Has anybody else noticed the analogies between neoreactionaries and neoconservatives?

Neoreactionaries are among the most interesting elements, and certainly the single most active element, of the antiliberal blogosphere.  While they discuss many matters of public import, I think it’s fair to say that one of neoreaction’s favorite topics is itself:  its essence, its boundaries, the quality of its members, the source of its most splendid uniqueness.  In particular, I keep reading that now, for the first time, the Right has achieved intellectual seriousness, with a cadre of intellectuals that cannot be dismissed and a theoretical challenge like nothing the Left has yet faced.  I don’t mean to make fun of them for this conceit; what I find amusing as an amateur reader of conservative intellectual history is how very familiar this claim is.

In fact, at least on the American Right, the appearance of “the first intellectually serious conservatism ever” is a reoccurring phenomenon.  Nearly every new conservative school begins by giving the liberals’ characterization of its predecessors as ignorant bigots more credit than it deserves.  The closest parallel to neoreaction of the 2010s is neoconservatism of the 1960s-1970s.  Even the names are parallel.  More significantly, just as neoconservatism begins with a dismissal of existing conservatism, neoreaction begins with the dismissal of existing Reaction.  In both cases, the ideology to be “neo-“ed is identified with a set of policy positions rather than with fundamental principles.  The principles of the unreconstructed ideology are dismissed, and the neo-ideology articulates, supposedly for the first time, the real, rational reasons for the approved policies.  So, for example, the neoconservatives decided that the real reason to fight communism is not because it is godless but because it is undemocratic, not because it is socialistic but because it is not socialistic in the rational, New Deal way.  Similarly, the neoreactionary agrees with Christian reactionaries in their preference for monarchy and patriarchy but dismiss the latter’s principles as silly superstition.  It’s not that authority and sex shouldn’t have been desacralized to begin with, but that desacralization hasn’t been carried far enough, and now at last cool heads will reduce the state to just another joint-stock corporation and restrain female hypergamy with no need to put a romantic gloss on the procedure.

Going further, one can see a basic similarity between Marxism, psychoanalysis, neoconservatism, and neoreaction.  At the foundation of each is an atheist Jew, someone cut off from the main spiritual roots of our civilization, who promises esoteric knowledge to his followers.  The world is not as it appears; behind it is sex or class oppression or status signaling or meme propagation, and Leo Strauss’s secret decoder ring will show you that all the great thinkers of the past were secretly Straussians.  But whether one follows Freud, Marx, Strauss, or Moldbug, one will learn that the main illusion to be despised is Christianity.  For the first two, Christianity is the ideology of oppression; for the latter two, it is the hidden source of modern decadence.  While it may seem that the Left is locked in warfare with Christianity, with atheists and Jews solidly allied with the former, every neoreactionary will explain to you that progressivism is really a form of Christianity.  It’s their key belief.

The real question the Right should be asking itself is “Why does this keep happening to us?”  Nobody would make up an argument for the welfare state and then announce that for the first time Leftism is being given an intellectual basis.  It wouldn’t be taken seriously.  Everybody realizes that Marxism and liberalism have some definite theoretical content, including a canon of classical expositions, and no one can credibly make statements about the true nature of Marxism or liberalism without demonstrating due familiarity with this content.

This is what the Right lacks.  The problem is not that no one has enumerated conservative/reactionary principles or worked out conservative/reactionary systems.  The problem is that it’s been done so many times.  (In our time, there’s no better place to start than here.)  It keeps being done because the Right has failed to establish an intellectual tradition.  I’ve lamented this irony before, that the schools of progressivism transmit their doctrine in the manner of traditions to a much greater degree than conservatism, whose theory it seems must be rebuilt every generation.  Every reactionary I know began as a liberal of some sort and then worked their way to Reaction, only finding systematic expositions of reactionary thought (if they ever do) after having the major insights on their own.  So although you can’t be a socialist intellectual without reading and engaging Marx, but there’s no analogous body of work to be mastered if you want to be a reactionary intellectual.  Even a neoreactionary who makes a good-faith effort to find the intellectual substance of the old Reaction may not find it; they’re hardly to be blamed for concluding that it doesn’t exist.

