Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Neoreaction, Not Alt-Right.

Today, Vox put up a post explaining what the alt-Right is.

To quote Vox;

"This is no longer true, assuming it ever was. The great line of demarcation in modern politics is now a division between men and women who believe that they are ultimately defined by their momentary opinions and those who believe they are ultimately defined by their genetic heritage. The Alt Right understands that the former will always lose to the latter in the end, because the former is subject to change."

No, the line of demarcation was defined long ago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Live not by Lies.

Truth is the only stable foundation of any political, moral, religious or social order.

My last few posts have dealt with some of the writings of Sam Francis. Francis was an implacable foe of the Neoconservatives whom he felt had poisoned the Right. Francis, despite his considerable analytical skill was quite vague as to why he found NeoConservatism so objectionable simply stating that it contained the "essence of Liberalism."

As far as I can tell, Francis felt that NeoConservatism was Liberalism in disguise.  And it's my opinion that the Alt-Reich is pretty much the same.

At it's heart, it still bases itself on Genetic Calvinism which is ultimately a rejection of the Christian basis of Western Civilization.  And while it definitely does not resemble the current beta liberalism, an alpha liberalism is liberalism just the same.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sam Francis on Masculinity.

It is all very well to blame the politicians, managers, media wizards, and incumbents who profit from this system, but the truth is that it is the citizens themselves who permit it to flourish and endure. It is a universal characteristic of modern mass organizations that they encourage dependency and passivity, that most of the individuals who are members of these organizations cannot possibly understand or acquire the highly technical skills that enable the organizations to exist and function, and that the role of most of their members is entirely passive and subordinate while power and responsibility is centered in an elite that does understand and perform their technical operations. Lacking any real power or responsibility, the members merely do their jobs and behave as they are told to behave. This is why you usually receive such terrible service in government offices and larger stores (it's not the clerks' store, and it makes little difference to them whether the customer is satisfied or not), why so few customers complain about it (they are told not to expect courtesy or help because the store is "self-service"), and also why television sitcoms have to play recorded laughter to let the mass audience know when something funny has been said or done (the members of the audience are also passive and will respond to whatever signal is sent to them). In mass politics, the role of "citizenship" is largely confined merely to passive voting for whichever of the two organizational monoliths the citizen has been enticed to support. Comparatively few citizens even do that today, and the number who hand out petitions or work for candidates or run for office themselves is a minuscule part of the population. 

The result of this inculcation of passivity is that even populist revolts such as that of the Perot movement last spring and summer cannot survive apart from manipulation and managed leadership. Despite all the enthusiastic support Mr. Perot's phantom candidacy attracted, no sooner had he withdrawn from the race than the whole bubble popped, usually in tears and whining at the "cowardice" and "betrayal" of the leader, and the only question asked of his followers, the only question they seem to have asked themselves, was which of the other two candidates would they support. It never occurred to any of them to assert active leadership of the movement themselves and fill the void that the Texas billionaire had pretended to create and fill. [ED]

Indeed, the inculcation of passivity by the managerial system and its elite is an essential foundation of its power, not only on the political level but also on the social, economic, and cultural levels as well. The entire structure of the system depends upon manipulating its members into believing (or not challenging the assumption) that they are not capable of performing the simple social functions that every human society in history has performed as a matter of routine. It is the constant instruction of the propagandists of the system that we are not capable of educating our own children, taking care of them without brutalizing them, providing for our own health or old age, enforcing our own laws, defending our own homes and neighborhoods, or earning our own livings. We are not capable of thinking our own thoughts without ubiquitous and self-appointed pundits to explain to us what we see and hear nor of forming our own tastes and opinions without advice from experts nor even of deciding when to laugh when we watch television.

What is really amazing about American society today is not that there is so much violence and resistance to authority but that there is so little[ED], that there is not or has not long since been a full-scale violent revolution in the country against the domination and exploitation of the mass of the population by its rulers. A people that once shot government officials because they taxed tea and stamps now receives the intrusions of the Internal Revenue Service politely; a society that once declared its independence on the grounds of states' rights now passively tolerates federal judges and civil servants who redraw the lines of electoral districts, decide where small children will go to school, let hardened criminals out of jail without punishment, and overturn local laws that are popularly passed and have long been enforced. 

