communities have in common? In a word: passivism. To survive, submit and adapt. To be destroyed, try to fight back.
Thus we see the tactical power of the steel rule. I’d like to think the Baron de Batz would approve. If the moral principle doesn’t convince you, the tactics should.
We will now assume that the steel rule is indelibly engraved in your soul. With your qi fully charged, your brain laundered and your spiritual center centered, we can talk about what to do. Boldly, you stride forward on your quest—which continues in Chapter 10.
2. Moldbug later came to the same conclusion as most other neoreactionaries: Don’t vote. As he explains in “The Lightworker wants to touch your junk”:
So who should you vote for? You shouldn’t vote, of course. Whatever you think you’re doing when you vote, you’re just endorsing the whole insane system.
The only exception is if the vote is cast in a true election, as explained in “The true election: a practical option for real political change.”
3. Recall from Chapter 8 that Amerikaner refers to “red state” Americans. Meanwhile, Brahmins are “blue state” Americans; as Moldbug writes in An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives:
Briefly, [Brahmins] are America’s ruling class… The Brahmin tribe is adoptive rather than hereditary. Anyone can be a Brahmin, and in fact the less “white” your background the better, because it means your achievements are all your own. As with the Hindu original, your status as a Brahmin is not a function of money, but of your success as a scholar, scientist, artist, or public servant. Brahmins are people who work with their minds.