Are “Democratic Socialists” Closet Neoreactionaries?

The fruits of neo-imperialism may just be neo-isolationism,” Pat Buchanan once facetiously suggested in a 2003 column titled “Are Bush and Rumsfeld Closet Populists?” The crux of his argument was that the Bush administration’s neoconservative foreign policy and defiant embrace of global military interventionism was so at odds with the rest of the world that it might result in the United States being alienated from the international community altogether and forced to reluctantly adopt the kind of isolationist nationalism Buchanan prefers.

The neocons have been mostly discredited and rejected by the American people since then, yet their ideology and its zealots have wormed their way so deep into the US political and media establishment, that neoconservative influence on US foreign policy remains dominant to this day. What brought Buchanan’s obscure column to mind though is the latest ideological craze, “democratic socialism.” It’s been on the rise for quite a while now, as evident by Bernie Sanders’ near win in the 2016 presidential primary. The ascent has continued with the growing popularity of podcasts like Chapo Trap House, as well as the media’s recent gush fest over political newcomers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and (former Sex and the City actress) Cynthia Nixon. The problem with democratic socialism (in the form it’s currently being presented by enthusiasts,) is that the solutions it purports to offer can’t withstand the weight of their own contradictions. Trying to be too many things to too many people in ways which inherently conflict, may put you on the fast track for electoral success and generate a lot of fawning media coverage, but then what? Where will the people that didn’t read the fine print turn when the built-in failure mechanisms are discovered during the activation process?

How can you have a federal job guarantee *and* support practically unlimited immigration from impoverished countries? And what good does it do to implement strict emission controls if you’re going to import so many people that the result will be a net increase in pollution anyway? In contemplating questions like this, one might begin to wonder (but not really) if these DSA types are “closet neoreactionaries,” in the sense that they advocate for “socialist” policies only within contexts which would guarantee said policies’ ineffectiveness (thus subsequently driving people to reluctantly embrace neo-monarchic, corporate fiefdoms.) “Free health care and college education!” but it’s going to be available to every one of the billions of humans on the planet that can manage to simply show up here in our “borderless,” undefined country that exists in name only. Oh, and we’re not allowed to significantly limit immigration from the third world in any substantial way. No physical borders, border patrol, or substantively sovereign nation states, but presumably there will be a distinguishable collective people whom we’re assured these programs are supposed to viably and sustainably benefit.

As Bret Stephens recently wrote in the New York Times:

Today’s social democracy falls apart on the contradiction between advocating nearly unlimited government largess and nearly unlimited immigration. “Abolish ICE” is a proper rallying cry for hard-core libertarians and Davos globalists, not democratic socialists or social democrats. A federal job guarantee is an intriguing idea — assuming the jobs are for some defined “us” that doesn’t include every immigrant, asylum-seeker or undocumented worker.

Trump gets this, as does the far right in Europe, which is why they attract such powerful working-class support. Want to preserve the welfare state? Build a wall — or, in Europe’s case, reinstate border controls. Want more immigrants and amnesty? Lower the minimum wage and abolish the closed shop.

But please choose. It’s one or the other.

“Socialist” ideologies which aim for the dissolution of borders and the elimination of national sovereignty in actuality weaken the federal government’s ability to administer social programs effectively. If there is no authority to differentiate between who is or isn’t a citizen (of where?) and no tangible separation of territory, just whom or what exactly is the federal government presiding over? Is it simply “residents?” One can already envision the financial insolvency and administrative nightmare of this kind of “international airport socialism,” where going to the hospital is like making a trip to a crowded, third world DMV. Such a system would be impossible to manage efficiently, due to the intrinsic lack of organization and ill-defined parameters, rendering a theoretically empowered federal government hapless and functionally impotent. Very few aspiring employees can take advantage of a $15 minimum wage if you cram so many people into a city that there are not enough jobs to go around, and the accompanying demand for housing becomes so high that skyrocketing real estate prices negate any benefits for those lucky enough to land a “living” minimum wage job. Socialists and social democrats like Bernie Sanders used to be fully aware of all this, but they are so averse to being perceived as xenophobic or anti-immigrant, that their stated positions on these issues include a lot of muddled, self-contradictory language and conflicting statements…ultimately revealing themselves to be the product of doublethink.

