Editor’s Note: This article was published at Social Matter here.
Populism has long been a dirty word to neoreactionaries, but this disdain misses a certain hidden element to populist movements, one that at its core sows the seeds for building a new elite and restoring hierarchy. There is an esoteric element to populism we ought to keep in mind and exploit for our own goals.
Reading a hidden meaning into mass movements at first seems counterintuitive, or even contradictory, but there is a hidden meaning and recognizing it will move us out of our egalitarian-multicultural swamp and towards a properly ordered society.
Ultimately, all of history is made by elites. As noted in classic neoreactionary theory, populist uprisings are largely explainable as artificially-powered opposition movements fueled by intra-elites or elites from other states, in order to play with the balance of power.
Often times, in this sort of proxy war, elites simply exploit building resentment among certain groups. That is, they often co-opt real and genuine sentiment and pervert it to achieve their own aims.
Populist movements and populist sentiment often have genuine complaints against governing elites. These grievances boil down to two points: elites are acting in their own interests, and that those interests are zero-sum–those elites interests are forwarded at the expenses of the interests of other classes.
A mass fever might birth a movement, but it will never sustain it. Even in the case of the French and Russian revolutions the masses eventually settled for a new elite under Napoleon and Stalin respectively.
The world is hierarchical, and man’s nature is radically unegalitarian. Even when he fights for liberté, égalité, fraternité he can’t help but subsume himself under a vigorous leader ready to mouth all of his shibboleths, when in truth he’s happy to be put back in his place.
Populism should, therefore, be understood by anti-egalitarians as a people’s cry into the wilderness for an effective elite–one that will rule them with a wider interest in mind instead of decadent self-service.
That’s why the managerial revolution has been so destructive to our politics. By creating managers instead of aristocrats we have severed the bonds of a proper class system. The managerial class identifies more with its own abstractions and insular bubble culture than with those that it rules. In turn, the ruled resent an absentee’ ruling class more concerned with its own perpetuation rather than society’s as a whole.
New elites are built in times of crisis. At first, they may appear as comical, as the little Corsican no doubt did and Donald Trump does now. What they both have in common is a will to power and as such, a will to put society back in its proper order. For Trump, making deals for the “American people” is really a type of noblesse oblige.
For those of us who hope to build a new society based on very different foundations than those the Enlightenment bequeathed to us, understanding the people’s rage is fundamental.
Like all of us, they’ve come to the conclusion that they’re being screwed. But unlike us, they don’t know what they want. They’re motivated by a real sense of loss in status and material wealth, but their outward rage hides an inner desire, which is that they want to be ruled and ruled effectively.
Democracy is pornography for power. It allows men to build up ideal images of leaders and be constantly disappointed when those he votes for turn out to be the same old crooks. This is what took place with the co-opted Tea Party.
Again, the main point here is that populist sentiment, when genuine, is a cry to be ruled and ruled effectively.
Samuel Francis said of elites:
In the process of acquiring and exercising power, the ruling class will reshape the society and culture it dominates in order to buttress, defend, and justify (or “rationalize”) its dominance, and the reshaping will reflect what the elite perceives as its group interests.
The Cathedral currently rules over a people it can’t fully control. Its tendrils have reached deep, but not deep enough to obliterate all resistance. Implicitly, the Cathedral understands that a populist revolt of the kind currently brewing in America and in Europe is bad for its interests, unlike ones they ferment in the Middle East, or elsewhere.
In the past, the Cathedral used popular revolts to solidify and extend its power. From the civil rights movement to countless others, the Cathedral used its forward shock troops to rebuild society in its image and make way for an elite comprised of Tiger moms and Ta-NeHisi Coates.
With prodding from a newly forming domestic elite, conservatives are being directed into an ideology that more accurately represents their interests and preserves their identity–one that is not primarily focused on flat tax rates and reforming Obamacare, but on bolstering the pre-conditions necessary for Western civilization to thrive.