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Reply to Daniel Friberg

5,197 words

[1]

Arktos CEO Daniel Friberg (left) getting chummy with Swedish antifa founder Mathias Wåg (right)

In “Greg Johnson’s Attacks And How To Deal With Them [2],” Daniel Friberg and Richard Spencer claim that I made a series of accusations against Friberg in a thread on the TRS Forum [3]. Then they demand that I substantiate these accusations or retract them and apologize. After that, they allege that I have a pattern of launching divisive and baseless attacks on important movement people, and they hypothesize that my motive is envy and thwarted ambition.

I hate this sort of drama. But with heavy heart, I drafted this reply shortly after Friberg and Spencer’s attack was published on June 1. I would have preferred to post it in the comments thread at Altright.com, but Friberg and Spencer preemptively blocked my Disqus account. I eventually decided not to publish it at all, because the more I thought about their statement, the more ridiculous it seemed. So I thought it best to just let the controversy die and focus instead on The White Nationalist Manifesto [4].

But that was a mistake. Ignoring even transparently idiotic charges allows your attackers to frame your silence as guilt or weakness. Beyond that, ignoring bullies just encourages more attacks, which is exactly what Friberg launched in recent days, both on Facebook and again on the front page of Altright.com [5], in an article originally signed by Friberg, Jason Jorjani, and Tor Westman. Friberg has also used Matt Forney as a proxy in this battle. (Forney, by the way, is Friberg’s most vocal character witness in the present drama.)

What follows is my defense against the specific attacks on me. John Morgan will release his own statement rebutting the attacks on him. I will also happily publish the responses of people involved in the Scandza Forum and Friberg’s former Arktos colleagues, should they choose to write them.

Daniel Friberg & the Scandza Forum

The passage below is a quote from Friberg and Spencer’s article. The authors accuse me of saying that Daniel Friberg:

  1. Doxxed the organizers of The Scandza Forum to the Antifa, apparently in revenge for being disinvited;
  2. Was an “embezzler” of funds from his own company, Arktos;
  3. Destroyed “an endless list of people both personally and financially.”

The first point is mostly correct. I did accuse Friberg of doxing the organizers of the Scandza Forum. He did dox them. But Friberg had not been disinvited. He was never invited in the first place. The doxing was simply Friberg making good on a threat to sabotage the Scandza meeting if he was not invited.

The second point is false. Nowhere in the thread did I use the word “embezzler,” which Friberg and Spencer put in quotes. I did, however, mention that some of Friberg’s former business associates refer to him as “Madoff,” which is true, and I invited people to draw their own conclusions. Interestingly enough, Friberg’s latest article, “The Attacks on Arktos [5],” confirms my statement. Apparently, he was accused of embezzling £88,000 from Arktos.

The third point is also false. Nowhere in the thread did I claim that Friberg “destroyed” anyone. Nor did I use the words that Friberg and Spencer also put in quotes (apparently to trick the casual reader into thinking I had indeed said them): “an endless list of people both personally and financially.” I did, however, make the truthful claim that Friberg has burned a number of people backing the Scandza Forum, both personally and professionally, which is why he was never invited in the first place.

Friberg and Spencer’s demand that I offer proof of my claims to the whole world is, frankly, astonishing, because Friberg really did try to sabotage the Scandza Forum, and he really did dox its organizers. Friberg really has burned people over the years, some of whom refer to him as “Madoff.” It is all true, folks. Which means that Friberg has, in effect, put his head on the chopping block and dared me to cut it off. It seems bizarre. What’s he counting on?

Friberg’s reasoning becomes clearer, however, if we back up a bit. So bear with me.

In February of 2017, a long-time friend invited me to speak at the inaugural meeting of the Scandza Forum, a metapolitical organization inspired by the London Forum, in Stockholm on May 20th. I did my best to promote the event, and I was delighted to watch the registration numbers climb to more than 100 people, which is excellent for the first meeting of any organization.

Like the London Forum, the Scandza Forum is an invitation-only event. Daniel Friberg was not invited because he had mistreated some of the backers over the years, and they did not want him around. I was not privy to any of this, though, until Wednesday, May 10th, when I was informed that Friberg tried to register for the conference. I advised the organizers not to change their policy, for I too had good reason not to want Friberg around. Since they were reluctant to engage with Friberg (they did not want to veto his registration, because knowing Friberg, they knew they would never hear the end of it), I also told them they could tell Friberg that I insisted he not be invited. “Nail me up,” I said, “I’ll be the fall guy.”

