The job of a conservative intellectual is to come up with increasingly complicated reasons why European-Americans are not allowed to pursue their own interests. This includes the paleoconservatives, who take a courageous stand against “ideology” as the root of our problems. Paleoconservatism was summarized by George Hawley in Right Wing Critics of American Conservatism as “Nostalgia as a Political Platform,” and as such it’s easy to dismiss. Still, it has to be regarded as the breeding ground for at least some of the emerging Alternative Right.
But how can such a backwards-looking movement put forward a positive vision for the future? What does a paleoconservative revolution – if I can use such a nonsensical phrase – look like?
William Lind gives us the answer. Lind is one of the most important military strategists produced by this country, perhaps the most importance since the legendary Colonel John Boyd. He’s best known as the foremost theorist of “Fourth Generation Warfare,” which explains the new political reality of a world where the state is losing its monopoly on violence and the conflict of cultures, not just militaries, becomes all important.
Once part of Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation, Lind can also claim responsibility for helping to popularize the concept of Cultural Marxism with his video presentations on the topic. Though they seem old fashioned today, they received wide circulation; unprompted, the late Andrew Breitbart once startled me by raving about how important Lind’s video was.
Alas, Lind left (or was purged) from the Free Congress Foundation after its takeover by former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who turned the organization into a something stressing “free enterprise.” Obviously, the Beltway Right didn’t have enough of those. And we all know how successful Gilmore’s run for president was. Now, Lind’s columns “On War” are published by The American Conservative magazine, where he also serves as the Director of the Center of Public Transportation, trying vainly to get the American Right to care about trains.
Under the pen name Thomas Hobbes, Lind’s novel Victoria is subtitled, “A Novel of 4th Generation War,” and it does provide the author an opportunity to explore some of the theories. But really, this novel is a political work, a highly didactic and blunt way for Lind to push his vision of what the “Recovery” looks like. And for a white nationalist, it’s impossible not to draw comparisons to Harold Covington’s novels detailing the fictional history of his Northwest American Republic.
If anything, Lind’s work is more bloodthirsty. The novel begins, “The triumph of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine.” Cities are nuked, politicians are hanged, radical environmentalists get eaten alive by wild animals. I loudly blurted, “What the f**k!?!” aloud during a scene where soldiers dressed as Crusaders bayonet Cultural Marxist professors to death on live television while a group of monks chant the Dies Irae and an approving audience of New England Yankees nod along. And all of this while the novel’s protagonists repeatedly assure each other (and us) about how deeply Christian they all are. Covington’s exercise in suspension of disbelief is far, far more restrained.
But let’s make allowances for dark humor, wish fulfillment, and rapid shifts in the Overton Window, as even as this is being written I’m being told John Kasich is now defending transsexual bathrooms as a conservative value. Let’s take Lind at his word.
Our hero, John Ira Rumford of Maine, is a Marine kicked out of the Corps in May 2016 for refusing to go along with a politically correct ceremony. He embarks on a journey of intellectual growth, reconnecting with the Western Canon, awakening to the danger of Cultural Marxism, and discovering the Retroculture movement, which deliberately seeks to disconnect from modern ways. Tired of the decadence surrounding him, he works with an African-American fellow Marine to fight urban crime in partnership with black Christians. Eventually, this leads to the formation of the “Christian Marines,” a group of political soldiers who fight for traditional values against the government’s efforts to impose perversion, secularism, and tyranny.
As you can probably guess, Rumford eventually finds himself a pivotal figure in the breakup of the United States following a currency crisis and the collapse of federal authority. Eventually, as a military leader in the emerging Northern Confederation, we are treated to Rumford’s various adventures with his new allies and enemies emerging from the shattered United States, including the reborn Confederacy, radical environmentalists in Cascadia, Midwestern Nazis, radical feminists in California, and even Mexicans given to human sacrifice. His confidante in all of this is Bill Kraft, a participant in the Retrograde subculture, “Retroculture”, a strategic genius, the future governor of the state, and a fat man who dresses in a Prussian military uniform complete with a spiked helmet because “Prussia is more than a place… it is also an ideal” which fights for “our old culture, against barbarism.” Rumford defeats his foes, helps restore Christendom, and ends the novel helping organize a great new Crusade (led by the Tsar of Russia after the Eastern and Western churches patch up their differences) to reclaim those lands lost to the Mussulman. The story ends with the new Northern Confederation renamed “Victoria.”
Lind’s insights into military strategy make the novel interesting for the politically minded, as the reader finds himself alongside the narrator “wargaming” various political scenarios. As a columnist, Lind also has talent for an occasional quoteworthy political or cultural insight as well. (“Freedom is not doing whatever you want. Freedom is substituting self-discipline for discipline imposed by somebody else.”)
