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Reactionaries affirm that hierarchy is not only natural, but almost purely beneficial to group success. Reactionaries affirm that the development of deep heritage is a natural cultural development centered primarily on group trust, social cohesion and cooperation.

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In a post a couple days ago, I asked what can Catholic Traditionalists, Ethno-Nationalists, and Techno-Commercialists, assorted Particularists and non-brain-dead PUAs agree on? In answer to that question, I identified key ideas in what might coalesce into a Neoreactionary Consensus. This is Part One of what I hope to be a ten part series expanding upon that bulleted list.

The first broad area of agreement is hierarchy - a system of rank (formal or informal) within a social group under which the rights and duties of each member are (at least broadly) understood (explicitly or implicitly) by all group members.

Synopsis:
Reactionaries affirm that hierarchy is not only natural, but almost purely beneficial to group success. Hierarchy is not merely not evil, but an enabling trait of civilization. Since hierarchy is adaptively advantageous, it is easy to see why reactionaries believe it to be part of the law of nature or nature's god or both. Public policies that ignore hierarchy as fundamental to human nature, or worse attempt to subvert it by artificial means of social leveling are foolish at best and likely to be catastrophic for human flourishing.

Proposition Η1-The Naturalness of Hierarchy :

Humans, like many of their (presumed) near biological relatives, live in societal groups in which hierarchy arises naturally, almost always without ideological bases or triggers.

Hierarchy is a brute fact of human nature, everywhere observed. But why? The Marxist avers that hierarchy is little more than exploitation: a way for those on top to get to the top and stay on top, whilst collecting proceeds from those on the bottom. He might further suggest that, in order to promote and stabilize hierarchy, those who dominate spin large narratives to justify their place in society, and if you the net loser in this game don't believe the narrative then you are not quite a good person.

In a classic case of projection, the ideologue (believer of the Marxist meta-narrative) sees ideologies (competing meta-narratives) under every rock. But is this a parsimonious explanation? Is it even close?

No. Hierarchy arises almost without exception within families. The lack of it would be indeed a strange exception, and interpreted my most as extremely dysfunctional. Somebody has to be the boss. And the wisest or strongest or least impulsive or most experienced individual will probably be it. Extending out from families, authority structures must exist within communities. Who arbitrates property disputes or punishes crime? Who makes decisions the community as a whole? Just as a head of household responsible for its proper ordering and function, so must a community have some leader to carry out that responsibility on behalf of all members.

Hunting parties require cohesion and cooperation. Bands of warriors require yet more of the same. As agriculture develops in human societies, bringing about a division of labor, and concentrations of human population arise in large cities and states, ever more complex hierarchies are required to manage an increasing number of levels and areas of oversight, to keep contention to a minimum, and by these to increase the productivity of burgeoning nations.

Proposition Η2-The Benefits of Hierarchy:

Hierarchy is essential to all but the most trivial of human relationships, avoidable only with great awkwardness, and usually serves the best interests of everyone in the common good.

I use the term “essential” in its Aristotlean-Thomistic sense, i.e., that hierarchy is one of the things without which there would not be a personal relationship at all. Consider the dystopic equalism portrayed in A Brave New World. Children in such a world are portrayed, prophetically, as being preternaturally lonely.

In the real world, even relationships purported to be “between equals”, e.g., brothers of the same rank in arms, there is usually still an implicit hierarchy between each of them, and sensed by all. In addition, the very notion of brothers in arms, carries with it a hierarchy that makes them brothers, an authority structure above and possibly below, that gives them their very identity as brothers. Without a clear chain of command, group cohesion and loyalty, and a sense of purpose that transcends purely individual satisfactions, a fighting force (so-called) would be quickly wiped out by superior forces who better possessed such attributes.

Hierarchy could only arise naturally if it conferred some adaptive advantage to social groups that possess it. Since hierarchy exists, and is universal in human societies, this is proof enough that it is, at least for the society at large, beneficial. Even low ranking members of the hierarchy are likely to benefit by enhanced group success, even if the spoils of success are not shared equally. The Marxian hermeneutic which posits hierarchy as a source of conflict is therefore absurd. More hierarchical societies succeed largely because of the cooperation, cohesion, and adaptibility it engenders. Even Jesus points out that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Proposition Η3-The Irrepressibility of Hierarchy:

Hierarchy is pretty much the opposite of anarchy. But hierarchies will still develop in anarchical systems, as water flows down hill.

