Michael Anissimov thinks other conservatives attack neoreactionaries often because we resent the fact that they’re smarter than we are. Unremarkable neoreactionary bluster? It would be a mistake to dismiss it as such, because he bases his case on two important and, I think, true facts:
- Conservatism/reaction/counter-revolution has been a failure for two centuries.
- Neoreaction has done pretty well building itself up in its first few years of existence.
On the other hand, reading Paul Johnson’s The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830, I was stunned to learn what a splash Legitimist intellectuals, especially Chateaubriand, made in their day. For a short time, the Revolution seemed to have been defeated not only on the battlefield but on the plane of ideas and elite opinion, and anybody who was anybody had become a Catholic, an Anglican, or a German Romantic (whatever the counter-revolutionary thing to be was in one’s particular country). Intellectually, the years of the Revolution and the decade thereafter were certainly the most creative for the Reactionary cause. And yet, by 1825 or so, it was all over, and everybody who was anybody had moved on to being a democrat, a nationalist, and an anti-clerical.
The burst of conservative writing in the mid-20th century (Kirk, Nisbet, Voegelin, Weaver) also seemed impressive at the time. We know how that turned out.
So, yes, the Neoreactionaries are doing a great job building up an intellectual movement. This is something to be proud of–lots of groups never achieve anything like what Moldbug’s followers have already done. On the other hand, it has happened several times already in the history of the Right that intellectual movements have gotten to this level. Then they dissipated. For whatever ultimate cause, they became corrupted and oversimplified; they lost the enthusiasm of their followers and the attention of everyone else. These schools of thought all failed to impede the advance of liberalism. Between its initial awakening and world historical influence there seems to be a Filter (perhaps several, but let’s keep things simple), and no antiliberal movement has yet survived it. And this challenge is before the neoreactionaries, not behind them.
So good luck, guys!
Filed under: Uncategorized |