Is Southern Reaction Compatible with NRx?

This is a question that arose on Twitter earlier today and it’s a good one which brings up points I’ve been wanting to mention for awhile. For the uninitiated, NRx stands for “Neoreaction”, a diverse and somewhat amorphous intellectual movement dedicated to combating the contemporary Leftist zeitgeist. It came together around the late twenty-oughts, led by blogger Mencius Moldbug who has since stepped down. You can find links to their primary sites on the left sidebar, labeled Neoreaction.

A note- when discussing Neoreaction one must necessarily make some generalizations which may be inaccurate when applied to specific members. It’s a young group and there is much disagreement on who should be included, the core beliefs and goals, etc. Also, most of those guys are much smarter than I, so it’s very possible I get something wrong here. If so, please let me know.

I am not a Neoreactionary, although they are primarily responsible for jolting me out of the Progressive viewpoint which I never knew I had. I like NRx and most of the people in it, and read as much of their output I can. Their criticisms of Leftist society in the West are often penetrating and enlightening. But ultimately Southern Reaction is not compatible with NRx.

NRx is a coalition of the thede-less. Most grew up deep in Progressive strongholds, apparently divorced from any kind of traditional way of life. They went to Progressive schools, have Progressive family, and work with Progressive people. In a way this is a strength: they recognize the inner workings of Leftism, how it gains control and how it affects people, better than anyone. They are also better situated to appeal to the type of people who are influential in the modern world. These strengths should not be discounted and they will likely serve them well. But NRx can’t help but be foreign to the traditional Southern way of life. They may be able to conceptualize some of the benefits of our worldview, but I think ultimately it can only be a means for them to achieve a non-Progressive society, and not an end. Speaking for myself at least, I’m not aiming simply for a non-Progressive society, but a truly Southern one. I would have to regard living in a Rightist New England-style society a failure.

NRx wants to save Western Civilization, and we want to save the South. Of course, these goals are not mutually exclusive; traditional Southern society is necessarily a part of Western Civilization. But as I’ve mentioned before, the South has much more of our traditional society left than most other places in the West. NRx-ers usually point out that we lost our fight against Leftism and that we are currently in a much weakened state. This is no doubt true, but every other traditional way of life in the West also lost their fight, and most have been completely swallowed up. We have a relatively strong contingent of traditional Southerners remaining, despite hundreds of years of pressure from Leftist forces. We were among the first to come under serious attack by SJWs, and we are still here when so many others are not. I think this speaks to the strengths of our way of life, and I think it demonstrates that we are in a good position to revive our worldview to some type of prominence.

Outsiders may be forgiven for mistaking NRx as a European movement. NRx is built nearly exclusively on European [EDIT: actually, Anglophonic is more appropriate – Thanks to @Outsideness] schools of thought, uses European aesthetics, and wants to bring back some kind of modernized European-style monarchy. I praise and support their utter disdain for American-style…everything, but they disregard a rich tradition of Rightism in their own country: the South. I don’t hold this against them, it wouldn’t make much sense to try adapting San Francisco or Vancouver to the Southern worldview. But it shows where NRx’s goals and loyalty lie: not with us. Luckily, Southerners are used to this, and it shouldn’t prevent working together to accomplish mutual goals.

The biggest obstacle facing NRx is the total absence of blood and heritage tying the group together – not that there’s anything they can necessarily do about this. It is a set of ideas only, and as Chateaubriand told us, “Men don’t allow themselves to be killed for their interests, they allow themselves to be killed for their passions.” Obviously no one needs to go getting themselves killed just yet but the principle of appeals to blood over appeals to the mind stands. This avenue may be closed to NRx, but it is still open to the “provincial reactionaries”, my term for reaction based in shared blood and cultural heritage over that based in ideas. As to who has the best chance to succeed, who can tell? It is a question of goals – if yours is to save Western Civilization as a whole, or if you find yourself thede-less, NRx may be the best group for you. But my goal is to save the Southern worldview, and that is why I’m a provincial, or Southern, reactionary.

I would like to see my fellow Southern reactionaries stake out our own territory, perhaps allied with but ultimately separate from NRx, grounded in the Southern way of life and taking inspiration from Southern heroes and traditions of the past. As it stands now, I look at NRx the same way I’d view a Rightist movement in France, say, or Connecticut (albeit with some added intellectual chops): I sympathize with it, support it in a general sense, wish it the best, try to learn from it. But ultimately, I won’t put my heart into it, because it is foreign to me; it will not save my people. We still have to do that ourselves.

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22 thoughts on “Is Southern Reaction Compatible with NRx?

