Friday, 12 October 2012

Is Catastrophe Inevitable?

Guillaume Faye
Convergence of Catastrophes
London: Arktos, 2012

Convergence of Catastrophes is the third book by French author Guillaume Faye to be published by Arktos in English. If you have read the other two (Archeofuturism and Why We Fight), you will recognize in the title a familiar theme in the author’s critique of liberal modernity: the idea that liberalism has unleashed a series of catastrophic processes now converging towards a cataclysmic global implosion.

I was keen to read this volume because it promised an elaboration on one of the key arguments Dr. Faye makes in Archeofuturism. This proved to be the case, though one difference is that Dr. Faye’s prose has shifted to reflect a higher degree of rage, directed at Europe’s and particularly France’s liberal establishment.
Dr. Faye frankly addresses the unfolding, slow-motion policy car crash no politician wants to talk about. Though in a different order and separated into more categories, he identifies the following lines of catastrophe converging in the West today:
  1. The collapse of the earth’s ecosystem, caused by overpopulation, half-hearted or absent environmental policies, and the belief that the Third World needs to be “developed” to the American standard—which Faye thinks would require several earths’ worth of resources.
  2. The degeneracy of European culture and man, brought about by egalitarianism, secularism, and social liberalism.
  3. The clash of civilizations, particularly between a degenerate Europe and a vigorous Islam, which Faye considers extremist by nature and never moderate (Dr. Faye deems the idea of a secular, moderate Islam a myth invented by scared Western politicians).
  4. The demographic coma in Europe, resulting in a shrinking and ageing population, and the lack of political will to reverse this with pro-natalist policies rather than immigration.
  5. The colonization of Europe by settlers from the Third World, who see the continent as a welfare El Dorado and whose continued arrival will increase ethnic tensions to the point of ethnic civil war.
  6. The giant economic crisis caused by the failure of the casino economy of finance capitalism, which will lead to a collapse worse than the Great Depression and to universal poverty and a new Middle Ages.
The tone of Convergence is lighter than in Archeofuturism and Why We Fight, though each page drips with sarcasm, cynicism, and animated exasperation. There is no mincing of words here.

Dr. Faye takes the darkest view of everything, predicting always the worst possible outcomes. In his view it is too late; for decades the warning signs have been ignored, suppressed, and explained away by politicians, academics, and the media. Nothing has been done. They have let structural problems grow worse in the belief that disaster will somehow be averted or that things will magically work themselves out. Though he does not state it explicitly, it is clear that Dr. Faye has no hope of any kind of counter-cultural movement with the power to halt the final cataclysm.

Towards the end of the book, Dr. Faye outlines three possible collapse scenarios: a soft one, a hard one, and a very hard one. In the soft one a total systemic breakdown is averted, but Western societies live on impoverished and in a state of permanent crisis. In the very hard one there is total breakdown. Western civilization is destroyed and the world population collapses, ushering in a new Middle Ages. Dr. Faye considers this both the most likely and the most desirable scenario. For him, history is cyclical. We are at the end of a cycle, and the harder scenario clears the decks for a new beginning, founded on entirely different—and better—philosophical suppositions. For this reason, Dr. Faye believes that this grim convergence of catastrophes is positive and necessary, and that the prospect of a new beginning should be reason for hope.

For the future, Convergence offers the vision outlined in Archeofuturism: a diversified world with a highly developed zone in the northern hemisphere and agricultural or subsistence societies in the south. Dr. Faye sees this as not only environmentally more sustainable, but as a more accurate reflection of the diversity of human societies; only a fraction of humanity, in his view, is suited to a techno-industrial society.
I generally agree with Dr. Faye’s thesis of converging catastrophes, but I fear it includes a slight element of wishful thinking. It seems Dr. Faye looks forward to the collapse; his attitude is the mirror image of the liberals’, who are either complacent or in denial. This may lead him to paint a scenario that satisfies him and that begins to unfold within his lifetime—in other words, he imagines he will be there to gloat as liberals bite the dust. He also suggests that Europeans will rise naturally from the ashes, without stressing that this depends on what we do now; it is not the natural outcome of collapse. This assumption is dangerous, because there are no guarantees of anything.

I am less willing than Dr. Faye to predict cataclysm sometime within the next eight years (when he wrote Archeofuturism in 1999, he predicted disaster by 2020). Nor would I assume that the lines of catastrophe will all converge within a narrow timeframe, or that European man will necessarily exist in the post-collapse world, even in smaller numbers.

To begin with, collapse scenarios can take a variety of forms, including forms in which the collapse would not be recognized as such by those living through it, or even by those living after it. A soft collapse, for example, can be one in which life remains pleasurable, so collapse is never widely recognized as such. Standards of morality weaken, the race degenerates, and a culture dissolves gradually, giving way to another that takes over therapeutically, subtly enslaving people who do not mind because they love their slavery. There may be a few bumps here and there along the way, of course, but, on the whole, this is how it unfolds. Does this not sound like the collapse of WASPdom in the United States?

Dr. Faye’s soft collapse scenario I would describe as either “deferred” or “slow.” In the first, the collapse has already occurred, but the final cataclysm is endlessly postponed, more or less like the financial crisis we are living through now. Through subterfuge, ways keep being found to levitate what should already be on the ground. In the second, the collapse unfolds gradually, in a managed and technocratic manner, and the social temperature is always kept below the threshold needed for a revolution.

One can also debate the “hard” convergence thesis. We can accept that various catastrophic trends are in place, but will they converge close enough together in time for a complete collapse, or will the catastrophes hit in succession over a long period? It is conceivable that each line of catastrophe may progress at a different speed, and that some will prompt a delaying action, thus weakening the convergence.

For example, global warming may be slowed significantly if electric cars are improved enough to trigger a phase out of the internal combustion engine over the next 10 to 15 years. In 2004, when Convergence was originally published in French, the electric car was still a distant prospect; now it is getting closer, and with decreasing petroleum reserves, it may soon make sense for motorists to make the switch. A technological breakthrough could potentially take the environmental and even the economic trend out of the equation, or at least slow them down, though this may not matter a great deal if the other trends continue.

Of course, this does not argue against the very real prospect of declining economic conditions, continuing political paralysis, and so on; it simply argues in favor of what Dr. Faye may consider the worst and most insidious of all scenarios: a “soft” convergence and a protracted or deferred collapse, whose final denouement occurs so far in the future that there are not enough of us left for it to matter any longer.

