It’s January 10, 2021, and welcome back to The Spencer Report. Baked Alaska once called us the N-word. Main topic: MAGA “Joker” Moment Friend of the show Brad Griffin joins…
It’s January 10, 2021, and welcome back to The Spencer Report. Baked Alaska once called us the N-word.
Main topic: MAGA “Joker” Moment
Friend of the show Brad Griffin joins me to discuss the ongoing fallout from the January 6th Goofball Insurrection. The main revelers have already been arrested, but Brad and I warn that major indictments are on their way—of the individuals and organizations which organized the whole embarrassing, though lucrative, affair.
MAGA diehards are claiming this is their “Joker” moment. They should remember how that film ends.
QAnon is a religious revival for the age of political polarization, and one which will likely outlast Donald Trump. Introduction A religious revival is sweeping the United States. It’s already…
QAnon is a religious revival for the age of political polarization, and one which will likely outlast Donald Trump.
A religious revival is sweeping the United States. It’s already expanded as far afield as Europe, and its devotees number in the millions.1 With an esoteric, and eccentric, though uniquely American creed; it is perhaps best understood as a new stage of Christianity. It revolves around nothing less than a metaphysical battle between Good and Evil, which plays out at the highest levels of government, media, and finance. The future of the country—and safety of the world’s children—is at stake. Wickedness abounds, but devotees have faith that a messiah is rising, one who will “make America great again.” This new religion is regarded as so inflammatory—and perhaps threatening to public order—that major social media companies have purged all content related to its doctrines.2
It’s called “QAnon.”
The rise of QAnon has startled and flummoxed most mainstream media commentators. They dismiss, ridicule, and denounce this online “conspiracy theory” as it continues to grow ever more popular, powerful, and influential. According to polling in October 2020, some 15 percent of President Donald Trump’s supporters are committed followers of “Q.” An additional 22 percent are “fellow travelers”: they believe some of Q’s claims but worry that the movement might “go too far.”3 A full half of Trump supporters believe that the Democrats are engaged in child-trafficking and that Trump is trying to put an end to it—an opinion clearly derived from the Q cult, as we will see. Even if we take surveys like this with a grain of salt, they reveal the intense popularity—and likely staying power—of the Q narrative within the American Right, and beyond.
This Trump-era Internet phenomenon makes a great deal of sense if we conceive of it as a religious revival, and not simply as a popular conspiracy theory (like those surrounding the JFK assassination or the moon landing). Many of the key components of a religion are obvious: Q has its “angels,” “demons,” “saviors,” and promises of “redemption.” And for its adherents, QAnon serves many other vital functions of religions of the past. Furthermore, this re-conception of Q raises some bigger questions. Why do religious revivals—periodic outbursts of intense devotion—occur in the first place? And if we accept that QAnon is a creed for our time, why has it taken this superficially bizarre guise, and shed the trappings of traditional religion?
To answer these questions, we will turn to modern history and specifically the impact it had on human evolution. The Industrial Revolution weakened Darwinian selection pressures on Western societies, leading to, among other things, a collapse in child mortality and a collapse in selection pressures for intelligence, traditional religiousness, and highly ethnocentric groups, all of which it is clear were being selected for until that point. Due to an inter-related sequence of consequences, this has resulted in an increasingly genetically diverse—and thus culturally and politically polarized—society. The bundle of inclinations that constitute “religion” have broken apart. As a result, where once a global plague might have led to a Christian revival, in 2020 it led to, or brought to prominence, two distinct quasi-religious movements: Black Lives Matter4 and QAnon. Furthermore, I will proffer that, despite QAnon’s ostensible wackiness, it is far more group-fitness promoting than BLM, not least due to its traditionally religious dimensions. And perhaps most shocking of all, there may be some kernels of truth within its most outlandish claims.
1. The Rise of Q
The exact origins of Q—as well as those behind the cult and profiting from it—are murky and disputed, and beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say, in the autumn of 2017, someone supposedly working for the National Security Administration—boasting “Q-level” clearance and calling himself “Q”—began posting on the anonymous message and image board “4chan.”5 His first missive, on October 28, 2017, announced the imminent arrest of Hillary Clinton:
HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur.6
Years have passed, and Clinton has not been locked up, but inaccurate predictions never affected the growth of Q’s prestige. In his second post, later that day, he began to outline his broader message:
HRC detained, not arrested (yet). […]
POTUS knew removing criminal rogue elements as a first step was essential to free and pass legislation.
Who has access to everything classified?
Do you believe HRC, Soros, Obama etc. have more power than Trump? Fantasy.
Whoever controls the office of the Presidency controls this great land.
They never believed for a moment they (Democrats and Republicans) would lose control.
This is not a R v D battle.
Why did Soros donate all his money recently?
Why would he place all his funds in a RC?
God bless fellow Patriots.7
Even at this early stage, Q’s style is established. Missives are released as a series of aphorisms and provocations, and Q asks more questions than Socrates. The cryptic, oracular suggestions nudge followers into perceiving politics in new ways. Indeed, Q’s message is highly counter-intuitive and revisionary, especially for conservatives. The NSA is not a shadow government engaged in surveillance and invasions of privacy—it’s the headquarters of the “good guys.” Donald Trump is not a buffoonish womanizer and jet-setter—he’s the enemy of the globalist class. And Robert Mueller was not investigating Trump for possible impeachment proceedings—he was working alongside him to “drain the swamp.” Nothing is as it seems. And in this topsy-turvy world, traditional political reporting must be distrusted and dismissed (“fake news”). The evocative call sign “Mockingbird,” in fact, seems to reference an alleged CIA program during the Cold War aimed at manipulating the media. Interestingly, Q’s unique brand of contrarianism can be translated for audiences outside the U.S. One German Q supporter exclaimed, regarding the American forces occupying his country, “these are troops that will free the German people from Merkel.”8
Each day, Q’s followers are tasked with exegesis and elaboration of his latest “Q drops” (anonymous posting on 4chan, certified by his handle “BQ7V3bcW”). Much like Jesus, the religion of Q was formed, not by the man himself—who always speaks elliptically and poetically—but by his devotees, who wrote the Gospels and formed the movement. Q’s crypsis re-enforces his central message: Trust the Plan. You can’t know, and maybe wouldn’t believe, what is happening behind the scenes. But you must hold fast and have faith that “good” will triumph in the end.
The Q drops birthed a Reddit community of 70,000 members at its height, and the movement gained serious attention when it was discussed by Sean Hannity, Roseanne Barr, and Alex Jones—the latter claiming to have direct contact with the man himself. Q memes were re-tweeted by Republican Party activists.9 And over the course of 2018-20, there arose what could be called “Q-adjacent” politicians, pundits, and celebrities, who might not address Q directly, and might not have any direct connection with the movement, but who speak in a language that resonated with the scene.
We’ll probably never know Q’s identity, or whether he—or she or they—desired to launch a crusade when it all first began. He might have merely been “shit posting” on 4chan, a website notorious for conspiracy theories, pornography, and outrageous right-wing opinions. But at least by 2018, Q was aware that he was part of something much bigger than himself and was consciously cultivating his movement, with heavy doses of moralizing. This impulse is apparent in his posting leading up to the 2020 election:
One party discusses God.
One party discusses Darkness.
One party promotes God.
One party eliminates God.
Symbolism will be their downfall.
The Great Deceiver(s). […]
Have Faith in Humanity.
Have Faith in Yourself.
UNITED WE STAND.
2. A Conspiracy So Immense . . .
Throughout the 20th century, sociologists studied the development, in America and most Western countries, of “public opinion.” This is a mostly unified understanding of important events (“the news”), as well as communally shared values, habits, and actions: “watch the news at 5,” “vote on Tuesday,” “church on Sunday,” and so on.11 “Public opinion” must be fostered and managed; it was a critical component of administering a technological, “democratic” society. Over the course of the past 25 years, such unity has been fragmenting: we don’t listen to the same music or watch the same movies and shows, nor do we consider ourselves part of a collective political community. The birth of the Web may have accelerated this trend; social networking and alternative media shifted it into overdrive.
Republicans, and especially Q followers, consider themselves “real Americans,” but in contradistinction to the “liberal elites,” who are, at best, hypocritical and selfish and, at worst, downright evil. The liberals, in turn, mirror this view: conservative Trump voters are deluded or racist reactionaries, out of touch with their country’s true national purpose. Political polarization derives from this “culture of suspicion.” Q supporters don’t merely distrust the mainstream media; they reject it because it’s the mainstream media. Authenticity and truth are to be found elsewhere. For some time, right-wing outlets such as Fox News and talk radio served this purpose, but these are quickly being replaced by websites like Breitbart, Facebook groups, “citizen journalists,” and, yes, QAnon. 4Chan itself acts as a kind of chaotic “Id” brain of the online Right. The anonymous poster possessing esoteric knowledge is the most anti-mainstream—and thus the most credible—source there is.
Q integrates a number of inter-related sets of conspiratorial beliefs. According to its gospel, throughout the 20th century, the world was gradually taken over by “wicked” people, who were prepared to do anything they could to enrich themselves and become ever-more powerful. Those who are not part of this criminal organization are, generally, “good” people, though many are turned “evil” by their evil masters. This vicious elite constitutes a shadowy “Deep State,” which runs the world behind the scenes. A criminal ruling class—which includes the Clintons, every president after Reagan, Bill Gates, and the leaders of every dimension of Western societies that have any influence—can be blamed for everything: financial collapses, pandemics, and even child-abuse rings. To turn us into cooperative drones to be exploited, they undermine the cornerstones of Western civilization, such as family and national solidarity, and direct external invasions and drug epidemics. Even childhood vaccinations are part of their dastardly scheme.
Some “good” people still hold positions of power, and they are able to use the digital footprint (emails and other communications) left by “The Cabal” to start to challenge it. These “good guys” are working for the NSA and some other branches of government. Not too long ago, they devised a plan to take the world back and eventually arrest The Cabal’s leaders and henchmen. These patriots asked Trump to run for president so that they could enact their, as it were, “counter-conspiracy.” The Cabal struck back and did all it could to overthrow Trump—but he just kept on winning.
Part of the success of QAnon is the way in which it, parsimoniously, brings together and provides an overarching rationale for so many “alternative histories” that have been popular in America for decades. For example, The Cabal killed JFK because he threatened to undermine it, and they shot Ronald Regan to dissuade him from challenging it. The 9/11 attacks were an “inside job,” at the hands of The Cabal, in order to grab power and further erode the freedoms enjoyed by good citizens. Similarly, Covid-19 is a hoax deployed by this Deep State to control the populace and render them despondent.
Relatively recent revelations about high-level sexual abusers and pedophiles, such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein (1953-2019)—who supposed killed himself on suicide watch before he could face trial—are drawn into the web.12 Q followers have theorized that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death in 1999 in order to avoid being assassinated by The Cabal. He lives on as a Trump supporter in Pennsylvania; some think he might be Q himself.13 Some QAnon supporters accept the 2016 “Pizzagate” conspiracy, where a Washington, DC pizzeria was the headquarters of this diabolical child-abuse ring, with Bill Clinton’s chief of staff John Podesta, convicted sex offender and former Democrat congressman Anthony Weiner, and Hillary Clinton all being involved.
Yet another strand of QAnon thought focuses on the significance of Jewish financial interests in controlling The Cabal. According to this theory, the Satanic, child-stealing, baby-murdering Khazar Empire from Babylon was defeated by Russian Tzars and driven underground. They gradually infiltrated the world banking sector and even the British monarchy; the Rothschilds are actually Khazars, who control some of the world’s most powerful Satanists. As Q “dropped”: “Realize Soros, Clintons, Obama, Putin, etc. are all controlled by 3 families.”14 Q lists these three families in some posts: The House of Saud, George Soros himself, and the Rothschilds. In another post, Q asks: “What happened to Diana? What did she find out? Why was she running?” and invoked the idea of a secret British government, propped up by MI6.15 The rabbit hold runs deep . . .
3. That New Time Religion
What can we make of all this? America is notorious for its love of conspiracy theories, and these often seem to act much like “replacement religions.” Groups battle with each other and the victors pass on more of their genes. This is known as “group-selection.” Groups are more likely to win if they regard themselves as superior and the other group as evil. Religions tend to promote this adaptive way of thinking: We are the people of God; they worship the Devil. As a frontier and settler society at its inception, the American population has been subject to strong group-selection to be an intensely religious people, and a central aspect of religion is “over-detecting agency”—perceiving agents behind the world itself. It should thus be little surprise that in our “secular age,” America has become a land of believers in the supernatural, alien abductions, Satanic cabals, and bizarre creeds of all sorts.16 This has become particularly prominent from the 1960s onwards, as traditional religions have lost social power and prestige.17
Some Q followers have fully integrated his conspiracy theory into their religious practice; they, in fact, call themselves “Qvangelicals.”18 In this way, their daily news feed takes on religious significance. Q himself states: “We are living in Biblical times. Children of light vs children of darkness. United against the Invisible Enemy of all humanity.”19 Trump, in his way, is imagined as a fallen Messiah.
According to this strand of Q theology, the world is controlled by a Satan-worshipping pedophile ring that sexually abuses and kills children—and even drinks their blood—in order to achieve immortality. In many ways, Q followers might be compared to the Gnostics in the Early Church. This was a highly diverse movement, theologically speaking, united by core ideas. In particular, Gnostics believed that the universe was dualistic, reflecting an eternal battle between a higher god and the evil god of this world. This evil god was responsible for all of the world’s woes, and one could be “saved” by attaining direct knowledge of the higher god, knowledge which the evil god attempted to hide from you, via mystical practices.20
QAnon possesses not just a fledgling theology but an eschatology as well, a vision of the imminent End Times, both apocalyptic and triumphant. We are living through “The Awakening,” the point when the good people in government have begun communicating with and enlightening the broader public. Trump’s assumed re-election in November was said to herald “The Storm,” in which The Cabal was to be overthrown and America, restored. This November’s election has been tempestuous, indeed: both sides claimed victory; the Republicans cried “voter fraud”; and the Democrats suspected a potential coup. Q himself has gone mostly silent. On November 13—more than a week after Biden was deemed President Elect—Q announced: “Nothing can stop what is coming. Nothing!”21 But overall, Q has not given his millions of followers much guidance for how they should process what is unfolding.
