Editor’s Note: This Essay first appeared on January 23, 2015
At a certain bar in Antwerp, an old man walked in and sat next to me. Wordlessly, the bartender handed him a beer, which the elderly gentleman grasped with some difficulty as he was missing several fingers. Oddly intimidated and intrigued, I asked the student I had been drinking with if he knew the man and his story. The young nationalist held up his hand, wiggled his fingers, and simply replied, “The East.” The awe I felt could not have been exceeded if a member of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard had picked that moment to walk out of the restroom.
And then the student returned to talking about the local elections.
It’s not just that we live at the End of History. The technics of the age infuse the temporal with an undeserved intensity of meaning. We use words like “epic” to describe something on YouTube and “legendary” is associated with a homosexual celebrity on a sitcom.
But because the utterly inconsequential is surrounded by such a frenzy, we lack all context or sense of larger importance. We live at a time when a group of insurgents has proclaimed the restoration of the Caliphate in Mesopotamia and there’s a shooting war in Europe, yet it seems like nothing is happening. Each day is much the same as the one before, only with a different viral video to watch. After all, the news cycle never ends.
And yet there are still myths, gods, and blasphemy. When we encounter someone who actually lived those events we aren’t sure even happened, we feel a sudden shock of the real—an electricity which tells us our own experiences are cheap and of no importance. But our descendants will be taught a history of our own time that will give weight to people and events that seem utterly mundane and approachable to us. And those who have some personal connection with our myths simply regard them as part of their own lives. As unthinkable as it sounds, some bumbling embarrassment we deal with every day will become the great hero or villain our children will be taught to revere or despise.
There’s always that hard to define moment when a celebrity or politician becomes a Great Man, usually (but not always) when he dies. Somewhere in Argentina there’s probably a guy who remembers being tossed out of a bar by a bouncer named Jorge and has to think of it every time he sees a picture of Pope Francis. The Republicans are doing their best to mythologize Ronald Reagan and have succeeded in some ways, with the man who fired the air traffic controllers having a DC airport named after him. We can expect the Democrats to try to do the same with Barack Obama as the first black President.
But the real trick is the transition from the mundane to the mythical, when a figure becomes not just heroic but achieves the modern equivalent of apotheosis and is part of the official culture. Not long ago, we’d include the Founding Fathers in this category, but taking shots at Washington and Jefferson is practically cliché. They haven’t been taken off the currency or written out of the approved history yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
We are in that awkward period when the new ideology of the state is still unsuccessfully digesting the symbols and history of the country. The American flag is still largely perceived as a “White” symbol, and each day brings new headlines that make no ideological sense but still illustrate a gnostic racial truth.
Blacks enjoying government benefits burn the government flag in Ferguson. A government school bans the flag to prevent attacks by Mexicans on Whites. Tea Party protests feature crowds waving the federal banner and the flags of the armed services to show opposition to the actions of the federal government. Americans protesting the immigration policies of their own government wave the American flag; Mexican immigrants who are the direct beneficiaries of the American government’s actions burn it. A movie about a military hero–which is to say, about a man who enforces the foreign policy of his government–is met with scorn and outrage from the very same people who demand the government do more to enforce their version of social change.
You can say this is incoherent nonsense and congratulate yourself for being an edgelord but the fact remains that even now to be perceived as a generic “American” is to be White. Therefore, the Regime needs a figure and a new founding myth as America transitions into a non-White country.
That figure is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (So called.) There he is, his malevolent visage staring down at me from the crude statue they built of him in the capital of our Hollow Empire. As the late Sam Francis (who, unlike King, earned his doctorate) wrote, the Martin Luther King holiday legitimized King and his agenda. And as Richard Spencer pointed out, MLK Day is the one national holiday that has a precise and deep sense of meaning and underlies what passes for American identity.
It’s easy, necessary, and of course fun to point out the willful ignorance of conservatives regarding their “Republican” MLK. However, there is something to their belief that has to be considered. The key to King’s political triumph was to frame the aspirations of his movement into the American mythology, reinterpreting the revolutionary heritage of the Founders into a preparation for his fulfillment of American mission.
