Let me first thank you for writing your piece on True Detective and our present Reactionary moment. It’s refreshing to read a criticism of NRx and the Alt-Right that’s written in good faith, without attempting to do too much of a hatchet job on it. You bring up some insightful points, and being a member of Left-Catholic Twitter, you also bring an interesting perspective to the discussion. That being said, let me try to respond to what I believe are your main points. In hopes that, by the end of this piece, I’ll have you convinced that, to paraphrase a particularly woke Thomist: “NRx and the Alt-Right are very good, in fact, they are beautiful.”
Unfortunately, I can’t speak precisely about your allusions to the second season of T.D.. While I’m a big fan of the sublime first season, I’ve avoided the second like the plague due to its terrible reviews. However, I don’t think this will handicap me in responding to your critique.
You correctly perceive that many currently involved in “Alt-Right” online communities are, like the characters from season two of T.D., damaged individuals. Individuals who, like most persons in this fallen world of toil and pain, certainly have more than a few peculiar hang-ups. Given the profoundly disordered state of modern society, is this so unexpected? I mean, is it all that surprising that many men in the contemporary Western world would feel angry, a bit lost and an even perhaps a little insecure in their masculinity? The real surprise, in my estimation, would be if this weren’t the case.
The thing is, given the circumstances, they have every right to feel this way. Assuming that most of the Alt-Right and NRx communities are comprised of what has become known as the “millennial generation,” it’s safe to assume many have direct experience with many of the social pathologies they are now rebelling against. At least half of them were likely raised in a broken home and got to witness first hand the emotional scars and resentments which are usually engendered by such lovely circumstances. Another safe assumption is that they probably received a first-rate Liberal public education which drilled into their heads the idea that they were special snowflakes whose primary concern should only be chasing their own late-Capitalist hopes and dreams.
They also probably have had the joy/anguish of being able to experience what is frequently referred to, in the ever multiplying thinkpieces produced by our centrist shitrags, as “hookup culture,” that beautiful triumph of feminist ideology which has seen the majority of women and men “liberated” from the oppressive patriarchal social structures of past generations. “Liberated,” it seems, to become ever more miserable as they compete in a cut-throat Neo-Liberal sexual marketplace from which only a select few actually benefit. In this environment, when trust between the sexes is at an all-time low, is it so surprising that hilarious terms like “cuckoldry” and “cuckservative” have become so popular? That some men may perhaps begin to genuinely struggle with what, as you called it, “authentic masculinity” actually is?
In a society in which almost every interaction between the sexes has to be approached with a hermeneutic of suspicion, is not this supposedly toxic masculinity that you deride a bit more understandable? Perhaps a bit of a understandable defense mechanism? Say what you want about someone like Heartsie (the Dark Lord himself). Say that what he recommends is immoral, or grotesque, or misogynist, or perverse and manipulative, because all of these things are probably true. Just don’t say that, in the context of the modern sexual meat market he operates in, his observations of human behavior are wrong. Because they’re not. The reason why people like Heartsie are so popular is that their observations jive with people’s actual, lived experience. Jane Austen certainly would not approve, but let us remember that in America’s enlightened sexual marketplace the emphasis is on self-preservation, not ethics. As unfortunate and ugly as these circumstances are for everyone involved, they remain the product of structural problems which have their genesis in Liberalism’s promotion of the sexual liberation of the individual from patriarchal norms. Essentially, the very thing the Alt-Right and Neo-Reaction oppose so vehemently.
Your brief point regarding the role of religion within the Alt-Right/NRx is especially interesting. You wrote: “A major problem with reaction is its desire for the aesthetics of religion without certain hard teachings.” I look at it this way: If you were to build a time machine and go back to say, the year 2008, a good number of the individuals within the Alt-Right would be profoundly different people. Today many of them, if not religious themselves, at least regard religion with a particular kind of respect. But circa 2008, these same people would have almost certainly been decked out in vintage fedoras while sharing their favorite Richard Dawkins quotes. While not ideal, I’d call this evolution a welcome development. One of the more interesting things about someone like Mencius Moldbug (the Autistic Emperor of Neo-Reaction) is how his ideas have so altered the views of certain individuals in regards to religion. People, for instance, who were previously Randian Anarcho-Capitalists or tech-worshippers awaiting the salvation offered by the coming singularity; people who previously would have approached religion with only contempt or suspicion, now tend to have much more open and respectful views concerning traditional religious systems, even if still only seeing them as a kind of social technology. Again, while this may not seem ideal to a traditionalist Christian, it’s still a development one can only regard as a vast improvement over the previously state of affairs. It would be a mistake to let the perfect become the enemy of the good on this issue.
You also wrote that “The alt-right and neoreaction ought to see the subtle minority-blaming of certain depressed paleoconservatives as the wicked and foolish thing it is, not amplify it.” Here, I don’t think you could be more wrong. As the Alt-Right’s popularization of many, previously obscure, Paleo-Conservative critiques of Liberalism remains one of its most notable accomplishments. In particular the Paleo-Conservative criticism of Neo-Liberalism’s multiculturalist pretensions and Neo-Conservative foreign policy (which so often seem to go hand in hand). The Paleo critique of multiculturalism consists merely in pointing out that there are important differences between ethnic groups, cultures and religions — between say a Muslim Whabbhist and a French secularist; differences which will make it difficult if not impossible for them to live peacefully together in the same nation. That not all cultures are inherently equal, and even the magic dirt beneath the feet of the American multiculturalist can’t change this. That some cultures, such as that of the African-American underclass are actively poisonous and tend to produce maladjusted individuals who tend to commit crimes and display anti-social behavior with significantly higher rates than the rest of the population. These observations, which are frequently made by NRx and the Alt-Right, may make some young idealists uncomfortable, but that doesn’t negate their accuracy. So if merely observing these facts counts as “minority blaming,” by all means let’s have some more of it.
