Imperial Mindset

Our project is statecraft. Our context is the American Empire. We need a mindset that is appropriate to this task.

I’ve written before about the need for “Golden Age Statesmen“. We should be asking ourselves, when we think and act, what would a golden age statesman think? What would a golden age statesman do? The mindset of a golden age statesmen is what I will call “Imperial Mindset”.

The biggest, and sometimes most elusive, part of any project is getting your mindset right. What problem are you even trying to solve? Have you understood that at a deep enough psychological level that it actually changes how you think and behave? Often the answer to these questions is murky. Having it wrong means you are motivated by the wrong things. You are not even striking at the target.

We see this a lot on the right. There are a few common archetypes:

  1. The Edgelord is in “political” circles to rebel against the man, do something edgy, be where the cool kids are, and say the most extreme stuff on the internet. When effective political action deviates from what’s edgy and exciting, he stops being interested.
  2. The Temperamental Anarchist just wants to smash the system. He doesn’t want to be ruled, doesn’t have a well thought out view of how things should work, and just thinks we need to get rid of whoever is in charge right now. He may not even want to cooperate in a disciplined political machine.
  3. The Revanchist has been personally offended by the losses of the 20th century, and wants to make sure those responsible pay for their crimes. He’s not trying to be magnanimous, or to plot out a way the future could work better; he is fixated on the past.
  4. The Resentment Politician hates the elites, what they’ve done, and identifies as the underdog. He does not imagine himself carefully weighing political decisions and responsibly applying power to steer civilization; he just wants the boot off his neck.
  5. The Conservative believes in the system and his sense of civic duty compels him to go in to fight for what he believes to be right, especially against the latest madness. He doesn’t think in too much depth about political maneuvering, crushing his enemies, or building power; he finds that stuff distasteful to his sense of good conduct.
  6. The Intellectual Tourist just wants to meet like-minded people and be exposed to the most interesting ideas of the day. He wants information and ideas that he can bring up in conversation with other “interesting” people to gain social points.
  7. The Thinkfluencer is primarily concerned with having sophisticated, true, careful analysis. He thinks if everyone just knew better, maybe if the data were better presented, things could be run better. But the gritty details of power and negotiation are not his direct interest.
  8. Etcetera

These are not necessarily natural categories, just prototypical specimens. The common thread is that these people are not thinking about how to rule. They may even think what they’re doing will save the world. But something hasn’t quite connected in their minds.

The default approaches are so pervasive and obvious to the mass of people, and the alternative so psychologically difficult and demanding that it is understandable that most people don’t have an imperial mindset.

Without imperial mindset, we think that all politics requires of us is that we show up and fight, that we can do it for fun, and that it won’t make large demands of self-reconstruction. Thinking about politics seriously, though, we have to take a personal responsibility for the full consequences and scope of political action. We have to think about how our plans will carry through for the next few hundred years, we have to face the much larger task of working out the whole of the matter of how to rule, and we have to break down and reconstruct those parts of ourselves that come with the wrong way of thinking and are stuck in edginess and resentment. This is such an enormous burden compared to the lazier approach that our minds just slide off of it and go back to what is easy.

But we have to resist the impulse to take the easy but ultimately pointless approach everyone else is taking to politics, namely by understanding the true nature of politics and power and committing ourselves to what we are actually trying to do.

The above archetypes and the people who embody them can be useful. Some more than others. But there is an important distinction to be made between the Supporter, who is just contributing work and resources, whose motivations don’t matter because they will not be tested, and the Member, who is contributing his agency and being relied on, whose motivations do matter. So the above archetypes are best suited to supporter roles, and the core of a serious project must have imperial mindset.

There are many ways to deviate from the correct political mindset, but only one way to do it right. You have to actually think about what it would mean to govern an empire well. If our problem is to restore statecraft and political sanity, we need people who know how to rule properly. To know how to rule properly, you have to think from the perspective of a ruler and build out that whole worldview. Someone, ideally a thousand very competent someones, needs to put themselves into imperial mindset and start thinking about rule.

Someone who is truly thinking about responsible approaches to solve the world’s problems, given some belief in their own ability to actually implement their ideas, is never resentful and never talking about “how to get our country back”. Their tone of thought is “we are the ruling class, or will be. Let us think how to responsibly guide this thing in a better direction in response to these complex challenges”.

