Frenemies on the Right

In general I think there should be more unity on the right. Big issue. Today, a minor issue: nazi-bashing. “No punching right” is a strategy that works because when a right-winger punches some “right-wing extremist group” to signal how moderate and principled he is, that only encourages the left to label every policy they don’t like as “right-wing extremism” to force the right-wing to denounce it. If you say “I’m on the right, but I draw the line at hate groups”, suddenly every right-wing group will be a “hate group”. If you say “I’m on the right, but I draw the line at neo-nazis,” every right-wing principle will be exposed as “nazism”.

That’s how I understand it.

It was disappointing to see Vox Day, who probably did more than anyone to popularize and explain this strategy, embrace nazi-bashing last October. Not because I am a nazi (*twirls villainous moustaches*), but because the entire purpose of the strategy is to dismantle the Left’s rhetorical super-weapons. The more effort he invests into arguing that he’s not a nazi and he hates nazis, the more pressure he’ll be under when Heat Street (are they still around?) urges him to condemn obviously-nazi-things like bloodright citizenship.

Vox Day defended himself by noting that he is not attacking nazis for being too far to the right, but for being too far to the left. This was unworthy of him. “Teh dems are teh reel nazis” is the chorus of D.C.’s conservative castrati, which I doubt Vox is quite ready to join. Whether nazi-bashing is virtue signaling doesn’t depend on the true relative position of National Socialism on the continuum of political ideologies, but on whether it is the most extreme of the “bad boy, go to your room” insults in the Leftist arsenal.

(That’s not all: as all QL readers are surely aware, there is no objective orientation of the political issue-space into left and right, independent of the need to organize against leftist parties. But I wouldn’t expect Vox Day to think in this way, so I can’t blame him for searching for the objectively-gauche characteristics of the Nazi Party.)

Regardless, Vox has shown good judgment in the past so, as I type this, I can only hope he knows what he’s doing. He also lives in the EU, where being designated as a nazi leads to jail time. And even if the strategy he is following is collectively suicide for the right, it may well be that he can successfully emphasize the differences between his homebrew libertarian-nativism and the tenets of National Socialism.

(All I wanted was Zionism for white people!, says the increasingly nervous novelist for the sixth time.)

NRx’ers don’t have either of these excuses so I don’t know exactly what the hell they think they’re doing when they nazi-bash. Some of them may have been inspired by Moldbug’s critique of demotism. But ask yourself this question: is the rhetorical function of claiming that Roosevelt’s America, Stalin’s Russia, and Hitler’s Germany all had the same form of government to smack down Uncle Adolf? I don’t think so.

The tenets of National Socialism and the role of the word “nahtsee” in your rhetorical strategy are two distinctly different things. (This, by the way, is a Moldbuggian axiom: an ideology’s label and its structure must be treated separately.) Even if you don’t want a NatSoc metapolitical strategy or social policy, nothing is forcing you to go out there and nazi-bash, disavow, distance, or otherwise punch the people leftists identify as being to the right of you, politically.

But here’s the dirty secret about formalism. (Ready?) Neo-cameralism, wherein a board of directors who collectively owned the productive capacities of society wield absolute power over it, sounds strikingly similar to the ideal-type definition of fascism developed by the USSR and its puppets. This wasn’t even something the commies believed to be true about the regimes they derided as “fascist”, it was a clumsy attempt to fit historical fascism into Marx’s theoretical categories, which all twentieth-century capitalist states supposedly approximated, to a greater or lesser degree. And the original proposal for formalization, wherein each institution’s/faction’s relative social power is commuted into voting shares in the government, sounds exactly like the corporatist social policy implemented by Mussolini’s Fascisti.

Has anyone who claims to be nazi-bashing from a neo-reactionary perspective thought this through?