The danger of ignoring these differences is more than just an academic one, with many real people suffering greatly due to these multicultural delusions it seems you would like to cling to. As Slavoj Zizek recalled when discussing multiculturalism:
In a homologous way, there was, in Slovenia, around a year ago, a big problem with a Roma (Gipsy) family which camped close to a small town. When a man was killed in the camp, the people in the town started to protest against the Roma, demanding that they be moved from the camp (which they occupied illegally) to another location, organizing vigilante groups, etc. As expected, all liberals condemned them as racists, locating racism into this isolated small village, while none of the liberals, living comfortably in the big cities, had any everyday contact with the Roma (except for meeting their representatives in front of the TV cameras when they supported them). When the TV interviewed the “racists” from the town, they were clearly seen to be a group of people frightened by the constant fighting and shooting in the Roma camp, by the constant theft of animals from their farms, and by other forms of small harassments from the Roma. It is all too easy to say (as the liberals did) that the Roma way of life is (also) a consequence of the centuries of their exclusion and mistreatment, that the people in the nearby town should also open themselves more to the Roma, etc. — nobody clearly answered the local “racists” what they should concretely do to solve the very real problems the Roma camp evidently was for them.
Not only does clinging to multiculturalism harm regular people directly, through crime, terrorism and the like, but it also sets back the Left’s own anti-racist ideology. For by denying the reality of religious and cultural differences you inadvertently give ammunition to the very “racists” you so despise. Since these discrepancies in outcomes between population groups will have to be explained somehow, and burying your head in the sand won’t make them go away. Some, like the folks who believe the human condition is reducible solely to genetics, will agree with you that it isn’t culture after all but instead that these differences can be attributed to the “scientific reality” of race. This idea will be ever more appealing as we enter a hyper-analytic and post-religious future, where seemingly neutral statistics like I.Q. scores will seem awfully appealing explanations for differences between population groups. So just remember; if you do not admit to “culture” as an explanation for group differences, you’ll be almost certain to have a secular, post-Paleo conception of “race” instead. After all, as you said, when all’s said and done, we tend to “get the world we deserve.”
Your critique goes on to accuse the Alt-Right and Neo-Reaction of also preferring order to chaos, even if that order is an “unethical” and “unjust” one. On its face, this criticism is entirely accurate, but it seems to suggest that preferring order over chaos equates to an uncritical endorsement of the Liberal order. It is important to note here that, as I’m sure you’re already aware, views in the Alt-Right and NRx proper vary widely on the subject of Liberalism and shouldn’t be casually lumped together. The Alt-Right of Gavin McInnes and Milo Yiannopoulos is basically an extreme form of Libertarianism which affirms the tenets of Classical Liberalism, while NRx and other related forms of genuine Reaction tend to reject Modernism and Liberalism outright. It’s therefore a bit dishonest to equate them both with an uncritical embrace of what we may refer to as “Americanism.” But at the end of the day it is true that both the Alt-Right and NRx see order as almost always preferable to chaos. This may fly in the face of classic Leftist philosophical presuppositions, such as the assumption that traditional hierarchies are always inherently exploitive, that human society, once liberated from these authorities will somehow manage to self-organize into a utopia of primitive Communism. This egalitarian fantasy has been the heart and soul of Leftist thought since its genesis — there is no way to escape this. This is why there can be no genuine synthesis of traditionalist Christian ideas and Marxist ones. As Nicolás Gómez Dávila pointed out:
In order to ally himself with the Communist, the leftist Catholic asserts that Marxism merely criticizes Christianity’s compromises with the bourgeoisie, when it is Christianity’s essence which Marxism condemns.
This is the hard truth that most of the idealistic Catholics who earnestly seek common ground with Marxism refuse to see. The Marxist rejection of hierarchy is at the heart of its entire project. Let’s remember that Marx believed the traditional patriarchal Christian family to be a system of oppression and exploitation. A system which needs to be abolished in favor of a post-familial society in which men and women would enjoy perfect equality, with bonds of sexual exclusivity being completely eliminated in favor of uninhibited free love. The grace of the Christian Church transformed the conception of the old pagan family, but the Marxist critique seeks not its transformation, but its complete destruction. Is not this desire for the eventual annihilation of the traditional family at the heart of today’s Left-Liberal synthesis? In light of the new emphasis on same-sex marriage and gender ideology by Liberals, is the Right so misguided in decrying this as “Cultural Marxism”? It is noteworthy that it has only been the Alt-Right and NRx which have been willing to openly condemn these grotesqueries, while the new Catholic Left has been mostly silent or else attempted to change the subject. This is unsurprising, as any such dissent from the Catholic Left on these issues would almost certainly result in an excommunication by the petulant ideologues running the show at the likes of Jacobin Magazine. It is difficult to see how a “Catholic Left” can simultaneously be both Catholic and Leftist on the issue of societal hierarchies, and thus, difficult to see how one can be authentically both “Leftist” and “Catholic.”
So in conclusion, what makes the Alt-Right and NRx so valuable in our present context is the very thing you seem to deride it so for: its tendency to discriminate. I mean here of course not the modern conception of discrimination, which is understood mostly as “being mean for no good reason,” but rather that to “discriminate” is merely the process of making distinctions between things — something the Western world, until the last several hundred years, had historically been so adept at. Distinctions between different cultures, between male and female, order and chaos, between the good and the bad. It is this ability to make rational distinctions which separate us from the lower orders of animals. And it is for this reason that the Alt-Right and NRx, for all their vulgar flaws, are not only very good, but are, in fact, completely beautiful.