Cathedral Foreign Policy: My NRx Podcast with Surviving Babel and Nick B. Steves


Artwork by Vsevolod Ivanov.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of participating in an “Ascending the Tower” podcast produced by neoreactionary luminaries Surviving Babel and Nick B. Steves.

We talked about foreign policy, especially as it pertains to Russia, modern European and American history, the rise of Western universalism, neocons, and the Ukrainian Conflict in the context of neoreactionary geopolitical theory. Despite the length of time it took to get this podcast organized, the discussion in it has lost none of its relevancy.

Below are the links to the podcasts – due to their length, Surviving Babel split them in two – together with a copy of their “table of contents” and show-related hyperlinks.

Episode VII, Part 1: “This Kaleidoscope Of Truths”

4:44 – Introducing Anatoly Karlin
7:17 – Putin and his perception in the West
16:26 – Gradual erosion of Russian respect for the US
22:10 – Russia Today vs. Western media outlets
28:05 – Brief thoughts on Alexandr Dugin
32:05 – Mid-19th c. burgeoning Cathedral foreign policy

Related show links:
Opening Music (excerpt): “Thirst For Truth” by Sons of Northern Mist

Closing Music (excerpt): “You is Light” by KORDYUKOV

Anatoly Karlin’s Blog

Discussion of 19th c. Russian liberal-conservatism

More on Russian attitudes towards the US

Ofcom and Russia Today

Gregory Hood on Dugin

Russian involvement in US Civil War

Episode VII, Pt. 2 – “The Worship of the West”

1:03 – Woodrow Wilson, progenitor of the Cathedral
5:46 – Family structure and its influence on political ideology
11:30 – The failure of the League of Nations
15:13 – The post-WWII East-West polarization
19:58 – Competing visions of the nature of Ukraine
29:32 – Euromaidan and the Russian reaction
38:41 – Forecasting the near future of Ukraine
44:04 – Out of Left Field — Impact of the EAEU

Related show links:

Opening Music – “Opening Game” by aktarum

Closing Music – “The Gardener” by Mister_Even_Steven

Anatoly Karlin’s blog

Anatoly discusses Apollo’s Ascent

Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations (warning: Cathedral source)

Covenant of the League of Nations

hbdchick’s posts on Emmanuel Todd’s family formation theory

Eurasian Economic Union (officially EAEU in English)


If you are interested in sponsoring Ascending the Tower, e-mail me at Surviving Babel at gmail dot com. Sponsorships start at $10 an episode, and all proceeds will either go back into the podcast or provide some compensation for your most grateful host. You can purchase a mention or short message, or you can choose to sponsor the Out of Left Field question or even an entire episode.

A Gentle Introduction to NRx

Kickstarted by the Jewish Silicon Valley-based programmer Mencius Moldbug in the late 2000s, neoreaction – or NRx, as it is commonly abbreviated – is a radically new look at our social and political systems through the prism of Human Biodiversity, the theory of private government, and the writings of dead white male reactionaries such as Thomas Carlyle and Julius Evola. This set of theories and ways of thinking has been termed the “Dark Enlightenment” by the British philosopher Nick Land. Since the days of Moldbug, NRx has branched off into three distinct directions: The (original) elitist, philo-Semitic, technophilic, and cognitively elitist wing, basically disillusioned libertarians who realized that the average person is a 100 IQ idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with democracy; the more populistic, Semitic-neutral traditionalists, ethnonationalists, thede-preservers, and old-school Christian conservatives who will never have any truck with gay marriage (I believe my interlocutors in this podcast largely belong to this category); and the wave of nationalists, Internet trolls, anti-Semites, and overt Nazis who have been making their way into the movement in more recent months. The entrance of the latter has been especially traumatic, producing a lot of drama and hysterics. Many of the Nazis wanted to overthrow NRx outright – some of them call it JRx, you can guess what that stands for – and sweep up the fragments into White Nationalism. But they haven’t met with success, since by and large the NRx OG’s – the techno-commercialists and the traditionalists – have resisted the assaults of the stormfags. And despite the recent political jitters, a lot of quality work continues to be written under the NRx umbrella.

This is a barebones summary. I will probably write more about neoreaction in the future, but for now, readers who want to find out more about this movement are directed to the following articles.

Personally, I agree with maybe 60% of the NRx platform – heck, check my blog name – but I should stress that I do not identify as NRx. Not out of any misplaced concern for respectability and employability; that ship has long sailed. Just that some of their ideas I disagree with, and quite cardinally so – for instance, the viability and desirability of private government. I don’t really adhere to any ideology but I do generally sympathize with Left positions economically. Like virtually any other ideology, they prefer narratives over facts. Their narrative (I think) happens to be closer to reality than the mainstream SWPL Liberal or Cuckservative narratives, but it contains predictable blindspots like rejection of climate science and statistically questionable claims denying the longterm decline in violence. Plus, they have a solid stance against entryism. That is their right and I will respect it.