A “constitutional conservative” can at least imagine coming out ahead after defecting from the Right’s optimal metapolitical strategy. So can a “but Israel does it!” populist. Hell, even Dick Spencer could hypothetically pull it off — despite the hellish aura the media projects on him, his policy proposals read like they’re straight out of Kant’s Perpetual Peace.

Personally, I’m just an easily confused nationalist populist who happens to want to see all sovereign power vested formally in a unitary ruling body. (Is that so much to ask?) I don’t have a dog in this fight. But if you, dear reader, are committed to neo-cameralism as the final solution, please don’t nazi-bash. Worse than being bad strategy, it’s embarrassing.

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34 thoughts on “Frenemies on the Right

  1. I think Vox is frankly just wrong to consider his Manchester liberalism the most right wing of ideologies. Nearly everything he says about economics or populism would’ve been seen as Left in 1790, and if he were commenting back then he would wonder with puzzlement why the awesome nationalist French Revolutionaries seemed to hate God so much.

    Of course, it’s bad strategy to throw out all of your allies, because the number of people today who would’ve been truly right wing in 1790 is very, very small.

    But there is a concern about letting even a little bit of demotism in to infect your philosophy. If there’s one notion to disabuse fellow right wingers of, it’s the idea of ‘vox populi, vox dei’ and that revolutions happen spontaneously when people are fed up of their evil authoritarian governments…

    The ideal of populism is more gnostic thinking and it has that (and pretty much only that) in common with the left: ‘When we achieve X, Y utopia will follow. It hasn’t? We must not’ve been doing X hard enough’. That’s the main legitimate complaint against NS and WN, and it’s nothing to publicly disavow them over for the pleasure of leftists.

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    1. Thanks, useful thoughts.

      What counts as “a little demotism”, though? If you’re willing to play electoral politics (I think the right should, I realize others reject that), then you are willing to use rhetoric to amass and wield influence and informal power.

      I don’t see populism as having any particular connection to the “gnostic” thinking you mention. I have posted on the different connotations of “populism” before (linked above). If a populist’s “X” is “remove cabals of rootless elites from positions of influence”, then the nrx critique can’t be “demotism!” because this is nrx’s own position: democracy can’t be ruled by “the people” and is always ruled by influential cabals. Right? “Eliminate the influential cabals of puppetmasters” and “Eliminate the democratic system which is inevitably controlled by puppetmasters” are two ways of thinking about the same position.

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      1. Personally I don’t think we should participate in electoral politics, at least not until we have the power to win and then lock the door behind us. But that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

        The difference I see is that when populism wins, it needs to invent fake cabals (even when it believes that they’re real) in order to explain its failures. Why is there still famine now that Robespierre has his Republic? Cabals of aristocrats hiding grain and bribing millers to keep them from milling! And then heads need to roll.

        Populism is anti-cabal. All cabals, anywhere and everywhere. It’s a nice pipe dream, but there will always be someone in charge, in the sense that he is not ruled by the will of the people but vice versa. Nrx as I see it wants this power ordered and formalized to keep incentives straight.

        In other words, the problem isn’t that we have a cabal, the problem is that we have a bad cabal that’s mucking up our civilization, because it serves a religion (leftism) that’s opposed to civilization. That’s a lot different from believing that cabals in general are oppressing the will of the people. Our goals converge on removing the current elite, but the philosophical and spiritual reasons why we’re doing so are diametrically opposed to each other.

        Populism, or in your case, a theoretical dissident right that wins using the dark arts of demotism, will result in a cabal, which is not a bad thing. This cabal will have to constantly lie about how and why it exists, and will necessarily manipulate public opinion into relegitimizing itself, which is a bad thing. It will be more successful in a darwinian sense if it believes its own lies and only admits new members who believe its lies. This means that it will do insane and unusual things that are out of line with reality, like the Holodomor or the Reign of Terror.

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      2. There are two problems here. One is a claim to represent or to have received the validation of the “voice of the people”. The other is the view that about what political ends are good. These two are easy to confuse, but we should discuss them separately.

