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Category: America

A Warning On Nationalism

Today, Ukraine is where methods of exerting influence from either side are put to the test. As propaganda becomes more sophisticated, the ways in which competing powers confront each other evolve as well. This much is certain: the protests on Kiev’s *Maidan* cannot be taken for face value.

Originally published at The Soul of the East

Three years ago I met Oleg Kalugin, the ex-KGB general whose well-known case of defection earned him the ire of the Russian authorities. In an interview, Kalugin once stated his belief that Vladimir Putin was “a temporary twist in history”, and perhaps this belief is why he found so much support among his American associates. I personally spoke with Kalugin on the future of Russia and its people, he told me it would be inevitable that Russia would collapse and break apart. Knowing the consternation that Americans often come to when dealing with the New Russia, is this the implicit goal of the Atlantic powers?

Even with the experience that Mr. Kalugin acquired in his time working for Soviet intelligence, he could not have not predicted Putin’s rise to power, describing the President as “a mere operative, one of the 3,000 who walked along our corridors”. It was twelve years ago that General Kalugin was found guilty in absentia for high treason. A known critic of the Putin administration, he became a naturalized citizen of the US and has remained there since. It seems like US government officials and turncoats alike are betting on the collapse of Russia, and it’s not uncommon to hear about a “crumbling” Russia from media commentary. But why does this mentality remain, and why are so many hopeful for the demise of the Russian state?

At the time of my meeting with Kalugin, before Ukraine and before Syria, I found no credence in spy’s forecast. Today the world has set its sights on Kiev as the cornerstone in determining who will take the lead in defining the century. Lines are being drawn and the terms of the game are being set. Make no mistake, a contest for hegemony is underway, and actions take precedence over ideology. Russia is not surrendering, and it is prepared to challenge the West in a way that perhaps only China has also done.

Today, Ukraine is where methods of exerting influence from either side are put to the test. As propaganda becomes more sophisticated, the ways in which competing powers confront each other evolve as well. This much is certain: the protests on Kiev’s Maidan cannot be taken for face value.

What can be said of the nationalists of Ukraine, whose employment of Nordic symbols and rhetoric runs directly opposed to some of the stated goals of the country’s new leadership? Although the Maidan riots began as the result of many groups participating, the breakthrough of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) as the face of the Ukrainian uprising has attracted political fanatics of the right from other parts of the continent to join the protests. This was a deliberate move on the part of outside elements to lend them exposure and resources, knowing that European nationalists are usually on the side of Russia against the West. The matter is currently one of the most divisive topics among reactionary and nationalist political circles at the moment, and it has almost succeeded in undermining Putin’s most profound forms of overseas support. For all of the Russian media’s claims that the Ukrainian nationalists are the Wahhabists of Europe, the conclusion has solid premises, as unfortunate as that may sound. How is inviting foreign elements to fight in Kiev different from radical Islamists from the UK and US joining their brothers in Syria?

There is also the testimony of a former activist from Pravy Sektor, who admits the group’s cooperation with American military officials in (allegedly) trading looted documents for money, or the presence of Chechen militants side-by-side with the Pravy Sektor protestors on the Maidan. From a diplomatic perspective, even the Pravy Sektor’s meeting with Israeli officials wouldn’t have seemed so suspiscious if it wasn’t announced with enthusiasm from the group’s leadership. Respectable far-right organizations from other countries, such as Hungary’s Jobbik, have condemned them. But this is a sidenote in a time of soft power. Political extremists are now convenient tools of geopolitical influence, regardless of what they themselves might think.

The amount of attention vested in the situation in Ukraine, especially from the US government itself, suggests that there are more interests at stake than merely allowing Ukraine access to the European Union. In December, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland bragged that America invested five billion dollars over two decades toward a “democratic Ukraine” while urging the government to “listen to its people,” all while standing in front of the logos of Chevron and Exxonmobil. Her flagrant disregard for EU interests in relation to Ukraine, revealed in her now-notorious phone conversation with the US Ambassador in Kiev, confirms Washington’s own less-than-altruistic ambitions for the country.

But the US and its economic assets could never gain leverage in Ukraine simply on their own; even John Kerry’s promise of billions in future investments cannot happen immediately. This is why men like Oleg Kalugin are so highly valued – their use of politics as a tool of subversion is an alternative to outright war. Indeed, the predictions that Russia’s involvement in Crimea would not lead to war are so far correct, but the potential is building. The division of Ukraine shows what political factionalism is capable of: the coordinated efforts of Leftists, gay activists, EU businessmen, ultra-nationalists, Jewish organizations, various churches, Chechens, Tatars, and still others demonstrate how external forces manipulate affairs of state.

None of the aforementioned groups would normally have anything to do with each other, and while some of them may be conscious of their role as pawns in a global game of influence, they can do little about it but fight on. I am reminded about another former Soviet spy I knew of, one based at the University of California, Berkeley during the 1960s, whose efforts to agitate radical college students into social unrest enjoyed some success. He too, eventually defected. Nevertheless, the methodology was effective.

I once stood on the Maidan nearly half a decade before it became what it is today, before outside players were involved to the degree they are now. It’s sufficiently clear that the unrest in Kiev is an engineered uprising, the likes of which have been seen as recently as Syria and as far back as Guatemala. For all of the manufactured regime changes across the world since the Second World War, the US has relied on a single factor to achieve these revolutions – the uncertainty and desperation of a people faced with adjusting to a rapidly-changing market and global environment. But viewing the masses gathered in Odessa, Simferopol, Kharkov, Donetsk, Sevastopol, and elsewhere, we see this is not the case in Ukraine. As some journalists have remarked, it was the people, not the police, who took back government buildings from the Kiev-based opposition. These are not pro-government “titushki,” as the opposition would label them, but the people, and they have spoken. These are the citizens who believe the Russian and Ukrainian people are one, a more genuine assertion of identity as opposed to the arbitrary goals of a political party.

There is, however, an almost unanimous agreement on the corruption of Yanukovych’s presidency, something which is undisputed even by the Russian government. Why would the people of Ukraine ask to join the European Union now, anyway? The East has shown itself to be a formidable player in international politics while the other side faces endless scandals and crises. Furthermore, the relationship between many Ukrainians with Russia goes beyond short-term economic goals; it is cultural. Insult is added when the West supports the ultra-nationalists behind the violence and mends their reputation, considering the emphatic efforts of elites to ‘fight hate’ in their own countries while simultaneously supporting it elsewhere.

A genuine cause for concern must arise when two global superpowers are so closely opposed to each other. Recall that the presence of Russian soldiers securing key infrastructure in Crimea echoes the events of 1999 in Pristina, when Russian paratroopers took control of an airport, resulting in a standoff with NATO. But a war is too costly. Defeated presidential candidates Clinton, McCain, and Kerry (among other politicians) have spoken harshly about the Kremlin’s involvement in Ukraine, at times making stale and hypocritical comparisons to past historical events. Critics, meanwhile, have noted Washington’s relative impotence as a global leader and Obama’s inability to seriously confront Putin’s actions.

Should we be afraid? If my experiences with spies, defectors or otherwise say anything, then yes, we should be. The situation can be described as the Man in Berkeley’s activities on a grand scale. Consider how both the government and media outlets played to the liberal sentiment of the American people during the Sochi Olympics, to the point that any semblance of failure or shortcoming at the events was desperately sought after while violent illiberal political groups have been receiving support and aid from the West in Ukraine and elsewhere. Nothing is as it seems. Action trumps ideology, and in this instance, the critical mass of the Maidan was wielded by the Western powers. Military threats are a last resort for NATO and the US; the true goal of their designs is subversion.

Speaking on the events of the Maidan, Dmitry Dyomushkin, leader of the ethnopolitical movement ‘Russians’ and a noted supporter of Chechen independence, has urged other nationalists in Russia to support the Maidan protestors and encouraged the distancing of Ukraine from Russian affairs. This would seem odd for a man that stands behind the Russian Imperial flag, but his sentiment is shared by other figures in the nationalist sphere. Nationalism is a historic facet of the Russian mind, an inescapable fact, and today’s nationalists want their country to take an even more conservative turn than it already has. Yet this can be exploited, much as ethnic sentiment in Ukraine has been used against Ukrainians.

The nationalists are already willing to come out and stand with Leftists and Communists against Putin, as was the case in 2012. If proper scrutiny is not given to the development of nationalism in Russia, the politics of pride, once used to advance the interests of the state, will be used against it.
Radical Islam has been used against Islamic states, so it cannot be excluded that subversion in Russia will arise with the face of fierce nationalism or religious fanaticism, and in the case of Doku Umarov and Dmitro Yarosh, it already has.

At this point, it is necessary to understand how propaganda has changed over the last century, because many approach the concept with 20th-century conceptions. We should look beyond the flags and shields and try to ascertain the true ideology of the people actually running the uprising.
Mr. Kalugin knows things I do not, and was his prediction of Russian balkanization an informed warning or an angst-ridden reaction to his conviction for treason back in Moscow? The resurgence of Russia is a “temporary twist” perhaps in the eyes of the West, whose drive to exert influence across the entire globe is now impeded by this counterbalance. The example of how Pravy Sektor has been used for harmful ends is an unwelcome warning to many of its would-be supporters, but it is a warning nonetheless.

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True Grit

The Coen Brothers greatest film is No Country for Old Men.  In 2008, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences endorsed it as such.  I would go as far as saying that *No Country* is one of the most important films of recent history. So rare is it that a work of popular art explores the most consequential issues of our time: the spiritual, moral, and demographic crisis facing Americans and Europeans around the world.  Even its title loudly proclaims the central subtext of the film. 