PS. Administrative note

As you may have noticed, my blog has been reduced from three slots to one slot on the front page. This is temporary, and was done by my own request. Basically, for various personal-related reasons, I will be very busy until about mid-August. Hence, my blogging will likely be very infrequent during this period. I will get much more free time come late August and September, when I will return to my regular blogging schedule and the old front page arrangement.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Cagey Beast says

    It’s too bad Moldberg decided to call the current progressive-managerial consensus “the Cathedral” but I guess it’s too late now. Why he’d give that name to a group that defines itself in opposition to Old World, Christian and medieval culture is beyond me. Why not call a bunch of militant vegans “the Steakhouse”?

  2. Given Moldbug’s computer science background, I actually think it’s a reference to the famous open-source-advocacy essay, ‘The Cathedral and the Bazaar’, about software development. The cathedral is top-down and regimented, the bazaar is a place where programmers share their work. It was very influential on Linux and so on.

  3. Cagey Beast says

    Yes, I’m sure you’re right. I’d heard the term used earlier in its original context and assumed the metaphor came from some chippy “free thinker” or another. It’s based on a 19th and 20th century misunderstanding of the high Middle Ages and the way cathedrals were built. Here’s a link to an earlier post I made that includes Eric Raymond’s original argument:

    California Baby Boomers have given a lot to us but they can get a little annoying the way they insist they’re badboys, mavericks, outside-the-boxers and renegades on every frigging thing. Why can’t the cathedral builders have done great work, using great creativity and personal judgement too?

  4. Yeah, the cult of rebellion gets a little silly sometimes, doesn’t it? I think the problem is we don’t know anything about the cathedral builders–they were anonymous–so we can only speculate.

    The cathedrals are still up after centuries, though.

    The thing I always found funny is the apparent assurance among neoreactionaries that their king isn’t going to suddenly turn Progressive, neocon, or one of the other more-popular ideologies on them.

    Also, nitpick: Moldbug’s a halfie.

  5. Pseudonymic Handle says

    Moldbug is the most intriguing political thinker since 2000 and his theory of tracing the origins of the american left to the Dissenters makes lots of sense, but things like calling the US the birthplace of communism or the obsession with neocameralism are a bit much.
    HBD is very interesting and because of it’s scientific connection is both more humble and more realistic than NRx, but I don’t see it necesarly as a part of NRx or DE.
    The biggest turn off of NRx are the traditionalists that have a thing for Throne and Altar, ignoring that what they dream of sounds a lot like Saudi Arabia when you remove the romantic aristocratic coating.

  6. Anonymous says

    You should not list “Capturing Gnon” as written by Anissimov. That one was by “Nyan Sandwich” – one of the former MoreRight authors who since moved to “The Future Primaeval”

  7. Yes, but they always think they’ll be the aristocrats.

  8. Why he’d give that name to a group that defines itself in opposition to Old World, Christian and medieval culture is beyond me.

    But this is why it is a good name, to them a cathedral embodies everything they think they are against. They think they are against dogma. They think they are against the people blindly following the words of a priest class. They think they are tolerant of other points of view. They think their worldview is based on reason. Et cetera. So the term “the Cathedral” underlines that they are, in fact, in all ways just as that which they think they are against. It names them as they would least like to be thought of, and have others think of them. It wounds their vanity. In short, it is a good shiv.

    (I don’t agree with Moldberg on what constitutes the Cathedral.)

  9. Commenter says

    Hi Anatoly, it would be great if you could write a blog post on new projects in the Russian industry. This article teased my curiosity

    Wonder what are these machine-tools and to what point are they competitive and innovative

  10. Anatoly, you have a very interesting and unique Russian accent. Sounds like you grew up somewhere in Northern Europe before arriving stateside. Is that true?

    Nice interview, btw. Hope more like this to come!

  11. mark power says

    Nick B. Steves came out against use of the term “cuckservative” and has thus proven himself to be a craven moron. Ignore him.

  12. Anatoly Karlin says


    Good guess. Scotland.

  13. pork pie hat says

    He recanted and made nice with TRS, they appearing on his show:

    and he on theirs (shoah 44).

  14. SolontoCroesus says

    wanted to find out what this Cathedral bidness was all about.

    read all the stuff

    checked out the mold bug awhile ago. not impressed. another of Herzl’s “mediocre intellects.”

    tried to listen to the podcast.
    Anybody ever told you guys you gotta grab your audience in the first 2 minutes?
    you blathered and bloviated and punched arms to the point of tears. or to the point where this seeker of wisdom and truth tuned out.

    let us know when you’ve got your crap together & can introduce in less than 92,384,744 useless inside jokes, n’kay?