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  • First published on this blog in November, 2015

If you’re one of those people not yet not au fait with the internet phenomenon/subculture referred to as the ‘Dark Enlightenment’, perhaps the best way to describe it is with reference to its adherents favourite movie scene. This is the moment in The Matrix, when Neo is offered two pills – one blue, one red. The man offering the medicaments, Morpheus, informs Neo that the pills have different metaphysical powers. One of them, the blue one, will send him back to the artificial world of the Matrix (a computer simulation) that he is already familiar with, completely ignorant of the existence of the alternate (real) world. The other pill, the red one, will make it impossible for him to go back to the sleep of unreality. Upon taking it, he will tumble down the rabbit-hole of the truth, however ugly or traumatic he may find that truth to be. As you’re probably aware, Neo boldly chooses the red pill, and so begins the main action of the film. Well, Dark Enlightenment adherents view themselves as embarking upon a comparably journey to Neo’s, and will often refer to themselves as being ‘red-pilled’. But what truths exactly are they discovering? What reality have they entered that is hidden from the majority? The answer is complicated.

It is certainly accurate to say that the Dark Enlightenment is on the political right. Its followers have little sympathy for feminism or political correctness, and on matters of race and racial difference, their views tend to align with those advanced by the likes of Madison Grant and T.H Huxley. Furthermore, one of the labels embraced by the movement since their beginnings is ‘Neo-reactionary’; a pretty baggy definition, but one that clearly denotes a rightward bent.

Some press commentators have even suggested a fascist sentiment motivates the Dark Enlightenment subculture. Jamie Bartlett (writing for the Daily Telegraph), for example, describes the bloggers associated with the movement as ‘sophisticated neo-fascists’.

“Since 2012” he writes “…a sophisticated but bizarre online neo-fascist movement has been growing fast. It’s called “The Dark Enlightenment”… Supporters are dotted all over the world, connected via a handful of blogs and chat rooms. Its adherents are clever, angry white men patiently awaiting the collapse of civilisation, and a return to some kind of futuristic, ethno-centric feudalism… The philosophy, difficult to pin down exactly, is a loose collection of neo-reactionary ideas, meaning a rejection of most modern thinking: democracy, liberty, and equality… The neo-fascist bit lies in the view that races aren’t equal (they obsess over IQ testing and pseudoscience that they claim proves racial differences, like the Ku Klux Klan) and that women are primarily suited for domestic servitude. They call this “Human biodiversity” – a neat little euphemism. This links directly to their desire to be rid of democracy: because if people aren’t equal, why live in a society in which everyone is treated equally? Some races are naturally better to rule than others, hence their support for various forms of aristocracy and monarchy (and not in the symbolic sense but the very real divine-right-of-kings-sense).”

Is this a fair evaluation? I don’t think that matters. What does matter is why men (and presumably some women) find it necessary to hive off into subcultures in the first place. The Dark Enlightenment is clearly a reaction to the culture of extreme (and unnecessary) self-censorship by the academic and intellectual mainstream. We simply don’t talk about the important facts of the world for fear of alienating a single part of it. No, the races are not equal in average intelligence. Nor are the sexes equal. The first-born child is generally more intelligent than his/her younger siblings. The tall are more successful than the short. Women are physically weaker than men. Egalitarianism is a lie. And yes, even Democracy is a stupid idea when reduced to its fundamentals. For if the majority are wrong about something, then society is every bit as doomed with democracy as it would be with a wrong-headed dictator. Etc… Etc…

But creating subcultures around forbidden truths is a dangerous game. Whenever hives of thought arise, the trust generated by basic truth-telling grants the hive-leader authority over his/her followers. Having earned their trust with real (but publically denied) facts, he/she can then sprinkle any kind of abject stupidity on top. And if any mainstream condemnation of this stupidity comes about, it can be ascribed to ‘Leftism’ or the ‘blue pill’. “They told you the races were equal, so why listen to them when they say authoritarian monarchy is bad?”… “They told you affirmative action made sense, so why believe them when they say Jews aren’t in control of the government” Etc…

Denying self-evident truths risks handing intellectual authority to some very shady people indeed. The Dark Enlightenment must be replaced with a straightforward enlightenment. No ‘darkness’ is necessary.