Open Letter to Klint Finley

Mr. Finley,
Thank you for the informative article on Neoreactionaries. This is indeed a rising political trend and something that would be of interest, even just to observe, by TechCrunch’s readers. Unfortunately, I take some issue with the article, but these issues are not with you specifically.

In particular, I am a bit bothered by calling Mr. Yarvin and others “Neoreactionaries”. As someone who considers themselves somewhat a reactionary character, I cannot stand the idea of being associated with the ideology that Yarvin and supporters proclaim.

Yarvin has done great work by exposing the flaws of progressivism and encouraging readers to return to the old classics like Carlyle and Evola. But Yarvin and the other “neoreactionaries” do not fall in line with the ideas proposed by these classics.

First, the “neoreactionaries” believe that technology and capitalism have improved us, as you point out. This is not in line with reactionary thought, and something that I discuss here. According to the old reactionaries – Carlyle, Schmitt, Cortes, Guenon – the modern emphasis on technology and capitalism is part of the problem. They believe that any movement away from a spiritual understanding of the human condition is one that leads to the current problems of democracy and progressivism. Part of the reactionary critique of the twin evils of democracy and capitalism is that our material interests have been made the supreme decider of things. Our politics, our spiritual life, our actions are all evaluated under a materialistic framework. As Cortes would say, if you ask capitalist questions you will find socialist answers; capitalism and socialism are, under the reactionary’s paradigm, two sides of the same materialistic coin.

Technology is not held in much higher regard. Guenon believed that technological advances were a sign of a decaying civilization; humanity has used up its spiritual and intellectual capabilities and has now turned to burning out its material state of being. Guenon argued that technological advances merely look like advances just as a fire only looks bright as long as it has some kind of substance to burn. Once we burn out this last vestige of creativity, we’re basically screwed.

The loyalty to technology is just the same as a loyalty to democracy; both are religiously believed to solve the challenges of the human condition and do away with political struggle once and for all. See in particular Yarvin’s post on the Dire Problem and his idea of computerized guns. It is all an attempt to end politics, and with it the most important questions humans have ever asked. Under the reactionary view, we cannot solve violence any further than we can solve mortality. People fight because they have deep, primal views about the universe that exist in a world grounded in faith, and conflicting faiths will always conflict. An attempt to stop the conflict is an attempt to stop the faith, which is just a repetition of progressivism’s promise to end fighting by exposing all to the light of reason and democracy.

Second, the “neoreactionaries” have come up with biological, scientific explanations of the differences between people. See in particular your links referencing the genetic differences between races and the God-awful human biodiversity argument. Evola, who largely gets a pretty stern treatment by modern academics, was even opposed to this idea and criticized its existence in Europe during the 1940′s. It is horrendously shallow, insulting, and hardly more than a return to 19th century skull-measuring. The underlying goal, then as now, is to reduce differences to something scientific so that it can be brought under human control and socially engineered. The reactionary adopts a view that states that there will always be different cultures because different communities understand the universe in different ways. An attempt to bring that kind of thing under human control will lead to an attempt at wiping out the opposing culture altogether. The reactionary will point out that the concentration camp is a modern invention.

Third, the “neoreactionaries” merely opt for a capitalistic, democratic competition of governments as per your reference to the competing city-states. I refer you to this article.

In short, a neoreactionary is to a reactionary what a neoconservative is to a conservative. A neoconservative is a progressive with a gun just as a neoreactionary is a modern liberal with an angrier government.

Droning On and On

SODOM & GOMORRAH: The problem with drones is that they impersonalize killing.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that four American citizens have been killed in drone strikes since 2009. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Holder mentioned that the United States used a drone to specifically target and kill Anwar al-Awlaki in 2001. Al-Awlaki, Holder states, was an al Qaeda cleric living in Yemen and plotting attacks against the US.

Holder states that the individual in question was displaying a mindset indicative of a desire to kill Americans but that he also actively assisted in helping those who were engaged in plots to kill Americans. Anwar al-Awlaki is, to date, the only US citizen that the Administration has admitted to targetting in a drone strike.

The Justice Department further states that in situations like these, drone strikes should only be carried out under the appropriate constitutional framework and against threats that are imminent yet whose capture is not feasible.

We of course have some issue with this. First, if the threat is “imminent” then it seems likely that capture would not be deemed “not feasible”. Being in contact with and sympathizing with people actually carrying out attacks, while living outside the zone of conflict, might make someone a threat but does not make them an “imminent” one.

Second, the constitutional framework calls for a trial, not a “thorough review by Justice Department attorneys”. Whether such a trial would be fair or not is a different question, but the Justice Department doesn’t even appear to be caring enough to pretend to be fair.

Thirs, the use of drones signals an increasing impersonalization of the killing and death involved in conflict. Flying a drone is, in many ways, like running a flight simulator or video game. You just have to push a button and the person on the screen dies. We are stripping the meaning and reality from the conflict and instructing soldiers, attorneys, and the citizens of the countries involved in conflict to be insensitive to these realities.

Mass killings, extra-judicial strikes, rumored death panels – these things do not come to be through the evil bent of one or two minds. These things happen only once you convince the vast machinery of the bureaucracy that what is taking place is just routine. As Mr. Holder has already stated, this is just in line with what the courts have supported since the 1940′s. Nothing unusual here, nothing out of the ordinary, just business as usual.

NIRA New Deal

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Propaganda is interesting to look at, even (or especially) after the fact. This video made of Hollywood’s support of NIRA, the New Deal, and Roosevelt’s other economic policies is almost…fascistic.


Syrian Opposition Claims Government has Chemical Weapons

SODOM & GOMORRAH: The Syrian opposition continues to send envoys to the United Nations in hopes of attaining help in the struggle against their government.

