Reaction And The Charge Of Gnosticism: A Discussion On Voegelin

on May 06, 2017 at 6:18 PM in Society, Global

I weep bitter tears, if all that is left of Voegelinian studies is the work of Jonathan Ratcliffe.

What happened to the great search for the kernels of truth, lost deep within the apieron of Being? What of the goal of the philosopher to reach up toward the transcendent horizon of God, to grasp the hand of the Logos-made-Flesh as he reaches down reciprocally to the man who approaches him with a heart filled with wonder and love? Well, according to Ratcliffe, that quest is gone, and we must content ourselves with “social progress and democracy.” Sure, it means setting our sights a little lower, it means buying into the Hegelian nonsense of directional, eidetic history, and it means abandoning everything that Eric Voegelin stood for in his life and work, but at least we’ll feel like good soldiers, fighting our losing battle with a stiff upper lip and noble demeanor to the end, just as the egophantic tyrants of modernity desire.

Unfortunately, that is not in my character. I don’t have it in me to submit to corruption and decadence because it might be dangerous “to reverse that which is not reversible,” a phrase strongly reminiscent of the gnostic claim that their victory is inevitable. I understand Ratcliffe’s position, and for some it may be perfectly reasonable to compromise with a wicked doctrine and a wicked culture because of fear and feel obliged to participate in the inherent disorder of his society. Unfortunately for Ratcliffe, I abide by another doctrine.

No one is obliged to take part in the spiritual crises of society; on the contrary, everyone is obliged to avoid the folly and live his life in order. – Eric Voegelin[1]

What is possibly the most famous quote of Eric Voegelin is a quote about the inherent character of Order and its opposition to the spiritual project of modernity. You might even say that Voegelin was “a creature of obsessive order,” were that turn of phrase not coined with such derogatory intent. The magnum opus of Voegelin’s career was the five-volume Order and History, and the core of his work is the search and recovery of meaning and order in human experience after the derailment of philosophy over the last two millennia. This recovery is not some act of “social progress,” for “the death of the spirit is the price of progress[2],” but a recourse to the known, and a return to the differentiated truth where philosopher and philomythos intend the same reality[3].

Turning Voegelin into an advocate for the very thing he opposed in his life, the egophantic rebellion of modern liberalism against the ground of Being in pursuit of a teleology of intramundane History terminating in an immanentized, global Kingdom of Equality, is a sorry move on the part of Jonathan Ratcliffe. It is a testament to the state of Voegelinian studies that this not only passes for work on Voegelin, but received the high praise of publication on Voegelin View.

Lastly, apart from failing to understand and correctly apply Voegelin’s own works, Ratcliffe fails to take even the most basic due diligence in understanding reactionary thought, cherry-picking elements that fit his narrative, which will be revealed and explained below. Rather than list his incongruities, perhaps it would be better to move on to the core critique of Ratcliffe’s piece.

Liberal Democracy at war with BeingHow Dare They!

If the New Right is nothing more than a modern, electronic Holy Alliance against the forces of Neo-Jacobinism and Global-Ecumenic Imperialism, one would wonder what Ratcliffe would be complaining about. He admits that individuals like Spencer and Milo are marginal at best, and subject to as much criticism by their own “side” as the leftist establishment. He admits that the online activism of 4chan and its affiliates are transient and subject to fashionable, short-lived trends in web traffic. Likewise, he admits that the New Right is not some internally consistent movement capable of enforcing a dogmatomachy on its followers, nor can it ever have this potential.

Why, then, would a Voegelinian care about such a movement incapable of derailing society into a gnostic delusion? Shouldn’t Voegelinians have bigger fish to fry than “young, white, male cellar-dwellers?” Certainly, one has to wonder at Ratcliffe’s goal in writing this piece on people he considers inconsequential. As Voegelin says, it’s not the healthy individual who is personally offended by dissenting opinions and declares all differences of opinion to be immoral, but the egophantic rebel[4].

“Why would anyone even suggest this?” “Who would ever dare say such things today?[5]” These are Ratcliffe’s questions to the rather mundane argument that liberal democracy might be a bad thing, a position which was wholly mainstream in most of the world before 1914. Interestingly enough, it is the same response the German press gave to Voegelin’s infamous Munich lectures which later became the basis for the book Hitler and the Germans[6]. Who would even suggest that the German people themselves were immoral and responsible for Hitler’s regime? Of course, this kind of attitude toward questions against the ideological dogma of modernity is essential to the Crisis of Modernity itself. What distinguishes the false doctrines of Modernity from those of the past is the knowledge that modern ideology is fundamentally flawed and the choice to respond to that flaw by banning the attempt to question it[7], much as Ratcliffe wishes, is to suppress the attempt to question cosmopolitan liberal democracy.

Reaction and the Love of Nature

The character of the reactionary is obsession with nature, according to Ratcliffe, and this is supposed to be negative, from his commentary. It is a strange position for a self-proclaimed Voegelinian to hold. One of the core elements of the gnostic mind, according to Voegelin, is how, “Society and the cosmos of which society is a part tend to be experienced as a sphere of disorder, so that the sphere of order in reality contracts to personal existence in tension toward the divine Beyond[8].” The key element of this statement is that both society and cosmos are seen to be disordered by the gnostic, leading to the conclusion that ordered reality must only exist within the mind of the gnostic thinker. The gnostic, therefore, has no incentive to seek out sources of order.

How Ratcliffe associates a movement defined by the search for order in science, history, philosophy, scripture, and tradition with one that rejects any order beyond the individual fantasy of the gnostic dreamer is for the reader to determine, because it is beyond this author. No reactionary rejects the Order of the Cosmos because this order is the fundamental source of reactionary thought. What reaction seeks is merely to bring society back into congruity with these sources of ontological insight, much as Voegelin did. For Voegelin, the ultimate quest is the search for human nature through the sciences–by which he meant the complete classical sense of that word. Voegelin argues that since human equality only exists in essence (ousia), the search within ourselves for human nature becomes the search for the nature of Mankind[9].

Voegelin’s search for human nature focused on the rational mind’s quest for divine illumination because that was the element neglected in his time, but to neglect the nature of the body equally rejects the notion of Man-in-Metaxy and fails the Voegelinian test of a true science of Man. The search for human nature in biology cannot exhaust the nature of Man, as Voegelin demonstrated in his writings against the Nazi regime, but neither can they be excluded from the search as the anti-science political zealots of liberal modernity attempt, beginning with the 1950 UNESCO Paris Statement on Race, which initiated the political assault on the study of the biological aspect of the human species[10].

A true political theory must search all sources of truth and reject the attempt to reduce mankind to either pure spirit or pure corporeality. Both the utopia of the spirit and materialistic contract theory wings of liberal democracy fail the test of noetic illumination, and Voegelin demands a balanced, metaxic approach to any science of politics[11].

To understand Ratcliffe’s position, though, we must understand that his ontology is radically reductionist, and when he refers to nature, what he means by that is the ontological materialist definition of nature as the natural sciences. Ratcliffe’s failure to understand nature comes from his seemingly atheistic reduction of Being to exclude the possibility of a sovereign God at the Ground of Being and thereby the radical reduction of nature to merely encompass the lowest levels of human existence[12]. Keep in mind this theme throughout Ratcliffe’s writing; Ratcliffe has rejected Voegelin’s claim that God lies at the center of creation and that existence can only become intelligible in the context of the reflection of God’s light through a sufficiently translucent symbol of Being.

You can’t teach a person theoretical physics who hasn’t learned arithmetic. Likewise, you can’t teach Voegelin to an atheist. Therefore, the positions which Ratcliffe finds rational stem from this limited mindset. Democracy can only seem rational from the “pneumopathological” perspective of modern deculturalization, which makes Reason to mean the opposite of its true definition: resistance against the inherent disorder of modernity[13] The core element of this deculturalization is the destruction of the notion of Christendom at the heart of Western civilization and the false, pernicious idea that religious liberty applies to non-Christians.

