The NRx Review

An up-and-coming reactionary blogger who goes by the handle ‘Dark Reformation’ released an 8-part manifesto.

In part 8, in my opinion the most important section, he discusses the philosophical underpinnings of his ideology, specifically utilitarianism and determinism.

There is no free will. The Dark Reformation acknowledges that humans have no free will, that they are fully caused beings. Free will is a Christian invention designed to get around the problem of evil;

Firstly, it will transform our understanding crime and punishment; secondly, economics. If free will does not exist, then moral responsibility (moral blame and retribution) must be either justified anew or abandoned. This means that concepts like guilt and retribution are, philosophically speaking, meaningless. Economically speaking, determinism puts paid to self-made man myths, and charges of laziness and indolence in people, or the preferability of fully eliminating welfare. This does not require giving up law, order, free-enterprise and a good society. Not at all. But it requires putting these things on a truer and more stable foundation. That foundation is utilitarianism.

Agree with the part about determinism. But that still does not absolve them of the consequences of their actions. One can argue that America’s justice system is based on utilitarianism by putting away a lot of people for a long time, for the ‘greater good’ of society. The problem is crime has a biological component…even if you eliminate democracy, cathedral, etc., you will still have bad apples that society will have to deal with, although one can make the argument that democracy makes the genetically predisposed more likely to ‘act out’.

As far as welfare and crime is concerned, since people don’t have free will, and poverty and crime has a hereditary component, the solution is an HBD-based one. Maybe mandatory birth control for welfare recipients. Offer financial incentives for less intelligent people to go on birth control, and pay individuals of the top 5% of intelligence to breed. Right now we have an entitlement spending problem and prison crowding problem, and eugenics possibly provides the best long-term approach for dealing with those problems. Although America seems to be good at importing talent, mean reversion is problematic and inevitable. Heathcare spending is another problem.

The foundation of the Dark Reformation is empiricism. Empiricism is the epistemology that attempts to understand the political and social world as it is, and not how we would like it to be. This is a different kind of empiricism to the one commonly presented in philosophy textbooks.

Also agree, and we need policy based on reality, not wishful thinking and appealing narratives, as I allude to in my own introduction, Why Grey Enlightenment. But this works both ways, for the ‘left’ and the right’. For the left’ it’s the narrative that man is a ‘blank slate’ that is ‘perfectible’ if enough tax payer dollars are spent, instead of allocating resources to those who stand to benefit the most. Like, why are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on special ed programs when more spending for gifted education, which receives far less, would have a greater ROI. This ties into ‘reverse Darwinism’, of how the left siphons money from the most productive of society to sustain the least. For the ‘right’ it’s Austrian economics and eschatology, which I find unhelpful in dealing with economic reality today, although the ‘left’ is further off the mark than the ‘right’. You can’t say that QE is money printing, when it isn’t. Or that the US economy is dying, when it isn’t.

In part 2 he criticizes democracy, following part 1, where he lists the myriad of problems facing society and men.

The problem, perhaps, with the manifesto is the first part, in which there is too much idealism and wishful thinking. He’s using anti-democracy a conduit or panacea bring about some right-wing version of utopia that is not possible.

I oppose democracy not to bring fulfillment to peoples lives, which is a different problem altogether, but because democracy gives too much power to those who contribute the least, who then vote for policy that hurts the most productive. This an economic problem, and it’s a leap of faith to try to apply it to a psychological one (happiness and fulfillment), as the author tries to do. The problems in part 1 are real, but they are not necessarily solved with parts 2-8. Or maybe they are…although I’m skeptical that this ocean liner that is analogous to American society can be turned around.

Men are failing and falling behind due to difficulty of adapting, both due to economic and cultural factors. Although the US male suicide rate has ticked up in recent years, it’s back to where it was in 1981:

Dealing with feminism, misandry and indoctrination in schools, etc., will help. There is a problem of boys, who cannot sit still as long as girls, being over-medicated. The economy perhaps places too much of a premium on those who are obedient and inclined to do paperwork, not those who want to get their hands dirty.

