My good friend Anomaly UK created a post yesterday in response to a conversation I had on Twitter with Marko Sket and Carlos Esteban about “Neoreaction and Dynasties.” The discussion was about Russia, and how the situation there ought to be handled. Carlos is well-known as an advocate for the crowning of Vladimir Putin as Tsar of Russia, while I am a Romanov loyalist (and Marko seems to be one as well, or at least an opponent of the ‘Putin as Tsar’ idea.)
I think Anomaly’s mistake here is to identify me as a neoreactionary. I dont know about Carlos or Marco, but I am not a neoreactionary, and this has been the subject of a good deal of wrangling already. I’m a paleoreactionary. I have, therefore, a rather different view of monarchy from Anomaly’s. Honestly, I am surprised to find Catholic monarchist Carlos Esteban on the other side of this. He, I would have thought, would share my dynastic legitimism more than anyone.
You see, I do actually see St Nicholas II as a divinely-ordained monarch, and the Grand Duchess as his rightful successor today. This title is at least as important in the ethical sphere as any private property claim. On one level, I’m inclined to simply leave it at that. Russia was stolen, and the rightful owner is alive. So give it to her, just the same as you would (or should) return any stolen property if you are able.
However, I realise that may not be entirely persuasive. So let me add this:
Putin, as Marko points out, is a creature of the Revolution. I happen to admire him in many ways. I think he is a good leader, and perhaps the only sane head of state left in what was once Christendom. Honestly, I hope he can have a role in the Tsarina’s administration when she is restored. However, for him to crown himself Tsar has a bit too much of the ring of Napoleon to it. Russia cannot truly and completely repent of the evil of the revolution until it restores the Ancien Régime as far as possible. Think about this:
When one does wrong, there are three stages to repentance: First, one must acknowledge that one has done wrong. Second, one must resolve to avoid said wrong in the future. Third, one must undo, as far as it is possible to undo, the effects of the Revolution. As long as Russia’s rightful monarch lives, and yet another rules the country, Russia has not properly repented; she still has one foot in 1917. Putin will find it very difficult if not impossible to establish legitimacy without taking as a given that the Revolution, of which he is heir, was at least somewhat legitimate.
Would I rock the boat if I lived in Russia and Putin were Tsar? Perhaps not; there is a good chance things would get worse (I take the same attitude toward Napoleon). But would I push for that outcome over and against the real Tsarina? Why on earth would I do that?
In liberal societies, one commonly hears that we cannot or at least should not ‘legislate morality’, especially ‘religious morality’. Generally speaking, this contention is justified with an appeal to concepts of fairness and freedom. The argument, as often presented (and as presented by a student in my college Political Science class recently), takes more or less this form:
‘We cannot legislate based on religious concepts of morality because our society is diverse and pluralistic, and everyone doesn’t follow the same religion. Thus, to legislate based on one religion in particular would be unfair to those who don’t follow that religion [and presumably would interfere with their freedom to practice some other religion, or no religion at all].’
The problem is that this statement is deeply lacking in self-awareness, and additionally, betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of state and legislation. This will be easiest to understand if we deal with the latter first.
Upon any amount of reflection, it should become self-evident that the nature of law is, fundamentally, to impose some kind of standard upon those who might dissent from it. This is why law is law, and not a book of suggestions. A law you cannot be forcibly punished for breaking is effectively no law at all. Law is always imposed. That is in its nature. Law cannot, ever, apply only to those who agree with it. There would in such a case be no need for law.
Moreover, most laws exist to impose a specific kind of standard, namely: a moral standard. Obviously, there are fairly trivial laws like traffic regulations, which exist to enforce a standard that is not per se moral, but largely practical. (One could argue that even if the concrete prescriptions of the traffic code are not individually and inherently moral, the need for some kind of ordered framework is a moral imperative when you have as many people driving as a modern country does, but that’s outside the scope of this post.) However, weightier laws are all moral in one way or another. Laws against murder, theft, rape, etc. are all made because legislators believe that these things are immoral.
‘But wait!’ the liberal might object. ‘Everyone agrees those things are immoral. It’s not like imposing your religious opinion about homosexuality or abortion or alternative sexual identity.’ But that is where the liberal is wrong. Everyone does not agree with the laws on murder, rape, and theft. At the very least, there are many, many people who would like for there to be an exception to these laws for their particular case. In a more principled way, there are people like ‘Afghan refugee’ Esmatulla Sharifi, who, according to the lawyer who defended him at his multiple-rape trial, ‘was confused about the nature of consent.’
