skip to Main Content

The Return of the Reactionary (Part I)

The Return Of The Reactionary (Part I)

Part 1: Inside the Nazi CPU

This is the first of a three part essay on the current rise in hard right political thought. My aim is to work downwards from the tip of more conspicuous reactionary emergences like the “alt right” and the populism of Brexit and Trump to nascent real attempts to imagine “future primeval” visions. Twenty-first centuries in which social progress and democracy are replaced by the rejuvenation of far older ideals: monarchism, fascism, social Darwinism, theocracy. This essay forms part of a much wider study I am presently writing on the intersection between technology and new political ideologies emerging in the early twenty-first century. Its provisional title for now at least is Voegelin Among the Machines. I have already published a portion of it several months ago on VoegelinView concerning the millenarian roots of transhumanism.[1] In this essay transhumanism, once again, will form an integral part of some of the political discourses we will be investigating. Do not adjust your set. This is going to be a very odd journey indeed.

 1. For Every Action . . .

A great deal of alarmed ink has recently been spilled over the strange online reactionary phenomenon known as the “alternative right” – a soup of snarky geek culture and reconstituted far right sentiment passed through the modes of leftist agitation. White identity is a minority culture under threat;[2] boycott the radical feminist “Cultural Marxist” invasion of Hollywood and the computer games industry;[3] men’s rights need emphasising instead of feminism.[4] The “alt right” rose to prominence due to its public support for Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential election, but has much deeper roots in online “neo-reaction” and European “identarian movements” that have been emerging over the past decade. It speaks the exciting, facetious language of post-modern youth culture. It says: if you want to be a real “hipster” mining the past for prioritised goods, don’t just reanimate its material culture – its ball gowns and typewriters – rediscover its morals. Start reading Oswald Spengler, Joseph de Maistre and Thomas Carlyle because no one else is. Start worshipping the Great Man theory of history and naïve naturalism of Nietzsche, so easily bolted to the Gnostic fantasy worlds of computer war-games with all their militarism and magical technology. Take down that picture of Ché and that Soviet propaganda art, kids, and put up Yukio Mishima and Futurist art (and maybe even a picture of Hitler to shock people at just how “alternative” you really are). Christianity might have even become “cool” again, if only because of the authoritarian social value it is perceived as possessing for keeping radicals and Islamism down.  If Voegelin were alive today I think he would be deadly interested to know why, in 2016, such a thing is even possible.

The reactionary is a creature of obsessive order, dredging up totems from the past in the hope that these might plug the hole in a world he views as balancing precariously on the brink of chaos. A saturnine being, doomed mostly to Gnostic escape fantasies and at worst millenarian obsessions with renewing some cyclic Age of Gods through force, a “back to the future”. We might be able to laugh at Ignatius J. Reilly wailing about “decadence” in The Confederacy of Dunces, but we have trouble finding the sense in and compassion for the theocrat, the Hobbesian brutalist and especially the fascist because their confected primodiality is no longer cute. It has become a dangerous attempt to reverse things which may not be reversible – a desperate psychosis before the Ground of Being. Yet, as Bruno Latour has suggested, perhaps no matter who we are today, we are all reactionaries of a sort trying to mine the symbols of the past for a future based not upon time but upon locating things in shared global space.[5] There is room for everything and an audience for everything, just so long as it has been done before. A quick glance over what fills the cinemas, publishing houses and record labels at present – the mania of absolute nostalgia – is enough to leave one a little cold. But is it all just hypnotic, comforting reruns?

As much as it might annoy someone like Latour who likes to claim “we have never been modern”,[6] not so long ago now it was touted that we are in fact becoming “metamodern”. This term stems from the same metaxy than Voegelin borrowed from Plato – an oscillating betweenness.[7] Western culture is in an interregnum. On one hand for the past thirty years or more we have loured under the cynicism of post-modern mash-ups – all that can be done has been done, and any attempt to “restart” history will never happen. On the other we desire to have the “grand narratives” of modernity back, big stories of human destiny. We want a second naivety, but we cannot quite bring ourselves to commit or create something beyond our comfort zone of pasts that were fleeting or died so long ago no one else is interested in them. The “alt right” reactionary’s reworking of the grand narratives of fascism and Christendom are perfect for this strange betweenness because they are so “outsider” and long discarded that they have become invitingly new again. We are nearly a century from World War Two. The moral power that flows from imminence to this pivotal event is beginning to fade into mere “history”, whether we are comfortable with this or otherwise. Most people are not, and this fuels the idea that one has discovered something powerful in an age that is disinterestedly accepting or dismissive of just about everything.

