Reaction and Neoreaction
if the term ‘socialization of law’ has alarming implications for any of you… too suspiciously like dynamite and socialism – or like the president of one of our universities of whom the word sociological, when used in connection with jurisprudence suggests a professorial masseur massaging a corpus juris which is safe only in the hands of regular practitioners – if like either of these you are in fear of mere names, it is possible to put the matter in wholly innocuous phrases and in terms of the modes of thought of the moment. Let us put the new point of view in terms of engineering; let us speak of a change from a political or ethical idealistic interpretation to an engineering interpretation. Let us think of the problem of the end of law in terms of a great task or great series of tasks of social engineering.
–Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Harvard School of Law, The Spirit of the Common Law, 1921; quoted in The Great Deceit: Social Pseudo-Science by the Veritas Foundation in 1964, page 271
Political philosophy, which is simply study of the nature of men and societies, has long been a vital and natural activity of the Occidental mind. There is nothing new about it today. The trick involved in the use of such terms as “political science” and “sociology” lies in the suggestion that these are exact sciences of the same order as chemistry and physics and can therefore yield equally certain and demonstrable results – and the further and even more pernicious suggestion that such investigations resemble chemistry and physics in not depending on moral values.
Revilo Oliver, reviewing The Great Deceit; printed in America’s Decline, p.416
Another important point Moldbug makes, in his parable of the Urplatains and elsewhere, is the reality of left and right, and
By setting up an ideal of righteousness that only divine rule can achieve, Rawls supplies the perfect distraction to help his readers forget that in reality, men are governed only by men, and history knows only two kinds of government: those based on law, and those based on violence.
This is from The Rawlsian God: Crypto-Calvinism in Action, which Moldbug wrote in 2007, having his ideology in essentially complete form in that year.
Oliver presages this in a book review:
To call the Middle Ages “collectivist” or to refer to “socialistic feudal society” is to exaggerate so drastically as to make some readers mistrust the entire work. The Middle Ages did inherit serfdom and some other socialistic devices from the Roman Empire, but they also evolved, largely under Christian influence, the feudal theory of contractual, and therefore limited, government. And under feudalism, each county and even smaller regions enjoyed a very high degree of autonomy; no central government was strong enough to impose the centralized tyranny that is, of course, the necessary foundation of socialism.
Review of The Great Deceit (1964), as printed in America’s Decline, p.405
Oliver doesn’t say outright that contractual government is great, he casually mentions it in a book review, because to him it’s obvious. Everything was known before Moldbug, and it took a genius of Moldbug’s calibre to rediscover everything.
Moldbug’s best known thesis is that progressives are post-protestants, which he introduces in his post about five or six ways to classify belief systems, and then goes on to discuss at length in his How Dawkins Got Pwned series. We can compare Oliver’s words from America’s Decline:
“Liberals” babble about “One World,” which is to be a “universal democracy” and is “inevitable” and they thus describe it in the very terms in which the notion was formulated, two thousand years ago, bv Philo Judaeus, when he cleverly gave a Stoic coloring to the old Jewish dream of a globe in which all the lower races would obey the masters whom Yahweh, by covenant, appointed to rule over them. And the “Liberal” cults, having rejected the Christian doctrine of “original sin” which, although based on a silly myth about Adam and Eve, corresponded fairly well to the facts of human nature, have even reverted to the most pernicious aspect of Christianity, which common sense had held in check in Europe until the Eighteenth Century; and they openly exhibit the morbid Christian fascination with whatever is lowly, proletarian, inferior, irrational, debased, deformed, and degenerate. This maudlin preoccupation with biological refuse, usually sicklied over with such nonsense words as “underprivileged”(!), would make sense, if it had been decreed by a god who perversely chose to become incarnate among the most pestiferous of human races and to select his disciples from among the illiterate dregs of even that peuplade, but since the “Liberals” claim to have rejected belief in such a divinity, their superstition is exposed as having no basis other than their own resentment of their betters and their professional interest in exploiting the gullibility of their compatriots. (America’s Decline, p.80)
The development of civilized societies is governed by the natural law of residues, that is to say, beliefs and customs long survive the superstitions or conditions on which they were based. Everyone knows, of course, that social conventions, such as the custom, which prevailed so long as women were generally respected, which required men to raise their hats in greeting women and to walk on the street-side, persist long after the circumstances in which those acts had utility have been forgotten. The same persistence of secondary beliefs after the source of them has been discarded is an historical phenomenon of the greatest importance. The cults which replaced Christianity at the end of the Eighteenth Century and are commonly called “Liberalism” preserved the social superstitions of the superseded religion (eg, “all mankind”, “human rights”, “One World,” and similar nonsense) after discarding belief in the Christian god, whose reported wishes were the source of those concepts. (America’s Decline, p.117)
The other important thing Moldbug did for us was explain why white nationalism doesn’t work, inventing a classification of hominids in the United States into five castes. Scott Alexander, wanting to discuss the antagonism between social groups without being racist, preferred to write about three tribes.
