The Dark Enlightement: Coming ‘Out of the Shadows’

They’re starting to take notice.

And there is no such thing as bad press.

Here’s a pejorative attempt at a takedown of the Dark Enlightenment from Matthew Walther of ‘Conservative, Inc’ publication The American Spectator (“The Dark Enlightenment Is Silly Not Scary“).

Lately the so-called “Dark Enlightenment” has begun to receive some attention from writers outside the Blogspot crypts and Tumblr grottos where it has been flourishing quietly since it was christened two or so years ago by the expatriate English philosopher Nick Land. Extramural responses to the Dark Enlightment have ranged from faint amusement to utter repulsion. While I agree with those who find the movement’s ideas facile, its would-be scriptures prolix, and its membership more than a bit off their rockers, I do not think that the Dark Enlightenment is atavistic, much less dangerous. It is a harmless product of the Age of Twitter, a symptom of The Way We Live Now as much as Girls or Pajama Boy.

For those lucky enough not to have stopped at some out-of-the-way reactionary blog and found one of its dank tendrils clamped around their ankles, the Dark Enlightenment is the brainchild of Curtis Yarvin, a computer programmer who generally writes under the ridiculous nom de guerre Mencius Moldbug. His followers dwell in the shadows. They write under pseudonyms because they fear that their published thoughts will turn their friends, families, and employers against them. They hate democracy, under which their many talents have gone unappreciated. They are authoritarian rather than libertarian. They are Tridentine Catholic or Eastern Orthodox in religion, or else hard materialists. They feign interest in the occult and have made H.P. Lovecraft into a kind of guru. They watch Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner obsessively. They lust after Bitcoins and brood over the relationship between I.Q. and race. They call their online noisemaking “black magic.”

What unites this coterie of traditionalist Christians, von Mises enthusiasts, hackers, seasteaders, and latter-day phrenologists? Nothing, save perhaps their opposition to “the Cathedral,” which is to say, government—federal, state, and local—plus the bureacuracy plus the universities plus the media…

At its best the Dark Enlightenment is simply conservative political outreach to the tech world; at its most innocent, it is a harmless nerdy pastime, the 21st-century equivalent of putting on capes or wizard hats and scampering through steam tunnels. At its worst—I am thinking of those among the Dark Enlightenment faithful who are also members of other, less attractive online communities: white nationalism and something called the “Manosphere”—it is a bit more sinister and very much more ridiculous. White nationalists are mouth breathers who, apparently, believe that there exists a nation called “White” about which they can feel nationalistic.

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