When it becomes obvious that they are not the current ruling class, those with the imperial mindset don’t slip back into anarchism or resentment politics. They think like a ruling class in exile, which believes in its own mandate and competence. They see the current occupants of the imperial seat as a ridiculous pack of monkeys who don’t take their duties seriously and aren’t organized to carry them out.

One important point that must be made is the relation of the imperial mindset to the Indo-Aryan tripartite caste system and the social castes of the United States.

Imperial mindset is the way of the Kshatriyas, the caste of kings and warriors, who deal in power. Of the approaches to rightist politics listed above, the Conservative and the Resentment Politician are particularly Vaisya, the caste of hardworking wealth-producers. The Thinkfluencer and Intellectual Tourist are particularly Brahmin, the caste of priests and thinkers.

The reason we have to adopt the mindset of Kshatriyas, a proper imperial mindset, is that Brahmins and Vaisyas are unfit to rule. They are important, in their own ways, even to a political project such as ours; how could we succeed without the ideas of Brahmins and the support of virtuous Vaisyas? But our project must be led by and of the Kshatriya caste, because the others are simply in a different line of business and lack the appropriate perspective and orientation.

Which puts us in a funny position, because America’s Kshatriya caste is weak and spiritually dominated by the hybrid mandarin/Brahmin caste. We generally have to work with Amerikaner Vaisyas and coastal urban SWPL Brahmins.

American Vaisyas instinctively understand elements of the right policies, because they are mostly on the receiving end of the current madness. But they have a very hard time getting out of the conservative mindset, which fails to understand the realities of power and politics. When they do, they tend to get stuck in resentment politics, because the idea of actually negotiating with the existing elite, recruiting Brahmins, and applying power to properly rule the empire is too distasteful. It just doesn’t work with Vaisya morality.

American Brahmins can be better. They already have the idea that the thing to do is think about how things should be ruled. They already think of themselves as an elite with automatic legitimacy. They already think their political enemies are a ridiculous pack of monkeys. Unfortunately, the default Brahmin politics, liberal progressivism, is all kinds of naive and evil. Relatedly, as Brahmins and mandarins, they don’t believe in personal responsibility and personal rule. They talk about what should be done, but do so out of desire to be a good person in abstract, rather than to solve the problems in their empire. They launder their rule through a byzantine system of responsibility-erasing “civil society”.

The Brahmin is actually ahead on imperial mindset, but still needs to realize the evilness and insanity of progressivism and liberalism, the divided-power democratic republic, and the idea of leaderless “civil society”. Once he gets through that, the Brahmin will often get stuck as an intellectual tourist or thinkfluencer. The key to getting past these traps is the realization of personal responsibility and the growth of motivation to personally contribute to the organization of power and apply power to the solution of the world’s most important problems. This is something Brahmins have trouble with. It is distasteful in Brahmin morality to personally own power or personally wade in and fight to fix institutions that have potential.

Advancement out of these sub-imperial mindsets, and into the imperial mindset of the true aristocratic Kshatriya is key to achievement of Restoration. Relatedly, Restoration will entail a large recalibration of America’s castes: Kshatriyas, insofar as they exist in America, need to grow some balls and stop believing in the idea of the republic and the temporal authority of the Brahmin. Vaisyas need to either put aside their aversions to power and become Kshatriyas, or stay Vaisyas and accept that politics is not their business. Brahmins need to either detach themselves more fully from worldly things and focus on pursuit of truth, get a real job, and become Vaisyas, or accept the burden of personal responsibility for power and become Kshatriyas.

The process of actually cultivating this approach will be challenging for all of us. We don’t yet know all the details, or how it applies. These are all things we must figure out. The cultivation of a true imperial mindset is one of the primary inner challenges of the Restoration. But we know it is necessary.

To be clear, the imperial mindset approach to opposition politics is to develop a crushing advantage at virtue, knowledge of the field, practical restoration program details, and organizational competence, and then, gently or otherwise, relieve the monkeys of their posts.

The image to aim for is not the democratic swarm of rats overpowering the owner of house, but the aristocratic owner coming home and purging the house of rats so he can begin the process of renewal. Don’t abdicate, don’t approach politics as a signalling game. Make plans, alliances, and institutions. Become worthy and rule. Cultivate imperial mindset.