Is it any wonder that the two political parties and all their repulsive leaders, managers, speechwriters, image-makers, officials, fundraisers, vote-catchers, and candidates are frauds who are less convincing than street-corner card sharks? Why should they not be frauds? Who is there to expose their racket and hold them to account? "If God did not want them sheared," says the bandit leader in the movie "The Magnificent Seven" about the Mexican peasants he is robbing and killing, "he would not have made them sheep." The peasants in the movie prove they aren't sheep not by hiring the seven gunfighters to protect them but by finally taking up arms themselves. Sheep don't fight back; they wait for others to fight for them. If there remain today any Americans who are not sheep, they'll stop trying to hire phony populist gunfighters to save them from the wolfish bandits who run the country, and in the next four years they'll start learning how to shoot for themselves. [ED]*
Sam Francis, Revolution from the Middle.
Recently, whilst on holidays, I had the opportunity to read Sam Francis', Revolution from the Middle, and, Shot's Fired. Both are good books and have deepened my appreciation of Francis. I have some arguments with Francis, some of which I plan to expand on later on, but I'm in broad agreement with him on many matters. Reading though his works, I definitely got the impression that he was dismayed at the impotence of the socially corrective forces in the Anglosphere, an impotence which I believe he felt was due the the social conditioning bought about by "managerialism" but personally, I feel that it's malady lays much deeper.

Recent articles in the Web have noted that despite living in an age of sexual libertinism  the incidence of sexual activity amongst millennials is going down.  Religious types may celebrate but  Bacchus is not being displaced by the active belief in a Christian God. Logically, this would indicate that Eros is asleep on the job. Furthermore, recent strength tests show that millennials are physically weaker than their fathers and sperm counts are falling. What's going on?

I'm not sure, but all the "signs" seem to point towards a failure of "masculinity". A failure which I believe is due to multiple causes and therefore not really reducible to one overarching explanation. But it's a failure which I believe is going to have profound social and  political consequences for Western Civilisation unless it is rapidly repaired. Quite simply, the Left is winning because the Right lacks "Men".

Recently, Roissy made a call to the alt-Right (Riech) to reclaim game. I think NRx should take note. It's not simply about how to organise a society, but it's also about the type of people that form the constituency of that society. Any society, when faced will existential threat will wither, if its defence is based upon the bravery and motivation of eunuchs.

*(Disclaimer for the retarded and NSA) Francis wasn't did not advocate, nor do I, picking up a gun and shooting people. He felt the primary battle to be fought was cultural, not physical. The Right needs smart men, not Anime-Gun twitching-Eunuchs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sam Francis on Globalism.

"But in fact globalism is not at all the same thing as imperialism. In imperialism, at least the historic versions of it we know, a particular political and cultural unit expands and imposes itself and its power on other particular political and cultural units, as when Rome, Great Britain, or the United States conquered and controlled other countries and other territories. Up to a point, imperialism is a perfectly normal and natural (though not necessarily harmless) result of any successful state. If a state keeps winning its wars, if its subjects or citizens are economically successful, then sooner or later the state and its people will wind up with an empire, and typically the state then sends out some of those people to govern the empire, exploit it, and bring back lots of swag and ego-gratification for those remaining at home.

Globalism is rather different. Under globalism, the political and cultural unit that is expanding is not the city-state, nation, or people that expands under imperialism; indeed, the dynamic of globalism works to submerge and even destroy such particularities. What expands under globalism is the elite itself, which progressively disengages itself from the political and cultural unit from which it originated and becomes an autonomous force, a unit not subordinated or loyal to any particular state, people, or culture. In the globalist regime that is writhing to-ward birth today, the transnational elite that runs it does not even claim to be advancing the material or spiritual interests of the nations it uses; the elite has only contempt for national identity, regards national sovereignty as at best obsolete and at worst a barrier to its aspirations, and believes (or affects to believe) that nationality and all its characteristics are on the way out. "

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Programming Note

I was hoping to put up another post on Francis this week but unfortunately time has not been my ally.
I plan to resume again in another four to five weeks.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Francis on McCarthy

To repudiate McCarthyism, however, would be to accept not only the establishment but also the premises and agenda on which it operates, for the complex of public and private bureaucracies that compose the establishment is inseparable from the environmentalist, utopian, and social engineering functions that the premises and agenda of liberalism express and rationalize. The American Right, then, if it is serious about wanting to preserve the nation and its social fabric and political culture in any recognizable form, must continue to embrace Joe McCarthy and the kind of militant, popular, anti-liberal, and antiestablishment movement that he was the first to express on a national scale. 
One of the best essays, in my opinion was Francis's take on Joe McCarthy.  McCarthy is a much maligned figure in American history and undoubtably was a reckless man. However its important to remember that revolutions are not really started by intellectuals but by mortal, fallible men facing the contingencies of the time.  The prayers that reach God are not only uttered by saints but also by "sons of bitches" and Joe McCarthy seemed more of the latter. Burnham didn't like him, though he was too smart to disown outright, claiming that he was "anti anti-McCarthy". Whittaker Chambers also wanted to disassociate himself from McCarthy, not because he didn't recognise the validity of his claims, rather the recklessness of his methods was likely undermine the long term anti-liberal cause. He thought him as a "rabble rouser" who "simply knew the that a tomato had been thrown and the general direction from which it came."