Revilo Oliver had this to say-
The American middle class has now been liquidated, except for a few remnants that are found here and there and are tolerated because they have no vestige of political power and will soon disappear anyway. A middle class can be based only on property — on the secure possession of real property of which a man can be divested only by his own folly. A middle class cannot be formed of comparatively well-paid proletarians who may have a theoretical equity in a hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar house they are “buying” on a thirty-five year mortgage, and in a fifteen-thousand-dollar automobile for which they will not have paid before they “trade it in” on a more expensive and defective vehicle. Nor can it be formed of proletarians whose wives have to work — whether as “executives” or as charwomen — to “make ends meet.” With the exception of relicts who live on investments that have not yet been entirely confiscated by taxation, the economic revolution is as complete in the United States as in Soviet Russia: there are only proletarians, some of whom are hired to manage the rest. Managerial employees get more pay and ulcers than janitors and coal miners, but they are equally dependent on their wages and even more dependent on the favor of the employee above them. The nearest approximation to a middle class, both here and in Russia, is the bureaucracy, and it is their vested interest that the Birchers imagine they can destroy.
America’s Decline, p.427-428
Oliver wrote that in support of his conclusion:
So long as it was honest (if it ever was), the Birch Society represented the last hope of American Conservatism, of the effort to restore the values and the freedom of the way of life of our Aryan forefathers on this continent – to regain what they lost when they thoughtlessly permitted their country to be invaded, their government to be captured, and their society to be systematically debauched and polluted by whining aliens. The American tradition was a fair and indeed noble one, and it still has the power to awaken nostalgia for a world that no man living has himself experienced, but for practical purposes, it now has only a literary and historical significance. To be sure, there are, outside the inconsequential Birch playpens, earnest men and women who still hope to restore the decent society and strictly limited government of that tradition, and their loyalty to what has ineluctably passed away entitles them to respect, just as we respect the British Jacobites, who remained loyal to the Stuarts and nourished hopes for a century after Culloden, and as we respect the earnest men and women in France who, as late as 1940, remained loyal to the Bourbons and dreamed of restoring them to their throne. But such nostalgic aspirations for the past are mere romanticism. They are dangerously antiquarian illusions today, when the only really fundamental question is whether our race
still has the will-to-live or is so biologically degenerate that it will choose extinction – to be absorbed in a pullulant and pestilential mass of mindless mongrels, while the triumphant Jews keep their holy race pure and predatory.
American Conservatism is finished, and its remaining adherents are, whether they know it or not, merely ghosts wandering, mazed, in the daylight. And it is at this point that the present volume of selections from what I wrote on behalf of a lost cause fittingly ends.
Moldbug was a computer programmer, raised in the schools of which Oliver says
Some pupils, they recognize, have been denied the benefits of imbecility by birth; but strenuous application of modem techniques for twelve years should correct this deficiency. In the meantime the colleges are themselves inundated by an ever-increasing horde of illiterates, and are desperately trying to provide the elements of a secondary education in “survey” or “remedial” courses – or are cynically consoling themselves with the reflection that anything that can stand on its hind legs long enough to receive an A.B. is worth at least two thousand bucks on the hoof (counting, of course, both what is collected as tuition and what is wheedled from alumni or legislators). The very thought of attracting another thousand head of customers suffices to make the ideals drool down the jaw of an ambitious diploma-peddler, and the land now resounds with singsong cries about “modern needs” and “wider opportunities”. And finally, the corruption has inevitably spread to the graduate schools in some of which, at least, the highest academic degree, PhD, is now being sold to incompetents whom their examiners admit to be incapable of original investigation or even lucid thought, and who, often enough, cannot write a paragraph of correct, intelligible English.
