Waiter? There's a fly in my Rune Soup.
Part 1: Gordon White, Neo-Reactionaries, and Acceleration
When I first started taking the occult more seriously there weren’t a whole lot of podcasts on the subject available. Podcasts that interested me, at least. There were plenty of witchy neopagan shows but that never really called out to me. Of the anemic offerings that weren’t shows that shoehorned the occult into a broader milieu, one of the few that I picked up and ran with was Rune Soup. Hosted by author, Gordon White, Rune Soup spoke to my fledgling post-modern sensibilities but I soured on it rather quickly, having nothing to do with Gordon’s politics and everything to do with him booking a very long string of guests who only talked about astrology. But Gordon stayed on my radar. He was one of the few names I recognized and he was a younger voice in a sea of moldy old magicians republishing the same stuff over and over again for Llewellyn. No offense to the Ciceros but does the world need another Golden Dawn initiation manual?
I first read Gordon’s book, The Chaos Protocols, and found it mostly boring but I also read Star Ships and thought it was quite good. My primary criticism of the former is that of all the occult paradigms out there, chaos has the potential for the most fun and folks like Bluefluke and the DKMU were wielding that power to great effect. But Gordon’s riff on it in the Chaos Protocols read less like Mad Magazine and more like a manual aimed at Silicon Valley startup CEOs looking for the next productivity hack, like Soylent or a Tim Ferriss book. Gordon would eventually fade into the past as I found my own way and discovered my tribe, eventually launching this whole Codex A project and becoming a voice in the choir.
Boy, was I shocked to find out about Gordon when the pandemic hit and he lost his fucking mind.
Big mouth strikes again
I may have my details out of order here but everything that follows seems to have flowered from Marco Visconti’s criticism of a recent Rune Soup where Gordon and Scarlet Imprint publisher, Peter Grey, took the discussion in a distinctly redpilled direction. All of a sudden, Rune Soup was sounding like Infowars.
One of Marco’s more endearing qualities is his big mouth. It often puts him at odds with people who feel like he needs to be more sensitive. Most people walk on eggshells when discussing anything online for worry that they might find themselves on the business end of a social media pile-on for sharing an unpopular opinion. Not Marco. But it’s hard to indict him. He’s an intelligent guy and well-spoken. His critics are often armed with nothing but hurt feelings since he leaves people with so little to fight with. A ways back he drew the ire of qanon psychos who promised that he would be “exposed” for being a satanic globalist shill or whatever. Because Aleister Crowley, I guess? I told him that I didn’t think there was very much you could do about these trolls pissing in his comments. Those people are so deeply entrenched and damaged that you’d have a better time throwing your naked body through a plate-glass window than argue with them. He basically told me, “fuck that,” and set the topic of his next live stream to be pure redpill bait about “spirit cooking”. The guy is on a mission to clear the air and I gotta tell ya, I’m feeling a little inspired.
The offending commentary, by the way:
These three tweets snowballed into factions on both sides trading barbs with one another. If it isn’t clear, I don’t really see a problem with Marco’s criticism and I’m going to dive into why I think dragging these clowns out into the light is something that needs to be done more often. But Gordon is a narcissist and psychopath and his maladjusted fan club is on the offense.
A little context: Grey is basically saying “so much for the tolerant left” while failing to understand what The Left actually is. It’s infuriating to listen to these boners rattle on about how the American Democratic party is The Left. As if they’re singing L’Internationale and waving Mao’s Red Book around while signing legislation that will steal Elon Musk’s money. We should be so lucky. I swear, if democrats were half the Red Brigade that reactionaries think they are, I wouldn’t be so down on them all the time. But here’s where things get slippery. Neither Grey nor White identify with a political party in a paradigm that you likely recognize. The rhetoric sounds like American conservatism since these are the same tired points that conservative populists made after the election of Donald Trump and you couldn’t be faulted for making this mistake. No. These two represent something far, far darker.
”Um, actually it’s accelerationism, not fascism.”
