Are We Right? (Part III)
It is time to deliver on the promise of this essay – which is, of course, an answer to the great question contained in its title. Can our movement honestly lay claim to the Rightist tradition of the West, which in turn leads back to the roots of our civilisation? Or do we represent a shallow, transitory and chimerical reaction of older Leftist ideas, like nationalism, against newer ones like multiculturalism?
In short, can the Alt-Right really call itself the True Right?
I did say, back at the beginning, that my answer to this question would take a fair bit of prior explanation. And we’re not quite done yet. As it’s been a while since the last two installments were published (due to illness – my apologies), let’s briefly recap what we’ve looked at so far.
First, we observed that the authentic Right rejects the view of historical development as an upward “march of progress”. For some luminaries of the Right (e.g. Guénon), the passage from tradition to modernity is a straight degeneration, like the fall from a mountain’s summit towards its illusory reflected image in the water under its base. For others (e.g. Spengler), it is a cyclical process in which we unfold towards a high point and progressively decline thereafter, like the human journey from infanthood to old age. These interpretations differ on the early stages of a civilisation, but dovetail on the negative significance of the later ones. They also agree that late and decadent forms may superficially resemble, but actually invert, earlier vital ones – which is why we cannot define the Right by abstractions like “order”, “hierarchy”, “inequality”, etc.
Next, we used the theory of Bertrand de Jouvenel to identify – through the long and confusing history of political struggle – the common thread that unites Rightist causes and defines them against Leftist ones. We concluded that the Right defends the social order, and the Left subverts this order in the interests of Power – capital-p Power being de Jouvenel’s term for the central governing authority, which tends to ally with the lower orders and chip away at the ‘aristocratic’ social authorities so as to expand itself. Given that the dawn of a civilisation shows the highest degree of control by the social order, and its twilight shows the highest degree of control by Power, all political causes throughout the centuries between these two extremes can only be defined as ‘Right’ or ‘Left’ in a relative sense. Absolutist monarchism is Right of democratic revolution, but Left of the mediaeval feudal order based on the authority of the nobility, and so on.
Finally, we called on Samuel Francis to describe the state of Power and the social order in the present day. Following the trail blazed by Burnham, he contends that the advent of mass society has led to a replacement of the dominant class in the West: the bourgeoisie, which once supplanted the nobility with the aid of Power, is now supplanted in its turn by a managerial class based in the government, corporations and media. Examining this new dominant class in the light of de Jouvenel, we found that it is as hostile to the social order as it is integrated with the central ‘statocracy’, which means that it does not act as an independent social authority restraining Power. Evoking the principle of decadence, we summarised managerialism as a “pseudo-aristocracy of Power”, a degenerate parody of the traditional blood nobility.
In light of all this, we can judge the authenticity and effectiveness of Rightist causes by discerning where they stand on the question of Power and the social order.
First and foremost, a cause of the Right should be based in real and independent social forces, which are neither identical with Power itself nor with the lowest orders of society who are Power’s natural allies. In other words, it cannot base itself upon mere abstractions and utopian idealism, however “traditionalist” or “inegalitarian”: for the prerequisite for constructing an abstract utopia is the levelling of the existing social order, and the architect and guarantor of the new ideal order can only be Power. This does not mean that the Right does not have abstract principles and ideals, only that these must be embodied by certain social forces – which, once they degenerate to nothing or are successfully destroyed by the Left, are gone for good.
Second, a Rightist cause should understand its role of limiting Power and upholding the social order against subversion. This seems obvious, but as we shall see, most of the Rightist movements in the present day manage to get it wrong. It is not feasible to simply swear an anathema on Power and all its works; nor, as we have seen from de Jouvenel, can Power be constrained by founding it upon democratic elections, as this allows it to expand in an insidious manner under the guise of the “popular will”. Moreover, abstract ideals of limited Power do not serve to limit it in practice, unless they are backed up by independent social forces. From mediaeval divine kingship to the United States Constitution, such ideals have all passed into Power’s maw, to be digested into sustenance for its expansion and bullshit for the rest of society.
