Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Authoritarian Leftism

For some, the idea of an authoritarian left is a contradiction in terms. Authoritarianism is the province of the right, and can only ever be so. Even if the left does become violent, doing so while resisting power is fundamentally different than doing so while abusing power.

The idea of the authoritarian personality was first proposed in a 1950 book of the same name, by Theodor Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford, researchers working at the University of California, Berkeley. Some of those names may be familiar to you, and are associated with the dreaded Frankfurt School and all of the western civilization hating cultural Marxism long associated with it.

It is from this work that the widely spread F Scale came to prominence. The F Scale is a survey (take the test here) intended to measure one's propensity to fascistic sympathies, and consists of the following metrics:

  • Conventionalism: A disposition to favoring established middle class values.
  • Authoritarian Submission: A propensity to obey superiors without question, and to demand the same from subordinates.
  • Authoritarian Aggression: A desire to punish those who violate group norms and conventional values.
  • Anti-Intraception: A hostility towards an introverted disposition and self reflection, feeding into a valuation of action for its own sake.
  • Superstition and Stereotypy: Belief in non-rational concepts, and to think of people in rigid, categorical terms.
  • Power and Toughness: A "might makes right" kind of attitude and disdain for softer, tender sentiments and emotion.
  • Destructiveness and Cynicism: A deep seated nihilism and lack of concern for the welfare of others, coming out in a propensity towards high risk adventures such as war making.
  • Projectivity: The authoritarian projects these flaws and failings onto hated out groups.
  • Sex: A great fear of sexual pleasure and intimacy, at least for its own sake. Sex is politicized in the authoritarian mind.
The Authoritarian Personality has a long history of criticism for rooting its analysis in the ideological biases of its authors, some of whom were, as previously mentioned, Frankfurt School Marxists. It was well and good to tie a propensity to fascism to a repressive personality type, supposedly rooted in abusively authoritarian family structures. But how did this explain what we were discovering then, and had known for some time even, that Stalin's USSR was not preferable to fascist Europe as far as authoritarianism was concerned? Moreover, Mao Zedong in China was about to embark on a new phase of leftist repression. 

One could easily suggest that the western world at that time had only known right wing authoritarianism. Russia and China were distant lands with foreign cultures and histories, and perhaps Frankfurt intellectuals could be forgiven for not viewing leftist authoritarianism in a comparable light. Similar claims would emerge out of the culture wars of the 1980s and 90s, wherein the forces of repression and censorship came mainly from right wing evangelical groups. 

Such dismissals reveal a deep hypocrisy in the leftist intellectual establishment in the west. If they are to idealize foreign cultures and hold them up as superior examples to the west, let them at least understand those cultures and their histories.

Feel the Democracy
Never the less, some elements of the F Scale do not lend themselves to a measure of left wing authoritarianism. After all, conventionality is a value completely at odds with leftism, especially today. Doesn't the left oppose stereotypical views of outgroups? Isn't the left much more tolerant of people's sexual proclivities? Isn't the left more self aware and self critical by its very nature?