        1. Mass electoral politics is inherently demotist but not all elections are created equal. Has any politician or campaign ever exposed the reality of the system as glaringly as Trump has, for example? So one can aspire to participate in electoral politics with various levels of duplicity and insanity.

        2. Populists can have substantive views, even ones quite vulnerable to the “gnostic thinking” you mention, that are not part of their electoral appeal (i.e., not part of their flirtation with demotism). Real example: a populist who was woke on the JQ might think American nationals would be more benevolently governed by people with more national loyalty, *but scrupulously avoid telling voters this* because it would be so unpopular.

        I don’t know if our philosophical and spiritual motives are really so opposed as you assume. (Maybe you have additional motives you aren’t sharing.) Take immigration as an example. If the US and the EU taken in another 100M migrants apiece the next time the left seizes the reins and opens the borders, the possibility of the current “democratic” system (a) being dismantled before an irreversible catastrophe, (b) being dismantled without a great deal of suffering, will decline significantly. Surely even if we disagree about the substantive merits of open borders versus protecting a nation’s people, we agree that on this and many other issues, conceding electoral politics to the left would be a quick Game Over?

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      3. That’s the problem, the populist has to pretend. Formal power can say: “you’re a smart dude, Shlomo, but we don’t trust someone of divided loyalties and values to write our laws or direct our culture through film. Plenty of other useful things you can do if you’re inclined”.

        The populist can’t say that, because the nation he purports to be defending has already had its values shifted. And he can’t say that he loves Jews and then persecute them in secret, because Shlomo has his own outlets for demotic rhetoric and he will use them to smear the populist. Even the most conservative will recoil at my first quote, because historically smart policy has already been fouled irretrievably by the left. There are other examples, not just the JQ, but that culture won’t change until power changes.

        I do agree that capuring said power is almost a hopeless task, and that time is short. US/EU demographics might already be too far gone to avert a catastrophe and massive loss of life. Populism/Facism would definitely buy us a lot of time, but I don’t see it as the final solution (heh) to our problems, many of which are spiritual and internal. I’d be fine with a Caesar before we get Augustus, but Napoleon wasn’t followed by an Augustus and France is still crippled from the Revolution.

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      4. My point with dividing up the questions concerning populism into two headings, tho, was precisely because “Don’t trust someone of divided loyalties and values to write our laws or direct our culture” is a populist analysis of the purpose of law and art which is quite distinct from whether someone competes in elections, or indeed aspires to any political power at all.

        >I’d be fine with a Caesar before we get Augustus

        And I’d settle for a Cato before a Caesar; whatever can be accomplished without war is well worth the effort.

        > our problems, many of which are spiritual and internal

        It’s hard to identify purely spiritual problems that are not connected to the deathblows the left has delivered to family formation.

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      5. On your first point, I think you’re stretching the meaning of populism a bit. Elizabeth I would not have patronized Jewish artists for good reasons that have nothing to do with populism- though I was using the phrase ‘law and culture’ as a proxy for ‘entry into the elite’.

        On the spiritual side of things, I completely agree. But I’m also afraid that policy might not be enough and what you call a real catastrophe is inescapable.

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      6. Well, I think I linked the post where I distinguished between six sense of populism above, I’ll debate that there. I agree that what would in the past have been called “common sense” or “statecraft” is now a heresy unique to populists.

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    2. “number of people today who would’ve been truly right wing in 1790 is very, very small.”

      How can anyone be “right wing” in that sense when there is no King and there never is going to be one?

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      1. There were already two-party politics in Britain in 1790 (which I assume is what sigsawyer alludes to). The “radicals”, like Godwin, did have some allies who embraced what would today be called libertarianism. (But n.b., I think Vox Day has mostly moved on from libertarian economics.)

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  2. > In general I think there should be more unity on the right.

    Spot the universalist cuck.

    Also, I’m surprised you take Vox Day this seriously. He’s an Axl Rose type of figure, shifting his emphasis depending on who he’s feuding with at the moment. Andrew Anglin takes a jab at him, so now Vox goes on a rampage against Nahtzees. Before that, he was calling Norman Borlaug a monster for saving so many untermenschen. Leave him on his ego trip.

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    1. >Spot the universalist cuck.

      Yes, there are matryoshkas of paradoxes – but here it’s not a helpful way to phrase it, because the #1 reason for unity on the right is because fragmentation always ends in each right-wing faction groveling before Satan and pleading that *they* are the reel universalists and *their* special flavor of reaction is uniquely unbigoted (unlike all those *other* creeps)

      You’re probably right that I should take Vox less seriously (although in this case he’s just one of many, many people who have tried the same tactic). But I do respect him for coming to the right positions long before I did, for displaying integrity when he was a syndicated columnist and an author and could have easily “played ball” with the establishment, and for having organized a large network of people who are working on interesting projects.

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  3. Quincy, really good stuff here that needed saying. My two cents are:

    1. People in #NRx are wont to call out and denounce “racist liberals” as a form of their own virtue signaling and “branding” (ala Cerno) against the Alt Right. Basically the concern for “ickiness” is all there in Moldbug’s “Why I Am Not a White Nationalist” and his “Brown Scare.” The newer guys have taken it to the level where they are completely indistinguishable from National Review or Weekly Standard in a complete unwillingness to ever discuss racial issues. This is quite astonishing, given Moldbug’s defining a denial of “human neurological uniformity” as one of the things that distinguished “neo”-reaction from the old fashioned kind. (He created basically an atheistic, scientistic form of reactionary political theory.) Another concern, given that most #NRx is actually Christian, is that NO contemporary denomination teaches anything about race that varies in the slightest degree from “human neurological uniformity.” So to discuss these things is for the Christian sort of obscene, kind of like discussing sexual positions.

    2. Moldbug describes “Right” as order and “Left” as chaos. This is clearly wrong. The term Left, coming out of the French Revolution, started in the 19th century to mean politics based on socialism, progressivism and atheism. To use the term for prior years (Roman, English or American) is anachronistic. A big, big failing of Moldbug is never mentioning Hume or Kant, Hegel or Feuerbach or Marx. It’s like these debates never happened or had no influence on the 19th and 20th centuries. All of our enemies are actually one kind or another of Marxist, whether dialectical materialist or cultural. The irony is that the West has been destroyed by evolutionary thinking, which was made fashionable by Hegel long before Darwin showed up. What is “Progressivism” other than than a belief that we are the end product of an ongoing historical process that is making the world better and better? “The ark of history is long but bends toward justice.” Because of these shortcomings, I would not identify as #NRx.

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    1. Moldbug wrote in a certain way to attract and de-convert liberals, while specifically pointing out how these symbolic language choices work as a mystery cult. But very few people can help themselves to that excuse.

      Any denomination of Christianity of any size needs to bow to progressive orthodoxy or face investigations. But I don’t think it is consider *blasphemous* to embrace HBD except in the liberal congregations that fly “Black Lives Matter” banners.

      For them, yes, there is nothing more to religion than virtue signaling and race realism is akin to atheism.

      I strongly agree with all of your instincts about the origin of progressivism in the French Revolution and long 19th c. If I don’t get to exercised about Feuerbach and Marx, that is only because I don’t want to unintentionally exaggerate the importance of some specific philosophical doctrine to the emergence of the left. I did touch on this in my review of “Reason after its eclipse” in the Autistic Mercury, tho.

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      1. I must confess I did not know you wrote this. I follow Autistic Mercury, but there does not appear to be a name on this piece. It must be a symptom of Kantbot’s . . . autism.

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    2. 1. Moldbug personally believed that WN was a gross oversimplification of the issues facing the West despite acknowledging the truth of HBD and expressing a barely muted contempt for non white misbehavior. He was attempting to convert liberals, not suck up to them. Plenty of NRx bloggers talk about race, and most of them agree on HBD. But NRx is a broad consensus on understanding politics through power and status dynamics. See Spandrell’s Biological Leninism essay for a good look at how this intersects with HBD.

      2. ‘Left’ in the way we use it specifically means antinomianism. Chaos is an easier concept to process that describes the results of antinomianism. The reason Jews could punk our civilization in 1900 and not 1400 is because by 1900, western civ had been usurped by antinomian thinking. This happened because antinomianism is a powerful weapon in elite power competition. The Throne and the Altar would each use it in their turn to undermine the other.

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      1. This is a good concise presentation of the development of the NRx analysis of “antinomianism” that grew out of the original UR position. (They have a funny description for these cults on Social Matter, can’t remember it atm.) Imho this development was a step backwards from a central insight of formalism, namely that “left vs right” isn’t a timeless characterization of all historical political competition.

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  4. “But ask yourself this question: is the rhetorical function of claiming that Roosevelt’s America, Stalin’s Russia, and Hitler’s Germany all had the same form of government to smack down Uncle Adolf? I don’t think so.”

    Moldbug says over and over that, because Hitler is dead, he has no brief for or against his movement. All that matters is the government we currently have.

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  5. “Personally, I’m just an easily confused nationalist populist who happens to want to see all sovereign power vested formally in a unitary ruling body.”

    I cannot even say that. In #NRx, people seem to like elites. But ours are terrible. They are vain, foolish, hysterical, mean, vindictive, arrogant, selfish, blind, stupid, ignorant, uncultured, predatory, perverse, and cowardly, among other faults. A guy like Larry Summers wouldn’t survive a day living in the Italian Renaissance. Our elites are our real problem, and it is not solved by turning our faux meritocracy into a true aristocracy.

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  6. “The difference I see is that when populism wins, it needs to invent fake cabals (even when it believes that they’re real) in order to explain its failures.”

    The big problem with this reasoning, and reactionary thought in general, is the inability to explain why the United States turned out to be exactly the smashing success that Adams and Jefferson expected. Moldbug’s “Gentle Introduction” is spectacularly weak on this point.

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  7. I cannot speak for all NRx (tho’ will inevitably think I do anyway). I’m not conscious of Nazi-bashing, tho I may have inadvertently done it. As Jim has capably put it, “They’re SOBs, but their our SOBs.” The best thing they could do at tvis point is pursue virtue and stay out of the public eye.

    I’m quite conscious of populism-bashing, because the best thing anyone can do right now is pursue virtue and stay out of the public eye. If populism does manage to “elect” our guy, his cause will be helped most by having a 800 or 1200 statesmen at his side, and not at by (totally justified, but nevertheless utterly embarrassing) white grievance mongering.

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    1. I agree with you that it will be good to have a thousand statesmen, and the last year has vindicated (or at least made more likely) the hypothesis that a lack of manpower would slow down any attempt to purge the Cathedral’s tentacles.

      Your point on grievance mongering I’m sympathetic to. I think we’ve had this conversation before on twitter: magnanimity is a valuable signal of strength, but only when you are in a position of strength. Its value as a signal comes from the fact that it is too costly for the weak to use! And if in a tribal competition one tribe refuses to play by the rules, Gnon just makes things bloody and ugly until they’ve suffered enough to learn their lesson.

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  8. “I’d be fine with a Caesar before we get Augustus, but Napoleon wasn’t followed by an Augustus and France is still crippled from the Revolution.”

    Because he invaded Russia and lost the war. Everything is a venture; there are no guarantees.

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  9. “Chaos is an easier concept to process that describes the results of antinomianism.”

    I find this sort of metaphysical thinking unhelpful. Please let me know where I can find some free floating “antinomianism” either in the 19th century or any other time.

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