On Elitism

Surveying the reactionary scene as it is today, it seems as though something that it needs to work on developing is a proper sense of elitism. This may seem a bit unnecessary, even ironic – are not reactionaries (who are mostly, if not all, monarchists and/or feudalists) elitists by definition? To some degree, yes. But perhaps this is a point at which a fuller exploration of what elitism is, what its implications are, and how it would look in a well-run society, is worth some effort.

What, then, is elitism? Elitism begins with the acceptance of a deeply anti-egalitarian, yet deeply true fact: A very few people are smart, strong, sensitive, and innately wise enough to transcend the mentality of the group around them and to find their way independently to a belief set based on truth, virtue, order, and sustainability. Most people cannot reach this on their own; most people do not have a fixed point of either truth or morality, and set theirs more or less where they are set by the group they belong to. This is why there are “blue states” and “red states”; why there are “Christian countries” and “Muslim countries”; why gay “marriage” went from ridiculous to essential as soon as the gatekeepers of the prevailing mass culture decided it should – because most people accept as truth whatever is presented to them as “good” or “normal” by their group. What this amounts to is the fact that the vast majority of people need to be taught and led. This does not make them either particularly stupid or particularly amoral – it simply makes them normal. And if they are taught properly and led properly, then the society in which they live will be decent and functional. If, however, they are taught badly and led badly, then the society in which they live will be indecent and dysfunctional.

So then, a decent and functional society needs teachers and leaders. And who shall they be? This is where elitism becomes both the simplest thing in the world, and the most difficult. For elitism is the granting of responsibility to those who have proven themselves responsible, potentially dangerous knowledge to those who have proven that they can handle it, and power to those who have proven that they can wisely wield it. And it is the denial of those things to those who have not proven that they can do so.

How this grates upon the Modern soul! After all, equality demands that all people be given a chance at attaining positions of responsibility; knowledge is for everyone and denial of it to anyone is Dark Age repression; power is to be shared (is this not the very basis of democracy?). At very most, the Modernist will grudgingly agree that some kinds of responsibility and power should be apportioned based on the “brains and hard work” technocratic meritocracy of the Whig capitalist (a corporation cannot, after all, have a thousand CEOs), but only after we ensure free access to all knowledge, and unrestricted “equality of opportunity”. This is the dogma of egalitarianism; it has been drilled into every child of Modernity (and, no matter how much we may rebel against it, all reactionaries are native-born sons of the Modern world) practically from birth, and breaking free of it – of all of it – is a difficult task indeed. On some levels, it may be a bridge too far even for the most strident of reactionaries. Have we not, after all, found our way to where we are because we encountered some knowledge that persuaded us, and which was available freely? Have we not accepted the responsibility to teach, to pass along what we have learned, and to form communities (online or in person) based on our philosophy? Do we not strive for the power – either placed on us personally, or on someone we trust – to remake the world based on what we know to be true? And have we not done all of this without asking anyone’s permission?

Indeed we have. And yet there is a trap waiting at the end of this line of thought. It is the error that Anton LaVey referred to as the “Sin of Solipsism”, which, to paraphrase, means the assumption on the part of smart, strong, sensitive, and innately wise people they are themselves a proper baseline by which to judge the the rest of humanity. It means, in short, an assumption that everyone else is pretty much like you, that what they would do in a certain situation is pretty much what you would do in it, and that the set of rules that might wisely be applied to you could just as wisely be applied to everyone.

To indulge in this is egalitarian madness. It is what has simultaneously resulted in the crucial roles of teachers and leaders ending up (especially in institutions like academia and the mainstream media) in the hands of those who intentionally sow the seeds of immorality and instability in the name of the fanatical egalitarian utopian cult of leftism, and also in what Fred Reed referred to as the “you ain’t no gooder than me” lowest-common-denominator flattening of the common culture. It is essential that reactionaries must not retain a residual Enlightenment egalitarianism that would allow them to think that a worthwhile society can be established if we just have a king and some lords, but that everyone underneath them should have exactly equal privileges. No! Again, responsibility to the responsible; potentially dangerous knowledge to those who can handle it; power to those who can wisely wield it! And not to others!

The elitist must, in fact, realize that in many important ways, he is better than others. Not in all ways, of course – for we are all fallen sinners – but in many key areas which amount to both a blessing and a call to bear a burden of responsibility. It is this latter idea that represents what was once known as noblesse oblige – and it is this that is one of the most crucial points that separates the reactionary elitist from both the tyrant and the capitalist, who, each for their own reasons, do not practice it.

And here a very important point comes to the fore: Elitism is not a call to abuse the average man. Just the opposite – it is a call to do service for them by teaching and leading them. It is also not an excuse to abrogate their basic rights – these should of course be protected under any decent system of common law. It is, however, the justification for a decent society to maintain virtue and order by keeping certain things off limits to those who do not have the innate ability, nor have the education or training, to handle them wisely. Conversely, it is the justification for a decent society to allow for a greater freedom of inquiry and study to those who have proven that they can handle them wisely.

Thus do we say: Of course some knowledge is too dangerous to be widely shared with those who have neither the wisdom nor the rigorous spiritual and philosophical training to be able to fully understand all its subtleties, appreciate its dangers, and apply it (if at all) non-destructively. In a decent and functional society, therefore, of course there should be locked and guarded rooms in the archives of great libraries into which only trusted clergy and scholars should be allowed. Yes, some monsters really are too dangerous to be let out of the basement, and some ideas too dangerous to be left to spread. The one hundred million or so people who died in the previous century during various attempts to make Karl Marx’s batty ideas work in the real world would attest to this, if they could.

