What should one do when they feel dead on the inside? When yesterday, today, and tomorrow all bleed into one another and when society ceases to provide any kind of…
“This whole thing is dead to me, anyway. It died with Richard.” – Emily Gilmore, Fall. Was the death of Richard Gilmore the death of White America? It’s not that…
“This whole thing is dead to me, anyway. It died with Richard.” – Emily Gilmore, Fall.
Was the death of Richard Gilmore the death of White America?
It’s not that the Gilmore Girls revival is less White than the original show; it’s that it’s more honest. The original Gilmore Girls was a White liberal utopia: a single mother raising her young daughter in an idyllic, wacky, all-White village in Connecticut (except for some Koreans and one disdainfully snobbish mulatto Frenchman—we’ll come back to him). Known for its snappy dialogue and charming absurdity, it was a difficult show not to like—anecdotally speaking, I know almost as many men as women who quietly enjoyed Gilmore Girls, usually introduced to it by their daughters or girlfriends.
But of course, the original Gilmore Girls was a lie. In the real world, a sixteen-year-old pregnant rich girl who ran away from home wouldn’t stumble upon a Brigadoon-esque village and grow up to become a successful businesswoman while her genius daughter/BFF goes to the equivalent of Choate and then Yale. In the real world, women who make as many bad decisions as Lorelai Gilmore does aren’t happy, nor are they seemingly rewarded for all of them. But the world of Gilmore Girls was a world set apart, a frozen episode that looked like early 2000’s America on the surface but really hearkened back to a more idyllic time.
I went into the revival expecting more of the same. In the final episode of the original series, we’re left with a Lorelai who has finally gotten back together with Luke the diner owner, and a Rory who has turned down a marriage proposal from her long-term boyfriend Logan Huntzberger, in order to pursue a career in journalism. This latter decision was one of the more signal-y moments in Gilmore Girls history: the girl-power ending where she proved she didn’t need no man! I predicted a revival that showed a plucky reporterette, fully satisfied with her career; a script that covered over the reality of culture that tells women they don’t need marriage, of the sick society in which we live where ‘empowered’ women slowly eat themselves to death after returning from their desk job every evening, alone except for a cat or two.
But I was wrong. The Gilmore Girls revival, wittingly or otherwise, reveals the rot of American society—especially in comparison with the original. The difference is so striking that I have to believe it was not entirely intentional on the part of the show creator; rather, it is indicative of a distinct change in social mood that has taken place between when the show ended, in 2007, and today.
The new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life takes place over the course of a year, broken into four 90-minute episodes: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. (Obligatory disclaimer: I am going to spoil the ending.)
In the original show, there was very little political propaganda. This was one of the most appealing things about it. Lorelai made the occasional George Bush joke, sometimes mocked her wealthy WASP parents for being Republicans, and Rory had a Planned Parenthood poster in her dorm room, but that was basically it. (Of course, the original premise of the show was pro-life, so they had to balance it out somehow). In general, this was incredibly refreshing compared to the constant political signaling in network television shows at the time, and compared to what’s on television now it’s like a different world. But the reboot is a different story. Suddenly, the town of Stars Hollow is engaged in gender activism, with earnest plans to put on a gay pride parade that never materializes due to a lack of homosexual town residents. (Hard to believe given the sudden prominence given to homosexual townsfolk.)
But far more striking is the change in the character of Michel Gerard. Michel, an overbearing, impeccably-dressed Frenchman with a thick accent and a penchant for Celine Dion, is a White-presenting mulatto who works at Lorelai’s inn, The Dragonfly. The original character of Michel was infamously sexually ambiguous; he of course fit a certain gay stereotype, was a little too close to his mother, etc. Nevertheless, there were occasional references made in passing to dating women, and never any made to male liaisons. Within the first 20 minutes of the reboot, in the first scene involving his character, Michel is discoursing scornfully about his male partner Frederick’s desire to adopt children. Why the dramatic change?
The answer is pretty simple: the original Gilmore Girls was a break from reality, while the reboot is almost unbearable in its reality. The past 8 years have been dramatic in their psychological effect on American society, and it is reflected here. But it’s more than that, in the world of the show. The mirror has crack’d from side-to-side; Richard Gilmore is dead. And with the patriarchal Gilmore gone, the order of things begins to break down, especially for the three female Gilmores.
“You don’t move or change ever. There’s a picture of you in the attic that Dorian Grey is consulting lawyers about.” – Lorelai to Emily, “Spring.”
The change in Emily is the most dramatic over the course of these four episodes. Unlike the two younger Gilmore girls, Emily is marble-constant, an American matriarch to make Tocqueville proud. As she points out to her unwed daughter Lorelai, who has been “roommates” with Luke the diner owner for 8 years, she, Emily, was married to the same man for fifty years. Her loss at his death is incomprehensible to someone like Lorelai. Ever her husband’s champion, after Lorelai makes a characteristically embarrassing scene at her father’s funeral, Emily chides her thus: “Your father was a great man, a pillar of the community, a man amongst men. And you dishonored him today like this in his own house.” None of the other males in this world come close to Richard Gilmore. The implication runs throughout the show: we shall never see his like again.
Much like the unappreciated WASP patriarchs who held America together for so long, but who also oversaw its slow doom, Richard died having paid for his illegitimate granddaughter’s education at his alma mater, Yale, where she learned—what, exactly? Richard died without having to seriously confront the fantasy he built around Rory, Yale, and ultimately, America itself.
Over the course of the year, Emily is in a tailspin. “I don’t know how to do this,” she says to Lorelai at one point. “Do what?” “Live my life.” It is a jarring thing to watch: Emily Gilmore, the woman who knew every customary form, the woman of exquisite taste, who could never bear to let anyone see her falter: spiraling.
Even her beloved Daughters of the American Revolution chapter holds no joys for her now. (This is where I think the show breaks continuity with the original character, but for the sake of argument, we may chalk it up to grief.) The DAR, of course, represents another aspect of the collapse of the American regime; we may recall that it was one of the only national organizations that fought the 1965 Immigration Act tooth and nail, alongside the American Legion. And if there is one thing Emily devoted her life to, besides her family, it was the DAR. Finally, in an outburst at a DAR meeting, Emily says the most un-Emily line of them all: “I can’t spend any more time and energy on artifice and bullshit.” This betrays more about the script-writer than about Emily, for Emily Gilmore before this would never have really considered her work for the DAR to be artifice: the seemingly frivolous work of choosing curtains and tablecloths and china patterns was an expression of an attempt to hold a fraying society together. As Emily says before she walks out the DAR doors, “This whole thing is dead to me anyway. It died with Richard.” Without Richard Gilmore, there’s no point in trying to save America anymore.
“You never do anything unless it’s exactly what you want to do. You never have. You go through life like a natural disaster knocking down everything and everyone in your path.” – Emily to Lorelai, “Winter.”
Fact check: True.
Lorelai is as flighty and selfish as ever, so there isn’t much new ground to cover here. She and Luke have lived together since the end of the series, never married, and apparently never even discussed having children, so it suddenly becomes an issue now. With Lorelai nearing the age of fifty, she can’t have children, and so surrogacy becomes a plot device that goes nowhere (but allows for some great scenes with the inimitable Paris Gellar, who breathed life into the whole depressing mess). Between the surrogacy drama and going to therapy with her mother, Lorelai works herself up into a real midlife crisis, deciding to go and hike the Pacific Crest Trail a la the book and movie Wild. Granted, I know nothing about either, but while the whole adventure seemed out of character—until she doesn’t actually go through with it—there was a certain pathos to the conversations she had with other women seeking solace in the wilderness. As the lonely ladies sit around a fire drinking boxed wine, one of them says, “I’m so glad I’m doing this. I almost did ‘Eat Pray Love,’ but my miles were blacked out. So here I am.” She later adds: “God, I hope this hike works. I need a new life so badly.”
Lorelai realizes that she doesn’t actually need a new life, and goes home to Luke having discovered that all she wants is to get married to him, leading to one of my favorite lines of the show: “I’ve gotta tell ya, before this thing goes on, the only way out is in a body bag.”
As infuriating as Lorelai is, she finally grows up enough to marry the man she loves. That’s something.
“You’re glowing! You must be in love.” – Emily to Rory, “Winter.”
But Rory isn’t in love.
She’s not in love with her boyfriend Paul, whom she has dated for two years and whose existence she regularly forgets. (The callous treatment of forgettable Paul is supposed to be funny, but comes off as cruel.) She’s not in love with her work. She doesn’t even seem to be in love with her lover, Logan Huntzberger, who, it turns out, she has been having an extended sexual relationship with, we can assume for many years. Logan is engaged to a French heiress, but Rory stays with him whenever she’s in London, which seems to be quite often. In the series finale Rory turned down his offer of a diamond ring and a life together—apparently only to exchange it for the life of a mistress, a high-class call girl. This is why it is almost impossible to have any sympathy for the girl when Logan tells her that his fiancé is finally moving in, and that they’ll have to conduct their liasons in a hotel in the future. It suddenly dawns on Rory that she is, indeed, the other woman—and that rather than romantic, her life looks tawdry.
Lacking sympathy for Rory is the popular thing to do in reviews of the reboot, but for the wrong reasons. Sure, it’s true that Rory comes across as a spoiled child who has never been called to account for her poor choices. And yeah, her career isn’t going well. But it seems to me that that’s not because she’s arrogant or entitled: it’s because her heart just isn’t in it anymore. Even when she steels herself to get something done and goes out into Manhattan to interview people for a ridiculous story, instead of successfully completing her task we are treated to the cringiest scene of the entire show, when she returns to tell her mother that she’s had her first one-night stand with a man in a Wookie costume. (Yes, at this point she’s still supposedly dating Paul and sleeping with Logan.) She expresses no horror at her own disloyalty, but only at her choice of partner.
So who, or what, does Rory love?
She expresses a sincere nostalgic love for her ex-boyfriend Dean when she runs into him in the grocery store. And she drops everything to save the Stars Hollow Gazette from extinction, even taking over as editor—a truly thankless task.
It’s clear that Rory is in love with her childhood. Stars Hollow, her first boyfriend, and her mother are all emblems of this. Other reviewers see this as a failing; I do not. There’s nothing wrong with loving a place and trying to make it better, even sacrificing more prestigious dreams in order to do so. In some ways, Rory makes peace with this over the course of the episodes. She finally makes a clean break with Logan; she begins writing a book about the story of her relationship with her mother; and of course, in the shocking final scene, she tells her mother, “I’m pregnant.” While the show creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, has suggested that Rory might have an abortion, the reviewer at Vox was horrified that Rory might actually think of keeping the child:
“Is this really what Rory wanted for herself? Or is she too deeply wedded to the mythos of Stars Hollow to know what her own desires are at this point?
The narrative’s cheerful, almost totally uncritical sublimation of millennial women’s individual agency to the cause of more babies is utterly enraging. To accept this plot as a natural conclusion to the show means either rewriting Rory herself into a passive noncommittal bore, or twisting Stars Hollow itself into something unrecognizable: a distorted version of American life where individual dreams and goals are repressed and subsumed into the larger collective. Stars Hollow, in this view, becomes a pro-life argument for the need to continue the legacy of Stars Hollow at any cost — even if it means dismantling the dreams of one of Stars Hollow’s finest.
It’s an abysmal, bittersweet way to part with a beloved fictional town. Rory will have the illusion of happiness, surrounded by community and family. But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that false comfort won’t make America great again, and it definitely won’t make Rory Gilmore great again.”
You see, the real tragedy would be having a community and a family, and thinking of yourself as happy. The horror!
The transformation of the town and its characters shows us that nothing is free of politics after the era of Obama, not even Stars Hollow.
Emily Gilmore is never really going to recover, because her world is gone.
Lorelai is getting married but isn’t going to have a child, while Rory may have a child, but isn’t getting married. It’s unclear whether or not she’ll have her baby, but either way, it won’t be raised with a father, just as Rory wasn’t raised with one. It’s a fatherless world. No fathers, no kings, no Richard Gilmores.
And yet the show isn’t really capable of pretending that everything is fine. The darkness shines through the charming humor, which isn’t as charming as it used to be. The gods left the earth a long time ago, but this seems to be a world entirely bereft of men. The result isn’t a feminist fantasy: it’s just sad.
Western Civilization, the #TruConservatives tell us, consists of nothing more than classical liberalism. And American conservatism, insofar as we are offered a definition, is a vague belief in “limited government” and “the Constitution.” These are combined with “Judeo-Christian values,” said to be eternal but actually evolving at a stately pace a few years behind the leftist avant-garde. Knowledge is dangerous for any respectable conservative because if you explore the history of one of your heroes before 1965, you’ll find views on race and identity as bad as anything within that gross Alternative Right.
Western Civilization, the #TruConservatives tell us, consists of nothing more than classical liberalism. And American conservatism, insofar as we are offered a definition, is a vague belief in “limited government” and “the Constitution.” These are combined with “Judeo-Christian values,” said to be eternal but actually evolving at a stately pace a few years behind the leftist avant-garde. Knowledge is dangerous for any respectable conservative because if you explore the history of one of your heroes before 1965, you’ll find views on race and identity as bad as anything within that gross Alternative Right.
At the same time, even those on the far Right are often unwilling to identify as such. Instead, they (or we) are “beyond Left and Right” and part of some exciting new paradigm, even though we inevitably find ourselves falling back on those old labels from the French Revolution to describe the politics of today.
Do any of these labels matter anymore? And how can we examine an American conservative movement which constantly reinvents its own history and redefines its supposed “principles?”
The invaluable new book from Professor George Hawley, “Right Wing Critics of American Conservatism,” is an indispensable beginning to confronting these questions. Hawley first came to my attention with his research on voting patterns, demographics, and the impact of the immigration issue in elections. His book on the White Vote, that dominant and yet almost unexamined demographic in American elections, is a starting point for anyone interested in Identitarian politics because it provides the hard numbers behind the voting behavior of European-Americans. It also dispels many of the goofy myths propounded by GOP “strategists” entranced by visions of Detroit Republicans.
Hawley takes on a much broader topic here. In so doing, Hawley has to not only describe the history of the American conservative movement, but define what he means by “Left” and “Right.” Hawley easily dismantles classification schemes based on a person’s view of human nature or the old “individualism vs. collectivism” canard. Borrowing from Paul Gottfried, Hawley says, “The political left will be defined as containing all ideological movements that consider equality the highest political value.” In contrast, the Right is defined as: “[E]ncompassing all of those ideologies that, while not necessarily rejecting equality as a social good, do not rank at the top of the hierarchy of values. The right furthermore fights the left in all cases where the push for equality threatens some other value held in higher esteem.”