For Voegelin, the abandonment of Christendom as the universal sphere of human action is paired with an abandonment of Christ as the central subject of history itself to collapse the differentiation of Being achieved by the Christian philosophers into the compact deformity of Enlightenment liberalism[14]. The end result of the re-compaction of insight by liberalism is the destruction of any truth aiming at higher reality and the lowering of Man into the slavery of idolatry. Voegelin tells us that the structure of the liberal Enlightenment is the formation of an intramundane religiosity, which inverts the direction of the quest for the arche of Being. Christianity seeks ultimate reality by approaching the transcendent Being of God, while liberalism seeks ultimate reality in the depths of materialism and the physical sciences at the bottom of existence. This act is an idolatry which sets the State, Legislator, or People as the object of an illicit worship[15].

Representation is not Democracy

It is a truly bizarre concept to think of Moldbug as a kind of twisted Voegelinian, turning against liberal democracy, which Voegelin saw as the only stable form of modern social religion capable of avoiding the worst of technocracy.[16]

Ratcliffe’s own citation, however, undermines the point he makes here. In The New Science of Politics, at this point, Voegelin states:

In critical science it will, therefore, be advisable to restrict the use of the term “representation” to its existential sense. Only when its use is restricted in this manner will social articulation come into clear view as the existentially overriding problem; and only then will there be gained a very clear understanding of the very special historical conditions under which the conventionally so-called representative institutions can develop. It was hinted already that they occur in the Greco-Roman and Western civilizations only…

Voegelin continues on the next page to say:

Our own foreign policy was a factor in aggravating international disorder through its sincere but naïve endeavor of curing the evils of the world by spreading representative institutions in the elemental sense to areas where the existential conditions for their functioning were not given… One cannot explain the odd policies of Western democratic powers leading to continuous warfare, with the weaknesses of individual statesmen – though such weaknesses are strongly in effect.[17]

There is a great deal to unpack in this passage from The New Science of Politics. First, this references Voegelin’s doctrine of representation and society. Ratcliffe fundamentally misinterprets the meaning of the word “representation” itself in the Voegelinian context. Representation refers to the articulation of a society into a common identity as a realm and their organization for collective action[18]. It does not refer to democratic proceduralism, as Voegelin explicitly claims that kings are representatives. He starts the very discussion by claiming that the Soviet government is representative!

In fact, Voegelin emphasizes a passage from Sir John Fortescue’s De Laudibus, which emphasizes the monarchical role in the political articulation of the People. As Voegelin mentions, Fortescue is known for merging the concepts of realm and subjects into a single symbol of the People, who are the symbolic manifestation of the nation and its people mobilized for action.

Voegelin also points out Fortescue’s criticism of St. Augustine on the question of what this articulation for action means; St. Augustine defines a people as “a multitude associated through consent to a right order and a communion of interests,” but Fortescue points out that this association would be acephalous without a king to serve as the representative of the political community[19].

The great reactionary criticism of liberal democracy is that it waffles between inarticulate inaction and action where the unitary executive actor is disguised by deceptive formal arrangements. In fact, Voegelin questions whether the very concept of “representative government” as understood by liberal democrats of “contract theory” has any reality at all, aside from being a kind of jargon of a corrupt political science which he labels as doxa[20].

Liberal democratic theory fails to apprehend the nature of representation because it reduces the concept to its lowest and simplest possible form, the “elemental” representation of persons holding offices representing geographical districts[21]. While this is useful information for one who wishes to navigate the political waters of the regime, from the standpoint of theory it is largely irrelevant data. Constitutional conservatives take the notion of representation one step higher, to the notion of “formal” representation. Formal representation examines how the leadership derive legitimacy from the laws of the land and represent an order as articulated through the laws and constitutions of the Founders[22]. This notion also fails to exhaust the problem of representation, however, because it lacks any appreciation of politics as a condition that is immediately present, not as a past event which has been completed.

Constitutionalists treat politics as something which was done by the national heroes but exists now as metastatic Founders cult, which is permanently engraved upon the national consciousness. In fact, however, the rigidity of constitutional institutions lead to their ultimate failure in the face of the pressures of existential politics.

Existential representation, at its root, is how a government fulfills the expectations of the people for its function, and is not, as Ratcliffe implies, another word for democracy. Voegelin is explicit that monarchies, democracies, and communist states are equally representative in this sense, as they fulfill what their societies believe to be the function of government. Nowhere does Voegelin imply that democratic representation is necessary for existential representation[23]. For a national leader to be an existential representative, he is required to pursue and achieve the “idea of the institution” of the nation state; in other words, the existential representative fulfills the aspirational collective goal of the nation, actualizing the idea which drives the history of the nation[24].

This definition may seem too lofty, but to clarify, existential representation is a broad concept which relates the action of government to the expectations of the society as to the role and purpose of government, from the great national achievements to the provision of basic services. If society expects government to enforce the law against petty crime, and the government fails to do so, or worse, tweets #BlackLivesMatter rather than punish criminals, then the government will not be perceived as legitimately representing the nation state and is ripe for replacement.

The highest development of this idea is a situation where representation extends down to the level of the individual–in other words, where each individual can say that the government represents them as a person rather than a member of a collective group. The King is my king rather than our king, given the title of the ruler can be substituted as culturally or institutionally appropriate to the reader’s own personal situation. In short, in what Voegelin considers the most sophisticated case of existential representation, the action of the government is the action of all individuals in unison, not the action of classes and tribes. This ultimate state of representation is the only way which Voegelin argues representation can be actualized in politics and this state can only exist in the Greco-Roman and Western civilization[25]. It seems, then, that Voegelin agrees that the West is the only “hot culture” in the world today. In fact, it is this very “hotness” of Western civilization that is at risk due to cosmopolitan liberal democracy.

This high level of existential representative development is not guaranteed as some kind of universalist human inheritance but a product of a long history of political and philosophical development. A degradation of the people due to an ideological pneumopathology degrades their ability to articulate political society at this level, as does the importation of a new population who has never achieved this kind of political and philosophical sophistication. Political development is absolutely reversible; this is the very character of the Voegelinian Crisis of Modernity. Western civilization is reverting to more primitive forms of tribalist articulation, but the cause of this is adherence to corrupt ideologies like liberal cosmopolitanism and the importation of tribalist barbarians.

The doctrine Ratcliffe supports, liberal democracy, is not being praised in this passage but criticized for its Jacobin obsession with spreading its doctrine by force to peoples who are not capable of self-government, leading to a condition of “continuous warfare.” It is hard not to link this passage to other passages about the character of gnostic revolutionary government and the perpetual wars waged in order to impose their doctrines on others[26]. Liberal democracy is very clearly being described by Voegelin as just such a regime, an attempt to force history to become the unfolding of a singular consciousness in the form of a universal democratic megasociety.

Such a movement, however, represents a deformed reality in the form of the libido dominandi[27].

Furthermore, in his other citation, Heyking and Cooper never justify the claim that Voegelin found liberal democracy to be the cure to the crisis of modernity. These authors point to two characteristics that Voegelin finds in the United States which gives him hope for the future: first, the supremacy of common sense among the American people who rejected abstract solutions to social problems, and second, the foundation of American education resting on the principles of Greco-Roman classical culture and the Bible, both of which served to counter the forces of decadent modernity in 1940s and 50s America[28].

None of these are particularly institutional forces but are elements of the collective culture and psyche of the American people as they were composed in the 1950s. Voegelin is stating that the American people are unique and particularly resistant to the plague of gnostic political cults:

This existential representation I found to always be at the core of effective government, independent of the formal procedures by which the existentially representative government achieved its position.[29]

By replacing the core of American resistance through the replacement of the American people with foreign elements, Ratcliffe’s cosmopolitanism seeks to destroy any resistance remaining to a plague of pneumopathological ideologies. The “herd immunity” to communism et al. requires a significant majority of the herd be actually immune. Replacing them with those who have no inherited immunity to ideological deformation undermines the actual virtue Voegelin finds in America. Voegelin makes this very argument about the fate of the Roman Empire; the Imperial order pioneered by Augustus failed due to the flood of Greek and Asian immigrants to Italy and eventually to the throne of the Empire itself.

Roman order ceased to function when the Romans were no longer Roman but a seething mass of alienated and alien strangers[30]

Liberalism as a Suicide-Cult.

