Freedom, Eugenics, and Human Nature

A lot of ideas come to mind when most people hear the name “America”. One of the first thing that often comes up (especially among a more right-leaning crowd) is the idea of “Freedom”. The word itself is heavy with implications. So-called “conservatives” love it, and libertarians have to resist the urge to touch themselves when they hear it.

Neoreactionaries are of course a bit more skeptical. The general consensus is that “Freedom” can be a good thing when granted to the right people, but that it is far from The Supreme Good. Freedom needs to be properly mitigated.

Here at “The Legionnaire”, the idea of “Freedom” is something that we feel ought to be reserved for The Natural Aristocracy, with conditional privileges for everyone else (though if we’re being honest, said Aristocracy would perhaps more accurately described as having a greater number of privileges, which would be counterbalanced by greater responsibilities, but I digress).

Regardless, it seems that the idea of having “Freedom” is tied somehow into the idea of being an American. Yet, I can’t help but think that the current American concept of “Freedom” is incredibly warped. “Freedom” used to be thought of as something that had to be earned. The basic idea of the “American Dream” was that you could earn “Freedom” through hard work, sacrifice, and economic success.

What we have now is freedom through distraction. Freedom through entertainment is the new American Dream. Why bother manifesting that rugged pioneer spirit when all you need is Buzzfeed and Netflix? The new season of “Game of Thrones” starts soon. Until then, why not turn on CNN and keep up on the latest details about Malaysian airplanes and celebrity diets? The media circus is just that, and we’re the clowns.

The choir of the Cathedral is singing, why not lose yourself in the music?

Freedom isn’t free. It has to be purchased with power and balanced with responsibility. Freedom freely given leads only to ruin. A society that hands out freedom without significant caveats will inevitably tear itself apart.

With the right population and context, freedom can be used to facilitate incredible dynamism and brilliant innovation. The type of creative destruction that propels society to new and uncharted requires a certain degree of “Freedom” to act as a catalyst. In the right context, “Freedom” most certainly is a good.

In the wrong context, “Freedom” is a curse.

Those ideologies that promote greater “Freedom” could only have any semblance of success if enacted among populations capable of handling “Freedom”. Some use this as a criticism of those ideologies. I suppose that’s fair, but I find it more interesting to think about how one could such a population as necessary to make those ideologies work.

There are two options I see. The first is to start a new society from scratch, and take great care to be exceedingly careful about who you let in. This is by far a more practical approach, and should be considered if you wish to see results at some point in your life.

The second is to engineer your population to be able to handle freedom. In other words, eugenics. Breed your population to be able to handle greater and greater levels of freedom. This can be done either by setting up societal incentives so that they apply eugenic pressure (something which any society with an interest in surviving ought to do), or by applying a strict eugenics program.

Either way you choose (and frankly, the first one is the only option that has a chance of not going horribly wrong somewhere…), this sort of thing would probably take at least a few thousand years to achieve the desired effects. It is in no way a short term-project, and the fact that humans can’t really think about lengths of time that long all but guarantees that as the generations pass, those tasked with implementing it will lose sight of the eventual goal.

If it could be managed though, should it be done?

I am not necessarily advocating such a thing, but I’m not necessarily condemning it either. It’s an interesting possibility, and I think if it could be done on such a scale, there’s no reason to think that similar efforts couldn’t run up against the boundaries of human nature itself.

Consider how several hundred years can make a big difference in relative levels of corporateness/clannishness. Imagine what could happen in a few thousand years if you were breeding for other traits. Who’s to say that the things we consider intrinsic to human nature might not manifest themselves in ways that are downright alien to our current sensibilities?

Frankly, I doubt this sort of thing is possible. If human nature could be changed or even transcended, anything is possible. In practice, the results would more likely be dystopian than utopian (this is essentially guaranteed if a eugenics program is put into place). Still, this sort of thing might offer opportunity to escape the historical cycles that dictate the inevitability of certain events in human history…

What might humanity do if it was capable of anything?

SPQR

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Batman, Noblesse Oblige, and the Perennial Nature of Aristocracy

I don’t particularly play video games anymore.  This is not because I have anything against them in particular, but because I find I take more delight in other pursuits nowadays.

Still, I occasionally have some idea of what goes on in the world of video games.  Take this development, for example:

The game is of little importance here.  I want to focus on one of the narrative effects of the trailer:  Thomas Wayne’s monologue to his son, Bruce.

The letter from beyond the grave reads like a laundry list of the duties and burdens of an Aristocrat.  Think about what he says:

Invest in them…treat them like family…protect them from forces beyond their control…

Are these dictums any different from those that might be required of a Lord in running his feudal fief (among others, of course)?  As the incredibly rich patrons of the city, the Wayne family already exists as Gotham’s aristocracy.  Thomas Wayne’s advice to his son is a guide to live up to that legacy, to be an Aristocrat with a deep sense of Noblesse Oblige, and to live a life of service to Gotham City.

