Esoteric Populism: The Cry For A New Elite

Populism has long been a dirty word to neoreactionaries, but this disdain misses a certain hidden element to populist movements, one that at its core sows the seeds for building a new elite and restoring hierarchy.  There is an esoteric element to populism we ought to keep in mind and exploit for our own goals.

Reading a hidden meaning into mass movements at first seems counterintuitive, or even contradictory, but there is a hidden meaning and recognizing it will move us out of our egalitarian-multicultural swamp and towards a properly ordered society.

Ultimately, all of history is made by elites. As noted in classic neoreactionary theory, populist uprisings are largely explainable as artificially-powered opposition movements fueled by intra-elites or elites from other states, in order to play with the balance of power.

Often times, in this sort of proxy war, elites simply exploit building resentment among certain groups. That is, they often co-opt real and genuine sentiment and pervert it to achieve their own aims.

Populist movements and populist sentiment often have genuine complaints against governing elites. These grievances boil down to two points: elites are acting in their own interests, and that those interests are zero-sum–those elites interests are forwarded at the expenses of the interests of other classes.

A mass fever might birth a movement, but it will never sustain it. Even in the case of the French and Russian revolutions the masses eventually settled for a new elite under Napoleon and Stalin respectively.

The world is hierarchical, and man’s nature is radically unegalitarian. Even when he fights for liberté, égalité, fraternité he can’t help but subsume himself under a vigorous leader ready to mouth all of his shibboleths, when in truth he’s happy to be put back in his place.

Populism should, therefore, be understood by anti-egalitarians as a people’s cry into the wilderness for an effective elite–one that will rule them with a wider interest in mind instead of decadent self-service.

That’s why the managerial revolution has been so destructive to our politics. By creating managers instead of aristocrats we have severed the bonds of a proper class system. The managerial class identifies more with its own abstractions and insular bubble culture than with those that it rules. In turn, the ruled resent an absentee’ ruling class more concerned with its own perpetuation rather than society’s as a whole.

New elites are built in times of crisis. At first, they may appear as comical, as the little Corsican no doubt did and Donald Trump does now. What they both have in common is a will to power and as such, a will to put society back in its proper order. For Trump, making deals for the “American people” is really a type of noblesse oblige.

For those of us who hope to build a new society based on very different foundations than those the Enlightenment bequeathed to us, understanding the people’s rage is fundamental.

Like all of us, they’ve come to the conclusion that they’re being screwed. But unlike us, they don’t know what they want. They’re motivated by a real sense of loss in status and material wealth, but their outward rage hides an inner desire, which is that they want to be ruled and ruled effectively.

Democracy is pornography for power. It allows men to build up ideal images of leaders and be constantly disappointed when those he votes for turn out to be the same old crooks. This is what took place with the co-opted Tea Party.

Again, the main point here is that populist sentiment, when genuine, is a cry to be ruled and ruled effectively.

Samuel Francis said of elites:

In the process of acquiring and exercising power, the ruling class will reshape the society and culture it dominates in order to buttress, defend, and justify (or “rationalize”) its dominance, and the reshaping will reflect what the elite perceives as its group interests.

The Cathedral currently rules over a people it can’t fully control. Its tendrils have reached deep, but not deep enough to obliterate all resistance. Implicitly, the Cathedral understands that a populist revolt of the kind currently brewing in America and in Europe is bad for its interests, unlike ones they foment in the Middle East, or elsewhere.

In the past, the Cathedral used popular revolts to solidify and extend its power. From the civil rights movement to countless others, the Cathedral used its forward shock troops to rebuild society in its image and make way for an elite comprised of Tiger moms and Ta-NeHisi Coates.

With prodding from a newly forming domestic elite, conservatives are being directed into an ideology that more accurately represents their interests and preserves their identity–one that is not primarily focused on flat tax rates and reforming Obamacare, but on bolstering the pre-conditions necessary for Western civilization to thrive.

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  1. Laguna Beach Fogey September 22, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Visions of a New Aristocracy: We’re building heroes again.

  2. I think neoreactionaries are allergic to the idea that legitimacy comes from “The Will” of the people or popularity or whatever. Legitmacy causes popularity, but not the other way around. (The other way around just causes a mess of one sort or another.) Neoreaction exists because things are broken and cannot be fixed using ordinary politcs (because politics is to blame for the breakage, etc…). One of the ways in which things are most broken is in the working class. Real wages down, social pathologies up, pretty much since the end of Bretton-Woods.

    One of the problems of an elitist philosophy is that non-elites interpret it as hostility, which is, in turn, a perfect justification for elitism.

  3. Out of chaos come the strong men.

    You are right that the true desires, the organic desires of the people remain hidden. They are indeed esoteric, and require elites to unpack them and structure them in the form of a working society. I see populist movements that the governments do not like as furthering our cause by weakening the present faux elite. The world is becoming more and more hectic due to the unlocking of information, as well as a cargo plane full of chickens coming home to roost from various global Liberal plots and schemes. Let them roost. Let the people become paranoid and angry. The system cannot function with paranoid and angry people. They’re bad cogs.

    A machine that works and works to turn its internal device will exhaust itself. Then the mechanic comes to open her up and at that moment he is the god of the polis. He can do anything, even reset it to factory mode.

    It’s difficult to do, but if you really try you can discern fake media outrage from real media outrage. The media’s reaction to 2010 was fake outrage (the Tea Party are literally brownshirts!). The media’s reaction to 2016 would be real outrage (they’re literally trashing my office!). That’s when we know the spectacle is almost over. Watch for real sweat and tears.

  4. Welcome, Hannibal; this is an interesting debut here. I agree with the main thesis: populism is often a cry for better elites. This puts in terms I’d never consider, however, which makes it good food for thought.

    I would like to see more serious engagement with the “will of the people” idea in reactionary circles. More subtle discussion of Voice alongside Exit for Landians, discussion of esoteric populism like this, continuation of the thread Lawrence Glarus initiated on societal cephalization, and so on. The worthiness of an elite is fundamentally linked to its ability to coordinate this “will of the people,” so it’s something we must not ignore or disdain improperly.

  5. I am mostly with Hannibal on this. There’s a certain type of Reactionary who would refuse to vote on a referendum to end democracy because it would violate his principles. This type of thing is the height of unseriousness. IMO Reactionary Theory could use a few updates in regards to Populism and the role of “the people”.

    Not in a “consent of the governed” type way but merely seeing that the people have a role to play too. The people’s welfare should be a top priority for any competent sovereign/ elites. As the old saying “happy wife, happy life” applies just as well to the people in a given society.

    The role of citizen and sovereign, though different, are both still necessary parts of the whole.

    1. Definitely agree with this.

      I shun the kind of puritanism which would say that certain outcomes of elections could not be turned to our advantage. Rejection of the principles which undergird democratic processes and the idea that elections are truly the things that change domestic dynamics, does not mean we would not prefer certain outcomes of plebiscites. This is not pragmatism, but realism, and there is some distinction there.

      Example: Viktor Orban in Hungary is holding a referendum on whether the country will accept or reject refugees. Obviously, Orban does not care what the average man on the streets of Budapest thinks of the migrant crisis, but the outcome of such a referendum in his favor massively strengthens Hungary’s international stance, given the current dynamic interplay between multinational organizations, treaties, appearances and so forth. It was a very smart domestic move by Orban.

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