Saturday, November 29, 2014

NRx: Against Platonic Rationalism

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I have been studying Curt Doolittle and his formulation of Propertarianism. Doolittle refers to the Misesian formulation (what we now call Libertarianism) as pseudoscientific, and refers to the 20th century as A Century of Mysticism. It is important for Neoreactionaries to understand why.

Nick Land recently asserted that Neoreaction is Neocameralism. Then Bryce Laliberte, who wrote a book entitled What is Neoreaction, noticed that his book does not even contain the word Neocameralism. That is a problem.

Laliberte writes:
However, I suspect that’s not where he’s coming from, and really does intend to specify, in some manner, that neoreaction begins and ends with neocameralism; the rest is but window dressing, essential theory to the end of developing this particular political philosophy.

And that’s why I find it so jarring, this identification. Given the particularism of neoreaction, at least as it has been articulated by everyone including Land up to this point, there’s no feasible way to make the identification of neoreaction with a single political philosophy, no matter how coherent it is of itself, without intending the scuttling of all the background ideological separation from modernism. But then, Land did tell me once he takes a difference over my use of modernism, so perhaps an elucidation that front may help. If Land is right here, that would require a serious recalibration of my efforts to articulate a coherent ideological worldview.
I believe that Land has the same intuition as CD. The difference between Land's assertion and Laliberte's view is functional. To say that Neoreaction is Neocameralism is to say that the project of Neoreaction is to build functional government. Laliberte is attempting to build a logically consistent political philosophy.

In my piece on Operational Property, I attempt to make what I perceive as CD's case against Libertarianism (a political philosophy). The case is basically the Operationalist case against Platonic Rationalism. CD refers to the 20th century as a century of mysticism, because Marxism, Freudianism and Libertarianism are pseudosciences. They are pseudosciences because they rely on unproven, untestable self-evident axioms. This is the problem with all political philosophy. It is rationalist in nature:
In epistemology, rationalism is the view that "regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge"[1] or "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification".[2] More formally, rationalism is defined as a methodology or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive".[3]
When building a political philosophy, one reasons from axioms. Within this framework, something is true if it is logically consistent, when it is rational, when it can be shown to follow a line of reason. The problem occurs when the fundamental axioms themselves are divorced from reality. This is the operationalist criticism: if someone cannot provide an existence proof, then no-one really has any idea if that person is talking about something that is real, or something that is purely imaginary.

The Dark Enlightenment itself is founded in reality, in observable truth. Real science is founded on observable phenomenon (proven through repeatable experiments), while rationalist truth, though logically consistent, is pseudoscientific because it is divorced from observation and measurement. In the pseudosciences, there is no existence proof that we are talking about something real. In Platonic Rationalism, truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive.

Political philosophies are logically consistent walled gardens, in which the walls are formed by self-evident axioms. Basically, they are tautological. I use the image of a garden, though often I see political philosophies as prisons of words. As long as one is content to play within the walled garden, everything will be logically consistent and make sense. The problem is that Gnon demands proof. If the political philosophy does not yield real world benefits, then it will land in the ash-heap of history.

I believe that the Dark Enlightenment is the realization that we are currently governed by pseudosciences, which were created out of the Enlightenment exuberance for the human ability to reason (rationalize). What the children of the Enlightenment did not understand was the limits of human cognition and the laundry list of cognitive biases that humans have. As such, we cannot simply think our way forward, deducing from first principles… we have to actually measure and experiment. We have to measure our mental models against the real world. Today, the pseudosciences assume that they are correct because they are logically consistent, but when the real-world outcomes to not match their imaginary models, it is because of some witchcraft (some evil crimethinker), rather than the fact that the imaginary model is not founded on observable truth.

Which leads us back to Neocameralism. The idea here is functional government, scientific government. Perhaps Neocameralism is nothing more than one conception of how a functional government might function. In order for a system to be functional, we must understand the operation of its constituent components. This is what science is for, to discover how the universe functions and to manipulate it to our own ends. The important question about the universe is How does it operate? Functional systems must be based on human observation and operations.

Is the project of Neoreaction to build functional government? To build something that, you know, actually works? Or is the project of Neoreaction to build a logically consistent political philosophy? I believe that Land is asserting the former. Gnon demands results. I believe that many in Neoreaction think it is the latter, which is why so many pragmatists quickly get exasperated with NRx. Are we engaged in real science here, or not? I don't think that we need to build another pseudoscience. Break down the prison of words. Neoreaction should be concerned with the real world.

I think that Doolittle is on the right track. If we want to actually create something functional, then we must base ourselves in observable truth, in Operationalism. I am currently attempting to understand and relay Doolittles work over at the Propertarian forum. To get a sense of the fundamental paradigm shift the Operationalist view offers Neoreaction, read Operational Property. I don't know where this will lead. I am learning. Come learn with me. Let's build something that works.


  1. The isms don't really matter. Any white country will be a pretty nice place. Any non-white country, excepting Japan, will be a dump to one degree or another.

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  3. Great post. Question in response to "The problem is that Gnon demands proof. If the political philosophy does not yield real world benefits, then it will land in the ash-heap of history." could one say free market capitalism is enough evidence to advocate an anarcho-capitalist political philosophy>

    1. Thanks, Craig. :-)

      I'll tell you what I think, please don't take it personally if you identify as AnCap. :-)

      Anarcho-Capitalism says one thing, but in practice AnCaps are Progressives or Commies. They tend to be Bleeding Heart Libertarians. They think like Marx that the state will 'wither away' and we will all obey the NAP. They tend to be an excessively Utopian bunch.

      Sovereignty is conserved. When one sovereign is destroyed another takes its place. Hierarchy is a human need; it is the organizational structure of civilization. When I take an AnCap scenario and game it out, it ends up back at something that looks like monarchy. I think that Corporations will be the new States, and they will have little 'voice', but lots of 'exit'. I think the best scenario is competing city-state/corporations, where those corporations compete for workers, etc.

      If you put me in an AnCap situation, I'm going to join a successful group (corporation) that is producing value and defending what it produces, then trading with other groups (states/corporations/tribes). Groups overpower individual groups and smaller groups, this is why large states evolved in the first place. That won't change. I don't buy the idea that there will ever be 'no state', because sovereignty is conserved. We have states because there is a market for the bundle of services that states provide, I just think that in the future this bundle of services will be provided by something that looks a like a private corporation.

      A monarchy is a sole proprietorship (private corp), and a democracy is a publicly held corporation. AnCaps get that this whole democracy thing doesn't work, what they don't get is that there are other versions of 'the state' that are nothing like democracy and that when democracies finally die, they will be replaced by forms that are remarkably similar to monarchies.


  4. (FYI: Poseidon Awoke added to Blogroll on

  5. All the isms distract from the simple philosophy of life and not robbing the joy of simple work and gratitude.