Category Archives: Alt-Rightgeist

About that Zyklon, B

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Not Antifa

Cowardice is failure to rise to the occasion. It happens to the best of us; it happens to the worst of us. Hiding behind an avatar and a screen name while blithely applauding the misfortunes of anonymous strangers, however—or wishing misfortune upon them—is lower than cowardice. True, I’m hiding behind an avatar myself, but I’ve got mouths to feed, and I’m not trolling anybody.

I’ve been heavily engaged with alt-right ideas for about five years now. Obviously, and like anything else nowadays, elements of this movement may be controlled opposition, but there’s a certain incredulousness to it as well, and the whole thing seems to portend societal breakdown in ways that are mostly unprecedented in living memory. The alt-right has certainly shed welcome light upon taboo ideas—more often its truths and not its falsehoods are what prove jarring to detractors, and that says a lot. But if the unhinged malice that’s plain to see online among the alt-right rank-and-file were ever to be transmogrified into real world behavior, it would have to be violently discouraged—at least by the likes of this here half-breed, no matter how legitimate the underpinning grievances are. Because I worship the God of the motherfucking Hebrews, and you don’t have to like me.

Speaking of grievances, I defy anyone on the alt-right to read my oeuvre and tell me I’m anti-white or, indeed, that I’m not pro-white; that I defend Jews reflexively or indiscriminately; that I’m in favor of Israeli dependence on US lucre, or of any other unfair transfer of goyische resources into the hands of bnei yisrael; that the respect I show to what is sacred to others of any faith is less than the respect I would ask that others show to mine; that I mischaracterize counter-arguments; that I sympathize one iota with the forces of sexual degeneracy or economic exploitation, or that I am insufficiently vociferous in my support for freedom of conscience and expression. But the alt-right only wants those things for itself—no sensible man would rather be a dissident under a fascist regime than under the present American oligarchy, and alt-right talk about distancing the movement from Blues Brothers-grade Nazism is just that: talk.

There is much of the alt-right worldview that I’ll readily concede. Nevertheless, in aggregate the alt-right is plainly a ressentiment rabble, and the fact is, ninety-nine percent of online political discourse is just lurid entertainment anyway. I like mental exercise as much as the next man, but how much of this shit has anything to do with putting food on the table? You have to be bored out of your gourd and rather empty as a person to want to take political yippity-yap to the next level.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with racism prima facie as a worldview—the idea that there are innate, heritable racial differences and disparities that precede culture and are relevant in social relations. I’m not sure there’s really anyone who doesn’t believe this on some level. So if your skin’s thicker than papier mache you’ve got no excuse for being averse to expressions of racism that aren’t wholly malicious and intended to provoke superfluous violence. The funnier or more well-reasoned, the better, of course. In the famous words of Thomas Jefferson, “There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world.” It is possible for a false narrative to simply be a snippet of truth, framed or decontextualized. But if it’s 100-proof, I say bring it on.

Political anti-Semitism, on the other hand, tends first of all to manifest in the form of prosecutorial briefs (framed) and litanies (decontextualized) worked up to a frothy lather (dopamine), the logic of which veers unmistakably toward physical aggression, so much so that any political anti-Semite who disavows a violent solution is probably either not serious about his ideas, or is being disingenuous about what he’d like to have happen. The conviction that the Jews in toto are the perennial antagonist in world affairs begs the question of what is to be done, and the answers tend to narrow themselves down considerably. So when you view the arrival at this conclusion as fundamental to fully informed civic engagement, you’re putting a target on my back. And you don’t fuckin’ know me. And one of the reasons you don’t know me is because I’ve never done you any harm. But I can, if you’d like.

Now, if you’re some anonymous person out clickity-clacking on the internet, the harm that is liable to accrue to me from your activities is negligible. But over time and in the aggregate, this may not always be the case. If so, you can certainly congratulate yourself for having an impact, and bask a bit in the glory of being a part of something bigger than yourself. You may indeed be part of a thousands-deep movement that’s making its way into the streets and winning scuffles with body-positive Antifa androgynes, but that does me no harm and (unless you’re one of the retweet-counting, shekel-grubbing attention whores leading the movement) it does you no good. So as long as you’re feeling smug about expending energy to make yourselves known in this manner, you’ll get no objection from me. Hell, I’ll fight for your right to assemble and have your say non-violently. If you’re attacked, by all means, defend yourselves—I don’t care against whom. But every one of those “kikes to the gas” comment threads that sticks in my craw is a chicken that’ll be home to roost the minute you ask for it in the real world. Because I’ve been there.