The important point is that the outcomes of collapse are not foreordained: They depend on what we do now. If some form of collapse is inevitable, then it is imperative that we establish today the bases for the world that will follow that collapse, and that we seize control of the process—including precipitating it artificially—so as to ensure for us the most favorable outcome. I believe Faye would agree with this, although he does not say so explicitly.

I must refer to this book’s latent anti-Americanism. It is only a minor part of the narrative, but it is a flaw, and Jared Taylor’s foreword points out Dr. Faye’s careless conflation of America with the American government. For many Americans, their government is their number-one enemy, and is distinct and separate from America. In Convergence, Dr. Faye accuses America of trying to weaken Europe by promoting free trade and multiculturalism, while practicing protectionism and controlling immigration to the US, when, in fact, America enthusiastically practices the same policies it promotes in Europe. Fortunately, and as Mr. Taylor points out, Dr. Faye has since revised this position: In a speech delivered in Nashville at the 2012 American Renaissance conference, he described Americans and Europeans as brothers in arms.

The philosophical foundations of the American republic are classical liberalism, but I believe it is essential—even if difficult—to separate liberalism (Americanism) from America, and to re-imagine America in philosophically non-liberal terms. To this we would need to look at the parts of American heritage that existed before, or beyond the reach of, classical liberalism. One can think of the early colonial period (before) and the wild West (beyond). This may prove vital in the effort to guarantee the continuity in the 21st century of Euro-Americans and Euro-American culture in the New World.

Do not look to Dr. Faye for a practical action plan; his purpose is to frankly assess present trends in the West and to point out that any cataclysmic outcome marks a beginning as well as an end. It is up to each reader to decide his course of action and translate what he has learned into effective action. For more concrete policy matters, Dr. Faye has just published Mon Programme (My Program), but it is available only in French.

Despite its imperfections, Convergence is a compelling and furious read, addressing important topics with an honesty that is rarely found and never with such intensity in a single volume. Futurology is very subjective, so one must be lenient with predictions—particularly those involving complex global events; but Dr. Faye’s analysis is fundamentally correct and will be read with profit by anyone who wants to understand how the liberal global experiment will eventually end.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Unthinking Liberalism: Alexander Dugin's The Fourth Political Theory

 

Alexander Dugin
The Fourth Political Theory
London: Arktos, 2012

Arktos recently published what we can only hope will be the first of many more English translations of Alexander Dugin’s work. Head of the sociology department in Moscow State University, and a leading Eurasianist with ties to the Russian military, this man is, today, influencing official Kremlin policy.

The Fourth Political Theory is a thoroughly refreshing monograph, combining clarity of analysis, philosophical rigor, and intellectual creativity. It is Dugin’s attempt to sort through the confusion of modern political theory and establish the foundations for a political philosophy that will decisively challenge the dominant liberal paradigm. It is not, however, a new complete political theory, but rather the beginning of a project. The name is provisional, the theory under construction. Dugin sees this not as the work of one man, but, because difficult, a collective heroic effort.

The book first sets out the historical topology of modern political theories. In Dugin’s account, liberalism, the oldest and most stable ideology, was in modernity the first political theory. Marxism, a critique of liberalism via capitalism, was the second. Fascism / National Socialism, a critique of both liberalism and Marxism, was the third. Dugin says that Fascism / National Socialism was defeated by Marxism (1945), that Marxism was defeated by liberalism (1989), leaving liberalism triumphant and therefore free to expand around the globe.
According to Dugin, the triumph of liberalism has been so definitive, in fact, that in the West it has ceased to be political, or ideological, and become a taken-for-granted practice. Westerners think in liberal terms by default, assuming that no sane, rational, educated person could think otherwise, accusing dissenters of being ideological, without realizing that their own assumptions have ideological origins.

The definitive triumph of liberalism has also meant that it is now so fully identified with modernity that it is difficult to separate the two, whereas control of modernity was once contested by political theory number one against political theories two and three. The advent of postmodernity, however, has marked the complete exhaustion of liberalism. It has nothing new to say, so it is reduced endlessly to recycle and reiterate itself.
Looking to identify what may be useful to salvage, Dugin proceeds to break down each of the three ideologies into its component parts. In the process of doing so, he detoxifies the two discredited critiques of liberalism, which is necessary to be able to cannibalize them. His analysis of liberalism follows Alain de Benoist. Because it is crucial, I will avail myself of de Benoist’s insights and infuse some of my own in Dugin’s explication of liberalism.

Dugin says that liberalism’s historical subject is the individual. The idea behind liberalism was to “liberate” the individual from everything that was external to him (faith, tradition, authority). Out of this springs the rest: when you get rid of the transcendent, you end up with a world that is entirely rational and material. Happiness then becomes a question of material increase. This leads to productivism and economism, which, when the individual is paramount, demands capitalism. When you get rid of the transcendent, you also eliminate hierarchy: all men become equal. If all men are equal, then what applies to one must apply to all, which means universalism. Similarly, if all men are equal, then all deserve an equal slice of the pie, so full democracy, with universal suffrage, becomes the ideal form of government. Liberalism has since developed flavors, and the idea of liberation acquires two competing meanings: “freedom from,” which in America is embodied by libertarians and the Tea Party; and “freedom to,” embodied by Democrats.
Marxism’s historical subject is class. Marxism is concerned chiefly with critiquing the inequities arising from capitalism. Otherwise, it shares with liberalism an ethos of liberation, a materialist worldview, and an egalitarian morality.

Fascism’s historical subject is the state, and National Socialism’s race. Both critique Marxism’s and liberalism’s materialist worldview and egalitarian morality. Hence, the simultaneous application of hierarchy and socialism.

With all the parts lay out on the table, Dugin then selects what he finds useful and discards the rest. Unsurprisingly, Dugin finds nothing useful in liberalism. The idea is to unthink it, after all.

Spread out across several chapters, Dugin provides a typology of the different factions in the modern political landscape—e.g., fundamental conservatism (traditionalism), Left-wing conservatism (Strasserism, National Bolshevism, Niekitsch), conservative revolution (Spengler, Jünger, Schmitt, Niekitsch), New Left, National Communism, etc. It is essential that readers understand these so that they may easily recognize them, because doing so will clarify much and help them avoid the errors arising from opaque, confused, contradictory, or misleading labels.

