Posted on August 29, by Scott Alexander [Epistemic status: Pieced together from memory years after the event. I may have mis-remembered some things or gotten them in the wrong order. Aside from that — and the obvious jokes — this is all true.
Posted on March 3, by Scott Alexander I have heard the following from a bunch of people, one of whom was me six months ago: They seem to be saying things that are either morally repugnant or utterly ridiculous.
And just as well try to give a quick summary of the sweeping elegaic paeans to a bygone age of high culture and noble virtues that is Reaction. But there is some content, and some of it is disconcerting. I started reading a little about Reaction after incessantly being sent links to various Mencius Moldbug posts, and then started hanging out in an IRC channel with a few Reactionaries including the infamous Konkvistador whom I could question about it.
Obviously this makes me the world expert who is completely qualified to embark on the hitherto unattempted project of explaining it to everyone else. Trying to sum up their ideas seems like a good way to first of all get a reference point for what their ideas are, and second of all to make it clearer why I think they deserve a rebuttal.
I have tried to be charitable towards these ideas, which means this post will be pushing politically incorrect and offensive positions. If you do not want to read it, especially the middle parts which are about race, I would totally understand that. But if you do read it and accuse me of holding these ideas myself and get really angry, then you fail at reading comprehension forever.
I originally planned to follow this up tomorrow with the post containing my arguments against these positions, but this argument took longer than I thought to write and I expect the counterargument will as well.
Expect a post critiquing reactionary ideas sometime in the next…week? This is the post where I argue that modern society is rotten to the core, and that the only reasonable solution is to dig up King James II, clone him, and give the clone absolute control over everything.
The imperial Chinese thought nothing could beat imperial China, the medieval Spaniards thought medieval Spain was a singularly impressive example of perfection, and Communist Soviets were pretty big on Soviet Communism. Meanwhile, we think 21st-century Western civilization, with its democracy, secularism, and ethnic tolerance is pretty neat.
Since the first three examples now seem laughably wrong, we should be suspicious of the hypothesis that we finally live in the one era whose claim to have gotten political philosophy right is totally justified.
Speak out against the Chinese Empire and you lose your head. Speak out against the King of Spain and you face the Inquisition. Speak out against Comrade Stalin and you get sent to Siberia. The great thing about western liberal democracy is that it has a free marketplace of ideas.
Everybody criticizes some aspect of our society. Noam Chomsky made a career of criticizing our society and became rich and famous and got a cushy professorship. I say we need two Stalins!
You have found a way to criticize the government in Stalinist Russia and totally get away with it. Who knows, you might even get that cushy professorship. Western society has been moving gradually further to the left for the past several hundred years at least.
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Zoroastrianism is the Persian monotheistic fideist religion founded by Zarathustra (cc BCE) and which teaches that good must be chosen over evil in order to achieve salvation.