Specters of the Pedantic

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Not good enough

“Where is the life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T.S. Eliot, Choruses from the Rock

“Mystical explanations are considered profound; the truth is they aren’t even superficial.” Nietzsche, Google, cherry-picked just now

Life is short, and Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas is long. However, I did have the recent good fortune of hearing a one-hour podcast interview of Jorjani with Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice Radio, and the discussion was substantive enough to respond to.

There are three prongs to Jorjani’s thesis: a prediction about the future, a conjecture about the past, and an inference from ancient lore that kind of ties the first two together. He also makes extensive use of the term spectral to mean three things: the impending supersession of the Cartesian paradigm (and a blurring of the binary distinctions implied in it) by a more “spectral” episteme; the specter, or psychic dread, of the kind of protean trans-humanism this paradigm shift will give way to; and the daemonic forces or “specters” at the root of it all.

According to Jorjani, humanity stands on the precipice of a spectral revolution centered around ongoing scientific discoveries of clairvoyance and telekinesis. He gives an overview of the research in this area since the 19th century (by William James, the CIA, the Pentagon, Princeton’s Global Consciousness Project, and the Stanford Research Institute, among others), and poses the question of why it hasn’t already resulted in a spectral revolution.

Of course, there’s more than one possible reason, chief among them that the implications of this research aren’t all that Jorjani cracks them up to be. But the only possibility he concedes is the old Foucaultian Kool Aid, i.e., “the inextricability of systems of knowledge from structures of power.” We’re supposed to believe these spooky avenues of inquiry pursued for decades at a stretch and largely in secret by some of the most august personages and lavishly funded institutions in the country represent a threat to the powers that be. Well, so did the atom bomb, and we know who got first dibs.

Granted, the revolution Jorjani anticipates would reorder the exercise of political power as we know it, for as he explains, clairvoyance would threaten to obliterate privacy and secrecy, and the ability to foresee events would alter their manifestation. But Jorjani believes the spectral revolution will alter the order of power as well. How these capabilities will slip the grasp of present elites, who are obviously best positioned to cultivate them, he doesn’t make clear, but his estimation of their research is pretty credulous.

That isn’t to say there are no extrasensory phenomena (though the production of ectoplasm Jorjani cites is real a knee-slapper, especially if you’re a South Park fan) nor to deny that they may manifest from clairvoyant or telekinetic faculties that are latent in us, and around us. It just isn’t clear how these forces might be cultivated to the point of reliable application, benefit and malleability, without some equal and opposite pitfall arising. But if they can be, clearly the human type this will most empower is the one that is least restrained by conscience, just as psychological tactics are most effectively employed today by the least scrupulous sorts.

Jorjani is unperturbed by this, seeing his spectral revolution as the Nietzschean becoming of who we are. He describes the world our primeval forbears experienced as one of intrinsically meaningful things in places, rather than deconstructible objects in a grid of space-time, but this is not the sharp distinction he takes it for, nor is it less true today, at least not for the minimally astute and spirited (fewer and fewer of those nowadays, I’ll admit—perhaps the category doesn’t include intellectuals.) Besides, binary distinctions get made viscerally all the time, quite in spite of the wall of abstraction—so how would we experience meaning without them?

Indeed, Jorjani references the apparent extrasensory faculties of animals and primitive man and conflates them with the psychical abilities he foresees being refined in us, describing them as technologies. This is where his term spectral may be particularly apt. Whereas technology is commonly thought to proceed from scientific theory, Jorjani sees the latter as a way of describing and rationalizing the order we already impose on the world with our technological endeavors, and he characterizes man (whose tendency is to impose this order on the natural world, augmenting his organic abilities by developing tools and techniques) as an inherently technological creature. Thus, according to Jorjani, technology itself, as something “more fundamental than science,” isn’t the real culprit in the attenuation of our primeval awareness, but the means by which this attenuation will be overcome and our latent powers of clairvoyance and telekinesis more fully actualized.

