I don’t usually do this. You may’ve noticed I like to pen very surgical little polemics. There was a time when I was far worse for grandiloquence, but eventually I learned that too much nuance loses people, so now I have the opposite problem: when your arguments are too stringent and direct, people pigeonhole you as some sort of counter-partisan.
A number of my polemics focus on the underlying psychology of fascism and anti-semitism, so (of course) many readers take me for a big Heeb; but my analysis of Judaism is no less withering.
Part of the intellectual freedom that online anonymity confers is that you don’t have to be consistent. You can change your mind and go through phases without having to account for every little thing you’ve ever said. That’s one reason why I’ve never made much effort to promote this blog. We all talk shit about e-celebs, but guys who roll the dice on self-doxxing at least deserve respect for pinning themselves down.
A little over a decade ago I was an undergrad, uncouth, pudgy, taking my coffee with sugar and cream, and I loved the Daily Show. One night at a party, I met a girl with long legs, big tits, and low self-esteem. We’d been together a year when she dumped me. I was devastated. That’s when I started getting in shape, and boy did I ever get in shape.
They say that bodybuilding inevitably makes you more right-wing. This is very true. I think the first little moment of clarity came the week the Trayvon Martin killing became national news. I’d only been working out a month at that point. I remember sitting with my housemates, flipping through the TV channels, and it was just wall-to-wall Trayvon. That was when all my leftist training (“media concentration,” Manufacturing Consent) kicked in, and the suspicion suddenly dawned on me that this story was being coordinated by all these networks for some purpose other than its newsworthiness.
A month or so later I was killing time one weekend evening in a Barnes & Noble when I decided to read a little Ron Paul. The chapter that caught my attention was where he graphically describes abortion from the perspective of a pro-life OB-GYN. His argument that the procedure is a homicide was just incontrovertible. This had never occurred to me and I became very emotional thinking about all the victims.
Not long after that I was on campus when a church group showed up in the quad with big anti-abortion placards featuring oversized pics of aborted babies. People were pointing and laughing at the dumb Christians. Suddenly I had this secret I was keeping from classmates who regarded me as a good liberal. My understanding of whose view was hegemonic flipped 180 degrees that day, when the Dean guest-lectured my history class with a slide-show of a trip he’d taken to Russia (and a smarmy, triumphalist commentary that treated the people he’d met there like zoo animals). Then the floor was opened to questions, and someone asked what was going to be done about the extremely offensive Christians in the quad. The Dean replied that they’d already been removed. “We decided that, you know, we all support free speech very strongly, but some things are just too much.” No one in the lecture hall seemed troubled by this.
At school I had a gay friend, Jackson, a grad-student in sociology. We met in a coffee shop downtown that was popular with students, where we mostly talked politics. He was an old-school faggot, a wry wit, kind of dapper and sub-rosa. The summer I moved to Denver he was staying with friends up in Missoula, and I drove there to meet him and hang out for a few days. Later in the year I gave him a call where I mentioned that I’d been listening to the radio host Michael Savage, whom I found amusing, almost like an Andy Kauffman bit. I hadn’t said I agreed with Michael Savage about anything, but Jackson was taken aback, and started getting quite hot under the collar. He was going to school to be an academic and fancied himself very Socratic, a bit of snideness you had to put up with in order to be friends with him. In the course of this phone call, he asked whether I thought the “power elite,” as he phrased it, was liberal or conservative. The whole conversation then turned on that question, and went downhill very fast. I didn’t yet have strong feelings about the issue, it just seemed obvious to me that the power elite was liberal, and that was how I answered. Jackson started blabbing very pedantically, about the Protestant country club and all this kind of horseshit, telling me that I couldn’t even know what the power elite was—because I hadn’t read C. Wright Mills. I just had to take his word for it. I very politely stuck to my guns. Jackson came so unhinged that I had to get off the phone abruptly. We never spoke again.
A little after that I fell down the alt-right rabbit hole, and my total change in perspective was complete.
