Right-wing thought is often conceived as not being a cohesive body of ideas in itself, but rather as a hostility towards progressivism or even as an attitude towards life. While this may be true, the various strands of thought that make up conservatism or reaction have a fixed, timeless basis in reality that is as old as humanity itself, albeit one which varies based on time and place. Because of this transience, it can be hard to describe what the basis of this hostility towards progress might be. Rather than begin from scratch, it helps to have a non-conservative state of what the basis for progress is and have it become abundantly clear why one should be hostile to this tendency. In recent years, youtube’s recommended bar has been dominated, often completely, by a single tech-engineer podcaster. Due to an interest in primates & human evolution, I listened to his interview with Richard Wrangham, an expert in primates and human evolution. The commentary on societal progress was at once so rational and yet so off-putting that I have since seen it as the perfect statement of progressivism to make the reaction become clear.

The interview is a discussion of human nature and the innate tendency to violence. The first point of relevance to our discussion is the observation of a key distinction between humanity and other primates, in particular our closest relatives, the great apes: “…the question is what happened between three and four hundred thousand years ago to produce homo sapiens and I think we have a pretty good answer now, and the answer comes from violence, and the story begins by focusing on this question: why is it that in the human species, we are unique among all primates in not having an alpha male in any group, in the sense that what we don’t have is an alpha male who personally beats up every other male…” Before people immediately harp on this point insisting humans due in fact have alpha males, the point that some men in different situations are able to dominate the rest and that these individuals can be referred to as alpha is not in dispute. Rather, the difference is that in other primates a single male is able to physically dominate all the rest, monopolizing power in the group. Alphas as understood this way do not exist among humans. Neither among the human race as a whole is there a single individual who is capable of beating into submission any other individual he views as a challenge. Nor is there in any country, even the ones which are most lawless and least developed, a single individual capable of beating up any other individual in their nation. Many on the dissident right are certainly a match for a state department bureaucrat in terms of pure physical strength. Power, for humans, is different in this sense. Power may take the form of physical violence, but can also come from wealth, sexual attraction, etc. to name just a few examples. Many are gifted with various of these means to power in different combinations and can use them to be dominant in particular situations. More are not, and would most likely not be considered alphas anywhere. The objective fact we can take from the above excerpt is that power, while distributed unequally among humans, is distributed among members rather than being the monopoly of a single alpha male.

Wrangham goes on to make the importance of this observation to the social organization very clear: “…Only in humans do you have a system by which any male who tries to bully others and become the equivalent to an alpha gorilla, or an alpha chimpanzee, or an alpha bonobo, or an alpha baboon, or anything like that—any male who tries to do that in humans gets taken down by a coalition of beta males…” The majority is stronger than the minority in humans. Thus the leftist sloganeering about the many and the few is in a technical sense correct, but not in the sense they mean it since in supporting the majority they are in fact serving power, rather than opposing power in the name of an oppressed majority as they suppose. The implication of this is that, in its primordial state, coercion in human society is of the majority against the minority. Those who conform and comprise the majority in x dispute subdue the minority who do not. Rather than a wealthy, powerful minority abusing its weak subjects, it is instead the coalition of weak subjects who are capable of dominating the minority, even though each of its members may be stronger than any individual member of the crowd. As Wrangham describes it: “I think that homo sapiens is a species characterized by the suppression of reactive aggression as a kind of incidental consequence of the suppression of the alpha male and the story of our species is the story of how the beta males took charge and have been responsible for the generation of a new kind of human and incidentally for imposing on the society a new set of values because when those beta males discovered that they could take out the previous alpha male and continue to do so because in every generation there’ll always be some male who says maybe I’ll become the alpha male and they you know so they just keep chopping them down in discovering that they also obviously discovered that they could kill anybody in the group females young males anybody who didn’t follow their values.” The elites who have survived and created/perpetuated civilization are those who have found strategies to deal with this, means of pacifying this beta majority. This may seem to contradict elite theory, but it in fact explains it. This is the reason why elites need to organize: in the absence of using myths to motivate them into compliance, monopolies of technological innovation to counterbalance their numerical advantage, or some other means of concentrating resources in their clique they are subject to the mob; when they do use such means to dominate the mob, they are able to avoid conflict and assert themselves, since absent group conflict they are superior. This naturally splits into two coalitions: The majority of elites who control and pacify with the support of the non-elites who are self-sufficient despite not being in the elite clique, and the disaffected elites who defect and recruit the majority to overpower the elites in control. Progressives are the second category. When they apply Marxist criticism to society it is the reverse of their own self-image. Rather than preventing the powerful from oppressing the weak, they are urging society to drop the conventions that keep society peaceful, and as worshippers of power, to impose a state of conformity on its would-be elites.