He then asserts flatly that there is no theoretical model that can accommodate the data on these phenomena, and that what this tells us is that scientific theory itself is a mere cognitive frame. Can this be so in all cases? Are there no degrees? If not, what would that make the “spectral revolution” itself but theatrical, postmodern luft?

But while this line of reasoning may be high-flown, in a way it doesn’t go far enough. In other words, if scientific theory invariably represents a mere cognitive frame, what species of knowledge, perception, and interaction with nature does not? Because there’s an obvious party (famously arraigned by Nietzsche) to the attenuation of our extrasensory instincts that’s missing from his consideration, namely language—the scarcely perceptible secondary categorization of the things we perceive. The most Jorjani says in this connection is that it’s possible some black swan such as a neurologic mutation took place in the fog of prehistory to attenuate our extrasensory faculties, but this would seem to call for less, not greater certitude about who we really are. It also suggests a sharp technical/pre-technical binary, and in any case it can’t be linguistic because even primitive tribes who still possess extrasensory faculties have language. (Jorjani relates a fascinating anecdote from British explorers about the clairvoyant abilities of South Seas aboriginals that’s too long to recapitulate here; my point is, these aborigines could also talk.)

Yet the characterization of man as a technological creature would serve to qualify language as a technology the way Jorjani uses the word—the refined outgrowth of some innate faculty, which we use to reorder nature and alter perception. Again, this complicates the picture of how we arrive at the kind of advancement Jorjani is predicting, given the fact that in many ways, instinct appears to be sharpest among the least intellectually developed communities of modern people. That’s why the bourgeoisie avoids the hood, right? And the aboriginals.

Jorjani’s thesis itself is spectral as well in another way he neglects to mention. That is its congruence with the symbology of secret societies and the prognostications of tech oligarchs like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and (especially) Ray Kurzweil. Of course, there will be a who and a whom: the political power that eminent technological breakthroughs are liable to impart—whatever they turn out to be—will not be wielded fairly, nor equally by all; not even close. At least Jorjani dispenses with this pretense, for while there’s a great deal of variance to these kinds of projections, Jorjani himself claims to stand at odds with the usual ideological commitments (i.e., liberal-democratic) professed by those who tend to make them (he has actually called himself a national socialist.) So on the surface, his thesis is less depressing than theirs, devoid of paternalistic public policy pablum, appealing instead to inner, organic sources of power as opposed to strictly outward, mechanistic ones. But on reflection, the world that Jorjani anticipates is as stripped of mystery and as dreadful in its utopian hubris as The Singularity, for what they both have in common is amorality.

This brings us to Jorjani’s take on comparative religions, daemons and his “specters of the titanic.” In short, he’s both a Zoroastrian and a Luciferian, claiming that Ahura Mazda, the titan Prometheus and the snake in the Garden of Eden all represent the light of knowledge and our consequent empowerment as a species that the Olympians, the jealous Old Testament God and sticklers for the Cartesian paradigm all wish to deny us. How Zoroastrianism of all things proposes to propel us beyond binaries is beyond my meager familiarity with the subject, but the notion of ever-expanding progress and improvement sounds awfully fatiguing and looks an awful lot like self-help charlatanry, or like tikkun olam, which is to say, carte blanche. At any rate, Jorjani’s is an incredibly superficial reading of the Old Testament.

Ironically, monotheism itself is spectral in that it obliterates sharp distinctions between spiritual forces. Sites, symbols, saints—nothing is truly sacred but the one. This conviction is at the root of Atenism, of Jewish aloofness from the classical world, of Islamic and Protestant aniconism, as well as the message that Christian missionaries imported throughout Europe in the early middle ages. To be sure, these are all legacies of intellectual repression, but also certain important advances, and the authors of the Hebrew Bible (who cherry-picked a lot from the pagan cultures around them) may not have subscribed so strictly to such a leveling ethos. Indeed, if we read a bit of tongue-in-cheek into Genesis—and recall in true pagan fashion that an act of creation is also an act of destructionGod seems to be flawed in quite the same way that man is. This is what the snake represents in the creation story. If man is punished by God for defiance, that’s because it takes one to know one. We’re created in His image, after all, and if the snake is analogous to Prometheus, it would otherwise be curious that in the Greek version we’d have been created in the latter’s image. But God’s Will is compromised in much the same way that ours is; it’s an act of negotiation with us. That’s why Abraham walks before God, and why Prometheus is able to challenge Zeus at all. This is in fact far less restrictive than Jorjani’s take gives it credit for. These stories aren’t vindictive admonishments, they’re take-it-or-leave-it illustrations of the ironclad human condition.

