Where Did It All Go Wrong?

The new right-wing reactionaries differentiate themselves from conservatives in part by their time horizon. They don’t long to preserve just yesterday, last year, or last half-century. They long to preserve the wisdom of past centuries, even past millennia. A favorite reactionary quote of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn‘s goes:

For the average person, all problems date to World War II; for the more informed, to World War I; for the genuine historian, to the French Revolution.

Social linchpin Nick B. Steves recommends to think past the year 1789 to 1688, the year of the Glorious Revolution, or even to 1517, the Protestant Reformation. But let’s be honest; by 1517, humanism was already rampant in Italy’s fading Renaissance. What sort of Golden Age could that have been? Clearly, we must go further back.

Finding a firm root for all of this degeneracy is timely with Mark Lilla’s new book on political reaction, The Shipwrecked Mind, making the rounds. He asserts that half of us ignore the ills of previous eras in favor of remembering them nostalgically as Golden Ages. Let’s prove ourselves different by being rigorous enough and going back far enough to truly find a real golden age—

This is a fun game, though not one to take too seriously. Let’s play “history of degeneration,” and let’s start with today. The rules: list instances of degeneration in as many sequential time periods as you can, on a timescale starting with half-centuries but growing as you go back. Provide just enough color to say why each was degenerate; end by proposing a solution. Farthest back wins.

Assume today is a time of imminent collapse of Western civilization. Blame it on immigration, the end of free speech, rampant consumerism, globalization, whatever you’d like. Whatever it was, the seeds of our current collapse were clear in the 1960s countercultural revolutions, from sexual revolution to civil rights legislation and immigration liberalization. This cultural collapse started in the 50s with Playboy, the Beats, massive tranquilizer abuse, popularization of Frankfurt School Marxism, and so on, though the seeds of degeneration sprouting then could be ignored by popular media, giving us a false impression of a Golden age.

And these values of the 60s left, germinated in the 50s, were a natural evolution of Wilsonian Puritanism. The 1910s and 20s were a famous era of feminist liberation and bureaucratic excess, as America naturally took a chief place in the world in the wake of Europe’s grand self-destruction in World Wars I and II.

This fall of Europe, of course, had been a long time coming by the 1910s. The mass-led, nihilistic modern industrial society of that time had been mismanaging itself disastrously since the liberal revolutions of 1848 confirmed a bloody end would not be long in coming to the Age of Metternich; one need only read fin de siecle French writing to understand how degenerate the intervening years were and how much nihilism, anarchism, and communism had begun to rear their ugly heads. 1848, of course, was the natural consequence of the series of liberalizations that swept over Europe behind Napoleon’s artillery, thundering out from the chaos of the 1789 Revolution that toppled a French monarchy that had been the light of civilized Europe for centuries.

Yet, the chaos of 1789 was natural for a French monarchy that had been desperately selling titles and restructuring its tax base around unpriveleged class power even before the financially devastating Seven Years War and War of the Austrian succession. The Spanish, French, and Habsburgs were already in decline by 1789; civilizational decay precedes mere Jacobinism. It was clear that these states possessed mere sham-kings after the War of the Spanish Succession collapsed the glorious Spanish empire and the Great Northern War ended the Swedish empire—and those both so soon on the heels of the mendaciously-named Glorious Revolution in England—the following, excessively parliamentary “Age of Enlightenment” was as odious and doomed as you’d expect; the French Revolution was no surprise. So, let’s go back to 1688.

1688 was in a way only a continuation of English parliamentarian rebellion in the 1640s, when Independent Protestants) beheaded their king, only too natural given the weakness of the Stuart dynasty founded after Queen Elizabeth’s disastrous choice not to provide an heir—in fact to suppress and execute perhaps the closest thing she had to one—and to mismanage her kingdom’s finances and religious controversies to the point popular anti-tax and anti-episcopal revolution was arguably inevitable.

But focusing on England alone would be a mistake, for how could we neglect that unparalleled European bloodbath, the Thirty Years War? (I’ll skip the War of Devolution for the sake of brevity.) Yes, we seem to have a half-century not just between collapse, but an entire half-century of collapse. One of the bloodiest wars, per capita, Europe has ever seen—and should we include it as only part of a larger combination with the 80 Years War?

Regardless, we can clearly see that the 1555 Peace of Augsburg was no final solution to the Protestant Question. No, Augsburg was a clear failure to contain dissent: “an exhausted Charles [V] finally gave up his hopes of a world Christian empire,” says Wikipedia. The Lutherans were officially recognized: given time to develop their power and lay foundations for all the religious wars and bourgeois revolutions to come.

