One issue in our circle that deserves more attention is group formation and maintenance. It is easy to bemoan or belittle the institutional dominance of progressives without taking the challenge of their virtues seriously. They are good at making groups. And they are winning because they are better at this game—for the moment.
If the ultimate goal of neoreaction is the attainment of non-theoretical political power, then it might be worth pushing through the (appropriate) contempt and considering some properties of ruling classes.
Our own ruling class is constituted by abstruse mental jugglery and diffuse managerial administration.
In contrast to Kshatriyas and pre-modern European nobility, whose group cohesion disintegrated under the various pressures of modernization, we find the bureaucratic type thriving and proliferating. The times have disfavored the overtly exclusionary practices of the warrior-nobility, and instead have advantaged a more mercantile ethos pretending to out-group accommodation while in fact maintaining very strict in-group cohesion—what I’ll describe below as the “middleman” approach to group competition.
So, how do you form a group and keep it going?
Starting from the obvious, a group must have two basic properties: it must have an identity and must communicate. Let’s talk about identity first. While hardly a novel observation, it is nonetheless true that a thing can’t be a thing if it’s everything. You need cohesion internally and exclusion externally.
In the natural world, these two forces are complementary; they each drag the other along. If speciation occurs because of geographical separation, then no effort will have to be expended to exclude the out-group, and the in-group will become more homogeneous by default. On the other hand, if speciation is to occur in a mixed environment, then the group will have to develop mechanisms that specifically exclude the out-group.
Like everything else in nature, there is a trade-off. Increasing in-group cohesion also decreases out-group cohesion. In increasing the group’s differentiation (and therefore conspicuousness) to outsiders, members lose some cooperative benefits from maintaining partial membership status in the larger group and can be more easily targeted as enemies. A man with a face tattoo might create a stronger bond with his fellow body-art aficionados, but will have reduced his ability to ascend the ranks of his local PTA. These are the horns of the dilemma: as cooperation within a group increases, so does hostility outside the group.
However, there is a way to straddle the line in an attempt to maximize the benefits of both strategies—maximizing cooperation and reducing outsider hostility. Let’s call it the middleman approach.
In order to follow this maximally effective inter-group competition strategy, two poles must be balanced: invisibility and markedness. One strives to have one’s group membership be invisible to outsiders and recognizable to insiders. This appears to be a zero-sum game, but there is a way to hack it with a sophisticated communications system.
Open channel communication is very cheap, but it puts outsiders and insiders on the same footing—not a great way to preferentially increase in-group cooperation. Encrypted communication is much more expensive, but does the trick of excluding outsiders. If we look further into encrypted communication we can describe two different strategies: either the code is sent knowing that there are motivated interceptors and is therefore strongly encrypted (electronic military communications), or it is meant to be inconspicuous to those who are not in the know, and so is only lightly encrypted (obscure literary references in a poem).
If you are fighting an enemy and everyone knows that they are communicating by radio, inconspicuousness is not an option, and so effort must be invested in encryption in order to ensure that the information in the message is only decodable by the intended recipient, even though receivable by many. On the other hand, if your enemy employs tactics including deception about the very nature of the fight, then they have little need to invest in costly encryption and can instead communicate via open source channels, relying on popular ignorance to ensure that only the intended recipients get the message.
But this latter strategy has a weakness—the price for easy communication is paid for in risk. What if someone writes a commentary to Pound’s Cantos and you’re no longer one of the exclusive literati in the know? Elite salons will be wide open to infiltration or cooption once the information leaks. How, then, will you be able to distinguish between in-group and out-group? Horn-rimmed glasses just won’t cut it anymore.
One way of mitigating this risk is to offer an initiation, or series of practices, that create a barrier between in-group and out-group. In order to fit in with the middleman strategy, it needs to be something that is invisible to outsiders but that is a high-cost, hard-to-fake sign of commitment. Rather than a face tattoo at one extreme, or becoming a Unitarian at the other, an intense experience or initiation ritual is a form of communication that allows one to maintain the benefits of the middleman approach, grasping both horns of the cohesion/exclusion dilemma.