48 Responses

  1. now at last cool heads will reduce the state to just another joint-stock corporation and restrain female hypergamy with no need to put a romantic gloss on the procedure

    As compared to the great success of Christians in restraining female hypergamy?

    If Christians have a comparative advantage in anything, should be in restraining female hypergamy. Since Christianity is failing horribly, maybe we should try something different – such as appealing to males on sociobiological grounds and grounds of national existence and civilizational continuity.

    If a male gets married in church in the hope that the Church will socially enforce the marital contract, he gets stabbed in the back. Face it. Christian institutions are failing catastrophically, and until neoreaction showed up Christians avoided noticing.

    I cannot claim that neoreactionaries have been doing anything effective about it, but at least we notice what is going on, and if Christians should manage to get their act together, will happily endorse the program as a noble lie.

  2. @Bonald – Asute analysis of the Right! but I think you don’t understand the Left, or else you could not argue in this way which seems to assume there is a symmetry between the two positions.

    For example – ” So although you can’t be a socialist intellectual without reading and engaging Marx,” – is not true, from the perspective of Britain where socialism was invented.

    I was as solid an intellectual Left winger as could be imagined in my teens, and not only did I never read Marx I never wanted to, nor saw need to read him; because my socialism came from Trades Unionism, William Morris the young Orwell and the Fabians (especially Bernard Shaw – his Everybody’s Political What’s What was the first adult non-fiction book I ever read. Shaw had read and briefly expounded Marx and ‘dated’ Eleanor Marx (or something) but only to conclude there was no need for him).

    In other words, Marx is not at the root of Leftism nor is he essential to Leftism. Indeed the influence of Marxism in Britain has been confined to the Upper Classes and the area around Glasgow, Scotland.

    My core point is that it is an *error* to argue that the Left have this, but the Right lack this or vice versa – they are different kinds of thing, they are not symmetrical.

    Most fundamentally the Right starts with religion and all secular views are slotted into that; the Left starts with the rejection of Religion (to greater or lesser extent – but a rejection of religion as the basis of human life) – and therefore includes a flexible and fluid spectrum of anti-Religious, secular principles.

    (Or, the Right is religious hence wants some state of affairs; the Left is rebellious, hence destructive hence is primarily against states of affairs – there is no utopia for modern Leftism – it is permanent revolution.)

    The real Right – which evaluates politics, morals etc from a religious basis, not only has no need for a political philosophy; any such intellectual construct would be religiously incomplete and distorted, and tend to compete with and perhaps usurp its religious basis.

    Some of the most Christian (hence most Right wing) societies have been almost a-philosophical from Byzantium to Brigham Young’s Utah. As a Roman Catholic, you adhere to a very philosophical version of Christianity – in a sense philosophy was the major cause of the Great Schism – but this only means that some variant of scholastic philosophy is your political philosophy, and any secular intellectual construct must be derived from *that*, and is relatively subordinate and non-crucial.

  3. If the real right is religious, why is the religious right it fleeing its own religion on the one point where Christianity really is right wing: The role of women.

    Christianity has obvious propensities to go anti capitalist, anti nationalist, and to eradicate the white race, but the one area where we should be able to rely on Christianity is marriage and the family.

    And, in practice, cannot rely on Christianity to support marriage and the family.

  4. > Christian institutions are failing catastrophically, and until neoreaction showed up Christians avoided noticing.

    I’m not sure what’s being claimed here. Is it that the small number of Christian bloggers who have heard of neoreaction were less discontent with their Churches’ accommodations to the sexual revolution before being exposed to neoreaction? This is probably true, but neoreaction has nothing to do with it. The corruption of Christianity is noticeably worse than it was even a few years ago (because of the advance of the sodomite agenda and the election of Pope Francis), and although I’m glad to have gotten to know you guys, I can’t imagine I’d have been any less miserable right now if I hadn’t.

  5. I agree with Bruce that many neoreactionaries seem to believe that the Right, when fully mature, will reflect the form of Left. Most especially they believe that we will have written a library of great, fat books “theorizing” Art and Sex and Nature and History and Politics, not to mention the connections between them. They seem to think that, in a perfect world, Dialectics of Enlightenment would have a right-wing doppelgänger.

