In a very real sense, a philosophy is a way of life which may incorporate but does not embody a political agenda. On the other hand, ideology is usually based in theory, the precepts of which often have little or no connection to actual observations in the real world. And, unlike philosophy, ideology generally defines a group identity or political agenda.
An ideological construct comes as a package that contains all sorts of things, such as starting points, assumptions, premises, conclusions, prejudices, etc., and it is through this package that the world can be interpreted. The problem, however, is that if one does not know how to think on the basis of primary principles (principled thinking), one will be unable to critically evaluate the ideological superstructure through which one interprets data. Rather, one will be critical of things on the basis of the ideological package, and thus feel as if one is a free and critical thinker, but one isn’t quite sure whether the ideological package contains some rotten items that should be discarded. __ http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/mcm/ph/ph_01philosophyyouth7.html
A philosopher seeks knowledge, whereas an ideologue wants to change the world by any means necessary.
The Dark Enlightenment has generally been a loosely linked network of attitudes and ways of seeing through mainstream smokescreens and ideologies. For the Dark Enlightenment to become an ideology itself, would be tragic. Yet that is what some of the newcomers — many not pictured above — would like to see. Interlopers can be defined by their wish to co-opt a movement to their own ends.
Here is a description of the early movement, and the original underlying ideas:
Leave aside the occasional long-windedness, the sometimes plain silly or even outlandishly alarming, the Neoreactionaries appear marked by a curiosity and openness to humanity and its doings that does not stop at barriers erected arbitrarily for whatever reasons.
In short, Neoreactionaries appear to like humans and humanity. This is refreshing, encouraging, and ultimately liberating after experiencing the intense dislike for hominids so often displayed by those who have fixed ideas what and what should not be. I recommend that you linger in the Neoreactionary biotope, soak up its atmosphere, emerge refreshed for battles and wars to come. __ Quoted in GOV
The writer is describing his impressions of the writings of people such as Mencius Moldbug, Nick Land, and others who might be described as “early philosophers” of the Dark Enlightenment (TDE). “Curiosity and openness” truly was an attribute of TDE, early on.
That openness and curiosity was reflected in the fact that TDE has always been very broad and difficult to define. Observe the graphic below:
The graphic above does not capture the half of the territory that TDE explores and happily tramples upon. The radical nature of TDE is obscured under an ambiguous cloud of “neoreaction,” which may hamper some of the recently “academically lobotomised” from exploring more deeply.
Neoreaction when taken properly, reveals itself as quite radical:
I mean, I did propose the liquidation of democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law, and the transfer of absolute power to a mysterious figure known only as the Receiver, who in the process of converting Washington into a heavily-armed, ultra-profitable corporation will abolish the press, smash the universities, sell the public schools, and transfer “decivilized populations” to “secure relocation facilities” where they will be assigned to “mandatory apprenticeships.” If this doesn’t horrify you, I’m not sure what would. __ Mencius Moldbug via
Here, Moldbug is attempting to shock the reader into either rejecting his ideas, or moving into a higher and more inclusive mode of reasoning. His writings are full of such ideas — but they were never meant to be turned into “doctrine.” Even more, they were never meant to serve as corollary or cover doctrine for pre-existing ideologies.
Nick Land takes a more steady, even approach:
Ironically, then, the world’s regnant Universalist democratic-egalitarian faith is a particular or peculiar cult that has broken out, along identifiable historical and geographical pathways, with an epidemic virulence that is disguised as progressive global enlightenment. The route that it has taken, through England and New England, Reformation and Revolution, is recorded by an accumulation of traits that provide abundant material for irony, and for lower varieties of comedy. The unmasking of the modern ‘liberal’ intellectual or ‘open-minded’ media ‘truth-teller’ as a pale, fervent, narrowly doctrinaire puritan, recognizably descended from the species of witch-burning zealots, is reliably — and irresistibly — entertaining. __ Nick Land via
TDE is first about achieving a better, more complete understanding of the web or matrix within which we find ourselves, and then — if one is still interested and possesses enough wit and energy — it is about how to untangle oneself from the constricting and blinding web.
But if one is to untangle oneself from a massively inter-tangled and suffocating worldview, he does not wish to emerge into another constricting worldview of closed-minded ideas. No, it is the openness of TDE that attracts, the liberating nature of its philosophy.
