How to Look at the World Like a Neoreactionary, Part 4
In the last part we walked through an outline of how the neoreactionary approaches the issue of racial discrimination. The purpose, I hope as was obvious, was less to be a defense of racial discrimination, but to illustrate the methodology, which questions were being asked. A text such as this should be treated as a way of practicing reasoning. I’m not trying to acquaint you with a set of doctrines, but a set of maxims. One should approach a school of thought as one does a school of martial arts. Throw out your assumptions. The modernist habit in approaching neoreaction will insistently come back to a revulsion. “They advocate what?! Don’t they know what that implies? They must not, which makes them stupid.” As though that were it.
I will give you some training wheels to get through this next section. If you can’t understand what a neoreactionary is meaning unless you interpret him as either stupid or evil, choose evil. He likely isn’t stupid. But remember these are training wheels; do not treat an experience assisted by an incomplete but helpful heuristic the same as biking with the training wheels off. Or, to put it another way, a baby might start learning to walk with motherly assistance, but walking with motherly assistance cannot and should not be mistaken for the real thing.
“But I just want it straight! Why can’t you just provide a straightforward argument defending your views? This is so roundabout.” Well, yes. Isn’t the concept of Progress rather roundabout? Why not go straight to utopia? Why must we proceed by way of protracted social struggles? Why didn’t MLK advocate for gay marriage, free birth control, and mandatory public education? “You can’t expect people to understand immediately, we are handicapped by our socialization.” I wouldn’t tend to call it a handicap per se, though at least sub-optimal. Anyway, you see my point. From my perspective, you’re in a hole and you need help getting out. I’m trying to throw you a ladder.
“But you’re the one who needs help!” Probably. But consider: I had more or less the same kind of socialization as you. Public school, friends, TV, internet, college. I have a pretty good idea of what you would tend to think about me because I’m acquainted with all the same memes. I watch the same movies and eat the same food. If we met at a party and you didn’t know my sociopolitical sentiments, you would think I’m a pretty cool guy.
So how can I be so different? Shouldn’t the good of Progressive values be obvious enough? If the explanation for why I hold different views isn’t that we were socialized into different values, it must be something else. Either we’re just incapable of seeing the light, or we refuse to see the light. Put another way, either we’re stupid or we’re evil. And I should think it clear we’re not stupid.
So we’re evil, in other words. We aren’t ignorant of Progressivism. We’re unpersuaded. Unconvinced. Tried and found wanting. I won’t protest. What would be the point? Practically no one believes himself to be evil. I don’t actually think I’m evil (though I do take pleasure in thinking how uncomprehending progs think I’m evil). You don’t think you’re evil. I bet Hitler didn’t think he was evil. Anyone could, and would, claim they’re good overall.
Here’s something you need to explain. How can evil people like us exist? If Progressivism is really so obvious (hell, even you can understand it!) and good, and shaming us doesn’t suffice to bring us back to the fold, i.e. we are unrepentant heretics, then there must be something just psychologically off about us. We have to be different in a deep, disturbed, innate way. If all those years of education couldn’t beat sense into us, we’re simply not able to saved. We’re a part of the damned. It’s really quite that simple. If we were being merciful, we would let people like us be put out of our misery. We simply don’t have the right psychology to appreciate the marvels and wonders of modern living. Maybe Darwin should be allowed to work his magic, and people like us should be selected out of the gene pool. So what if it flirts with eugenics.
It’s a mercenary kind of logic, but ultimately, for the good of civilization, it may be required. If the only reason Progress doesn’t happen is because there are always some in society who hold Progress back, because they’re stupid or evil, then certainly one can justify a little systematic murder. It’s utilitarian, but if it would mean the end of homophobia, rape culture, patriarchy, pro-life, racism, sexism, and all those other classic pastimes of white male culture, the benefits outweigh the costs. If you won’t do that, you’re depriving the marginalized the justice of being restored to full integration with society sooner rather than later, when it’s too late to save those suffering now. Do you have sympathy for the oppressors? Do you want to let the micro-aggressor get away with it? Progress demands more Progress now.
“Now, hold on,” you’ll insist. “That’s a straw man. I would never advocate the wholesale slaughter of my opponents. That is not only misrepresentative of Progressivism, it is completely contrary to the spirit.” Is it? Then you are suggesting it is okay to allow people like us to take our rightful place in society? I mean, if you’re not working to stop us, then capitalism wins, right? Doesn’t evil win when good people, such as yourself, stand by and do nothing?
“If there is anything that needs to be done about people like you, it wouldn’t be that drastic.” Like losing our jobs? Being barred from employment? Facing penalties, fines, persecution? Being generally disenfranchised from wider society, being rounded up into the ghettoes, before we board the trains for… re-education camps?
“This is insane! I just said I wouldn’t advocate that!” I’m not saying you did. It’s a question of faith. If you really believe in Progress, how far are you willing to go to see it happen? Whenever Progress doesn’t happen like it’s supposed to, why is that? Is it because reality is an impediment, or is it due to sinister plots?
By the neoreactionary’s lights, if we didn’t exist, you’d have to invent us. We are your Emmanuel Goldstein, and yes, we would actually write a book with the title of The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. And yes, it would be about your team, the Cathedral.
