On The Treatment of Inferiors

A gentleman is one who treats his inferiors with the greatest courtesy, justice and consideration, and who exacts the same treatment from his superiors. — New York Daily News. (H/T: Quote Investigator)

The true measure of a man’s character is how he treats his inferiors. This ethical principle has a long pedigree but why is it so important, especially from an Orthodox Christian perspective?

First, let me make the usual disclaimer when it comes to theological posts: Although I consider myself well-studied and my opinions well-thought-out, I am neither a hierarch nor a priest and I do not speak for my Church in any official capacity. None of what I say is dogma, unless it’s quoting an official source, etc., etc.

That being said: I think the key thing to bear in mind here is that man is made in the image, and ought to be conformed to the likeness, of God. As such, it would behoove us, when considering how we ought to treat our inferiors, to consider how God, Whose ikons we are, treats His.

To a Christian audience, or an audience familiar with Christian mythology (in the proper sense), I need not belabour this point too much. Our Lord gave His life for those in His charge, and those of us who are called by God to a position of authority are also called by Him to imitate the sacrificial nature of Christ’s rule.

An aside here: The notion of ‘servant leadership’ is heavily promoted among Christian leaders, especially evangelicals, in our modern, egalitarian time. The concept is not entirely without merit; certainly, Our Lord did say ‘He who would be great among you, let him be your servant.’ However, in our time this idea is perverted into a negation of authority per se. The idea often seems to be juxtaposed with Biblical commands for, for example, servants to obey their masters, or wives to submit to their husbands, and although it’s not explicitly said, the implied addendum is ‘but that’s not really what it means.’ ‘Yes, wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, but the husband is called to be a servant [so none of that really applies and the wife is still fundamentally in charge].’

However, this is not how Our Lord operated, it is not how the Apostles operated, and it is not how Christians in positions of authority today, whether they be husbands, fathers, kings, or priests, are called to operate. Christ washed the feet of his apostles, to be sure, but at the same time He never hesitated to give them orders, nor did He beat around the bush when it came to the condemnation of the wicked. The Apostles too wrote in clear consciousness of their own authority; even at their most humble they brooked neither disobedience nor disrespect from the faithful. When it is said that the ruler must be a servant, this is true, but it must not be taken in such a sense as to negate the proper hierarchical relationship between the ruler and the subject.

With that aside complete, let us return to the question of how those who are called to positions of authority should deal with those who are placed below them. As Christians, we ought first of all to honour the image of God in which we are created, and second of all to attempt to conform ourselves to His likeness. As such, His treatment of His inferiors ought to be the model for how we treat our own.

And to me, anyway,  That there is a Being of infinite power Who created and transcends the universe may be on some level a hard concept to grasp, but on the other hand it is on some level intuitive that there must be such a Being. But that He would become a man, that he would suffer, not just pain, which to a being of His magnitude must be a rather small and petty thing, but the infinite humiliation of being tortured to death by His own creatures; this is the truly shocking thing. This is the thing which we must, in our own small way, imitate if we are to be conformed to the likeness of God.

St. Paul writes:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

But this does not apply only to husbands and wives directly. One of the points I like to hammer on is that authority is of one nature. There is not a fundamental difference between the authority of the husband/father and that of the king or the priest.

The reason that a man is measured by the way he treats his inferiors is that there is a mutual exchange in the right cosmic order: respect and obedience flow up, while love and self-sacrifice flow down.

What does not flow down, by the way, is submission or compliance, and what does not flow up is judgment. A woman does not get to say ‘I dont have to submit because I dont feel like my husband is loving me well enough’, for example. This is a side note because I know if I dont throw this in I’ll be accused of making excuses for wives who dont submit, etc. That’s not the point. We’re not talking about them now.

The point here is simply that wherever there is a hierarchy, it is the duty of those who occupy a higher place in the hierarchy to see to the welfare of those under them, even at the expense of their own. The superior man treats his inferiors with compassion; the inferior man, insecure in his position of authority, abuses them to prove to himself that he is in charge,  or disregards them because he is concerned only with his own pleasure.

That’s why the treatment of inferiors, not equals, is the measure of a man.

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Barbarians Within the Gates

Neoreaction is a young movement. Moreover, it’s a movement that emerged in a rather unprecedented way. Few if any political movements in history have begun with theoretical work by a loose connection of bloggers.

Early in the history of the movement, it was small and attracted only people of genuine conviction (or at least open curiosity) and exceptionally high intelligence. As the movement grows, however, we will attract, and have already begun to attract, all manner of people we either dont want around or dont want representing us. There are entryists. There are idiots. There are boors and there are trolls.

Until now we haven’t had to deal with this. We’ve been very accepting of anyone who wants to join in on neoreaction, and this has worked out all right. However, recent events have shown that this is no longer the case. We have people on the outside asking us polite questions and we ought to be answering them, trying to raise awareness and bring people in. Some of us, however, see trolls under every bridge and respond in distinctly non-constructive ways.

These people need to be kept under control if neoreaction is to get anywhere. The image we present is important, and recruiting new people is important. If we are overly suspicious and hostile to the curious outsider we will only become an insular club with little development of thought and zero action.

