The Return of the Reactionary (Part II)

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Part 2: Rebooting the Leviathan.

In the first part of this essay we looked at the phenomenon of the “alt right”. In this second piece we turn to discussions of neo-reactionary philosophy. A common story goes that the intellectual flagship, the act of legitimation for reanimating reaction as a culture, began at the end of last decade with a rather peculiar Silicon Valley computer programmer called Curtis Yarvin. A man more commonly known by the online nom de plume Mencius Moldbug. On the eve of the election of Obama, Moldbug began an introductory text to a philosophical theory, “NRx” (neo-reaction), he had been working out as over the previous year in a series of long blog posts on his site UR (Unqualified Reservations).[1] This work was entitled “An Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives”.[2] Its purpose was to introduce a theoretical educated youth readership, ever so gently, into entertaining a number of ideas which by the standards of modern liberalism are utterly anathematic: total privatisation of the state and the liquidation of democracy. The future is to become a network of hyper-capitalist city states ruled by authoritarian CEO monarchs. Yes, people do take this seriously, and some of it is even a little funny with how consciously eccentric it is. Moldbug is one part joker, one part technocrat and a whole lot of paranoia about the imminent collapse of America into a war of all against all. A kind of facetious Thomas Hobbes or Carl Schmitt for the Wikipedia generation.

1. No Reservations.

No one has written a book yet on Moldbug or on “NRx” except perhaps Phil Sandifer’s forthcoming Neo-Reaction: A Basilisk, of which I have only been able to read a few snippets.[3]  NRx sites include the rather underdeveloped Hestia Project with its “the only morality is civilisation” for a magical future “among the starts”. There’s the rather droll monarchy-obsessed Radish Magazine, which is certainly worth a visit, if only for the artwork.[4] The most active site for NRx is Social Matter, though it does tend more towards talk of caste systems and Christianity than it does full on “Moldbuggery”. The closest commensurate “text” on the subject of NRx is reactionary Nick Land’s eleven thousand word manifesto and guidebook “The Dark Enlightenment”.[5] This term of Land’s has come to be commonly used for the older portions of what would now be gathered up as the “alt right” – the discord of hyper-capitalists, ethnonationalists and conservative religious bloggers that preceded the migration of reactionary thought onto social Facebook, Reddit and Twitter in the past year and a half. This is even if Yarvin/Moldbug, because of his Jewish ancestry and extreme capitalism is viewed with a great deal of distaste by white “ethnonationalists”. Yes, somehow anti-Semitism is cool again.

Moldbug’s key idea is that progressivism is the mainstream American political tradition, a “W-Force” child of Calvinist universalism that developed from the seventeenth century British Whigs. [6] To Moldbug through his reactionary goggles the world is full of migrant and black crime, intellectual standardisation and failed democratic and military interventions. Progressivism appears far more dangerous and self-destructive than it might think it is. At the opening of his early “Formalist Manifesto” prior to the “Open Letter” Moldbug had stated the following:

“My beef with progressivism is that for at least the last 100 years, the vast majority of writers and thinkers and smart people in general have been progressives. Therefore, any intellectual in 2007, which unless there has been some kind of Internet space warp and my words are being carried live on Fox News, is anyone reading this, is basically marinated in progressive ideology.”[7]

In the “Open Letter”, Moldbug attempts to turn this observation into a fully-fledged politically philosophy for posterity. An electronic guidebook for political reaction against America’s liberal elites in the universities, media and NGOs, whom he calls by the ominous titles of “Brahmins”, “The Polygon” and “The Cathedral”.[8] Being conservative doesn’t mean you have to be stupid, says Moldbug. One doesn’t have to be the Burkean loser doomed to forever be the “outside party”, unable to compete with Alinskyite shock-tactic activism and leftist academia. There are alternatives, the most important being the complete eradication of representative democracy altogether.

Why would anyone even suggest this? It sounds absurd overkill, the lashing out of pure ressentiment. In Moldbug’s reactionary mind Fukuyamean liberal democracy is plummeting headlong towards universalist “Quaker thug hell” – race war, urban collapse and the breakdown of global order: “History is not over. Oh, no. We are still living it. Perhaps we are in the positions of the French of 1780 or the Russians of 1914, who had no idea that the worlds they lived in could degenerate so rapidly into misery and terror”.[9] Does he dread some sudden communist revolution in an era when this would seem laughable? No – he simply expects an increasing decline into hypnotic hippie madness, a world where by 2030 no one will even believe in national borders anymore and the west will be swamped by migrant hordes and ghetto warlords. Strong assumptions indeed, but the carrot and stick game that is reactionary thought is built upon this sort of obsession with chaos and claiming that one has the only viable system to overcome it.

What we have with Moldbug is a sort of antithesis of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s popular book Empire, where the only way to beat the global system of the US government, UN and others was letting the third world “multitude” migrate into the global north to attain one-world communism.[10] In Moldbug’s view the opposite direction, which Negri and Hardt dreaded, is far better. Back to the sovereign Enlightenment state with no way for those vile progressives to corrupt the system. In fact authoritarianism, a “restoration” of monarchy updated for the twenty-first century with a Silicon Valley CEO like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk,[11] and even fascism at a pinch,[12] would be far preferable, thinks Moldbug, compared to what we have at present. To Moldbug, colonialism wasn’t that bad at all – it brought civilisation, wealth and it kept order. The post-colonial interventionism of “progressives”, whether the UN, communists, or American political engineering in the name of universal liberal democracy since WWII has, to his mind, done more damage to the development and prosperity of sovereign nations than anything the now heinously reactionary British Empire or global corporations have ever done. Who would ever dare say such things today?

And this is perhaps the point. Moldbug had discovered the secret to selling reaction back when most of the “alt right” mob would have still been in school. He dresses up unpalatable ideas as something rebellious and exciting under the self-aware irony of writing a “neo-fascist hate blog”.[13] One is really not sure if one is coming face to face with some cartoon devil when Moldbug argues that the state should be handed over to airline pilots to manage a transition to full privatisation by some bizarre matriarchal “receiver”.[14] Why pilots? Because they’re the most trustworthy people he can think of. Add to this the idea that because African Americans get free SAT points, their race constitutes an inherited privilege and “title” that they should be able to sell to others for money.[15] This was years before talking about “white privilege” was all the rage. Moldbug’s incessant protests that he really isn’t racist and really isn’t an evil fascist read like a kind of pantomime villain’s game with the audience. Is he just getting high on the fumes of his own heresy when he claims he is nowhere as dangerous as burbling Marxist teddy bear Slavoj Žižek “that totally evil man…sharpening his rusting guillotine”?[16] We will never know. With enough ironic sugar-coating people can swallow just about anything serious.