Again: if these standards were truly universally accepted, we wouldn’t need laws to enforce them. True, the wrongness of murder and rape is broadly accepted, but the few dissenters must still have the values embodied in the law imposed upon them.
Moreover, all moral standards are rooted in a moral code. And which moral code is correct is the subject of debate and disagreement among philosophers, theologians, and ordinary people around the world and has been for thousands of years. And during those thousands of years, legislators have made laws based on their particular moral beliefs. And liberals, despite their rhetoric, dont want to change that. The classical liberals didn’t want to change it, the modern liberals dont want to change it, and the atavistic throwback liberals known as ‘libertarians’ dont want to change it. Rather, each of these groups simply wants to legislate its own particular moral code.
On its own, this would be in a sense unobjectionable. I do not agree with the liberal moral code, but of course I have to expect that like everyone else, liberals would act based on their beliefs. The problem is that they attempt to sell the idea that their moral code isn’t really a moral code, while yours is, and therefore that their moral code is a priori a superior basis for legislation, which it is not.
Libertarians are especially bad in this regard. ‘The government should not enforce morality,’ they say, ‘just property rights.’ But property rights, as conceived by libertarians, are nothing but a system of morality (even if not a complete one). And that system has no a priori privilege over other systems. The claim that libertarians do not want to impose their morality on you is absurd; of course they are going to impose their property rights, as they perceive them, on others who perceive the issue differently.
In short, it is no less ‘unfair’ to impose a moral code based on an ideology on those that dissent from that ideology than it is to impose a moral code based on a religion on those that dissent from that religion.
The problem here is one of names. Just as progressivism is a religion that brands itself as a non-religion in order to get around objections to an established church, the liberal moral code is a moral code that brands itself as something other than a moral code in order to pre-emptively disqualify its competitors. You cannot win as long as you allow the enemy to set the linguistic frame. ‘Separation of church and state’ is nothing but more progressive verbal witchraft.
Some time ago, my (online) friend Bryce Laliberte, now of Anarcho-Papist, wrote an interesting piece on his old blog, Amtheomusings, about the possibility of reunion between the Roman Catholic Church (to which he belongs) and the Eastern Orthodox Church (to which I belong.) Laliberte is, as is typical of Catholics, far more optimistic for such a reunion than am I (or most traditionalist Orthodox.)
I have linked to Laliberte’s post above; if you haven’t read it, please go do so now, as the rest of this response will assume that you have read it and are familiar with it or can at least refer back to it as necessary.
Laliberte’s summary of the problems between his communion and my own is not a bad one, overall and as traditionalist/conservative Roman Catholic interpretations go; he neither dismisses the differences as inconsequential nor resorts to invective against the ‘Greek schismatics’. But he fundamentally misunderstands the Orthodox conception of doctrine and authority, and in doing so he underplays the amount of difference that exists between our churches, by dramatically understating how many doctrines the Eastern Orthodox Church actually has.
Take a look at this sampling of quotes from Laliberte’s article:
‘All doctrines in Orthodoxy Catholicism accepts.’
‘So, all ecumenical councils before the Great Schism the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are agreed on; the difference is that the Orthodox Church doesn’t believe that any ecumenical councils have been held.’
‘The difference then lies in that Catholicism has developed its doctrines for the last 1000 years, whereas the Orthodox has effectively not. The Catholic Church has more doctrines than the Orthodox Church, such as the filioque, papal infallibility, and even counter-intuitively, the canon of Scripture.’
The problem here is that Laliberte identifies Orthodox ‘doctrine’ as existing only in the proclamations of the Ecumenical Councils (we’ll leave aside for now the murky issue of the eighth and ninth Ecumenical Councils, and also the significantly less murky matter of the Quinisext Council or ‘Council in Trullo’, both of which would be problematic for Laliberte’s claim of agreement up to the point of seven ecumenical councils and then no further development on the Orthodox side). This is not really an accurate understanding of where Orthodox doctrine comes from. To claim, for instance, that the Orthodox ‘have no doctrine’ when it comes to the issue of the canon of Scripture, because said canon has not been dogmatised by an Ecumenical Council, is dubious at best.
