Tag Archives: modernity

Against the Ubermensch

In the past year or so, we’re seeing a re-branding or transformation of NRx…less Nietzsche’s ubermensch as embodied by John Galt (and the Californian ideology) and more like Oswald Spengler or Pat Buchanan. Maybe the old, pre-2014 NRx may have put too much emphasis on capitalism, individualism, and technology and not enough on culture and identity politics, as man lives not within his mind but as part of a social order and culture. Maybe this is a step in the right direction to broadening the appeal of NRx…idk, I kinda like the ubermensch version of NRx more.

Brett Stevens of Amerika.org writes:

Libertarianism tends to collapse under this contradiction. They know liberalism is bad, but want to follow its same method: “Everyone is free and equal, and stuff magically works out through Social Darwinism even though most people are idiots!”

And from Collectivism vs. Capitalism:

By the same token, I find the reliance on absolute capitalism as a motivator to be unworkable, which is why I am not a libertarian. Libertarianism always shifts leftward because it is based in the egalitarian idea of “Everyone do what they want, and the best will magically rise to the top.” This is far from true, as any look at the most popular movies, music, art and novels will show us. Instead, pure capitalist societies are a race to the lowest common denominator and, like socialism, they replace the idea of a purpose to the civilization with the idea of it facilitating individuals. This is also bad

A common criticism of Hollywood is it produces mass-consumption dreck, and maybe there is some truth to that, but these movies are also very profitable, allowing studios to fund potentially unprofitable movies for a more sophisticated palate.

Capitalism is the opposite of egalitarianism, if we go by the Wikipedia definition of egalitarianism:

….is a trend of thought that favors equality for all people. Egalitarian doctrines maintain that all humans are equal in fundamental worth or social status, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Is Bill Gates or Elon Musk of the same worth or social status as a laborer? I think not, as the former produces more economic output indirectly than the latter and thus is rewarded with more money and prestige. Maybe culturally we’re seeing regression, but the arrow of technology always points forward, thanks in part to capitalism, which creates economic incentives to innovate.

Maybe there is confusion over libtertarianism and, related, classical liberalism. Classical liberalism is
not the same as welfare liberalism, although they are often merged the umbrella of ‘liberalism’ or ‘progressivism’.

Although the founding fathers may be in the same vein as Lockean ‘progressives’ – but, as I explain, today’s welfare/SJW liberals bear no resemblance to the Lockean progressives of yesteryear, and the founding fathers were were critical of democracy, too. The point is, I’m seeking a middle ground between the House of Stuart, The Constitutional Convention, and the Pre-WW2 America – but we keep the technology and rollback the liberalism.

Attacks on libertarians may amount to a strawman, mainly because there are few true anarcho-capitalists (David D. Friedman is one of the few); instead, partial libertarianism tends to dominate, which combines free market capitalism with some sort of watchman/guardian state. ‘Free and equal’ means equal opportunity within the rule of law, where each man can compete to the best of his abilities. It doesn’t have to mean equal outcomes or that all men are created equal.

And It’s true most people are ill-informed of the issues and will vote to enlarge the welfare state for personal gain at the expense of the productive, which is why democracy is so harmful.

This is why a theology-based approach generally focuses, as Plato did, on the difference between good and bad. His moral statement — “good to the good, and bad to the bad” — is roughly paralleled in Christ and anticipated in the Hindu scriptures.

America was conceived through Christian doctrine – that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. I, and maybe some other libertarians and reactionaries, reject the idea that all men are created equal; genes make some better than others upon conception, and this is manifested in real life through the differences of socioeconomic outcomes between individuals and groups – Social Darwinism.

I don’t see how a ‘theology-based’ approach is congruent with the HBD and economic positions of NRx. That doesn’t mean Christianity can’t exist in an NRx-state, but it should probably not be the guiding principle. The delineation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ may be genetic. With recent advances in biotechnology, scientists are finding genetic correlations for virtually all behaviors and attributes, whether it’s criminality, obesity, alcoholism, or intelligence.