You know, if you’d have told me 20 years ago. I’d see children walking the streets of our Texas towns … with green hair, bones in their noses … I just flat-out wouldn’t have believed you.
—El Paso Sheriff, No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers greatest film is No Country for Old Men. In 2008, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences endorsed it as such. I would go as far as saying that No Country is one of the most important films of recent history. So rare is it that a work of popular art explores the most consequential issues of our time: the spiritual, moral, and demographic crisis facing Americans and Europeans around the world. Even its title loudly proclaims the central subtext of the film.

Two Jews, ostensibly of the purest priestly stock according to their namesakes, and a Celt, who named himself after an Irish King, have given this treasure to us, and it is impossible to believe that either party acted unwittingly in sounding these powerful and disturbing themes.

Country Bumpkins

As is well known, the Coen brothers are virtuosos of directing performances, and satire is bred in their bones. Humanizing their protagonists is often contrary to their goals. And though the Coens’ satires run from the broad (O Brother, Where Art Thou) to the relatively more nuanced (Fargo, most often their characters are caricatures.

In fact, it’s hard not to discern a deep misanthropy in their depictions. Whereas a director like Scorsese is sympathetic towards his protagonists (no matter however reprehensible they might be), the Coen brothers seem largely to have contempt for the characters they bring to the screen (except for the humor they provide). At best, the Coen Brothers’ characters are “lovingly” patronized and demeaned.

There are some exceptions to this rule, of course, most notably Gabriel Bryne (Tom Reagan), the protagonist of Miller’s Crossing. But here, Reagan is a cipher and his performance relatively forgettable, as if the directors, irritated by an attractive personality not their own, insisted on blandness and a sort of silence.

More typically, their subjects are regionally accented philistines, quite lacking in the sentience of the urban centers of non-flyover states; at best, they are bestowed with a sort of corrupt slyness or, alternatively, an innocence owed to their utter vacuity. Even the ostensibly lovable and folksy Marge Gunderson of Fargo, played by Frances McDormand, is a glorified bumpkin; she’s “wise” only in the most politically correct, earth-motherly sense of that term.[1]

Indeed, if it were not for A Serious Man and Barton Fink—in which neurotic Jewish intellectuals are lambasted—one might be inclined to perceive a certain spirit of “anti-Gentilism” in the Coen Brothers’ work.[2]

Whatever the case, I’m sure we can relate to the Coens’ send-ups of our benighted brothers (even if we think it should be we who criticize them, constructively).

The Native and the Alien

No Country for Old Men, a neo-Western based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy and set in the Texas of 1980, represents a major departure for the brothers.

First, both protagonists, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), are patently rural types; yet they are far from venal, buffoonish, or one-dimensional. In fact, they are, in their folksy way, quite charismatic. To be certain, they are flawed, tragically so, but in ways that are instructive and not merely demeaning.[3]

Let us take Moss first. From the onset, he is depicted as a “man’s man”: ruggedly handsome and able to handle a gun. He is far from perfect, of course; at many points, he seems to be a 18-year-old in a 45-year-old’s body; and it is his inability to control his greed that leads to his downfall. Yet Moss is, at his core, “decent.” Indeed, one could say that “decency” is his fatal flaw.

While hunting antelope one day, Moss happens upon the grisly results of a drug-deal gone wrong: bullet-ridden bodies are strewn left and right (including, quite pathetically, that of a dog), and the ground is soaked with blood. Moss discovers a mound of narcotics and a briefcase containing some $2 million in cash. He also comes across a wounded man in a truck, clinging to life.

Moss can’t help himself and takes the bundle of cash. But at great risk, he returns to the crime scene later that night to bring water to the dying man. This is not only a man Moss doesn’t know, but a Mexican drug dealer—a foreigner in race, country, and tongue, who, in all likelihood, has committed crimes even graver than the transport of highly destructive drugs to millions of Moss’ vulnerable countrymen.

This act of kindness, which ends in Moss being shot by some drug dealers seeking to retrieve the treasure, is the first of many studies in contrast between Moss and his non-Anglo opponent—the demonic Anton Chigurh, who is sent after Moss and the money on a bounty.

Here, we should note that the Coen brothers alter the character of Anton Chigurh in important ways in their adaption of McCarthy’s novel, and arguably make this figure both more terrifying and more symbolic. In the novel, Chigurh’s ethnicity is made deliberately opaque: he is described as a dark haired man with eyes “as blue as lapis.” For the role, the Coens cast the then-relatively unknown Javier Bardem, an actor who is masterful in crafting diabolical and inscrutable characters.

The stranger The stranger

The native. The native.

The Coen brothers describe their reasons for casting Bardem quite innocently. In the interest of serving the spirit of McCarthy’s narrative, they found an actor who seems as though he could have been from “outer space.” However, it is impossible to believe that these ethnically conscious and detail-oriented filmmakers were unaware of the racial undercurrents of No Country—a tragic story set against a backdrop of Mexican criminality and drug running. Bardem, a heavily accented and darkly featured Spaniard, amplifies this unspoken racial drama.

The name “Chigurh” is of ambiguous origin and possibly invented by McCarthy. (A quick Internet search reveals a few occurrences worldwide.) With the first name Anton and McCarthy’s description, the reader might believe that he’s Eastern European, or Russian. Supportive of this thesis is the novel’s and film’s first “coin flipping” scene, in which Chigurh, quite oddly, begrudges a small-town store clerk owner for having “married into” his property.

Is Chigurh possessed by a Marxist ressentiment? Is Chigurh not only a “foreigner,” but one bringing with him an “Un-American creed?” Might this character be Jewish? Or is the name “Anton Chigurh” a kind of code or pseudo-anagram for “Anti-Christ?”

Much about Chigurh’s symbolic status is revealed in the brief, clipped conversation he has with the guileless clerk. Chigurh flips a coin and then demands that his adversary “call it”:

Proprietor: I didn’t put nothin’ up.
Chigurh: Yes, you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didn’t know it. You know what date is on this coin?
Proprietor: No.
Chigurh: 1958. It’s been traveling 22 years to get here. And now it’s here. And it’s either heads or tails, and you have to say. Call it.
Proprietor: Well, look … I need to know what I stand to win.
Chigurh: Everything.

1958 fell right in the middle of the Civil Rights movement in the South, one year after Little Rock, Arkansas, integrated its school systems and one year after the death of a young Joseph McCarthy, marking the close of “McCarthyism.” It’s difficult to hear that year and not sense that it marked an endpoint of Anglo-White hegemony in America. Does the coin arrive as a form of vengeance for this period of American history? As in: what comes around, goes around? Is this simple clerk, now powerless, being held to account for the sins of his fathers?[4]

The narrative of the film is driven by Chigurh’s hunt for Moss and the money, which Chigurh engages in with a kind of fanaticism and dedication that reveals he’s something more than a mercenary. (As one rival describes him, “He has principles.”) The chase also allows McCarthy and the Coens to paint a study in contrast between the two men.

The first divergence that comes to the fore is Chigurh’s and Moss’s respective resilience, resourcefulness, and ruthlessness. When wounded by gunfire early in the film, Moss is obliged to go to a hospital to have his wounds treated; there he lays in public view, vulnerable, bedridden, and open to discovery by his tormenters. Chigurh, on the other hand, is able to stitch up a more grievous and painful wound himself, secretly, safe from vying criminals and detectives, and with the skill of a surgeon. Throughout the film, the viewer is filled with a sense of gloom and dread: No matter how tough Moss might be, he doesn’t stand a chance in a battle with Chigurh; he is mere prey.[5]

To a degree, Chigurh is a reprisal of the largely mute (and less interesting) Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) from Fargo (who’s famously feeds Steve Buscemi’s character into a wood chipper). But Chigurh is something much bigger than a Terminator for the literati—he is something as invincible and unstoppable as death himself. Moss had hoped to use the stash to build a new life with his wife Karla Jean—that is, to gain riches scot-free and without consequences—Chigurh comes to exact the price.

The Coens also contrast the ways in which Chigurh and Moss are perceived by Americans, in particular the old and the young. Moss is generally respected by older Whites. On the run from Chigurh, Moss ventures into Mexico to get medical care, afterwards returning to America to protect his wife and, he naively believes, to kill Chigurh. When crossing the border into the States, Moss is dressed only in a hospital gown. The border agent, a formidable gatekeeper, is hostile to this seemingly demented man, but then softens and allows him passage when he learns that Moss is a Vietnam veteran. “Wilson,” he calls to his assistant, “Get someone to help this man; he needs to get into town.”

Chigurh, on the other hand, is regarded with fear by older White Americans, who are confused and cowed by his cryptic and rude assertiveness. This is evident in the first “coin-flipping” scene, discussed above, and is perhaps best exemplified by Sheriff Bell, who is quietly terrified.

In the film’s Second Act, Moss arranges to meet his wife in a motel in El Paso, where he hopes to give the money over to her and send her out of harm’s way. But Chigurh catches up to Moss before his wife arrives… Cryptically, this final confrontation occurs off camera. All the viewer sees is Sheriff Bell driving up to the motel, as a Mexican drug gang flees the scene in a pickup truck. The viewer is left to imagine what exactly happened in this violent standoff between Moss, Chigurh, and the gang. All is known is that Moss lies dead in his room.

After this denouement, Sheriff Bell decides (much like Moss at the beginning of the film) to return to the scene of the crime. He walks slowly, deliberately, towards Moss’s motel room… and the viewer sees that Chigurh is crouched, patiently waiting, ready to make Sheriff Bell his next victim. But when Bell opens the door, Chigurh has vanished, and all that remains in the room is Bell’s shadow against the wall. What has just happened? Did Chigurh, inexplicably, decide to spare Bell and slip out of the room? Or was this actually one of Bell’s dreams, or nightmares, in which he glimpses something that he is not quite willing to confront?

Whatever the case, shortly after Moss’s death, Bell opts for retirement rather than taking his chances against such a fearsome opponent. Bell is, in his words, “overmatched.”