    This strikes me as similar to those people who think the New Testament ought to be a lot more like the Koran or the Book of Leviticus. As you say, reactionaries have written books. Neoreactionaries would do well to pay more attention to the kind of books they have written. One thing to note is that they are very often thin books. I’m thinking of Lewis’ Abolition, Maistre’s Considerations, and Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences. They are a diagnosis of a specific malady, not A Theory of Everything. They are also, very often, wry and ironic. I’m thinking of Evelyn Waugh and Maurice Cowling. This mockery is quite different than the blasphemy that passes for mockery on the Left. They also very often give the impression of being written by an amateur, in the good sense of that word. Some authors were, of course, professional writers; but they usually give the impression of a man who has other affairs to attend to, but has been compelled by some new outrage of The Revolution to take up his pen and protest. The ghastly pedantry of the Left is altogether missing.

  6. But how do we know what is cause and what is effect here? Are we irrelevant because we have no institutions or do we lack institutions because we are irrelevant? I incline towards the latter.

    Fisher More was just suppressed. John Zmirak hungers to burn the few heretic-friendly remaining colleges. Great books and western culture curricula were eliminated over a period of decades at every college. This as a culmination of long effort on the left’s part.

    I think you are missing the major ideological similarity between neoreaction and neoconservatism. They are both movements of the far left, dressed rather unconvincingly in rightist drag. Neoreaction is just anarchocapitalism renamed. Anarchocapitalism is extreme libertarianism which is extreme leftism.

    This also explains the persistent weakness of their arguments. Good arguments for false conclusions are hard to make. The guys capable of doing so are employed in providing rhetoric for more popular falsehoods.

  7. I think there is some truth here, but also a number of important inaccuracies:

    1. Moldbug is *not* anti-Christian. When I notified him privately of my conversion to Catholicism, he was very happy to hear it, and congratulated me sincerely. What he is, is implacably opposed to a certain heretical strain of Christianity, which has unfortunately become dominant in the west. When you say that neoreaction is opposed to Christianity, you conflate opposition to this heretical sect with opposition to Christianity in general. Even atheist neoreactionaries tend to have a positive view of traditional religion.

    2. Neoreactionaries do not claim to have produced “the first intellectually serious conservatism ever”. Rather, they claim to have re-discovered it. Moldbug specifically states that none of his ideas are new, and copy/pastes huge sections of old books to prove it. Modern leftism has been extraordinarily sucessful in supressing this information in the modern age, but recent tech advances have made this supression more difficult.

  8. ’m not sure what’s being claimed here.

    That this post, and Bruce Charleton, seem unreasonably content with actually existent Christianity.

    That the Christian right does not, in fact, exist.

  9. pwyll,

    Regarding #1, there is evidence in favor of Moldbug being himself anti-Christian. From the top of my memory, he begins his series on Richard Dawkins by expressing complete agreement with “The God Delusion” and his tribute to Lawrence Auster by drawing some kind of equivalence between Christianity and belief in Santa Claus. Of course, these are unimportant asides, so it might just be that he feels the need to indulge his audience’s anti-Christian prejudices to keep them open to his main point, which would be evidence that neoreaction draws from an anti-Christian milieu.

    Regarding #2, I regularly get this impression from neoreactionaries, but you’re absolutely right that Moldbug himself has been admirably scrupulous regarding historical credit. This is something I should have pointed out in my post.

  10. jamesd127,

    A true Christian can never be sufficiently discontent with actually existing Christianity, although Bruce and I give it our best.

    My own point only has to do with the fact that the Christian right did exist, but whether it still exists is a question of some importance. As a major movement with sympathetic institutions, it has ceased to exist. It does have the same existence as neoreaction, namely as a cluster of blogs.

  11. Regarding #1, there is evidence in favor of Moldbug being himself anti-Christian. From the top of my memory, he begins his series on Richard Dawkins by expressing complete agreement with “The God Delusion” and his tribute to Lawrence Auster by drawing some kind of equivalence between Christianity and belief in Santa Claus. Of course, these are unimportant asides

    If they are unimportant asides, then he is not anti Christian. He is merely not a Christian.

