What is the Orthosphere?

Dalrock has recently tackled the question “What is the manosphere?”  Posts like this are an important service to other branches of the neo-reactionary tree, somewhat sympathetic outsiders trying to decide whether the entity in question is entirely, partly, or not at all compatible with their own commitments.  “Definitions are important”, Dalrock rightly says.  I would add that dogmas, properly enunciated, facilitate conversation rather than shutting it down.  It helps to know very clearly what one is being asked to agree or disagree with.  This is, if anything, even more true for the “orthosphere”, since the words we would ordinarily use to describe ourselves–“social conservatives”, “traditionalists”, “orthodox Christians”–have been stretched and debased almost to the point of uselessness.  I don’t blame liberals, men’s rights activists, or anyone else for believing that social conservatism is what prominent people calling themselves social conservatives say it is.  What else are they to think?  Nevertheless, what passes for conservatism, even Christian conservatism, these days is deeply contaminated by liberalism, as a look at the historical record and an examination of basic philosophical premises makes clear.  By the same standards, the orthosphere is not thus corrupted.  The following will be a work of dogmatics, not apologetics.  I will not try to convince you that the orthosphere’s beliefs are true, but I do want to give you a sense of what they are and how they differ from those of related schools of thought.

The question of identity

Identity is important.  Dalrock and I agree on a lot, but even if we agreed on everything, there would still be this big difference that he sees himself as part of the manosphere, and I don’t see myself as part of it.  On the other hand, among many bloggers whom I respect and with whom I often agree, there is an assumption that Christian conservatism as it has existed in the past is an intellectually indefensible thing.  It may have reached certain correct conclusions, but for silly reasons.  Cogent arguments for conservative conclusions must rely on game, evolutionary psychology, empirical race differences, classical liberalism, neo-paganism, or something else extrinsic to the substance of past conservatism.  Past conservatism is an embarrassment, and an important part of establishing the intellectual respectability of one’s position is to disavow any connection to it.

Something very distinctive about the Orthosphere is that we do self-consciously see ourselves as continuing on the European counter-revolutionary tradition of Burke, Coleridge, Maistre, Bonald, Le Play, Taparelli, Kuyper, Dostoevsky, and Maurras. We acknowledge French legitimists, Spanish Carlists, White Russians, and Christian corporatists of Spain, Portugal, and Austria as being part of “our side”.  This doesn’t mean we endorse everything they ever said or did, but we do identify with them.  We defend basically the same principles and hope to develop their thought rather than starting from scratch.

Of course, who we identify with doesn’t yet tell you what we care about or what we believe.  I therefore propose four principles that should give you a sense of it.  Regular readers may think these have a bit too much of a “Bonald flavor” to be representative of our whole group, but like all men I am condemned never to be able to escape from myself.

1) The moral community

Liberals maintain that the state should be neutral on questions of religion and the good life.  What’s more, they condemn the “tyranny of custom”, “slut-shaming” etc. whereby communities exert informal social pressure to maintain behavioral norms.  The right to individual autonomy for them takes precedence over maintaining a communal consensus.  Now, all varieties of anti-liberals are quick to point out the inconsistency (or hypocrisy) of the liberal position; they themselves use the force of law, threat of unemployment, and social ostracism to enforce feminism, multiculturalism, and the like.

The orthosphere goes even further.  We deny that communal neutrality is either possible or desirable.  The state must act with some vision of how the world is and what constitutes justice; there must therefore be some official religion, so we would like for it to be the true religion.  Participating in a communal moral consensus, seeing one’s participation in that community as a participation in the sacred order of the cosmos, these are parts of the good life for man.  The moral stance of the community is also a matter of justice; good deserves to be affirmed and evil condemned, collectively as well as individually.  A community’s orientation to the moral order is usually mediated by an authority figure; thus we insist that authority comes not from the people, but from God, who is subsistent Goodness, the “face” of the moral law.  God is rightly sovereign over groups as well as individuals, a principle known as “the social kingship of Christ” to Catholics and as “sphere sovereignty” to Calvinists.  An important part of the principle is that the family and the Church receive their authority directly from God, rather than the state.

Practically, this means that we differ from mainstream American conservatives in that we support established Churches, the Biblical doctrine of paternal headship, and social stigmatization of immoral behavior.

2) Given meanings

Why do people think that writing their own wedding vows will make them more authentic?  Why did the American Catholic bishops decide it would be better if every Catholic picked his own thing to give up on Fridays, rather than us doing something collectively?  Why do people imagine that “being in love” makes fornication less wicked?  Why do they regard gender roles as constrictive?  Ultimately, it all comes down to the assumption, so widely accepted today that few state it, that the only real meaning of a statement or act is what the actor consciously means by it.

We deny this.  The context of human nature and established traditions often impose meanings.  Rather than being a burden, the ubiquity of these “given” meanings should be seen as a gift, an enlargement of the soul beyond its power of lone, explicit signification.  In the wedding ceremony, using the same words to promise lifelong fidelity that our ancestors used and our descendants will use is part of the meaning.  It lifts us out of the particularities of our own lives into conscious participation in a universal mystery.  If all Catholics give up meat on Friday, it becomes not just a personal sacrifice, but a sacrifice of the Church herself.  Nor may we disregard the meaning of the conjugal act, the calling to love and self-sacrifice inherent in our natures as men and women, or the spiritual significance of being a parent or offspring.  We should not want to.  Without these given meanings, life would lose much of its weight and seriousness.

Here I would say is something distinctive about orthosphere-style thinking:  we tend to regard tradition and natural law as two aspects of the same kind of thing, to be defended together, rather than as two rival sources of authority.  Another distinction is the style of argument, with its overriding concern of keeping life meaningful.  We would, of course, agree with arguments based on the social utility of natural law and tradition and arguments based on divine command.  However, we prefer our way of reasoning, because it hopefully heightens men’s appreciation for things like sex and ritual, as well as defending them from liberal corruption.

Practically, this means that fighting gay marriage is a big deal for us.  We connect this to an uncompromising stand on all sexual sins, including things like fornication and onanism that mainstream culture now deems acceptable.  We are unenthusiastic about the “springtime of Vatican II”.

