When we think of writers who are popular reads within neoreactionary circles, Jacques Ellul is not one who readily comes to mind (likely because he was writing in the 1950s, rather than the 1750s or 1850s). Ellul, for those who are not familiar with him, was a French sociologist and philosopher who began as a Marxist but converted to Catholicism around 1930. However, he was not ever really a traditional Catholic – much of his theology relating to so-called “Christian anarchism” (which centered upon his absolute rejection of violence, whether religious or secular) eventually led him to formulate positions which while holding to a high view of the biblical texts, tended to reject a role for secular government in the lives of Christians who were living by the Scriptures, which made him more popular with pietistic Protestant groups than with his own church.
However, this is not to say that there aren’t “NRx friendly” areas of overlaps between Ellul’s thought and that of neoreactionaries today. For instance, his distrust of unrestrained capitalism is reminiscent of reactionary criticisms of capitalism as both vulgar and detrimental to a well-ordered society. Likewise, Ellul was not altogether friendly to democracy and seemed to see democratic government as a bit of a farce – though given his experiences during World War II, he can perhaps be forgiven for not embracing more authoritarian forms. Ellul was also concerned with the corrosive and detrimental effects which modernism – especially economic modernism – had on traditional societies. So while he certainly was not a reactionary by any means, Ellul had some areas of commonality which should prevent him from being automatically stricken from any reading lists.
The book which I would like to discuss/springboard from is his 1954 work, The Technological Society. In this book, he catalogs – in great detail – the effects which technique has upon various areas of life. In the process, he more or less reports (and, in the process predicts) the ills of life in the modern world, from the fears of being replaced by automation to the increasing reverence for sportsball over religion and tradition, and much else.