From Citadel Foundations, Is Technological Responsibility Possible?

I’d propose the answer is not as easy. It seems self-evident that the death of entropic Liberalism will end in catastrophe rather than transition. There are ethnic, religious, military, and economic factors which ensure this on a global scale, which both enhance dangers and spread them over wide areas.

Some on the ‘alt right’ associate technology with liberalism, arguing that the convergence of technology and capitalism may be disrupting the old social order, making society more liberal, godless, and materialistic (Materialism).. But, on the same token, liberals often blame technology for displacing jobs and creating wealth inequality.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1907-1912, materialism, defined as “a philosophical system which regards matter as the only reality in the world [...] denies the existence of God and the soul”.[19] Materialism, in this view, therefore becomes incompatible with most world religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In such a context one can conflate materialism with atheism.[

You can see how this would conflict with with the more theocratic variants of The Right, who tend to be critical of laissez faire capitalism…

But I believe optimism over technology is compatible with NRx.

Reactionary modernism is an example of how reactionary ideals and modernity can coexist:

Reactionary modernism is a term first coined by Jeffrey Herf in his 1984 book, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich, to describe the mixture of “great enthusiasm for modern technology with a rejection of the Enlightenment and the values and institutions of liberal democracy” which was characteristic of the German Conservative Revolutionary movement and National Socialism.[1] In turn, this ideology of reactionary modernism was closely linked to the original, positive view of the Sonderweg, which saw Germany as the great Central European power neither of the West nor of the East.

From Wikipedia on Luddites:

The movement can be seen as part of a rising tide of English working-class discontent in the late 18th and early 19th century. An agricultural variant of Luddism, centering on the breaking of threshing machines, occurred during the widespread Swing Riots of 1830 in southern and eastern England.[7] [b] The Luddites’ goal was to gain a better bargaining position with their employers. They were not afraid of technology per se, but were “labour strategists”.[11]

The origin of the left-right divide dates back to King Louis XVI :

In the 1790s, King Louis XVI was fighting with the Legislative Assembly. Like our modern-day House of Representatives, seating in the French Legislative Assembly was arranged based on political affiliation. The King sat in front of the assembly. To his right sat the conservative Feuillants who backed the king and believed in a constitutional monarchy. To his left sat the liberal Girondists and radical Jacobins who wanted to install a completely democratic government.

The left has always been about the tyranny of the proletariat, whether it’s the October Revolution, the French Revolution, or anti-industrialization. The attack on technology is part and parcel revolutionary of nature, generally motivated by leftist redistributionist/collectivist ideals of the worker or proletarian rising against some sort of oppressive masterclass. And maybe some of this populist revolutionist thought may have bled into NRx.

But modern liberalism – as characterized by the misandry bubble, the SJW movement, and leftist indoctrination in the schools and colleges – is a better target than technology and capitalism. There are enough enemies on the left already.

Some also argue that technology and capitalism is the antecedent of radical liberalism or that the two are always linked, but as I show in the article about reactionary modernism – as well historical examples such as the Flavian dynasty of the Roman Empire, and 20th century America (specifically, before the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment) – it doesn’t have to be that way. The Flavian dynasty, which was slightly more ‘moderate’ than Julio-Claudian dynasty that preceded it, helped restore stability Rome after turmoil following the suicide of Nero. Even the Roman Republic forbade women from voting.

Citadel continues,

What does the aftermath look like? Unknown. It seems that technology could fall prey to the survival instinct. Can factories be maintained when civil order unravels?

But, as Steven Pinker showed in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature the historical trend has been towards less violence, possibly due to technology and trade acting as an economic incentive against violence.

A recent paper The Industrial Peace: Schumpeter, Conflict, and the Investment-War Tradeoff agrees:

Citadel continues,

Can companies justify continuing the production of goods to populations in no position to buy them?