So what was my beef with Daniel Friberg? We first met in April of 2015, on my first visit to Budapest. By that time, I had been a longtime supporter of Arktos Media. I regarded it as one of our most crucial metapolitical ventures. Although some urged me to see Arktos as a rival, I have never done so. I believe in cartelization, not competition. In a movement like ours, competition is simply the duplication of efforts and a waste of scarce resources and talent. Besides, there is no shortage of important books to publish for our cause. Thus, I sold and reviewed many Arktos books at Counter-Currents, promoted the Budapest conference they co-organized with the National Policy Institute, and even promoted their Kickstarter campaigns (here [6]and here [7]).

After meeting Friberg, I did a very warm interview [8] with him, authored a blurb for his book The Real Right Returns, and published Ann Sterzinger’s positive review [9] of it. Later, when Arktos launched its Right On webzine, I supported it by steering authors their way and by appearing on one of their podcasts [10]. I also ran reviews of Friberg’s Identitarian Ideas conferences (here [11] and here [12]). Finally, I agreed to speak [13] at a dinner that Friberg organized in Budapest on April 2, 2016. The last time I saw Friberg was in April of 2016. We parted on friendly terms.

In the summer of 2016, John Morgan left his position as Editor-in-Chief of Arktos to work with me at Counter-Currents. But relations with Arktos remained cordial, and John kept his seat on the Arktos Board of Directors. However, in late February of 2017, I began hearing ominous stories. John Morgan flew to Stockholm to speak at Identitarian Ideas IX on February 25th but was disinvited by Friberg once he got there.

Then I was sent a recording of a bizarre interview with one of Friberg’s girlfriends, conducted by Friberg and Forney, in which John is accused of resenting Friberg and manufacturing grievances against him. The whole proceeding had the atmosphere of a madhouse.

I was also informed that Friberg was telling people that I was spreading the false rumor that Friberg had been accused of being an embezzler, in an attempt to sabotage Arktos, which I thought of as a rival company. Naturally, I wanted to get to the bottom of what was happening at Arktos. I was told that some of the shareholders of Arktos had looked over the books and concluded that Friberg had embezzled large amounts of money from the company. Friberg’s latest attack, in fact, confirms this statement. But he offers zero evidence for this accusations against me, because his story is a complete tissue of lies and/or paranoid delusions.

But why would Friberg invent a story about me that would only elicit laughter within Arktos? Clearly he had another audience in mind. Here’s my hypothesis: Word of Friberg’s Arktos troubles would inevitably leak out, and since Friberg was in the process of lining up new investors for new business ventures — like Altright.com, for instance — it would make sense for him to muddy the waters and deflect blame by concocting the story that any rumors of his malfeasance were made up by Greg Johnson.

Now, to be perfectly clear, I am simply reporting what people told me — though now Friberg himself has published the evidence that these accusations were indeed made by others, and not made up by me. I trust these people. I believe them 100%. But accusations on their own do not constitute proof in a court of law, which is where the matter would need to be proved. Whether or not these claims ever appear before a court is up to the aggrieved parties and/or the state prosecutors in the appropriate jurisdictions. I am not going to say anything more about this matter. Indeed, I would never have known or said anything about it if Friberg had not decided to connect me to the scandals in Arktos by claiming that I made them up out of whole cloth.

Naturally, I was outraged at Friberg’s lies. So now you understand why I did not want Friberg at the Scandza Forum. Put yourself in my place and tell me: would you have responded any differently?

On Sunday, May 14th, Friberg was told that he could not attend. On Tuesday, May 16th, Friberg issued an ultimatum. He wanted to be invited to the Forum by 22:00 or he would sabotage it. Of course, this removed any lingering doubts about whether Friberg should be excluded.

Now, at this point, you have a pretty good sense of how Daniel Friberg operates. Just to sum up:  A new metapolitical organization was being launched in Scandinavia, on a proven model for success. People put time and money into organizing it. Kevin MacDonald and I agreed to fly half way around the world to help the new venture get off to a good start. Aside from two nights at a hotel, the trip was entirely at my own expense. Guillaume Durocher also agreed to fly in from elsewhere in Europe. More than 100 people had set aside time, laid out money, and made plans to attend. Some of them had even purchased non-refundable airline tickets and pre-paid for hotel rooms. And Daniel Friberg was threatening to sabotage the whole thing because he was not invited. That is a pretty clear-cut case of putting personal ego before the good of the movement and the race.

But it gets worse.

