Just when you think you’ve reached the darkest, scariest, most occult corners of the crypto space, you find something even worse. That thing is Dark Enlightenment, a disturbing philosophy espoused by the fringe-ier outliers of the crypto community that feels like libertarianism taken to the nth degree and applied only to the select, entrepreneurially gifted few. It brings cyborgs into feudalism and merges Silicon Valley’s startup ethos with the “selective breeding” originally proposed by Plato. It’s what would happen if more members of the alt-right read Nietzsche and H.P. Lovecraft instead of Donald Trump’s tweets.
Well that’s a lot of words. Really, what is the Dark Enlightenment? At its core, the Dark Enlightenment is a neo-reactionary philosophy started by Nick Land, a continental philosophy professor at the University of Warwick until the late 1990s. There, he cofounded the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit with colleague Sadie Plant, whose writing went on to influence cyberfeminism. After Plant left the CCRU, Land led the group to study his diverse interests, which included the occult, rave culture, science fiction, and the philosophies espoused by post-structuralists like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Post-structuralism insists that knowledge can be founded on neither experience nor more definitive, fundamental truths, which to believers connoted a sort of freedom. Freedom from, in a sense, the basis of knowledge itself.