In 2004 a book called The Secret was published, written by new age spiritualist Rhonda Byrne. The book is one in a long line of New Age spiritual self-help books, this book however – like many others – makes one critical error. Instead of abiding by the generally accepted principle ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ (Gandhi) – which has been the basis of various spiritual traditions for millennia – The Secret alters this phrase into ‘You change the world’. New Age spirituality ignorantly takes critique to a whole other level, in that one believes they are quite literally changing the world to their own vision of it. Now, the former quote from Gandhi is actually related to such change, but it’s doing so from an understanding between the real and the ideal. What Byrne’s book does is make the user believe they can actually immanentize their subjective ideal into reality itself, what the tried-and-tested ‘Be the change’ formula does is work with the real.
What reactionary thought does – as clearly outlined in James Burnham’s The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom – is address the real. Using known, tried and tested systems, structures and traditions to make a judgment regarding what we should do. Am I saying steadfast traditionalist reactionaries can learn something from New Age spirituality, why yes, I am. What reactionaries are reacting against is the ideal, and what they’re trying to work with – as I’ve stated – is the real. Progressive political systems are inherently ideal, in that they can never arrive in their definitive form, and do so with some manner of mutation, or with some form of parasitic infection. The political ideal can never become because it’s tied to a disordered and chaotic subjective consciousness, whereas the real of reactionary thought is tethered to hell-baked truths of existence.
Many of you will have listened to my recent interview with Curtis Yarvin (Mencius Moldbug), and if you haven’t, get on it. Yarvin’s overarching point with regard to those who are sick and tired of the current regime is this: Any reaction that plays by the rules of the current regime bolsters the current regime. Reaction has become zero-sum, all energy and spirit targeted at progressivism is subsumed into progressivism. Progress is the great vampire, one which can alter any objections into its own lifeforce. So what does Yarvin state we should do? We should ‘detach’:
“Engagement is any voluntary relationship with power—to assist or resist power, whether in action or just desire. If you are trying to change the world—even if you just want to change it—maybe even if you just want it to change—you are engaged.
The opposite of engagement is detachment. To be detached is to be consciously irrelevant—to inhabit the world as it is, to know that it is likely to continue on its current path, and to separate yourself from any action or desire to change it. No one can achieve perfect detachment—which is the point of trying.
Engagement is not compliance. Compliance is involuntary action. Engagement is voluntary action or desire for action. Compliance is paying your taxes. Engagement is putting a sign on your lawn. Detachment is weird; anything weird in your lifestyle will commend your attorneys to the most meticulous possible compliance.
Detachment is not dissidence. Detachment never resists. It does nothing against any person or institution, legal or illegal, violent or nonviolent. It does not even try to influence public policy or public opinion. It is never angry; it never cares; and it always obeys—both the formal laws, and the informal rules.
Detachment is a hard spiritual task in which no one can succeed perfectly. It is not a fact or even an idea. Detachment, like Zen, is a practice. And while serious Zen practice involves hours of painful sitting that can cause hemorrhoids and even nerve damage, how hard can it be to practice not giving a shit?” – Gray Mirror of the Nihilist Prince
Now, this theory of detachment is something I have been writing about years. Most notably here, here and here, but the underlying idea is within all my work. Sure, Yarvin is writing about detachment from quite a specific angle, but I’ve always been a critic of progressivism, and if modernity is anything, it’s a blood relative of progressivism.
So, what can us curmudgeons learn from the New Age movement? Well firstly we need to learn – as Burnham and Yarvin point out – to deal specifically with the real. Now, for those of you that are practicing some form of religion or magic, this doesn’t mean some sudden reversion to new atheism or materialism, because here’s the thing, the ‘real’ can be defined as that which works and that which enacts the intended effect on one’s consciousness, culture or state. Dion Fortune defines magic as “the art of causing changes to take place in consciousness in accordance with will.” – Any changes that are caused must be noted, cross-references and understood, anything else is empty ignorant wishes. But hey, there’s a lot of people whose heads are buried in the sand with regards to what is actually happening.
