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Thomas J. Main’s The Rise of the Alt-Right

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Thomas J. Main
The Rise of the Alt-Right
Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2018

Thomas Main interviewed me for this book, and I enjoyed our conversation. Main did not represent himself as anything but a critic of White Nationalism, but I found his questions to be stimulating and looked forward to reading the final product. 

Although it is hard to pin down Main’s politics, The Rise of the Alt-Right has a strong neoconservative flavor. He devotes a great deal of energy to a hairsplitting defense of the Jeffersonian civil religion of universal human equality based on the Declaration of Independence, which smacks of Straussianism, especially the Harry Jaffa school. Hilariously, Main accuses White Nationalists of “radical Gnosticism” (p. 7), which struck me as a bizarre dog whistle to the even tinier Right-wing sect of Eric Voegelin’s readers.

Main’s ethnic background is Irish, but his wife is Jewish. Based on his style of writing, I would guess that he was an undergraduate in philosophy at a Jesuit University. He teaches in the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College in New York City. His publisher, the Brookings Institution, is centrist and establishmentarian. The book bears blurbs from Mark Lilla, who strikes me as a Straussian who has decided to forgo the painful double life of pretending to be a conservative—and Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Perhaps the safest thing to say about Main’s perspective is that he is not Right-wing or Left-wing. He is simply establishment, extreme establishment.

The Rise of the Alt-Right gets off to a promising start. In chapter one, “The Emergence of the Alt-Right,” Main defines his terms and introduces his cast of characters. In addition to reading, Main did interviews with Peter Brimelow, John Derbyshire, Mike Enoch, Brad Griffin, Kevin MacDonald, Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor, and me. In his discussion of intellectual progenitors of the Alt-Right, he focuses primarily upon Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, Kevin MacDonald, and Michael Levin.

Main regards the Alt-Right as “far more radical and dangerous than the right-wing extremism of past decades” because of its “underlying ideology” (p. 4). He thinks that White Nationalists today are “intellectually and rhetorically sophisticated”—but only “relative to neo-Nazis or Ku Klux Klan supporters” (p. 7). By his own standards, he judges Alt-Right thought to be “abysmal”—but he saves that judgment for much later, because if he put it up front, most readers would not commit the time necessary to slog through his book.

Main distills four distinctive features of Alt-Right thought: (1) “A rejection of liberal democracy,” which he identifies with the principle that “All men are created equal.” (2) “White racialism,” which he insists on identifying with white supremacism. (3) “Anti-Americanism,” because we believe that our race should command a higher loyalty than our nation. (4) “Vitriolic rhetoric.” “The movement rejects the standards ethics of controversy and indulges in race-baiting, coarse ethnic humor, prejudicial stereotyping, vituperative criticism, and the flaunting of extremist symbols” (p. 8). This last point, of course, is a very poor fit for Taylor, Brimelow, Derbyshire, and most of the other figures Main discusses. This is just one more reason to finally bury the Alt-Right “brand,” which is dead and getting stinky. I simply refer to myself as a White Nationalist.

In his second chapter, “How Big is the Alt-Right?” Main compares the web traffic of mainstream and Alt-Right webzines. He understands metapolitics, so he recognizes that the quality of an audience matters more than its quantity: “What counts is not the absolute size of a given elite and its immediate followers but rather the depth of the penetration of that core group’s production into mainstream political culture relative to the penetration of rival groups” (p. 29). Main continues, “By these standards, the web traffic evidence suggests that the Alt-Right has developed an intellectual elite that bears comparison with that of traditional ideologies” (p. 29). Main ruefully notes that the emergence of the Internet has allowed White Nationalists to elude the power of establishment gatekeepers on the Right like William F. Buckley and his successors at National Review:

Though banishment from traditional conservative news outlets used to consign extreme rightists to obscurity, that tactic has not stopped the Alt-Right from reaching a considerable audience, one comparable in size—as measured by website visits—to those of established organs of left, right, and centrist opinion. If the Alt-Right is understood as an ideological movement, it is not minuscule. Rather, the Alt-Right is a significant phenomenon in American political culture, and its ideology merits attention and concern. (p. 30)

In chapter three, “From Right-Wing Extremism to the Postpaleos,” Main deals with Samuel Francis, Paul Gottfried, Kevin MacDonald, and Michael Levin as the intellectual founders of the Alt Right. Main also focuses primarily on Francis’ adaptation of James Burnham’s analysis of the managerial elite, particularly as expressed in his Leviathan and Its Enemies, which Main labels “the most comprehensive statement of Alt-Right thought” (p. 35).

