The following is the start of a little series on “tough questions” for neoreactionaries.
Question 1: What Will You Sacrifice?
What are you, personally, prepared to sacrifice?
To accomplish anything in this life, it requires sacrifice and great things require great sacrifices.
Telling the truth, or just sticking to one’s principles, in the face of power requires courage and sacrifice.
(Always remember, that democracy killed both Socrates and Jesus.)
What parts of your mind, body and soul will you sacrifice?
What about your family?
What about the possibility of not even having a family?
Are you prepared for that sacrifice?
What are are you willing to give up?
Are you willing to give up a career?
What moral principles or ethical virtues will you be willing to concede in order to achieve your goal?
Maybe, you won’t have to sacrifice much, but someone must.
Passavisim is, for the most part, and for most people, safe, sound and wise.
But nothing great was ever achieved by playing it safe and sound.
Consider the following post, question, and thread on Xenosystems.
Here is one way to think about the problem of anonymity among the “dissident right.”
Assume that you are going to “go public” and truly speak truth to power.
Suppose that, prior to your “preaching” you had an ordinary job (maybe even an ordinary teaching or media job); maybe you were just previously unknown.
In any case, it will not matter.
What matters is that, for the rest of your life, a target is now on your back.
And the more your preaching reaches people, the more likely it will be that you, your friends and family will be assassinated.
For the rest of your life, you will live like a organised criminal in your own country.
Suppose you and your circle ever come close to power; if that happens, the risks go up considerably.
You will need to be permanently surrounded by armed guards; you will need to live in a number of secure, secret locations; you will have to suspect every person and scrutinize every stranger; everyone is an enemy until proven otherwise; you will have to weigh every word you say in public; you will be attacked along multiple fronts: legal, financial; physical; they will attempt to find and make public every dirty secret and every single mistake.
You will never be able to walk alone in a park again.
You will never be able to have dinner with your wife in a restaurant as two normal people again.
You will never be able to take your children to school again. (Will the school even accept your children?)
The more you have that matters, the more you have that will bring you pain.
You will, likely, wake up with fear in the morning and go to bed with fear in the night.
Finally, your odds of success – whatever that is – is extremely unlikely.
Given that this life is the political life (in the largest sense) thus, as the English have it, all political lives end in failure.
Consider one of the best examples of a true king: Augustus.
Consider the sacrifices he made with his daughters; the losses he experienced with his grandsons. All those decades of toil and a life of continuous performance and mask-wearing.
In the end, he gave the throne to the second-rater Tiberius who then gave the throne to a mad-man.
Within a few generations, Rome was at war once more and the Julio-Claudian dynasty was gone and within the space of a few more centuries, the ashes of Augustus were scattered to the wind by barbarians.
An example such as Augustus is not necessary, however. For there will be many, many more people who will have to sacrifice an easy, pleasant, successful life for a hard, grinding, dangerous one that is uncertain of success.
Pax Dickinson’s question then, on the subject of anonymity, is a false one. (See the link above on Xenosystems.)
It is not that anonymity selects for “lunatics and charlatans”, but the nature of politics itself.
Political struggle selects for visionaries and fanatics.
And sociopaths and manipulators.
Climbers and actors.
What is the difference?
How can you tell?
For the many, and not the few, you must confront the following problem:
If you believe in getting something done and if you believe in hierarchy, then you will have to be prepared to follow and obey someone that will either be a visionary or charlatan, a genius or a madman, a success or a failure.
Before sacrifice, there must be commitment.
Like being in the Mafia, once you’re in, you’re in.
And once you’re in, your ethical reasoning and religious or political principles will have to be put aside in favor of a hard, long, grinding struggle and sacrifice on the orders of your superiors.
Are you prepared to sacrifice that?
Consider the following observations from the Scholar’s Sage on the subject of China, America and moral integrity:
Degraded and disgraceful as American culture may be, it is still possible to live a life of integrity within it. It is possible to secede from the main stream of its currents and follow a different course. In China this is a hard thing to ask. Integrity always requires sacrifice. Yet what must be sacrificed to live with integrity in America is nothing compared to what honest Chinese must sacrifice to live with integrity in their own land. Nothing. My admiration for the Chinese who do manage to keep their integrity intact despite all of this is boundless. They have succeeded in a test of character few Americans will ever face. It is not a test I would choose for my children.
As we noted here and here the political life stands in complete opposition to the life of philosophy or religion (with the notable exception of Islam).
The Sage then points to the vast corpus of Chinese thought that attests to this division:
The 21st century is not the first era Chinese have been offered a stark choice between success and virtue. If there is one theme that threads its way through the great sweep of the Chinese tradition, it is a tragic recognition that the world we live in is not designed to reward the life most worth living. It is found in the opening pages of Sima Qian’s historical masterwork. It is coded into the biography of Confucius, and debated by all of his intellectual heirs. Attempts to reconcile the pressures of the world with the honest life were made by the Mohist philosophers; the attempt was proclaimed impossible by both Daoists and Legalists (though for opposite reasons). The first named poet in Chinese history is survived by one poem, a lament on this theme. Be it the rural escapes of Tao Qian, the drunken withdrawals of Li Bai, or the stubborn realism of Du Fu, this dilemma inspired the greatest of China’s poets in the millennia that followed. The great Chinese novels are obsessed with the topic: Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh ask if one can live righteously in ages of corruption and violence; The Scholars (and less obviously, Journey to the West) viciously satire those who try to do the same in ages of corruption and peace. The beautiful, sorrow-filled Dream of the Red Chamber embraces this tragedy as Chinese women lived it. And so on right into the modern era. At the turn of the 20th century, Lu Xun kicked off modern Chinese literature with a short story that paints Chinese social life as a choice between becoming a monster or being considered insane. These are just the most famous names of a 3,000 year tradition. To neglect it is to neglect a well of experience seemingly prepared for our day.