I need to be clear. I am not some woke commie scolding a pair of dudes because their point of view is politically incorrect. Because on the surface, that’s what it looks like Marco is doing and that’s what I’m about to do. That shit drives me nuts, to be quite honest. Radicalization happens online in part because people often get crushed under the wheel of mob emotion and are driven deeper into the right. You see this in action every day. No, Peter and Gordon aren’t guilty of being shitty online. They’re about to get the business for something much worse. What I want to do is drag it out into the light because they adhere to a rising social philosophy that somehow manages to transcend fascism and enter a new, even more insidious dimension.
Fifteen years ago, as of this writing, the germs of a new political philosophy began to take root in hubs of technology around the world, but most notably in San Francisco as what we now recognize as Silicon Valley began its exponential growth toward the lumbering behemoth that it is, slouching toward Bethlehem. The earliest personalities of the internet’s nouveau riche hadn’t yet mutated into new forms of political thought and many of them, being software developers and computer scientists at heart planted a Gadsden flag in the weird, dark soil of libertarianism. And you can understand why. Before maniac absolutists came along and used it as a tool to justify questioning age of consent laws it struck logic-bound people as a solid foundation to build a state on: do nothing that limits the freedom of another person and conduct yourself in matters of property and the marketplace with this same philosophy. It’s a means of statecraft through common decency and respect and the entire model is ruled by logic. But capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with said model and one man’s notion of decency is often very different from another’s as modern libertarianism came to take on a distinctly discordian cast. And people in the tech sector started to realize this.
Enter Curt Yarvin and Nick Land
Yarvin was a software developer back in the day who took to blogging under a pen name that I feel like an asshole typing out: Mencius Moldbug. He used the blog for a lot of bitching against what would eventually be derisively called woke culture but it’s here that he presented a model for government and a philosophy that struck a chord in the new ruling class of San Francisco: democracy is a failed experiment and capitalism fuels the failure due to it being untethered from a central authority. His ideas were primitive but popular with cash-saturated tech startups and venture capitalists of the time whose thoughts were consumed by new schemes to wring as much productivity as possible from every second of the day.
Yarvin’s theory took a little while to gather steam and this Tech Crunch article from 2013, which does a great job of breaking it all down, naively dismisses Yarvin’s neo-reactionary status as a fleeting fad. It would eventually take root in the darkest corners of the web and mutate until it metastasized and came to the fore under the name The Alt-Right. But it wouldn’t get there on its own. Nick Land would have to step in, smooth out the rough edges, and add a backdoor to the program for dangerous and sometimes deadly occult philosophies to sneak in and infect the system.
Land, who was previously known for being a pivotal figure in the 90’s cyber-culture, began as a lot of those figures did. The 90’s cybernetics and consciousness scene, neatly encapsulated in the magazine, Mondo 2000, was particularly irreverent, heavily inspired by 70’s discordianism but was also idealistic and quite Utopian. But that idealism, like so many visions, failed to manifest and it’s in my opinion that this caused Land to become quite bitter and jaded and his politics swung fiercely in the other direction. Not long after Yarvin’s neo-reactionary bullshit surfaced, Land issued a long, multi-part essay called The Dark Enlightenment, which added the aforementioned finesse and detail. It became The High Priestess to Yarvin’s Magician.
How it works
Feudalism. Plain and simple. Neo-reactionaries dress it up in different costumes, some of them add a theocratic element, but the core of their plan remains mostly unchanged: Nations break themselves down into smaller bodies, city-states, basically. The city-state falls under the rulership of a CEO and a lower class of nobility become shareholders in your typical board of investors model. They can trade shares in order to wield more power than one another and everyone else simply falls beneath those nobles as peasantry. Where American conservatives get real horny for the Constitution, these guys declare their love for The Magna Carta, an unironic romance for cyberpunk dystopia because they see themselves at the top of the ivory tower while everyone else scratches to make a living Chiba City.
The guiding theory is that liberal democracy affords too much power to the lumpenprole and that the shifting sands of governance are determined entirely by emotion and mob mentality. Democracies are thought to be wasteful in that they dedicate tremendous resources to helping the broadest swath of people and the entire system is prone to corruption.