Third, in light of Francis’s work in particular, any Rightist cause in the modern era must deal with the revolution of mass and scale and its resultant tendencies toward managerialism. However fondly we might look back to the traditional or bourgeois social forms, they can never be restored in a mass society, which requires some degree of managerial control in order to function effectively. The prospect of limiting Power through the social order must therefore be reassessed from its fundamentals. In Francis’s opinion, the socially-corrosive ‘soft managerialism’ of the modern West can only be corrected by a socially-defensive ‘hard managerialism’.
Holding these points in mind, let us examine the various iterations of the Right that exist in the present day.
The Ideology of Surrender: Conservatism and Libertarianism
As I stated in Part I, the conservative movement in the present day is a wretched time-wasting racket, colonised by interlopers from the Left and increasingly manned by the stupid, the spineless and the unscrupulous. There is no need to lob yet another rhetorical harpoon at this beached, rotting giant squid of an ideology. What is important to reconsider its halcyon days, when its ability to blow angry clouds of ink at the Left did a better job of obscuring its nature, and establish that it was in fact the same invertebrate specimen all along.
Conservatism is, so to speak, the defensive war whose logical conclusion is surrender. I do not doubt that it has preserved the Western social order, or at least slowed down the assaults against it, during its long rearguard action against progressivism. But this has to be balanced against the fact that it has funneled some of the best men of the Right away from the cause of reaction and into an ill-fated strategy of moderate resistance. The Left wins by turning the thumbscrews gradually, and for this purpose, conservatism is just the sort of opposition it needs.
The ideal of conservatism – i.e. that which most conservatives actually want to conserve – is the liberal, bourgeois, capitalist order of limited government and individual freedom. The method of conservatism – by which it hopes to ensure that these ideals do not vanish in a rush towards socialism or anarchy – is the “wise prejudice” of Burke, which seeks to preserve time-tested traditions and act as a brake on social change and state expansion. Both of these, unfortunately, have culminated in the present sorry state of conservatism.
A de Jouvenelian understanding of history (e.g. this one), centred on Power as the instigator and beneficiary of social change, would lead us to suspect that the classical liberal ideal of the 19th century was only a means to an end: the destruction of absolute monarchy and noble privileges by an alliance of the statocracy with the capitalist class. Once this end was accomplished, Power could set up its own brand of economic paternalism in place of the aristocratic variety, and capitalists could follow their self-interest into the managerial revolution by expanding their enterprises and integrating them with government. Both sides of the alliance were worse than indifferent to the preservation of the social order, the only true guarantor of freedom from Power.
As for the “wise prejudice” against innovation advocated by Burke, this only made sense in a society that still possessed strong links to aristocratic tradition and customary law. Conservatives have held onto almost none of these links: first they discarded any residual scepticism of capitalism, then they were persuaded to bend the knee to democracy, and now they are convinced that managerial corporatism and mass immigration do not fundamentally alter capitalism and democracy. In their minds, wise prejudice has degenerated into the idiotic habit of defending anything that has stuck around for a few decades; and defending the social order means timidly refusing to “rock the boat”, even when the pirates have boarded it and are making off with the cargo. Only when they have to defend their own racket – sorry, their “principles” – against innovations from the Right do these tergiversating worms suddenly rear up like venomous snakes, and hiss down any advocacy of non-liberal methods that may actually stand a chance against the Left.
Libertarianism is best understood as the radical wing of conservatism, which seeks to avoid compromise and retreat by elevating the ideal of liberty to a rigid moral principle. As conservatives contort themselves with every puff of wind, libertarians only stiffen into greater rigidity in their ideological condemnation of Power: once known for their advocacy of a minimalist “night-watchman state”, they are now increasingly found putting the case for full-blown anarchy, in which all social life is based on unregulated capitalism and the state is abolished as an illegitimate “stationary bandit”.