By all accounts, McCarthy was not a "nice" man. Francis writes;
He violated the rules of the Senate as well as the standards of common decency. He physically attacked Drew Pearson. He lost his temper, bullied witnesses, talked dirty, and drank too much. He insulted such devoted public servants and stalwart patriots as Dean Acheson, Adlai Stevenson, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and George Marshall. He tried to link Stevenson with Alger Hiss, and he made attorney Joseph Welch cry on national television. Perhaps worst of all, when journalists or other senators called McCarthy a liar, a criminal, an extremist, a homosexual, or a fraud, he paid them back in the same coin with his distinctive gift for invective. Joe McCarthy said and did all these things and more, and the evil that inheres in them lives after him and recoils upon us to this day in the hatred that attaches to his cursed name. 
Francis recognises that McCarthy evokes a visceral hatred out of all proportion to the nature of McCarthy's "crimes", since many of the people and institutions that he did criticise were ultimately responsible for the deaths of millions of people. So why the hate? Francis writes;
The real reason for the hatred borne by the name of Joe McCarthy has little to do with the evil that is attributed to him or with his uncompromising anticommunism but rather with what he discovered about the forces—the people, ideas, and institutions—that by 1950 had come to dominate American government and public discourse and with what he communicated and exposed to the American people about those forces. McCarthy not only claimed that a communist presence had entered into the federal government but also that noncommunist or ostensibly anticommunist elements in the government and more broadly in the national elite were in some sense "soft" on or sympathetic to communism and, consequently, that they lacked the resolution to extirpate the internal communist presence and deal effectively with communism abroad. Even more, he suggested that the connection between the elite and the forces of subversion and aggression was in itself an indictment of the elite, regardless of whether its members were formally affiliated with communism, whether they had actually committed espionage or treason in a legal sense, or whether they verbally espoused opposition to communism. McCarthy, in other words, was not principally concerned with the issue of communism in government but with the relationship between communism and the elite, or establishment, and because his concern necessarily involved a militant challenge to and a rejection of the elite, it launched a massive political and verbal counterattack upon him, crushed him and the movement he created, and transformed him into the demonic embodiment of evil that moves among us even today.
Francis recognised that the changes bought about by the New Deal in the United States had effectively resulted in a displacement of America's traditional governing class and its replacement by a managerial class who, while opposed to the methods of communism, were quite sympathetic to its ends. This intellectual sympathy, rendered them "soft" when combating communism  and in many instance instances, wittingly or unwittingly, helped further along the communist cause.  Francis fully understood that liberalism--in the American sense--did not differ from communism by very much being simply a "softer" variant of it, a point that Francis further elaborates in the essay.

It's important to recognise significance of the liberal capture, especially in light of historical developments in the second half of the 20th Century, particularly with regard to the failure to contain Soviet aggression and the cultural collapse of traditional western society in the Sixties.

Liberals had captured all the key institutions by the early 50's, so it's no surprise that by the early Sixties, when the universities had started agitating for cultural change, the institutional pushback was not there. That's because the institutions were already in agreement with demands of the students. Mainstream America's attempt to push back against the tide was doomed to failure, since the institutions of government were against them. This also explains why relatively peaceful movement such as protests and civil disobedience were so effective out of all proportion to the efforts and why in a country like North Korea, where the managerial class is quite happy with the state of affairs, similar such protests are suicidal.

It also explains a lot of the conservative failure in pushing back the "left tide". Emulating the methods "left's success" i.e. protests and civil disobedience are likely to be ineffective, since the Left's methods are premised on having an elite that is sympathetic to their ideals. Conservatives, emulating their methods lack the pre-requisite elite support and likely to see their methods fail. But more importantly, conservatives using such methods are being diverted from more practical modes of opposition by using the civil rights paradigm as a model of resistance. If anyone doubts this the current institutional apathy in pursuing left wing groups who are violent towards the right are a case in point. Had a the roles been reversed, and a right wing group responsible, arrests would have been made. McCarthy was able to impress upon the public the extent of the liberal capture.