  1. NRx is a sort of meta-reaction. It is a friend to all reactionaries (who’ll tolerate it), but not built from or for any particular type. It is a defense of particularism more than a defense of any one particularity.

    As John Glanton noted in the Ascending the Tower podcast last week, SoNats have a bias against slick-talking intellectuals, since it is this precisely this phenotype that has so hated and abused southern traditions. This is an understandable bias, and NRx (and most neoreactionaries) are quite sympathetic to it.

    But it’s a fatal flaw in the sense that it mistakes phenotypic traits for an ideological persuasion and moral intention. Neoreaction is basically a slick-talking intellectual antidote to Yankee meddling. We want to make SJW as low status as the SJW’s see white southerners today. As a traditionalist Christian, I hate what they’ve done to Christianity and Catholicism every bit as much as you hate what they’ve done to the South.

    So I wouldn’t say the two are incompatible, so much as they are culturally distinct. There is certainly no reason for overwrought antagonism. Believe me, if Nrx gets its way, the South will be free to do whatever the heck it wants. And so will the rest of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment.
      I hope you are right, and I hope my post isn’t interpreted as hostility towards NRx. I’m just not sure the goals will line up if/when Rightists are able to regain power, but I freely admit my fellow Southerners and I may be overly paranoid. NRx is still very young and I’m not sure anyone can accurately predict where it’ll be, or what it’ll be saying, in 30 or 40 years. So I think Southerners maintaining a wary distance is a prudent course of action for now, but I would hate to see the two become enemies, or to stop exchanging ideas.

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  2. I am interested in your points here.

    I fleetingly identify with Neoreaction, but perhaps my definition is too broad for most being essentially only temporally different from Reaction, which covers everything. I am personally invested in the Theonomic wing which harkens back to the original ‘Throne & Altar’ Reaction in the 1700s.

    The term ‘Reaction’ comes from the French Revolution, describing those who opposed liberal democracy, the deification of human reason and desire, and the breaking down of Tradition. What kind of South would you want to see? Do you believe in the Confederacy, or are your goals later in time than that, or perhaps even before. I am curious because all Reaction is necessarily opposed to the French and American revolutions. Not that I would favor returning the ‘colonies’ to a British monarch (perish the thought), but what kind of government system are you envisioning for a Traditionalist South?

    The Southern culture is something to be admired, but what about politics?

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    • Excellent question, which I plan to answer in more detail in future posts. I am not beholden to any real specific government system, so long as it is not democratic. I think we did very well pre-1860 with an aristocratic Republic, even became MORE Rightist as time went on under that system. But I doubt it is feasible to bring it back, at least without serious work on reforming society beforehand. I want a hierarchical society, preferably grounded in agrarianism and Christianity, and I think we could make most any non-democratic form of government work.

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  3. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/01/30) | The Reactivity Place

  4. I will second Mr. Steves. NRx is filled with slick-talking intellectuals, but it is not conceptually a reactionary intellectualism for progressive Yankees so much as a reactionary intellectualism opposed to progressive Yankees, who also happen to be the progressive Yankees (and Jews — I know my white nationalist homies are reading this) going around trying to conquer and assimilate everyone on the planet into bland, suicidal, middle-class leftist progressivism. It is no contradiction to be NRx and a Southern reactionary. NRx ought not to be in competition with Southern-ness. Southern reactionaries can and should use NRx thought against the progressivism trying to destroy them.

    FWIW, I am not a cosmopolitan Yankee, but a nomadic Slav from a small Southern European country that has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and widely disregarded bans on private firearms and underage drinking. I am a reactionary and a nationalist in my home country, though I am no less NRx, because I use and apply NRx thought. I think we just recently got a Turkish neoreactionary who blogs in slightly broken English the other day. The intellectual core of NRx might consist of cosmopolitan Yankees of various sorts, but the lessons of NRx ought to be invaluable for reactionaries and conservatives of all stripes. If NRx can serve as a meta-ideology, as an organizing principle for genuinely successful reactionary movements, it will achieve its full potential. May NRx and the American South enjoy a long and fruitful partnership.

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    • Thanks for the comment and you make good points. It’s pretty tough to pin down what NRx is right now, of course – y’all say it’s a meta-ideology, but I see more talk of things like monarchy and inventing religions(!) than simply propagating and reinforcing aspects of traditional society that exist today. Just this morning I saw two of the more well-known NRx guys on Twitter complaining about elders pressuring them into joining the military, which any good traditionalist should immediately recognize as critical to a healthy society. Things like that indicate to me that NRx may not be what it claims to be – at least not in its present state. I’ll reiterate that I like NRx, but I just don’t have a good enough handle on where it’s going for the long haul to completely endorse it.

