What is Neoreaction?

There seems to be confusion as to what neoreaction actually is. Most outsiders focus on monarchy and technology, most other alt-righters focus on it not being their particular brand of right-wing thought. I’ve written an introduction to neoreaction on Reaction Times, but it was a simple description made in relatable terms and doesn’t get to the core of it.

Keldory got the right idea on twitter:

The core of neoreaction is the two interrelated ideas of formalism and neocameralism.

Formalism is the essentialist notion that the symbolic and the real should align, particularly when it relates to power. The mythic, factual, and social truths of power should be the same. He who rules in name should rule in fact, and he who has power should hold an office and title truthfully indicating his power.

Neocameralism flows from formalism. It is the truth that the state is simply a group of people working towards a common goal, it is a corporation. The only difference between it and other corporations are sovereignty and territoriality. Sovereignty is the right to force obedience through violence, while territoriality applies this sovereignty to a particular geographic area.

Formalism and neocamericalism are neoreaction, everything else flows from these two ideas. Combined these ideas give the neoreactionary position: that the state should acknowledge that it is a corporation sovereign with ownership over its particular territory and the residents therein and that it should openly wield and delegate its power as an owner.

Notice how these ideas are rather abstract and lacking in any concrete prescriptions or goals. This is what confuses outsiders and this is why neoreaction can seem somewhat schizophrenic at times. People tend to judge ideologies on their goals and prescriptions, while neoreaction’s only real prescription is ‘make real power and theoretical power converge and wield them openly’, which is a rather vague.

Because of the abstract nature of core neoreactionary ideas, neoreactionaries can mold these ideas into very distinct ideologies. For example, Nick Land and Nick Steves both derive very different prescriptions from neoreactionary axioms.


Some clarifications:

One form of neocameralism which was mentioned by Moldbug, the joint-stock corporation government, has been the focus of people criticizing neocameralism. It’s probably unworkable, but the cryptographic joint-stock government is not the core of neocameralism, rather it is one possible prescription derived from it. Sometimes, due to it being included in the original patchwork posts, the two are conflated.

As well, the word corporation can confuse people. Colloquially people generally use ‘corporation’ to refer to large, for-profit organizations, and corporation automatically brings to mind McDonald’s or Monsanto. Corporation in this case is used in its more proper definition: a group of individuals recognized by law as having an independent existence apart from any particular individual. The state being a corporation does not necessitate it being for-profit, impersonal, large, etc. For example, your local church and community clubs are corporations.


  1. The West is responsible for almost every contravention of these NRx principles since the 16th Century. If what you say is true, then the true and faithful Neo-reactionary will work tirelessly to return every piece of land, every pillaged resource (and profit gained from its sale or the sale of all of its derivatives and derivative industries including ) or cash equivalent at today’s prices, with interest. Returned items would also include anything gained by deception, fraud, sin of commission or omission, failure to ensure that the terms and implications of any agreement were fully and properly understood before contract. And this should not be determined merely by Western Law, but by governing principle and culture in perpetuity – i.e. in every way until every claim of ownership is extinguished by natural and organic means.

    The claim of ownership the White Man(tm) makes on the West is a lie. He has (mostly) controlled it, but it is stacked to the rafters with stolen goods and the proceeds and therefore he has never owned it.

  2. I disagree with the notion that all governments are corporations, though I admit that I may have a little different definition of “corporation” than you do. To me, a corporation is an entity run without personal ownership; the executives, board members, and CEOs are temporary caretakers, almost never replaced by people from their own family. If this sounds familiar, it should – this is precisely how Moldbug (and Hoppe) described democracy, and is the basis for their complaint about it – namely that it is run badly and with a high time preference in mind because nobody involved in running it actually owns it or can leave it to their progeny. The caretakers (ostensibly) run the corporation for the good of the shareholders, which in the case of a democracy are the citizens. Each citizen, upon reaching 18 or being naturalized, receives a single voting share in GovCorp (but with no possibility to legally acquire any more), which allows them to vote for one or another slate of candidates for the board, all of which are vetted and pre-approved by the two major political parties.

    If that sounds like a lousy way to get things done and a bad deal for the citizen/shareholders, that’s because it is. You have to agree to let GovCorp rule over every minuscule aspect of your life, in exchange for one share of voting stock out of 220,000,000 or so (the remainder of the population being non-shareholders – children, non-naturalized immigrants, and felons). That’s not what I would call “liberty”.

    But there are two ways to run a going concern. The first is the joint-stock corporation, mentioned above. But the other is the privately-held family business. And that’s what monarchy is.