The elite's horror of McCarthy stems not from his failure to apply due process but rather the fact that he used their methods on them and was able to stage a populist revolt:
Nevertheless, it was not the minutiae of congressional investigations and the administration of federal laws and regulations that created McCarthy's following, nor did they significantly contribute to the hatred of him that the new elite exhibited. Had McCarthy announced, in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950, the discovery of Communists in labor unions rather than in the State Department, his speech would have attracted little notice. The State Department and the individuals whom McCarthy proceeded to identify by name were at the heart of the establishment and its agenda, and when McCarthy made bald assertions about their connections to communism, he was launching an attack upon the establishment that it could not ignore and which it could reciprocate only with hatred. Other criticisms of the elite from the Right—of its economic and foreign policies or of the constitutionality of its legal measures—did not challenge its fundamental legitimacy or its basic loyalty and integrity, nor did they generally suggest that the establishment was a distinct social and political, as well as an ideological, formation, implicitly and inherently alien and hostile to the mainstream of the nation[ED]. Hatred and destruction of McCarthy were the only possible responses to this kind of attack. Thomas Reeves says in his large biography of McCarthy that he is our King John. It may be more appropriate to say that he is the liberals "Trotsky", their Emmanuel Goldstein, their Jew. His very existence was a threat to their interests and power and was ultimately incompatible with their dominance in the United States. 
While most people recognise McCarthy as a red "witch hunter", Francis makes the crucial distinction in recognising that McCarthy was a populist witch hunter who had, for the first time, managed to organise some sort of pushback against the managerial state. Intellectuals may have been able to put forward good intellectual arguments against the New Deal but McCarthy was the first to organise a populist pushback.
It was McCarthy's accomplishment to infuse into the American Right the militancy of a counterrevolutionary movement, and the large following he attracted tends to confirm that there was indeed what Chambers called a "jagged fissure" between the elite and the "plain men and women of the nation" on the issue of the relationship between the elite and communism. The militant anti-liberal and anticommunist movement that McCarthy was the first to instigate also underlay the Goldwater movement of the early 1960s, the Wallace following of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the "New Right" of the last decade. Every time these mass expressions of anti-liberalism have appeared, mainstream conservatives and the Republican party have hastened to take political advantage of them and use them to gain political office—as Eisenhower did in 1952, Nixon in 1968, and Reagan in 1980. Yet every time also, those who gained office have proceeded to ignore, to compromise, or actually to betray the constituency on which their officeholding was based. They have done so because they are themselves part of or closely connected to the elite against which this constituency is mobilized. 
Francis casts McCarthy's legacy in a different light. While it is true that he was a flawed man, "the son of a bitch" was the first to politically challenge the liberal elite. Subsequent scholarship and particularly the disclosure of the Venona project have vindicated him to a degree, however Chambers assessment of him was ultimately correct; his faults and excess were ultimately his downfall.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Francis on Chambers.

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

According to Paul Gottfried, Sam Francis was equivocal on the relationship of Christianity and Western Civilisation, and apparently he had grown lukewarm in his faith, so I was surprised to see Francis include Chambers in his narrow group of thinkers. Quite frankly, I bought the his book, Beautiful Losers,  simply to see what he would say about Chambers, whom this blog has championed before.  Francis, though clearly under the influence of Burnham's positivism, is perhaps one of the few understood the importance of Chambers thinking and the importance of his "witness" in the Alger Hiss, trial and of the seismic changes that took place in Conservatism as result.

The trial, and Chambers victory against nearly insurmountable odds of the managerial establishment, re-orientated Conservatism towards a more religious understanding of itself; gave birth to the McCarthy movement, which even though flawed, was the first example of populism against the managerial state; launched the career of Richard Nixon, helped expunge the Rockefeller republicans from the party in the Goldwater campaign and was hugely influential on the populism of Ronald Reagan.

His legacy lives on. Quite frankly, it's a surprise that he is so neglected given mark on history. Francis is to be commended for both recognising his importance and for keeping his memory alive. Still, reading Francis I was more of the impression that he "intuited" Chambers greatness rather than fully intellectually appreciating his significance.

Chambers, like Burnham, was an ex communist who eventually repudiated its ideals, and both men shared a common outlook which separated them from the "conservative tradition". Whereas Burhnam belonged to tradition of Machiavelli,  Chambers intellectual lineage belonged more to the tradition of Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn.
Burnham's modernism alienated those traditionalist conservatives who were aware of it. Their minds tend to center on the more ethereal regions of religion, ethics, metaphysics, and aesthetics, rather than on the sociological analysis of political conflict and the geo-politics of global struggle, and they are not attracted to and are often repelled by a worldview that centers on conflict, power, and human irrationality. Whittaker Chambers, whose own mind reflected a tension between modernism and antimodern elements and who ex-pressed deep admiration for Burnham, nevertheless criticized him for his "prudent, practical thinking." "The Fire Bird," wrote Chambers, "is glimpsed living or not at all. In other words, realists have a way of missing truth, which is not invariably realistic." The "Fire Bird" refers to the classical myth of the phoenix, a bird composed of fire that, since it was consumed by flames as it flew through the air, left no body. Its existence therefore could not be proved empirically, by finding its body; it had to be seen alive or not at all. Chambers's meaning is that Burnham's worldview demanded empirical proof for things that by their nature could not be proved but were nevertheless known to be true by those who had seen—or felt or intuited—them. 
Chambers recognised that Burnham's vision was limited by his positivism and that he had missed what the real fight of the 20th Century was all about, the battle between atheism and religion. Religion, Chambers recognised, motivated men for the sacrifices and struggles that were needed to sustain a culture, and a better arranged atheism did not provide any such protection, whilst Atheism collapsed eventually into Hedonism. And Chambers, staring about him in the glory days of 1950's America could see that the the atheistic managerial state was slowly strangling, and excluding, the motive principle that had sustained the West. Seeing beyond the gloss to the underlying substance Chambers wrote:
there is a strong family resemblance between the Communist state and the welfare state. The ends each has in view have much in common. But the methods proposed for reaching them radically differ. Each is, in fact, in direct competition with the other, since each offers itself as an alternative solution for the crisis of the 20th Century; and Fabian Britain has at last supplanted Soviet Russia in the eyes of political liberals when they look abroad. Nevertheless, that family resemblance is nerve-wearing, since all the minds that note it are not equally discriminating, especially in a nation that has only just become conscious of Communism and still rejects socialism. So, at every move against Communism, liberal views come unglued, and liberal voices go shrill, fearing that, by design or error, the move may be against themselves. 
The beast could morph and Chambers was adept at recognising it's manifestations.