Liberal conservatism is a key category in this typology. It may sound contradictory on the surface, because in colloquial discourse mainstream politics is about the opposition of liberals vs. conservatives. Yet, and as I have repeatedly stated, when one examines their fundamentals, so-called “conservatives” (a misleading label), even palaeoconservatives (another misleading label), are all ideologically liberals, only they wish to conserve liberalism, or go a little slower, or take a few steps back. Hence, the alternative designation for this type: “status-quo conservative.”

Another key category is National Communism. This is, according to Dugin, a unique phenomenon, and enjoys a healthy life in Latin America, suggesting it will be around for some time to come. Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez are contemporary practitioners of National Communism.

Setting out the suggested foundations of a fourth political ideology takes up the rest of Dugin’s book. Besides elements salvaged from earlier critiques of liberalism, Dugin also looks at the debris that in the philosophical contest for modernity was left in the periphery. These are the ideas for which none of the ideologies of modernity have had any use. For Dugin this is essential to an outsider, counter-propositional political theory. He does not state this in as many words, but it should be obvious that if we are to unthink liberalism, then liberalism should find its nemesis unthinkable.

But the process of construction begins, of course, with ontology. Dugin refers to Heidegger’s Dasein. Working from this concept he would like the fourth political theory to conceptualize the world as a pluriverse, with different peoples who have different moralities and even different conceptions of time. In other words, in the fourth political theory the idea of a universal history would be absurd, because time is conceived differently in different cultures—nothing is ahistorical or universal; everything is bound and specific. This would imply a morality of difference, something I have proposed as counter-propositional to the liberal morality of equality. In the last consequence, for Dugin there needs to be also a peculiar ontology of the future. The parts of The Fourth Political Theory dealing with these topics are the most challenging, requiring some grounding in philosophy, but, unsurprisingly, they are also where the pioneering work is being done.

Also pioneering, and presumably more difficult still, is Dugin’s call to “attack the individual.” By this he means, obviously, destabilizing the taken-for-granted construct that comprises the minimum social unit in liberalism—the discrete social atom that acts on the basis of rational self-interest, a construct that should be distinguished from “a man” or “a woman” or “a human.” Dugin makes some suggestions, but these seem nebulous and not very persuasive at this stage. Also, this seems quite a logical necessity within the framework of this project, but Dugin’s seeds will find barren soil in the West, where the individual is almost sacrosanct and where individualism results from what is possibly an evolved bias in Northern European societies, where this trait may have been more adaptive than elsewhere. A cataclysmic event may be required to open up the way for a redefinition of what it is to be a person. Evidently the idea is that the fourth political theory conceptualizes a man not as an “individual” but as something else, presumably as part of a collectivity. This is probably a very Russian way of looking at things.

The foregoing may all seem highly abstract, and I suspect practically minded readers will not take to it. It is hard to see how the abstract theorizing will satisfy the pragmatic Anglo-Saxon, who is suspicious of philosophy generally. (Jonathan Bowden was an oddity in this regard.) Yet there are real-world implications to the theory, and in Dugin’s work the geopolitical dimension must never be kept out of sight.
For Dugin, triumphant liberalism is embodied by Americanism; the United States, through its origins as an Enlightenment project, and through its superpower status in the twentieth and twenty-first century, is the global driver of liberal practice. As such, with the defeat of Marxism, it has created, and sought to perpetuate, a unipolar world defined by American, or Atlanticist, liberal hegemony. Russia has a long anti-Western, anti-liberal tradition, and for Dugin this planetary liberal hegemony is the enemy. Dugin would like the world to be multipolar, with Atlanticism counterbalanced by Eurasianism, and maybe other “isms.” In geopolitics, the need for a fourth political theory arises from a need to keep liberalism permanently challenged, confined to its native hemisphere, and, in a word, out of Russia.

While this dimension exists, and while there may be a certain anti-Americanism in Dugin’s work, Americans should not dismiss this book out of hand, because it is not anti-America. As Michael O’Meara has pointed out in relation to Yockey’s anti-Americanism, Americanism and America, or Americans, are different things and stand often in opposition. Engaging with this kind of oppositional thinking is, then, necessary for Americans. And the reason is this: liberalism served America well for two hundred years, but ideologies have a life-cycle like everything else, and liberalism has by now become hypertrophic and hypertelic; it is, in other words, killing America and, in particular, the European-descended presence in America.

If European-descended Americans are to save themselves, and to continue having a presence in the North American continent, rather than being subsumed by liberal egalitarianism and the consequent economic bankruptcy, Hispanization, and Africanization, the American identity, so tied up with liberalism because of the philosophical bases of its founding documents, would need to be re-imagined. Though admittedly difficult, the modern American identity must be understood as one that is possible out of many. Sources for a re-imagined identity may be found in the archaic substratum permeating the parts of American heritage that preceded systematic liberalism (the early colonial period) as well as in the parts that were, at least for a time, beyond it (the frontier and the Wild West). In other words, the most mystical and also the least “civilized” parts of American history. Yet even this may be problematic, since they were products of late “Faustian” civilization. A descent into barbarism may be in the cards. Only time will tell.

For Westerners in general, Dugin’s project may well prove too radical, even at this late stage in the game—contemplating it would seem first to necessitate a decisive rupture. Unless / until that happens, conservative prescriptions calling for a return to a previous state of affairs (in the West), or a closer reading of the founding documents (in America), will remain a feature of Western dissidence. In other words, even the dissidents will remain conservative restorationists of the classical ideas of the center, or the ideas that led to the center. Truly revolutionary thinking—the re-imagining and reinvention of ourselves—will, however, ultimately come from the periphery rather than the center.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Death of Jonathan Bowden

The Beast of Berkshire

I first saw him in London, in April 2008, at one of the bimonthly New Right meetings—a metapolitical forum he’d been chairing for three years. I had never previously attended the meetings and I had never previously heard of Jonathan Bowden.

Due to railway network delays, we arrived late. It was a gloomy day. The room was dark, steamy, pre-Victorian, crammed with middle-aged men—serious and angry to the last.

As all seats were taken, we took a standing position.

Lady Michelle Renouf stood up front, holding some fifty printed pages in her hand, performing an exegesis of the Treaty of Lisbon’s legalese.