Moldbug is obsessed with nineteenth century reactionary Thomas Carlyle – that long forgotten worshipper of the Great Man ruler. Yet more than anything else all his “Jacobite” and restoration of monarchy cant is more like some cheap marzipan slopped over the top of the sad old fruitcake of Austrian Economics and its terror at evil leftist social “planners”. Moldbug discovered the magic of monarchy through Hans Hermann Hoppe, an anarcho-capitalist alumnus of the Austrian School who decided that kingship constituted a proto form of a theoretical futuristic “private ownership” of the state.[17] Hoppe and Moldbug’s privatised “neo-cameral” state systems where the dictator is reviewed and kept in line by a board of shareholders, read like some science fiction monstrosity. Perhaps the company OCP (Omni Consumer Products) from the facetious old Robocop films or some mega-corporation from a paranoid Philip K. Dick novel. A “patchwork” of up to ten thousand privately owned Singapore-esque cities dotting the globe.[18] To Moldbug rulers only become tyrants when they don’t have enough power. As in Dante’s De Monarchia, the ideational superking can do no wrong because no one threatens him or his property. He wants for nothing. Moldbug’s sci-fi CEO Emperor, who exists merely to turn his state into a product, a branded cash-cow, even has the power to disarm all the weapons in his realm with the push of a button if revolution threatens.[19]. What sweet fantasy!

It seems a given that Karl Popper would probably be gravely ill if he were around to hear Moldbug speak of a tyrannical privatised state as the only real “open society”.[20] But more importantly Moldbug’s hero Thomas Carlyle, that hater of the “laissez faire” abandonment of the populace to colonial migration and Benthamite “steam engine utilitarianism”,[21] would probably turn in his grave to hear his ideas in Moldbug’s mouth. What has he to do with this computer nerd’s plans to forcibly re-educate the black lumpenproletariat in panopticon communities?[22] What would he say about a future where people are supposed to travel the world like rootless consumers shopping around for competing city states that offer the best privatised welfare dividends?[23] As Jon Agar has observed, Carlyle pre-empts Foucault by a century in seeing a convergence towards the prison in British political institutions.[24] Rule without the “infinite virtues” of Love, Fear and Wonder simply ends in technocracy to Carlyle. And Moldbug is a technocrat treating society like a computer needing a “hard reboot”. No one despised Thomas Babbage, that ancestor of Moldbug’s profession, and the image of society as a machine more than Carlyle did.[25]

Nonetheless, Carlyle had hoped that the “captains of industry” of the Victorian Era might learn to stop chasing “million pound notes” and become socially responsible rulers matching the kings and abbots of the past. Moldbug, in comparison, seems to look around at the parochial world of Silicon Valley in which he dwells and sees only the Babbages of the information age as capable of saving us from ourselves. The dreams of the nineteenth century Great Reaction cannot be “restored” in our age – all those Carlyles and Karl Marlos wanting the guild system back and the end to all those “French Ideas”. Laissez faire won as much as the Jacobin did, and produced the world we live in now. Moldbug, a libertarian at heart more than a full-blown traditionalist monarchist, has no desire to restore the social conditions of 1808, as wonderful as a gold-backed currency and the unregulated American markets of the era are imagined to have been. A confused history of American libertarianism and European feudalism is Moldbug’s ownHoppean invention, a history that could have been, but never was.

Moldbug’s real ancestor, whether he knows it or not, is mechanical brutalist and lord of demythologised absolutism Thomas Hobbes.[26] Some religious reactionary thinkers who see the origins of modernity in Hobbes and his sceptical materialism, have called both he and Moldbug “leftists”.[27] They certainly aren’t romantic idealists about man’s obligation to man under God like Carlyle was. The best Moldbug can do is say that his beloved Carlyle wasn’t “perfect” because he didn’t take economics fully into account, before transforming Carlyle’s religious defence of slavery and social cohesion between master and labourer into a totally monetarised scheme of contracts.[28] Everything can be monetarised for Moldbug in the name of enforcing social cohesion – that lovely personality trait of neo-liberal extremists. Moldbug like most reactionaries worships power, not traditions, virtue or institutions. This is because American politics in his mind, from its very start, has been one long, vile “progressive” social experiment. The monology of order and Carlyle’s loathed “victory of Cash” is all that is important. Carlyle remains far closer to Plato than Hobbes, and has close to nothing in common with Moldbug and Hoppe.

Mencius Moldbug emerged from the strange techno-optimist “pure ideology” of Silicon Valley, where money and machinery pretty much are civilisation. The last in a long line of zealous believers in Francis Bacon’s Holy Spirit of invention that comes aura leni (with a gentle breeze/breath), overleaping all cultures towards some universal millenarian adulthood of man.[29] A sacred elect building the future for everyone, whether they like it or not. This is the result of the libertarian “right turn” that took place in the 1980s when the Californian Whole Earth techno-hippies dreaming of global oneness shaved off their beards, put on suits and became businessmen.[30] Like transhumanist Michael Anissimov, a less prominent and rather lacklustre “neo reactionary” who emerged from the same LessWrong Bay Area libertarian milieu at the end of last decade,[31] one minute he and Moldbug can be waxing lyrically about traditional “organic society” being like some marvellous oak tree, [32]  the next minute they are lapping up Ray Kurzweil’s “singularity” of AI and human intelligence as an instant bandaid for social decay.[33] Anissimov does for Italian mystic and monarchy-obsessive Julius Evola what Moldbug does for Carlyle- suck all the life out of idealistic and religious ideologies about sacred “order” and replace them with the religion of techno-capitalism.[34] Moldbug can endlessly fantasise about alternative histories of Nazi CPUs, the Britain of 1808 having modern technology, or the American of 1908 reappearing in the middle of the Atlantic and out-competing every other nation on earth because of its comparative lack of “progressive” degeneracy. [35] These are a strange breed of Gnostic “hipster” fantasists indeed, something which like the “alt right” could only be produced by two generations reared on the sword and laser gun “future primaeval” worlds of computer war-games.