For many of us, the egalitarian poison inherent in the American Founding makes this process inevitable. But conservatives are just happy that they have a way to call King a patriot and a proud American. Conservatives can seize on King’s “pro-American” rhetoric to create a kind of artificial character who looks and sounds like King, but doesn’t have anything to do with the actual person or his beliefs. They can modify this creation to fit their own preferences in the same way contemporary post-Christians will say that “their God” wouldn’t send people to hell.
Therefore, the “King” of the holiday isn’t quite a symbol of White dispossession but a kind of personal Jesus surrounded by a protective cocoon of Wal-Mart style American patriotism. For God’s sake, they even managed to stick King in Hulk Hogan’s old “Real American” entrance video. In order to have a coherent version of American patriotism, you have to believe in King or else the entire Narrative of a gradual extension of freedom and liberty that justifies American existence and history breaks down. To deny King is to deny the ability of the American identity to transcend race. And for the normal White American, to deny that premise is to deny his very identity.
Thus, when contemporary Americans learn that some politicians still in office voted against the King holiday, it strikes them as a blasphemy akin waving a swastika at a celebration of D-Day. It’s the shock of the real, as their consciousness scrambles to process the reality that the mythical King they believe in was once just another “community activist.” Steve Scalise, who is dealing with his own problems right now, is one of those politicians on the “wrong side of history.” He has since bent the knee before the King, claiming that King’s writings “empower and inspire those who seek liberty, equality, and justice.” This is what total political defeat looks like.
Of course, another opponent of the King holiday was John McCain, whom it is hard to imagine as a right-wing culture warrior. The explanation is simple–for those who remember him, King was simply the Al Sharpton of his time. It was only a few decades ago when one could express agreement or disagreement with King without being called a segregationist or a racist. Today, even mild opposition is unthinkable and grounds for expulsion from public life.
In a greatly accelerated way, we’ve seen the same kind of process occur with issues like gay marriage, where championing “civil unions” has progressed from insanely leftist to disgustingly homophobic in a decade. Get ready for Hillary Clinton having to explain away her apparently arch-conservative husband signing the Defense of Marriage Act. And if present trends continue, get ready for people talking about the George W. Bush campaign of 2004 the same way they talk about George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door.
There comes a point when issues and political figures slide off the Overton window altogether and become part of what we can call the civic religion. Criticizing or even objectively analyzing King as a normal political figure is to most people not just “unthinkable,” but an evil heresy to be actively stamped out. The same kind of reaction greets someone who tries to objectively analyze someone like Adolf Hitler. Figures like Hitler and King aren’t people or politicians, but avatars and symbols. We can’t humanize them and it’s dangerous to analyze them, at least publicly.
We aren’t dealing with a problem of knowledge, we are dealing with a question of faith. And people of faith don’t need to read the fine print. Too much is it stake if the dogmatic opinion of something, positive or negative, is shaken.
This impulse isn’t necessarily bad. Critical thought is overrated, freedom failed, and the self-described independent or contrarian thinkers have the most predictable opinions of all. “New Atheism” notwithstanding, society requires faith in something and the big questions need to be already settled. The vast majority of people require a structure and deliberate limitations on what they permit themselves to think.
The American civic religion is a secular theocracy built around the ideology of equality. It’s not that most Whites are too stupid to understand what’s happening to them, it’s that they have no language in which they can express or comprehend opposition to egalitarianism. It is the old debater’s question of explaining water to a fish. With few exceptions, those people who turn against egalitarianism are already predisposed against it. In most cases, belief generates the arguments, not the other way around.
The end of the King cult and the egalitarian age will come quickly, but not all at once. As with the slow retreat from Christendom in Europe, it will progress through a series of stages. Just as esoteric debates about the nature of salvation or the exact authority of the Magisterium led to consequences no participant could have foreseen, the changing ways that King is interpreted will lead to ideological possibilities that few can imagine today.