My gaze wandered around the room.

There was a man to the right of the speaker, in a grey suit, seated on a window sill. He was sullen, deep in thought, his eyes slits behind pebble-like spectacles. He had curly brown hair, wild, like a madman. A wooden pendant, with a carved rune, hung around his neck. He struck me as authoritarian. It seemed a storm was brewing inside him.

Suddenly, a member of the audience, seated in the front row, interrupted the speaker. He stammered question. The question was answered, more politely than was deserved. However, the inquisitor was not satisfied, and butted in rudely with another question. At this point the man by the window came to life, and barked an order to keep quiet and save questions for later. The man’s voice was loud and aggressive, his manner abrasive, impatient, overbearing. Like a fly whacked flat by a rolled up newspaper, the inquisitor fell silent. The man by the window, resumed his position, arms crossed. There were no further interruptions.

A break followed, during which the room partially emptied allowing us to seat ourselves on a table someone—an angry man—had slammed against a wall at the back of the room. I had a clear view to the front. Some five to ten minutes later, loaded with pints of lager and bowls of chips, those who had gone down to the bar returned to their seats—punishing, coccyx-crunching wooden chairs of disparate vintage and design, good only for smashing on backs in a barroom brawl. By this time the man with the rune had replaced Renouf at the front.

And before I knew it the audience was clapping and getting up to leave, Jonathan Bowden, having kept us enthralled for an hour with a stellar presentation about the life and work of German film-maker Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, ‘not exactly a household name, it has to be said’.

I was well impressed. The power, the breadth of knowledge, the pyrotechnic oration, the mastery of the language—I had not seen any one speak so manfully and yet so learnedly about an artist or any cultural figure before. Maybe I realised it then, maybe later, but a whole new world opened in front of me that afternoon; this is what the future had to sound like!

I was also somewhat terrified. That man, harsh, loud, illiberal, able to channel erudition into blasts of Nietzschean ferocity, was no man at all—I imagined he was a beast, or a demon, likely to kill any sap who dared casually greet him.

From then on I attended the meetings semi-regularly, and each time I went back home further to research the topic of his talk. At first I only saw Jonathan at these events, but I came to know him over time, perhaps a little better than some.

I also came to see what a compulsive performer he was. His conversation was not only erudite and instructive, but also filled with anecdotes and hilarious impressions. The first time I observed this he was talking about Northern Englishmen, whom he perceived as dour, laconic, and semi-incomprehensible through their reliance on obscure regional dialects. These Northerners, at least the primitive harshness he imagined in them and which he seemed to admire, were objects of fascination for him, the Byronian intellectual thug.

First Conversation

Later that year I was invited to a garden party. The host was a certain well-known military historian, who appears in Mister. He was launching a new book—his prison memoirs. Jonathan was also there. After cocktails and conversation, the host expressed his intention to begin. I told him it was too cold to have his talk outside, so he directed us to his lounge. I sat in a corner, almost facing the audience. Jonathan was directly in front of me, in the front row, sitting on a garden bench with his head slightly tilted back, an amused half smile on his face. The historian, a large man in a pinstripe suit, proved an entertaining speaker—but I knew that from YouTube. I cannot remember what triggered it, but Jonathan’s reaction was pure Bowden: everyone was silent, having laughed at various jokes, but Jonathan heard something half-way through the presentation that amused him and he blasted out a single laugh: ‘HAH!’ Two hundred decibels. Pots and pans crashing to the floor in the kitchen. He was completely unselfconscious.

Afterwards, I saw Jonathan standing a pace away from me, so I introduced myself. The monster proved surprisingly amiable, and I found it easy to converse with him on the topics that interested me; I found, in fact, we had much in common, besides politics.

The Human Hand Grenade

One day, out of the blue, Jonathan emailed me, wanting to see if I was interested in us cooperating in art projects. I was too busy, but I was interested in knowing the artist. Next time I saw him, we had our respective diarists book a date for a meeting, to be held a month hence.

We met by at a pub near where I lived, in July 2009. Jonathan arrived in a white delivery van, accompanied by his driver. I imagined the van was loaded with corpses. Jonathan was clad in a crumpled grey suit, with a forty-something’s tie and a white, pleated shirt—the kind that one wears with a dinner jacket. The shirt had a big yellow stain on it, so I imagined Jonathan had been at a gala dinner event the previous evening. The pub was closing, so I suggested we went to the next village.

We spent seven hours there, conversing about numerous topics. Jonathan was a like a pressure cooker: inside him, at forty-six atmospheres, was a library of esoteric knowledge, sharp insights, and funny anecdotes; once you opened the valve these keep on coming. But maybe he was more like a hand grenade: you released the catch and it went off, obliterating everything nearby. I later learnt that if you had things to say, you had to be brutal and forcefully interrupt, and keep on talking even if you sensed Jonathan snapping at the heels. He was a Nietzschean, so respect was bought with ruthless force.

If I remember correctly, during this conclave, after I gave him a copy of my novel and my two most recent albums, I took a moment to collect a book he had sent me, which was by then waiting at my postal box in the village. The book was The Art of Jonathan Bowden, Volume One. When I later showed it to my wife, she said the artist was insane.

If so, and not unusually, he was also a genius. His novellas and short stories are almost unreadable, but all the same the prose is incredible, uniquely pyrotechnic—that word again—in its use of metaphor, vocabulary, and striking juxtapositions. Years later, while reviewing Tarr, a novel by one of his favourite authors, Wyndham Lewis, he would write:

Try and have a Tarr day, in which everything you utter to everyone is fresh and aggressively original, and you’ll find yourself dismissed as a monster by the end of it.

I think this applied to him. And my wife, a lover of literature, was certainly astounded by the demon’s prose.

Little did we know that he had less than two years to live.

Fire and Glory

Our next meeting was three months later, at an event in Atlanta, United States. Greg Johnson, then editor of The Occidental Quarterly, had organised an editor’s dinner. Jonathan arrived with Adrian Davies, shortly after I did. I was pleased to see him because he was the only person I really knew at that event—everyone else was a new face, or I knew only virtually or reputationally.