This largely fits with what I’ve argued in the past, that the Left “refers to those who hold equality as their highest value, whereas the [Right] refers to those who recognize hierarchy.” This System also avoids the trap that American conservatives are constantly stumbling into, where the Left is simply “anything I don’t like” and the Right is “whatever version of post-1965 Republican slogans won’t get me called racist.”
As Hawley notes, this means thinkers as diverse as Murray Rothbard, Wendell Berry, Pat Buchanan and Alain de Benoist can all be meaningfully characterized as on the “Right,” though they have little else in common. It also implies action – you are only on the Right if you are part of something which “fights the left.”
Though Hawley does not say this, this suggests there are many “Rights,” as each right wing movement has its vision of The Good, The Beautiful, and The True it will fight for. We can talk about the Islamic State or Polish nationalists as both being “right-wing,” even though they would gladly slaughter each other. Though every right wing movement will hold its own source of excellence or morality as supreme, in truth there are as many as there are peoples, faiths, and ideologies. The principle of hierarchy (and opposition to degeneracy, however defined) itself is the closest we can come to defining a singular, universal “Right.”
With this framework, we are able to do what “movement conservatives” can’t and see how “the conservative movement” wasn’t some primordial truth handed down from antiquity but an artificial conglomeration clumsily pieced together for temporary political needs. Hawley identifies the prewar “Old Right,” exemplified by figures such as Albert Jay Nock, H.L. Mencken, and others as libertarian, antiwar, and suspicious of egalitarianism, democracy, and Christian religious belief. In contrast, the postwar conservative movement pieced together by William F. Buckley Jr. was a creature of the Cold War, with a diverse group of thinkers lumped together to oppose international communism, even if this meant, in Buckley’s words, “[accepting] Big Government for the duration… [and] a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores.”
The ideological coherence (such as it is) of the conservative movement today is an effect, rather than a cause – the conservative movement was a tactical creation, something put together to oppose the Soviet threat. And the work of many of the key thinkers present at the beginning, men like Russell Kirk or Richard Weaver, has been all but ignored despite the occasional rhetorical tribute.
This is critical for the modern American Right because it implies a new crisis and could create a new realignment. It has now been almost two decades since the hammer and sickle fell and insofar as there is any wishful thinking about a global revolution led by Russia it’s one coming from the Right. Though there’s been a half-hearted attempt to substitute “Islamofascism” as a way to get the old band back together, we face utterly new challenges based on identity, not ideology. The brutal demographic realities behind the migration crisis could prove to be the key catalyst for a new movement.
Hawley tells the familiar story of the purges which have defined the American Right, a story many of you are already familiar with. The expulsion of the John Birch Society and Ayn Rand and the Objectivists both served as one-offs. However, the conservative movement’s determination to police itself over race is a continuing, and one suspects, never ending drama.
Hawley observes: “The question is why the conservative movement made this about-face on the issue of race. It is worth remembering that during the pivotal years of the civil rights movement the major voices of American conservatism – including Barry Goldwater and National Review – were openly against legislation such as the Civil Rights Act. Some of the most prominent early conservatives defended the social order of the antebellum south.” Hawley accurately characterizes the conservative acceptance of civil rights as a “surrender” and suggests the opposition to candidates such as David Duke was in many ways driven by “embarrassment.” Even National Review couldn’t find many problems in Duke’s platform, just that he used to be in the Klan.
Even after Duke faded, respectable conservatives are constantly forced to confront dissidents who become a little too vocal about racial realities. The purges of Peter Brimelow, Sam Francis, John Derbyshire, and Jason Richwine are all addressed.
Hawley also recognizes race may not be the only issue the conservative movement will retroactively interpret. He slyly observes, “It is not implausible to imagine that within a few decades the movement will try to disassociate itself from the anti-gay marriage stance it promoted during the Bush years, and perhaps even claim that acceptance of gay marriage represented a victory for conservatives.”
There’s also a great deal of attention given to a story paleoconservatives know well, but the younger Alt Right may have never heard of – the battle between Harry Jaffa and M.E. “Mel” Bradford. Hawley identifies Harry Jaffa, a student of Leo Strauss, as one of the first nominally conservative thinkers to argue “equality” itself was a conservative virtue. This is what allows conservatives today to argue with a straight face that Martin Luther King Jr. was actually a “true conservative,” even though, as Hawley accurately observes, conservatives all but unanimously opposed him while he was alive. Jaffa is thus fondly remembered at outlets like The Federalist for pushing the American Right in a pro-Lincoln direction with “all men are created equal” as the defining idea of the country. We might even call Jaffa the Founding Father of Cuckservatism.
Bradford, a Southerner, rejected Jaffa’s push to reinvent the likes of Abraham Lincoln as a conservative hero and instead attacked the “cult of equality.” Hawley writes: “Bradford was concerned with the issue of rhetoric, and he excoriated conservatives for allowing the left to define and redefine America’s most important political values. In order to remain respectability, conservatives have conceded key points to their ideological opponents.”
Plus ça change…
Bradford was famously prevented from securing a post at the National Endowment for the Humanities in the Reagan Administration, despite support from the President himself and Bradford’s hard work in the election campaign. Though Jaffa himself actually supported him, Bradford was vocally opposed by conservative commentators such as George Will (now a leading figure in the #NeverTrump movement) and was ultimately replaced with pudgy simpleton William Bennett. And these kinds of bureaucratic struggles have a huge impact. Egalitarianism and universalist posturing was boosted within the American Right, Bradford died in relative obscurity, Jaffa was lionized and Bennett gets more money to blow at the casinos. (Hopefully Trump got some of it.)
These kinds of struggles continue today. As this is written, protesters are storming the parliament in Baghdad, the latest episode of our more than decade long disaster in Mesopotamia. As Hawley notes, “The mainstream conservative movement was in nearly complete agreement with these policies [the invasion of Iraq].” Yet the “unpatriotic conservatives” who opposed it, were duly purged and were proven correct by the aftermath still struggle for access to the mainstream media and funding from major institutions. Meanwhile, William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer still scream at me from the telescreen every night about what great foreign policy experts they are.
Hawley profiles a number of castaways from different schools of thought, including localists, mainstream and radical libertarians, atheists, and paleoconservatives. Identitarians and white nationalists are also analyzed, though Hawley does feel the need to virtue signal against us, presumably to avoid suffering the fate of his subjects. Overall though, Hawley is fair and informative and his book serves as an excellent introduction to the various subcultures which have ultimately created what we call the Alt Right.
He also slips through some questions which suggest he’s at least confronting the arguments rather than just pathologizing them like some shitlib at The Daily Beast. “Why, for example, is Zionism generally considered an acceptable political position, but an individual who wanted to create a republic restricted to white Christians would be barred from mainstream debates?” he asks. Why indeed.
Hawley does make some mistakes, but much of this is simply a product of when the book was written, before the Emperor descended from the Golden Throne on the escalator at Trump Tower. A typo in which “Young Americans for Liberty” should have read “Young Americans for Freedom” is actually revealing of the focus, as Hawley devotes far more coverage to libertarian and anti-state activists than nationalists. As he argues in his conclusion, “Moderate and mainstream libertarianism is the right-wing ideology most likely to enjoy greater influence in the coming decades,” citing the triumph of figures like Justin Amash. Hawley also speculates about Rand Paul securing the GOP nomination. But all it took to destroy Paul was a New York real estate developer saying he was having a “hard time tonight,” suggesting the fabled “libertarian moment” was always a pipe dream.
Donald Trump is not even mentioned in the book. But of course, before the “Mexicans are rapists” speech, why would he be?
For many on the Alt Right, libertarianism is a kind of gateway drug, a safe way of attacking egalitarianism, the establishment conservative movement, and “the System” more broadly. Most are gradually redpilled. Eventually, you move on, unless you can find a way to be paid for being part of the “liberty movement.”
Hawley writes, “(M)any, perhaps most, of the energetic young activists on the right are decidedly libertarian in their views, and today’s young activists will eventually take on prominent leadership roles in the conservative movement’s leading institutions and within the GOP.” It is more accurate to say that many energetic young activists start as libertarians, but they don’t stay there. It’s questionable whether libertarianism can ever really be a movement for itself as opposed to either a phase in a person’s ideological progression. After all, groups like Students for Liberty now proudly proclaim they don’t care about freedom of association, because homosexual rights, and fighting nationalism is the most important thing. Meanwhile, many of the same people now fantasizing about building Trump Walls and eventually reclaiming Constantinople were screaming about using shiny rocks as currency only a few years ago.
Hawley quotes SFL’s cofounder Alexander McCobin as saying: “We know what’s up for debate, and so we also know what’s not. The justifications for and limits on intellectual property? Up for debate. Racism? Not up for debate.” But as Richard Spencer argued, libertarianism itself was a kind of mask on white identity for some time. That is being abandoned as we get closer to the real thing. Those libertarians who put egalitarianism first, like Cathy Reisenwitz, eventually just become SJW’s. The majority move in our direction.
Who, after all, has a greater impact these days – Students for Liberty, with its multimillion dollar budget, or The Daily Shoah?
Hawley deserves praise for providing a useful introduction for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with Radical Traditionalism, the European New Right, or the Conservative Revolution without being completely overwhelmed with jargon and occultism. The chapters “Against Capitalism, Christianity and America” and “Voices of the Radical Right” are required reading for anyone on the Alt Right seeking to understand why American conservatism could never succeed. It’s also sobering reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of the pro-white movement. Richard Spencer and the saga of the First Identitarian Congress in Budapest are also outlined.
Still, one can’t help but wish Hawley had just waited a few more months to write this book. So many of the things he suggests as distant possibilities here are actually occurring. For example, Hawley writes, “If the mainstream conservative movement loses its status as the gatekeeper on the right, white nationalism may be among the greatest beneficiaries, though even in this case it will face serious challenges.” According to the hall monitors of the Beltway Right, that’s precisely what’s happening right now.
And ultimately, Hawley recognizes change, of some kind, is coming. He refers to the “calcified” nature of conservative thought, pointing out the rhetoric has not changed since Goldwater. “Only on the issue of race have we seen a dramatic change in the mainstream conservative movement since the 1960s, at least when it comes to public statements,” Hawley writes. Rhetorical blasts against “elites” have become so predictable and stale they no longer have any meaning. Conservatives are simply running out of things to say.
There are also broader historical patterns conservatives are confronting.
First, the Bush Administration “badly damaged the Republican Party’s brand,” and the legacy of that era is something the Beltway Right still seems utterly unwilling to confront. Hawley also brings up the scandals from the Bush years, including Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, and Tom Delay. (The book was written too early for a reference to the nightmarish case of Dennis Hastert). Bush’s failure to reform Social Security showed conservatives are incapable of meddling with the welfare programs most Americans have grown to accept and rely upon. The Iraq War also fatally discredited the GOP’s perceived foreign policy expertise in the eyes of many Americans.
Second, organized religion is declining in America. The Religious Right is discredited and leaderless. Jerry Falwell is dead and so is D. James Kenned. Ted Haggard is disgraced after a gay prostitution scandal. Homosexual marriage is a reality nationwide. Open borders shill Russell Moore is busy trying to prove Nietzsche right by pushing for more nonwhite immigration. Though Hawley doesn’t go into this, it’s striking how the once powerful Religious Right has been reduced to trying to keep trannies out of bathrooms in the South. (And failing at it.)
Third, and most importantly, is the growing nonwhite population. Hawley argues even if the GOP utterly reversed its position on immigration to try to win Latinos and Asians, “nonwhites are considerably more progressive, on average than whites… even if immigration is completely removed from the table.” Hawley says unless the GOP can create a huge shift in the voting patterns of nonwhites (unlikely given their progressive attitudes) or win a larger share of the white vote, the Republican Party will be unable to credibly contest national elections.
And this is where the Alt Right comes in. This is a reality the conservative movement cannot assimilate. It is an existential threat. The GOP can’t appeal to minorities without entirely abandoning conservative policies. And it can’t appeal to whites as whites without abandoning its universalist pretensions and infantile sloganeering. Though Hawley doesn’t say it, this fact alone is why the American Right’s future lies in Identity. All other alternatives have been exhausted except slow death. And make no mistake – running out the clock while squeezing out a few more shekels is what passes for a strategy within Conservatism Inc.
Reading and studying what Professor Hawley has written is an important first step for all of us. With the rise of Trump, the explosion of interest in the Alt Right online, and the flood of recent mainstream media coverage, there’s a real sense momentum is on our side. Yet we should not be deceived. Dissident forces on the Right have risen in the past and reached levels of power and influence far exceeding what we have today. All have been crushed.
We must understand their ideas, their history, their successes and their mistakes so we can avoid their fate. We don’t want to just end up as footnotes in some future edition.
What Turner documents is not just a ‘displacement’ of Britain’s indigenous population by foreigners, but, more important, its debasement of those, who have inherited the land and cultural institutions of their ancestors. Martin walks like a man on a tightrope between the void of today’s West and the transcendence of participating in true art.
It’s an oft-repeated cliché among the so-called alternative Right to say that while Britain once ruled a third of the globe, today it barely controls the streets of London. Those hit the hardest by Britain’s transformation (or, more accurately, deformation) is the working class—once the backbone of British industry and patriotism. Today, fed on the twin somas of sports and what little popular culture has to offer, the working class languishes in a post-industrial dystopia.
Derek Turner’s novella Displacement is a portrait of this Britain—a Britain of displaced workers, alienated elites, and a growing non-native population. It takes place alongside other social novels in the history of the British isles from Disraeli and Dickens to Orwell. But what separates Displacement from many works in this tradition is its non-didactic and honest portrayal of those whom it depicts.
Displacement’s protagonist, Martin Hacklitt, is the forgotten man of today’s Britain—an intelligent youth of poetic disposition, who finds his release from the drudgery and baseness of everyday life through practicing parkour in the streets of London. Parkour, or free running, is a sport that attempts to replicate natural obstacles. Using tall buildings, walls, and other bits of today’s urban jungle, its participants seek to bend their bodies to the world around them and find a sense of liberation from their banal lives below. At least this is how those ‘French books’ Martin reads on the subject describe it.
Martin, a quintessential Englishman, balks at the heady prose and philosophizing of the French parkour books he reads, and sees in it a way to keep fit. Outside parkour along with his poetry, Martin’s other main concern is his love for his on-and-off-again girlfriend Kate. They began dating in high school, where Martin stood up for himself to a gang of bullies. However, by the time of the events described in the novella, the two had grown apart.
Martin is eventually given celebrity status by a chance photograph depicting him performing parkour acts, with the tabloids referring to him as the ‘London leaper’. Who he is quickly takes on an ideological dimension, with left-wing presses seeing in him some exotic, rogue outsider, whereas the conservative media describe him as an enemy to public order.