So, perhaps we need to go back to the Protestant Reformation launched by Luther in 1517? At 500 years back, let me start marking time in centuries rather than half-centuries. Because surely, it is impossible to consider the Protestant Reformation without reference to the degeneracy of papacy in Renaissance Italy. The Reformation obviously recalled the Western Schism that had just ended in 1417, marking the collapse of the attempts of France to pull the papacy to Avignon. The Avignon papacy was famously political and temporally-focused; its degeneracy inspired the Franciscans, especially William of Ockham, to invent disastrously effective theories of natural human rights in the mid-1300s. Contemporaneously the Golden Bull‘s expanded constitutionalism laid the ground for ever more ‘rule of law,’ that mendacious phrase which only ever conceals actual rule by judgment.

Just a century before this mid-1300s degeneration, de Jouvenel’s Minotaur was already busy in the guise of Frederick II’s Imperial Landfrieden of 1235, a coddling insulation of men from rightful vendetta by their peers. Claiming a government monopoly on violence, it was masterful use of high/low vs middle, relying crucially on the support of the governed beneath the level of princes and aristocracy, who Frederick contested with for power. The law survived, though Frederick’s dynasty didn’t; the House of Hohenstaufen brought to greatness by Barbarossa soon collapsed under opposition from the popes—opposition between the popes and the emperors soon to come to a head with the Avignon papacy, mentioned above, and all the future degeneration and liberalization that implies.

Barbarossa himself came to power at the expense of Italian and Byzantine decay. His rise was nearly contemporaneous with the overextension of the Byzantines against the Sicilians in Italy; 1158 was the end of a brief period of Byzantine power in Italy and soon enough the Latins would sack Constantinople, permanently ending Byzantine greatness. Of course, the sack was just insult to injury on the heels of the Angelid dynasty, formed in an 1182 revolution, which predictably decayed, as revolutions do, into a reign of terror complete with mass slaughter of the aristocracy. The Fourth Crusade was late. The Byzantine renaissance under the Komnenian dynasty, started in the 1080s, had already ended. So finished the glory of the second Rome.

The 1150s wars in Italy and the subsequent century and a half of papal venality so vividly indicted in Dante’s Commedia were for their part the heirs of the Norman invasions across Europe begun a century before. The conquest of England by 1072, in particular, was a classic case of an invading criminal elite governing through foreign institutions and intentionally suppressing native traditions. This was the end of Old English, and the end of the English monarchy and nobility. More importantly for my broader arc, the Norman invasions of Italy and the Byzantine empire were crucial political forces behind the Great Schism of 1054, since which the Orthodox and Catholic churches have never reconciled. The Normans played a key role in destroying any hope for the unity of Christian worship, one millennium after its founding by Christ. At the same time, the first of the Landfriede, prototypes for rule by law rather than judgment across continental Europe, was decreed in Mains.

Evidently, the year 1000 is not far enough back to reach a golden age where incipient liberalism is not already sprouted and degeneracy is not running rampant.

At this point we could shift to the oft-disputed translatio imperii of the Ottonians, then the decline of the Carolingians, then to the Popes who only invited Charlemagne to rule to solidify growing freedom from declining Byzantine influence, and then we would find ourselves in the shadow of the long Roman decline and fall chronicled so famously by Gibbon. The rise of Rome had in turn relied on degeneracy of Hellas and Carthage, which had in turn grown only in the vacuums left by the degeneration of yet older precursor civilizations. Each new civilization brought forth more complex and artificial legal and social organization, bringing us closer to detestable modern forms. In each, unsecure powers made use of de Jouvenel’s high and low vs middle to enrich themselves. In each, powers popularized whatever philosophy and religion profited them best. Even Christ and Aristotle were used in this way.

But why stop so recently as Aristotle? Certainly the invention of writing was a powerful contributor to all future bureaucracy and false rationalization, and the invention of zero, a dangerous metaphysical innovation with repercussions still unknown but essential to modern nihilism. Certainly, also, early Indo-European evolution and radiation was a usurpation and genocide of more traditional, more natural men that did not degenerately suck the teats of other animals, and the associated linguistic changes were a victory for a false new modernity in grammar against richer, more traditional grammars of the further past.

Then again, why stop there? The lineage of mammals is essentially a lineage of neonates become so weak they must live in the womb longer than most animals live at all, and even after birth, they still must suckle from their mothers’ teats: the millennials of the animal kingdom, if you will. But then, aren’t all animalia just variants of super-predators evolved to take advantage of a more trusting microbial mat ecology, the Cambrian Explosion equally being the fall of the Ediacarian? The ‘burrowing revolution’ of the Cambrian was the end of a more trusting age in which living things could honestly count on the seabed not to harbor sudden devourers. Should we be asking the Animal Question, given that all animals are heterotrophs: parasites and predators? Aren’t the only real producers plants and algae?

