Neoreactionaries are obsessed with taking down what Moldbug refers to as “the Cathedral”: a complex of Ivy League universities, the New York Times and other elite media institutions, Hollywood, and more that function to craft and mold public opinion so as to silence opposing viewpoints.
Park MacDougald, in an excellent piece on Nick Land’s brand of neoreaction, describes the Cathedral as a “media-academic mind-control apparatus.” I actually think the best analogy is to the role the patriarchy plays in radical feminist epistemology, or the role of “ideology” in Marxism. Neo-reaction demands a total rethinking of the way the world works, and such attempts generally only succeed if they can attack the sources of knowledge in society and offer a theory for why they’re systematically fallible.
That’s how feminist scholars have (I think correctly) undermined pseudoscientific attempts to paint female servility as natural, or male aggression and violence as inevitable and ultimately acceptable. Yes, the argument goes, these ideas have had elite supporters in the past, but those elites were tainted by institutional sexism. Similarly, Marxists are always alert to how media produced by big corporations can be tilted to serve those corporations’ class interests. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur once helpfully dubbed this kind of argument the “hermeneutics of suspicion.”
Neoreaction takes this approach and flips it on its head. No, it’s not institutional sexism or bourgeois class interest that’s perverting our knowledge base. It’s institutional progressivism, and fear of the revival of monarchism, tribalism, and prejudice.
That makes it a lot easier for neoreactionaries to defend their narrative of Western decline and democratic failure. If you look at the numbers, the Whig theory of history — with some faults and starts, everything’s getting better — appears to be basically right. Extreme poverty is at historic lows, hunger and infant mortality are plummeting, life expectancy is going up, war is on the decline, education is more available, homicide rates are down, etc.
But what if those numbers are all lies produced by biased Cathedral sources in academia and propagated by Cathedral tools in the media like Vox? What then?
Dylan Matthews, ‘The Alt-right Is More than Warmed-over White Supremacy. It’s That, but Way Way Weirder’, Vox, August, 25, 2016