There are also parts of the story which are genuinely insightful, notably when Lind posits the reborn Confederacy being all but instantly subverted and controlled by the same kind of “New South” conservatives who run everything now.
Unfortunately, Lind has such a ham-handed grasp of both political strategy and racial and cultural realities that moments like this are the exception. Let’s take the example of blacks in the Northern Confederation. The first adventure Rumford has is helping his black comrade fight drug dealers in certain neighborhoods. The main difficulty Rumford has is overcoming the cover the black criminals will get from the federal government and the left wing activist groups and lawyers. Rumford, therefore, mobilizes black Christians, led by the church ladies, who surround the drug dealers preventing them from working. The heroic women march out to their duty while singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
“The good blacks” as Lind puts it, have a critical role in the story. They chase the criminals and drug dealers (the bad blacks, or “orcs”) out of their communities. They form a “Council Of Responsible Negroes” (CORN) to lead blacks to leave the cities and work in the farms of the Northern Confederation because they recognize they have become a net drain to the larger society. Their presence in the Northern Confederation is taken as proof of the country’s decadence by the one National Socialist we encounter, and presumably, as virtue by everyone else.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, black church ladies aren’t social conservatives but are the indispensable pillar of the Hillary Clinton campaign. The black churches don’t oppose criminals, but enthusiastically defend them, with many churches openly sponsoring the Black Lives Matter movement. No matter how disastrous or degraded black communities or countries become, most blacks continue to blame whites, doubling down on black rule even if their lives are objectively worse. To blacks, the symbolic value of “our people” being in charge is far more important than competent government.
In the larger story, Lind’s heroic Christian Marines or Northern Confederation military forces don’t face actual enemies, but a series of easily defeated straw men. None of the foes he fights has anything close to complicated or realistic motivations. They simply serve as cartoons, undertaking actions so self-defeating that there’s not even the pretense of suspense. For example, the radical feminists literally ban men (except gays), but are won back into the fold when Victorian women show up and act like proper ladies, which all feminists secretly want to be.
The reason the Northern Confederation gets to exist anyway is because they somehow defeat the American military. Both Covington and Lind posit the armed forces of the United States will be guilty of staggering incompetence as the Northwest Republic and Lind’s Northern Confederation steamroll the Americans with ease. Both Covington and Lind also give the same reasons for this American defeat; an American military plagued by political correctness, heavily reliant on incompetent minorities and/or women, and an excessive reliance on high technology.
In Lind’s book, the American military backs away from a realistic plan to reconquer New England, and instead lets one entirely black force serve as its effort so the generals aren’t thought to be “racist.” Naturally, it is chewed up and destroyed. Thus, we have a leading military theorist giving us an utterly implausible military scenario, when we know he could have actually drawn up a compelling account about how the breakup of the United States plays out.
It’s also impossible not to accuse Lind of a lie by omission. Lind has done more than just about anyone to expose Cultural Marxism and his hilariously brutal treatment of the West’s enemies shows he really does despise them. Yet these Cultural Marxists are never identified as (((Cultural Marxists))), as Jews are never mentioned as even being involved in any of the left wing movements, let alone being the dominant force.
Indeed, the anti-Semitism of the Nazis is a punchline, a Jew is one of the first “Christian Marines” for some reason, and Jews live in the Northern Confederation where they are “welcome.” Maybe they are, but the history of Jewish organizations in this country suggests they would do their best to subvert and overthrow the cultural order Lind’s heroes spilled so much blood to set up. And it’s ridiculous that we have time to talk about the negative role played by, say, the Episcopalian Church in the old order, but Jews are apparently of no importance.
Not that the churches are innocent. In Lind’s book, the churches (sans the leftist Episcopalians) are the indispensable force in building the new (or rather, old) order. Religious faith returns in the chaos, but not any particular denomination because “we all knew what we shared was more important than what we differed about.” In the new Northern Confederation, the Catholic archbishop of Boston excommunicates television owners. In Mexico, after the old Aztec religion of human sacrifice returns, the Cristeros return. The revitalized Episcopalians hands over its degenerate priestess to the secular government to be burned as a heretic. The book ends with a glorious vision of the Great Schism reconciled as Christendom marches to reclaim her lost territory. The Northern Confederation is eventually renamed Victoria.