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24 Comments

  1. “To be clear, the imperial mindset approach to opposition politics is to develop a crushing advantage at virtue, knowledge of the field, practical restoration program details, and organizational competence, and then, gently or otherwise, relieve the monkeys of their posts”

    10/10. Successful passivism, and becoming worthy in general are hopeless pursuits as long as one languishes in the “anger phase”.

    “Relatedly, Restoration will entail a large recalibration of America’s castes: Kshatriyas, insofar as they exist in America, need to grow some balls and stop believing in the idea of the republic and the temporal authority of the Brahmin.”

    Even as Brahmin influence seeps (floods?) into the boardrooms of our largest corporations, I see good things on the horizon here. Even a relative few in the tech community (looking at you, Peter Thiel) committing resources to develop restoration infrastructure/technological prerequisites could be enough to quickly fracture the (now only marginal) Brahmin influence expansion in the Kshatriya/Optimate power structure.

    “It just doesn’t work with Vaisya morality”

    This is absolutely true. All but the most rural Vaisya is completely administrated by the Brahmin despite Brahmin narratives asserting the “Old Straight White Men” direct culture. With urbanization, and college attendance trending as they are I see nothing improving until an alternative framework is deployed.

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  2. John Q. Public July 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    “Kshatriyas, insofar as they exist in America, need to grow some balls and stop believing in the idea of the republic and the temporal authority of the Brahmin.”

    Unlikely when career officers get ahead in the Pentagon with a combination of kiss up and kick down.

    Regimes usually only change when countries lose a war and badly.

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    1. ..or when a laborer’s wage is six sous a day and a loaf of bread costs eight. But that’s no so likely in the US anytime soon.

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    2. Michael Perilloux July 20, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      Right. This is why we need to preempt the losing the war part, and build a real Kshatriya caste.

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  3. John Q. Public July 20, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    P.S. This piece was very good.

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  4. This is required reading for everyone on the dissident Right.

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  5. I don’t know about you guys, but I am sick to the point of throwing up of more explanations and intellectual signalling about the collapse of the West. I’ve heard them all, and for years. Either we go from intellectual thinkfluence tourism to Imperial Mindset or we go home.

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    1. Amen. I see this article as a foundational piece.

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  6. Great article. Brings to mind the idea of self-/local-rule as political education. Without experience, we can’t actually know what skills and virtues are necessary for rule, we can only guess.

    The Brahmins don’t build institutions accountable for objective performance. They do status games and persuasion. I’m reading Tocqueville on the French Rev; even under absolutist monarchy, the Brahmin were very good at undermining the support and legitimacy of the regime. The democracy/voting was a symptom not a cause. He argued that lack of self-government (on minor/local issues) made the French nation susceptible to idealism, and even when the regime doesn’t require their vote it requires their cooperation.

    Kshatriyas can win the internal power game when the society is under intense objective pressure (exactly what John Q Public was getting at with “lose a war and badly”). See the turnover in flag/general officers under Lincoln or FDR as subjective performers get booted in favor of objective performers, or that study correlating pre-modern conflict intensity and modern GDP in Europe, or the story of continuous warfare that was Rome’s rise. If under intense objective pressure the Brahmin are so skilled that the Kshatriyas still fail to win power, you just get conquered (India).

    However, the last couple years have made me much more optimistic that this isn’t hard-coded; maybe all the Kshatriyas needed was awareness that they were in a war with the Brahmin on Brahmin turf, and the adoption of suitable tactics. So I used to think federalism was a lost cause, but if the Kshatriyas realize that federalism/subsidiarity is a strong long-run play (mirror to the long-run Brahmin play with the immigrant-vote) and suited to our culture/tradition, maybe not.

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    1. Michael Perilloux July 20, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      >Great article. Brings to mind the idea of self-/local-rule as political education. Without experience, we can’t actually know what skills and virtues are necessary for rule, we can only guess.

      I have a theory/vision/program article coming at some point on this. Local self-governance as training system for a whole caste of personally-responsible leader types. Much easier to solve succession problem when you have a whole “industry” of rulers who could do the job. Perhaps after my next article.

      >Kshatriyas can win the internal power game when the society is under intense objective pressure (exactly what John Q Public was getting at with “lose a war and badly”).

      We are under intense objective pressure. It is a coordination problem to get enough folks to realize it before it materializes in actual defeat.