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      • NRx, as an intellectual movement, is in the stage of drafting drafts of drafts for first drafts. There are dozens of us with enough personal intellectual capital to write several books, but we’ve barely begun that process and are still largely sorting out our thoughts with each others’ aid. We are a movement of young reactionaries, not old ones.

        I don’t see why you’d have an issue with monarchy. Inventing religions is something of a temptation among the born-atheist contingent, but be careful to remember that Laliberte, Steves, Bonald, myself and many others are Catholics. Still many others follow their own existing religions. I myself wrote this long argument against inventing religions:

        https://aramaxima.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/quit-playing-prophet/

        I’m not sure which well-known NRx guys you’re referring to, but if they’re in the USA, well… have you read up on the sorry state of the country’s armed forces lately?

        NRx as a whole is generally concerned with three things:

        1. Shredding leftist memes — removing the weeds in the garden of civilization. (This was Moldbug’s biggest success, and in general our own greatest success.)

        2. Attempting to understand and model the phenomenon of leftism and decline of civilization, and through this discover ways of boosting civilization, and particularly Western civilization. Following established tradition is a one we like to harp on.

        3. Slowly building flesh-and-blood networks of [neo]reactionary guys involved in rebuilding civilization, stemming from our insight that civilization is something that must be actively built and defended, not just argued for.

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        • I think we generally agree but we may be talking past each other. It’s common for me when I talk to non-Southerners, haha.

          Your first paragraph sums up the reason for my trepidation- no one can really tell exactly what NRx is, yet anyway. You tell me the three keys to it which sound fine, but another NRxer may have totally different ideas, like a new religion or mandated monarchy. How am I to tell where NRx consensus will end up? Just today Anissimov took issue with displaying the Confederate flag to the wrong crowd.

          I understand, these things take time. That’s why I say it is a good fit for the thede-less, because most – not all – NRxers have been cut off from their heritage by Leftism, and searching will be needed to re-locate the road. For most people in it, it has to build a traditional society from scratch, or raise it from the dead. Obviously, that is necessary for the thede-less, but I feel I was born into a living tradition that can be built upon.

          I am familiar with the state of the military – I’m in it. It’s just as bad as reports indicate. The thing is, why would we attack a normally healthy facet of society, like social pressure on young men to join up, because it doesn’t fit extremely short term aims? People are going to get blown up either way. Joining the military is a kind of rite of passage in the working class South, and here are NRx guys saying they are against it, when it’s only a very minor inconvenience for them (giving a few seconds of their time to elders).

          I don’t have a problem with monarchy per se, but is it really on the level of meta-ideology? Indicates that NRx may turn into something more than some kind of umbrella school of thought. As for the invented religion, I understand that most in NRx were against it. But the fact that the idea could be bandied about, from a core NRx guy, is unsettling.

          I’m just trying to give you a sense of why a Southerner such as myself may be suspicious of where things will end up with NRx. I am not criticizing it with the intent to change it or tailor it to my views. I must reiterate that I am explicitly not anti-NRx. I will follow it closely and support it in a general sense. In the broadest sense, I could call myself a Neoreactionary because I’m also anti-progressive. I’m just unwilling to take on the label because it signals ultimate goals (possibly) other than my own. You must remember, Southerners aren’t new to the game, and I think we’re justifiably wary of outsiders, especially those with promises. I want to see Southerners get our own house in order before worrying about joining up with a nascent meta-ideology.

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      • The military as it stands today is a lagging but willing participant in the progressification of everything. I’m very wary of sending any of my boys into it. I’ve all but nixed it, in fact. In a sane society, distinguished military service would be a path to honor (high status) and a likely sign of virtue. But we do not live in a sane society. Our Red Empire boys enter the military, but its ruled increasingly by the Blue Empire, whose moral imperative is to use the military’s might and budget to promote women and sexual minorities very much at the expense of white Christian males, whom they utterly disdain.

        We all wish this were not so. But pretending it isn’t and sending our children into the teeth of the enemy all for some abstract principle of supposed honor is, I think, quite misguided.

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        • You are quite right, of course. I’m not advocating to send your boys off to get blown up for WashCorp. But taking the long view, general social pressure on young men to join is a good that should be preserved. Yes, attacking it now serves the short term goal of lessening the influence of the prog(ish)-led military. But if/when it is not prog-led, we will need that social pressure back. I’d simply rather preserve it than tear it down and start all over when the time comes.

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        • It could be a function of the unit I was serving in (not infantry, FWIW, but still the Marine Corps), but as recently as summer 2008 it was not so bad as all that. Then again, this was the second W. presidency, and 2008 besides. The insanity since then has been everywhere exponential.

