Corey Pein has an article in The Baffler titled “Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream Of A Silicon Reich”. It is okay, despite leading with a (butchered) play on a book title, a practice I despise.
The article is about Mencius Moldbug, the author of Unqualified Reservations, a political philosopher who thinks the US should be ruled similarly to early 19th century Great Britain, albeit with more Monarch and less Parliament. Mr. Pein gets the substance of the philosophy, but he makes his points in the preening, self-satisfied liberal way that nudges people towards writers like Mencius Moldbug in the first place (I mean look at the article’s title).
Tunney’s advice is easier said than done, for Moldbug is as prolific as he is incomprehensible. His devotees, many of whom are also bloggers, describe themselves as the “neoreactionary” vanguard of a “Dark Enlightenment.” They oppose popular suffrage, egalitarianism and pluralism. Some are atheists, while others affect obscure orthodox beliefs, but most are youngish white males embittered by “political correctness.” As best I can tell, their ideal society best resembles Blade Runner, but without all those Asian people cluttering up the streets. Neoreactionaries like to see themselves as the heroes of another sci-fi movie, in fact, sometimes boasting that they have been “redpilled,” like Keanu Reeves’s character in The Matrix—a movie Moldbug regards as “genius.”
“Moldbug.” The name sounds like it belongs to a troll who belches from the depths of an Internet rabbit hole. And so it does. Mencius Moldbug is theblogonym of Curtis Guy Yarvin, a San Francisco software developer and frustrated poet. (Here he is reading a poem at a 1997 open mic.)
He knows who his audience is, and it’s people who scoff at calling The Matrix genius. And Mencius Moldbug has poetic aspirations! How quaint.
I used to be drawn to alternative right (“alt-right”) writings and I’ve known others, in real life and online, who have as well. Over the course of this series I’m going to try and explain 1). what the alt-right is, 2.) how it piqued my interest, 3.) the liberal writing that pushed me towards the right, and 4.) how I ended up on the opposite side of the political spectrum. I’ll also discuss 5.) why it’s important to understand this and how to combat it.
It will not be journalistic, nor will it be objective. And a lot of it will rely on my subjective reader’s reaction to writing right, center, and left.
Part 1.) The alt-right is a loose network of conservative thought outside of the Republican mainstream.
2.) The alt-right offers a radical critique of society that is confident, plausible, and reassuring.
3.) A preponderance of liberal writing is hypocritical, bullshit, woefully inadequate in scope, or some combination of the three.
4.) I read leftist writings that was confident and plausible, though not reassuring. Specifically Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault and Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky. Also, the berserk reaction to Obama’s election.
5.) The alt-right is very obviously wrong, and in a way that is easy to refute. That is, if people would bother. Not everyone is going to read academic treatises, and outside of a university education in the humanities there are few avenues for disaffected white (and maybe Asian) men into the ranks of the left.