This is a laughable claim, given that Leviathan and Its Enemies was completed in 1995, its author died in 2005, the book was only published in 2016, and I doubt that even a dozen people have read it since then. I have not read it, and I was a great admirer of Sam Francis. I started reading Francis while I was in graduate school, and I met and conversed with him half-a-dozen times between 2001 and his death in 2005. I valued his work as a political commentator and essayist, but when he started talking about Burnham, I tended to tune him out. It just sounded too Marxist. Based on conversations with Jared Taylor and other friends and close collaborators of Francis, it is my impression most of them felt the same way. In short, Francis’ analysis of Burnham was the least influential part of this thought, and Leviathan and Its Enemies had no influence on the Alt Right, which was conceived long before the book was published.

Main’s emphasis on Francis and Gottfried makes sense given that Richard Spencer emerged from the paleoconservative context. It also makes sense if Main views the Alt-Right through neoconservative lenses, since paleoconservativism was a reaction to neoconservatism. But if Main wanted to understand the thinkers who most influenced the movement’s criticisms of liberal democracy, he should have asked. I’d love to know what Brimelow, Derbyshire, Taylor, etc. would say.

In my case, Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of Night, Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions, Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditation “On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life,” Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, Plato’s Republic, Kojève’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, and some miscellaneous essays by Roger Scruton were decisive. Francis and Gottfried were not formative influences, but I found them useful thinkers. I know Brad Griffin would name MacIntyre’s After Virtue as an influence as well.

Most of the younger people on the Alt-Right, however, are not “postpaleos” but “postlibertarians,” and I suspect that with this population Hans-Hermann Hoppe had many times the influence of Sam Francis.

Main’s treatment of Kevin MacDonald is also somewhat risible. In The Culture of Critique, Kevin MacDonald argues that Jewish intellectual movements like Marxism, Boasian anthropology, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, and the promotion of multiculturalism and open borders should be seen as tools of Jewish ethnic warfare against white societies. The question of the extent to which these theories are true is really immaterial to MacDonald’s analysis. Ideas don’t need to be false to be tools in ethnic conflicts.

Main, however, seems to assert that MacDonald’s position is that “ideas are merely tools of group interest” (p. 72) and that such ideas are thus false. Then with a cackle and a flourish he springs his dialectical trap: “if that is true, aren’t MacDonald’s ideas masks for some elite’s power interest and therefore no better than the falsehoods of his adversaries?”

MacDonald, of course, makes it very clear that questions of truth and questions of motives are very different things. A person with bad motives can make true claims. A true theory can be used for evil purposes. Ideas can only be verified or falsified by reference to reality, not the roles they play in ethnic power struggles. This is true of Marxism, Boasianism, and MacDonald’s work as well. MacDonald does believe that the Jewish intellectual movements he critiques do, in fact, offer false theories and specious arguments. He also believes that his own work stands up to objective tests.

On the next page, Main offers this howler: “So, in legitimating the hunt for ‘deeper reasons’ behind his adversaries’ arguments, all MacDonald has done is stipulate that motivations are indeed relevant to the question of whether one is ‘right’ and that therefore, given his admitted hostility, he is probably wrong” (p. 73). Of course, MacDonald’s position is that questions of truth and questions of motives are different. Beyond that, MacDonald makes clear that his negative conclusions about Jews came at the conclusion of his investigations. They were not there at the beginning. But even if MacDonald were biased against Jews from the start, the sole criterion for determining the truth or falsehood of his views is their correspondence to objective reality.

