Political ideologies, because they are linearly defined by the extremes, are still probabilistic around their centers, which like candies, are often soft and malleable, even if expectations include the nuts.
There is no “alt-center” just as the original neologism of “alt-right” is fundamentally flawed at multiple levels of understanding. And a hypothetical “alt-left” is as laughable as the phallic reference to “hard” and “soft” leftisms much like the “hard/soft” sciences.
Bannonism has given a WH home to a motley gang of rightist theories ranging from esoteric misogynist anti-Christian mysticism to fascism of a type reminiscent of an epistemological break between post-war beatniks and bikers. Tack on antisemitic white supremacy and the hope of global apartheid. Then add the teleology of a history predicated on episodic destruction at a civilization scale and you get Bannonism’s raison d’être to pound hippies because of their collectivist “anti-individualism”.
The hegemony of right-hipsterism favors the arrière-garde … Lord Dampnut and fanboy Milo
Steve Bannon has given support not only to anti-social behavior in everyday life, but to some fringe groups that have managed to pick up some sordid theories attractive to Bannon’s agenda.
Sadly, it still is about hippie-punching and new-age fascism, a neoliberal elitism at its apogee before the next imagined cycle of violence.Bannonism, if it can be constructed, is a RW melange of racist nationalisms, antisemitic ravings, digitally crowd-sourced misogyny, and neologisms like Traditionalism and Neoreaction.
Unfortunately, there’s no such generational shift in societies that try to consume their way out of disasters and blame culture as more economically causal than deregulation, because development is naturally uneven, despite selective reading of Carlyle, among others. And even idealizing a Singaporean city-state comes with the more obvious interdependency with international trade and capital that only reminds one of its fall in 1942.
Creative destruction as bastardized from Schumpeter’s schöpferische Zerstörung is an oxymoron, even for non-Austrians. And Destructive Creation might be the prevailing model for the actual dominant form of the postwar US economy.
With neoreactionaries, their mantra is to hope that they can make a deal with the autocrats to get enough wireless bandwidth for consuming media content. They are ultimately more Cypher than Neo in The Matrix.
What’s worse is their banal fetish for power and their choice of scapegoats; these neoreactionaries just don’t like pink caps because frog’s foreskin triggers soft science.
In 2010 Bannon wrote, directed and produced a documentary film about the 2008 financial crisis called Generation Zero – a documentary that explicitly tries to get laissez-faire capitalism off the hook for this colossal capitalist disaster. Remember the roll-back of banking rules under Bill Clinton and George W Bush, or the hapless regulatory agencies filled with former bank officers and lobbyists? Evidently none of that really mattered.
As one of the movie’s many experts intones, “Deregulation is not the problem.” The first sentence in the promotional copy on the back of the DVD case is just as blunt: “The current economic crisis is not a failure of capitalism, but a failure of culture.”
The Trump era is turning out to be a golden age for esoteric fascist intellectuals.
Julius Evola (1898-1974) is hardly a household name. A monocle-wearing political thinker and painter whose ideas about a biologically superior caste influenced fascists like Mussolini, Evola was hitherto known largely to specialists in the Italian far right. But now, thanks to President Trump’s erudite righthand man Steve Bannon, Evola is earning posthumous attention from followers of American politics. Bannon cited Evola in a 2014 speech to the Vatican as an inspiration for the Traditionalist movement. Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on everything from Eastern religions to the metaphysics of sex to alchemy. But he is best known as a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.
Evola became a darling of Italian Fascists, and Italy’s post-Fascist terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spiritual and intellectual godfather.
They called themselves Children of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bourgeoisie-smashing new order that he called the Solar Civilization. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn includes his works on its suggested reading list, and the leader of Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works. newrepublic.com/…
What culture do you think Bannon means? The buccaneering culture of the Wall Street traders? The corrupt culture of the real estate appraisers or the bond rating agencies? The get-rich-quick culture of the mortgage originators?
No, no and no. He means … the counterculture of the 1960s. Bell bottoms. Drum solos. Dope. That’s the thing to blame for the financial crisis and the bailouts. Not the deregulation of derivatives in 2000. It was those kids having fun at Woodstock in 1969…
One way of assessing this is that Generation Zero is the transition from the culture wars to Trumpism. What Bannon is doing is bringing the strands of outrage together. He’s saying that the culture wars and the financial crisis both share the same villain: the bad values that supposedly infected our society in the 1960s. The same forces that made the movies and pop music so vulgar also crashed the economy and ruined your livelihood…
The movie’s most far-fetched proposition is also its most revealing. Generation Zero asserts that history unfolds in a cyclical pattern, endlessly repeating itself. Historical crises (such as the Depression and second world war) are said to give rise to triumphant and ambitious generations (think Levittown circa 1952), who make the mistake of spoiling their children, who then tear society apart through their decadence and narcissism, triggering the cycle over again. Or as the movie’s trailer puts it: “In history, there are four turnings. The crisis. The high. The awakening. The unravelling. History repeats itself. The untold story about the financial meltdown.”
In a word, the theory is ridiculous. It is so vague and squishy and easily contradicted that the viewer wonders why Bannon included it at all.
Bannonism via Breitbart and the Milophile RW could thrive in a Mad Max economy with the electrical grid (still) intact, so many utopia/dystopias, just one reality. In the case of the Dark Enlightenment, it seems like a cult, only with better WiFi.
Perhaps it would look like the Bundy-liberated Malheur Wildlife Refuge without those pesky Feds, the rule of law, and the social contract. We’ll know more about these “post-democratic” polities when they proscribe magic undergarments, because even Back to the Future III had a regulatory local state, darn that 19th Century urban gun control.