We might even recognize the eukaryotic nucleus as a clear case of proto-liberal tyranny, an insulated elite of DNA dictating commands to the rest of the cell according to a noisy and often lazily interpreted foreign language of codons and amino acids, subverting the more traditional RNA into merely a class of middlemen and informers instead of the central place they initially held. And if social atomization is an easily recognized ill, perhaps we should also doubt whether primordial atomization, following quark-gluon condensation, was also the end of a superior more homogenous state, when mass and energy were more clearly one and the degenerate frustration of ‘molecules’ was only a nightmare of a future epoch.

If we have any comfort, it is the light of the stars fusing atoms back together. Occasionally they even approximate that lost halcyon era of 3 minutes after the Big Bang by collapsing into neutron stars in which, like that bygone age, there is no more cruel separation of quarks into cold, isolated atoms. Our last, best hope for redeeming ourselves of our wretched Fall is to launch ourselves into a pulsar.

I’ve clearly gone wrong somewhere. I hope you’ll try to outdo me with more plausible, yet even more absurd “history of degeneration” in the comments. Whatever you do, please don’t take the above seriously. I hope I’ve made my point: there’s no true requirement to stop when playing this game, and the resulting reverse Whig history is as silly as Whig history.

Unless, perhaps, existence really is fundamentally degenerate through and through? The second law of thermodynamics—entropy always increases—is our best argument to confirm this. However, this would be absurdly far from our real values: it classes all growth as degeneration, all reproduction as failed copying, and all partial ordering as net corruption. It indicts God on every count.

The poor history above, far from being ‘more rigorously’ reactionary, is a parody of progressives’ frequent inability to recognize that reaction is not simply a belief in contemporary degeneration and a hatred of everything too new.

Reactionaries must be, rather, good judges of both past and present: we know that most mutations are deleterious and that innovation is not an unalloyed good, but also that mutation is the engine of evolution and that even our oldest, fondest traditions were once innovations far back in forgotten time.

As I’ve written before, reaction is also not a celebration of stasis; reactionary order is organic harmony, adaptation, and civilization. Stasis is in conflict with the God or Nature of the world and therefore disordered, just as surely as pessimism is. So we do not long for fixed, historical, perfect Golden Age societies, only aspirational, mythical ones or ones that we’re willing to acknowledge had foundations destined to crumble. If we model the myths after our ancestors—well, we remember how to love what is best in our fathers without denying their faults.

In the meantime, we have no illusions that history is either endless progress, endless decay, or an endless cycle. It is not just a long rise followed by a recent fall. And God forbid we satisfy ourselves, instead, with a sophomoric spiral! The histories of civilizations and institutions show progress, decay, stagnation, and cycles, but also branching, collision, annihilation, hybridization, and much more. There are more dimensions, edges, and twists to history than there are grains of sand on the beaches of Normandy, Hispaniola, and Lake Kinneret.

We study history, we learn from it, we judge the good and bad. And when there is degeneration, we condemn it, but when there is glory, we praise that also.

Sometimes, on dour days when we mistakenly recognize Quixote in our mirrors, we even play games with it and laugh at ourselves.

Liked it? Take a second to support Social Matter on Patreon!
View All


  1. “That which has been, is that which shall be. And that which is done, is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun.”
    – Ecclesiastes 1:9

    And yet so many delude themselves that salvation can be anything other than Divine, it’s almost laughable.

    Laudate Dominum

    1. Neorx seems to have fully embraced Christianity, at least on this site.

      A pity. I thought it might grow into something grander.

      Few seem to realize that this is entryism at its finest and most subtle. The right fights and fights, and for what? To protect an ideology whose core revolves around a man who rejected the traditional order of the old testament to preach pacifism, meekness and empathy for your enemies.

      When neorx merges with conservative Christianity, the movement is finished. It couldn’t win against the French revolution, it sure isn’t going to win against modern cultmarx.

      1. There’s life in the old dog yet. What did Stalin say; ” The Pope, how many divisions does he have?” And yet Stalin’s dead and the Pope keeps kicking on.

        I’m not sure what “grander” thing you’re proposing, but Positivism v1.0, v1.1, v2.0, v3.0……….. haven’t actually worked out that well. These no point in dissing the Christian God when your own conceptual system has a habit of imploding.

        1. Not positivism. A religion whose core morality naturally agrees with the right. Need not be a religion in the official sense, even. Like westernized Zionism, with Europe substituted for Israel.

          If we do head towards an actual religion, it must be a religion where it will not be possible to make statements like “I don’t like the church, but I love Jesus”. (There was a YouTube video to this effect doing the rounds, where young diverse people proclaimed their love for Jesus but their lack of love for the church. They’re right, because the church is right wing, Jesus was left wing. The established Christian church was merely a big containment strategy for the explosive radicalism of early Christianity)

      2. “I thought it might grow into something grander”

        Such as? I’m not being condescending, I’m genuinely interested in what “something greater” would be. Christianity has two millennia behind it, that alone shows its durability. To create an NRx religion would take centuries.

