One of the most elementary representations of Sovereignty, both earthly and Divine, is the pastoral image of shepherd and flock. The pastoral metaphor of the relationship between Sovereign and subject follows congenially and spontaneously from the human experience of husbandry over animals that, like Man, are highly social, and thus naturally compatible with Man and moreover amenable to being governed by Man to his advantage. This activity, in turn, furnishes a ready-made metaphoric representation of human society ordered under authority- one that comes up repeatedly in the Ancient world, above all in the Bible, where time and time again the Sovereignty of God over His people is styled in terms of a pastor gathering and tending (and sometimes, abandoning and scattering) his flock.

Thus the shepherd’s crook complements and completes the more purely juridical and military symbolism of Sovereignty. Where sceptre and sword stand for the facticity of Sovereignty- for the possession of right and the ability to uphold it, respectively- the crook also stands for its exercise. The episcopal crosier, for example, as a symbol of authority of the vice-Regent of Christ, the King of Kings, inclusively stands for:

the threefold function of the Prelate, as a Shepherd, to gather in the wanderers to the true Fold; a King, to rule his spiritual subjects, under Christ; and a Master, to correct the froward and spur on the indolent…[B]y it the weak are sustained, the restless rallied, and the erring drawn to repentance…The Staff is sharp at the end, straight in the midst, and crooked at the top; this meaneth that the Bishop ought to goad on the idle, to direct the feeble with his own rightness, and to gather the wanderers together.

At the other end of the spectrum, the antithesis of Sovereignty- outlawry- is with great ease to the human mind represented through the metaphor of the enemy of pastor and sheep alike, the wolf. Hence the wargs, werewolves, and wolf’s-heads of old Germanic law- offenders who, for crimes that are especially infamous because they strike at the heart of authority (e.g. patricide, irreverence for the dead, evasion of Royal justice) and by extension the very existence of society, are stripped of all legal and social status and legally pronounced so many wolves to be destroyed on sight accordingly, as archfiends of the human flock.

Between shepherd and wolf are the sheep themselves. Just like people, they dislike solitude and flock together spontaneously; and, also like people, they do not do so on an egalitarian basis. They fight amongst themselves for status and over females, and form social hierarchies accordingly; as a result they willingly follow other sheep and other animals they know can physically defeat them, and humans who additionally can feed them. They are thus amenable to being individually and collectively directed under authority towards a final purpose set for them by a higher, rational being. If there’s a better metaphor for what human life in common is about, I haven’t heard it; had the world of Nature not provided it, the sages would have had to invent it. Indeed, it is more than a mere metaphor inasmuch as what makes sheep husbandry possible and congenial to begin with is that the social nature of the sheep reflects, at a more rudimentary and pre-rational level, that of Man, as a religious and State-forming animal that himself must be cared for and led by the higher authorities of State and Church towards appropriate ends and purposes.

Sheep nonetheless don’t have a very good reputation today for all that. For example, Nietzsche, in his magisterial and indispensable, but seriously flawed, expositions of the inner workings and etiology of Leftist social thought, derisively termed that body of thought “herd morality”- even though Leftist thought has the most un-sheepish quality of bitter egalitarian loathing for all dominance hierarchy and “ultimately, if all goes well, hopes to do away with any shepherd”. Likewise, where the Judeo-Christian tradition saw, in the figure of the shepherd, an exhaustively complete and thus truly absolute expression of Sovereignty, Nietzsche- who reductively conflates Sovereignty with warfare, and the whole business of rule with some kind of Valhalla – sees a denaturing and mutilation of Sovereignty, a Sovereign tragically seduced and reduced by priests and moralists into white-knighting for “the herd”, in unwholesome self-abnegating opposition to his own true Nature as a “despot and doer of violence”.