One look at college SJWs should answer those questions. It should be clear by now that there is a new authoritarianism of the left. To measure it, the F Scale may have to be modified somewhat, though.
  • In place of conventionalism, I'd offer up a kind of mandated subversiveness, especially when subversiveness becomes less about challenging actual power structures and more about policing personal values, beliefs and relationships. Political correctness finds its roots here - the mandating of the use of language that supposedly challenges preconceived notions of power and privilege. Even when much more, well, conventional structures of authority are used to enforce this supposed subversiveness. Silicon Valley oligopolies firing employees who challenge postmodern narratives about the social construction of gender would be an example
  • Authoritarian submissiveness: We've seen the prevalence of standpoint theory, which asserts a sort of exceptional basis for truth claims made by those with marginalized identities. This drives the propensity to handwave debate in favor of insistence that "privileged" people simply remain silent and obey. The infamous progressive stack is a manifestation of this. A marginalized identitfy becomes an infallible claim on truth - provided the party line is being espoused, of course.
  • Authoritarian aggression: Antifa is the most glaring example, but we see a strong predisposition to punish and hurt, rather than engage in dialogue with ideological rivals among certain kinds of leftists. Deplatforming is an obvious example. As are drives to get people fired from their jobs, artistic or cultural projects associated with "problematic" people cancelled or taken off the market, banning from social media and so forth. 
  • Anti-Intraception is a bit more complicated. Authoritarian leftist spaces are somewhat notorious for "self criticism" - which seems like a kind of intraception that is not only encouraged, but mandatory. However, this is never to be done with the intent of holding the movement, its leaders and ideology to any sort of account. Rather, the activist is charged with reflecting on their own ideological shortcomings, meaning failure to adequately align with the correct line. This is a deeply authoritarian maneuver in that it is meant to insure in-group loyalty. Action for its own sake comes out in an idealization of protest and civil disobedience. The use of these kinds of militant tactics against relatively powerless rather than powerful targets - conservative students on college campuses, for example, or with the backing rather than in the face of the power of the state is a definite exercise in authoritarian power.
  • The left is less prone to superstition than the right overall, but they do indulge in a heavily mythologized world view. In place of God or natural racial supremacy, the left substitutes most famously the historical dialectic marching, however slowly and frustratingly, to the ultimate end of a classless society. Since the reemergence of romanticism with the new left, an idealization of nature, goddess centric forms of spirituailty and an idealization of foreign religions has also emerged with it. This drives a tendency to paper over or ignore the obvious problems in those cultures and religious systems, either in the name of multicultural tolerance, or due to claims that western imperialism are ultimately to blame or are guilty of greater evils. 
  • As for stereotyping, the notion that white males are privileged and powerful by default should qualify. Interactions with intersectional leftists make clear that people are merely the sum of their identities and the political weights and values attached to those identities as far as they're concerned. This kind of dehumanization is foundational to authoritarianism, and creates the impression that these kinds of leftists are awash in dogmas that choke off spontaneous and natural human interaction. 
  • Power and toughness: We see this in the disdain that the feminized left of our time has for marginalized and alienated men, incels in particular. Not to condone the glaring pathologies of incel ideology, but the feminist disdain for those males who have lost the darwinian competition for status and resources is fairly obvious. Obvious too is their gloating despite for the social decline of the white male overall, even where it is shown that this decline occurred as a result of a global neoliberalism that no one on the left has any business defending. Additionally, a real machismo permeates even many feminist spaces, where non feminist men are ridiculed for "not getting laid" and male feminists in particular present their views with macho bravado. Which goes beyond irony to feed into ...
  • Destructiveness, Cynicism and Projectivity: I hate to get anecdotal and psychological here, but such is the kind of territory we're entering here. This deals more with the conflicted internal psyche of the authoritarian, driving a sort of "death instinct" leading to destructive behavior. The authoritarian left is infamous for "eating their own", as it were. When male feminists get outed for engaging in sexually predatory behavior, I wonder if their professed feminism isn't an attempt to quell a guilty conscience? Does the white male guilt lead to a lot of self sabotaging, self destructive kinds of behaviors? There've been times when some or another radical activist's conduct was so cringy and outlandish that I wondered if there wasn't a barely repressed desire to be "put in their place" so to speak. A widespread theory in "redpill" communities online is that feminism is a kind of "shit test" aimed at men as a whole. Such ideas are difficult to prove, but equally difficult not to at least consider when seeing authoritarians at their most irrational.
  • Sex. This ties into the previous point. The Frankfurt scholar's ideas are rooted in a Freudian notion that authoritarian rigidity is rooted in a kind of defense mechanism against feared and forbidden sexual instincts. The left is commonly associated with a more relaxed attitude on sexual matters, but there's clearly exceptions to this rule. So called anti-sex, or sex-negative feminism is an obvious case in point. The quickness with which cries of objectification and sexism are raised in any discussion of attraction and desire, especially on part of men towards women, suggests a discomfort with the deeper and more personal aspects of sexuality that belies the clinical objectivity and emphasis on transaction and negotiation of boundaries which define the "progressive" approach to sex. While they pay lip service to women making choices for themselves and their own pleasure, there's a thinly veiled preference for non-sexuality between the sexes that permeates left wing spaces. 
It could be objected by the radical leftist that methods deemed "authoritarian" are necessary to adequately challenge oppressive social norms and dominant power structures. Leftists have a long history of defending repressive or even violent measures carried out by their own - going back at least as far as Lenin's ideas of "kvo kovo" - meaning "who-whom." Who benefits? Repressive actions that favored the Soviet State were justified, necessary even, in a way that were morally reprehensible when carried out by conservative or reactionary authoritarians.

