(aka How to sell Gin to the Reactionary Right)
Being a person who is easily distracted, I published several blog posts on all manner of subjects before I realized I still hadn’t gotten around to continuing this series.
Not only that, I had been putting off what is perhaps the most interesting part of this whole sequence: applied strategics.
Though I use the word “Strategic” here, my original title was “Imperial March”. After all, what do empires do if they do not exert their influence on the world? As such, this section of “The Path to Legionnaire” will cover how to enforce your will upon the world, one of the skills I have called on reactionaries to develop. We don’t yet know the specifics of how the future will play out, we just have to be ready to capitalize on whatever opportunities are presented to us.
Now, part of being able to influence the world is merely possessing the will to do so. Where there’s a will there’s a way, after all, and with will alone one can accomplish some remarkable things. That said, unrefined and untempered will is nothing compared to a honed will and a refined capability to apply it.
So, as with all things, we must begin with the self. One must cultivate discipline and self-control, as well as the skill set to ensure that one possesses whatever tools one needs in order to exert their will upon the world in the manner they desire. There are three qualities I think are most relevant here: Discipline/self-control, perseverance, and Thumos.
Discipline. Self-Control. Willpower. There’s some nuance that differentiates those terms, but they all refer (in varying terms) to the idea of staying mentally strong and being able to resist things like laziness and temptation. This is crucial in all aspects of life, and especially so when it comes to being able to affect change upon the world. You’ll notice that the Wikipedia entry for “Discipline” states that it has a negative connotation. This is because most people prefer avoiding the pain of discipline to reveling in the enjoyment of achievement. Don’t be most people. Be Aristocratic. Bold and Determined is the best place to go if you wish to develop discipline.
Perseverance is also a key attribute to develop. How do you expect to achieve your own ends if you give up before you’ve finished? It goes hand-in-hand with discipline. It is the idea that if you aren’t dead, you can’t quit. You can develop it in a very simple way: every time you are doing something strenuous and feel the urge to stop or to quit, don’t. Keep going until you’re done, and if you get knocked down, get back up. Never quit. This, in a nutshell, is perseverance.
Initially, perseverance is a skill, but over time, it becomes a state of mind. Yet what powers this perseverance? In a word, Thumos. Consider Thumos to be the engine of the will. A more powerful Thumos means a stronger will. Yet, what is Thumos, really? I’ll let The Art of Manliness handle that one and consider this a wrap of what I consider to be the “internal” side to influencing the world, in which you cultivate the will inside yourself, as well as the means to manifest it.
Next comes the external aspect of strategy: making plans and executing them. This process is defined by four different steps: defining the ends you wish to achieve, assessing which factors and data are relevant to the process of achieving them, choosing which actions you will undertake, and then enacting your plan.
- Defining your ends
- Assessing all relevant data
- Choosing the actions you will undertake
- Enacting your plan
Let’s take these one at a time. Defining your ends means figuring out what you want to do. This could entail anything from losing 10 pounds to setting up your own country. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You might not know what end you want to achieve. You might have a goal so vague that you can’t tell when you’ve accomplished it. Make no mistake, the first step of any strategy is to figure out what you want.
From there, assess what information you may need. If you seek to lose 25 pounds, you need some idea of how to diet, how to exercise, and how to improve your physical condition. Knowledge of advanced biochemistry or sports science may help you, but you don’t need that information. This also includes skills as well. If your plan is to put a new roof on your neighbor’s house so that they will owe you a favor and thus feel the need to share some of their homemade whiskey, you need to know how to lay down a roof.
The next step is to choose how you will use the data and decide what actions to take. If you want to make a living as an author, for example, this would be the bit when you decide how you will go about writings books and selling them. Will you find an agent? Will you self-publish? What will you write books about? At this point, you should be establishing the details of your plan based on the information you have.