Ratcliffe’s citations weren’t the only failures evident in this passage, but the idea itself fails to stand up to scrutiny. The social religion of liberalism not only fails to avoid catastrophe but actively courts it. It steals the language and symbolism of Christianity but imposes a rationalist interpretation that makes those symbols opaque. Forcing an irrational literalism on the corpus mysticum Christi by transferring that symbol to the democratic voting body of the state strips the original symbol of any meaning it preserved, while creating a delusional second-reality around the character of national citizenship[31]. In other words, to equate the equality of membership in the mystical body of Christ with equality of membership in a secular corporate state is an act of egophantic delusion so deep as to require a Hegel-scale of hubris.

Voegelin identifies two kinds of liberals, the progressive and conservative liberal, and defines them according to their participation in the destruction of Western civilization. The progressive seeks the utter destruction of all civilization in order to remake reality in his own image, and in this way to become like God. The conservative, on the other hand, is content to live in a state of semi-ruined civilization, destroying the aspects he disagrees with while assuming the rest of the structure will not fall down upon his head[32]. All liberals, however, are complicit in the destruction of civilization, according to Voegelin, despite the conservative being less intelligent and less capable of understanding the consequences of his actions. The progressive, at least, revels in the destruction and dances in the ashes of social order. The conservative is simply a fool. Their only real distinction boils down to the fact that the progressive liberal’s gnosticism is complete and the conservative liberal’s gnosticism is incomplete[33].

Any person of sense, however, who sees the human project as one of construction rather than destruction, must conclude that the social religion of liberalism is an idolatry of incomprehensible evil, and the moral responsibility of quislings and collaborators with that evil will be discussed further at the end of this essay. The Taliban-like desire to destroy the monuments of the past, in the form of the traditions and faith of Western civilization, can only be considered good in the mind of a disordered individual. There are ultimately two forces in the West that struggle for the souls of Man according to Voegelin: the forces of Revolution and Restoration[34].

Modern liberalism is a force of the former, a Chthonic force of hate whose only drive is the destruction of that which is good. The only saving grace of Western civilization is that it is not completely modern, yet, and the tools of its restoration are a return to the classical and Christian tradition of politics[35].

These tools have now landed in the hands of responsible reactionaries.

The liberal, of course, will protest that his movement is not destructive, but pacifistic and nonviolent. The Neo-Kantian is infamous for this claim, that the Jacobin violence which inevitably follows in the wake of liberalism everywhere is external to liberalism itself. Voegelin directly counters this argument by demonstrating the inherent violence in the doctrines of both Tolstoy and Gandhi. Movements which drain the transcendent content of religion, much as liberalism drains the transcendence of Christianity, transform truly peaceful movements into eschatological ethical systems and produce the kind of revolutionary creeds which contain violence as an essential element of their constitution[36]. One cannot teach human equality without teaching death to the naturally unequal, either in the form of Jacobin and communist murder of the above-average or Nazi murder of the below-average. Any social religion of equality is tantamount to a call for mass murder.

True religion is differentiated, distinguishing the secular world from the spiritual world. The Christian, living in metaxy, has a divided loyalty between the City of God and the City of Man, and the mediation of that divided loyalty is one of the great tasks of true religious and philosophical teachers like Voegelin. For liberalism, however, there can be no divided loyalties, as all citizens must be first and foremost partisans of the state and their sectarian or religious loyalties must be second to this citizenship[37]. This perversion of Voegelin’s teachings are not unique to Ratcliffe, but are slowly engulfing and destroying the whole of Voegelinian studies. For example, in James Greenaway’s The Differentiation of Authority, the author argues that modern liberal atomization, which destroys all social connections binding one person to another, is the necessary condition to creating a “true freedom of association” wherein a plurality of theologies can coexist by demeaning them to the level of a Rawlsian preference or taste[39].

Political liberalism isn’t a cultural product of Christianity, but a heretical and competing faith. In short, liberalism is identical to the project of Comte, which Voegelin identifies as the murder of God and his replacement with sociolatrie, the destruction of a higher religion of Christianity by replacing it with a lower religion of liberalism with its appeal to the lowest levels of human existence like class identity and materialistic hedonism[41].

The NeoCam thought experiment

The sketch of the Enlightenment philosopher which Voegelin gives us is a person whose fall from Christian belief has led them into the void of nihilism. Cushioned by material wealth, however, the Enlightenment philosopher seeks a divertissement which takes the form of violating taboos and social conventions. This violation provides a thrill to the nihilist, but a thrill which passes quickly, requiring greater and greater levels of transgression to achieve the same pleasure.

Ultimately, the greatest transgression for the Enlightenment philosopher is the transgression of treason, not just to the particular ruler of a particular nation but treason against the whole of Western civilization[42]. The Enlightenment philosopher is the very archetype of the political sorcerer, who takes perverse pleasure in watching his own society and civilization being ravaged by forces he falsely believes are under his control. The Enlightenment philosopher believed he controlled the Jacobin mob, just as the modern liberal globalist believes he controls the barbarian third-world masses, but both are ultimately engineering their own destruction at the hands of the forces they created and enabled.

The “political correctness” which Ratcliffe champions is also fundamentally at odds with Voegelinian thought. One might even claim Voegelin as the father of criticism of political correctness, which was a core element of his criticism of gnostic political religions. When reality conflicts with the gnostic narrative, a fundamental crisis emerges in their movement. Either an element of the narrative must be removed, or else reality itself must be denied in order to validate the doctrine. Gnostics ordinarily choose the second, in what Voegelin calls the formulation of the “second reality,” which refers to the doctrinal claim that what is real is that which conforms to the ideology, rather than what the senses perceive[43].

This is why Chairman Mao could inform his followers that they had achieved a victory when they suffered a defeat and be believed by the very soldiers who had lost the battle. Political correctness is this same mechanism operating within the context of liberal democracy. It demands that its followers deny the reality of differences based on sex, for example, and support the doctrine that women perform at the same physical level as men in the special forces. It demands that society refer to a man who mutilates his genitals and implants himself with silicone bags as a woman. It demands that no one acknowledge the fact that some ethnic groups are significantly more likely to commit criminal offenses and less likely to achieve academic success.

Political correctness is nothing less than a claim of total ideological control over the content of reality, and in that way is an enemy of the entire philosophical project. Ratcliffe worries about offense for offense’s sake, but the truly offensive act is the absolute epistemological totalitarianism of political correctness.

Ratcliffe fundamentally fails at Voegelinian analysis of Moldbug’s work for the same reason he tries to turn Voegelin into an Enlightenment liberal, by his obsessive focus on regime type, which at least for Voegelin is almost an irrelevant issue. According to Voegelin, regime type is a second-order symbol, a symbolization of a symbolization of the formative experience of the thinker.

The interesting element of Moldbug’s work is not the patchwork sovereignties of neocameral corporate governance, but the thought experiment which neocameralism proposes. Neocameralism uses a system of hypothetical free exit to examine how legitimacy would operate if government lacked the ability to coerce its citizens into participation. Obviously, such a program as literally proposed is as realistic as Plato’s Republic. Exit can never be completely free. Like the Republic, however, this thought experiment demonstrates the extent to which modern assumptions about political society are untrue.

Neocameralism shows the extent to which government actually does not operate on the basis of consent, but on the fact that it can coerce its population, due to the strict limits on international mobility. Given the choice of either full participatory rights in a coercive democratic state and no political rights but freedom of exit, the optimal outcome for the individual is to reject political rights in favor of the ability to freely select another sovereign authority. As mentioned, this is a thought experiment, and so much is simplified for the purpose of the simulation. Nevertheless, the major point behind Moldbug’s work is the inadequacy of modern liberal democratic nation states and their function as restrictive, rent-farming oligopolies in the hypothetical world market of authority.

If it is clear that under the conditions of free exit, most people would reject the terms of the liberal democratic regime they live under, how can the lie of government by consent be maintained? It can’t–hence the need for the court philosophers of the regime to silence this experiment before its results can obtain further exposure.

Ratcliffe’s obsession with democratic institutions is directly countered by Voegelin who rejected the value of these institutions in restoring reason to the core of political philosophy. Modern institutions are the subject and source of ideological deformation, especially the Academy, which Voegelin explicitly calls out as an institution of little substantive value[44]. Voegelin’s call to bypass and ignore these institutions in the quest for noetic truth conforms with Moldbug’s own call to the establishment of an Antiversity to counter the lies and ideological decadence of modern Academia[45]. One can nitpick about the character of the Antiversity and certainly admit that Moldbug is no Voegelinian, but the argument for the rejection of academia and the embrace of a new model of intellectual institutionalization is far more congruent with Voegelin’s thought than the modern academic mainstream, which serves as little more than court philosophers apologizing for every crime and outrage performed by modern liberal democracy.