Nevertheless, liberals will be disappointed if they expect that Biden’s inauguration will put a swift end to the QAnon phenomenon. The movement has deeper causes than Trump’s mercurial political career, and either outcome (a new Biden administration or Trump’s unlikely return to power) can be rationalized as The Cabal’s counter-strike or else as all part of The Plan. Put simply, QAnon and movements like it are here to stay. Remove Trump from office and watch the cult become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
4. The Times They Are A Changin’
Historically, religious revivals tend to take place during periods of dramatic change, especially during those that involve an elevated awareness of death: war, famine, plague, political instability, and the seeming end of the world.22 This makes sense because experimental research has found that individuals become more religious—more prone to strongly believing in God—in precisely these dire contexts.23 In the wake of World War I and the Spanish Flu Pandemic, there were notable religious revivals in eastern England and in northeast Scotland.24 After World War II and the end of post-War restrictions, there was a huge religious revival in the U.S. and in the UK led by pastor Billy Graham (1918-2018), based around emotional rallies each attended by many thousands.25
By 2020, Covid-19 burst on the scene and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world, creating a period of deep anxiety, in which it seemed very possible that the death toll could be enormous. In turn, the “lockdowns,” which governments instituted as a means of containing the plague, marked unprecedented disruptions to normal life. We have also had the sudden and heightened trauma of the Black Lives Matter Movement, resurrected in a newer, more intense form after the death of George Floyd. As I have argued, BLM can be considered a religious revival of its own.26 Regardless, the protests of this past summer eventuated in a collapse of public order in parts of the U.S. and UK: an orgy of inter-racial strife, violence, and self-righteous displays, which the political and legal Establishment was unable or unwilling to suppress. This was accompanied by the sapping of White morale through the removal of historical statues and other links with the “certainties” of the past.
With this background, we would expect there to be a religious revival in Western countries—and specifically one that might counter BLM. For various reasons, however, it could not be as overtly religious, as was Billy Graham’s movement, which developed in a context in which traditional Christianity was still dominant. Since then, we have witnessed the collapse of traditional society,27 a significant fall in the influence of Christianity, and deviations from traditional religious norms in many directions, with many people creating their own ersatz religion from various sources.28 Put simply, we’re lived through the fallout of the “death of God.”
For at least the past 100 years, a secularization thesis has informed, sometimes unconsciously, the minds of scholars, public intellectuals, and policy-makers. Briefly, people and institutions are becoming less religious; those religions that do persist are largely relegated to the private sphere: they are “tolerant” and more like lifestyles than ways of life. In reality, the situation is far more complicated. Society is increasingly divided between “Individualists” and those who are high in “Binding Values” (putting the group ahead of the individual). “Individualist” ideas have gradually become dominant across time. And extreme Individualists have ascended to the heights of the social ladder and pushed the broader society in their direction. While this has been happening, however, those who are highest in Binding Values—and especially those prone to intense religiosity—have been having the most children. The result is that America—and, in fact, nations around the world29—are undergoing radical polarization. Social trust has collapsed, as each side is increasingly alienated from the other, culturally and morally. Moreover, in “meritocratic” societies, education, IQ, and being “politically correct” are all inter-related, as we will see in more detail below. This has led to even greater social and economic distance between the two polarized groups.
It is against this background that QAnon’s rise must be understood, as the religion provides a means of making sense of a world that its adherents increasingly don’t understand. If Americans’ moral foundations veer more towards those of a traditional kind, they will be profoundly concerned with a structured and ordered society, with rescuing and promoting their group, and with destroying that which fills them with disgust—sexual disgust, in particular. QAnon is attractive to such people because it provides order out of chaos; it offers a rescue plan for the group as a whole; and it is partly focused on destroying sexual deviants and those disloyal to the group—those that want to create chaos.
There are certainly ways that the Q cult can encourage unhealthy obsessions and anti-social behavior among its believers. It’s worth remember that on December 4, 2016, a North Carolina man, brandishing a rifle, entered the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Northern Virginia and threatened employees before being arrested. He claimed to be “investigating” the Pizzagate affair, discussed above.30 It might be only a matter of time before something similar, or worse, takes place involving a deranged Q advocate.
That said, we would be remiss if we ignored the ways that the Q cult can be “adaptive,” in an evolutionary sense, and bring along many of the benefits of older religions. First, Q offers the promise that, once the evil-doers are dispatched, America will experience a revival of traditional values, which used to be central to American life (including ethnocentrism and pro-natalism). Additionally, in that Q presents itself as a moral crusade, it can also inspire self-sacrificing, group-selected, and ultimately pro-social behavior. And, as we will see as we turn to the scientific theories of religion, it is the more tightly bonded groups that tend to triumph in the end.
5. The Evolution of Religion in the 21st Century
“Religion,” in the widely accepted sense of the word, involves all of the key components of an evolutionary adaptation. It is around 0.4 genetic; traditional religiousness (specifically the collective worship of a moral god) is associated with physical and mental health, partly at the genetic level;31 it correlates with fertility; and specific parts of the brain are associated with it.32 Accordingly, religiousness was selected for under the conditions of harsh Darwinian selection that were prevalent until the breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution.
There are likely a number of non-exclusive reasons why religiousness evolved. One is that it promoted pro-social behavior. Those who believed in a god who told them to behave in a pro-social way were less likely to be cast out or killed by the pre-historic band and were, therefore, more likely to pass on their genes. A related possibility is that it reduced stress when we, as advanced rational beings, recognized our own mortality. Those who felt that their lives had eternal meaning and that a god was constantly looking after them would be less likely to become depressed and anxious and more likely to pass on their genes.33 Consistent with this, not only do people tend to become more religious at times of stress, they are more likely to have dramatic religious experiences in which they do not merely vaguely feel that God is present but, as far as they are concerned, see Him and hear His reassuring voice.34 In general, it seems reasonable to argue that religiousness would have been selected for because it promoted mental health, with the result that mental health and religiosity have become genetically related, due to both being simultaneously selected over a lengthy period of time.35
Religion also would have been kin-selected for, too. You can pass on your genes indirectly by aiding your kin: your children share 50 percent of your genes and more distant kin, such as nephews, share 25 percent. If a person were highly religious, it would make their kin more attractive, because of the associations between religiousness, pro-social behavior, and mental stability. This would help to explain why some Islamic fundamentalists kill daughters who have dishonored the family. It is a way of signaling the family’s commitment to Islam, and thus elevating kin selection.36 An ethnic group is an extended genetic kinship group and is thus a means by which you indirectly pass on your genes.37 It has been found, using computer-modeling, that groups that are highest in positive ethnocentrism (internal cooperation) and negative ethnocentrism (external hostility) tend to dominate others in the battle of group selection.38 There is evidence implying that religiousness is genetically associated with both kinds of ethnocentrism, because a part of the brain associated with ethnocentrism is also associated with religiousness.39 And the correlation between positive ethnocentrism and religiousness would make sense because a group would be more internally cooperative if it were high in pro-social traits and low in mental instability.
This is why religion is such a prominent part of the human experience. In essence, the group that promoted the most adaptive behaviors as “God’s will” was more likely to pass on its genes, while those who did not were more likely to die off. To be religious became associated with other adaptive traits, but it also elevated group-fitness by elevating being group-selected as “divinely ordained.”
There has, however, long been variation within societies in the nature of religiousness. One reason for this is that religion is itself composed of a series of adaptive traits, which, because they were adaptive, became bundled together and selected for as a single trait—religiosity. These are, among others:
Agency Over-Detection. We have a cognitive bias towards detecting the presence of an agent behind events. This is because, following the “Smoke Detector Principle,” it is adaptive to assume the worst and get it wrong—such as to assume that that rustling noise behind the bush was a wolf rather than the wind. This helps to explain why we might see evidence of god’s agency in the world.
Pattern Over-Detection. Much as with agency, we are evolved to over-detect causation. This is adaptive because those who under-detected it would have been wiped out. Partly for this reason, we are evolved to want a world that is highly structured and that makes sense to us.
Follow the Leader. We are evolved to form strongly-bonded groups and to obey authority; as such, groups are more likely to survive in the battle of group selection.40
Religions will vary in the extent of the prominence of each of these factors. This means that, though religiousness is generally adaptive, it is quite possible for maladaptive forms of religiousness—which do not “get the balance right”—to manifest, as has been the case throughout history. Those that espoused these forms of religiousness have tended not to survive.
One of the key balances that has to be maintained in any group is that between “individualism” and “binding values,” which we briefly looked at above. Jonathan Haidt has proposed that there are “Five Moral Foundations” on which humans vary. These divide into two higher order clusters: Individualizers (who are broadly left-wing) and those who are high on Binding (we’ll call them Binders, and they tend to be right-wing). Individualizers are strongly focused on “Care” (harm avoidance) and “Fairness” (a desire for equality). Although these values may superficially appear “selfless,” they are individualist, because they are concerned with the good of the individual (harm avoidance) or how he feels (equality) about the good of the group. Individualizers have relatively little interest in “Authority,” “Loyalty,” and “Sanctity” (that some things are “pure” and others “revolting” and “reprehensible”).
Binders are roughly equally concerned about “Loyalty,” “Authority,” “Sanctity,” “Care,” and “Fairness,” though there are some “extreme Binders” who do not much care about the latter two foundations; these people tend to be “far right.” Different forms of religion are thus differentially attractive to those who are stronger or weaker in the different moral foundations. For example, early Protestantism can be regarded as, in many ways, a revolutionary left-wing movement that was very high in “Fairness” and very low in traditional “Authority.”41 Of course, there will be all kinds of individual variance in the degree of strength within these moral foundations, but, overall, this was the clustering that was found.42 The groups that were successful in the battle of group selection were the groups that attained the optimum adaptive balance between these sets of foundations.
By 1800, we would expect White Americans to be particularly religious, because the cultural core of the country was founded by Puritans, who would have passed on their intense religiosity as a genetic legacy. The heritability of extreme religiosity is around 0.7,43 and White Americans were subject to intense group selection, especially in fighting Native Americans and the demands of establishing themselves in a hostile environment to which they were not adapted. Then again, evolution never stops. So we need to look closer at what happened to that original American stock.
6. The Industrial Revolution’s Revolution
Some 200 years ago, a basic level of religiosity had been established across the White race. Indeed, it has been shown that Western Europeans became more religious, seemingly for genetic reasons, throughout the Middle Ages, often due to executing and ostracizing “heretics” (that is, those prone to religious deviation and atheism).44 At that time, in Europe, the child mortality rate was 50 percent. A further 40 percent of people either witnessed all of their offspring die young or did not marry. Thus, only 10 percent of people born actually passed on their genes, and it has been shown in other species that this is necessary for a population to remain healthy. The Industrial Revolution heralded huge improvements in medicine, inoculations, and general living standards. And currently, around 80 percent of people pass on their genes and child mortality is 1 percent.45 In other words, the Industrial Revolution sparked a genetic revolution, as well—a dramatic change in who survived and reproduced.
In 1800, White America was a small gene pool in which people were all relatively genetically similar and strongly genetically fit, because those who deviated from the optimum—due to mutant genes—were purged from the population every generation. Being strongly genetically similar, the population would tend to trust each other, cooperate, and think in the same direction. We bond with people who are more genetically similar to ourselves because this is a means of indirectly passing on more of our genes. This trend is found even when looking at relationships between siblings, whose genetic similarity level can be subtly differ. This is why husbands and wives—and even best friends—are more genetically similar than could ever come about by chance.46 With the Industrial Revolution, this happy homogeneity began to break down, because selection pressure was heavily weakened. The result is a many-fold, inter-related sequence of factors, which change the nature, cohesiveness, and worldview of the population.
The Eleven Consequence of the Industrial Revolution
1. Genetic Physical Sickness
Populations are increasingly genetically sick, as mutations are no longer purged from the population. This has been demonstrated by growing evidence of highly genetic physical disorders.
2. Genetic Mental Sickness
Populations are increasingly mentally unfit, as witnessed by a rise in mental conditions associated with low fertility, such as depression and schizophrenia.
3. Genetic Diversity and Low Trust
Even controlling for immigration, societies are increasingly genetically diverse, leading, purely for genetic reasons, to lots of differences in how people view the world and a gradual collapse in social trust.
4. Diverse and Maladaptive Worldviews
We see worldviews that were extraordinarily rare in 1800 becoming more and more commonplace. This makes sense if we understand the relatively close relationship between physical and mental traits. The brain is 84 percent of the genome. This means it is a massive target for mutation, such that the higher your general mutational load, the more likely you are to have mutations of the mind, which would have been strongly maladaptive under Darwinian conditions and which correlate with other physical and mental mutations. Under harsh conditions, we were evolved to collectively worship a moral god in order to be highly ethnocentric. We should see increasing deviation from group religiosity, and worldviews that are highly maladaptive; these should be associated with evidence of mutation.47 In line with this prediction, views associated with the Left can be regarded as clearly maladaptive or deviations from the Darwinian optimum. These include atheism (which undermines group selection), believing that life is pointless and has no eternal significance, anti-natalism, redistribution (putting other families above your own), multiculturalism (putting other ethnic groups above your own), individualism (having no concern for your group), and animal rights (putting other species above your own). These viewpoints are themselves associated with other maladaptive traits, in particular low fertility and high levels of mental illness, one strong example being depression.48 These deviations from the collective worship of a moral god are, unsurprisingly, also associated with physical evidence of mutation. In other words, you can learn a lot about someone’s psychology by assessing what they look like.
Having a symmetrical face is attractive because it implies that you have low levels of mutations. It indicates that you have been able to maintain a symmetrical phenotype in the face of disease, meaning that you have an optimal immune system, good genetic health, and thus a low mutational load. A person with high mutational load, and thus poor genetic health, need to employ proportionately more of their bio-energetic resources fighting off disease, resulting in less symmetry.49 On this basis, we would predict that people who were traditionally religious or right-wing—the two measures robustly correlate50—to be judged as better looking than left-wing people and to have faces that were more symmetrical. There is evidence indicating that this is, indeed, the case.51 Left-handedness is also a sign of high mutational load, as a symmetrical brain is associated with right-handedness. Accordingly, we would predict that non-right-handedness would be correlated with atheism, and this is so.52
5. The Spread of these Maladaptive Views to the Relatively Healthy
As humans are a highly pro-social species, we evolved to be in networks of mentally healthy people, and are impacted by the nature of the people with whom we interact. For example, though depression is highly genetic, there is a significant environmental component, with people who regularly associate with depressed people being more likely to become depressed themselves.53 In the same way, those who hold maladaptive views would become an increasing presence in the population and would influence those around them to adopt these views. These influencers, who hold these views to a pronounced degree, can be termed “spiteful mutants,” as they induce those who are lower in mutational load to adopt maladaptive views.54 Traditional society has established structures—such as religiosity and child-rearing practices—which optimally elevate its group fitness. The spiteful mutant will attack and undermine these, subverting them such that they undermine the fitness of society. Only those who are, for genetic reasons, extremely fitness-oriented, such as the traditionally religious, will instinctively reject the spiteful mutants, just as, centuries ago, ideas that undermined group fitness were dismissed as “witchcraft” and “devil worship.”