3) Loyalty to the particular

While we have some moral duties to everyone (e.g. not to murder them), it is proper that we hold a special love for our kin and countrymen.  To them, we owe a particular loyalty.  Not only is it right to love the members of our groups; it is right to love those groups themselves.  It is right to work for the preservation of one’s nation and culture.  It is proper for us to want descendants and to want for them to identify with our ancestors, so that the family maintains a spiritual as well as biological reality.  A necessary condition for a culture to survive is for it to be established as a way of life for some region.  Otherwise, it is not culture but personal idiosyncrasy.  Thus, to demand that every spot on Earth be multicultural is to demand the extinction of culture itself.

Practically, this means opposition to Western anti-white indoctrination and coerced racial integration.  Embracing particular loyalties also puts us at odds with mainstream religious conservatives (e.g. the writers at First Things) because we cannot share their uncritical embrace of the civil rights movement.  No doubt it is wrong to hate people for their race, but most if not all of what the mainstream calls “racism” we would see as an appropriate preference for one’s own kind.  I for one see no problem in the preference blacks, hispanics, and Jews have for their own, but I don’t see why white cultures should be regarded any differently.

4) The intellectual defensibility of orthodox Christianity

The above is pretty self-explanatory.  We often deal with objections to Christian doctrine based on their alleged internal incoherence or incompatibility with the genuine discoveries of modern science and history.  While not imagining that the Triune Godhead can be completely comprehended by our mortal minds this side of paradise, we do claim that objections to revealed doctrines can be dealt with, and we refuse to retreat into appeals of “mystery”.

That, I think, touches all the bases.  Dalrock says that the manosphere is more a conversation than a set of dogmas, although with some few points of general consensus.  I would say that the Orthosphere is a more dogmatic entity–one must agree to a number of philosophical principles as well as practical stands to be meaningfully regarded as part of it.  Above all, though, I regard the Orthosphere as defined by a certain style of reasoning, what one might call the phenomenologically and theologically-informed natural law thinking we use to defend our beliefs.

I invite my fellow Orthosphere writers (of this site or more generally) to add, correct, and clarify.

85 thoughts on “What is the Orthosphere?

  1. Two quick comments;

    1) Coming from a radical left perspective, I note that we share a commitment to principle (1) – at least at the formal level, of course; obviously the substantive moral commitments we seek to impose differ. As you note, the liberal position here is hypocritical, but more interesting to me is the fact that it is both persistent and historically novel – no one else has thought to make a claim to this kind of neutrality, but liberals do so consistently. There’s a lot to investigate here, I think.

    2) Is there not a great deal of tension between the particularism of (3) and the universalism of (4)? (Certainly this is, as I understand it, one of the central claims of secular neo-reactionaries.) Of course I am not saying that a position cannot be both internally coherent and yet have tensions in it – it is not inconsistent to value both justice and mercy, though it does impose tensions – and still less do I want to say “aha! a contradiction!” at a work of dogmatics as opposed to apologetics. But it does seem, at least, to offer an opportunity for clarification.

    • Is there not a great deal of tension between the particularism of (3)[Loyalty to the Particular] and the universalism of (4)[orthodox Christianity]?

      Christ is not himself East or West, South or North. He is, rather, the context, and the forecondition, of cardinality as such. The West can’t be the West or the East the East – they cannot be either themselves or different from each other – unless there be a transcendent truth that allows for both East and West as peculiarly apt expressions thereof, given a particular time and place, a particular clime and race. Thus we sing that, in virtue of the fact that Christ is not himself any of the cardinal directions, therefore in him we “meet both East and West, in him both South and North.”

      I discussed this very question in a 2007 comment at VFR:

      Because the whole Creation is formed by the Truth, Christianity has not been afraid to admit the truths expressed in other religions, and to interpret them as foreshadowings or imitations of the truths more perfectly and completely expressed in the religion of Israel (the earliest Church considered itself the renewal and culmination of the true religion of ancient Israel that had survived in rural Galilee, in Edom, etc., and thought the Judean priesthood of the Second Temple was a corrupt offshoot—this accounts for the Sanhedrin’s great hostility to Jesus, which on its face seems disproportionate to his actual offenses). Some of the Fathers considered Plato a prophet, and they revered Jesus’ Alexandrian Jewish contemporary Philo. They didn’t shrink from calling the Feast of the Resurrection after the pagan Goddess of the Dawn, Eostre, with whose spring festival it was coincident, because they had always called Jesus the Son of the Morning Star. To them, the Pagan festival in honor of Eostre was obviously a pale imitation of the true Pascha. The Pagans, poor fellows, had been trying their best to worship God aright, and (since God informs and enlightens every soul willing to admit Him, and since all humans descend from Adam, and their religions from his) they had in part succeeded; they just needed the correction of the Good News. Christianity presupposes that people are religious, and legitimately so; if they were not, they would have no interest in Christianity.

      Rather the same sorts of things can be said of Christianity’s interface with other human institutions. Few are wholly bad; all could be better with the correction of the Gospel. Christianity presupposes that people are warlike, political, animal, sexual, rational, sinful, erroneous, mercantile, familiar, and so forth; and that most of these traits derive in the first instance from the ideas of the Creator, however they have been corrupted by creaturely sin and error. It presupposes also that humanity is ineluctably parochial, whereas the Church is catholic. So it is that Christianity has flourished under all sorts of political arrangements: Imperial Rome, Medieval feudalism, modern democratic capitalism. Also, because the Truth is a reproach to all forms of error, idolatry and sin in every age and clime, wherever Christianity has flourished, it has really improved its social hosts, such as the Aztecs, the Canaanites and the Britons. True, the Gospel is not primarily about social or political arrangements, but about the Ultimate Reality and how we should behave in virtue thereof, in this world—the only one that can matter to us for the time being—and in the next. But that does not mean that a correct religious orientation to the Ultimate Truth has no effect on worldly life. One of Christianity’s most important arguments is that if one worships anything but the true, the living God, who is in fact the biggest, best, most important thing of all to every being, then one’s life will be to some extent maladjusted to reality as it actually is. If you put anything ahead of the will of God, anything at all, then you are ipso facto sinning, thus suffering, more than you would otherwise be.