Fundamentally, however, institutions cannot solve the problem of the cycle of political decomposition in civilization; Voegelin calls us to a rediscovery and rearticulation of the ordering myth of Western society which bypasses the dogmatized, deformed symbols of liberal modernity and the recovery of ancient truths within the context of a new science of politics[46]. Further than that, the very role of the philosopher is in a state of conflict with the pseudomythos of institutions; the act of philosophy is an autonomous function of the individual who is tensionally drawn to the Ground of Being and therefore cannot be institutionalized through representative government, academia, or any form of this type. Philosophy is an emergent property of the contrast between the dogmatic petrification of the pseudomythos by ideological institutions and the experience of luminescent truth in the order of the soul[47].

For a self-proclaimed philosopher to defend the corrupt institutions of modernity is a betrayal of Voegelin’s mission.

Tyranny, contrary to the claims of Ratcliffe, is not a function of power but of immorality. The tyrant is a psychological model of the ultimate stage of wickedness in the ruling part of the polity[48]. The tyrant can equally be an absolute dictator, an elected official in a democracy, or the whole of the People themselves. His criticism of neocameralism, resting on some arbitrary threshold of “amount” of power reeks of pop-philosophical approaches to political theory which obsessively worry about the external institutional structure of the regime without considering its internal character. Certainly, one can criticize the notion of the joint-stock polity on grounds of practicality and sustainability, but to object to the very concept itself on the basis of an arbitrary preference for a “level” of power? These kinds of hollow arguments point to unspoken motivations behind the critique.

Cutting to the Core: The Heir Deposed

So, what is the real root of this concern? Ratcliffe explains in Part II that the centerpiece of reaction is the recognition that no progressive deserves a place or voice in government. To bring the point home, it is the recognition that Ratcliffe himself deserves no place or voice in government. It is not the critique of liberalism or the deconstruction of the lies of democracy that bothers Ratcliffe so much as the fact that a rational, just government would exclude this type of pompous, mindless, ladder-climbing academician from power.

Ratcliffe’s real problem is that, just as many reactionaries have noted, he is an acolyte of the Brahmin who has paid his dues and done his time and now expects his rightful place in the Cathedral, with the related perks and benefits of being a High Priest in the cult of democratic liberalism. Neoreaction, however, has dared to challenge his claim to that position, and moreover, rejects the very basis on which his kind claim the right to rule. In order to rebut this challenge, he ironically turns to Voegelin, who had more than enough to say about the results of government by “the rabble,” which he defines as a less offensive euphemism for the Aristotelian “slaves by nature,” and the virtues of keeping these “radically stupid” people away from the levers of power[49].

Voegelin agrees that no mature person can consent to be drowned in the collective that is the masse totale of democracy. The underdevelopment of the majority is a positive harm to the spiritual thinker, who must differentiate himself in order to practice his philosophic quest for truth. On the other hand, the motivation of the democratic mass-man is to gain the benefits of the society built by the wise and mature without having the pay the price for such a society. The price, being self-reflection and self-discipline, is too high and beyond the ability of the rabble to pay[50].

Mankind is no concrete society at all. In the pursuit of this question, the analysis had to acknowledge the spiritual outbursts, not as phenomena in a history of mankind, but as sources of meaning in history and of such knowledge as man has of it… History is not a stream of human beings and their actions in time but the process of man’s participation in a flux of divine presence that has eschatological direction.[51]

To conclude, Voegelin cannot be read as supporting liberal democracy because the notion of a progressive, directional history is central to that project. Ratcliffe’s use of the phrase “social progress” demonstrates that he buys into this notion that history is primarily a linear expression of human actions which lead to the universalization of Man in a concrete, global society, and he even states that a global society is a laudable goal. For Voegelin, there can never be a concrete society of Man, and history cannot proceed in any other way than through an Augustinian ecclesiastical history which begins with God and ends with Apocalypse.

There are also the spiritual pragmatists, be they the Pharisee of the debate or their modern Christian and ideological counterparts, who will listen to a voice that speaks into history so long as it does not become too clear that the movement from the Beyond demands the countermovement towards the Beyond, out of history, into eschatological fulfillment. They want to eat their cake of Revelation and keep it in history[52].

Neoliberal globalism and immigration: the quest for Universal Ecumenic EmpireNomos without Dike? The perversity of modern politics.

Ratcliffe’s warped understanding of victim-mongering serves to obfuscate the Enlightenment source of the hero-as-victim complex by casting any form of grievance and justice claim as “ressentiment narratives.” He goes so far as to say that the idea of public education suppressing pop culture to make room for Goethe and Shakespeare is an expression of ressentiment, making the reader wonder what the purpose of a classical education is, if not to encourage an inclination toward the Good and, through exposure to Truth and Beauty, immunizing children from falling into the arch lie which replaces the soul with the appetites at the center of Man[53].

One would wonder if there is any basis in Ratcliffe’s mind to legitimately demand the remediation of injury through politics. He repeatedly plays the false-moderate by claiming politics on both left and right are motivated by ressentiment to such a degree that he has removed the core of all political ideas and claims. How can there be politics without justice, when one of the three fundamental forces of the human soul is the desire for dike[54]?

Certainly, this is understandable in the context of the fact that liberalism is the dominant ideology of the regime, and therefore there is an interest for defenders of the regime to discount the claims of justice. When the philosopher is degraded to the servant of powerful interests rather than the seeker of divine-transcendent truths in Being, the Anaxamandrian truth of life in metaxy between apieron and transcendent divinity is dissolved. The claims of luminous knowledge and justice are perverted and twisted into power claims[55]. For Ratcliffe, all justice claims are nothing more than ressentiment and the envy of the power of the strong by the weak because by subverting philosophy into an apology for the regime[56], the capacity to apprehend transcendent values of this sort is lost.

Ratcliffe cannot understand that the way Cathedral elites manipulate their subjects and enrich themselves and their constituents at the expense of the salus populi is wrong because he has lost the ability to understand the metaxic value of the salus populi itself. He is incapable of seeing the way that the symbolisms of viceregency of God and rex dei gratia express a holy and just notion of the fundamental responsibility of government to exercise its powers in accord with the transcendent good of the Will of God.

In contrast, the limited sense in which Ratcliffe demonstrates any concern for justice relies on the radically deformed and reductionist vision of egalitarianism. This twisted justice judges all things on one simple scale, the degree to which things are equal, despite the inherent inequality of the subjects of investigation. Voegelin traces this perverse notion of justice as fairness or equality to the Enlightenment liberal reduction of Man to the level of livestock and a product of delusional gnostics like d’Alembert. All liberals are essentially followers of d’Alembert’s Fourth Religion, which destroys any sense of true humanity and reduces Man to nothing but a beast of the field, and in this sense, finds Man essentially equal[57].

The Puritan Hypothesis: Voegelin the Reactionary

While the above is certainly a critique of Ratcliffe’s comments, it is not a defense of reaction against the claims of gnosticism. Reactionaries do claim to possess a kind of knowledge that is not common to the community and do claim that the regime is hostile to their cause because they possess this knowledge. Therefore, the classic case of modern political gnosticism must be examined, namely Voegelin’s treatment of the Puritan hypothesis.

Most attempts to describe the era succeeding the Middle Ages rely on ideological narratives of history, so Voegelin proposes the era be described via the breakdown of existential representation and the origin of the current conflict over creation of a new order. This conflict emerged from the Protestant Reformation, which released the controls that marginalized heretical expressions of Christianity and permitted gnostic cults to flourish. The archtype of these gnostics is the Puritan, whose character is described in Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity[58].

The Puritan is one who preaches and joins a “cause,” namely the replacement of all social, political, and religious order with one of his own design. The source of this cause is the gnosis, knowledge from God which must be taken on faith, and one’s own righteousness is determined by whether one accepts the gnosis or rejects it. Those who accept are the elect and are deemed righteous, while those who reject are the damned[59]. Reaction, also, seeks to change the social, political, and religious order. Certainly, why would one participate in any form of positive political theory except to propose changes?