Cambers was contemptuous of liberalism and saw it as another morphed form of managerial atheism. Attempts to reconcile liberalism to conservatism misunderstood the nature of it and Chambers despaired the lack this awareness and the stupidity of many conservatives. Francis writes:
Yet if Chambers rejected twentieth-century liberalism, he was not much more sympathetic to the conservatives of the 1950s. He declined to attach himself in any way to Joe McCarthy, less perhaps from dislike of the man than a belief that McCarthy would eventually taint his witness. He was not comfortable at National Review and found preposterous the quaint dogmas of classical liberalism dressed up as conservatism. In a letter to Buckley in 1957, he called the free-market economist Ludwig von Mises "a goose," and Frank Meyer's self-appointment as the ideological gatekeeper of the American Right seems first to have amused, then bored, him. The ideas of Meyer and Russell Kirk struck Chambers as "chiefly an irrelevant buzz." Of Kirk's The Conservative Mind he asked, "if you were a marine in a landing boat, would you wade up the seabeach at Tarawa for that conservative position? And neither would I!" Only with Buckley himself and James Burnham did he seem to share anything like a common outlook, and at last he resigned from National Review, acknowledging to Buckley and himself that he was not a conservative in any serious sense but "a man of the Right."
What exactly Chambers meant by this term is far from clear, but he contrasted it with "conservatism" and seems to have identified it with a defense of capitalism. "I am a man of the Right because I mean to uphold capitalism in its American version. But I claim that capitalism is not, and by its essential nature cannot conceivably be, conservative." Yet despite his identification with capitalism, almost nowhere did Chambers offer an explicit defense of it, and in both his letters to Buckley and in a National Review piece of 1958 on federal farm policy, he was perfectly conscious of the contradiction between capitalism and conservatism and the link between capitalism and the advance of socialism. Like most conservatives and like his neighbors in rural Maryland, Chambers saw the freedom I and independence of farmers threatened by federal regulation of agriculture. But he also believed such controls were "inescapable." 
I think its important here to understand what Chambers means by "Man of the Right" which I don't think Francis appreciated. It's more a negative definition than a positive one. Chambers intrinsically opposed to the atheistic vision which was the hallmark of liberalism, but he was also opposed to the rag tag bunch of anti-Liberalists and traditionalist who were "Right" merely by being opposed to the left.  Many of whom who hopeless aesthetes or nostalgics and other "right-materialists" who who saw man simply as an economic unit, or racial entity.

His evisceration of Ayn Rand singlehandedly threw her out of the conservative fold: A better managerialism is not what he was about. And the point that Chambers was trying to make by this statement is that it is possible to be anti-Left and to still be evil or stupid, which he though many conservatives were.
Nor has the author, apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler's National Socialism and Stalin’s brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently?
Like Burnham, Chambers shared much of his historical determinism, which in turn imparted upon him a spenglerian gloom. It also alienated him from Traditionalists who failed to recognise that late 19th Century was transformative in the scheme of human relations. Chambers' experiences in the Hiss Case lead him to the conclusion that he was on the "losing side", and much like a 19th Century physician, he could diagnose the problem but was powerless in effecting a cure. Francis writes:
The significance of Chambers's witness, then, is considerably diminished if it is mistaken as merely an account of Soviet communism and its Western stooges. His point throughout his writings in the 1940s and 1950s was that the roots of communism lie in the West itself and that they flourish because the modern age has chosen to credit the serpent's promise. That promise and its lethal consequences for the West were as palpable to him in the United States of Truman and Eisenhower as they had been under the Edwardians and as they were in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin. Only when the West had awakened to the falsehood of the promise could it bear what he called "that more terrible witness" by which it would destroy its external enemy and begin to purge itself of its internal toxins. But he had no expectation that the West would do so, and no suggestions on how to do it. 
Whilst I think Francis gives Chambers an accurate appraisal, I feel that his own lukewarm religiousness rendered him partially deaf to Chambers' message. Francis was looking for a method or program, within the existing materialistic world view to right it and it was Cambers's contention that there was no solution within it. The only way out was by re-embracing religion. Burnham, on the other hand, seemed to take Chambers's witness more seriously, and by the time he had written Suicide of the West, Burnham had conceded that ideas, i.e. culture, were just as significant as material and historical determinism. Burnham's identification of liberalism as the solvent of the West owes a large part to Chambers influence, yet he would not fully embrace religion, whilst recognising its utility, till shortly before his death. 