The younger generation of Americans reacts quite differently to both Moss and Chigurh. After Moss is wounded by Chigurh, and is staggering across the Mexican border in seek of a hospital, he crosses the path of a group of twenty-somethings, who are, apparently, returning from Mexico where they were bar-hopping. Moss asks one of the kids if he could purchase his coat; the young men are repelled and distrustful, insistent on seeing the money before they proffer the coat, even though Moss is obviously wounded and in need: “OK, give me the money,” the twenty-somethings insist. “It’s right here. Give me the clothes.” “Let him hold the money,” the young man insists. After the exchange is made, Moss asks for the beer that one of them is holding. “How much?” is the insolent reply.

This pathetic scene is contrasted, quite deliberately, with a parallel scene at the end of the film. Chigurh has just tracked down Moss’s wife, Carla Jean, who is living at the house of her recently deceased mother. There, Chigurh engages in another round of existential coin-flipping with a terrified and helpless woman:

Carla Jean Moss: You don’t have to do this.
Anton Chigurh: People always say the same thing.
Carla Jean Moss: What do they say?
Anton Chigurh: They say, “You don’t have to do this.”

The fates again are not kind.

After leaving the house and driving off, Chigurh’s car is struck by another when he runs a red light (perhaps killing the other driver). Having pulled himself from the totaled car, Chigurh rests on the roadside with a gruesome compound fracture in his arm. The crash has attracts the attention of concerned Anglo-American teenagers. Like Moss, Chigurh needs to dress his terrible wound.

Anton Chigurh: What will you take for the shirt?”
Boy: Well hell Mister I’ll give you my shirt.

The boy then helps Chirguh tie a sling for his arm. Chirguh extends to him a $100.

Teenager: Well hell mister, I don’t mind helping someone out.
Chigurh: Take it. Take it. You didn’t see me. I was already gone.

The earnest boy nods indicating that he will do as instructed.

The contrast between the two rivals is drawn sharply. Chigurh is the stronger, more ruthless man, seemingly devoid of any hint of empathy or remorse. Yet he is pitied and pampered by xenophiles, who will literally give him the shirts off their backs (and who are not above taking a bribe to cover for him). Moss, on the other hand, is a vet, self-sacrificing and with a sense of duty toward his fellow human beings. Yet he is distrusted and disrespected by the youth of his own country. Chigurh survives. Moss dies.

Sailing to Byzantium

The death of Llewelyn Moss could be chalked up as another good man brought low by greed, or as a victim (though not an altogether innocent one) of the drug craze. But for Sheriff Bell, Moss’s death begins to take on the significance of the end of era, the end of his people and folkways. Bell touches on this feeling when he shares a coffee with the local sheriff of El Paso (Roscoe Boyce):

Roscoe Boyce: If you’d a told me twenty years ago I’d see children walkin’ the streets of our Texas towns with green hair and bones in their noses … I just flat out wouldn’t of believed you.
Ed Tom Bell: Signs and wonders. But I think once you stop hearin’ sir and madam, the rest is soon to foller.
Roscoe Boyce: It’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It is not the one thing.

It’s a remarkable scene that may be without precedent (outside some of Disney’s Fables, W.D. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, or Gone with the Wind.) When was the last time a Hollywood character complained about the degeneracy of America (or the South) and was not depicted as a crackpot, crank, fascist, or religious nut?[6]

One truly tragic aspect of No Country is that Bell laments the decline of his people and civilization, yet is himself an expression of it—a fact of which he seems dimly aware. From the beginning of the film, Sheriff Bell is terrorized by the rise of what he describes as a new breed of criminal, one that is a product of the times: brutal, psychotic, and remorseless. But he does not rise up to confront and defeat this evil; he does not, like Ethan in John Ford’s The Searchers, hunt down bad men, no matter the cost. Instead, he submissively retires, and fails to try to bring Chigurh to justice.

It is not just the green hair, the breakdown of community cohesion, the loss of a healthy distrust of the stranger—it is also cowardice and forfeit that signal the end for America. At least Old America.

Harder to discern are the Coen Brothers’ feeling regarding the Decline that they poignantly explored in their film. For instance, is it not possible to detect a certain sublimated joy in the destruction of the dumb, fatted cattle of rural White America? Early in the film, Chigurh actually kills his prey with a captive bolt pistol, an instrument used to stun livestock for slaughter. Is it not possible to detect a joy in nature running its course, as a man might gain some sublimated satisfaction in seeing a powerful lion take down an impala, knowing, on some level, that this is how, long ago, his own species survived—by being strong and merciless?

In the minds of the Coen brothers, is No Country for Old Men something like Django Unchained or Machete for epicures, revenge porn for people who prefer a Pinot Gris to a Budweiser (or a joint)? Perhaps this is true to an extent. But there does seem to be, however improbably, a strong undercurrent of pity—even longing—for White America.

Perhaps we should ask how McCarthy views his Anglo subjects? After all, despite the clever affects brought to the film by the Coen brothers, McCarthy is the true and final weaver of this tale. Is the countrified dialect of his characters a sign of McCarthy’s affection for his subject, or of mockery or merely verisimilitude? One should consider his background in this matter—a southerner from childhood (though one with Catholic, Yankee parents). McCarthy’s political views are unknown, though he has offered up this gem: “I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea.” If by “improve” he means “improved to live in harmony,” as it seems he does in this passage, I imagine the RadixJournal readership finds little to disagree with.

But certainly one would have to weigh No Country against his earlier works, most saliently the novel that is widely consider his masterpiece, The Blood Meridian published in 1985. Here, the main part of the story is a depiction of a band of western outlaws hired by regional leaders to fight the Apache. They end up indiscriminately and brutally massacring Indians and Mexicans, even the peaceful ones. While it is certainly a layered and complex novel, Steven Shaviro’s gushing review characterizes the way that the novel has been received.

Both [Moby Dick and The Blood Meridian] savagely explode the American dream of manifest destiny (sic) of racial domination and endless imperial expansion.

We might consider two possibilities. First, men change, as, indeed, does the world around them. Conscientious men are especially mutable, as they might have a varying sense of who is gaining and losing power. The idealism of younger man is replaced by the experience of life. Did Cormac change? And has he revealed this, esoterically, to his audience?

The second, related possibility is that perhaps McCarthy— simply being a universalistic moralist, and with no particular sense of allegiance—has moved on to describe the destruction of another people, facing a similar fate as the American Indians. It is interesting to note that one of the few meaningful physical descriptions he includes in No Country For Old Men is of the Indian carvings that Moss encounters out in the desert.

The rocks there were etched with Pictographs perhaps a thousand years old. The men who drew them, hunters like himself. Of them, there was no other trace.

All these things considered, I believe that perhaps the final scene of this film, rendered faithfully from the book, may contain the answer. Here, Bell, now retired, describes a pair of dreams he’s had the evening before. The script is worth revisiting in its entirety:

All right, then. Two of ’em, both had my father in ’em. It’s peculiar. I’m older now than he ever was by 20 years. So, in a sense, he’s the younger man. Anyway, the first one I don’t remember too well … but it was about meeting him in town … somewheres, and he give me some money. I think I lost it.

Second one, it was like we was both back in older times. And I was a-horseback, going through the mountains of a night. Going through this pass in the mountains. It was cold, and there was snow on the ground. And he rode past me and kept on going … never said nothing going by, just rode on past. He had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down. When he rode past, I seen he was carrying fire in a horn … the way people used to do, and I … I could see the horn from the light inside of it … ‘bout the color of the moon. And, in the dream, I knew that he was … going on ahead. He was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and cold. And I knew that whenever I got there, he’d be there. And then I woke up.

These dreams are best understood through an examination of their symbols.

What is the meaning of his father as a younger man? This, in my view, is emblematic of the healthier and vigorous generation that has passed. Bell’s generation—passive, permissive, and tolerant—is exhausted and senile. Thus, it is natural that he sees himself as an old, dying man, relative to his father who was of a younger, more robust, and healthier generation). In this context the meaning of the money is simple: Bell dreams of losing something bestowed to him, which expresses the anxiety of the prodigal son—or generation—who squanders the inheritance of his father.

In the second dream, I believe Bell is not merely encountering an ancestor but also a descendant, if not quite his own son. The young man is his prophetic dream is a “young man” of the future. What is the meaning of the moon-colored fire in the horn? There is a holy fire mentioned in the Yeats “Sailing to Byzantium,” the poem from which McCarthy’s book takes its name. (The first line goes: “That is no country for old men.”) Here, the Holy Fire represents a spiritual or magical force commanded by the “Sages” of Byzantium, a city that is the historical seat of Orthodox Christianity, the gate to the West, and the capital of the most abiding remnant of the Roman Empire.

The central anxiety of the poem is one of mortality and of Yeats’s concern that his art and impression in the world will not abide. Hence, he seeks Byzantium to gain the magic of its immortality. Here, in Bell’s dream, the moon-colored fire, I believe, can be taken to mean something similar. The father, who is emblematic of a descendent, goes ahead to rekindle the fire anew amid the cold and darkness. The civilization of Bell’s blood will come again. Hence, McCarthy does what his Irish kinsman Yeats desired in his poem:

Or set upon a golden bough to sing,
To Lords and Ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come

Therefore, the book and film are hopeful, if only wistfully so. Civilization will be rekindled amid the “darkness,” and the blood of Bell will survive by it. Arguably, one could say this dream is merely a vision of Bell’s personal afterlife; however, this seems unlikely given the attention paid to so specific a symbolism, as well as given Bell’s professed lack of faith in God, and given the broader themes of moral and cultural decline.

Let us consider the Coen Brothers intent with this ending. Are they also hopeful that such a civilization, rekindled by the blood of Bell, will be reborn?

Perhaps the relative ambiguity and esotericism of the scene is its guardian, and its true meaning, to the extent my deciphering is correct, is lost on the Coen Brothers? Yet I tend to give them more credit than this (especially since A Serious Man, with its suggestion of decline, seems inspired by themes in No Country for Old Men, only adapted to a Minnesotan Jewish community).