The progressive rebuttal to this is easy to anticipate: the majority being pacified is not in their interest, and there is no inherent reason why a minority imposing such a situation on the mob is no different than them imposing a status quo on the elite minority. One more simple reason why it may in fact be historical examples to the contrary including but not limited to the Reign of Terror, Cultural Revolution, etc. There is, however, a more profound reason. Wrangham will go on to make this reason explicit. He elaborates on the psychology of violence in humans, with violence coming from beta males, but also being an element of human psychology with deep roots, particularly in male psychology, especially originating in competition for resources and the opportunity to mate. It is his solution to the problem of violence that is relevant for this discussion: [in response to the tendency towards violence in humans being akin to a computer bug] “…if by bug you mean something that from the point of the species, it would be great if you could just wipe this out, right, because the species would somehow do better as a result, yes, as a result then yes, but then you know, males are a bug…the fact that there are some nice things to males doesn’t mean that they’re not bugs, you know, maybe they’re quite nice bugs, but it’ll be much better for the species as a whole not to have males who impose this violence on the species as a whole.” The solution to these inherent problems in human existence is the elimination of any subset responsible for such a problem. Since the evolutionary roots of violence are stronger in men, as can be demonstrated by the overwhelming majority of violent acts being perpetrated by men, the social critic is left with no choice but to accept that one of the two biological sexes must be eliminated. This would necessitate some means sperm cloning and artificial insemination, but this is not particularly farfetched, realistically we will soon be faced with Wrangham’s question. Once there are no men, there will be no need for pregnancy either, if this can be transferred to some form of artificial womb. There will be no need for menstruation. Breasts will become burdensome. We have arrived at a future in which there are neither men nor women but is entirely androgynous.

This, of course, does not apply only to biological sex. Violent crime is not distributed evenly through racial and national groupings. Not to mention that the very existence of these groups has been a source of conflict. To end the crime of racism according to this way of thinking, all differences between humans will have to be rendered the same. Instead of Black, White, or Brown maybe we could all be green. If the issues of violence and conflict are treated from a pure rationalist and consequentialist point of view, it is inescapable that these differences must be equalized. There is no case that any individual’s sense of identity is equivalent, in a utilitarian sense, to all violence in society. Hence the appeal of consequentialist forms of logic to adherents of progress. Progress is the desire to reduce all distinctions to a common denominator. It does not matter what anyone’s gender identity is when everyone is androgynous. Nobody has any sense of pride in heritage when all characteristics are the same. The elite minority is by definition distinguished from the non-elite mass, and so has an interest in preserving these categories of traits. The need of elites to regulate and pacify the mob is that human individuality is dependent on it. Nor is this an abstract question for the future. In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell begins by describing the dire conditions of coal miners in the North of England, then proceeds to explain why these miners are not attracted to socialism despite being poor and being its main beneficiaries, ideally. He notes that bourgeois Englishmen spoke in defense of the working class in the abstract while showing disdain for them in their mannerisms and ways of life (this same dynamic is clear between modern progressives and the groups they defend, though that is beside the point). Linked to this disdain for the working class is their praise of automation. For bourgeois socialists, the progressive of the 1930s, work is not an aspect of human existence that merits being treated with respect, but instead, an evil that must be replaced. The coal miner takes pride in his work; the bourgeois sees only something immoral that must be eliminated, or made to conform with their abstract vision of a perfect society. Using the same consequentialist logic described above, this is another unavoidable conclusion: if pleasure is the absence of pain, and this work is painful, then for people to be happy it must not exist. This type of work has in fact largely been eliminated in the developed world. These jobs have almost completely been almost entirely exported or automated, and this has been in tandem with the rise of the bullshit job (as another aside, this might also explain the seamless transition from the syndicalist movement into the fascist movement at about the same time period).

But is this related to the point about majorities and violence described in the opening paragraphs? The most salient point about crowds (pointed out by LeBon, Trotter, Canetti, etc.) is that individual traits dissipate in them, and reason is replaced by emotion. Hence cohesion and individuality are replaced by emotional outrage at unfairness, and distinctions of individuals are replaced by a generic crowd identity. This is the same dynamic as the majority betas attacking the minority situation described by Wrangham above. Progress is simply a systematized way of implementing this, usually through conformity, but with the implicit threat of violence or deprivation remaining omnipresent. Do you take pride in working in a mine shaft? It’s oppressive, waste your day in an office instead. Are you proud of being Italian? Well, it’s not worth chauvinism or war, leave your identity behind. Do you enjoy relations with the opposite sex? Well, your libido isn’t worth the risk of sexual violence, use an artificial womb instead. The locust is not different from the grasshopper except for its swarm tendencies, they are the same species. Species that have entirely dispensed with such characteristics include bees, ants, etc, and are called eusocial. The inevitable goal of repeated iterations of progress is eusociality. A relevant current example is Beyond Meat. Its justification is the harm caused to animals and the carbon footprint of producing real meat. Its ingredients, though, are not similar to meat but consist mainly of plant proteins and oils, with added flavoring. It is a bland peasant diet with added flavors to confuse people. The troubling part is the notion that biological material must be replaced because of its effects on the environment. Real beef is bad because it emits carbon. Who else is an animal that emits carbon? The mob will replace you with a machine if you get in the way of their emotionally driven image of a perfect society.

So what does this say about the conservative temperament? Being right-wing or reactionary will take on different forms for different peoples, but some principles will serve as outlines. In the absence of organized power structures, majorities are stronger than any individual and will be able to coerce any individual into compliance who shows any trait that offends the majority. Thus in any given territory, reactionaries will want minorities to organize, use foundational myths, concentrated wealth, monopolies of technological innovation, and enforce laws within controlled territories in order to keep the majority under control. Elites will have natural distinctions in the form of characteristic x. Progressives will try to stir outrage at characteristic x to sway majorities to their side, and in doing so spread chaos with the ultimate goal of suppressing characteristic x in all members. Thus reactionaries must stand by all traits they view as aesthetic, and use all means to avoid the debate or propagation of any consequentialist, democratic, etc. notions that undermine any such characteristic. The alternative is a eusocial, progressive ant colony.