The way in which many young people today seem to be trying to negotiate their way out of the post-modern maze is through humour. One can always pretend to be a Nazi for fun and get away with it online; one can actually really be one and simply brush it off as a joke because the possibility is just too ridiculous and vile.[8] The perpetual cry of the online world is “what layer of irony are you even on, fam?”[9] In our seemingly “post-ironic” age, whether one has left or right sympathies, the “edgy” internet meme has become the propaganda poster to hang on the Facebook wall. Politics is reproduced through “lols” (laughter value). Some of the “alt right” meme-patterns are almost darkly amusing. Donald Trump is a secret Kantean who is going to raise Atlantis and complete the German system of idealism.[10] Some chant “Deus Vult!” in full Templar garb and joke about retaking Constantinople from Islam.[11] Cartoon Gadsen Flag snakes, trodden upon by communists, read anarcho-capitalist Hans Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy the God That Failed and turn into Augusto Pinochet, free “helicopter rides” for radicals included.[12] The big one is that Trump was put in the Whitehouse by “meme magic” – power emanating from the ancient Egyptian frog-headed god of chaos Kek, whose name mirrors online laughter (kekekek).[13] Carl Jung said of the Nazis that Odin was on the march in Germany.[14] What we are seeing at present seems a hell of a lot more like Loki – chaos for its own sake.

The thought that the Baby Boomers could have children who became facetious Nazis when it was their turn to stick it to the man and drop out is just a little too bitterly surreal. It sounds like a novel Kurt Vonnegut could have written. If one were easily provoked by the devilry of psychoanalysis most of this might seem to scan like some bizarre desublimated, joyous rebellion against the liberal Boomer father figure. After all, the most popular “alt right” insult for leftists and neocons is “cuck” – everyone is a cuckold to a mindless acceptance of illegal immigration, globalism, multiculturalism and gender activism but the elect. The conservative fear of vampires and parasites coming to take one’s property (the obscene treasure of the mother[land]?) becomes one of terror that the authorities are permitting this. The emasculated superego is found to have no more potency than being able to think that the words “Nazi” or “bigot” can still win an argument for free long after the online observation “Godwin’s Law” has become an absolute cliché (as an argument escalates the probability of Hitler and the Nazis being mentioned reaches 1). In a desensitised and overdeveloped society, having removed the father’s authority, one is free to dabble in the most taboo of ideologies.[15] There is perhaps more of a warped Wilhelm Reich than the Third Reich in the “alt right” meme-storm.[16] More of Alain Badiou’s scoff of “fascism of the potato” at Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome – that rebellious dispersed network of agglomerated desire based on early internets – than “real existing” Fascism.[17] A kind of shadow hippiedom, a recession we had to have that makes the leftist “creatives” look as sad and boring as the right used to be for youth culture. SS uniforms are a lot cooler than Burkeans in suits after all, and apparently a damn sight cooler than dreadlocks and tolerance.

2. This Ship Has No Captain

But are these “alt right” legions dangerous? Some certainly are because the “alt right” is massively diverse. At once it is the first platform in seventy years that has allowed all the real skinheads to come out of the woodwork into broad daylight without Anti-Fa being there to stomp on them.[18] In spite of this most of it seems to be rather silly kids simply wanting to be part of something and bits of leftover Tea Party. Five years ago many would probably have been picking on conservative Christians, mocking Neo-Nazis on Stormfront or part of the now rather pathetic open-source anarchism Anonymous. A lot of the “alt right” seems little more than the politicised mob of angry, young, white, male cellar-dwellers simply switching sides and channelling their angst into “trolling” the left as “The Man”. An audience of increasingly angry youths feeling alienated by a rapidly changing world.  A reaction to activists telling them that gamer culture is no longer just theirs by reminding them of the existence of the gestalt leftist super-scapegoat of the white-capitalist-fascist-colonial-male when they argue back. Why not reappropriate this monster, if only for a laugh? As much as it might vex some people, in 2016 it is still this hyper-interconnected white male youth demographic that creates much of online “culture”. Whatever the pits of 4Chan spit, everyone else gets it a few weeks later as a hand-me-down. The “alt right” isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time such people decide to swarm and extract obscene enjoyment from haranguing “authority” figures.

