Certainly, the Orthosphere fits within the larger category of Right-wing blogs, and within the subcategory of “reactionary” (extreme, i.e. Enlightenment-rejecting, Right) blogs. Even this subcategory has distinct clusters: the Orthosphere, Integralists, Identitarians, and Neoreactionaries, to name just the most impressive. Are these different ideological movements, or different focuses within a single movement? To rephrase, here are the two possibilities. 1) The Orthosphere’s fundamental principles (our ultimate premises) are the same as its defining principles (the positions that distinguish us from other groups), in which case we are ultimately our own movement and those other groups are at best allies. 2) Our defining principles are applications to our particular area of interest of more fundamental principles shared by the larger community of reactionaries. Which is it?
With a movement that has different areas of focus, you are bound to get drift. The different wheels of Spandrell’s Trike like to roll off on their own for extended periods and not participate in the congregation of a collective might. Social Matter, a product of the Hestia Society for Social Studies, is a more-than-worthy rallying point for the radical right...Through promotion, Social Matter should get pushed to the fore.
Mark’s suggestions bring urgency to my original question. If we are a focus group, then it would indeed be useful to affiliate to a worthy representative of the parent group, and indeed to cede prominence to it. Subordination and incorporation into a more impressive intellectual movement don’t bother me per se. They are indeed an attractive course of action. Alone our output is hardly likely to change the world. It is also true that we are focused, and we have not spoken on every issue on which our rival, liberalism, has taken a stand. If a larger community did share our principles, we could happily let them do our thinking for us on things like economics and global warming. However, to subordinate ourselves to a larger movement that doesn’t have identical fundamental principles would be to repeat the error of fusionism, which betrayed and destroyed the mid-century American conservative movement.
When last I tried to distinguish the Orthosphere with respect to other clusters on the Right, I appealed to what I take to be our defining principles, especially
- moral community (the social authority of God; rejection of official neutrality)
- given meanings (an understanding of natural law and tradition)
- loyalty to the particular (legitimacy of local, national, cultural, and ethnic loyalties)
(See the linked post for an explanation of these points.)
That’s what we are. It tells us what kind of basic unity we do or don’t have with other groups.
The first principle is our point of overlap with the Catholic Integralists, a group united around the Social Kingship of Christ. It rejects liberalism’s core principle, affirming the need for an established Church without saying exactly which church that should be. Naturally, there would be some disagreement about that among us, but no one is hiding his opinion, and we all agree that establishing even a rival Christian church would be far preferable to a secular establishment. Thus Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Calvinists can be at home in the Orthosphere; I’m not sure about Baptists. Classical liberals from all denominations will find themselves in foreign territory.
The second principle is, I think our most distinctive one. One can see its style of thinking even in the early days of View from the Right, and I made it the focal point of Throne and Altar from the beginning. Many defenses of “traditionalism” involve appeals to the complexity of society and the frailty of reason, or when the meaning traditional morality brings to its practitioners’ lives is acknowledged, this is regarded as a psychological trick, an illusion (albeit a socially necessary one), which can only work to the extent that it is misunderstood. We must be vigilant in distinguishing ourselves from these lines of thought. It’s not that pragmatic and functionalist analyses can’t yield valid insights; they often do. The danger is that our position, being more subtle, can easily be misread by readers expecting the usual defenses of “traditional morality”.
This is the main reason we cannot subordinate ourselves to the neoreactionaries by granting flagship status to their publication Social Matter. People are already inclined to assume we share their functionalist premises, and failing to make it clear that we are not neoreactionaries would make that danger worse. One can still acknowledge Mark’s point that we could do a better job working together with our allies and pooling intellectual resources. And, of course, why not draw attention to quality Social Matter articles when appropriate?
The third principle distinguishes us from many sincere religious conservatives, including, I’m afraid, the Integralists, who are dangerously uncritical toward Leftist ideas about “racism” and “segregation”. Religious conservatives often imagine that this is a battle they can avoid, sparing themselves the white man’s cooties. This is a mistake, because a basic moral principle is at stake. If a preference for one group of people ipso facto constitutes hatred of or failure to “fully recognize the humanity” of others, then loyalty, patriotism, filial piety, and love itself would be condemned. The Orthosphere is largely drawn from readers of Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, and we’ve been open in our rejection of whiteness-bashing from the start.
I conclude that there is for the time being no other group with whom we can merge. Certainly, there are other reactionaries from whom we can learn, but this must be done with care, because no one else’s commitments are quite the same. Also, we must work to maintain an atmosphere of openness to the Right. Sociologically, the biggest difference between us and an average social conservative website is that one can feel comfortable voicing a genuinely nonliberal position here. People may disagree with you, but nobody will dismiss you as a Nazi. If somebody tries, the group will side with you against him. This openness to the Right is a social achievement that we share only with a few other extreme Right clusters.
When fellow reactionaries must be criticized, we should never do so in liberals’ terms. “If you use their words, you will end up thinking their thoughts.” We must not respect liberal taboos, and we must absolutely not enforce them against our commenters. I’ve already angered some readers by refusing to censor criticism of the Jews, but I’m determined to quit the Orthosphere if we ever make it a policy to grant immunity from criticism to liberal victim groups. One moves quickly from “X shall not be criticized” to “X shall not be offended” to “Y is offense to X and is therefore evil” where Y is any of our basic principles. We don’t even want to start down that road.