Soon another of Jonathan’s eccentricities became apparent. At the buffet, Jonathan grabbed a tiny dessert dish, onto which he placed a few items. Maybe a potato and a leaf of salad. This was repeated at breakfast the following morning, and again the day following. I remember that when we met in July, he had not eaten either, even after his driver and I, by then both starving for hours, ordered our dinners. After witnessing this four times, I had to ask: did he ever eat? He explained that in his part of country, people did not grow very tall, but did grow sideways. Later he mentioned that he had expected to see many 30- or 40-stone Americans, and was disappointed he had yet to see any. Evidently, fascinated by extremes as he was, his interest had been piqued by exaggerated news reports in Britain. Maybe he expected British pub meals and American cuisine to cause instant obesity. Not unlike me, Jonathan had a wild imagination.

Jonathan was also an obdurate technophobe. I was shocked to discover his mobile telephone was at least a decade old, and could not be opened. He told me he had no internet connection at home, and that, although he had a laptop, it dated from before the last Ice Age. ‘I believe in planning my own obsolescence’, he said. One evening I found he did not even know how to operate the coffee machine in his room—he wanted me to help him with it. Or did he? Perhaps he wanted conversation, and this was his excuse. I was too tired to stay for long, despite his amusing impressions of Ian Paisley and some other Irish cleric he once knew. As I closed the door, I saw him seated at the table, head tilted back, with an arrogant half-smile on his face, staring back at me.

History was made during that visit to the United States. At a private event that same weekend, Jonathan was due to deliver a banquet speech on the Saturday evening. That was his first time in the land of the unfree and as an orator he was as yet unknown to the audience. I had the quiet satisfaction of knowing Jonathan would perform a mass decapitation.Fasten your seatbelts, I thought, looking at the wholly innocent Americans. I observed him closely: back in June he had suggested that I spoke at the New Right meetings, and, although I did not think I would be any good at it, I had not discarded the idea either, thinking my brain would one day click—perhaps in two years’ time—into public speaking mode, so I wanted to see what happened in the minutes before he was due to go up behind the podium. I knew this was an important event for him, and that future invitations would depend on his ability to knock out in the next hour. As the minutes passed, Jonathan became progressively silent, surly, bad tempered, even. At the cocktail he had said people often remarked how prior to speaking his manner became harsher. I could certainly sense pressure—the dark demonic force, the Vril—building inside him. Jonathan’s alter ego, Kratos, was taking over.

What followed has since become part of American nationalist folklore. Jonathan was introduced by Jared Taylor, who, unfamiliar with Jonathan’s biography, had earlier approached him for details. Jared delivered his introduction in his characteristic genteel style. Jonathan waited by his side, looking grim, scorning eye contact. Jared’s introduction done, Jonathan stepped behind the podium. His manner was not only commanding, but impatient. He then did what no one had dared to do before: with contempt, he swept the microphone aside. He did not need it.

‘I HAVE A VERY LOUD VOICE,’ he barked, filling the ballroom.

Jonathan then hit the ground running, fast and hard, and orated for an hour. The intensity was electrifying. Everyone was paralysed. Had anyone not been too transfixed to look, not turned into a salt statue, he would have found jaws all over the floor. It felt like history being made. And who can remember what he said? Few would be able to tell you today. Something about dispelling the cloud. It doesn’t matter. It’s the way he said it that counts. It’s the energy he expelled, and what it did to the audience, that was important. From that alone everyone knew how they needed to feel, what had to be done, and, most importantly, that whatever it was that had to be done could and would be done, without half-measures or apology. Jonathan received a standing ovation. Applause went on and on, for centuries, and is still going. And he stood there, sphinx like, the Iron Man, as if nothing.

Last Meeting

Our final meeting was in December 2010. We again met at a village near where I lived. He came with Jez Turner, who now organises the London Forum events. Jonathan arrived caparisoned in a grey overcoat, which he never shed.

Again we talked about numerous topics, but this time we focused on projects. Two ideas were on the table: one was for Jonathan to write a book-length monograph, which I was to publish via The Palingenesis Project, Wermod and Wermod’s non-fiction imprint; the other was for us to produce a series of professional video presentations, similar to his talks at the New Right meetings, but filmed on location and with production.

Jonathan was cheerful during that meeting. He roared with laughter when I said I thought he did not have human legs, but trouser legs, or wooden legs; that I imagined he slept in his suit, with his shoes on, gurning; and that one day, his alter ego, Kratos, would be a character in a children’s fairy tale—a demon who would come at night, in a van loaded with corpses, to take away children who had shown weakness, and whom Kratos would transport to Antarctica, where he would store them and eat them one by one.

In any event, we agreed that he would start working on the monograph and that we would meet again in a month’s time to reconnoitre possible shooting locations. Alas, for different reasons, Kratos caught up with him, and I was later never to see Jonathan again.

To Valhalla

Our last contact was in the Autumn of last year. I had moved to distant hills, and experienced complications, causing me to neglect relations. Yet, these last few days I had thought of finally telephoning him—I had noticed his website was down and I wanted to know how he was doing, what projects he was working on. Sadly, before I ever got round to doing it, someone telephoned me: Jonathan had sailed to Valhalla.

A correspondent who learnt the news just after me said it was as if he’d been punched in the stomach. For me it was different. I was stunned. I stared into space. The man against time had had time against him. He must have known his passage through the Earth would be short. It explains the fury, the output, the fanatical search for purity. Only eighteen months earlier, on his forty-eighth birthday, he’d told me he felt like a shark chasing prey. He was never just fine; he was always, in his own words, ‘Superb and getting stronger!’ There is a lesson there. But he knew that already.

Many have been surprised by their own reaction. For some it has felt like losing a member of the family. Jonathan impacted our lives more than we realised. He did not just educate us intellectually, he also educated us spiritually. His legacy lives on, as he now passes into legend.

Until we meet again . . .  Goodbye, friend.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Guillotining of John Derbyshire: His Thoughts After the Blade

John Derbyshire’s “Talk” column for Takimag last week detonated the ire of commentators on the lunatic fringes of the extreme Left. Ulcers flared and torrents of bile swamped the internet. The roar was even heard across the Atlantic, as the Guardian weighed in, wondering on Sunday why Mr. Derbyshire’s piece was still online. By Monday I was perplexed to find that, amidst the still raging sandstorm of prose, not one journalist or commentator had sought Mr. Derbyshire for comment (though Gawker finally published an interview later that day). What follows is my effort to rectify this omission.