All of this is to say that those of us who are intelligent, serious, and well-established need a way to regulate the neoreactionary masses, and perhaps even each other. We need a self-regulating hierarchy.

The idea of a neoreactionary wiki has been floated several times before, but as far as I know it has never actually been established. I think it should be, and could be with minimal cost and work. The wiki would include contributions from all the major neoreactionary thinkers (and probably many of the minor ones) and therefore would acquire a greater authority than any individual’s blog.

From there, we could set up a directory of sorts for the neoreaction: a list of people recognised by the community as leaders and representatives of the best in our movement. Those people would then have the discretion to expand the list, something they should do very sparingly. We could also keep the list of banned wiki editors public.

The creation of this neoreactionary wiki would thus set up four tiers in the neoreaction:

1. Directory members. These are the authorities on the subject, the people outsiders should read first and the people whose opinions should be given the most weight.

2. Wiki editors. These are people who make contributions of various levels of significance to neoreactionary thought, and who are known and (at least tentatively) accepted.

3. Banned editors. These people have, for whatever reason, earned the disapproval of the community or the leaders. Obviously we dont have the power to finally silence them but they do not represent us.

4. The wild cards: people who dont have an account at the wiki and never have. Over time, as the wiki grows in prominence (if it’s a success), these people should probably be purged, unless they’re indubitably writers of the first order. It wont be that hard to set up an account and having the wiki will be a huge boon to the movement as a whole. That said, we cant expect everyone to be on board right away, and in the beginning this category will be large.

This wiki would give us a way to deal with the barbarians within the gates who threaten to destroy Rome from the inside. Of course, it would only work if it gained the approval of most of the current influential neoreactionaries. I hope it will and I’m prepared to have the idea critiqued and refined. I am of course willing to be heavily involved in the creation of the wiki but I dont think I have the clout to establish it all on my own.

I welcome comments, especially from the bigger NRx thinkers, and I remain

your obedient servant,

Arthur Richard Harrison

The Necessity of a Neoreactionary Doctrine

The Necessity of a Neoreactionary Doctrine

By Arthur Richard Harrison

In the early days, neoreaction did not need an articulated set of doctrinal premises: we all knew each other (again, at least as much as anyone can know anyone else online), and we knew who was who. We knew who was in and who was out. And there was no one, really, who wanted to be ‘in’ but was rejected by a significant percentage of us.

Now, however, our movement numbers in the hundreds at least (gauging by my number of Twitter followers; it’s possible there are many more that I am not aware of) and we dont, and indeed cant, all know each other on anything like a personal level. Moreover, we are not all going to get along, realistically speaking. It wouldn’t be beneficial in any way to name names or talk about specifics, but I can assure all my readers, from experience, that there are already people in the neoreaction who have all kinds of personal problems with each other.

If our movement, then, is to remain a meaningful, purposeful school of thought or even broad collection of schools, we need some kind of doctrinal agreement. Social bonds are not enough to hold together a group of this size. And if we dont have anything in common in terms of goals and/or methods we’re not a meaningful grouping.

Now, we must avoid stating this doctrine too narrowly. I would not claim, for example, that one must be a traditional monarchist to be a neoreactionary. However, one certainly cannot be a democrat and be a neoreactionary. If neoreaction is allowed to be transformed into a pro-democracy movement, a great deal of work will have been for nought.

I dont intend to attempt to articulate the definitive neoreactionary doctrine here; a great deal of work has been done on that already by Michael Anissimov. Also, it’s not quite the same thing, but some related work has been done by Bryce LaLiberte in his ‘Neoreactionary Canon’.

Rather, my point here is to underscore the need for those of us who are established voices in the neoreactionary world to agree on at least a few of the basic doctrines that distinguish us from the other ideologies now circulating. Let us learn from the history of American traditionalist conservatism. Against the Communist threat, traditionalists made a deal with the neoconservative/libertarian devil under Reagan. They were absorbed into ‘movement conservatism’, and have never recovered. A similar phenomenon occurred in the UK under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Something similar could very easily happen to neoreaction. There are a number of ways it could go, but here’s one possibility: A socially-leftish ancap reads a little Moldbug. He then decides to import his ideas of ‘anti-racism’, ‘anti-sexism’, ‘anti-transphobia’, and the like into the general framework of something like Moldbug’s Patchwork (which, after all, bears some resemblance to Ancapistan.) He talks a lot about ‘exit’ and he emphasises the ‘CEO’ model of rulership over the royal model. \ He then sells this ‘new neoreaction’ as the ‘moderate’ or ‘rational’ form of the ideology, more palatable to progressives as it is to a great extent either compatible with their own ideas or impotent to oppose them. As a result, genuine neoreactionaries are marginalised and dismissed as ‘extremists’ even within neoreaction.

Make no mistake: this will be attempted. Something very like this is happening as we speak. And unless we can clearly identify, to each other and the world, who is and is not a neoreactionary, we will be incredibly vulnerable to all manner of entryism and subversion. The only way to mark our borders is with a shared doctrinal core. I may attempt to contribute to that core at some point in the future, but for now I think Anissimov has done a decent job identifying the main points, and I hope that I have done a decent job explaining why it’s necessary.