In the absence of a coach, and in the absence of pre-defined roles, boys of nominally equal status, say a freshman gym class, will arranging themselves hierarchically, with relatively little interpersonal friction to participate at a team sport, so as to maximize the team's chance of winning. For most males (and possibly for most humans in general) the reward circuitry of the brain is wired such that the pleasure of the team winning is greater than the pleasure of getting individual glory.

As with the case of a family unit, somebody has to be boss. If you keep ejecting or killing bosses, someone will still have to be it. He will probably be the one who killed the last boss. Leaders of uncommon stupidity or incompetency may deserve to die in some circumstances. But to kill them off on the ideological principles that anarchy is pure and hierarchy evil is simply lunacy. In most cases, group morale and thus cohesion will suffer, and with it adaptive fitness. In a harsh human adaptive environment, the fierceness and bravery that helps you defeat competitors cannot be turned toward your fellow tribesmen. Hierarchy may be seen as an adaptive algorithm that optimizes between competing human hind-brain instincts.

Conclusion
The Cathedral accepts hierarchy as necessary, of course, but not as natural. Hierarchical ranks, where they must exist, are determined therefore by purely rational and meritocratic methods such as credentialing, awareness course completion, and years offered in service to Cathedral interests. Hierarchies erected outside these artificial boundaries are immediately suspect as potential (likely?) cloaks for malevolent intent and vicious exploitation. This hermeneutic of suspicion extends therefore to nearly every hierarchy in human experience, most of which, and the most necessary of which, have few if any of the meritocratic safeguards deemed appropriate by Cathedral Planners. Thus the Progressivist Regime justifies bureaucratic overreach into families, into voluntary organizations such as churches or Boy Scouts, into business hiring and firing practices, into local commerce, and into local schools and governments.

The reactionary sees such overreach as fundamentally hostile to human nature. For every one actual abuse of power in natural, unregulated hierarchies thwarted by bureaucratic control, 99 of them will have their social cohesion broken by an exogenous Marxian hermeneutic. Natural and proper and profitable functions will fail contributing yet more social pathology, justifying ever more rationalized, meritocratic central planning.

A consensus among reactionaries is that hierarchies are perfectly natural, almost always beneficial, and therefore contribute massively on net to the common good, including adaptive fitness. They should at least be left alone, if not actively promoted. Any public policy which attempts to artificially eliminate, ignore, or level natural rankings within mediating institutions, is foolish at best, and almost surely destructive to the common good, including adaptive fitness.

What do Catholic Traditionalists, Ethno-Nationalists, Techno-Commercialists, assorted Particularists, and non-brain-dead PUAs think about that?

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Reactionary Consensus II: Deep Heritage

…better grab a cup of coffee…

In the previous installment, I discussed how reactionaries view the development of hierarchy as a natural human phenomenon that promotes the common good, and adaptive group fitness thereby. Natural hierarchy is foundational to the development and maintenance of civilization. This view is in stark contrast to the Cathedralist (Progressivist) view which cast a Marxian hermeneutic of suspicion on most phenomena that interfere with their hold on power.

In this, the second volume of the planned ten part series on the Reactionary Consensus, I cover something Nick Land dubbed “Deep Heritage”. And while I'm not entirely certain that I mean by the phrase precisely the same thing Land means by it, I will attempt to define it here for my purposes, and explain how it is part of the coalescent reactionary consensus. Deep Heritage is not as easy to define as hierarchy, which after all appears in most dictionaries. But we shall see that it fits together quite neatly with hierarchy, arises by similar social mechanisms and confers similar adaptive group benefits.

Definition: Deep Heritage-a coherent set (more or less) of religious practices and beliefs, rites and rituals, customs, manners, mores, folkways, and taboos peculiar to a society that, taken together, are widely observed (with or without explicit religious assent) in a locality and that promote social harmony.