      That I am Christian makes me, not more like some other Christian—Lawrence, say, or St. Francis or Mother Teresa—but more like my own better self. At the same time, the more Christian I become, the more I will express Christian virtues, as Lawrence, Francis, and Teresa also all variously do. So with cultures. The effect upon any culture of conversion to Christianity should be, not its destruction, but that it should begin to learn how best to express its truest, best essence. If Christianity is the religion of Truth, then conversion thereto should make Greece a better, truer Greece, Russia a better, truer Russia, China a better, truer China. The reaction of any culture to Christianity should be to evoke and appropriate to itself from the whole body of universal catholic Truth those aspects thereof most pertinent to its parochial predicaments. The whole Truth is necessarily adequate to any creaturely situation. Any creature orienting itself properly in respect to the Truth cannot but find itself ennobled and more perfectly individuated thereby. And to the degree that any culture is truly converted, this beneficial effect should permeate it, down to its most trivial mundane details. Ceteris paribus, any Christian nation should find that it becomes ever happier, healthier, more prosperous—not because it is seeking these values, but precisely because it has, properly, sought first the values to be found in the Living God, of which all other values are derivates. When the landlord’s values come first, the vineyard prospers, and likewise the laborers. This, even though they may suffer tortures and die martyrs.

      Thus Viking, Slavic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew societies have all enfolded Christianity, and it has worked in them like yeast in dough. They, in turn, have worked in it. Christianity as a catholic phenomenon is now partly German flavored, partly Babylonian, part Russian, part Chinese, part mestizo. The whole is greater than the parts, subsumes and informs them all; this does not entail that there should be no parts. That both Mexico and the U.S. are essentially Christian does not mean that they should be just the same. Rather, they should be different, and play different roles in the global social ecology, just as the lion and the cheetah differ, though both are cats.

      • Thanks. I enjoy writing – Lawrence always scolded me about enjoying it a bit too much!

        I have been thinking about the first paragraph of your comment:

        Coming from a radical left perspective, I note that we share a commitment to principle (1) – at least at the formal level, of course; obviously the substantive moral commitments we seek to impose differ. As you note, the liberal position here is hypocritical, but more interesting to me is the fact that it is both persistent and historically novel – no one else has thought to make a claim to this kind of neutrality, but liberals do so consistently. There’s a lot to investigate here, I think.

        I have to agree with that last statement. As any good existentialist could tell us, not to decide is to decide.

        Allow me to ask – not as a challenge, but out of simple curiosity – how does a thoughtful radical leftist cope with the fact that, because any truly real “ought” of any sort ipso facto constitutes an authoritative moral order (whether we like it or not), the liberal proposition that there ought not to be an authoritative moral order limiting individual autonomy is vulnerable to retortion? How, that is to say, does he deal with the fact that the liberal vacuum of authority he seeks to establish as authoritative is itself a proposal for an authoritative moral order? To us, it is quite apparent that the establishment of such a policy of absolute toleration leads quickly and effortlessly to totalitarian control of the population – i.e., to enslavement by an owner who has no proprietary interest in the welfare of his slaves. How does the thoughtful leftist avoid this apprehension; or, if he doesn’t, how does he cope with it?

        And, then, given the difficulties for the leftist that are inherent in the situation just described: what does this mean for the project of moral neutrality? Is it even coherent? If not, *how have so many people been so strongly swayed by it?* What is it that is alluring about it, aside perhaps from a puerile dream of peace, as in John Lennon’s Imagine? How do you manage the intellectual dissonance?

      • Allow me to ask – not as a challenge, but out of simple curiosity – how does a thoughtful radical leftist cope with the fact that, because any truly real “ought” of any sort ipso facto constitutes an authoritative moral order (whether we like it or not), the liberal proposition that there ought not to be an authoritative moral order limiting individual autonomy is vulnerable to retortion?

        Well, I (like other self-defined radical leftists) don’t see myself as a liberal, and indeed, as you say, I think the liberal position – at least taken at face value – is self-defeating. (Of course, it may be necessary to interpret liberals charitably: as, for instance, using “morality” to just mean “traditional religious morality,” or something, although I don’t think this really accounts for the persistent structure of the sorts of arguments they invoke against a wide variety of enemies. Like I said, it’s interesting and poses a number of puzzles – I suspect this sort of neutrality may have something to do with the origins of liberalism in, in part, the attempt of certain states to impose civil peace between different confessional parties. But probably there are better hypotheses out there.)

        But of course this does not mean that substantive commitments to feminism, (certain forms of) multiculturalism, and so on are incoherent or self-defeating; instead, they should be understood as parts of a publicly imposed morality. In this sense I think conservatives who complain about being oppressed by “political correctness” and so on are in a sense right, except insofar as they make 1) the implicit claim that “substantive liberalism” in this sense is exclusively hegemonic (we live in a culture where both slut-shaming and slut-shaming-shaming exist) or 2) the implicit “formally liberal” claim that such oppression could fail to exist (in service to some substantive morality or another.)

        I would also say that, as a matter of psychology, the existentialists were wrong in saying that we have much choice over what our fundamental values are. These things seem beyond choice and beyond reason, though of course reason must come in determining how to translate these values into choices. It is of course an empirical question how much normative disagreement is about fundamental values and how much is about expedient implementation of those. It may be that for ideologues like you and me these things lie relatively close to the ground – if someone really convinced me that the universal submission of women to men, or you that universal irreligion, were necessary for the survival of the species, I suspect we’d both say to hell with the species – while normal, well-adjusted people have simpler values and more complicated chains of instrumental reasons. But that’s just a hypothesis.

        (I hope that serves as an at least somewhat adequate answer – it’s possible that I’ve direly misinterpreted you!)

      • You seem to be channeling Chesterton there. (I consider that high praise.)

        Now I miss VFR. RIP Mr. Auster.

      • Hello Oligopsony,

        You know, I am surprised radical Leftism like yours isn’t more popular. I’ve often thought that many Leftist beliefs could be more easily defended as objectively true and good than as neutral. Not that I think they are true, but the claim is not as unreasonable as the claim that enforcing those beliefs is a form of neutrality. If the goal of these neutrality claims is to avoid a discussion of Leftism’s objective merits, it seems like a bad move, because the neutrality claim itself should be a harder sell than what one wants to sneak in under it. Nevertheless, liberals keep coming back to it, so I can only conclude that it really does reflect something about how they see themselves.

    • “…the liberal position here is hypocritical, but more interesting to me…”

      Feel free to investigate it all you want after it’s been tossed in the dust bin 🙂 Having investigated it myself, you’ll find that it is a mindless, nihilist position. My best theory: because Satan.