In such a scenario, multinational corporations become strengthened, because people will feel they have no other alternative but to sign their lives away to Yelp or Amazon or some other corporate cult, which will present as comparably functional institutions. In exchange for being granted the closest thing to stability available, they’ll be inclined to just accept shitty, high deductible health plans that can change on a whim, conditional company housing, and draconian “code of conduct” rules which dictate what employees can do, wear and say on their own time, etc.

Virtucon, a large company which owns a factory that manufactures miniature models of factories

That’s the political choice we’re essentially being presented with: overpopulated, third world international airport socialism vs. multinational corporate feudalism. It is probably already too late for any other alternatives you might have in mind. It certainly seems too late for any kind of populist nationalism or to limit mass immigration in any meaningful way at the national level, though I guess pan secessionism and balkanization are distant possibilities (perhaps even inevitabilities.)

Are “democratic socialists” closet neoreactionaries? No, of course not. Are they the useful idiots of neoreaction? That sounds a bit too harsh. One could just as easily argue that many big companies are so greedy that they are actually helping to facilitate the rise of democratic socialism. The way most multinational corporations shamelessly manipulate and exploit their employees, while simultaneously displaying outright contempt for consumers…they certainly aren’t doing themselves any PR favors. Multinational corporations are portable though, and since they have no allegiance to any particular place or country, they are highly adaptable and can remain as elusive as the Black Fortress in Krull.

Ultimately, I think democratic socialists simply represent one half in the next phase of Americans having to hold their noses and choose between systems that don’t represent their interests and which promise things they can’t deliver.

Revisiting The Wicker Man

I first saw The Wicker Man about 15 years ago when I rented a VHS copy from Blockbuster Video, in the hope that it might feature some 70’s nudity. I think I ended up fast forwarding through most of it, except briefly for that Britt Ekland seduction scene which ends disappointingly. So yeah, as far as erotic horror goes, it’s no Stormswept. However, in spite of having almost no interest in the plot of The Wicker Man at the time, I could not bring myself to fast forward through the final scene, which was genuinely disturbing.

Unlike a throwaway fun flick like “The Wraith” that you that you can watch like 50 times whenever you want some background ambiance, The Wicker Man is one of those movies you regret watching, not because it’s bad, but because it files a traumatizing memory image into your brain that can’t be unseen. I would have been happy to never see or think about this film ever again, but somehow I roped myself into rewatching parts of it and decided it was worth giving a few thoughts on.

*Spoilers ahead*

The plot centers upon a Christian police sergeant who travels to a small Scottish island to investigate a case of a missing young girl. He soon discovers that the locals on the island have abandoned Christianity and are practicing a crude form of Celtic paganism. He is disturbed by their promiscuous behavior and what he perceives to be bizarre and superstitious activities (they utilize folk medicine like swallowing live toads to cure sore throats.) The people on the island make his investigation frustrating as they claim the girl he is looking for never existed. Eventually he locates the girl and saved her from a fate of being sacrificed as the “May Queen” (only she doesn’t appear to want to be saved.) The sergeant gets caught with her while trying to escape. He winds up being the sacrifice instead, and the film ends with him being burned alive in a giant Wicker Man, while the townsfolk joyously look on and sing “Sumer Is Icumen In.”

The leader of the island, “Lord Summerisle” (played by legendary actor Christopher Lee) resembles something of a neoreactionary figure. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, he manipulates the islanders into embracing traditional paganism (which he himself clearly doesn’t believe in) as a means to control them as well as to establish a harmoniously cohesive and functioning society. The island serves as a prototype for a mostly autonomous, rural “city state” which has deviated from modernity in favor of folklore and superstition. However, with people having wild orgies in graveyards, it is less prudish than the killjoy culture that “Little House on the Praireactionary” factions of neoreaction idealize. That being said, life on Pagan Island looks pretty groovy to me.