Kate, recognizing Martin from pictures in the tabloids, contacts him and hopes to set up an interview with a posh, that is, upper class, journalist. Kate’s swift return to Martin—learning of his his celebrity status—will have most Radix readers instantly reminded of hypergamy and the work of F. Roger Devlin, as it should. One of the strengths of Displacement is its chilly realism. Indeed, nowhere is that more apparent than here. For instance, Martin’s inner monologue upon meeting Kate again after a long lull is reminiscent of many one would find in the sort of true-life ‘beta’ stories in the so-called ‘manosphere’:
“Martin tries to take her hand and she withdraws it, but not abruptly. He will try again soon. It feels weird not touching her when she is so close. They always touched, held. But if she feels the same she is disguising it well. She looks so poised, he marvels, yet the speed with which she has rattled out her news shows she’s nervous. As so often over the intervening three-and-a-quarter years, he wonders how many boyfriends she’s had, and hates them all. But he cannot ask her that yet.”
Many readers, especially young men, will recognize some of the same thoughts that have gone through their minds in the context of today’s feminized and deracinated society. But Kate is no villain—merely misguided and far too drawn by the pull of our age. Turner holds his vitriol for the real antagonist of the story—the liberal journalist Seb.
Seb seeks to write a story on the London leaper. For him, journeying to working-class Deptford is akin to traveling to an exotic Caribbean island. He is constantly taken aback by the boorish behavior of Martin’s football-hooligan brother and his staunch old-Labour, old-Britain father, who is constantly trying to hijack Seb’s interview. In addition, he is attracted to Kate and hopes to use this project to get closer to her.
However, when the story is published, it is more or less a hatchet job. Martin’s working-class background is viewed through the gaze of contempt by Britain’s ‘Guardianista’ cultural class. To Seb, the final version of the article was not meant to be this stereotyped, and, exasperated, he tries to excuse his less-than-positive story on Martin’s roots to Kate:
“I knew it! I knew it didn’t do you justice – I mean that it didn’t do Martin justice. But I only had very limited space. You know how it works!”
Indeed, this language should sound quite familiar. One only has to look at Jared Taylor’s recent run-in with the New Yorker to find another journalist, who hoped that he captured his ‘complex subject’.
Seb eventually attempts to buy off Martin’s loyalty by inviting him to edit a volume of Postmodernist poetry, the theme of which is outsider work edited by outsiders. In doing this, Martin is unwittingly making a deal with the devil, compromising who he is to be taken in by the cultural establishment that rules Britain and, indeed, the entire West. His football-hooligan brother says it best:
“Funny, ain’t it really – by having these published all you poetry plonkers become insiders, don’t you?”
Martin’s brother hits the nail on the head for many bright, poor whites, who go on to be educated at Oxford and Cambridge in the U.K., or the Ivy League schools in the U.S., or who achieve some status of cultural distinction by the current ‘Apes of God’, as Wyndham Lewis called the modern cultural classes.
What Turner documents is not just a ‘displacement’ of Britain’s indigenous population by foreigners, but, more important, its debasement of those, who have inherited the land and cultural institutions of their ancestors. Martin walks like a man on a tightrope between the void of today’s West and the transcendence of participating in true art.
In the end, we see him compromised, but through his portrait, we also note an all-too-familiar tale of what happens to bright young boys from traditional working class today. Displacement gives those of us, who self-describe as Identitarian and thus find ourselves in the political fringes, a moving literary look into the heart of our forgotten people.
The Camp, although so redolent of Gitanes and High Mass at Nȏtre Dame, was in some strange way about me. It suggested that I was part of a cultural continuum that transcended national boundaries, which somehow encompassed Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Latin; Classicism, Christianity, and humanism; conservatism as well as liberalism.
There is something about the sea that makes it a useful metaphor for change—a combination of its constant movement, its exhilarating ozone, its swift mutability, its vastness and mystery. Depending on what shore one stands on, the sea is a road or rampart, highway to freedom or gateway for invaders, origin of life or cause of death—or all of these things at once.
Nineteenth-Dynasty Egyptians fearing another descent by the Sea Peoples, or Lindisfarne monks glimpsing at longships, understandably had less agreeable ideas of Ocean than Portugal’s Henry the Navigator, England’s Walter Raleigh, or all those other swaggering Europeans from the Age of Discovery. But always, to look out to sea is to invite introspection, consider possibilities.
One numinous day in 1972, a forty-something French novelist named Jean Raspail looked out over the Mediterranean from Vallauris, west of Antibes. He was privately-educated and widely-travelled, the winner of the Académie Française’s Jean Walter Prize for empathetic writings about the unlucky native peoples of South America, a traditionalist Catholic acutely aware of his country’s position in the world. He had seen pulsating poverty around the globe, knew the realities of overpopulation and ethnic conflict, and now he had a revelatory vision of his prosperous Provence suddenly so engulfed. “And what if they came?” he asked himself. “And what if they came?”
He records that The Camp of the Saints almost wrote itself, with him starting to write each morning without quite knowing where the story would have taken him by evening. There was certainly no shortage of source-material, now that Situationists and Soixante-huitards were the mainstream, and all of European civilization—under ideological attack. “The Wretched of the Earth” had been co-opted as auxiliaries by Marxists and as potential consumers by capitalists; the colonies were being abandoned; Catholicism was in freefall; and traditions had become trammels. Judging from permitted public discourse, everyone—from bishops, politicians and academics to actresses—was united in embracing an idea of “France” as outmoded and morally reprehensible. France needed to atone, according to this new narrative, for empire and exploitations, to reinvent herself for a post-national age, effectively commit suicide in order to save her soul.
To Raspail, such ideas were risible, as they probably seemed to the majority of the French—but he also knew that they needed to be taken seriously. He saw that darkly comic notions could have revolutionary consequences. So he stitched real-life quotations from contemporary public intellectuals and celebrities into an epic imagining of a million-strong convoy of India’s poorest and most misshapen, setting out inchoately from the mouth of the Hooghly in rust-bucket ships, and across the Indian Ocean towards the Cape of Good Hope, and so around to Europe—a Promised Land of plenty, trailing the stench of latrines. This reverse colonization by the Tier Monde’s least enterprising was the perfect antithesis of the elitist European navigators, the old continent recoiling back in on itself in tiredness and toxic doubt. Old Europe, expansive Europe, Christian Europe, the Camp of the Saints (Revelations, 20:9)—and for that matter easygoing Europe, too—was suddenly a shrinking island in a world of angry water.
In lambent language, Raspail visualizes the multitudinous currents that ebb and flow through his fictive France as “The Last Chance Armada” creeps through preternaturally calm waters en route to disembarkation and destiny. He tells all too believably of moral grandstanding—the mood-mélange of calculation, foolishness, hysteria, and myopia—the excited solidarity that surges through France’s marginal minorities—the ever-shriller rhodomontade about international obligations, human rights and anti-racism – the cowed silence or wry acceptance of the minority of realists. A river of hypocritical canards flows South from studios even as their utterers decamp in the opposite direction—leaving in their rubbish-strewn wake fellow French too poor or old to move, and a tiny number of patriots too attached to their homeland to consider forsaking it even in extremis.
These last-standers hold out on a hilltop, as all of France and Europe fall to what Raspail brilliantly termed “stampeding lambs”—immigrants, who are simultaneously individually inoffensive and cumulatively catastrophic. For a brief spell, the diehards assert their identity as their ancestors had always been prepared to do, patrolling their tiny borders, using hunting rifles to pick off interlopers, revelling in simply being French and in France (although one is an Indian volunteer). This is even though—or because—they guess it is only a matter of days before their own annihilation, which is inevitably ordered by Paris.
The Camp was highly original—Raspail’s realization that immigration was the defining issue of his (and our) age, his clear-eyed examination of intellectual trends then still far from their logical denouements, his uncompromising commitment to la France profonde, and to Christianity—all rendered in strong and sonorous prose. His narrative, howsoever exaggerated for effect, was a distillation and condensation of observable reality. He laid bare the weaponization of words—gentle words like “tolerance,” “compassion,” “non-discrimination”—and the harsh facts underlying ‘liberal’ contemporaneousness. “I see the UN has decided to abolish the concept of race”, one Camp resistant remarks sardonically. “That means us!”
Acclaimed authors were not expected to have such retrograde attitudes, and mainstream publishers (Laffont in France, Scribner’s in America) were not supposed to publish anything that emanated from the Right Bank. So there was a savage backlash from littérateurs (although Raspail also had intellectual allies), who saw the book as a betrayal by one of their own. Some must also have recognized themselves, or elements of themselves, in the book’s more contemptible characters. Reviewers dutifully assailed it in hyperbolical terms; one typical American article called it “a fascist fantasy…a disgusting book”. The reviewers thus morally purged, and the book (from their point of view) sluiced hygienically down the pissoir, it fell into abeyance, read chiefly by those on the furthest Right fringes of French life.
Yet it never went out of print in France, and every few years showed itself dangerously above the surface, usually in response to some news story paralleling his plot. It has now entered a new half-life, still sometimes ritualistically condemned, but increasingly accepted as a part (albeit a slightly embarrassing part) of the literary landscape. The novel undoubtedly helped create the intellectual space, which has made it possible for Alain Finkielkraut, Michel Onfray, Michel Houellebecq, Renaud Camus, and Éric Zemmour to examine some of the countless dilemmas of immigration, often on prime-time media slots—‘a cathode-ray apocalypse’, according to one terrified old-timer.
Some early denunciators have sportingly admitted that they had been wrong to condemn The Camp—but it has dogged Raspail’s career nonetheless, and undoubtedly prevented him from being elected to the Académie Française in 2000. Yet even if he was forbidden to join the ranks of “les immortels” (as Academicians are nicknamed), ironically his book is likely to live for longer than most of those produced by present Academy members (except, maybe, Finkielkraut). As the author observed in a September 2015 interview,
“What’s happening today isn’t important, it’s anecdotal, because we are only at the beginning…Politicians have no solution to this problem. It’s like the national debt—we pass it on to our grandchildren.”
When Sea Changes was published in 2012, several commentators pointed out similarities to The Camp—a comparison more flattering to me than Raspail—and similarities could indeed be found, although also major differences. The Camp, which I read when I was nineteen, had unquestionably been an influence on me, helping crystallize pre-existing intuitions. It had proved to my youthful satisfaction something I had always felt (despite always being told I must not)—that immigration really mattered, more than almost any other political question. The book suggested not just that it was reasonable to take an interest, but that it was irresponsible not to do so. Raspail linked ancientness to modernity and aesthetics to demographics, and there was a fey romance in his worldview, so at odds with the boring mainstream (within which every choice seemed to come down to either Leftish vapidity or Rightish philistinism).
The Camp, although so redolent of Gitanes and High Mass at Nȏtre Dame, was in some strange way about me. It suggested that I was part of a cultural continuum that transcended national boundaries, which somehow encompassed Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Latin; Classicism, Christianity, and humanism; conservatism as well as liberalism. I was in Raspail’s redoubt, even though I was not French, nor Catholic, indeed whether or not I believed in Christianity. When Raspail’s character Professor Calgues peers out from his seventeenth-century house towards the ominous beachhead, he was someone, whose motivations I could comprehend, and on whose side I instinctively aligned.
Ever afterwards, when I heard of some new landmark in loss—more restrictions on free speech in Belgium, liberalization of German citizenship laws, immigrant rapists in Malmo, riots in Bradford, a mosque opening in Granada (the first one since the Reconquista)—they seemed to be of more than local significance. I watched passive-aggressive phalanxes overwhelm one old bastion after another, and wondered when somebody with power would take notice, do something. But like the fifth-century Romans, who were cheering so enthusiastically at the Colosseum that they did not hear Alaric’s attack, twentieth-century Europeans seemed dangerously distracted from their dispossession. I was clearly a bit of a prig, yet I still think I had a point.
Then 9/11 sparked mass interest in immigration for the first time since Enoch Powell. Overnight there were newspaper columns, radio and TV programmes, think-tank reports…and then those dead were fading into memory, and immigration was continuing just as before. Even new bombs in London, Madrid and elsewhere did not slow the flow (cliché notwithstanding, it was never a “tide”, because tides go out again). Politicians, who projected Western power often violently abroad, were fostering weakness at home—even as public concern against mass migration, always considerable, continued to grow. The protesting-too-much, Stakhanovite rhetoric about diversity somehow equalling strength was heard much less often, but the underlying disease (literally dis-ease) remained untreated. If anything, the temperature kept rising, the boils—suppurating.
By now, I had exchanged Deptford for Lincolnshire, and a 1990s flat for an 1840s house across a field from a 1380 church, near a beach on which Viking rings have been found. It was only natural that I should imagine this ghosted frontier as besieged, not now by Danish pirates, but by soft-power cannon-fodder, human shields for an internationalist army. Hesitantly, with frequent halts, and feeling rather inadequate to the task, I started to makes notes for Sea Changes.
It mattered that the unwanted incomers should be comprehensible, sympathetic people doing exactly as I would have done. (I am, after all, an immigrant too.) Ibraham Nassouf had every reason to flee Basra, and every reason to think he would find a home in Britain. Who could not feel sorry for a man doubly betrayed, first, by his own culture, and then, by the West? But it mattered even more that the unwilling recipients should also be comprehensible and sympathetic, because this was the perspective usually absent from media discussions about immigration. The name of Dan Gowt given to my decent, out-of-his-depth farmer had several connotations—Daniel in the lions’ den, the old-fashioned disability of gout, and the old landscape, in which he had long-ago lodged so securely (gowt being an Anglo-Saxon term for a “drain” or “dyke”).
I wanted also to dissect the contemporary leftist mentality, which loves to see itself as ‘radical’, yet which is so reminiscent of previous religious outbreaks. So I named my chiliastic, self-regarding journalist John Leyden, in a nod to the especially obnoxious Anabaptist preacher John of Leyden. It just remained to give the too-British-to-be-quite-British name of Albert Norman to my never-quite-serious conservative journalist to have all the principal protagonists, after which, like Raspail, I let the action partly write itself.
Less happens in Sea Changes than in The Camp. The scale is smaller, the tone—more intimate. It is undoubtedly a more ‘English’ book in its slightly untidy, unsystematic approach to even this hugest of events—at times, more like reportage than a novel. Sea Changes is also more plangent—few of The Camp’s calumniators remarked on its essential calmness, Raspail’s belief that the time of the Europeans was over, and this was irresistible, part of a great cosmic cycle, in which sometimes one and sometimes another group rotates to the top. The ending of Sea Changes is much less dramatic, in fact, inconclusive—there could theoretically be a Sea Changes II.