Lord Dampnut: useful orange idiot
“While the stupids grind away at their video-games in perfect idiocy awaiting the tribunal powers of a new order to give them their marching orders. ” socialecologies.wordpress.com/…
1. The first thing neoreaction has accomplished is that it has brought together a core of highly intelligent people to discuss new directions in political theory.
Has it? How would he know that they are intelligent? Has he given each one an IQ test? And what are all these neoreactionary Intelligentsia discussing? Just what are these new directions in political theory after all? But instead of answering this he returns to these intelligent people who are now just rescinding the Left’s use of the reactionary label:
2. A group of intelligent people calling themselves “reactionaries” has begun to reclaim the term from the left. People are no longer thinking of it as just an epithet. This is primarily thanks to the effort of a few dozen people, the pioneers, the leaders, those who kicked open the door for others to follow.
“It should be obvious that, although I am not a white nationalist, I am not exactly allergic to the stuff,” Yarvin wrote in 2007. In a 2009 post about the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle’s defense of slavery, he argued that some races are more suited to slavery than others.
He has described it as an “ineffective and destructive” form of government, which he associates with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.”
Yarvin’s ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right.
The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule.
The fact that Bannon reportedly reads and has been in contact with Yarvin is another sign of the extent to which the Trump era has brought previously fringe right-wing ideologies into the spotlight.
It has brought new energy into a right that is questioning and actively trying to dismantle existing orthodoxies—even ones as foundational as democracy. The alt-right, at this point, is well-known, while NRx has remained obscure. But with one of the top people in the White House paying attention, it seems unlikely to remain obscure for long.
“NRx doesn’t think the Alt-Right (in America) is very serious. It’s an essentially Anti-Anglo-American philosophy, in its (Duginist) core, which puts a firm ceiling on its potential,” Land said. “But then, the NRx analysis is that the age of the masses is virtually over. Riled-up populist movements are part of what is passing, rather than of what is slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.” (By “Duginist,” Land was referring to the ideas of the controversial Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin.)
Neoreaction romanticizes City-State models much like Lord Dampnut misunderstands international trade, because Silicon Valley still requires regions like The French Laundry’s Napa Valley for most of its wines, and vineyards do require labor, automated or otherwise. OTOH there are some who actually wish to “return” to monarchy as a political system. Prepper bunkers and their moats.
At first glance, it appears little more than a fever swamp of feudal misogynists, racist programmers, and “fascist teenage dungeon master[s],” gathering on subreddits to await the collapse of Western civilization.
Neoreaction — aka NRx or the Dark Enlightenment — combines all of the awful things you always suspected about libertarianism with odds and ends from PUA culture, Victorian Social Darwinism, and an only semi-ironic attachment to absolutism.
Insofar as neoreactionaries have a political project, it’s to dissolve the United States into competing authoritarian seasteads on the model of Singapore; they’re nebbish Nazis with Bitcoin wallets, and they’re practically begging to be shoved in a locker.
While not wrong, as far as it goes, the tendency of snark to collapse neoreaction into cyber-fascism or nerd ressentiment makes it tough to figure out what’s actually going on here.
It’s a little weirder than all that….
Nick Land’s case for democratic dysfunction is simply stated.
Democracy is structurally incapable of rational leadership due to perverse incentive structures. It is trapped in short-termism by the electoral cycle, hard decisions become political suicide, and social catastrophe is acceptable as long as it can be blamed on the other team. Moreover, inter-party competition to “buy votes” leads to a ratchet effect of ever-greater state intervention in the economy — and even if this is periodically reversed, in the long-run it only moves in one direction. In the U.S., racialized poverty makes this dynamic even worse.
Because small-government solutions will always have a disparate impact on minorities, they will be interpreted and stigmatized as racist. Laissez-faire, in this view, is doomed to failure as soon as it’s up for a vote.
Rather than accept creeping democratic socialism (which leads to “zombie apocalypse”), Land would prefer to simply abolish democracy and appoint a national CEO.
This capitalist Leviathan would be, at a bare minimum, capable of rational long-term planning and aligning individual incentive structures with social well-being (CEO-as-Tiger-Mom).
Individuals would have no say in government, but would be generally left alone, and free to leave. This right of “exit” is, for Land, the only meaningful right, and it’s opposed to democratic “voice,” where everyone gets a say, but is bound by the decisions of the majority — the fear being that the majority will decide to self-immolate…
Neoreaction simply takes this to its next logical step by scrapping the need for electoral assent altogether.
One of these pseudo-anarchisms is not like any other …
The Dark Enlightenment (DE) is a reactionary movement against the untrue progressive shibboleths that dominate our society. The fundamental premise of DE is that men are not equal. Beyond that fundamental premise, there is little agreement.
Among those included under the Dark Enlightenment banner are reactionaries, paleo-conservatives, paleo-libertarians, Christian traditionalists, formalists, monarchists, fascists (in the non-pejorative sense), tribalists, ethno-nationalists, nihilists, hedonists, masculinists, science enthusiasts, and many others.
The uniting link between these disparate ideologies is opposition to one or more of the progressive enlightenment sub-ideologies of democracy, egalitarianism, socialism, feminism, multiculturalism, modernity, etc., which dominate our society.
As for the ideal neoreactionary state, neoreactionaries are divided. There are three major streams of thought in the neoreactionary thought:
Theonomists: This group is composed of traditionalists, mostly Christian, but with some secularists and religious non-Christians. It envisions a society centred around natural law, religion, patriarchy, and/or monarchy. This group envisions establishing a monarchy and/or theocracy based on traditional principles.
Ethno-nationalists: This group focuses on ethnic solidarity as the building block of society. They envision a society formed around tribal communities.
Techno-commercialists: This group focuses on the the free market and the principle of exit. They envision a society consisting of a patchwork of small states controlled by for-profit, joint-stock corporations competing for customer-citizens.