For Nietzsche- right along with his ostensible mortal foes on the Left- the qualities men actually and putatively share with sheep comprise so many defects and lapses from human Nature, or at best are its lowest expressions. Either way, men are exhorted to surmount them, or merit nothing more than scorn. These qualities include: dislike of solitude, a corresponding want to associate and to belong, to act in a pro-social and co-operative way where possible, to not stand out or apart from the crowd, to defer to the will of the group and its leaders, and above all, to conform intellectually and avoid original thought and independent reflection on moral and philosophical topics. Where all these attributes were hitherto regarded by morality as virtuous and commendable, for Nietzsche and the Modern mentality in general they are deemed vicious and contemptible. There has been an inversion- in Nietzschean jargon, a “transvaluation”- of traditional moral values.

This transvaluation of the herd Nature of Man obviously traces its pedigree to secularizing anti-clericalism, which in the course of realizing its own “will to power” in the form of a totalitarian State wholly controlled by the Left has to bring down the spiritual power first, and as a standing tactic of this strategic goal seeks to scatter the Church’s flock by poisoning its own members against it to the point where it becomes incapable of mustering the internal coherence and unity of purpose it needs to go on functioning. (This enterprise is still ongoing, as certain recent leaked internal memoranda of the Democrats in the USA have made explicitly clear).

To this end, and to the extent that the pastoral hierarchy and authority of the Church has not been destroyed, and the Left not exclusively at the helm of the temporal ship of State, the herd values are relentlessly derided as so many expressions of superstitious ignorance and plain brute stupidity, neurotic co-dependence, spinelessly servile and unmanly pusillanimity, willing complicity with evil, and a dreary reign of Philistine mediocrity that stifles creative genius and human potential in general. In its place is a cult of the heroically isolated, independent, and Promethean individual who rejects all Gods and Masters (but still renders, in his everyday life, lock-step obedience to administrative rules and regulations), who Thinks for Himself (albeit with a lot of help from propagandists who supply him with the platitudes that are the stuff of his thought), who Dares to be Different (just like everybody else), and who opposes slavish intellectual subservience to Ideology and Bronze-Age Myth in the name of Reasoned Inquiry and Scientific Scepticism (defined as Truth received from and on official authority, and arrived at by a method that must never be subjected to rational scrutiny).

When and where the Left ascends to institutional power, the erstwhile vices of unthinking obedience and conformity are all of a sudden rehabilitated, and those who actually believed in all the rhetorical hoo-haw about non-conformity and freethought are rewarded for their service by being put on the receiving end of censorship regimes as minutely punctilious as they are wholly arbitrary and unpredictable, and much stricter than the inherently temperate systems they replaced with the unwitting help of the true libertine believers- but this is a digression.

In any case, the likes of Nietzsche try to add an aristocratic level onto this atheist and individualist edifice by building on the elitist pretensions always already present in the image of the individual as a Promethean genius heroically standing apart from, and above, the stupid herd, the demotic majority. This effort always takes the side of the temporal against the spiritual power in some real or imaginary historical struggle between the two, drawing a facile, mutually-exclusive opposition between the values of “warriors” and “priests”, and then of course blaming the priestly caste for devising and weaponizing herd values against the warriors- first by moralizing the warriors into turning against their own Nature and becoming shepherds, then by setting the herd against its shepherds so as to completely bring down aristocracy once and for all. This conception has elements of reality in it, to be sure, but in several fundamental ways is as wrong, and ironically self-defeating, as it possibly could be:

  • It blithely ignores that Modern democracy arose out of a process whereby the temporal State, and its shifting set of backers of whatever caste and class, waged war against both the aristocracy and the clergy at once in order to clear the way for the ascension of the monopoly State and the bourgeoisie. Since warriors and priests were the two paramount castes of the social order that had to be obliterated in order for the bourgeois State to ascend to supremacy, it follows that an attack against one was simultaneously an attack against the other. It isn’t a coincidence that the nobility was disarmed, and the assets and institutions of the Church expropriated, by the State in the same historical period (in England, the very same century).
  • Individualism in radical opposition to the social or herd principle is a bourgeois, capitalist, and Statist ideology as toxic to genuine aristocracy as it is to religion. Many of the values Nietzsche derides as “herd morality” are in fact as indispensable to the functioning of the martial brotherhood as to religion and civilian society more generally- the romantic image of the warrior-aristocrat as some kind of isolate Conan the Barbarian figure notwithstanding. Additionally, the aristocrat- who is a patriarch and authority figure, a governor as well as a soldier- no less than the priest has a pastoral-type duty of care over the whole community. No such figure, to the extent that he is rational, styles himself a predator over his own people! The very idea is insane, for it represents the stance of the Sovereign’s opposite: the rebel outlaw. The latter is to society as wolf to sheep; the former hunts down and kills wolves, as the thoroughly aristocratic Germanic disposal of outlawry makes abundantly clear.
  •  The temporal aristocrat or Sovereign thus towers above the community over which he presides- but does not antagonistically stand outside of it, as Nietzsche imagines. Again, the latter is the stance of the outlaw condemned to social and civil death (cf. the Aryan anti-status of chandala). The aristocracy is an organ of society in an organic, mutually-dependent, and irreducible relationship with the Church and other organs of society, all united in one social body, no matter the friction that inevitably obtains between them. The individualistic image of the elite rebel, who, like the outlaw, stands altogether outside of the herd in radically antagonistic position, but- distinctly unlike the common criminal- stands there in a self-certain position of superiority, is neither an aristocrat, a priest, nor a desperado in any traditional sense of these terms. His is no “master morality”. On the contrary: he is the archbourgeois- and most un-Nietzschean- figure of the dissenting Protestant enthusiast, the proto-SJW of which the Puritan is the most familiar historical type.

Michael Walzer, in The Revolution of the Saints: a Study in the Origins of Radical Politics, provides the all-time classic historical genealogy and sociological analysis of this figure, who:

  • is a born minoritarian, factionalist, and sower of discord, vindicated as such in his own mind on the basis of certain misunderstood passages in Scripture.
  • is unshakably self-certain of his membership in a tiny Elect directly and personally chosen by God to enforce His will on Earth in radical opposition to the majority and the established social hierarchy and order, from which he is often actually excommunicated, outlawed and exiled, and which he in turn takes it upon himself to wage holy war against, in a sense much more than merely figurative; a prototype for the modern revolutionary and terrorist.
  • has no ethical qualms whatsoever with treason high and petty (regicide and patricide), as long as he is certain that God wills him to it (which means always), nor with heresy (which, in his mind, he is by definition of his calling incapable of). It follows that this individual, no matter his actual caste, is a mortal enemy of both Kshatriya and Brahmin alike, and by extension any social order where these castes are paramount. (It is a grave mistake to think of either the Puritan or his secular legatees as “Brahmins”, no matter how holy they like to think they are).

It is in the mental milieu of the dissenting Protestant, not the aristocrat, that the derogatory imagery of Nietzsche’s “herd”, or today, “sheeple”, begins to take shape. The pastoral metaphor refers to the flock of the established, majoritarian Church of whatever denomination, which our dissenter makes it his life’s work to scatter. This unregenerate majority appears as so many stupid, blind, and sub-human animals, sheep being blithely led to the slaughter- a fate that they, as unregenerate and predestined to damnation, deserve (and which, for that matter, our dissenter may well see to it that they get, should his faction gain control over the State). All that remains is for God to die in order for the misanthropic, atheist, and Nietzschean idea that the weak and stupid sheep deserve to be victimized by predatory Supermen to take final shape, in a house that the most fanatical and pathological aberrations of Calvinist religion built.