In the Medieval and Renaissance eras, this confinement of certain knowledge to the presumed elites was done mostly in an indirect way – much of what was then considered potentially dangerous knowledge consisted of texts written in Greek or Latin, and these remained untranslated into local languages. The sons of families above a certain social status were expected to learn these ancient languages, and thus to be able to read these texts in their original forms. Certainly, there were sometimes abuses of this system, especially when it came to religious matters. And equally certainly, this system could not now be replicated. But it did provide for a great deal of stability and social order for a very long time, and there are lessons to be drawn from that.

So now we are still left with these important questions: Who shall the elites be? How shall they act?

The first thing that must be understood is that the elites of a decent and functional society should not be the same sort of elites that a Whiggish capitalist society would select. These latter base their selection of leaders and teachers on the “brains and hard work” paradigm. This can provide a technocratic society with a capable, amoral managerial class. It cannot alone provide a decent, functional, and (also rather importantly) sustainable society with teachers and leaders. No, this sort of society needs something more from its leaders: it needs proven virtue. Instilling this in leaders and teachers was, it is easy to forget, the primary mission of the universities until very recently. Back before universities were “democratized” into becoming glorified trade schools, their missions were, in order of importance, first to produce a virtuous and enlightened Christian leadership class, second to produce refined and cultured gentlemen, and third (and last) to produce men trained in fields that required advanced education. It was a system that worked well, and to say that it has been completely lost today is a grave understatement. A decent, functional, and sustainable society would be well advised to rebuild this system.

But whether taught in universities or self-taught (as natural elites often will be), the requirement for proven virtue in teachers and leaders is essential. Would this mean that we might miss out on some leadership provided by the bright, ambitious, and amoral (i.e., precisely the sort of people who built and maintain this Whig capitalist society)? Perhaps. We’ll get by without them. We may not be quite as rich or have quite as many impressive machines around us, but that will be more than made up for by things being better in other ways.

This is crucial, because the placement of virtue above all other considerations is the single most important distinction that separates traditionalist and reactionary elitism from Whig and capitalist elitism. This must never, ever be forgotten.

As to how the natural elite shall act, it should be expected that their high IQ and their exposure to knowledge that is not widely shared (in a decent society some knowledge would be kept under lock and key; in the present society there is much knowledge that is technically available but left forgotten by the masses in amongst all the football, internet porn, cable television, and centrifugal bumble-puppy) will make many of them eccentric, and this is neither to be feared nor discouraged so long as it never crosses the line into either open immorality or disparagement of faith and morals. If it does, then they should be shunned and purged by whatever means are available. But, and this is crucial, they should not be shunned or purged until they do so – neither inquiry into troubling areas of knowledge nor personal eccentricity should be taken as justification to do so. Again, those who form a natural elite should be permitted, even expected, to live by a slightly different (but in its own way no less stringent) set of rules than the average man.

This applies even when the “man” in question is a woman. The contributions of great women should not be ignored, and elite women who make themselves known should not be discouraged. It does a decent society no good to have its Hroswithas, its Jane Austens, and its Marie Curies rendered unable to lend their talents to the world. They too should be allowed extra leeway in inquiry, and allowed a certain eccentricity. However, in addition to the above constraints, it should by no means be accepted that they shall openly undermine femininity or motherhood. Women and girls need to be taught and led properly as well, and this is especially crucial because good women are the backbone of any decent society. Femininity is the foundation of good womanhood, and being a mother is the highest and most necessary of callings. The disruption of these in the name of the Whig virtues of wealth and “progress” has been disastrous, and must not be encouraged by any who hope to establish or maintain a decent society.

So now comes the question that I’m sure is on the mind of all: How does one join the elite? A decent society would have methods and institutions in place for identifying natural elites and ensuring for their proper education and advancement (as well as for their purging, should they turn to immorality or heresy). But we live in a Modernist society, and Modernity only has systems in place that select for the traits needed in technocratic Whig elites. What if one’s talents do not tend towards buying and selling, or towards building machines, or towards flattering either the rich or the masses?

The bad news is that there’s presently no one to select or elevate you into a traditionalist or reactionary elite. The good news is that there also presently exists infinite opportunity for you to select and elevate yourself.

For the moment, traditionalist and reactionary elites are indeed largely self-selecting, or selected by essentially leaderless peer groups. If you want to be one such elite, the monetary cost of admission is nothing. Open up a Blogger or WordPress account for long form writing, and a Twitter account for engagement with the community. Then prove yourself with your own dedication and talent. Listen to what others say, but don’t parrot it or feel the need to always agree with it. Write things that contribute to the body of thought; that build on or play off of the work of others with the addition of your own original ideas. Or if your talents tend toward art, or fiction, or poetry, or song (and the reactionary movement sorely needs people with such talents), then self-publish, self-record, release on a blog, or on YouTube, or on iTunes, or on Amazon, or on The Pirate Bay. Those with practical talents, including teaching self-sufficiency and self-defense, are needed as well, and have the same methods (and more) for sharing knowledge and becoming known. Do so in a way that others will value, and you will get noticed. Do not, or display obvious instability or immorality, and you will go nowhere. It is entirely up to you. This may or may not be optimal, but it is the system for selection because it must be – again, there is no other method in place. There is no King to give you a title or noble patron to shower you with money. I’ve long said that the reactionary movement is an open audition for a certain kind of aristocracy, and so it is.

So if you want to become an elite – an aristocrat of the soul – and if you are able, then become one. The time is right, and there could be nothing more exciting.

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