I Dont Think I Am A Neoreactionary

I read a lot of neoreactionary blogs. I appreciate the work of a lot of neoreactionaries. I link to neoreactionaries. I am  indebted to neoreactionary Anomaly UK for his invaluable assistance with the Golden Circle. Neoreactionaries tend to be intelligent people, and I consider them by and large my allies.

However, I dont think I am a neoreactionary. The reason I dont believe I am a neoreactionary is quite simple: My attitude toward religion is fundamentally different from that of any neoreactionary I’ve ever seen.

My religious belief is, from the neoreactionary perspective as best I grok it, quite a naïve one. When I say I am a Christian, I mean it in this sense:

I am of the opinion that this world was in fact created by God, and that moreover, God is a single Essence as well as a communion of Three Persons, the Second of Whom became a man, and lived, suffered and died, and then rose from the dead, in history, in time. I am quite willing to accept that Christ’s life and death are myth, in the sense Tolkien used the term, but nevertheless I also believe they actually happened.

Moreover, I believe that, to unite people with Him in order to save their souls, Christ established a visible, hierarchical Body on Earth, whose purpose is, first and foremost, sacramental: to confer the Grace of God through the Holy Mysteries for the salvation of souls. I believe that the Eastern Orthodox Church is that Church today.

When I say I am Orthodox, then, I dont mean that I see Orthodoxy as somehow useful to my agenda, as a way to strengthen the culture or maintain social order or build a community or something, and that as a result of that I’ve adopted the forms of Orthodoxy or joined myself to an Orthodox Church. Rather, I mean that I believe Orthodoxy to be the Truth. By implication, then, other religions are, to a greater or lesser degree, false.

Of course, I believe that a society founded on these truths will probably function better than one which denies them. But you cant restore the Faith for that reason. As C.S. Lewis said, if you think you can, you ‘might just as well think [you] can use the stairs of heaven as a shortcut to the nearest chemist’s shop.’

Now, it’s possible that I’m wrong. No one’s actually defined sincere, exclusive, non-esoteric religious belief out of the neoreaction as far as I can tell. But I see few to no neoreactionaries professing it (though they certainly dont oppose it). For that reason I’m inclined to think I belong more to the Orthosphere, despite spending more time among the disciples of Moldbug.

Thoughts? Am I wrong? Is my religious attitude compatible with the neoreaction?

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14 comments on “I Dont Think I Am A Neoreactionary

  1. Anomaly UK says:

    When I started pushing the term “neoreactionary”, I specifically intended it to distinguish my position from that of the Christian traditionalists. The reason for making the distinction was not that I wished to oppose them, but simply to avoid the confusion that would result from my claiming to be simply a reactionary while holding a political philosophy that was not based on religious conservatism. To anyone who wishes to claim that, as an atheist and materialist, I am not a proper reactionary, I see no sense in arguing; rather, I will say I am a related thing, a neoreactionary.

    So, in the sense I originally meant the term, you are not a neoreactionary. There is little commonality in underlying philosophy between your Orthodox Christianity and my Moldbuggian consequentialism.

    However, it turns out that there is a much greater commonality in our practical conclusions. Further, what distinguishes reaction from many other political movements is that we are not, and probably never will be, a party. We have no need of a common doctrine, of a party platform — the very existence of a party platform, where political allies trade policy favours for political support, is one of the things we most wish to see discarded.

    The way ahead is not clear, but whatever opportunities arise for restoring the superior social and governmental arrangements of the past, there is good reason for neoreactionaries and traditional reactionaries to work together towards a future that we would all prefer.

    Having said all that, there is a sense, which I did not see originally, in which Christian reactionaries like you are within a larger neoreactionary movement. That is because, prior to the neoreaction, Christian reaction was very much inward-looking. When working with mainstream conservatives, it was attempting, ineffectively, to change society. On rejecting mainstream conservatism (for very good reason), the result was largely a retreat into theology. If the basis of your political belief is your religion, then the first step in persuading someone to share your political belief can only be to attempt to convert them to your religion. The political beliefs themselves become irrelevant. You can see this happening on the Orthosphere group blog.

    That changes when Christian reactionaries are able to discuss political futures with neoreactionaries. It enables them to be more outward-looking, to consider and formulate responses to the practical questions that face any restoration, without assuming that a mass return to faith of the population is a prerequisite. The Christian reactionaries who engage intellectually with neoreactionaries therefore become, without changing their own beliefs, part of a new movement.

  2. Will S. says:

    I’m not familiar with the prefix neo- being added to reactionary, nor what other kinds of reactionary it may be contrasted against; could you elaborate a bit on definitions, and where you are taking them from?

    • Will S. says:

      At my group blog, we have invented a portmanteau, Patriactionary, which combines ‘patriarchal’ and ‘reactionary’, just for fun and conciseness. But I certainly never thought of it in contrast to other possible reactionary tendencies; simply emphasizing the patriarchal aspect, that’s all.

      • There are definitely different ‘schools’ of reaction, though it’s very much up in the air how they should be taxonomised. I’ve thought about doing a post on the subject in the past.

        The most basic distinction, in my mind, is between neoreaction and paleoreaction. I admit I concocted the term ‘paleoreaction’ myself and I’m not sure how much currency it has, but it seems like the natural corollary to ‘neoreaction’.