Once around 20 percent of the population holds maladaptive views, studies have shown that it can be expected to turn, very quickly, towards the new “system,” as the old system will appear moribund in comparison and adaptive people seek to join the winning team.55 This change seems to have happened around the 1960s. The means by which you would gain status in the new system would be to signal how pro-equality you were, meaning that society, taken over by the new way of thinking, would overtly become ever more left-wing and, thus, ever more different from the remnant group-selected component of the population, which maintained traditional values and was relatively resistant to changes. It would also mean that regulations on issues such as sexual mortality would collapse.
6. Declining Religiousness and Rising Individualism
Due to very low mortality salience, and all else controlled for, people would be very low in religiousness and thus low in the group-fitness promoting ideas associated with religiousness, such as ethnocentrism. It has been found that religiousness promotes social trust among non-relatives, as it is an insurance policy that a stranger—believing that god will punish him for his misdeeds—can be trusted. As religion collapses, therefore, social trust collapses, as well.56 The collapse of religiously-induced ethnocentrism, combined with a drift towards individualist values, also leads to mass immigration. It has been found that multiculturalism—specifically a local neighborhood becoming ethnically diverse—reduces social trust. The natives are not only disinclined to trust foreign immigrants but other natives, as well. This happens because the natives blame their co-ethnics for allowing the multicultural situation to occur, and also because they now fear that disloyal co-ethnics might collaborate against them with the immigrants.57
7. High Fertility on the “Far Right”
The portion of the society that is utterly resistant to the new fitness-damaging system of individualist values will be predicted to have been growing due to the association between traditional religiosity and fertility. In this line, it has been found that, using Western samples, being “far right” predicts having the highest fertility while being “far left” predicts having the lowest.58
8. A Genetic Caste System
Our relatively meritocratic and mobile society has created increasing cognitive stratification, whereby intelligent people, who happen to be born into working-class families, for example, are very easily able to leave this environment, become educated, and move to other areas dominated by educated and intelligent people.59 This was not possible when society was less meritocratic, in part because it was less interested in values such as “Fairness.” The result is that people of different intelligence levels, and even of different social classes (socioeconomic status being robustly predicted by intelligence60), increasingly inhabit different worlds. And, due to the high genetic component of intelligence of around 0.8, as well as the high genetic component of the personality traits associated with high IQ,61 they will be increasingly different from each other genetically, as well. So, we would expect those at the bottom of society to decreasingly trust and admire the elite. Furthermore, intelligence is associated with realizing what the dominant set of values is, and with forcing yourself to adopt them so that you can get on better in life. This is why professional people, currently, tend to espouse leftist values.62 Those of lower socioeconomic status will be less able to do this so, in a society of cognitive stratification, and will be increasingly alienated from the elite.
9. Declining IQ and so Declining Trust
One of the correlates of intelligence is trust. People with high IQ are more trusting, possibly because if you have low IQ you are more likely to be taken advantage of, meaning that it is adaptive to trust nobody. Another result of the Industrial Revolution has been declining intelligence. Various factors have contributed to this, but the most salient is contraception—the promotion of wide scale, reliable contraception being a major innovation of the Industrial Revolution. Intelligence predicts the impulse control to use contraception and the cognitive ability to use it correctly. As a result, large families now happen by accident and are associated with low intelligence, there being a correlation of about -0.2 between IQ and how many children you have. We know this is happening for genetic reasons because the population prevalence of alleles associated with high intelligence in a Western sample has decreased across three generations, and numerous other correlates of intelligence all show the same pattern.63 This results in a society that is less trusting overall, and particularly less trusting of its elite. A lower intelligence, all else being equal, would also predict a population becoming more conservative, more religious, and more dogmatic.
10. The Mutation of Religion
The genetic diversity, and increased mutation, wrought by the Industrial Revolution means that we would expect the traditional “religious bundle” to break up in a growing number of people. Thus, you would have, in many supporters of Black Lives Matter, for example, high levels of dogmatism, intense hatred of the out-group, fervent belief in certain ideas, belief in the morality of the in-group, even collective worship of sorts, but no belief that life has eternal significance or belief in gods. This ideology is underpinned by individualistic foundations which, in some respects, it renders sacred: unquestionable dogmas, like “equality” and “social justice.”
We might also expect a similar deviation among those who have Binding values: they will semi-sanctify Binding values, meaning they will have some aspects of religiousness, but they might lack the belief in a moral god, or their belief in god will be so extreme as to be obsessive and damaging to their ability to get along with people. We can see QAnon supporters who worship Donald Trump as Messianic figure.
Such people would be high in evidence of mutation. Consistent with this prediction, it has been found that people who are high in the personality trait Neuroticism (which is associated with depression and anxiety) are generally low in religious belief. However, they go through phases of extremely intense religious belief. Suffering from manic depression or bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia, as well, is also strongly associated with hyper-religiosity. In sum, mental illness is a marker of genetic mutation, and it seems to make one prone to an unhealthy righteousness.64
This makes sense because an aspect of schizophrenia is hyper-mentalizing, whereby schizophrenics are intensely interested in the feelings of others and external cues from them. Accordingly, they perceive evidence of “mind” everywhere, including in the world itself, making them paranoid.65 A study from Switzerland found that one third of schizophrenics are very strongly involved with their local mainstream church and that a further 10 percent are involved in New Religious Movements: small sects that tend to be fervently religious.66 All people sit on a schizotypy scale, with full schizophrenia at one extreme; the higher they are on this scale, the more attracted they are to conspiracy theories67 and unconventional and paranoid beliefs.68 So, this implies that some people on the “Right” are also manifestations of high mutational load. The “Right,” however, would be less influenced by mutational load than the Left, because the Right would be closer to the ideas that were prominent under harsh Darwinian conditions and, in line with this, being right wing lineally correlates with fertility and mental health, as noted earlier. It might also be noted that extreme Left activists have been shown to score very high in Narcissism (entitlement and desire for adulation) and Machiavellianism (desire for power), which makes sense as, in the current climate, being left wing is a means of achieving these aims. Those who are “White Identitarian” score high in psychopathology (low empathy), which makes sense because, currently, they are profound non-conformists.69 If combined with a period of high mental instability, then this could predict attraction to the “far Right,” at least when that is highly counter-cultural. These traits are expressions of developmental instability and thus, in some cases, mutational load.70
11. The Internet Echo Chamber
Finally, a clearly important factor, which indirectly emanates from the Industrial Revolution, is the technological revolution and the rise of the Internet. This has aided polarization by permitting like-minded people to easily find each other and establish online communities, which can spill over into real life. We have progressively moved from being a “mass society,” in which public opinion is managed by an elite, to a “network society” of ever fragmenting, often hermetic groups, each with its own inner-directed propaganda.71 This has permitted the proliferation of “non-mainstream” opinions, and the managing elite has, to a large extent, lost control of people’s minds. This happened previously in history, with the birth of printing, but not to this pronounced degree. Elites have attempted to deal with this reality by increasingly censoring social-media platforms, as noted above, but, in many ways, the train has left the station. The rise of the Internet—and social-media echo chambers like Q—are simply amplifying a polarizing tendency that was already under way.
The year 2020, which many saw as the end of the world, catalyzed two distinct religious revivals for our divided age: BLM and QAnon. They are godless faiths; however, they contain many of the core elements of the Christian revivals of yesteryear. Both are birthed from the evolutionary dynamics of post-Industrial society. And both, in their ways, are hysterical, schizophrenic expressions of how religiosity manifests itself in our “secular age.”
Coda: Is Q Getting At Something?
The mainstream media dismisses QAnon’s beliefs as fraudulent—ridiculous at best, dangerous at worst. We should remember that a cult like Q is unlikely to be persuasive if did not tap into some aspects of reality or contain a few kernels of truth.
Take, for instance, the belief that causes the most controversy—that Satanic pedophiles are in positions of power around the world. If we break this down, it could be argued that, in the minds of evangelicals, what “Satan” essentially preaches is individualism: wealth, power, and pleasure in the here and now, rather than sacrificing power in this world for glory in the next.72 There is a substantial body of evidence that people who tend to reach the very top of their professions, especially in business and politics, seem to combine outlier high intelligence with moderately psychopathic traits, such as moderately low altruism and moderately low impulse control. This means, for example, that not being bound by rules and conventions, they have the intelligence and traits to conceive of original ideas, and they don’t care that their original ideas may offend against vested interests.73 In the world of business, such people will come up with brilliant ideas, as they will in the arts. In the world of politics, such men will be superb at presenting themselves and persuading and manipulating their peers.
In an increasingly individualistic society, in which religious condemnation of individualistic behavior such as adultery has collapsed, such people would be more easily able to attain positions of political leadership. Sexual promiscuity is one of a number of accepted markers of psychopathic personality, alongside grandiosity and superficial charm.74 A few generations ago, revelations that a politician had had an affair, let alone fathered an illegitimate child, would be the end of his career. No longer. A key correlate of originality is testosterone, because it makes one driven, ambitious, competitive, low in impulse control, and low in altruism. It also gives you a high sex drive.75 Indeed, an analysis of a sample of extremely eminent people found them to have been high both in sexual deviance and sexual promiscuity, as well as being high in sub-clinical psychopathology. This analysis, by psychologist Felix Post (1913-2001), found that six percent of the male population in Western countries can be regarded as archetypal psychopaths, something true of none of a sample of “eminent men” whom he biographically analyzed. However, Post estimated that 10 percent of the male population were “subclinical psychopaths,” meaning psychopathic tendencies sufficiently strong to adversely impact relationships or careers. This he estimated to be true of 14 percent of eminent men, meaning subclinical psychopaths were overrepresented. Among eminent writers, subclinical psychopathology was 20 percent, while among eminent artists it was 25 percent. Among politicians it was just 11 percent, only slightly above the general male population. However, using the less severe measure of having “potentially handicapping traits” of antisocial personality disorder, Post found that this was true of 52 percent of politicians, 50 percent of artists, and 70 percent of writers. Post cautiously estimates that this level of psychopathology applies to 16 percent of the male population. Accordingly, it can be averred that moderate antisocial behavior disorder is elevated among the highly eminent.76 So, we should not be surprised that, to a greater extent than was once the case, people who are high in individualism, intelligence, and psychopathic traits should rise to the top.
Such people’s rise would be aided if they adopted the group-fitness damaging, spiteful mutant-inspired leftist ideas that are currently in vogue, so we would expect them to do that. And, with their high sex drives, and low empathy, we might even expect them to engage in sexual abuse to an elevated degree, including abuse of children because, as they are such easy prey. Approximately half of those who sexually abuse children are not exclusively attracted to children. Pedophiles, so defined, have strongly elevated levels of poor mental health (something Post also found was high among the very eminent), including mood disorders (66 percent), obsessive compulsive disorder (25 percent), and personality disorders of various kinds (61 percent), such as Psychopathic Personality.77 For this reason, evidence of the abuse, especially of young girls, by such males starts to make more sense. Pedophilia and psychopathic personality may be comorbid, because they are both manifestations of developmental instability, resulting from elevated mutational load.78 In addition, only pedophiles who are high in psychopathic personality would be likely to act on their proclivities. Those who are high in psychopathic personality are, in evolutionary terms, adapted to a chaotic, unstable environment in which cooperating with people is futile, because such acts might never be reciprocated; you must, therefore, “live fast, die young” and opt to pass on your genes as quickly as possible. This militates in favor of having as much sex as you can with as many fertile (and thus young) females as possible. This is known as a fast Life History Strategy.79 Having sex with underage, though fertile, girls—“ephebophilia”—would simply be an extreme manifestation of this sexual strategy. There is also evidence that, in such contexts of instability, males who engaged in rape were more likely to pass on their genes, and that gang rape was especially common in pre-history. As a consequence, males, even now, produce more semen during rape, as rape traditionally involved sperm competition. Men also become more aroused by, and produce more semen, when watching violent porn than “vanilla” porn. In other words, men have been selected to be aroused by violence, especially sexual violence.80 Thus, for some men who abuse underage children, it may not be that they find them attractive; they are turned on by power and dominance. This would be more likely if they were fast Life History Strategists.
