Today’s discussion question is posed by somebody calling himself Iulian Bretonescu, in “The Right Religion“, which is mandatory reading.
Here, for the exceptionally lazy, is a brief summary. (The literature on this topic is vast.)
Progressivism is, of course, a religion, one scholars tie to protesting Christianity, a man-centered, utilitarian Christianity stripped of all transcendence. Yet progressives deny their religion because of the theory of liberalism. Liberalism demands freedom of religion, which excludes religion from the public square, and, more importantly, bars a state religion (calling itself a religion). Hence if progressives were to admit to a religion, they would violate liberalism, and thus would be forced to keep silent.
Non-progressive liberals are called “conservatives”, and progressive liberals are either plain progressives or “neo-conservatives” (“libertarians” are usually in between these camps). There is a new reaction against these traditions, a third category which acknowledges the primary value and necessity of religion, but a reaction staffed with those who cannot agree on which religion is best.
These neoreactionaries (of which it is obvious I am one), while they might not agree on a metaphysic, do agree on certain empirical regularities drawn from Nature, empiricisms which, if one is an (lower-case O) orthodox Christian reactionary, can also be deduced from the metaphysics specified by nature’s God.
And so we have reached Bretonescu’s question: in order to combat the destructive and terrible reign of progressivism, while maintaining the mask of liberalism, can we embrace in public only these religion-free empiricisms? Will these be enough?
Here are the empiricisms upon which (Bretonescu says and to my knowledge are true) all neoreactionaries agree upon—and you should, too.
Hierarchy Progressives have Equality, which is a pernicious, hateful, damnable lie and myth. Equality is so obviously false, and hierarchy so obviously true, that it is the wonder of the world that any can embrace the former and still maintain their sanity. And progressives don’t embrace it; not in practice.
Every progressive organization that actually accomplishes anything does so because it organizes itself internally on hierarchical lines, and this provides an outlet to undermine them. Progressive organizations should be castigated for their refusal to actual implement equality internally, while reactionary organizations quietly and effectively form themselves into ranks. Let the progressives have their equality. It will be the means by which we defeat them.
Greatness Every time a progressive quotes a celebrity in their favor, greatness, if not achieved, is at least acknowledged.
Alongside progressivism, there is a widespread strain of American Christianity which likewise prides itself for its glorification of failure, forgetting the call to “make disciples” in its rush to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. The reactionary man will have none of this. We will take in the gluttonous, lustful, lazy, cowards of this age, of course. Sins will be forgiven. But we take these people in in order to challenge them to become strong, and self-controlled, and industrious, and brave. We valorize the physical discipline required for the sculpted physique, the mental discipline required by the learned scholar, and the spiritual discipline required of the true ascetic. Greatness makes us worthy.
Eternity Keynes was quite, quite wrong. It is the long run, and only the long run, that truly counts.
The progressive does not think about forever. The progressive often assumes that the future will take care of itself, due to the law of Progress, and so while he may devote himself to playing a part in pushing the world towards the arc of moral progress, he is immediately focused on immediate benefits in his personal life, namely by spending profligately, undermining social norms, destroying institutions, and wrecking societies. All of these things are done for immediate benefits, and what other kind of benefit is there? The gross utilitarian is the worst member of this species, for the utilitarians have constructed an axiom specifically for this scenario, declaring the preferences of unborn people (which is to say, nearly all people) to be meaningless in favor of the pleasures of the currently alive.
Your end It has long been said, is but always forgotten, that nobody gets out of this alive. Keeping that in mind makes a difference.
Well, there it is. Can calling on the natural and necessary hierarchies we see all around us save us? Will calls to greatness be enough? Are arguments to look to the future sufficient to overcome our narcissism?
Can’t hurt to try.
But. Here is another empirical observation. Any religion that does not claim to be the one true religion does not last. Progressives claim to have the one true religion; they fail only in calling themselves religious. That they believe they have Truth: it is what drives them and is what leads them to call their enemies evil and immoral.
Do not forget the One True Religion Fallacy. Because many claim to have discovered the one true religion does not imply, nor is it even good evidence for the belief, that there is no one true religion. If the OTR fallacy were a valid argument, there would be no science, for as soon as any rival theory is put forward, all theories would have to be abandoned.
A handful of true empirical observations are not enough to hold men together, not in the long run. These observations are doing the job now, but only because progressivism is nearing its goal, which is the overthrow of liberalism and the installation of Mandatory Paradise. The fear of this hell on earth is enough to cause reactionaries to form a circle. Maybe that’s enough, too, the alternative being so horrific.
In the end, if neoreactionaries are not to fracture into innumerable splinters, they will have to agree, at least outwardly, on more than epiricisms. The argument must become metaphysical at some point. And when it does, it will lead to the path of the one true religion. Because, after all, liberalism is not the goal. Without transcendence and the sacred, life is quite literally pointless.
(Note: Andrew Sullivan’s recent description of reactionaries is laughably wrong. He appears to be summarizing his nightmares, not actual people. We’ll deal with this later.)