Intellectual Entrepreneurs Against Democracy: Theorizing Authoritarian Futures in America
40 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2022
Date Written: May 23, 2022
Ideological reaction in the West against the dominance of liberalism has grown in recent decades. Although often observed as diverse forms of electoral populism, or increasing policy illiberalism by certain political parties, this reaction has also attracted diffuse cadres of intellectual elites and new, ‘dissident’ thinkers. Among the various strands of competing illiberal intellectual projects, perhaps the most surprising has been the emergence in the United States of a small but growing set of explicit theorists of political authoritarianism. This article surveys three modern authoritarian theorists, Curtis Yarvin (“Mencius Moldbug”), Charles Haywood, and “Bronze Age Pervert” (BAP), noting predecessor thinkers and historical analogies that seem to predominate in their evolving proposals, as well as assessing the relative complexity of their positive programs for an authoritarian future. American theorists of authoritarianism so far remain niche figures, largely consigned to the online world and in the realm of heterodox letters. Yet the particularly explicit nature of these intellectual projects has found an audience among the discontented, especially in online fora. There is a degree of ‘first-mover’ advantage to the current crop of American authoritarian theorists, and expectations should be set such that more sophisticated intellectual entrepreneurs are likely to emerge in the coming decades.
Keywords: authoritarianism; illiberalism; ideology; political theorists
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