      “Is there not a great deal of tension between the particularism of (3) and the universalism of (4)?”

      Not if God is both universal and particular. If God says that all nations will worship him in the end, then there will still be nations. We’re not told that at any time before that there will be perfect peace on the Earth, although I do believe there will be increasing peace until nearly all have submitted to Christ and he returns. (I’m not a fan of Left Behind.) There will always be strife between members of my family, and my in-laws with my parents, etc., but hopefully we will grow in fellowship and unity.

    • I guess the problem I see with radicalism as set out by our guest is that either the goal of imposing things like feminism or multiculturalism is a) autonomy, in which case how can one oppose choices that are anti-feminist or anti-multicultural, or b) for their own sake (equality for the sake of equality, for example), in which case they would seem to be completely arbitrary, or c) because people are happier being told what to do, in which case you have basically come around to the far right. (It’s not for nothing that fascism and communism have tended to behave the same.)

      • Well, all non-instrumental goals – whether for autonomy or pleasure or equality or eudaimonia or whatever else – are, after all, “arbitrary.” I would say it’s a mix of all three and that the formal similarities with the right can also be found in all three – actual fascists, after all, always insisted that there were higher ends in life than mere happiness!

        (With respect to autonomy I think of this as a right-to-swing-your-fist sort of thing, as liberals do, except that I acknowledge, as you do, that classical property rights don’t actually meaningfully identify the situations in which our choices affect others. But I also think it’s intellectual vice, more astutely noted by those on the right than my own comrades, to boil things down to single values (like autonomy or equality or happiness or whatever, though perhaps not all of them together. “Happiness” is many rather than one things and I’ll readily concede that aspects of the right’s vision better fulfill some of them.)

      • Well, all non-instrumental goals – whether for autonomy or pleasure or equality or eudaimonia or whatever else – are, after all, “arbitrary.”

        We would deny that. Things like beauty constitute fundamental aspects of reality. Things like equality however really only can have instrumental value. To treat them as ends in themselves is ridiculous. They have to refer to something outside themselves, like pleasure.

    • So you think universalism is an aspect of orthodox Christianity?
      Christian orthodoxy is particular, a thing that gives Christianity its haecceity.
      Haecceity. There’s a concept intellectual liberals fight.
      For them, reduction is understanding. As I see in your comment!

  2. Thanks to bonald for this concise summation. I concur.

    Thus, to demand that every spot on Earth be multicultural is to demand the extinction of culture itself.

    Such a great sentence! It brings to mind the vision of what could be called cultural subsidiarity. The true cosmopoles, the centers of international trade, commerce, and intellectual traffic – New York, LA, and their ilk – can be as cosmopolitan as you like, *provided that they recognizably supervene upon geographically located and healthy, coherent cultures and cults.* It’s OK for anyone to come to Rome, but when in Rome, do as the Romans. This you can only do if Rome is culturally distinct from Athens, Jerusalem or Carthage. Unless the distinction between Romans, Greeks, Hebrews and Carthaginians is clear, no one in Rome will be quite sure how they ought to behave, and the economic function of the city as a center of trade and commerce will be vitiated; all transactions will have a higher coefficient of friction, of noise. Thus to work as a cosmopolis, Rome must be firmly rooted in the traditions of her countryside, her folk, and their chthonic cult.

  3. Only to add that Reggie, Svein Sellanraa and Jim Kalb, among others, also made the distinction between our more continental conservatism and the Anglo-Saxon conservatism. In Wikipedia, the article “Traditionalist conservatism” describes both traditions. There used to be an article “Continental conservatism”, but now it is gone. Reggie contrasted the Counter-Enlightenment with Burkean conservatism; Svein Sellanraa wrote about us being openly authoritarians in “Rise of the Orthos”; and Jim Kalb wrote on the AltRight site that he is a “Moralistic conservative” – unlike Anglo-Saxon “Pragmatic conservatives”.

    The difference is this: Burkeans are ready to accept Modernity and say we must use Traditionalist principles from the inside. Christian reactionaries, on the other hand, wish its destruction, because it is so radically defective that a good society cannot come out of it. Because of our Christianity, our model of a good society is what is called Christendom.

    I encourage other Orthos to correct me or to add to what I said.

    • Here are two articles that make a good case that Burke and Maistre aren’t as far apart as often supposed:

      http://coreyrobin.com/2012/03/03/isnt-it-romantic-burke-maistre-and-conservatism/

      http://coreyrobin.com/2011/09/27/revolutionaries-of-the-right-the-deep-roots-of-conservative-radicalism/

      I would add that de Maistre shared many of Burke’s “liberal” views prior to the French Revolution, such as support for free trade and admiration for the English model of government and for the American revolution. As is well known, Maistre was also a Freemason and maintained until the end that 18th century Masonry was not the potent force that other reactionaries thought it was (more impartial scholarship on the topic appears to corroborate Maistre’s claims). Conversely, Burke hardened some of his views during his last years, as shown in Letters on a Regicide Peace, and who knows if he might’ve become more extreme if he had lived longer? They were both “Conservative Revolutionaries” in their own fashion, and that appellation applies to the the majority of conservatives throughout history, both Anglo and Continental.

      I also think people who haven’t researched the topic thoroughly, or whose knowledge is second hand, assume more ideological purity and consistency among Continental conservatives than actually existed, but I don’t have time to go in depth on that.

      • Robin is not a reliable source. Maistre, Sarah Palin, Hayek, Burke, Ayn Rand: they’re all the same to him.

      • Hi Drieu,

        I agree with your points. Robin’s readings of past conservatives are as, shall we say, novel as ever. It’s like a Leftist free association exercise. “Maistre praises the executioner. Therefore…Sarah Palin!” He’s convinced that everything Leftists hate must be connected in some mysterious, sinister way. It seems quite bizarre to me that he thinks communitarianism is not something distinctly conservative, but the celebration of violence is. If Maistre and neoconservatives are connected by seeing violence as potentially creative, couldn’t we also quote Robesbierre, Sorel, or Trotsky making similar points? Maybe violence really does have a remarkable creative potency, so that people of diverse ideological commitments would be expected to notice it.