Certainly, there must be an instinct among sub-creators, like the Coen brothers, to attach themselves to art of great value and permanence, and to serve that art to the best of their ability, as its glow will invariably reflect on them. And one should remember the last line of Bell’s description: “And then I woke up.” Does this suggest that the prophetic dream is merely a fond illusion? The Coen Brothers, it seems, also have an alibi… Indeed, one could reasonably interpret the scene as a compassionate and sympathetic paean to a dangerous but dying beast, in much the way a New York Times columnist might laud the WASP Establishment for having the “goodness” and “virtue” to eventually relinquish its grasp on power. (One can have sympathy for a dangerous beast only when one is certain the beast is dying.) Or perhaps (who knows?) the Coen brothers are secretly onboard with us. After all, without a strong race and civilization, there would be no employment for its sarcastic critics!

In the category of “dark, unpleasant, and truthful,” No Country For Old Men may be the best film ever made. And by truthful, I also mean life-affirming. Hence, the Coen Brothers, as if interpreting the mysteries of a higher being, honor their priestly names.

Finally, if the famously evasive Cormac McCarthy ever denies this meaning I have put forth, be slow to believe him. The Irish are master liars (their kings, no less so). Perhaps Comac’s willingness to deceive is the only reason No Country became a film in the first place. So if you see him, be sure to thank him.[7]


  1. Outside of her traditionally male profession, and her success in uncovering the crime central to the film, Marge Gunderson’s relative sophistication and wisdom is indicated most saliently in her participation in a non-traditional relationship with her painter husband, where, it seems, she is the breadwinner. Hence, she becomes a sort of feminist hero set amid a landscape of venal, bumbling, and/or unsophisticated men.  ↩
  2. Using this logic, one is inclined to believe that the Coens’ ability for satire was probably encouraged by their early experiences growing up in Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. Here, in a Midwestern and relatively less Judaized milieu, where many of the similarities and gradations that exist between Gentile and Jew in other urban areas are absent, Gentiles likely seem quite exotic to Jews (not to mention threatening)—and hence worthy of study. Perhaps the Coens’ childhood felt something like a wildlife safari? Certainly such a weaning would also heighten a self-awareness, present notably in A Serious Man. While Woody Allen describes a strongly Jewish milieu in most of his films, it is with greater affection and much less mockery. One should also consider that Minnesotan Jews are effectively “Jewish hicks” and can be lampooned for their lack of sophistication relative to say, New York Jews.  ↩
  3. Certainly, both characters also benefit from the Cowboy mythos, which 1950s Hollywood played a hand in bolstering, and for which Coen brothers clearly have a soft spot, as evinced by their other Western, True Grit (2010). Perhaps one day a Siegfried will be drawn from these Western Sagas (though certainly not by the hand of satirists like the Coen Brothers).  ↩
  4. The biblical demon Mammon is discussed toward the end of the novel in a scene where Bell and a Lawyer are both familiar with the name, through its reference in scripture, but have no sense of its meaning (doubtlessly indicating their distance from religion).  The coin, being a monetary unit, may be, in some ways, a reference to Mammon, who is the personification of wealth as an evil influence (as might also, more obviously, the satchel of money, which functions in this tragedy very much as the Nibelung Ring or the Cursed Golden Fleece).  ↩
  5. So invincible is Chigurh, early in the film he is picked up and hand cuffed by local police, suspicious of the captive bolt pistol he carries. Chigurh manages not merely to escape but also to kill his captor. (In the book, it is revealed that Chigurh allowed himself to be captured because he was intrigued by the potential challenge it proffered.) Chigurh evades and kills vying criminal and lawman alike, with cunning and impunity.  ↩
  6. Though perhaps the Coens were looking at Sheriff Bell and his companion somewhat askance. There seems to be a subtle “Church Lady” caricature occurring, a gentle mocking of two powerless, provincial men engaging in thoughts too big for their minds. Tommy Lee Jones—though perhaps I am imagining this—seems to struggle to keep a straight face when he says “the rest is soon to foller.” And what are Hollywood liberals to think of such lines? Can they really embody them? And are not these revelations unavoidably pathetic, coming from such impotent and outmoded men?  ↩
  7. There is an old Iranian saying: “It takes two Jews to cheat a Greek, two Greeks to cheat an Armenian, and two Armenians to cheat a Persian.” Perhaps this will have to be revised to include Irishmen somewhere along the hierarchy.  ↩

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The Folly of the ‘White Man March’

The St. Patrick’s Day weekend event was intended to show that “the old stereotypes about pro-white activists are false.” There turned out to be perhaps a few dozen participants and they mostly confirmed negative stereotypes.

Is misguided a codeword for white activism?

Last week, anyone who glanced at a left-wing news site probably saw an article about the “White Man March.” According to its organizer, Kyle Hunt, the March was supposed to feature “thousands” of demonstrators all over the world out to “make a statement that white people are united in their love for their race and in their opposition to its destruction.” The St. Patrick’s Day weekend event was intended to show that “the old stereotypes about pro-white activists are false.” There turned out to be perhaps a few dozen participants and they mostly confirmed negative stereotypes.

Left-wing media loved the story. Their headlines could have been written months ago when the event was first announced:

• Gawker: White Man March Happens, Nobody Cares

• Jezebel: Brave White Men Are Marching Tomorrow for White Male Freedom

• Salon: Here Are Some of the Best Tweets Mocking the White Man March

• Raw Story: Worldwide ‘White Man March’ Draws 10 People and ‘Diversity = White Genocide’ Signs

• Talking Points Memo: Some White People Tried to Rally for Their Race Today

• PolicyMic: There Was a Worldwide ‘White Man March’ This Weekend–No One Showed Up

• Wonkette: 10 Guys in Kentucky Turn Out for Worldwide ‘White Man March,’ Narrowly Avert White Genocide

The two local news reports were more objective, but, as a result, no less embarrassing:

• Cincinnati Enquirer: ‘Pro-White’ Group Hosts Rally in Florence

• AL (Birmingham): Birmingham Police Remove Banners Stating ‘Diversity = White Genocide’ Along Interstate

In Florence, Kentucky, two Klansmen made an appearance.

Klansman photo

In Portland, Oregon, 200 activists turned out . . . to protest the White Man March.

Portland photo

The Overton window has shifted beyond the point where pro-white ideas are subject to debate. Such ideas have instead been cast as “unthinkable.” Those who hold them are considered freaks—eccentrics at best, but more likely backward and low-class reprobates. This status quo is maintained by ignoring sensible proponents of our ideas—hence the scant coverage of the AmRen and NPI conferences—and instead focusing on the likes of Craig Cobb, who the New York Times was happy to feature on its front page.

There is a place for activism, but execution is everything. A proper “march” event is effective only if it demonstrates broad public support. Hundreds of thousands of blacks turned out for the 1995 Million Man March. A simple rally for our side should at least be the size of a typical Tea Party rally. Roadside demonstrations could be smaller. Several dozen members of the League of the South recently held one in Tallahassee that was a success. There is no reason groups of two should be holding demonstrations of any sort.

Of course, sufficient group size is a bare requisite for out-front activism. Simple and effective messaging is crucial. The White Man March’s “Diversity = White Genocide” slogan was so over-the-top and inflammatory that it only confirmed the consensus view of white advocates as delusional oddballs. By contrast, the League was protesting Marco Rubio’s support for non-white immigration because “it’s wrong to replace us.”

Part of effective messaging is choosing proper spokespeople and allowing only them to speak to the media. The decentralized White Man March could not accomplish this. Further, Kyle Hunt, the event’s organizer, gave a lousy interview to Vice. When he finally deviated from his canned “Bugser” answers, he suggested “I very well may be president of the United States in 2020, but for right now I am supporting some pro-White candidates from the American Freedom Party.” When asked a reasonable question about a statistic he cited, Mr. Hunt replied: “Sorry, but I am very busy.”

If a small group is set on doing activism, they should start by reading Rules for Radicals and think in terms of guerrilla strategies that yield outsized results. James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas is a good model.

I sympathize with people who fathom the depth of our race’s plight and feel compelled to “do something.” I, too, want to “sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world,” but our approach must be more subtle. Our society is impossibly complex and the sort of direct action that would have overthrown a hostile clan leader or a feudal lord is not within our reach. Instead, we have to focus on building an infrastructure equal to the gravity of our cause.

Of the 314 million people living in the US, I can count the number working full time for the advancement of our race on one hand. Working an extra shift or canceling the cable may not be as glorious as pitched battle, but that is precisely the sort of sacrifice we need.

With enough support, we could hire a full-time development team to raise funds for our movement. From there, we could create a site that generates news from our perspective, similar to what Glenn Beck has done with The Blaze and Glenn Beck TV (now called The Blaze TV). We could also begin considering involvement in the political process when we gain a mass following, but that is a topic for another time.

Activism can be done, and with some good effect, but we need to think bigger.

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The Westboro Baptist Church is a Liberal Wet Dream

What I find interesting is why anyone cares about them at all. They are a tiny group with views so wildly out of the mainstream that it is hard take them seriously as anything other than trolls. Why grant them power? Why not simply remove them from the picture? The cultural left rules this country. They have the power to get rid of or ignore the WBC, so why don’t they? It can only be because they want them there

 

Originally published at Right Stuff and posted on Alt-Right; reposted in the wake of the death of WBC’s leader Fred Phelps.

When I first saw media coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) a few years ago my first reaction was “LOLWUT”. My next reaction was that it had to be a troll. I found it so hard to take seriously because the WBC represents in pure concentrated form every leftist conceit about the nature of their non-opposition. They are white, rural, religious and openly bigoted against the most celebrated victim group of the moment.