Similar lines of reasoning appear in Herbert Marcuse's concept of "repressive tolerance", in definitions of racism and sexism as "prejudice plus power" that render it impossible for women and minorities to be racist or sexist, and in the "standpoint theories" that lend an air of infallibility to the perspectives of the marginalized and oppressed - as long as they don't align with their oppressors, of course. 

Maybe so. But a crucial test here has to be the question of just how powerful the targets of leftist wrath and ire really are. In a sense, this holds them to their own moral standards. A civil disobedience campaign carried out against the state to protest persecution of minorities or an unjust war is a very different matter than campaigns of harassment and intimidation carried out against mere citizens who've somehow or another transgressed the boundaries of what's politically correct. One of these is punching up, the other punching down, to borrow their own phraseology. 

A defining characteristic of authoritarianism is that it punches down. Authoritarians don't look for fair fights, and they certainly don't challenge injustice when it comes down from on-high. Left wing authoritarians are no different. What they do differently is manipulate ideology to tell themselves that the victims of authoritarian aggression coming from the left are really the unjust beneficiaries of power and privilege, however striking the evidence to the contrary may be. 

The kulaks in the USSR were the ur-example, and the bloodiest instance of this seen thus far, but the dynamic whereby non-feminist academics and media personalities get drummed out of their jobs for uttering politically incorrect views is essentially the same. So too is violence carried out against unpopular speakers on college campuses, particularly if its with the tacit approval of the college's faculty and administrative structure. A strike, boycott or a protest against a corporation engaging in bad business practices does not qualify, however. Nor does a protest against a powerful and corrupt political figure, or the bringing to justice of anyone whose abused their power or violated somebody's rights. But justice always entails due process. Authoritarian leftists are open about their disdain for due process. If any kind of civil right or civil liberty is denounced as a mere tool for the oppressors to carry on dominating the weak and marginalized, good chance you're dealing with an authoritarian leftist.

An individual or group rendered powerless by a shifting power dynamic still getting treated as if they were the beneficiaries of unjust preference, and that being used as a legitimizing pretense to crack down on them. That's the defining characteristic of the very real and very dangerous phenomenon of authoritarian leftism.

Read about how intersectional feminism is an authoritarian system of power serving elite interests.

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Saturday, 6 April 2019

Ignorance of Capitalism Also Risks “Absolute Catastrophe”

Articles like this - written by Paul Joseph Watson quoting Jordan Peterson, are why I've lost much sympathy for these fuzzy-vaguely right leaning Intellectual Dark Web types - the ones who simply shill for rightist ideas, at any rate. I never agreed with them on most substantial issues, but I sympathized with the push to diversify the ideological landscape, at least in mainstream media and academia. And of course, who could like the SJWs these days? Arrogant, dogmatic and narrow minded. I sympathized as much with anger towards them in 2016 as I did with anger against the Christian right in 2006.

Then as now, I also temper that anger with a warning: Don't lose sight of the bigger picture, and don't adopt your enemy's bad habits. Because if you do, you won't be truly victorious even if you do win in the short term political sense. That's how the SJWs happened, and that seems to be happening with the "cultural libertarians" as well.

PJW's article is a complete mess. Its only saving grace is its brevity. Yet it manages to contain everything I've come to dislike about the current crop of online reactionary anti-SJW thinkers. Indeed, as far as ideology goes, they're scarcely preferable to the SJWs at all any more. There is, thus far, no accompanying authoritarian drive for censorship, but the self awareness now seems to be so lacking that I can't help but wonder if even that isn't just a matter of time.