The mere fact that the poor old sheeple somehow deserve to be slaughtered just because they can be led around (like that’s a bad thing), by itself, goes to show that this ideology, notwithstanding its ostensible elitism, is radically egalitarian in its stated or unstated first premises. It holds everybody to the same, exactingly high standards; it implicitly expects every man, woman and child to rise to the Olympian level of the elite (even where this is explicitly deemed ontologically impossible) and judges them pitilessly when they fail. This could not be further removed from the aristocratic (and also, properly Brahminic) way of thinking, which is inherently paternalistic, and does not demand- or for that matter, permit– the little people to strive to be just like the elite, since that would necessarily level the hierarchy to the extent that it became reality. (Hence Aristotle teaches that only Sovereigns should be perfectly virtuous, while the lower classes ought only to be as virtuous as is necessary for them to faithfully discharge their duties).

That Nietzsche’s “master morality” is totally untempered by paternalistic tolerance and pity (something Nietzsche apparently thinks is a moralistic plot to poison and weaken the resolve of the “masters” and ultimately, bring them down) goes to show that his social thought is so far removed from truly inegalitarian thinking that he is not even able to conceive of how it actually worked in practice. Any hierarchical social order, in order to be successful, must laud sheepish qualities in the average person as commendable, not deride them as contemptible. “Herd values” properly so-called are not something invented by resentful priests in order to bring down the aristocracy and all hierarchy. If anything, the very opposite is true. If there is any historical reality to the hypothesis that the moral exaltation of sheepish qualities in the average person was something cooked up by ancient priests and then shoved down the throats of the “masters”- then those priests were exceedingly wise and far-sighted social technologists who had to intervene in order to keep the whole works up and running and prevent a feckless elite from wantonly destroying the Third Estate for no good reason, and thus from sawing off the branch on which the elite’s own powers and privileges, and the fortunes of the whole social order, sat.

That having been said: Nietzsche was certainly right to diagnose and critique the modern, Leftist-dominated and democratic order as one founded on the (most un-pastoral) idea that the sheeple ought to rule themselves and moreover, everyone and everything else; that it despises aristocratic and Sovereign qualities, especially in men, against whom it deploys an insidious weaponized “morality” that exalts the ewe and the wether over the ram (something that, unfortunately, is no longer a mere figure of speech); and that it likewise, and notwithstanding its own competitive and “meritocratic” rhetoric, resents Promethean genius and stifles it by setting low bars that must not be exceeded. We would not easily be be able to describe the symptoms of our present pathology in these terms had Nietzsche not already done so for us a long time before now.

But this pathology can’t be blamed on “priests”. Again, if it’s any consolation to Nietzsche, the Modern experience was just as catastrophic and tragic for the priestly as for the aristocratic men. Both types were rendered socially unemployed and unemployable with the ascension of the depersonalized and pathologically bloated totalitarian machinery of Leviathan, which first bulldozed both castes concurrently, and then substituted a set of fake, bourgeois impostors and usurpers for each one. The person of the King was replaced by the depersonalized State ensemble of Constitutionally divided powers administered on behalf of a fictive “public” by no-one in particular. The social function of the landed aristocracy was divided between a faceless standing army (the counterpart of the faceless bureaucracy) and cronyist “capitalist” plutocrats who seek rent from the State as opposed to the soil. As to the social function of the Church, the various duties of pastoral care were eventually divided between the welfare-State and a loose congeries of secular, and overwhelmingly Leftist, media propagandists, irresponsible professors and educators, pettifogging lawyers and insubordinate activist judges, professional busybodies at the non-profits and foundations who make whole careers out of bothering other people, arrogant know-it-all doctors, scientists, and other “experts” who weigh in on every social issue without always knowing what they are talking about, the psych industry, feminist viragos and scolds, and the hordes of unsubsidized, half-literate SJWs who swarm like blackflies throughout civil society. This complex is often termed “the Cathedral”- but it is a foul parody of the real thing, a travesty (right now, literally: it views men who choose to dress and live as women as especially holy, twice-born figures).

