Cool title, huh? It always feels good to type this kind of stuff. “Empire”. Pronounced with a 1900s British accent. Feels good man. Insert happy frog pic.
Anyway. The most interesting, shall I say “official” theory of historical geopolitics of the reaction must surely be Peter Turchin’s theory of meta-ethnic frontier armies pumping up their asabiya and conquering the civilizational center.
The theory basically says that to run a civilization you need a strong army. To run a strong army you need cohesion, discipline, i.e. asabiya. To produce this cohesion and discipline you need your soldiers to feel its need. Discipline isn’t nice. You’d rather slack off and drink beer and be merry. The kind of discipline an army runs off is produced by massive amounts of violence and unreasonable demands. You can only get people to do so if they feel is absolutely necessary. And they will only feel it’s necessary if they get to the realization that either they behave like good soldiers, or they’re dead, and they will lose everything they hold dear.
The way you get your soldiers to feel that is to stack them against a different civilization. People so alien to you that they you have nothing in common. If they win, everything you are accustomed to, all your life, all those little habits of behavior that form your identity: all that will be destroyed. And you don’t like that. It’s taken a while for you to adapt to that culture. Starting at birth. Your brain unconsciously produced a very fine set of motor sequences that make you able to gain some status inside that culture. If that culture were to change, because you got invaded by a different one, you’re screwed.
I mean, most likely you’d be directly screwed, in that your wife and daughters will be raped and you and your sons will be put into slavery; but even if the invaders were nice, they are just alien sons of bitches. So you gotta be sure they don’t conquer you. So you gotta be strong. So you join the army and you become a good soldier.
Once you are part of this strong army, you realize that all your fellow countrymen down below in the center are a bunch of pussies; you could easily conquer their asses in no time. Not that you need to, most of the time, but every now and then the center just collapses out of sheer dysfunction and runaway rent-seeking. So when the center collapses, the strong armies of the meta-ethnic frontier come down and restore order. That’s the Ibn-Khaldun civilizational cycle.
It’s pretty easy to understand, and it makes a lot of sense. Check your history and it fits quite mightily well I must say. And it also fits stuff that didn’t end up happening but people used to think it would. See this quote that a commenter at Nick Land’s left some days ago:
“The oppression of Hungary has ratified the oppression of all our continent. Since she has fallen, Italy has been completely crushed, the moderate freedom of Germany has been put down by Austria with the support of Russia; lastly, the usurpation of Louis Napoleon has been made possible. Without the restoration of Hungary Europe cannot be freed from Russian thraldom; under which nationalities are erased, no freedom is possible, all religions are subjected to like slavery. Gentlemen! the Emperor Napoleon spoke a prophetic word, when he said that in fifty years all Europe would be either republican or Cossack. Hungary once free, Europe is republican; Hungary permanently crushed, all Europe is Cossack.
The political fragmentation of Europe is an obvious historical anomaly. The history of mankind is the history of great empires. China, surely. The Persian Empire, and it’s Arab successors. The Roman Empire was the only one which didn’t rise again. Of course there’s a thousand theories about it; mainly Britain being a pain in the ass. But if you look at the map, it is pretty reasonable to conclude that Europe would end up a part of the Russian Empire. Russia is of course a perfect example of a meta-ethnic frontier, with White Christian Farmer Russians fighting for centuries against Asian Muslim Nomads. Now I know someone who is just going to come and write that the Russian army was a piece of shit, and that Russia only won because of sheer numbers and an Asiatic disregard for human life. But anyway. Those guys could fight. Hell, they conquered up to Alaska, the whole of Central Asia, and would’ve conquered Constantinople if not for British and French intervention.
So why didn’t Russia end up conquering the decadent Europeans? Well, in great part because the fragmented Europeans weren’t quite decadent. We could fight pretty well. France and Britain kicked ass everywhere they went. Which is weird, as neither of them are on a meta-ethnic frontier. Or are they?
Britain and France were huge colonial powers, which meant that their effective frontier was all over the place. By that argument Western Europe was the longest meta-ethnic frontier ever to occur in human history. They were out there fighting extremely alien peoples all over the planet.
But again that doesn’t quite apply to Napoleonic France. Or to the German Imperial army, by most accounts the strongest and most disciplined army in the world, probably since the Mongols. And Germany was no colonial power. By no stretch of the word you could argue that Germany is on a meta-ethnic frontier.
So what is it? The Napoleonic singularity should give you a hint. Nationalism is what fed the French army. And very much what fed the German army. Nationalism creates a meta-ethnic frontier from thin air, by changing the parameters of what makes an ethnicity. If you force people to become extremely anal about their group identity, the asabiya-production algorithms are much easier to activate. The Germans understood that was the basis of their strength; and so after losing WW1 they doubled down and came up with a Hitler.
Of course the asabiya-hacking ability of nationalism is a collective action problem. The point of asabiya is war. Of course it’s useful for a lot of other things, namely to run a wealthy industrial economy. But, at the end of the day, the business of groups of men is war, and excess asabiya will end up creating the circumstances so that it can show itself in the battlefield. And so nationalism ended up creating meta-ethnic frontiers all over the place. Which created the most massive and coordinated armies ever seen by men. Which was complete overkill. Not a good idea.
But now that Europe has forsaken nationalism, maybe the old patterns will reassert themselves, and Europe will fall to the closest meta-ethnic power. That is kinda the situation right now, with the USA as the conquering power. But they didn’t do so explicitly, and they are likely to leave in short term.
I never read him, but isn’t this argument basically what that Alexander Dugin guy is always talking about?