Watson reports:
During an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation this week, the clinical psychologist and best-selling author said that millennials are embracing far-left ideology because they weren’t taught about its disastrous outcomes at school. 
“People are unbelievably ignorant of history,” said Peterson. “What young people know about 20th-century history is nonexistent, especially about the history of the radical left. How would you know? They are never taught about it so why would they be concerned about it?”
Observe firstly that in other contexts, Jordan Peterson has repeatedly denied being a rightist partisan. Yet here he's quoted as addressing the Heritage Foundation - a right leaning think tank last time I checked, repeating oft-heard talking points on the evils of socialism. Not that Stalinist communism is a good system, mind you, but I'd find Peterson's shtick of not being a right winger a bit more convincing if this was a takedown of laissez faire capitalism delivered to a genuinely centrist audience, since that's what we in the west have actually been living under and suffering under for the last half century now. Not socialism.

A warning that people could turn to revolutionary socialism if the extreme inequalities in capitalism are not addressed as they were via Roosevelt's New Deal could be issued, and that would be a good reason to undertake a new new deal, but that's not what we have here. Just talking points that I could copy and paste from nearly any right wing internet source.

Yet here we see an ongoing preoccupation with the dangers posed by socialism and equality of outcome. Not massive inequality, which is much closer to be beast we quarrel with these days. Wealth inequality in the US has never been greater than it is now. I'll sympathize more with the destructive potential of equality of outcome - which I don't honestly doubt - when that's the destructive potential we're actually really staring down the barrel of.

PJW continues:
He also explained that the simplistic socialist notion of caring for as many people as possible was very alluring for people who had an emotional view of humanity. 
Young people are “emotionally drawn to the ideals of socialism, say, or the left, because it draws its fundamental motivational source from a kind of primary compassion, and that is always there in human beings,” said Peterson.
Seriously? And people are not also emotionally drawn to classical mythology or biblical narratives? The kind Peterson specializes in teaching to his audiences? There's no emotional appeal there? There's no emotional appeal in right wing politics? There's no emotional appeal in alpha male hero worship, which we're being asked by the right to engage in, so as to look the other way as far as massive wealth inequality and abuses of power are concerned?

I'll grant the idea that the left should rely a bit less on emotional appeal and also be prepared to back itself up with, for lack of better terms, facts and logic, is one I think they'd do well to heed. The left has ceded too much to the right over the years to let them have facts and logic also. The tendency of a feminized left to rely on moral outrage to emotionally extort agreement from audiences has been catastrophic for progressives over the last several years. It's fed directly into the perception of the left as a cult of self righteousness and moral supremacy that's turned out to be a gold mine for reactionaries of all stripes.

Having said that, just why is it wrong to have an emotionally derived desire to care for the downtrodden and less fortunate in any event? Why are such sentiments bad? Were I Peterson, I'd be much more concerned with the lack of empathy for the poor and sick that I often see in right of center online spaces. Yes, social justice activism on the far left can drive self righteousness and dogmatism. But that's not what's being critiqued here.

This is exactly the kind of Petersonian double talk that David Pakman does such a good job of taking down here, where Pakman critiques an address delivered by Peterson at Liberty University, founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell to teach fundamentalist biblical ideas. Because I suppose those are the kinds of hosts you have when you're totally not a right winger:

I find it quite astounding that Peterson's attacks on the "postmodern left's" lack of respect and value for free speech gains applause in a "college" established by none other than Reverend Jerry Falwell, whose Moral Majority were calling for all kinds of censorship, ranging from metal music to table top role playing games and porn to anything deemed not sufficiently "Godly" back in the 1980s.

Is this what the anti-SJW free speech cultural libertarians have sunk to? The same whose criticisms of the regressive left not so long ago centered around just how like the religious right it was? Down the memory hole with that, I guess. We were never at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eastasia, by the sounds of things.

