Reddit’s users are predominantly millennials, and ideologically, the site tends to have an anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, and contrarian bias, yet NRx and related ‘Dark Enlightenment’ views are surprisingly popular there despite reactionaries generally advocating ‘more power’, not less. When Moldbug in 2016 did an AMA it was very well-received, and judging by the up-votes, many Reddit users were not only curious about NRx but agreed with many aspects of it, but also if they didn’t agree still respecting Moldbug for his intellectual intrepidness. You can go on almost any moderately popular sub and many posters are familiar with NRx writers and concepts…they know who Nick Land and Moldbug are. Here are some reasons why NRx has become popular, not just on Reddit but elsewhere online:
1. The post-2013 anti-SJW backlash. After a string of victories: OWS, the 2008 election, and 2012 re-election of Obama, the left became overconfident and overplayed their hand, and the Reddit community turned against ‘social justice’ when SJWs began going after innocent targets, embodying the very oppression they allegedly were supposed to fighting against.
2. The recent backlash by millennials against democracy. Both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ agree democracy is ineffective and not the ‘unalloyed good’ that their teachers and other propagandists had told them, blaming democracy for engendering wealth inequality, creating inefficiency and waste, fostering corruption, being an impetus for unnecessary and costly ‘nation building’ occupations, being a popularity contest that puts superficiality ahead of important issues, and for giving voters who are ill-informed too much influence over policy. It makes sense: anyone who finds Dancing with the Stars entertaining should not have a say in how the country is run. Put the most competent people in charge, but the problem with democracy is the increasing trend towards the least competent running things. The people who are the most drawn to power are often the least fit to serve.
3. Related to anti-establishmentarianism, being a reactionary in an era of political correctness is in itself anti-establishment and contrarian. In the 60’s and 70’s, boomers rebelled through drugs and other acts of mindless conformity; millennials rebel by turning to intellectualism and introspection.
4. Although Reddit tends to be anti-authoritarian, it understands the need for legitimate authority such as police and military, which is why the Reddit community, by in large, condemned the BLM protests during the 1-year Ferguson anniversary, the protests by women and BLM against Trump, and other instances.
Online, whenever a story breaks about the public school war on boys or about false rape accusations, the overwhelming majority of comments are against the SJWs, and we’re not talking about conservative websites, but sites like Reddit that have a broad appeal. For example, I was on Reddit in early August following the Ferguson melee, and I estimate at least 3/4 of the users were on the side of the police and against ‘black lives matter’. Anti-police comments were summarily down-voted. This was for general, bi-partisan subs like /r/news, not conservatives ones.
Reddit and 4chan oppose illegitimate and arbitrary power; for example, SJWs telling white males to check their privilege, or how far-left liberals try to impose their values on society through the education system, courts, or culture. They oppose communism for this very reason. When Fidel Castro died, all of Reddit was celebrating, save for a handful of the usual socialist/Marxist subs.
5. Reddit understands that power in the context of NRx is not about micromanaging individuals (that’s puritanism), but rather about power as a means of promoting order, stability, and ‘rule of law’, yet where personal autonomy is still preserved, in contrast to democratic forms of government, which do a poor job at concentrating power and thus tend to be susceptible to corruption and ‘purity spirals’.
6. Related to the backlash against democracy, the millennial-lead backlash against ‘low information‘ discourse, and NRx is as ‘high information’ as you’re going to find.
7. Related to #1, many liberals realize they have been too close-minded, and Hillary’s loss, which came as a surprise to many on the left becase Hillary’s polls were strong for most of the campaign, was a lesson or wake-up call to the value of understanding opposing perspectives instead of being insulated. This also ties in the with rise of ‘rationalism’ and centrism, and the pendulum of discourse, to some extent, returning to the middle after swinging too far to the left in 2009-2013. Popular sites such as Slate and Quillette are part of the new ‘contrarian mainstream’ that are challenging beliefs that many on the far-left hold dear. Less Wrong, which is very popular on Reddit, although it’s not reactionary per say, helped create the intellectual groundwork for the reality-based approach characteristic of NRx, and with its large readership helped to make NRx more popular. Some could liken Less wrong as ‘reaction’ for the left.
8. The rise of the alt-right and Trump, although this is related to reasons 1-7.