        On the other hand, I don’t dismiss Robin. Most Leftists who go on about what a bunch of deranged nuts Rightists are don’t bother to read conservatives’ books, much less as carefully if idiosyncratically as Robin does. And, of course, he is right that conservatism is about hierarchy, even if his own understanding of hierarchy is warped by the usual Leftist assumptions about privilege and oppression.

    • Only to add that Reggie, Svein Sellanraa and Jim Kalb, among others, also made the distinction between our more continental conservatism and the Anglo-Saxon conservatism.

      Kalb seems more in the Anglo/Burkean side of things. I’d put myself there too.

      The problem is that there are a lot of “Burkeans” our there who are really just go-it-slow-ers. That seems a pretty one sided reading of Burke though:
      http://takimag.com/article/an_imaginary_edmund_burke/print#axzz2UB03Uz9d

      • It’s not true that Robin thinks they’re all “the same,” only that you can find similar commitments to the defense of hierarchy in them, which is true, but not terribly profound. He’s more interesting when he identifies other recurring elements in right-wing ideologies. Like it or not, he’s more or less got reactionaries like you guys down pat, particularly your eagerness to effect a radical overthrow of the current order and the decadent ruling elites, the fascination with vitality and mystery over rationalism and technology, the belief that leveling differences (whether between genders, nations, classes, etc.) makes it difficult for greatness to flourish, and a romantic view of existence that dreads seeing man reduced to his mere animal lusts and instincts.

        I know Bonald likes his science, but other than that, it’s a fairly apt description of you guys.

      • By the way, Robin also points out above that Burke was emphatically NOT a “go-it-slower,” just as you claim right here. You might want to actually give Robin’s book a chance rather than dismiss it without (apparently) reading it.

      • Like it or not, he’s more or less got reactionaries like you guys down pat

        Nah, Bonald has gone over Robin’s work before and, like most liberals, Robin basically hasn’t got a clue about what makes right-wingers, of whatever stripe, tick. He’s something of an buffoon.

        Jonathan Haidt does much better.

      • Bonald only responded to two of Robin’s condensed articles that appeared in Times Higher Education, not his book, where his argument is far more developed and subtle. Like I said, it’s obvious you haven’t read it, and are slightly miffed by the notion that a leftist academic could pinpoint the reactionary mind so accurately, but he really does try to be fair-minded in his presentation despite his own political commitments. By dismissing it outright, you just make yourself look like the stereotypical rigid conservative goon.

      • Haidt’s big discovery is that conservatism is not an attitude towards change, but actually has positive moral content. Therefore whether a conservative is “radical” or, well, “conservative” depends on what the reality around him is. Robin, like the good liberal he is, thinks that conservatism is just about putting others down.

      • I’ve read a fair bit of Robin’s blog and it’s actually pretty clear that he is incredibly clueless about what makes right wingers tick. It’s possible he contradicts himself in his book, but I doubt it.

      • You stepped in it with your Burke comment when you complained that too many “Burkeans” are “go-it-slowers,” thereby proving Robin’s thesis correct on at least one point. He nailed your mentality there.

        Robin also points out that conservatism only arises in reaction to left-wing movements, which would seem to confirm your last comment as well. Thomas Aquinas, for example, was neither left nor right, because he was not responding to any movements from the left; he merely described what he thought was the objective order of things.

      • “… conservatism only arises in reaction to left-wing movements …”

        This is like saying, “the immune response only arises in reaction to foreign bodies.” The only way it could be different is if the organism in question were dead.

        That this happens does not mean that the organism’s attempt to defend itself and restore its proper equilibrium is wrong, or ill-founded, or anything of the sort. Except, of course, to those who want the organism dead.

      • By the way, Robin also points out above that Burke was emphatically NOT a “go-it-slower,” just as you claim right here.

        To give him credit, Robin does see that conservatism is not an attitude towards change, but his description of the positive values of conservatives is idiotic.

      • For example, Robin describes conservatives as obsessed with violence. Problem is that conservatism actually has a long history of opposition to war, from Aristophanes to Pat Buchanan. Furthermore, he ignores the research of Eric Altermeyer that conservatives aren’t particularly aggressive by nature. They often make good followers of those who do like going to war, but they don’t have any innate enthusiasm for it themselves. So, Robin’s cockamamie theory about the sublime is just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

        The other problem with Robin is what I’ve mentioned before. We want power over women, gays, blacks, whatever. Doubtless human beings have mixed motives, so I suppose it’s understandable that this might seem true to an outsider, but it’s just as inaccurate as the first objection.

        Robin also seems to think conservatism has something to do with meritocracy!!!!!

        Bonald’s critique stands. Corey Robin = idiot.

      • Robin also seems to want to have it both ways: conservatives have positive values, except that they’re really just reacting to the rise of powerless groups. Well, which is it?

      • This is like saying, “the immune response only arises in reaction to foreign bodies.”

        A lot depends on what we’re reacting against. According to Robin, we’re just reacting against our loss of power. According to us, we’re acting in defense of principle. There are things we love, regardless of whether they enhance our own personal power or not.

  4. This just shows the particularism in the movement among “Neo-Reactionaries” and the “Dark Enlightenment” many of these Pagans and Game promoters hate Christianity and Christians they are generally part of these movements not out of intellectual or spiritual truths being expressed so much as insight born out of negative experiences for many of the Alt-Right types whats really the difference between them and the Left besides the fact they have racial attitudes thrown in with a bit of concern for their own people and even then they seem to hate everything about their people besides their skin color else wise they detest its culture, traditions, and religion.

    • It looks like a lot of them are erstwhile Libertarians. I’ve prowled through a lot of Neo-Reaction blogs and a lot of them fetishize Jewish economics and geek jargon.

    • many of these Pagans and Game promoters hate Christianity and Christians
      I don’t see this. Who of the neo reaction or the dark enlightenment hates traditional Christianity and Christians?

      Obviously we have unkind words for today’s progressive heresy that calls itself Christianity, but so do Christians of the Dark Enlightenment.

    • Well you can always find examples of Group A who detest Group B for being insufficiently A-like. Half-sigma (Lion), for example, seems particularly to relish bashing trad Christians (and all else prole-ish). But generally speaking the most articulate and learned voices (and Jim Donald is certainly one of them) within the Secular Right/Reactosphere not only sense the common cause they have with Traditional Christians vis-a-vis the Cathedral (i.e., the Unofficial But Brutally Hegemonic American State Religion), but have also well and long articulated the necessity of a common religious basis for the polis.