From my background, this wasn’t entirely baseless. My mother’s people were nationalistic Anglo-Saxon country folk from the lower midwest. But when I was growing up, the men on my father’s side also had some extremely based opinions which were totally uncharacteristic of Jews. They had relatives in South Africa and hated Nelson Mandela. They supported the Serbs in the Bosnian civil war. They owned a lot of unregistered and “illegally” modified firearms and they hated Janet Reno because of Waco and Ruby Ridge, which they regarded from a Jewish lolbert perspective as analogous to Nazi heavy-handedness. They used racial epithets, including nigger. Any time we’d be out driving and pass some tattooed or dyed-haired freak walking down the street—something commonplace in a university town—my dad or my grandpa would point and say, “You see that there? That’s a moron. Total garbage. People like that are the lowest form of life. Don’t you ever do that to yourself.” When I was smoking pot as a teenager and my uncle took me aside to excoriate me for it, I told him it’s harmless and should not be illegal the way harder drugs were. His response was that at least those harder drugs will kill you, and that pot is for pussies. It’s been very disappointing to see these guys in their dotage, watching Jack Ryan and rolling up their sleeves like faggots for that fake vaccine.
As a rebellious teenager, I became very left-radical. I partied with with a lot of fellow shitheads. My nagging conscience always told me this scene was ugly, but I was functioning within a totally inverted ontology with no mental escape hatch, awash as I was in the whole stale bacchanalia of a hipster university town where judgmentality was simply unthinkable and the bourgeoisie had fewer moral convictions than the street element. The only sin was intolerance and judgmentality. The whole underlying psychology of puritanism had simply reversed itself in my parents and teachers, such that sternness and setting boundaries was sinful, and actual crime was not.
Years later, after returning to my hometown in my mid-twenties, kicking my various drug habits and (after that fateful break-up) getting in shape, I began to see this system not simply as having its inner contradictions, but as something rotten from root to branch. Everything it celebrated and condoned was essentially degrading. Housemates who smoked pot and cigarettes suddenly disgusted me utterly. Local heads whose personalities were all based on hipster trivia and body art appeared frivolous and small. People whose opinions had mattered to me became these contemptible little worms.
I knew guys who worked for their dads’ businesses and smoked pot every day; guys who spent every weekend aimlessly in bars for years at a stretch; or who made it a titillating little habit to just fuck for the sake of fucking. One of these guys, a whiteboy tile-layer who was strung out every other year, once told me, “I’d rather nut on a bitch than in a bitch.” That’s how thoroughly this person had been perverted by rap music and pornography. There was a whole burgeoning demographic of sexless, unhygienic university bluehairs with soft science or art degrees—to go to a bar or house party was to encounter this cookie-cutter person ad nauseam. I knew slack-jawed surfers growing pot for a living in their late twenties, living at home and rolling around in the same SUVs their parents bought for them in high school. The one thing everyone had in common, even the ones (like that tile layer) with a bit of vigor and testosterone who’d grown up poorer, was their ready, unthinking assent to hedonism and tolerance, which was the whole premise of the culture in the Bay Area: that being vocal about your personal boundaries was sinful. There was a pervasive preference for passive aggression, because to assert yourself like a man required you to (God forbid!) make judgments about other people. I’m all for minding my own business, but to agree not to make judgments about others is self-imposed mental tyranny. It’s essentially saying, by default, that you have to like everybody’s shit and approve of it.
Pumping iron and running long distances became this silent but salient rebuke to all that. Old friends looked at me completely different. I was above them in the clearest and most fundamental way. It was very liberating. A year later I moved across the country, finished college, married a beautiful girl, and had kids. I worked for a few years, then went to law school. Throughout that period, through this blog, I became a kind of minor, critical gadfly on the alt-right—I’ve punched right as often as not. But in spite of this, the alt-right has been incredibly cathartic for me, affirming my sense of just how deep the rot of tolerance and inclusivity goes, and of the need for sternness—and ridicule—in its place.