It's especially galling for Jordan Peterson to be this dumb. He's not an unintelligent man, when he's in his element, which is Jungian psychology and comparative mythology. Unless, of course, that's the plan here. Is a man whose area of expertise is the study of heroic mythology not creating a mythos of his own, with which to bind and cement the loyalty of a fan base?

From PJW's article:
Peterson also blamed the “unholy marriage of the postmodern nihilism with this Marxist utopian notion” for the breakdown in social and family unity, a process which has produced an “absolute catastrophe”
The foundation of every mythologized belief system is the creation of a bad guy. For the SJWs, it's the white male patriarchy. And for Peterson, it's "postmodern Marxism." Which are not complex philosophical views with deep and nuanced, sometimes flawed and sometimes insightful observations and theories, but rather simply EVIL! They hate the west and capitalism and success because ... well, because reasons. Or something. The same reasons that SJWs assert that conservatives and Trumpians just hate hate HATE black people and women. Because reasons.

And the reasons are that political mythologies begin with a villain. A dastardly "them" for "us" to fight if we're to be the heroes that our mythical systems cast us as. Every ideological system, my own included, does this.

It's unfortunate that a man of Peterson's true intellectual caliber has chosen to go down the path he has, and I honestly wonder if he's not taking Koch Bro's cash at this point? After all, it did more or less the same thing to Dave Rubin - turn him into a pseudo libertarian right wing shill who gets notoriously evasive and vague when his alleged "centrism" gets called out. Not that the left is without flaws or undeserving of criticism mind you, but as David Pakman puts it, don't say you're not a rightist when you are one.

What I try to do differently, what I urge those who follow me on social media to do differently is to base my political mythology in the material realities of today's world. While I wouldn't argue with Peterson in that Soviet communism was terrible, I'd also urge everyone to look deeper at where the appeal of revolutionary socialism might come from in this day and age. Why might millennials have a better view of socialism than of capitalism? Hmm ... I just don't know! What could it be?

Maybe it's growing up after the great recession? Maybe seeing the banks get bailed out while main street continues to languish? Maybe seeing a long term trend towards stagnant wages and structural unemployment alongside ever skyrocketing profits for a tiny few? Maybe not having health insurance, paying exorbitant prices for pharmaceuticals and premiums for health plans with high deductibles and co-pays to boot? Or being put in serious financial jeopardy by a $500 car repair bill, something that would merely be an inconvenience for someone like myself?

Maybe it's the fact that there's never money for college or basic infrastructure but always money for wars and high income tax cuts? Maybe seeing the benefits of trickle down economics not trickle down for year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation? Maybe it's knowing that they'll be damn lucky to even have a shot at working their way out of a cubicle and into a job with a median income, benefits and some semblance of job stability?

Could it be that?

NO! It's "Ignorance of history!" Which isn't entirely wrong, mind you. Plus, let's not pretend that a lot of anti-Trump hysteria coming from the mainstream left hasn't been prone to excess and hyperbole, to put it mildly. However, it's also ignorance of history when politicians and pundits don't look back on periods of economic downturn and instability - the great depression for instance, and witness an accompanying rise in interest in fascism and socialism. Even though the economy has improved somewhat since the great recession, the damage has been done.

What the hell did these online reactionaries think was going to happen? Not so long ago, after Trump won the White House, it was all the rage to attribute the Democrat's loss to how out of touch they were with the people they were supposed to be representing. About how stupid it was for dumb leftists to beat unemployed white males over the head with vague academic notions of power, privilege and patriarchy. And rightly so.

But too little time has passed for the right wing of the intellectual dark web to get a pass on making their own version of the exact same mistake. Lecturing millennials with limited job prospects, crushing student debt loads and who've seen every form of preferential treatment extended to the wealthy and corporations on the evils of socialism is, if anything, even stupider than lecturing the same for being privileged white males. Damn, you'd almost think the reactionary right and the regressive left were two sides of the same stupid coin, or something.

Who knows, maybe they are.