Revolutionary forces are trying a new method. By claiming that the Syrian government possesses and has used biological weapons against its people, the opposition hopes to hold the UN accountable for its commitment to intervene when a country is guilty of outright human rights violations.

SOPA Wasn’t Enough: Now There’s CISPA

From Anonymous' Twitter Feed

From Anonymous’ Twitter Feed

SODOM & GOMORRAH: The American House of Representatives silently and quickly voted in favor of a new bill called the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).

Last year, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), two copyright enforcement bills, inspired thousands of sites to participate in an online blackout. The goal was to demonstrate what the internet might look like if the bills had been passed. Under the existing legal infrastructure, copyright can be enforced by the government if a website fails to comply with a copyright claim requesting that offending material be removed. These claims, which are filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, are said to be ineffective by intellectual property advocates.

SOPA and PIPA had been successfully defeated after the blackouts, but there is now a new threat on the horizon.

CISPA would remove several legal barriers between the government and companies who have access to personal data about their users. Companies would be able to willingly share information with the federal government.

Unlike the protests against the piracy bills, major tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been silent. Facebook just recently pulled their support.

Boston Bombing Suspect Apprehended

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Though in critical condition, the last living suspect in the Boston bombing case has been apprehended. He is currently unable to speak but is reportedly able to write.

His aunt, an attorney from Russia, feels this is a frame job and does not trust the evidence provided by the US government. There are also legal challenges since the suspect wasn’t read his Miranda Rights.

Chavez Holds Power in Venezuela Beyond the Grave

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Following Hugo Chavez’s unfruitful struggle against cancer, his appears to be the faction firmly in charge of Venezuela.

Elections were held. Elections are always held. After a “close vote”, Nicolas Maduro, a friend of the late Chavez, was declared the president. Violence erupted as protestors clashed with police. Before papers could even be filed, the pro-government court ruled out the possibility of a recount.

Violence has been fierce. Maduro has accused his rivals, including the main challenger, Henrique Capriles, of being fascists. Capriles and the opposition party continue to call for a recount of the close election.

61 were injured and eight were killed. Capriles, currently the governor of the Miranda state, has called for nights of cacerolazos. This tactic, which consists of banging pots and pans at night, was used against Chile’s Augusto Pinochet and several other Latin American leaders.

The socialist party still hold the reins of power in the country, and it’s unlikely this situation will change.

Pakistani Youth Pessimistic on Democracy

2189674815_cdc5bbb144_oSODOM & GOMORRAH: More than half of the people polled in Pakistan responded negatively to democracy in Pakistan.

The BBC survey was conducted on about 5,000 Pakistanis who were between the ages of 18 and 29. Almost all of them responded by saying that Pakistan was moving in the wrong direction, signalling a vast pessimism present in the young people of that country.

The poll was conducted since about 30% of registered voters in Pakistan are under the age of 30 and the BBC expects them to have a significant impact on the election which is slated to be held in May. Respondents said that the most trusted institution in the country was the military and that Sharia law and military rule were both more favorable than democracy.

In May, we might see Pakistan vote against voting.

Egyptian Democracy Surprisingly Autocratic

Ahmed Abd El-fatah, Flickr.

Ahmed Abd El-fatah, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: The surprise, of course, belongs solely to Western press. Students of the old science of politics are simply vindicated by recent developments in Egypt.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shocked many at home and abroad when he seized new powers. Violent protests were launched that reminded commentators of last year’s revolution. Mursi issued a decree last Thursday which shielded any of his decisions from judicial review and prompted accusations that he was assuming dictatorial powers.

Over 500 people have been injures in clashes between police and protesters. Some fear that Mursi’s Islamic Brotherhood is attempting to assert full powers over Egypt since they won the democratic elections this year.

Egyptian courts have expressed some reservations, but instead of outright condemning Mursi’s recent power grab they have simply hinted at a compromise while calling people back to government work for business as usual. The judges say that the judges and prosecutors who went on strike after the declaration should come back to work and that they did not outright reject Mursi’s declaration.

None of this is horribly surprising. Democracy, in its purest form, is about the power of a majority over any number of minorities. The fact that the Islamic Brotherhood is taking advantage of its majority status is a sign that Egypt has embraced and understood democracy completely.

Catalonia No Closer to Autonomy

SBA73, Flickr.

SBA73, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Self-determination can be a tricky thing. In liberal Europe, this is no less true.

Separatists in the Spanish region of Catalonia have won the regional elections but failed to win in such a way that demonstrated a firm desire to separate from Spain. Voters decided to give almost 70% of the local parliament to four different separatist parties who all advocate for a final separation from Spain. But they didn’t favor the main separatist group, Mas’s Convergence and Union Alliance (CiU) when they cut their seats back to 50 from 62 in the 135-five seat parliament.

Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, the head of Madrid’s office of the European Council on Foreign Relations claims that “Mas clearly made a mistake. He promoted a separatist agenda and the people have told him they want other people to carry out his agenda.”

Spain is currently suffering from a 25% unemployment rate and a brutal recession. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is likely relieved by the outcome. Catalan separatist groups have been edging the country toward a constitutional crisis. Catalonian residents believe that a concentration of political and economic efforts in the region could help them recover better than a continued focus on Spain or even Europe.

Mas has thus far attempted to take advantage of separatist sentiments in the country but the recent election demonstrates a faltering support for his particular brand of autonomy. Instead, the Left has made significant gains as a result of the election, to the expense of the center right.

The cracks that run through the European Union are quite deep. Far more than just individual member-states seeking to reassert their autonomy, sub-cultures within the union are attempting to work for independence.