    The neoreactionary position is that Christianity was, and should be, a tactic for giving divine authority to ancient wisdom, getting stupid people to do what smart people do. That is a non Christian, but pro Christian, position.

    Christians, on the other hand, tend to attack neoreaction, because they are ashamed and horrified by Saint Paul and Jesus on marriage,

    Today, absolutely everyone is against “marital rape”, and they cannot remember that they were ever in favor of “marital rape”, yet I remember a time when feminists could not even express the thought because no one could understand them, it being taken for granted that the husband and father was entitled to apply moderate physical correction to bad behavior by wives and children.

    Similarly, Christians think there really is such a thing as racism, even though there were no words for such a thing until the early twentieth century.

  12. I’ve just remembered that my first post about neoreaction (http://orthosphere.org/2013/10/26/reaction-vs-neoreaction-and-roger-scruton-vs-himself/) was a response to one of their claims to be working on a higher level of abstraction than ordinary reactionaries (e.g. providing general defenses of monarchy rather than defenses of a particular dynasty). That such a claim would be made and repeated indicates their lack of engagement with other schools of reactionary theory.

  13. As a major movement with sympathetic institutions, [the Christian right] has ceased to exist. It does have the same existence as neoreaction, namely as a cluster of blogs.

    I see Zippy arguing that racism is real and extremely wicked, that the Israelites were wrong to attempt to genocide the Canaanites. I see Bruce Charleton walking away from Paul and Jesus on marriage and the family.

    Where are these Christian right blogs?

    You really should ask yourself why the genocide of the Canaanites did not trouble anyone until modern times. Was everyone before modernity bad people? Was everyone before the invention of “racism” bad people? Was Xenophon a bad person?

    Who are the anti Christians? Those who endorse Paul’s position on marriage and the slaughter of the Canaanites, or those who reject it?

  14. That such a claim would be made and repeated indicates their lack of engagement with other schools of reactionary theory.

    And who made such a claim?

  15. The original essay was at “The Reflective Reactionary” website (although my link is now broken). I became aware of it from Bryce Laliberte’s sympathetic discussion (In the link to him I provide, he quotes the relevant section).

  16. Jim,

    Can you specify what you mean with this “marital rape” point you are always bringing up. If you mean that women used to feel that they had a duty to have sex with their husbands, well, at least based on my personal experience, they still do. If you mean that it used to be considered morally acceptable, if your wife is tired or has a headache, to throw her down and physically force her to have sex with you; this is obviously preposterous. Christian men have always had a duty to treat their wives as an end in themselves and not merely as a means to their own gratification. That St. Paul tells women to submit to their husbands is an indication that the frequency of sex has always been an issue in marriage. Notice St. Paul never advised men that if their wives don’t submit to every single urge they feel, they should throw them down and fuck them anyway. What am I missing here?

  17. To be fair, Zippy uses the word ‘injustice’ in his definition of racism. Injustice is by definition bad. I am not sure if this idea of racism is a real thing.

  18. Zippy certainly is a rightist Christian blogger, although you may remember that I took your side on the “racism” debate. Although he and I disagreed on that and the Canaanite issue, I don’t think his positions are outside the pale of reactionary thought. Bruce Charlton has now moved so far from Christian orthodoxy as to be a problematic case.

    The core of the Catholic internet reaction (the sector I know best) is probably Rorate Coeli, the Remnant, Tradition in Action, the Thinking Housewife, Zippy, the contributors to The Josias (most of their output is on their individual blogs), and Unam Sanctam Catholicism. There’s been pretty little egalitarian contamination on those sites. (Right now, of course, we’re all focused on intraCatholic affairs, so I don’t know how interesting you will find our output, at least until the Synod is over.)