However, reaction down not claim some kind of perfect, divine blueprint. Moldbug’s neocameralism of patchwork states coexists with ideas of legitimism and Restorationist monarchy within a broad sphere of social thought. Likewise, reactionary thought demands no act of faith. Any challenge to the ideas espoused in reactionary theory is welcome, and may be critically reviewed in turn. Gnosticism is an egophany, in which the gnostic seeks to create reality out of his own will. Thus, truth is derived from the egophantic rebel’s own desire. Reaction simply points to the wisdom of old authors long forgotten. Postmodern continental philosophy is far closer to the egophantic rebellion of gnosticism than a movement whose motto is “Read Old Books.” Outside knowledge is a crime for the Puritan; it is a virtue in reaction.

Puritan gnosticism was defined by two major devices which permitted control over their dogmas. First, the Puritans created a systematic interpretation of scripture which could not be challenged by members. Secondly, it placed a social taboo on the instruments of literary and religious criticism, banning any member who used scholarly tools to investigate the claims of the Puritan leadership[60]. It is fundamentally laughable to claim that reaction is anything of that type, as the very core of neoreaction is the re-acquisition of the tools of critique and analysis to restore the wisdom of antiquity for application in the modern age. Much of what neoreaction does is to reassert an independent interpretive lens on the canon of Western political theory against the dominant and exclusionary Academy which is closing its mind toward any idea outside of the Cathedral orthodoxy[61].

The claim of Puritanism is to exercise authority over the whole of humanity. Its characteristic is universalism, and the way that it breaks down all borders and barriers in the world to establish its intra-mundane eschaton. The Puritan gnostic is at war with the whole of the world except for those places which have submitted to the “cause[62].” Reactionaries, in all its variants, explicitly reject universalism, root and branch, and are instead focused on the Restoration of their own societies.

Nature and Nature’s God: The Objective in Being

In his criticism of the metaphor of Gnon, Ratcliffe shows his lack of understanding of Voegelinian thought. Ratcliffe asserts that nature and nature’s God, the inverted acronym which forms Gnon, is a construct of society (or in this case, Nick Land) which chooses what is Natural and Unnatural in order to claim legitimacy for their system. Certainly, Ratcliffe owes Karl Marx a citation for this comment. The argument that nature and natural law are mere superstructure which exist for the purpose of validating the political interests of the bourgeoisie is an old narrative, however. Marxists and radicals have been claiming for well over a century that nature is nothing more than a myth, a tool of control by the powerful, by which the things they like are deemed natural and inevitable and the features of their enemies are deemed unnatural and wicked.

It is startling, however, to hear someone who claims to study Voegelin make the remark that nature and its inherent feedback mechanisms are some form of “chaos theory God.” If one touches a stove and is burnt, is that chaos? If one grabs a knife by the blade and is cut, is that chaos? If one organizes one’s entire life on principles which are lies and suffers the consequences of those choices, is that chaos? If one builds an irredeemably evil regime on the bones of innocent victims and are destroyed, is that chaos?

For Ratcliffe, it seems that the fact that certain actions have predictable results is “an extreme metastatic faith.” Part of that is that he partakes in the gnostic rejection of nature as the fundamental, transcendent measure of Man’s participation in Being. The gnostic liberals took this symbol and associated it with the worst parts of human nature as part of the liberal deformation of Man to fit their immanent, materialistic models[63]. Nature, however, refers to Aristotle’s measurement from the best, not to appetite and desire, but to the harmonious life lived in order, both spiritual and political. Living under nature is the quest for excellence, to fulfill one’s potential, and to live out of the natural order is an act of self-mutilation, a deliberate choice to stymie one’s own actualization.

Ratcliffe challenges the notion that Man must live in accord with nature by challenging the messengers who convey nature’s command, but he forgets the author and source, not the messenger, is the measure of nature’s authority. Man is not the measure, God is the measure, and those who rebel against his commands rebel against Being itself[64]. The difficulty in apprehending the character of nature’s laws do not demonstrate its absence but its transcendence and source outside of the realm of material reality and ultimate outside and above politics. No sovereign can command that the waves must cease, or that a society founded upon the arch lie must survive.

In fact, it seems that Ratcliffe has a misunderstanding of both God and gnosticism; Voegelin declares that the root of gnostic theology is the rejection of the Father-God of Christianity with a “hidden god” who offers to redeem this secular world, either in the form of a literal Satanic being, or in the form of a process of absolute-spirit or dialectical materialism[65]. If the notion of men being punished for their iniquities seem outlandish and gnostic to Ratcliffe, I would recommend he try the Old Testament, with an emphasis on the Book of Nahum.

In fact, the core element of that doctrine is the notion of a self-salvation of Man through the establishment of a perfect political order[66]. This self-salvation involves ransacking the Christian quest for transcendent felicity and re-appropriating those symbols for an intra-mundane political end. Liberal democracy, in fact, falls easily within that definition, as its language and symbols are largely purloined from the Christian eschatological narrative and deployed in an attempt to create a heaven on earth, defined as a universal brotherhood of equally (un)related individuals who lack distinction by anything other than a vague, superficial personality primarily composed of piercings, tattoos, and sexual kinks.

Furthermore, Ratcliffe’s citation of the cyclical historians as a kind of metastatic faith leaves one wondering if he had actually read New Science of Politics at all. For Voegelin, a metastatic faith is a doctrine which uses transcendental symbolism of a Kingdom of Heaven to predict and incite a change in the constitution of immanent reality, associated with both American liberalism and Soviet communism[67].

It is true that cyclical history is not a perfect symbolic representation of secular history. When taken at its most extreme and literal, it forms a hypostatic, not metastatic, faith in the infinite regression of the cosmos back to a single point in history, which fundamentally fails to represent and articulate experiential reality[68]. For readers who are not familiar with the terminology, Ratcliffe has flipped the positive-negative sign, to use a mathematical analogy. A metastatic historical faith is a kind of End of History where nothing changes, while a hypostatic historical faith is a myth of a historical state where everything is constantly in a state of flight from or return to an absolute value or condition.

A history which sees all human civilization as the rise out of barbarism and inevitable collapse back into barbarism is hypostatic, seeing barbarism as the natural human condition and civilization as a struggle against the entropy of Being.

Secular history is finite in character, having an actual beginning antecedent to human memory and ending in the present moment, and the cycle imposes on this finite history a pattern of infinite character. Nevertheless, this symbol is not to be rejected but understood within its context, as a representation of the cycles of the cosmos and an acknowledgement of the fragility of Being. It is not the particular events of the cycle which bears significance any more than the particular day of planting gives significance to springtime, but the acknowledgement of the relationship between the cosmos and Man, as well as the apprehension of the diversification of the modes by which Man perceives and articulates Being[69]. In this way, it is only the hyper-literalization of cyclical histories which violates the Voegelinian method; these cyclical explanations have a value insofar as they are interpreted symbolically and philosophically as an expression of the human experience of decay in modernity.

The Dangerous Lives of the Neoreactionaries

Ratcliffe’s strange association of reaction with posthumanism ignores the bulk of neoreaction in order to focus on Land. I’m sure scholars like James Burnham, whose works were quite influential on reactionary opposition to the Last Man regime of Fukuyama and other liberals, would be shocked to learn that he belongs to the category of sci-fi thinkers imagining intergalactic cyborg empires. Of course, putting up a challenge to core reactionary thinkers would be difficult, but half-facetious memes based on a popular sci-fi miniatures game is a better strawman for your ambitious graduate student who doesn’t want to put in the work.

In fact, Ratcliffe’s criticism of the red pill analogy never actually seems to land any blow beyond weak mocking. It certainly fails to approach it from a Voegelinian perspective, namely in a spirit of openness seeking equivalences of experience in alternative symbolic representations of the shared quest to free ourselves from the “blue pill” of doxa. For Voegelin, the experience of order in Being was not an object of study but a field of participation wherein the ability to comprehend reality was dependent on an openness to alternative symbolizations of experience and the quest to find essential parallels in the various accounts of that quest[70].