When it comes down to it Moldbug and Anissimov would like an alternative Enlightenment, one where the there is a new separation of the “two swords” that liberalism put in place of the church and state – those of social progress and techno-capitalist progress. That is how I see it at least. All there is for Moldbug is some Fable of the Bees magical thinking that venal consumption makes everything become more civilised and liberated; no “progressive” even needs to get a voice in government. What we have is simply one more entry on the ledger of reactionary liberalism. An undercurrent that runs from Thomas Hobbes’ belief that if the Leviathan king is installed to keep the religious factions down then supply and demand will simply make everything work out.[36] It returns in Mussolini’s “free market” phase and Augusto Pinochet’s management of the state for corporations. Both of the latter tyrants certainly found praise from the Austrian Economics dons Ludwig Mises and F.A. Hayek, who seemed to believe that at very least a temporary dictatorship to keep out the dread “planners” was not an entirely bad idea.[37]

Even though he was a student of Mises, I do not think Voegelin ever sufficiently realised the gross kind of “metastatic” money voodoo involved in all the ever-sprawling positive “spontaneous order” of cash people like Moldbug believe in.[38] The idolater’s grace of “free markets” becomes more important than anything else. What terrifies Moldbug at the butt-end of Austrian thought is the idea that the interfering “planners” are going to plunge everything into chaos before all the magical future technology is paid out of its own predestined accord; that at present “technology masks social decay”. This necessitates installing absolute order, the world covered in a plague of Silicon Valley corporations. Unsurprisingly in 2014 one of Moldbug’s fans, a programmer called Justine Tunney from Google, submitted a letter to the Whitehouse demanding that all power in the US should be handed over to the company’s CEO, Eric Schmidt.[39] Yes, this really happened. For Moldbug, beyond the abstraction of the “patchwork”, a totally privatised “Stevafornia” owned by Steve Jobs was as ambitious as he ever really got.

Silicon Valley would love to believe that it is the axis mundi, the centre of the cosmos. That all roads lead to the magical Rome of Bitcoins, privatised Space travel and ubiquitous gleaming computer-integrated surfaces. At present Google, Facebook and Microsoft are busy colonising the planet as part of a “New Space Race” over whose version of the internet gets to dominate the third world.[40] Why not simply start franchising government? If the only Great Man in existence today is someone like Schmidt or Zuckerberg, then God help us all. Even arch-reactionary Oswald Spengler, who, nearly a century ago now claimed that there was nothing left for the Great Man except money and machinery would probably be left more than a little disappointed by this.[41]

2.The Loathsome Dream.

It is exactly this appeal for modernity = technocapitalism and nothing more that seems to have won over Moldbug’s most loyal admirer, Nick Land – a bizarre, post-modern philosopher. For the past thirty years Land has been trying to turn repellence into an art form. Back in the 90’s, when he was a communist (or something vaguely approximating it), Land made a cult name for himself by inventing “theory fiction”. A kind of extremely puerile mash of Nietzsche, Deleuze, the consumer waste of Georges Bataille and the sort of dated cyberpunk futurism one finds in all those z-grade Lawnmower Man films of the 1990s.[42] Land has only ever believed in two things: techno-capitalism and Freud’s “death instinct”, both of which he takes together as a liberating solvent “accelerating” towards dissolution. Modernity emerges out of Europe at the end of the Middle Ages like a mechanical disease, destined to digest the entire planet until man evanesces like “some loathsome dream” into the machinery.[43]

Brutally anti-humanist, Land in his desire for transhumanist salvation in the 1990s conjured up a paranoid world where fascists, priests, humanists and just about everyone who wasn’t him became one and the same. A force of “Turing Cops” trying to hold back the liberating dissolution of mankind into the machine. They all want to keep man a peasant digging over the same piece of ground forever, because of their fear of him internalising an alien “cyberplague” of techno-capitalism that has taken on a life of its own.[44] Land so hates the human race that the only thing it seems good for is for producing a liberated Nietzschean posthuman. As Nietzsche cried out, and Deleuze imitated: “the levelling process of European man is the great process which should not be checked: one should even accelerate it”.[45] As John Gray has said: “Nietzsche never escaped from the Christian world-view he attacked. His idea of the superman shows him trying to construct a new redemptive myth.”[46] Voegelin would surely agree. What we have with Land is a kind of highly predictable and rather banal millenarian heresy delivered through magical machinery.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Land’s biggest early influences, refused to believe in Freud’s death instinct, like their hero Wilhelm Reich before them. Even the Nazis were simply a formation of perverted “Eros”. Land, by reinserting and obsessing over this “Thanatos” seems to have turned back from the positivity of his masters’ liberating Rousseau/Reich ideology towards Freud’s “man is a wolf for men”, and eventually, with his reactionary turn in the past few years, the embrace of brutalist “Hobbesian undercurrents”.[47]

Rousseau: Reich becomes Hobbes: Freud.

Mankind’s bestial consumption, overpopulation and sprawl is dangerous – needs must that something be done to survive the accelerating dissolution of order to get to the transhuman payout. In order to get this Land has to go full Hobbesian to pick the fruit of accelerating “meltdown” – “reactionaries head for the exit!” Deleuzian “lines of flight” to a closed autocratic hyper-capitalist society to survive the oncoming dissolution of civilisation into a war of all against all.

As Land declared in an early work: “negative disorder—negentropy—is…the possibility of release towards the unregulated or anarchic abyss into which energy pours, as the death of God….Order is not law but power, and power is aberration.”[48] The aberrance of power amidst eternal flux needs to be preserved. This finally emerges as the fact that Land wants all the magical payout of modernity’s self-immolating Baconian scientism, but cut free of Bacon’s belief that without man the world would be meaningless.[49]

Here is a fruitful comparison with someone Land once censured for not being anti-humanist enough, Norbert Wiener – the inventor of cybernetics. Wiener was very morose that his invention had helped create the automated post-war consumer culture of America.[50] Americans, he said, were like little children who had found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real and as a result had to compensate by making it Christmas every day. Indeed Wiener seems to be talking about the death of God, and wished entropic destruction on the whole business, the quiet of the grave. Land, following his reactionary turn believes only in the God of hard cruel chaotic material nature, a thing called “Gnon” that is going to punish all the dumb humanists, egalitarians and “zombie” social constructionist “science deniers”.[51] Deus sive Natura Vult, so one might say. Land wants to be there to see everyone else in their grave from the safe distance of some elite, gated posthuman community, while the collapsing world of superseded humans starves outside. Racism is passé. What we need to think about is the coming “hyperracist” future after man bifurcates into multiple designed species.[52]

With the Chaos Theory god “Gnon” we can see that Land’s millenarianism is dependent upon a kind of extreme metastatic faith. He gets to decide how the natural world works, who will get punished, and then simply blames it on the supposed “nature of things”. This is not very surprising, as Land’s ideas have long been dependent upon a species of rather ridiculous occult bootstrapping called “hyperstition.” A zealous belief that techno-capitalism is a force coming out of the future into the present.[53] What this voodoo means is that Land’s techno-capitalist Sorcerer’s Apprentice is organising the world towards the predetermined goal of the “meltdown” of the human race he imagines – making life easier for itself. Pretty amusing “egophanic” stuff indeed. It is little wonder, then, that in recent years Land has endorsed popular computational myths such as the childish narrative that we are in a simulation made by a future AI – an idea I have dealt with elsewhere in another article for VoegelinView.[54] Another is “Roko’s Basilisk”, which is basically a Pascal’s Wager for geeks. The idea is that an all-powerful AI in the future is reorganising the past so that it can come into being. Anyone who tries to stop it from existing will be punished by it reaching back in time to get them. Ergo, it is better to help it come into being, even if it turns out to be a very cruel machine devil indeed.[55] Something perhaps not too dissimilar from Harlen Ellison’s old science fiction horror story about a sadomasochist computer god, I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream, which the author wrote in a single night after his wife left him.  A personalised pseudo-religious Hell fantasy left over from the middle of last century like much of Land’s quaint obsessions, and that is all.