It’s plausible that in an atmosphere of economic chaos, pandemics, and military threats, there would be a religious resurgence. Those Christians who emerged would be more serious and substantial than the hucksters of today. But looking at the state of contemporary Christianity, it’s hard to argue the churches would lead any effort towards right wing revolution. It’s more likely that any right wing radicals would find the organized churches as their most stalwart opponents. And while I can suspend disbelief about the state of Maine leading a right wing revolution, I simply can never believe today’s churches could ever sanction the kind of violence Lind implicitly admits his revolution will require. As even Donald Trump is too much for most people who regularly attend religious services, there’s nothing to indicate increased Christian religiosity would make people more willing to use violence for political ends or revolutionary minded.
(Incidentally, the God-Emperor gets a cameo in the book when a character compares the difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties to the difference between Madonna and Donald Trump. Obviously the book was published before Trump’s campaign.)
It has nothing to do with Christianity or anti-Christianity, or what stance “the movement” should take on the Nazarene. Purely objectively, most churches in the United States are actively anti-White. The current Pope of Rome is one of the most despicable and dangerous enemies facing the West. If members of almost any church engage in pro-White activism, they will be kicked out or excommunicated. One has to search very hard to find a denomination or independent church which will be quietly neutral. Most of the major denominations essentially function as subsidiaries of the federal government, receiving massive amounts of money in order to settle “refugees.” Insofar as there is one church that’s not entirely pozzed, it’s the Russian Orthodox Church, but that church, following the old Byzantine tradition, is gradually moving to being a de facto part of the Russian government, with all the compromises that entails. Middle American Radicals will have to wait a long time for a national liberation struggle led by Patriarch Krill.
Interestingly, another commonality between Covington and Lind is the reliance both place on Russian assistance, including arms shipments. In Lind’s world, Russia is ruled by a Tsar and “Father Dimitri,” an Orthodox missionary, is one of Rumford’s loyal confidants. Here again, there’s not much to suggest anything like this would ever take place. Erick Erickson may believe Putin is financially backing the Alt Right, but actually, he’s backing Ed Schultz. In geopolitical terms, Russia is still regarded as Washington’s number one enemy, but there’s nothing to suggest Putin (or some future Tsar) is preparing a coherent ideological counter-offensive.
Ah, but there’s that word again. “Ideology” is the main enemy identified by Lind’s heroes. As the author puts it:
“Ideology, by its nature, demands purity. Any compromise is hypocrisy, weakness, and betrayal. The pursuit of purity can have no limits, least of all limits on the power of the state. Intentions, not results, are the measure of all actions. Where reality contradictions ideology, reality must be suppressed.”
There’s some truth to this. To paraphrase something Peter Brimelow once said, America may not just collapse like the Soviet Union, but for the same reason, the attempt to deny reality.
As many Alt Right types will remember from their bow tie days, socialism fails economically because it posits experts can more efficiently distribute resources than markets. What you end up with is a system where even when there are vast resources, you get huge shortages in the kinds of consumer goods a market economy can easily supply. Cultural Marxism denies reality just as surely as economic Marxism, especially when it comes to race and demographics. As internal contradictions pile up, collapse becomes more likely.
But isn’t Lind’s own vision the product of an ideology? After all, it’s hard to think of a better example of “seeking purity” and suppressing dissidents than literally burning heretics on the village green.
What is the ultimate vision of Lind’s heroes? “In a broad sense, we know the answer: a nation where the Ten Commandments ruled,” Lind writes of Rumford’s thoughts. A bold new strategy for victory – any member of the #CruzCrew would probably tell me the same thing, probably accompanied with a .jpg of a crying eagle and an American flag background.
Rumford explains Retroculture as a fuller expression of the program. “The danger facing us was falling into an ideology. Retroculture avoided that danger, because unlike an ideology was not based on some abstract scheme of ideas. It was simply recovering what we used to have and used to be, which was the ultimate in concreteness.”
One of Lind’s heroes says of the importance of Retroculture: “Why do you think the cultural Marxists in the old U.S.A. so avidly promoted ugly architecture, ugly art, and ugly music? They understood that ugliness is a weapon. For us, beauty is also a weapon.”
Well put. But highly ideological. The leftists weren’t wrong when they argued “the personal is political” and that deeply embedded moral assumptions, power relationships, and long standing cultural patterns can be found even (perhaps especially) in our everyday lives. Leftist efforts at deconstruction are so effective most Westerners, especially conservatives, simply take our customs and beliefs for granted. Authentic conservatism requires a defense of “prejudice,” as even Burke recognized. But you can’t simply take your own ideology and unilaterally declare it’s not really an ideology and is magically off limits to criticism. Ultimately, the revolutionary Right has to turn Critical Theory on itself, deconstructing those who would try to annihilate our own identity and culture for their own purposes.