Ratcliffe’s attempt to remove the attempt of symbolization from the realm of speculation and assert a constant in the metaphor of the pill violates the Voegelinian methodology at its core. No, blue pill is not exactly equivalent to doxa because experience cannot be subjected to the proceduralism of abstract generality, as philosophic symbolization is not an objective to achieve but a process of accruing insight into the character of reality[71]. Certainly, popular culture references are gauche to the rarefied tastes of the university intellectual, but then remember that in his final years, Voegelin himself was exploring the cave-art of paleolithic Man as a source of knowledge about human nature. Voegelin never claims that the struggle to free oneself from untruth will be successful, or that attempts to explore Being will always bring forth symbols of the most exquisite translucence.

Moldbug’s theories are incomplete in numerous ways, but that does not negate the value of the quest to seek a higher, better truth than the certainly untrue doxa of the Cave, namely the dominant doctrines of liberal democratic modernity. Far more respect is owed to one who tried but failed to escape the cave than one who wallows among the shadows, writing articles against those who dared to blaspheme against Shadow Democracy, Shadow Equality, and Shadow Liberalism.

Worst of all, for Ratcliffe, is Moldbug’s practical solution: virtue. The doctrine of passivism, which is one of the core insights of neoreaction, is the acknowledgment that democratic political participation is a myth designed to exhaust the resources and spirit of dissenters against the dominant and false order of society, as well as draw them out for the purpose of public punishment[72]. Rather than take democratic political action, the striving neoreactionary is given the following advice: practice morality, be strong and healthy, marry, have children, develop private networks, and work towards non-democratic means of influence on current power structures.

Certainly, one can see how dangerous and subversive this advice could be in a society which elevates perversion as the highest good and uses the ideal of egalitarianism as an excuse to crush any form of real virtue. Democracy, built on the foundation of destroying the morals of the people in order to ensure uniformity and docility of the population, can tolerate any vice, but healthy families, moral individuals, and orthodox Christianity may not be permitted under such a regime. Democracy is the very essence of the kind of ideology which Voegelin describes as consumed with “desire for mortal things” which ultimately leads to the pursuit of death.

Voegelin mentions that communism is not comfort on the deathbed, and neither, to be honest, is liberal democracy. These ideologies are fundamentally identical in their narrow materialism and deliberate blindness to the spiritual reality of Being, committing the fraud of an Eristic fusion of joining Reason to some world-immanent idea like global society or international socialism[73]. These corrupt systems cloak themselves in the symbolism of reason to prevent the disillusionment of their adherents. Only a society which faces upwards, toward immortal virtues like piety and virtue, are ultimate capable of fulfilling human nature and its need for transcendence[74].

The emphasis of modern cosmopolitan liberalism on equality is a perfect example of the deliberate spiritual blindness and mindless materialism of this doctrine. As has been mentioned numerous times, the equality of Man exists in a spiritual sense, but has no bearing on the nature of secular government because that equality cannot be linked to a world-immanent notion like government without fundamentally perverting its meaning.

The perversion of equality comes in the fact that equality is a lowering of Man from Voegelin’s exalted human nature as Epitome of Being to the character of livestock. Modern egalitarianism, at its root, stems not from the dignity of Man, or from his Reason, both of which are demonstrably unequal in practice, but from the animal part which perceived pain and pleasure[75].

Ultimately, the kind of virtue promoted by neoreaction and its doctrine of passivism cannot be accepted by the archons of liberal democracy for the same reason they cannot accept the existence of private Christian education; at its root, there is a doctrine of exit from the secular regime which is fundamental to Voegelinian philosophy. Voegelin says that the core of the philosophical quest, as manifested in both Plato and Christianity, is the teleological pilgrimage from this life into the realm of the transcendent in an attempt to approach God.

The Ecumenic Empire: Ideological Hell on Earth

One of Ratcliffe’s failures in understanding the character of reaction in general, as well as the reason he associates reactionary exceptionalism with gnostic election, is that he ignores the role of universalism, or the lack thereof, in altering the exceptionalism argument. Claiming the idea of exceptionalism itself is gnostic makes Moses the first gnostic thinker and the Jewish faith the source of gnosticism itself. While Voegelin argued that Christ closed the door to national election by God on a cosmic scale[79], the notion that a secular nation is exceptional and set apart is not gnostic unless combined with universalism in the form of the messianic savior-nation; the only messianic society with the mandate to unite humanity left on earth is the Church, and that unity is spiritual and transcendent, not immanent.

“The ecumene is not a subject of order but an object of conquest[80].”

Far from being the example of cosmopolitan success, the European Union is the epitome of the failure mode of Ecumenic Empires, as described by Voegelin. As mentioned, the mismatch between the formal representative authority of Brussels and the existential representative authority of the various nation-states ensure the constant character of conflict between the European and national governments. The refusal of Visegrád Four to accept their quota of Muslims demonstrates the fault-lines which are ever-present and inevitable due to the inherently disordered character of these hollow power shells.

Furthermore, the fact that the EU is a product of the treaty powers in the various nation and not a result of democratic referendum demonstrates the fact that the leadership of Europe knows that they cannot trust the ordinary people to support liberal cosmopolitanism, despite the fact that it is they who claim to be the democrats. Democrats who don’t trust the people enough to give them a vote is the least of the oxymoronic assumptions behind the EU, but it illustrates Voegelin’s major point about the character of all so-called internationalist orders as exercises of elite power, namely that the root of all cosmopolitanism is a projection of the fantasies of the intellectual class by force on the proletariat, who bear the burden of suffering for the libido dominandi of the elite[83].

This, of course, is only a small part of the broader conflict by the Managerial Liberal Elite to reduce the bulk of the world’s population to a form of wage-and-debt serfdom, at the risk of an avalanche of political bloodshed when they find themselves incapable of exerting the kind of real power necessary to subdue the population of the entire world.

Liberal cosmopolitanism fails as an expression of Voegelinian thought, not just because it is an expression of the libido dominandi but because it ignores the distinction Voegelin makes between Ecumenical Religions which emerge as a response to the destruction of order, and Ecumenical Empires which destroy that order. Ecumenical religions function by apprehending the world-transcendent God as the source of all order, and as binding on all mankind, while relegating that authority to a differentiated spiritual realm which neither abolishes nor infringes the diversity of secular nations[84].

On the other hand, Voegelin calls the approach of literally translating divine-transcendent symbols into man-made immanent order one of the constant destabilizing forces in both society and history. The notion of a Universal Humanity, often described in these days as a “global citizen,” is fundamentally gnostic in character and destructive. Universal Humanity only exists in the context of the quest by Man to seek conscious participation in divine reality through the Holy Church[85].

Liberal cosmopolitanism, in taking the spiritual equality of Man before the throne of God and attempting to force this spiritual condition to take an intramundane form through political equality is just such a destabilizing approach. Like the Ecumenic Empire, it seeks to collapse the diversity of intramundane Man into a single plane of global citizen through an exercise of violence, albeit cultural, economic, and political rather than military. In this way, Ratcliffe’s politics are no different from Voegelin’s perspective than the violence of the Islamic Caliphates, which likewise merge the spiritual ecumene of God’s Kingdom into a secular empire of Man, using political violence in an attempt to achieve transcendent, spiritual goals[86].

Liberal cosmopolitanism crushes reality beneath its incessant demand that the world should be like heaven, when reality demonstrates otherwise. Common sense demonstrates that human beings are not all equal, and the act of violence which forces them to become equal merely serves to make them equal in their destruction.

The solution to the problem created by Roman Ecumenical Imperialism was the merger of two concepts into a functional system of international relations: the Ecumenical Religion which posited a divine-transcendent authority over all of humanity, and the plurality of world-immanent states resting on the fundamental foundation of the ethnos. The former is symbolized humanity through the corpus mysticum Christi, a wholly spiritual body of Man incapable of translation across the Metaxic boundary despite attempts by the Byzantine and Holy Roman Empires to do so. Christendom is the term most associated with this concept, which practically meant the jurisdiction of the Holy Church. The latter understood Man primarily through the ethno-political concepts of Greek, Frank, Anglo-Saxon, and so forth, serving as the fundamental social categories of secular community and political organization, creating a “micro-ecumene” whose shared identity forms the basis of a practically achievable order based on the shared experiences of ethnic community.