Main asks how intellectual movements can become influential if they are bogus. Surely they need to be at least plausible. This is true. And surely academic peer review would weed out patently false ideas. Main paints a laughable picture of academia as a place in which the disinterested pursuit of truth trumps all political concerns. Elsewhere in the book, he appeals to the “consensus” of impartial scientific researchers who deny that race is a meaningful biological category (p. 178) and that racial differences in intelligence are primarily due to nature, not nurture (p. 179) and who affirm that mankind is causing global warming (p. 178). Nobody here but us disinterested pursuers of truth!

Main, of course, knows better, since he himself is in academia; since he is surely aware of the voluminous neoconservative literature attacking (certain kinds of) political correctness; and since elsewhere in the book he praises gatekeepers who used to prevent radical Right-wing ideas from being expressed.

The reason why Jewish intellectual movements flourish despite offering bogus theories is that they are practiced in slowly taking over institutions until they are in the position to brainwash the impressionable and marginalize their critics. But wherever they cannot do this, their influence fades. For instance, Freudianism has almost no influence in mainstream psychology, but it does persist in psychoanalytic institutes that Freudians control and humanities programs that lack rigorous standards of truth.

Main devotes a large chunk of The Rise of the Alt-Right to pious quibbles about the Declaration of Independence. He wants to elevate Jefferson’s line that “all men are created equal” into a civil religion and the outermost boundary of permissible political debate in America. That means that White Nationalists need to be suppressed and censored. Never mind that the Declaration is not a legal document of the United States. And do we really have to believe that men were created to be part of polite society in Thomas Main’s America? I would wager that most of the promoters of Jeffersonian civil religion today are atheists.

What Main thinks we cannot be allowed to deny is that all men have the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For Main, the belief that rights are universal immediately entails a multiracial civic nationalism.

But not so fast. I believe that all people have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But that does not entail that we should all live in the same community. Racial and ethnic diversity in the same society is still a bad idea, even if one believes that all men have rights. I made this point in my interview with Main, which he quotes on page 205. But he does not seem to grasp the challenge it presents his argument.

Indeed, if all men have the right to the pursuit of happiness, shouldn’t that oblige us to look into how racial and ethnic diversity impact happiness? In “What’s Wrong with Diversity?” I cite several scientific studies that indicate that racially and ethnically homogeneous societies are happier.

Main’s discussion of my work is disappointing. He describes Counter-Currents as a “digital colloquium for the Alt-Right’s best minds,” but boils our conversation down to “two distinctive characteristics: antidemocratic radicalism and implausibility” (p. 109). He writes that “Johnson’s rhetoric is relatively mild, and he often condemns violence, but otherwise the extremism of his thought is hard to overstate” (p. 109).

For example, to my remark that just as the New Left learns from the Old Left, the New Right can learn from the Old Right, Main fairly explodes, “These sentiments are not only wild-eyed extremism, they are preposterous to boot. The catastrophic failure of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s movements, even from the perspective of their own bellicose nationalism, is obvious. [Would they have failed if the Allies had not started a world war to stop them?] Anyone who thinks that ‘many things of permanent value’ were achieved by these two mass-murdering incompetents casts grave doubt on his or her own competency, to say the least” (p. 110).

To my position on the Jewish question, Main says that “its absurdity . . . is obscured by its gross anti-Semitism.” Of course it is rather question-begging to object that a frankly anti-Semitic argument is . . . anti-Semitic, but let that slide. Let’s focus on the absurdity charge. Main says that my desire for Jews to live in their own homeland, not the United States, is absurd because why don’t I want to repatriate “Americans of English, Swedish, and Irish ethnicity” as well?

The answer, of course, is that the American people is an amalgam of assimilated European stocks, but Jews remain a distinct people with a record of promoting their group interests at the expense of the larger American community. But if Swedish Americans had remained aloof from the rest of the US population; if they had a pattern of promoting destructive ideologies and cultural trends; and if they made a pattern of subverting American foreign policy in the service of their homeland’s ancient grudges against the Russians and the Finns, I would of course support repatriating them as seditious aliens.

