Over the course of the past year, I’ve silently admired the emergence of a community of blogs influenced by the writings of Mencius Moldbug who call themselves neoreactionaries. It’s generally been one of the more creative parts of the dissident Right blogosphere, using many of the concepts pioneered by Moldbug and using them in new ways to look at today’s society. However, one of the pitfalls of creativity is that it generates bad ideas just as adeptly as it generates good ones.
One of the ideas that has emerged is a cladistic look at ideologies, with a focus on American progressivism in particular, as exemplified in this post by Nick Land and this more recent one from Foseti in which progressivism is treated as a highly modified branch of English Puritanism. In biology, cladisitics is an approach to categorization of organisms based upon the time since the most recent common ancestor. I like this approach since the categories it generates reflect the actual relatedness of their constituent species. For instance, take this example of primate classification from Wikipedia:
As can be seen, the old categorical divisions within the order of primates did not reflect the actual relatedness of its species, as tarsiers, classified as prosimians are more closely related to all simian species than they are to the lemurs and lorises that complete the category of prosimians, making “prosimians” paraphyletic. Another example of paraphyly can be seen further up the tree, as there are two branches labeled as “monkeys”, but old world monkeys are actually more closely related to humans and apes than they are to new world monkeys. Similarly, this approach shows that grouping together tarsiers and lorises, two big-eyed nocturnal primates, results in pulling two groups from different branches in a single category, not unlike grouping sharks and whales together despite their very different ancestries.