To his credit, Lind confronts the challenge of whether he’s also subject to ideology. His heroes meet one of the National Socialists from the new regime in Wisconsin (just go with it.) Lind obviously has mixed feelings about this American Reich, as the Nazi captain is an impressive, “cold and competent” figure who runs circles around the Northern Confederation’s soldiers. And he asks Bill Kraft directly how the Northern Confederation’s “Retroculture” isn’t actually an ideology.
Kraft responds: “That’s not an ideology, Captain, but an escape from ideology and a return to organic society. Up until the early 1960’s, when the ideology of cultural Marxism began to take over, America had not been an ideological society. Like our English forebears, we thought and lived the way we did because those ways had grown up naturally, over many generations. That kind of society is philosophically untidy, but it works as well as human society can. Instead of contradicting human nature, it develops from it.”
Thus, even the National Socialist regime capable of producing such impressive specimens collapses on itself, and paleoconservatives take over after “clean elections.” After all, National Socialism is somehow against “human nature.”
Lind’s claims about non-ideological America are questionable considering the Enlightenment ideals America was founded on. Consider the chaos the quest to prove “all men are created equal” has caused. Was Radical Reconstruction simply the “organic society” at work? Were movements such as abolitionism, suffragism, socialism, temperance and others just Burkean evolution in action? Where the religious awakenings which revolutionized American society simply “organic” or people following the ways of their English forebears?
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion Lind is simply taking his preferred version of how society should be and declaring it is not an ideology, because, well, he says it’s just not. Answers to questions about why people should avoid mass media, why women should remain in the home, why a particular form of Christianity (rooted more in 19th century European society than anything in the Bible) should dominate, and why servants of the state (or the church) have the right to kill dissidents require ideological answers. A Weltanschauung is a universal, and if one simply defaults to adopting a prior generation’s imagined way of life as a wordview, that’s not an escape from ideology, but an embrace of it.
In Lind’s Victoria, the government doesn’t ban people from embracing modern technology such as television, but there is intense social pressure against it. There’s some evidence to suggest such an arrangement could last. The Amish, for example, have proven themselves capable of not only preserving their culture but rapidly increasing in number. Yet even they have proven vulnerable to certain modern plagues, notably drug use, and it’s unclear if they would survive a campaign by the government to dispossess them (probably in the name of preventing child abuse or bringing feminism to the “oppressed” Amish women. And the Amish are a subculture, not the dominant population of an entire nation.
Let’s be blunt. If you are trying to uphold a certain social order, freedom fails unless there is an ideological (or if you prefer to call it, religious) vision which will suppress certain realities. Lind’s vision of bucolic farmers and craftsmen is ultimately artificial because increased efficiency and automation make it unnecessary for such a large share of the population to be engaged in agriculture or handicrafts. We can argue it is better for society to be organized in that way and take steps to ensure it. But let’s not deny this is an attempt to put ideology into action. And even within the book, we get self-discrediting examples of Lind trying to force things he obviously likes into his society, even when it doesn’t fit. For example, there’s a post-Restoration “H.L. Mencken Press” absurdly dedicated to “Christian fiction.”
Lind is right that an attempt to come up with abstract ideas and just impose it on any society is doomed to failure. But Lind’s Victoria is just as subject to this law of history as anything else. He doesn’t offer an escape. Perhaps no one can.
Ultimately, Identitarianism offers the best way out. No universal vision or society or attempt to freeze the social order at a given time can be sustained indefinitely.
Circumstances change and new information challenges any ideology (or any ideologies cloaked in names such as “organic society” or “traditional Christianity”).Social codes of behavior are ultimately a means, not an end in themselves.
But biological reality simply is. Evolution, genetic engineering, or environmental changes mean biological reality doesn’t always remain the same, but its reality can never be denied. A movement or society based on the foundational principle of race can adapt to new technology, environmental conditions, and strategic threats. We can rationally debate technical issues like whether we should have universal health care, whether we should have a tariff, or what our environmental policy should be. We can view the economy as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. We aren’t bound to any abstraction which limits our options or prevents from pursuing our interests. The end in mind, the continued existence and upward development of the biological community, is non-negotiable. And it is sufficient to both define the purpose of the state and guide its conduct.
Perhaps that primal Identitarianism is simply just another “ideology.” So be it. Ultimately, we must all determine our own worldview, what we hold to be sacred, and what we are willing to die, and more importantly, live for. Identitarianism shows us not just what is beautiful or important, but how we can guide our people in the future.
Lind’s reactionary vision is certainly ambitious and in many ways attractive. But we’ve seen this movie before. We can’t stand athwart History crying stop without being flattened. And we’re running out of time to keep playing these kinds of games.