But when is this future? Like Moldbug, Land’s future chronology is vague at best, and for good reason. Back in the 90s when he was off his head on pills Land seemed to write as though the great accelerating “meltdown” of the human race would happen next Thursday lunchtime.[56] These days, when challenged by his leftist “Accelerationist” children, who claim that neo-liberalism has dampened all those Space Age fully automated post-work fantasies we once believed in and we should demand for them to be reified, Land can say little more than that we got the internet and should be happy with that.[57] Moldbug’s consolatory fantasy realm of unhindered capitalist city states becomes a must. Our fallen world is just far too slow in providing its salvation for our bizarre Robo-Hobbes who doesn’t want to share his futuristic toys. This is even if he sneers that left “Acceleration” is simply weak parasitism with no ideas of its own and no power to rein in the flows of capitalist destiny.[58] Like many reactionaries Land seems to have entirely given up on the West and instead fantasises about the emerging giant of China,[59] just as many people in the 1980s-90s did about magical futuristic Japan. We can find this sad old orientalist mirror back as far as John Mandeville and the author’s idolisation of the inherently just Mongol khans at the expense of a fallen, divided Christendom.[60] The Hyperborean other fulfils all our fantasies when we ourselves cannot. There is something more than a little pathetic about Land and his absurd, hateful quest for salvation. He is damned, just like all those Space Age futures and cyberpunk novelties that refuse to go away for fear of having to think about a world not bound to the pseudo-religious consolations of the twentieth century. One day we will have to leave it and its Ptolemaic cosmologies and this pains us like the “reactionaries” we are.

3. Voegelin’s Pharmacy.

Perhaps the most interesting thing for a Voegelinian about all this Moldbug and Land “NRx” business is this. It utilises the idea that its “progressive” enemies are millenarians. Realising that the “progressives” are in charge and have been infected with a self-perpetuating dangerous delusion about their moral superiority, a kind of zombie virus as he sees it, is represented by Moldbug in the “Open Letter” as taking a “red pill” of anakyklosis (revolution?). This is of course an allusion to the 1998 cyberpunk film the Matrix, where the protagonist is given the choice to take one of two pills that either show him cold hard reality or return him to his fantasy world. A kind of trite pop-cultural cross between Plato’s Myth of the Cave and Alice in Wonderland. The opposite of the “red pill” of truth, says Moldbug, is the “blue pill” called millennium, simply going back to the same old comfortable egalitarian global oneness visions leading unerringly towards Hell on Earth.[61] Only the elect believers who see though it all can save the future. Moldbug is more an exaggerated millenarian than even his quarry. No wonder this “red pill” symbol is now so popular among online reactionaries, from Neo-Nazis to men’s rights activists. Everyone wants to be the elect reactionary prophet who sees the world for what it “truly” is.

But it gets better. In March 2016, in reply to a number of attendees who wanted to drop out of LambdaConf, a programming conference in Maine where he was booked to speak, Curtis Yarvin, foreswearing Moldbug and claiming he hadn’t answered email directed to him for a number of years, simplified his ideas down to a quote from Eric Voegelin. The quote Moldbug gives from Voegelin is quite long, but is essentially contained in its first sentence: “In the Gnostic dreamworld…non-recognition of reality is the first principle . . .” Yarvin/Moldbug utilises this to claim that what he finds real may seem like a daydream to others, and vice versa.[62] Oh how simple and relativistic “order” in history is! We are all Gnostics apparently, as though Voegelin was simply some left Heideggerian pop post-modernist. There is no choice but equally deluded ontological tribalism. If we are all so magically, ontically different, shouldn’t some toleration act or “pragmatist” truce be the only answer? The thought that deep down “free speech advocate” Curtis Yarvin (as his reply to his critics titles him) is really Richard Rorty saying we’re all numinously entitled to our own truths is rather hilarious. Seeing how utterly Manichaean the “blue” vs “red” pill ideology is that Moldbug created, there is very little diversity in these closed realities. One is supposed to just make some ideological commitment and fight a forever war against the archon “other” controlling the world. However, in our age of “no platforming” and post-post-Foucauldian paranoia about “internalised misogyny” and “internalised racism”, whilst Yarvin’s gauche relativist reply was perhaps just a weak attempt to feed his opponents a cartoon version of leftist cultural relativism, there is no way that this could be at all successful. He must know that the “other side” fears evil cartoon fascist devils like Moldbug infecting them, even if they have never actually met any.

All the recent mutual accusations of “post-truth politics” and “fake news” might certainly seem to recommend Moldbug’s thesis of totalising mutual Gnosticism. Yet, if Voegelin were with us I am sure that he would remind us of the founding virtues that animate our shared political institutions, as he saw exemplified in Plato’s Laws: “the institutional order of a community is not its spirit; it is the vessel in which the spirit lives…the institutions are instrumental in the actualisation of the spirit . . .”[63] Voegelin (and Carlyle too) would be the last person to suggest that one should simply give in to partisan blindness for its own exciting sake or admit that we have arrived at the stage of terminal social decay, Taoism’s: “in the end there were only the rites”. Voegelin agreed with Plato that no democracy has ever given way to the rule of Great Men aristoi. Rather it is in democracy’s nature to risk becoming so fragmented, amnesiac and lazy that it will just pick the philosopher king’s pseudos (fake double) to do its thinking for it – the sophist tyrant. Then everyone is miserable.

Do any of us have the necessary skills to find, become or install an absolute ruler who will not become a tyrant? Aside from his vulgar choice of Silicon Valley CEOs, Moldbug just tells his fans to “get worthy”, without any qualifications of the necessary training and virtue involved. Whatever happened to trying to build representative democracy on Great Men and Women? Have the archetypes of the weak-willed, post-industrial office manager and venal businessman really killed them all? To be properly reactionary in the face of ridiculous and dangerous political fantasies like Moldbug’s might then mean preserving democracy and reanimating its institutions.

Land and Moldbug might think themselves oh so very clever for taking off the “velvet glove” of mystified power to reveal that the only virtues are preserving the market and machinery. Surely if we strip things down this far then the miserable disappointment the reactionaries of the interwar period, Julius Evola, Oswald Spengler, Martin Heidegger and Ernst Jünger all experienced when they realised Mussolini and Hitler weren’t Great Men could never be repeated. Let us imagine that Moldbug’s CEO manager could somehow attain total control and not simply become some paranoid market tyrant like Pinochet, murdering any social gathering of people for being an act of “collectivism”.  At best “the patchwork” can keep people as pets because they are worth money as “human capital” for its soulless shopping mall states; at worst it will leave them to rot in the wasteland beyond the city wall as expensive liabilities that have been superseded by transhuman toys. That is that.

