David Brin raises what I think are some of the better criticisms of the neo-reactionary philosophy.
I appreciate the neo-reactionaries. Mass democracy and “democratic equality” are the state religions of modern liberal-capitalist regimes, and the core component of their self-legitimating ideological superstructure. When folks ranging from the neocons to the Samantha Power type liberal imperialists to others further to the Left persistently use the obligatory piety of “democracy” to justify military aggression, it’s refreshing to see someone come along and say “democracy is bullshit.” As an anarchist I have long said that anarchists need to devote more effort to critiquing modern mass democratic states. It was this concern that initially interested me in the work of a wide range of critics of liberal democracy such as Carl Schmitt and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. That said, the direction the neo-reactionaries take their anti-democratism in is severely flawed, IMO.
Scott Alexander has also offered a comprehensive critique of the neo-reactionaries, and much of Brin’s argument here involves an analogy borrowed from Alexander.
The entire post can be read here, but this is what I think is the most salient part of his critique.
Let me clip just one short part of Mr. Alexander’s devastating refutation of those who contend that absolute monarchy, following ancient principles, will outperform democracy, equal rights and all that decadent western crap. He starts by suggesting the simplest and most fair experimental test of rhe neo-reactionary assertion. That we take a very homogeneous country and split it in half.
“One side gets a hereditary absolute monarch, whose rule is law and who is succeeded by his son and by his son’s son. The population is inculcated with neo-Confucian values of respect for authority, respect for the family, strict gender roles and cultural solidarity, but these values are supplemented by a religious ideal honoring the monarch as a near-god and the country as a specially chosen holy land. American cultural influence is banned on penalty of death; all media must be produced in-country, and missionaries are shot on site. The country’s policies are put in the hands of a group of technocratic nobles hand-picked by the king.
“The other side gets flooded with American missionaries preaching weird sects of Protestantism, and at the point of American guns is transformed into a parliamentary democracy. Its economy – again at the behest of American influence – becomes market capitalism, regulated by democracy and bureaucracy. It institutes a hundred billion dollar project to protect the environment, passes the strictest gun control laws in the world, develops a thriving gay culture, and elects a woman as President.
“Turns out this perfect controlled experiment actually happened. Let’s see how it turned out!”
Alexander then provides an image that speaks ten thousand words.
Oh, but read this section. Read the rest. And marvel that bright males (almost no women, of course) are able to talk themselves into believing factually-opposite, example-free, history-ignoring, human nature-ignoring and cosmically stupid incantations, just because it flatters their playground-traumatized imaginations to imagine that — in a world of far more limited opportunities and justice — they would somehow get to be the ones with harems.