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  5. How am I to tell where NRx consensus will end up? Just today Anissimov took issue with displaying the Confederate flag to the wrong crowd.

    It is important to see what is behind Anissimov’s not entirely well-worded complaint. The issue is not so much the symbols (rebel flag) or ideas (SoNat), which NRx truly defends, as it is the fashionableness of persons doing the signaling by them. NRx is trying to be an elite (and in America, that’s Brahmin–priest caste–deal with it) status attractor that is polar opposite to the current hegemonic progressive one. So the question is what is being signaled by waving the rebel flag, shouting racial slurs, pickup trucks, whatev? If, as is often the case, it’s just knee-jerk anti-intellectualism (“Southern man don’t need him around, anyhow…”) then this isn’t helpful to the status game. It’s totally justified. Indeed no one needs Neil Young around at all. He was and remains an insufferable arrogant prick. NRx will buy the rope for y’all.

    But to smash the power of the Left-Brahmin caste (HYP, NYT, NPR), we need to attract critical mass into the gravity of the Right-Brahmin caste, and to do that takes a mastery of language and of caste psychology. How to make the Left-Brahmins look and feel stupid and dirty for looking down on working class white southerners? Well, first don’t live down to their stereotypes of you. Fly the rebel flag, but do it ironically. Support SoNat not because it’s good for working class whites (which it is) but because it’s good for everyone including Blacks (which it also is). Not only should you be a “racist” but you should be so much of one that you don’t fit any pre-conceived notions that a coastal liberal has about one. It’s mind-fuckery. And it works.

    So short story long, Michael had a good point there, but it didn’t come out well on twitter.

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    • I understand. Really, I do. It makes no sense to appeal to Brahmins with Southern symbols or ideas. But this is an example of NRx’s chosen loyalty or target demographic- to thedeless Brahmins in Prog areas. That’s great! I encourage it. But Southern Rx has to get very abstract to identify closely with a movement with goals like that. I care about signalling to my own people, and I don’t, can’t much care how it looks to coastal Brahmins. That’s why I talk about separate goals. Whats the hurry to bring the movements together when there is damage to be done by signalling the wrong things to our respective target audiences? That’s why I want Southern Rx to stake out our own territory first.

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  6. I will summarize with what I think is the ultimate point.

    NRx is a big tent — not just a big tent, but a massive tent. One of our defining features is the Trichotomy, which essentially formalizes disagreement as NRx: ethnonationalism, patriarchal religion and free-market capitalism. This leaves room for everyone.

    I invite you to adopt the NRx label and join the NRx tent, and set up a Southerners’ table, and influence the rest of us towards your Southern dispositions.

    I will write an article soon attempting to disentangle NRx from Yankee reaction. This should clear up some disagreements and make NRx’s intellectual space a little clearer.

    Liked by 1 person

      • (I will add, personally, that I would greatly appreciate more Southern voices identifying as NRx. If the label degenerates into “Yankee reaction,” we’ll have lost the meta aspect which holds the whole thing together. If it’s any comfort to you, I am no Yankee, and neither are several other prominent NRxaries! Godspeed anyhow.)

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        • When I was in the GA ANG, I found that most of the guys who grew up in GA were fairly reactionary but apolitical. As a Jewish Yankee from a thoroughly progressive family, the main distinction I’ve noticed between NRx and SRx is that prole southerners are naturally open to reactionary ideas without even giving them thought, while Yankee proles are often the most adamantly progressive theocrats.

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  7. Good post.

    With regard as to anything to be done….

    We need men who will get killed for their interests.

    Chateaubriand is certainly less informed on this matter than Napoleon.

    The Founders and certainly the Southern ones would cast a very dim eye towards this passions trump interests equations, as will any serious person. Remember they succeeded and still are….indeed it would be difficult to find many counselors in history advocating that passions should trump interests.*

    NBS is correct on what Nrxn is and isn’t. There is a powerful tool of attack against Progress, there are no answers beyond that and all things considered shouldn’t be, these people have cast down their gods and their Religion of Progress as it has become evil and insane, this is commendable but they are not people to be followed even a step further past destruction of the foe.

    The South should defend it’s interests, it should also get to work on any separate political order or perhaps say less and do more. At present it says altogether entirely too much and does nothing. It does not even defend itself along the border [Texas, one could argue Arizona].

    *I am forming the distinct impression over years that Southern Politics is dominated by the Ladies Salon since the deaths of Jackson and Polk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment. Honestly, though, I think we have irreconcilable differences in basic premises and beliefs which preclude constructive discussion.

      As for the “Ladies Salon” wisecrack, these guys would beg to differ:

      What have you done?

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: Southern Reaction: A Primer | Losing The Creek

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