The consequences and philosophical implications of vigilantism are irrelevant here (although a Neoreactionary analysis of superheroes and vigilantes in general would be great fun). What we need to bear in mind for our purposes here is that Thomas Wayne’s advice is meant to guide the young Aristocrat, Bruce Wayne, into taking on the responsibilities of an Aristocratic lifestyle, to take on the mantle of leadership and the hardships that it entails, instead of merely dining on its fruits.

Reading into this a bit though, this isn’t just a plea for Bruce Wayne to take up the mantle of Noblesse Oblige. This is a plea for Aristocracy the world over (but especially in the West) to rise up in this time of trouble and save the masses. This is a plea for the Natural Aristocracy to rise again, and take their rightful place in society.

Despite the political leanings of most comic-book writers, the subject of superheros has always been one that is intrinsically hostile to egalitarian sentiments, due to the fact the superheros can only exist in a world in which only a select few can ever have a hope of safeguarding the many, who must also be utterly incapable of doing it themselves.

So what does it mean that the popularity of superheros has become resurgent, with what seems like every other big blockbuster movie being an adaptation of some comic-book hero? I say this signals an unconscious desire for a new Aristocracy that will arise to save the masses in what is perceived to be a foreboding time, with a high possibility of crisis in the future. The masses want someone to save them when the crisis hits.

When the crisis comes, will this Aristocracy answer? Will they save the people in their charge? Or will they flee Gotham at that moment when the city needs them most?

The greatest fear of the masses is that the aristocracy will flee, for they know deep down that they cannot run society themselves. The need for an Aristocracy is painted into the deepest corners of the human psyche, especially in those who cannot form a part of this Aristocracy themselves. It is the duty of those with Aristocratic potential to rise to the occasion, and it is only they who are capable of answer the call. Yet if their duty goes unrewarded, will they answer? In a world which despises the Aristocratic, who among the Aristocrats can be relied upon to do their duty?

In the absence of an official Aristocracy, an unofficial Aristocracy will arise. However, without the guiding principles and gentle responsibilities of an Official Aristocracy, this new unofficial Aristocracy will inevitably warp, and become a Fallen Aristocracy, one that is not necessarily particularly well-disposed towards the people who are beneath them on the societal hierarchy (consider Brahmin distaste for all things Vaisya).

There is no such thing as a society without Aristocracy. The vacuum must be filled somehow. You can either have a good Aristocracy or a bad one, and which one you end up with depends on how much you are willing to accept the role of said Aristocracy in guiding society. Support them and be loyal to them, and expect the best from them, and you find yourself with a truly Noble Aristocracy. Reject them and show disdain for them however, and you will not end up with a society without Aristocracy. Instead you will see the Noble Aristocrats withdraw, and the Fallen Aristocracy take their place.

This is not an arrangement that is conducive to the general health of society, and so eventually, society will decline. Perhaps it will even collapse, though this is a rarity in history. The death of a great civilization is not usually so dramatic. In any event, chaos and disorder arise. When this happens, the Natural Aristocracy re-emerges, and finds a way to draw out order from the chaos, beginning the cycle anew…

Just as humanity will always tear itself down if its base impulses are left unchecked, so too will Aristocracy find a way to reassert itself. Aristocracy is a human constant, always there, whether in background or foreground, either guiding humanity to new heights, or waiting in the shadows for the opportune moment to pick up the pieces and begin rebuilding.

This is why, no matter how bleak things may seem, no matter how degenerate, Malthusian, or hedonistic the world may have become, there is always room for hope, for not only does hope spring eternal, the grounds on which we might allow ourselves to have it do as well.

PULCHRUM EST PAUCORUM HOMINUM

The Noble, The Pragmatic, and the Fallen

Ever since my initial treatment of the subject, I’ve always meant to write more on The Natural Aristocracy, but I could never quite get my ideas together.  After a bit of a bump in traffic from a Twitter shout-out by Michael Anissimov though, I went back over the post, as well as its comments, to see if I could find a spark that could ignite my thinking on the matter.

I thought initially I could write up something about how even those born with aristocratic potential can fall from its ranks if they fail to cultivate their natural talents, but I don’t see much need to elaborate on that.  Squandering your capabilities obviously limits what you do in life and how aristocratic you are.  This should be self-evident.

No, I needed something I could really examine in more detail.  This comment by House Perspicacity caught my eye.  I won’t address what he says directly, for the most part, but the interplay of aristocracy, psychopathy, and virtue is one that offers unique grounds for exploration, and so much of what I say here will be highly related.

Just looking over what I wrote on The Natural Aristocracy some months later, I can already see refinements I would make if I were writing it now.  Still, I think I was correct in not necessarily assessing “Virtue” as being a necessary characteristic of the Natural Aristocracy.  Some might disagree with me on this, but I think that being naturally aristocratic doesn’t make one in and of themselves virtuous.

Blood matters, and genes are important.  That said, environmental influence is still relevant.  This is equally true of The Natural Aristocracy, who are probably just as much influenced by their surroundings as anyone else (this is no doubt debatable, as the greater intelligence and capacity for thoughtful reflection might mitigate the ability to be swayed by certain environmental factors).