In the UK, elite pedophile fascination was sparked in the wake of the death of the extremely popular and influential entertainer Sir Jimmy Savile (1926-2011). Evidencing his “Establishment” status, Savile had been given a knighthood in 1990. After Savile died, large numbers of allegations came to light that he had raped and otherwise sexually abused under-age girls throughout his long career and had even been subject to a police investigation about this shortly before his death.81 A subsequent police inquiry into historic sexual abuse, “Operation Yew Tree,” as well as concomitant investigations and publicity, led to the downfall or reassessment of many other celebrities and politicians who had received assorted honors such as CBE (Companion of the British Empire), OBE (Order of the British Empire), and knighthoods. The investigation led to the jailing of a household name, entertainer Rolf Harris, CBE (b. 1930), for sexually abusing under-age girls; the imprisonment of TV personality Stuart Hall, OBE (b. 1929), on 13 counts of indecent assault against girls aged 9 to 17 between 1967 and 1986; and two posthumous allegations of underage rape, and one of rape of a 17-year-old woman, against deceased TV personality Sir Clement Freud (1924-2009), grandson of the psychiatrist.82
So, looked at in this way, the idea that the world is run—or at least heavily influenced—by selfish, child-abusers Satanists becomes less than entirely ludicrous. And, as was noted when Jimmy Savile’s proclivities came to light, there must have been so many high-status people who, at best, turned a blind eye to what they knew he was doing and, at worst, enabled him.83 We can see how people might suspect the same to be true of Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Michael Jackson, and many others. In general, we exaggerate the extent to which members of an out-group are morally deficient, and we can see how this would become particularly pronounced at a time of extreme polarization and existential stress.84
Katrin Bennhold, “QAnon Is Thriving in Germany. The Extreme Right Is Delighted,” New York Times, October 11, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/world/europe/qanon-is-thriving-in-germany-the-extreme-right-is-delighted.html (accessed November 15, 2020). ↩︎
Barabara Ortutay, “YouTube Follows Twitter and Facebook with QAnon Crackdown,” AP News, October 15, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/youtube-qanon-conspiracy-theories-ef03a889e68239de6692ce42666d97d8 (accessed November 15, 2020). ↩︎
Graeme Bruce, “Half of Trump’s Supporters Think Top Democrats are Involved in Child Sex-trafficking,” YouGov, https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/2020/10/20/half-trump-supporters-believe-qanon-theory-child-s (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Edward Dutton, “The Next Great Awakening,” Radix Journal, https://radixjournal.com/2020/06/the-next-great-awakening/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
For an early look at “Q”, see Paris Martineau, “The Storm Is the New Pizzagate — Only Worse,” New York, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2017/12/qanon-4chan-the-storm-conspiracy-explained.html (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/146981635/#147012719 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/146981635/#147012719 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Bennhold, “QAnon Is Thriving in Germany,” New York Times, op cit.↩︎
William March, “Conspiracy Theorist QAnon Promoted, Then Deleted, by Hillsborough County GOP, Tampa Bay Times, July 16, 2018, https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/07/16/conspiracy-theorist-qanon-promoted-then-deleted-by-hillsborough-county-gop/ (accessed November 15, 2020). ↩︎
Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/146981635/#147012719 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
See Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1922); Jacques Ellul, Propaganda (Alfred A. Knopf, 1967). ↩︎
See Jasun Horsley, The Vice of Kings: How Socialism, Occultism, and the Sexual Revolution Engineered a Culture of Abuse (London, Aeon Books, 2019). ↩︎
E.J. Dickson, “QAnon Followers Think JFK Jr. Is Coming Back on the 4th of July,” Rolling Stone, https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/qanon-jfk-jr-conspiracy-theory-854938/ (accessed December 10, 2020). ↩︎
Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://archive.4plebs.org/pol/thread/147433975/#147434025 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Ling, “QAnon’s Creator Made the Ultimate Conspiracy Theory,” op cit.↩︎
Michael Barkun, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2003). ↩︎
Peter Knight, Conspiracy Culture: From Kennedy to The X Files (London, Routledge, 2013). ↩︎
Justin Ling, “QAnon’s Creator Made the Ultimate Conspiracy Theory,” Foreign Affairs October 6, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/10/06/qanon-creator-ultimate-conspiracy-theory-q/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://qalerts.app/?q=Biblical+times (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Gerard van Grongingen. First Century Gnosticism: Its Origin and Motifs (Leiden: BRILL, 1967). ↩︎
Anonymous, BQ7V3bcW, 4chan.org/pol, https://qalerts.app/?n=4950 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
See Steve Bruce, God Is Dead: Secularization in the West (Oxford, Blackwell, 2002). ↩︎
Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-sociality,” Science, 322 (2008): 58-62. ↩︎
Stanley C. Griffin, A Forgotten Revival: East Anglia and Northeast Scotland, 1921 (Bromley: Day One Publications, 1992). ↩︎
Callum Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000 (London: Routledge, 2009). ↩︎
See Brown. The Death of Christian Britain, op cit.↩︎
See Edward Bailey. Implicit Religion: An Introduction (Hendon, Middlesex University Press, 1998). ↩︎
Eric Kaufmann, Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century (London: Profile Book, 2010). ↩︎
Faiz Siddiqui and Susan Svrluga, “N.C. Man Told Police He Went to D.C. Pizzeria With Gun to Investigate Conspiracy Theory,” Washington Post, December 5, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/12/04/d-c-police-respond-to-report-of-a-man-with-a-gun-at-comet-ping-pong-restaurant/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Edward Dutton, Guy Madison, and Curtis Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God’: The Rejection of Collective Religiosity Centered Around the Worship of Moral Gods is Associated with High Mutational Load,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 233-244. ↩︎
Rüdiger Vaas, “God, Gains and Genes,” in The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior, eds. Eckart Voland and Wulf Schiefenhövel (New York: Springer, 2009). ↩︎
Norenzayan and Shariff, “The Origin and Evolution of Religious Pro-sociality,” op cit.↩︎
Lewis Rambo. Understanding Religious Conversion (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993). ↩︎
See Dutton, Madison and Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God,’” op cit.↩︎
Yael Sela, Todd K. Shackelford, and James R. Liddle, “When Religion Makes It Worse: Religiously Motivated Violence As a Sexual Selection Weapon,” in The Attraction of Religion: A New Evolutionary Psychology of Religion, eds. D. Jason Sloane and James A. Slyke (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). ↩︎
Frank Salter, On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (New Brunswick, NJ: Transactions, 2006). ↩︎
Robert Axelrod and Ross A. Hammond, “The Evolution of Ethnocentric Behavior,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50 (2006): 1-11. ↩︎
Colin Holbrook, Keise Izuma, Choi Deblieck, Daniel M. Fessler, and Marco Iacoboni, “Neuromodulation of Group Prejudice and Religious Belief,” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11 (2016): 387-394. ↩︎
Pascal Boyer, Religion Explained: The Human Instincts that Fashion Gods, Spirits and Ancestors (London: Heinemann, 2001). ↩︎
G.J.R. Parry, A Protestant Vision: William Harrison and the Reformation of Elizabethan England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). ↩︎
Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian A. Nosek, “Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations,” Personality Processes and Individual Differences, 96 (2009): 1029-1046. ↩︎
Matt Bradshaw and Christopher G. Ellison, “Do Genetic Factors Influence Religious Life? Findings from a Behavior Genetic Analysis of Twin Siblings,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 47 (2008): 529-544. ↩︎
Edward Dutton and Guy Madison, “Execution, Violent Punishment and Selection for Religiousness in Medieval England,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 4 (2018): 83-89. ↩︎
Anthony Volk, and Jeremy Atkinson, “Is Child Death the Crucible of Human Evolution?” Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2 (2008): 103-116. ↩︎
J. Philippe Rushton, “Ethic Nationalism: Evolutionary Psychology and Genetic Similarity Theory,” Nations and Nationalism, 11 (2005): 489-507. ↩︎
Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Matthew A. Sarraf, Radomir N. Pestow, and Heitor B. F. Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3 (2017): 181-191. ↩︎
Emil Kirkegaard, “Mental Illness and the Left,” Mankind Quarterly, 60 (2020): 487-510. ↩︎
Michael Woodley of Menie, Heitor Fernandes, Satoshi Kanazawa, and Edward Dutton, “Sinistrality is Associated With (Slightly) Lower General Intelligence: A Data Synthesis and Consideration of Secular Trend Data in Handedness,” HOMO: Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 69 (2018): 118-126. ↩︎
Corwin Smidt and James Penning, “Religious Commitment, Political Conservatism, and Political and Social Tolerance in the United States: A Longitudinal Analysis,” Sociological Analysis, 43 (1982): 231-245. ↩︎
Niclas Berggren, Henrik Jordahl, Panu Poutvaara, “The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Voters Reward It,” Journal of Public Economics, 146 (2017): 79-86. ↩︎
Dutton, Madison and Dunkel, “The Mutant Says in His Heart, ‘There Is No God’”, op cit.↩︎
T.E. Joiner, “Contagious Depression: Existence, Specificity to Depressed Symptoms, and the Role of Reassurance Seeking,” Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 67 (1994): 287-296. ↩︎
Michael A. Woodley of Menie, Matthew A. Sarraf, Rodomir N. Pestow, and Heitor B. F. Fernandes, “Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations,” Evolutionary Psychological Science, 3 (2017): 181-191. ↩︎
Damon Centola, Joshua Becker, Devon Brackbill, and Andrea Baronchelli, “Experimental Evidence for Tipping Points in Social Convention,” Science, 360 (2018): 1116-1119. ↩︎
See Ara Norenzayan, Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013). ↩︎
Robert Putnam, “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century: The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize lecture,” Scandinavian Political Studies, 30 (2007): 137–174. ↩︎
Martin Fieder and S.usanne Huber, “Political Attitude and Fertility: Is There a Selection for the Political Extreme?” Frontiers in Psychology (2018), https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02343. ↩︎
See Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (New York: Free Press, 1994). ↩︎
See Arthur Jensen. The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998). ↩︎
Richard Lynn. Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (London: Ulster Institute for Social Research, 1996). ↩︎
Michael Woodley of Menie and Curtis Dunkel, “Beyond the Cultural Mediation Hypothesis: A Reply to Dutton (2013),” Intelligence, 49 (2015): 186-191. ↩︎
See Edward Dutton and Michael Woodley of Menie. At Our Wits’ End: Why We’re Becoming Less Intelligent and What It Means for the Future (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2018). ↩︎
Harold G. Koenig, “Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications,” ISRN Psychiatry (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/278730 (accessed December 5, 2020). ↩︎
Christopher Badcock, “Mentalism and Mechanism: Twin Modes of Human Cognition,” in Evolutionary Psychology, Public Policy and Personal Decisions, eds. Charles Crawford and Catherine Salman (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2003). ↩︎
Philippe Huguelet, Sylvia Mohr, Laurence Borras, et al., “Spirituality and Religious Practices Among Outpatients With Schizophrenia and Their Clinicians,” Psychiatric Services, 57 (2006): 366–372. ↩︎
D. Barron, A. Furnham, L. Weiss, K. Morgan, T. Towell and V. Swami. “The Association Between Schizotypal Components and Conspiricist Beliefs Through Cognitive Mediators,” Schizophrenia Bulletin, 44 (2018): s368-369. ↩︎
Jo Hodgekins, “Schizotypy and Psychopathology,” in Schizoptypy: New Dimensions, eds. Oliver Mason and Gordan Claridge (London: Routledge, 2015). ↩︎
Jordan Moss and Peter O’Connor. “The Dark Triad traits Predict Authoritarian Political Correctness and Alt-Right Attitudes,” Heliyon, 6 (2020): e04453. ↩︎
Martin Lalumiere, Grant T. Harris, and Marnie Rice, “Psychopathy and Developmental Instability,” Evolution and Human Behavior, 22 (2001): 75-92. ↩︎
See Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts, Network Propaganda: Manipulations, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). ↩︎
See J.A. Peterson, “Carnal, Chthonic, and Complicated: The Matter of Modern Satanism,” in Controversial New Religions. eds. James Lewis and Jesper Peterson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). ↩︎
See, Edward Dutton and Bruce G. Charlton, The Genius Famine (Buckingham, University of Buckingham Press, 2015). ↩︎
See Edward Dutton and Richard Lynn, “Cheating in Sport and Race Differences in Psychopathic Personality,” Mankind Quarterly, 55 (2015): 325-334. ↩︎
Dimitri Van der Linden, Edward Dutton, and Guy Madison, “National-Level Indicators of Androgens are Related to the global distribution of number of scientific publications and science Nobel prizes.” Journal of Creative Behavior, 54 (2020): 134-149. ↩︎
Felix Post, “Creativity and Psychopathology,” British Journal of Psychiatry, 165 (1994): 22-34. ↩︎
Gilian Tenbergen, Matthias Wittfoth, Helge Frieling, et al., “The Neurobiology and Psychology of Pedophilia: Recent Advances and Challenges,” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, (2015): 344. ↩︎
J. Philippe Rushton, Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (New Brusnwick, NJ, Transaction Publishing). ↩︎
Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001); Lee Ellis, Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Sexual Aggression (New York: Hemisphere Publishing, 1989). ↩︎
Dan Davies, In Plain Sight: The Life and Lies of Jimmy Savile (London: Quercus Books, 2014). ↩︎
Martin Evans, “Clement Freud Accused of Raping Another Teenage Girl as Evidence Mounts That He Was a Predatory Paedophile,” Daily Telegraph (15th June 2016), https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/15/clement-freud-accused-of-raping-another-teenage-girl-as-evidence/ (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian Nosek, “The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum,” PLOS One (2012), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0050092 (accessed December 1, 2020). ↩︎
The Democrats: The Racist Enemy! A crime scene; the aesthetics of a horror movie; sinister music. This is the latest Trump attack ad exposing Joe Biden’s “racism problem”, released a…
The Democrats: The Racist Enemy!
A crime scene; the aesthetics of a horror movie; sinister music. This is the latest Trump attack ad exposing Joe Biden’s “racism problem”, released a day after the rioting began in Chicago. The Trump campaign is engaging in offensive archaeology, digging up a Biden statement from all the way back in 1973. Other Trumps ads criticized Biden’s opposition to busing and his support for a 1994 Crime Bill that mass incarcerated African-American men. The Trump camp called out Biden’s association with Robert Byrd, who had been a member of the KKK — in 1946. It was desperate stuff, fully reinforcing the notion that racism isn’t just bad, but the worst evil imaginable — and should be used as a main determinant as to whether or not to elect someone to the most powerful position in the world. America has shut down over a pandemic and is in the midst of a recession, but racism still overwhelms all other issues. Several American cities resembled warzones in the aftermath of the George Floyd-inspired rioting and looting but rather than comment on this fact, the official GOP Twitter account was labeling Biden “the architect of mass incarceration” — because being tough on crime is racist.
The Republican campaign strategy has, for some time, been to claim that “Democrats are the real racists”. Republicans paint themselves as the genuine defenders of Black people whereas Democrats keep Blacks on “the plantation”. Dinesh D’Souza is the master of this style, producing overblown propaganda that intercuts footage of the KKK with Hillary Clinton. Conservatism has been, in the words of Gregory Hood, “reduced to claiming it is actually the true version of American liberalism, and even to claiming past Leftist triumphs as its own.” The Republicans are mirroring and amplifying the PC hysteria of the left and playing their part in turning America into a nation of hyperventilating racism hunters. They co-opted wholesale the liberal tenets of anti-racism, reframing their own causes as racial justice issues: Damning abortion as responsible for “Black genocide”, to take one moronic example. Every time they call a Democrat racist, they are pushing the whole debate leftward, positioning racial justice as the primary arbiter of legitimate governance. D’Souza’s overblown propaganda doesn’t stop at calling the Democrats racist; the blurb of his book The Big Lie: Exposing the Nazi Roots of the American Left reads, “In a sick inversion, the real fascists in American politics masquerade as anti-fascists and accuse the real anti-fascists of being fascists.” Everybody accuses everybody else of being a fascist, all the time. To borrow the absurdist hyperbole of D’Souza, if the Democrats are the real racists (they’re not, and even if they were – who cares), the Republicans are the real Social Justice Warriors and Trump is the shrieking, corpulent, blue-haired Antifa-in-Chief. It’s from this febrile milieu of bipartisan hypersensitivity to racial issues that movements like Black Lives Matter and Antifa emerged.