Synopsis:
Reactionaries affirm that the development of deep heritage is a natural cultural development centered primarily on group trust and cooperation. Although codes of Deep Heritage commonly do step into metaphysics to justify the moral rightness or wrongness of certain behaviors and dispositions, many prescriptions therein have obvious social benefits, and the remainder usually benign or non-pathological. Therefore Deep Heritage promotes the common good, and group adaptive advantages.

Because of such features, explaining deep heritage principally as ideology (totalizing narratives which purport to answer all questions of “heaven and earth”) lacks parsimony. Although it is common for codes of Deep Heritage to include unprovable, or dubious, or even internally incoherent metaphysical claims, such claims often have only a negligible influence on day-to-day social interactions. Moreover systematic metaphysical claims which “touch earth” not at all or very little may yet shore up a sense of identity among the diverse members of society, improve social cohesion and cooperation, and make members more productive.

Since Deep Heritage is natural and largely beneficial, public policy prescriptions that ignore, fail to take account of, or actively seek to destroy it, are at best foolish, and almost surely harm group adaptive benefit and thus the common good.

Proposition Δ1-The Naturalness of Deep Heritage:

As a key component of all human cultures, Deep Heritage develops naturally as a way of collectively solving complex social problems in a roughly locally optimal way; it therefore a phenomenon unlikely to be explained primarily by imposed ideology, or as a cynical way of manipulating outcomes so that one party is unfairly favored at the expense of another.

Marx famously averred that religion was “the opiate of the masses”. Through a totalizing hermeneutic of class struggle, it is hard to see any natural human social phenomenon, except perhaps for sheer vice, in any other light. Marx had a fabulous hammer, and all he could see were nails. Certainly, religions and local customs do tend to pacify individuals and groups, and encourage them to work harder, and have lower indices of social pathology. And certainly this is all “good for business”. But is one class of people, e.g., capitalists, benefitting at the expense of the cleverly duped masses? Or does Deep Heritage promote the common good by bringing benefits all (or nearly all) of society, and thereby advance the adaptive fitness of the entire tribe, village, city, or nation?

Reactionaries see Marxian explanations of Deep Heritage as lacking parsimony.

First, moral codes of virtually every culture on earth are seen within those cultures (explicitly or implicitly) to apply to all members of society equally, independent of rank or position. A hypocrite is one who expects or requires others to observe a code that he himself will not deign to observe. And all cultures recognize hypocrites, probably more universally than they recognize the wheel. If Deep Heritage were merely or mostly a cynical ploy to get the ordinary people to observe rules that the somehow did not apply to the rich and powerful, we would expect much more care to have been taken in the their development to explain the nature of such seemingly unprincipled exceptions.

Unprincipled exceptions do, of course, occur. And the rich and powerful have always and everywhere been tempted to flout the Deep Heritage of their society. This is probably because their wealth and influence insulates them from the natural effects of their lawlessness. An ordinary person who flouts, for example, the prohibition against adultery is likely get real economic hardship or violence or both in return. Whereas a rich person who does so, can expect far less harm (in this world at least) to come from it. But it would be rare, I think, to find a successful civilized society which acknowledges openly in its moral codes the right of a rich person to simply not obey them. In fact, it likely that a society's economic and cultural success would be correlated very highly with how rank blind their moral codes are. This instills a noblesse oblige among societies most powerful members, that they must live humbly and as moral guides to the ordinary people around them.

Secondly, moral codes around the world and throughout time are pretty similar especially in matters that “touch earth”: Admonitions not to murder, steal, commit adultery, commit treason, dishonor your parents, etc., are practically universal to cultures, and especially strong in civilized ones. Therefore Deep Culture likely arises, at least in major part, from the natural interplay of the human genome with its immediate physical and social environment.

Deep culture, therefore, is seen to be a perfectly natural, largely inevitable, process of human social development and evolution. It is not principally, or at all, an ideological imposition of one caste of society upon another, nor a fortiori a cynical ploy to preserve power imbalance for the exploitation of others.

Proposition Δ2-The Benefits of Deep Heritage:

Deep Heritage is essential to culture, helps promote culture broadly within a society, and, to the approximate extent Deep Heritage is observed, confers upon society many obvious benefits, not the least of which are group cohesion, social trust, and cooperation, which promote the common good, and therefore group adaptive fitness.

