This image showed up in my Twitter feed today:

Where do I even begin?

First, they conflate “marriage before 18” with “rape” and a “human rights violation”. Even by the usual standards of progressive blindness, this is insane. I personally know several people who were married before the age of 18, entirely within consent and the law, and they would be very surprised to find out that their marriages were in fact a human rights violation.

Second, we might note that this is a campaign against child marriage, but the statistics cited involve many people who are not children by the legal definitions of the US or elsewhere. How many of those married before 18 were legal adults at their age of marriage? We have no idea, because the graphic doesn’t bother to think about this.

But worst is the transparent, completely un-self-conscious cultural absolutism. The modern West defines adulthood as beginning at age 18, and expects that women do not marry before that age. None of these assumptions hold elsewhere, but any failure on the part of other nations to hold to contemporary Western standards of propriety is automatically a “human rights violation”. This sort of moral crusading and contempt for alternate value systems should not be surprising at this point, but I suppose I still have some capacity to be astonished.

I was almost tempted to respond to this on Twitter, in my real name, even, but fortunately sanity took hold before I commited such an error.


The monastery, the math, and the university

So Alan Liddell over at More Right has essentially reinvented the concept of the “math” as found in Neil Stephenson’s novel Anathem. I don’t know whether Liddell has ever read Anathem, and I’ll assume for the sake of argument that he hasn’t. If he has, then he should own up to having taking inspiration, since Liddell’s “antimodern university” is so similar to Stephenson’s “math” that Liddell’s work is plagiarism if it’s not independent invention.

For those who haven’t read Anathem, it’s a science fiction novel set in the future of an alternate history of Western Civilation. In this future, the pursuit of scientific knowledge has become deliberately detached from political and technological progress, and the scientists have retreated into a system of walled mini-cities called “maths”, which have very limited and tightly controlled access to the outside world. The book does have some kind of plot, but really the plot of the book is much less interesting than the world, and the opening third of the novel is the engaging part, as it explains the reasons and consequences of the withdrawal of scientists from the rest of the world and into a private society of pure intellect.

Stephenson is no kind of reactionary, as far as I know, and Liddell’s antimodern university is motivated by different concerns than those which spur the creation of the maths in the novel. Stephenson’s backstory involves a vaguely described global catastrophe brought on by misused technology, so the maths exist to protect the world from science, while Liddell is more concerned with protecting science from the world. But the scientific communities they describe are remarkably similar. In both cases scientific inquiry is restricted to an isolated, quasi-monastic community, with high walls (both literal and metaphorical) to prevent too much movement between the two realms. The math/university controls its own food supply, defense, and even procreation, and is responsible for educating its own from a very young age. In both cases there is some traffic between the intellectual and political worlds, if only because the rest of the world needs someone to design their stuff, but the traffic is regulated, supervised, and mostly one way (from science -> politics rather than the reverse).

Stephenson does add one thing which Liddell omits, but which I think would be both inevitable and desirable: he gives the maths a liturgy. Any society existing in isolation for so long would develop its own communal rituals, and Stephenson describes the mathic rites with care and creativity, and in doing so take the teeth out of the barbed name “rationalist religion”. He embraces the religious part, and gives his scientist-monks their own cathedrals, hymns, and holidays, making the maths the only rationalist community that I’ve ever wished I join.

Megan McArdle almost approves of patriarchy

Megan McArdle (probably my favorite non-reactionary blogger) has written an article which comes right up to the brink of saying the unsayable:

Marriage also enables specialization. Which can be illustrated by a piece of wisdom I have developed in my brief three and a half years of marital bliss and now pass onto my friends who are getting married: “Marriage makes you stupid.”

I mean, I used to know where I kept my batteries and old documents. But when we got married, my husband, who is much tidier than I am, took over organizing the house. Now, unless it’s a piece of my clothing or kitchen equipment, I have no idea where we keep anything. And while I’m pretty sure I used to be able to put up shelves, now all I know how to do is ask my husband to do it.