Main concludes his book on a sinister note with a long and sinuous palaver that basically amounts to an argument for censoring people who reject racial egalitarianism. He does not come out explicitly in favor of government censorship. But he does praise the failed gatekeepers of the conservative movement, and presumably he would have no problem with censorship by gigantic private corporations like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.com. When an academic ends 254 pages of analysis and critique with the words, “The task facing democratic polities now is devising technologies and institutions that re-empower the gatekeepers whose position has recently been undercut without lapsing into mere censorship. How important is this task? About as important as the recognition that all people are created equal” (p. 254), I take it as an admission of intellectual bankruptcy.

I can’t recommend The Rise of the Alt-Right to anyone besides the people who were interviewed for it. They will find it an intensely annoying read, but wrestling with some of Main’s criticisms will help us make stronger arguments in the future.

Those who are looking for a comprehensive study of the Alt Right should read George Hawley’s Making Sense of the Alt-Right, which is not only far less tendentious but far more accurate as well. The Rise of the Alt-Right is riddled with mistakes. For instance, on page 35 we are told that the National Policy Institute was founded by Richard Spencer. On page 64, H. L. Mencken’s name is spelled “Menken.” On page 104, we read that the original Alternative Right webzine was founded in 2012. Counter-Currents is referred to as Cross-Currents on pages 128, 195, and 205—although it is referred to correctly elsewhere in the book. On page 171, The Occidental Observer is called Occidental Review. On page 201, a quote from someone named Albert Jackson is attributed to me. On page 219, Evola’s Men Among the Ruins is called Man Among the Ruins and said to be Evola’s last book. And these are just the errors I marked. Also, I did not check Main’s voluminous end notes.

The Rise of the Alt-Right is also deeply politically correct. Sometimes it reads simply like ADL and SPLC boilerplate. A quick riff through the book for “LOL” marginalia yields the following examples. On page 65, we learn that Samuel Francis did not just offer a Machiavellian analysis of elite power, he “clung to” it. On page 66, we learn that when Sam Francis cites Kevin MacDonald’s analyses of Jewish power, he “reaches for an ancient scapegoat.” On page 67, we learn that Sam Francis appealed to “outdated and refuted racial theories.”

On page 35, we learn that Kevin MacDonald’s work on Jews is just a Darwinian update of “old-fashioned conspiracy theory.” On page 67, MacDonald’s works are characterized as “voluminous pseudo-Darwinian analyses.” On page 77, MacDonald’s work is called “pseudo-Darwinian anti-Semitism.” On page 69, we are told that MacDonald’s project is “giving exploded anti-Semitic conspiracy theories a patina of respectability.” On page 68, Main notes that Abe Rosenthal, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer, and Henry Kissinger all have “Jewish-sounding names.” On page 215, we learn that despite Steve Bannon’s obvious philo-Semitism, “most Jewish interest groups are deeply concerned.”

On page 140, Main comments on passages from Thomas Jefferson’s writings indicating that Jefferson believed that blacks were more emotional and less attractive than whites: “Jefferson was, of course, wrong, and reading these comments is very disheartening to modern admirers of Jefferson.” Regarding Jefferson’s remarks about “merciless Indian savages” who exterminate men, women, and children, Main writes that they are “unfortunate” (p. 142). (The remarks, not the massacres.) On page 144, Main condemns Jefferson’s idea of returning slaves to Africa as “an utterly wrongheaded, unrealistic, and immoral judgment.” Why, exactly, is it immoral to return forcibly displaced peoples to their homelands?

The poor old sod. Surely he knows better. How can he write such things and still feel good about himself? But such opinions are required by the American civil religion to which Main zealously subscribes, namely the proposition that all men are created equal. For my part, at least, truth is a higher value than equality.

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25 Comments

  1. Henry Paget-Lowe
    Posted September 16, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    By the way, Dr Johnson, I would love to hear your thoughts on After Virtue some time.