Aristocrats adapt to the time in which they exist.  Whatever is incentivized will be encouraged, and Natural Aristocrats are fairly good at assessing incentives and working out how to use them to achieve the greatest personal benefit.  This is especially true for those with a more pragmatic bent to them, as they apply their intelligence and industriousness to achieve their own ends.

If the world is one which incentivizes slave morality, hedonism, and degenerate behavior though, more and more Aristocrats will accept such things as being worthy principles and ideals.  Yet this surely cannot be Aristocratic, can it?  To appeal to the lowest and most base of values is the antithesis of the aristocratic, is it not?

I agree, yet I think there is some equivocation going on here.  Up to this point, I have been discussing what “Aristocracy” means in relation to people.  I have refrained from analyzing what “Aristocracy” means in the realm of ideas.

In short, I refer to an idea as “Aristocratic” if it refers to what is best (i.e. Aristotle discussing only the “best” examples of what it means to be human, animal, plant, God…etc) or if it focuses on the elevation of the human to a higher level of skill and capability, understanding, virtue…etc.  If it seeks to raise one to a higher level of existence, whether we are talking spiritual, intellectual, physical, or otherwise (though these are far from the only spheres in which we can improve ourselves), it is aristocratic.

The pursuit of “virtue” (whatever that may mean for the Aristocrat in question, whether the 4 Cardinal Virtues, Chivalric Ideals, the Eight-fold Path…etc) is perhaps one of the most noble and aristocratic of all quests. Philosophers, theologians, and all manner of folk throughout history have given their lives to the pursuit of the ideal of “virtue”.  The cultivation of morality within the self has been celebrated throughout the ages, and many Natural Aristocrats possess at least some drive to behave nobly and virtuously and to demonstrate right conduct.

Those who fully embrace Aristocratic ideals can be considered (to borrow a term from the great Julius Evola) “Aristocrats of the Soul”.  Those Natural Aristocrats who embrace these ideals and live by them are Aristocrats in spirit, mind, body, and character.  There is no more fitting term for them than the “Noble Aristocrats”.

So what do I think of those Natural Aristocrats who reject Aristocratic principles like the elevation of the human spirit and the pursuit of virtue?  I say they are a Fallen Aristocracy, whose elevation to the halls of power in our society portends a decline and a fall no less palpable than the disasters that befell Rome as the power of the Empire waned.

Without a Noble Aristocracy working for the preservation of the sacred fires of Tradition and Morality, social norms and codes of conduct will erode and decay.  When this happens, the baser urges of humanity are unleashed, hedonism becomes the theme of the age, and concepts of Honor and Nobility are given less heed.

It is in this environment that ignoble and Machiavellian tactics in pursuit of ones ends are allowed to flourish.  Machivellianism is always an effective way of achieving ones’ ends, but in societies with strong codes of honor, in which social reputation is everything, the cost of such means is usually too high to be worth the execution.  In this way, “dishonorable” conduct is discouraged and “virtuous” behavior is given breathing room to survive.  Without these checks in place, underhanded and “dirty” behavior becomes overpowering, and from there it always finds a way to run amok.

Natural Aristocrats, being intelligent individuals, catch on to this, of course.  In many of them, their ambition overpowers their desire for virtue.  Even if they reject the egalitarian impulses that characterize so many modernist philosophies, they can avoid the rejection of the Aristocratic and so avoid joining the ranks of the Fallen Aristocracy.  Still, without being devoted to the ideal of virtue, many of them become an Aristocracy of a different sort, a Pragmatic Aristocracy, bent on winning and on achieving their ends at all costs.  To a Pragmatic Aristocrat, a fair competition is one in which both sides are giving it everything they’ve got, and neither is leaving any tactic off the table.

In any clash of wills, the Pragmatic triumph over the Noble because they will go to any lengths to achieve their own ends while the Noble will always hold back.  Eventually, all Nobles fall to Pragmatists.  Played out on the level of civilizations, we see easily how a society headed by Noble Aristocracy can fall victim to the designs of one headed by more Pragmatic sorts, or how within a society, Pragmatist gradually replace Nobles in the seats of power.

A certain percentage of Pragmatists in power is natural, of course.  Being pragmatic, they tend to do a fairly good job of governing (sometimes better than the Nobles, for different times and contexts require different types of leaders, and some eras need Pragmatists more than Nobles in charge).  Still, as the percentage of Nobles in the Halls of Power declines, leaders become increasingly more ruthless and conniving in order to seize and hold power.  There is always a certain degree of Machiavellianism among the powerful, and strong societal institutions can hold this in check at levels that have minimal deleterious effect on the populace, but their ability to keep this tendency in check is not indefinite.  Human nature always wins out in the end, and the ruthless and unprincipled and conniving will always find a way to acquire and hold power, while those more principled than them are forced to adopt their tactics in order to keep up.  You reach the point when any semblance of honor becomes a weakness at high levels of government.