The Sage then says that the Christian life is to “be in the world but not of the world.”
This is nothing more, and nothing less, than what we have already said in previous entries.
We do, however, have one bone of contention with the Sage.
He claims that the life most worth living is a life that is not rewarded.
We disagree with the claim that there is a single, unitary, conception of life worth living: an archetype of the most worthy life.
We believe that there are a number of distinct “worthy” lives; furthermore we believe that humans are born with innate dispositions and propensities that make them better suited for these types of life.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of “archetype” lives:
1: King, General, Executive and Leader. (Politics, commerce, crime, military. Caesar, Carnegie, Capone and Charlemagne.)
2: Warrior. (Military, crime, or even, perhaps, sports. Alexander the Great. Audi Murphy, Jocko Willick. Randy Couture.)
3: Merchant. (Salesman, trader, banker, shop-keeper. Joe Girard, Ray Dalio, Rothchild.)
4: Priest and Sage. (Priests, pastors, therapist, self-help guru. Jesus, the Buddha, Jung, Suzuki Roshi.)
5: Philosopher and Scientist. (Author, teacher, professor, a scientist, an investigator. Aristotle, Bacon, Darwin, Einstein. )
6: Inventor. (Craft, and Technology. Archimedes, Bell, Tesla, Musk.)
7: Artist and Entertainer. (Singer, poet, actor and comedian. Shakespeare, Picasso, Pacino and Bill Hicks.)
8: Healer and carer. (Doctor, nurse. Florence Nightingale.)
Someone representing each archetype often makes claims that their archetype represents the best type of life (the hottest competition is between Warrior, Priest and Philosopher and Merchant).
For instance, listen to Sam Harris v Scott Adams on Trump.
Harris, early on, states that he hates the fact that he and everyone is now talking about politics – all the time and that they are talking about Trump.
We are not surprised by this. Harris is a “philosopher/sage” and their type does not usually fair well in politics.
Moreover, as to psychology, if this has even limited accuracy, then Harris being an INFJ and Trump being an ESTP then they would, because they have completely contrasting functions, would find each other distasteful. Distaste is what runs out of the mouth of Harris with every word about Trump.
For Harris, Trump has no integrity.
However, Trump and all those like him, are merely doing what needs to be done: according to the rules of the game.
So, it is not only physical integrity (security) that will be sacrificed but also whatever moral or spiritual integrity you have or think you have.
This is hard.
The truth is that only a certain type of person has what it takes to do this.
We finish with some reflections on this type of life made by Casanova in his Memoirs:
The Man who intends to make his fortune in this ancient capital of the world (Rome) must be a chameleon susceptible of reflection the colors of the atmosphere that surrounds him….He must be supple, flexible, insinuating, close, inscrutable, often base, sometimes sincere, sometimes perfidious, always concealing a par of is knowledge, indulging in but one tone of voice, patient, a perfect master of his countenance, as cold as ice when any other man would be all fire: and if unfortunately he is not religious at heart – a very common occurrence for a soul possessing the above requisites – he must have religion in his mind, that is to say, on his face, on his lips, in his manners: he must suffer quietly, if he be an honest man, the necessity of knowing himself an arrant hypocrite. The man whose soul would loathe such a life should leave Rome and seek his fortune elsewhere. I do not know whether I am praising or excusing myself, but of all those qualities I possessed but one – namely flexibility.
Donald Trump: “I have never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible.”
10 thoughts on “Tough questions for Neoreactionaries. (1)”
“So, it is not only physical integrity (security) that will be sacrificed but also whatever moral or spiritual integrity you have or think you have.”
Well, now, an interesting thing for you and the Master to think about is the fact that one of best examples of men who may have suffered terrible physical hardships but did not need to compromise their integrity was the American Revolution. You may conclude that that sort of government is no longer possible for various reasons. But perhaps it should be more in sadness than in anger.
Physical fighting, however, is often a much more straightforward affair.
Yet, we take your point.
i for one will sacrifice nothing.
also, relevant: https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/cypherpolitical-enterprises-programmatic-assessments/2017/03/15
…Your list of types reminds me of Plato’s in the Phadrus dialogue [248e]…
1. a philosopher or a lover of beauty, or one of a musical or loving nature,
2. a lawful king or a warlike ruler,
3. a politician or a man of business or a financier
4. a hardworking gymnast or one who will be concerned with the cure of the body
5. a prophet or some one who conducts religious rites
6. a poet or some other imitative artist
7. a craftsman or a husbandman
8. a sophist or a demagogue
9. a tyrant
Also in regard to your main point about the dangers of politics, of course Socrates famously avoided political life for the reason that he would last long as an honest man in politics (see Apology)….
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Indeed. Hard to escape writing footnotes to Plato.
Yes and “footnotes to plato” quote is the only way to start any essay on Plato