      So, Makaro, I think you just need to get out more.

      • I’ve encountered secular rightists with a variety of opinions toward their Christian counterparts. Of the ones who dislike us, sometimes it’s because they think we’re actually carrying a universalist liberal germ with our religion, and sometimes they just think our general stupidity is bringing embarrassment to all reactionaries, keeping the higher quality recruits away. Some do recognize us as genuine reactionaries and would like for us to work together. Some even think that religious traditionalists have an edge in motivating the common folk. It does seem very rare for them to think they could have anything to learn from us, that their own thought would be enriched by deeper interaction with ours. (On the other hand, Christians of all stripes seem to me quite anxious to keep up on the seculars.) Perhaps our own reasoning seems to them too tied to religion to be transferable to a secular framework. Also, secular rightists seem to be much more focused on empirical matters (race differences, sexual attraction triggers), and less on the philosophical “getting from ‘is’ to ‘ought'” issues we dwell on here. I get the sense that they expect the moral implications to be straightforward once all the facts are established.

      • I get the sense that they expect the moral implications to be straightforward once all the facts are established.

        Yes, I get the feeling that once intractable race and sex differences are established beyond a shadow of a doubt, leftists will move on to radically re-engineering human biology to comply with their fantasies.

  5. Deplevna has made a very apt analysis in his comment thats true Anglo-American “conservativsm” is repulsive, weak, and offers a false hope its basically a lame sellout continental conservatism is more robust and principled being in total rejection of degenerate foundations of modernity itself.

  6. Cogent arguments for conservative conclusions must rely on game, evolutionary psychology, empirical race differences, classical liberalism, neo-paganism, or something else extrinsic to the substance of past conservatism. Past conservatism is an embarrassment, and an important part of establishing the intellectual respectability of one’s position is to disavow any connection to it.

    I’m not sure that these people necessarily reject past conservatism because they are embarassed by it. The objection seems mostly to be that past conservatism has been ineffective, a conclusion that is hard to argue with. A good bit of has also been the sheer fun of seeing the tools of liberalism used against it.

    • Cogent arguments for conservative conclusions must rely on game, evolutionary psychology, empirical race differences, classical liberalism, neo-paganism, or something else extrinsic to the substance of past conservatism

      Good science is truth.

      And if you’re against truth you’re not conservative.

      • A conservative may not deliberately be against truth, but he may have any number of incorrect scientific beliefs. The point is that conservatism, as well as liberalism and socialism, are non-empirical. They deal more with ends than means. The results of science may be encouraging or discouraging to some ideology, but they can’t provide the motive for the ideology itself. For example, if equality really is a moral imperative, empirically determined racial and sexual differences will simply be interpreted as things that must be counteracted.

        I don’t dispute that a lot of truth may be found in evolutionary studies of humans and the like. It’s just that my worldview doesn’t depend on the results of those studies.

      • I think Bonald strikes exactly the right balance. Revelation, properly understood, for Christians, trumps science, which is inherently tentative knowledge, i.e., subject to at least theoretical revision. But the reason that there is such a large overlap between clear eyed Secular Rightists and clear eyed Traditional Christians is that the moral, ethical, and social codes that are Theologically correct are built into nature. They therefore promote, statistically speaking, group adaptive fitness. The wise in every culture will discover and enforce them. This coincidence, i.e., of nature and revelation, is I think part of what CS Lewis refered to as the Tao, that part of revelation discoverable by ordinary human reason quite apart from special divine revelation.

      • The point is that conservatism, as well as liberalism and socialism, are non-empirical.

        Well, they’re not empirical in the traditional sense but conservatism is empirical if you assume that faith is a perceptual modality; akin to another way of seeing. The statement “Thou shalt not kill” is a factoid to a man of faith just as the statement that the apple is red.

        What separates the secular conservative from his religious counterpart is the possession of this faith sense. In other words, the religious operate with a “sixth” type of sense. My agreement with the command of “thou shalt not commit adultery” is not based upon a rationalisation or even statistical study on the cost/benefit of it, rather, the Creator has implanted into my mind a perception of its truthfulness. The thing is, though, that this perception is vague, and therefore subject to misinterpretation by myself.

        I think it was Aquinas who mentioned that if our faith contradicts observed phenomenon then either our faith, or our understanding of the observed phenomenon is wrong. He was, in essence, proposing the theory that the truth is a seamless garment. There is not one truth of faith and another of science but rather the two must be non-contradictory. Therefore, if there is overwhelming good scientific evidence which contradicts faith (cue Galileo) then our understanding of the faith is wrong.

        Science (Good, robust science that is) thus serves to purify our understanding of the faith.

        It’s just that my worldview doesn’t depend on the results of those studies.

        I’ve gotta admit that a lot of the soft sciences are pretty hopeless. I’m not a big fan of the evo-psyche interpretationa of a lot of experimental data, but I simply can’t deny the data when it disagrees with my faith. One or the other is wrong.

  7. Bonald@ Nicely put. One tiny quibble. I wouldn’t say we aim to “keep life meaningful,” since our fundamental position is that life is meaningful, whether or not anyone recognizes it as such. In our view, what things and acts mean is what they mean for the transcendental subject of all meaning, which is to say God. Post-modern value-positing is predicated on the non-existence of such a subject, which is to say atheism.

    “Meaningful” is certainly the correct word to use here, but we need to beware of the many layers of sentimentality with which it has been encrusted. For many people a “meaningful life” would be one where they were continually choking up with emotions. For us, I think, it means, at the very least, a meaningful life is a life lived under judgment by a transcendental subject, and at the very best, a life lived in a society that publicly acknowledges these meanings.

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  9. How will the ‘uncompromising stand’ on ‘onanism’ manifest itself in your proposed theocracy? Electric shocks to the genitals remotely triggered by the Religious Police?

    • Culture will see it as a sin, and people who practice it and are open about it would be stigmatised and subject to social censure. The state can’t make us moral in our deep inner level (although state-encouraged selfishness contributes to the peril of the soul). We won’t put CCTV in houses to see who is practising onanism or fornication or adultery. This is not the job of the state, the state will simply make sure that there is an established morality that is never questioned. Hypocrisy is a social virtue – the “homage vice pays to virtue”.