This is what we see in our time.  Psychopathy, sociopathy, and Machiavellianism are traits that give one an edge in the modern world.  Is it any wonder that Pragmatic Aristocrats seek to develop these traits in themselves?  In a world in which people earned status and acclaim through acts of Virtue, the Pragmatic would become most Noble individuals indeed.  In the Modern World, however, virtue can only be, at most, its own reward.

In our present time, we find ourselves with a most ignoble arrangement.  The Fallen Aristocracy frames the societal discourse on issues of morality and proper societal conduct, using the natural untermenschen as their pawns.  Pragmatic Aristocracy out only for themselves play off of this and find ways to profit and thrive in this environment, giving tacit approval for continued societal degradation.  Noble Aristocrats are marginalized and slandered, incapable of cutting it in the highest echelons of society when it is they who are what we need most right now.

The incredibly virtuous are always ostracized in any time and place, but anyone who strives to better themselves in this day and age learns fairly quickly that sharing your struggle leads to resentment more than approval.  In this time in which equality is considered the first principle of all morality, almost all attempts to elevate the self to a more Aristocratic existence are (for the most part), not looked on very favorably.  Yet this opprobrium must be overcome, for any semblance of a reactionary society will only be made possible through the blood, sweat, toil, and tears of Noble Aristocrats, as well as any Pragmatic Aristocrat allies who perceive it to be in their interest to tag along.

This alliance of the Noble and the Pragmatic is key, of course.  Noble Aristocrats care so deeply about the realization of their own virtue they refuse to do whatever it takes to achieve their own ends for risk of compromising their piety.  If the ends they seek happen to be, say, the preservation of their society and stability and prosperity for their citizens, the results are often disastrous when this choice is made.

With Pragmatists wholly in charge though, we always witness an inevitable progression to a degenerate state as the baser urges of Human nature are set loose and the pragmatists ride these into power.  Only the Pragmatic can counter the Pragmatic, but when only the Pragmatic rule, virtue grinds to a halt.  However, the proper functioning of any state is highly dependent on the virtue of the populace.  Too many pragmatists and the whole structure of governance turns into a giant crab-bucket, with everyone pulling each other down in their race to the top.  At the bottom of society, the common people become increasingly base, hedonistic, and degenerate as the Noble Aristocrats are unable to exercise their capability to preserve morality and virtue among the population.

Thus, Pragmatic Aristocrats need to realize that the cultivation of proper virtue among the populace constitutes a pragmatic goal in itself (failed states are kinder to brutal warlords and savage degenerates than Natural Aristocrats). They also need to realize that they are necessary to achieving that end, because the Noble Aristocrats left on their own in such matters won’t be able to cut it when thrust up against the Progressive Pragmatists who oppose them (this is why Modern Conservatism always fails).  If we are to ever see a Reactionary state filled with virtuous people, we need to understand that it can only be made possible if the pragmatists and the Nobles work together.

Noble Aristocrats, you do not have the luxury of actualizing your quest for “virtue” in the present time.  That is your burden, the price you pay for your presence in the Kali Yuga.  I am certainly not telling you not to be virtuous and strive for ever greater heights of virtue (as I said, that is quite possibly the most Aristocratic of quests), but know that you can only push the cause of reaction so far if your highest priority is your own moral refinement.  Much as you might be opposed to it, your best bet if you ever want to see a reactionary state is to not get in the way of the pragmatists who are working toward that end.  Get out of the way and let them do what they’re good at.

AQUILA NON CAPIT MUSCAS

Two Houses, both alike in dignity…

Greg Cochran, one of the authors of the book The 10,000 Year Explosion, has helped finish the rough draft of a paper analyzing gene flow in meritocracy.  The basic gist of it is that within a few generations, the inequality between the people on top of society and the people on bottom won’t just be on the level of financial resources, but genetic potential, as the high-status with good genes will seek to mate with other high-status people of good genes.  Basically, even in a pure meritocracy, it’s only a matter of time before a genetic elite arises.

Here at The Legionnaire, of course, we do not fear aristocracy, we embrace it.  We even have a name for this genetic elite: The Natural Aristocracy, and we think they, and not democratically elected officials, should govern.

In the great traditional societies of old, the aristocracy was usually a distinct class of its own, officially recognized as such by societal norms.  Nowadays, the norms are a bit fuzzier.  Sure, we have our own caste system, complete with Brahmins, but the connection between modern Brahmins and a true (read: functional) aristocracy is a bit tenuous.

My personal observation is that a certain aristocracy arises among every caste, consisting of their best and brightest, as well as those that most exemplify the traits that each caste most praises. Case in point, Vaisyas, though not considered the “elite” class, certainly have their own aristocracy.  Historically, this Aristocracy has been represented by figures exemplifying the archetype of the “Southern Gentleman”.  Think of such noble individuals as Robert E. Lee.  Nowadays, it is harder to find such exemplary figures, though those individuals who are moral, upstanding citizens who give back to their communities and are widely revered can be thought of as a certain Vaisya aristocracy.