The most common rejoinder to libertarianism is that it lacks practical sense; but its real problem lies in the realm of ideals. As we have seen from de Jouvenel, liberty in itself is not a foundational principle of society; it is the byproduct of a strong social order, in which people are regulated by traditional custom, and Power is limited by aristocratic forces powerful enough to assert their autonomy. Because libertarians take liberty as an absolute dogma, uphold no authority other than the atomised (and powerless) individual, and often hold a progressive view of history into the bargain, they are prepared to dispense with all vestiges of the social order except for the business contract. And as libertarianism can do no real damage to Power, but can harm the social order by convincing people on the Right of its illegitimacy, it must be charged with serving the ends of subversion and thus the ultimate ends of Power.
If practicality is defined in terms of furthering a Rightist victory over the Left – which I would define as a successful reaction and stabilisation of the social order for the longest possible period of time – then conservatism and libertarianism are no less impractical than each other. Both arise from a childish natural superstition: the idea that by closing your eyes to Power, and turning your back on it, you can make it disappear.
The Left orients itself towards Power: it desires it, fights for it, and uses it. Progressivist ideology encourages its followers in political office to create new sinecures for their comrades, confiscate the wealth of enemy demographics, and distribute benefits to protected groups in return for their political loyalty. All of this is in accordance with the primal nature of Power, which de Jouvenel centres in the “will to dominate” – it is, for example, why the Beowulf poem refers to kings as ring-givers. In contrast, the “principled conservative” fights for Power so as not to use it; he restricts the growth of sinecures under his watch, without abolishing the ones already created; and he “rewards” his supporters merely by letting them endure the free market with a respite from the attentions of the Handicapper-General. Instead of building an army by bestowing favours on loyal peons, he gives them out to rich corporate elites, who respond by jumping into bed with social justice.
Granted, this does not always apply in practice. There are more lupine specimens, such as the neocon interlopers; however, they are interested in making common cause with progressivism, not in fighting it more fiercely. The crux of the matter is that the conservative moral ideal is to recoil from the sight of Power like a Victorian matron from a peep-show, and surround it with all sorts of taboos and rituals so as to engage with it as bloodlessly as possible. The complete renunciation of Power by libertarianism, by stigmatising the state as incurably illegitimate and immoral, is merely conservative political asceticism taken to its logical conclusion.
But is this a necessary or useful attitude to take? In the early aristocratic societies described by de Jouvenel, Power is venerated as the guardian and symbol of the social order. A distinction is made not between Power and non-Power, or between strong Power and weak Power, but between legitimate and illegitimate Power: between the ‘king’ who rules in accordance with the social order, and the ‘tyrant’ who rules arbitrarily. Power is limited because it is formalised, concentrated in one or few persons, and balanced by the practical strength of social authorities – not because it is deprived of the requisite strength to assert its own position.
(De Jouvenel, for his part, does not even hold to the dogma of barring Power from the realm of property and economics. Understanding the threat posed to the social order by obscene plutocratic wealth sheltering under the rights of property, he states that this might be corrected by a distributism aimed at limiting the wealth of the rich and multiplying the number of independent proprietors; this strengthens the social order, in contrast to the socialist or welfarist solution, in which the proletariat are turned into dependent wards of Power. According to de Jouvenel, all of this played itself out long ago in the ancient Roman Republic, and he cites Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus as representatives of distributism and welfarism respectively.)
The conservative-libertarian attempt to limit Power by weakening or destroying it only produces the opposite result to that intended. What happens is that Power drains out of its formal repository and takes up refuge in the shadows, where it becomes anonymous, illegitimate and over-expansive. It is obvious to most people that a libertarian anarchy would only result in the transfer of Power to the nearest armed gang or foreign invader. Less obvious, but increasingly so, is the result of the democratic uncertainties foisted upon government with the support of conservatives: in order to escape them, Power has increasingly diffused out of the formal executive into a battalion of managerial institutions, which are now beholden to no authority but themselves.
Confronted by these truths, our conservative church ladies can only raise the usual whinnying defence of their “high moral principles”. Perhaps it would sound more convincing if they, and not ourselves, were being persecuted like Jesus instead of paid like Judas. Those who view the defence of our civilisation as a moral imperative must engage directly with the question of Power, and this can only lead them away from conservatism and towards the forgotten heritage of reaction.