But after leaving school and the leftist indoctrination, the depression should go away to some degree, but it doesn’t. Perhaps the problem is then with society and the economy, which rewards individualism, credentials, and merit too much, while ‘collectivist’ things like family and religion are pushed to the periphery. Maybe the ‘expectation gap’ is another problem: men leave college with high expectations of job security, only to be disillusioned when reality falls short. Also, people are failing because they are not smart enough, don’t have the skills, or the economy is too competitive.

Ultimately, the problem is both cultural and economic, alluding to a post on Slavoj Zizek – a mix between Economic and Dialectic materialism.

Related to to the far-left, there are elements of Marxism, such as the passage from part 3:

In a modern democracy, power is not exercised by the people but by those who control the means of production, replication, and dissemination of ideas, narratives, arguments, explanations, data-points, “science” etc.

This is similar to a passage by the Christian anarchist and philosopher Jacques Ellul, who argued that modern technology was a threat to human freedom and religion:

…man himself is exalted, and paradoxical though it may seem to be, this means the crushing of man. Man’s enslavement is the reverse side of the glory, value, and importance that are ascribed to him. The more a society magnifies human greatness, the more one will see men alienated, enslaved, imprisoned, and tortured, in it. Humanism prepares the ground for the anti-human. We do not say that this is an intellectual paradox. All one need do is read history. Men have never been so oppressed as in societies which set man at the pinnacle of values and exalt his greatness or make him the measure of all things. For in such societies freedom is detached from its purpose, which is, we affirm, the glory of God.[62]

Science (such as Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution), reason (liberalism), and the worship of technology (Saint of Steve Jobs) – all products of The Enlightenment – had replaced god, a view that is shared by many reactionaries:

But since then, scientism (through Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution) and reason (higher criticism and liberal theology) have desacralized the scriptures, and the sciences, particularly those applied sciences that are amenable to the aims of collective economic production (be it capitalist, socialist, or communist), have been elevated to the position of sacred in Western culture.

Even if this is true, I have a more optimistic outlook, because technology improves living standards. Surveys also show a positive correlation between GDP and happiness:

But also, another problem is many on the far-left also oppose technology, on the grounds that technology eliminates jobs, creates pollution, causes wealth inequality, or separates workers from the ‘means of production’. The problem is there is a potential contradiction: If NRx, in contrast to welfare-liberalism, opposes redistributionism and egalitarianism, then attacking technology and capitalism plays into the hands of the left. Technology and capitalism accentuates and magnifies individual differences, with the smartest and most productive moving ahead of the pack, the opposite of egalitarianism. NRx should be celebrating this, as do I.

But then the issue of technological unemployment arises, and programs like the UBI have been floated as solutions. It’s possible ‘post scarcity‘ may be obtained in the economic sense, but individuals may still notice inequity between them, even if all basic needs are met.

Although Ted Kaczynski, another Luddite, argues that technology and depression (although Dysthymia seems more accurate; depression is too strong of a word) are correlated:

Imagine a society that subjects people to conditions that make them terribly unhappy, then gives them the drugs to take away their unhappiness. Science fiction? It is already happening to some extent in our own society. It is well known that the rate of clinical depression had been greatly increasing in recent decades. We believe that this is due to disruption of the power process…[66]

Another possibility is that doctors have gotten better at diagnosing depression, and that more depressed people are seeking treatment, not that rate of depression has increased.

Marxism and its related anarchist and socialist ideologies are all too alluring, which could explain their popularity among intellectuals both on the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ – ‘if only we can cleanse the world this worship of technology and money, everything will be wonderful’.

Rather than trying to fix society and undo progressivism, which is a near-impossible undertaking, I advocate self-improvement, which is considerably easier. For example, if it’s a foregone conclusion that techno-commercialism will win (which I think it will), then buy index funds like the S&P 500 and companies like Google and Amazon, to take advantage of this. This is something almost anyone can do, and while it won’t change society, it will improve your own financial well-being, especially given that social security may not exist in a couple decades if the welfare state collapses under its own weight.

Even after all these posts, it’s still hard to make sense of it all, at times.