Totalitarianism — whether that of the “Cathedral” or that of countries such as Putin’s Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc. — is something to be thrown off, not something to be rebuilt under a different name. The fact that some “neoreactionaries” look admiringly on selected prison-states and wish to emulate them, is a tip-off that they either never absorbed the underlying philosophy of TDE, or that they have tipped over into an ideological swamp of their own making.
TDE is often set in opposition to the “hatred” that is embodied in the mainstream, sometimes referred to as the skankstream. And yet many prolific bloggers who call themselves “neoreactionary” define themselves largely by their hatred for particular poorly defined groups of people.
Righteous hatred — the hatred of the wholesale ideological murder of innocents, for example — is as legitimate a hatred as one might find. But such hatred generally seeks to halt the murder, and prevent further episodes of ideologically based murder.
In a bid to shock, Moldbug recommends placing Cathedral functionaries in camps, where they can be re-trained and apprenticed to perform more productive roles. Others suggest a drastic reduction of foreign aide to nations with rapidly reproducing populations of very low average IQ, and an apparent predisposition to violence.
These suggestions are mildly stated, and quite far from being a prescription for genocide — unlike the past actions of Communists and Nazis, and unlike what one hears from leftist greens, feminists, and doomers.
All neoreactionaries and most who are engaged in TDE, understand that human populations are being overwhelmed by another massive, cyclic, dysgenic idiocracy. It is happening under the camouflage of a utopian cult that promotes universal altruism and suicidal compassion — the Cathedral.
But how many utopian cults are hiding under the banner of neoreaction? Reverting to utopian ideology is a natural human impulse within societies that were formed and shaped by utopian ideologies themselves. A post-communist Russia, for example, is still crowded with minds shaped by totalitarian ideologies and mindsets. A post-Christian Europe is still under the sway of institutions and ideologies that were moulded by an evangelistic religion.
What should those who swim in the mindstreams of TDE do about these “utopians in their midst?” Nothing at all. Take note of the phenomenon, then continue doing what you had been doing. Take it as an opportunity to once again contrast ideologies with philosophies, and consider again why you might choose one over the other.
The Dark Enlightenment is not a thing. It is a diverse set of philosophical ideas and propositions that enrich the discourse of political philosophy, and have the potential to liberate university trained psychological neotenates and academic lobotomates from the many acts of indoctrination committed by university faculty and staff, government personnel and politicians, and by mainstream media and other cultural institutions.
Escaping ideology is one of the most liberating things a mind can do. Sometimes it has to happen repeatedly before it becomes effective, as in escaping from the innermost of a life-sized set of matryoshka dolls.
Interesting quick and nutritious introduction to TDE for conservatives
Paths to the Human Dieoff from the original Al Fin blog
Remember: If you understand how the dieoff might come about, you will better understand the ultimate aims of the Cathedral and many other modern utopian ideologues.
Walter Kaufman’s Critique of Philosophy and Religion — a broad and deep look at the underpinnings of both religion and philosophy.
Your periodic injections of sanity are much appreciated.
Good post. General criticism: as long as a movement is sentimental it will inspire people. But unless a movement is reducible to procedural changes it is irrelevant because it is in-actionable. Ideology inspires, institutions enforce. Ideology is only useful under democracy. only decidable institutions can replace democracy. And the only decidable institutions is rule of law, property rights, property en toto, and the total suppression of parasitism. While it is less emotionally rewarding and spiritually fulfilling to discuss institutions rather than morally loaded statements of blame and advocacy, it is precisely the emotional loading that decidability eliminates from discourse and law.
Interesting, thanks. I agree about the crucial importance of institutions, along with productive traditions.
The problem with the dark enlightenment is it has degenerated into the advocacy of just another fixed social order. Given the inherent tendency of technology to empower individuals and small-groups in comparison with large organizations such as nation-states and corporations, is it not reasonable to presume that the future will be massively decentralized in terms of social structure? If so, what is the point of trying to create another rigid, top-down social structure? Instead, we should be working for individual and small-group self-empowerment such that we can create our own futures on our own independent of the larger social structures, which are becoming increasingly obsolete anyways.
I think you’re misunderstanding the views of the majority of the “Dark Enlightenment”, which endorse, in a word, “Patchwork.” Type that word into the Unqualified Reservations search box. DE wants many, many “fixed social order(s).”
Why “fixed” social orders? Continual technological innovation makes “fixed” anything rapidly obsolete. Why not “fluid” social orders instead?
Yes, I like the idea of many different options, including the option to create one’s own social order.
We’re going to need a lot more guillotines 😉 , as well as some better disruptive technologies.