In the mean time, maybe the rooms that most need to be cleaned are in the White House, in Congress and the countless offices of defense industry contractors and corporate lobbyists in Washington DC. The dragon of chaos that threatens our culture is that of unregulated predatory global capitalism. It uses threats of investment strike and capital flight as its fiery breath, to extort tax free wealth and rock-bottom wages from the polity. And quite effectively. The handful of billionaires who own most of America's wealth have accumulated a hoard that would put even Smaug's piles of gold to shame.

Sooner or later, someone's going to have to slay that dragon. If a relatively reasonable and pragmatic social democrat steps into Bard the Bowman's role and takes up that black arrow in the near future, a bona-fide revolutionary socialist won't be the one to do it in another generation or two, or else the current oligarchical capitalism ends up going full iron heel, and democracy is ultimately and finally sacrificed on the altar of capital.

Absolute catastrophe indeed.

Also, view: The Problem with Jordan Peterson, also by David Pakman. A thoughtful and nuanced criticism, not an SJW smear comparing Peterson to Hitler, or the like.

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Monday, 1 April 2019

The Architect's Chamber

Why I Returned to the Left Years After Getting "Redpilled"

It's not uncommon these days to hear of people getting frustrated with the left and embracing conservatism. The whole #walkaway campaign, which trended in 2018 leading up to the mid term elections, were exemplary of this.

This is an easy idea to sympathize with, and the stories are remarkably similar. Someone grows frustrated with the cringy protest culture and attendant narcissistic LARPy behavior so prevalent in left activist communities and they decide they've had enough of it. Worse still are the very real stories of abuse and rampant sociopathology within tight knit activist communities, of which the late Mark Fisher's Exiting the Vampire Castle is such an archetypal example. It's hard to remain sympathetic to the left when professional activists a-la Black Lives Matter and Antifa reduce all politics to civil disobedience and treat absolutely every engagement they have with other people and society as a whole as if it were a direct action campaign.

Today their names are legion: Dave Rubin, Laci Green, Candace Owens, to name a few who saw the light on the right and embraced conservatism or libertarianism as if it were the new religion.

And it's not new - many prominent early neoconservatives were disillusioned leftists. Ronald Reagan once famously declared that he did not leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left him. Reagan Democrats were a segment of blue collar workers in rust belt states who shifted their allegiance to the G.O.P in the late 70s and through the 80s, resulting in Reagan's victories and an overall shift to the right in the political climate in that era. Many of these blue collar Democrats grew frustrated with the excessive anti-Americanism of the new Left and the excesses of far left groups like the Weather Underground.

Sound familiar?

It should. Make America Great Again was actually one of Reagan's campaign slogans, and there were widespread fears with Reagan then as with Trump now that he'd usher in an era of right wing authoritarianism. The religious right of Jerry Falwell stirred as many liberal fears then as the nationalist populism of Steve Bannon stirred much more recently. Swap out the new left for social justice warriors and the Weathermen with Antifa, and it becomes very apparent that though history may not repeat precisely - nobody would have accused Reagan of colluding with the Soviets, after all - it rhymes pretty damn well some times.

I understand why progressives lose faith and abandon the cause because I've been there. For me, it happened in the summer of 1998 after reading Warren Farrell's brilliant take down of feminism, The Myth of Male Power. In case you're not familiar with it, Farrell's work takes apart the idea that men have conspired to make everything so wonderful for themselves at women's expense, and asserts that the lot of most men throughout history has been powerlessness and disposability. Feminist claims to powerlessness and marginalization are contrasted with the realities of very real influence in corporate, academic and government bureaucracies in ways that should be familiar to any fan of much more recent figures such as Jordan Peterson or Sargon of Akkad.

Here's a thing about belief systems: once you lose faith in one part of it, the rest naturally and easily follows. At first I read more criticisms of feminism by authors like Christina Hoff Sommers, Camille Paglia and Daphne Patai. But from there I became what every alarmist Guardian article tries warning us about - reading Dinesh D'Sousa and Charles Murray on race issues and Robert Bork, among others, on the degeneration of society more generally. I'm sure I'd have been over the moon with Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern had they been going concerns back in those days. Jordan Peterson would have really struck a chord with me, back in the early 2000s when I gave up drinking via the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program. A short time after that, returning to college to major in business saw me devour the theories of Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises and Milton Friedman.