The purpose of neoreaction is not merely to stand athwart history, telling it to stop. We want to hijack history. We really are the enemy of Progressivism. Progress and our existence is not compatible. If you will not kill us, you will at least have to wait for us to die off, delaying Progress and ensuring the suffering of all who presently suffer due to injustice. If you won’t, it is only because you are a coward. You do not really believe in Progress. You only like to associate yourself with it, taking glory in the work of another party like one does when rooting for their favorite baseball team. You root for the Progressivists in the way you root for the Red Sox. You don’t actually play for the team, and couldn’t if you tried. You are as essential to Progress as a man to a woman. You are only riding the coattails of history and claiming all the credit. You bask in the privilege of being on the right side of history and exploit it against all those who are wrong.
You don’t believe in Progress, in other words, you believe in belief. If you did actually believe, you would be willing to do almost anything to see it done. As much as Progressivism is important, it is more important than anything else; that including the existence of its enemies or the moral scruples its advocates imagine themselves able to afford.
The Progressivists shall have to make a choice. In fact, they have been making this choice. When faced with the fact that Progress cannot occur without further change, it seems apparent that further change is called for. But, if the neoreactionary is right, then the vision of Progress will always be hampered, requiring further change. How much should society expend trying to equalize the gender wage gap? This is a serious question. If the gender wage gap is due to the institutionalization of sexism, then it will cost the expenditure of a certain amount of resources to root it out. How much should society be willing to give up to solve this problem? Surely more than a million, right? But precisely how much? A billion? A trillion? Several decades of lost GDP growth? The political cohesion of the Union?
“Equalizing the gender wage gap wouldn’t cost that much.” Maybe, maybe not. But you shouldn’t pretend that Progress is costless. Pretending that your goal can be achieved without giving up something else is stupid. Utopia at no cost, just add water?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just vote for Obama, that will save America. Okay, vote for him again, America needs more saving. Alright, we’re going to need a new version of Obama, because this is taking a little longer than we thought…
My suggestion here is that Progress will prove more expensive than it was originally sold as. It suffers from that most ancient problem of infrastructure and construction projects, cost overrun. It will cost something, at least. That money we spend on welfare so that people with insufficient means can feed themselves could be spent on other things. That’s a cost. “It’s a worthwhile cost!” That may be, but you must admit it is a cost. You cannot neglect the cost side of the cost-benefit analysis of undertaking certain social changes. It would not only be imprudent, it would be dishonest. After all, if you’re so right, you should have nothing to fear in admitting to the costs Progressivism incurs. The benefits will always be greater, right? You should have nothing to fear from an accurate and extensive summarization of the costs of Progress. Progress is for you like L’Oréal, because you’re worth it.
Come back to my question of equalizing the gender wage gap. Simple biology also plays a role in explaining the wage gap. The above cost analysis assumed that eliminating institutionalized sexism is a one time cost that, once it was eliminated, egalitarian views would perpetuate themselves. However, if biology is different between men and women, then biology poses the potential to disadvantage one sex in the market. And wouldn’t you know it, there is a very obvious disadvantage that women face when competing with men in the marketplace. Women are more likely than men to become pregnant. Actually, women are the only sex to become pregnant. Insofar as there is a cost to being pregnant, all this cost is borne by women, in the form of advances and raises given up due to lost time. Equalizing the playing field requires not only a one time cost to eliminate the ongoing effects of patriarchy, it requires ongoing costs to provide women the opportunity to enter the market without facing any disadvantages particular to being a woman.
I won’t go into particular schemes of how such equalizing will be done, I only care to point out that this cost will be borne by men. It has to be, otherwise it would remain a cost borne uniquely by women, which is antithetical to equality. It is a necessity that men be forced, whether explicitly or implicitly, to subsidize the work of their female co-workers. It is the duty of men to work in order that women may be afforded the opportunity to work.
However it is done, you will see a value transfer payment somehow, even if it can’t be explicitly examined in terms of monetary cost. Since men are seeing less reward for their work, this disinclines them from working so much or so hard. The response of the Progressivist is to moralize, to chastise men who would work less because their pay is being implicitly cut in order to subsidize women’s wages. But this presupposes a rather interesting view of the dynamic of the sexes. If men must be forced to sacrifice for the sake of women because it is their duty to subsidize the existence of women, there is a certain inequality in play. Women do not appear to have a duty to subsidize the existence of men; it is only right and natural that men have a subordinate position to women in society. A man’s place is as the slave so that women may finally be afforded their independence. Insofar as men are disinclined from doing this in order to give women their independence, that is just because they are evil, and inasmuch as they are evil, they deserve to be unequal to women.
Maybe you don’t like this cost so much. Maybe you would like to replace this cost with something else. Maybe some other sort of tax that doesn’t tax men for being sinfully better at work. It will have to be something, at least. If Progress is so great, if it has so many benefits, how much would you be willing to pay for it? If you won’t pay anything for it, or imagine that you won’t have to pay for it, I don’t believe you’re a proponent of Progress. You don’t actually disagree with neoreaction. You just want to signal that you are holier than thou and that you should receive praise for your “enlightened opinion,” when you’re really nothing but a Puritan pretender. You pray in public and have your reward in full.
What does it ultimately mean to be “for Progress?” We need to determine this before we can even approach the question of what it means to be neoreactionary. Until the biases and prejudices of the modern age are outed, it would be pointless to try going forward with this discussion. Consider the plank in your own eye before pointing to the mote in another’s.
Originally published Nov 26 2013