So yesterday I get a note from a reader (apparently quite sincere) in which he tells me he has spent a bit of time among Dark Enlightenment types. Wants to talk about it because(he says) he’s concerned people are buying this stuff.
Okay, sez I. No guarantees about publishing it but I’ll take a look. Since I’ve already gotten mail from a distraught person whose young relative has left the faith to go indulge in bullshit Asatru paganism that supposedly frees whites from their slavery to Judeo-Christian mores and liberates them to get in touch with their white roots, I figure, “Worth a look.”
I take a look. His general description of the ideology comports with what I’ve seen: “a weird mixture of ethno-nationalists, futurists, monarchists, PUAs (‘pick-up artists’ like Chateau Heartiste), Trad Catholics, Trad Protestants, etc. They all believe in HBD (what they call ‘human biodiversity’ i.e. racism) but disagree on some other minor points.” This is pretty accurate from the encounters I’ve had in my comboxes with these people. All other differences aside, the controlling theme for all of them has been a fascination with racialism (Human biodiversity).
As to the rest, it could well be that his report of his alleged experience is a total lie and I’ve been suckered. Lots of my readers certainly think so and they may well be right. Let’s grant for the sake of argument they are.
What is proven? That it’s foolish to think that elitists fascinated with racialism often have a taste for creating little secret societies with dumb rituals and code words? Except, of course, that history is littered with examples of such people doing exactly that. And, in fact, the DE crowd does use at least some of the coded language my reader describes, so I saw no reason it might not be the case they use other in-group language and, for all I know, have little local collections of nuts with a taste for boutique ritualism.
Does it then prove that it’s foolish to think that in a country littered with millionaires who use their riches to espouse weird boutique fetishes and whose habit of mind is routinely to cull the herd of the poor and minorities, one or two might not be enamored of this junk and choose to host a luncheon somewhere private to discuss these ideas? Heck, we have a billionaire buying and selling private islands and building cool supervillain lairs right here in Washington (though my guess is that his taste for culling dark-skinned and poor people herds runs more toward supporting PP than HBD quackery).
So it seemed to me quite possible that my reader was on the level about his particular experience. I did not take it as being some sort of description of what goes on in some massive worldwide secret society since the DE people I’ve run into are far too diverse a group of weirdos to be that organized. Asatru worshippers, jerks on the make, Euro-reactionaries pining for a new Charlemagne, Darwinian Master Race theorists, Reactionary Catholic nuts and various other fringe types who have in common only racialism, pride, and contempt for most of the human race can make common cause after a fashion, but a cohesive global secret society? Nah. So I took it for granted that my reader was talking about one local expression of nuts dabbling in their particular boutique nutjobbery. And that he was passing along the sort of stuff they had told him.
If the account of my reader’s experience is fiction, oh well. I got punked. Dumb ol’ me. I got lied to.
But here’s the thing: That doesn’t really matter all that much, because the issue is not whether some local group of DE types goes in for silly rituals or uses goofy code words lifted from Tolkien or has a kinkyboots fascination with inspecting your phenotype. It’s not whether a couple of rich guys have decided to patronize this stuff as their latest boutique cause. It’s that, yes, this stuff really is about racialism and the inculcation of pride. And you need look no further than the comments from DE types in my comboxes who show up to laugh at my gullibility in the matter of gnats and stay to swallow the camel of racialist pride (and, by the way, contempt for the Church, particularly among Reactionary Catholics):
But your conciliar church is doomed, Mr. Shea, as are its antichristian ideals. Every day, more and more Catholics open their eyes and realize the truth: that human liberty is not the greatest good; that human equality is a risible fantasy; and that the only real fraternity is the fraternity that exists between those of the same blood and culture.
A monarch is the head of an ancestral family in its geographic redoubt. You take care of family. Transnational loyalties damage social cohesion, which is why the Jewish patriarchs warned against kings taking on foreign wives. Monarchy is a blatantly racially-conscious governing structure. You may have noticed that Europe with its Catholic monarchies filled up with distinctive nations instead of being one generic, multi-cult blob like the US.
What part of “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” don’t you understand, Mark Shea? That is the commandment against race mixing. Racism is not a sin, it’s a Commandment! You, sir, are the heretic.
Maybe we need an European Mohammed, who unifies us and imposes a law on the Arabs stating that European men can have Arab wives, but not the other way around.
I’m leaving the whole thread up (except for a couple of grossly obscene contributions from DE “thinkers”) since, as one reader (a Traditionalist, by the way) put it:
Good Lord. The comments on the original do more to convince me of the evil of this movement than any lying account you were given this morning.
The real story here is that this crap is so far over the top that even the most ham-fisted of parodies is quite believable.
Yeah. Poe’s Law at work. Some are complaining that I was too ready to believe the note. That is, I was too ready to believe that a loose association of racist nuts with theories ranging from transhumanism to the re-establishment of the Holy Roman Empire and who (I am not making this up) enthusiastically have trading cards of their weirdo heroes might behave like, you know, nuts and overgrown teens. And to prove I was wrong, they showed up to invoke the tower of Babel and warn about miscegenation. Boy. How could I have been such a sucker to believe those people are kooks?
Look. I get that PC piety can be obnoxious. I get that people tend to hang around with people from their own familiar linguistic, ethnic and cultural group. Exactly what makes the Church Catholic is that it’s made up of all kinds and there have to be kinds to be made up of for that to happen. But as my reader obsessed with “race mixing” demonstrates, the impetus that drives DE is not a healthy Catholic love of the diversity (a dirty word in that crowd) that marks the faith, but a fascination with declaring some ethnicities and cultures more equal than others. Also a fascination with power. As racialist movements of the past have done, it hops from one foot to the other. Sometime it is appealing to bits of Christianity it likes (“One wonders… why the Lord smashed the unity of the human race at Babel”) while studiously ignoring the fact that this curse (for that is what it was) is undone by Pentecost. At other times, it lays great weight on Science or quasi-science like sociology to emphasize, not mere differences between different human groupings, but inferiority and superiority.
So: bottom line. Worst case scenario: I got trolled and was a sucker. Oh well. I’ll live. But on the point that matters–the pride and racialism that is the driving engine of DE “thought”–well, the DE types themselves who came to guffaw and stayed to make clear their obsession with race and pride have made that case better than I can. The central point remains clear: this stuff is poison and is deeply anti-Christian.
By the way, the reader who seems to have come nearest the mark to describing why DE crap appeals to discernment-free reactionaries and callow youth–and how to sanely respond to it as a Catholic has the delightfully Nordic handle “Gunnar Thalweg“. He writes:
I don’t remotely believe one word of the pagan and ceremonial weirdness described by that reader — it sounds like something out of Jack Chick.
I do believe this: As far as the “Dark Enlightenment,” it appears that we have an authentic social movement. Mark is correct to see them as dangerous. The devil plays both sides of the fence. Just as he has corrupted our elites into imposing abortion-on-demand, racial preferences, and same-sex “marriage” on the country, he now seeks an extremist counter-movement. Weimar followed by Nazis; Tsarist autocracy followed by Soviet totalitarianism; Peronistas followed by military juntas.
Let’s make some distinctions: In DE, there is a serious and legitimate criticism of western culture, and a crucial one is the sexual revolution doesn’t work. It fills in a lot of gaps that the Catholic Church never effectively explained, namely, why you shouldn’t sleep around, and why our culture is destroying itself believing lies about the sexual revolution. The DE types explained it quite clearly and quite well (it boils down to polygamous and hypergamous impulses run riot). You ignore that explanation at your peril, or you can simply obey the Church. But it’s a lot easier to obey when you know why.
However, DE types go other other direction on the sexual revolution, and say, OK, let’s exploit this to the fullest extent, to gratify our needs at others’ expense. This is where they get sociopathic and evil.
Next up is race. I have watched over the past six years as this movement went from pointing out hypocrisy to discussing what boils down to white separatism. There is enormous hypocrisy on race in this country, from the flagrant and unbridled racism of minority groups to attempting to shut down any discussion on race other than the party line. DE is reacting to that, and watch out where that goes. I believe in taking everyone as an individual, and I have no use for racists on any side. The DE here is authentically dangerous.
DE is supposedly materialistic, but no one ever remains there, at least not in one generation.
Overall, stick to Church teaching. But with the right set of eyes, you can see through the DE what the Church was trying to warn you against, if that makes any sense.
I think this is spot on. As Chesterton points out, Reactionaries and revolutionaries usually have something on the ball in their critique of what they are reacting against. Their trouble almost always comes in the fact that they have a lousy idea of what to be for. DE is against PC stuff. DE is for racialism and the sin of pride. Here is C.S. Lewis on the strategy hell is up to:
It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy’s Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity—that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride—just as he would he quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.
I may well have been punked. I am inclined to think I was. But DE ideology is a far more serious bit of punking. Because the suckers who are falling for it are fleeing PC and glomming on to pride and racialism as their hope. The devil laughs.
Stick to Church teaching.