Reactionary Future, MacIntyre, and Communitarianism

This is many months old but deserves mentioning; in his penultimate post, Reactionary Future (RF) retires from bogging, expressing frustration with what he perceives as NRx decaying into just another derivative form of Protestantism/Calvinism in the tradition of Mises, Hume, Adam Smith etc.

Here are some pertinent passages:

I have become extremely convinced that the project of rejecting imperium in imperio is one which can be successfully fused with the work of Alaisdair MacIntyre, and such a move would require rejecting a great deal of Moldbug’s theorizing. Moldbug worked heavily with the tradition of Mises, and therefore Hume and Smith, to whom Mises is a derivative.

It is really a tradition, with clear roots going back from Mises to Smith and Hume, who themselves were just justifying a set of contingent Calvinist/ English Protestant ethical positions. Their project failed, and Mise’s project failed.

So, unless a libertarian can admit that the genealogy goes Mises->Hume/ Smith-> Locke->protestantism and then reason through the ramifications of this, there is no possibility of rational discourse. Unless a nationalist can admit the genealogy Nationalism-> Rouseau->Locke -> Protestantism, there is no possibility of rational discourse.

…in the guise of genetic determinism AKA HBD, or Tech Comm hyper liberalism shouting at imaginary enemies with their calls for everything we already have in the form of extreme individual human rights, zero restraints for secondary property holders and guaranteed exit (just who is blocking exit in the world? Who is constraining capital? – states are shoveling free money into markets, and who is denying the right for humans to self determination? We can even chose our own gender now.)

It’s obvious RF, who views materialistic interpretations of human nature and reality as variants of liberalism, opposes the Nick Land ‘brand’ of NRx. This is related to the tech-comm/trad-nat schism that goes back to 2014, as discussed here many times. Pre-2014 NRx writings were influenced by anarcho-capitalists such as Mises and Rothbard, as well as to a lesser degree, classical liberals Hayack and Smith, with themes such as ‘exit’, transhumanism, singularitarianism, and capitalism being a ‘force of good’.

RF defers to Alaisdair MacIntyre, a Scottish philosopher who seeks to revive the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of virtue ethics. Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche, related to existentialism, reject moral rationality and positivism, both of which are Enlightenment ideals predicated on the belief that reason and calculation (not teleology) alone can solve moral disputes. Existentialism says that people make decisions based on subjective meaning (such as feelings of anxiety and dread) rather than pure rationality. MacIntyre seeks a middle ground between moral rationalism and moral relativism, restoring the Aristotelian concept of teleology as originally rejected by the Enlightenment.

MacIntyre was originally inspired by Marx, until turning to the writing of Aquinas to write After Virtue in 1981 in which MacIntyre advocates “self-defense for local communities that aspire to protect their practices and sustain their way of life from corrosive effects of the capitalist economy,” which explains why RF is so vehemently opposed to tech-comm faction of NRx, the irony being that Land is also, to some extent, a Marxist, too. Marx was obsessed with economics and thought that the world revolved around capital, with the world divided into two groups: those who own capital and those exploited by it, with religion, metaphysics, teleology, etc. pushed to the periphery. Marx’ theory of exploitation is a purely deterministic capitalistic one, so although MacIntyre could relate to themes of exploitation, Marx’s materialist approach to theory was wrong. It would seem like RF’s definition of ‘liberal’ is anyone who rejects teleology, which seems overreaching on his part.

Some parts are confusing…for example, RF contrasts telos with Mises’ praxeology and Mill’s utilitarianism (“No telos means you are left with deontology, consequentialism, utilitarianism etc.”), but telos plays a role in ethics and human action.

Teleology played a crucial role in the work of Ludwig von Mises especially in the development of his science of praxeology. More specifically he believed that human action, i.e. purposeful behavior, is teleological based on the presupposition that an individual’s action is governed or caused by the existence of their chosen ends. Or in other words an individual selects the most appropriate means to achieve a sought after goal or end. Mises however also stressed that teleology with respect to human action was by no means independent of causality as he states “no action can be devised and ventured upon without definite ideas about the relation of cause and effect, teleology presupposes causality”[10]

RF also lumps deontology with utilitarianism even though the two are philosophically contrasted:

In the classical notion, teleology is grounded in the inherent natures of things themselves, whereas in consequentialism, teleology is imposed on nature from outside by the human will. Consequentialist theories justify inherently what most people would call evil acts by their desirable outcomes, if the good of the outcome outweighs the bad of the act. So for example, a consequentialist theory would say it was acceptable to actively kill one person in order to save two or more other people. These theories may be summarized by the maxim “the ends can justify the means.”

Consequentialism stands in contrast to the more classical notions of deontological ethics, such as Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and Aristotle’s virtue ethics (although formulations of virtue ethics are also often consequentialist in derivation). In deontological ethics, the goodness or badness of individual acts is primary and a desirable larger goal is insufficient to justify bad acts committed on the way to that goal, even if the bad acts are relatively minor and the goal is major (like telling a small lie to prevent a war and save millions of lives). In requiring all constituent acts to be good, deontological ethics is much more rigid than consequentialism, which varies by circumstances.

Source: Teleology, by Wikipedia.

But from p54-59 After Virtue (taken from RF blog)

Yet moral arguments within the classical, Aristotelian tradition-whether in its Greek or its medieval versions – involve at least one central functional concept, the concept of man understood as having an essential nature and an essential purpose or function; and it is when and only when the classical tradition in its integrity has been substantially rejected that moral arguments change their character so that they fall within the scope of some version of the ‘No “ought” conclusion from “is” premises’ principle.
[...]
It is rooted in the forms of social life to which the theorists of the classical tradition give expression. For according to that tradition to be a man is to fill a set of roles each of which has its own point and purpose: member of a family , citizen, soldier, philosopher, servant of God. It is only when man is thought of as an individual prior to and apart from all roles that ‘man’ ceases to be a functional concept

RF and MacIntyre oppose the idea of external forces intervening in the ‘functional purpose’ (telos) of man. This is in contrast with David Hume and G. E. Moore who state that one cannot derive an ‘ought’ from ‘what is’ (naturalistic fallacy). However, ethical naturalism, which is related to moral realism, is compatible with HBD, which RF opposes (“…same can be done for any other special position in the alt-right or neoreaction, be it liberalism in the guise of genetic determinism AKA HBD, or Tech Comm hyper liberalism shouting”). For example: someone who has a low/average IQ ought to enter a trade school than go to college.

RF and MacIntyre’s idealistic forms of virtue ethics form the basis of communitarianism, in which individualism is secondary to community and identity:

philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community. Its overriding philosophy is based upon the belief that a person’s social identity and personality are largely molded by community relationships, with a smaller degree of development being placed on individualism. Although the community might be a family unit, communitarianism usually is understood, in the wider, philosophical sense, as a collection of interactions, among a community of people in a given place (geographical location), or among a community who share an interest or who share a history.[1]

Communitarians also critique the classical liberal and libertarian commitment to free markets and a laissez-faire economic system, which they argue pressure communities into atomizing, thus undermining traditional ties among members of a given community, such as within a family.

But existentialism, which is based on individualism, may be incompatible with communitarianism. Tech-com, in the spirit of Ayn Rand and other libertarian-type thinkers, is inherently individualistic.