      Also, to respond to the claim “should the state legislate morality?” – yes it should! It should take care of morality on the level of communal “role ethics” (the authority and duties of the governing, the obedience and rights of the governed, for ex.), but not on the level of individual “virtue ethics”. Except to punish those who celebrate their sins.

  10. suspect this sort of neutrality may have something to do with the origins of liberalism in, in part, the attempt of certain states to impose civil peace between different confessional parties.

    But the civil wars (Both English and American) did not impose a peace of neutrality, but of profoundly unequal hegemony. The ostensible neutrality was grotesquely, shockingly, and oppressively one sided.

    • Right. The only way to impose “peace between different confessional parties” is to make them wholly owned subsidiarities of a third, stronger one. Ergo, The Cathedral®.

      • I don’t think the name “Cathedral” is a good idea to call the opposition, their institutions and their structure. It’s too close to the Roman Catholic Church and it gives a bad odor for them, and brings up confusion. It should be more Anglo Puritan Protestant instead, e.g. Puritan Theocracy or something.

      • But there are no Puritans around any more, many Englishmen and Protestants are members of the orthosphere, and the enemy is not theist.

        Just call it the Liberal Establishment and everyone will be clear on what is meant. If you want to connote its religious foundation, call it the Cult of Moloch.

      • Good luck coming up with a new name. Moldbug called it The Cathedral. The Cathedral it is… if you wanna use quoties, I’m sure that’ll be fine.

      • I read another blogger just the other day who objected to Moldbug’s term “Cathedral.” He proposed Leviathan as an alternative. Leviathan is a better term for all sorts of reasons, but it is probably too late.

  11. I appreciate this effort to define what exactly the “Orthosphere” is more precisely. I see the Orthosphere as being a branch of Traditionalist Conservatism more broadly. I wonder if anyone would disagree with me on that?

    I am separating myself from the Traditionalist Conservative label mostly because I feel a better opportunity closer to my own views and strengths has emerged. My own “group” so to speak is not that clearly defined but Secular Traditionalist I think would be a reasonable label. I have become involved with supporters of Traditional Women’s Rights; the “Traditional Women’s Rights” concept being the current foundation of commonality of our beliefs. Traditional Women’s Rights translates to patriarchy but it is a way of highlighting the harms feminism has done to women as a kind of retort to the feminist claims of advocating for “women’s rights.”

    Myself, I am promoting my political goals as supporting Traditional Women’s Rights or patriarchy, supporting unconditional Chivalry by men on behalf of women, and supporting obedience to a Superior Power. So I support patriarchy, unconditional Chivalry, and obedience to a Superior Power. My emphasis is different from others in the Secular Traditionalist camp but I don’t think anyone within what I am calling the Secular Traditionalists would actually disagree with any of my three main points of emphasis.

    These are the three important websites of what I am calling the Secular Traditionalists:

    What’s Wrong With Equal Rights

    How Feminism Hurt Women

    Why I Am Not A Feminist

    I myself am affiliated with the Why I Am Not A Feminist site. A large amount of my writing can be found there.

    The points of difference between Secular Traditionalists and the Orthosphere as defined above would be on points 3 – Loyalty to the particular, and 4 – The intellectual defensibility of orthodox Christianity. Secular Traditionalists want to stay away from emphasizing racial identity or religious identity; they are racially neutral and religiously pluralistic. In this regard they match the current dominant cultural consensus. Patriarchy is the emphasis of Secular Traditionalists. Regarding religion; there is nothing wrong with a Secular Traditionalist supporting the intellectual defensibility of orthodox Christianity but such a position is not a part of Secular Traditionalist group identity. Indeed it would be a minority viewpoint most likely. People of religious faith are welcome as Secular Traditionalists but the emphasis of how arguments are presented and on what basis we advocate our cultural beliefs is secular. In practice we are atheist or secular or unconventional in our religious beliefs for the most part.

    When I advocate for obedience to the Superior Power what I mean is obedience to objective truth or external reality. The term “Superior Power” is intentionally meant to be an all encompassing term.

    So I think what I am calling Secular Traditionalists for the purpose of this discussion here is a new branch and a “new thing” recently emerging on the political scene. It is also where my political activity at the moment is focused.

    So make of this what you will, gentlemen.

    • Hello Mr. Powell,

      Thank you for elaborating your group’s positions. I had been hoping that my “What is…” post would inspire other antiliberal blog clusters to do the same so that we can all have clearer idea of where we agree and disagree.

  12. Bonald | May 24, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    The point is that conservatism, as well as liberalism and socialism, are non-empirical. They deal more with ends than means. The results of science may be encouraging or discouraging to some ideology, but they can’t provide the motive for the ideology itself.

    The dark enlightenment, however, is empirical by definition.

    Further, progressive claims start out as supposedly empirical claims. Thus, the movement to remove all adverse consequences for women who break the marital contract, while retaining adverse consequences for men who break it, was based on the claim made beginning in the 1820s that women are angels, and would never be tempted to misbehave out of selfishness, greed, and lust.

    Similarly, the movement to rescue fallen women by removing all adverse consequences for sexual immorality, was based on the claim that women were angels and were being forced to misbehave sexually by the adverse consequences suffered by women who misbehaved sexually. By removing these adverse consequences through state intervention, philanthropic intervention, and state backed social pressure, this would supposedly enable women to behave virtuously, as all women were supposedly naturally inclined to do.

    This doctrine we still see going strong, routinely parodied as “Woman are Wonderful”. See for example the Violence Against Women Act, which ignores the fact that the great majority of female victims of male violence resemble female cats in heat,in that they will rip their way through a fly screen in order to be victimized by male violence.

    Similarly Beatrix Potter argued that welfare for the underclass would pay for itself by improving underclass behavior. By giving people who had screwed up their own lives by their own bad behavior free money with no obligations attached, we would enable them to stop screwing up their own lives. They would start to behave like white middle class males, thus welfare was an investment that would swiftly pay for itself – a doctrine we still see going strong as affirmative action lending continues.

    • In that case, the Dark Enlightenment and the Orthosphere are carrying out a useful division of labor. Liberalism makes both empirical and non-empirical claims. Both are false and pernicious, and we’ve got a group of people working to debunk each.