However, the “alt right” mob is also extremely internecine. When Richard Spencer, the man who supposedly coined the “alt right” moniker, recently went on television and claimed that the Ancient Egyptians were Aryans, the biggest guffaws and mockery came from within his own camp.[19] Not everyone signed up for straight-up Neo-Nazi kitsch. The proud cry of the “alt right” in the name of guerrilla warfare (and a great deal of “tall poppy syndrome” perhaps) is that “this ship has no captain”. If anyone like Spencer or gay libertarian Milo Yannopoulos claim to speak for it, they are bound to find themselves on the receiving end of some very harsh derision. Indeed, if there is any predominant mission among the “alt right” horde it seems to be to push the “Overton Window”, the zone of socially acceptable political views, away from the radicalism of American (and European) universities back towards the right.[20] A sort of banal electronic return of the ideology of the nineteenth century Holy Alliance that only had cohesion to keep all those dangerous “French ideas” down.[21] What do a bunch of angry computer gamers, gun-toting libertarians, Alex Jones conspiracy nuts, Christians and Neo-Nazis have in common with one other? Nothing. Can what basically amounts to a ridiculous “anarcho-fascism” of Ernst Jünger “anarchs” last long?[22] Most likely not – and one can especially see it when it comes to “hot-button” issues like religion and homosexuality. No online neo-tribe ever lasts. Perhaps futurist F.M. Esfandiary back in the 1970s was not entirely incorrect when he prophesied that the future of society would be one of ever-shifting, utility-based groupings called mobilia. [23]

Neo-reactionary Nick Land seems to sum it up best when he says that on a planet without leftists the major reactionary phyla would kill one other. The left generally have no trouble imagining that they live under some monological “Theocratic White-Supremacist Hyper-Capitalism®”.[24] Yet they do not seem to realise that those on the right who are not simply Burkeans trying to put a brake on radical ideas openly loathe one another as crypto-communists, race traitors, and heathens. The far right are just too moral, perhaps, to compromise. The left preach solidarity but endlessly fall into in-fighting; the far right “Beyond the Burkean trunk”, as Land would colourfully term it, only cooperate when they have some shared goal. For the “alt right” this was putting Trump in office to “save America”. Some seriously seem to believe he can reify some magical reactionary “days of future past”, where the beholder projects what he or she desires onto the vague populist canvas.[25] For the facetious jokers it was simply his vulgarity and protest value. This game is over now – the network “rhizome” of Deleuze and Guattari’s “desiring machines” slows to a crawl in its flight. The horizontal “rhizome” has become a vertical “tree” – a stolid, hierarchical blockage to free desire. The only thing holding the “alt right” assemblage together is the possibility of being able to “meme” France out of the EU next May and absurd conspiracy theories that the Democrats operate child sex-rings out of pizza shops.[26] The whole thing has already been “played out” – gone stale.

 3. Inverted Feudalism

One thing is for sure. There is a great deal of very obvious overcompensation going on amidst the angry young white horde. Paint on muscles. Something that strongly overlaps with the white proletarian anger that brought Brexit and Trump to fruition against the immense self-confidence of their opponents. There is an enormous fear out there of being dissolved like snails by the solvent of Future Shock morals about immigration, gender, race and the devil of enduring economic crisis. In spite of all the popular appeal of Steven Pinker and his rather twee claim that we might soon see some “end to violence”,[27] the general mood, fired up by the ever more bombastic news cycles, is one of a world accelerating into alien chaos and terror. All the options on the table have failed to produce any safe shared spatial “immune system” against the outside world, as Peter Sloterdijk might say. Resentment grows at snobbish cosmopolitan leftist elites and neocon war-mongers who seem to work as two hands operating a sleight called “globalisation” that has not paid out.[28] The reactionary genies of whiteness and masculinity are out of the bottle and it is going to be very hard to stuff them back in again.[29] Before the leftist social media revolutions of the past couple of years that made gender and whiteness household topics, the great majority of relatively normal people had most likely never thought about these things consciously before. Drawing the line on who one is as an “identity politics” has long been part and parcel with reaction to the perceived threat of becoming “victims of history” to monocultural globalisation. Yet, until now it has nearly wholly belonged to leftist minority causes and third world ethnic groups looking for self-determination. Now “globaphobe” is a leftist term of abuse for the ideals that precipitated Brexit and Trump. Wanting a just transition to a global world simply isn’t hip anymore.