The point of Chambers witness is that there is no conservative or bourgeois revival unless we bend the knee to God. The best we can hope for otherwise is a Singapore or Japan, but perceptive observers of these countries realise that, they too, are dying. And even they, with their well managed managerial states, pale into insignificance, in terms of cultural output when compared to the glories of European civilisation. 
Chambers's message is that the cause of the death spiral of the West is atheism. Atheists, of course, reject this message, but it's also problematic for Christians. Faith is not something that can be engineered. It can be shored up with logic and argument but the faculty which gives certainty to the propositions of faith is a free gift of God that cannot be commanded. Religious reactionaries, I do not feel, have fully recognised this fact or its political implications. Perhaps this is a future project for a religious neo-reaction.

With regard to NRx, Chambers diagnosis pretty much damns Moldbuggian NRx which, trapped in its atheism,  is really just a better way of arranging things. If NRx wants to be truly transformative it needs to go Churchy. This will be a bitter pill for many.

It's true that Burnham made a huge impression on Francis, but as Francis lay dying from the complications of aortic surgery, he was visited by a Catholic priest who offered him the choice of a blessing or the Last Rites. The priest, by the way, being Antonin Scalia's son. Francis, like his hero Burnham chose the Last Rites. Perhaps Chambers made more of an impression on Francis than he really let on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Francis on Burnham:II

It's clear from Francis's writing that he felt that contemporary conservatism, in both its libertarian and "traditionalist" forms was incapable of dealing with the societal changes which occurred in the 20th Century. Francis felt the the libertarians had an "abstract" view of man which did not map onto reality and the traditionalists were still operating under the assumption that the fundamental nature of the world had remained unchanged. If Sam Francis was about anything, it was about the understanding of reality and how to navigate it, it was for this reason that Burnham appealed to him. 

Burnham regarded himself as an empirical student of power. Power as it is actually wielded rather than is theoretically expressed and hence the strong influence of Machiavelli, Marx, Mosca and Pareto in his thought.  His intellectual lineage put him outside the "tradition" of many conservatives who did not know what to make of him. On the other hand, Burnham himself felt that a conservatism which did not deal with the practical circumstances in which it found itself, and instead dealt with abstract principles only was an anachronism and destined to failure. Burnham's expositions of the ugly realities of power confused many who assumed that he was approving of them, which was not case. Burnham faced and stated realities regardless of how repulsive they were to himself.
The primary goals at which I aim in this column, as in most of the books and articles I have written, are fact and analysis. I do not accept any theory of class, national, ethnic, partisan, or sectarian truth. If conclusions I reach are true, they are just as true for Russians as for Americans, for pagans as for Christians, and for blacks as for whites.
For Burnham, historical and material circumstance had rendered traditional society obsolescent, in the same way that the internet is now rendering much of the media irrelevant, not by moral choice but by practical operation in the real world. And much like typesetters have become increasingly irrelevant, so too have the petit bourgeois capitalists in the modern world.
Yet the managerial regime did not evolve nor its elites become dominant in the economy, government, and mass society without a struggle. From the early twentieth century to the present, the social and political forces that resisted the formation of the managerial regime and the implementation of its agenda constituted a conservative, at times reactionary, influence. Small businessmen and entrepreneurs, the more parochial sectors of American society, lower middle-class elements, and groups that found the fiscal burden and social effects of the new regime a threat to their economic status and cultural identity provided the political base of the conservative resistance to managerial forces and ideas. The members of this base saw in the fusion of state and economy a threat to their own independent standing, endangered by the labor unions, regulations, and intervention imposed by the new managerial state in partnership with mass corporations. They saw their own values and institutions denigrated and undermined by the cosmopolitan ethic and egalitarian policies of the new elite. They suffered from the inflation and exorbitant taxation that financed the managerial state and from the crime and social dislocation that resulted from its social policies, by which the managerial regime subsidized an urban proletariat as its own political base. They were offended and often frightened by the globalist and, in their view un-American, international policies of the elite, which involved permanent intervention in world affairs, expensive foreign aid programs, the prospect of global war, and the renunciation of national interests in return fora cosmopolitan "one-world" that they regarded as both illusory and dangerous.
There's a lot to unpack in this paragraph of Francis's but I'm only going to concentrate on the main points.