Quite a jump for someone who'd been an avid Marxist and subscriber to communist newsletters only a few years previously.

And this a year before the Wachowskis - they were brothers back then - ever introduced any of us to the concept of what the red pill actually was. There was no 4chan or reddit back then. No manosphere, no YouTube and Nick Land and Mencius Moldbug were years away from blogging ideas that would appear so quaint and familiar to me when I finally did see them, much more recently. Hans Herman Hoppe's Property and Freedom Society was still a few years away likewise. Sometimes I wonder how I would have turned out had I known about these thinkers?

I'd spent long conversations with coworkers who were deeply influenced by David Irving and the Institute for Historical Review. This was in the late 1990s, and while the likes of David Duke and Jared Taylor were even then trying to give white supremacy a postmodern makeover, Richard Spencer and 4chan were still years out. While reconciling with Hitler, antisemetic conspiracy theories and white supremacy never interested me, such ideas didn't offend me as they would have a few short years prior either, and I saw in them a kind of kindred spirit to my own disillusionment and turn against leftist identity politics. I saw nothing wrong with engaging them honestly and fairly, leastwise.

As such, the current propensity to see leftists as self righteous, closed minded zealots wasn't exactly news to me come 2014, when such observations finally became mainstream. When the name and concept of the SJW became mainstream by the mid 2010s, I was that irritating fellow who was telling everyone "I told you so" and "this is what I've been saying for years now."  In 2010 I stumbled upon a blog smaller then than this one is now, called Alternative Right, but by then it was too late.

Because by then, I'd seen through neoreaction as well. Not quite as dramatically as my loss of faith in postmodern college leftism, but every bit as substantially. The right wing was a scam. That'd become abundantly clear to me, beginning in the mid 2000s.

Why such a dramatic transformation a second time? Why return to the left when I'd abandoned it so thoroughly the first time?

Many catalysts. Perhaps the biggest one was that upon my graduation from college, I landed a job not in the corporate sector - which wouldn't touch a blue collar pleb like me no matter how educated I was - but in the unionized public sector. Being hired into a union that was seriously discussing job action caused a lot of what I thought I'd forgotten and left behind to come back. I faced the reality that my return to college after quitting drinking was owed as much to subsidized higher education and the subsidized cooperative housing I lived in as it had to any change of character by a means of a "higher power." The reality is that even if everyone had the most sterling, sober and Godly character and entrepreneurial spirit you could ever pray for, not to mention the cleanest rooms, there's only so much room in the corporate boardrooms of the nation, and sooner or later the well being of the rest of us has to become a material consideration.

While the right loves to dabble in "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" rhetoric, the ladders that did extend my way all came from the left. The lifelines that allowed the poor and destitute to rise into the middle class all had one name: Social Democracy. From there, it was simply a matter of going from denial into acceptance.

If Warren Farrell's Myth of Male Power was what red-pilled me, then reading Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America could be compared to the Architect's Chamber in the next movie, where Neo discovers that the cause he'd been working for and his own messianic role in that cause was every bit as much a part of the system of control he was fighting against as the machines and simulated reality were.

Western Civilization is in peril and privatization is your plan to save it?
You really are a special kind of dumb, aren't you?
In What's the Matter With Kansas are some passages that outline with poetic elegance precisely why the right can never deliver on its promises to restore personal and societal greatness and virtue. Frank put into words the doubts and frustrations I'd had been nursing about right wing thought into a single paragraph:
"The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining."
Here's another:
"There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard much about this aspect of the heartland. This kind of blight can’t be easily blamed on the usual suspects like government or counterculture or high-hat urban policy. The villain that did this to my home state wasn’t the Supreme Court or Lyndon Johnson, showering dollars on the poor or putting criminals back on the street. The culprit is the conservatives’ beloved free-market capitalism, a system that, at its most unrestrained, has little use for smalltown merchants or the agricultural system that supported the small towns in the first place...."
None of this way of looking at things was new. Karl Marx, so loathed by the paleocons and neoreactionaries, actually did a better job of explaining cultural and societal degeneration than anyone on the right ever could have, because he wasn't afraid to call out their own sacred cows. From the Manifesto of the Communist Party:
"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation."
In short, untrammeled capitalism and its constant revolutionizing of production does more than any other force to destroy the western civilization, Christian religion, the nuclear family and other social structures that good or bad, the reactionaries have devoted themselves to.