One wonders whether Moldbug has read much Voegelin. Though there is no evidence for it, one might at least ponder the possibility that the “blue pill” called millenium and the “Quaker-thug” narrative have been influenced by Voegelin. So too Moldbug’s early insistence that Richard Dawkins in his progressive Enlightenment humanist morality is a “cultural Christian” rather than a real Neo-Darwinian.[64] It is a truly bizarre concept to think of Moldbug as a kind of twisted Voegelinian, turning against liberal democracy, which Voegelin saw as the only stable form of modern social religion capable of avoiding the worst of technocracy. [65] For Voegelin the history of Christianity and the forms of “order” it has produced have had many currents and not merely Gnostic world-hatred and millenarian immannentism. To the atheist Moldbug it appears that linking one’s enemies to “applied Christianity” is good enough to make them mere deluded fantasists, as though Rumpelstiltskin, when named, simply stamps himself to death.[66]

Yarvin claims in his defence that all he was trying to do as Moldbug was “think from scratch”, from first principles, which is precisely what he did not do. How guilty Yarvin/Moldbug is, as he himself admits, of simply reading the “wrong” sort of books from the nineteenth century – Carlyle rather than J.S. Mill![67] Yet all he really did was construct a fantasy “leap” out of Silicon Valley corporatism saving the world from technological and social breakdown; exaggerated techno-capitalism as a cheap glue to hold society together in place of shared values. One must admit, however, that to accuse Moldbug of writing works merely “interpreted” as arguing for slavery, as some concerned about attending the conference did, frankly misses the mark a little. [68] In his UR blog entry ‘Why Carlyle Matters Today” Moldbug openly attempted to convert Carlyle’s moral discourse on slavery into a completely monetarised arrangement for the twenty-first century – a form of super-wage-slavery to keep social order. [69] There is nothing amazing here. A few years ago no one had come across anarcho-capitalism before. Nowadays picking on its absurd Mad Max warlord futures, nuclear conflicts between the nations of KFC and McDonalds, and joking about selling oneself into slavery to a corporation are abundant on social media. Moldbug’s economic “hipster” ideals have become old news, even if the monarchic sheen lives on in contemporary “NRx” like Radish and Social Matter, which rarely seem to speak of the economic side of their “restoration” fantasies.

Let us leave it all with this. In April 2016, just after the LambdaConf incident, Moldbug left a final post on his blog UR in which he claimed that the site had “completed its mission”.[70] What might this mean? Did it fail or succeed? Does he regard the “alt right” at least partly as his offspring? Moldbug once claimed that right wing populism was now no longer even possible because of leftist control of the media, that it would be like “taking on the Death Star with a laser pointer”. I do indeed wonder what he might think about Donald Trump. Nick Land certainly seems to loathe the fascist and economic protectionist elements of the “alt right” as “crypto-communists” who believe in “people power”, yet the master says nothing – just as he has never said anything of Land.[71] So too do I wonder what Moldbug’s antithesis, Slavoj Žižek, might make of him. It would certainly be entertaining. After all, the whole Moldbug “project” is like some colossal cartoon version of everything the left have ever said about Fascism. Capitalism going authoritarian to keep the radicals out and protect itself from self-destructive internal contradictions. In the third and final instalment of this essay we will consider ideals that are far more recognisably “Fascist”. The emerging return of right Nietzschean thought, something long imaged dead since WWII.

 

Notes

[1] Mencius Moldbug, “A Formalist Manifesto,” UR, 23rd April 2007, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2007/04/formalist-manifesto-originally-posted.html last accessed: 7th November 2016.

[2] Idem, “An Open Letter to Open Minded Progressives part 1,” UR 17th April 2008, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2008/04/open-letter-to-open-minded-progressives.html. Rather than having to scroll through massive blog posts the easiest way to read Moldbug is in PDF form: file:///C:/Users/u5522230/Downloads/open_letter.pdf Throughout this essay I will use this text for giving page numbers. Moldbug later did a reprise for newcomers to his blog in the form of a nine part “Gentle Introduction”, UR, 8th January 2009, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/gentle-introduction-to-unqualified.html all last accessed: 7th November 2016.

[3] Phil Sandifer, Neo-Reaction: A Basilisk, Eruditorum Press, 2017, Itaca NY, 2017. See: idem, “Neoreaction, Rationalism and Elizier Yudkowsky,” Eruditorum Press April 2016, http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/neoreaction-rationalism-and-eliezer-yudkowsky/. Note here especially how Sandifer claims to follow Deleuze in performing monstrous readings of philosophers and seems largely preoccupied with hazing Nick Land: Adam Riggio, “The Violence of Pure Reason: Neo-Reaction A Basilisk review,” Social Epistemology, 23rd September 2015, https://social-epistemology.com/2016/09/23/the-violence-of-pure-reason-neoreaction-a-basilisk-adam-riggio/. See Nick Land’s own comments: “Basking in the Basilisk,” Outside In, 15th April 2016, http://www.xenosystems.net/tag/basilisk/ all last accessed: 31st October 2016.

[4] The Hestia Society, http://hestiasociety.orgRadish Magazine, http://www.radishmag.wordpress.com; Bay Area Carylye Club, http://baycarlyle.com/. Cf. Atavisionary, “My Falling Out with the Hestia Society,” 24th June 2016, http://atavisionary.com/my-falling-out-with-hestia/http://atavisionary.com/my-falling-out-with-hestia/; Kelly Weill, “Alt Right ‘Dark Enlightenment’ Group Seeks Campus Safe Space,” The Daily Beast, 16th December 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/16/alt-right-dark-enlightenment-group-seeks-campus-safe-space.html all last accessed: 24th December 2016.

[5] Nick Land, “The Dark Enlightenment,” http://www.thedarkenlightenment.com/the-dark-enlightenment-by-nick-land/

[6] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” esp. p. 58.

[7] Idem, “A Formalist Manifesto Part 1”.

[8] Idem, “Open Letter,” Chapter 4: Dr. Johnson’s Hypothesis esp. pp. 75-80, Chapter Five: The Shortest Way to World Peace.

[9] Ibid, pp. 264-5.

[10] Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 2000.

[11] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” p. 135. Cf. Dylan Matthews, “The Alt-Right is More than Warmed Over White Supremacy. It’s That, But Way Way Weirder,” Vox, 25th August 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/4/18/11434098/alt-right-explained last accessed: 6th November 2016.