Reaction is on the march worldwide. Everywhere from Europe to South America and Australia now has its own “alt right” incarnation trying to emerge online and burrow its way into local politics. This is because “metastatic faith” encourages the idea that the “alt right” and its “meme war” actually helped put Trump in charge. A terrifying possibility might be that the secret purpose of the internet has finally been revealed – a punch line that globalised communication can be used to turn back the millenarian one world ideology. A common desire to slam the door on the “horizonless” global Utopia and creep back into particularised consolatory visions of a reinvented past that may have never been.[30] It has been wisely observed that most politics today, both left and right, are “wounded”, stuffed full of ressentiment narratives where the enemy “other” is always the master and responsible for all of one’s misfortunes.[31] Peter Sloterdijk has called this an accelerating battle over the status of anti-hero “ruling victim”. A warped Enlightenment narrative leading us headlong into an alien future where “we do not know yet what things bodies in ressentiment are capable of”.[32] Certainly but a few years ago there is no way we would have ever expected gender identity and whiteness to become such fertile material for building inverted feudal system claims for both left and right. There is something more than a little Gnostic about this cosmos of competitive persecution.

For instance, one “alt right” meme I recently saw mythologising the open sewer that is the popular messageboard /pol/ (politically incorrect) claimed that it is as though the young white “futureless” and “losers” had discovered without knowing it that they had more asabayyah (Arabic: righteous tribalism) than any other group in the liberal west.[33] Liberalism has spent hundreds of years steadily trying to remove open aggression from the public sphere,[34] yet below the surface it lives and breathes. Are we seeing the breaking open of Sloterdijk’s metaphoric bank of thymos (audacious wrath) that has built up beneath liberal society?[35] Ironically, Sloterdijk in his Rage and Time claimed that the only real remaining vent for the tribal rage of “angry young men” in the modern “post-political” West was Islamism. [36] He seems to have been proven rather incorrect indeed, as too the remnant communists dreaming of some productive revolutionary “Event” beyond mere directionless rioting. Who needs to go outside and organise when one can influence culture from behind the safety of a computer desk? Quietly saving up all one’s angst to punish self-satisfied pundits and the Gnostic devil of “political correctness” from the safety of voting day anonymity can be just as effective too.

Yet, to the average radical what is currently happening means nothing more than that the dread white man is on his last legs in an increasingly equal and global society, in the same way the old Marxian analysis is that any “fascism” is just a failed revolution. Capitalism going authoritarian to try to save its bacon. Perhaps this is all just a little too self-pleasing and as dated as Theodor Adorno’s belief that Nazism would just keep coming back as some obedient automaton,[37] which is certainly not what the “alt right” is. Instead it is vicious, liberated, and creative anger – a movement away from mere destructive negative politics (being-against) towards the first attempts at constructing original visions. Something which, as said, may well have already burned out and is destined to become just more new subcultures in the post-modern mash-up. In spite of this, reaction per se is not going anywhere. Most likely it is here to stay, grow, diversify and get smarter.  Let us not forget that the only thing that spooked Kojève and Fukuyama about the possibility of the flattening, liberal “end of history” being challenged was a revival of Nietzschean thymotic rage. “Workers of the world unite against the coming of the realm of freedom!”  Leo Strauss riled against Kojève.[38] This is exactly what is being dreamt about at present in the gap where the wounded compound master/slaves are searching for a consolatory “leap in being” towards some form of solid ground that seems to be rapidly disappearing from beneath their feet. The problem, however, is that the only people affiliated with the “alt right” who have thought this far ahead about how to really “restart” history are certifiable psychopaths. The term “Full Luxury Space Feudalism” in mockery of the naive old “Full Luxury Space Communist” dreams of the 1960s springs to mind. It is these nascent attempts to outline fully-fledged reactionary future visions that we will be looking at in the second and third installments of this essay. First attempts at truly thinking reaction since WWII.



