What do you make of a movement that purports to be intellectual, neo-reactionary, anti-democratic, and — wait for it — in favor of feudal restoration? You might think them confused, with good enough reason. Then you dig deeper and find them salting their net-grown philosophy with references and ideas from Star Wars, Tolkien, and The Matrix—all the while arguing in favor of eugenics and against egalitarianism, and (because they’re twenty-first century laptop warriors) they throw in some meme cats. At that point you’re tempted to dismiss them, aren’t you?
This self-described Dark Enlightenment, only a few years old now but spreading fast, seems to grasp these historical facts about fascism: people will embrace a movement that transfers their self-determination to an unelected elite, so long as their attention is deflected against some undesirable “other;” so long as doctrine is formulated by inner-circle pseudo-intellectuals; and so long as that doctrine, and the marching orders that always follow, are easily communicated.
In those terms, it becomes clear that modern technology was tailor-made for the resurgent fascist.
The Dark Enlightenment is overwhelmingly made up of white anglo-saxon males (with the UK and the US disproportionately represented), they’re tech-savvy, with quite a few of them, including members of the leadership, coming from the tech industries. They credit their own individual levels of success to biological superiority, while blaming every societal failure on what they see as the lesser races, and on the democratic and progressive ideals that enable them. They trace all loss back to the Enlightenment, to the Age of Reason, to the supposedly faulty logic that all people are created equal and are equally entitled to freedom and respect. Their dark enlightenment seeks to undo those historical tides and strides.
And I say again, don’t dismiss them.
I think they’re ridiculous, shallow, and transparent. I think anyone who follows them must be a basement-bound sheep with a thirst for a movement, any movement. And I think a lot of forward-minded people were just as dismissive of Hitler and Mussolini, in their ridiculous formative days.
These neo-reactionaries seem to believe what they say, and hold faith in the righteousness of their mission. They’re persuasive, they’re well-funded, and they’re multiplying. They’re scary.
The Dark Enlightenment, as both a collective and an ideal, seems to be the opposite of enlightenment…just as the opposite of the Age of Reason has to be a dark age. Dark ages are borne on their own historical tides—they ebb and flow, and inflict themselves on humanity when it’s at its weakest. Tech-enabled fascists seek to hasten that process, and return us to our darkest days. They just might, if we let them.