This is from The Educational Bureaucracy, National Review, 14 December 1955; printed in America’s Decline, pages 134-135. That’s 1955, not 1995 when Clinton and Blair were claiming that everyone needs to go to college to compete with the global labor market they were importing. Clinton and Blair didn’t start importing the globar labor market, either. The Beatles wanted to sing about “Meanwhile back at home there’s 19 Pakistanis living in a council flat / Candidate for Labour tells them what the plan is, then he tells them where it’s at”.
Moldbug mentions his time in graduate school in My Navrozov Moments, in which he claims that academic computer science is mostly make-work. Oliver, of course, presages:
If you train an intelligent dog to do tricks, he performs admirably. Fido will never know why you want him to stand on his hind legs; he knows only that if he does, you pet him and give him a piece of hamburger. If a stupid man is trained to be a college professor, he performs admirably. He will never know why he is successful; he knows only that if he produces “research” that leads to certain conclusions (of which the ultimate import or effect may be beyond his ken), he becomes known as a “coming man,” some well-established colleagues quote him and hint that his skull contains a super-brain, and emissaries from wealthy foundations appear at his door with wads of dollar-bills called “grants for research.” Cela s’explique, hein?
This also from his review of The Great Deceit, and on page 419 of America’s Decline. Of course, Oliver is saying that the social sciences are garbage, not computer science, which has something sensible inside it. But, as Oliver says elsewhere,
It is a delicate and difficult question. When termites find lodgement in the beams of your house, they instinctively settle down to multiply and to exercise their mandibles; and when your piano descends suddenly to the basement, to speak of a conspiracy or even of a motive would be absurd. But the educationalists are, after all, human beings, and we are accustomed to think of human beings as acting with a rational purpose which may usually be deduced from the probable consequences of the act. When a man rolls a boulder onto a railway track, we infer that he intends to wreck a train, and we should be skeptical were he to assure us that, in the spirit of blithe experimentation which the pedagogues hold sacred, he merely wishes to ascertain whether railroads can be used as rock crushers. We cannot avoid, therefore, the question whether the educational Harpies, or at least the more intelligent among them, are not acting from rational motives and carrying out a consciously formulated plan… What other intelligible purpose can be served by systematically instilling into the adolescent mind contempt for the traditional culture of Western man? What results would a man expect to produce by inculcating the brutalizing doctrine that the intellectual, aesthetic and moral values which have always been the object of true learning are now the “snobbish relics” of a dead past, and that the true function of society is to satisfy the animal appetites of the proletarian? Would a man strive to produce boobs if he did not intend to have serfs?
The Educational Bureaucracy, National Review, 14 December 1955; printed in America’s Decline, p.135-136
Moldbug’s Navrozov Moment was to recognize that the piano is in the basement.
Moldbug is a computer programmer. He went through all those years of being taught “the vulgarian’s contempt for dose ol’ geezers what useter learn Latin an’ such stuff (America’s Decline, p.143)”, instead of, like Revilo Oliver, learning multiple languages and real history. Moldbug is a stunted man, and so am I, but Moldbug is also a great man, having discovered things which had been forgotten. Perhaps Moldbug could have been a classics professor if he had been born in 1906.
Oliver wrote about politics after WWII, during which he saw what the government was up to close-up from a wartime job at the War Department. He helped found National Review, which he thought was going to be like Instauration, but instead toed the kosher conservative line since its beginning; he was eventually purged by William Buckley. He also helped found the John Birch Society, working for it until 1966, when he left in disgust.
National Review and the John Birch Society were, in his eyes, conservatism’s last hope. He would later publish in Instauration, which was active from 1975 to 2000. He died in 1994. Stormfront.org was founded in 1995.
The reason to read America’s Decline is not that it says all the same things Moldbug does, but that it says many of the same things better, and many different things, including historical facts that you are unlikely to find anywhere else.