So the message of Genesis is not that exertion of the will or the pursuit of knowledge are wicked, but that they’re tempered by nature, because the ineluctable pull that novelty exerts on the human psyche lends itself to hubris and destruction. If Eden is not suited to our inclinations, neither is Babel hospitable to our constitution. One can even argue that the Bible is in favor of the cultivation of human intellectual capabilities, to which its God gives His blessing. Again, if we avoid reading Genesis too literally, we can see that Jacob, as Prometheus was to the Greeks, is the archetype of foresight, which Genesis portrays as key to human striving (as Jacob strives with an Angel and extracts a blessing) and a fundamental element that distinguishes reflective man from reflexive brute as represented by the archetype of Esau (and from sheer control-freak avarice as represented by Laban in the same several chapters of Genesis.)

Jorjani, on the other hand, holds up Drs. Faustus and Frankenstein as representative of the Promethean struggle for enlightenment. Once this struggle is won, then what? Wasn’t it Goethe himself who said that happiness consists in facing and overcoming difficulties? In any case, this would be an odd kind of enlightenment to extol, because Faust loses his mind and then begs for God’s forgiveness, and Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is repulsively deformed. It will be interesting to find out whether Jorjani addresses these inconsistencies in his book, but in the podcast they seem to elude his awareness.

Those who cast doubt on the possibility of knowledge due to its alleged inextricability from power dynamics seem to always view those dynamics as fixed, the antagonists perennial. For the postmodern left, this means the forces of goyische Ward Cleaver and Cecil Rhodes arrayed against hapless Emmett Till and Lenny Bruce (or something.) Jorjani inverts this dominant paradigm—pointing to the fact that Prometheus was chained by Zeus to a Caucasus mountain—to make his case that Prometheus is the god of the Caucasians, i.e., the Nordic races most in need (due to environmental exigencies) of fire, who’ve made the greatest intellectual and technological leaps lo these past several millennia. Of course, Greece, Italy and Persia aren’t the snowiest lands, and while the suggestion that the disproportionately Semitic forces of ressentiment and priestliness represent the perennial adversary of enlightenment is certainly truer to Nietzsche than the postmodern left, it’s equally oversimplified, and woefully….. binary. So it doesn’t seem to me that Jorjani is denying the possibility of knowledge; rather, he’s claiming that knowledge as we know it is abstract, and that the genuine article is being denied to us. This is a terribly low estimation of man and his present abilities.

Ironically (for someone so power hungry), Jorjani himself looks as though he’s never been punched, but sounds like he needs to be, his lithe, Dennis the Menace countenance emitting a nasally voice with a smarmy, pedantic inflection. I don’t say this to be mean spirited, but in the spirit of Tyler Durden. That a wheezy, narrow-chested academic with a balled-up sphincter would be an incubator of the Nietzschean actually makes perfect sense. Brilliant though he was, when reading Nietzsche it gives crucial context to recall that the man was a sexually maladjusted autist. Someone strong and self-assured could never call man “a laughingstock and a painful embarrassment,” but neither do school shooter types revel in themselves, they only anticipate doing so. So I’m not interested in becoming who I am, I’m interested in being who I am. If as a species we’re well on our way to anything like Jorjani’s spectral revolution, it’s because the vindictive fantasies of software developer nebbishes and pencil-necked money shufflers are precisely the architecture of our post-meta-narrative, post-binary, peeping Tom corporatocracy. At least the Nazis put real skin in the game.

Jumping the Great Whitegeist: the Alt-Right Viewed from the Right

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“You guys feel like going for frozen yogurt?”

