Neo-Obscurantism Unmasked


Neo-Obscurantism is born as a reaction against the natural push for progress and emancipation of people and the failure of the traditional ideologies of conservation to suppress it.
For the vast majority of recorded history, humanity has lived under the heel of powerful oligarchies who kept exploiting people for their own personal gain; however, mantaining this system through sheer force was extremely difficult without a way to keep people from revolting or even just questioning the status quo, and for countless centuries religion has been the main way to achieve this result through the exploitation of the masses' ignorance and irrationality.
For this reason, science has almost always been fiercely opposed by the dominant power, since the critique of the traditional religious ideologies would inevitably lead to the critique of the entire social system based on them.
As the superiority of scientific thought became more and more evident and the new ideologies made people more and more conscious about their dignity and rights, traditional religions and values gradually lost more and more credibility, until they became no longer viable as a tool of mass manipulation, forcing the dominant elites to resort to something else in order to mantain their power.
This "something else" was ironically found precisely inside the new arising ideals of reason and progress that previously caused their demise. What made this possible was the fact that, despite people gradually helding the new values in higher and higher regard, very few had a deep understanding of what they actually meant; all they understood was that, whenever their condition improved, magical words such as "science", "reason", "freedom" and "democracy" always kept being called in cause; with the passage of time these words gradually came to be worshipped just like the ancient Gods, while their actual content gradually came to be entirely forgotten, turning them into empty shells anyone could hide in in order to justify whatever they wanted with very few noticing and, ultimately, the perfect substitutes for the ancient religions.
In short, Neo-Obscurantism exists as the attempt by the ancient obscurantist elites to regain their lost power and hegemony by hiding under the banner of the very ideals that brought their defeat.

The cycle of tyranny

Neo-Obscurantism can be historically contextualized as a phase in a cycle of self-perpetuation of the political/economic powers:

  1. Status Quo:
    The starting condition: in this system the vast majority of people are oppressed and exploited by a ruling elite, and a specific ideology or religion is used to justify the existing state of things; this is the time of "classic" obscurantist dominance.
  2. Counter-culture:
    After continuous exploitation, malcontent eventually arises, and ideas of liberation start originating; at first, the establishment's reaction to such ideas is to directly and openly attack them, relegating them to a minoritarian counter-culture and forcing their supporters to live in the shadows.
  3. Corruption:
    As the opposing ideologies, despite continued suppression, continue to propagate to the point of becoming a concern, the ruling power tries to appropriate them and corrupt them into a distorted travesty that is carefully crafted to suit their purpose; this can be done either by infiltrating already existing opposing movements and subverting them from the inside, or by creating puppet ones from the ground up.
  4. Revolution:
    Once that the entire counter-culture has been thoroughly corrupted and emptied of all its radical emancipatory elements, becoming nothing more than a pawn for the elites, it can be allowed to win and become the new dominant ideology.
  5. New Order:
    In the places where the revolution happens, a "new" social order arises which is basically undistinguishable from the old one, except formally. This is where Neo-Obscurantist ideologies become mainstream.
  6. Competition:
    People are now divided in 2 factions: the supporters of the new order and those who remain loyal to the old one (this might also be reflected in a geopolitical division). The evident (and intended) evils brought by the former are used as a warning for the people of the latter from revolting; some concessions might be made for the same purpose, but also to reinstate the superiority of the old system to the "new" one.
  7. Reaction:
    More and more people eventually become fed up with the new system, creating a new reactionary "counter-culture" that rejects the new ideology in its entirety; the establishment deals with this in the same way as it dealt with the previous one.
  8. Reset:
    When the pushback against the "new" order has become widespread enough, the latter is allowed to collapse; the old order and its ideology (or an equivalent) are restored.

The following are 2 historical examples of this cycle, illustrating their various phases:

XVIII/XIX centuries

XIX/XX centuries

Phase A: Status Quo

AnciƩn Regime


Phase B: Counter-culture

The Enlightenment


Phase C: Corruption



Phase D: Revolution

French Revolution

Russian Revolution

Phase E: New Order

Age of Terror
French Empire

"Real socialism"

Phase F: Competition

Monarchies (+ Illuminated dispotism) versus Republics

Market economies (+ Welfare state) versus Planned economies

Phase G: Reaction

Defeat of Napoleon

Fall of the URSS

Phase H: Reset