Republicans respond to Black Lives Matter
BLM are successfully undermining the legitimacy of American institutions and demonizing the country’s history. The BLM website claims that African-Americans are “systematically and intentionally targeted for demise” while the umbrella group, Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), argues that the United States is waging “war on black people” and subjecting them to “constant exploitation and perpetual oppression.” It is extreme rhetoric that requires a full-throated response of unapologetic moral clarity, but has instead been met by stupefaction. Responses have ranged from cowed silence and acquiescence to total capitulation. Mitt Romney and Senator Mike Braun outright supported the movement. In a cringe worthy video posted to Twitter, Marco Rubio presented the anger of the rioters as a fully rational response to the racism of white America: “Their lives are held with less value because the color of their skin. This is an ongoing problem that has haunted us for much too long and it must be addressed. The anger you saw spillover in these protests across the country: that’s where it comes from”. In a speech on the Senate floor, Rubio called for “a full reckoning with racial inequities that still plague our nation” in order for us to become “more fully American”.
George W. Bush released a craven and mawkish statement, repeating the conspiracy theory of “systemic racism”. His statement spoke of an “injustice and fear that suffocate our country”; it was “not the time for us to lecture” but rather “time for us to listen”. The protestors, he told us, “march for a better future”, and that the “tragedy” of George Floyd’s drug overdose “raises a long-overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?” In an inversion of the truth, the most violent element of society is presented as the victim: “It remains a shocking failure that many African-Americans, especially young African-American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country.” This was unsurprising from a President who has spent his retirement painting amateur portraits of immigrants with a hope to “focus our collective attention on the positive impacts that immigrants are making on our country.”
Republicans have been keen to blame the looting and rioting on Antifa rather than Black Lives Matter. Ted Cruz pointed to “skinny white trust-fund ANTIFA kids” who he alleged were “burning Black-owned small businesses and murdering Black police officers”. It is true that most of the violent activists in Portland were White, but they were targeting a Federal court building — not Black businesses. In every other city, however, such claims are bald-faced lies whose sole purpose is to get Black people off the hook while smearing Whites. If Republicans criticize BLM at all, it’s for their alleged Marxism — never for their anti-White animosity.
Criticism of BLM itself is framed exclusively in terms of Black interests. The looting and rioting “damage Black-owned businesses” and “hurt Black communities”, we’re told — even though much of the rioting targeted wealthy non-Black precincts. Lindsey Graham himself complained that the organization “hurts minority families”. In an interview with OANN news, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler bravely spoke out against BLM — for anti-Semitism. Republicans will get animated and passionate when it comes to condemning anti-Semitism but are nowhere to be found once confronted with the image of anti-White hysteria.
Are BLM Marxist?
In a 2015 interview, Patrisse Cullors did, in fact, describe herself and fellow BLM co-founder Alicia Garza as “trained Marxists” but let’s not pretend they care about impoverished white members of the proletariat. For all the communist LARPing, their animating principle is one of racial hatred. Black youths do not sit at home reading The Communist Manifesto and The Eighteenth Brumaire — dusty books by a long-dead White guy. To the extent that ideas, rather than raw sectarian hatred, have influenced the protests, we can look to the literature of the 1619 Project, Ibram Kendi, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Robin DiAngelo — they’re race-baiters, not Marxists. BLM has received funding from George Soros (a committed anti-communist) and some of the largest corporations in America. What they seek isn’t the overthrow of capitalism, but the establishment of racial castes within the capitalist system, together with the expansion of the rent-seeking sinecures of the already gargantuan diversity bureaucracy. Soi-disant Marxists might like the edgy vibe of that ideology but couldn’t care less about who has control over the means of production — so long as they get some free stuff. I’ve not heard a single protester even mention the working class. What I have heard is “slavery” and “Jim Crow” and “systemic racism” and “White supremacy” shouted through a megaphone ad infinitum. However loud they holler, mainstream conservatives will force it into the mold of communism. That is, after all, a threat it is safe to stand up to. However perturbed they may be feeling, White Americans recognize that defending Whiteness is the ultimate taboo. Throughout these last few months, Rudy Giuliani has served as the lone voice staying the obvious, yet unsayable: “These are people who hate White people.”
Black Lives Matter owe more to the Republican Party than to Karl Marx
Christopher Caldwell argues that Civil Rights legislation is directly responsible for the malaise of political correctness: “Just as affirmative action in universities and corporations had privatized the enforcement of integration, the fear of litigation privatized the suppression of disagreement. The government would not need to punish directly the people who dissented from its doctrines. Boards of directors and boards of trustees, fearing lawsuits, would do that.” Corporate HR departments have arguably played a larger role than “cultural Marxists” in helping to re-shape America into a nation of permanently incensed foaming at the mouth McCarthyite anti-racists. And today the witch-hunter general who has poisoned public dialogue with the most militant anti-white sentiment is Robin DiAngelo, a grotesquely overpaid corporate diversity consultant.
Conservatives have assisted in the process of Civil Rights becoming America’s new civic religion. Kevin D. Williamson, writing in National Review – the leading publication of mainstream Conservatism – referred to the Republican Party as “the Party of Civil Rights”. We can look back to that watershed moment in 1983, when Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law that made Martin Luther King the only American with his own national holiday. This act was not trivial. It didn’t just cement King as a national icon in the pantheon of American history; rather it helped to refocus the narrative of America. No longer was it primarily the story of the founders but instead an ongoing story of racial justice in which White people are the eternal malefactors. Republicans have come to mythologize and eulogize King every bit as much as the Democrats. George W. Bush called him a “second founder” while Charles Krauthammer deemed him a “prophet”. King became the protagonist of the new, deeply emotive morality play of American history and the defining icon of American political ideology — the lodestar of what it meant to be an American. In 1998 Sam Francis wrote stridently about what the holiday represented, in terms that to most people would have, until recently, sounded paranoid and overblown, but have proven to be prescient:
“It is hardly an accident that in the years since the enactment of the holiday and the elevation of King as a national icon movements to ban the teaching of “Western civilization” came to fruition on major American universities, Thomas Jefferson was denounced as a “racist” and “slaveowner,” and George Washington’s name was removed from a public school in New Orleans on the grounds that he too owned slaves. In the new nation and the new creed of which the King holiday serves as symbol, all institutions, values, heroes, and symbols that violate the dogma of equality are dethroned and must be eradicated. Those associated with the South and the Confederacy are merely the most obvious violations of the egalitarian dogma and therefore must be the first to go, but they will by no means be the last…The logical meaning of the holiday is the ultimate destruction of the American Republic as it has been conceived and defined throughout our history.”
Having imbued the Civil Rights movement with a staggering moral grandeur, it is unsurprising that today’s extremists feel endowed with moral authority as they assault people and destroy property. Commemorating the holiday in 1987, Reagan pioneered cancel culture urging Americans to “be totally intolerant to racism anywhere around you.” Black Lives Matter and Antifa have taken that commandment to the nth degree. While the mainstream Conservative media recently made a show of railing against cancel culture, they had themselves purged enyone with anything sensible to say about race long ago. With their hyperfocus on a single line from a single speech (“they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”) the Republican establishment fundamentally misrepresents what Martin Luther King stood for. King unequivocally supported affirmative action, writing that “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him” and arguing that Blacks deserve “special, compensatory measures”. In his groundbreaking book, The Age of Entitlement, Christopher Caldwell writes:
“Republicans and others who may have been uneasy that the constitutional baby had been thrown out with the segregationist bathwater consoled themselves with a myth: The “good” civil rights movement that the martyred Martin Luther King, Jr., had pursued in the 1960s had, they said, been “hijacked” in the 1970s by a “radical” one of affirmative action, with its quotas and diktats…. None of that was true. Affirmative action and political correctness were the twin pillars of the second constitution. They were what civil rights was.”
Trump derangement syndrome
Looking at the Never Trumpers — the “principled Conservatives” trying to “save the soul of the movement” from anybody that articulated the interests of white people — it’s inaccurate to describe them as RINO’s. They are the Republican Party, while Trump, a near singular aberration, is the outlier. The Republican establishment had wanted Jeb Bush to win, a man who referred to illegal border crossing as “an act of love.” Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState, called Trump a “fascist” and a “racist” while Lindsey Graham called him a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot”. For men such as these, the greatness of America can be found in its anti-racist activism. Graham felt the true way to “Make America Great Again” was to tell the racist Donald Trump to “go to hell”. In 2016 Graham believed “we’ve lost the moral authority to govern” the country if Trump gets elected.
Black Lives Matter agrees, seeing no legitimacy in the current administration or the institutions of the state. Yet Donald Trump himself was a cuckservative all along. During his presidency, Trump slammed Obama for doing a “bad job for minorities” and boasting “I did much more for minorities than he did”. Following the death of “Civil Rights icon” Rep. John Lewis, President Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in all public buildings, military posts, and embassies. Anybody that doesn’t toe the line is maligned. Bill Kristol, to take one example, smeared Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show as “close now to racism, White — I mean, I don’t know if it’s racism exactly — but ethnonationalism of some kind.” Republicans have capitalized on White nostalgia and the problems of diversity (gun control, for example, is such a contentious issue due to fear of Black criminality) yet use their power to quash White ethnic sentiments.
The inevitable result of a maladaptive worldview
The egalitarian universalist ideology of America’s nominal conservatives was summed up by the influential political columnist George F. Will, who had once coached Ronald Reagan for a debate with Jimmy Carter. Will believed that “it won’t do to say that a million English immigrants would be easier for Virginia to assimilate than a million Zulus“ because America is “apolyglot nation of immigrants” for whom unity is based solely on “a proposition”. During a speech delivered in 2015, historian Mark Weber correctly predicted future disorder as an inevitable byproduct of this elite ideological consensus:
“In the months and years to come events will continue to unfold in keeping with the futile efforts to make reality conform to an impossible governing ideology…Just as the former Soviet Union eventually fell apart as an inevitable consequence of trying to organize society on the basis of an ideology and principles unrooted in historical social and biological reality, so also this society will and must continue to decline as it tries to force nature and reality to conform to wishful thinking based on an unsound worldview.”
The insurrection of 2020 isn’t a perversion of the memory of Martin Luther King brought about by undercover Marxists and critical race theorists (insidious as those people’s ideas are). The uprising is the logical culmination of the Civil Rights movement itself. It was always violent. Republicans think of themselves as the polar opposite of these student radicals yet they have themselves laid the ideological seedbed for the insurrection. Republicans claimed to be the party of color-blind rugged individualists yet never rescinded affirmative action. It’s convenient for conservatives to point the finger at the radical professors of critical race theory — it gets them off the hook. They have no desire to question their Panglossian blank-slate egalitarian worldview. The current anarchy will be dismissed as just a blip on the road to “a more perfect union”. Like an episode of Scooby Doo, peel back the mask and it was an old dead White guy all along: Every time a black hoodlum smashes a window or sets fire to a building they point and say “look what that Marxist just did” — as if this isn’t a race problem writ large but rather the fault of some nutty professors at the University of Marxist Leninism. While critical race theory is worthy of critique, to see it as the root cause of the current chaos is wrong. It implies our multiracial society would have worked out perfectly if only it wasn’t for those pesky Marxists ruining everything. By this account, there is nothing intrinsically problematic about diversity. In George Will’s worldview, were we to simply put a Milton Friedman book in the hands of Black college students everywhere, we’d be back on track toward a racial utopia. Beltway Republicans use the long-expired specter of Karl Marx as the scapegoat for their own failed ideology of liberal multiculturalism. A million Zulus? Sure, just don’t let them read Das Kapital.
Donald Trump endorsing Mitt Romney’s Presidential candidacy in 2012.
Christopher Caldwell concludes that “While the Civil Rights Act succeeded in ending segregation, it did not fulfill the extravagant hopes and promises of Lyndon Johnson and others to end poverty, achieve equal outcomes, and so on.” America’s black population still wants now what it wanted in 1964 — and that was never just equal rights and equality of opportunity. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Mitt Romney tweeted a photograph of his father, George Romney, participating in a Civil Rights march in the late 1960s. Mitt was proud to be walking in his footsteps when he marched with Black Live Matter. Mitt failed to recognize the total futility this represented. George Romney was the Republican governor of Michigan during the 1967 Detroit riots that left 43 people dead and 2,000 buildings destroyed. Over the course of more than fifty years, a plethora of costly social programs have spectacularly failed. Would Romney’s father have predicted that the upshot of all those programs would be race relations so bad that African-Americans will burn down major cities because a Black criminal died of a drug overdose?
The Republican Jacobins
Mitt Romney didn’t just march with Black Lives Matter – he also expressed support for Antifa. Responding to the violent clashes in Charlottesville in 2017, Romney asserted that Antifa and those he described as “racist, bigoted, Nazi” exist in “morally different universes”. Violence is justifiable, so long as it is in service of the cause of anti-racism. John McCain similarly contended there was “no moral equivalency” between nationalists and “Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry”. Charlottesville was a precursor to the violence we are currently suffering through and leading Republicans had painted the culprits as morally righteous.
Unable to interpret anything outside of a Republican/Democrat dichotomy the hyper-partisan Dinesh D’Souza called for an intensifying of the mass iconoclasm: “The only answer to them knocking down our statues (e.g., Columbus, Washington, Lincoln, and so on) is for us to knock down their statues. I recommend three notorious racists: Woodrow Wilson, FDR, [and] LBJ. If we don’t do to them what they are doing to us, they will never stop”. The protestors didn’t care about political affiliation — they were pulling down every totem of Whiteness they could find. Inspired by BLM, Congressman Dan Crenshaw wanted to play his part in destroying America’s past: “Republicans won the civil war. That’s our history. Democrats have a long list of segregationists & KKK members. That’s their history. I’m glad to help them confront that racist past & voted to remove these Democrat statues.” The founding fathers and the majority of American presidents throughout history were white supremacists. If they’re true to their own values, Republicans should want to detonate and flatten almost the entirety of Washington’s statuary. Perhaps what needs to be toppled is not the effigies of men who presided over a functioning society, but the edifice of Martin Luther King, whose legacy rendered America a failed state on the precipice of civil war.
Some might say that the Alt Right was bad for Trump . . . that we made his brand toxic . . . that we would have helped him more…
Some might say that the Alt Right was bad for Trump . . . that we made his brand toxic . . . that we would have helped him more by just shutting up or even endorsing Hillary . . . that our first rule should have been, “Do no harm” . . . etc.
But to think in this way is to misunderstand everything.