        This post at More Right explains neoreaction a bit: http://www.moreright.net/novelty-of-neoreaction/

        ‘Neoreaction’, it seems to me, can be used almost synonymously with ‘Moldbuggism’. Anomaly did a bit above, as well, to explain what it is.

        What neoreaction lacks, I think, most critically, is much in the way of a temperamental or natural or pre-intellectual conservative attitude. They speak in the language of Mises, not Chesterton. You will rarely if ever hear them talk, for example, about ‘getting back to the land’, ‘preserving our traditions’, or ‘maintaining the faith’ as if these things were good in themselves. Rather, if they bring them up they view them as means to an end, probably ‘order’ or some fairly abstract concept of happiness. They generally dont talk, mind, as if they in particular appreciate e.g. the land or the traditions or believe in the Faith, but they recognise that ‘that sort of thing makes people happy’ or ‘that sort of thing keeps people in line’, so they support it, in a sort of abstract way.

        As near as I can tell, neoreaction is reaction as presented by libertarians for themselves and for progressives, and is sort of a reinventing of the wheel, created without relying on earlier works like the English conservative tradition, or the American Southern tradition, or the French authoritarians, and so on. Paleos, meanwhile, are those of us who do see ourselves following in the footsteps of those movements.

      • Will S. says:

        Thanks ARH. I suppose, then, I might identify with paleoreactionary, both in terms of being perhaps somewhat analogous to paleoconservative and paleolibertarian (both of with which I’d also identify), but also because my reactionary tendencies more or less flow out of a less decidedly conscious conversion, and more out of my regular tendencies, extended, I’d say.

  3. Anomaly UK says:

    It’s reasonable to call neoreaction a reinvention, but if we do not primarily rely on the conservative tradition, that is not the same as rejecting it. Huge chunks of Moldbug’s blog are devoted to Carlyle, Henry Maine, and others, though there is an Anglocentric bias that until very recently divided us from the continental tradition.

    The neoreactionaries within my narrow definition still have a spread of views. At one end are the futurists and transhumanists who desire progress in social systems, just progress of a different kind than that of the revolutionary age. At the other end there is, well, me: as I see it there may be no better social systems than the ones that the revolutionary age demolished, and even if there are, there is no reliable way to find them. I would like to see a degree of cautious experimentation among independent polities, but I have no original blueprint at all. Moldbug is in the middle with his neocameralism, more traditionalist than, say, Nick Land, but less than me.

    On the question of the good-in-itself, I am no philosopher, but there is a reason for the emphasis on Carlyle that you find in Moldbug and The Radish. Carlyle, the great reactionary of the Victorian period, was no Orthodox believer, even in Anglican terms. For him, the fact that some things worked and other things didn’t work had in itself a kind of divine force. To attempt to defy the natural laws – that some things work and some don’t – is a kind of sin, that will be punished, not supernaturally but naturally. Kipling’s “Gods of the Copybook Headings” is an expression of the same idea. Nick Land has coined “Gnon”, presumably to put off people who expect things to make sense easily.

    • Will S. says:

      Ah yes, the futurists and transhumanists; are they truly reactionary, or are they simply anti- certain aspects of progressivism, whilst nevertheless embracing others?

      I know some of them somehow self-identify as reactionaries, and are embraced by others as such, or at least as fellow anti-liberals, but if they are putting faith in the future or technology, I fail to see how they are truly reactionary in any meaningful sense of the word; in fact, I’m inclined to think that’s stretching the term beyond any sort of usefulness as a descriptor, if such come under the umbrella of it.

    • JBP says:

      Ah. So I am a Gnon, altough I shan’t say I expect things to make sense easily, I just wish I could understand them better. Now can I also be a neoreactionary Gnon?

  4. […] ones, seem to be popular topics of discussion these days in the reactosphere; e.g. see here, here, and […]

  5. Imperator says:

    Neoreactionaries seem to be more philosophically, rather than theologically, inclined. They are certainly the secular arm of Reaction. We should accept each other as allies, not enemies, because we do have quite a lot in common and share many of the same desired ends, even if our justifications differ. Personally, I do not like the term Reactionaries since I prefer to view my efforts as preserving traditions rather than reacting against the Leftist leviathan and zeitgeist. Traditionalist is a more fitting term for my beliefs and those like me.

  6. […] few weeks ago, The Avenging Red Hand put up this post, in which he wonders when he can be part of the new reaction if he’s […]

  7. Tomás de Torquemada says:

    I am not a neoreactionary, and it is easy for me to tell why. The neoreactionaries will spill gallons of ink (so to speak) over this matter of “who is a neoreactionary?” They will discuss this at length, all at the same time, and they will worry especially about the religious. They will redouble their verbiage, and Moldbugg and Carlysle will mate and form a Borg of Mental Foggery. Not me, I am a simple man, and my life is simple. I am a hard-line loyalist of Christ. I love truth and hate lies. I crack a heretic skull on occasion.

  8. […] Religion and reaction. Related: If it helps, I am religious and a reactionary. […]

  9. […] In addition to the Canon, for those who want something direct, I thought this, from More Right, was very useful (h/t Avenging Red Hand). […]

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