  19. Not a wrong critique per se, but unhelpful on the point of intellectual tradition. What many older conservatives don’t appear to realize is that there is no single authentically conservative intellectual tradition that the average Millennial will have ever been acquainted with, unless for some reason he has gone out of his way to taste of forbidden fruits. I only chanced on Catholicism initially for thinking I would put together a cosmological argument and had it pointed out to me that my argument resembled that of Aquinas’, but even then that never put me in contact with any authentic conservative intellectual traditions. The “mainstream” Catholic blogosphere as represented by individuals such as Kendra and Libresco pay the merest lip service to a conservative view but are functionally leftist (to the point that espousing Catholic doctrines without the appropriate liberal sugarcoating makes them vie to separate themselves from those “illiberal” Catholics).

    My own introduction to the intellectual traditions of conservatism were, of all things, through PUA and the manosphere. It was through a gradual process of putting the pieces together and seeking to understand why this knowledge was completely lost which led to the discovery of reactionary views, save with the gloss of forms of argument which conservatives have no previously undertaken for themselves (hence the ‘neo-‘). Are we absolutely unique? Not at all, save for a working engagement with scientific literature and a keener sense of what drives the ideological shenanigans of leftists. This lack of appreciation for the fanaticism of the left frequently leads conservatives to over-estimate the actual appreciation for rational discourse which leftists plead, deriving a timidity which leftists time and again simply roll over with force without meeting resistance. It generates an appreciation for extremism and provocation; there is no purpose to pursue cooperative forms of discourse if the other player is always choosing to defect. This informs the tack and tenacity of neoreaction and is crucial to its forming precisely the identity and attitude it has.

    As to “Christianity,” it’s been pointed out plenty above that the opposition to “Christianity” is an opposition specifically to Protestantism. It is Protestantism, not Christianity per se, which devolves to progressivism. Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are not the targets of this critique. I only wish more elaborating on this element of the neoreactionary critique would emphasize this distinction, for it certainly isn’t without a difference.

  20. If you mean that it used to be considered morally acceptable, if your wife is tired or has a headache, to throw her down and physically force her to have sex with you; this is obviously preposterous

    Obviously now “preposterous”. Not preposterous in 1939 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M25sE8Ccapc

    I remember a time when feminists found what you are saying difficult to express. Therefore, not preposterous when I was a young man.

    Marital rape only became illegal in everywhere in the US in 1993. Therefore, not preposterous in 1990. Marital rape was not illegal anywhere in the US in the seventies, therefore not preposterous in the seventies.

    So, for several thousand years we had the “preposterous” rule. And for twenty five years we have had the supposedly not preposterous rule.

    Was everyone stupid and evil for the past several thousand years, or have we recently gone crazy?

    If you propose that everyone was stupid and evil for the past several thousand years, how can you plausibly claim to be a christian?

  21. @Bryce Laliberte,

    Thanks for commenting. It is very true that learning about the reactionary intellectual pseudo-tradition (it lacks the continuity to be a real tradition) is not easy, even for someone who is well educated and makes a serious effort. There is no recognized canon. There are lots of conflicting claims about what conservatism “really” means. It’s a total mess, and so people are forced to put it all together for themselves or attach to mini-traditions. These are real problems.

  22. Notice I didn’t say anything about legality and “rape” is your word.

  23. I became aware of it from Bryce Laliberte’s sympathetic discussion (In the link to him I provide, he quotes the relevant section).

    Cannot find your link to him.

    Thing is, you claim that the neoreaction believes a lot of stuff that I do not recognize and does not sound remotely anything like the neoreaction, on the basis of your interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of some unnamed neoreactionary.

  24. Notice I didn’t say anything about legality and “rape” is your word.

    Well, if it should be legal, and it is not rape, then you are mighty close to the “preposterous” position – the position that every single person in the entire civilized world took for granted during the past several thousand years.

  25. Jim,

    You seem to be implying that there are no moral limits placed on male headship This is simply un-Christian. My wife is morally bound to submit to my authority, I am morally bound to exercise that authority out of Love, that is willing the good of my wife and family. I am the suffering servant. Now that does not must kiss my wife’s ass. Physical force is licit if it is used out of love, out of a genuine desire to orient the other toward the true Good. Physical force would be immoral if, for example, I were a masochist. Now there may have been no law against violence for either motivation, this only demonstrates the sanctity with which marriage and family was viewed and the long-forgotten common sense understanding that laws are not necessarily the best way to deal with problems.

