Mencius Moldbug: The Deep State vs. The Deep Right
No one can touch the ruling class directly, through legitimate or illegitimate political action; but indirectly through art disruption is possible. The art-right is the way forward. The Brietbarts, the populists who started this revolution produced hackneyed and not real art. Real art aims at what is highest in man and isn’t concerned with an audience… art isn’t mere propaganda.
Nevertheless, art is dangerous and everything dangerous is a weapon. Every regime is also an aesthetic—i.e., every regime relies on the dangerous weapon—and currently the only weapon in town is the democratic aesthetic.
Bolshevism was an aesthetic experience. Nazism was also an aesthetic experience. And democracy remains one. To play in this league, to compete on this historical scale, requires aesthetic gestures of great power: strong gods.
The way an aesthetic break is established… an aesthetic break is established when the old aesthetic becomes incapable of telling the truth: post-ossification, there are vested interests, long devoid of any vital power, which continue to believe in their right to dominance, but find themselves in need of increasingly massive, indeed infinite, financial resources to reproduce their lies, to get their lies into the heads of the populace. Spending massive amounts on false narratives is a sign of desperation. The legacy elite are afraid and this is a sign of coming change. [This inevitability of regime change is the closest Moldbug comes to saying the world is essentially Just. I at least have always felt a devious optimism when reading his persuasive descriptions about regimes that cease being able to tell the truth.]
In this war, there is no room for compromise: everything old must be burnt off so that what is alive can grow. The sculptor is not here to compromise with the politician. The painter isn’t producing a paint-by-numbers… his paintings are not predetermined by the lines and boundaries of a focus group. The writer isn’t trying to persuade academics and pundits. Art must be an action that subdues the opponents only incidentally… i.e., art must exude dominance.
The world cannot be won by force. She must be seduced by greatness.
BAP is good at burning, but has no positive program. He is like Nietzsche and is setting fire to everything—necessary, but not sufficient. In time this will no longer be enough. In time, every “no” will have been said. A “yes” will be required.
Moldbug says there is no way to act politically or violently against today’s oligarchs. I completely agree. So then, why isn’t BAP’s “sun and steel” program, with its promotion of male camaraderie, not a “positive project”? It gives men something to do. Does a “positive project” have to encompass a whole society? I doubt it. If we don’t even have a Club Tropical Excellence, how can we aim at reforming all of society?
In any event, the Bronze Age Pervert isn’t interested in offering guidance to mass society but the war-band, the assembly of armed men, and the small brotherhood… none of these groups need to be told what they want. BAM was a necessary book because of how much the obviously good things are mendaciously attacked today. The Pervert does offer compelling and interesting descriptions of model men, but most importantly he clears the way for a naturally healthy young person to follow his actual desires rather than be slowly crushed by fake moral claims.
As far as Moldbug’s hoped-for institutions… I imagine institutions grow up out of a great burst of life and that talking about the “art right” is, in a sense, useless; the great artists come of their own accord. Moldbug recognizes this in his essay. He both calls for the creation of institutions and notes their basic nullity when it comes to producing great art. Great art requires telling the truth about nature, and is therefore not always producible by just any regime: great art can only be produced by the regime that can tell the truth given the present circumstances. Great art is always consonant with the regime of the future, or an impending modification of the present regime. There was a time when art supported democratic regimes, because it was the democratic regime that could tell the truth. This is no longer the case. Moldbug therefore focuses on BAP, who represents the best thing we’ve got, the closest a new regime has come to finding a voice.
The writers at The American Mind decided to ignore the focus of Moldbug’s essay. They decided, each writer in his own way, to passively suggest to Moldbug that they would prefer he write about Christian things instead. With the exception of Haywire’s petulant essay, none of the writers even mention the Bronze Age Pervert! This is an embarrassing mistake. Moldbug did not write the essay because he wanted to explain the power of art on politics–that is kid stuff. Everyone and their mother knows about the power of art. Moldbug wrote the essay because he wanted to draw attention to BAP and goad him onto another book.
Zero HP Lovecraft: The New Tlön
Lovecraft argues that everything will be new but it will still be Christian. You won’t even recognize the new church. That’s the basic gist of his essay and it is in line with the Christian Philosopher Arthur de Gobineau’s observation about the Christian religion:
We do not find that Christianity has ever given the world a unique type of civilization to which all believers belong. The Church adapts itself to everything.
Lovecraft doesn’t mention BAP, but he passively suggests that BAP’s aesthetic, the aesthetic Moldbug wrote to promote, is compatible with the Cross.
Readers and listeners of BAP know he has indeed defended Christianity. He calls for its reformation. He defends the passion of Christ against the usurpers of that passion.
