The incredible mediocrity that underpins both Journalism and the Academy

Let’s check some statements made in a recent Quartz piece about Neoreaction and Nick Land, for fun!

From the outside, America’s alt right is a nebulous movement based on racism, nationalism, and white supremacy.

Words to be wary of: “From the outside” “is”

In contrast, the tech elites in Silicon Valley look like a relatively worldly bunch, despite the calls from some quarters of the valley to break away from the plebeian masses of the US.

Another set: “From the outside” “look like”

This is already an opinion piece trying to pass as a journalistic piece. Let’s see!

But despite their differences, strands of the two groups share strong links to “Dark Enlightenment,” an obscure neo-fascist philosophy started by a British academic in the 1990s.

“Strong links” Where’s the source for this? Has this person done the relevant investigative work?

Neo-fascists. Okay, no need to qualify neo-fascism, I suppose.

Nick Land wrote the Dark Enlightenment in the 90's? Thought he was busy doing other things, but according to this article we will find out some things! (The Dark Enlightenment so far as I can tell has been written around the 2010's)

The birth of a manifesto

The primary figure behind Dark Enlightenment is Nick Land, who was a philosophy professor at Warwick University until he quit academia in 1998. His work is a form of “accelerationism” (broadly speaking, a belief that the tools of capitalism and technology should be sped up and dramatically enhanced)

His work is a form of “accelerationism”? Has Nick Land been triggering events to accelerate capital flows? Hmm, must have missed that part of his CV.

Also, that characterization of accelerationism is just incredible! who knew it could be summarized between parentheses.

and he was, for a time, something of a cult figure for his work on internet and cyber culture.

His work “on internet”. AFAIK, he still is a cult figure. But depends on how you define cult. And definitions is something this journalist is not bothering with, so, whatever.

Land has never been a typical academic, and that shows in his writing. His Dark Enlightenment manifesto, published online in 2012, is florid, contradictory, and opaque.

Interesting! How does not being a typical academic show in his writing? Not backed up except with adjectives, “florid, contradictory, opaque” Are those backed up?

Nah.

Land’s writings on in his blog and twitter can read like an alt-right rant, and comment sections on the far-right outlet Breitbart are apt to mention his work.

Examples? Comparisons? Anything?

Academic writers and former students of Land’s have expressed ideas that are vaguely influenced by Dark Enlightenment.

How is Graham Harman influenced by The Dark Enlightenment? Is this person serious?

Others are more outspoken: One philosopher with clearly Landian ideas, Jason Reza Jorjani, who lectures at New Jersey Institute of Technology, is co-founder of altright.com and spoke at a white nationalist meeting led by Richard Spencer.

So the equation Landian = neo-nazi has been made, huh? Cool cool cool.

What are the tenets of Dark Enlightenment theory?

Finally, some explanation!

There are a few consistent themes,

Ok.

circling around technology,

Ah.

warfare,

I

feudalism,

see

corporate power,

now

and racism.

Cool!

“It’s an acceleration of capitalism to a fascist point,”

The closest thing to an explanation!

says Benjamin Noys, a critical theory professor at the University of Chichester and author of Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism.

Oh, so no explanation except for one given by Benjamin Noys, who, according to Jehu, coined accelerationism in a very loaded manner. Jehu says:

Accelerationism is not a term accelerationists gave their ideas. Rather, it was a derogatory name given to them by their critics, like the name, “Nigger”, was given to black people by their slave-owners. In place of the term “accelerationists”, you can simply substitute the term, “niggers”, and thus treat them in the fashion Noys intended.

Huh, that’s great source of explanation!

Those who have studied Dark Enlightenment describe an almost cult-like vision of a dystopian future.

Ah, fellow academics from Politics departments are finally getting a say on this! Perhaps Vincent Garton, who wrote this very insightful piece on The Dark Enlightenment is gonna be mentioned!

“It is a worship of corporate power to the extent that corporate power becomes the only power in the world,” says David Golumbia

Oh, okay.

a new media professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Ah, okay.

“It becomes militarized, and states break down. For some reason that’s difficult to understand, they seem to think these highly weaponized feudal enclaves would be more free than the society we currently have.”

A Statement. No argument provided by the author of the journal but only a recourse to Academics working in New Media. Cool!

Land believes that advances in computing will enable dominant humans to merge with machines and become cybernetic super beings.

I would ask, rhetorically, if these people have even read Land, but surely that’s been answered by now. However, I cannot think of anything more distant to Landian philosophy than “becoming cybernetic super beings

He advocates for racial separation under the belief that “elites” will enhance their IQs by associating only with each other.

Where is the source for this? Another unqualified claim, no less.

Land is vehemently against democracy, believing it restricts accountability and freedom. The world should do away with political power, according to Dark Enlightenment, and instead, society should break into tiny states, each effectively governed by a CEO.

The only remotely defensible claim in the whole piece.

Earlier this year, Politico reported that White House strategist Steve Bannon is a fan of Dark Enlightenment.

A completely unverified piece of information. That journalists such as this won’t touch or want to know more of.

Meanwhile, the major proponent of the movement other than Land is software engineer Curtis Yarvin, who blogs as “Mencius Moldbug.”

Moldbug will be no doubt giddy that in this case he is only an aside. You can tell a journalist has not read The Dark Enlightenment because Moldbug is only an aside, whereas TDE is mostly extrapolated from Moldbug’s ideas.

And while most Silicon Valley techies are unaware of and uninterested in Dark Enlightenment,

Can you even qualify this statement? Really, who did you interview? who did you email? where is the source transcript?

there are notable figures and ideas that seem to share intellectual heritage and connections with the movement.

“seem”

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel is a major backer of Yarvin’s start-ups and, as The Baffler reports, in 2012, Thiel gave a lecture at Stanford with distinct Dark Enlightenment themes.

