Neoreaction and Subsidarity

One of the themes of neoreaction is that different groups of people will naturally evolve different forms of government and a government that is optimal for one group may fail when applied to another.

For example, anarcho-monarchism may be right for the anglosphere, but would likely fail outside of the natural institutions and culture that have evolved within the anglosphere.

As Bryce puts it:

The insight of neoreaction, contrasting this, is that the differences between groups do significantly determine the optimal form of governance. To different groups, different political doctrines. Insofar as different treatment of groups is institutionalized, it tends to be institutionalized in respect of the differences those groups. A different group of people calls for a difference in evaluation. This will not and in most cases should not be simplistic, but again, the most optimal forms of evaluation are not going to be able to be wielded by every society.

If national groups require differing forms of government would not regional, or local groups require the same. Two different counties, towns, or even neighbourhoods may have different optimal forms of government.

Because of this the principle of subsidiarity fits naturally within neoreaction:

One of the key principles of Catholic social thought is known as the principle of subsidiarity. This tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. In other words, any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.

Subsidiarity is often a basic and explicit principle of reaction, particularly Catholic reaction, but in neoreaction it tends to be implicitly accepted but not formally acknowledged. For example, Moldbug’s patchwork is inherently subsidiaritist in nature, but I do not remember coming across him explicitly promoting the principle. Searching google for neoreaction and subsidiarity, bring up mostly Nick Steves‘ comments and a bit of Bryce’s work, as would be expected.

The primary purpose of this post is to make more  encourage neoreactionaries to pay more explicit attention to, what I believe to be, an underlying principle of neoreaction, subsidiarity.


From this, a reactionary basis for libertarianism or anarchism can be reached. Rather than basing libertarian thought around such things as non-existent human rights, libertarian thought can be derived from the subsidiarity principle.

The individual is the smallest and simplest human organization possible. If everything is to be governed by the smallest and simplest organization capable and an individual is capable of governing itself, it stands to reason that libertarianism is the optimal form of governance.

The problem with this formulation is that not all individuals are capable of governing themselves. Natural slaves, those constitutionally incapable of governing themselves, present a challenge to this form of organization.

Thus we come back to the original theme, different groups of people will have differing optimal forms of governance.

In a society with few, if any, natural slaves, anarcho-monarchism would be the optimal form of government. Most people could govern themselves, the presence of a king would ensure his citizenry refrained from trying to govern each other, and the few natural slaves could easily be cared for through private, charitable organizations.

Thus, for Englishmen, a self-reliant people used to freedom and self-organization with strong natural social institutions, anarcho-monarchism is the optimal form of governance.

For other peoples, with a higher proportion of natural slaves, other more restrictive forms of governance may be necessary.


From this we can also discern a factor in why the size and power of government has increased while the non-English population has increased.

As non-English populations have been imported into English countries, the proportion of natural slaves have increased. More natural slaves necessitates more governance.

Thus, immigration from countries where the populations lack English virtues of self-reliance, spontaneous self-organization, and freedom will necessarily lead to more governance.

This is but one reason why immigration, particularly from incompatible cultures, should be severely restricted.


We now come to the post that inspired this post, a Town without Big Corporations:

There is no question in my mind that this town has saved itself from eventual decline. Not only is it much less ugly and depressing than nearby towns with chain stores but one has the sense that the people who live there identify with it as a community and feel some loyalty and pride. I say that based on my experiences simply talking and listening to the people who live there. So even if it allowed chains, but restricted their garish signs, the town would be worse off.

Instead of a Pizza Hut, there are individually-owned pizza restaurants and a couple of young entrepreneurs take a traveling wood-burning oven to the farmer’s market. People raise goats, sheep and chickens and sell the meat. There are a number of cheese makers who seem to do reasonably well and who sell things immeasurably superior to corporate cheese.

According to free market radicals, this town is engaging in practices that are fundamentally wrong. It is engaging in explicit protectionism in favor of small businesses. Or free market radicals will say that it’s okay to do this kind of thing here and there on a small scale, but the underlying principle of restricting commerce is immoral and tyrannical.

First, Laura is simply incorrect, but incorrect in an understandable way that almost every person is incorrect today.

The free market and large corporations are not one and the same. In fact, corporations, particularly limited liability joint-stock corporations, are a government-manufactured and -enabled institution that distorts the free market. The corporate takeover of the Anglosphere is not a product of free markets, but rather another government intrusion into the private lives of English citizens.

While I can’t say with utmost certainty, but removing the government-created, limited liability, joint-stock corporations from the free market would most likely halt the corporate takeover of the Anglosphere. How many would be willing to become involved in a world-spanning enterprise and be held responsible for the entirity of what the organization does?

Neoreactionaries should oppose the corporate system, as they are another failing of modernism.

Aside from that though, as a free market reactionary, the free market is the most efficient method of wealth-production in almost all cases; this is historically unarguable.

But wealth-creation efficiency is not the end of society; different peoples may have differing goals for society.

In societies without the basic levels of common trust, neutral courts, and non-corrupt government found within the Anglosphere, the free market may not function at all and/or what may be called a “free market” may be nothing of the sort and may actively harm people.

In the Anglosphere, I would not oppose economic regulation by the king, but I would oppose any regulation by our current democratic, national governments. Almost all economic regulation in our national democracies is created for the good of the state-created corporations, and almost all work against the independent entrepreneur.

Not to mention national regulation thoroughly violates the principle of subsidiarity.

On the local level though, local communities should be free to regulate commerce as they wish. Our social institutions have been annihilated by modern progressivism; some local regulations over commerce should be fine until the English people reassert their historical freedoms under the king.


  1. I like the principle of subsidiarity, it’s one of the few Catholic social justice principles which can be defended on its own terms. That said, I’ve been reluctant to use the concepts. They’re very modernist in flavor.

    I think you are also right about natural slaves, though I would put it out there as a question as to whether there are any peoples capable of going without governance. A population that does not fall into the category of natural slaves wouldn’t need a ruler, and could (should) live in an anarcho-capitalist society.

    I would also not make any definite claims about limited liability corporations. If I’m correct about certain privileges of autonomy accruing to beneficial social institutions via the laws of your society (be it statist or anarchist), then limited liability corporations are arguably a feature of the market. Not necessarily in the form as they currently exist, but a system of distributing responsibility and ownership for the property must be in place. The advantage of economy of scale means this legal problem needs to use some solution, and something like the limited liability corporation does that.

  2. Common Law in countries with Reformed Churches, codified law in slavish countries with Roman Churches… Gotta bring “Anarcho-Papist” back down to earth… Plus, it’s true.


  3. @ Bryce: Any society will need some leadership, as very few men are capable of full independence and freedom, but the level of control will vary. Some peoples will be good with very little control, others will require a lot.

    There are a lot of benefits to LLC’s, but by this point I think they have gotten out of control and the costs outweigh the benefits. There could be some role for them to play come the restoration, but that would be up to the king.

  4. Hoppe suggested democracy was a devolution of monarchy, which sounds reasonable.

    Todays high time preference democracies inculcate dependancy and institutionalise an inability for criricial thought. This would make transition to a paleo libertarian culture more difficult when the typical citizen demonstrates limited capacity for self governance.

    The large corporations are codependants of the state. Removal of this protection will make them vulnerable to genuine competition from the innovators and entreprenaurs.

  5. The limited liability aspect of corporations are not, in itself, an issue. The shareholders are the ones who enjoy the limited liability, not the managers, employees, or the corporation itself. So, an employee who killed someone while at the job would still be personally liable, and then so would the corporation. So, theoretically, private individuals could contract with each other in a manner that is highly similar to the basic corporate structure.

    No, what is so inimical about modern corporations is that they have to follow the laws and regulations, and once they reach a certain size they benefit from and tend to lobby for, more red tape. We were taught in economics class that marginal revenue should equal marginal cost, so it is suggested that businesses just naturally grow to this point and no larger. The problem is that government regulation represents a cost. To the mom and pop, that cost wipes out any profit made from the few transaction per day. The large corporation could conceivably be distributing that cost over billions of transactions. So, Walmart finds itself in favor of raising the minimum wage, for instance, since this will be yet another regulation choking out small competitors. The Walmart example has been with me since that economics class in college because of the anti-Walmart leftist idiots. I kept trying to explain to them that every regulation they came up with only made Walmart stronger but they just don’t get it, for they are the useful idiots, and the corporatists use them like the bootleggers use the baptists.

  6. Increased corporate size begets a form of rent seeking. Small companies cannot compete, nor can they grow to acquire the economies of scale of the walmarts et al.

  7. Right, but what I am saying is that the corporate size is a byproduct of government regulation. Indeed, that growing so large works at all as a strategy is because of the regulatory regime. So Walmart isn’t at a free market economy of scale, but at an artificially higher scale. If you listen close to some of those in power (like the Davos crowd) they talk about constructing markets. I suspect they know some of this happens, but they are happy to let this stuff stay hidden and language that doesn’t differentiate this artifice from what would be free.

  8. Dear Free Northerner,

    One of the basic problems is human nature is wired so that we like to people in friend and enemy groups, and thus try to reduce every ideological question to some binary X vs. Y no other options. And also we often like to get attached to slogans, labels, because they also identify a tribe.

    But we must see that this is not correct. There are at least 4-5 major kinds of economic systems: state socialism, anarchist socialism, big corporate capitalism, crony capitalism and small entrepreneurial capitalism.

    This is a huge mess. Almost everybody on the Left things capitalism means only big corporate capitalism, and almost everybody on the Right things socialism means big state socialism.

    Realizing that, I made a painful cut – I abandoned the label of “pro-capitalist”, I even abandoned the label of “libertarian” (easy because I am not from the Anglosphere), I adopted labels of “distrbutist”, “small business capitalist”, “in favor of family enterprises”, “supporting nations of shopkeepers”, or simply “entrepreneurist”.

    Now every time people mention capitalism, either in a positive or a negative sense, I always ask them WHICH capitalism, the capitalism of busy little entrepreneurs hustling, or the capitalism of shareholders owning the product of the labor of people they never met?

    And I urge you to do the same.

  9. “The individual is the smallest and simplest human organization possible”
    Sorry, but this is an error – there is no ‘organization’ possible with an individual: no hierarchy, not subordination, etc. No, the smallest and simplest human organization is the *family*.
    Indeed, a cornerstone of the development of the theory of subsidiarity and of its twin concept, solidarity, is that governments, institutions, and the economy exist to ‘serve’ the family, not the other way around.
    Hoppe (as someone has already mentioned) observed in his book ‘Democracy: the God that Failed’ that Monarchy is far preferable to democracy although his explication of why ended before he reached the fullness of his premise: yes, a large part of the superiority of Monarchy has to do with the King seeing/treating/actually having government as ‘personal property’ – that is true. But it is also because Monarchy mirrors the personal and emotional investment of a father in his family.
    For a father does not just ‘act as if/decide as if’ his family is “personal property” it is, in actuality, his ultimate investment of time, energy, wealth, emotion, and pride. He does not strive as he does for his family merely for a ‘return on investment’ but because of his pride in himself and the other members of the family, his hopes for their future families, etc. These elements, all beyond and much larger than mere economic decision making, are easily as critical.
    Likewise a king does not rule well ‘merely’ because his kingdom is a source of income for himself and his heirs, but because of the kingdom being the embodiment of his own pride, hopes, etc.Hoppe, with his almost-exclusively economic analysis, missed or simply did not address it. This is also why he reached the erroneous conclusion that Anarchy would be better than Monarchy – he missed the relationship to family and the non-economic elements.
    Subsidiarity (largely the idea that ‘as small as possible, as close as possible, and as personal as possible is better’) and its twin solidarity (‘the non-economic elements within a particular group are at least as critically important as the economic ones’) are meant to mirror and support the family.
    This is why Monarchy works so much better than other systems regardless of the nation, etc. As pointed out the monarchies may take different forms, but this is nor more than recognizing that people and groups are different; my child is different than yours, my oldest child is different than my youngest – therefore I must treat my child differently than yours and I must treat my oldest differently than my youngest.
    In other words, Solidarity, Subsidiarity, and Monarchy can do what Democracy can never do – treat each person as they deserve by recognizing them as they individuals they are. Only by mirroring the family can individuals be truly treated as individuals.

  10. spot on about the LLC’s: a major factor in economic power concentrated in the “hands of a few” (which leads to socialism)…and the invention of which sort of coincided with the ban on usury being lifted..the other big problem with so-called free market economics

  11. “Thus, for Englishmen, a self-reliant people used to freedom and self-organization with strong natural social institutions, anarcho-monarchism is the optimal form of governance.

    For other peoples, with a higher proportion of natural slaves, other more restrictive forms of governance may be necessary.”

    This is simply wrong. As the underlying premise is racism which is morally disgusting (especially from a Christian as Christianity is a religion for everybody, not just White, English-speaking males) and empirically wrong (there are no significant biological differences among “races”, e.g. the intelligence among all human individuals varies a lot whereas the difference of the average intelligence of “races” is minimal and if it favours any “race” it would be Asians and Jews, not “Englishment”) it is hardly surprising that the conclusion is wrong.

    For a bunch of fascists who view themselves superior to other people you male ample of elementary mistakes. This is hardly surprising though, there is a reason most intellectuals are left-wingers and not right-wing scum.

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