The parallel structures of ecumenical, unitary spiritual representation and particular, diverse political representation forms the foundations of a new form of order Voegelin terms “civilization[87],” which is capable of sustaining the symbolic dogmas required for stable order beyond the borders of the individual regime. Western Civilization, as an order-producing symbolism, is for Voegelin an appropriate and legitimate object of political reverence as well as scholarly investigation. These micro-ecumenes we call nation states are the fruit of actual political order against the hubris of cosmopolitanism, and their breakdown is the destruction of any real possibility of political society, as opposed to a state of Schmittian war.

Certainly, one may claim that the nation state is under no threat, and in fact is growing even more powerful in the wake of the collapse of institutions like the European Union, but in fact, physical destruction is only one of three ways in which Voegelin claims political society might be destroyed. Political society can also be destroyed by the systematic suppression of political and intellectual minorities or the physical dispersion of the national population amidst other populations to the point that they are incapable of coalescing as a body mobilized for collective action and discourse[88]. Examples of the latter include the Plantation of Ireland by the English and the internal Han migration policies of the Chinese government in Tibet and Xinjiang. They also clearly include the post-1965 immigration regime of the United States and the recent flood of Islamic aggression against Europe.

To claim that Voegelin is an open-borders cosmopolitan requires one to ignore that cosmopolitanism itself is a cause of the destruction of political society and the creation of multiple mutually hostile camps of enemies in place of political life. Without a “people” in the form of an ethnos, the nation state cannot function because it cannot articulate identity without either unity through the existential representation of a pre-existing “People” or a gnostic metastatic ideology like liberalism or communism which leads to chaos and destruction. In the end, there is no post-political replacement for a pre-political concept like the ethnos. Post-political approximations of identity fail because it fundamentally misapprehends the purpose and function of political theory, which is to give articulation and clarity to pre-political symbols and forms[89].

Political scientists like to imagine that they create political order through the construction of ideologies and utopias, but in fact they put the cart before the horse. Society creates order organically and the best the political theorist can do is to either describe and illuminate that order, or else attempt to tear it down.


I have an aversion to killing people for the fun of it. What the fun is, I did not quite understand at the time, but in the intervening years the ample exploration of revolutionary consciousness has cast some light on this matter. The fun consists in gaining a pseudo-identity through asserting one’s power, optimally by killing somebody—a pseudo-identity that serves as a substitute for the human self that has been lost[91].

Voegelin discussed the character of all post-Enlightenment thought and the ultimate end it finds in mass murder. One convenient excuse offered by liberal democrats, both in the progressive and conservative flavor, is that they cannot be gnostic tyrants because they have committed no act of mass-murder. This claim, however, has worn through completely over the last half century through the bloodshed of decades of Jacobin terror around the world, decades of regime change, and decades of international chaos.

As the Voegelin quote above demonstrates, the purpose of gnostic murder is to gain an identity through the assertion of power. One power given to women by liberal democracy is the power to murder their own child. In fact, the act of infanticide is an identity in modern decadent America, as can be easily evidenced by Googling the phrase “I love my abortion.” Links will not be provided. The act of killing a baby for the liberal is a deeply political act which reinforces the identity of the woman as a member of the elect, just as murder reinforced the identity of a young Red Guard as a member of the Communist Party.

This is an extraordinarily apropos comparison, as the regime in the United States has murdered over 60 million babies as of the time of this writing. As of this year, the United States is unmatched in terms of democide, surpassing Hitler and Mao combined and exceeding the total of innocents murdered by Joseph Stalin. Ratcliffe is concerned with memes, and this horror lends itself to such communications. Envision an image of Joe Stalin blowing the brains out of a kulak, while an American abortionist says, “You think that’s bloody? Hold my beer and watch this!”

Like all victims of gnostic political violence, murdered children are chosen because they are made to be scapegoats for the imposition of reality over the second reality delusion of gnostic political correctness. When the reality of nature and nature’s God imposes itself on a gnostic woman, she must confront the conflict between reality and dogma, as described above. The dogma of liberal democracy is that she is fully equal to men in every way, entitled to a life of pleasure, and is not subject to responsibilities which she has not voluntarily chosen. Nature disagrees.

The child, then, takes the blame for reality violating her gnostic dream world, and like all who are scapegoated by radical doctrines, the child must die for the crime it committed, namely existing without the permission of the gnostic mother. In the act of murdering her own baby, the woman is assured a membership in the liberal democratic cult and has managed to remove the imposition of reality into her life against her will.

The gnostic doctrine is confirmed again, in the blood of the innocent, as the baby’s death makes the sex-egalitarian dogma of liberal democracy possible.

It is not only the progressive wing of the liberal uni-party which is responsible for this democide of a historic character, but also the so-called pro-life conservative wing which shares in the guilt for the countless dead souls murdered by American liberal democracy. Conservatives are in every way a false opposition, especially so in terms of abortion. The falsity of so-called pro-Life opposition was inadvertently illustrated during the Republican primary. When Donald Trump was asked a question about a hypothetical law banning abortion, he replied that he would not oppose women suffering criminal sanctions for receiving an abortion. The unified pro-life response was absolute rejection of the position that a woman should be held responsible for the murder of her child.

Is the pro-life position actually morally legitimate, however? Basic Aristotelian ethics apply to this situation. An intentional act accrues moral responsibility. The act of choosing to get an abortion is an intentional act. Three situations diminish moral responsibility in an intentional act: drunkenness, ignorance, and constraint. The first does not apply. It is ridiculous to assert that a woman seeking an abortion doesn’t understand what the likely outcome will be. The last condition is often asserted to be valid, but Aristotle defines coercion as a situation where the will of another directs the individual. The minor coercive effects of poverty do not reach the Aristotelian standard of coercion. Simply put, a woman who chooses to get an abortion is morally responsible for her abortion.

If an abortion is murder, then that makes a woman who gets an abortion a murderer, as abortion is an intentional act and the one who wills it is morally culpable. Murderers deserve to get put to death. Pro-life activists do not believe that a woman who commits abortion should be criminally liable for that action. Ergo, they do not believe that abortion is murder. This is the fundamental insight of that episode of Trump’s primary election; the pro-life movement revealed themselves for the false opposition that it is. Pro-lifers revealed that they do not actually oppose abortion at all, but have ulterior motives in pretending to do so.

Neither do the churches actually offer any opposition to the killings of innocent children by the gnostic tyranny of liberal democracy. Churches are unable to serve as bastions and protectors of human dignity when their members participate in the corruption of society, which is liberal democracy. Churches are only interested in challenging the evils of society when their institutional interests are threatened by the State[92]. No major denomination has ever challenged the legitimacy of the American tyranny on the grounds that complicity with the regime made them party to the deaths of tens of millions. Voegelin argues that the only crime or violation which staggers the church leadership out of their monstrous collusion with the baby-murdering government is when the government treads on their economic interests and priorities. The Catholic Church could object to the PPACA infringing on their charity agencies but is incapable of excommunicating politicians complicit with one of the largest mass-murders in human history, which leads to the next major conclusion.

If Ratcliffe really had read Social Matter, or any other prominent neoreactionary writings, he would know that Donald Trump’s election is not embraced as a manifestation of their works. Some of them predicted his election, and some expressed preference for him over Hillary Clinton.

Nevertheless, Trump is not a reactionary in any sense of the word. “Elections are bad for your soul” is one of the mottos of the Hestia Society, which precludes the kind of popular right-wing movements of which Trump is stereotypical. While there is significant benevolence toward right-wing populists, the reactionary rejects democracy as unsuitable to the development of sustainable and just political order. While the particular crimes of democracy are heinous and gruesome, democracy is a fundamentally disordering force in the world which upends societies and destroys nations.

Democratic proceduralism is a hollow concept, devoid of any philosophical insight or redeeming characteristic. It is pure superficial formalism without existential content. Democracy fails to make its people better, and therefore fundamentally fails as a form of government from the perspective of philosophy. Liberal cosmopolitan democracy makes people undeniably worse, between its assault on good governance, orthodox religion, its embrace of hedonistic consumerism, and its materialistic mockery of morals which inverts the order of nature.