  2. Henry Paget-Lowe
    Posted September 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that Main a) lays so much self-righteous emphasis on high academic standards but b) takes it as a given that ‘All men are created equal’, with no critical discussion of this at all. Presumably he would admit that people have differing abilities at all kinds of things, even various morally relevant things like self-awareness and the ability to plan for the future. People typically fall back at this point on vague notions like ‘equal moral worth’. There is in fact a small but interesting literature within analytic philosophy trying to pinpoint some empirical basis for the belief that all humans are of equal moral worth, i.e. to find some important property that all humans share that could possibly be the basis for this equal worth. Although some big hitters have attempted this (Rawls, Nozick, Bernard Williams, among others), the enterprise has so far (predictably, from the point of view of this website) been a complete failure. Interested readers can get a flavour of the debate here:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/egalitarianism/#EquFunHumWor

  3. Lemur
    Posted September 14, 2018 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Excellent review, Greg. Swatting away an entire tedious, po-faced tome in a medium length essay.

    By the sound of it, this guy is writing guide on the Right Perspective for establishmentarian to adopt when dealing with dissident right movements. It was never meant to inform objectively. It’s about outlining the correct rhetorical construction based upon globalist ideology.

  4. Posted September 14, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Masterly, Greg.

    “Perhaps the safest thing to say about Main’s perspective is that he is not Right-wing or Left-wing. He is simply establishment, extreme establishment.” LOL> Arendt couldn’t have said it any better.

    “I believe that all people have rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But that does not entail that we should all live in the same community. Racial and ethnic diversity in the same society is still a bad idea, even if one believes that all men have rights. I made this point in my interview with Main… But he does not seem to grasp the challenge it presents his argument.”

    If Main had rested his Jefferson long enough to wrestle with Lincoln he would have discovered this exact teaching. Godhelphim if he decides to get all curious and read Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire, Hegel, Darwin… etc ad infinitum he will encounter a long unbroken chain of racists. One fears the enlightenment might be too much to bear. Back to the cave! But then Main could be a good goy and just start with du Bois, plenty of fashy blood-think in that mulatto.

    Hawley indeed remains the standard. But even he doesn’t quite grasp that this movement is coming out of felt need. No E Pluribus Unum Americanness is possible with status quo Identity Politics setting the agenda..they made us melters white again. And many if not most of these kids migrate from the left without ever having passed through a stage of cuckservatism. It is a grass-roots movement of highly sensitive conscientious natural elites and woke autodidacts who have been shut out and vilified based on birth–when has this happened before? The enlightenment?

    Haha Greg your lapsed (eclipsed rather) Straussianism is showing with that list of influences. I ditto all of those and still go back to Strauss…and his boy Ravelstein whom I yet have a soft spot for. And I hope Brad supplements his MacIntyre with a woke dose of Southern Agrarianism.

  5. Rob Bottom
    Posted September 14, 2018 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    Greg, I think you’d be surprised by how many liberals were redpilled during the media’s race-war agitation during Obama’s tenure. I, for one, was not a conservative nor a libertarian. I considered myself a liberal, having lived in a majority white city blissfully unaware of the problems of diversity my entire life. Now I am an avowed white nationalist and everything I have learned during this evolution has made sense of the world around me.

    Looking back on it now, I believe outlets like CNN were doing everything they could to get out the black vote to ensure two terms for Obama beginning with the Trayvon Martin case. Then came the lopsided coverage of blacks killed in their 20th encounter with police officers, without even a whisper of whites killed in similar circumstances, or the enormous disparities between black and white crime rates. For extra flavor add a good dash of the establishment’s limp-dicked response to Islamic terrorism. Surely I was not alone in my growing disgust.

    The media then made the mistake of doubling and tripling (!) down during and after the election. Again we saw completely lopsided coverage, this time between Trump and Clinton. As they thought they were winning, we were browsing Podesta’s personal emails. And it has been nothing less than a complete shit show since Trump was elected. It will take more than a generation for the media to regain our trust, and with the Jewish Question now hovering on the lips of millions of young men redpilled during this period, it may not happen at all. We will teach our children that there is an enemy nation within our nations and how to spot them and their tricks.

    Which is not to say that you and the others discussed in this book are not important figures, but that your impact for many follows in the wake of the disastrous strategies the left has pursued. Jared Taylor’s frank presentations on race were only music to our ears after the BLM nonsense, and Kevin MacDonald’s thesis probably wouldn’t be very compelling to Joe Sixpack if it didn’t line up perfectly with the above antics.