Sam Francis noted that with both the Democratic and Republican Parties, the elites are to the left of the voters. Left-wing intellectuals, activists, and operatives are to the left (often far to the left) of the majority of Democrats (your average labor-union worker, soccer mom, or Black American). On the other hand, the Republican elite (the bowtie brigade, religious leaders, and “conservative intellectuals”) are also to the left of Republicans. Indeed, the Republican elite functions to dampen or deflect populist energies—to make sure things don’t “get out of hand” and that American nationalism is always about tax cuts.
In turn, the Alt Right (long before we had the name) was totally alienated from Republican politics. Postmodern deconstructionists and former left-wing terrorists with academic sinecures have a place in the official Left. People like Sam Francis were personae non gratae in the Right.
2016 changed all this.
The Alt Right is deeply connected to Trumpian populism in intellectual, spiritual, and visceral ways—for, as everyone agrees, Trump’s victory was, at its root, a victory of identity politics. And it was a campaign that ultimately dispensed with “conservatism” as we knew it. Because of this fact, Trump was opposed by most all components of the mainstream Right—from the neocons to establishment operatives to goofballs like Glenn Beck. And these forces opposed him with such vehemence that they simply cannot share in his victory.
In this way, the Alt Right, far more plausibly than the “conservative movement,” can lay claim to being the new Trumpian vanguard.
Before Trump, the Alt Right could be criticized for being a “head without a body”; it was engaged in meta-political and scientific discussion, but lacked a real connection with practical politics and the hopes and dreams of average Americans. In turn, Trump’s populism—with its half-baked policy ideas and sketchy vision of the future—could be criticized as a “body without a head.”
Now we are the whole man. The Alt Right and Trumpian populism are now aligned much in the way the Left is aligned with Democratic politicians like Obama and Hillary. The American Right always lacked a true vanguard. In the form of “conservatives,” it had only a “rearguard” or “muffle” or “hall monitor.” We—and only we—can say the things Trump can’t say . . . can criticize him in the right way . . . and can envision a new world that he can’t quite grasp.
2016 wasn’t just a “weird election,” with a seemingly unelectable candidate who didn’t play by the rules. 2016 represents a paradigm shift of enormous proportions. We have been transfigured by it—and so has the world.
In a commentary, “Golden Days,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of National Review, Jonah Goldberg describes how his magazine’s founder dealt with ideological dissent:
Buckley employed intellectual ruthlessness and relentless personal charm to keep that which is good about libertarianism, what we have come to call “social conservatism,” and what was necessary about anti-Communism in the movement. This meant throwing friends and allies off the bus from time to time. The Randians, the Rothbardian anarchists and isolationists, the Birchers, the anti-Semites, the me-too Republicans: all of these groups in various combinations were purged from the movement and masthead, sometimes painfully, sometimes easily, but always with the ideal of keeping the cause honest and pointed north to the ideal in his compass.
A few lines later, we learn the ideal that William F. Buckley assigned to his movement existed “only on paper,” that “conservative dogma remains unsettled, and that conservatism remains cleaved ideologically.” Nonetheless, the movement Buckley built was for Goldberg a breathtaking success—and had been achieved with minimal commotion.
Rethinking William F. Buckley’s Quest for “Respectability”
In a commentary, “Golden Days,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of National Review, Jonah Goldberg describes how his magazine’s founder dealt with ideological dissent:
Buckley employed intellectual ruthlessness and relentless personal charm to keep that which is good about libertarianism, what we have come to call “social conservatism,” and what was necessary about anti-Communism in the movement. This meant throwing friends and allies off the bus from time to time. The Randians, the Rothbardian anarchists and isolationists, the Birchers, the anti-Semites, the me-too Republicans: all of these groups in various combinations were purged from the movement and masthead, sometimes painfully, sometimes easily, but always with the ideal of keeping the cause honest and pointed north to the ideal in his compass.
A few lines later, we learn the ideal that William F. Buckley assigned to his movement existed “only on paper,” that “conservative dogma remains unsettled, and that conservatism remains cleaved ideologically.” Nonetheless, the movement Buckley built was for Goldberg a breathtaking success—and had been achieved with minimal commotion.
E.J. Dionne, in a similar tribute in the Washington Post, NR’s putative adversary, proclaims that Buckley was not only a man of splendid parts but also one who had “determined to rid the right of the wing nuts. He was, to his everlasting credit, the scourge of anti-Semitism that had once infested significant parts of the right.” Dionne blasted the strange conspiracy theories of the John Birch Society, which he applauds Buckley for unmasking. Unfortunately, little truth can be found in most of his remarks and no more than a sliver in Goldberg’s.
The NR staff devoted a special feature on October 19, 1965, to denouncing the Birch Society, but not for being anti-Semitic (of which there was scant evidence). The complaint was the Birchers did not support the war in Vietnam and had given up the struggle against Communism. It’s worth noting that the best man at Buckley’s wedding, Revilo Oliver, was an outspoken anti-Semite, as well as a formidable classicist and Sanskrit scholar. Oliver continued to write for Buckley’s publication well into the 1960s. Most of those expelled from his magazine and from Buckley’s movement were Jewish libertarians, like Ayn Rand, Frank Chodorov, Murray Rothbard and Ron Hamowy. If the movement before Buckley’s interventions had been dominated by “anti-Semites,” his excommunications hardly amounted to a crusade against them. Goldberg’s mentor was especially hard on Jews who opposed his call for an accelerated struggle to overthrow the Soviet Empire. In Rand’s case, he turned against someone who was stridently atheistic.
Even more astonishing, although not likely to be challenged by the liberal-neoconservative media, is Goldberg’s suggestion that purges occurred in the conservative movement only quite rarely. To the contrary, they were frequent; one could say that they shaped the conservative movement.
English historian A.J.P. Taylor once observed, with regard to the Habsburgs, that “countries were episodes in the history of a dynasty.” In a like way, purges were episodes in the journalistic careers of those who led the conservative movement. And these expulsions took place so frequently that it may be helpful to divide them into different periods in accordance with the changing interests of movement elites. The purges did not all take place for the same reason, and identifying this complicated process with “fighting the scourge of anti-Semitism” is to indulge in fantasy.
“Being thrown off the bus” had implications beyond being kept from writing essays for National Review. As the conservative media empire took form, thanks largely to steady infusions of money each year from Australian benefactor Rupert Murdoch, being banned by one of its organs brought huge consequences. Someone banned from Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, or National Review, for example, would not likely be welcome in an affiliated movement publication or be put on FOX News, which enjoys the same sponsorship and represents the same ideology.
There are exceptions to this rule, as seen by the occasional appearance on FOX of Pat Buchanan, someone who is clearly offensive to NR and The Weekly Standard. But this exception may have been allowed because Buchanan is a widely read journalist. His occasional appearance on FOX may also be conditional on his not stirring the pot unduly on a channel run by neoconservatives and the Republican establishment. During his recent TV appearances, Pat (to my knowledge) has never contradicted his host, which may be why he is allowed to maintain his exceptional status.
There may be another reason for this status, namely that Buchanan had been removed from a Democratic rival channel, MSNBC. For years the directors of this channel had provided a berth for a figure of the Old Right; and it featured him on a regular basis, unlike FOX, which only permits Buchanan to participate in its discussions every now and then. Like other members of the Old Right, Buchanan was sent into limbo in the early 1990s for having ticked off Buckley’s esteemed New York friends. A bad enough sin under the old order, this faux pas has proved even costlier under Buckley’s successors. His epigones may be driven even more than their master by desire for acceptance from mainstream journalists. The Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, and other movement fixtures have had nothing to do with Buchanan for decades. They have carefully maintained their distance, although Buchanan’s books on politics and international relations have soared on the New York Times bestseller list.
For the less successful and less fortunate, however, being kicked off the bus has usually brought catastrophic results. The campaign of vilification that has accompanied marginalization has usually left its object socially and professionally ruined. Typical targets of this process were the Southern conservative M.E. Bradford and the populist journalist and critic of managerial democracy Samuel T. Francis. The elimination of Bradford as frontrunner for the National Endowment for the Humanities Directorship in 1981 and, 10 years later, the removal of Samuel Francis as the star columnist by the already neoconservative-controlled Washington Times followed a now-familiar course. Those condemned as outcasts by movement leaders suffered repeated journalistic attacks and were accused of being bigots rather than “conservatives.” Liberal journalists joined these campaigns and often seemed to be working in tandem with their neoconservative acquaintances, in order to drive “wing nuts” out of respectable conservatism. Printed assaults against the designated extremists were so devastating that their victims never regained standing as respectable writers.
Speaking as a minor target of such attacks, which operated in my case mostly surreptitiously, I noticed that my adversaries were working doggedly to isolate me. Mine, of course, was not a typical purge. Unlike others who were purged more dramatically, I never left a paper trail on such abrasive issues as Jews in the media. The recent decision of Intercollegiate Studies Institute to sever any connection with me as a writer did not arise because I was thought to be a “racist.” This action was taken because, through my leadership of the HL Mencken Club, I have associated myself with people who stress hereditary cognitive differences. But in the 1980s, I fell out of favor for less ridiculous reasons. I was marginalized merely because I insisted too loudly that generic leftists had been permitted to take over the Right.
I had no illusion when neoconservatives slandered me to the administration at Catholic University of America, which resulted in my being denied a graduate professorship that was about to be offered to me, that the attacks would thereafter stop. After this incident, I was never again allowed to write for “movement conservative” publications. The editors of these, also not incidentally, refuse to review my books; and my name has scarcely appeared in a movement magazine after my rejection at CUA. One of the rare times it has was in David Frum’s wholesale denunciation of the non-aligned Right, “Unpatriotic Conservatives.” Here, he claimed that his friends had done nothing to harm me professionally, let alone to occasion my outbursts; indeed I had fabricated my narrative because I was a troubled person.
My case was exceptional because aside from suggestions that I had taken leave of my senses, there was no campaign waged against me as an “anti-Semite” or “racist.” I held on to an academic post until I retired in 2011, although I might have obtained higher professional prizes, if neoconservatives had not weighed in against me, as I subsequently learned, at other institutions beside CUA. But I cannot claim that I was as badly battered as other exiles.
The more abused victims died within a relatively short time of their humiliation, emotionally as well as professionally crushed. Goldberg’s comment about people in his movement being pushed off the bus only from time to time borders on the puerile. the American Communist Party looked like a band of cloistered monks in comparison to the cannibalistic movement that Buckley founded, and which Goldberg continues to slobber over.
For accurate classification, certain distinctions should be made. Not all of those who were thrown off the bus suffered their fate for the same reason, although according to movement leaders and those who prepared the Wikipedia biography of Buckley, purge targets were mostly raging anti-Semites or obnoxious racialists. All the worse for the facts! In the early days, those who were expelled from Buckley’s movement were critics of his Cold War politics and often uncompromising libertarians. Misrepresenting why they were expelled was easy enough because Buckley’s idolaters, like E.J. Dionne, collaborated in writing the authorized accounts. In the 1980s, intellectuals and authors on the right were thrown off the bus because the neoconservatives who took over the conservative movement found them to be (well!) troublesome.
These undesirables fell into two camps: Southerners like M.E. Bradford and his followers, who made no apologies for the Confederacy and expressed misgivings about the civil-rights revolution; and critics of the aggressive liberal internationalist foreign policy that was associated with the neoconservatives. those who fell into the two camps coalesced for a time as a “paleoconservative” insurgency; and they were soon joined by libertarians of a socially traditionalist stripe, like Murray Rothbard and, for a time, Lew Rockwell. the movement smeared all these dissenters, with the all-purpose charge of “anti-Semitism.” It was the late Joe Sobran, a former Senior Editor of National Review and himself the victim of a neoconservative purge, who noticed the shifting meaning of “anti-Semite,” from someone who hates Jews to someone whom certain Jews in high places don’t like.
In the late 1990s, such journalists as John O’Sullivan and Peter Brimelow were pushed out of positions at National Review for having failed to take the obligatory neoconservative line in favor of third World immigration. Commentary, the Wall Street Journal, Policy Review and other neoconservative information sources were then gushingly pro-immigration, and O’Sullivan and Brimelow, who had moved demonstratively in the opposite direction, fell afoul of his patrons.
By then, however, racial illiberalism became even more serious grounds for excommunication, as illustrated by the Francis affair. Pro-immigration advocates Linda Chavez and John Miller went after Francis for his statements, made in response to an apology by the Southern Baptist Convention for their ancestors’ practice of slavery, that the Bible did not condemn this peculiar institution. Chavez and Miller found an ally a few months later in a reliable neoconservative author Dinesh D’Souza, who denounced Francis as an isolated representative of 19th-century White racism. This may have been a conspicuous act of ingratitude, since D’Souza borrowed from Francis and the self-described “race realist” Jared Taylor in writing his not very original and not very accurate tome The End of Racism.
By the end of 1995, a mainstream right-of-center journalist, with a biting wit and distinctive literary style, went from being a nationally syndicated writer to a professionally isolated figure. Since then, other widely publicized purges have taken place. The firings of John Derbyshire by National Review and of Jason Richwine by The Heritage Foundation had related causes. In both cases, highly gifted researchers and writers were thrust out of their employment, once having been stigmatized as “racists” by the leftist press. Conservative employers fired these subordinates out of consideration for or fear of their leftist acquaintances.
It is hard to establish a single ideological pattern for all these events. But there is a definite gestalt that can be easily identified since the 1980s. The most salient purges have been at the expense of those who displeased neoconservative and/or liberal journalists. Although White racism and anti-Semitism have been the usual causes given, one must wonder whether these consistently provide the true explanation for what happened. Those who were purged may have been considered unpleasant types who were resisting a changing party line. A neoconservative favorite Victor Davis Hanson posted statements about blacks in a column for National Review Online in July 2013 that looked strikingly like Derbyshire’s indiscretions. Indeed Derbyshire published a column on Vdare. a few weeks after the posting of Hanson’s column, showing rhetorical parallels between his offending remarks and those of Hanson. But there is a difference: Hanson occupies a higher position in the movement than the ones previously held by Derbyshire and Richwine. For years, Hanson has dutifully upheld most standard neoconservative views on just about everything, and according to the neoconservative press, if not in fact, he is among America’s “premier classical historians.”
Richwine lost his job as a researcher because of the discovery of statistics in a doctoral dissertation, approved at Harvard University, in which there are detailed references to the relatively low IQs of recent immigrant groups. But why did the placing of such material in a Harvard dissertation years before result in the recent dismissal of someone employed by a “conservative” institution? Again, other factors should be taken into account. At the time of his firing and subsequent blackballing by movement foundations and magazines, Richwine had not achieved high distinction within what is euphemistically styled “the conservative policy community.” He therefore seemed easily expendable to the newly named director of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint. A skittish Southern Republican, who has labored to prove he’s not a “racist,” DeMint was not dealing in Richwine’s case with a prominent figure, say, of the stature of Charles Murray, a man who has been an ally of the neoconservative establishment. Murray has put into sharp relief the IQ differences between ethnic and racial groups. Yet nothing approaching Richwine’s fate befell the author of The Bell Curve, who has been celebrated in such neoconservative shrines as the American Enterprise Institute, National Review, and Commentary. Unfortunately for his career, however, the young Richwine was not in the same league as Murray in terms of his value to the movement.
The relation between purge victims and the movement’s leadership may be critical for understanding the events in question. Much can be forgiven and even shoved down a memory hole for those who count. Although Norman Podhoretz as editor of Commentary ranted against gays for decades, as documented by Gary Dorrien in The Neoconservative Mind, this did not prevent Podhoretz’s allies from hypocritically decrying Buchanan as a “homophobe” in 1992. This transpired, let us note, after Buchanan, speaking at the Republican national convention, made a reference to the strange lifestyles that prevailed among members of the opposition party. But this was small beer in comparison to what neoconservatives had said about gays a few years earlier. As late as 1984, a neoconservative heroine, Jeane Kirkpatrick, in an address before the Republican National Convention, sneered at the Democrats for their “San Francisco values.” Her sneers elicited resounding applause from neoconservative journalists. And so homophobia, we may assume, was not the real cause for the animus against Buchanan: Neocons hate him not as a homophobe but as a harsh critic of the Zionist lobby and as someone whom they perceive as an isolationist. As late as the spring of 1992, it was feared that Buchanan might win the presidential nomination against the politically weakened, tongue-tied George Bush, Sr.
Similar double standards were at work in the character assassination of Bradford in 1981, in which neoconservative journalists, particularly George Will and the editors of the Wall Street Journal, played key roles. Bradford’s alleged offense was to have characterized Lincoln as a tyrant and to have likened his invasion of the South to Hitler’s attack on Germany’s neighbors and Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland. The invectives against Bradford, which focused on a footnote in one of his many books, were remarkably virulent, considering the sparse space given to the controversial comparison as against Bradford’s total output as a literary scholar.
The attacks were also profoundly dishonest as one learns from a revealing essay published by Podhoretz in 1963 in Commentary, “My Negro Problem—and Ours.” Unlike Bradford, who never expressed dislike for Black people, Podhoretz explained in agonizing detail how he was managing his “hatred” for Negroes. These effusions, however, did not serve to disqualify this co-father of neoconservatism (along with Irving Kristol) from leadership in the conservative movement. Nor did his stated revulsion for those of different skin color diminish Podhoretz’s considerable clout in the Reagan administration. After all, not all anti-Negroes are created equal. Some are blessed with New York Jewish liberal as well as National Review friends, and then there are the others, who speak with Oklahoma or Texas twangs and who attend Baptist churches. Let’s not get the two confused!
Piling on to Bradford in 1981 were also Buckley and Heritage president Edwin Feulner. Both of these movement dignitaries, whose fortunes by then were intertwined with the neoconservative ascendancy, visited newly elected President Reagan. They asked him to reconsider the nomination of Bradford and presented their Southern friend of many decades as someone who would bring disgrace to the NEH Directorship. While on their visit to the White House, the same conservative luminaries plugged the candidacy of a liberal Democrat, William Bennett, whom the neoconservatives were prepping for the office they intended to close off to Bradford.
The assault on the courtly Texan Bradford was based on, among other things, crass material interest. The neoconservatives hoped to put their own favorite in a position that would yield them pecuniary benefits. If things worked out as they hoped (as, indeed, they did), they would have hundreds of millions of dollars in NEH grant money to distribute to their minions. Their destruction of Bradford’s reputation and, ultimately, life was collateral damage in this money grab. As I documented in the second edition of The Conservative Movement, among the payoffs for the hit on Bradford was a grant of hundreds of thousands of dollars that went to a Stalinist historian, who has since morphed into a figure of the multicultural Left, Eric Foner. This then neoconservative ally published a defamatory commentary against Bradford as a prejudiced Southerner, in what became a widely distributed newspaper column.
These incidents illustrate the difficulty of attributing all purges in the conservative movement to changes in ideological direction. Equally important were the social dynamics and the political and material goals of movement players at the time the purges unfolded. Smearing those who are purged as “right-wing extremists” has often been a tactic for winning the Left’s approval, rather than the major reason for the purge. Although Jason Richwine had done nothing critical to offend the Left at the time of his dismissal, his employer may have decided this young employee wasn’t worth being saved. throwing Richwine to his enemies had greater value to Heritage than trying to defend a relatively unknown research scholar.
A look at John Derbyshire’s fate at National Review in 2012 reveals more complicated circumstances. Although Derbyshire was a popular contributor, who distinguished himself as a writer on mathematics and political subjects, he may have been too hot for the chief editor, Rich Lowry. A different editor may have reacted differently to the attacks on Derbyshire, but Lowry had worked to ingratiate himself with the New York journalistic establishment, and so he lost no time in removing “Derb.” Lowry was as decisive here as he had been in courting the friendship of the far-left editor of The Nation, Victor Navasky. In his autobiography, Navasky comments on Lowry’s eagerness to please, seen in his abstinence from the kind of “right-wing propaganda” that Navasky had spent his “life fighting.” Presumably, Lowry was also preparing at the time of Derbyshire’s dismissal his recently published tribute to Lincoln, the Great Emancipator. The NR-editor was staking out for himself a reputation as a champion of Black civil rights, naturally after the fact. A British mathematician who might hinder this image-building had to be sacked, no matter how brilliantly he was able to put together his sentences.
“Being thrown off the bus” has not in all cases entailed beginning from the same spot but it has meant ending in a marginalized situation. This is the second generalization about being purged: though not all expulsions occurred for the same reasons, every one of them was spun in the same way: as a dismissal of various “right-wing” fanatics. Since those purged were forever tainted with racism and anti-Semitism—and in some cases, Holocaust denial—it would thereafter become impossible for them to regain lost professional ground. Nor would the attacks on them from movement leaders necessarily stop after they had been fired from a conservative magazine, dismissed from a GOP foundation, or removed from the board of a self-described traditionalist or libertarian institute. At best, these targets would be treated as bodies that had dropped off the planet (which has been my fate). In other cases, those thrown off the bus were exposed to further abuse, as happened to Murray Rothbard in an obituary published by Buckley in National Review. In this outburst, one finds a far-fetched comparison being made between Rothbard and cult leader David Koresh. Neither apparently had more than a handful of followers: Rothbard had “as many disciples as David Koresh had in his redoubt in Waco.” “Yes, Rothbard believed in freedom; David Koresh believed in God.” What is glaringly evident here is the animus, if not rage, present in Buckley about his victims. What else could have motivated him to publish these graceless statements?
And the fact is the expulsions have gone forward for more than one reason. Still, this generalization may be hazarded: In the last 30 years, purges have reflected the leftist course of the conservative movement and, more generally, of the Republican Party. Anti-racism, anti-Anti-Semitism, moderate feminism and, certainly in the younger generation of neoconservatives, enthusiasm for gay rights, including gay marriage, have all become characteristic positions of a transformed conservative movement. Conservatism, Inc. has moved exactly in the same direction as the Center Left, albeit more slowly, and it has made critical distinctions between what count as permanent concerns and what may be changed. Clearly, support for the Israeli Right, liberal internationalism as a foreign policy, and improving the tax and trade situation for large corporations are more important to the movement than whether an editor at National Review endorses gay marriage as a human right. Social issues are brought up in such circles as a parenthetical activity, to jolly along the GOP’s Evangelical base and to appease subscribers and donors to certain publications.
The Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch, who keeps the neoconservative-GOP media awash in funds, is a leftist on most social issues but also a fervent Zionist. Murdoch therefore is willing to put up with social positions that offend him because he grasps the depth of support for his cause coming from Evangelical Christians. But his media beneficiaries can distinguish between core issues and less weighty ones. Those decidedly leftist positions they took on social issues did not keep Rudy Giuliani and Joe Lieberman from enjoying the favor of the conservative media when their names were floated for the presidential nomination. In 2008 and earlier, William Bennett—the beneficiary of the war against Bradford, who has wasted his fortunes as a conservative celebrity on his gaming habits—was a vocal proponent of Joe Lieberman for president. Despite the fact that this Connecticut senator took stands on social and most economic issues that coincided with those of Barack Obama, he was a hawk on foreign policy, and that’s what really mattered.
Equally relevant, the effect of the leftist shifts of the conservative movement, which are usually accompanied by widely publicized purges, has helped push permissible political discussion in the same direction. It is naïve to believe, like rank-and-file conservative groupies, that their movement has moved to the left only in response to where “the culture” has drifted. the conservative movement, no less than its center-right counterparts in Canada and Europe, has contributed to how our political culture has developed.
The establishment opposition will habitually move leftward, often taking up ideological positions previously held by its enemies (for instance, MLK idolatry or moderate feminism). this move builds consensus, to a certain degree, but it ultimately encourages the Left to venture on more boldly. the conservative movement has thus not simply been dragged along by the leftward drift of American culture; it has ensured the success of its putative enemies. Conservatism’s younger spokesmen often sound like the opposition because they have been educated in the same institutions, picked up the same ideas, and inhabit the same social world. Because of the pervasiveness of the neoconservative-GOP media outreach and the lack of a fearless alternative on the right, rank-and-file Republicans assume that the anti-Democratic side must be conservative. the Left is as eager as Fox News and National Review to make this identification stick.
Beyond this ideological factor, there is another condition that is contributing to the purges. It is the context in which the conservative movement acts and speaks. It belongs to a larger media empire and plays by its rules and pursues the same interests as its slightly more leftist dialogue-partners. the conservative movement works to be “inclusive,” but not by including those on its right in its televised discussion but by hosting the Left. Conservative groupies never seem to notice this tilt. Instead, they gush with delight over how Jonah Goldberg or Bill O’Reilly has challenged an insufficiently patriotic Black guest or an opponent of bombing Syria. this prescribed debate rarely if ever strays from the values of the political establishment.
All members of this establishment share certain beliefs, however much they may bicker over elections and hot-button issues. they each accept a vast welfare state, opportunistically invoke the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., accuse the other side of “racism,” and celebrate the advance of feminist and gay rights. If there are acceptable political differences, then the authorized participants define what they are. For example: do we want the novelty of Obamacare or the legacy programs of LBJ? Or, are we being loyal to the legacy of Martin Luther King by introducing more anti-discrimination laws or do we have enough of such measures at the present moment, so that the slain civil rights leader would not have wanted any more of them? Though one might note a certain acerbic quality to these examples, they are not exaggerations, and I mention them to underline the narrow range of differences that exists within the media class. Their debates are usually full of sound and fury, signifying very little. Implicit throughout is an agreement to limit discussion to a tight range of subjects.
Those who have been purged were seen as having gotten in the way of business as usual. They raised unwanted questions or were trying to re-introduce ideas that the media class no longer wanted brought up. In this authorized public discussion, the conservative media thrive as “the other team.” Although not as numerous or as influential as the liberal Left, Team B participates in a largely ritualized dialectic. As such, its journalists are given access to the New York Times, Washington Post, and other liberal organs. Unlike the long-vilified “paleoconservatives” or the younger and more obstreperous racialists and “alt” rightists, the Murdoch Empire enjoys the status of a respectable adversary. Integral to keeping this status, as Samuel Francis noticed in the 1980s, is a willingness to purge and humiliate right-wing dissenters.
As of this writing, there are many indications that FOX is moving with deliberateness toward embracing gay marriage. It is relying upon one of the channel’s comely commentators, Megyn Kelly, to talk down or trivialize opponents of this newly discovered human right. This is not so much a volte-face as it is a predictable accommodation of the Left. All social questions from the standpoint of the Murdoch media empire are negotiable, providing the authorized dissenter never challenges liberal internationalism and providing that it stays close enough to the Left as to make debate with the rest of the political establishment possible. One may expect new purges to occur against those who hold out against gay marriage or who divert us inappropriately from those few issues that are featured as necessary for getting Republicans elected.
Aside from the Birchers, who constituted a mass movement that was independent of Buckley, most of the objects of past purges posed little danger to official conservatism. But movement leaders were intent on proving their “moderateness” by warring against right-wing specters. the most recent purges help us better understand those that took place in the first two decades of conservatism’s ascendancy. Looking back on the Birchers in 2008, Buckley claimed to be seeking to isolate a lunatic fringe that could damage the serious Right. But at the time of the purge (October 1965), James Burnham wrote clearly in NR that the contributing editors were reacting against the Birchers’ “unpatriotic”—a term Frum would later latch on to—opposition to America’s latest foreign intervention. The leader of the Society, Robert Welch, had “given up on the Vietnam War,” and he and his members were accused of representing “the isolationist tradition that survives in many parts of the country, though it no longer gets much recognition, even from many of those who still share it.” In other words, virtually every purge since that of the Birchers, whether justified on the basis of “racism,” “anti-Semitism,” or “homophobia,” has been more of the same.
In summation, the conservative movement that came into existence in the 1950s, contemporaneously with the founding of National Review, did not engage in purges only every now and then; nor did it remove people, with the cooperation of liberal journalists, because its targets were “wing nuts:” Its victims became “wing nuts” by virtue of having been purged and slandered. the purges were not a passing or merely ancillary aspect of conservatism; they were a defining characteristic of a movement, whose function was to stake out ground where the Left had been the moment before. “Conservatism” turned by design into a “harmless persuasion” (Samuel Francis’s memorable term) vis-à-vis the progress of liberalism, including Cultural Marxism. through its alliance with corporate interests and ethnic lobbies and through a carefully limited (and thus easily abandoned) opposition to such initiatives from the Left as the Voting Rights Act and the feminist revolution, Conservatism, Inc. has been able to survive and grow as a media power. It has also depicted the therapeutic welfare society in which we live, for better or worse, as a product of “free-market capitalism.”
Not all purges are necessarily disastrous; and one can think of some, like driving quacks out of the medical profession or Communist agents out of government security posts after the Second World War, which some of us would applaud. But the purges discussed have been less constructive. For decades the movement’s power brokers have been blacklisting original and independent minds; and what has been lost from the public debate is a generation of serious critical thinkers on what is now the non-aligned Right.
The calls by the conservative movement for “tolerance” in universities and the media ring hollow, given their tainted source. Conservatism, Inc. has been no more open to intellectual freedom than the forces of the Left it has sanctimoniously attacked. In fact, the Left has contributed to the respectability of this faux Right by helping to hide its cannibalistic habits. Perhaps someday, in a less controlled media culture, these truths may become more widely known. But at the present time, such an airing of inconvenient facts is not likely to occur.
PAUL EDWARD GOTTFRIED has been one of America’s leading intellectual historians and paleoconservative thinkers for over 40 years, and is the author of many books, including Conservatism in America (2007), The Strange Death of Marxism (2005), After Liberalism (1999), Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt (2002), and Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America (2012). A critic of the neoconservative movement, he has warned against the growing lack of distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties and the rise of the managerial state. He has been acquainted with many of the leading American political figures of recent decades, including Richard Nixon and Patrick Buchanan. He is Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and a Guggenheim recipient.
Jonah Goldberg “Golden Days: Standing with Buckley & co. & at 50 years young,” National Review Online, October 27, 2005, accessed January 15, 2015, (http://www. nationalreview.com/articles/215784/golden-days/jonah-goldberg). ↩︎
E.J. Dionne, “Buckley: The Right’s Practical Intellectual,” Washington Post, October 11, 2005, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/10/AR2005101001204.html. ↩︎
See William F. Buckley Jr., “Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me,” Commentary, 1 March 2008, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/goldwater-the-john-birch-society-and-me/. ↩︎
Oliver wrote frequently for both National Review and the publications of the John Birch Society, but had broken with both organizations by the mid-1960s. See Revilo P. Oliver, America’s Decline: The Education of a Conservative (London: Londinium, 1981); Nesta Bevan, “The Forgotten Conservative,” Taki’s Magazine, 22 September, 2009, accessed January 15, 2015, http://takimag.com/article/the_forgotten_conservative/print#axzz3TjqVkraQ. ↩︎
See Murray Rothbard, The Betrayal of the American Right (Auburn, Al.: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2007). ↩︎
Buckley, In Search of Anti-Semitism (New York: Continuum, 1992). ↩︎
See Paul E. Gottfried, “When Will Intercollegiate Studies Institute Disassociate Itself From Notorious Racist Russell Kirk?” Vdare.com, August 29, 2014, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.vdare.com/articles/when-will-intercollegiate-studies-institute-disassociate-itself-from-notorious-racist-russell-kirk. ↩︎
David Frum,“Unpatriotic Conservatives,” National Review, 25 March 2003, accessed January 15, 2015, http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle. aspx?ARTID=19130. ↩︎
See Paul E. Gottfried, “A Paleo Epitaph,” Taki’s Magazine, April 7, 2008, accessed January 15, 2015, http://takimag.com/article/a_paleo_epitaph/print#axzz37HaJQ11l. ↩︎
See Samuel T. Francis, Essential Writings on Race, edited by Jared Taylor (Oakton, Va.: The New Century Foundation, 2008). ↩︎
Dinesh D’Souza, The End of Racism: Principles for a Multiracial Society (New York: Free Press, 1995); Jared Taylor, “The ‘Tainted’ Sources of The End of Racism” American Renaissance, November 1995, accessed March 7, 2015, http://www.amren.com/archives/back-issues/november-1995/#article2. ↩︎
Rich Lowry,“Parting Ways,” National Review Online, 7 April, 2012, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/295514/parting-ways-rich-lowry; for typical response to the Jason Richwine’s “resignation” from The Heritage Foundation, see Dylan Matthews, “Jason Richwine doesn’t understand why people are mad at him,” Washington Post, August 9, 2013, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/09/jason-richwine-doesnt-understand-why-people-are-mad-at-him/. ↩︎
Victor Davis Hanson, “Facing Facts about Race: Young black males are at greater risk from their peers than from the police or white civilians,” National Review Online, July 23, 2013, accessed March 7, 2015, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/354122/facing-facts-about-race-victor-davis-hanson; John Derbyshire, “Will National Review Derbyshire Victor Davis Hanson?” Vdare.com, July 25, 2013, accessed January 15, 2015, https://www.vdare.com/articles/john-derbyshire-wonders-will-national-review-derbyshire-victor-davis-hanson. ↩︎
See F. Roger Devlin, “The Case of Victor Davis Hanson: Farmer, Scholar, Warmonger,” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 4, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.toqonline.com/archives/v3n4/TOQv3n4Devlin.pdf. ↩︎
Jason Richwine,“IQ and Immigration Policy” (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Art & Sciences, 2009), accessed January 15, 2015, http://delong.typepad.com/pdf-1.pdf. ↩︎
Gary Dorrien, The Neoconservative Mind: Politics, Culture, and the War of Ideology (Mapping Racisms) (Temple University Press, 1993). ↩︎
Jeane Kirkpatrick, “Blame America First,” Speech to Republican National Convention, August 20, 1984, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/conventions/san.diego/facts/GOP. speeches.past/84.kirkpatrick.shtml. ↩︎
Mel E. Bradford, A Better Guide Than Reason: Studies in the American Revolution (Peru, Il.: Sherwood Sugden & Co, 1979). ↩︎
Norman Podhoretz, “My Negro Problem-And Ours,” Commentary, 1 February, 1963, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www. commentarymagazine.com/article/my-negro-problem-and-ours/. ↩︎
Victor Navasky, A Matter of Opinion (New York: New Press, 2005). ↩︎
. Navasky,“Protest and Survive: Thoughts on the critical role of the journal of dissent in America,” The Nation, 28 April, 2005, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/protest-and-survive#. ↩︎
William F. Buckley, Jr., “Murray Rothbard, RIP,” National Review, 6 February, 1995. ↩︎
See “Relentless Moral Crusader Is Relentless Gambler,” New York Times, May 3, 2003, accessed January 15, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/03/national/03GAMB.html. ↩︎
James Burnham, “Get US Out!” National Review, 19 October, 1965. ↩︎
… And Its Discontents Who, really, can be surprised by National Review Editor Rich Lowry’s firing of John Derbyshire this weekend for the sin of practicing anthropology without a…
… And Its Discontents
Who, really, can be surprised by National Review Editor Rich Lowry’s firing of John Derbyshire this weekend for the sin of practicing anthropology without a license? Who can be surprised, as well, by the reaction of the “Conservative Movement,” whose partisans, seemingly without exception, took the opportunity to dance on The Derb’s grave? The real shock is that John lasted as long as he did.
Perhaps his secret was that he would always lace race realism with irony and humor, lighting the mood while stalking the big taboos. Take, for instance, this passages from the Derb Canon, one of my favorites:
In September 2006, political scientist Robert Putnam was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize, one of the most prestigious in his field. The prize is awarded in Uppsala, Sweden, by a Scandinavian scholarly association. (Skytte was a seventeenth-century Swedish grandee.)
As usual with such events in the academic world, Putnum presented a research paper to commemorate the event. The paper is titled “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century.” [ . . . ]
The paper has a very curious structure. After a brief introduction (two pages), there are three main sections, headed as follows:
The Prospects and Benefits of Immigration and Ethnic Diversity (three pages)
Immigration and Diversity Foster Social Isolation (nineteen pages)
Becoming Comffortable with Diveristy (seven pages)
I’ve had some mild amusement here at my desk trying to think up imaginary research papers similarly structured. One for publication in a health journal, perhaps, with three sections titled
Health benefits of drinking green tea
Green tea causes intestinal cancer
Making the switch to green tea
Derbyshire’s offending article at Takimag, “The Talk: Non-Black Version,” was, no doubt, a little too frank. People recognized exactly what Derbyshire has in mind—not only regarding the natural behavior of Black people but the lie of “equality” at the heart of contemporary “Conservatism.”
But it’s worth dwelling on this question “What took NR so long?” A plausible answer is offered by The Atlantic’s Elspeth Reeve:
The truth about intellectual magazines is that not all of their readers are as enlightened and forward-thinking and clear-eyed as the people who produce them imagine themselves to be. So the trick to pull off is how to give what those less enlightened readers want — and thereby secure their money either through subscriptions or contributions — while still maintaining an air of respectability. Think of how your PBS station always trots out the stars-of-the-1970s concerts and River Dance whenever pledge drive comes around. That’s where Derbyshire comes in.
You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “No offense, but…” which always precedes something offensive wrapped in an “I’m just telling it like it is” attitude. In certain parts of the country, there’s a similar use of the phrase, “I’m not racist, but…” which always signifies that the speaker is about to say something racist. Derbyshire’s specialty is the fancy-pants version of “I’m not racist, but…”
Reeve, of course, always wanted Derb to be fired. He’d much prefer conservatives who are “enlightened and forward-thinking” (that is, neutered)—people like Rich Lowry, who agree with liberals on the essentials and only want to argue about the means.
In this way, Reeve hints at a basic asymmetry between the American Left and Right—with both, the constituents are to the right of the leadership.
The Left gains support from the public by appearing normal: they care about the trees and the children and are trying to create jobs with benefits and pensions. The actual leaders are far more radical—and far more dedicated to dispossessing and replacing the middle-of-the-road White people who support them.
With the Right, on the other hand, the conservative base is, in its guts, “racist”: such people grasp what is really happening to their country. They have sour memories of their (re-)educated children scoffing at the “talks,” quite similar to Derb’s, that they’ve given to them about Black people over the years. They’ve spent a great deal of their income isolating themselves and their families from “Diversity.”
In other words, the conservative base supports its “enlightened and forward-thinking” leaders despite what they say and do (and how they look). The base supports its leaders because it views them, rightly or wrongly—for the most part, quite wrongly—as on the side of the “home team.”
The Derb might have offended some NR readers with his scientific worldview, but it was always clear to them that he was in their corner.
Those who truly walk a tightrope, or who “dance around these issues” (in Rich Lowry’s words), are not the John Derbyshires of the movement (if any still remain) but the Rich Lowrys. It is they who must ensure that White anxiety, anger, and hope is safely and effectively channelled into the quarantine of the Republican Party and “Conservative Movement.”
John Derbyshire got off script.
Over the past 24-to-48 hours, NR writers, and especially those at more popular websites like Breitbart and the Daily Caller, have been falling over themselves denouncing Derb and claiming that they lack all sympathy for his plight. For the past few weeks, however, these same sites have been dedicated to documenting, meticulously, exactly what Derbyshire was warning about.
Ever since President Obama symbolically adopted Trayvon Martin, the Daily Caller has been posting stories on the not-so-innocent life of the murder victim, revealing his “No Limit Nigga” Twitter account, the thuggish photos, and not-so-flattering aspects of his record.
Of course, much of this is legitimate investigation into a national story. But in a very real sense, sites like the Daily Caller are doing exactly what the Left says they are doing—race-baiting. They’re pushing buttons, dropping hints, “Trayvon’s really a nigga,” wink-wink . . . (Much of this is related to what Colin Liddel termed “sub-racism.”)
Glenn Beck and the late Andrew Breitbart are (and were) Grand Masters of the race-baiting game. Breitbart rose to national awareness publishing videos of James O’Keefe, dressed as a ‘70s Black pimp, entering a Black-run ACORN office in search of government funding for his “ho.” Breitbart later warned conservatives of the dangers of Black Nationalists in the Department of Agriculture. His posthumous coup (which ultimately fell flat) was to hint that the President himself isn’t what he seems . . . . He’s no liberal backed by Wall Street, no; he’s a closet Black Nationalist!
Analogously, Glenn Beck’s upward trajectory began when he announced, on Fox and Friends, that Barack Obama “has a deep seated hatred of White people or the White culture.” The Blaze and Breitbart (Beck’s and Breitbart’s answers to the Huffington Post) have filled their webpages with salacious stories of various flash-mob attacks and general Black misbehavior. As I write (Sunday, April 8), the top story on The Blaze is about the New Black Panther Party’s call for a “race war.” On the same night that Breitbart declared John Derbyshire to be a non-person for talking about the dangers of Blacks, its best-read story was one on a unsuspecting White Man who ventured into Black Baltimore and was attacked and stripped of all clothes and possession by a feral gang.
When Andrew Breitbart explicitly talked about his political philosophy, one got the impression that it was some kind of universalistic libertarianism; Beck outdid him in genuflecting to the myth of Martin Luther King. But what they sold to their readers is quite different. It was never about race, but about “principles” and “fair play.” R i i i g h t . . .
Owing to the decline of the “Gate Keeper” media, at no point in the past half-century has implicit racism been more intense. And at at no point have explicit racists, like Derb, been more furiously denounced. The new wave of conservatives, represented by Breitbart and Beck, have peddled implicit racism; they’ve made a great deal of money off implicit racism. But the trick only works if they shun and condemn anything approaching actual White Nationalism.
With race-baiting, racism remains just that—bait. The ultimate object is for Whites to continue voting Republican, and to view this as resolving their fears and anxieties and fulfilling their hopes. The moment racism ceases to be a short-circuit in the minds of the American Majority, it must be censored furiously.
Derbyshire’s real crime was that he refused to race-bait. He instead told the truth.
Though I rooted on Republicans in Middle and High School, I never in my adult life was I part of the “Movement,” whose foreign policy and basic worldview—defined by George W. Bush, neocons, and various FOX celebrities—repulsed me. After meeting the persons who populate official “Conservatism” in the Beltway, I recognized that my instincts had been sound.
Since I’ve always been on the “alt” side of the Right, I’ve befriended many for whom the NR and movement “purges” have taken on a kind mythical status. (Paul Gottfried, for one, has allowed his (justified) hatred of neocons to color almost everything he writes and says publicly.) I, on the other hand, never understood why intelligent people would be complaining about being pushed out into cleaner air. (Needless to say, making a living has much to do with it, and the various Movement purges have hit many good people where it hurts.)
It is, of course, NR’s prerogative whom it hires and fires, and it doesn’t ultimately surprise me that the magazine has, over the decades, attacked Ayn Rand and Pat Buchanan and “purged” from its ranks of contributors Revilo Oliver, Murray Rothbard, and Sam Francis. All of these were too radical and interesting, in their own ways, to support NR’s quest for “respectability.”
That said, it’s hard to mistake the trajectory of official “Conservatism” as anything other than a gradual degeneration and dumbing-down. NR has gone from James Burnham and Russell Kirk to Kathryn Jean Lopez and various man-children spouting human-rights doctrines. A part of me, a demonic part of me, is thus quite happy that The Derb was next on the list. It makes the mainstream Right much stupider . . . more defined by the Goldbergs, Ponnurus, Lowrys, and Lopezes of the world . . . and more obviously a racket and dead-end.
The conservative movement deserves to die. And it must be fully de-legitimized before we can build something new in its place. The firing of John Derbyshire brought us a step closer.