As I did with hierarchy, here too I intend “essential” in the formal Thomistic sense: I.e., Deep Heritage is that without which there wouldn't be a culture at all. You cannot have “culture” without a “cult”-some sort ideal held (more or less) in common, transcendent of mere economic self-interest or mere kin loyalty, which binds (more or less strongly) the wider society together. Deep Heritage is a defining part of culture.

I already mentioned in my remarks for Proposition Δ1, that Deep Heritage seems broadly to confer obvious and natural advantages to a society. Any society that lacks a code similar to second half of the Mosaic Decalogue will not be a very pleasant place to live. Moreover, the success of a society to accumulate wealth, expand, and occasionally conquer others, is approximately proportional to how well that society can enforce such a code.

Societies in which these prescription are substantially attenuated or not enforced are at the very least quite uncivilized, and are probably extinct. As Joseph de Maistre famously noted, “Where an altar is found, there civilization exists.” An altar is sufficient condition to conclude civilization exists. He does not here claim that it is a necessary condition for civilization; perhaps an exception may be found that proves the rule. Nor would de Maistre aver that all civilizations are somehow therefore equal simply because they have altars. Nor even would de Maistre lead us to believe that every altar is as good as any other.

Cultures are different. Deep Heritages are different. They produce different results, diverse levels of achievement and diverse levels of fitness, in the real world. But Deep Heritages that have stood the test of time, must produce some net group adaptive benefit, or they would have long gone extinct. Group adaptive harm would create social pathology, and Nature likes nothing more than killing off pathologies. If Nature were indifferent to Deep Heritage, then it would not arise so universally nor would we find diverse cultures with such similar moral codes. Deep heritage is natural… and it is beneficial.

Proposition Δ3-The Limits of Deep Heritage:

Deep Heritage works best when it is moderate: excessive rigor, whether on the earthly or heavenly planes, promotes division, rebellion, and dissension; excessive laxity fails to provide the advertised social benefits.

Deep Heritage is a society's proximate view of what is good and true and beautiful. But no human lives up to the ideals at all times. If this cultural baggage a society forces its members to (more or less) accept is too heavy, it promotes disorder. The best and brightest by their skill or economic advantages, might be able to “keep the law”, better than the merely average. Draconian social codes or needless abstractions can easily be adopted to marginalize otherwise naturally hard-working and patriotic persons or groups.

This is where the Cathedral, a faux Deep Heritage (discussed below), goes tragically off the rails. It's failure is not one of laxity so much as it is a gnostic power cult which artificially (and increasingly) bars those who won't or can't recite its overwrought (and incoherent) Shibboleths. In fact, one sign that a supposed Deep Heritage is in fact merely a totalizing ideology posing as one, is in just how much status whoring is tolerated within it. How easy is it to “game the Deep Heritage”? If you can game it by saying the right things to the right people at all the right times, with no inward conviction and little outward expense, then you can be sure that this heritage so-called is really just a path to temporal power. It might get you laid, but it won't save your soul. And it certainly is not rooted in nature or nature's god or both, nor does it confer any adaptive advantages for society as a whole.

Conversely, when Deep Heritage is watered down to a list of optional “feel-good” attitudes and actions (e.g., “visualize world peace” or “practice random acts of kindness”), it will ultimately fail to carry out its function. When doing good acts and avoiding bad ones are optional, only the most devout adherents will keep them-and unless you live in Lake Woebegon, approximately half the people are below average. When the great mass of men (and women) feel that one or more culturally enforced moral constraints are optional, all hell breaks loose

The best Deep Heritages, i.e., the ones that give their respective cultures lasting health, longevity, wealth, and dominance, are the ones that walk the wire between the excesses of over-prescription (Phariseeism) and under-prescription (Pietism). Cathedralism, the astute reader will have noticed, is a toxic combination of both, but such a mix does not arise solely from Nature.

Proposition Δ4-The Irrepressibility of Deep Heritage:

Like hierarchy, Deep Heritage is simply a brute fact of human nature that cannot ultimately be repressed. But because it is implemented principally by intermediating institutions, governments often seek to suppress it by substituting some form of ideology.