[12] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” pp. 36, 270.

[13]Idem, “How I Stopped Believing in Democracy,” UR, 31st January 2008, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2008/01/how-i-stopped-believing-in-democracy.html last accessed: 7th November 2016.

[14] Idem, “Open Letter,” pp. 297-8. Add to this a feudal search engine called Feudle where hierarchies of people rate the reliability of information (is this just the up-voting of Reddit for actual feudalism?) “The Future of Search,” UR, 11th March 2010, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/future-of-search.html last accessed: 6th November 2016.

[15] Idem, “Race: A Modest Proposal,” UR, 26st July 2010, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/race-a-modest-proposal.html; “The Real Meaning of Diversity,” UR, 9th September 2007, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2007/09/real-meaning-of-diversity.html all last accessed: 6th November 2016. Moldbug basically claims that the leftist elites possess a quasi-sexual obsession with the “warlords” of America’s black ghettos because of resentment against the white proletariat. Conspiratorial stuff indeed.

[16] Idem, “Open Letter,” p. 255.

[17] Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy: The God That Failed, Transaction Publishers, London and New York, [2001] 2007. Cf. Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” p. 266.

[18] Mencius Moldbug, “Patchwork: A Positive Vision,” UR, 13th November 2008, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2008/11/patchwork-positive-vision-part-1.html last accessed: 7th November 2016.

[19] Idem, “Open Letter,” Chapter 6: The Lost Theory of Government. This chapter really tests the “open minded” nature of the reader. Moldbug in his enthusiasm leaps straight in the deep end, introducing his ideal of total privatisation with the analogy that McDonalds will always make a better hamburger than the state. This is perhaps the worst way to go about things. What do progressives loathe more than the devil of privatisation than the garbage empire of McDonalds?

[20] Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, 2 vols, Routledge, London, [1947] 2013. Note that Popper writes that he is “indebted” to Hayek in the acknowledgements. What a wonderful irony that Moldbug should be the punch line to this! Cf. Friderich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, [1944] 1994. For the use of “Open Society” by Moldbug see:  “Open Letter”, p. 70f.

[21] Thomas Carlyle, “Chartism,” in English and Other Critical Essays by Thomas Carlyle, Everyman Library, J. M. Dent and Sons, New York, [1915] 1925, esp. Chapter IV: The Finest Peasantry in the World, pp. 185-6, idem, “Signs of the Times” in Selected Writings, Penguin, London, 1971, pp. 71-84.

[22] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” p. 255.

[23]Idem, “Patchwork: A Positive Vision,”

[24] Jon Agar, The Government Machine, MIT Press, London, 2003, esp. p. 444  references Thomas Carlyle, “Signs of the Times” p. 81 on the misery of the  “greater perfection of the police” watching over people like the mythical giant Argus instead of shared Virtue.

[25] Jon Agar, The Government Machine, pp. 37-44.

[26] Corey Robin, “The First Counter Revolutionary,” The Nation, 30th September 2009, http://thenation.com/article/first-counter-revolutionary/ last accessed: 7th October 2016. See this wonderful facetious rant about Hobbes as the modernity narrative, leading down to the naff Space Age computer cosmologies of cybernetic theorists: Christian Thorne, The Dialectic of Counter Enlightenment, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009, p. 205.

[27] There is some interesting discussion here in a post that has recently been widely shared on Tumblr: Nostalgebraist, “NAB notes,” Argumgate Tumblr, 10th May 2016, http://argumgate.tumblr.com/post/144131284679/Cf. Bruce Charlton, “The Leftism of Mencius Moldbug,” Bruce Charlton’s Notions blog, 13th July 2013, http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/the-leftism-of-mencius-moldbug.html last accessed: 7th October 2016. Also see this Platonic traditionalist critique in which Moldbug as a materialist is viewed as a Vaisya, a merchant undeserving of political rule compared with actual Brahmin holy men or philosophers: Anon. “Elites Inverted,” Amerika, 26th October 2016, http://www.amerika.org/tag/mencius-moldbug/ all last accessed: 7th November 2016.

[28] Mencius Moldbug, ‘Why Carlyle Matters,” UR, 16th July 2009, http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2009/07/why-carlyle-matters.html last accessed: 23rd December 2016. Cf. Thomas Carlyle, “The Nigger Question” in English and Other Critical Essays by Thomas Carlyle, pp. 302-33. It is in this speech that Carlyle coined the term “the Dismal Science” for economics. The whole purpose of this work is the idea that even if “freed” slaves in the West Indies could now live off cheap food, they should still be compelled to work by those who need them to harvest their crops for them. Thus, economics is indeed part of the issue raised by Carlyle, as also his unwillingness to support cheap immigrant labour to replace the slaves. The sacred bond between the labourer and master is his central concern however.

[29] Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, The Great Books, Chicago, 1965, Book 1, VII.1.

[30] For just a glimpse at the sort of reformed Whole Earther hippy “right turn”  ideologies defining the “future”: J. Fox, “How Silicon Valley Became the Man,” Harvard Business Review, 9th January 2014, https://hbr.org/2014/01/how-silicon-valley-became-the-man/; Doug Hill, “Beware the Silicon Valley Elite: Ayn Rand, Google libertarianism and Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’,” Salon, 6th April 2015, http://www.salon.com/2015/04/06/even_silicon_valley_elite_weighed_in_on_indiana_gay_rights_battle_will_the_activism_last/; M. Kosoff, “How the CEO of the most valuable private tech company in the world is inspired by Ayn Rand,” Business Insider Australia, 9th April 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/how-uber-ceo-travis-kalanick-was-inspired-by-ayn-rand-2015-4#travis-kalanick-is-a-fan-of-rand–but-especially-the-fountainhead-1 all last accessed: 8th October 2015.

[31] Eliezier Yudkowsky, “Why is Mencius Moldbug So Popular on Less Wrong?’ Less Wrong, 16th November 2012, http://lesswrong.com/lw/fh4/why_is_mencius_moldbug_so_popular_on_less_wrong/ last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[32] Michael Anissimov, “Oaks vs Sandboxes,” More Right, 26th July 2013. All Anissimov’s work has been archived at his newer site: http://www.anissimov2.rssing.com. Cf. Adam Gurri, “Mencius Moldbug is a Technocrat,” The Umlaut, 10th February 2014, http://www.theumlaut.com/mencius-moldbug-is-a-technocrat/ all last accessed: 23rd December 2016.

[33] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” pp. 262-5. Cf. Michael Anissimov, Our Accelerating Future, Lulu Press ebook, 2015.

[34]  Michael Anissimov, A Critique of Democracy, Lulu Press ebook, 2015. Cf. this review by a white “ethnonationalist” who seems interested in Anissimov’s carrying over of Evola’s “Aryan” obsession into his ideas: Claus Brinker, “Anissimov’s Critique of Democracy review,” Counter Currents Publishing, 17th March 2015, http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/03/anissimovs-critique-of-democracy/ last accessed: 23rd December 2016.