The Brahmins have their aristocracy as well, though it’s not a very homogenous group.  It’s a grab-bag of high-level politicians (even the Republicans, supposedly representative of Vaisya interest, consist almost entirely of Brahmins who are just a bit less left than their contemporaries), certain celebrities, and others with enough cult of personality to be revered out of proportion to accomplishment (think Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or Jennifer Lawrence).  These are the Brahmin elite, the ones who are revered as an aristocracy of sorts by your typical Brahmin individual.

The modern Brahmin elite make for a pretty poor aristocracy though.  There’s no sense of deep tradition to uphold, nor a sense of responsibility for the greater welfare the longevity and prosperity of society.  Noblesse Oblige has been replaced by voting Democrat.  Duty, Responsibility, Tradition?  Nonsense, let’s have gay marriage!  It’s enough to drive any Traditionalist to revolt against the modern world.

At this point, one might ask the question of whether Reaction has an aristocracy.  Given how Reaction is a loosely-connected movement instead of a society, in a technical sense, we cannot have an aristocracy.  Still, we clearly have individuals who are looked up to and viewed as figures of leadership.  Often times, these individuals could be categorized as Neoreactionary in classification.  Might we expand this to the neoreactionaries in general, the intellectual and abstract fonts of Reaction who often serve as figureheads when The Dark Enlightenment is represented in mainstream media?

I’m not so certain.  Do I consider many neoreactionaries to be aristocratic?  Absolutely.  Yet I am unwilling to call the neoreactionaries the Aristocracy of the Reaction.  There might be some correlation with aristocratic traits, but Reaction in general as not been around long enough to sort itself into different strata.  Though different styles of Reaction are emerging, different social strata are not…

Here’s the thing, Neoreaction especially boils down to two demographics: Upper Vaisyas fighting to defend their history and culture (more than they may realize), and disgruntled Brahmins who realize the current system is a terrible mess, paralleling Rome before the fall.  We’re not an Aristocracy in any real sense, and only a few of us are considered truly influential in regard to Reaction as a whole.

An Aristocracy can only truly exist in an established society.  Until that happens (if it happens), all we’ve got are people who are more or less popular than each other.  Given that the structure of the internet is more conducive to populist structures than hierarchical ones, no internet movement can truly be hierarchical, especially not in the fashion that we reactionaries so desire.  So no, Reaction does not have an aristocracy.

This isn’t the important detail I really want to point out though.  What I want to emphasize here is something a little more subtle, but far more important.  Neoreaction is Vaisyas and Brahmins working together.  This is an alliance of which the symptoms have been noted before, but this underlying fact has (to my knowledge) never been explicitly and bluntly stated as such.

Think about that.  When was the last time that these two castes really came together?  As Theden is so fond of pointing out, Brahmins and Vaisyas are almost always at odds, on opposite sides of any and all culture wars that take place in American society.  On social, economic, and foreign policy issues, among others, they almost always find themselves on opposite sides of the aisle.  For members of each class to find themselves working together means that something dramatic must be happening indeed.

This time of year gives us a lot to celebrate, even in this world that gives us much reason to despair.  This Christmas, let’s also take a moment to celebrate the coming together of Brahmins and Vaisyas in reaction, the two American classes that have historically been in perpetual conflict.  Peace on earth and good will to men indeed.

Merry Christmas, reactionaries of the world.

DONA NOBIS PACEM

The Path to Legionnaire: Series Introduction

There’s a reason I chose “The Legionnaire” as the name of this blog.  Part of it was indeed a reference to my ancestry, but the reasoning goes a lot deeper than just that.  Not only do I find the image of a strong, tough, focused warrior marching on for imperial glory to fit in nicely with neoreactionary themes, but I also think that those sorts of people are going to become ever more important as the future comes upon us.

No, this blog is called “The Legionnaire” because from the beginning I have always had an ideal for what a modern reactionary ought to look like.  This is not the archetype of The Natural Aristocracy I refer to now, but a different one, a neo-Legionnaire of sorts, trained for the struggles of our age.  A Legionnaire may be an Aristocrat, and an Aristocrat a Legionnaire, but the difference lies in skill-set and capability.  An Aristocrat might not be a Legionnaire, but a Legionnaire will mostly have good aristocratic potential, even if they do not possess all of the requisite qualities to meet the full definition.

So what exactly is this Legionnaire?  It is something akin to a few other concepts, drawing influence from the concepts of the “Alpha Male”, the Strong Horse“, the “Student Reactionary“, the “Mindweapon“, and the “Polymath“, as well as principles from biology and philosophy, among other disciplines.  I envision a K-selected, smart, savvy, and tough individual capable of handling everything from rigorous debate and social dynamics to the workout room and the fighter’s arena to whatever turbulent futures may lie ahead, adaptable and flexible in skill set, with core proficiency in the few things I shall lay out here, with individual specialties being up to each person.

If you remember, I promised I would begin putting out my ideas on dealing with the media and laying out a strategy for aiding the spread of neoreactionary principles.  The Legionnaire archetype is part of that, but by no means solely defined by it.  The Legionnaire is meant to be a multi-faceted ideal of varied capability, and although knowing how to deal with the media when it becomes necessary is part of that, it is not the only trait.