  26. It is wrong to have sex with your wife if it is contrary to her good (I’m not saying happiness or her wishes, but her Good). Somehow, I don’t think what you have in mind is motivated by willing her good.

    It is entirely possible that she is morally wrong for not submitting (though, there are valid reasons for her to refuse sex. She is not bound to obey a morally illicit command. I think you could argue this would include not just requests for anal sex and the like, but insisting she have sex when she is very tired, or sick, or has a headache ), while you are morally wrong for screwing her anyway.

    What about my position do you think is against traditional Christianity?

  27. You seem to be implying that there are no moral limits placed on male headship

    No. I imply that the head of household can rightly use reasonable, moderate, and appropriate physical coercion and corporal punishment to ensure good conduct by other members of the household.

    So, if a man’s wife frivolously and unreasonably refuses to perform her wifely duties, he can rightly coerce her and physically punish her.

  28. jamesd127,
    “A man should rule his wife politically, his children monarchically and his slaves despotically”
    Aristotle, The Poltics.

    This is a trick that Zippy also uses of treating wife as just another member of the household.

  29. So you agree, that it is not always licit to force your wife to have sex (if you read my original comment, what I said was preposterous remains preposterous). In other words, your idea that there was no such concept as marital rape, while possibly true in those specific words, is nor really true in the sense that it was once morally licit in general to force yourself on your wife. Take your Scarlet O’hara example from above.

    1. Gable says something about how she had been turning him out and this is one night she wouldn’t. Note that Gable is drunk and inflamed by a passionate rage. This implies that ordinarily, Gable requires his wife’s consent. It is only when his judgment is impaired that he violate this.

    2. The scene is intended to be shocking. The audience is supposed to be scandalized.

    3. The audience is relieved to see a happy Scarlet basking in the afterglow the next morning. This implies that at some point she not only submitted physically, but submitted her will as well. Think of the audience reaction if Scarlet was seen crying and curled up in the fetal position. Or if she had a black eye and a broken nose. Suddenly Gablie is the bad guy for the rest of the movie, even in 1939. Or imagine if it wasn’t Gable, but one of Scarlet’s loser first two husbands who forced her to bed (where she naturally would not have been overcome by desire). Do you seriously think the audience had no concept to deal with that?

  30. @Bonald – “Bruce Charlton has now moved so far from Christian orthodoxy as to be a problematic case.”

    I hope there is no mystery about my beliefs – I believe what Mormons believe, that is to say I am a declared “Theoretical Mormon”

    http://theoreticalmormon.blogspot.co.uk/

    The only complications are that four years ago I made a couple of baby steps towards becoming Russian Orthodox – and that (as of now) I am not a baptised member of the CJCLDS nor am I actively preparing for such.

    However I support the religious (and moral) authority of the CJCLDS and I believe *all* of their formal claims about themselves.

    So for most intellectual and debating purposes you could treat me as a (very low level) Mormon.

    The only uncertainty hinges on whether the Mormon self-identification as Christian is allowed. By and large the Orthosphere blogs deny this; but I have *always* regarded Mormons as Christian ever since I knew enough to have a valid opinion, even before I was a Christian and was merely an expert on Mormon fertility.

  31. “So you agree, that it is not always licit to force your wife to have sex

    It is always licit. It is not always wise, or appropriate, or kind or fair, but their is no earthly higher authority to come between a man and his wife with a right to pass judgment.

  32. 2. The scene is intended to be shocking. The audience is supposed to be scandalized.

    Bullshit.

    The scene is intended to give the (almost entirely female) audience the hots.

    And does so.

    Fact is, the audience was not scandalized No one thought that marital rape was scandalous until the seventies. There were some feminists starting 1967 that were industriously trying to manufacture outrage, but they got absolutely no traction until 1972 at the earliest.

  33. They are shocked and aroused, Jim. If it wasn’t such a shocking display of Clark Gable male volcanic passion, it would not be so arousing. If it were not so arousing (in other words, if it wasn’t the alpha male Gable character) they would not have been able to get away with it at all. You do realize the next scene also includes Rhett apologizing and blaming the alcohol.