        1. Hitler tried to create a religion, but it’s hard to say what would have happened without the war.

          The easiest thing is to create a cult of the nation. And that’s what Christianity opposes tooth and nail, because it would be a direct competitor for people’s loyalty. Zionism is kind of such a religion, whose trappings are very different from the Judaism it claims to support. Atheistic Jews kill and die for Zionism, not for Judaism. Pre war Japan did something similar as well, transforming Shinto into Japan worship.

          When I say grand I don’t necessarily mean a religion in the usual sense. I mean an animating ideology and value system that can make people come to the right.

          1. “The easiest thing is to create a cult of the nation.”

            Hitler tried to do that, too.

            Didn’t work out so well for him, even before he got himself involved in a war.

      3. Its very easy to be against a society that values pacifism and empathy online, but are you really sure you want to live in one? To reject these things is to embrace the barbarian horde, which makes brutality a virtue and rejects morality for self interest.

        1. The sticking point is pacifism and empathy for your enemies. Islam makes the deft move of recommending empathy for the in group, and relentless hate for the outgroup. And Judaism does the same in a milder fashion.

          Hate is the core of what we need right now. Hatred forms the basis of the right. Hatred for those who are not like you. Hate allows for national boundaries. it is similar to Jonathan haidt’s formulation of disgust. Disgust at degenerates allows you to build civilized society. A religion that tries to drive out the natural hatred and disgust for the outgroup and degeneracy is no religion. It’s just another humanist fiction, like Buddhism.

          To be fair, both Christianity and Islam have this nasty habit of dissolving national ties at the altar of universal brotherhood, but at least Islam doesn’t prize meekness and poverty. And it doesn’t make you love your neighbor before they submit

      4. This is an honest concern. I’m not the man to address your various comments. We’re aware and mindful of your criticisms.

      5. “To protect an ideology whose core revolves around a man who rejected the traditional order of the old testament to preach pacifism, meekness and empathy for your enemies.”

        If that’s what Christianity is, then I am no Christian; though I am, and so I can only assume one of us is mistaken.

        “Hate is the core of what we need right now.”

        I would agree with your assertion that hatred is what is needed right now, and that is a Christian notion, Righteous Fury.

        St. John Chrysostom-

        “Only the person who becomes irate without reason, sins. Whoever becomes irate for a just reason is not guilty. Because, if ire were lacking, the science of God would not progress, judgments would not be sound, and crimes would not be repressed.

        Further, the person who does not become irate when he has cause to be, sins. For an unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices: it fosters negligence, and stimulates not only the wicked, but above all the good, to do wrong.”

        (Homily XI super Matheum, 1c, nt.7)

        But I ask, whence comes real burning hatred? Surely from love of some other thing itself threatened by the object of ire; so love is at the core, love of family, faith, nation and life. What good is an empty hatred, devoid of that love?

        You seem opposed to a thing you call “Christianity” which I call foolishness and am in equal opposition to.

        Remember the lesson of the high jump, strike higher than your aim. If we aim for survival, we will surely perish. If we aim for Civilization, we may survive. If we aim for Truth and the Divine, what then is Civilization but a marker on the road to Heaven? The Machiavellian and Naturalistic approach to the Divine, as a tool for political ends as seen here and other places, demonstrates the moral and spiritual wasteland which inhabits so many, and is primarily the reason we will fail, should we fail.

        Nietzsche was correct when he said, “True strength comes not from conquering others, but from conquering the weakness in oneself.” Ironically articulating an almost Christian sentiment.

        1. You and I seem to agree that there are differences in what passes for Christianity these days , and the Christianity of the past. My understanding, after close observation and analysis of various religious traditions from across the world, is that the PC Christianity of today is the closest to what Jesus preached. Real Christianity, if we assume real=closest in spirit to what Jesus preached, is progressivism. While Old Testament = Reaction.

          The spiritual, artistic and philosophical achievements of Europe after the Roman era, until the Renaissance, definitely owed a debt to Christianity. But that wasn’t the Christianity of Jesus, it was the “Christianity” of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

          The RCC and the Orthodox churches are the fruit of beautiful and noble reactionary impulses of two thousand years of European civilization. That is the real reason today’s reactionaries find it so hard to let go of Christianity – they see so much of themselves in it. It started with Paul, who was followed by a succession of intellectuals who created fabulous works of philosophy and art. Works that were ostensibly Christian, but in truth were communicating the message of Reaction.

          Unfortunately, they RCC and Orthodox churches can no longer function the way they used to. Because the bible is in vernacular, and all churches are now de facto Protestant. aka Jesus Christians, not Church “Christians”. And our response, sadly, can only be along the lines of what the Jews used two thousand years ago to ensure the survival of their faith in the face of destructive PC radicalism spread by a popular itinerant preacher.