If you’ve spent any time here, you’ll have noticed that I have what I call The Legionnaire’s Reading ListThis list has always meant to fit in with this series that I have planned.  It has the categories and format that I intend to follow, with each piece building off the previous one.  The books I recommend are a part of each step, though they are by no means the only hurdle to be overcome before making your way onward to the next stage.

Reading, after all, can only take one so far.  It is also necessary to put knowledge into practice, refine the application of that knowledge, and develop these sorts of things with time and experience.  It makes no sense to read “The Prince” (to give one example) if you cannot ascertain when to be a lion and when to be a fox.  These sorts of things can only be made known with practice, and I shall put forth my experiences in matters like these so that I may both continue to refine myself and to bring others along with me on this process.

And so I present this series.  Think of it as a boot-camp for young neoreactionaries, although I hope all may find some benefit from it.

DUCTUS EXEMPLO

The Rumblings of Discontent

This will be a bit shorter than my usual fare, because I’m merely tying together a few ideas I’ve put forth before.

I’ve previously discussed the possibility that any movement  that could fall under the reactionary umbrella will have to focus on the quality of its members rather than quantity of support, at least in its beginning stages.  As such, I believe that any such movement will initially be spearheaded by the Natural Aristocracy, and that only later on, if it gains momentum, will others rally to that cause.  This will more likely than not be the case, although I am not so unsubtle in my thinking as to be under the impression that this is a hard and fast rule.

Now, who among the aristocracy will be those who spearhead these movements?  Well, those with the least investment in society and with the most to gain from a potential upheaval will always be the ones most likely to push for societal reorganization.  This means, for the most part, the young, a term which I use here to refer to the demographic under the age of 30 (but perhaps most accurately for my purposes here, those between the ages of 18 and 30).

Finally, which demographic (on a very broad level), is the one most likely to stir things up, go to extremes, and be devoted to causes beyond the pale of mainstream thought?  Men.  Men are more likely to be found rioting, revolting, revolutionizing, reinventing and reorganizing whenever things start to get a little unstable.  Because of the male power of violence, men are not only the segment of the population most capable of keeping order, security, and balance within a society, but are also most capable of destabilizing it and undermining it.

This sort of thing has been realized throughout history of course.  Stable societies find outlets for their young men so that they may be content and channel their urges into preserving the order and prosperity of the social structures and superstructures at large.  However, a society that offers few outlets (or even inefficient and suboptimal outlets) will find itself with a backlog of built-up male urges and desires. Combine this with other factors like a lack of economic opportunities and watch a dangerous concoction ferment before your very eyes.

Put this all together and what do we get?  Young, aristocratic men tend to be the forefront of any initiative that seeks to alter the status quo.  Keep them happy and content, of course, and they devote their talents and efforts to the proper upkeep and elevation of society.  Alter the dynamic and give them a society in which the young and aristocratic feel angry, disconnected, and (for lack of a better term) fucked-over and you get a society that will inevitably face major discontentment and fracturing.  Is this going to play a part in the future of the west? Count on it.

Update 11/12/13: It seems Peter Turchin has been having similar thoughts recently.  I love it when I’m not the only one who thinks of these things.

SEMPER VIRILIS

(This post dedicated to AnarchoPapist.  Happy Birthday, Bryce).

An examination of the Natural Aristocracy

It is taken for granted by many in the Dark Enlightenment that there exists a small proportion within humanity that are just (for lack of a better word) better than everyone else.  The common term for this elite group is “The Natural Aristocracy”.

But what is this Natural Aristocracy really?  It is not nearly so defined as other concepts like The Cathedral.  Perhaps is is like masculinity, in that the concept itself is nebulous and most people have their own unique definitions.  I sense this might be the case, but nonetheless, I shall provide my own examination, in the hopes of clarifying things further and stimulating greater discussion.

I believe that the Natural Aristocracy is defined by 6 traits, and that a failure to express or live up to any one of these characteristics necessarily excludes one from its ranks.  They are:

  • Industriousness – Really working hard is difficult.  Extraordinarily difficult.  Most people are just unwilling to work hard to achieve their goals.  The rise of technology has only exacerbated this phenomenon.  A true aristocrat is not afraid to work hard for the things that he or she desires.
  • Ambition – Some are content to merely exist in life.  As long as the television is on and beer is cheap, they are content with their lot in life.  There is no yearning for something better, no urge to pursue more meaningful things in life, whatever those things may be for them (wealth, knowledge, family…etc).  They are willing to let themselves get complacent, and they prefer their lives that way.  A life of overcoming challenges and ascending to new heights of accomplishment and success is not for them.  We call these people “peasants”.
  • Intelligence – Like it or not, some people are smarter than others.  With intelligence comes the capability to know and understand the world to a greater capacity than others, to reason and think, to analyze and comprehend.  Intelligence is a building block for many other important and desirable traits, and is correlated with characteristics like self-control and low time preference.  A keen mind is a noble trait indeed.
  • Adventurousness – To venture for new lands, seek out new experiences, and to take that risk that no one else will take, is the inherent tendency of the adventurous individual.  To stay within the confines of the familiar is not the way of the aristocratic soul.  Whether it is traveling the world or simply delighting in trying new foods, pushing boundaries and exploring new territory is something that most people are loathe to do, and having a taste for it marks one as an elite and unique individual, superior to those too afraid to break from their comfort zones.
  • Ability to handle freedom – Having freedom does not just mean having the freedom to succeed, but also having the freedom to fail, and to fall into things like drug addiction, poverty, obesity, and other afflictions.  It is the freedom to lose all your money on a bad investment.  It is the freedom to eat ice cream all day.  It is the freedom to not get a job and live off welfare and bang out a bunch of children you cannot afford.  It is the freedom to pursue a life of hedonism.  The ability to handle this kind of freedom without degenerating into a pathetic excuse for a human being is one of the defining marks of the Natural Aristocracy. This could also be labelled as “Self-Control”.
  • High Achievement – The Natural Aristocracy is that percentage of humanity doing great things and accomplishing feats beyond that of most mortals.  While this may involve doing something like curing a deadly disease or building a great empire, other more-easily attained accomplishments like earning a black belt, being your school valedictorian, or becoming an Eagle Scout would still be sufficient to satisfy this aspect.

I’ve heard varying estimates as to the actual proportion of the population this aristocracy happens to be, but I suspect it is at most 10%.  Is this aristocracy genetic?  Perhaps.  I am willing to believe that if you are not born with the potential to be a part of this aristocracy, you can never break into its ranks.  I am also willing to believe that if you possess the capability to join this elite subset of humanity but fail to devote yourself to developing and applying your talents, you will never find a way into this echelon.  I know several individuals who fit sadly fit this description…

But this is not all.  I suspect that there are distinct subtypes within the Natural Aristocracy. After all, two individuals might be able to meet all of the above traits and yet go on to do very different things with their lives.  Yet, with these 6 characteristics in mind let us consider the categories of the natural aristocracy.  I have not yet decided whether to consider this a complete list, but among those persons whom I would describe as “aristocratic” according to the above classification, I have seen their talents manifested in these areas:

The Scientist

With a thirst for knowledge and a drive to uncover it wherever it may hide, The Scientist is willing to spend years or even decades puzzling over a perplexing question.  They will stop at nothing to uncover how the universe works, and those with the most drive and passion often find a way to alter the worldview of the rest of humanity.  Who could consider a mind like Newton’s or Galileo’s anything but aristocratic, noble, and inspiring?

A few more modern examples would be Richard Feynman, Marie Curie, or James Watson.

The Philosopher

Similar to the scientist, the philosopher primarily seeks not knowledge, but wisdom.  Tossing and turning ideas over in his mind, and burying himself in dense tomes, the philosopher seeks to understand the world of the abstract the same way the scientist devotes himself to study of the physical.  Ethics, metaphysics, logic, epistemology, and more are all fair ground for this aristocratic lover of wisdom.  The Scientist might find a cure for a deadly virus, but a Philosopher can create a virus of the mind far more nefarious and deadly than any creation of the scientist.  You may disagree with Marx, but you simply cannot deny that he was influential…

It is into this category I would place individuals such as Socrates, Kant, and Nietzsche.

The Artist

I use the term “Artist” here to refer to all types of artists, including painters, poets, writers, and musicians.   Again, this is not to claim that all artists are part of the natural aristocracy by any stretch (nor all scientists, philosophers…etc), but to acknowledge that the talents of the Natural Aristocracy can manifest themselves in artistic form.  Note that this is irrespective of medium. Comic strips and graphic novels are far from an aristocratic medium*, but the work of writers like Bill Waterson (of “Calvin and Hobbes” fame) should not be discounted merely because of the medium they chose to operate in.

(This should go without saying, but being a popular artist is not indicative of anything here.  Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj are (somehow) popular artists, but anyone who would suggest that there is anything noble or aristocratic about them is horribly misguided and ought to correct that mistake by setting themselves on fire.)

Great examples include Beethoven, Goethe, Hemingway, Shakespeare, and Dali.

The Explorer

Colombus. Magellan. Marco Polo.  What is the common trait among these three men?  A taste for adventure, a yearning to see what was beyond the next horizon, and the willingness to travel to the ends of the earth.  Edmund Hillary did not climb Everest for any “rational” reason, but because his soul yearned to know what it was like at the top of the world.

Such a drive is the distinguishing feature of this class of aristocrat.

The Entrepreneur

Admittedly, this might seem to be a bit of an odd category, but bear with me.  To focus ones’ aristocratic tendencies toward success in the market is a perfectly sensible thing to do in most modern, western economies.  Just as the highest levels of success in art or philosophy require the aristocratic traits, so too does success in the world of business.

Love him or hate him, Richard Branson is the ultimate modern example of this subtype.