The Quest for Non-Subversive Power: Neoreaction
One of the early steps in this direction was taken by a libertarian, Hans-Herman Hoppe, in his 2001 book entitled Democracy: The God That Failed. Although Hoppe ends this book with an endorsement of libertarian anarcho-utopia, most of it is devoted to a defence of absolutist monarchy against modern democratic government. Hoppe argues that monarchy kept the inherent parasitism of the state to a minimum, whereas the rule of elected politicians has not only bloated the state but made it vastly more irresponsible.
In 2007, when ‘Mencius Moldbug’ started the Unqualified Reservations blog, he was ready to go a lot further than this. Moldbug is not well understood in Alt-Right circles, and this has much to do with his habit of setting out his ideas in long and meandering blog posts that occasionally contradict each other. Even if I were up to the task of summarising his entire corpus, not to mention the developments in neoreactionary thought since he disappeared into the ether, there would be no space for it here. So I shall concentrate solely on the answer proposed by neoreaction to the question of subversive Power.
Moldbug, for most of the same reasons as Hoppe, deplores the modern regression from monarchy to democracy. Or, more precisely, he deplores the regression from authoritarianism to demotism – demotist regimes being all those that conflate themselves with the will of the people, whether they call themselves democratic, communist or fascist. In his analysis the current Western regimes are not true democracies, as they are run by entrenched bureaucrats and subjected to the state religion of progressivism, for which the universities and media form a self-coordinated propaganda factory called the ‘Cathedral’. However, if real democracy were restored to the West, the only outcome would be chaos – especially as there is already a low-level war of the ruling class and foreign immigrants against the majority white population, which is of course just the latest manifestation of de Jouvenel’s high-low alliance against the social order.
Although Moldbug would settle for monarchical restoration in a pinch – he advocates it for Britain, perhaps overestimating the popular support for it – his ideal solution owes far less to tradition than to modern techno-capitalism. His proposal is to assess who actually owns the assets of a given state, formalise their ownership without asking whether it is “justified”, and turn them into a board of shareholders in a governmental joint-stock corporation. Having lustrated the existing administration, the shareholders would appoint an autocratic CEO (or “Delegate”, or “Receiver”, or whatever), reserving the right to fire him/her in cases of incompetence or worse. The customers of the governing corporation would be the residents, who would have no political voice but full right of exit; and the corporation, desiring taxable heads, would supposedly have every incentive to make their experience as pleasant as possible. Moldbug envisages a decentralised “patchwork” structure of small states ruled by sovereign corporations, each of which would have an incentive to attract productive residents while encouraging unproductive or criminal ones to exit.
Moldbug apparently disputes the theory of the managerial revolution (described in Part II of this essay), which would otherwise give pause to his assumption that capitalist incentives and shareholder influence can act as sufficient conditions for good governance. However, many of his proposals draw directly on the wisdom of the reactionary tradition: Power should be formalised, limited to a few persons, invested with responsibility for the ruled, and not conflated with the popular will through the voting racket. And his advocacy of Stuart restoration for Britain shows a certain flexibility as to the exact form of a government that embodies these principles. What really separates neoreaction from the traditional Right is the fact that neoreaction rejects the founding of Power upon the social order.
In the traditional view, the ‘king’ is distinguished from a ‘tyrant’ by his ruling in harmony with the social authorities and customary law. Although absolutist monarchy damaged this ideal, it could never abolish it as long as the social order remained strong; when Sir Robert Filmer argued in Patriarcha that the king only respects the laws and customs out of arbitrary goodwill, he merely expressed a preference for tolerating abuse of royal authority over justifying popular rebellion. Neoreaction is separated from monarchy by a long interval of arbitrary rule, social corrosion and positive law, and it turns to a non-traditional guarantor of good governance: the absolute security and omnipotence of Power, which supposedly eliminates all motives for its subversive machinations.