AK: Observers who rely on conventional opinion websites and news sources may wonder how it is that a well-educated, well-traveled, intelligent mathematician, author, and commentator, able to write on a broad range of political-cultural topics, can have heterodox perspectives on human biodiversity and race relations. Surely, “racism” is the product of ignorance.

JD: When the orthodox opinions are arrant nonsense, how can a well-educated, etc. person NOT be heterodox. “There is no biological reality corresponding to ‘race’”? Please. I guess there are no Dachshunds or St. Bernards, either, only dogs. This is infantile.

AK: It seems conservative commentators viewed your column as diverging from their fundamental outlook. Why have they not expressed to you—or indeed the world—the joy of living in all-black neighborhoods? At least some of them must have been eager to share their delight at their kids’ academic performance in that all-black school they enrolled them in last fall.

JD: As I told Gawker.com I think it’s just intolerable despair. “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Fifty years ago it was possible to believe that blacks could be lifted up to statistical profiles on behavior, intelligence, etc. indistinguishable from those of whites. All we had to do was strike down unjust laws and give a helping hand (affirmative action, set-asides, etc.)

What all that actually accomplished was to open glorious career opportunities for blacks who are smart and well-adjusted to bourgeois norms, while leaving the rest worse off—in e.g. employment, comparative net worth, illegitimacy, incarceration—than before.

Somewhere in their brains, all whites know this. That’s why their brains steer them to the avoidance behavior you noted, and I recommended. That’s the automatic part of the brain, though; what Kahneman calls System 1. The self-aware System 2 is much more concerned with social cataloging and status-assessing, and with making up stories to present ourselves to ourselves and to others as acceptable members of the tribe. When reality is too painful to bear, we make stuff up.

AK: Also, I have not yet seen a refutation to the points made in your column—have I been visiting the wrong websites?

JD: Why would anyone bother to engage in argument with a RACIST? That would just legitimize their RACISM. To want to do that would be the next worst thing to being a RACIST oneself.

AK: Fellow NR columnist Robert Weissberg was “fired” on Tuesday night for his participation in the recent AmRen conference.

JD: Disclosure: Bob, as well as being a brilliant man and author of a fine book (some trivial mathematical errors notwithstanding), is a good friend of mine.

AK: Writing for Leonard Zeskind’s grim IREHR, Devin Burghart wrote “the positions taken by Robert Weissberg are as noxious as those of Derbyshire.” Twelve hours later, NR editor Rich Lowry explained Weissberg’s firing in this manner: “Robert Weissberg . . . participated in an American Renaissance conference where he delivered a noxious talk.” Is it normal for a conservative editor to get his language and opinions from a commentator on the extreme Left?

JD: Rich Lowry has cut me a lot of slack in the past, so I’ll cut him some. He wants his magazine to be a certain particular thing, appealing to a certain political market sector. If you or I were editor of a political magazine, we would not want our organ to be that thing appealing to those readers. But then, we wouldn’t want it to resemble Field & Stream, either. It’s an editor’s job to steer his magazine in what he thinks is the right direction. If Rich is mistaken about that market sector being sufficient to support that magazine, the miracle of the market will enlighten him. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

AK: The purges of Sam Francis, Peter Brimelow, Joe Sobran, yourself, and other brilliant columnists have all been driven by a desire for respectability. However, far from attaining it, this has led to a loss of respect from the Right and no increase in respect from the Left—on the contrary, one may say that respect from the Left has sunk even lower, since they have learned that conservatives will instantly cave in when accused of “racism.”

JD: Mark Steyn made the same point in his comment on my defenestration. The more you feed the beast, the stronger and more arrogant it grows. Mainstream conservatives are fools to keep feeding it, but they apparently can’t help themselves. Now it may be too strong to defeat. Then we are headed into totalitarianism, because the Left is totalitarian like the scorpion in Aesop is a scorpion: they can’t help themselves either.

At a panel discussion on an NR cruise last year I pooh-poohed something Rich Lowry said about the achievements of conservatism. The movement (I said) had started out with the ambition to stand athwart History crying “Stop!” It had degenerated into a pathetic, timid pack of losers running along behind History calling out “Would you please mind slowing down just a little?”  (Roissy expresses the same idea somewhat more . . . pungently in this comment thread on one of his pieces.) That got good applause from the hall, which ignited a flicker of hope in my breast.

My hope is that this timid, careerist conservatism that scurries to obey when some bigfoot leftist cracks the whip, will soon come to be seen as a faction of losers, which of course they are. Americans hate a loser, so that will be the end of them. I do think this will likely happen, and that there’s some creative destruction up ahead in the conservative movement.

On the other side is my dear friend Paul Gottfried, who thinks the war is lost, that the beast is now too strong to be defeated—that we on the oppositional right are the losers—what the late Sam Francis called us 20 years ago:  “Beautiful Losers.” Pat Buchanan has pretty much reached the same position. I retain some shreds of optimism (!), but I feel a strong gravitational pull coming from Paul’s direction.

The future evolution of American conservatism is at any rate going to be very interesting.

AK: Perhaps I have not understood conservatism correctly, but—isn’t conservatism supposed to be about the data and not about how people feel about it?

JD: Permit me to quote from a book of mine:
Discussing the thesis of my book with one of my friends—a conservative academic (political science)—I encountered total disagreement.  He:  “There’s nothing about traditional conservatism that makes it truth-friendly. In fact, it’s the opposite. Historic conservatism is anti-science, prone to celebrate truth by authority, favors religion over rationalism and down deep sees unvarnished truth as corroding social cohesion—correctly, according to you. Keep the peasants happy with fairy tales and mumbo-jumbo, if necessary.” [That was actually the aforementioned Bob Weissberg.]
AK: Is it not more bound with notions of honor, the martial spirit, and glory, than with a desire to be liked by everyone?

JD: Those notions have passed from the earth, Alex, or at least from Western Civilization. “Martial spirit”? For goodness’ sake, somebody might get hurt.

AK: Where are today’s conservatives in the political spectrum?

JD: To the left of a tad right of the center. Lower taxes! Ban abortion!

AK: What is it like to be on your side of the cannon when “racism” controversies arise?

JD: Nature blessed me with a thick skin. More recently, she cursed me with a life-threatening condition, beside which these tiny internet controversies (my particular one has not made it into any print newspaper or the teleprompt of any TV talking head, to my knowledge) seem pretty trivial. Which, in point of fact, they are.