I am not going to condemn or defend the WBC. I find them mildly amusing, but beyond that I am indifferent. What I find interesting is why anyone cares about them at all. They are a tiny group with views so wildly out of the mainstream that it is hard take them seriously as anything other than trolls. Why grant them power? Why not simply remove them from the picture? The cultural left rules this country. They have the power to get rid of or ignore the WBC, so why don’t they? It can only be because they want them there.

Liberals would so dearly love for the WBC to be representative of their opposition that they hem and haw over their “free speech rights” to create disturbances at military funerals and trespass on private property. In a sane society people engaging in such activities would simply be removed with force, not pandered to and granted the “right” to engage in such behavior. Ironically, it is precisely such behavior that cultural leftists used to come to power in the first place. Whether intentionally or not, the WBC is aping the gay rights movement in tactics. At one point I thought perhaps the WBC was an elaborate ruse to wake leftists up to the social value of violently excluding undesirables. If so, this would at least be an admirable if ultimately futile goal.

In reality liberalism faces no enemies, so it must create them. What passes for conservatism in this country is basically warmed over liberalism combined with occasional unintentional self-parody. Yet liberals will pretend that they are a mighty force to contend with. As I have discussed elsewhere this is ridiculous. Whatever power non-liberal groups have in this country is ceded to them by the left in a desperate effort to create the pretense of conflict and opposition.

The human soul needs conflict and struggle to give meaning to existence, yet liberal ideology is entirely built around eliminating conflict from society. They have been so successful at this that the main issue of the day is whether or not men can “marry” men and the main argument in favor of the practice is that feelings will be hurt if society reserves the title of marriage for male/female relationships only. This is why the left keeps the WBC around. It gives them the pretense of struggle, the facade of conflict and thus temporarily fills the gaping void they feel in the souls that they deny they possess.

To give an example of this a friend (who shall remain nameless) that is a student at Vassar College, the WBC’s next target, shared this note he received in his inbox:

Vassar students, employees, and friends,

Many of you know of the statement yesterday by Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas that they will picket Vassar College on February 28 in protest of our open support of LGBTQ students, employees, and alums. Should the Westboro Baptist Church choose to come to Poughkeepsie, they will not be allowed to gather on campus. As a College, we look forward to any opportunity to counter messages of hatred and bigotry and to underscore Vassar’s values.

Vigorous conversations are underway online, on campus, and among all parts of our community on how best to express and reaffirm our values in relation to this picketing. All are invited to participate in these conversations, including one taking place tonight, Monday, at 10 p.m. in UpC, facilitated by students.

Jon Chenette
Acting President

Vigorous conversations? Why even bother? Look forward to it? Of course they do. What else have they got to look forward to other than dildos and interracial porn? One of the ideas that came up as a way to respond to the grave threat of the WBC is this proposal to “crowd fund” a gay teen suicide prevention hotline.

The Westboro Baptist Church has announced that they will picket Vassar College on Feb 28th.

In response, we are raising money for the Trevor Project, ”the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.” Our goal is to raise $4,500, or $100 per minute that the WBC is planning to protest for.

How utterly facile. Of course this non-effort has been wildly successful precisely because it is so facile. The WBC represents everything postmodern liberalism could ever ask for. The caricature of an enemy, the pretense of conflict and risk free ways of “fighting back” and affirming the values of anti-values. What a joke.

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The War on Russia

The war against Russia is currently the most discussed issue in the West. At this point it is only a suggestion and a possibility, but it can become a reality depending on the decisions taken by all parties involved in the Ukrainian conflict – Moscow, Washington, Kiev, and Brussels.

This article was originally published at Open Revolt; it was edited by John Morgan. 


The coming war as concept

The war against Russia is currently the most discussed issue in the West. At this point it is only a suggestion and a possibility, but it can become a reality depending on the decisions taken by all parties involved in the Ukrainian conflict – Moscow, Washington, Kiev, and Brussels.

I don’t want to discuss all the aspects and history of this conflict here. Instead I propose to analyze its deep ideological roots. My conception of the most relevant events is based on the Fourth Political Theory, whose principles I have described in my book under the same name that was published in English by Arktos Media in 2012.

Therefore I will not examine the war of the West on Russia in terms of its risks, dangers, issues, costs or consequences, but rather in an ideological sense as seen from the global perspective. I will instead meditate on the sense of such a war, and not on the war itself (which may be either real or virtual).

Essence of liberalism

In the modern West, there is one ruling, dominant ideology – liberalism. It may appear in many shades, versions and forms, but the essence is always the same. Liberalism contains an inner, fundamental structure which follows axiomatic principles:

  • anthropological individualism (the individual is the measure of all things);
  • belief in progress (the world is heading toward a better future, and the past is always worse than the present);
  • technocracy (technical development and its execution are taken as the most important criteria by which to judge the nature of a society);
  • eurocentrism (Euro-American societies are accepted as the standard of measure for the rest of humanity);
  • economy as destiny (the free market economy is the only normative economic system – all the other types are to either be reformed or destroyed);
  • democracy is the rule of minorities (defending themselves from the majority, which is always prone to degenerate into totalitarianism or “populism”);
  • the middle class is the only really existing social actor and universal norm (independent from the fact of whether or not an individual has already reached this status or is on the way to becoming actually middle class, representing for the moment only a would-be middle class);
  • one-world globalism (human beings are all essentially the same with only one distinction, namely that of their individual nature – the world should be integrated on the basis of the individual and cosmopolitism; in other words, world citizenship).

These are the core values of liberalism, and they are a manifestation of one of the three tendencies that originated in the Enlightenment alongside Communism and fascism, which collectively proposed varying interpretations of the spirit of modernity. During the twentieth century, liberalism defeated its rivals, and since 1991 has become the sole, dominant ideology of the world.

The only freedom of choice in the kingdom of global liberalism is that between Right liberalism, Left liberalism or radical liberalism, including far-Right liberalism, far-Left liberalism and extremely radical liberalism. As a consequence, liberalism has been installed as the operational system of Western civilization and of all other societies that find themselves in the zone of Western influence. It has become the common denominator for any politically correct discourse, and the distinguishing mark which determines who is accepted by mainstream politics and who is marginalized and rejected. Conventional wisdom itself became liberal.

Geopolitically, liberalism was inscribed in the America-centered model in which Anglo-Saxons formed the ethnical core, based upon the Atlanticist Euro-American partnership, NATO, which represents the strategic core of the system of global security. Global security has come to be seen as being synonymous with the security of the West, and in the last instance with American security. So liberalism is not only an ideological power but also a political, military and strategic power. NATO is liberal in its roots. It defends liberal societies, and it fights to extend liberalism to new areas.

Liberalism as nihilism

There is one point in liberal ideology that has brought about a crisis within it: liberalism is profoundly nihilistic at its core. The set of values defended by liberalism is essentially linked to its main thesis: the primacy of liberty. But liberty in the liberal vision is an essentially negative category: it claims to be free from (as per John Stuart Mill), not to be free for something. It is not secondary; it is the essence of the problem.

Liberalism fights against all forms of collective identity, and against all types of values, projects, strategies, goals, methods and so on that are collectivist, or at least non-individualist. That is the reason why one of the most important theorists of liberalism, Karl Popper (following Friedrich von Hayek), held in his important book, The Open Society and Its Enemies, that liberals should fight against any ideology or political philosophy (ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Marx and Hegel) that suggests that human society should have some common goal, common value, or common meaning. (It should be noted that George Soros regards this book as his personal bible.) Any goal, any value, and any meaning in liberal society, or the open society, should be strictly based upon the individual. So the enemies of the open society, which is synonymous with Western society post-1991, and which has become the norm for the rest of the world, are concrete. Its primary enemies are Communism and fascism, both ideologies which emerged from the same Enlightenment philosophy, and which contained central, non-individualistic concepts – class in Marxism, race in National Socialism, and the national State in fascism). So the source of liberalism’s conflict with the existing alternatives of modernity, fascism or Communism, is quite obvious. Liberals claim to liberate society from fascism and Communism, or from the two major permutations of explicitly non-individualistic modern totalitarianism. Liberalism’s struggle, when viewed as a part of the process of the liquidation of non-liberal societies, is quite meaningful: it acquires its meaning from the fact of the very existence of ideologies that explicitly deny the individual as society’s highest value. It is quite clear what the struggle is attempting to achieve: liberation from its opposite. But the fact that liberty, as it is conceived by liberals, is an essentially negative category is not clearly perceived here. The enemy is present and is concrete. That very fact gives liberalism its solid content. Something other than the open society exists, and the fact of its existence is enough to justify the process of liberation.

Unipolar period: threat of implosion

In 1991, when the Soviet Union as the last opponent of Western liberalism fell, some Westerners, such as Francis Fukuyama, proclaimed the end of history. This was quite logical: as there was no longer an explicit enemy of the open society, therefore there was no more history as had occurred during the modern period, which was defined by the struggle between three political ideologies (liberalism, Communism and fascism) for the heritage of the Enlightenment. That was, strategically speaking, the moment when the “unipolar moment” was realized (Charles Krauthammer). The period between 1991 and 2014, at the midpoint of which Bin Laden’s attack against the World Trade Center occurred, was the period of the global domination of liberalism. The axioms of liberalism were accepted by all the main geopolitical actors, including China (in economic terms) and Russia (in its ideology, economy, and political system). There were liberals and would-be liberals, not-yet liberals, not-liberal-enough liberals and so on. The real and explicit exceptions were few (such as Iran and North Korea). So the world became axiomatically liberal  according to its ideology.

This has been the most important moment in the history of liberalism. It has defeated its enemies, but at the same time it has lost them. Liberalism is essentially the liberation from and the fight against all that is not liberal (at present or in what has the potential to become such). Liberalism acquired its real meaning and its content from its enemies. When the choice is presented as being between not-freedom (as represented by concrete totalitarian societies) or freedom, many choose freedom, not understanding it in terms of freedom for what, or freedom to do what… When there is an illiberal society, liberalism is positive. It only begins to show its negative essence after victory.