    If they and their shabbos goyim truly want to understand the rise of the “alt-right”, they would be better off grabbing the nearest mirror than writing these books.

  6. Samuel Nock
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I do think Sam Francis’ adoption and use of the idea of the managerial state has been more influential among the Alt Right than Greg gives credit for. Essentially, Francis (and Burnham) were onto the idea of the Deep State avant la lettre. And one reason why the Alt Right has long seen, and criticized, the Democrats and Republicans as a uniparty of Neoliberalism (or Neoconservatism, as if there’s a difference) is precisely because of the insight that there is an entrenched mono-cultural bureaucracy who pursue their own ends regardless of what the electorate actually wants.

    I agree that Leviathan and Its Enemies has gone unread, due both to its length and the fact that the ideas are available elsewhere in essays. But Francis published on the same topic long before his “magnum opus” was belatedly released, and Alt Right outlets were the ones focusing on those essays and releasing them after Francis’ death. For example, the Francis essay contained in volume 2 of Radix Joural (2012) contain his critique of the managerial state (as was noted in this CC review of the volume: https://www.counter-currents.com/2017/02/where-conservatism-went-wrong/).

    Clearly, Francis’ racial ideas were the more influential. But his ideas about the managerial state were also influential during the early 2010s when the Alt Right was gaining speed.

  7. Troll King
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    For me, as to my spiritual journey to white nationalism, I think I was already here from my development as a lower middle class striver in the southeast US. Issues of race are much more apparent to us from a young age than to people from other regions. I always understood what would make sense for an ordered society, but I assumed that the barriers were simple lethargy and entropic decay, that the bad things happening in society were inevitable, even if spiced with some annoying yankee self righteousness.

    It was chance reading Patrick Buchanan’s 2008 book that awoke me to white nationalism and paleocon thought. He skillfully subtextually explained the neoconservative movement, the nature of the people behind it, and the Iraq war. The Middle East issue had been never quite clear to me; the no war for oil, hate our freedom never sat well with me, but I was busy with school and didn’t give it much thought. Buchanan made it so clear. Yes, this was the only explanation that fulfilled Occam’s razor. Within a week I was reading vdare, Occidental, and Taki.

    So my point is that for me it was not an alteration in my fundamental conception of the world, but rather the notion that we are under attack, that it is murder not suicide, that this is not the inevitable course of history, but rather a calculated derailment. My devotion and fixation on the spiritual cause waxes and wanes based on how confirmed this idea is in my mind. My level of belief comes and goes.

  8. C.B. Robertson
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Excellent review. Between the attempts at serious criticism like this and novels like “Adjustment Day,” I’m really beginning to believe that we’re cracking into the mainstream. So thanks for the review, as well as the work that led up to this book being written.

    • Posted September 15, 2018 at 2:58 am | Permalink

      A smile is our best bulletproof vest!

    • leech
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      I are you sure that by an attempt at serious criticism you mean the book reviewed here, and not the Hawley one? Because that is not how I’d call this work by any stretch of imagination, based on what I’ve read here.

  9. Petronius
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    “Jewish-sounding names.”

    This cracked me up.

    • Franklin Ryckaert
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      Yes, “Jewish sounding” names of “Jewish looking” individuals.

  10. Petronius
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Here is a simple, clear, self-evident truth: all people are not created equal. They probably have not even been “created”.

    • Franklin Ryckaert
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 5:10 am | Permalink

      All people evolved unequally, that is the truth.

    • leech
      Posted September 15, 2018 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Yeah, it is really amusing to see folks who are seemingly not religious, or are even openly atheists, parrot that bloody line all the time. Civil religion indeed.

  11. Irmin
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Main notes that Abe Rosenthal, Richard Perle, Charles Krauthammer, and Henry Kissinger all have “Jewish-sounding names.”

    Notice how weirdly PC this is.

    Unless he is very ignorant, Main is certainly aware that each of the preceding is a Jew.

    But he is reluctant to write that, because indicating clearly that he *knows* all of them are Jews might imply that he believes their Jewishness influences their political behavior, which could suggest anti-Semitism, the greatest of thought-crimes. So Main briefly adopts the narrative pose of an ignorant boob writing a book about politics, a boob so ill-informed that he has never read anything by or about the persons he has just listed.