Their solution makes sense to them for the same flawed logic that people think that electing a businessman as President is a good idea. Kings and nobles have a vested interest in running their kingdom and fiefdoms effectively and efficiently. No CEO wants to be the head of a shitty kingdom that sputters along. They want to have the sole authority to shape the governing body of their nation and cut off the parts that don’t work as they see fit, without bureaucratic layers of checks and balances. Where their criticism of democracy centers on too many people having the power to shape the nation, their solution is to funnel the power upward and consolidate it in a single executive and their board of investors. Because that has never been a problem, nor have corporations ever been corrupt entities who break laws, threaten sovereignty, and kill to improve the bottom line.
Neo-reactionaries see the current state of democracy and capitalism and calculate its vector. What they find at the end of their rainbow is where they want to be anyway and have entered into a pact with one another that has earned the name acceleration.
In A Quick and Dirty Introduction to Acceleration, Land couches his philosophy in the idea that everything is already moving too quickly to control and that attempts to grab the reins and get things under control will ultimately fail, and I hate to say it, but he’s not wrong. The solution for Land, and by extension, his followers, is to lean in and help it run its course way ahead of schedule because there is an upper limit and only when the whole thing collapses can we sort out the pieces, seize power, and reconstruct in a more sensible way. Land points out that acceleration shows up in left-wing and right-wing tracts, suggesting that it’s not a characteristic of the extreme right as critics like to point out and that’s why this whole thing is quite frightening.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing
Populism can be a powerful tool or a devastating weapon. More people than ever realize that the systems we live under are woefully broken and are already on a course to facilitate this feudalism. We’re starting to talk about businesses in terms of nation-states. Bloomberg ran an op-ed on their site suggesting that Amazon and Facebook get a seat at the United Nations. It’s just a flamin’ hot take meant to drive ad impressions but it’s rooted in a realization that these companies are so big and so crucial to everyone’s comfort that they’re more than just engines of capitalism now. It’s very easy for anyone to look around and feel like the folks at the top gotta go because the masses at the bottom are just getting fucked deeper and deeper into the garbage heap. When you pull back and look at the Neo-Reactionary big picture, the whole image is a nightmare but when you drill down to the average person who wonders why they’re working so hard and getting so little it’s easy for Land to sneak a pry bar into their consciousness and plant a seed that stands a greater chance of flowering into some extremely online weirdo posting to /pol/ about how it all went wrong when the Austrian crown banned the Habsburgs.
But the Neo-Reactionaries aren’t a frightening force because their model for governance and economy is a pipe dream for new monarchies. That shit’s weird, for sure. There’s a whole a wing of this that I haven’t even addressed yet. A key component of the whole movement is the rejection of modernity, meaning a return to “traditional values”. You don’t hear this as much as you used to since it seems like the alt-right lost a lot of steam during Trump’s presidency. They expected him to build the wall and own the libs, but he didn’t and I think a lot of them blackpilled and drifted away, even more nihilistic than before. This used to be a phrase tossed around by alt-right folks and alt-right adjacent lunatics like Ben Shapiro all the time. The idea being that western culture has been on a downward spiral ever since the Industrial Revolution and is just getting worse as liberal democracies adopt more and more policies accepting not just civil rights but human rights. In their model, the CEO Kings of acceleration’s future own not just their kingdoms but everyone in them. For as long as you live in one of these city-states, you belong to the king and have as many rights as his highness affords you. And it is always his highness. Notions of gender equality go right out the window. Women are reduced to baby factories to fuel the custodianship of the land. Noble women produce heirs and shut the fuck up. There are no gay people and there are certainly no trans people because both of these notions fly in the face of biology and are products of decadent western democracy. All relationships are transactional in this model and if the relationship doesn’t produce something of value to the people above, say, more hands to tend the land, more boys to occupy thrones, then the relationship is logically pointless. There’s also a very heavy dose of race science and phrenology in here. The qualifying traits for rulership being a strong IQ and the belief of neo-reactionaries that white and Asian people are genetically predisposed to higher IQs. And you can’t call them racist because to them, they’re just telling it like it is, man. There’s no science that backs this. It’s all straw man shit and they counter critics with weak swipes at semantics.