    As for earthly higher authority, this may or may not be prudent, but is also completely irrelevant. Christian morality is not dictated by the state legislature. I keep talking about morality and you keep pretending not to notice.

  34. “Sex” covers a broad range of behaviors, many of which have been traditionally condemned as immoral even if practiced within marriage, and indeed even if practiced with a willing spouse. In the age to which Jim alludes, sodomy (which includes oral sex) was immoral and in many cases illegal, even within marriage. Forcing one’s wife to commit sodomy would therefore count as rape, or something very much like rape, since there is no way that the marriage vow could be construed as prior and irrevocable consent to sodomy. Indeed, it’s not clear to me that the wife in a Christian marriage has given prior and irrevocable consent to any sex that is not directed to what the Church has defined as the proper end of sex. Be that as it may, if forceable anal sex is rape, it is possible for a man to rape his wife, because nothing in the marriage vow implies consent to anal sex.

  35. Sorry to have not replied for so long. I’ve been without computer access.

    According to James, neoreaction would like Christianity to survive as a way of controlling stupid people, but he also thinks I’m imaging things when I accuse their movement of intellectual arrogance. I actually care less about other peoples’ senses of superiority than I do about classical reactionaries’ sense of inferiority (which drives a lot of these fads). I shall continue to insist to them that we have our own cogent political philosophy.

    I appreciate Dr. Charlton’s forthrightness about his beliefs. I would say he (and the LDS in general) are Christian but heretical.

    As for marital rape, I suggest an analogy. Suppose you loan someone a book, and later when you want it back, the person refuses to return it.
    * If the book is sitting in front of you, and you grab it and leave, you have done nothing wrong.
    * If you savagely beat the person to recover the book, you are guilty of assault but not theft.
    * If you break into his house, smashing a window or kicking down a door and recover the book, you are again guilty for breaking into the house but not for taking the book.
    So while it is technically not possible to rape one’s own wife, it is possible to mistreat her while claiming one’s legitimate marital rights. I imagine a confusion of the two ideas is how we ended up with “marital rape”.

  36. I know that what’s now called “marital rape” happened in my family sixty or so years ago. However, it involved a non-Christian family member and his nominally Christian wife. I think we tend to assume that before the 1960s we lived in a completely Christian society but that’s not true. There were always lots of non-believers and semi-believers. So I wonder if this sort of thing being legal and generally accepted reflected this reality – there was nothing close to a moral concenus between the many believers and the many non-believers. That and a reluctance to categorize forced sex within marriage with being raped by a random stranger.

    Is there any evidence that it was formal Christian doctrine (in Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, etc. churches) that a man could do his wife whenever he wanted?

  37. The Left has capture the organs of education. So Right-thought is usually a discovery.

  38. Be that as it may, if forceable anal sex is rape, it is possible for a man to rape his wife, because nothing in the marriage vow implies consent to anal sex.

    You are trying too hard. One the early Athenian dictators was run out of town for sodomizing his wife. No one doubted his wife should have submitted to him, nor did anyone doubt that he should not have sodomized her.

    So, a bad deed, an illegal and prohibited bad deed, but still not considered rape.

  39. > One the early Athenian dictators was run out of town for sodomizing his wife.

    How far we have fallen!

  40. neoreaction would like Christianity to survive as a way of controlling stupid people, but he also thinks I’m imaging things when I accuse their movement of intellectual arrogance.

    You are right about the arrogance. You are wrong when you accuse the neoreaction of being anti christian, and wrong when you accuse it of being unaware of past reactionary thought.

    Neoreactionaries are very aware of past reactionary thought.

    Indeed neoreaction is in large part a critique of non left thought, in particular the neoreaction itself.

    Leftism proceeds by espousing crazy and obviously false principles, such as “all men are created equal” or female emancipation. They make them workable by making a pile of unprincipled exceptions, and then proceed to erode those unprincipled exceptions one by one.

    From time to time some group rebels when the unprincipled exception that formerly protected them comes under attack, while accepting the underlying principle that makes their exception immoral, and accepting all the other movement left, including rejecting all the other unprincipled exceptions. Thus libertarians lefter than thou except on markets, ethno nationalists lefter than thou except on race, and the religious right are pretty left on economics, on markets and redistribution – and often disturbingly left wing even on issues where their religion should make them thoroughly right wing, such as female emancipation.

