Dark Enlightenment

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The Dark Enlightenment, also known as the neoreactionary movement and abbreviated NRx, is an anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, reactionary philosophy founded by English philosopher Nick Land and Curtis Yarvin, an American software engineer and blogger. The movement generally rejects whig historiography[1] – the concept that history shows an inevitable progression towards greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy[2] – and favors a return to traditional societal constructs and forms of government, including support for monarchism and other archaic forms of leadership such as a cameralism.[3]


Curtis Yarvin, the founder of what became known as neoreaction

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.[4] The term Dark Enlightenment refers to the Age of Enlightenment, in a pejorative sense.[5][6]

In July 2010, Adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, Arnold Kling coined the term "The Neo-Reactionaries" to describe Yarvin and his followers.


Neoreactionaries are an informal community of bloggers and political theorists who have been active since the 2000s. Steve Sailer and Hans-Hermann Hoppe are contemporary forerunners of the movement, which also draws influence from philosophers such as Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola.[5]

Central to Land's ideas is a belief in freedom's incompatibility with democracy. Land drew inspiration from libertarians like Peter Thiel, as indicated in his essay The Dark Enlightenment.[7]

The Dark Enlightenment has been described by journalists and commentators as alt-right and neo-fascist.[8][9] 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".[10] Yarvin, for example, argues that a libertarian democracy is "simply an engineering contradiction, like a flying whale or a water-powered car."[11]

Neoreactionaries have often declined reporters' requests for interviews, explaining that journalists—as manufacturers of consent, are their mortal enemy. When The Atlantic political affairs reporter Rosie Gray attempted to interview neoreactionary leaders, Yarvin suggested she instead "speak directly to my WH cutout / cell leader", a sarcastic reference to widely reported yet unsubstantiated rumors that Yarvin had ties to White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, while Nick B. Steves told her she was ill-suited to write about neo-reaction because "115 IQ people are not generally well equipped to summarize 160 IQ people".[3]

Relation to other movements

Relation to the alt-right

Some consider the Dark Enlightenment as part of the alt-right, its theoretical branch.[8][12] The Dark Enlightenment has been labelled "neo-fascist or "an acceleration of capitalism to a fascist point", although Land argues this is inaccurate because be believes fascism "is a mass anti-capitalist movement".[8] Land says that "NRx doesn't think the Alt-Right (in America) is very serious. It's an essentially Anti-Anglo-American philosophy, in its (Duginist) core, which puts a firm ceiling on its potential. But then, the NRx analysis is that the age of the masses is virtually over. Riled-up populist movements are part of what is passing".[3]

Neo-conservative journalist and pundit, James Kirchick notes that although neoreactionary 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]


A criticism of neoreaction is that its 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.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Goldhill, Olivia. "The neo-fascist philosophy that underpins both the alt-right and Silicon Valley technophiles". Quartz. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  2. ^ https://qz.com/1007144/the-neo-fascist-philosophy-that-underpins-both-the-alt-right-and-silicon-valley-technophiles/
  3. ^ a b c Gray, Rosie (10 February 2017). "Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement". The Atlantic.
  4. ^ Land, Nick. "The Dark Enlightenment".
  5. ^ a b Finley, Klint (22 November 2013). "Geeks for Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries". TechCrunch.
  6. ^ Phillips, Jon (Fall 2014). "Troublesome Sources". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  7. ^ Land, Nick. "The Dark Enlightenment".
  8. ^ a b c Goldhill, Olivia. "The neo-fascist philosophy that underpins both the alt-right and Silicon Valley technophiles". Quartz. Retrieved 2018-05-27.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ MacDougald, Park (14 June 2016). "Why Peter Thiel Wants to Topple Gawker and Elect Donald Trump". New York Magazine.
  11. ^ a b Kirchick, James (16 May 2016). "Trump's Terrifying Online Brigades". Commentary Magazine.
  12. ^ Matthews, Dylan (25 August 2016). "The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It's that, but way way weirder". Vox.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Andrew (30 April 2017). "Why the reactionary right must be taken seriously". New York Magazine.

External links

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