Finally, the last step is to take action. It’s when you execute your plan. This is where discipline and perseverance come into the mix, as you may be tempted to stray from your plan (i.e. you’re trying to lose weight but you just can’t stop eating cookies). This is also the bit when changes to your plan might be needed. I believe the military saying is “No plan survives contact with the enemy”. It’s often the case that you need to be tactical and adjust your plan as needed. If this is the case, simply repeat this process as necessary.
The mark of a strategist is being able to assess data and see underlying principles with greater insight and being able to draw up plans based on the big picture. The mark of a tactician is to achieve each step of the plan efficiently and being able to make accurate adjustments as needed. Cultivate the ability to do both.
Let’s run a thought experiment and see how this all fits together. Suppose you’re trying to figure out how to market gin to neoreactionaries. First, you’d want a good idea of the neoreactionary demographic, so you know how to appeal to their sensibilities. Neoreactionaries tend to be fairly young, tend to believe in more traditional values, are fairly anti-populist, and value ideas like hierarchy and aristocracy.
As such, it would be a good idea to portray gin as an aristocratic, refined, and elegant drink, one that people with a bent toward to intellectual happen to enjoy. You might play up the Traditionalist aspect by bringing up gin’s association with the British Empire, an empire that many neoreactionaries think of fairly positively. Perhaps you could educate neoreactionaries on how the “Gin and tonic” was invented as a way to prevent the British from getting ill in tropical climates (the quinine in the tonic water protects against malaria). In doing so, you associate the idea of drinking gin with a grand tradition of ruggedness and imperialism. What reactionary could be opposed to that?
Still, if this was all coming from you, and people know that you are trying to sell gin, you won’t be taken seriously, because people will know that you have a hidden agenda. If someone else says it though, those words carry more weight because they aren’t perceived as profiting if neoreactionaries drink more gin. The person giving the endorsement matters though. If Moldbug were to openly proclaim his love of gin in the middle of one of his long essays, it would seem odd and out of place, and people might be suspicious. If Bryce LaLiberte were to drop a comment on his Twitter feed about his love for a certain brand of gin, that would slip by most people’s radar, and plant the idea in their heads that “Neoreactionary Gin” is a good thing to drink.
So you set up your marketing campaign, but wait! A study comes out that shows that individuals who tend toward more rightist points of view prefer brown liquor to clear liquor. Is your attempt to get reactionaries to drink gin doomed?
Well, political orientation doesn’t dictate alcohol preference, but the type of booze you like is certainly indicative of your lifestyle. Reading into this chart, you realize that what it actually describes is a Brahmin/Vaisya divide when it comes to favorite poison. Brahmins lean left and like clear stuff, Vaisyas lean right and drink brown. Does reaction have its Brahmins? It certainly does! So you just have to be particular and market to them, instead of their Vaisya brothers-in-reaction.
Also, this chart indicates that you shouldn’t compare your gin to rum and make the rum look bad, because everybody loves rum, and in criticizing rum, you attack something they like. This is obviously not a good way to win people over.
(In the interest of full closure, I rather like gin, which is why I chose that as my example. I have never been affiliated with any company engaged in the production or marketing of any form of alcohol for profit. If any companies would like to compensate me for services in marketing alcohol to the Traditionalist/Reactionary Right, my contact info is in the FAQ.)
Another example, just for fun. Suppose there is an urban insurgency in a large city in your country, and you are the military commander stamped with eradicating the rebels. You need some idea of how many of them there are, their general areas of operation, how much support they have among the populace…etc. From there, you can analyze their weaknesses. Perhaps these insurgents don’t have the support of the local populace. You could thus incite them into attacking your soldiers in areas where civilians are present and will suffer as collateral damage. This will further reduce local support, and make the inhabitants of the city less likely to give them material support, and more likely to give information about the insurgency to you.
Granted, this is a very Machiavellian approach. You might want to avoid that (I know I would, if there were other effective ways of achieving the same ends). Instead of inciting the deaths of innocent civilians, you might use propaganda to paint a negative view of the insurgents, or you might try to make your forces look better in comparison by protecting the innocent, engaging in volunteer work like organizing food drives or repairing houses that have been bombed, or just giving out toys and candy to children.