Throughout the historical process that led to the present situation, the average, middling sort of sheeple on whose behalf this Kali Yuga-type travesty of rule is exercised carry on much as they always have. They believe, in good faith, most of what their educators, politicians, psychiatrists, and media spokesmen tell them; they do their best to follow the rules; they generally go about their business in a quiet and orderly way, and don’t meddle in the business and rights of others. They are average people who don’t stand out and don’t want to. Notwithstanding ominous declines in Church attendance, marital stability and birth rates, respect for traditional sex roles, etc. the overall level of their morals and manners remains very high. They are, to be sure, sheepishly oblate before the Leftist public cults of sexual perversion, drug abuse, materialist greed and excess, social disorder, and so on instituted by their superiors- but tend not to actually practice these things themselves. They work, and work hard, at productive jobs, as opposed to rent-seeking and graft. When they do have children, they dote on them almost to the point of excess. They love peace and order, and interpersonal violence is almost unknown among them. They are good, decent, and upright people; the backbone of society. That they remain as good as they are in the face of a relentless onslaught of Leftist propaganda exhorting them to be bad (especially the women) is sociologically nothing short of astonishing.

Taking inegalitarianism seriously means the red-pilled should avoid the temptation to blame the sheeple for allowing themselves to be led, and led astray (blue-pilled), by the charlatans and impostors who have usurped the roles of Sovereign and Pastor. There can be no Restoration, indeed, no society of any type, if sheep will not sheepishly follow whoever is in front. Not everybody can be a Kshatriya or Brahmin. Despising the rest for rendering their duty to obey in accordance with their Nature is like despising a submarine for not having a screen door. They are social animals who have every right to rely, in good faith, on the public instruction they are provided, and for going where they are steered. They are no more contemptible for it than a client who unwittingly and in good faith took bad advice from a physician or other professional that he had a reasonable right to rely on. In the latter case, the bum steer is a cause of civil action at common law- and it does the derelict professional no good in court to argue that the client was a stupid sheep who deserved to be exploited and victimized. By the same principle, the wider social tort of our age lies with similarly derelict and unfit elites. The wrong lies squarely with them.

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15 thoughts on “In Defense of Sheeple

  1. Oh my, this is good. Exceptionally good, in fact. I have no substantial comment, I just want to acknowledge the quality of this essay.

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  2. This is an utterly amazing synthesis of eight or ten different ideas that have been floating around the reactionary blog sphere for the last decade. I bet Moldbug would shed a tear reading your description of the Cathedral. You should get a medal, or have a statue built in your honor, of something.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The medal, no problem, but have you seen Moldbug on youtube? I love the guy but he’s not exactly statuesque. I sent this essay to my friend Sidd(hartha) who also loves terrible puns. He had this question:

        First let me just say I love the parallels to Indian culture here. As a Brahmin, perhaps this explains why I subconsciously always disliked the new Puritanism. Which, for the record as you know, is what I started calling this years ago!

        This part confuses me though:

        “this ideology, notwithstanding its ostensible elitism, is radically egalitarian in its stated or unstated first premises. It holds everybody to the same, exactingly high standards; it implicitly expects every man, woman and child to rise to the Olympian level of the elite (even where this is explicitly deemed ontologically impossible) and judges them pitilessly when they fail.”

        Isn’t part of the message of modern progressives that some people are just unable to compete and that’s why we need entitlements?

        To maybe partially answer my own question, I get that the inversion/paradox of this idea is part of the choke hold. I guess I’m just confused as to how the cognitive dissonance is maintained…

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  3. “Isn’t part of the message of modern progressives that some people are just unable to compete and that’s why we need entitlements?”

    What I was addressing there is mainly a phenomenon of self-identified Rightist or other anti-Leftist thought. The mainstream of modern Prog thought, as you point out, has a considerable admixture of unselfconscious paternalism in its egalitarianism, which I suppose follows from the Brahmin-type status pretensions of its adherents (intellectuals, and those who want to be taken as intellectuals) vis-a-vis the bourgeois capitalists, who always extolled the virtues of cut-throat competition on a completely egalitarian basis.