          1. I take issue with your insistence that this toothless and infirm Christianity we find ourselves mired in today in anyway resembles the humble and relentless Way of Christ. His proclamations, as recorded in the Gospels, attest to the vigorous reactionary nature of his News. Recall, he did not speak of revolution, but repentance, a return to forgiveness and God; a return to what WAS intended, not what will be. His reactionary Gospel was so profound it reached back to a time and a person before time itself. How could you be more Traditionalist and Reactionary than that?

            How does it follow that a return to God’s teaching is anything BUT reactionary? How can the Old Testament be Reactionary, when it admits to being a tale of mankind’s rebellion against Lawful Authority? If anything, it is conservative in that it attempts to maintain and prolong (at least in application as the Pharisee’s meant it), not RETURN.

            On your conception of Christ and his Church being in opposition, the very notion that you can separate Christ from his Bride is itself Protestant in origin.

            Again though, I find in your writing an underlying stream of utilitarian and Machiavellian tones in regard to the Divine. If I am incorrect, forgive my unfounded judgments. You speak of the political as if it were the highest order of magnitude attainable, and would make all it’s masters, God and His Study, it’s slaves. You have in essence insisted that the Body of Christs word and teaching is contrary to his word and teaching, and yet called the workings of this Body “ostensibly Christian”, how then? In what way?

          2. I’m not able to reply directly to your comment, Phileas, so I’m replying to my previous one.

            When I say ostensibly Christian I mean that they called themselves Christian, but they weren’t truly followers of Christ in spirit. In letter, yes; in spirit, no. You can’t have a regal Vatican palace, awe-inspiring Cathedrals, wars in the name of your faith, banks in the name of your faith, and still claim that you are following Jesus in spirit.

            Not that I am not saying any of this is wrong. These aspects of Christianity, the regality of the Papacy, the aggression of the Crusades, the beauty and inspiration behind the Sistine Chapel, Notre Dame and medieval music, form the basis of my love for the religion.

            I can’t really answer the questions you raised about the message of Jesus being reactionary and the Old Testament being conservative. I’m not really sure I even follow what you’re saying. But let me take another approach – between Jesus and Mohammed, who was more right-wing?

            It’s not that complicated a question to answer. You can easily answer the same question posed for other cultures, because you aren’t quite as invested in defending one side. For example, between Confucianism and Taoism, which was more right-wing? Confucianism, obviously. Between Hinduism and Buddhism, which was more right-wing? Hinduism, obviously.

          3. Okay I just read your comment again and I think I understand your point about return vs revolution vs maintenance.

            Your argument doesn’t hold water though. Many revolutionaries speak of a bygone golden era where their utopia already existed, and they say that today’s world is bad because our behavior changed, and that we need to go back. Today’s left claims that hunter-gatherer tribes were egalitarian. And that they were peaceful. Look at what Napoleon Chagnon had to go through when he busted that myth. Read about any historical empire in Wikipedia, and it’s being steadily edited to make it seem as though women had incredible freedom and rights.

      6. >Neorx seems to have fully embraced Christianity, at least on this site. A pity. I thought it might grow into something grander.

        Many of us are not Christian, for exactly the reasons you argue. But still, we are sympathetic to Christianity. In its traditional form, which still lives here and there, it is the strongest bearer and a willing vessel of the full true primordial Tradition, which is the grander thing you speak of.

        I agree that the only acceptable religion is one whose core morality is of the pure right. The right wing Christians assure us that the supposed leftist elements of their religion are actually heretical propaganda, that the modern church just needs a good purge and some help from a right-wing emperor, and that Christianity, properly understood, is compatible with, or is even itself, an ideology of the pure right. Let’s hope they are right. It would certainly simplify our task.

        As far as I’m concerned, it’s an open question.

        Either way, the cult of the nation is a crappy substitute for the divine ordering. If there is some grander dharma than Christianity, it doesn’t look much like nationalism, though of course it will not dissolve all differences and all superior tendencies at the demonic altar of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

        1. Personally, I start with Evola, Guenon and Aldous Huxley.

          1. One of those things is not like the others. Care to expand on Huxley?

    2. Thank you for this comment. Ecclesiastes was long my favorite book of the Old Testament, in close contest with Job.

      “The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” Ec 9.17-18

      I hope you’re eating, drinking, and being merry.

  2. Eric Voegelin, in his analysis of what he called “gnosticism”, pushed the date back to Joachim of Fiore (ca. 1300, IIRC).

    1. Thank you for this comment, Bill. If you get a chance, I’d be curious what you make of the late Vogelin, who seems to have reconsidered much of his “history in terms of gnosticism”; see for instance Lilla’s http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2007/06/28/mr-casaubon-in-america/ .

  3. This is an interesting analysis, but I think that this is indicative of human nature as a whole more than anything.

    1. Thanks for writing, Ed, though I’m not sure what you mean—which antecedents do your pronouns point to?

  4. I’d put the beginning of degeneracy squarely upon Adam and Eve.
    I do believe, however, that the beginning of the calamitous period in which we live now can be found from the moment Man decided to supplant God, with the advent of Humanism.