They had a chance and still do, to take on the idolatry of the holocaust and the idolatry of slavery. These idolatries do everything they accuse me of, but a thousand times bigger, and yet they say nothing. This imagery of the holocaust of slavery, have been used to appropriate Christian concepts and imagery of the passion story… Explicitly appropriated it. This NYTimes 1619 project… They twist it now into this new religion that serves the passive-aggressive, feminized, pagansim or gnosticsim of the modern state. It wears this garb one day and calls it ‘liberal democracy’ the next day. And these self-righteous faggot trads who put on the garb of religion themselves … they dare say not one word against it.Caribbean Rhythms #19
Meadowcraft & Keegin: Resurrection Aesthetic
Meadowcraft & Keegin argue that the old world died at the Somme. It is time for something new. Although it is time for something new, we should borrow from Christian civilization. This requires an anthropology of the “whole human person.” Modernity is individualistic so it doesn’t see the whole human person because it doesn’t look for God. Understanding the “whole human person” means subordinating Athens to the Gospel, seeing man as a “frightened, doomed animal, adrift in a hostile and chaotic cosmos.” I know they say this view of man is from Athenian tragedy… but it isn’t and they give no evidence for their position—they like the idea that man is broken and in need of salvation and so they attribute their more perverse desire to the Athenians and save the optimism for the Gospel.
Look, if this is your kind of thing, there is always Flannery O’Conner. But this “whole human person” thing… it’s ugly. By “whole” they mean to say you aren’t allowed to ignore the ugly; the broken are saved by God so surely they have a demand on you as well. You cannot just love good people, you have to love “whole” people, i.e., all the people, without discrimination. It’s an egalitarian essay and as such stands as a passive-aggressive rejection of Moldbug’s view of art which doesn’t care for the “whole” person but what is best in man.
Rachel Haywire: Who Owns Vitalism
Rachel implies that Moldbug is ripping her off: she claims to have come up with the term “the Art Right.” I mean, it just isn’t that impressive of an accomplishment to turn the phrase “Alt Right” into “Art Right”… I wouldn’t be surprised if more than two people had the idea on their own. I doubt anyone cares who came up with the phrase. There is no substantive argument in her essay: she asserts that Moldbug lacks credentials. She takes some baseless swipes at BAP too, after pretending to be hardly aware of who is; that is, she resents him and wants to display that, but also needs you to know she is way too important to take notice of him. Haywire is a harpy, nothing more. I have a hard time understanding why they actually published this essay. [Maybe she and Moldbug are old friends, and her tone is a kind of aggressive-banter. I don’t know.]
James Poulos: I Know Why the Caged Man Tweets
Poulos argues that better men will learn to be content. He ends the essay on that note anyway.
And after a while, many of them [men who have tried very hard to be perfect] will fall deeply in love what surrounds them—even, or perhaps especially, if it isn’t strictly beautiful.
The reason men must learn to be content with less is that the “problem” of man is insoluble: nothing can be done that will give a truly ambitious man what he wants and so he has no choice but to humble himself and accept the constraints placed on him by nature and God. I wonder why he thinks the problem is insoluble if it is possible for man to humble himself before nature and God—if it were truly possible to so humble oneself before these pillars, then wouldn’t you expect that humility to be the solution? He says religion won’t do it: perhaps he means “religion” like those people who say “It’s a relationship with God not a religion” I don’t know, that could be what he means… but he seems pretty adamant that there is no solution whatsoever.
I assume Poulos is taking on BAP indirectly, when he writes:
But it has pushed men into feeling as if the dam that must soon burst, spilling big male energy back into the world, will create a mighty river on which the right kind of helmsman can take a shortcut to sweet relief from the ugly aesthetic experience of being trapped and knowing it. An aesthetic will rise, hoisted aloft by a Cosmic Chad… so commanding a command performance will be performed that the trap will be sprung, men will be able to be men again, justified by their role in completing a fitting, pleasing whole!
Even if this quotation is not aimed at Bronze Age Mindset… I believe it is, but it doesn’t matter to my argument whether it is or not. (However, it does speak to the dishonesty of this reply and the others: why write responses to an essay about the Bronze Age Pervert and resolutely refuse to recognize him or his work?)
There seems to be this notion that men shouldn’t aim for “perfection” because it doesn’t work for all men all the time, that men inevitably become dissatisfied even if they get what they want. I mean, what is the evidence for Poulos’ claim that the problem of man is insoluble? Maybe the problem of society or mass society is insoluble, but why is that the case for every man everywhere? Maybe it is just very difficult to solve the problem of man and most people fail?
Poulos’ claim is not unlike the sophistical claim that there is no “human nature” because, unlike fire that burns hot everywhere, man is variable.
If there is a human nature then the problem of man is not insoluble… his problems would arise from ignorance of that nature, from aberrant desires rather than good desires. Or to put it another way, if we take Poulos’ view, man is in the unenviable position of having to fight against his desires; he appears more miserable than every other animal; he is irremediably confused, divided, and at war with himself. Contentedness under great constraint or after exhaustion is his only option.
The aesthetic of BAP’s Bronze Age Mindset and Caribbean Rhythms isn’t Christian, but Christianity is malleable and can be reformed. Perhaps Zero HP Lovecraft aims at something like that. As for Meadowcraft, Keegin, and Poulos … I want to ask if it is okay to try to be beautiful, to try to go after the beautiful things, to ignore and avoid the ugly and unsavory things, and above all seek independence from the fake moral claims of others? The point of their responses strikes me as only tangentially about art and primarily about putting makeup on egalitarian moral constraints, on the same moral constraints conservatives have been laboring under unsuccessfully for decades. Whether or not these had their heyday is beside the point: they are dead; we do not want them resurrected. Readers and listeners of BAP are interested in how to improve, not how to avoid being bad. That desire is the fertile soil Moldbug sees and BAP is the cultivator to whom Moldbug appealed. Why didn’t the responses take Moldbug seriously?