The “Dark Enlightenment” is New Right Lite
The mainstream blogosphere is beginning to awaken to the sinister threat of the “Neo-Reactionary” movement. One recent blog post among several dedicated to exposing these Neo-Reactionary villains warns its readers about “The Dark Enlightenment: The Creepy Internet Movement You’d Better Take Seriously“! (Excerpts posted below from the article) -
Much as Christianity grew out of the cult-sodden ferment of the Roman-occupied Middle East, the Dark Enlightenment has sprouted from the hyper-anxious anti-liberalism precincts in the darker recesses of the Internet.
So we’ve dug deep into the Web, where the movement lurks. We’ve talked online to its philosopher king, Nick Land, and we’ve conversed with his faceless adherents.
Here’s a quick FAQ sheet on the nascent movement:
What is the Dark Enlightenment? As the term suggests, the Dark Enlightenment is an ideological analysis of modern democracy that harshly rejects the vision of the 18th century European Enlightenment—a period punctuated by the development of empirical science, the rise of humanist values and the first outburst of revolutionary democratic reform. In contrast, the Dark Enlightenment advocates an autocratic and neo-monarchical society. Its belief system is unapologetically reactionary, almost feudal.
The many bloggers who constitute the movement style themselves as “Dark Lords of the Sith,” self-described fearless truth-tellers, who—mixing their cinematic metaphors—offer Matrix-evocative “red pills” of awakening in the form of sulfurous conclusions about the state of the world. Indeed, questioning the prevailing Western narrative is typically a Dark Enlightenment writer’s modus operandi, skewering the values of the liberal establishment.
Where does the term Dark Enlightenment come from? Inspired by the pugnacious writings of Mencius Moldbug, the prolific blogger who serves as the movement’s unofficial center of gravity, the neologism is the creation of philosopher Nick Land. In 2012, Land wrote an impressively thorough manifesto titled simply The Dark Enlightenment, which boldly articulates the movement’s central thesis: “For the hardcore neo-reactionaries, democracy is not merely doomed, it is doom itself. Fleeing it approaches an ultimate imperative.” The essay continues, ”[Neo-reaction] conceives the dynamics of democratization as fundamentally degenerative: systematically consolidating and exacerbating private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption.” No, this isn’t your grandpa’s conservatism. (Unless your grandpa was General Franco.)
What do they believe? Post-red pill awakening, liberal progressivism is seen as a state religion, an unquestioned humanist ideology that determines all outcomes and silences dissenters through dismissal. It’s a worldview generated and sustained by the mechanisms of the system itself. Moldbug has given that system the ecclesiastical label of the Cathedral. Seeing the Cathedral for what it is marks the first step to becoming darkly enlightened.
What is the Cathedral? According to Land and Moldbug, the Cathedral is a complex ideology network built atop the university system, the media (run and operated by graduates of the former) and employees of the bureaucracy, all of whom grow ever more dependent on the perpetuation of the Cathedral. The leveling mechanisms of democracy—with its race-to-the-bottom vote begging (buying) and illusions of social empowerment—remove any possibility of inventive political solutions, or, eventually, rational analysis. Inside the Cathedral, any questioning of democracy’s legitimacy is sacrilege. Before long, apostates will find penance by buying indulgences (like, say, Obamacare), whether they like it or not.
Why pay attention to a niche movement of political extremists who pine for the good old days of European feudalism? Because these guys mean business. The Dark Enlightenment’s desire to raze the democratic edifice of modern civilization opens the movement to darker and more subversive views. Nowhere is this more evident than its focus on human biodiversity, or HBD in insider parlance.
What is HBD? Human biodiversity is the rejection of the “blank state” of human nature. Creepily obsessed with statistics that demonstrate IQ differences between the races, the darkly enlightened see social hierarchies as determined not by culture or opportunity but by the cold, hard destiny embedded in DNA. One blogger calls it “The Voldemort View” (adding Harry Potter to the Star Wars/Matrix mix), claiming that, “mean differences in group IQs are the most likely explanation for the academic achievement gap in racial and SES [socioeconomic status] groups.”
Did I mention that almost all of the darkly enlightened are white men?
Is this fascism? Desire for genetically determined ruling classes, distrust of popular democratic reform, distaste for the aesthetic standards of mass culture, and nausea over the political correctness of modern life—the Dark Enlightenment does have all the markings of a true neo-fascist movement. It’s here that the dangers of the Dark Enlightenment are hard to dismiss.