What does this have to do with Gordon White?
The trick to selling villainy is that you have to be careful how you market your philosophy. If you throw back your cape and reveal to the world that not only are you a big fan of 19th century race science but that you also think it’d be great if you handed over your sovereignty to a literal king, you’re going to have approximately zero takers on your bonkers idea for the greatest possible future. But if you’re careful and you exploit people’s anxieties, you can ease them into stranger and stranger depths. This has been a key strategy for bringing people into the MAGA movement and qanon. During the 2016 primaries I heard more than a few people in my social circle toss up the idea of either voting for Bernie or Trump without for a second considering how strange that comparison is. But the underpinnings of that brand of crazy lie in the disbelief that the noose is tightening around our necks year after year, we all see the problem but no one knows how to fix it without an angry mob waving torches and pitchforks around. We saw the first overtures of this on January 6th in DC. Those people had nothing but the vague notion that everything was fucked up. Their motivation and solution was stupid but as much as liberals don’t want to believe it, it takes more than Donald Trump to rile people up to that level. This country has endured far greater injustices on the street and nothing like that has ever happened short of the War of 1812.
I can’t say that Peter Grey, for sure, is a fan of neo-raction but his statements in that podcast express a sympathy for it. Neo-reactionaries see themselves as above the left-right political poles and see their revolution as a big-tent movement with room for everyone (except gays, trans people, black people, and anyone else whose head-shape is undesirable). Gordon, on the other hand, absolutely bought in. Gordon’s origins lie in tech, where the neo-reaction scene was born and some time back, when Rune Soup and his career switch to author afforded him the chance, Gordon capital-E Exited modernity and moved to a farm in Tasmania where he could be truly free. From there he continued to podcast and write and occasionally issue forth troubling support for ideas best characterized by snickering 4chan users, pleased with how naughty they can be. But then Covid hit and Gordon went fucking insane. He revealed himself to be anti-vaccination and anti-mask. He parroted all the usual shrieking panic that fat old men in grubby MAGA caps and wine moms with severe wedge-cut hair were best known for on Instagram Live and as the pandemic dragged on because these hysterical fuckwits couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask to the grocery store, he became more and more entrenched in extremist conspiracy theory, most notably a paralyzing terror in the face of the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset”.
To people stupid enough to believe it, The Great Reset is a New World Order power grab to impose an authoritarian communist state on the entire world because as we all know, the thing that the world’s most wealthy people want is a Marxist state of communism. You know? The political model that is well-known to treat the wealthy with care and respect. The ignorance of people who think that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Klaus Schwab, George Soros, and Joe Biden are communists is maddening. A million valid points of critique among the lot of them, enough to convince anyone that yes, they are all quite vile people, but these jackoffs still have to make up sci-fi and horror movie fantasies about them that are pure nonsense.
In this podcast, Hermitix, a dour philosophical forum dedicated to fringe points of view, Gordon goes deep on accelerationism with host, James Ellis, whose book Exiting Modernity, put him squarely on the map as a pessimistic friend of neo-reaction.
They key to selling this point of view inside neo-reaction and out is to wrap it up in concern. You see it with Sandy Hook Truthers, who took to the streets of Newtown to harass the parents of dead kindergartners because they only want to protect families. Pizzagaters charged into Comet Ping Pong, guns blazing because they only wanted to save the children. Qanon people want to literally murder the Clintons in order to save the children. And so on and so forth. In Gordon’s case, this draws them in. It feigns concern and appeals to people’s desire to feel like the good guys. Gordon doesn’t give a fuck about you or your kids. The man who fled civilization to a farm on the fringe of civilization has no skin in the game. At all. He does care an awful lot about hastening armageddon, however. That desire fits nearly into a neo-reactionary lifestyle.
In part 2, I’ll get down to outlining the particularly insidious corners of neo-reaction and accelerationism and why being an author of books about magic puts Gordon in unpleasant company with violent neo-nazi terror outfits, Esoteric Hitlerism, and dreaded Order of Nine Angles.