By Insula Qui
This topic was suggested by Nullus Maximus, the editor and showrunner at Zeroth Position.
Everyone who knows me is aware that I am influenced by neo-reactionary thought. Albeit to a fairly limited degree, but only because neo-reactionaries often do not even know what they really believe. Neoreactionaries sell themselves to libertarians as embodying a sort of libertarianism of the right. They still support free markets, personal responsibility, and self-determination, but they do so from a purely right-wing perspective. And although this simplification might approximate the original consensus, the neo-reactionary movement has greatly strayed from it.
On the other side, they have a different story to tell to traditionalists. They bill themselves as a sort of modern traditionalism without any inherent fascism, as fascism is just another trend. This is not necessarily an anti-fascist stance, but rather a position which neither rejects nor embraces fascism. And although a lot of people have tried to paint neo-reaction with the fascist brush, it's not even close to fascist philosophy. Neo-reaction draws from various obscure and esoteric sources from the entirety of history to form a weird, but strangely eternal, worldview. And although anarcho-capitalism might never be possible without sufficient technological advancement, neo-reaction can apply to cavemen just as well as a possible cyberpunk future.
As a sidenote, the degree to which anarcho-capitalism is possible in different stages of technological advancement is questionable. Many say that the information era is necessary for proper anarcho-capitalist polities. Others claim that the industrial revolution created capitalism itself so anarcho-capitalism is a post-industrial concept (Although this only holds up if you use a minarchist definition of capitalism.). It is also possible that anarcho-capitalism requires either the agricultural revolution or the existence of trade. It still could be the default condition of mankind, but this is uncertain.
I have previously argued that anarcho-capitalism is only possible in post-agricultural or pre-agricultural conditions and cannot exist while the agricultural revolution was going on. When the agricultural revolution began, only the first adopters had such surplus wealth that they could create specialized jobs via trade. Without the class of new agriculturalists, every person would be stuck on the subsistence level with no specialization other than how exactly they provide subsistence to the tribe, this can also be described as functionally anarchistic. However, the advance of agriculture means that the early adopters could create political power. And surprisingly enough, most states developed during a period of agricultural revolution.
And this is the first main difference between neo-reaction and libertarian reaction. Libertarian reaction relies on the possibility of libertarianism itself, it can only be expected to function in a polity that has sufficient morality and intelligence to function under libertarianism. Not all conceivable polities fit this description, so libertarianism is exclusionary. But any conceivable society from primates to white Anglo-Saxon protestants can embrace neo-reaction. This is because neo-reaction is a description of power and a question of what to do with that power, while libertarianism is a description of the absence of coercive power.
Neo-reaction does not reject coercion because it is coercion, but rather because coercion usually causes problems which are better avoided. As such, the first priority for both libertarians and neo-reactionaries is to ensure that the proper use of coercion is achieved, but this common ground does not go very far. While libertarians are fundamentally motivated by efficiency, they are unwilling to ever accept that productive aims are met by force, neo-reactionaries take the same principle even further by accepting that force can reach productive aims.
Thus, both philosophies grow out of the same premise, that being efficiency. If you ask a libertarian or a neo-reactionary whether they prefer an inefficient society with secondary virtues to an efficient society without those virtues, the predominant answer will be in favour of the second. Neo-reactionaries are not traditionalists, inegalitarians, libertarians, or monarchists for any moral reason, but rather form their allegiances depending on the efficiency of a concrete system. This means that the difference between neo-reaction and libertarianism must lie primarily in the method of analysis and the secondary virtues that reinforce the primary virtue of efficiency.
The end goal of libertarianism is the full ownership of property, which is a natural outgrowth of the desire for efficiency, neo-reactionaries follow suit here. However, the method of analysis applied is different, libertarians look for who should own the property, while neo-reactionaries look for who holds the strongest claim to property. Libertarian reactionaries assume that the proper owner of all property holds the strongest claim to that property. Neo-reactionaries are in an essential disagreement over the nature of property, as they say that the strongest claim is held by the person with the most power to take that property.
And from here we can see the main divergence between libertarianism and neo-reaction. While early neo-reactionaries are, or at least were, essentially libertarian-minded, the realization that property is really owned by the strongest claimant has caused massive shifts in how neo-reactionaries view the world. Most neo-reactionaries have abandoned the neo-cameralist ideal of sovereign corporations ruling due to their market efficiency in providing governance. This leads to the formation of such worldviews as neo-reactionary absolutism and any other conceivable brand of neo-reaction.
And this absolutist view is a logical outgrowth of neo-reaction. When the absolutists analyze power, they quickly note that there can only be one proper sovereign. The person with the greatest aptitude and willingness to apply violence in claiming property must then be the rightful ruler of a society. There can never be multiple sovereigns, as only one person can possess this supreme aptitude. This notion is absurd to libertarians due to a completely different analysis of force. And although libertarian reactionaries can see the theoretical possibility of libertarian absolutism, it quickly becomes irrelevant due to the nature of how force and knowledge are divided in society. Furthermore, the essential claims of absolutists are just statism taken to its logical conclusion, which libertarians have been able to answer for half a century now.
Thus, we have described the essential difference in the political views of libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries. If we are to use overplayed and mostly useless terminology, a huge difference lies in closing the is-ought gap. Libertarians derive what a political system ought to be from what human nature inherently is. Neo-reactionaries derive what humans ought to do from what the nature of political systems inherently is.
But libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries are not reactionary in the same way. Although I have myself distanced myself from reactionary philosophy, it still holds a place in my thought due to how influential it has been for me and how reactionary philosophy usually tends to be right. And although I would argue that the uniqueness of eras makes the common proposals in favor of reaction ultimately untenable, libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries disagree with me and each other on this key point.
Libertarian reactionaries view reaction as a sort of precursor to liberty from a very Anglo-centric point of view. For nations which are more inherently individualistic, any deviation from the natural order will cause less individualism and with it less libertarianism. And as Anglo-Saxons are some of the most individualistic people on the planet, it’s no surprise that traditionalism will necessarily lead to libertarianism among these populations. And the reactionary part in libertarian reactionaries is scarcely anything other than an embrace of radical traditionalism.
Furthermore, libertarian reactionaries are deeply disturbed by the profound liberalism of the modern political order. They have seen states grow even in non-individualistic countries with the advent of liberalism, and as such they see that libertarianism cannot be a proper liberal discipline. Libertarian reactionaries do not think that we ought to bring back liberalism, as many other libertarians do, but rather that liberalism must first be crushed before libertarianism can replace it.
But this is not what neo-reactionaries believe. The neo-reactionary philosophy is not one of functioning within the scope of liberalism. And although neo-reactionaries are profoundly illiberal, they are also against feudalism, classical monarchies, the Roman jurists, and theocratic greek city-states. Neo-reactionaries do not think that any fad of an era can properly encompass human existence. As such, neo-reactionaries are not only reactionaries but also the most consistently reactionary anyone can ever get. This leads to the overlap between libertarian reaction, neo-reaction, and the conception of producerism as seen by your humble correspondent.
The finality of social thought for these three groups is the natural order. This is the supreme, be-all, end goal of social development. This is not some socialist utopia, nor is it a fantasy about the development of a racial overman, this is simply describing the instincts, nature, and form of human existence coalescing to create something great. The natural order is hierarchical, the natural order demands unrelenting protection, and the natural order is inherent in every cell of every human. And this is why libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries can seem hard to distinguish. They both start with force, and they both end with the natural order. However, everything between the ends could not be more different.