      • Replacing one form of dishonesty with a subtler dishonesty is not a good work (Dark Enlightenment). There is a lot of history left out of many Dark Enlightenment claims about reality. The Man Who Was has made some comments to this effect on a number of occasions, along with some other more one-off commenters.

      • I believe Mr. Donald may have accidentally typed “Beatrix Potter” when he meant “Beatrice Potter”. They are, of course, not the same person. Beatrice Potter was the socialist and Beatrix Potter was the authoress of the famed children’s books.

  13. Bonald | May 24, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Of the ones who dislike us, sometimes it’s because they think we’re actually carrying a universalist liberal germ with our religion …

    If someone believes in democracy, universal franchise, welfare handouts, and equality, then the only solution he can see to our crisis is a racially and ethnically pure state, in which case Christianity is no help, indeed Christianity is a problem.

    The problem, however, is not in Christianity’s leftism, but his own.

  14. I have to agree nickbsteves I didn’t mean all people critical of “Christianity” or all among the pagans and manosphere types are just anti-Christian very far from it many of them have respect for and see the need for Christianity even if not Christian themselves they just want it to ditch the accrued garbage of Leftism what I meant was that there are some out there who are not allies but rather are hostile and that each of the different sectors of the Dark Enlightenment have their own focus that can’t always be made to agree and so have to stick to their own particular goals Vox Day made a post more or less along those lines at Alpha Game today and the comments seem to bear that out.

  15. Great post.

    It seems petty to quibble; but a petty clarification is all I’ve got, and arguably that’s what comboxes are for:

    … there must therefore be some official religion, so we would like for it to be the true religion.

    Because “must” can be either a normative or an ontological assertion, I’d simply say that there always is an official religion. An official religion is literally essential to (part of the essence of) any society: any society which exists necessarily has one, just as every polygon necessarily has sides. Sometimes the official religion isn’t formally recognized as such; but it is always there in fact.

    Since it is always there in fact, it is either going to be a pack of lies or it is going to be the truth. So we’d like it to be the truth.

  16. Sometimes the official religion isn’t formally recognized as such; but it is always there in fact.

    That actually seems to make it far more oppressive… the silent, formally disestablished, 800 lb gorilla in the room.

  17. Something very distinctive about the Orthosphere is that we do self-consciously see ourselves as continuing on the European counter-revolutionary tradition of Burke, Coleridge, Maistre, Bonald, Le Play, Taparelli, Kuyper, Dostoevsky, and Maurras. We acknowledge French legitimists, Spanish Carlists, White Russians, and Christian corporatists of Spain, Portugal, and Austria as being part of “our side”. This doesn’t mean we endorse everything they ever said or did, but we do identify with them. We defend basically the same principles and hope to develop their thought rather than starting from scratch.

    In addition to Latins, Slavics and Austrians, East Asians such as Japanese should be part of “our side” too. I can’t describe it but the Modern Enlightened Empire seems to despise them with a burning hatred.

    • Perhaps a primary reason that moderns despise the Japanese is that they are “racist,” i.e., they recognize themselves as a distinct nation, worthy of self-respect and continuation. Japan, like the rest of the industrialized world, is on the verge of a massive population collapse, only the Japanese are not replacing themselves through the mass immigration of Third Worlders, and they are castigated for it.

      Perhaps another reason the Japanese are despised is that they have the audacity to question, and find false, some of the allegations regarding their actions in WWII. For example, it turns out that the “comfort women,” the prostitutes who serviced Japanese soldiers, were not enslaved by the Imperial Japanese Army, but were doing business through all the usual means: women voluntarily going into the world’s oldest profession, girls being sold by their families, pimps entrapping the women who worked for them, etc. It turns out that the “enslavement” idea was a complete fabrication—the journalist who made the story up as much as admitted so—and non-self-hating Japanese are rejecting this false narrative. In a similar vein, some people have started to poke holes into the Rape of Nanking, which, if the newer understanding is correct, was far less brutal than previously reported. This is not to exonerate them of war crimes, but to show that their enemies have exaggerated the case against them. Under the New World Order, this will not do: the guilty are perpetually guilty, incapable of redemption, regardless of the facts.

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  22. Although (like many NRx types) I see plenty to be gleaned from premodern thought I still can’t even want to begin to get onboard with this nonsense. A major reason the West became a liberal, Universalist nutter barn is the false and pernicious nonsense the West paraded around as the basis of its social order, Xianity is not only the inspiration for Leftoidalism it’s own inanity is the reason classical aristocracy and Aryan tripartite society flew apart in the West. Also, I believe the West is essentially defined by its Faustian spirit and rationalistic individualism, as opposed to being a bunch of kow-towing Chink Jews like the race hustlers and religious cultists want.

    • You might want to re-read the story of Faust. There’s a reason we call a deal with an enormous balloon payment a “Faustian Pact.” The West conceived the story of Faust, and it conceived that story as tragedy, not romance. Faust failed because of properties intrinsic to Faust. Likewise faustianism. Spengler understood this.

      • A tragedy does not mean, “the protagonist was mistaken.” Essential to the nature of tragedy is that 1) it is fated; 2) the protagonist is being both proactive and proceding in a principled wayte 1 + 2, and because of them, it ends in something of a disaster. Yet one does not read Oedipus Rex or Hamlet and conclude that they were bastards or incompetents or that they shouldn’t have done much of what they did, at least no one who isn’t a cringing social coward who rolls over when kicked. All civilization is a tragedy – life is an inevitable race with entropy, and only entropy wins – yet the creating of something wortwhile, of pressing ever harder against every more complex obstacles, gives far more meaning to life and more contribution to history than ten thousand-thousand generations of peasants shitting and eating and fingering their rosaries. Western Civilization is the Faustian civilization, the individualistic, the materialistic, the ultra-idealist all at once; it is no great exagerration to c@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

      • Tragedy is the destruction of a great man by something intrinsic to his greatness. No one said anything about his being mistaken. The operative expression is “self defeating,” or perhaps “self-annihilating.” This is why it makes no sense to talk about a “contribution to history,” since the tragic figure ultimately destroys all his contributions and leaves nothing behind but a lesson in vanity. I know Nietzsche tried to get transcendence out of tragedy, but it does’t work.

      • And if the West is to fail because of its own intrinsic qualities, it should do so with dignity, and power, and zeal; and not simply commit suicide, which is what the Orientalist superstition-mongering anti-capitalist Jew-cults would have us do.

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