Remember the donkey, Benjamin, from Animal Farm? He is a dissident intellectual who sees how things really are, providing exposition to the reader about how the ridiculous, surreptitious deception defines the post-revolution farm. He’s not a resister, he’s not a rabble-rouser and he’s not counter-revolutionary. He is passive, and he passively speaks the sober truth, with neither a delusion of living under a reasonable system or delusion of being able to change that system. That’s the only reason why he can occupy his strange position — he is an utterly defeated fellow with nothing to lose and no reason to speak anything but the harsh truth. This is the mystique of the neoreactionary.
The neoreactionary is the guy at the end of the movie that tells everyone exactly how he feels about them. He’s already lost his job, or lost the battle, or he’s just had an epiphany about how he’s been full of shit the whole time (does anyone else remember Talk Radio?) That’s why people actually read neoreactionary blogs instead of those of, say, Stormfront.org buffoons, despite the two being about equal in political incorrectness. Where white nationalists might have laughable fantasies about a “white revolution” and coming neo-Nazi order, neoreactionaries are acutely aware of the insurmountable obstacles that face an anti-mass movement. Nick Land writes:
Neoreactionary realism, in contrast, is positively aligned with the recession of demotic sustenance. If this were not the case, it would exhibit its own specific mode of democratic politics — an evident absurdity. Any suggestion of frustrated rage, tilting into terroristic expressions, would immediately reveal profound confusion, or hypocrisy. Lashing the masses into ideological acquiescence, through exemplary violence, cannot imaginably be a neoreactionary objective…
“What is to be done?” is not a neutral question. The agent it invokes already strains towards progress. This suffices to suggest a horrorist response: Nothing. Do nothing. Your progressive ‘praxis’ will come to nought in any case. Despair. Subside into horror. You can pretend to prevail in antagonism against ‘us’, but reality is your true — and fatal — enemy. We have no interest in shouting at you. We whisper, gently, in your ear: “despair”. (The horror.)
Compare this to the embarrassing pretensions of power that “anti-establishment” types have: libertarians saying “smash the state,” feminists saying, “smash the patriatrchy,” and socialists saying, “smash capitalism.” There is clearly no smashing of any of these types going on and no plausibility of it happening either. It’s a game of make-believe that the neoreactionaries do not play.
Progressive intellectuals, even the Marxist ones, are toiling in the status quo. Apparently fresh academia-intelligentsia-social media trends are just new exegesis of old progressive canon. Criticism of Patricia Arquette’s progressive Oscar acceptance speech is being made from the exact same assumptions about the nature of justice human interaction that Patricia Arquette’s speech itself is built upon. Even conservatives attempting to implement conservative ideas work within the status quo by using proxy arguments: “We should cut welfare because welfare leads to bad results for the poor,” or the ever eye roll inducing, “Liberals are the real racists for supporting affirmative action!” Both of these talking points, regardless of their truth value, are ultimately competing in the rat race of finding creative ways to dignify progressive assumptions. Conservatives don’t seem to realize that their proxy arguments are always going to be inferior to the real thing. This doesn’t mean that the progressives are wrong — they are just operate in the same kind of criticism-insulated environment that the medieval scholastics existed in.