[1] Jonathan Ratcliffe, “Voegelin Among the Machines: Teilhard de Chardin, Olaf Stapledon and the Millenarian Kernel of Transhumanism,” Voegelinview, 26th September 2016, last accessed: 11th November 2016.

[2] Christopher Caldwell, “What the Alt-Right Really Means,” New York Times, Sunday Review, 2nd December 2016, last accessed: 20th December 2016.

[3] Ben Davis, “How A Right Wing Obsession With Art Theory Became a racist ‘Star Wars’ Boycott,” Art News, 27th October 2015,; Matt Lees, “What Gamergate Should Have Taught Us About the Alt-Right,” The Guardian, 1st December 2016,,“Cultural Marxism” is basically the old anti-Semitic Weimar “Cultural Bolshevism” conspiracy about leftist undermining of culture, passed through an absurd scapegoating of the Frankfurt School thinkers, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse etc.  Have a look here: William S. Lind, “Cultural Marxism,” all last accessed: 20th December 2016.

[4] Claire Landsbaum, “Mens Rights Activists are Flocking to the Alt-Right,” The Cut, 14th December 2016, last accessed: 20th December 2016.

[5] Bruno Latour, “We are All Reactionaries Today: Interview with Konstantin Kastrissianakis,” Re-Public: Re-imagining Democracy, 2007. Available from: last accessed: 7th July 2016.

[6] Idem, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1993.  Since this book Latour has argued that man has always been embedded in his environment and has ignored his irrationalism. The whole thing seems to me just recycled systems theory. Just one more effort to try to punish Baconian scientism and Descartes’ dualism for putting man above nature. Surely we have had enough of systems and networks by now? It would be quite surprising if they were capable of anything except trite Space Age moralism and computer fetishism.  However, Latour does occasionally have some interesting insights.

[7] T. Vermeulen and R. Van den Akker, “Notes on Metamodernism“, Journal of Aesthetics and Culture 2, 2010.

[8] A common term for this sort of confusion is Poe’s Law. This was originally coined in relation to lampooning Christian creationists online but has since become common in relation to ironic extremism in general. See:  Scott F. Aitkin, “Poe’s Law, Group Polarisation and the Epistemology on Online Discourse,” Social Science Research Network, last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[9] Fam is a slang term of semi-ironic friendship, an abbreviation of family, as bro is to brother.

[10]“Crying Kantbot Brown,” Twitter, See this archived: last accessed: 20th December 2016. The Kantbot Twitter is always changing its name: Kantbot 2000, Kantian Kantbot etc.

[11] See esp. “The Earl of Grey,” Facebook, Cf. S.N., “The Far Right’s New Fascination With the Middle Ages,” The Economist, 2nd January 2016, all last accessed: 3rd January 2017.

[12] “Hoppean Snake Memes,” Facebook, last accessed: 20th December 2016.

[13] On Kek, which should be taken at least with some irony: “The Truth about Pepe the Frog and The Cult of Kek,” last updated: 16th September 2016. Pepe the cartoon frog is of course an open-source mascot for very diverse online audiences but was recently listed as a “hate symbol” because of his use by the “alt right”: Anti-Defamation League Website:  all last accessed: 20th December 2016.

[14] C.J. Jung, “Wotan” in Essays on Contemporary Events, trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingsen Series, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1989, pp. 10-24.

[15] Yet as Jürgen Habermas, Toward A Rational Society, Heinemann, London, [1968] 1971, pp. 43-5 noted, many of the New Left in the 1960s came from very permissive, progressive and liberal middle class households. Add to this the fact that the hippy generation took their ideas from older generations who were already established academics and writers. The same may well be true of many current reactionaries who may have “conservative” parents of a sort and who are influenced by the older administrators of reactionary Facebook pages like “Stop Being a Pleb” and “Not Even Sure What to Do About This Degeneracy”, who are quite often returned soldiers, former libertarians or were involved in reactionary blogging for years before this. Rebellion against what current society as a whole is supposed to believe (the Big Other superego?) is what is the most important gateway drug to left and right Gnosticisms.