    Right wing thought tends to be ahistorical, in that it opposes the latest movement left, the removal of the most recent unprincipled exception, while accepting all other movements left

    We don’t realize just how extraordinarily leftist the culture is by ancient standards. As I am fond of saying, so long as one kulak remains alive, it is an unprincipled exception to the principles underlying the reform act of 1832.

    The reform act of 1832 only makes sense if all men are equal. But all men are not equal. So the privileged need to be punished.

    Yet, despite punishment, they persist in being not equal. How very wicked of them. Escalate the punishments. And so, eventually, you wind up pouring petrol over the children of the kulaks and setting them on fire in front of their parents.

  41. That the Christian right does not, in fact, exist.

    I suppose the two years I spend at Liberty University with people who were overwhelmingly (or at least generally) opposed to modern opinions about divorce, same-sex marriage, abortion, and absolute sexual equality were a delusion. I mean, they weren’t perfect by any stretch of the Reactionary imagination, but c’mon, give ’em a break: At least they’re trying, unlike, say, 99% of Secularists.

  42. “A General Abridgement and Digest of American Law” (1824) states that “a man cannot commit rape on his own wife,” and it appears that this remained the law in most states until around 1980, even in the event of physical force. However, couples were being convicted of sodomy for consensual oral sex as late as 1973 and unwelcome sodomy was grounds for divorce well before the legal innovation of rape within marriage. I’ve looked through a number of legal manuals from the pre-revolutionary period, and I’d say that a man’s right to sexual intercourse with his wife was real but narrowly circumscribed.

  43. JMsmith,
    Interesting that it was written down in 1824. The mere fact that it was put down in writing implies the existence of certain contrary opinion.

    Things that are entirely uncontroverted do not need to be defined and made explicit.

  44. I characterized the Neo/secular/alternative right as the “Boromirosphere.” As in “Let’s use the One Ring to defeat Sauron.”

  45. religious right are pretty left on economics, on markets and redistribution . . .Right wing thought tends to be ahistorical . . .
    We don’t realize just how extraordinarily leftist the culture is by ancient standards.

    On the contrary, we don’t realize how extraordinarily “rightist” the culture is by, well, any standards predating WWII. The idea of an elite rich with property rights and entirely lacking in an obligation to provide military and public service, feasts, public buildings, and so on is as modern as can be imagined. Even guys like George HW Bush still believed in that stuff or felt constrained to act as if they did. The Goldman Sachs, libertarian notion that the elite have the right to suck their hosts’ blood with no reciprocal obligations whatsoever on the vampires’ part is quite new.

    The idea that things would be just fine if only people like me had even more rights and even fewer obligations is how we got here. That is the eternal appeal of the left: more rights and less obligations.

    Leftism proceeds by espousing crazy and obviously false principles, such as “all men are created equal” or female emancipation.

    Or that your obligation to your fellows is discharged so long as you keep your word, don’t hit first, and respect others’ property.

  46. Your make an excellent point about the libertarian irresponsibility of the contemporary elite, but I don’t think any of this maps out on the spectrum of left and right. Or I suppose it depends on the historical moment when we look through the Overton Window. Most of us here think in terms of the eighteenth century, when folks on the right were defending a hierarchical and yet organic society, and folks on the left were the individualist, atomizing, liberal bourgeoise. As the Overton Window as panned to the left, the individualist, atomizing, liberal bourgeoise have shifted to the right side of the frame and the communists have popped into view on the left. The society called for by the communists resembles the old hierarchical yet organic society because it is integrated, but that is about as far as it goes. No political terminology is altogether satisfactory.

    I don’t think noblesse oblige has entirely disappeared, but the growing psychological separation of aristocrats and commoners is striking. That and the aristocrats’ utter lack of patriotism. Sure, they will wave the flag for open borders and explain why the Gettysburg Address means that they should pay no taxes, but there is nothing to suggest that they love their land or the people who presently inhabit it (it would have been fatuous to write “their people).

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