Naturally, the organizers did not give in to blackmail, so an hour after the deadline passed, Friberg started making good on his threats, and continued into Wednesday the 17th.

If this were a serious movement, of course, we would have zero tolerance for doxers [15].

[16]

Swedish antifa founder and Friberg associate Mathias Wåg offers his support in comment to Friberg Facebook post attacking Greg Johnson

When I visited Stockholm, several veterans of the movement told me they had no doubt Friberg was the source of the antifa article. He has done similar things in the past: In 2009, Mattias Karlsson, a high-ranking Sweden Democrat, agreed to give a candid interview under the pen-name Anders Lundgren to Motpol, a website co-founded by Friberg. In 2014, Karlsson temporarily took over as leader of the Sweden Democrats when Jimmie Åkesson was ill. In 2015, Friberg and Karlsson quarreled, so Friberg revealed that Anders Lundgren was in fact Mattias Karlsson [17] to the Left-wing Arbetarbladet [18] (Workers’ Newspaper), in an obvious attempt to harm Karlsson.

The pattern is clear: In 2015, Friberg revealed the real name of a movement author to the Left-wing press, simply out of a desire to harm him. In 2017, Friberg revealed the names of the Scandza Forum organizers to a founder of the Swedish antifa, simply out of a desire to harm them. But I am sure that people who write for Altright.com and Arktos under pen names are perfectly safe. Friberg only doxes people who make him angry. And surely they won’t make that mistake.

Despite Friberg’s best efforts to sabotage the Scandza Forum’s inaugural meeting, it was a smashing success with more than 100 people present. By contrast, it took the London Forum years to break the 100 mark, and the New York Forum and Northwest Forum have not yet reached it.

But Friberg would not let this die, so a few days later his proxy Boatsinker started a thread on the TRS Forum, in which he repeated Friberg’s slanders of me, this time with the pretense of just searching for the truth. By this point, I’d really had enough, so I responded in a take-no-prisoners style. At that point, the principal organizer contacted me and told me that since the Scandza Forum and its organizers were the primary targets, they would like to issue their own statement. I agreed and bowed out of the discussion. I had taken my own side, and it was their turn to take theirs.

Once it was announced that Scandza would issue a statement and that I was bowing out, Friberg sued for peace, appealing to the greater good of the movement. Obviously, he did not want any statement corroborating mine to be issued. Thus, Scandza and Friberg worked out a deal to release anodyne statements and put it all behind them. (The Scandza statement [19] does, however, corroborate my claim that Friberg was never invited in the first place.) Then, a day after Friberg’s final conversation with the principal organizer, who said he would make no further statements, Friberg and Spencer published the first article attacking me. Obviously, Friberg and Spencer only dared me to prove my claims after they were reasonably certain that no corroborating statements would be forthcoming. This speaks volumes about the characters of both men. Of course, the Scandza organizers are no longer bound by any agreement with Friberg now that it is clear that his peace offering was just a ploy to neutralize them before attacking me.

Daniel Friberg has built organizations and websites, written and published books, and put on conferences, all for the greater good of the movement. But he has a dark side, which threatens to undo all his good work. I believe he is an egomaniac and a loose cannon who slanders and doxes honest movement activists and tried to sabotage the Scandza Forum. Daniel Friberg is a net negative to our movement and a danger to anyone who associates with him.

What you do with this information will depend on who you are.

People who have invested ego or money in Friberg need to listen the most, but they are the least likely to do so, for the same psychological reasons that people hold on to losing investments and keep fighting losing wars: the more one has lost, the more resistant one is to admitting defeat, which means that one will keep losing until nothing remains — or reality breaks through one’s denial. They’ll pretend this is a court of law, or a philosophy class, or one of those corners of the web with no standards at all. Anything, really, to evade the problem.

Those whose sole involvement in the movement is passively consuming titillating online information obviously have nothing vital at stake here, so they are free to think what they want.

If you are like me, however, you think that we are fighting for all that is good and holy — the future of our race and with it life on this planet as a whole — and if you have actually staked something on this cause, then you have sufficient motivation and information to decide: compare the coherence and tone of my narrative to Friberg and Spencer’s, add in your sense of my character vs. those of Friberg and Spencer, remind yourself what is at stake, calculate the odds, and decide.

This is all I am going to say publicly about Friberg and the Scandza Forum. If you’ve got something at stake in the movement, I am happy to talk privately. But the only way to “win” these sorts of public battles is not to get involved in the first place. And since I obviously failed at that, the second best option is to stop them before they escalate any further. So, for my part, it stops here.