Firstly, the battle is between the bourgeois and the current managerial elite.
Secondly, the strategy of the managerial elite is to squeeze the bourgeois middle by buying off the lumpenproletariat, who sell their votes to the highest bidder. This group are principally made up of the socially dysfunctional white and black lower classes in the U.S. who have been effectively "de-bourgeoised" by either genetic limitations or through adopting values which ensure their poverty. Kevin Williamson copped a lot of heat  for his article in the National Review--(there is a lot I disagree with)-- but he inadvertently vindicates Burhnam's and Francis's analysis:
Nationalism may speak to a longing for lost national greatness, but in our own time, it speaks at least as strongly to the longing after — the great howling lamentation for — the ideal family that never was lost, because it never was formed. The Mikes of the world may be struggling to make it in the global economy, but what they really are shut out of is the traditional family. The current social regime of illegitimacy, serial monogamy, abortion, and liberal divorce has rendered traditional families optional, at best — the great majority of divorces are initiated by wives, not by husbands — and the welfare state has at least in part supplanted the Mikes in their role as providers[ED], assuming that they have the wherewithal to fill that role in the first place. Traditional avenues for achieving respect, status, and permanence are lost to them.
The strategy of the elites was to buy the votes of the dysfunctional class. The cultural revolution of the Sixties effectively increased the pressure on the middle from the bottom.

Thirdly, the values of the managerial elite are different to the values of the bourgeois and there is an active displacement going on. This is going about through active exclusion from the decision making apparatus, economic pressure and cultural ostracism. According to Francis, the elites are effecting the destruction of the middle class.

Burnham, due to his historical determinism, felt that the managerial revolution was inevitable but what perplexed him was, unlike previous revolutions in the West, specifically when bourgeois society replaced the medieval one and which resulted in even greater civilisational advancement, the current elite was presiding over a civilisation that was dying. Burnham saw that the Elites were not just presiding over a new type of society but they were presiding over a society that had lost the will to live.
Burnham, though born a Catholic had been an atheist for much of his life. He recognised the "utility" of religion for a society but thought it one of Sorel's "Myths" that kept a society together. He did not believe in the truth of it. In trying to explain the West's loss of the will to live he tried to frame a different theory, one that both he and Francis did not seem entirely convinced of but one which I feel has a fair amount of merit. Francis writes in the Political Science Reviewer;
In his last book, Suicide of the West, Burnham was pessimistic about this ability and about the very survival of non-Communist civilization. Yet he was somewhat evasive on the exact causes of the contraction and decline of the West.[ED] It is true that the causes of the decline were not the subject of the book and that Burnham narrowed the possible causes to a failure of the will to survive within the governing elite, a failure rationalized by liberal ideology but more deeply associated, as Burnham suggested, "with the decay of religion and with an excess of material luxury". He did not pursue this suggestion further, however, and indeed it is too large a problem to be treated in Suicide of the West. 

It may be noted that Machiavelli had also attached central importance to the decline of religion and the rise of luxury as subversive forces in political society. Machiavelli had written in the Discourses, "there is no greater indication of the ruin of a country than to see religion contemned" and "in well-regulated republics the state ought to be rich and the citizens poor."' The decline of religion removes the principal unifying force in society able to rationalize sacrifices and suffering; the rise of luxury contributes to factionalism and the usurpation of the public interest by private groups and to the general softening and corruption of the physical and moral strength of the citizens. It is therefore not surprising that Burnham would have suggested these two phenomena as likely causes of Western civilizational decline, but he did not develop them.

Yet it is possible to reconstruct more clearly Burnham's views on the causes of the decline of the West and on the future of the West from the body of his published writings. Both problems in his mind were closely related to the internal structure and mentality of the Western governing elite. From The Managerial Revolution to Suicide of the West Burnham had predicted that the rising managerial elite would contain a heavy proportion of Class II residues [ED:Broadly analogous to alpha males, Class 1 residues are analogous to betas] and would be efficient in the use of force. Although he had regarded the totalitarian tendencies of the new elite as a serious threat to freedom and to the flexibilities that societal survival requires, he had praised the coming elite for its dynamism, its resoluteness, and its ability and willingness to seize leadership. In The Machiavellians he had written that "We may be sure that the soldiers, the men of force, the Lions, will be much more prominent among the new rulers than in the ruling class of the past century". In The Coming Defeat of Communism, published over a decade later, he again dwelt on the dynamism of the new elite and the decadence and vacillation of the old entrepreneurial class.

In Suicide of the West, however, he reversed this prediction and portrayed the managerial groups, under the influence of liberal ideology, as foxes, vacillating, unwilling and unable to use force, and relying on negotiations, propaganda, and opportunism. The correlation of liberal ideology with the managerial social forces was explicit, and it contradicted Burnham's earlier optimistic estimate of the new elite.