This argument comes up a lot. Capitalism makes things cheaper and better, examples being TVs and computers. Because inflation is so low in America, it’s easy for people to afford stuff, even if real wages are stagnant. If corporations observe consumption is falling, they may respond by lowering prices, which lowers profits, and eventually GDP falls and the result is a recession. But corporate profits are at record highs. Consumer spending is at record highs in spite of record high wealth inequality:

Even if the growth rate of US consumer spending is declining, foreign consumption is enough to compensate.

Somehow capitalism keeps working, despite the critics.

4) All technologies should be passed through a moral lens. Just because we can do something, does not mean we should, and rather than viewing morality as the Modernist views it, a series of values judgments based on our subjective feelings, we should see it as a rigid guide with profound consequences for violation, not just for individuals, but societies at large.

Capitalism may be the best ‘moral lens’. Technologies that are unpopular die in the marketplace. And who should make these decisions as to which technology is moral or not? Consequentialist applications of technology can indirectly save and improve lives. For example, such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which in the long-run indirectly created peace and saved US lives by abruptly forcing the surrender of Japan.

Pro-Technology = Marxist?

From Esoteric Trad: Neoreaction’s elephant in the room

Techno-Commercialists make up a portion of NRx and their position is quite popular.

Maybe he means it’s popular outside of NRx, but from my observation it’s no longer popular inside of NRx, in which the trichotomy has become a dichotomy of traditionalists and ethno-nationalists, with the techno-commercialists on the periphery. This ideological friction is understandable because capitalism can sometimes conflict with ethno-nationalist interests. But where we agree is in our rejection of egalitarianism and democracy. And there are some possible valid criticisms of capitalism: how commercialism and the breakdown of the family structure can cause anxiety and anomie. Free market capitalism demands a lot from people to ‘keep up with the joneses’, and many people cannot keep up – due to biology and other reasons. The stock market making new highs, but many people are left out. But the problem isn’t capitalism or greedy people, it’s low IQs and bad life choices – majoring in worthless subjects, bad work ethic and poor manners (Charles Murray offers some advice), and, for better or worse, some people just aren’t smart enough (which is the thesis of The Bell Curve and other Charles Murray books). Immigration and outsourcing may also play a role, which is where the friction between ethno-nationalists and commercialists lies. In an earlier post, I present evidence H-1B visas don’t depress wages or employment.

The NRx ‘trichotomy‘:

So, yeah he doesn’t have to lose sleep over technologists taking over NRx. But I think some technologists who may agree with parts of NRx be may be hesitant to bear the NRx/Dark Enlightenment label for fear of bad press. Just talking about ‘exit’ is enough to stir a frenzy.

Marxism is another belief system that inherently is striving for more and more efficient technology, to liberate man from the conditions of work.

Not so sure about this…while Marxists may support technology to bring about a post-labor society, not everyone who supports technology and post-labor is a Marxist. There will always be capitalism, scarcity, and markets, even if the labor force shrinks and or a lot of job become automated (which is assuming the Luddite Fallacy stops being a fallacy). Rapid gains in technology hasn’t made healthcare or tuition more affordable. Same for insurance, day care, and other services. There will always be demand for positional goods to signal status. There may even be a form of capitalism that exists between apps and robots, excluding almost all people. And also, many on the left criticize technology for creating wealth inequality and separating workers from their ‘means of production’. Technological determinism – a reductionist theory that presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values – does not have to lead to Marxism (abolition of private ownership of production), despite originating from Karl Marx. It’s liberals who are, in fact, ‘pro-work’, not conservatives. It was the welfare left in 2008 & 2009 who wanted to put everyone to work, against market forces, the result being a useless stimulus that created few jobs relative to its cost due to market forces working against it. Liberals want to put everyone to work, provided the jobs are overpaid, have excessive benefits, and employers don’t make too much profits. This ‘pro-work’ sentiment was taken to extreme by Communist regimes where millions of people were worked to death – hardly in agreement with the post-labor utopia Marx wrote about.