Democracy, however, is not the only thing which needs to go. What also needs to die are the discredited and evil ideas of the Enlightenment. As Voegelin demonstrates in From Enlightenment to Revolution, the core concepts of this era are fundamentally at odds with the Truth. Even its most hallowed symbol, the Social Contract, is nothing but hollow semantics and the deformation of authentic political symbolism according to Voegelin[94]. The entire mindset and philosophical foundation must be overturned and rebuilt upon the salvaged remnants of classical principles refitted and restored for the modern age. This is not a Nietzschean call for a New Philosopher but a return to the calling and purpose of the philosophers of yore: the plain and simple love of wisdom, and application of that wisdom to the Good Life.

The restoration of reason requires the death of Enlightenment rationalism, which in its egophantic rage declared that reason was defined by the desires of the individual[95]. This is the font of the whole of the Enlightenment: the desire that the Nous should be what the individual wishes it to be, rather than an image of the Mind of God. It is this egoism at the root of all liberal thought which must be rooted out, ground up, and never permitted to grow again in the fertile soil of Western philosophy.

Reaction is the promise of a restoration, not just of politics and society, but of the Western Mind. It is a reopening of the soul to the love of Being in its fullness and a rejection of the closed epistemology and cramped ontology of decadent modernity. It rejects narrow rationalism which reduces reality to materialism and demands adherence to the ideologue’s ego in the name of some fanciful “universal humanity.” Reaction is the restoration of the classical experience of Reason.

If we cannot find some way back to shared virtues and values beyond temporary online tribalism and fighting over who is the biggest sacred victim, then the world may well need a whole new series of “leaps in being” at least as good as anything Plato, Augustine and Hegel ever attempted during the social crises they lived through[97].

Ratcliffe’s own belief system leads to the problems which he mourns at the conclusion of his essay, but rather than confront how his twisted belief system creates a hell on earth in its attempt to achieve heaven, he projects the blame for these things on another.

Voegelin has shown that cosmopolitan liberal democracy erodes the truth of the soul to the point that society is incapable of developing its existential representative scheme beyond that of tribalism. Furthermore, just like the Romans, by replacing the people of the West, cosmopolitans are replacing a people capable of sophisticated politics with people who have never developed to such a point and are incapable of ascending beyond the primitive tribal conflicts of their homelands.

Works Cited

Degler, Carl. In Search of Human Nature. Oxford University Press: New York, 1991.

Goldberg, Jonah. “Richard Eli’s Golden Calf.” National Review Vol. LXI (2009) No. 24: 33-36.

Greenaway, James. The Differentiation of Authority. The Catholic University of America Press: Washington D.C., 2012.

Hestia Society. “Neoreaction.” About Neoreaction. Last Accessed: March 31, 2017.

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[1] Voegelin, Eric. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Regnery Publishing: Washington. p 15.

[2] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics, an Introduction. University of Chicago Press: Chicago. p 131.

[3] Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge. p 26.

[4] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 150.

[5] Ratcliffe, Jonathan. “The Return of the Reactionary.” Voegelin View. Accessed March 31, 2017.

[6] Voegelin, Eric. Hitler and the Germans. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. p 17

[7] Voegelin, Eric. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Regnery Press: Washington D.C. P. 15.

[8] Voegelin, Eric. Order and History, Vol. 4. The Ecumenic Age. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 22.

[9] Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 349.

[10] Degler, Carl. In Search of Human Nature. Oxford University Press: New York. P. 203.
Hiernaux, Jean and Michael Banton, editors. “Four Statements of the Race Question.” Last accessed March 31, 2017.

[11] Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 399.

Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 54.

[12] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 180.

[13] Voegelin, Eric. Published Essays, 1966-1985. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 265, 278.

[14] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 7.

[15] Ibid. P. 69-71.

[16] Ratcliffe, Jonathan. “The Return of the Reactionary.” Voegelin View. Accessed March 31, 2017.

[17] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 50-51.

[18] Ibid. P. 41, 47.

[19] Ibid. P. 42.

[20] Ibid. P. 29.

[21] Ibid. P. 33.

[22] Ibid. P. 48.

[23] Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 78.
Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 31.

[24] Ibid. P. 49.

[25] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 41, 50.

[26] Ibid. P. 51.

[27] Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 379.

[28] John Heyking and Barry Cooper, “A Cow is Just A Cow’: George Grant and Eric Voegelin on the United States pt. 1,”­grant­and­eric­voegelin­on­the­united­states­part­1/ last accessed: March 31, 2017.

[29] Voegelin, Eric. Autobiographical Reflections. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. p 64.

[30] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 97.

[31] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 21.

[32] Ibid. P. 143.

[33] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 175.

[34] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 175.

[35] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 176.

[36] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 220.

[37] Ibid. P. 123, 172.

[38] Matt. 6:24

[39] Greenaway, James. The Differentiation of Authority. The Catholic University of America Press: Washington D.C. P. 272-277.

[40] Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice, Revised Edition. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge. P. 180-189.

Rawls, John. Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press: New York. P. 138-144, 176.

Rawls, John. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: Cambridge. P. 25, 141, 155-157, 183.

[41] Voegelin Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 166.

Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 110, 133.

Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 24.

[42] Ibid. P. 129.

Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 63.

[43] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 166.

Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 369.

[44] Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 388.

[45] Moldbug, Mencius. “A Gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 9b). Accessed March 31, 2017.

[46] Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 387

Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 135.

[47] Ibid. P. 138.

[48] Voegelin, Eric. Order and History, Vol. 3. Plato and Aristotle. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 125-127.

[49] Voegelin, Eric. Hitler and the Germans. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 89.

Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 87.

[50] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 96-98.

[51] Voegelin, Eric. Order and History, Vol. 4. The Ecumenic Age. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 6.

[52] Ibid. P. 15

[53] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 70.

[54] Ibid. P. 66.

[55] Voegelin, Eric. Order and History, Vol. 4. The Ecumenic Age. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 201.

[56] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 2.

[57] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 77-80.

[58] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 133-135.

[59] Ibid. P. 136-137.

[60] Ibid. P. 138-141.

[61] Korn, Sandra Y.L. “The Doctrine of Academic Freedom.” The Harvard Crimson. Accessed March 31, 2017.

[62] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 151.

[63] Ibid. P. 186.

[64] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 68.

[65] Voegelin, Eric. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Regnery Publishing, Inc: Washington D.C. P. 8.

[66] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 129.

[67] Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 134.

[68] Voegelin, Eric. Order and History Vol. 4. The Ecumenic Age. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 80.

[69] Ibid. P. 82.

[70] Voegelin, Eric. Published Essays, 1966-1985. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 116.

[71] Sandoz, Ellis. The Voegelinian Revolution. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 31.

[72] Hestia Society. “Neoreaction.” Last Accessed: March 31, 2017.

[73] Voegelin, Eric. Published Essays, 1966-1985. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 286.

[74] Voegelin, Eric. Published Essays, 1966-1985. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 282.

[75] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 72, 77.

[76] Voegelin, Eric. Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Regnery Press: Washington D.C. P. 61.

[77] Goldberg, Jonah. “Richard Eli’s Golden Calf.” National Review Vol. LXI No. 24: 33-36.

[78] Hirschman, Albert. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. Harvard University Press: Cambridge. P. 51, 101.

[79] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 85, 107.

[80] Voegelin, Eric. Order and History, Vol. 4. The Ecumenic Age. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. P. 125

[81] Ibid. P. 117.

[82] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 49.

[83] Voegelin, Eric. From Enlightenment to Revolution. Duke University Press: Durham. P. 225.

[84] Ibid. P. 137.

[85] Ibid. P. 305.

[86] Ibid. P. 137.

[87] Ibid. P 209, 221.

[88] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 31, 47.

[89] Ibid. P. 27.

[90] Ibid. P. 97

[91] Voegelin, Eric. Autobiographical Reflections. Louisiana State University Press: Baton Rouge. p 46.

[92] Voegelin, Eric. Hitler and the Germans. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 157.

[93] Voegelin, Eric. Hitler and the Germans. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 76.

[94] Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics: An Introduction. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. P. 29.

[95] Oakeshott, Michael. Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays. Liberty Fund: Indianapolis. P. 6.

[96] Voegelin, Eric. Anamnesis. University of Missouri Press: Columbia. P. 382.

[97] Ratcliffe, Jonathan. “The Return of the Reactionary, Part III.” Voegelin View. Accessed March 31, 2017.


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