Although Burnham never explicitly accounted for his change of opinion, in Suicide of the West he suggested an explanation for the change that is entirely consistent with his earlier Machiavellian formulation of the theory of the managerial revolution. While it remained true that the social transformation has led to a greater presence within the elite of, and a greater reliance on, military leaders, the very nature of the managerial revolution, with its shift from small-scale, personal leadership to mass-scale, bureaucratic leadership, altered the character of the new military elite.
Technological change brings into the military force more and more persons exercising "civilian skills" (administrative, technical, scientific) that lack the in-bred immunity of the older, narrower military vocation to liberal ideas and values.
Two years later, in a highly controversial article in National Review on Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, Burnham made the point more explicitly. Burnham praised McNamara, "a perfect exemplar of the top level of the new managerial class," for trying to "make the defense establishment as closely as possible an integral element of our advanced managerial economy." 'A Much of the criticism directed at McNamara Burnham saw as originating from traditional, entrepreneurial elements in American society and from traditional military types in the armed services. These critics were resisting the technical modernization of the armed forces as pan of their general social resistance to the managerial revolution and the new class that was leading it. Yet Burnham was not entirely laudatory of McNamara and the elite he represented. He cited a letter-perhaps apocryphal-from a naval electronics technician who commented that he had seen no proof that "McNamara & Co. have an intuitive feel for the use of force: they seem to be more foxes than lions."' Burnham, then, was aware that military leadership by foxes or Class I residues may lack the qualities of command, combativeness, and endurance that lions would exhibit. "There are things in war," Burnham commented, "not dreamt of by IBM's computers.
The point that Burnham was making was that managerial society, perhaps by its very nature, requires or finds useful the residues and psychic forces of the fox, not those of the lion. As he had written of the Class I residues in The Machiavellian
it is this residue that leads restless individuals to large-scale financial manipulations, merging and combining and re-combining of various economic enterprises, efforts to entangle and disentangle political units, to make and remake empires. (MDF, 187) 
These are precisely the traits needed by those who manage mass-scale organizations-whether economic, political, educational, religious, social, or professional in function. They are traits that lead to success in the mastery of technical and administrative skills; the use of language in argument, negotiations, and propaganda; and the disciplines of modern organizational life. The traits of the lions or Class II residues-fierce loyalties and hatreds, a capacity for violence or brutality, and a willingness to endure suffering and sacrifice-are not required by modern managerial society to any great degree. Thus, managerial society, even in its military organizations, tends to promote and encourage those elements of the population that exhibit Class I residues and to demote, exclude, and discourage those that exhibit Class II residues. It also has an affinity for derivations such as liberalism that reflect Class I values and ideas, and an aversion to derivations such as conservatism that do not reflect Class I values and ideas and to some extent reflect those of Class II. 
Burnham's psychological analysis of the implications of managerial rule raises a dilemma. If managerial society requires for the control of its internal power structure the psychic forces that are efficient at managerial and verbal skills but have an aversion to force, then there is a contradiction between the internal requirements of managerial power and its external requirements, which demand skill in the use of force. Hence it is that the principal threat to the survival of a managerial society, in which Class I forces predominate, must come from outside it or from below, from Class II residues consigned to the lower strata of society. Pareto had made this contradiction explicit, and Burnham had quoted his lengthy statement of it in Suicide of the West. Burnham's final formulation of the theory of the managerial revolution in Suicide of the West recognized the importance of Class I residues in the governing elite, and this recognition implied a different estimate for the future of the West under managerial rule. Whereas Burnham's earlier discussions of appeasement, retreat, and decline had associated these phenomena largely with the decadent entrepreneurial elite, he now linked them with the managers. The implication was that the phenomenon of decline was not a passing phase that would be reversed by the new elite but a permanent feature of the dominant managerial class. "The decay of religion and the excess of material luxury' were not so much the causes of Western decline, in this analysis, as part of the syndrome of phenomena associated with an elite of foxes. Pareto himself had correlated the rise of religious skepticism and the increase of wealth with the accumulation of Class I residues in the elite.
Burnham's argument essentially is that as society becomes wealthier, it's managerial elite becomes less "jock" like and more nerd "like" with a commensurate inability to fight external attacks. Burnham wasn't the first to notice that rich societies goes "soft" and while I think this is only partial explanation for the decline, I do think it is one with considerable merit. On a variety of metrics, I think that there has been failure of masculinity in the West which I think partially explains the lack of its assertiveness and it's inability to combat simple threats, however the explanation is incomplete.

Burnham also recognsied that explanation was incomplete and had to include the embrace of Liberalism, a position he came with the help of Whittaker Chambers. He realised that Liberalism was the poison affecting the elites though he could propose no antidote and thus became pessimistic of the West's Future. The problem with Burnham's approach to power is that while it deals with how to best arrange society based upon the empirical observations of the past, it does nothing to to explain why that society should want to chose to live.  But Burnham, presumably because of his scientific Atheism could never see religion as anything more than a "useful" social glue but which was ultimately "unscientific" and therefore beyond the scope of his analysis.

Whittaker Chambers did not make that mistake.