The Question of My “Attacks”

As for the allegation that I “attack” other people in the movement: this charge completely ignores three crucial distinctions:

Every one of my public battles — including the present statement — has been about intellectual issues, defending myself from detractors, or calling out people for harming the movement. But Friberg and Spencer would have you believe that whenever I disagree with someone in the movement, I am attacking people personally out of the blackest of motives. Of course, this is precisely what they are doing to me in their article — crying out as they strike me — and precisely what they provide a platform for in the comment threads of Altright.com.

Criticism is essential to an intellectual movement. Right now, more than 90% of our movement’s activity is a battle of ideas. But we can only win if our ideas are true and effectively presented. Criticism is how we improve the content and delivery of our ideas. And since criticism is inevitable, isn’t it better to get it from our friends now than from our enemies later? Isn’t it better to know the weaknesses of one’s positions before one goes into battle with them?

In my articles “Punching Right [20]” and “Alt Right vs. Alt Wrong [21]” I argue that criticizing each other’s ideas is how we differentiate our positions from one another and bring normies closer to White Nationalism. Thus it would be self-defeating to shut down such criticism out of a fear of divisiveness or an inability to distinguish intellectual debate from childish bickering and vicious personal attacks.

And although I grant that there is definitely a place for barbs and mockery in driving home a well-argued point or skewering pretense and folly, I have also taken a stand against substituting mere bullying, trolling, and name-calling for substantive arguments. Such an ethos creates a madhouse atmosphere that repulses normal people. Again, see the comment threads at Altright.com.

People should defend the movement from those who harm it. Furthermore, people have the right to defend themselves and their friends when attacked. To me, it is a point of honor. However, I prefer to ignore the vast majority of attacks, simply because responding would bring my attacker undue attention, and although I have no problem “punching right,” I see no point in “punching down.”

But if someone with a significant audience attacks me or a friend, or simply behaves in a way that harms the movement, yes, it is my policy to respond.

But no good deed goes unpunished.

Thus, Friberg and Spencer criticize me for taking Matt Parrott and Matt Heimbach to task for launching a completely dishonest and calculatedly destructive attack . . . on Richard Spencer and NPI, namely their assertion that Heimbach was disinvited from NPI because it is controlled by a “gay mafia.” I also called out Parrott for launching equally dishonorable attacks on Nathan Damigo and Mike Enoch. But now, apparently, all is forgotten, and Heimbach is palling around with Spencer at protests.

Apparently, there are no real consequences for wrongdoing in this movement. A movement that seeks the renewal of white civilization should, at the very least, try to maintain a few minimum standards of civilized behavior. But the movement today resembles a post-apocalyptic wasteland in which warlords and their gangs fight for spoils. These self-proclaimed “leaders” seem to have an understanding with one another: they are all rogue enough to attack each other when it suits them — but also rogue enough to team up when that is convenient as well. Frankly, these people deserve each other. But the movement deserves better.

Friberg and Spencer attribute my alleged mean-spirited personal attacks to my frustrated desire to be “THE leader and guru of the Alternative Right,” as they so sophomorically phrase it. Then they assert that this ambition is obviously incompatible with my desire to lead a private life. Yes, it is so obviously incompatible that they really should have doubted their initial premise. I don’t want to be the leader of a political movement or the “guru” of anything.

But I think everyone, supporters and detractors alike, is aware that both Spencer and Friberg have grandiose self-images and very much want to be seen as “leaders.” [22] They delight, in other words, in receiving attention. So it is only natural that they should project that desire on others and assume that I must be eaten up by resentment because I don’t receive as much press as they do. Their accusation reveals, in short, much more about their psychology than mine.

Plato and Aristotle drew a clear and bright distinction between the private life of a philosopher and the public life of those who strive for acclaim. This is true even of philosophers who write about politics. I don’t wish to be a political leader or a guru, because first and foremost, I aspire to be a philosopher. My main activity is the pursuit of wisdom through appreciating the great achievements of civilization. I want to surround myself with independent minds and free spirits, not flunkies, flatterers, minions, shills, and cultists. The North American New Right is not a political party. It is an intellectual movement, devoted to metapolitics: both the creation and propagation of ideas and the formation of new models of white communities.

I recognize that our movement needs activists and agitators. But I am not one of those people, nor have I ever aspired to be one. If Richard Spencer wants to organize protests against the removal of Confederate monuments and shout “We are a people!” through a bullhorn, more power to him. But that’s just not me. For someone to think that I aspire to be a public figure, much less “lead” anything, reflects not only complete ignorance of me as a person, but also a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of Counter-Currents.