The Orthodox Church finds Her doctrine in Holy Tradition. However, Holy Tradition is found in the entire life of the Church, in the entire consensus fidelium. We cannot accept the Roman idea that the Tradition ‘grows’ or that doctrine ‘develops’; we do not have any ‘new doctrines’ unknown to the Apostles. The Councils do not establish new doctrines but merely defend against attack the same doctrines we have always held.
His Excellency, Metropolitan +KALLISTOS (Ware) of Diokleia, writes the following on the subject of Holy Tradition:
To an Orthodox Christian, Tradition means the Holy Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers; it means the Canons, the Service Books, the Holy Icons, etc. In essence, it means the whole system of doctrine, ecclesiastical government, worship and art which Orthodoxy has articulated over the ages.
Thus, we can see that Laliberte makes an error by limiting Orthodox doctrine to only the proclamations of the Ecumenical Councils, and in so doing dramatically understates the amount of doctrine that we in fact have.
For example: It is simply not correct to say that the Catholic Church has developed the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope while the Orthodox Church has remained silent, as if the Orthodox Church could tomorrow simply ‘catch up’, ‘develop’ this novel doctrine, and move on without abandoning any doctrines we now hold. This is not the case. Rather, we have advanced, counter to papal supremacist claims, a competing, incompatible ecclesiology that stresses the headship of Christ over the Church and the fundamental equality of all bishops, with what hierarchy exists among them a mutable, human, oikonomic institution. This is an Orthodox doctrine, albeit not one laid out with the force and clarity of an Ecumenical Council.
Similarly, our different understanding of Original Sin, our position in the hesychast controversy, and our understanding of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone are all doctrines, not merely the lack of some doctrine propounded by Rome.
Ultimately, no reunion can take place without one Church or the other simply admitting it was wrong and being more or less subsumed into the other. I do not believe there can be any way around the claim that exactly one Church is wrong and has been since the schism, except to argue that both Churches are wrong. If a reunion were to take place on these terms, we could not have the Orthodox Church reenter communion with the Catholic Church while the one remained Orthodox and the other Catholic. One or the other Church must surrender Her identity as she has come to understand it. An Orthodox Church that accepted the Papacy simply would not be Orthodox, in the way we use that term now, and a Catholic Church that renounced the filioque would be in much the same position.
A good meatspace friend of mine has started a blog called Castle Saint John. I highly recommend you guys check it out. It’s definitely still in the early stages but I am confident that ‘thebaron73′ will turn out to make a valuable contribution to the reactionary blogosphere. I am especially looking forward to reactionary works on masculinity that dont necessarily result from an attempt to baptise PUA techniques and insights, however valuable those might be.
Recently, Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell (whom I had not previously heard of) was accused, and subsequently cleared, of several charges of child sexual abuse, including rape and indecent assault. According to the accuser, who could not be named, Mr Le Vell raped her several times over nine years, starting when she was six. I did not follow the case while it was in progress (in fact, I hadn’t heard of it till it was over), but I’ve reviewed several news reports now and consider myself reasonably well-informed on the basic facts.
After hearing claims that Mr Le Vell had raped her ‘while she clutched a teddy bear’ and ‘held another teddy bear over her mouth’, and that he had told her during the rape that he was ‘going to get the evil out’ and that if she told anyone about it ‘you’ll die and the evil will come over you’, the jury decided that the accuser’s testimony was inconsistent. Additionally, it appears that there were no other witnesses, there was no DNA evidence, and the victim had not sustained any injuries (unusual in a child rape). In short, in the jury’s opinion, and mine, the alleged rape did not take place.
That wasn’t the first concern on the minds of Twitter feminists, however:
A Twitter user named @RadicalRosa, who has since been suspended, claimed that men rape women ‘every day in an abstract sense’ and therefore that Le Vell should go to jail whether he in fact raped his accuser or not. She was the most dramatic (probably why she was suspended), but the Feminist Twitter Brigade in general was quite active. Here are some highlights:
As you can see, a whole hashtag, ‘#ibelieveher’, was created for this idiocy.
I’m not really sure what I am supposed to say to this, to be honest. I would have been against feminism in any time; I agree with Queen Victoria (hat tip to Anarcho-Papist) that ‘a good whipping’ would probably do some good. But modern feminism is simply absurd, in a way previous ‘waves’ were not; at least, they didn’t show it as clearly.