This is the meaning of Moldbug’s parable of Fnargl, in which an invulnerable alien devoted to acquiring gold and able to murder people at will actually turns out to be a very reasonable ruler, because the absolute security of his rule removes any need for him to purge enemies or suppress public opinion. (As always with Moldbug, be sure to read the comments, where astute readers point out the many problems with this.) Transposing this to the real world with the help of various expedients including cryptographically-locked weaponry, Moldbug argues that ideals of free speech and private liberty can only be realised under an absolutely secure government, because the exercise of these freedoms would no longer have any political ramifications. Moreover, a government not engaged in political struggles would have no incentive to bloat the state by multiplying sinecures, nor to requisition the wealth of productive demographics so as to shower it on barbarians with ballots.
Because older Rightist ideas have begun to creep back into the mix since Moldbug absented himself, we cannot say that the present-day neoreactionary school is uniformly committed to this ultra-absolutism. But the purity of Moldbug’s vision is upheld and refined by the blogger ‘Reactionary Future’, who turns de Jouvenel on his head to create a narrative in which the subversive tendencies of Power are blamed on the social authorities resisting it. He particularly stresses Moldbug’s take on Bodinian sovereignty, by which no central authority can coexist with an intermediate entity (imperium in imperio) capable of limiting its action, because that entity would by definition be the true sovereign in its sphere of influence. Thus, Power must be enabled to “wrap up” any centre of authority that is not directly delegated from it, and when this is done, its own rational incentives will guarantee its harmonious relations with society.
The problem with all of this is that there is no such thing as absolutely secure Power. At the most essential level, it is correct to say with Mosca that all political systems reduce to a uniform core of oligarchy, because neither an absolute monarch nor a democratic assembly can exert any actual power without the services of a wider governing class. This ruling oligarchy – consisting as it does of human beings – can never be made completely immune to factionalism, disloyalty and ideology, and all of these may spill out into the wider society in the event that they get out of hand. Again, being human, they respond to irrational motives as well as rational ones. It is likely that the members of the modern managerial class, in attacking the patriarchal family through feminist agitation, are motivated (at least in an immediate sense) less by fear of its piddling sovereignty than by the status thrill of defending women from lower-class men.
It is, in fact, a rare stroke of good fortune if the governing oligarchy are the only group on which the ruler has to depend. Late Roman emperors held “absolute sovereignty” in practice, but in reality were beholden to the soldiery, and would face usurpers and civil wars if they failed to enrich this group at the expense of society.
To understand how rulers contrive to be obeyed by the governing class and wider society, we must go back to the roots of Power, which according to de Jouvenel lie in the irrational realm of magic and the sacred. As some of Moldbug’s successors have realised, both the commanding sway of Power and the obedience of society rest largely upon collective illusions, and to drag these into the light of formalist rationality would simply be to destroy them. Trying to nail down the “true sovereign” in a society – is it the universities that create policies for the state, or the state that funds the universities? – is akin to grasping at wisps of smoke, not least because Bodinian sovereignty is a mere legal construct; as functions must always be delegated, and delegates only reliably obey superiors out of the social magic of command and obedience, the mediaeval concept of sovereignty as de jure supremacy is actually closer to the facts. None of this sits well with the neoreactionary mentality – which, as is indicated by terms like “reset”, “reboot”, “Cathedral” and so on, seeks to debug society as if it were a malfunctioning computer.
This brings us to another issue: the tendency for Power, even in aristocratic social orders, to take on a symbolic role with respect to society as a whole. Starting from a justified refusal to directly conflate Power with the popular will, Moldbug and other neoreactionary purists go too far, branding as “demotism” any ideal of Power as embodying the interests of the wider community or social order. But this symbolic concept of Power is met with everywhere in time and space, and is certainly no democratic innovation. Even Filmer, the arch-reactionary monarchist, writes in the pages of Patriarcha:
Thus many an Ignorant Subject hath been fooled into this Faith, that a man may become a Martyr for his Countrey, by being a Traytor to his Prince; whereas the Newcoyned distinction of Subjects into Royallists and Patriots, is most unnatural, since the relation between King and People is so great, that their well-being is so Reciprocal. (my emphasis)
Power, based in large part on smoke and mirrors, always cultivates an aura of wider legitimacy in order to be obeyed – and, for all its coercive might, it encounters real problems when enough people simply stop believing in that legitimacy. This dynamic offers a means of reorienting Power without relying upon popular revolution: if the existing myth of legitimacy is discredited among a vital section of the population, and an alternative basis for legitimacy exists to win that population back to Power, then ambitious sub-elites may be tempted to take control on the basis of the new ideal. But neoreaction – which in many respects is ideally placed to appeal to such dissenting elites – can offer no ideal beyond the cold self-interest of the sovereign corporation, which might furnish legitimacy for a shopkeeper but not for a king. Just as libertarianism would be persecuted in nationalism’s stead if it could ever pose a real threat to Power, neoreaction would be promoted in progressivism’s stead if it could ever serve as a viable basis for Power’s legitimacy.