On the other hand, he has no idea how much money we have, or in what accounts. And he can’t do the grocery shopping, because he doesn’t know what we consume. Individually, we are less competent to survive on our own. But collectively, we eat better, and we have a tidier house and better-managed finances. And our shelves don’t fall down so often.

Obviously, child-rearing is a major area of specialization. One interesting thing I’ve heard from gay parents is that they find themselves falling into roles that you might describe as “Mom” and “Dad,” even though this is obviously not some pre-programmed gender destiny. It just doesn’t make sense to try to jointly manage a kid 50-50; one parent keeps the social calendar and decides what kids Junior can play with, because two parents trying to do it actually makes the task take a lot more time, as both people have to learn about all the friends and the birthdays and the parents, and then negotiate what Junior does with her time. I’m not saying this happens with every gay parent. I’m just saying that gay parents I know report considerable benefits to specialization.

In other words, gender specialization is natural, efficient, and economical. Of course, this is something that anyone who’s been married for more than a week already knows; yet the existence of gender-driven social roles for husbands and wives is supposed by feminist orthodoxy to be an example of patriarchial oppression. The problem, of course, is that a feminist insists that hanging your own shelves is liberation, and forgetting how to do so is oppression, when in reality giving certain areas of responsibility up to your spouse is a tremendous relief. If society partitions certain marital responsibilities to husbands or wives ahead of time, it’s merely saving every couple the trouble of figuring it out for themselves.

Additionally, marriage is obviously awesome, for all of the reasons that McArdle mentions.

Recent goodness from Fr. Stephen Freeman

To the best of my knowledge, Fr. Stephen Freeman does not associate with and probably knows nothing about Neoreaction. However, if you have any doubt about the affinity between Orthodox spirituality and neoreactionary thought, then let the following two links put your mind to rest.

The Sin of Democracy

People of the modern world have a sense of inherent equality, and often resent any assertion of authority. Of course, equality is true in a certain manner, and utterly false in another. It is true that all people have equal worth – no one life is more valuable than another. But by almost any other measure, we are not equal, because we are not commensurate. I am of equal worth, but I am not as smart as another. I am of equal worth but I am not as talented, or handsome, or wealthy, etc. Apparently, intelligence, talent, beauty, wealth and the like are not the proper standards of comparison when we speak of equality. But our interior sense of equality often makes us assert equality where none exists.


The classical world of Orthodox Christianity is profoundly undemocratic. It holds that the universe and everything that exists is hierarchical. This teaching is not an artifact of an older patriarchy (a typical democratic critique), but an essential part of the Christian gospel. For if Jesus is Lord, then the universe has a Lord. Democratic spirituality distrusts all hierarchy – anything that challenges the myth of equality is experienced as a threat. “Jesus never said anything about…”

The Demons of Our Time

It is interesting that great theories of economics and social justice do not form a part of this novel. Dostoevsky was no stranger to Russia’s radical movements and their political and economic theories: he spent a number of years in prison under the Tsar for having participated in one such group. But he does not make the theory out to be of much importance. He rightly recognized that the spirit of revolution is not about a struggle for a glorious future. Revolution is about the destruction of the present and the will to power. Hitler’s rise to power and Lenin’s rise to power both belong to differing ideologies. What they share in common are lies and murder.


Dostoevsky’s revolutionary sees the world as teetering on chaos. The old order is a road block, an encumbrance that stands in the way of progress and the forces of renewal. Every convention, every custom and practice of tradition is the enemy. The revolutionary has to be prepared to sweep everything aside for the sake of his cause. In Dostoevsky’s Russia, the Church was a primary conserving force. Its Orthodox practice was a shrine to Tradition and custom. Every aspect of life moved in obedience to the seasons of the Church. It is thus not surprising that the Church, God and the Christian view of the world were the primary targets of his drama.


An Introduction

Mai la dreapta means “further right”. This is not a terribly creative name for a neoreactionary blog, but in my defense, it’s probably not going to be much of a blog. Mostly, this exists so that I have an out to participate in neoreactionary discussions without using my real name.

But who knows? It’s possible that I’ll actually post something some times.