Nick B also counters:

I don’t think “faith […] in technological advancement” is the right way to frame Neoreaction’s position. Man is a tool builder. As Man advances, so will his tools, so helping Man advance, and so on. This pattern is nothing other than the development of civilization. A priori, it is a difficult achievement. Few peoples find it. But they’re mostly extinct. The “faith” you speak of, so much as it exists, is more in Man’s nature as a builder of technologies that help him master the physical world as well as the social.

Agree. Tools are how man controls his environment instead of being enslaved by the whims of it. It’s this desire to create, partly motivated by our understanding of our mortality, is what separates man from less evolved animals.

Then you have the whole Red Pill movement, which is ideologically similar to NRx and also pro-STEM. STEM not only pays well and brings respect, but is an island of sanity and rationalism in a sea of leftist higher education indoctrination. We need to stand behind the technologists who are also under assault by the SJWs, not turn our backs on them:

Tim Cook, who is gay and has social justice tendencies, doesn’t speak for all technologists. Just as a pedophile priest isn’t representative of all Catholics.

The Rotting Foundation That Is Democracy

Many on the right attack individual symptoms, problems (feminism, crime, growing entitlement spending) without addressing the underlying disease: democracy and the liberal state.

The solution lends itself to NRx, which rejects the post-WW2 ideal of democracy and social liberalism, as quoted by Amerika’s NRx guide:

But as Evola observed, all of us in the post-war period are men among the ruins, because with WWII liberalism achieved its final victory over conservatism. In Europe, states became what we might call 60% liberal, in contrast to the 100% liberal of pure Communism in the Soviet Union. The United States, hovering at 50%, shot upward such that in the present day it hovers in the 90s somewhere.

Also interesting Evola’s Critique of Modernity – Bertonneau:

In words reminiscent of Spengler’s diction, Evola describes the United States “a soulless greatness of a purely technological and collective nature, lacking in any background of transcendence.” Whereas “Soviet communism officially professes atheism,” Evola remarks, and whereas “America does not go that far”; nevertheless, “without realizing it, and often believing the contrary, it is running down the same path in which nothing is left of… religious meaning.”

But the problem is not so much with feminism, but with too much freedom, that I think some mistakenly present as some unalloyed ‘good’, which ultimately gives rise to feminism, excess entitlement spending and other other forms of social liberalism. It’s like building a house of wood and then complaining about termites and rot. Even if the house is structurally sound initially, after many decades things eventually fall apart, and the house has to be rebuilt or town down. Better to just built it out of stone. The ‘liberal democracy’ is a relatively new concept in the history of Western civilization, and for good reasons.

However, in disagreement with Spengler and Evola, this does not mean we have to regress and abandon technology, nor do I share Evola’s detain for the bourgeois, a detain that is also shared by the left. Hating the elite is just another form of populism, this time from the right. If anything, technology is hastening the decline of democracy and egalitarianism, as evidenced by recent trends of growing wealth inequality. Technology does not have to lead to liberalism; in fact, the biggest critics of technology are leftist primitivists like John Zerzan, who argue that the world was ‘nicer’ and ‘fairer’ before agriculture. The left also complains about technology destroying jobs and creating income inequality, in agreement with their affinity for anarcho-Marxism and other leftist ideologies. If so many on the left blame technology and Western civilization for imagined social problems, why do we want to follow their heed?

Perhaps the political spectrum is locally linear (6 o’clock), but when you take higher-order approximations it becomes circular with both the far-left and far-right meeting on the opposite side (12 o’clock). The right-wing anti-populist status-quo is at 3 o’clock; the left-wing variety is at 9 o’clock. Going too far to either the left or the right may lead to disorder, upheaval. Related to my criticism of populism , the French Revolution, which epitomized the populist up-ruling, lead to Napoléon and the Reign of Terror to fill the void, which lead to French First Republic and planted the seeds much later for democracy.

The United Arab Emirates could be an example of a reactionary-style of government given that democracy is rejected and traditionalism and private property are enforced. However, the labour force of the United Arab Emirates is primarily made up of foreign temporary workers, most of whom come from the Indian subcontinent and other parts, which runs afoul of the entho-nationalist elements of NRx.