AK: What expressions of support have your received since commentary on your column first appeared?

JD: Simply tremendous! See the opening grafs of my Takimag column today, April 12, where I declare myself “awash in the milk of human kindness.” Wonderful, miraculous support, marred only by the sure and certain knowledge that I could never acknowledge every single email and donation, if I did nothing else for a month. Bless them all.

AK: In the past, critics would have placed your nape under the guillotine and held your severed head aloft for the delectation of the multitude. Now they will have to make do with the hope that you will spend the rest of your days in abject poverty, sleeping rough and queuing in soup kitchens, completely forgotten. Maybe they dream you’ll end up like Bobby Driscoll, abandoned by all, your skeleton found years later in an abandoned tenement in a big city slum. Will their cruelty be gratified?

JD: Probably. Have you ever been in an old folks home? Helped nurse an Alzheimer’s or stroke patient? I have done all three. The opinion journalist I most admired in my young adulthood was Bernard Levin. He ended up drooling and in diapers. But Doctor Johnson told us all this 263 years ago:

From Marlb’rough‘s Eyes the Streams of Dotage flow,
And Swift expires a Driv’ler and a Show.

And he was imitating Juvenal, who told the tale 1600 years earlier:

sed quam continuis et quantis longa senectus
plena malis! . . .

. . . and Juvenal took his theme in part from Herodotus, writing six centuries before (the Solon-Croesus exchanges) The theme was probably common enough in the Paleolithic. Perhaps even chimps know about it.
Not many of us end well. My hero Enoch Powell was asked in his old age if he had any regrets. He said yes, he regretted not having died fighting in WW2. I am of the same kidney, except for not having had a war to die honorably in. (Powell, by the way, knew his Herodotus. In fact he published a quirky translation of the Histories, all done in 17th-century KJV English—well worth a look.)

I preach “that odd defiant melancholy that sees the dreadful loneliness of the human soul and the pitiful disaster of human life as ever redeemable and redeemed by compassion, friendship and love.” (I am quoting from a different one of my books—hope that’s OK.)

All of that, of course, applies just as well to the young lefty fools who are currently jumping up on chairs and shrieking at the mouse in the room. I have argued elsewhere, in fact, that it will probably apply to their generation with greater force than to mine. I cherish the sweet thought.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cracking Thick Skulls: Tito Perdue's Lee

Having had opportunity to observe the author in his natural habitat, and to note his habits and behaviour, I decided it was time finally to tackle his best-known work: the book of Lee.

Dating back to 1991, Lee was the first of Perdue’s books to see daylight, though not the first to be written. Not long after publication, a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer wrinkled his nose, and pronounced Perdue ‘a reactionary snob’—an accolade the author has used ever since, without fear or remorse.
It seems Perdue always looked forward to being a cantankerous septuagenarian, because in this novel his alter ego, Leland Pefley, Lee, is in fact a cantankerous septuagenarian. Now 73, with menacingly cantilevered black eyebrows, Perdue must be loving every minute of the decade that finally arrived.

The story begins with Lee’s arrival in his home town, in Alabama, following decades of absence. He is replete with grumbles right from the start, his disapproving gaze emitting odium waves in the direction of just about any pedestrian or modern retail establishment dotting the main street. It seems none of the humans meet his standards, the inhabitants bearing evidence of dissolution, lack of taste, and not having read books (for Lee, their worse offense), while most of the establishments have had the effrontery to replace Lee’s old childhood haunts for sites of business offering trivial, banal, and perfectly superfluous goods and services, all expensive and of poor quality.

Lee’s first order of the day is to purchase a heavy wooden cane—the heaviest he can find, with a carved head. As he slashes the air with a series of rapid swings, it becomes evident that the cane is not intended as an aid for Lee’s thin legs, but as a delivery method for his rage.

And soon enough, individuals offensive to Lee start finding their mouths filled with cane, or worse. A wooden rain sweeps across the town, chastising its inhabitants for failing to cultivate their minds or acquire a taste for high art.

Soon Lee finds himself in trouble and is obliged to burrow in the squalid part of town to evade law enforcement authorities. His only respite, and it is always a fugacious one, is Lee’s ability to conjure the spirit of Judy, his beloved wife, deceased in the novel, but able to appear at any age he desires, though never for as long as he would like. Indeed, it is Lee’s fate to have what me most desires consistently denied to him, and the things he most despises supplied in abundance.

You will have to read to find out what happens and where it all ends, but suffice it to say that the novel is a departure from The Sweet Scented Manuscript, which dealt with the young Lee, was mostly autobiographical, and relied on making the most ordinary situations into an extraordinary narrative. To varying degrees, Lee diverts from reality and exaggerates the salient narrative traits of the earlier novel, thus offering a sequence of grotesque situations, an unreliable narrator, gleefully hostile and mean-spirited dialogues, gleefully and mean-spirited overweight characters maximising their power from positions of limited authority, and a more atrabilious critique of postmodernity.

The novel does not, however, attempt to convey a dystopian future: Lee was born in 1938, which means the action here takes place, earliest, in 2008, some twenty years in the future at the time of Perdue’s writing. The world of Lee is the world of the late 1980s, though here it lacks the flash associated with that period in America because Lee’s town is rural and unfashionable—which is to say it embodied the worst expressions of both.

Already in Lee we see the phrasal leitmotifs introduced in The Sweet Scented Manuscript transformed into tropes, or stock phrases: Lee reels, nothing surprises him anymore, etc.

As with other novels by Perdue, his disdain for today’s world and his dark sense of humour are the dominant elements in his narration. As was noted in another review, Perdue is—or, on reflection, seems—profoundly pessimistic about the future, but this does not mean that he rejects the possibility of rising above the present and creating something different, and better. Humour in Perdue’s case signals an Olympian detachment; Lee’s cane the instrument of creation that begins with destruction.

You can get Lee directly from our online book shop by clicking here.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kerry Bolton's Revolution from Above

Kerry Bolton
Revolution from Above
London: Arktos, 2011


The popular imagination conceives Marxism and capitalism as opposing forces, imagining that—obviously—Marxists want the capitalists’ money and capitalists do not want Marxists to take it from them.
Kerry Bolton’s Revolution from Above disproves this notion.

