Dark Enlightenment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Dark Enlightenment, also called neo-reactionary movement (sometimes abbreviated to NRx), is an anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, reactionary philosophy. In 2007 and 2008, Curtis Yarvin, writing under the pen name Mencius Moldbug, articulated what would develop into Dark Enlightenment thinking. Yarvin's theories were elaborated and expanded by Nick Land, who first coined the term Dark Enlightenment in his essay of the same name.[1] The term "Dark Enlightenment" refers to the Age of Enlightenment, in a pejorative sense.[2][3]

The ideology generally rejects Whig historiography[4]—the concept that history shows an inevitable progression towards greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy[4]—in favor of a return to traditional societal constructs and forms of government, including absolute monarchism and other archaic forms of leadership such as cameralism.[5]

In July 2010, Arnold Kling, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, coined the term "neo-reactionaries" to describe Yarvin and his followers.[2]


Neo-reactionaries are an informal community of bloggers and political theorists who have been active since the 2000s. Steve Sailer and Hans-Hermann Hoppe[1] are contemporary forerunners of the ideology, which also draws influence from philosophers such as Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola.[2]

Central to Land's ideas is a belief in freedom's incompatibility with democracy. Land drew inspiration from libertarians such as Peter Thiel, as indicated in his essay The Dark Enlightenment.[1] The Dark Enlightenment has been described by journalists and commentators as alt-right and neo-fascist.[4][6] A 2016 article in New York magazine notes that "Neoreaction has a number of different strains, but perhaps the most important is a form of post-libertarian futurism that, realizing that libertarians aren't likely to win any elections, argues against democracy in favor of authoritarian forms of government."[7]

Other focuses of neoreaction often include an idealization of physical fitness, a rationalist or utilitarian justification for social stratification based on intelligence based on either heredity or meritocracy, an embrace of Classical or Objectivist philosophies, and traditional gender roles.[citation needed]

Neo-reactionaries sometimes decline to speak to reporters. When approached by The Atlantic political affairs reporter Rosie Gray, Yarvin attempted to troll her on Twitter, and blogger Nick B. Steves said that her IQ was inadequate to the task of interviewing him and that, as a journalist, she was "the enemy".[5]

By mid-2017, NRx had moved to forums such as the Social Matter online forum, the Hestia Society, and Thermidor Magazine. Kantbot, an NRx-adjacent figure on Twitter, noted at the time that the online NRx spaces already appeared less vibrant, with almost no activity occurring at Social Matter.[5]


Journalist Andrew Sullivan notes that neoreaction's pessimistic appraisal of democracy dismisses many advances that have been made and that global manufacturing patterns also limit the economic independence that sovereign states can have from one another.[8]

In an article for The Sociological Review, after an examination of neoreaction's core tenets, Roger Burrows deplores the ideology as "hyper-neoliberal, technologically deterministic, anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, pro-eugenicist, racist and, likely, fascist", and ridicules the entire accelerationist framework as a faulty attempt at "mainstreaming...misogynist, racist and fascist discourses."[9] Moreover, he criticizes neoreaction's racial principles for their brazen "disavowal of any discourses" advocating for socio-economic equality and, accordingly, considers it a "eugenic philosophy" in favor of what Land deems 'hyper-racism'.[1][9]

Relation to the alt-right[edit]

Some consider the Dark Enlightenment part of the alt-right, representing its theoretical branch.[4][10] The Dark Enlightenment has been labelled by some as neo-fascist,[4] and by University of Chichester professor Benjamin Noys[4] as "an acceleration of capitalism to a fascist point." Land disputes the similarity between his ideas and fascism, claiming that "Fascism is a mass anti-capitalist movement,"[4] whereas he prefers that "[capitalist] corporate power should become the organizing force in society."[4]

Journalist and pundit James Kirchick states that "although neo-reactionary thinkers disdain the masses and claim to despise populism and people more generally, what ties them to the rest of the alt-right is their unapologetically racist element, their shared misanthropy and their resentment of mismanagement by the ruling elites."[11]

Scholar Andrew Jones, in a 2019 article, postulated that the Dark Enlightenment (i.e. the NeoReactionary Movement) is "key to understanding the Alt-Right" political ideology.[12] "The use of affect theory, postmodern critiques of modernity, and a fixation on critiquing regimes of truth," Jones remarks, "are fundamental to NeoReaction (NRx) and what separates it from other Far-Right theory".[12] Moreover, Jones argues that Dark Enlightenment's fixation on aesthetics, history, and philosophy, as opposed to the traditional empirical approach, distinguishes it from related far-right ideologies.

Historian Joe Mulhall, writing for The Guardian, described Nick Land as "propagating very far-right ideas."[13] Despite neoreaction's limited online audience, Mulhall considers the ideology to have "acted as both a tributary into the alt-right and as a key constituent part [of the alt-right]."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Land, Nick. "The Dark Enlightenment". The Dark Enlightmenent. Archived from the original on 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2014-12-23.
  2. ^ a b c Finley, Klint (22 November 2013). "Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  3. ^ Phillips, Jon (Fall 2014). "Troublesome Sources". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Goldhill, Olivia. "The neo-fascist philosophy that underpins both the alt-right and Silicon Valley technophiles". Quartz. Archived from the original on 2017-06-18. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  5. ^ a b c Gray, Rosie (10 February 2017). "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  6. ^ Sigl, Matt (2 December 2013). "The Dark Enlightenment: The Creepy Internet Movement You'd Better Take Seriously". Vocativ. Archived from the original on 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2016-06-17.
  7. ^ MacDougald, Park (14 June 2016). "Why Peter Thiel Wants to Topple Gawker and Elect Donald Trump". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (30 April 2017). "Why the reactionary right must be taken seriously". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  9. ^ a b Burrows, Roger (10 June 2020). "On Neoreaction". The Sociological Review. Archived from the original on 21 December 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  10. ^ Matthews, Dylan (25 August 2016). "The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It's that, but way way weirder". Vox. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  11. ^ Kirchick, James (16 May 2016). "Trump's Terrifying Online Brigades". Commentary Magazine. Archived from the original on 19 May 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  12. ^ a b Andrew Jones (2019). "From NeoReactionary Theory to the Alt-Right". In Christine M. Battista; Melissa R. Sande (eds.). Critical Theory and the Humanities in the Age of the Alt-Right. London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-18753-8_6. ISBN 9783030187521. Archived from the original on 2021-02-14. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  13. ^ a b Joe Mulhall (2020-02-18). "Andrew Sabisky's job at No 10 shows how mainstream the alt-right has become". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2020-06-15. Retrieved 2020-06-11.

External links[edit]