      >So I used to think federalism was a lost cause, but if the Kshatriyas realize that federalism/subsidiarity is a strong long-run play (mirror to the long-run Brahmin play with the immigrant-vote) and suited to our culture/tradition, maybe not.

      Subsidiarity is absolutely the long-run necessary play. But the key is winning hard enough to be able to do it. Subsidiarity really unstable with insecurity of power, because the subsidiary polities start challenging the capital if there is any political disorder. This is the central reason why we don’t have subsidiarity now: too much political disorder.

      The “brahmins” as they stand now will never agree to subsidiarity, because it completely disempowers them. We have to persuade an enlightened core to become real Brahmins and Kshatriyas, and defeat the rest.

      True brahmins are not supposed to have temporal power. Proper brahmin influence is purely through their superior grasp of truth, which vaisyas and kshatriyas draw on willingly. America’s brahmins dominate through weaponized control of information streams. Subsidiarity gives power to other castes to refuse the “advice” of the brahmin. No problem for real brahmins, as it’s just another pressure towards truth. Big problem for fake brahmins.

      Like I said, big recalibration of caste roles needed in America.

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      1. Thanks for the thoughtful reply, I’m going to need to chew on it for a while. My immediate, half-formed thoughts:

        -In the US context, our local/state governments are quite ill (growing budgets, declining performance). Mutually-reinforcing with the nation’s expanding role. Both phenomena are caused by and beneficial to the Brahmin. So reactionaries would be wise to simultaneously push at the national level for subsidiarity as well as capture local/state institutions and improve them. Get the reinforcing cycle moving the opposite direction. We are far, far away from locals/states being a challenge to nation. We’re not the HRE.

        -When Brahmins lose on the national stage, they are considerably less opposed to subsidiarity. Grant it. The danger is the clawback when they win, and that’s where the other strategic prong (reactionary strengthening of the subsidiaries) must pull its weight. [Subthought: for all the federalism talk, why hasn’t Conservatism Inc granted subsidiarity after victories? Many possibilities, but I wonder if a lack of controlled, quality subsidiaries means that they wouldn’t actually benefit and they know it. Neocons don’t really run for governor.]

        -RE “True Brahmin”. We already have True Brahmin in the sense you’re using (pure Truth-seekers), they’re STEM researchers and they’re politically inert. I thought “Brahmin” referred to people who compete for socio-cultural power. I suspect lopsided Brahminism is precisely what de-tethers their ideas from reality. A maximin principle might be a defense. The Roman Republican Senators needed to be able orators, win wars, AND manage their estates. Also reduces infighting within the institution (via some homogenization).

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  7. This is the sort of content I’d like to see more of. As well as practical proposals for implementing this strategy.

    Too many alt-rightists imagine themselves as a virtuous peasantry rebelling against an oppressive aristocracy. You can’t build a state with that attitude. We need to become an aristocracy ourselves.

    There will never be a mass awakening under the current world system. Thus, anyone who wants to replace that system must be elitist. We must operate under the assumption that most westerners are foregone. When we take power we will be ruling over a hostile populace. Therefore, democracy must be rejected. Only a highly disciplined, totally dedicated elite can save our civilization.

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    1. Michael Perilloux July 21, 2017 at 1:52 am

      We’re working on it. Stay tuned.

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    2. “Too many alt-rightists imagine themselves as a virtuous peasantry rebelling against an oppressive aristocracy.”

      In many cases, this is the reality of the situation. Perverted “aristocrats” in New York, Boston and DC quite literally hate the Heartlanders with a venomous disdain and write articles/papers/books celebrating their death and replacement.

      You can debate about the efficacy of populist tactics but their worldview is just as realistic as that of NRx. They are hampered and financially ruined for organizing against a captured power structure often less than 100 miles away from their rural lives.

      Heimbach’s ‘Traditionalist Worker’s Party’ is doing real, local work in rallying, political maneuvering, and self-improvement for the Heartlanders.

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      1. Col. Tom Kratman, who should know better, thinks that the current elite is an incipient aristocracy motivated by amoral familism. But to practice familism you need a family. The fact that so many western leaders are childless or have one token child, like the Clintons, ought to put that to rest.

        A genuine aristocracy is an elite that holds certain values of personal and family honor, class discipline, and long term priorities. Our present elite isn’t even a decadent aristocracy because it never held such values to begin with.