What I like about Yarvin’s piece is that he makes it clear that: “Detachment, like Zen, is a practice. And while serious Zen practice involves hours of painful sitting that can cause hemorrhoids and even nerve damage, how hard can it be to practice not giving a shit?” When we think back to that original quote by Gandhi ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ we can begin to realise, when juxtaposed with the Yarvin quote, that it adheres to a semantic bias. The entire idea of ‘change’ has succumbed to the vampirism of progressivism, and has been made synonymous with progress itself. When we hear someone is out there changing the world, we instantly think of someone going to Africa to build wells, or helping out at a soup kitchen. Of course, these aren’t bad things to do if you’re so inclined, however, the hegemonic usage of the word ‘change’ disallows other forms of change to ever become.
“How hard can it be to practice not giving a shit?” well Curtis, as you’ve probably found out, unless you define how people are perpetually, unconsciously giving a shit, not giving a shit is basically impossible. Once again, if you don’t even know you’re in a cage, why would you ever try to escape? By now I hope most of you know that you’re at least stuck within something, even if you’re having a hard time defining what exactly that ‘thing’ is. Anyway, back to detachment and how to practice it. I don’t want to distinctly follow on from Yarvin here, so I will just state, this is my own theorization of ‘detachment’.
What I read and understand detachment to be is something which is not active, but it’s also not apathetic, and it’s most definitely not neutral. But that isn’t to say it has to be overtly extrovert, activist or active in any way. So, what the hell is it then? It’s acceptance. When someone truly doesn’t give a shit, when someone’s frame hits its absolute peak, what have they actually done? They have accepted their opinions as their own, accepted the culture they find themselves within and primarily have accepted the real. What does this look like in practice? Well it looks like what it’s always looked like, not bowing to popularity, not acting out of desire for status, acting on principle, being honourable and not bending to the whim of various social, cultural and progressive parasites.
Here’s how it looks in real life:
“Hey man, you excited for that [popular] film everyone is on about?”
“So, are you red or blue?”
“Neither, I believe democracy is an inherently stupid idea.”
“How about those protests, hey?”
“I wasn’t really paying attention; I have a family to look after and things to build and create. I think most people involving themselves in such things are simply bored and are looking for something to do, they don’t actually believe in whatever it is they’re supporting that week.”
Note, in these 3 examples the reply shouldn’t be said in any overt reactionary manner, as if you’re making some sort of ‘statement’ or outlining some dumb manifesto, one’s reactions and replies should be both honest and sincere. Nothing more is needed. When others realise, they are allowed to disagree, they will begin to understand that there is a system which is controlling them and is covertly creating psychological restraints which unconsciously disallow certain opinions.
Detachment and ‘not giving a shit’ aren’t about checking out altogether. It’s detaching oneself from that which one has been covertly programmed to become attached to (the idea of progress) and likewise, to not give a shit about that which one has been programmed to give a shit about (popular media, activist movements, red vs blue politics, political status games etc.) When I state that one should ‘Become the Reaction You Want to See in the World’ I am not stating that people should do anything, because doing something simply acts as fuel for the fire of progress.
Progress’ modus operandi is defining its process as the universal good and by proxy defining all which disagree with it as bad. By appealing to man’s inherently virtuous nature as someone or some people who wish to appear good as to receive status and popularity, progress gains its support by appeals to vanity and narcissism. So, what one should do, is not do anything which progress can use, simply adhere to strict personal principles and disciplines, and state with conviction, honesty and sincerity that which they truly believe and that which they truly disagree with. You are allowed to disagree with entire systems.
Sit back and become the reaction you want to see in the world. Everyone is getting so caught up in the myth of progress that it’s made them believe they have to react to it in some form, that any disagreement with its method of operation is some grand act in itself, it isn’t. My friend, you are allowed to disagree with anything and everything, and you should. Accept your own opinions, and do not let the parasites of false virtue invade your mind.
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