Some Afterthoughts

Now, as I write these words, I am acutely aware of my own failings as a philosopher. After all, did Plato allow himself to be goaded into writing barbed and embittered diatribes? Rousseau and Nietzsche certainly did, but only because they failed to detach themselves sufficiently from their prickly senses of self-worth. There are aspects of my character that I do not admire. I get murderously angry over matters of honor, and I take delight in verbally skewering the offenders.

But people today reflexively draw back from such battles. The ultimate reason is because the founders of the modern world spent generations pathologizing a sense of honor as mere pride and vainglory or contentiousness and quarrelsomeness, which are threats to the bourgeois world they wished to create in which long life, comfort, and security come before matters of principle or personal honor. Women especially think of every manifestation of male honor as childishness, vanity, and “ego.” One of the most important educational tasks of Counter-Currents is helping recover the ability to think in terms of honor [23], for bourgeois man is a natural slave, and only men who put matters of principle and honor over comfort and security will be able to break the system that is destroying us. That said, there are still reasonable criticisms of fighting about honor.

Part of growing up is learning that other people simply cannot take you as seriously as you take yourself. So even if you feel deeply wronged, at best only your family and two or three of your closest friends will ever care enough to hear your side of the story, much less come to your defense. So really, it is just a selfish imposition to ask other people to take sides in these matters. “Go cry to your mommy,” is a perfectly reasonable response to 99% of public displays of righteous indignation over personal honor. But you can and should care about other people’s fights when they have implications for your personal interests, not to mention groups and causes you care about.

Moreover, even if you are completely in the right, it is seldom possible to win battles over honor, because since when do people stop just because they are in the wrong? For the other guy, at least, it really is just about “ego.” So tit begets tat, and cycles of reprisal can spin out of control and endanger the larger community. At a certain point social peace becomes more important than individual justice, which is why, as René Girard argues, societies are willing to blame innocent scapegoats simply to halt destructive cycles of violence.

There is another sense in which it is impossible to “win” these sorts of movement battles. If you force people to take sides in these fights, 20% might take your side, and 20% might take the other side. But of the 60% who don’t take sides, some will declare a pox on both houses; some will get disgusted and depressed and leave the movement entirely; and some will stick around, but they will become cool and distant and hesitant to work with either party. Nobody really wins, then, when all parties and the movement as a whole become weaker.

However, if you don’t force people to take sides — for fear of losing friends or putting them in an uncomfortable position — you will observe your friends and colleagues associating with your enemies, and inevitably you will begin to question their character and judgment; your respect will curdle and your affections will cool, and in the end you will lose your friendship anyway. All things considered, though, it is better to sacrifice personal friendships than to weaken the movement as a whole.

If we were a healthy race, our self-confidence, both demographic and cultural, would not be collapsing as savage enemies pour in and beset us from all sides. If we had a healthy movement, we could have reversed this long ago. But our movement too is sick. As Yeats put it so beautifully in a poem that prophesied our race’s descent into nihilism [24]: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” That disparity alone will allow the forces of evil to destroy civilization. When “the center cannot hold” — ultimately the moral center — then “things fall apart”: “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

If the best among us had any conviction, people like Daniel Friberg would have never grown into the menace that he is today. If the best among us had any conviction, they would speak out against him. If the best among us had any conviction, then the worst among us — people like Friberg, Spencer, and Forney — would have no audience for their lies and no platform from which to broadcast them. They would have no credibility, no friends, no supporters, no authors, no podcasters, and the sole audience of the tabloid freak show at Altright.com would be the chan nihilists and Left-wing press they so eagerly cultivate.

But aside from a precious few, the best among us lack all conviction, remain silent, and do nothing. It took me more than two weeks to overcome my reluctance to say anything about vicious and entirely dishonest attacks directed at me personally, and a good part of that reluctance was the knowledge that even my closest friends would probably say and do nothing to support me. If you do nothing, this whole controversy is a waste of my time and yours.

Plato rose above such squabbles by focusing on eternity. I try to do the same, but my focal point is somewhat closer. The lies of Friberg, Spencer, et al. don’t seem all that important when compared to the question of whether our race will exist on this planet in 200 years’ time. Since there really are no consequences for those who betray, sabotage, or retard the movement, these behaviors will simply continue and get worse, and the rest of us will just have to work that much harder. But we have to fight on, even if sometimes we think it is hopeless. So I am not going to let Spencer or Friberg or my own sense of outrage steal one more moment from the real struggle.