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Rubio and the Rise of the Neoreactionaries

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Maybe the Republican establishment is finally ready to part ways with its market fundamentalismOnly the reactionary is really capable of being a moderate. Only we stand sufficiently aloof from modernity to judge it dispassionately. A healthy pessimism inoculates us against the two really fatal temptations in politics: reckless optimism and impotent despair. T.S. Eliot summed up our credo pretty well when he observed that “there is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.”The first true reactionary moderate in this country was Orestes Brownson. “God pity us!” he cried,For to carry this huge republic, with its Mammon worships, and its Christian churches reared on traders’ shops, and its party strifes, its rush for office, its forgetfulness of man’s brotherhood of man, its morality of Let us alone, Save who can, and the devil take the hindmost; workers no longer finding work to do; master-workers counting their obligation to their workmen discharged in full when the stipulated wages are paid; it is no easy matter.When causes are neither lost nor gained, one is never tempted to play the short game, or even the long game. The reactionary knows the game doesn’t end this side of paradise.Usually it’s a long road to that liberating pessimism; in the meantime, these Christian conservatives are just as susceptible to utopian fantasies as any socialist or progressivist. Eliot could have easily gone the way of his friend Ezra Pound. He played modernity’s game, and so wound up locked in a cage by his own countrymen for collaborating with Mussolini.There’s a certain Poundian mystique surrounding Nicholas J. Fuentes and the Groyper movement. The Groypers, apparently, are like the alt-right without the racism. They’re also much younger: they’re “Zoomers,” or Generation Z, not Millennials. According to the great Ben Sixsmith: “They focused on promoting themselves as ‘America First’ nationalists and valued ‘good optics,’ which entailed humor more than outrage, Old Glory and not Nazi flags, Christianity and not paganism, and clever trolling operations and not public rallies.”Yet Mr. Fuentes’ humor hints strongly at Holocaust denial, and he’s expressed his wish that antifa was actually “fa” so he could join in. “If they were waving the banner of Falangism, if they were waving the banner of Franco, and they were saying ‘Catholic fascism now,’ I would join them,” he said. “I would become a part of antifa. I would welcome antifa. Yes: take over the country. Storm DC. Take over the Capitol.”This may hit a little too close to home for some of my fellow Millennials. Many reactionaries go through a phase where they feel the need to defend “good” fascists—Mussolini, Dollfuss, and Petain—as opposed to “bad” fascists like Hitler and Rockwell. Usually these chaps are former Ron Paul Revolutionaries, emerging from what Michael Brendan Dougherty astutely calls the libertarian-to-fascist pipeline. (By the grace of God—and Russell Kirk—I was spared that ordeal.) They want to believe they can restore the Old Order without fully rejecting the New.Clearly, Mr. Fuentes isn’t the Moses of the American Right his supporters believe him to be. He’s just the latest shitlord to carve out a mini-kingdom in meme culture. But his rejection of white nationalism may signify that the libertarian-to-fascist pipeline is nearly empty. Most of his followers had no political interest during the 2016 election. They’re indigenous to far-right meme culture, not the YouTube comments box and Facebook flame-wars where my generation first developed a political consciousness.So much for the Zoomers. What are the Millennials up to? Their current fascination seems to be Kanye West, an egomaniacal rapper married to that porn star
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