Related:

NRx and Modernity
Embracing Modernity, Part 2

NRx and Modernity

When I discuss modernity and my support for it, it is in the context of technology and economics, as opposed to the push towards progressive social and political norms.

As I argue here and here, NRx should embrace technology. The arrow of technology is irreversible. Many on the right wish to return to simpler times, but that may not only be impossible – but it may also be undesirable, as diseases, war, and early mortality were more common in earlier times, which is the crux of Steven Pinker’s argument in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature.

Wikipedia lists some characteristics of modernity:

Increased movement of goods, capital, people, and information among formerly discrete populations, and consequent influence beyond the local area

Increased formal social organization of mobile populaces, development of “circuits” on which they and their influence travel, and societal standardization conducive to socio-economic mobility

Increased specialization of the segments of society, i.e., division of labor, and area inter-dependency

Increased level of excessive stratification in terms of social life of a modern man

Increased state of dehumanisation, dehumanity, unionisation, as man became embittered about the negative turn of events which sprouted a growing fear.

Man became a victim of the underlying circumstances presented by the modern world

Increased competitiveness amongst people in the society (survival of the fittest) as the jungle rule sets in.

The above items are autonomous, meaning that politicians and individuals cannot reverse or control them. They are the byproducts of the natural, inexorable course of the evolution of civilization.

The last two items allude to the rise of Social Darwinism 2.0, with smarter people being the most ‘fit’ in the competitive post-2008 economy. People may be falling behind because of low IQs in an economy that increasingly rewards intellect.

Technology may actually auspicious for the NRx or anti-democracy cause, hastening the decline of democracy and egalitarianism, with IQ and wealth as the new caste system in our hyper-competitive post-2008 economy. Social hierarchies and techno-commercialism can coexist.
Technologists and scientists like George Gilder, Razib Khan, Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, and Matt Ridley, who may not necessarily subscribe to NRx, have voiced criticism and skepticism of the various tenets of liberalism, which include democracy, egalitarianism, and concern over anthropic global warming.

Embracing Modernity, Part 2

From the infamous Nov. 2013 Tech Crunch article Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries that introduced thousands of people to NRx:

Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, …

The veracity of this statement is questioned among many reactionaries who argue that technology and free market capitalism has made things worse by disrupting the ‘social order’, a view held by many paleo conservatives. Based on my own readings and my involvement, it definitely seems like NRx is rejecting the ‘Silicon Valley/technology’ subculture and putting much more emphasis on tradition and ethnocentrism, and this is especially evident in 2015 with ‘black lives matter’, the Confederate Flag, Donald Trump and immigration, and other social/culture issues that are on the forefront of the National Debate, pushing ‘technology culture’ to the periphery.

The technologists, while rejecting economic liberalism and some elements of social justice, aren’t really culture warriors. With the exception of the anti-feminist traditionalist George Gilder and others, the ‘culture wars’ are not their domain and they tend not to get too involved with those issues. But even George Gilder, who is a free market capitalist and anti-SJW, would disagree with the dovish ‘alt right’ over Israel and foreign interventionism, as well as issues such as immigration, since Gilder is notably pro-immigration. There is some acrimony by the right towards Silicon Valley over the later’s push for more immigration. Pro-immigration conservatives have faith in the rule of law to keep the state cohesive, despite the influx of new people, and see the free market has having precedence over ethnic interests. This divide between techno-capitalists and traditionalists on the rights just goes to show how diverse right-wing politics can be, even within the broader ideology conservatism. Among the the left, a similar divide exists among neo liberals, who support policy to create equal equal opportunities within a meritocracy, and welfare liberals, who want equal outcomes and for the system to be changed completely to achieve this goal.

Throughout this blog, I’ve argued against stagnation and in support of modernity, a version of NRx which puts me among a very small minority of the fledgling movement, which now seems to have become a dichotomy. There is even a Wikipedia entry for this – Reactionary Modernism – which embraces technology and modernity but rejects liberal ideals, so to some extent that’s what I am, but with more emphasis on personal freedoms and free markets.