This is not to deny the merits of the neoreactionary philosophy, such as its critique of democracy, and its insight that the state is more effectively limited by making it small and powerful than by splitting up and hampering its functions. My objection is that a recipe for absolutely secure government, based on universal rational premises and divorced from the context of a particular social order, is nothing more than another abstract utopia – which is to say that it is an idea proper to the Left, not the Right, and one just as susceptible to being twisted out of recognition as any other such idea. Unfortunately, while an utopia that consists of an all-powerful government is surely the most honest utopia in history, it is also one of the most demanding: any step towards it short of perfect execution will hand more power to those who are destroying the West, without giving them the absolute security that would supposedly turn them into responsible and benevolent rulers.
If we want to stop Power from destroying society, the tried-and-tested method is to make its legitimacy depend on the social order. And we can only accept, while staying vigilant against, the danger that Power will one day find some new excuse to start its old game over again; no panacea of political debugging can rid human societies of the fundamental dynamic identified by de Jouvenel.
The Core of the True Right: The National Resurgence
But how can we speak of founding Power on the social order, when the advent of mass society and the long reign of subversion has laid waste to traditional social forms? Certainly, the theories underpinning this essay hold out no hope for returning Power to its original size and scope: if freedoms are derived from the social order, then a loss of independent social authorities can only mean a corresponding loss of freedoms, and if mass society is here to stay then we must reconcile ourselves to the greater role of managerial direction within it. A return to reactionary principles of formalised, responsible and concentrated authority can work to reconcile society with Power, but it cannot be expected to return us to lost eras of liberty.
The foundation for such a settlement with Power cannot be conservative-libertarian quixotism, nor neoreactionary utopia; it must centre on the only premodern social force that has survived the advent of mass society and defied all predictions of its obsolence. I refer, of course, to the nation. Many will object, not without reason, that nationalism originated as a demotist movement of the Left against absolutism and aristocracy. But let us recall that, according to our definition of Left and Right, both absolutism and aristocracy were ‘of the Left’ vis-a-vis the earlier social orders superseded by them.
Those who would dismiss the nation as a creature and appendage of Power, and not a social force in its own right, fail to separate out nationalism and patriotism – or, in clumsy and incorrect parlance, “ethnic nationalism” and “civic nationalism”. Patriotism is a popular cult of Power, in which camaraderie is derived from common political loyalty, creating an ingroup that is subject to infinite redefinition according to the fortunes of immigration or conquest. The nation defines itself in social terms of blood, culture and heritage, and has always had mixed relations with Power, which has integrated it into patriotism here and ruthlessly suppressed it there.
It is important to note that the concept of the nation is directly linked to that of blood nobility, and that both descend from the fundamental social cell of the patriarchal family. Vico informs us that the distinction between patricians and plebeians in early Rome was initially that of “citizens” and “non-citizens” – we might even say “people” and “foreigners”, for the patricians claimed descent from the founding patriarchal clans of the city who alone had inherent rights to it, and traced the plebeians to the outsiders who sought protection from these clans and were employed by them as servants. It was Power, in the form of the tribunes, that abolished this distinction during the long struggle of the plebeians for equality in the Republic – just as it was Power in the form of the Emperor Caracalla that abolished the later social distinction of Romans and non-Romans within the Empire, inaugurating a flattened society in which the privileged class (honestiores) was mainly defined by its wealth and access to Power.