Anyway, near the end of the film when the police sergeant has been captured and is about to be sacrificed, he pleads with the villagers that their beliefs are a lie, and tries to convince them that sacrificing him to “their gods” won’t prevent the harvest from failing. The townspeople ignore his appeals to reason and gleefully carry out the sacrifice, burning him alive in a giant wicker man.

The irony is that for almost the entire duration of the event he is vocally professing the Christian afterlife beliefs, asserting that the Christian God he was brought up to believe in is the true one. As the flames slowly begin to engulf him, he desperately curses the islanders and recites Psalm 23, oblivious to the notion that his own prayers are no more or less likely to be answered.

What makes this film ultimately disturbing though is the way it mercilessly reveals the horror of being the odd man out among a mob of people swept up in groupthink. Regardless of what one believes, the viewer can relate the the movie to situations where they perceive themselves to be the rational individual caught in a world gone mad.

Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism

Dust on the Moon

moonzerotwodeath

If advanced civilization and a continuous expansion of our understanding of the universe are the paramount objectives we strive toward, then a barbarous third world religious populace is not compatible, period. Even the faithful of the first world represent an encumbrance in this regard (and radical traditionalists are not interested is pursuing futurism anyway.) Indeed, any religion which claims authority to create policies related to technology or promote ‘noble savage’ fetishism based on a literal interpretation of scientifically unproven (perhaps even unprovable) supernatural or metaphysical beliefs, is something we need to distance ourselves from… unless we can restrict it’s utility to that of mythological guidance as strictly fictitious metaphor. There is an aesthetic case to be made for “cultural Christianity” or nominalism for neoreactionaries who idealize the medieval frame yet are not true believers. As an escapist who once clocked in nearly 300 hours marveling at the majestic world of Elder Scrolls IV (without ever even bothering with the main quest,) I could certainly see the appeal of such a society. Hell, even that virtual environment in many ways felt superior to what exists in our current reality.

The problem with cultural Christianity though arrives when it intersects with authentic believers. True believers will never accept those who embrace their religion for “values” or utilitarian purposes. Their faith requires them to be disgusted by it and they view it as form of heresy, which is why they recoil at post rationalist attempts at inventing religious concepts like “gnon” as a necessary part of the design of a functional society. Orthodox Christians take it as an insult that one would attempt to adopt their values while denying the divine “truth” of their doctrine. You could not have one without the other, they would claim, and they would find doubly insulting the notion that their values could simply be transplanted into some new metaphysical belief system that a few reactosphere bloggers came up with over the weekend. Not that that sort of thing can’t work on it’s own. Look at the success of Scientology as a religion, the closest thing to a neoreactionary tech comm monarchy that exists today. Have fun getting militant Christian reactionaries to accept your nominalism though in the new nation. As natural busybodies, they are not known for a hands off approach toward non-believers anyway.

To the extent religions, including Christianity (in anything other than their most benign strains) can be compatible with highly advanced technological civilizations at all is a stretch. If you think they are able to, then you and I simply define “advanced” civilization differently. It’s been shown possible with Christianity in the 19th and 20th century, but the pathological altruism and biblical aversion to pursuing certain avenues of technology present a significant hindrance to both civilizational maintenance and technological progress (think where genetic engineering, eugenics, stem cell research and transhumanism would be right now without constant obstruction from religious puritans)

Those who favor Islamification of Europe, or radical christian traditionalism would seem to be content with a sort of “Ape City” from Planet of The Apes as their gold standard, a primitive theocracy which makes use of some modest level of technology. In actuality, the orangutans like Dr. Zaius were pretty wise aristocrats and ape city would probably be preferable to living under actual Islamic law or being governed by pervy bishops, various third world tribal chieftains and the like.

zaiusgroovy

For those of us who prefer to seek out and supersede the biologically imposed limits of our understanding of the universe as organisms, without restricting ourselves to uncritical faith in currently unproven bronze age supernatural beliefs or leaning on the crutch of an imagined higher power, the future is this way. Let those who are content on the prairie, live as happy families in their familiar traditional communities. We will strive to build lunar cities, our ashes will become moon dust, a lifeless and indifferent soil to be kicked up by the boots of subsequent pioneering dreamers, marching toward their next destination.

This essay originally appeared in Force Fields, on August 13, 2015