    There is a factual problem too:

    The surname Kissinger was adopted in 1817 by his great-great-grandfather Meyer Loeb, after the Bavarian spa town of Bad Kissingen.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Kissinger

    So in fact Henry Kissinger doesn’t really have a Jewish-sounding name. Or rather, his surname sounds Jewish only because everyone (Main included) knows that one famous man named Kissinger is a Jew.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      This is brilliant.

    • ISK
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, great observation.

    • Rob Bottom
      Posted September 14, 2018 at 2:54 am | Permalink

      Singer is a Jewish name, so he’s not wrong that Kissinger sounds Jewish. At least, that would probably be his excuse.

      • m
        Posted September 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        do you guys not know that jews (who often moved around) are very often named after places? kissingen is a place.

  12. Rob o
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    The first chapter is online and it quotes various prominent Alt-Righters.

    https://www.brookings.edu/book/the-rise-of-the-alt-right/

    The most useful definition quoted imo was by Brad Griffin / Hunter Wallace of Occidental Dissent, who described the Alt-Right’s “three hallmark characteristics” as:
    Realism – Identity – Iconoclasm

    This definition encompasses the others and could have been a broad banner ‘floating signifier’ to keep the disparate streams focused on external targets, rather than infighting.

    Also, the Alt-Right was better off as metapolitical and cultural, with a focus on getting inside heads and red-pilling. The irony and ambiguity was useful, it gave cover.

  13. Troll King
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Fantastic article. Thanks for the book list.

    I think it is important to Kevin macdonalds thesis that the intellectual movements are fraudulent. He demonstrates how they have certain common characteristics such as lack of external falsifiability, ie the deductive relationships are fuzzy enough to accommodate any empirical situation. If the ideas were not false, one could always argue that at least a portion of the movement had pure motives.

    And yes, macdonalds work is political in combating these tendencies. He is acting as the town crier, the McCarthy of his age. Somewhere in his work there is the discussion about how all inquiry in the social sciences is political, if only for the topic and the biases of the investigator.
    However, none of this stops his writings from being fascinating scholarship as well.

    A better argument for main would have been something like, just because some Jewish subgroups purveyed false ideas doesn’t mean all Jews are involved. They don’t blame us all for Mormonism. Then we would say back yada yada…

  14. Antidote
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Wow. Poor old sod is right; has the cuck disease real bad. I imagine it was barrels and barrels, if not hogsheds of Kool-Aid he bought and drank.

  15. Posted September 13, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Wonderful, Greg. I had rather be water boarded than debate with you.

  16. margot metroland
    Posted September 13, 2018 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    This is just hilarious. Is the silly season over yet?

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    Waking Up from the American Dream

    Green Nazis in Space!

    Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country

    Heidegger in Chicago

    The End of an Era

    Sexual Utopia in Power

    What is a Rune? & Other Essays

    Son of Trevor Lynch's White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    The Lightning & the Sun

    The Eldritch Evola

    Western Civilization Bites Back

    New Right vs. Old Right

    Lost Violent Souls

    Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations

    The Non-Hindu Indians & Indian Unity

    Baader Meinhof ceramic pistol, Charles Kraaft 2013

    Jonathan Bowden as Dirty Harry

    The Lost Philosopher, Second Expanded Edition

    Trevor Lynch's A White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    And Time Rolls On

    The Homo & the Negro

    Artists of the Right

    North American New Right, Vol. 1

    Forever and Ever

    Some Thoughts on Hitler

    Tikkun Olam and Other Poems

    Under the Nihil

    Summoning the Gods

    Hold Back This Day

    The Columbine Pilgrim

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater

    Taking Our Own Side

    Toward the White Republic

    Distributed Titles

    Reuben

    The Node

    A Sky Without Eagles

    The Way of Men

    The New Austerities

    Morning Crafts

    The Passing of a Profit & Other Forgotten Stories

    Asatru: A Native European Spirituality

    The Lost Philosopher

    Impeachment of Man

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance