FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, we lived predominantly in urban-agrarian social systems. This traditional way of life is called Amber
in the Integral Theory. It is called Blue
in Spiral Dynamics. Colourful terms are fun but unimportant. What are we really talking about?
You probably already have a good sense of the entanglement between semi-literate, ethno-nationalist populations, mythic-membership religions, oligarchic families, theatrical monarchs, scribes, hereditary life-roles, transcendental obedience & a deep belief in the sheer efficacy of conventional symbolism. Kingdoms.
For hundreds of years, the hubris of liberal thinkers and modern institutions have made it seem like traditional, patriotic and theocratic medievalism was on the way out. A few fringe dictator states would eventually sign up to the international banking system and hold representational elections. A few remaining deplorable subcultures would get properly educated, drop their racist values and start drinking lattes with the rest of us. You gotta love the confidence -- but it's starting to sound a little naïve.
Futurists and media philosophers since the early 20th century have been warning that global capital and digital tech will result in neo-medieval technofeudalism
. Sounds bad. However, if we are open enough to listen, it also has its cheerleaders.
Enter: Curtis Yarvin.
As the outstanding public voice for the Neo-Reactionary Movement (NRx), Yarvin has launched a putatively post-liberal pro-monarchy campaign
. This would seem like a nonstarter in transformational circles that are typically populated by progressive spirits, empaths, HSPs & diversity-minded complexity theorists. Transpluralists. Not pre-pluralists.
And yet Yarvin haunts the peripherals and interstitial pathways of the metacommunities. You are likely to find him holding forth nearby to an Emerge gathering or showing up on a Jim Rutt show. His articles circulate in the private backchannels of our field. Why?
The first, most obvious reason, is that we feel a robust interest in assimilating provocateurs and gathering perspectives from all quarters.
Secondly, we may be ethically compelled to figure out how our next-level social models make space for the hundreds of millions of people who vote for dictators, attend orthodox churches & feel powerfully inspired by pseudo-fascist symbolism, patriarchal authority and the freedom to speak out in anti-liberal ways.
Former US President Donald Trump was largely disingenuous and incompetent in his attempt to Make America Great Again. However, the underlying urge to make Amber itself great -- healthy, strong and integrated -- seems like an essential facet of evolving a wise, multi-epistemic civilisation.
And, of course, we join Yarvin in having serious critiques of the dominant quasi-democracy, social cul-de-sacs & suppressive/deceptive liberal control-states who masquerade as the heroic managerial elites of a system whose complexity is clearly beyond the range of their strategies.
This uncanny overlap between the Emerging Field and the Neo-Reactionaries showed up recently in a screed from Yarvin's Gray Mirror
In communities where circling, authentic relating & the cultivation of we-spaces strike many of us as being among the essential psychotechnologies for restabilizing the human social environment, it was obviously intriguing to encounter Yarvin's article "CIRCLING" AND NERD SOCIETY
His argument goes something like this:
People who cannot compete or thrive in the Default World (conventional modern society) try to generate their own subcultures. These nerds
create social networks in which specialized knowledge, social awkwardness, sensitivity & creative role-playing are honored. Unfortunately, because these communities consist largely of those who cannot (or refuse to) socially dominate in conventional ways they will not be able to change the world. They cannot even achieve real community experience within their nerdish silos.
So now they have merged with New Agers to create an emerging industry of community arts -- circling, authentic relating, dialogos. Better. But unfortunately this scene becomes permeated by performative confession, coached attitudes, unacknowledged trance rituals, the role-playing of pseudo-authenticity & an almost fetishistic pleasure in hearing about sensitivity, care, awkwardness and ambiguity.
In the end, the only real alternative to modernity is to unmake it. A strategic regression to the premodern world that our hearts know is possible.
Yarvin: The solution is that “default world” sucks and so does “nerd world.” The only answer is, in one sense or another, “trad world.” Trad world is just default world—but some decades earlier, and therefore not quite so rotted. It is not reinvented, but uninvented.
Roll back the clock. That is the Amber anthem in a modern world. And we should take the argument seriously rather than instinctively dismissing it.
How does this critique of modernity and hypermodernity stand against the critiques emerging within the transformational and developmental meta-communities? Do the models we are using (to cultivate a deeper personal and civilisational worldspace, one that can grapple adequately with the metacrisis) allow us to anticipate, incorporate and value the vast numbers of conservative and traditionalist souls on this planet?
But these questions don't mean he's right.
We think there IS a necessary future for enhanced democracy in order to avoid cataclysms associated with both the authoritarian and anarchic techno-feudal attractors. We have accumulating evidence of the efficacy of more structured authentic relating practices. They do more good than harm and provide necessary skill-training for those who want culture to satisfy broad spectrum human needs while accomplishing collaborative wisdom production. Plus nerd culture is actually pretty awesome...
There's a reason it has become sexier, every decade, to be a geek. There's a reason that most of the innovation that fuels the world comes from nerds. And anyone experimenting with new social forms should pay close attention to nerdish fandom
Fan communities tend to be mutual, enactive, safe and diverse while nonetheless satisfying many traditional patterns like pilgrimage, myth, costume and aspirational mass immersion.
Maybe Star Trek cosplay, murder mystery LARPing & artfully fetishized animal costumes are the very things that traditional hearts are unwittingly crying out for.
Just don't tell that to Yarvin.
* BONUS *Here
he is talking monarchy & politics with Jim Rutt.Here's
Quilette's decently nuanced critique.