Rejecting the presumption of innocence. This is Trayvon Martin all over again. It is becoming increasingly clear that in a progressive utopia, the outcome of court cases would be decided based on group identity, not evidence, and the goal would not be to protect the innocent or punish the guilty, but to ‘stick it to the man’. This kind of mob justice is truly a frightening prospect. And if we are not already at the point where it will be enforced, we will be soon.
Needless to say, I do not ‘#believeher’.
It is generally believed in the reactosphere, largely under the influence of Moldbug, that progressivism is a religion. Certainly there is ample basis for this claim. Progressivism indeed seems to have its unquestionable dogmas, its priests, its sacraments, and its empirically untestable metaphysical assumptions. However, I contend that there is a subtle distinction at play here, which the nonreligious are likely to overlook. That is the distinction between religion and witchcraft.
What, precisely, is the distinction between magic and witchcraft? It is this: the religionist deals with the supernatural as something above himself, something superior to himself, and something which he must submit to. Whether it is a Christian who believes he must obey God, or a Buddhist who believes that he must follow the teachings of the Buddha to escape the cycle of reincarnation, the religionist sees reality on the supernatural level as ironclad, and he has no choice but to obey. The witch, on the other hand, is concerned with manipulating reality. C.S. Lewis said in The Magician’s Nephew that witches ‘are not interested in people or things unless they can use them; they are terribly practical.’ Witches see the supernatural realm as something that can be manipulated, controlled, bent to their will. Words in particular take on, in the witch’s world, an immense significance, as they can, according to the witch’s worldview, reshape reality itself. The witch is essentially a reverser of hierarchy.
How does this compare to progressives? Well, first of all, to understand what I am about to say, you should be familiar with Moldbug’s work in Why Do Atheists Believe in Religion? You should then note that whether a person claims a particular word has a particular power ‘because it’s magic’ or ‘because it reinforces institutional racism and white privilege’ is utterly irrelevant to those of us who believe neither in magic nor in institutional racism, nor in white privilege. It amounts to the same thing; for reasons that are apparently irreducible and have no discernible relationship to physical reality, a particular word is claimed to create harmful effects in the real world. For the witches, it’s a spell; for progressives, it’s ‘nigger’ for example. I must be prevented from saying ‘nigger’ for the same reason that I must be prevented from putting a curse on their crops; because these words have power.
C.S. Lewis turns out to be helpful here again. In The Screwtape Letters he writes:
I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The ‘Life Force’, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work—the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirits’—then the end of the war will be in sight.
The Materialist Magician. C.S. Lewis predicted him, and now he is here. Lewis has his Materialist Magicians ‘not using, but veritably worshipping’ these ‘Forces’. This may be a mistake, and yet perhaps not. Certainly it seems that progressives believe in ‘forces’ that can be used; ‘forces’ like ‘white privilege’. And yet, these ‘forces’ always seem to be in the hands of the enemy. The forces on the progressives’ ‘good side’, forces such as ‘equality’ and ‘human rights’ are not used, but worshipped. What the progressive attempts to do is clear out the black magic of privilege blocking the god of Equality from imposing his will.
You see, the progressive’s magic (the magic of ‘gender-neutral language’, for example), is really quite weak, at least in his own mind. If there exists anywhere one dark wizard speaking the way normal human beings speak, maintaining the old spells, Equality will not be able to prevail. Reality must be reshaped with a new language, but everyone must participate.
Thus Lewis was partially right; some forces are indeed worshipped and ascribed supernatural significance, despite their being no empirical evidence that they are even real, while at the same time superstitious beliefs about the power of certain groups and their words recall the witch’s attempts to control reality with language.
This is why language is so important. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of attempting to express our ideas in their terms. Their whole lexicon is perfectly fitted to impede the understanding of reality and the communication of sound thought, because its purpose is not to describe, but to alter reality. You must not ask your doctor what your baby’s ‘gender’ is to be, because ‘gender’ is not simply a collection of sounds that has taken on the meaning previously assigned to the word ‘sex’; rather, ‘gender’, as applied to living things, is an inherently liberal concept, created to drive a wedge between unchosen biological reality and personal identity, the latter of which, according to the liberal, must be freely chosen by the individual.
‘Gender’ and words like it are a spell. Dont cast the spell. Cast the counterspell. Use real language. If you speak Newspeak, you will develop a Newspeak weltanschauung. There is no way around it. But the liberal magic is weak. They cant rest easy as long as there are a few people speaking in a religious way; naming, describing, and submitting to reality as it presents itself.