American Mind, sensing conventional conservatism’s failure to halt the march of historical “Progress,” has invited powerful minds from the dissident Right to comment on the present political predicament. They began by releasing an essay by Mencius Moldbug (Curtis Yarvin) called “The Clear Pill” which promises to erase our political mind, and in upcoming installments will expose the falsity of progressivism, constitutionalism, and fascism, before offering what will hopefully be a viable alternative (I analyze that essay here).
Bronze Age Pervert’s Restatement and Response to Anton
The Bronze Age Pervert, then, was given the opportunity to respond to Michael Anton’s thoughtful review and critique of his book in the Claremont Review, in a work titled, “America’s Delusional Elite is Done“. There are many points to discuss from BAP’s response, but, please permit me to bring out what appear to be the core arguments:
1) The phenomenon that Bronze Age Mindset is a PART of, is bigger than BAP. Within the free spaces remaining on the internet, a burgeoning, productive countercultural discussion has emerged.
2) That discussion emerged out of, and seeks to clearly articulate, a deep disappointment with massive shifts that have occurred within the United States and much of the West. Namely, the fact that mainstream outlets like the New York Times, among many others, casually utilize white eliminationist speech, on an alarmingly regular basis. In addition to this, many vocal Trump supporters have lost their jobs and have even been violently attacked. BAP argues that these eliminationist speeches mirror those from the Rwandan genocide and that violent suppression of dissent (i.e. punishment of those who SUPPORT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!) is not unlike suppression seen in former Soviet states, if not worse.
3) Main stream Conservatism has failed at every step of the way to stop the Left’s ascent to power. The Left has abandoned both Nature and the principles of the American founding and now rules the nation (in addition to ruling the minds even of many conservatives). In a sense, a regime change happened before our eyes. We no longer live in a liberal regime.
4) BAP argues that it is not yet the time to articulate a vision of the best regime. THIS IS IMPORTANT: he says that time is NOT YET here. He is not opposed in principle to such theorizing. But if the present moment is as dire as he argues it is, the more important task is to facilitate the break down of the present regime–and as one sees in closing sections of BAM, BAP is very clear that peaceful methods can be utilized to do this.
Mencius Moldbug’s Critique of Bronze Age Mindset
American Mind, in an effort to take seriously the claims of BAP, invited contributors to assess, criticize, and defend his book and his essay summarized above. Mencius Moldbug returned to the pages of American Mind, not to defend BAP as perhaps many thought he would, but rather, to argue that BAM is merely an early literary trifle of BAP that we ought not be too impressed with. Moldbug’s critique, in highly condensed form:
1) In stable regimes, there is no obvious mechanism for removing the organs of the state. This is especially the case in an oligarchy like ours; it is not always clear “who” we need to remove from power (cf. the Clear Pill as well as his earlier work for more on this theme). In the American regime, power is deeply decentralized.
2) Regimes are as much aesthetic as they are political–if not more so. Every elite has its own aesthetic from Nazism to Bolshevism. They all need what we might call strong gods. Revolutions are therefore founded on the basis of an aesthetic break from the elite aesthetic that deeply threatens the elite (more than bullets or votes ever could). Telling the truth can be a way to do this, because a regime that tells lies is ugly. A regime becomes even uglier as it is compelled to use force against those who dissent from the main story or aesthetic of the regime.
3) The preceding arguments prepare the ground for a lash against BAM. Moldbug says that we are not even at the beginning of that aesthetic shift. He argues that while BAM has as its theme the exposure of the smallness of the modern mind and world, it fails to offer an alternative or open a new world; it might let some conservatives push back against the Left within the Overton bubble, but it does not point the way out of the bubble. Moldbug claims that the book is a mere speech and NOT the kind of performance required for genuine regime change. The book ultimately fails to provide a message.
Moldbug’s Failure to Understand Bronze Age Mindset
I’ll conclude by raising one question concerning Moldbug’s treatment of BAM. Is Moldbug really right to say that BAM has no message? On one hand, BAP freely admits in his essay that BAM does not, and was not meant to, provide an alternative political vision. His book was written in a mood of revelry and laughter, for entertainment purposes. But as we all know, entertainment edifies. It subtly, with our permission and without, changes our moral and aesthetic taste. BAP’s book exhorts us to return to the full use of our native and inborn powers–to our instincts. He shows that the authorities we have hitherto bowed to are baseless. That we must become strong and beautiful. That we must judge for ourselves–by grasping things and looking at them, not listening to mere hearsay.
He exhorts us to transform ourselves and to prepare the way for new free spirits. And once great men emerge again, in full possession of their native powers, then it will be time to discuss a new regime. For, a regime is composed of and made by human beings. One cannot, as the American founders knew well, make a regime out of thin air. One must look around at the KIND of humans who are to live in that regime. The founders saw free men, and thought they could design a regime for free, though, flawed men. The Left today, has designed a regime for children that they take for granted cannot take care of themselves. BAP is wise to wait to think of the next regime. For he does not know what kind of people will emerge in the coming years. We do not know how or precisely in what way our regime will collapse. But, one thing is emphatically clear: BAP has lit a fire for many of us, and helped us begin to see ourselves for what we really are–this is a message, and it is a new aesthetic. For that, I will be forever grateful.