[16] Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, New York, [1933]1980 claimed that Nazism and Bolshevism had appealed to people because they desired to be repressed, just as they were sexually repressed as children. What happens instead when there is an imperative to not be repressed (especially sexually), except if one appears to possess ideas that are not tolerant enough? The usual agent for this is guilt and passive aggression. Today in a world dominated by a left liberal moral superego for the most part, it might seem as though the only way to deal with the limp passive-aggressive post 60s liberal father figure, as Slavoj Zizek has said, is to deliberately challenge him head on and ignore all his emotional blackmail. Is doing this by playing the post-ironic Nazi a healthy option? It seems resolutely like very stupid overkill, but is perhaps the only thing that is truly intolerable in a society jadedly permissive yet powered on guilt.

[17] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, [1980] 1987,  pp. 16-9; Cf. P. Dawes, “Interview with Hui Yuk on Digital Objects,” 24th February 2011, Theory, Culture and Society, last accessed: 26th April 2016.  Alain Badiou, “The Fascism of the Potato, Review of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari “Rhizome” Minuit Paris 1976,” in Alain Badiou, The Adventure of French Philosophy,  ed. and trans.  Bruno Bosteels, Verso Books, London and New York, 2012. Deleuze and Guattari were Reichians, one should not forget. Badiou’s accusation of “fascism” was due to the fact that they had abandoned Marxist dialectics in favour of a cosmology of dynamic, desiring multiplicity where everything continuously splits and agglomerates. Badiou claimed that this might lead them to no longer being interested in class consciousness and perhaps even absorbing the views of their enemies.

[18] Anon. “The Rich Kids of Fascism,” It’s Going Down, 16th December 2016, last accessed: 21st December 2016.

[19] Roland Martin, “Watch Roland Martin Challenge White Nationalist Richard Spencer,” Youtube uploaded 22nd November 2016, last accessed: 4th December 2016.

[20] See here: Warg Franklin, “The Overton Bubble,” Future Primaeval, 24th November 2106, last accessed: 30th December 2016.

[21] Jacques Derrida, Spectres of Marx, Routledge, London, [1993] 1994, p. 12f famously calls Fukuyama’s “end of history” the “New Holy Alliance”. In spite of Fukuyama’s vision being generally accepted today, it is as though the “old right” Neocons and Tea Party alliances crumbled overnight and no one noticed the “alt right”, something far more bizarre, emerging from the pits of the internet to fill their niches.

[22] Ernst Jünger, a reactionary political philosopher and science fiction writer created the “anarch” as a sort of far right version of Max Stirner’s leftist egoist anarchist hero. The anarch externally serves his masters, but internally is free. This seems strangely close to the online “second life” that the “alt right” presents and its general powerless as an offline entity. See: Ernst Junger, Eumeswil, Marsliglio Publishers, Venice, [1977] 1994.

[23] F. M. Esfandiary, UpWingers, A Futurist Manifesto, John Day Co, New York, 1975.

[24] Nick Land, “Neoreaction (For Dummies),” Outside in, 17th April 2016, last accessed: 31st October 2016.

[25] A common joke is that Trump’s discordant and contradictory statements prove his political genius because deep down he has some master plan. He is playing “4 dimensional chess” apparently. I’m not sure if anyone takes this seriously. It reminds me of when Žižek facetiously claimed that George W. Bush jr’s redundant statements proved he was a secret Hegelian.  Trump has been called Hitler, Derrida, Cleon, Mussolini, the “God Emperor” of the game Warhammer and many other things by the repelled, confused, facetious and infatuated. For example see this overblown claim: S. D. Kelly, “Blame Jacques Derrida for Trump,” Mere Orthodoxy, 31st March 2016, last accessed: 22nd September 2016.

[26] Here is a good basic overview: Nick Whigham, “Reddit Shuts Down Forum Investigating Crazy Clinton sex Ring Conspiracy,”, 24th November 2016 last accessed: 21st December 2016.

[27] Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Viking Books, New York, 2011.