The nations of our own European civilisation descend from a renewed irruption of social forces into this decadent society, during the barbarian migrations and collapse of the Western Roman Empire at the close of antiquity. The story is told concisely in Patrick Geary’s book The Myth of Nations: tribal confederations banded together for purposes of war, became known by new names like “Franks” or “Saxons”, and conquered former Roman provinces in which they became the new ruling class. These groups often merged their identities with the ruling elites of the subject Roman populations – this occurred with the Ostrogoths and Lombards in Italy, the Visigoths in Spain, and the Franks in Gaul – and if we extend the narrative into the Middle Ages, we see the continued blurring away of these distinctions, until nationalism proper starts to rear its head around the time of the Renaissance. And yet the French nobility in the absolutist period claimed political rights through descent from the free Franks (in contrast to the subject classes who inherited their servitude from the Gauls), effectively seeking to monopolise the name of “true Frenchmen”; while the strong and numerous Polish nobility justified its “golden freedom” by a theory of non-Slavic descent from the Sarmatians.
As the title of his book suggests, Geary’s intention is to strike a blow against nationalism, by discrediting the theory of primordial and unchanging national identities. But the effect of his argument is quite opposite to this intention, because the true value of the nation lies in its inheritance of the social force of blood nobility, and it must be preserved not because it is the first incarnation of this force but because it is the last. I am not suggesting that nobility has segued into nationhood in a smooth and uncontroversial transition (it has evidently been a violent and dangerous collapse); nor that any nation preserves a noble tradition unsullied by the contributions of Power and the bourgeoisie, although these traditions are surely preserved nowhere else outside sepulchral museums and libraries. My point is that the nation is the only social force that corresponds to blood nobility in the present day, and that its collapse into the barbarian hordes would leave Power the master of an entirely destroyed social order. And what it lacks in ideals and principles can always be imbued into it by those who understand its historic role.
This understanding of the nation is key to correcting certain misconceptions. For example, some on the Right dismiss nationalism as just another form of egalitarian demotism, because it distrusts plutocratic wealth and bestows a measure of equal status on all members of the nation. But blood nobility, and ancient citizenship before it, functioned on the same assumption of basic equality within the group and unequal relations outside it: it appears in the self-designation of the Spartiates as Equals, in the equal rights of the Polish szlachta in their Commonwealth, and (according to Ricardo Duchesne) even dates back to the Indo-European warrior bands. This attitude leads naturally to a suspicion of the overly wealthy and powerful, whose arrogance usually leads one way or another to the corrosion of social order and the elevation of Power.
On the other hand, some of the instincts of modern nationalists also stand in need of correction. It is important not to reduce the social force of the nation to the biological fact of race: blood is not an end in itself for the nation, but a means of embodying a collective heritage and social cohesion. Those who respect this distinction know better than to make purist attacks on the Christian heritage of our social order, poison national solidarity by hunting for minor alien ancestry in individuals, or entertain fantasies of racial affinity with culturally-alien peoples (e.g. those promoted until recently by Shah Xorxani of Aryo-Persia). Those who think that a nation’s legitimacy can be founded on crude tribal sentiments alone – and itch to sweep away any notion of universal morality or objective truth that might obstruct such feelings – should also consider that a social aristocracy bereft of its virtue and purpose is always in danger of collapse.
But these are branches on the world-tree of the True Right. Let us attend to the trunk, which is the question of whether or not the nation can act as a limiting force upon Power. As we have said, the nation cannot be expected to restore any earlier state of affairs that relied on lost social forces, such as blood nobility. What it can do is to limit and reverse the dangerous modern encroachments of Power: its outward expansion into the rudiments of a world imperialist government, and its corrosive penetration into every nook and cranny of society in the form of “social justice” crusades.
Although Europe is at present formally divided into sovereign nations, in reality these act as outposts of an American-led “Western” global empire, whose elites have acquired a supra-national pseudo-identity and a common interest in suppressing national feeling. The present movements of nationalist secession, if carried to their limits, would restore these imperial outposts to locally-bounded states – which, in an era of nuclear arms, would not deviate into imperialist perversions – and oppose nationalist counter-elites to the homogeneous rule of the “citizens-of-the-world”. If the threat of divide-and-conquer tactics from outside caused these states to unite under a single pan-European Power, this would still represent a reduction in scope from a global empire to a civilisational one, and such a Power would be naturally limited by the presence of intermediate national groupings focused on local interests. This would come close to recreating the premodern European kingdom on the new scale demanded by mass society.
