NRx (Neoreaction) and the Dark Enlightenment

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Steve Bannon's reading list gets analyzed by Politico:

Bannon, described by one associate as "the most well-read person in Washington," is known for recommending books to colleagues and friends, according to multiple people who have worked alongside him. He is a voracious reader who devours works of history and political theory "in like an hour," said a former associate whom Bannon urged to read Sun Tzu's The Art of War. "He's like the Rain Man of nationalism." [...]

Bannon's readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon's own public remarks over the years--a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history. His ascendant presence in the West Wing is giving once-obscure intellectuals unexpected influence over the highest echelons of government.

Here's an example:

The term ["black swan"] was popularized by Nassim Taleb, the best-selling author whose 2014 book Antifragile--which has been read and circulated by Bannon and his aides--reads like a user's guide to the Trump insurgency.

It's a broadside against big government, which Taleb faults for suppressing the randomness, volatility and stress that keep institutions and people healthy. "As with neurotically overprotective parents, those who are trying to help us are hurting us the most," he writes.

Curtis Yarvin (who blogs as "Mencius Moldbug") is practically a mainstream voice, and Michael Anton (whose pseudonym is Publius Decius Mus) is now a National Security Council staffer:

Hiring Anton puts one of the key intellectual forces behind Trump in the West Wing. In his blockbuster article "The Flight 93 Election," [see here] a 4,300-plus-word tract published in September 2016 under his pseudonym, Anton strikes many of the same notes as Taleb and Yarvin.

In The Atlantic's look at the dark anti-democracy movement, Rosie Gray sheds light on "the pro-authoritarian philosophy gaining visibility on the right."

Yarvin's ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right. The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule. [...] The alt-right, at this point, is well-known, while NRx has remained obscure. But with one of the top people in the White House paying attention, it seems unlikely to remain obscure for long.

"Neoreaction is explicitly and purposefully opaque," continues Gray, "and has no interest in appealing to a wider audience:"

This puts it at odds with some of the alt-right or "new right" leaders who seek to take their ideas mainstream.

"NRx was a prophetic warning about the rise of the Alt-Right," said Nick Land, the English philosopher whose Dark Enlightenment series is considered a foundational neoreactionary text. "As a populist, and in significant ways anti-capitalist movement, the Alt-Right is a very different beast to NRx."

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 10, 2017 3:01 PM.

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