[35] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” pp. 53, 83, 262.

[36] Note this: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Andrew Crooke, London, 1651, p. 208: “The Value of all things contracted for, is measured by the Appetite of the Contractors: and therefore the just value is that which they be contracted to give.” See some observations made here on Hobbes’ idea as the origins of liberal economics and systems thinking: George Dyson, Darwin Among the Machines, Penguin, London and New York, 1997, p. 159; Philip Ball, Critical Mass:How One Thing Leads to Another. Arrow Books, Random House, London, 2001, pp.  34, 221.

[37] Corey Robin, “The Hayek-Pinochet Connection – A Second Reply to My Critics,” Crooked Timber, 25th June 2013, http://crookedtimber.org/2013/06/25/the-hayek-pinochet-connection-a-second-reply-to-my-critics/ last accessed: 23rd December 2016.

[38] Voegelin most notably compared the French liberal thinker Charles Comte to Trotsky because of his belief in “permanent revolution” – an unending “gnostic derailment” overturning reality:  The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol 11: Published Essays, 1953-65, ed. Elias Sandoz, University of Missouri Press, 2000, Columbia and London, 2000, p. 89f.

[39] Corey Pein, “Mouthbreathing Macchiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich,” The Baffler, 19th May 2014, http://thebaffler.com/blog/mouthbreathing-machiavellis last accessed: 6th November 2016.

[40] Anon. “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates make bid for universal internet access by 2020,” ABC News, 26th September 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-27/zuckerberg-gates-make-bid-for-universal-internet-access-by-2020/6807516; Leo Mirani, “Millions of Facebook Users have No Idea They’re Using the Internet,” Quartz, 9th February 2015 http://qz.com/333313/milliions-of-facebook-users-have-no-idea-theyre-using-the-internet/; Savetheinternet.in Coalition, “Dear Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is not, and should not be the internet,” Hindustani Times, 17th April 2015, http://www.hindustantimes.com/tech/dear-mark-zuckerberg-facebook-is-not-and-should-not-be-the-internet/story-w9S3uhnEYVP8L85EtbTqCO.html all last accessed: 10th October 2015.

[41] See esp. Spengler’s admonition that Great Men should turn away from “culture”, which is dead and towards technology and politics: Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York, [1918] 1927, vol. I, p. 41, Man and Technics, Alfred A. Knopf; New York, 1932, pp. 43-4.

[42] Nick Land, The Thirst For Annihilation: George Bataille and Virulent Nihilism, Routledge, London, 1992, idem, Fanged Noumena: Collected Works 1987-2007, Urbanomic, London, 2008.

[43] Idem, “Making it With Death,” “Machinic Desire,” “Meltdown,” in Fanged Noumena.

[44] Land even goes as far as to blame Immanuel Kant’s “Copernican Revolution” in philosophy for the Holocaust. The alien other terrifies the humanist and his attempts to control reality and thus must be removed. Bombastic stuff indeed. See: “Kant, Capitalism and the Prohibition of Incest,” “Delighted to Death,” in Fanged Noumena.

[45] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter A. Kaufmann, Random House, New York and London, 1968, section 898. Cf. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, trans. Robert Hurley et al, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, [1972] 1983, p. 260.

[46] John Gray, Black Mass, pp. 57-8.

[47] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, pp. 118-9, esp. 112: “The unconscious has its horrors, but they are not anthropomorphic. It is not the slumber of reason that engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality. The unconscious is Rousseauistic, being man-nature.” Idem, A Thousand Plateaus, pp. 165, 231. Cf. p. 155 where the death instinct is called “ridiculous”. Cf. Nick Land, “Making it With Death,” idem, “The Dark Enlightenment,” part 1, which references Hobbes’ name a number of times, in spite of neither Moldbug nor any other NRx thinker being particularly interested in him.

[48] Nick Land, Georges Bataille, p. 26.

[49] Francis Bacon, The Collected Works of Francis Bacon, ed. by James Spedding et al, Houghton Mifflin, London, 1900, Vol. XIII, “De Sapienta Veterum,” VI, 747.

[50] Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings, Avon Books, New York, [1954] 1987, pp. 47f.

[51] Nick Land, “The Cult of Gnon,” Outside In: Involvements With Reality blog, 30th May 2013, http://www.xenosystems.net/the-cult-of-gnon/ last accessed: 7th October 2016, idem, “Against Universalism,” Outside In, 18th March 2016, http://www.xenosystems.net/the-cult-of-gnon/ last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[52] Simon Reynolds, “Renegade Academia: The Cybernetic Culture Research Unit 
director’s cut of unpublished feature for Lingua Franca, 1999; short remix appeared in Springerin, 2000,” Energy Flash, 3rd November 2009, http://energyflashbysimonreynolds.blogspot.com.au/2009/11/renegade-academia-cybernetic-culture.html last accessed: 30th January 2017. Note this: “…Land gives this idea a millenial spin (he’s described capitalism as “an invasion from the future”, a virus retrochronically triggered by some kind of artificial intelligence to create the conditions for its own assembling–an idea that reads like it was spawned by watching Terminator on acid)”.

[53] Anon, “Nick Land: Teleology, Capitalism and Artificial Intelligence,” Social Ecologies WordPress, 28th August 2015 https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/nick-land-teleology-capitalism-and-artificial-intelligence/ last accessed: 30th January 2017. See also this recent “theory fiction” novella by Nick Land, Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror Exterminator, Time Spiral Press, ebook, 2015, where it is posed that a society might become enamoured of a simulated reality it produces and thus fails to become a lasting space-faring civilisation. This is all connected with overcoming “The Great Filter” – advanced societies existing for long enough to detect and contact one another across the universe. One wonders why space adventures are so important. Perhaps everything else is simply not sufficiently exciting or interesting for Land, and is thus expendable in the pursuit of mere expansion and longevity for its own sake.  Once again we find ourselves in the cosmos of Olaf Stapledon.

[54] See: “Roko’s Basilisk,” LessWrong Wiki, https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Roko’s_basilisk Cf. Nick Land, “Basking in the Basilisk,” 15th April 2016, http://www.xenosystems.net/basking-in-the-basilisk/ all last accessed: 30th January 2017.

[55] Idem, “Hyperracism,” Alternative Right Blogspot, 14th October 2014, http://alternative-right.blogspot.com/2014/10/hyper-racism.html One wonders whether Land has been reading Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men, Penguin Books, London,[1930] 1963. Cf. Anon. “A Chat with Mr. Nick Land,” Bloody Shovel Blog, 9th October 2012, https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/achatwithmrland/ all last accessed: 8th August 2016.