Nothing like this would be possible in North America, where national identities have merged and degraded into a single category of whites. Even so, the nationalism of this group holds the potential to wreck the universalist assumptions of American imperialism, and limit the penetration of Power into society by founding its legitimacy on the people least supportive of expanded government. Power would be forced to clearly define whom it must benefit and protect, and would no longer find it possible to paint its own self-interest onto an endless canvas of abstractions. And because the nation, like the noble caste, is a derivative of the patriarchal family, no Power that depended on it for legitimacy could justify the managerial power grab against the family being carried out under the sham of “women’s rights”.
As for how we could ever hope to manoeuvre Power into such a settlement, with all due respect to the difficulty and uncertainty of such a venture, the most promising strategy would be a variant of the metapolitics advocated by the nationalist smart set. I do not hold to the formula that the political is determined by the cultural and intellectual – as de Jouvenel shows us, it is usually the other way around, as when monarchies raised up plebeian intellectuals to justify their claims against the aristocrats – but I do believe in the essential vulnerability of Power to non-physical attack directed at its legitimacy. Obviously, we cannot hope to delegitimise subversive Power by betting our fortunes on the rigged game of politics (conservatism), or by denying the legitimacy of all functioning states (libertarianism). Neoreactionary passivism – meekly cooperating with the decaying Cathedral government while quietly building non-hostile alternative structures to supersede it – may keep some of the Right’s best intellectuals out of trouble for long enough to work out their theories, but it offers zero incentive for sub-elites within the power structure to try to restore Power’s legitimacy by refounding it on the nation. A national population that rejects the legitimacy of subversive Power does not have to engage in rebellions and nutjobbery – but it might hasten an crisis of authority by dodging taxes, closing ranks against the agents of the state, welcoming the influence of independent foreign powers, and generally acting as a dangerous welter of discontent.
In conclusion, as long as the Alt-Right upholds the foundational social force of the nation, it can define itself as the core element of the True Right – and relegate those elements focused on secondary matters, such as liberty and political structure, to their proper place on the periphery. This does not depend at all on its adoption of the arguments presented here: they do not represent suggestions for propaganda, but a form of introspection into the deeper principles of our movement, which do not cease to exist by going unacknowledged. Remember, though, that the Left understands everything written here through the intuitive cunning of a wild animal – just look how it recreates, without any need for historical reference, the French monarchy’s strategy of ennobling its plebeian cronies so as to dilute the identity of the nobles! Leftist-derived principles and theories will twist themselves into pretzels sooner than furnish us with any justification for our own self-defence.
At the risk of ending on a less-than-positive note, it remains for us to address the obvious objection that the Alt-Right is not cut out for such a grandiose role. Ever since the Brexit and Trump victories lulled it into a degree of complacency, and the Heilgate fiasco severed its core from its periphery, the Alt-Right has increasingly traded the character of a fluid and dynamic social insurrection for that of a static, dumbed-down and centrally-controlled brand name. As a result, it has been successfully isolated as a target by its enemies, and smeared with such idiocies as neo-Nazi cosplay. Some have responded by abandoning the Alt-Right as irreparably tainted.
However, as someone who was around to witness the beginnings of the Alt-Right almost a decade ago, I can attest that its original cultural and intellectual energies stemmed from the reconciliation of nationalism with a broader Rightist tradition. What we are seeing today is the same old tendency for the two components to pull in opposite directions under outside pressure – the reactionaries and dissident conservatives towards the comfortable illusions of the rigged political racket, and the nationalists towards an echo chamber of reductionist dogmas and self-marginalising foolishness. Toying with names will change none of this; only when the nation is given its proper place as the sole viable basis for the Rightist tradition will we see a different result. I offer this essay as a small step towards that end and a tribute to the original ethos of the Alt-Right.