Even if you just decide to go house-to-house and wipe all the rebels out, you still need to know how to identify the insurgents, what you’ll do when you capture them, what tactics you’ll use to gain ground…etc. Will you sneak up on known rebel strongholds in the middle of the night? Will you kick down doors in an orderly fashion, one house right after the other? Will you kill the rebels on sight, or take them prisoner to be tried in court? How will you deal with your troops being lambasted on the evening news for “tyranny and oppression”? You still need a plan in place even if you opt for brute force as your solution.
Now, as I’ve brought it up, I suppose I ought to say a few words on Machiavellianism. Some in the Reactionary camp are strongly and harshly opposed to anything that might be considered “Machiavellian” in nature. I’m not one of them, but be aware that usage of such tactics can not only cause friction with those who seek to avoid such methods, but can also bestow upon someone a reputation for underhanded tactics, which can hurt you. People have a tendency to distrust and be antagonistic towards those they perceive as “playing dirty”.
Still, I think it’s a good idea to at least have some grasp of how to employ Machiavellian ideas to achieve you own ends. In any clash of wills, the one who is willing to do anything and everything to win will triumph over the one who is holding something back. It’s very hard to fight a Machiavellian without using Machiavellian means. With that in mind, go read this piece on how to be more Machiavellian. You not want this information, but odds are good that there will come a time when you are going to need it, even if only to recognize what someone is doing. If you don’t have it, then what are you going to do?
So, how can one get better at the art of thinking strategically? Well, thought experiments like the above are a good method. Imagine a situation, and figure out how you would approach the whole thing. Then, try to find problems in your logic, consider other factors, and in general try to see the problem in new ways. Adjust your goal, or perhaps pretend how someone different wold weigh the problem. For example, how might a fascist solve world hunger? How might a communist? What critiques of the different approaches might you have? What other things might you consider. There’s almost no end to how far you can take thought experiments like these.
Additionally, you can play games. Humans earn very easily through play, and taking up something like Chess as a hobby is a great way to work on your ability to analyze a situation, weigh different factors, form plans, modify tactics, and think strategically in general. If Chess isn’t your thing, look at games like Go. This is also reason to play video games, as strategy games like Warcraft also foster a solid capability for strategic thinking. Even games like Dungeons and Dragons have a significant strategy aspect to them. Find something you like that makes you think in this fashion, and invest some time in it.
I also recommend reading books on things like military strategy, politics, marketing, and even seduction. All of these things rely on general strategic principles that can be extrapolated and then applied to other situations. This is why some many business executives read books like “The Art of War”, and it isn’t just martial artists who read “The Book of Five Rings”. Anything by Robert Greene is fantastic for this sort of thing.
Bear in mind, some people are just good at strategic thinking naturally. This might be reason to be jealous of them, but that’s a stupid and ineffective approach. Instead, get to know them, befriend them, and see if you can learn from them. People who are naturals at this sort of thing oftentimes have a hard time describing what they do, but by observing them as they strategize you can learn a lot. To rely on Myers-Briggs classification for a moment, ENTP‘s and ENFP‘s are naturally adept at sizing up situations and assessing underlying principles, while INTJ‘s are often skilled at drawing up detailed, long-term plans. Cultivate relationships with these sorts of people and learn what you can from them.
This has been the longest post I’ve ever written for this blog, and it’s one of the ones I’ve had the most fun writing. I like to think it’s one of my better ones, but I’ll leave that assessment up to all you who read what I have to say. In any event, I’ve reached the end, and so I think a quick summary is in order:
- Strategy begins with the self: develop will, drive, and discipline (Thumos, Perseverance, and Discipline if I am to be semantically consistent here)
- Four Steps to strategy:Machiavellianism is useful, don’t write it off without good reason
- Define your ends
- Assess relevant data
- Choose your actions
- Enact your plan
- Improve your ability to think strategically through thought experiments, games, books, and observation
This is admittedly a very basic overview of thinking strategically, but I hope it provides a good starting point for those who are not naturally inclined towards this sort of thought.