The Reaction Will Be, Like, Totes Sick, Brah

Reaction is lots of things.  Pop reaction is fun, truth-oriented and cathartic.  Actual reaction, in its truest form, is also self-critical, humble and hard-working.

What Reaction is not, or not exactly, is cool.

There are a couple reasons for this.  The first is that we don’t explicitly optimize for it.  Crazy enough though it’s been a few years—these are still early days.  There is a lot not figured out yet.  Lots of stuff to figure out besides the right kind of jeans or whatever.

Another is that past a certain point, type-of-cool is hard to pin down.  Fashion involves risk.  When writing about how new trends catch on (or don’t), noted fashion blogger (well…) Scott Alexander writes about:

the intellectual equivalent of the very trendy people who start wearing some outrageous fashion and no one knows if it is going to catch on or whether they will be soundly mocked for it.

You can spend a lot of time and effort spinning your wheels trying to spot the next big thing—and politically, that’s exactly what we’re doing.  But you can only stay bleeding-edge in so many fields at once.

So why am I talking about this?  Don’t we have better things to do?

Well, yeah.  But a couple assertions change the picture a bit:

  1.  Degree can, to an extent, substitute for kind.  Tall strong dudes with good hair and complexion are attractive in generic fashions, rich people in index funds make a lot of money, Wall Street hires Physics Ph. D’s, birth rate is a big deal.
  2. At its core, techne-obsessed modernity does not really understand this—or worse, understands and revolts against it, seeking to escape the heavy pressure of waterline requirements by claiming protected status for some specific characteristic.  In no particular order: Excuse me from armed force requirements because of my gender, offer me a scholarship because of my race, give us funding because we have a really great idea (but lackluster fundamentals), love me in spite of my lack of confidence because of the dreamy poems I write, don’t cut down the forest there because the crayfish native to it lays eggs with a particular pattern.  To be clear, this is not an inherently bad thing—some gendered aptitudes do compensate for gendered weaknesses, racial scholarships are not inherently a terrible idea, some ideas or technologies do transcend surface fundamentals, men with depth are a good thing, and species diversity is a good thing.  But the pendulum has swung too far.

Reaction is in danger of being a political movement, or affectation, that seeks to escape the burdensome requirements of having money and attractive young people.  Make no mistake, those don’t make a movement—money isn’t helping Hillary, and the young for Bernie won’t vote—but it is a requirement.

What reaction should seek to do is defer this requirement, rather than avoid it.

Slavishly obeying it is what modern politics does: watch the polls, pay consultants a lot of money to help you craft an acceptable narrative, etc.  Ideals be damned.

Wantonly disobeying it is what a particularly annoying ideologue does: call the entire process corrupt, and conspicuously make known your refusal to have anything to do with it.

The first is obviously empty and has no motive force; the second is akin to trying to reverse the course of a cruise ship with an outboard motor.

The path we ought to take is neither: it’s to stay quiet, personable, and hardworking, while  hewing to ideals—and then to spend some degree of surplus on appearances.  And importantly—some on charity.

The face of reaction on the upswing is an upwardly-mobile young couple in a middle-class neighborhood with three kids, who give some amount of money to charity, and visit their redneck parents on Christmas without being condescending.  It’s a college professor who gives funny lectures that take students back to the fundamentals, while helping his colleagues get their work published.  In short: extraordinary (not superhuman, just extraordinary) t-shaped excellence, plus humanity.

It’s a combination between this:Equinox_EquinoxCommittoSomethingPart216

 

and this:

32e8317f26c8397f4345159209e48af8.

 

Now, I’ve described the face, but that’s not all there is.  We are, after, all, not all superhuman.  But we should be aiming to be.

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Faith and Determinism

On /r/darkenlightenment, the illustrious Nemester writes:

Fighting leftism is like fighting entropy (scientific concept). To some extent this is basically impossible. You can’t fight entropy. However we are committed to fighting against chaos. Even if only a brief respite is possible, we want to make it reality if only for a short time.

One day, the sun will burn out, the oil wells will run dry, and the antibiotics will lose their efficacy.  As Keynes said, in the long run, we’re all dead.

Applied to the political process, Moldbug is to be thanked and respected for identifying leftism as chaos:

First, we need to define left and right. In my opinion, obviously a controversial one, the explanation for this mysterious asymmetric dimension is easy: it is political entropy. Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime.

He was also the one to point out that leftism is just more fit memetically—that democracy leads inexorably to leftism,  and from there on to poverty, racial conflict, and a breakdown of order.

In other words: in the long run, we lose.

I wanted to write something to bolster those who, reading Nemester’s comment, sensibly think, “Well if all of this is doomed to failure, why try?”

The first response is that the long term is not the short term; just because the sun will go out someday doesn’t make it any colder today.  Cthulhu and Moloch are uncaring and unconscious: they will in fact allow a glorious, thriving civilization; “all men glad and wise,” to quote Scott Alexander.  There appears to be a hard limit on velocity at the speed of light; there is no hard limit of which I’m aware on quality of society.

The second response is that this is precisely the question that Christianity answers.  Death is acknowledged, and inescapable: it happens to everyone, and everything, societies included:

Eustace made a step towards him with both hands held out, but then drew back with a somewhat startled expression.

“Look here! I say,” he stammered. “It’s all very well. But aren’t you? – I mean didn’t you – ?”

“Oh, don’t be such an ass,” said Caspian.

“But,” said Eustace, looking at Aslan. “Hasn’t he – er died?”

“Yes,” said the Lion in a very quiet voice, almost (Jill thought) as if he were laughing. “He has died. Most people have, you know. Even I have. There are very few who haven’t.”

The answer is: everything is doomed, but the more interesting question is: “And then what?”  And the surprising answer is, “Well, then they get un-doomed.”   And what’s more: all the work put in before is not for naught:

The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.

So: it is good that you’ve noticed a downward slide in society.  But that should not make you despair that it’s unrecoverable, or applies to every individual, and nor should it make you despair from seeing the far ending, because you haven’t looked far enough.