Everyone’s favorite political prisoner, Dostoevsky, explores this in his novel Demons, in which a group of political radicals commit a murder together in order to cement their group’s identity: “get four members of a circle to bump off a fifth on the pretense of his being an informer, and with this shed blood you’ll immediately tie them together in a single knot.” (Pt. 2, Ch. 7)
Despite the highly corruptible nature of man, a group formed on the basis of ritualized murder will likely be very small. While that might be effective under certain conditions, a growing political class needs a broader foundation.
Rather than trying to forcibly modify potential members against the grain of their natural dispositions, thereby creating an artificial group from whole cloth, it would be more efficient to form larger groups based on the sorting of already existing qualities. If I brand my cattle, I have formed a group based on modification, whereas maintaining an all-female herd is sorting, unchanged, what is already there. It takes less effort to isolate a bull than to brand a herd, pace Jim.
Of course, in the real world, there is extensive category bleed-over, and so groups are likely to be formed from the slight modification of some already existing trait. The relative balance of these two extremes, however, plays a large role in group dynamics. In part, this group-formation preference is what separates advocates of the proposition-state (modification) from advocates of an ethnostate (sorting). In short, the most effective means of forming a group is to take already existing traits and throw in a slight complication—just enough to control and mark membership.
So, if we lean more heavily on characteristics already present among a subset of humans and want to keep to the middleman approach, we should select those that are both less obvious to outsiders and harder to fake.
As Dostoevsky shows, it is possible to achieve this optimal strategy through nefarious means. Human baseness can certainly be implicated in a group formation strategy, though the long-term prospects of an agnonic approach are bearish. By way of antipodal exemplar, let’s now take a look at how a certain faction of progressives does this.
Homosexuals represent a small but significant portion of the population, with an apparently strong genetic component, but with wide phenotypic variation. This means, in part, that in highly adverse environments many homosexuals can avoid detection—a capacity one would expect from a subpopulation that has managed to survive in many different cultures with varying, though often intense, levels of hostility. Because homosexuals have survived through selection pressures different from those of the general population, we can expect them to form a “sortable” population. One might also expect that genetically successful homosexuals will have had two important traits: the ability to blend in among heterosexuals, and the ability to communicate their homosexuality to other homosexuals. And there we have it—the two traits essential for the middleman approach.
In addition to having solved the identity/communication problem more effectively than the general population, they have also solved the freeloader/infiltrator problem. It is relatively easy to pretend to be a Unitarian, but pretending to be a homosexual is another matter. Even if the rewards for deception were spectacular, most non-homosexuals would simply be incapable of engaging in homosexual activity convincingly. Homosexuals therefore have a natural barrier to group membership, a hard-to-fake sign of commitment that maintains group integrity.
With this set of attributes, one would expect homosexuals to be overrepresented in positions where social networking is a determining factor. While it is difficult to get a clear picture of homosexual representation in this regard, it does appear that they are—especially given the fact that these figures would be underestimates, given, among other things the significantly shorter life-spans of homosexuals along with the fact that wealth and influence tend to increase with age.
Yet, group dynamics never reach true stasis. Even within relatively restricted groups there are always subgroups operating under the same basic forces. It is well known (Milo Yiannopoulos has most recently brought this to public attention) that there is some significant overlap between homosexuals and pedophiles. There is plenty of premodern evidence for this as well—much of Greek and Persian homosexuality, at least at the literary level, is what we would now call pedophilia. Given that at least some pedophiles are a subgroup within homosexuals, and given the even stronger environmental pressure, for the time being, against pedophiles, we would then expect pedophiles to have the 2.0 version of the same skill set (blending in to a larger group, and communicating with subgroup members).
In this regard, we might notice that many legal gains for homosexuals also benefit pedophiles. The ability, for example, to modify birth certificates, granted by homosexual marriage and transgender activism, can facilitate child trafficking. Could this be a symptom of a more sophisticated subgroup directing a larger host-group to a symbiotic end?