Technology is how civilization advances, and if society fails the biggest losers will be the most productive and competent, who have the most invested intellectually and financially in Western civilization succeeding. Modernity, whether it’s the invention of fire in ancient times, to quantum computers today, is how people control their environments instead of merely being subjected to the whims of them, and it’s our ability to not only understand abstract concepts like mortality and finiteness but also take active steps to control it, is what makes modern humans unique from any other animal. Dinosaurs could not control their fate, and they had no such concept of mortality. We, as humans, do. And perhaps the onus is on the best and the brightest among us to create the technologies to save future generations from the unknown, future disasters that loom.

Charles Hugh Smith in an article, One Word Defines This Era: Stagnation laments how progress has stagnated, writing:

How many of you can honestly claim that the services you get from government or global corporations are better now than they were in 2000, or 1985? Get real, people; more often than not, the service has declined or stagnated rather than improved.

But there are improvements, it’s just they they don’t get as much media coverage as doom and gloom.

One examples is that Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can be cured or put into long term remission, whereas in 1985 the mortality was much higher.

For example, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recently analyzed 1148 CP-CML patients and showed that the 8-year survival was ≤ 15% before 1983, 42%-65% from 1983-2000, and 87% since 2001.6 Therefore, the projections for the next decade, taking into account the recent progress with second-generation TKIs, are for the life expectancy of CML patients to be close to that observed in the general population.

http://asheducationbook.hematologylibrary.org/content/2012/1/122.full

Thanks to the drug Gleevec, Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which was one nearly 100% fatal, is now a chronic, manageable disease like AIDS:

Gleevec, marketed by Novartis, kicks chemotherapy in the ass, and is an example of how the free market improves lives.

Wages may seem stagnant but you also have to take into account new technologies and increased entitlement spending, although I do concede that the later is problematic and needs to be addressed, but solutions will be hard to come by. A problem that is decades in the making isn’t going to go away overnight. But when the left complains about paychecks not rising, they have to realize that everything from education to healthcare is being increasingly subsidized by taxpayers and employers, with out of pocket costs historically low. New technologies means you get more utility for your dollar. With Netflix, for $20 a month and the cost of internet, you can stream unlimited entertainment, whereas a generation ago entertainment options were much more limited. Americans are so well-fed there’s an obesity crisis.

That’s why I’m a little more hesitant to dismiss modernity and join the everything is doomed/sucks chorus. There is bad, but there is also good.

If you read Moldbug’s April 2007 essay, A Formalist Manifesto, while he rejects progressivism (and it’s modern liberal and conservative offshoots), moderation, libertarianism, as do I, his solutions are incrementalist – making small adjustments instead of creating a whole new system – which, is somewhat similar to my approach of optimizing cognitive and financial capital through better policy with our existing mixed economy.

But three, which is the real killer – so to speak – is that we are not, in fact, designing an abstract utopia here. We are trying to fix the real world, which in case you hadn’t noticed, is extremely screwed up.

So he says he’s not trying to make a Utopia, only fix our existing system from the perspective of how an engineer would do so so.

The goal of formalism is to avoid this unpleasant little detour. Formalism says: let’s figure out exactly who has what, now, and give them a little fancy certificate. Let’s not get into who should have what.
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To a formalist, the way to fix the US is to dispense with the ancient mystical horseradish, the corporate prayers and war chants, figure out who owns this monstrosity, and let them decide what in the heck they are going to do with it. I don’t think it’s too crazy to say that all options – including restructuring and liquidation – should be on the table.

Essentially, this is propertarianism, which is kinda similar to the minarchist or ‘night watchman’ state approach. He’s not rejecting technology, but rather the liberal/democratic values of ‘the Enlightenment’, which I agree with. This is also the view shared by Michael Anissimov, a NRx blogger who is pro-technology and anti-egalitarianism.

Technology may actually be a tailwind for the NRx cause, hastening the decline of democracy and egalitarianism, with IQ as the new caste system in our hyper-competitive post-2008 economy.