[28] John Gray, Black Mass, Allen Lane, Penguin Books, London, 2007 of course argued not so long ago that the neocon dream to force global liberal democracy on the Middle East was yet one more failed millenarianism. Even Francis Fukuyama, After the Neocons, Profile Books, Croydon UK, 2007 recognised that with Iraq and Afghanistan something had gone terribly wrong, delaying his universal “end of history” more than a little. One should recall that Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, [1952] 1971, p. 51 realised long before all this that forcing democracy through military action on peoples with no preceding experience of it was dangerous.

[29] See: Eric D. Knowles and Linda R. Tropp, “The Rise of White Identity Politics,” New Republic, 29th October 2016, last accessed: 21st December 2016.  If one were prone to dialectical thinking, one might well suggest that “the cunning of reason” was at work here. That leftist agitation has in effect helped produce a conscious white-patriarchy ideology. Certainly what we are seeing is a little more serious than simply Herbert Marcuse, Counterrevolution and Revolt. Beacon Press, Boston, 1972 moaning about being “under reaction” because Nixon had been voted in a second time due to a dislike for the hippies.

[30] This article is mostly about climate change, but has some very good observations: Bruno Latour, “Two Bubbles of Unrealism: Learning from the Tragedy of Trump,” LA Review of Books, 17th November 2016 last accessed: 21st December 2016.  Cf.  On Peter Sloterdijk’s idea that the future is to be one where the earth is covered over by neo-tribal electronic “clouds”, many of which might be built on impossible reactionary visions: NPQ interviewer, “Controversial Philosopher Says Man and Machine Will Fuse into One Being,” New Perspectives Quarterly, Fall 2015: pp. 10-6.

[31] See these interesting observations: Stefan Dolgert, “The praise of ressentiment: or, how I learned to stop worrying and love Donald Trump,” New Political Science 38.3, 2016.

[32]  Peter Sloterdijk, Spheres III: Foams, trans. Wieland Hoban, Semiotext(e), Pasadena CA, [2004] 2016, pp. 783-4.

[33] I cannot find this /pol/ meme again. It was one of the now very popular images of a personified circle wearing sunglasses with a thumbs up, often used to mock ideologies. In this case the mocking seems to have been self-inflicted in the name of self-mythologisation. The meme appeared in late November 2016 on the “alt right” Facebook page “Stop Being a Pleb,” which was recently deleted on the 21st of December 2016 for “hate speech”. This is not an uncommon thing to happen to Fascist and even some Marxist pages on Facebook. Sometimes they recover their old content, but one cannot Google search for Facebook content. The “asabayyah” reference was in relation to the Fremen, a pseudo-Arabic tribe from Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. Reappropriation of Dune, the Empire from Star Wars and Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers because of militarism and futuristic adventure  narratives is very common in “alt right” culture.

[34] The old joke of course is that the apex of British liberalism is not being bothered by other people on public transport.

[35] Peter Sloterdijk, Rage and Time, translated by Mario Wenning, Semiotext(e), Pasadena CA, [2006] 2012. Cf.  Mario Wenning, “The Return of Rage,” Parrhesia 8 2009, pp. 89-99 available from:; Sam Mickey, “Freedom and Thymotics in Sloterdijk,” Becoming Integral Blog, 30th June 2016,  All last accessed: 30th June 2016.

[36] A friend of mine who teaches Islamic history found the meme in question rather amusing because last year he had said to a class that the only people who probably possess anything like “asabayyah” in Australia would be the “bogans” (a half-derogatory and often  self-applied term for the white proletariat). The class found this hilarious, but the sentiment is perhaps not so far from the truth.

[37] Theodor Adorno et al., The Authoritarian Personality, Harper and Row, New York, 1950.

[38] Leo Strauss, “Restatement against Kojève” in On Tyranny: Revised and Expanded Edition Including the Strauss-Kojève Correspondence, University of Chicago Press, Chicago [1961] 2000, pp. 208-9; Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Penguin Books, London, 1992, pp. 198-207.


This is the first of three parts, with part two available here and part three available here.

Jonathan RatcliffeJonathan Ratcliffe

Jonathan Ratcliffe

Jonathan Ratcliffe is Associate Editor of VoegelinView and 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."

Back To Top