Okay, finally, a reporting of the flows of capital that can be traced back to Land, surely this is it!

“A startup is basically structured as a monarchy,” he said at the time. “We don’t call it that, of course. That would seem weirdly outdated, and anything that’s not democracy makes people uncomfortable.”

Uh, really? Not even this piece on Cato where he specifically says that the choice is between politics and technology?

Growing Silicon Valley interest in creating a small, separate state is straight out of Land’s writing. Meanwhile there are growing numbers of techies who identify with Yarvin and “neoreactionary” ideas.

Just links, backup from “academic” sources. This is insanely boring.

And, of course, both Silicon Valley and Dark Enlightenment are products of and devotees to internet culture.

How are you typing this again?

Noys notes that certain values in Silicon Valley are vaguely sympathetic to Land’s thinking. “There’s this entrepreneurial belief that you’re the master of the universe,” he says. “They believe they’re the exception that proves the rule, that anyone can be successful.”

You mean like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism? This connection is way more defensible than a British Philosopher living in China. This articles tries to the latter, with an incredible lack of journalistic sources, tenuous claims and backup from Academics not working in Politics. Great stuff!

“You could argue — though I wouldn’t — that the alt right and Dark Enlightenment are artistic works,” says Noys. “Twenty-first century art has been interested in transgression and shock, so there’s an interest in how these people have used their memes to achieve their goals.”

kek.

US president Donald Trump, Land says, is a “symptom of crisis” and sign that the West is broken. But Land views White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as, “an unusually interesting politician.”

A person that has reads books is an interesting politician merely by reading books, that this is somehow pointed out as “evil” makes this one of the most inept hit pieces to hit the web. And there have been a ton.

Dark Enlightenment proponents see themselves as “the philosophical masters” of the alt-right movement, says Noys.

Uh huh.

“Land sees himself as above all that, as a Philosopher King of a movement that’s too populist and grubby for this liking,” says Noys. “He’s part of this continuum, that’s pretty clear. But he’s fighting to distinguish himself from the more populist end of things.”

Couldn’t this journalist person just read Outside In instead of having people say this? No. Because the Cathedral doesn’t work like that. It wants you to believe, with experts. See:

Golumbia agrees that “He probably thinks he’s smarter than all of them [the alt right], or they haven’t gone far enough. But they are definitely fellow travellers.”

Fellow travelers! Because someone can’t trace the path correctly this analogy pops up. B o r i n g.

Land himself is dismissive of the alt right, which he calls “a predictable (and predicted) development of mass democracy, as it enters its collapse-phase” in an email to Quartz. Still, he says, “Insofar as it marks the end of global governance on the basis of evangelical egalitarian-universalism, it makes space for more realistic political conversations, which have notably begun to happen.”

Oh so you had this writer-person over at email. Hope you asked some good questions!

Land also rejects the idea that Dark Enlightenment has fascist elements, writing that “Fascism is a mass anti-capitalist movement, when the word isn’t (more usually) simply a childish insult.” As for racial divides, he says the science is “an empirical question” but “that human population groups are significantly distinct, however, is a matter so self-evident to ordinary people that it makes for a natural default.”

*Templexity facepalm*

Land’s theories sound easily dismissible, and Nick Land is still largely unknown, but his neo-fascist ideas are finding niches where they flourish.. “I think there’s this emergent fringe,” says Noys.

This emergent fringe known as The Internet.

Golumbia notes that Land’s work attracted plenty of impressionable graduate students decades ago.

Hey man, it’s 2017, and as far as I can tell there are a bunch of us “impressionable grad students” reading Land.

It undoubtedly helps that offensive ideas are masked with references to respected writers and philosophers: Land has his own idiosyncratic reading of the German philosopher Nietzsche, for example, and the French 2oth century thinkers Deleuze, Guattari, and Bataille.

As far as I know, this reading of Nietzsche is not really that idiosyncratic. And besides, ever met a philosopher that did not have an idiosyncratic reading of something?

And as far as accelerationism goes, Noys traces its intellectual heritage to the Italian futurists (who had their own ties with fascism).

Sure! It’s not like there was not a whole book about Nietzsche and Accelerationism. But sure, whatever, Futurists!

Despite their long lineage, the ideas fall apart under scrutiny.

Aha, the journalist has taken us all in this ride to finally show off their analytical skills! It’s time, finally, for so…

“To those of us who were more skeptical, it looked like it had the seeds of a disturbing belief in a superman: This kind of digital hybrid cyber-being who was a lot better than the ordinary weak people,” says Golumbia.

Oh.

By the way, Land has discredited this idea. But you’d have to do research instead of relaying on Academics to do work for you! That’s simply too much work, ain’t it.

“His writing is more and more obsessed with race, Islam, echoing the things that people like Nigel Farage say. He sounds like a visionary but really he’s nothing but these reactionary clichés about how minority people are to blame for all of our problems.”

“Echoes” are here figures of speech to say “He said something kind of racist and I fainted the same way I faint when any right-winger talks

Land, who has long perceived himself as a visionary,

Citation needed (but you knew this already, didn’t you?)

firmly believes that society and government as we know it will break down and his vision for the future will come to pass. “The crack-up is obvious to everyone,” Land writes. “(That’s why you’re doing this story.)”

The only payoff to this show of journalistic mediocrity is that it ends with a Land quip. Nothing less, nothing more. Is it informative? At this point, we should all be wary of anyone bringing their hot take about these topics that do not do any kind of interviews to the people they refer to, or do any kind of journalistic work whatsoever. However, the collusion within the Cathedral being what it is, don’t expect any criticism to go very far. Self-reinforcements are put in place, specially when someone is wrong.

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