    Anyone who’s worked for both a corporation and a family business will tell you that there’s advantages and drawbacks to both. For example, if you don’t have the family name (or at least marry into the family), there’s a hard ceiling on how high you can rise in the business. Since the next guy to run the company *must* have the family name, there’s always the chance that you’ll get a tyrant or a doofus. And of course, if the patriarch gets his mind set on something, that’s all she wrote – his word is law, for better or worse.

    But family businesses also tend to be more personal and less prone to building up endless layers of faceless bureaucracy. You’re more likely to be able to get someone to listen to your ideas in a family business. There’s a feeling that every long-term employee is “part of the family” to at least some degree. Win the boss’s favor, and you can rise very high in the organization (though again, not all the way to the top). Money isn’t everything in a family business: loyalty counts for something, and tradition counts for something. There’s more of a “work to live, don’t live to work” ethos. Your job is less likely to be packed up and sent to China or India so the bosses can save ten cents an hour.

    (Note: I do not claim that any of these points are universally true, only that they are valid as broad general statements.)

    Seen this way, being a monarchist is simply a way to say that when it comes to governance, you prefer a family business to a joint-stock corporation. Plenty of people make that choice when it comes to their employment options, and it is not seen as unusual. I do not see why the exact same principle applied to government should be treated any differently.

  3. Not that I mean to act as a critic, or to draw attention away from your excellent post, but you might need to add the third point in the first position.

    First and foremost it is a criticism of the Cathedral Complex: Academy, State and Media, and the use of propaganda to perpetuate detrimental falsehoods.

    I would argue that the criticism of the Cathedral Complex as a False Promise using deceit, pseudoscience, and propaganda, is the first principle of Neo-Reaction, and the most effective content in the neo-reactionary movement.

    NeoCameralism I agree with. The state is a corporation acting in the interests of its management and staff at the expense of the customers long term interest, by the constant sale of territorial, physical, cultural, and normative capital in exchange for short term consumption (r-selection). The problem is, how do we construct commons: territorial, physical, cultural, and normative while at the same time, eliminating the privatization of those commons that is the means by which the Academy, State, Media complex sustains and expands itself?

    Formalism attempts but fails to capture what one intuits in its use, which is why I’ve restated it in greater depth as a complete philosophical system

    It is the failure of formalism (because the author is a hermeneuticist of the cosmopolitan jewish tradition) that prevents neo-reaction from institutional actionability. Unless expressible as law (the anglo analytic and empirical tradition) it must be propagated as religion using the same propaganda mechanisms that the cathedral complex relied upon, but without possessing either the assets of distribution or equalling the incentives that the cathedral promises. This is non-logical.

    In propertarianism and testimonialism I have created a formal system of thought that unifies biology, psychology, morality, sociology, philosophy, law, economics, and war into a formal logic (Formalism). Propertarianism inverts democracy to a market for commons between the classes, not dependent upon assent, but upon dissent: survival under universal standing under law. (prohibition on parasitic outcomes). A law which is made possible by the formal unification of the fields.

    Small changes in the law – the constitution upon which laws are constructed – make a reactionary program possible. But in this case, it is not reactionary, but revolutionary – not restitution but reformation.

    Curt Doolittle
    The Propertarian Institute
    Kiev, Ukraine.

  4. The problem with this definition is it highly limits what I’ve observed of NeoReactionary thought and critique over the years. It seems to go far beyond this, or perhaps this is just writers being generally Reactionary. I give the example of Bryce Laliberte’s book on the subject.

  5. Formalism reminds me of he Confucian concept of rectification of names. The idea is that everything should be named according to its actual purpose, and your actual purpose should align with your name and title.

    “Let the ruler be ruler, the subject subject; let the father be father, and the son son.”

  6. I agree that these are components to it. I would add that another component is having once actually believed The Narrative, or at least large parts of it.

  7. Thanks for this article. It makes some fundamental points clear. What draws me to neo reaction is my frustration and disgust at the dishonesty of what you call the Cathedral. What I am seeing, I now understand a little better, is the lack of formalism. The Cathedral tells us that we live in a free society, when we obviously don’t. They tell us that the people rule, as we are supposedly a representative democracy. Obviously untrue, as many recent events show (the legalization of gay marriage over the objections of the populace, and the bailing out of the banksters, which was extremely unpopular). Who actually has the power is quite different from who they pretend has the power.