After the victory of 1991, liberalism stepped into its implosive phase. After having defeated Communism as well as fascism, it stood alone, with no enemy to fight. And that was the moment when inner conflicts emerged, when liberal societies began to attempt to purge themselves of their last remaining non-liberal elements: sexism, political incorrectness, inequality between the sexes, any remnants of the non-individualistic dimensions of institutions such as the State and the Church, and so on. Liberalism always needs an enemy to liberate from. Otherwise it loses its purpose, and its implicit nihilism becomes too salient. The absolute triumph of liberalism is its death.

That is the ideological meaning of the financial crises of 2000 and of 2008. The successes and not the failures of the new, entirely profit-based economy (of turbocapitalism, according to Edward Luttwak) are responsible for its collapse.

The liberty to do anything you want, but restricted to the individual scale, provokes an implosion of the personality. The human passes to the infra-human realm, and to sub-individual domains. And here he encounters virtuality, as a dream of sub-individuality, the freedom from anything. This is the evaporation of the human, and brings about the Empire of nothingness as the last word in the total victory of liberalism. Postmodernism prepares the terrain for that post-historic, self-referential recycling of non-sense.

The West is in need of an enemy

You may ask now, what the Hell does all of this have to do with the (presumable) coming war with Russia? I am ready to answer that now.

Liberalism has continued to gain momentum on a global scale. Since 1991, it has been an inescapable fact. And it has now begun to implode. It has arrived at its terminal point and started to liquidate itself. Mass immigration, the clash of cultures and civilizations, the financial crisis, terrorism, and the growth of ethnic nationalism are indicators of approaching chaos. This chaos endangers the established order: any kind of order, including the liberal order itself. The more liberalism succeeds, the faster it approaches its end and the end of the present world. Here we are dealing with the nihilistic essence of liberal philosophy, with nothingness as the inner (me)ontological principle of freedom-from. The German anthropologist Arnold Gehlen justly defined the human as a “deprived being,” or Mangelwesen. Man in himself is nothing. It takes all that comprises its identity from society, history, people, and politics. So if he returns to his pure essence, he can no longer recognize anything. The abyss is hidden behind the fragmented debris of feelings, vague thoughts, and dim desires. The virtuality of sub-human emotions is a thin veil; behind it there is pure darkness. So the explicit discovery of this nihilistic basis of human nature is the last achievement of liberalism. But that is the end, and the end also for those who use liberalism for their own purposes and who are beneficiaries of liberal expansion; in other words, the masters of globalization. Any and all order collapses in such an emergency of nihilism: the liberal order, too.

In order to rescue the rule of this liberal elite, they need to take a certain step back. Liberalism will reacquire its meaning only when it is confronted once more with non-liberal society. This step back is the only way to save what remains of order, and to save liberalism from itself. Therefore, Putin’s Russia appears on its horizon. Modern Russia is not anti-liberal, not totalitarian, not nationalist, and not Communist, nor is it yet too liberal, fully liberal-democrat, sufficiently cosmopolite, or so radically anti-Communist. It is rather on the way to becoming liberal, step by step, within the process of a Gramscian adjustment to global hegemony and the subsequent transformation this entails (transformismo in Gramscian language).

However, in the global agenda of liberalism as represented by the United States and NATO, there is a need for another actor, for another Russia that would justify the order of the liberal camp, and help to mobilize the West as it threatens to break apart from inner strife. This will delay the irruption of liberalism’s inner nihilism and thus save it from its inevitable end. That is why they badly need Putin, Russia, and war. It is the only way to prevent chaos in the West and to save what remains of its global and domestic order. In this ideological play, Russia would justify liberalism’s existence, because that is the enemy which would give a meaning to the struggle of the open society, and which would help it to consolidate and continue to affirm itself globally. Radical Islam, such as represented by al-Qaeda, was another candidate for this role, but it lacked sufficient stature to become a real enemy. It was used, but only on a local scale. It justified the intervention in Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq, the overthrow of Gaddafi, and started a civil war in Syria, but it was too weak and ideologically primitive to represent the real challenge that is needed by liberals.

Russia, the traditional geopolitical enemy of Anglo-Saxons, is much more serious as an opponent. It fits the needed role extremely well – the memory of the Cold War is still fresh in many minds. Hate for Russia is an easy thing to provoke by relatively simple means. This is why I think that war with Russia is possible. It is ideologically necessary as the last means to postpone the final implosion of the liberal West. It is the needed “one step back.”

To save the liberal order

Considering the different layers of this concept of a possible war with Russia, I suggest a few points:

  1. A war with Russia will help to delay the coming disorder on a global scale. The majority of the countries that are involved in the liberal economy, and which share the axioms and institutions of liberal democracy, and which are either dependent upon or directly controlled by the United States and NATO, will forge a common front once more behind the cause of the liberal West in its quest to oppose the anti-liberal Putin. This will serve to reaffirm liberalism as a positive identity when this identity is beginning to dissolve as a result of the manifestation of its nihilistic essence.
  2. A war with Russia would strengthen NATO and above all its European members, who will be obliged once more to regard American hyperpower as something positive and useful, and the old Cold War stance will no longer seem obsolete. Out of a fear of the coming of the “evil Russians,” Europeans will again feel loyal to the Unite
    d States as their protector and savior. As a result, the leading role of the U.S. in NATO will be reaffirmed.
  3. The EU is falling apart. The supposed “common threat” of the Russians could prevent it from an eventual split, mobilizing these societies and making their peoples once again eager to defend their liberties and values under the threat of Putin’s “imperial ambitions.”
  4. The Ukraine junta in Kiev needs this war to justify and conceal all the misdeeds they carried out during the Maidan protests on both the juridical and constitutional levels, thus allowing them to suspend democracy that would impede their rule in the southeastern, mostly pro-Russian districts and would enable them to establish their authority and nationalistic order through extra-parliamentary means.

The only country that doesn’t want war now is Russia. But Putin cannot let the radically anti-Russian government in Ukraine dominate a country that has a population that is half-Russian and which contains many pro-Russian regions. If he allows this, he will be finished on the international and domestic levels. So, reluctantly, he accepts war. And once he begins on this course, there will be no other solution for Russia but to win it.

I don’t like to speculate regarding the strategic aspects of this coming war. I leave that to other, more qualified analysts. Instead I would like to formulate some ideas concerning the ideological dimension of this war.

Framing Putin

The meaning of this war on Russia is in essence the last effort of globalist liberalism to save itself from implosion. As such, liberals need to define Putin’s Russia ideologically – and obviously identify it with the enemy of the open society. But in the dictionary of modern ideologies there are only three primary iterations: liberalism, Communism and fascism. It is quite clear that liberalism is represented by all the nations involved in this conflict except for Russia (the United States, the NATO member states, and Euromaidan/the Kiev junta). This leaves only Communism and fascism. Therefore Putin is made out to be a “neo-Soviet revanchist” and a “return of the KGB.” This is the picture that is being sold to the most stupid sort of Western public. But some aspects of the patriotic reaction emanating from the pro-Russian and anti-Banderite population (i.e., the defense of Lenin’s monuments, Stalin portraits and memorials to the Soviet involvement in the Second World War) could confirm this idea in the minds of this public. Nazism and fascism are too far removed from Putin and the reality of modern Russia, but Russian nationalism and Russian imperialism will be evoked within the image of the Great Evil that is being drawn. Therefore Putin is being made out to be a “radical nationalist,” a “fascist” and an “imperialist.” This will work on many Westerners. Under this logic, Putin can be both Communist and fascist at the same time, so he will be depicted as a National Bolshevik (although this is a little bit too complicated for the postmodern Western public). It is obvious that in reality, Putin is neither – he is not a Communist nor a fascist, nor both simultaneously. He is a political pragmatist in the realm of international relations – this is why he admires Kissinger, and why Kissinger likes him in return. He has no ideology whatsoever. But he will be obliged to embrace the ideological frame that he has been assigned. It is not his choice. But such are the rules of the game. In the course of this war on Russia, Putin will be framed in this way, and that is the most interesting and important aspect of this situation.

The main idea that liberals will try to advance to define Putin ideologically will be as the shadow of the past, as a vampire: “Sometimes they come back.” That is the rationale behind this attempt to prevent the final implosion of liberalism. The primary message is that liberalism is still alive and vital because there is something in the world that we all must be liberated from. Russia will become the object from which it must be liberated. The goal is first to liberate Ukraine, and by extension Europe and the rest of humanity, who will likewise be depicted as being under threat, from Russia, and in the end Russia itself will be said to be in need of rescue from its own non-liberal identity. So now we have an enemy. Such an enemy once more gives liberalism its raison d’être. So Russia is being made out to be a challenger from the pre-liberal past thrown into the liberal present. Without such a challenge there is no more life in liberalism, no more order in the world, and everything associated with them will dissolve and implode. With this challenge, the falling giant of globalism acquires new vigor. Russia is here to save the liberals.

But in order for this to happen, Russia is being ideologically framed as something pre-liberal. She must be either Communist, fascist or perhaps National Bolshevist. That is the ideological rule. Therefore, in fighting with Russia, or in considering to fight her, or in not fighting her, there is a deeper task – to frame Russia ideologically. It will be done from both the inside and the outside. They will try to force Russia to accept either Communism or extreme nationalism, or else they will simply treat Russia as if it were these things. It is a framing game.