  5. All irony aside, this is a pretty good “A Reversed History of the World on One Page”. The Pragmatic Centrist in me nods in resigned acceptance, whereas I feel committed Whigs or Tories both will find it troubling. Your whirligig of a dance back to the Dawn of Creation shows an inevitability in what we have experienced, where good or bad, right or wrong does not exist, that the unknowable rules of Fate are in control of human affairs, and all that human beings can do is tinker with the details.

    Phileas – “Laudate Dominum”? Now THIS troubles me – How is that different from ”Allah’u akhbar”? This perhaps takes resignation too far…or dare I say it, submission?

    1. Why “Laudate Dominum”?

      Look at Europe prior to 1914 and compare it with the Moslem lands.

      If that won’t convince you nothing will.

      1. Christianity, always appropriating credit for other people’s achievements.

        Europe’s greatness was because of Europeans, not Christianity. It was the spirit of Greek and Roman philosophy fused with Germanic ability and organization. Did you forget there are ancient Christian communities in China, India and the Arab world who did nothing of significance? If Christianity made people great then all those civilizations should have been dominated by Christian achievements.

        And even white Europe is great because of a few nations which drive it. Russia would have been a backwater had it not been adjacent to the power centers of Germany and Italy.

        1. It was the spirit of Greek and Roman philosophy fused with Germanic ability and organization.

          Germany was France’s bitch till Bismark organised it along the lines of the managerial state, and then promptly set about pushing everyone around. Still, he was a Christian and would have promptly shot any “Aryan” for barbarism that appeared on his watch.

          Did you forget there are ancient Christian communities in China, India and the Arab world who did nothing of significance?

          Ah….. it’s not like they had a free hand in things, is it?

          1. Oh, and by the way, Bismark hated Socialists, even those of a nationalist bent.

          2. So do you actually claim that Jesus would have approved of Bismarck’s violent and Machiavellian endeavors to build up his nation and make war? Did Jesus approve of blood and iron?

            Again, I don’t deny there have been plenty of admirable Christian reactionaries. My contention is that they were following Christ only in name, not in spirit.

          3. Perhaps they didn’t have a free hand in things, but aren’t you forgetting that Jews achieved outsize influence in country after country in spite of being a despised minority? Chinese did the same all over south-east Asia. Parsis did the same in India.

          4. In what countries outside of the European ones did Jews achieve outsize influence?

            The Chinese performed better than the other natives (where they were allowed to thrive) but their culture did not beat the Christian one.

          5. You’re shifting the goalposts. Our argument was about whether having a free hand in running things is essential for a minority to outperform its host population.

            Jews achieved success in multiple countries of Europe in spite of being discriminated against. As did the Chinese in South East Asia. No Christian community of non-European descent achieved anything remotely comparable. Christian communities existed all over North Africa, in large areas of the Middle East, India, China and the Far East. And yet I don’t see too many Ethiopian multinationals and Nobel prize winners. Arab Christians don’t seem good for much more than being slaughtered by ISIS goons. Except for the Lebanese ones, who have European blood in them from the time of the Crusades.

            As for your follow up statement that Chinese culture didn’t outperform Christian culture – you’re moving the goalposts again. The correct statement is that Chinese didn’t outperform European culture (in the last five hundred years). Compare apples to apples.

            ONLY the Europeans built a world-beating civilization. The other Christians achieved jack s###.

          6. Jews achieved success in multiple countries of Europe in spite of being discriminated against.

            You’re the one shifting goalposts. Where did Jews achieve success outside of Europe? For a community which constantly complains about discrimination they seemed to do rather well despite the occasional pogrom.

            The correct statement is that Chinese didn’t outperform European culture (in the last five hundred years)

            In my original comment the point of comparison was 1914. What’s your problem?

            By the way, Niall Ferguson looked at this subject, I think his book, Civilisation, quotes the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who looked into why the West was so powerful. Answer, Christianity. The Nordic runes just didn’t do it for them I suppose.

          7. You and I seem to be talking at cross purposes.

            My argument – Europe’s achievements were due to the innate European genius. Not Christianity.

            Supporting argument # 1- Non-European christians have achieved NOTHING comparable in all of recorded history.

            Supporting argument # 2 – The fact that Christians outside Europe were not in dominant positions in their societies does not explain their lack of achievement. Jews and Chinese achieved a lot in societies where they were not dominant.

            You keep talking about what Jews have achieved outside Europe. Even if I grant that most Jewish achievements are Ashkenazi achievements from Europe, that only supports my larger argument that European blood makes you great.

    2. Arthur, thank you for commenting. I’m afraid you give yourself away as someone who hasn’t grasped us if you think that’s pretty good history! Or if you think that the lesson to take away was that there is no right, wrong, or human influence in Fate. I sympathize, but I don’t agree. I hope you’ll use that to reach a clearer view of our spirit.