The domination of larger groups by subgroups goes a long way towards understanding many of the apparent absurdities and non-sequiturs of progressivism. Rather than being evidence of the faulty logic of progressives, as some on the Right naively assert, we should instead consider the possibility that they are goal-directed factional struggles among subgroups.
In this light, it is interesting to follow the developments in our societies from homosexual liberation to the burgeoning liberation of pedophiles. It strikes me that there are two primary interpretations for these developments.
The first is that homosexuals are trying to improve their position within society; they organize to achieve public acceptance for their group, which increases their efficiency and coordination (they don’t have to waste time and effort on deception). But, there is a downside. They weaken the entry barrier and make it easier for freeloaders to attach themselves to the group. Since presenting oneself publicly as a homosexual now has a low cost, there is incentive for freeloaders to gain the benefits of being or appearing to be a homosexual, without the costly (for non-homosexuals) initiation. This is obviously the case with metrosexual types and some transgenders.
The second explanation is that a subgroup within the homosexual population, pedophiles for example, is engaged in a struggle for dominance and employs social acceptance as a mechanism for increasing permeability and weakening the integrity of their (rival) host group.
If, in fact, we are now witnessing a transitional phase in the intra-group competition between homosexuals and pedophiles, might we see the campaigns for normalization of homosexuality as a way of weakening in-group coherence, perhaps to the benefit of subgroups? As pedophilia is further normalized, what will happen to homosexuality as a power network?
Since the operation of group dynamics is not necessarily a planned or conscious process, though it often is, it is difficult to provide definitive answers. But by recognizing general aspects of group dynamics, we see that the basic issue is one of effectively employing communication in order to maximize the benefits of both in-group and out-group identity. We are dealing with antagonistic principles, different configurations of which are possible, and which will be either more or less effective depending on the particular environment.
While I neither want nor expect the future Kshatriya caste to be composed of deviants, it is worth bearing in mind that it is possible to build and maintain a cohesive and effective group that lasts, based on the most vile aspects of humanity. The trick for us is finding effective mechanisms for exploiting these facets of group formation without indulging in dishonorable behavior—using the principles (not the specific practices) to our advantage. I won’t go so far as to offer suggestions, but a discussion of such issues would greatly benefit our movement going forward. If we wanted to slightly overstate the matter, we might even think of it in terms of creating a new religion.
The primary application of all the above is the question of how neoreactionaries, and other aligned groups, should interact with wider society, particularly major institutions. Should we attempt to retake, or at least influence, institutions, or simply abandon a dying system and form parallel networks? In my view, we should follow the middleman approach here—do both simultaneously.
Titus Quintus, for example, advocates the formation of a non-nationalist or transnationalist polity. While I’m not entirely sold on the idea, it does offer one possible way forward. As a real-world application of how this might play out, we can look to the Shia in the Middle East. While they do have the support of a nation (Iran), they also have a powerful transnational network that is not entirely connected to Iran’s fate. And with this transnational network, they are able to shift resources efficiently, even taking control of another state’s apparatus when convenient.
However things unfold, there are real benefits to maintaining membership in progressive-dominated institutions, even if that presence is not sufficient to influence developments at present. Having people in place competent to run things is a major boon that can multiply the effect of any opportunity that happens to arise. Many of President Donald Trump’s difficulties come from the fact that all of the institutions he nominally controls are working against him—an eventuality that could have been mitigated by having sympathetic people pre-placed in government, universities and perhaps even media.
The problem is that these institutions exert a powerful influence on their members, even on those who intend to oppose them. Given the tendency of people to become what they pretend to be, the necessity of maintaining a facade to avoid getting fired or ostracized will take its toll.
Those who remain atomized and without a vision for the future will end up conforming.
This is why it is so important to form networks of like-minded brothers. Developing groups based on shared perspective and shared rites will be a source of refreshment and realignment, enabling us to maximize a wider range of opportunities and grow stronger as we wade together into the digestive slurry of Cthulhu.