I asked Land the fascism question, specifically. His response was illuminating: “The Dark Enlightenment is the only cultural space promising an intelligent discussion of fascism today. Even though this discussion remains very germinal, the best fascist and anti-fascist arguments are to be found within its environs.” But he adds, “Speaking entirely personally, I think the DE is the only coherent antidote to fascist thinking presently available.” While he didn’t articulate how an anti-democratic, racially charged, anti-modern, authoritarian political movement could be, in any way, anti-fascist, he’s a bright enough guy. I’m sure he has an answer.
What is their blind spot? My immersion into the hermetic truths of the Sith Lords left me wondering what exactly they saw as so disastrous about modern society. The world is richer, healthier, less poor, less violent, and able to access more information than ever before. Even in the developed West, in America, the very Vatican of The Cathedral, poverty and economic turbulence cause less death and suffering than they did only decades ago. And Europe, despite its recent near-economic collapse and massive unemployment, looks more like a comfortable, retired continent than a truly suffering one. None of which is to deny or minimize the problems of modern society. It’s only to suggest that the solution may not be a return to monarchy and rigid racial castes. Anyone read much about how great things were in 14th century Europe?
Could the Dark Enlightenment become a major political movement? Probably not. To acquire momentum in the real world, the systems of modern democratic capitalism would have to suffer a blow far more damaging than any received so far. If it does, the members of the Dark Enlightenment believe they will be in position to take over.
For now, though, the Dark Enlightenment will remain an archipelago of diverse worldviews—Catholic fundamentalism, xenophobic ethno-Nationalism, techno-singulatarian futurism, neofascism—united mostly by their disavowal of modernity. And maybe a little alienation. White alpha-males aren’t what they used to be.
But if the movement is diffuse and barely organized, its members are smart and riled up. And it’s no coincidence that Dark Enlightenment advocates would be the ones to rule (again) should their philosophy become dominant.
Wake up, liberals! A new bogeyman is threatening our hegemony . . .
Blossoming on the Internet like a fetid rose, a mysterious new political movement has generated a serious and not un-terrifying critique of modern society. Its members are loud and growing in number, and they demand nothing less than the elimination of the democratic system. Mostly white, male and angry, they lie in wait for the imminent collapse of civilization.
In essence, this movement comprises a broad assortment of writers who are promoting our familiar New Right message, but usually stripped of explicit identitarianism and direct critiques of Jews and their central role in the machine they’re raging against. By limiting the scope of their work to avoid naming specific enemies or getting too specific about solutions, they’re capable of reaching a much large audience than otherwise possible, given the internalized taboos and external disincentives attached to either “racism” or “antisemitism.”
By keeping it abstract, academic, and defanged, it comes across as a rather attractive antiquarian posture, the kind of thing you could promote at dinner parties without any tableware being lobbed at you:
As the term suggests, the Dark Enlightenment is an ideological analysis of modern democracy that harshly rejects the vision of the 18th century European Enlightenment—a period punctuated by the development of empirical science, the rise of humanist values and the first outburst of revolutionary democratic reform.
Apparently, I was hip to this whole “Dark Enlightenment” thing back in the ’90s, before we had a cool label and our own totally awesome trading cards. I read Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, and (yes, I’ll admit it) Ayn Rand in high school, eventually rejecting humanism and Classical Liberalism at the root. This was before Arktos, Counter-Currents, and the mature community of bloggers, so my education was primarily in sketchy and poorly translated PDF files scrounged from the seedier corners of the web.
I’m still one of these people, actually; I’m just further along. My early fascination with Steve Sailer’s blog posts on human bio-diversity has evolved into a concrete and explicit advocacy for my specific sort of biodiversity. After all, the only tangible difference between “race realism” and racial nationalism is a steward’s willingness to act on the information presented. That, and a willingness to commit our society’s penultimate heresy.
Commission of our society’s ultimate heresy, antisemitism, came a bit later, with my reading of Prof. Kevin MacDonald’s The Culture of Critique. It offered an exposition of the pivotal Jewish role in promoting Modernity and subverting my people, which didn’t indulge in the wild-eyed conspiracy theories and vulgar vilifications which had repelled me from the subject for years.
