Response to “NRx Needs Capital”

A writer shared the following open letter on Twitter earlier today. I’m unsure he wants his name published, so I shall reproduce the text of his writing instead:

NRx needs capital

Neoreaction is poised to become a truly great movement. “But NRx is not a movement!’’ goes the cry. “It is a(n) (salon|analytical framework|prophecy of doom).’’ Whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is that neoreaction is a group of humans with common ideas, common goals (even if those goals are just to burn away the quasi-religious fog around everyday phenomena), and, crucially, common enemies. These enemies will, if they can, destroy you: expose your real names, threaten your employment, your families. Your livelihoods depend on your either remaining anonymous or your having, as the wise man said, “fuck you’’ money.

This is nice. Maybe you don’t care about that right now. You’re young. You can scrape together a living writing freelance for the Daily Caller or whatever. Or maybe you’re behind so many layers of protection that you can give dissidents in China (or wherever) lessons in opsec. But in order to take your impact to the next level it sure would be nice to have some extra money, and it doesn’t look like Peter Thiel is forthcoming (or maybe the disappearance of this indicates that he is).

Currently this isn’t possible, because, unless I’m mistaken (and I’m outer circle if anything, so I could be), everyone is looking out for himself. This is fine, but such operations as there are will have to remain small-scale.

My proposition is simple: rather than individually collecting bitcoins or PayPal donations from your blogs, why don’t the hardest of the hardcore pool together some significant capital (pledging at least your fortunes, if not your lives or your sacred honor), invest that money and grow a small financial empire? Then when Gawker exposes one of you and you lose your job, you and your family aren’t completely out in the cold. Or you could buy some serious computer hardware and try to mine bitcoin. Or you could build a secret moon base. Surely with all the time you have to read old books, one of you could read up on investing.

tl;dr: Pool significant money. Invest and reinvest it, watch it grow. Build secret moon base.

This sort of talk is somewhat useful at identifying the problem, but not so useful at determining a solution.

The thing is that it’s not terribly sustainable for any group of people to demand credit without providing corresponding value first. You can beg for donations like NPR, but unless you’re broadcasting like NPR does,and paying the staff that NPR does, and getting the government funding that NPR does, it’s awfully challenging to raise money like NPR does. The tote bags are a thing because people want to feel like they’re getting something in return for their money. They also draft beautiful fundraising letters to provide recognition for the people who do give them money.

Glomming together to beg for money more effectively is not going to result in success, because fundraising is a difficult activity that requires focused people who have skin in the game to sweat at providing enough value over a long period of time to justify donations.

A rich man may have opportunities before him that can return 7x his risk capital or significantly more over a period of a few short years. It’s difficult for a loose confluence of people to compete with that. This is perhaps why Moldbug is a CEO now, and not a blogger.

If you were pitching neoreaction to an angel investor, what would there be to pitch? Not much of anything, but there’s still something of interest within the entire mess.

My personal perspective is that the legal construct of the non-profit corporation is a vehicle expressly built for leftist causes. I don’t think it’s wise to build explicitly right-wing PACs or right-wing non-profits because the Federal government is suppressing them aggressively. Much better to build taxpaying corporations either within the US or outside of it.

Instead of demanding payment merely for existing, it’s better to create debts through generous labor first. Agglomerating a bunch of NRx funds into a fat bank account to be spent for mysterious purposes is not a sustainable method. For one, it means that funds can’t be doled out in a rational way. For another, it means that the fundraising is a one-time event that will likely end in project failure. The typical result of such an arrangement is to have one trickster run away with all the money.

To fund a long struggle, what’s needed is for sects to sustain themselves indefinitely in a decentralized fashion (decentralized being distinct from atomized). And there are indeed various operations in motion towards that end.

People who tend to believe that raising money is step #1 tend to discover that the only funds they can raise are on dreadful terms. Becoming worthy is the wiser step #1. There are many intermediate steps between “get money” and “build moon base,” and most of them are not even a little bit sexy. The majority of intermediate steps are incredibly boring and stupid, but nonetheless necessary. It’s not that the moon base isn’t worth building. It is.  It’s just that getting there requires more than stomping one’s feet and demanding a seat on the rocket ship.

I’m not particularly interested in raising funds for a movement (and the author tried to preempt this line of refutation and I agree with some of his spirit). A ‘movement’ is a metaphor for a military movement, as in telling a company of men to take a hill three miles to the east. I disagree that it’s a sensible metaphor for a group like neoreaction.

It makes sense to me to only find funds for movements that matter, as in taking specific hills, rather than raising funds to command men to move around a lot with nonspecific directions about where they are supposed to go. It’s the difference between commanding “Move!” and commanding “Move three miles forward to occupy hill #398C within map section G6.”