Deep Heritage tends to arise naturally from the bottom to permeate a society and its culture over time. Therefore, its development, content, adjudication, and enforcement fall principally to the intermediating institutions of society: families, churches, voluntary organizations, workplaces, friendships, etc. This makes it historically very difficult for governments to impose top-down reordering on the societies they govern (or conquer). Deep Heritage acts as a kind of cultural inertia. Most of the time this is a good thing, since generally it operates very much in a society's overall best interests. But this conserving influence is an obstacle if, for good or ill, a government is in a hurry to make sweeping cultural changes. A short-cut, as I alluded above, is to overlay a faux Deep Heritage by imposing some sort of ideology from the top down.

As G. K. Chesterton (has almost surely not) said, “When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything”. Societies and cultures cannot survive without some sort of Deep Heritage. So where local customs and attachments break down, or more far likely are broken down by exogenous forces, there is a sort of faux Deep Heritage that may be used (temporarily) to paper over the yawning cracks in social foundations: Ideology. Cathedralism is currently the worlds most powerful form of this phenomena. North Korea's pseudo-Stalinist Juche, while more intensely potent, covers a much smaller fraction of the world's surface, and therefore places a distant second.

Where Deep Heritage is principally focused on the reality as it actually is, and how we ought to get along with each other, imposed ideologies tend to be far more abstract in their content, and far more totalizing in their application. A case in point from the US Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The leaders of the American rebellion had to justify their aversion to King George's tax plans. But they could not find any justification in the actual religions of the day. Every colonist's Bible said that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (KJV) They had to invent a religion, or at least an addendum on the extant one.

Notice the epistemological overreach. “Self-evident”? To whom?? To the already aggrieved and soon to be convinced. “All men”? Why not “All Massachusettans” or “All English Colonists” are created equal?? Certainly Jefferson could not have meant all men whatsoever, many of whom he himself held in involuntary servitude. Notice the biggest whopper of all: “the pursuit of happiness”. “Our Creator” just wants you to be happy-even if that means open rebellion against the most liberal government the world had, up to that time, ever known. Thus the adherent, the follower of this faux heritage, must deny his lying eyes, forget just a tiny bit of his inherited religion, and recite this obviously artificial creed.

The American Revolution was, of course, ideologically milder by far than the one which would soon sweep up France, and thence for over a century much of the rest of the Western world.

Deep Heritage makes claims about the heavenly and earthly orders: cities of God and of Man respectively. Heavenly claims should be neither provably false, nor provably correct under the constraints of empiricism. If they are either, they collapse into mere earthly claims. The earthly claims proper of Deep Heritage ought not violate the common sense of every man, who can see with his own eyes that they are false. For in what possible sense can the common good and group adaptive fitness be promoted by patent lies? They cannot. In the immortal words of atheist and leading secular right thinker Jim Donald:

If authority required me to believe in Leprechauns, and to get along with people that it was important to get along with required me to believe in Leprechauns, I would probably believe in leprechauns, though not in the way that I believe in rabbits, but I can see people not being equal, whereas I cannot see leprechauns not existing.

Conclusion

Thus, reactionaries hold Deep Heritage to be a natural and largely beneficial social development which arises to solve complex and underdetermined social problems. Deep Heritage therefore is a key part of all human cultures, and plays a primary role in civilization. Marxian explanations of the origins of Deep Heritage, as elsewhere throughout this series, utterly fail to be parsimonious.

Of course, not all Deep Heritage is created equally, but when left free from exogenous interference, the cultural codes of most societies reflect something near a local optimum for a particular people group. Since Deep Heritage is by definition “deep”, it creates cultural inertia which can be difficult for governments, whether for good or ill (usually ill), to turn back or modify. Because of these properties, intentional tinkering with Deep Heritage by states, state-sanctioned actors, and ideologues of all sorts is at best foolish, and almost surely to work against the common good, and long-term group adaptive fitness.

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Neo-reactionary consensus may also include:

  • The nuclear family and gender norms
  • Microeconomics
  • Subsidiarity
  • Federalism
  • Freedom
  • Self-determination, autonomy and living space

Books:


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