      As to the latter, when saying “God is great” or “that woman is beautiful,” it matters a lot which god or woman one’s talking about!.. and who’s listening. They’re jealous and varied beings.

      1. Tom – Your “Reversed History” was an absurdity, a joke, a Divina Commedia. I liked it because it is just another facet of an infinite polygon of perspectives of how to view history. The narrative was internally consistent, and well written – what’s not to admire in it? I’m not sure I took away any lessons from it, apart from the fact that humor is one of the intelligent ways to view historical processes.

        Perhaps my view of the spirit of these pages is a bit foggy, but I’m reading ’em, ain’t I?

        1. Yes, and thank you for reading. I appreciate it.

          Where we differ is that I don’t think my narrative was well written or internally consistent except in the shallowest senses. Its most glaring self-inconsistency, which is not an unusual one so it might not stand out, is that it implicitly switches value systems from time period to time period. The worst thing about the writing may be its reliance on a reader’s laziness not to bring up alternatives as it moves forward. However, if all you meant was it’s coherent as humor, I misunderstood and apologize for that. In that case I mistook the meaning of ‘all irony aside.’

    3. How is the Bedouin different from the European? How is one tradition different from another? How is Truth different from Lies? Excuse me for saying, but it seems a stupid question.

      God and his worship shouldn’t trouble you, though I would suggest that everyone should trouble themselves about God, myopic politics and Man’s hubris however should trouble you.

  6. “We study history, we learn from it, we judge the good and bad. And when there is degeneration, we condemn it, but when there is glory, we praise that also.”

    The author declared his intention plainly enough here. The rest is an invitation to our personal “journey into the past” as judges.

    1. Thank you for both comments, Cristina. It is an invitation, and also a reminder to be humble when we go back to judge—not to get too carried away.

  7. Ockhams Chainsaw October 4, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Indeed, a very good read and gut check to the autists among us. Mr Barghest, once again you have delivered a prescient and thoughtful gift. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your appreciation, and for the amusing image of your username. Is Ockham’s chainsaw to “remove entities past necessity, until the problem itself is obliterated”? Or is it a contrast to the razor’s precision–“multiply entities incessantly until the problem is drowned in over-explanation”? Or is it suggesting a “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”-style rewrite of his manuscripts?

      1. Ockhams Chainsaw October 5, 2016 at 9:04 pm

        So glad it amused you.

        I think the idea was more along the lines of an upgrade to a tool that had grown dull and ineffective through abuse and misuse on matters for which it was never intended. Chainsaws are quite effective at exposing ideas long buried behind thick skulls.

        Although the zombie idea does seem to fit as well. Oftentimes deadites only respond to rapid, viscious and repeated strokes liberally (wink) applied in rapid succession.
        They seem immune to precision also, so you may as well throw that out the window.

  8. Asian Reactionary October 4, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    An interesting exploration – but isn’t it simple enough to see that we ultimately seek beauty and take what best from the past, while avoiding what isn’t as useful?

    1. Thank you for this comment, which I take to be a sign of healthy character. You’re right, but simple things can become hard with a bit of learning. This is written for those who have fallen into mistakes that require untangling, not for the innocent or the already clearsighted. In a sense, it’s a call for reclaiming mature innocence in historical research—letting things be just what they are without always forcing them into grand, comprehensible and all-explaining narratives of decline or progress.

      Compare to http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic1188138.files/Week%201/Hirschman_1970.pdf

  9. Is this intended as a rebuke to Frog Twitter?

    1. Not at all. Does it accidentally function as one?

      I have almost nothing to do with Frog Twitter, TRS, /pol/, or similar, except through friends of friends. I have no idea how to rebuke them, much less what to rebuke. In this piece I’m just writing against a certain kind of bad history and the people who assume reactionaries are obliged to do it.

  10. It all started when an ancient hunter whose name is lost to history released the bird already in his hand in pursuit of two more he thought he saw in the bush. There’s been problems ever since.

  11. More important question than where it all went wrong is what similarities and differences there is between different men, times and areas. E.g. because Finnish nationalists at the turn of the 19th century and the present liberal managers seem so different in their thoughts, feelings, actions and goals, it seems they are political opposites. While it is true that if the Finnish nationalists would be transferred suddenly to the present times, they would vehemently oppose liberals and liberal policies, they might not be so different they superficially seem. The nationalists power abilitys scope covered ethnically, culturally, economically and geographically Finnish landscape, so they directed all their efforts to Finnish goals; unifying, strenghtening, educating, protecting, etc. Finns. These goals were psychologically easy for the nationalists elites and Finns generally, because similar people have natural tendency to feel empathy and togetherness toward each other. Nationalist elites had to just stir up what was to quite large extent already there.