Post-liberal Russia: The first war of the Fourth Political Theory

In conclusion, what I propose is the following:

We need to consciously counter any provocation to frame Russia as a pre-liberal power. We need to refuse to allow the liberals to save themselves from their fast-approaching end. Rather than helping them to delay it, we need to accelerate it. In order to do this, we need to present Russia not as a pre-liberal entity but as a post-liberal revolutionary force that struggles for an alternative future for all the peoples of the planet. The Russian war will not only be for Russian national interests, but will be in the cause of a just multipolar world, for real dignity and for real, positive freedom – not (nihilistic) freedom from but freedom for. In this war, Russia will set an example as the defender of Tradition, conservative organic values, and will represent real liberation from the open society and its beneficiaries – the global financial oligarchy. This war is not against Ukrainians or even against part of the Ukrainian populace. Nor is it against Europe. It is against the liberal world (dis)order. We are not going to save liberalism, per their designs. We are going to kill it once and for all. Modernity was always essentially wrong, and we are now at the terminal point of modernity. For those who rendered modernity and their own destiny synonymous, or who let that occur unconsciously, this will mean the end. But for those who are on the side of eternal truth and of Tradition, of faith, and of the spiritual and immortal human essence, it will be a new beginning, an Absolute Beginning.

The most important fight at present is the fight for the Fourth Political Theory. It is our weapon, and with it we are going to prevent the liberals from realizing their wish of framing Putin and Russia in their own manner, and in so doing we will reaffirm Russia as the first post-liberal ideological power struggling against nihilistic liberalism for the sake of an open, multipolar and genuinely free future.

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The Problem with Race Realism

I cannot recall when I first heard the label “race realist” but, with due respect to all parties involved, I have never much cared for it.

I cannot recall when I first heard the label “race realist” but, with due respect to all parties involved, I have never much cared for it. For one, no anti-racist I have ever met has deferred their smears because someone identified as a “race-realist” as opposed to a “racist.” Granted, any label “we” take on will be attacked, ignored, and called racist – however, the term “race realist” seems to have been developed in an attempt to gain mainstream traction, which has not happened. It has a propagandistic sound to it that is quickly detected by egalitarians, who are annoyed by what they perceive as a poor attempt at repackaging old and vile ideas. Admittedly, there are likely some out there who genuinely find that “race realist” fits their beliefs more than anything else, and perhaps the label has deflected a bullet here and there. But it is worth comparing art that could be considered “race realist” and art that could be considered “Identitarian.” In comparing the two camps, it becomes difficult to make a case that the “race realist” camp is superior in any way.

Looking over some of the largest controversies regarding “racism” in film, a curious pattern emerges. All of the films in question are attacked from the left, but hardly any would be championed as exemplar films by the readers of this publication. Lists with titles like “Most Racist Movies of All Time” are, of course, all over the internet, which is useful in that it shows regular targets. To begin with, a number of the films decried are explicitly anti-racist, such as Samuel Fuller’s White Dog, about an average White woman who winds up in possession of a dog of whose origins she is unaware, which turns out to have been trained by malicious Whites for the purpose of attacking Blacks. Mr. Fuller intended the picture to be a kind of tragedy about the lingering effects of racism, yet found himself garnering unwanted attention from the NAACP. Apparently, the trouble White Dog’s critics have with the film is that it acknowledges the mere existence of race.

Many other pictures on these lists fall into a similar category. Mandingo, serves as another example, a film set in the antebellum South in which a White couple is married, but both husband and wife begin sleeping with the Black slaves they own. In the end, the wife claims that the Black slave she had been having an affair with (Mandingo) raped her, and he is hung. It is essentially a film about the guilt Whites must feel for sexually desiring Blacks while living in a racist country – clearly an “anti-racist” moral. Yet the film acknowledges differences among races, and employs what one might call “stereotypes” throughout the film, and ergo was- and still is- smeared for “racism.”

Perhaps an even more absurd example than the above two is The Last Samurai. A fairly recent action film, Samurai tells the story of a PTSD stricken Civil War veteran who is employed by an urgent-to-modernize Japanese government to train their peasant army. This modern army is to crush the last remnants of traditionalist holdouts in Japan (you guessed it, the Samurai), but in due time the protagonist is captured by the Samurai, learns to admire them, and switches sides. The critics view this as a culturally imperialistic “white savior” film, and of course find the depiction of the Japanese to be crass and insensitive. All of this, despite the film being a corny story of a self-loathing White man who decides to completely abandon his culture and people because he finds a better one.

What the three films described above, and almost all the films on these “racist” lists, share is not messages of supremacy or deliberate maliciousness, but a basic understanding of the fact that races exist, and are different. For those on the political and cultural left who believe that “racism” will be solved by keeping anyone from talking about it, and that race does not exist, these films would indeed register as “racist,” “supremacist,” etc. With the news that Tim Wise has declared Jesus to be a symbol of racism, it is not hard to see how the likes of Heidi Beirich, Eva Longoria and others of their sort could find Nazis in every reel of every film here listed.

However, more than any of the smears attached to these movies by talking heads and bored bloggers, what they could be more accurately called is “race realist.” White Dog leaves no doubt that race is a biological fact, since an animal with no understanding of society can take note of it. Mandingo makes clear that love is not colorblind, and that human biodiversity has to do with matters aside from IQ. The Last Samurai shows one Western man’s perspective on living among an initially very alien race and culture. Judgements regarding these differences are up to the viewers, and if anything have a left-wing slant. But the label of “race realism/t” was always meant to be morally neutral, and a purely scientific acceptance of differences. Michael Levin, an important figure in the “race realist” movement of the 1990s, wrote in the preview to his book Why Race Matters, that:

I wished to make clear that no empirical facts about race imply that whites are better than blacks, a judgment so often imputed to hereditarians that only a full airing of the issue of value can put the imputation to rest. To this end Race presents a resolutely “naturalistic,” non-realist view of values…. The mean intelligence levels of whites and blacks were adaptations to selectional pressures at work in Africa and Eurasia, just as the lion’s strength and the gazelle’s speed are evolved responses to selectional pressures in their niches. And just as the lion’s talons are neither better nor worse than the gazelle’s speed—each creature simply is what it is—whites are not better or worse than blacks.
Race is similarly neutral toward morality itself. An individual’s “moral” values are construed as those of his preferences that he wants everyone to adopt (and wants everyone to want everyone to adopt); and a group’s morality is the set of moral values shared by most of its members.

Such cold and clinical standards certainly do not make for good moral teachings, or artistic guidelines. In this light, the proponents of race realism become as guilty of scientism as the New Atheists. Self-identified race realists should consider this when thinking about what kind of culture they want to live in, or more simply, what kinds of movies they would want their children to see. For example, It’s A Wonderful Life cannot be considered a race realist film because all it shows is Whites, their culture, their heritage, and their values – and in a glowing way. Life registers as more of an Identitarian film than anything else; as do a long list of films worthy of being discussed in our circles, such as Stagecoach, Make Way for Tomorrow, and Paths of Glory. Each one of those pictures are much better than race realist – they are White.

None of this implies that race realism is “bad.” The science behind it is of extreme importance to understanding the world. The takeaway from this article should not be that all who identify as race realists are knaves or saboteurs, they are trying to survive in a hostile world as best they can just like the rest of us. However, we should remember that the study of race is not an end unto itself, and that ultimately, race differences matter less than race itself – a fact that the “race realist” label avoids.

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Immigration Respectability

This year’s CPAC offered few opportunities for anyone in our movement to get a word in about the issues we care about. The “minority outreach” panel—which included a bold agenda for winning Detroit!—was sparsely attended and didn’t include a Q&A.  I was, however, able to ask a question at Thursday afternoon’s panel on immigration—“Can There be Meaningful Immigration Reform Without Citizenship?”  

This year’s CPAC offered few opportunities for anyone in our movement to get a word in about the issues we care about. The “minority outreach” panel—which included a bold agenda for winning Detroit!—was sparsely attended and didn’t include a Q&A. I was, however, able to ask a question at Thursday afternoon’s panel on immigration—“Can There be Meaningful Immigration Reform Without Citizenship?”

This event featured four speakers. The first, Helen Kriebel, advocated for a market-based guest-worker program with minimal government involvement. Businesses would determine who entered the country based on their needs; and workers would gain admittance on a strictly temporary basis, with no promise of citizenship. In others words, Kriebel seeks the creation of a Helot class.[1].

Derrick Morgan of The Heritage Foundation came next. He argued against amnesty in the safest, most boring manner possible. He also stated that no immigration reform of any kind should be enacted at this time because “we can’t trust Obama.”

There final two panelists were Hispanics: Alfonso Aguilar, a former immigration minister from the George W. Bush administration, and the Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr.

I waited patiently … and when Q&A finally came, I sprung into action. Some dissidents like to highjack the mic and turn a Q&A into a lecture—which almost always eventuates in the questioner annoying the audience, getting silenced and then ignored. I wanted to ask a question that would actually get answered. (You can jump directly to my question here . . . in fact, don’t watch the entire panel unless you’re suffering from insomnia.)

I have a moral question, actually, and I think that’s very important. I was struck by Helen Kriegel’s statement that “we don’t want an immigration policy that’s Republican; we want one that’s truly American. Actually, there are a lot of precedents we can look to for those policies. One of them would be the 1924 immigration act, which restricted immigration to Northern Europeans. You could actually go back a lot further and look at the 1790 Naturalization Act, which restricted immigration to “free white persons of good character.”

The motive for all these acts was that Americans really understood their nation as an extended family, and they wanted to choose people they had something in common with; they wanted to value their own over others.

Do you find that immoral? Do you find this American tradition of valuing our own people, European Christians, over others to be immoral, when it seems to be so much a part of America?

Before I the panel started, I was told by a friend, who works in the Beltway, that Derrick Morgan was “really solid.” My impression is that too many people in our movement, starved as we are for allies, think that someone who makes an argument against amnesty—even one that rejects European identity—must secretly be “one of us.” Perhaps Morgan does oppose amnesty because he, secretly, doesn’t want to experience the displacement of his people? I can’t say. It is noteworthy, though, that after I asked my question, Morgan asserted that American Whites do not have a moral right to create an immigration policy based on identity; indeed, such things are “shameful.” In the end, whatever reasonable things he might say, I can only conclude that Morgan is as much a part of the problem as his ostensible opponents.