[56] There are some bizarre stories indeed about Land from the days when he was working at Warwick University – that he lived on nothing but drugs, only spoke in numbers and apparently died and rose from the dead. The last is a fact he supposedly hates because it gives him something in common with Jesus. It’s all just too silly to be true: Park MacDougald, “The Darkness Before the Right,” The Awl, 28th September 2016, https://theawl.com/the-darkness-before-the-right-84e97225ac19#.ios7v73xp last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[57] Nick Land, Urban Future http://www.ufblog.net/annotatedaccelerate1/ last accessed: 21st of October 2015. His other complaint is that they haven’t defined what “neo-liberalism” actually is, which presumably is a trick on Land’s part to get them to admit the continued existence and growth of welfare, government size and other things an Austrian economics enthusiast like Land could blame for keeping Utopia out. Cf. Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, “#Accelerate Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics,” Critical Legal Thinking, 14th May 2013, section 6 http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/05/14/acceleratemanifestoforanaccelerationistpolitics/ last accessed: 10th November 2015, Inventing the Future: Post-Capitalism and A World Without Work, Verso Books, New York and London, 2015.

[58] In the left and right Acccelerationist argument there is something reminiscent of that not too old sci-fi film Elysium in which elites (Land) live in a space station above a dying, overpopulated world. In the end the heroes (#Accelerate) take over the space station and simply add everyone on earth to the chores list of the station’s robots, as if they were Facebook friends. It all ends happily ever after for the proles.

[59] Nick Land, Urban Futures (2.1), http://www.ufblog.net where there are frequent analyses of China’s “acceleration” including the idea that China was too united and not “dispersed” enough to have produced the Industrial Revolution. Also see Adam D. Frank’s review of Land’s Shanghai World Expo Guide 2010: http://www.thechinabeat.org/?tag=nick-land/ last accessed: 7th November 2016.

[60] Sir John Mandeville, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, Penguin Classics, Penguin Books, London, 1983; Robert Tzanaki, Mandeville’s Mediaveal Audience: A Study of the Reception of the Book of Sir John Mandeville (1371-1550), Ashgate Publishing, Burlington, 2003, esp. p. 181; I. MacLeod Higgins, Writing East: The “Travels” of Sir John Mandeville, (Lancaster: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011),  p. 158.

[61] Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” p. 47. Also esp. Chapter 12: What is to Be Done? pp. 261ff.

[62] Curtis Yarvin, “Why You Should Come to LambdaConf Anyway,” Medium, March 26th 2016, http:[email protected]/why-you-should-come-to-lambdaconf-anyway/ last accessed: 13th November 2016. Note that Moldbug is described here in the header as a “free speech advocate” as well as the creator of his Urbit software program  – a libertarian eccentricity attempting to free consumers from indentured dependency on large servers and corporations. Quite a far cry from the authoritarian Feudle idea Moldbug once nursed.

[63] Eric Voegelin, Plato, University of Louisiana Press, Baton Rouge, 1966, p. 247.

[64] Mencius Moldbug: “How Richard Dawkins Got Pwned,” seven parts, GitHub Gist, September 2007, https://gist.github.com/jart/b73868081a5e1a1c5cf0 last accessed: 28th September 2016. One should note that Dawkins a year later used the term “cultural Christian” for himself without any impetus from Moldbug.  The term “genetic fallacy on steroids” is used here in relation to Moldbug’s attacks on Dawkins:  “Neo Reaction”, Rational Wiki entry, http://www.rationalwiki.org/wiki/Neoreactionary_movement last accessed: 22nd September 2016. Genetic fallacies are reliant upon the idea that by uncovering something noxious in an entity’s family tree it instantly defeats the whole plant. This is not what Voegelin, from his Gnostic period to Order and History ever set out to do in diagnosing the origins of modernity and history of political thought. He certainly never seems to have thought that the crisis of man’s creatureliness before the Beyond could simply be halted by uncovering it. Nor, unlike Moldbug, did he ever attempt to create his own immanentised soterical political order to replace it.

[65] Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, p. 51; John Heyking and Barry Cooper, “A Cow is Just A Cow’: George Grant and Eric Voegelin on the United States pt. 1,” Voegelin View, 26th February 2009,  https://voegelinview.com/george­grant­and­eric­voegelin­on­the­united­states­part­1/ last accessed: 30th June 2016.

[66] In all fairness Moldbug does not really despise Christianity, he just seems to find it passé. As a fan of Carlyle, who was a deeply religious man, he says to his fans on UR, that if one cannot handle God, then sorry, one will never be able to read Carlyle: Mencius Moldbug, ‘Why Carlyle Matters”. Note that in this piece a quotation by Carlyle is given that mentions millenarianism, but Voegelin does not do anything with it.

[67] Curtis Yarvin, “Why You Should Come to LambdaConf Anyway”.

[68] Tess Towsend, “Controversy Rages Over ‘Proslavery’ Tech Speaker Curtis Yarvin,” Inc, 31st March 2016, http://www.inc.com/tess-townsend/why-it-matters-that-an-obscure-programming-conference-is-hosting-mencius-moldbug/ last accessed: 13th November 2016. Note that no source is given for who “interpreted” the works. Towsend does not seem familiar with Moldbug’s ideas at all.

[69] Also note Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter” pp. 153 where he jokes about universities preaching that all borders are racist and a form of Apartheid. In this he tries to explain his point using a theoretical world in which Nigerian workers coming to America are banned from using the citizens’ drinking fountains – a common symbol from the days of segregation. Yet, says Moldbug, this would still be better than them being  unemployed and stuck in Africa.  Not everyone is going to take this sort of humour well, but it still isn’t a defence of slavery in any commonly regarded sense except immigrant “wage slavery” perhaps.

[70] Idem, “Coda,” UR, 16th April 2016,  http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/ last accessed: 6th November 2016.

[71] Nick Land, “”What is the Alt-Right?” Outside In blog, 22nd January 2016, http://www.xenosystems.net/what-is-the-alt-right/ Cf. Here very recently where for a fairly mainstream audience Land rather dully seems to just channel Hans Hermann Hoppe’s belief that democracy leads towards fascism automatically and that the planned “war economies” that fought Nazism were just as bad as it: “The F Word,” Daily Caller, 17th October 2015, http://dailycaller.com/2016/10/17/the-f-word/ all last accessed: 26th October 2016. It’s almost a little disappointing how boring Land has become since his days of wolves, rats and plagues.

 

This is the second of three parts. Part one can be accessed here.

Jonathan Ratcliffe

Written by

Jonathan Ratcliffe is a doctoral candidate in Asian History at the Australian National University. He is working with Chris Heggie-Brown on a history of technology and politics, provisionally titled "Voegelin Among the Machines."