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  4. It is problematic to state that the sheep deserve no blame, however tempting it may be. We do know the average person is most likely doomed to remain average, but in a society based upon democratic institutions, the sheep must still judge who is best fit to lead the flock. Individually a sheep is insignificant, but collectively the wisdom of the flock is greater than most shepherds.

    “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

    To this end the quality of the sheep matter tremendously; we notice in Europe how the sheep keep voting in far-left tyrants who insist on flooding the country with wolves, yet in America the sheep remain salty enough to vote in straight-talking herder Donald Trump.

    What then, accounts for such differences in sheep quality? There must be more to the phenomena than what this very well-written essay lays out. Certainly the sheep are able to control their fate to some extent, and salty sheep must be the product of a wise herder who created cultural traditions to outlast his lifetime.

    Thus, at some point the sheep deserve some blame, upon which they are cast out and trampled underfoot.

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  5. Oh definitely, I’d never expect or want people to sit still in the face of blatant existential threats and/or invasions of their legitimate rights and entitlements coming from unfit authority figures.

    I’ve been told (with no way to verify it for myself) that a big factor holding back things in Europe right now is that the average Joe who might otherwise vote for someone like Trump continues to draw the line of obedience at various social entitlements, and is willing to take a lot of crap from the Leftist establishment as long as he keeps getting them.

    I also think that, in the USA, the 2nd Amendment helps a lot. Not that anyone’s about to take arms against the State or anything like that, but the mere fact of having the right to bear arms seems to make people feel less helpless and more independent, “saltier”, as you say, and thus more likely to speak up when blatantly mistreated. Additionally, the Left just can’t resist the temptation to try to meddle with this right, which is very dear to the heart of the average person, and comprises an important line around which obedience is drawn.

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    1. I don’t think there is a right to bear arms. The sheep don’t bear arms. It might be prudent to allow it (in case of the U.S. for sure) but there is no such thing as right to bear arms.

      Also I don’t think bearing arms makes such difference in mentality. Perhaps it is the other way around, your emphasis on bearing arms is a product of different mentality. Until recently there haven’t been any reason to bear arms here in Europe. The crime rates were low and though it’s not difficult to get armed here, where I live, it is not encoded in our culture. Of course, that could change with new waves of refugees.

      I live in Central Europe so I can’t speak for Europe as a whole but I think the main factor holding Europe back is economic. Average Joe has a job, food, roof above his head, even luxuries. He thinks the system works fine so the elites must be right in everything else. The stuff we are discussing is too distant, too academic for his daily life (I can’t discuss politics with my colleagues for example, they simply are not interested). He is a good sheep.

      Excellent article.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Fjwawak. The right to bear arms is a complex thing. I reject the idea as formulated in Enlightenment-type terms, which unfortunately is how it’s usually encountered in American political discourse right now- but there are other ways of conceptualizing it. To put it briefly, in order to make patriarchy meaningful again a man ought to have the right to the means of protecting his family and otherwise asserting his authority in his rightful sphere, however small. A right to bear arms, then, is in my opinion an important component of any programme for Restoration.

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  6. Modern democracy may have been seeded by a revolt of the Boyars against the Czar (Senate vs. Caesar, barons vs. king, etc.) but it could not explode into full parliamentary bloom until the advent of industrial bourgeoisie via the requirement of technological means of production requiring an educated managerial, machine maintenance and bookkeeping class, but also a trained assembly line class. (Warfare helped this process along by demanding technological domination.)

    I tend to agree with Marshal McLuhan who concluded that technology is inherently democratizing. Technology requires print literacy and literacy counteracts the necessity of exploitation via ignorance that has historically been the typical modus operandi of the ruling class. Scribes got us here.

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