  1. It would be interesting to ask Kriegel whether the businesses that engaged these guest worker would not just benefit from cheap labor but would be made to pay damages if, say, one of their recruits committed a crime in the U.S. or overstayed his work visa.  ↩
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NPI@CPAC: The “Unconference”

On Friday March 7, at 7:30 PM, NPI will host a dinner. Our special guest will be American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor, a man who’s been a lion in our movement for close to 25 years.  NPI will provide for wine for everyone who attends, to ensure a festive atmosphere.  Then, around 9 PM, we will retire to a hospitality suite, where NPI will provide an open bar and host an “unconference.”

As we announced last week, NPI will be attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, which begins on March 6 and will stretch through the weekend. (Perhaps “crash” is a better choice of words than “attend,” despite the fact that we’ll be on our best behavior.)

THE PLAN

On Thursday and Friday (March 6 and 7), I will be listening to some of CPAC’s speeches and panel discussions and participating, when possible, in Q&A. If you see me in the halls, please say hello.

On Friday March 7, at 7:30 PM, NPI will host a dinner. Our special guest will be American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor, a man who’s been a lion in our movement for close to 25 years. NPI will provide wine for everyone who attends, to ensure a festive atmosphere.

Then, around 9 PM, we will retire to a hospitality suite, where NPI will provide an open bar and host an “unconference.”

The “unconference” idea is a response to fact that most people don’t attend conferences to hear speeches—they attend to connect with people. Thus, our gathering will be something like a free-flowing conversation. Jared and I will get the discussion started with some remarks, and our guests will take it from there.

We expect excellent people to attend, and we hope that some from the CPAC crowd will want to see where the real action is. (No doubt, we will be “unconferencing” into the wee hours.)

Nota Bene

First and foremost, the gathering will be discreet to the best of our powers.

Our desire for privacy is one reason that we will not be releasing the exact location of the dinner and unconference until the morning of March 7. We will say now that the events will be conveniently located near the Gaylord Resort Hotel at the National Harbor.

Secondly, because of our discretion, you must register for our dinner and unconfenece beforehand using the form below. (This will be the only way we can alert you to our gatherings’ locations.)

Thirdly, you should be confident that you can attend in an anonymous fashion (short of donning a disguise and voice modulator): no name tags will be issued; no recordings will be made; and all discussion will be strictly “off the record.” Our guests, we hope, will feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Fourthly, though we hope you’ll join us for the entire evening, we understand if you could only attend either the dinner or hospitality suite.


This is a chance for our movement to have a real presence at a major forum for ideas (and perhaps mug a few conservatives with reality). And more important, it’s a chance for us to network and talk about our future.

I hope to see you there!

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Mass Immigration and Public Education

Americans presume that illegal immigration is always grounded in an attempt to meet enormous material challenges. But what if it turns out that parents pay coyotes to be rid of troublesome children in a guilt free fashion?

While it’s long been the case that the majority of immigrant kids in our city do not live with both parents, it is increasingly prevalent to find such kids living without any parents around at all; teenagers are foisted off on distant relatives, friends, or acquaintances: it seems some Mexican and Central American parents have taken to immigration to solve their parenting deficiencies. They pay enormous amounts to have their child smuggled north, while staying home themselves, smug in the knowledge that they’ve done the very best thing they could do for the kid. After all who can argue against the good will of a parent who makes this kind of financial and emotional sacrifice? Aren’t North American salaries much higher, and unemployment much lower? Is it not the case that even illegal aliens are entitled to free public schooling in El Norte, even college?

Americans presume that illegal immigration is always grounded in an attempt to meet enormous material challenges. But what if it turns out that parents pay coyotes to be rid of troublesome children in a guilt free fashion? And there are many such troubled children, of course; poverty, the lack of a social net, and the explosion of violence in Central America and Northern Mexico have seen to that. These immigrant flows are the blowback from exportation not just of our own drug and gang cultures, but of globalization; free enterprise has undercut traditional family values in unprecedented ways. Outsourcing has added vitality to a maquilera economy that sunders families; aping the license of American media culture, local television, film, and music producers promote transgressive excitements which entail the abandonment of Christian morals; divorce is rampant, while even in intact households, permissiveness undermines traditional methods of child nurture—the inability to discipline children effectively, a marker of western social progress almost everywhere, is epidemic. Kids are sucked up into gang life, drug abuse and violence, and parents having lost control over them, turn in desperation to the traditional outlet of relief, immigration. Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador are in the throes of a societal breakdown. How much of the blame should we take upon ourselves for the destruction of these societies? Shall we, by absorbing these “feral” children through belated guilt, allow our own systems to collapse? Do the rights of undocumented children include a right to parents? Shouldn’t neglect be part of the equation here? Offering these children de facto sanctuary in our schools may not be in their interests. By accepting the ambitions of their parents on face value, we may be dooming the very kids we hope to save to a cycle of crime, imprisonment, illiteracy, and brutal poverty. Students are being essentially abandoned: by parents, who are glad to be rid of them, by a system of jurisprudence which is not equipped to make distinctions, by cops so overwhelmed en masse by gang culture that they gladly lash out at those so clueless as to become easy targets, and by teachers, who are asked to take responsibility for a child that has lived without adult supervision or care for most of his life, and asked to do so at the peril of destroying any semblance of class management. If their parents abroad don’t care, if they scoff at their parental obligations as they scoff at immigration laws, why does it become the State’s responsibility to raise their offspring? Which moral duty has precedence…the duty to provide children with decent, orderly schools, or the duty to take in an unwanted brood whose feral impulses have reaped havoc on school discipline?

So, given these facts, I suppose it had to happen one day. As a high school teacher of English as a Second Language, I’ve grown quite accustomed to finding students in my “advanced” classes who’ve been in American classrooms since second and third grade, but this is a first: this week Miguel enrolled in my ESL1a class, the very beginning level. This seventeen year old was born in the United States and has attended school every year here, apart from some time off in jail. A pleasant fellow whose smile lights up the class, Miguel rings the changes of English vulgarity with great proficiency, but cannot write a sentence, in either Spanish or English. Many such children find themselves trapped in a feral abyss between two underfed idioms. But how? Bilingual illiteracy takes some doing. Should we blame Miguel, who in seventeen years hasn’t found English important enough to master, it appearing a paltry thing to be able to read, for instance, the terms of his probation? No. He, like so many of his immigrant peers, has never known real schooling. Periods of no schooling were interrupted by graceless passages through dysfunctional schools, where, over the klangefarbe of Spanish chit-chat, it was impossible to hear English modelled. For Miguel school has been a restless moil, the futility of which was broken only by the brisk business of selling drugs at lunch.

It cannot be supposed that his Salvadoran parents could ever have offered a reliable memory of what it means to get educated, a functional educational routine. They more than likely dropped out in grade school, or never attended at all. For generation after generation, the process of intellectual accumulation has not merely been stifled, but forcibly excised from the culture; now on both sides of La Frontera, what it means to be a student has been largely forgotten.

The kind of people we are does not, then, really depend on us, but on the communities that sustain us. Lacking this constraint, students become a kind of void that attracts blind contingency. The kind of people we see in our classroom—are bedeviled or enchanted by—likewise is contingent, the result of circumstantial luck or chaos, and our intuition about this, that they are to be held morally accountable neither for the failings of history, nor for intentions good or ill, nor for the missteps of time, seems naturally convincing and generous, but it too is a luxury we can no longer afford. Quantitative change becomes, alas, qualitative. Nothing can be more demoralizing than to see how this plays out, in my classroom as Miguel stumbles into class thirty minutes late, in a cloud of marijuana, his eyes pinpoints of inexpressible delight.

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NPI@CPAC 2014

Every spring, the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC, meets in Washington, DC, to set an agenda for politicians, lobbyists, and activists of America’s right-wing (such as it is). The 2014 edition will take place at the Gaylord National Resort on March 6 through 8. For years, supporters have urged NPI to make an appearance at CPAC. This year, we’re doing it.    

 

 

Every spring, the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC, meets in Washington, DC, to set an agenda for politicians, lobbyists, and activists of America’s right-wing (such as it is). The 2014 edition will take place at the Gaylord National Resort on March 6 through 8.

For years, supporters have urged NPI to make an appearance at CPAC. This year, we’re doing it.

I will be attending panels that are relevant to our movement, and on Friday, March 7, we will host a private gathering for friends, supporters, and interested attendees. We will be joined by a special guest, whose identity will be revealed in the coming days.

In attending CPAC, we must be realistic about what can be accomplished. NPI is not an official sponsor, and thus our ability to affect CPAC’s agenda is limited to say the least. (Don’t expect Sarah Palin to evoke archeo-futurism in her keynote address.)

But then, people don’t really attend CPAC for what happens on stage. They go to meet people. And CPAC is a captive audience of individuals who self-identify as conservative. Our ideas resonate with many of them; and most all of them, I would guess, have a gut feeling that something is terribly wrong with America.

And this year, CPAC might be particularly interesting. The Republican leadership has expressed its wish for legislation that offers legal status for illegal immigrants. There’s a chance a revolt might occur . . . At the very least, CPAC is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to attendees the necessity of choosing a different path than the “Tax Cuts Will Solve Everything” agenda that has defined the conservative movement for decades.

Put simply, CPAC is a major forum for the debate of ideas, and we should be there.

More details are forthcoming. In the meantime, if you’re interested in meeting up and/or taking part in our private event, please fill out the form below. For the sake of discretion, we will announce the exact time and place of our gathering via text message and email on the morning of Friday, March 7.

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Please tell us about your commitment. This information will help us plan the best event.

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