    Liberal elites power abilitys scope is to a large extent international, covering in many ways many nations, so they conform themselves, their thoughts, their feelings, their goals, their policies, etc. to international bureaucracies functions. This goes against natural tendencies, so propaganda must be ubiquitous, mostly subtle, advanced, softly mind crushing, etc. and it must be directed as much to elites internally as to people generally. By every day submissively and abjectly lying blatantly to themselves, to each other and others, the elites maintain the cosmopolitanism in themselves and others. This is what power does, it always suppressess, decreases, vilifies and prevents some tendencies, aspirations, feelings, etc. of the people and the elites, and stokes, favors, extols and increases others. If Finnishs nationalist power abilitys scope would have been as large as liberals power ability today, would they have slowly and akwardly transformed into liberals? People often make the mistake that they sacrifice everything good and important to the altar of power, and put all their eggs to the altar of power, so they end up holding empty destruction in their hands.

    1. Thank you for the comments, Valkea. The last point is essential.

  12. Every time I spot a new Barghest I drop everything and read through with an uncharacteristic giddiness. This should be included in some sort of best of NRx list.

    You are quite right in revealing attempts to linearly trace the ur-cause of the present predicament is doomed to parody. Perhaps linear historicity is one of the core issues?

    As always an excellent article with the plethora of links and references one comes to expect from Mr. Barghest.

    1. You’re right. I’ll add this essay here: http://www.socialmatter.net/best-social-matter/

      1. Thank you. I’m honored to have a second piece in this list.

    2. Thank you for reading, Aristocles, and for this high praise. I also suspect that our metaphysics of causation, e.g., linear historicity, has something to do with this error, though I’m not prepared to say much more at this point. I’ve found Heidegger’s Enframing, Hume’s skepticism, Nietzsche’s Eternal Recurrence, and Mill’s causal totalism all to be very stimulating in this respect. I am convinced there is something more to be found in the philosophy of time and cause than we can currently conceive, and that the consequent misunderstandings have had a great deal to do with our society’s currently troubled relationship to its past and future.

  13. The Christian apologetics in this comment section are as insightful as the article is helpful and humorous. Thank you for writing.

    1. Neorx is DEAD as a dodo once the Christians come on board. This website seems to be leading the charge in encouraging their entryism. Apart from Christianity’s patent absurdity and silly stories, there is also the fact that Christianity never wins against liberalism. We have examples of battle after battle that Christians have lost against liberals, right from the time of the French revolution. That’s because liberalism was born and developed as an anti-Christian ideology, and it is at utmost ease battling Christianity. The only ideology that can win against liberalism is an equally modernist one, be it nationalism, nazism, fascism or communism. Or Islam.

      1. Ockhams Chainsaw October 7, 2016 at 11:34 pm

        You have yet to mention a viable alternative good sir. I have seen a good number of critiques, but as of yet no forward thinking.
        If pragmatism is our concern than by all means let us create a workable solution. A good myth will do the trick I suppose. We euros have always loved a good story. I’m sure fealty and homage will follow eventually.

        If ethics are your concern( because we all really want a just society) then feel free to instruct us. I just pray then that they aren’t based on that same pragmatism.

        It seems you have yet to realize that it is human liberty that somehow taints all that it touches, even Christianity. The depravity of men’s hearts runs deep. Indeed, some would say, all the way to the bottom.

        I think you’re being a bit haughty here. That also seems to run deep.

    2. I’m happy to write for appreciative readers, Auld Wat. Thank you for the encouragement.

  14. I think it’s when we began to accept philosophical subjectivity. When we abandoned the classical idea from Plato & Aristotle all the way through Aquinas, we believed important things were Real and True and the most important things were Eternal, and when we gave that up for subjectivity in more than restricted spheres, we set foot on the path modernism then postmodernism.

    BTW, it’s clear we’re now in a Postmodern era where facts don’t matter. Only narratives filled with subjective interpretations of objective events matter now. Interesting huh?

  15. The only universal truth is that everything is a lie. Once this Red Pill truth dawned on me, it only opened a path towards what I am still not sure. Realizing the control my DNA has had over my life is mind blowing.

    The entire human experience from the time we became Homo Sapiens is driven by one thing and one thing only. And that is the male desire to fertilize eggs and the female desire to protect herself and her precious eggs. Everything else is window dressing.

    Realizing that we are only a more intelligent version of a lemming is the key to the next step down the path. The Red Pill, my own DNA, and life events have forced marched me down what most assuredly is Satan’s turnpike. At the terminus of the pike, I found a gate. It opened into a garden of peace and acceptance.

    As I now sit in the garden, sweet amnesia healing my wounds and cool water easing my thirst, I spy another gate at the far end of the garden. My soul tells me that on the other side of that gate is understanding. I hope I can walk through that gate while still conscious of mind, but most likely only the spirit is allowed through. One day I will know, with peace and acceptance in my heart and also leading the way.

Comments are closed.