One of the foremost charges against King is that as a man, he is simply not able to bear the hagiographic burden. The content of Martin Luther King Jr.’s character was irredeemably corrupt. His private behavior is both inexcusable and relevant because he cloaked his politics in spiritualism and claimed righteousness as a man of the cloth.
But these days, ideological correctness transcends personal behavior. Bill Clinton has about as many rape and sexual accusations as Bill Cosby, including an ongoing scandal about possible involvement with a sex slave that reads like something out of Eyes Wide Shut. Nonetheless, as a nation, we assume that he’ll be the country’s first “First Gentleman” with the 2016 election being something of a formality. King’s moral failings are irrelevant–the movie Selma mentions his philandering as a kind of afterthought.
Nor will King be brought down by the likes of us. No matter how eloquent, rational, or even widely distributed a critique from the Right is against King, it is discredited merely by its source. It’s equivalent to trying to convert someone from Catholicism to Orthodoxy by using arguments from Christopher Hitchens. It’s too much of a leap.
King will be discredited by his friends. It will be a radical heresy, rather than a new faith. Martin Luther King Day has become for the New Left what May Day was for the old–a day of protests, agitation, and thinly veiled contempt for the established order and the historic American nation. The most prominent campaign this past MLK Day was #ReclaimMLK, an attempt to reframe King as a radical leftist, a supporter of racial preferences, an opponent of American imperialism, and a man who would have been marching alongside the Reverend Al in Ferguson and helping Jesse Jackson shake down businesses. In short, it has become safe to promote the real King.
Leftists no longer need the pro-American composite character of “King” that was required to sneak him into the American pantheon. They no longer have to deny his Communist affiliations. They no longer bother pretending that King was about equality.
King was, just like the late stage Malcolm X, interested in Racial Socialism, the government sponsored redistribution of wealth and status from Whites to blacks, with an intermediary Parasitic Class of “organizers” and “activists” who can profit from the process. In this sense, King’s truest political heirs are his biological heirs, who spend their days suing each other and everyone else in order to make sure no one displays an icon of the new saint without them getting a cut.
And this is our opportunity. The Martin Luther King of the “Dream” who tells conservatives that skin color doesn’t matter and promises racial reconciliation is fading away. Instead, we are getting the real King and the real meaning of the Civil Rights Movement, an overt attack on European-Americans as such with the objective of dispossessing them from the country that they–and they alone–built. America is transitioning away from a nonracial state to an overtly anti-White state. And just as in South Africa, this change will have an ever larger impact on the symbols of the state, slowly giving European-Americans the message that this country no longer belongs to them.
But it goes beyond that. One of King’s most quoted phrases is that all Americans of whatever race are “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” Yet this is no longer true, if it ever was. Racial politics in America is a zero sum game. Even in Selma, the White President Lyndon Johnson who handed King his media managed victories is portrayed practically as an enemy, so the film can award black protesters an undeserved agency.
As the Left defines itself totally and explicitly in terms of identity politics, we can no longer even speak of the “national interest” as something that exists even as an abstract concept. After all, what does it mean to “improve health care,” “grow the economy,” or “protect the country” when all of these policies seems to involve imposing costs on the European-American population for the benefit of others?
The small heresy that has been introduced is that King is not an American hero but a non-White hero of the new America–the non-White, non-European America presaged by the election of Barack Obama. All the American Right wants is to live with its illusions and die off quietly. The Left won’t let it. Just as “not seeing color” has transformed from being the very definition of anti-racism to proof of racism, so will King become a tribal figure in the manner of a Cesar Chavez. The pantheon itself will split.
This is an opportunity, but not a guarantee. Whites may well choose submission rather than break with the old faith. Racial dhimmitude may be more appealing–and certainly safer–than separatism.
But we should rejoice in the increasing racial aggressiveness of the Left. A White tribe is being constructed by our enemies through their explicitly racialist and identity driven politics. King will be less perceived as an “all-American” deity than an avenging angel warring for a foreign people. And when the Left has “reclaimed” King and Whites are cast out of the new American Eden and its foundational myths, perhaps our lost European tribe can finally realize that America itself is the god that failed.