Matt Forney
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What is Neoreaction? by Bryce Laliberte

what-is-neoreactionNeoreaction: doesn’t it just roll off the tongue?

I don’t know who coined it, but it’s a nice all-encompassing term for the ideology of this part of the Internet, or at least one that doesn’t make me cringe. I realize that Heartiste was trying to be cheeky with “Dark Enlightenment,” but apparently none of the nerds who picked that phrase up got the subtext. Now it sounds like something that a 15-year old goth would come up with while browsing the discount rack at Hot Topic. “Ooooh, look at me! Look how DARK and EVIL I am!”

For the rest of us, we’re just neoreactionaries.

But what is neoreaction? Anarcho Papist author Bryce Laliberte answers the question in this debut book, an absolute must-buy for anyone interested in the predominant ideology of the ‘sphere. I don’t recommend it for absolute beginners, as Laliberte’s book assumes some basic familiarity with the writings of Mencius Moldbug and other major thinkers, but if you’ve already gotten your feet wet, Neoreaction will help you better understand how the world works.

Don’t be fooled by the book’s short length; this is a dense work that requires careful thought and a re-read or two. Laliberte begins by defining ideology itself, its purposes and how it sustains itself. From this, he carefully explains not only why neoreaction is right, but what fundamentally separates it from other ideologies; namely, the fact that it doesn’t rely on popular consensus to function, nor can it:

The human race has scarcely been civilized within its own lifetime. Isn’t this a bit ambitious? Rather overreaching? It is actually the only way to win. A staring contest is won by the one who can wait the longest. If we’re in a staring contest, we’ll win if our ideology provides for the longer-run sustainability of human civilizations. We don’t need to win in the next 10, 100, or even 1000 years. If we win even only a million years down the road, we’ll have won for millions afterward. The logic of social-historical evolution dictates it with certainty. As in war, what is determined is who is left. But as the only end of ideology is to plan for human flourishing, the securing of human flourishing in eternity is the end of ideology. As such, the ideology that lives the longest may perpetuate itself ad infinitum without fear of extinction from a competing ideology.

Laliberte’s prose is similar to his blog posts; very formal and intellectual without being showy. It won’t win any awards, but he conveys his ideas and beliefs in an erudite way. Additionally, Neoreaction is largely free of the jargon that characterizes this part of the Internet (such as “Cathedral” or “Brahmin”), giving it a greater professionality than the usual fare.

From the introduction, Laliberte moves on to define neoreaction as the only ideology capable of sustaining a civilization. As he points out, organized society is no accident; in particular, he credits the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages for setting the stage for later European glory by forbidding inbreeding and encouraging exogamous marriage. He coins the term “biopolitics” (fortunately unrelated to that fraud Foucault and his nonsense idea of “biopower”) to describe the eugenic and demographic trends that make civilization possible:

It is largely impossible for the next stages of civilization to be planned for. It usually requires a shift in ideology before the mechanisms start working that launch the given society to its next position. Indeed, the variables that affect the overall success of an ideology are so vast that it may really only be possible to distinguish them many years on: only a rare genius might see them earlier, as did Kant in his What is Enlightenment? or Marx in Das Kapital.

Laliberte lays the blame for modernism at the feet of the Protestant Reformation (or as he calls it, the “Protestant Formation”), not exactly an original assertion, but he cuts to the heart of why Protestantism was so corrosive to European culture; it represented the destruction of hierarchy. Martin Luther’s assertion of salvation through faith alone and assertion that laymen could interpret Scripture for themselves annihilated the hierarchy of the old Catholic Church. It is from this that we come to the radical egalitarianism of modern leftists, in which all races are equal, men and women are interchangeable, and no one is better than anyone else.

Even so-called conservatives and libertarians are afflicted with this disease; as Laliberte points out in his critiques of libertarianism, they assume an egalitarianism of opportunity flying in the face of racial and gender differences.

Despite Laliberte’s religious biases, his later arguments in favor of neoreaction spring from entirely logical and sensible foundations. For example, he provides a secular justification for patriarchy based in the biological realities of masculinity and femininity. Patriarchy is the only system in which both the strengths of men—risk-taking and courage—and women—child-rearing and nurturing—are used to their fullest benefit, while feminism blunts both.

All of this is a massive oversimplification of Laliberte’s ideas, by the way. Get the book for the full flavor.

If there’s one thing I’d criticize What is Neoreaction? for, it’s that it feels incomplete. While Laliberte explicitly states in the opening paragraphs that his book is not intended to be an introductory text, it could have easily become one—and thus a more valuable book—had he lengthened it by just a couple of chapters.

Still, these are all minor dings. What is Neoreaction? is absolutely worth checking out if you’ve been reading up on neoreaction and want to fully understand it or if you’re a neoreactionary who wants to better clarify your ideas.

Click here to buy What is Neoreaction?

Read Next: The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics by Anonymous Conservative

  • Red

    There’s one area he’s wrong in: Neo-reactionism isn’t an ideology and it’s not a political movement. It doesn’t have ideals that state system X is best and that’s how we should run things. It’s a philosophical system that examines human systems with as little illogical baggage as possible. Instead of saying that monarchy is the best system is evaluates and says that monarchy is a better system that we’re currently using. There are no absolutes that says X is the best system. Rather is stays that X,B,M are all better than Y and Z is even worse than Y. It’s not the kind of system that you form political movements from. It’s a system to learn the nature of reality in a censored and thought controlled world.

    An actual ideology would be something like MM’s formalism or Jim’s techno-anarchy. These are the type of systems you can build a state on. Neo-reactionarism simply informs what worked and the past and why and that it may work again in the future. It’s a guide, not a governance system. I’m glad everyone’s learning about it, but don’t expect neo-reactionaries to become the next dominate governing group.

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  • peppermint

    The word “neoreactionary” appears to have been invented by Mencius Moldbug in his Open Letter series, particularly parts 3, 5, and X.

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