As such, I now shake my head when I see the devotees of Warren Farrell and Paul Elam become apologists for laissez faire capitalism, the economic system that sees so many men chewed up and spat out, injured and even killed on the job per year. When I see these same conservative men vote for war mongering right wing governments that in turn send so many young men home in body bags. When I see paranoid conspiracy theorists stockpile guns for use against tyrannical government - and then go vote for governments that roll back civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. When I see the opponents of mass immigration and multiculturalism calling for more, rather than less capitalism, and later wonder why they are indeed going through a "great replacement" at the hands of globalists? Could it be because 3rd world and migrant labour is cheaper? No, couldn't be!

I shake my head when I see reactionaries lament being banned from social media platforms that are owned by the very corporations they want to deregulate and give tax cuts to. When they grumble about liberal media and Hollywood "degeneracy" without considering that media and film production companies are corporations that are doing exactly what these same rightists insist corporations do: Prioritize the bottom line and maximize shareholder value, and so respond to market signals and seek to expand their markets by catering to untapped demographics, like women, minorities and foreign countries. When anti-feminists come out as pro capitalist and then wonder why society comes to value women more as workers and consumers, as competitors with men and careerists, not as wives and mothers.

Of course, I have not lost my disdain for those elements of "leftism" that do warrant it. College SJWs and much of the online activist community in particular. Mark Fisher's attack on the Vampire Castle should resonate with all of us. Real advocates of social justice would do well to consider that whichever marginalized people they've chosen to champion won't get liberation from the boardrooms and corporate media of the nation either.

However, for reasons best explained above, I see capitalism as part of the problem, not part of the solution. If SJWs promote a world view that defines privilege entirely in terms of race and gender rather than in terms of economics, and lays the very real problems suffered by women and people of color entirely at the feet of white males, we might want to ask ourselves who really benefits from that? Why would corporately owned media find such a world view agreeable? Why are elite colleges so much more rife with "social justice" fanaticism than colleges still accessible to the working and middle classes?

I abandoned the left because I became convinced that it was hostile to whites, males, Christians and western civilization in general. I later abandoned the right for the exact same reasons. I don't condone the left's cultural masochism and hold it to criticism. But the right presents a much greater threat to "the west" than any but the most stupid extreme left ever will.

The left has irritating and self absorbed postmodern college professors and student activists who will chant slogans against western civilization and pull down statues of "problematic" historical figures. The right has cynical politicians who'll oversee the export of industry and capital out of western nations. The left will import huge numbers of 3rd world people, some of whom don't like us very much. The right will engage in the kind of "regime change" and parasitic global capitalism that causes massive population destabilization in the 3rd world that drives them not to like us, but come here in droves anyway, in the first place. The left may hold the Christian churches to a criticism they're reluctant to subject Islam to. The right will mix religion with business and politics in precisely the way the gospels warned against, that truly undermines the moral credibility of the Christian churches and leaves them bereft of defenders. At the fringes, the right will even idealize Hitler: a man who loved the white race so much he started a war that left tens of millions of them dead, the European nations in ruins and their overseas empires financially untenable.

With friends like these ...

The left is deeply flawed, and would do well to engage in a lot less grandstanding and a lot more self reflection. They can't profess to represent "the people" when they refuse to engage people in honest dialogue. But make no mistake, a right wing that endeavors to preserve the culture, values and identity of the west while privatizing, deregulating and outsourcing its financial and industrial infrastructure will never offer anything better.

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Critical Theory - the Unlikely Conservatism

If "critical theory" is to be a useful and good thing, it needs to punch up, not down. This is a crux of social justice thinking. ...