Maybe there will need to be, because despite Raspail’s efforts, the Europe of 2015 is in an even sorrier psychological state than it was in 1972. To take one small but piquant example, Raspail suggests that French radio broadcasts Eine Kleine Nachtmusik as an instinctive response to the Last Chance Armada’s landfall, instead of the previously prevailing pop and trivia. This now sounds wildly romantic—today, the pop and trivia would continue unabated. (That cheering from the Colosseum…)
In retrospect, 1970s can seem like a decade of realism. They were certainly freer years intellectually. Would The Camp find a mainstream publisher now, in any Western country? Maybe, but most publishers, howsoever nominally committed to freedom of expression, when given an obviously controversial and not obviously commercial text, would probably prefer some other publisher to exercise that right. At the least, the text would probably be redacted to reflect today’s neuroses. France, like every European country, has a manically active and, at times, aggressive Left always looking for things to hate, to give them a raison d’être in a universe emptied of meaning—and they are usually acceded to by publishers, universities, institutions, and governments, because it is easier that way. Certainly, I found it impossible to place Sea Changes with any major firm, or even an agent, despite its more-in-sorrow-than-anger decidedly un-apocalyptic tone. Although it sounds immodest, I do not think Sea Changes is any worse than many of the books published by big firms (and I had no problem finding an agent for other books)—so I am compelled to conclude that the problem was the subject-matter.
That subject-matter is every day being added to, as real events catch up with Raspail’s plot-line (once called so unlikely). Europeans of all classes stare in compassion, but also dismay, at the oncoming pulses from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and all points East and South, encouraged by a worldly-unwise Roman Cathartic Pontiff and an angst-ridden German Chancellor so desperate to erase her people’s past that she is willing to convulse their present and sell their future. (And these are the conservatives.) The ultra-Left, of course, welcomes the turmoil, full certain that Jerusalem will be built here as soon as Europe falls. Mainstream opinion squats guiltily in the middle, morally obese, dining chiefly on sweets, wallowing in a diabetic kind of delusion. “Britain opens its arms to refugees”, gushed a Times headline—below a photo of a child staring through a rain-streaked Hungarian train window—the editors never seemingly considering that the effect is more like an opening of veins.
Few of our many self-appointed gatekeepers (who are also our gaolers) ever seem to ask themselves, “What happens next?” Of course, genuine refugees ought always to be assisted—as they would (presumably) help us if our situations were reversed. Few Europeans would object to costed and conditional schemes to assist those really in need, with refugees returned as soon as it is safe for them. Many Europeans would also accept that some of their governments bear much responsibility for the catastrophes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. But we also know that many of the new arrivals are economic opportunists, who know their human rights (and maybe even Islamist infiltrators), that those, who come, will stay, and their families will join them—and that behind this vanguard, whole new hosts shuffle on from all horizons.
How many will there be? Where will they live? How will we pay for them? What mental baggage do they bring? How will they adjust to us—or will we be told yet again to adjust to them? How will their being here affect the idea we have of ourselves, and our communal identities? Will there even be an “us” several decades hence? A Jesuit priest, who had spent most of his life in Africa and Asia, noted he had been “called home” to Italy to oversee arrivals—but if this continues, how much longer will he have a “home”? Will our children and grandchildren be better or worse off living in a continent even more divided than now, and more likely to be majority Muslim? Fifty years hence, what will be the state of the fought-for freedoms of the Left, or Christianity, stable states, and free economies of the Right—innovations and inheritances alike engulfed in a sea of perpetual Otherness?
It is possible to find inadvertently comic touches even in the midst of compulsory métissage, as we watch the tergiversations of politicians straddling contradictory demands, unwilling either to “embrace” or to be “left behind”: the Finnish Prime Minister, who so crassly offered to put up refugees in one of his houses; Sinn Féin’s wolfishly-grinning Gerry Adams toting a sign saying “Refugees welcome”; the English bishop, who demanded 30,000 more refugees, yet declined to offer any house-room in his mansion; that the Royal Naval flagship picking up Mediterranean migrants was H.M.S. Bulwark (rather than, say, Sponge); the German open-borders activist, who understandably felt “very sad” after being stabbed by clients.
To the sardonically-inclined, the present spectacle is, at times, reminiscent of religious ecstasies—mass swoonings, passionate and ostentatious self-flagellations (too passionate, too ostentatious to be true), votive offerings, and even icons, in the shape of little, drowned, doll-like Aylan Kurdi, lying so rigidly to attention at the margin of the Aegean. There is vast emotion out there in the hinterland—but how deep does it go? How many truly feel for people they do not know? Already, there are panicky pull-backs by mainstream—politicians suddenly seeing what they have allowed, upswings for non-mainstream parties representing old Europe, surging demonstrations, hostels burned…and these are just the immediate effects.
Then there are the absorbing psychological puzzles, like Chancellor Merkel—rectory-reared like so many of the worst (and best), privately haunted by the idea of Europe dying, yet pursuing policies guaranteed to expedite this, somehow believing that economic prudence, strong institutions, and family life can be achieved without social solidarity. The outwardly stolid operator would seem to be a little girl inside, aghast at the nature of the world, seeking inner absolution by changing everyone and everything else. Her ignoble example filters all the way down to the likes of the Hessian provincial politician, who told a restive audience of his own people that if they did not like the idea of 400 immigrants being deposited in their little town, they should be the ones to leave.
Unsatisfied with this, Merkel is offering Turkish EU membership as a bribe for helping halt the Syrian tsunami—all too ably assisted by foreign equivalents like David Cameron and the European Commission’s suitably-named Jean-Claude Juncker. To offer European membership to a developing nation with a burgeoning population, dominated by an historically antithetical faith, unstable and corrupt, riven by terrorism and bordering Syria, Iraq, and Iran is a stroke of geopolitical genius that might be disbelieved if suggested by a satirical novelist, just as Raspail’s forecasts were ridiculed by so many of his contemporaries.
Human beings notoriously tend towards short-term thinking, but we can sometimes make serious attempts to avert looming catastrophes, as seen in relation to climate change. Why can we not similarly exert ourselves to protect unique national cultures, irreplaceable efflorescences of the human spirit? Must our continent of cathedrals and charters be overcome, drowned as surely and sadly as the Kurdish boy? Must all that is excellent and European be agglomerated down in the name of a spurious equality?
Or maybe there is still a way to break free from merciless logic through some blend of activisms that can remind us of who and what we were, and could be again. Maybe we can turn our alleged end into a brave beginning. History is fluid, we have resources, and there is scope for practical idealism. We, who have inherited this most enviable of civilizations, need to believe that and look for a future—because the alternative is unspeakable.
“In the gentle fall of rain from Heaven I hear my God. But in the thunder I still hear Thor.” (Brother Athelstan)
Ragnar: So have you returned to your faith, renounced ours? Athelstan: I wish it was so simple. In the gentle fall of rain from Heaven I hear my God. But in the thunder I still hear Thor. That is my agony. Ragnar: I hope that some day our Gods can become friends.
Whenever political activists talk about culture, they need to be careful about not over-reading the artist’s intent.
Rather than guessing what he meant politics-wise, activists have to look for the influences, heretical or mainstream, he drew upon. Unlike the intended message, which is subject to interpretation, cultural influences can be identified with sufficient likelihood.
Though it cannot be proven—and culture industry creators would likely deny it—it is more than plausible that James C. Russell’s The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity has had an important influence on popular culture.
In Canadian-Irish TV series Vikings, this influence is close to obvious. Though the show’s screenwriters may not have read it—I would be very surprised they haven’t at least heard of it—they seem to have been influenced by it at least through an intermediary text, or person, which/who conveyed Russell’s message.
Russell established in his book that the Christianization of Germanic Europe (in the broad sense, including Scandinavia) was two-sided: the indigenous Pagan faith was replaced, by fair means or foul, by an exogenous one; and in doing so, Christianity was altered by its prey, a process which had actually already begun in the Roman empire.
The ubiquity of Pagan symbols and rituals in European Christianity
This is a reality that is hard to talk about with Christians—and the more conservative, the harder. It is like Edgar Poe’s Purloined Letter: what is right before one’s eyes is what they cannot see. The omnipresence of Pagan rituals and symbols in European Christianity is such that many Christians see them as having always belonged to their faith, even in its first stages, when it was still a markedly Oriental religion.
In some countries, “king cakes” are baked for the celebration of the Epiphany, and crepes are cooked for the day of Candlemas. Both symbolize a Sun disk, and these two Winter feasts were, before Christianity phagocytated them, meant to prepare the return of the Sun.
Of course, we also know that the Christmas holiday was established to replace the celebration of the Winter Solstice, which was a solar cult in various European indigenous religions, most notably in Rome (Sol Invictus).
Interestingly, since the fracture between Catholicism and Protestantism roughly corresponds to that between Latin and Germanic Europe (please note my emphasis on “roughly” before mentioning Catholic Flanders or Calvinist Romandy), Protestants are usually more aware of this unholy origin. As Richard Rives at WND proudly reminded us, Christmas used to be illegal in many Protestant countries. Below is a screenshot from Rives’s video:
That Rome has influenced Christianity is made evident by the fact that the Catholic Church is established in the Eternal City, that the Pope is called “Pontifex Maximus” as the Roman Emperors used to be, and of course that Latin is the main liturgic language. But do all Catholics know that cardinals wear purple cassocks just like Roman senators used to? That priests (in Western churches) are clean-shaven and keep their hair short like the Romans? And that nuns cover their hair as Roman free women did, to distinguish themselves from slaves?
Christianity didn’t merely conquer the Indo-European world. It was also molded by it, almost beyond recognition after centuries of reciprocal acculturation.
This is chiefly what the two first seasons of TV series Vikings are about.
Ragnar (left) hands his plunder over to Jarl Haraldson.
When the story begins, Ragnar Lothbrok is an under-achieving farmer, who occasionnaly goes raiding with other Norsemen in the Baltic lands. He resents the authority of Jarl Haraldson, who is a generation older than he.
Every year, after the harvest, Haraldson orders his men to raid East. The plunder is meager, since Balts are not really richer than Vikings. But even though their farms are hardly sufficient to support their families, Ragnar and the other young raiders have to hand over all the booty to Haraldson, who comfortably stays home. If the story was taking place in today’s West, Haraldson would likely be a baby-boomer expecting his children to pay for his retirement pension after a pat on the back, and then wonder why they, unlike him, cannot make both ends meet. But I digress (or do I?).
Ragnar has enough, and so does his brother Rollo (not to be confused with the founder of the Duchy of Normandy; the story is contemporary to Charlemagne, over a century before the Norsemen’s settlement in France).
Ragnar buys a sun compass to a merchant, which enables him to find his way West, beyond the strait that separates the Baltic Sea from the North Sea. There, the merchant told Ragnar, fabulous riches await him in a place named England. Further South is the even-richer “Frankia” (the Kingdom of the Franks).
Since all the ships belong to Haraldson, Ragnar needs a new boat. He asks his friend Floki (reminiscent of the God Loki), to build a flat-bottomed one, that can both navigate on rivers and high seas. The Scandinavian drakkar is born. Floki’s odd appearance and erratic behavior are a nod to Heath Ledger’s Joker (Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight), as illustrated by a scene in the second season when Floki tells Ragnar’s son that he’s “just a joker”.
“All things begin and end as stories”
Compass, boat… Ragnar now needs a crew. Rollo gathers the region’s best warriors and sets up a meeting. Wary of Ragnar’s intentions at first, and afraid that Haraldson might punish them for disobeying him, the men are, one by one, taken by Ragnar’s Tyler Durden-like speech. Ragnar doesn’t try to convince his audience by way of factual arguments or logical demonstrations. Rather, he inspires them with a dream, a story they’ll tell their children. As Ragnar puts it, “all things begin and end as stories”:
As could be expected, Ragnar’s raids on Northumbria (one of England’s seven kingdoms at the time) significantly increase his prestige and power in Kattegat, still under Haraldson’s rule. This inevitably leads to a conflict between the two men. Being hunted down by Haraldson’s men, Ragnar challenges Haraldson in combat and, predictably, kills him and becomes Jarl.
“Why are we not looking outwards to the West?”
Being now an important ruler, Ragnar will try to unify the Vikings, still spending most of their formidable energy fighting each other (something Madison Grant lamented). After an epic battle leaving no victor between two Viking armies, one led by Ragnar, the other led by his brother Rollo, Ragnar delivers a speech in which he urges all men to “look outwards to the West:”
During his first raid on Northumbria, Ragnar met with a Saxon monk, named Athelstan. He spared his life not out of mercy, but because, Athelstan speaking Norse in addition to Old Saxon, Ragnar thought (rightly) that he’d be of great use to him.
At first a hostage and then a slave, Athelstan soon became Ragnar’s protégé, and even his main advisor, due to his cleverness, courage, and wits.
This symbolizes the encounter between Nordic Paganism and Christianity. At first disgusted by the Pagans’ uncouth manners, Athelstan will more and more forget his Christian faith and convert to the Vikings’ Pagan religion (or maybe I should say “revert,” since continental Saxons had only recently been Christianized under the iron fist of Charlemagne, who was not always the gentle-hearted, loving king both popular and elite culture have pictured along the centuries).
Of course, the acculturation goes both ways: Ragnar is impressed by the Christians’ ability to build wealthy, efficient societies, while his people are still wasting their tremendous strength in suicidal, internecine berserk.
Christianization, a “come-together” moment for Europeans
For all the legitimate criticisms that Pagan or Nietzschean alt-righters can have about Christianity (especially today’s Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant), they souldn’t forget that it was the first religion that gave a feeling of kinship and a common purpose to Europeans.
Descendants of the long-forgotten Indo-European people, Europeans had scattered across the heterogeneous continent they conquered and branched off into a number of peoples, speaking many different languages, to the point where they saw each other as foreigners, and even “Barbarians.”
(And it happened again during the first half of the 20th century. Then, Europeans worldwide nearly annihilated each other in wars driven by petty nationalisms that were wrong on all counts: genetic, cultural, moral.)
Christianization, despite Christianity’s extra-European origins and universalistic outlook, was for Europeans a “come-together” moment, and this encounter between two Germanic peoples once separated by faith illustrates it well.
Odin on the Cross
Back to the series, this back-and-forth between Paganism and Christianity reaches a higher level when Athelstan is captured by King Ecbert of Wessex during a new Viking raid. Recognized as a Saxon and thus as an apostate, Athelstan is crucified (see picture on the right) by the local bishop (likely a historical inaccuracy since Emperor Constantine had outlawed crucifixion in the 4th century A.D. and none were documented afterwards).
What struck me when I saw the scene was the way Athelstan was represented. Look at the picture closely. Having been beaten up by the Christian populace, his eye is so black that he looks one-eyed, just like Odin. Given the emphasis on his appearance on the cross, I doubt it is coincidental.
Luckily for Athelstan, King Ecbert arrives just in time. He orders the bishop to cut him down, and once again, Athelstan becomes the ruler’s protégé and counsellor. (Priests advising kings was commonplace then: one of Charlemagne’s main advisors was Alcuin, an English monk.)
Of course, King Ecbert wants to know more about the Vikings to be able to defeat them. He is a symetrical character to Ragnar’s: like the latter, Ecbert rules over a portion of a divided country, and hopes to unify England under his rule. The war with the Vikings must be a way, thinks he, to assert his legitimacy, since he is the only one able to resist them. As we know, however, it is two centuries later a Norseman, William the Conqueror, who will succeed in this endeavor at the Battle of Hastings.
The second reason why King Ecbert takes interest in Athelstan is because as a former monk, he is fluent in Latin. Ecbert wants Athelstan to translate and read him aloud the lives of the Roman emperors (likely Suetonius’s Twelve Caesars), thinking Roman civilization was superior to Early Medieval Europe, which is another historical inaccuracy. The very idea of the “Dark Ages” is a modern fabrication devised by French revolutionaries to justify the Enlightenment’s tabula rasa. Roman basilicas and Gothic cathedrals still stand to testify that the “Dark” Ages were actually bright.
The similarities between Paganism and Christianity
Being forced into returning to Christianity, Athelstan has a hard time forgetting Paganism, as if the latter was a natural faith to him while Christianity necessarily needed constraint. During Mass, he almost falls out when a crucified Christ appears to be bleeding, which reminds him of a Viking, Leif, who was sacrificed at the Pagan temple of Uppsala:
Increasingly, Athelstan is struck by the similarities between Paganism and Christianity. When King Ecbert asks him to tell him more about Odin, Thor, Loki or Freyja, Athelstan responds in a way that both thrills and frightens him:
“Their gods are very old… and sometimes I could not help noticing some similarities with our own God… and His Son.”
Later, when Ragnar and Athelstan meet again (King Ecbert and Ragnar are seeking a truce), Ragnar asks Athelstan whether he has returned to Christianity and abandoned Paganism. But things are not so simple:
Ragnar, who unlike his brother Rollo has not received baptism at this point (this was one of King Alle of Northumbria’s conditions for the peace talks), takes a growing interest in Christianity, which foreshadows the Vikings’ conversion. This of course is a historical short-cut, given that Norsemen would not become Christians before the 10th and 11th centuries.
But religious acculturation is a long march, which proceeds with seemingly benign but, in retrospect, irreversible and accelerating steps. Over three centuries passed between Nero’s persecutions against Christians and Theodosius I turning Christianity into the Roman Empire’s official State religion (380). The latter happened “only” 43 years after Constantine’s conversion on his deathbed (337).
In the series, such benign step is the scene in which both Ragnar and Athelstan recite a Pater Noster before going into battle against King Horik of Denmark. Once victorious, Ragnar becomes the uncontested ruler of the Vikings. A Promethean figure, Ragnar proves that boundaries exist to be tresspassed.
The second season ends on this note (Season 3 will be released in 2015) and I could finish my review here, but I think that beyond the depiction of the Pagan-Christian synthesis, Vikings asks a capital question for us, which is:
Which religion for 21st century Europeans?
Three questions seem to arise here. Should we return to the faith of our ancestors? Should we save Christianity from itself? Or should we overcome both Paganism and Christianity with a futuristic religion that would set space conquest as our “Manifest Destiny?” (I’m leaving aside the question whether we should stick to materialistic Modernity. The absence of Transcendence of the latter obviously argues against such an option. If the status quo was a viable one, our legacy would be guaranteed.)
Returning to Paganism poses a major problem. As Karl Marx famously put it, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” And I fear a return to Paganism would be such a farce, from what I can judge when I take a look at recent forms of Paganism. Pagans can’t act as if Christianity hadn’t vanquished their faith. I hear the argument that Paganism was just in a state of dormition, and that for most of European history (including when Europeans had no consciousnness of being one people), Europeans were Pagans.
But then, how would it not contradict the imperious necessity of a European Brotherhood? The absence thereof was arguably Paganism’s main flaw, and Christianity, for all its vices, allowed Europeans to get together.
Most readers of this article would return to Germanic and Nordic religions, while the author would have to choose between Gallic and Roman ones (the latter would be more to my liking, by the way; I consider myself a Roman rather than a Gaul). Slavs would be separated from the rest of us. Again.
The same argument works for Christianity. Once united by faith, Christendom has been torn apart by the wars between Catholics and Protestants. These Wars of Religion ended on a “draw,” leading to the triumph of the secular State, which paved the way towards Modernity. That’s where we are now.
Critics of Christianity on the Alternative Right usually blame it for its universalism, but I think the main problem with Christianity is the belief in the Apocalypse. Whether we precipitate the End of the World or wait for it, we can’t have a future (a future far beyond the death and rebirth of our own individual souls, a selfish concern if there ever was one) if we don’t believe that something awaits us (“us” being the long chain linking our ancestors to our descendants) after the Earth has become inhospitable for human life.
Enter this futuristic religion I was mentioning as the third option. The main trap for it would be to amount to “Modernity on life support,” with the West, now encompassing all of Mankind, escaping to new worlds after having made the original one unwelcoming. This would happen only if Europeans keep refusing to drink at Tradition’s rejuvenating spring.
Tradition that comprises both Paganism and Christianity as sucessive, necessary steps in European Man’s upward journey. Yes, that presupposes a belief in linear time. For our mortal planet’s lifespan is linear, too.
“We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers.” (Joseph Cooper)
We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers. (Joseph Cooper)
There’s an unwritten rule with movies: the more you expect from one, the less you get from it. Another unwritten rule is that a remake is, in most cases, not as good as the original.
Christopher Nolan seems to be the great rule-breaker of today’s film industry. When he took on the project of salvaging the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher had almost destroyed it (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin), who could have predicted he would release a trilogy that would almost completely eclipse Tim Burton’s two first opuses (Batman and Batman Returns), which were actually really good?
When Interstellar‘s trailers started to catch my attention, and it was evident that Nolan was attempting a remake of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I thought that the stakes were too high this time. How dare Nolan challenge The Master?
Interestingly, Christopher Nolan has often been described as Kubrick’s heir, partly because of the two directors’ common propensity to cut the Gordian Knots of established filmmaking. Kubrick was one of the very first moviemakers to use a nonlinear narrative, in The Killing (1956), and Nolan went even further in Memento (2000), which recounts the fragmented story of an amnesiac whose memory is rebooted every five minutes.
The comparison between Kubrick and Nolan is even apter in the case of Interstellar. Indeed, Interstellar is more than a remake of 2001. It is 2001, only way, way better. If Kubrick was film’s Copernicus, then Nolan is its Galileo.
Before raising Radix readers’ eyebrows, I should mention that Nolan’s improvement upon Kubrick’s 1968 movie is not due to technology. Unlike many futuristic movies these days, Interstellar is two-dimensional, and though there is, of course, an important use of CGI, it is not what defines the movie (and it is worth noting that in technical terms, 2001 has aged quite well). I could go as far as saying that Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) was graphically much more audacious than Interstellar. But it would be missing the point: though Interstellar takes place in outer space, it is not about space conquest. Much like 2001, Interstellar is about biological evolution, the meaning of human existence, Mankind’s destiny, and God.
And though there is an important reflection on artificial intelligence in Interstellar, supercomputers are here reduced to the status of farm animals. There is no equivalent of “HAL,” arguably 2001‘s central character.
The prominence of humans in the scenario made the casting a matter of ultimate importance. Whereas the actors of 2001 could easily have been replaced with others, Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Interstellar already is, and will remain indispensable.
Though not as famous as Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), and still mostly known for starring in a string of interchangeable “rom-coms,” McConaughey has recently proven as a man of both wit and emotional depth. With only a few minutes of screen time in Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, released last Winter, McConaughey managed to play the movie’s most famous scene with a simple “money mantra” (or whatever it’s supposed to be).
McConaughey also appeared on TV this year. In HBO’s True Detective, he plays officer Rust Cohle. Down in Louisiana’s post-industrial rubble, he and detective Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are investigating a series of murders committed by the local elite in a ritual, Satanic fashion, leading some website editors to analyze True Detective as a “conspiracy theory” series. Commenting on the “tomb of the American Dream” he and Hart have to muddle through, Rust Cohle has some lines that echo those of Nolan’s comic-book heroes and villains: “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”
In Interstellar, McConaughey, starring as Joseph Cooper, doesn’t fail to provide the spectator with catchy lines. But before I start quoting, perhaps some contextual elements are in order.
The story takes place in the United States, or rather what used to be the United States. Joseph Cooper, a former engineer and pilot who had to retire after a crash, is now growing corn to provide for his two kids and his father-in-law. Cooper’s wife died a few years before the story begins. She had a tumor that, had it been diagnosed in time, would have been curable. But the lack of proper medical devices and qualified physicians sealed her fate.
Cooper was wise enough to plant corn instead of wheat, corn being (for now) the only crop which resists a blight that is ravaging plantations.
The earth, both with a small and a capital “e,” is dying. The rotting plants turn into dust, which, due to frequent windstorms, makes it harder and harder for people to breathe. Field fires are commonplace. Harvests hardly reach survival levels. Apocalypse has come, not with a bang but with a whimper.
Though early 21st-century technological devices keep being used as long as they work, civilization has globally reverted to a pre-Industrial Revolution level: most human activity is oriented towards food production. Cooper’s elder son, Tom, whose intelligence is only slightly above-average, will have to study how to grow corn in high school. More and more, boys learn their fathers’ trade, as it used to be before the 19th and 20th centuries’ division of labor.
Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is much more like her father. She seems to be endowed with a kind of “shine” that allows her to feel a part of reality that the five senses cannot detect. Unlike her brother, she knows that “something is wrong” in the present state of affairs. She doesn’t live by the rules, because she feels that rules are dooming her family. Though—or rather because—her intelligence is vastly above-average, she has troubles with her teachers at school. On her spare time, she tries to figure out what “ghosts” want to communicate to her. Although Cooper doesn’t believe his daughter’s “ghosts” stories, he supports her in her personal experiments. One day, she detects a signal that resembles geographical coordinates.
Cooper, who has noticed anomalies in his automatic ploughing machines’ functioning, believes it is due to a magnetic field, whose center has been located by Murph. He decides to go there, and his disobedient daughter manages to hide in his pickup truck and go with her father. (Promethean Nolan likely means that all evolutionary leaps are made by rebels, like Columbus in his time.)
It turns out that the mysterious site is nothing less than a covert NASA base. Once the pride of the world, NASA has gone underground since government credits have been cut in favor of agriculture. (But as “Paul Kersey” wrote, in today’s “real world,” space conquest has been abandoned to the benefit of “Diversity.” At least humans in Interstellar have the excuse of starvation.)
In a very short-sighted manner, what remains of the government thinks that Mankind’s dire situation justifies that “frivolities” like space exploration make way to more essential endeavors like farming. (History school books are orwellianly rewritten to describe Apollo 11 as a hoax.)
Slipping the “Surly Bonds of Earth”
Here I am reminded of an episode from TV animated series Archer. In the twelfth episode of the third season, Commander Tony Drake (with Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston’s exalted voice) explains to curvy quadrooness Lana why space colonization is the right answer to “here and now” problems:
Drake: You think space exploration is a boondoggle?!
Lana: Well, come on, in this economy?!
Drake: Exactly! Now, more than ever, is when we need to look to space for the solutions to Mankind’s problems. In just two hundred years, Earth’s population will exceed her capacity to produce enough food. And even as the famines begin, global war will erupt as fresh water becomes scarcer than gold. But if we begin now, using the lessons learned aboard Space Station Horizon, a small group of brave colonists can terraform Mars. And Mankind can finally slip the surly bonds of Earth, to live forever… AMONG THE STARS!!!
“Slipping the surly bonds of Earth” is exactly what Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a NASA researcher, has to offer Cooper. Brand wants Cooper to lead an expedition with Brand’s daughter (Ann Hathaway) to a black hole located near Saturn’s rings (which is reminiscent of 2001‘s black monolith revolving around Jupiter). Beyond this black hole is another stellar system, in a faraway galaxy, with three planets apparently similar to Earth both in gravity and atmosphere composition. The expedition’s mission is to find out whether one of these exoplanets can be terraformed.
Cooper faces Ulysses’ dilemma. Should he stay in Ithaca or should he go conquer Troy? And Penelope’s dead anyway. As painful as it is for him to leave his children and his home, Cooper decides to go. He begs his daughter to forgive him and explains to her that he has to live at last. To live, that is, to exist beyond food, shelter, and reproduction. To put the Greater Good above one’s family’s interests (or rather to understand that the latter depends on the former). To follow one’s Destiny, even if said Destiny is tragic. And, for those who have that rare power, to bring Mankind to a higher level of consciousness, mastery, and being.
Cooper knows when he leaves that his chances of seeing his family again are very thin. Not only is the journey long and dangerous, but spacetime is different on the three exoplanets: one hour there amounts to seven years on Earth.
Which means that the expedition, named Lazarus after the Christian saint who came back from the dead, is a race against time. Even if Cooper manages to make it, he might be back when there’s nothing left to save on Earth (a little like in the first Planet of Apes). And, of course, when his kids are dead.
But he accepts the challenge, which appears to be Mankind’s last chance. Pr. Brand informs Cooper that corn will also die out eventually. Even worse, the Noah’s Ark-like vessel ready to follow Cooper’s pioneer expedition is, for now, too heavy to overcome Earth’s gravity.
NASA’s calculation is that Cooper will get back when the scientists on Earth have managed to make the vessel fly, due to the spacetime difference between the two stellar systems.
If this “Plan A” doesn’t work, they’ll turn to “Plan B”: a light shuttle with fertilized eggs aboard will leave with a few colonists to the New Earth; the rest of Mankind will be left to die. (I wonder what will annoy conservatives most this time: surrogate motherhood or the idea that not all human lives have the same value?) Thanks to these eggs, a new Mankind will be recreated. As Brand puts it, “We must think not as individuals but as a species.”
Later in the movie, Cooper will throw the line that prompted me to write this review: “Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.”
A Philosophical Challenge to Identitarians
Interstellar is problematic for Identitarians, who follow two simple principles: Blood and Soil. If the former is only shaken by Nolan (more on that below), the latter is completely crushed by the British Faust.
Indeed, space conquest means that Man will not dance around the same wooden totem pole for Eternity like Hobbits, which Identitarianism often boils down to.
But I think Instellar is a challenge rather than a stop sign to Identitarians, at least for (Pan-)European ones. As I mentioned in my debut article at Alternative Right (my very first article in the English language, by the way), this “Let’s do as our ancestors have always done” motto may suit Indian tribes, but it is unworthy of Sons of Europa, whether the “European New Right,” which is neither European in spirit nor New nor even right-wing, likes it or not. “We are the heirs of conquerors,” fellas. Our distant ancestors had to “slip the surly bonds” of the Pontic steppe so they could reach a higher stage of evolution in their millenial upward journey.
Of all people, Americans should understand that reality better than any of their European brothers, which is actually the reason why I decided to “slip the surly bonds” of my beloved Hexagone two years ago (which answers the usual question I’m asked: “Why are you doing all this?”; that’s why).
The real founding of America—when the Mayflower left Plymouth, not when the “Holy Scrap” was written down—is not even four centuries old, a period of time, in strictly evolutionary terms, that’s merely a blink-of-an-eye.
If evolution keeps its course (I think it will), there will be a Mayflower spaceship someday. Let’s just hope that it won’t be crammed with Puritans.
As for the “Blood” part of the Identitarian motto, it is also challenged by Nolan, but in a more subtle way. Viewers will have noticed that the Lazarus expedition comprises one Black man, and a woman whose name could be Jewish. Well, call me a “race traitor” (but again, traitors are firstly those who betray Europa’s spirit) if you will, but I didn’t hide under my seat in terror. Let’s not forget that Art shouldn’t be confused with Politics, something the Right has never understood, and the Left less and less understands, which is why its works of art are getting embarrassing.
The second reason why I don’t mind seeing non-Whites in a European expedition is because as Oswald Spengler put it, “those who talk too much about race no longer have it in them.” What is more traitorous: non-Whites appearing in a clearly European movie, or great-grandsons of Acheans, Romans, Franks, and Vikings placing their hopes in this or that model of car?
(“Both are equally abhorrent” is an easy, common, but… wrong answer.)
There are, in my opinion, two competing strains of Identitarianism, whose opposition can be summed up thusly:
“What is Mine is Fine” VS. “What is Fine is Mine”
(Due to Prince Harold’s history-shifting shipwreck on Picardy’s shores and the Battle of Hastings that ensued, the rhyme also works in French: “Ce qui est mien est bien” VS. “Ce qui est bien est mien.”)
I explained that in an interview at AltRight with Alexander Forrest:
We can recognize the various strengths of [other] civilizations and take inspiration from the noble and inventive things they engendered. That is exactly what the West used to do best. To use a very basic example… the Arabs produced coffee long before the West adopted it and transplanted it to the Americas. Today, the most refined coffee is brewed in Italy. It is the essence of our civilization to take what is best in other civilizations and improve upon it.
The worst aspect of “Blood and Soil” rigidity is that it deprives those who stick to it of a telos, of a final cause that would transcend their individual lives and therefore enable them to pass their dreams down to their descendants, until the time when these dreams can be put to practice.
I believe such a dream should be space conquest. I obviously won’t live it, nor will my children, and I don’t think my grandchildren or even my great-grandchildren will. And therefore, in the meantime, a European Home should be established so as to make the carrying out of this dream possible and even thinkable (the rewriting of history books about Neil Armstrong’s giant leap is one of Interstellar‘s most important scenes).
But this European Home would’t be sustainable—it wouldn’t even see the light of day, since its founding is, in itself, a project involving several generations from conception to realisation and therefore requires transcendence to survive the bite of time—if there wasn’t an idea bigger than us, an idea that will mean the same thing in one century as it now does. It is time we cultivate this idea instead of doing as if it was still “five to midnight” and we had to “act before it’s too late.”
It is not five to midnight. It is five past midnight. The night is still dark and cold. Predators of many kinds prowl around the camp. Ghastly screams echo in the void. Waiting for the Dawn, torch-bearing guards keep the fence, and poets recount glorious tales around the fire, while everybody looks to the stars.
“All I’m going to be doing from here on is losing everything.” – Roger Sterling
Some of my friends across the Ocean have asked me what I had been up to lately. Well, I’ve mostly been catching up with TV series.
TV drama is a genre I had neglected for years, mainly because of its inferiority to movies (or so thought I). However, being a movie buff is painful these days, with the obvious “creation crunch” that is crippling the industry.
So, before Marvel releases another Iron-Man 28 or The Avengers 42, I wanted to pay a tribute to some TV series I have been watching these last months. Most have made me reconsider the unjustified contempt in which I was holding fiction on TV.
Today I will begin with AMC’s Mad Men. This may not be the most obvious choice, compared to shows that have been far more successful, and that are maybe more relevant to our purposes: Breaking Bad, House of Cards, or Game of Thrones, among others.
Nevertheless, I think that for “craftsmen of the word” like us, the story of a creative director in an ascendent advertising agency is full of precious lessons. Besides, the whole show seems to revolve around a hidden theme that is familiar to Radix readers: the dispossession of the Old Anglo Elite by a new class using its verbal skills to gain power.
For a cultural contrarian, there is always a risk of overreading the producers‘ intent. However, while I believe they wanted to depict this Old Elite negatively, and express some relief about its downfall, I can’t help thinking that the initial expectation wasn’t fully met (think of Cabaret or American History X as similar failed attempts).
For the sake of clarity, I won’t recount the 85 episodes, as I assume most of you have watched the show (for the others, you can keep reading; there will be spoilers, but the general plot is not as important as the atmosphere).
That being said, a rough summary should be done. The story takes place in New York, in the 1960’s. When the show begins, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the creative director of Sterling Cooper, a relatively small ad agency on Madison Avenue. He’s tall, strong, handsome, always perfectly-dressed, smart (though not particularly educated), socially savvy and uncannily successful. Successful in his work, and, of course, successful with women. Despite having a wife that would be rated as a “9” if not a “10” in the manosphere (Betty Hofstadt, played by Nordic beauty queen January Jones), he enjoys the company of many other women, who enable him to escape the sanitized boredom of his white-picket-fenced suburban house®.
We don’t see Don Draper work much. He’s always late, even for meetings, spends most of his office time smoking, drinking (Canadian Club rye at work, “Old Fashioned” cocktails at bars), and taking naps to recover from it all. When the afternoon comes, he often calls it a day to join some mistress in a luxurious hotel room. Despite that, every one of his pitches to the clients is a home-run, making him the main money-maker of the agency (his jaw-dropping Kodak carousel presentation should be turned into a mandatory training in communication and marketing programs). This reminds us that creation requires laziness as much as hard work. All those who write for a living know that their best ideas pop up when they are doing something else, or doing nothing at all.
Alpha/Übermensch Don Draper is “just too good to be true,” to the point that NBC did a spoof “Don Draper’s guide to picking up women”, in which the viewer learns that all he has to do to be as successful as Don is… impossible to fulfill.
So, why do the opening credits show a cartoon version of Don falling from a skyscraper into a sea of advertisement junk? In a Hollywoodian clichéd way, the character can’t be that successful without having a secret flaw, which, in time, will be revealed to be fatal.
As we soon learn, Don’s secret flaw is nothing less than identity usurpation. His real name is Dick Whitman. Son of a prostitute (who dies giving birth to him) and a drunk farmer (who is killed by a horse), Dick grows up in a whorehouse. When he turns 25, he takes the opportunity of the Korean war to flee. There, a field officer named Don Draper is mortally burnt in a fire Dick accidentally starts. Since the officer is totally disfigured, Dick manages to switch the identification tags and become the man who just died, giving him his former identity. This identity theft is symbolized by Season 5’s finale, which ends with Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice.” The story takes place in 1967, which is the year the eponymous James Bond movie was released. (By the way, the song’s powerful lines “You drift through the years — And life seems tame — Till one dream appears — And love is its name” could summarize the dissident rightists’ increasing impatience; just replace “love” with some synonym, like “power,” “victory” or “glory.”)
This 92-episode series (the seven final ones will be broadcast next year) would get boring if it wasn’t for the supporting characters. Though Jon Hamm’s acting is excellent, the contradiction between Don Draper’s rise to success and his growingly incapacitating original sin wouldn’t be sufficient to support the show from Season 1 to 7. The main thing that can be said about Don Draper is that in the age of materialism, which has been the Postwar era so far, such a talented man couldn’t express his genius in a meaningful field. Rather than being an artist, a scientist, or a statesman, he had to devote his talents to selling laxatives, ketchup, and lipstick.
Still, being an outsider, Don Draper is generally benefitting from the cultural revolution of the 60’s, that he fully embraces, despite losing his own family in the process:
Completely different is the fate of other characters, who embody the declining WASP elite. Here are the most representative ones:
If there had to be a single one quintessential elite Anglo-Saxon on screen, that would be him. Heir of the original agency’s co-founder (hence his “name on the building” he’s so proud of), Roger always had it easy until the 60’s. To paraphrase one of my famous countrymen, Roger “took the trouble to be born, no more,” except during the Second World War. Roger’s wittiness and charms enable him to be very efficient in handling clients, but can’t shield him from the cultural tsunami that washes America throughout the 60’s. Unable to resist the sexual revolution, he repudiates his wife Mona in favor of an Ashkenazi secretary, Jane, who will give him no heir. Once high on LSD, Roger realizes it was a bad move, which will leave him with two alimonies to pay for. His former wife Mona only gave him a daughter, who ends up living in a rural commune with degenerates after having abandoned her “beta provider” husband and her son.
Drugs are not enough to make him forget his feeling of void, which results in an explicit recognition of his own dispossession:
Having received a Classical European education, Roger thinks he can afford the luxury of playing dumb, for example when he intentionally mixes Spanish conquistadores, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, and “Mexicans” in a single sentence. In an other episode, he explains to Pete Campbell what “Munich” (i.e., surrender) means when it comes to negotiation, only seconds before he attributes to his mother the famous Churchill quote “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obviously, someone who knows what “Munich” means also knows who delivered this statement after the Munich Agreement of 1938. Unfortunately for Roger, the 60’s are no longer the time for playing dumb, especially since his leadership is under siege.
While he’s not a very important character, Herman “Duck” Phillips plays the role of a scapegoat in the official narrative about the ’60s. Everything in his behaviour is wrong, to the point that the whole character becomes rather incredible. Incapable of self-mastery when he’s drunk, “Duck” makes fun of the speaker during an adverstising awards ceremony and tries to defecate in Roger Sterling’s office (believing it’s Don Draper’s) after having been fired from the agency. In spite of all these flaws, he’s always impeccably attired, very charming, and quite well-spoken. He’s also a war hero, having killed 17 Japanese soldiers in the Battle of Okinawa. The message seems to be as follows: when a man is handsome, well-educated, and successful, there must be something deeply wrong about him. This should explain why such types have almost entirely been driven out of Western elites in favor of ugly, incompetent, and sociopathic ones . . . but I digress.
Cooper is the other co-founder of the initial agency. Unlike Roger Sterling, who is a generation younger than he, Bert Cooper is a self-conscious conservative. He is very skeptical of “civil rights,” and implicitly asks she-office manager Joan Holloway/Harris to make sure the receptionist girl remains White. Bert Cooper is why conservatives can’t win. Though he disagrees with the triumph of the Moral Left in the ’60s, he never dares express it. Quite symbolically, he lost his testicles in a surgical operation that went wrong. He dies childless and heirless, the day Neil Armstrong sets foot on the Moon. One small step for a man, indeed . . . and one giant leap to the dustbin of history for country-club Republicans.
Speaking of the Moon, the only real character of the series, hotel chain-founder Conrad Hilton (“Uncle Connie”), is a very telling one. He randomly meets Don Draper at a . . . country club, and then becomes a client for a short time. He ends his contract with the agency when Don fails to give him “Hilton on the Moon,” a literal request Don thought was only figurative. In a monologue that leaves the viewer wondering whether Hilton is mentally ill, he displays a worldview that is actually quite typical of the postwar Right:
Can we see “Uncle Connie” as a member of the dispossessed elite? Yes, if we bear in mind who one of his great-granddaughters is.
In his three-part review of the series at Counter-Currents, James J. O’Meara defined Lane Pryce as the agency’s sacrificial victim. That is true, though in my opinion, O’Meara doesn’t really explain how Lane Pryce is so. Pryce is a former auditor from the British company that had bought the initial Sterling Cooper agency. Then he becomes a junior partner in the new agency started by Sterling, Cooper and Draper. Due to fiscal problems with the United Kingdom, he tries to steal money from the agency. When Don confronts him about his forged check, Pryce resigns and hangs himself in his own office. I would suggest that Pryce is sacrificed for his very Britishness, the same way the Cosmic America fantasized by Conrad Hilton was born out of the sacrifice of English and British heritage. Jared Harris, who stars as Pryce, looks like the usual caricature of the English people in rival countries: a toad face at the top of a fat, listless body.
Pete Campbell is maybe even more representative of this dispossession: being 10 years younger than Don Draper, he has been deprived of his birthright before he was even born. At some point in the series, the viewer learns that his ancestry in America goes back as far as the Mayflower. Yet his father found a way to dilapidate his family’s fortune before dying and leaving his two sons with crumbs. Still believing in the American myth of the self-made-man, Pete thinks he’s going to make up for his father’s failures with hard work, only to discover that the dices have been rigged from the start against young, ambitious men like him (which, of course, is more of a concern for our generation than Pete Campbell’s, who is a baby-boomer; this is not the only way the writers managed to inject contemporary issues into the series). In a half-drunk rant, Campbell expresses his impatience about being patronized by the former generation. That reminds me of something.
I could go on and on, since there’s no shortage of examples, from the clients to the employees, as well as their families.
I keep thinking that the producers wanted to celebrate the replacement of this Old Anglo Elite by a Rainbow Coalition including women, gays, and minorities, chiefly Jews, given that the production crew is predominantly Jewish. In the very first episode, Roger Sterling asks Don Draper whether the agency has ever hired a Jewish copywriter. “Not on my watch,” jokes Don. It’s 1960. In the coming decade however, the agency is going to recruit many Jewish copywriters and Black secretaries.
Nevertheless, to show how hard it was for the Rainbow Coalition to overthrow this Old Anglo Elite, the producers had to depict it as a formidable enemy: a caste of good-looking, refined, well-mannered, educated aristocrats. By thus doing, they made this elite appealing, and many viewers could conclude that they would rather be ruled by such a gang than by the current one.
That said, one could have the same feeling watching Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (which was arguably the last liberal movie Kubrick made, before he started making conservative films, or outright reactionary ones like Eyes Wide Shut). The 18th-century aristocracy was, in many ways, admirable by its style and its brilliance. But it adopted the set of ideas and values that would lead to the removal of English rule in the thirteen colonies and of the King’s head in Paris. In like manner, Roger Sterling’s capitulation before the sexual revolution and Don Draper’s abandonment of his own family were foreshadowing the Great Erasure that was just about to happen. In the early 60’s, the agency sells a patriarchal and hierarchical American Dream. At the end of this crucial decade, the agency promotes alternative lifetsyles, women’s independence from their husband and family and minorities’ march through the institutions, with the partners hardly noticing this radical shift, and completely ignoring that it might undermine their rule.
Don Draper may embody all a man could dream of being and may succeed in all ways imaginable. He is also the last specimen of a dying breed. Let’s hope that the next European elite will know better and not confuse the Will to Power with the suppression of the very institutions that make it sustainable.
Personally, I had once considered these critiques as being essentially valid, but upon a more thorough investigation of Dugin’s writings and thought, I concluded that these critiques were based on flawed premises and assumptions. My intention here is to point out what the most common reasons for denouncing Dugin have been and why they are based on misconceptions and propaganda rather than reality.
Alexander Dugin is by now well-known in “Right-wing” circles of all sorts across the world—whether we are speaking of nationalists, Fascists, traditionalists, cultural or national conservatives, or New Rightists (also known as Identitarians). Upon the translation of his book The Fourth Political Theory in 2012, Dugin has received a significant amount of international attention from anyone interested in Right-wing or Conservative theory. Since then, a number of other essays by Dugin on the topics of Eurasianism (also spelled “Eurasism”) and also the Theory of the Multipolar World (both of which are interconnected with each other and with what he calls the Fourth Political Theory) have been translated into English, among other languages, allowing us a better view into his thought.
There is no need to discuss Dugin’s theories in any depth here, since his own essays achieve that sufficiently. However, a problem has arisen among Right-wingers in the West in regards to Dugin: while many have appreciated his works, a large number have completely dismissed or attacked him and his theories largely on the basis of misunderstandings or propaganda from Dugin’s political enemies. The situation is certainly not helped by the fact that well-known Identitarian writers such as Greg Johnson, Michael O’Meara, Domitius Corbulo, and some others in Europe have denounced Dugin with reasoning based upon such misunderstandings. Personally, I had once considered these critiques as being essentially valid, but upon a more thorough investigation of Dugin’s writings and thought, I concluded that these critiques were based on flawed premises and assumptions. My intention here is to point out what the most common reasons for denouncing Dugin have been and why they are based on misconceptions and propaganda rather than reality.
Position on Race
First, one of the most difficult issues is the claim that Alexander Dugin believes that race has no substantial reality, that it is a “social construct” and must be completely abandoned as a harmful product of modern Western society. Certainly, he critiques racialist theory, but this is not the same as rejecting race entirely (since one can assert the importance of race without resorting to “racism.” See my essay “Ethnic and Racial Relations”). It must be admitted that Dugin has not taken a clear stance on the matter of race, and occasionally makes statements which imply a dismissal of race (although it is significant that, for the most part, he leaves it an open question). On the other hand, he has also made statements implying an appreciation for racial identity to some extent, such as when he wrote the following:
Being White and Indo-European myself, I recognize the differences of other ethnic groups as being a natural thing, and do not believe in any hierarchy among peoples, because there is not and cannot be any common, universal measure by which to measure and compare the various forms of ethnic societies or their value systems. I am proud to be Russian exactly as Americans, Africans, Arabs or Chinese are proud to be what they are. It is our right and our dignity to affirm our identity, not in opposition to each other but such as it is: without resentment against others or feelings of self-pity. (quoted from “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ & Other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution”)
However, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Dugin truly does believe that race is a “social construct”, as some have assumed. Would this be enough reason to declare Dugin a subversive intellectual in the Right? If this was the case, it would follow by the same reasoning that any past Right-wing intellectual who did not believe in the importance of race (or at least the biological form of race) must also be denounced. This would include such notable thinkers as Oswald Spengler, Francis Parker Yockey, Othmar Spann, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, Oswald Mosley, and numerous other Fascist or nationalist intellectuals and leaders who did not place much importance upon physical race. Yet, paradoxically, many of those we see denouncing Dugin today would not do the same for such thinkers. This is not to imply that previous Fascist or nationalist intellectuals are entirely agreeable for us today (in fact, most New Rightists reject Fascism and old-fashioned nationalism), it is only to point out the self-contradiction which has gone unnoticed.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that Dugin clearly believes in the importance of ethnicity and culture and advocates ethnic separatism. Similarly to German Revolutionary Conservative and Völkisch thinkers, Dugin has unmistakably placed the Volk or ethnos as one of the highest values of his philosophy: “The subject of this theory [the Fourth Political Theory], in its simple version, is the concept ‘narod,’ roughly, ‘Volk’ or ‘people,’ in the sense of ‘peoplehood’ and ‘peoples,’ not ‘masses’” (quoted from “The Fourth Estate: The History and Meaning of the Middle Class”). Thus, it is clear that even if he does not value race, Dugin certainly does value ethno-cultural identity. Of course, this is not to say that rejecting the reality of race is not at all problematic, only that it is not enough to denounce a philosopher. However, those who like to claim that Dugin dismisses race as a “social construct” are reminiscent of those who say the same thing about Alain de Benoist, whereas it is clear that Benoist asserts the reality of race and advocates racial separatism–specifically from a non-racist standpoint–in many of his writings, one of the most notable in English being “What is Racism?”.
Empire vs. Imperialism
The second problematic notion about Dugin is that he is an advocate of a type of Russian imperialism, usually suggested being of a Stalinist and Soviet type. However, this claim has no basis in fact, since he has renounced Soviet imperialism and has also distinguished between true empire and imperialism (which also made by Julius Evola and many other Traditionalist and New Right authors). In his essay “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy,” Dugin has asserted that there are three basic types of policy in modern Russia: Soviet, pro-Western (liberal), and Eurasist. He criticizes the Soviet and Liberal types while advocating the Eurasist policy: “Eurasism, in this way, is an original ‘patriotic pragmatism’, free from any dogmatics – be it Soviet or liberal… The Soviet pattern operates with obsolete political, economic and social realities, it exploits nostalgia and inertness, it lacks a sober analysis of the new international situation and the real development of world economic trends.” It should be clear from Dugin’s analysis of different forms of political approaches that his own viewpoint is not based on the USSR model, which he explicitly rejects and critiques.
Moreover, it is often overlooked that when Dugin advocates a Eurasian empire or union, there is a distinction between a true empire—in the traditionalist sense—and imperialism, and thus an empire is not necessarily an imperialistic state (for a good overview of this concept, see Alain de Benoist’s “The Idea of Empire”). Unlike domineering and imperialistic states, the Eurasian Union envisioned by Dugin grants a partial level of self-government to regions within a federalist system:
The undoubted strategic unity in Eurasist federalism is accompanied by ethnic plurality, by the emphasis on the juridical element of the “rights of the peoples”. The strategic control of the space of the Eurasian Union is ensured by the unity of management and federal strategic districts, in whose composition various formations can enter – from ethno-cultural to territorial. The immediate differentiation of territories into several levels will add flexibility, adaptability and plurality to the system of administrative management in combination with rigid centralism in the strategic sphere. (quoted from “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy”)
Of course, it must also be remembered that Dugin’s vision needs to be differentiated from the policies of the present Russian state, which, at this time, cannot be said to adequately represent the Eurasists’ goals (despite the influence of Eurasism on certain politicians). Furthermore, it should be mentioned that while Dugin currently supports president Putin, it is clear that he does not uncritically accept all of the policies of Putin’s government. Therefore, a sound analysis of Dugin’s proposed policies will not equate them with those of the Russian government, as some of his critics have erroneously done.
The “West” as the Enemy
Another common misconception is that Dugin is hostile to Western European civilization and even advocates its complete destruction. It is important to recognize that Dugin’s conception of the “West” is similar to that advocated by the European New Right (in the works of Pierre Krebs, Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, Tomislav Sunic, etc.). The “West” is not a reference to all of Western-European civilization, but rather to the specific formulation of Western-European civilization founded upon liberalism, egalitarianism, and individualism: “The crisis of identity […] has scrapped all previous identities–civilizational, historical, national, political, ethnic, religious, cultural, in favor of a universal planetary Western-style identity–with its concept of individualism, secularism, representative democracy, economic and political liberalism, cosmopolitanism and the ideology of human rights.” (quoted from the interview with Dugin, “Civilization as Political Concept”).
Thus, Dugin, like the New Right, asserts that the “West” is actually foreign to true European culture—that it is in fact the enemy of Europe: “Atlanticism, liberalism, and individualism are all forms of absolute evil for the Indo-European identity, since they are incompatible with it” (quoted from “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ & Other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution”). Likewise, in his approving citation of Alain de Benoist’s cultural philosophy, he wrote the following:
A. de Benoist was building his political philosophy on radical rejection of liberal and bourgeois values, denying capitalism, individualism, modernism, geopolitical atlanticism and western eurocentrism. Furthermore, he opposed “Europe” and “West” as two antagonistic concepts: “Europe” for him is a field of deployment of a special cultural Logos, coming from the Greeks and actively interacting with the richness of Celtic, Germanic, Latin, Slavic, and other European traditions, and the “West” is the equivalent of the mechanistic, materialistic, rationalist civilization based on the predominance of the technology above everything. After O. Spengler Alain de Benoist understood “the West” as the “decline of the West” and together with Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger was convinced of the necessity of overcoming modernity as nihilism and “the abandonment of the world by Being (Sein)” (Seinsverlassenheit). West in this understanding was identical to liberalism, capitalism, and bourgeois society – all that “New Right” claimed to overcome. (quoted from “Counter-hegemony in Theory of Multi-polar World”)
While Dugin attacks the “West” as modern liberal civilization, he simultaneously advocates the resurrection of Europe in his vision of the multipolar world: “We imagine this Greater Europe as a sovereign geopolitical power, with its own strong cultural identity, with its own social and political options…” (quoted from “The Greater Europe Project”). Similarly to the previous statements which we have quoted, he asserts here that European culture has multiple ideological elements and possible pathways in its history which are different from the liberal model: “Liberal democracy and the free market theory account for only part of the European historical heritage and that there have been other options proposed and issues dealt with by great European thinkers, scientists, politicians, ideologists and artists.”
Domitius Corbulo has argued, based on statements Dugin made in The Fourth Political Theory that liberalism and universalism are elements which run throughout Western civilization, that Dugin condemns Western-European culture in its entirety. However, it is important to recognize that these arguments are largely borrowed from Western-European authors such as Spengler, Heidegger, and Evola. These authors also recognized that anti-universalist, anti-liberal, and anti-materialist elements also exist in Western-European culture, and thus that there have always been other paths for the destiny of this culture. It is evident that Dugin would assert the same fact from his essays which we have cited here (as well as books not yet available in English, such as ¿Qué es el eurasismo?, Pour une théorie du monde multipolaire, or in Russian in Четвертый Путь, among others). It is important to remember here that The Fourth Political Theory is not a complete and perfect statement of Dugin’s thought, and that what he says there must be balanced with what he says in his other works.
It is often assumed that, considering his hostility to the liberal “West,” Dugin also advocates a complete destruction of the United States of America, which is seen as the epitome of the “West.” However, the very essence of his theory of the multipolar world is the idea that each civilization and nation must be granted the right to live and to determine its own destiny, political form, and way of life. For this reason, Dugin advocates the global combating of American cultural and economic imperialism, which denatures non-Western cultures. However, in the multipolar scheme, the United States also has the right to exist and to choose its own path, which means allowing the American people the right to continue the liberal model in the future, should they desire to do so. Of course, the liberal model would naturally be discouraged from abroad and be limited in its influence. This position can be drawn from Dugin’s key essays explicating the Theory of the Multipolar World: “The Multipolar World and the Postmodern” and “Multipolarism as an Open Project”.
The Fourth Political Theory vs. Reactionary Traditionalism
Some writers, such as Kenneth Anderson (“Speculating on future political and religious alliances”), have interpreted Alexander Dugin’s thought as a form of Radical Traditionalism (following Julius Evola and Rene Guenon) which is completely reactionary in nature, rejecting everything in the modern world–including all technological and scientific development–as something negative which needs to be eventually undone. This interpretation can be easily revealed to be incorrect when one examines Dugin’s statements on Traditionalism and modernity more closely. It is true that Dugin acknowledges Traditionalist thinkers such as Evola and Guenon among his influences, but it is also clear that he is not in full agreement with their views and advocates his own form of conservatism, which is much more similar to German Revolutionary Conservatism (see The Fourth Political Theory, pp. 86 ff.).
Unlike some Traditionalists, Dugin does not reject scientific and social progress, and thus it can also be said that he does not reject the Enlightenment in toto. When Dugin criticizes Enlightenment philosophy (the ideology of progress, individualism, etc.), it is not so much in the manner of the Radical Traditionalists as it is in the manner of the Conservative Revolution and the New Right, as was also done by Alain de Benoist, Armin Mohler, etc. In this regard, it can be mentioned that critiquing the ideology of progress is, of course, very different from rejecting progress itself. For the most part, he does not advocate the overcoming of the “modern world” in the Traditionalist sense, but in the New Rightist sense, which means eliminating what is bad in the present modern world to create a new cultural order (“postmodernity”) which reconciles what is good in modern society with traditional society. Thus Dugin asserts that one of the most essential ideas of the Eurasist philosophy is the creation of societies which restore traditional and spiritual values without surrendering scientific progress:
The philosophy of Eurasianism proceeds from priority of values of the traditional society, acknowledges the imperative of technical and social modernization (but without breaking off cultural roots), and strives to adapt its ideal program to the situation of a post-industrial, information society called “postmodern”. The formal opposition between tradition and modernity is removed in postmodern. However, postmodernism in the atlantist aspect levels them from the position of indifference and exhaustiveness of contents. The Eurasian postmodern, on the contrary, considers the possibility for an alliance of tradition with modernity to be a creative, optimistic energetic impulse that induces imagination and development. (quote from Eurasian Mission, cited in Dugin, “Multipolarism as an Open Project”)
It should be evident from these statements that Dugin is not a reactionary, despite his sympathy to Radical Traditionalism. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Dugin also supports a “Third Positionist” form of socialism as well as a non-liberal form of democracy. In regards to socialism, he has written that the “confusion of mankind into the single global proletariat is not a way to a better future, but an incidental and absolutely negative aspect of the global capitalism, which does not open any new prospects and only leads to degradation of cultures, societies, and traditions. If peoples do have a chance to organize effective resistance to the global capitalism, it is only where Socialist ideas are combined with elements of a traditional society…” (from “Multipolarism as an Open Project”). Whereas some have accused Dugin of being anti-democratic, he has plainly advocated the idea of a “democratic empire”: “The political system of the Eurasian Union in the most logical way is founded on the ‘democracy of participation’ (the ‘demotia’ of the classical Eurasists), the accent being not on the quantitative, but on the qualitative aspect of representation” (quoted from “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy”; see also the comments on democracy in his “Milestones of Eurasism”).
References to Leftists and Cultural Marxists
Finally, one of the most recent attacks on Alexander Dugin is based on his reference to Cultural Marxist and “Leftist” philosophers, which is seen by some as an indicator that Dugin himself is sympathetic to Cultural Marxism (see Domitius Corbulo’s “Alexander Dugin’s 4th Political Theory is for the Russian Empire, not for European Ethno-Nationalists”). However, Dugin has clearly pointed out that while he uses ideas from Marxist and “Leftist” theorists, he rejects their ideologies as a whole: “The second and third political theories [Fascism and Marxism] must be reconsidered, selecting in them that which must be discarded and that which has value in itself. As complete ideologies… they are entirely useless, either theoretically or practically.” (quoted from The Fourth Political Theory, p. 24).
If one notes that Dugin occasionally makes use of Marxist thinkers, then it should not be overlooked that he places even more importance on Right-wing thinkers, who clearly form the greater influence on him; the intellectuals of the Conservative Revolution (Heidegger, Schmitt, Moeller van den Bruck, etc.), the Traditionalist School (Evola, Guenon, Schuon, etc.), the New Right (Benoist, Freund, Steuckers, etc.), and the conservative religious scholars (Eliade, Durand, etc.). Furthermore, Corbulo objects to Dugin’s use of Claude Levi-Strauss’s work, yet respected New Right thinkers like Alain de Benoist and Dominique Venner (see Robert Steuckers, “En souvenir de Dominique Venner”, citing Venner’s Le siècle de 1914) have also referenced the ideas of Levi-Strauss on matters of culture and ethnicity, among other authors that Dugin uses, such as Jean Baudrillard.
In a recent interview, Dugin has clearly agreed with the European Right’s position on immigration (which advocates the restriction of non-European immigration), mentioning the threat that liberal cosmopolitanism brings to European culture: “The immigration changes the structure of European society. The Islamic people have very strong cultural identity. The European people weaken their own identity more and more in conscious manner. It is human right and civil society individualistic ideological dogma. So Europe is socially endangered and is on the eve to lose it identity” (quoted from “The West should be rejected”). Thus, when we take a less biased view of Dugin’s writings and statements, it is clear that his overall position is very far from that of the Cultural Marxists and the New Left.
From our examination thus far, it should be obvious that there are too many misconceptions about Alexander Dugin’s thought being circulated among Right-wingers. These misconceptions are being used to dismiss the value of his work and deceive members of Right-wing groups into believing that Dugin is a subversive intellectual who must be rejected as an enemy. Many other important Right-wing intellectuals have been similarly dismissed among certain circles, due to practices of a kind of in-group gleichschaltung, closing off any thinker who is not seen as readily agreeable. It is important to overcome such tendencies and support an intellectual expansion of the Right, which is the only way to overcome the present liberal-egalitarian hegemony. People need to take a more careful and unbiased look at Dugin’s works and ideas, as with other controversial thinkers. Of course, Dugin is not without flaws and imperfections (
nor is any other thinker), but these flaws can be overcome when his thought is balanced with that of other intellectuals, especially the Revolutionary Conservatives and the New Rightists.
How can you pervert a perversion? The Marvel version of Thor has about as much to with Germanic heathenry as the screeching crone Madonna has to do with the Theotokos. The entire history of the character is an insult to the old European belief system, and was intended as such. But the recent controversy over Marvel’s “Thor” being transformed into a woman shows that even bastardized Western symbols have to be subverted, as modern culture is unable to create something original and admirable.
How can you pervert a perversion? The Marvel version of Thor has about as much to with Germanic heathenry as the screeching crone Madonna has to do with the Theotokos. The entire history of the character is an insult to the old European belief system, and was intended as such. But the recent controversy over Marvel’s “Thor” being transformed into a woman shows that even bastardized Western symbols have to be subverted, as modern culture is unable to create something original and admirable.
The Thor of the comics was not simply the God of Thunder put into a fictional universe so he can fight Galactus or Absorbing Man. Thor has a dual identity within the Marvel mythos as he is sometimes Dr. Donald Blake, a physical weakling. Odin forced Thor into this identity in order to teach him a lesson about humility and become “worthy” of wielding Mjolnir.
The latest Marvel movies, which inform how most people think of the character today, dismissed the dual identity premise. Even when he is not wielding Mjolnir and stripped of his divine power, the movie character is still a highly effective warrior capable of, in Agent Coulson’s phrase, “making some of the most highly trained professionals in the world look like a bunch of minimum wage mall cops.”
At the same time, they have kept the larger idea of breaking the proud Thor and turning him into a soldier for egalitarianism (and mysterious multinational government agencies). Thor’s highbrow speech and noble lineage is a punch line, and Thor only becomes “worthy” when he tells Loki to stop being like Hitler and sacrifices himself to make the world safe for Natalie Portman.
But while the movie Thor is perverted, he’s still a dull reflection of the actual Thor, a greater Western archetype of strength. More importantly, the character always thinks of himself as Thor, even when he’s lost his supernatural powers. The subversion is one of ideology, not identity – Thor’s strength and character is “broken,” rebuilt, and then used to save democratic man (or woman, in Portman’s case). It’s simply the cinematic version of Seal Team Six going through hell so their daughters can be like Miley Cyrus.
In contrast, the comic book divorces Thor’s essential characteristics from the character itself. Stan Lee pictured Thor in his true form as “looking like Vikings of old, with the flowing beards, horned helmets, and battle clubs.” But Thor’s consciousness is somewhat divided. While “Blake” is always “Thor,” his status as one of the Aesir is something conditional, rather than something that he just is. Thus, as recent apologists for Thor’s sex change argue, Thor in the comics is not always a mighty Norse god–sometimes he’s just a man—or even a frog. Like the word Christ, Thor is apparently less a name than a title.
Thus, Marvel can say, “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.” But it’s not really. It’s just transferring the personification of power into a more politically correct vehicle. In the Marvel Universe, Thor isn’t really the hero or even really Thor – Mjolnir and the power it contains is. After all, the weapon is inscribed, “Whomsoever wields this hammer, if he [or she apparently] be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
Within Marvel’s announcement there is a representation of the “Unworthy Thor” stripped of power, who looks like some kind of archaeo-futurist barbarian borne of the collective unconscious of the New Right. Maybe he just got tired of fighting to make the world safe for Tumblr.
As with all actions of this type, there is a financial motivation. Marvel says it will “speak directly to an audience that long was not the target for super hero comic books in America: women and girls.” But as Time magazine points out, even young boys don’t buy much in the way of comic books these days, let alone girls. While there might be a slight uptick in female readers, a “gimmick” like a sex or race change gets the niche market of comic book fans–mostly “middle-aged men”–to make sure they pick up the latest issue.
The female Thor accordingly corresponds to the cover girl aesthetics of “strong” female characters—who don’t exactly resemble female powerlifters and couldn’t put up 225 on a squat rack, let alone duel a frost giant. Fictional portrayals of “strong” women like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Lara Croft are mostly designed to appeal to men by combining cover girl aesthetics with masculine actions. This of course is prompting criticism that we must have feminine superheroes who defeat enemies through “feminine” abilities. (Like what? Posting selfies featuring handwritten slogans about tolerance?)
But there is also an ideological motivation. Comic book heroes–especially those “born in Lower East Side at some point between 1938-1944”–have often reflected the a dual fantasy of subversion and assimilation, with Superman as the obvious example. He is alien–yet he is also the ultimate representation of the American nation. Yet as America herself has become passé and unacceptably tied to a European past, superheroes have had to renounce ties to the historic nation and even to their own racial identity in order to remain “heroes.”
To facilitate this, we get the racial transformation of various characters, such as Nick Fury morphing from a World War II soldier (albeit one who led a “racially integrated elite unit”) into Samuel L. Jackson in both print and film. Similarly, comic books today are less telling stories than about beating the correct political ideology into a dumbed down audience. Therefore, Archie will soon die taking a bullet fir
ed by a fanatical gun rights supporter at his gay friend, who is “married” to a black man. Soviet propaganda looks like a model of subtlety in contrast.
What never seems to catch on is the actual creation of heroes that don’t owe something either to a past White identity or Western archetype. Those that are created come off like unintentional comedy, like “Black Panther”–and he’s probably the best of the lot. He hails from the “technologically advanced” nation of Wakanda, menaced by the evil quasi-Afrikaner nation of Azania and its evil champions (like “Voortrekker.”) The defining characteristics of affirmative action heroes–indeed their only characteristics–are that they are black, have a vagina, or practice one of the sexual fetishes that our society has deemed worthy of celebration.
Therefore, we are constantly hectored that existing heroes of comics and the screen must be made black–we need a black Batman or a black James Bond. By doing this, we will somehow convince minorities of various sorts that they too can be universally appealing heroes.
After all, Black Panther represents… being black.
And, Wonder Woman represents… being a woman.
So to get around this, we’ll transform characters with greater appeal. Archie was supposed to be about wholesome Americana… so we’ll make it about homosexuality and gun control.
Captain America represents patriotism… so we’ll make him black.
Batman represents justice… so the good Republicans at the Wall Street Journal tell us we “need” to make him black soon too.
It is a cultural form of the cargo cult role playing which has led to such historic spectacles like Faustin I of Haiti aping Napoleon by putting a cardboard crown on his head, or America collectively pretending that Maya Angelou’s sub-literate nursery rhyme at a Presidential Inaugural was really a poem.
But Thor is a special case. The deity Thor is perhaps is most important personage of the indigenous European religious tradition, and certainly the most popular god among ordinary people of the pre-Christian age. Rather than identifying Odin as the symbolic champion of the old ways, John Lindow in Norse Mythology notes that medieval Scandinavian sources portray “the conversion as a struggle between Thor and Christ.” During the period of uneasy coexistence between Christians and pagans, believers in the Old Gods would wear Thor’s hammer pendants around their necks–a practice continued by heathens today (and, for that matter, some metal fans).
Therefore, Thor is culturally specific in a way that Superman or Batman isn’t. Putting him in a comic book is bad enough, as the character is based on a deity that was once the dominant figure for Germanic civilization and who understood and pictured their gods in highly specific ways. One imagines that the adventures of “Moses” calling on God to drown a mugger in Greenwich Village or “Muhammad” using a friendly jinn to trick Dr. Octopus might be seen as distasteful (although hilarious).
But even if the point to “lighten up” is graciously conceded, Stan Lee pictured Thor along the lines of the romanticized image we have of Vikings of the late heathen period. He wrote him as part of that. He therefore fits in a certain context that represents a group of people that once existed. The comic book hero’s adventures and changes have to be limited by what makes sense with the character. The usual objection that “anything is possible” because fictional heroes are in a world of magic misses the point–the character is based in a specific cultural context and is indeed defined by it.
Moreover, even in fictional universes, magic and supernatural occurrences have rules and context. A Song Of Ice and Fire has magic, but Ned Stark’s severed head can’t simply start flying around in the middle of the story any more than the wildlings can breach the Wall with an Abrams tank. Even within the Marvel universe, Thor can’t be a woman and remain Thor just as Cat-Woman can’t be a man and remain Cat-Woman.
Thor’s sex change is political and is defined by its creators as such. The reason is that to have a white (indeed Nordic) male character associated with the Germanic past and traditional masculine virtues is simply impermissible. Even in the most bastardized, degraded, perverted form, the existence of a white male Thor in pop culture is an insult to everything our culture is telling young boys to be. The Marvel Thor has to be a woman – and it has to be a different race next.
Political correctness can only achieve popular appeal through subverting symbols that already appeal to mass constituencies because any new symbols will appeal pathetic by comparison. And certainly European cultural symbols, even in their most debauched form, are superior to affirmative action culture. Most Americans, especially children, instinctively sense this. After all, “social justice man” is hardly something to appeal to the imagination of a typical seven year old.
To be fair, shapeshifting and even gender bending is nothing new even within the lore of European religion. Loki is, after all, the mother of Sleipnir, having transformed into a female horse as part of a ruse against a giant. However, while the shapeshifting, androgynous Loki helps various gods (including Thor) on several adventures, he is also the father of monstrous beings who will ultimately unleash chaos and the destruction of the gods. In this we see the understanding that perversity and chaos, even if used for temporary advantage, further a process of degeneration and final destruction. Loki is a deeply perverted character, although not an entirely “evil” one in the Christian sense.
Interestingly, there is a story in the lore where Thor must pretend to be a woman–the Þrymskviða. Assisted by Loki, Thor must disguise himself as Freyja and attend “her” wedding in order to reclaim his stolen hammer. The giants recognize something is amiss (like when the “bride” eats an entire ox) but Loki comes up with one hilarious excuse after another. One can imagine our ancestors roaring around a fire hearing this light-hearted tale.
Of course, the reason Þrymskviða is funny is because European religion and Germanic Christianity had a sense of social norms and hierarchy as serving a necessary function. Bending gender roles on occasion could be used for humorous effect or perhaps in extraordinary occasions (like the “shield-maidens” of legend). However, it would be absurd to take “pride” in the idea that you are subverting a norm and deriving worth from it–the louder someone boasts of their pride, often the less they have to be proud of.
But America can’t admit that. “We are all created equal” after all. So even gods, symbols of gods, and even the fictional heroes of less degenerate times need to be twisted in order to make people feel better about themselves. In the end, the value of such symbols are frittered away and become objects of indifference or even scorn–arguably, what is happening to American patriotism and identity today.
What Marvel is doing to Thor is part of this. We should be glad because even though young boys swinging a plastic Mjölnir is better than nothing, such actions ultimately postpone the inevitable. European cultural symbols, practices, and even gods need to become the source of a vital living Tradition, not objects of exploitation used to propel the elaborate practical joke we call American culture.
Besides, Thor is a red bearded war god, not a socialist teddy bear. The existence of Marvel’s she-Thor may make it a bit easier for Europeans to start looking into the distinctions and rediscover the living well of Tradition media companies have been leeching from for years.
Yes, it’s an insult. But we should laugh at how utterly pathetic it is that people feel compelled to act this way in order to feel moral.
And we should remember the end of the Þrymskviða. Thor gets his hammer back and deals with the situation as the God of Thunder usually does–by using it to slaughter all of his enemies.
There can be these games for a while, and comics’ new world begins, where nonwhites are paid for existing, and transqueers don’t pay for their sins. But as surely as Water will wet us, the sons of Europe will learn–and The Gods of the Copybook Headings, or the Gods of the North will return.