    What we call the small group that weilds power in our society doesn’t matter. The Cathedral, The Deep State, The Financial Oligarchy, or The Status Quo (what Charles Hugh Smith calls them). The reality is that what they say goes. What they want is what happens. Elections and free debate are a side show meant to distract us and keep us from rebelling.

  8. The exposure of the Deep State, and acknowledging the co-ordination of its doctrine the Cathedral might be it. Good point from “Augustina”

    Don’t forget the Trichotomy, either. It’s good that people argue others with relation to that. There are plenty of Theonomists around that troll other groups while neglecting the other two. They may be identified by the importance of gender while never underscoring Ethno-Nationalist virtues.


  9. Curt is right. NRx is best as a critique of the Cathedral.

    I think tech-comms are the weakest link in the triad.

    I came to NRX partly by rejecting libertarianism as logically sound nonsense. I don’t think you can get to the alt-right and NRx without rejecting libertarian ideas. It should be sufficient. But it isn’t.

  10. The problem today doesn’t seem to be people misappropriating the NRx label. I’d say this crisis has moved onto the identitarians who are allowing liberals in so long as they agree on racial issues.

  11. Alan,

    This is just my opinion, but Tech-Comm reads to me as a type of Darwinist singularity at odds with the other two corners. If It has no end, it’s at odds with identity and tradition.

  12. Your definition is way off and from the looks of it, you need to reassess your understanding of NRx. A neoreactionary is simply just that: a new reactionary. NRx is a re-articulation of reactionary thought in our current circumstances and with the presence of new technology and information.

    I have actually never read anyone define Neoreaction the way you do here and I’m concerned your post will be very misleading for people.

    You are placing far too much emphasis on neocameralism and formalism. I would say you are placing far too much emphasis on Moldbug overall. Some used to say that a neoreactionary is simply a Moldbug fan, but that couldn’t be more untrue today. NRx is NOT merely limited to Moldbug’s formalist fetish although the current usage of the word “Neoreaction” may be linked to his blog.

    Today, Neoreaction does not orbit the UR blog, and it’s incorrect to assume that most neoreactionaries have even read him. For example, Ed West recently published an article titled: “Do France’s neo-reactionaries herald the end of the Left’s golden age?” I doubt any of the “neoreactionaries” West is referencing have ever even heard of Moldbug. I know of at least a dozen neoreactionaries I’m familiar with who have read very little (if any) Moldbug.

    You say that “the core of neoreaction is the two interrelated ideas of formalism and neocameralism.” If anything, the core of Neoreaction is embodied by the Triquetra, which I don’t think you mention once. There is broad intellectual agreement in American Neoreaction that the movement has consolidated around this ideological trinity.

    Among all the Neoreactionary writers I read over the years, I have never heard of this narrow “neocameralist” definition. It is much, much more broad at this point and many of the leading writers in this intellectual campaign bear no resemblance to the ideals of neocameralism.

  13. Both the OP and Land are correct that neoreaction is formalism and neocameralism, but through this definition it leaves only techcoms as the TRVE NRx. Neoreaction is nearly ancap/post-libertarian in aesthetics, goals, spirit, foreign policy, and culture. If one isn’t a materialist and a believer in political economy then that individual is simply another brand of Reactionary. While NRx does abide by HBD it’s in an IQ and social technology kind of way, not a Volkisch kind of way. While NRx does see the value in religion it does so for social technology not for a higher spiritual purpose. Thus, the other two portions of the “triad” don’t gel with the core values of NRx which are financial and catallactic in determination.

    Since I can’t get passionately behind such whiggery I propose that there is another branch of Reaction that’s always existed, one that overtly rejects liberalism in its entirety, mostly out of principal. Though it was an insult, coined by Land or one of the commentators,”HRx” which stands for “Heroic (Romantic) Reaction” is the alternative. It’s basically a split interpretation of Moldbug that instead of focusing on his constructive suggestions, opts for the use of his book recommendations, foreign affairs discussion, rhetoric, and fedora tipping as canon. There’s little dogmatic overlap between neocam/formalism and Froude, Carlyle, Maine, Cromer, or Lecky. Moldbug is a very complex writer who wafts between Misesism and High-Toryism. HRx sides with the latter over the former, NRx with the former over the latter.

  14. So the essence of NRx is Carl Schmitt?
    “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.”- Schmitt

  15. Personally, I’d say that the essence of Neoreaction is Solzhenitsyn; “Live not by lies”, applied to the political sphere. Or, as Moldbug’s favorite philosopher Carlyle put it “It is to be desired above all that shams may cease…” Everything else is just arguing about how this principle should be applied to politics. At least, that’s what I think…

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