As it turns out, and as many readers probably already know, the Marxist revolutions in the East succeeded in many places thanks to the ample funds supplied to them—consciously and voluntarily—by finance-capitalists in the West.

With access to all the money they could wish for and more, the finance-capitalists in Bolton’s narrative were, and are, primarily motivated by a desire for power, and their ultimate aim was not even more money per se, but the enduring ability to shape the world to their convenience, which translates into a collectivised planet of producers and consumers.

Marxism was useful in as much as it was a materialistic ideology that destroyed traditional structures and values and turned citizens into secular, deracinated wage slaves, irrespective of race, gender, age, creed, disability, or sexual orientation.

Capitalism was useful in as much as it made money the measure of all things and created a consumer culture that ultimately turned citizens into debt slaves, also irrespective of race, gender, and so on.

In this manner, Marxism and capitalism were seen as complementary, as well as a method of pacifying the citizenry: too busy labouring in the factory or in the cubicle, and too befuddled by daydreams of shopping and entertainment during their free time, the citizens of this global order, fearful of losing their jobs and not being able to buy things or satisfy their creditors, are left with little inclination to, or energy for, rebellion.
Bolton explains how the finance-capitalist oligarchy is the entity that truly runs our affairs, rather than the national governments. The latter are either financially dependent, or in partnership, with the financiers and the central bankers.

To illustrate this dependency he documents the United States’ government relationship with the Bolsheviks in Russia during the revolution, not to mention the similarity in their goals despite superficial appearances to the contrary and despite alarm or opposition from further down the hierarchy. Bolton shows how genuinely anti-communist efforts were frustrated during the Cold War. And he shows that the close relationship with communist regimes ended when Stalin decided to pursue his own agenda.

The book then goes on to describe the various mechanisms of plutocratic domination. Bolton documents the involvement of a network of prominent, immensely rich, tax-exempt, so-called ‘philanthropic’ organisations in funding subversive movements and think tanks. Marxism has already been mentioned, but it seems these foundations were also interested in promoting feminism and the student revolts of 1968.

Feminism was sold to women as a movement of emancipation. Bolton argues, and documents, that its funders’ real aim was to end women’s independence (from the bankers) and prevent the unregulated education of children: by turning women into wage-slaves they would become dependent on an entity controlled by the plutocrats, double the tax-base, double the size of the market, and create the need for children’s education to be controlled by the government—an entity that is, in turn, controlled by the plutocrats. Betty Friedan, who founded the second wave of feminism with her book The Feminine Mystique, and Gloria Steinem are named as having received avalanches of funding from ‘philanthropic’ foundations.

With regards to the university student revolts of 1968, the book highlights the irony of how, without the activists knowing it, they were backed by the same establishment they thought to be opposing. These students were but ‘useful idiots’ in a covert strategy of subversion and social engineering.

The subversion does not end there, for the plutocracy has global reach and is as actively engaged in global planning today as it ever was. Revolution from Above inevitably deals with George Soros’ involvement in the overthrow of governments or regimes not to his liking. According to Bolton’s account, the reader can take it for granted that any of the velvet or ‘colour revolutions’ we have seen in recent years have been funded in some way or another by George Soros through his extended network of instruments. ‘Regime-changes’ in Yugoslavia, Georgia, Ukraine (orange revolution), Kyrgyszstan (pink revolution), Tunisia (jasmine revolution), Egypt (white revolution), Lybia (red, green, black revolution), and Iran (green revolution) were not the result of spontaneous uprisings. Anti-government parties, think tanks, media, campaigns, demonstrations, and even training courses for political agitation—all and in all cases received vast funding from finance-capitalism overseas, not from local collections of petty sums.

In other words, many a modern revolution has not come from below, but from above. And in the context of governments being in a dependent relationship to the stratospherical plutocracy, this aggregates into a pincer strategy, with pressure coming secretly from above and from below, with the pressure from below—however spontaneous and ‘messy’ it may seem when it hits the headlines—being the result of years of careful planning, financing, and preparation by overseas elites.

The reader must ask himself how it is that whenever we see one of these ‘colour revolutions’ somehow someone is able, almost overnight, to overwhelm the streets with a tsunami of well designed, professionally printed, and colour-coordinated merchandise: flags, scarves, placards, posters, leaflets, balloons, headbands, t-shirts, face-paint, you name it, it all seems very slick, aesthetically consistent, and fashion-conscious for uprisings that are supposedly spontaneous demonstrations of popular rage.

Overall Bolton crams in an enormous mass of information within 250 pages. The lists of names and figures—and some of the sums involved are truly staggering—are endless, and the persistent torrent of footnotes considerably expand on parts of the main narrative. The plutocrats’ web of influence and deceit is immensely complicated, not only as a structure but also as a process, since it thrives in double meaning, double think, and ambiguity. Those interested in a detailed knowledge of the machinations behind current and recent events, or even twentieth-century political history, would do well to read this book more than once—at least if they have ambitions of explaining it all to an educable third party.

One aspect of Bolton’s narrative that seems quite amazing is the superficially inoffensive tone of some of the enemy quotes provided. Were it not because Bolton’s findings flow in the same direction as other books uncovering the machinations of the oligarchs and their partners in Western governments, or because the answer to cui bono is provided unequivocally by the unfolding of current and historical events, it would be easy to think that the statements quoted came from deluded idealists. It may be that some truly believe in the goodness of their cause, yet such selfless altruism is hard to believe given the known absence of ethics among our current elite of super-financiers—the banking system they engineered, not to mention many of the opaque financial instruments we have come to known through the still unfolding financial crisis in the West, is a deception designed to obscure a practice of legalised theft.

The lessons are clear: firstly, modern ‘colour revolutions’ are not instigated by public desires for more democratic or liberal governance, but by private desires for increased global power and control; secondly, subversive movements can be given a name and a face—a name and a face averse that hides behind generic institutional names and orchestrates world events at the end of a complex money trail; and thirdly, the those seeking fundamental change should first become proficient capitalists or learn how to gain access to them. These are all obvious, of course, but Revolution from Above is less about teaching those lessons than about documenting how the world is run, by whom, and for what purpose. In other words, this is material with which to back up assertions likely to be challenged by, or in front of, the unaware. Sober and factual in tone, it is also good gift material for those who may benefit from a bit of education.