        I don’t know much about the TWP but they sound like decent people. But there is a critical difference between the worldviews of working class whites and Nrx. Rightists of lower-lower middle class origin usually seem to believe that if they just do away with their corrupt rulers and are left to their own devices everything will work itself out. Nrx is built on the understanding that to solve the crisis of the 21st century we need to create a new power structure and a new elite capable of governing it.

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  8. Sorry I am stuck at the starting point. What exactly is the American Empire that is assumed here? The 50 states plus D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam? The US and its territories plus NATO and the military base system and naval presence around the world? The foregoing plus the ongoing interventions in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? The foregoing plus CIA and other efforts to shape friendly regimes as in Ukraine, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere? All of the above, God forbid?

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    1. Michael Perilloux July 21, 2017 at 1:56 am

      Yes, all of the above. Our empire is in a sorry state, but an empire it is. The “International Community” is the American Empire in drag. We always call it an empire so that we can all get used to the idea of formalizing it.

      Obviously a proper imperial policy would look very different from what America is doing at the moment. The point is that America has a lot of power over most of the world, not that we think the current policy is peachy. We must take responsibility for that power.

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  9. Is this “Kshatriyas” caste idea to be taken literally? Because if so……..

    If the military becomes the state and the state becomes a business and the chief business of the American Empire is upholding the “rules of the road” or protecting country A from country B in return for payment, then the strategic task of people not in the military becomes quite different.

    Two things come to mind:

    1: Persuading “Kshatriyas”.

    2: Creating the conditions for “Kshatriyas” to come into power.

    With 2, the actions that could be taken may appear somewhat paradoxical…..

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  10. This is not the article on imperial mindset that someone with imperial mindset would write.

    For one, an American statesman wouldn’t talk about Hindu castes. That’s the Brahmin abstract intellectual approach. Imperial rule requires an imperial people, who are bound by understanding and affection.

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    1. I was under the impression that the article’s a Brahmin’s invitation to Brahmin, for pioneering the imperial mindset that, in the Kshatriyas’ hands, can win. Realizing imperial mindset wouldn’t be the Brahmins’ doing, but their proofing ought to help those who intend to.

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    2. Michael Perilloux July 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      >For one, an American statesman wouldn’t talk about Hindu castes. That’s the Brahmin abstract intellectual approach.

      What’s wrong with the caste system? Maybe it needs new branding? Do you disagree that people who deal in truth, people who deal in power, and people who deal in craft are very different natural categories that we can say something about? Maybe we need better categories. What are they?

      As for it being a brahmin approach, we are recovering brahmins, and there is an important role for theorizing in this task.

      >Imperial rule requires an imperial people, who are bound by understanding and affection.

      Yes it does. Imperial core must be monoethnic, have nationhood. What is the relevance here?

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  11. I hope that the exaltation of Kshatriya over Brahmin doesn’t slip into anti-intellectualism. A post-Enlightenment social order is going to need a totally new cultural platform (esp. formal foundations of its legal system and political institutions), and building that is a work of primarily intellectual labor. You need ideas and lots of them to legitimate a social order, and the reason the Left succeeded is because they used to produce them by the truckload. We have yet to build a canon that can replace the existing one; when the time comes to clear the Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, et al. from the bookshelves and consign them to the archives, we have to be able to fill those shelves with replacements that are not just equal to the past masters, but better- which will be no mean feat. Failing that, and armed with a Kshatriya mindset alone, we’ll just end up building a new version of the existing permanent government- one that will perhaps be more competent and muscular, but not different in kind.

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    1. Michael Perilloux July 22, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Yeah this is definitely not intended as a call for anti-intellectualism. We need brahmins, most of us are brahmins, and good kshatriyas are intellectuals as well as strategic power players.

      It remains that the project of Restoration is intellectual at its core. New ideas and such.

      I disagree that kshatriyas would rebuild the current system. The current system is almost defined by its reliance on corrupted-brahmin mind-control technology and diffusion of responsibility, which are very opposite to a kshatriya approach. Without that, it’s unrecognizable.

      Of course to actually build a new system, you would need a lot of intellectual work.

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  12. Man this was a really good piece and excellent comments. Love this cultivation-of-Kshatriya concept. Really spoke to me.

    Reply

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