I suspect a good share of proponents of this “Dark Enlightenment” are in that same place I was in, hesitant for a variety of reasons to violate those two taboos which make one completely New Right. These neo-Reactionaries aren’t completely New Right, because standing for tribe and tradition is more than an ideological posture. To be completely New Right, you have to take that additional perilous step, that of applying the abstractions to our contemporary reality. You’re not all the way there until you’re willing and able to define yourself and your opponents in terms of actual people and groups of people.
Limitations aside, the Dark Enlightenment is a very promising development. Even if they don’t go all the way, the work they do of deconstructing Modernity and its excuses is extremely valuable work. Putting identity and “the Jew thing” on the back burner is often necessary to reach people with our overarching worldview. And I know in my own case and the case of countless others I’ve spoken with that once you get the “Dark Enlightenment,” you’re more likely to become a Jew-wise racialist.
It’s been my experience that those who are pro-white or Jew-wise but otherwise on board with cannibal capitalism, the “civil rights” narrative, and egotistical individualism are generally useless. For decades, the White Nationalist movement has striven to slip the survival of our race into the Progressive body, but it absolutely always rejects the transplant. There is no “white” chair at the Rainbow Table, and there never will be. It will never be acceptable for White people to have their own equivalent of the NAACP or La Raza, because the White identity groups are the only ones whose solidarity would pose an existential threat to the Cathedral’s social engineering project.
White Identity cannot and will not flourish in the ecosystem of Modernity, because the essence of whiteness is so vividly associated with hierarchy, patriarchy, and aesthetic beauty. Even if we can ignore this and convince ourselves that we’re merely another interest group in the global patchwork of aggrieved and grasping interest groups, our enemies most certainly won’t. Even if we promise with all our hearts and truly mean it that we’ll never organize and mobilize the way we’ve done in the past, why would our enemies take that chance?
The author of the hit piece asks, “Is this fascism?”
Desire for genetically determined ruling classes, distrust of popular democratic reform, distaste for the aesthetic standards of mass culture, and nausea over the political correctness of modern life—the Dark Enlightenment does have all the markings of a true neo-fascist movement. It’s here that the dangers of the Dark Enlightenment are hard to dismiss.
Op has a point. Call it “neo-fascism” or some other more friendly word if you prefer, but some sort of political order which is radically different from this one is absolutely necessary to face the challenges in store for our people. Even in more mainstream circles, our failed nation-building projects of the past decade and the increasingly absurd state of our own democracy have discredited “democracy” for more people than our elites realize. While very few of them are willing or able to hop onto our wagon just yet, they’re increasingly uneasy on the “democracy,” “freedom,” and “globalism” wagon. While the author brushes off all the critiques of Modernity and ensures us that we’re living in the best regime ever, he does grudgingly admit that the challenges we’re facing may require radical revolutionary change after all.
It is becoming increasingly evident that major structural reform, maybe radical in nature, could be what America requires if it is to continue to flourish in the 21st century.
It’s not clear what he’s implying here, perhaps we can double down on even more egalitarianism and mob rule. He concludes with a pithy dismissal of neoreaction for having supposedly made an elementary error.
Still, something essential is always left out of the neoreactionary equation. Universal equality and classical democracy are not synonymous with an all-purpose, lowest-common-denominator leveling of mankind.
He couldn’t be more wrong. Equality and democracy invariably result in an all-purpose, lowest-common-denominator leveling of mankind. The ancients understood this, warning against the peasants leveraging their power to vote for more “bread and circuses.” To the limited extent that democracy and equality can and do work, it’s only within a cohesive and loyal community with a shared sense of purpose and destiny. Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone nails this predictable process of alienation from and disintegration of communities down to an exact science.
It’s frustrating to watch all these “race realists” and HBD enthusiasts carefully avoiding the conclusion that perhaps white people have the same right to survival and sovereignty that’s taken for granted with every other group. It’s frustrating to hear neo-Reactionaries carry on about “oligarchs,” “global elites,” and “neocons” while studiously ignoring the overwhelmingly Jewish character of these “masters of the universe.” It goes without saying that Jews will stake out places in the Neo-Reactionary sphere, like the Counter-Jihad movement, to contain any potential threat. But bear in mind that the New Right Lite™’s lack of red meat will eventually prove frustrating for their audience, as well.
Perhaps then they will develop an appetite for what Counter-Currents is serving. I know that Greg Johnson is already sketching his trading card.