The Warrior

Noble, valiant, and courageous, the warrior engages in conflict and fights battles on behalf of principles he believes in.  Violence is simply a fact of life, and The Warrior understands this.  As George Orwell said, good men sleep well at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

This term applies to both those who fight personally, like Miyamoto Musashi, and those who command armies, like Erwin Rommel.

The Statesman

Part of the responsibility of the Aristocracy was always to rule and govern the masses.  Even if we define our modern aristocracy not by blood, land, or titles, but by innate characteristics, there will still be those Aristocrats that need to take it upon themselves to rule the masses.  Granted, this responsibility ought to be accompanied by a sort of noblesse oblige and strict moral codes of conduct, as well as a system that incentivizes rulers to actually provide for and protect their subjects, but that is a topic for another time.

Churchill was probably the last great statesman, even if he foreshadowed the kind of corrupt and immoral decision-making we see all to frequently today.  Still, even statesmen like Pericles had to resort to trickery and subterfuge at time.  Politics is just not a clean business.  The most “pure and noble” example might be Frederick the Great.

The Inventor

Frequently found in conjunction with other types (The Scientist and the Entrepreneur are natural partners for The Inventor, and such combinations are often found in the same individual), The Inventor is the individual who designs and tinkers until something completely novel and unique is created where there was nothing new before.  Without these individuals creating and inventing, humanity would be at a technological standstill, at the mercy of disease, the elements, and without any advanced means of transportation and communication.

I would be remiss if I did not highlight Nikola Tesla as the archetype for this classification.

The Athlete

I don’t mean your stereotypical meat-head here (remember the factors listed above).  Historically, members of the aristocracy would have been expected to be proficient in things like fencing, horseback riding, and other athletic endeavors.  Nowadays, we live in a time that really does place less emphasis on physical capability, but this does not mean that aristocratic talent cannot manifest itself in this sphere.  In this day and age, fitness itself is an accomplishment, and when you place an Olympic athlete next to your average American, the former appears like a demi-god in relation to the other.

This is of course, not to say that any artist, athlete, or whatever is a member of the Natural Aristocracy, but I am heavily implying that the most successful, recognized, and talented people within these categories certainly are.

It is quite possible that one individual may be a mix of two or more types.  Leonardo da Vinci was probably equal parts Artist, Scientist, and Inventor.  Plato’s “Philosopher-Kings” were a mixture of the Philosopher, Statesmen, and Warrior subtypes.  The Athlete and Warrior subtypes are often found together in the same individual, due to the inherently physical nature of war.

It should also be mentioned that these types do not necessarily have to be at odds with each other (indeed, it is more beneficial for all if they co-operate). I recall that a statesmen once corralled some explorers, scientists, and inventors (and their respective followers) into putting a man on the moon not just once, but several times…

I must admit, I debated whether to add in the additional qualification that a member of the Natural Aristocracy must also possess a certain nobility of spirit, a certain je ne sais quoi, perhaps that which could be called an aristocratic soul, but I decided not to complicate things further.  To consider such a possibility would make this a far nebulous system of classification, and yet it does seem that there is something different in the spirit of the Natural Aristocrats than those of the common folk. I personally suspect this to be the case, but I shall avoid examination of this possibility for now.

I also weighed the merits of adding confidence and/or boldness to my little litmus test, but at the end of the day felt that while it was certainly a distinguishing characteristic, it wasn’t a make-or-break sort of thing, the way I think the other 6 traits are.  Most of the Natural Aristocracy is naturally confident, but one need not be confident to be a part.

To repeat myself, this is a rough classification at best, and I still have some work to do before I’m ready to call it fully fleshed-out, but I think it still has some utility.  Life would be so much easier if there still existed relevant genetic aristocracies in most Western countries, but in the absence of easily-found answers, we must seek them out on our own.

Note: Some might contend that concepts of chivalry and other honor codes are also hallmarks of the Natural Aristocracy.  While I agree that this has been true of historic aristocracies, like the European Knights and the Japanese Samurai, I view this as more of a cultural development instead of a manifestation of innate qualities, which is what I would argue is the true mark of such an elite cadre of individuals.  Aristocracies should have strict honor codes backed up the the threats of losing reputation, risk of being ostracized, and duels to the death, but if asked whether I believe that members of the Natural Aristocracy would be chivalrous in the absence of any honor codes or cultural codes of conduct, I would hesitatingly say “no”, although my mind on this matter is not quite settled.

I applied similar reasoning when considering whether to cover any sort of moral code.  While I do believe that members of the Natural Aristocracy should act morally (I’m not too picky about whether that means Christian principles, secular ethical systems, Buddhist philosophy, or what have you as long as there’s something and it’s hard to live up to), but I wanted to discuss the concept in amoral terms, without consideration of the ethical responsibilities that come with such gifts.

I realize this was a longer post than usual, so if you have made it this far, I congratulate you on your industriousness and intelligence.

SPQR

*This is of not, of course, a blanket statement disapproving of all comic books or graphic novels.  Graphic novels like “The Dark Knight Returns”, “Watchmen”, and “Persepolis” are deeply thoughtful works that are well-written and intellectually stimulating, and the same could be said of comic strips like “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side”.