Beyond which, Oliver includes some comments on historiography:
In the decade before us, the methods of historiography will undergo a very considerable modification…
Historians have never thought of calculated deception as the work of any large number of persons…
Historians must now drastically revise that premise. No matter how timorous they may be, they cannot, if honest, close their eyes to proof that massive deceptions can be carried out by thousands, even millions, of individuals who act unanimously with a common purpose. The great Jewish hoax about millions of God’s Chosen People whom the Germans supposedly exterminated seems to have been devised late in 1942, when it was claimed that in the autumn of that year the Germans had murdered two millions of the Holy Race in various ways. By 1943, the number had been increased to six million, and to keep up the progression, it was later increased to 40,000,000, which was seen to be so preposterous that it was reduced to 12,000,000, and at the end of the Crusade to Save the Soviet, the figure of six million was taken as the largest that could impose on the gullible goyim. The obvious original motive, common to all war propaganda, was to pep up the cattle that were being stampeded against Germany, but there may have been a further purpose in a hope that after the war it would be possible to carry out the Jewish plan, formulated and published by Theodore Kaufman in 1941, to exterminate the entire population of Germany as an object lesson to lower races that might want to have a country of their own, not under the management of God’s People. Since that proved not to be feasible, the hoax was used as a pretext for the obscene murders perpetrated at Nuremberg by the American, Soviet, British, and French victors, for their repudiation of the conventions, called international law, that had been observed by all civilized nations, and for the innumerable and ghastly atrocities by which all the victors, guided by their Jewish supervisors, equally and forever forfeited their claim to be morally superior to Attila’s Huns or Hulagu’s Mongols. And the hoax is still being used to loot Germany and, indirectly, all the nations of the West to subsidize the Jewish seizure of Palestine and adjacent lands.
It is no longer possible to think of a deception of many by a few. The utter falsity of this hoax, which was made the more preposterous when the physically impossible gas chambers were invented to dress it up, was necessarily known to hundreds of thousands of Jews who remained on German territory during the insane war, many of whom – probably 250,000 the Germans naturally interned as domestic enemies, although not with the thoroughness with which the Americans put resident Japanese in concentration camps during 1942-45. The Jews who remained in Germany, both those who were foolishly trusted and held governmental positions and those who were confined to the various camps, necessarily knew that there were no ‘gas chambers’ and there was no ‘extermination’ (although, of course, many individuals died from disease, old age, and Anglo-American bombing raids on the various camps, and, no doubt, some were slain by individual Germans when they foresaw the defeat and ruin of their country by the maddened hordes that the international race had mobilized against them – and by the Polish and Russian populations of occupied territories when the German armies failed to control their long-standing resentment of their parasites). Furthermore, since the race has always been truly international, many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions Jews throughout the world and especially in the United States must have known or suspected the truth when their supposedly exterminated relatives flocked into the country or corresponded with them.
America’s Decline, p.464-465
Moldbug casually assumed that the Holocaust happened, and Jim says that it doesn’t matter if they didn’t use gas chambers or didn’t kill anywhere near six million. Other neoreactionaries are afraid either of breaking local laws against trivializing the Holocaust, or just don’t seem to appreciate what the Holocaust means to historiography.
The Holocaust is an example of the Big Lie that Hitler talked about, a more consequential example, though one with less chutzpah, than the claim that Hitler talked about the Big Lie as a technique that National Socialists should use.
The Holocaust is convenient to us because anyone who claims that it happened is not trustworthy. They are controlled, mentally or physically, by a conspiracy, and will include whatever other lies they are instructed to. We can safely throw away every book that claims it happened, and be left with some opportunity to read true things. Getting perspectives from honest men in the 20th century is hard, because honesty has been unpublishable for most of the 20th century, however, thanks to the Internet, we can access books that the enemy had suppressed and forgotten; Oliver mentions his difficulties in accessing Lothrop Stoddard’s The Revolt Against Civilization.
If you want a view of the inter-war Baltics, in between Germany and the USSR, read Donald Day’s book Onward Christian Soldiers, or listen to it in audiobook form. If you want to know what happened up until the sixties in the US, read Revilo Oliver, America’s Decline. If you want to know what’s been going on since the sixties, I guess you can ask Jim, or leaf through old copies of Instauration.
In some sense, having rejected conservatism, Oliver could be called the first neoreactionary. But he’s really the last conservative. Moldbug is the first neoreactionary. The years that separated them were – well, you know how dark they were.