“The goyim know?” Bitch, please. Naming is the origin of all particular things, the medium is the message, and—as yours truly predicted—the alt-right is looking a little overcooked nowadays. Yes, thought trends have a life of their own, but brands are destined for tombstones.

The simple fact is, the alt-right is slave morality, and sooner or later, everyone gets tired of listening to bitching and moaning. Other than that, what does the alt-right offer its prospective constituency? Shits and giggles. Circle jerking. Bupkis. The conviction that bloviating is tantamount to action is a peculiar, late-20th century misapprehension, precisely the plush-doll American dream that Occupy Bernie and the alt-right both thought they were rejecting. Onward! The affairs of strangers must be meddled in. I’m all for realism (and vigilantism) in the face of swarthy Idiocracy, but…. an “ethnostate”? How very postmodern. Will there be spandex cycling shorts and fair-trade organic light roast for all us “conquerors and crusaders”? And how, exactly, does getting arrested and bricks thrown at you by Antifa harm (how does it not help) the plutocracy, the MSM, SPLC, “und so weiter”? I know, I know, Never doubt that a small, full-retard vanguard can change the world, and I wish you the best of luck. Come at me personally with that febrile Jewology you like to horrify nursing home yentas with on the Forward comments section and I’ll give your plebeian ass a Greco-Roman colonoscopy like I was Meyer Lansky. But hey, Richard Spencer says it’ll help you get your ideas out, right?

Don’t get me wrong—Spencer’s incisive, he’s got pluck, and neofascism is an overdue rejoinder to the empiricist hubris, intellectual courtesanship and mercenary behaviorism of TED Talk America. The Aryan race is indeed on the ropes, and I quite agree that this is a catastrophe. It’s just that (1) I don’t pick who gets a Darwin award, and (2) as a political program, the alt-right jumps the shark. To wit,

I asked [Spencer] whether I, as someone who is half-Chinese but had a classical Western education, would fit within his group… “I’m a generous guy,” he told me. “If you truly identify with our people, I would not have any problem with that.” But there were genetic deal breakers. “A full-blooded African, no matter how wonderful he might be—I’m not sure that would really work.” (Graeme Wood, Atlantic Monthly, June 2017)

How’s that for “freedom of association“? The pompousness here is far worse than the bigotry. It may be half-joking, but it can never be more than half-serious.

But to its credit, until just before the election the alt-right was the last bastion of real, uncöopted social satire. I mean, what’s less relevant today than SNL? Lately the dominant, left-liberal paradigm begets only humorless ideological directives and “validation” of skin-crawling peccadillos. Like aging pop-stars, Saudi oil-wells and boomer entitlements, the legacy media is an obsolete investment being defended with increasing shamelessness:

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Even its Silicon Valley supersessionist heirs (whom you’d think would display more independence of thought, Lord knows they’ve got the requisite leverage) cling to its mid-20th century CFR ideological commitments, such that criminal syndicates that reject the premise get more leeway than political opponents who accept it:

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Under the spreading chestnut tree….

Speaking of Vice, myriad popular online outlets affect a cutting-edge veneer these days, but a good general rule is that the more lurid and higher-budget the content, the more wholly owned are its producers by the planetary managerial class. The biggest backers of Vice, for instance, are BofA, Disney, George Soros and Rupert Murdoch. This brackish scene deserves the vilest ridicule, the most acerbic satirization, but there’d be no funding for that, for the same reason nobody ever invades Switzerland. The powerless don’t leverage power, it leverages them, and all the penny-ante social media antics in the world won’t get the alt-right’s fingers unstuck from the pearly gates of the Big Time.

Which is too bad, because some of the most incisive, iconoclastic shit I’ve read or heard in my life was spoken at NPI conferences or published on Radix Journal circa pre-Trump. When the point was to express these ideas (not just expand the audience for them), they were exhilarating. Now that the antiseptic media klieg lights have warmed the alt-right’s obligingly exposed butt cheeks, the fact can’t be concealed that vindictive, half-witted, pathos-laden language (not to mention dry, committee-meeting type knit-picking about activist strategies and doctrinal purity) is rife on Counter-Currents, Radix, TRS, Red Ice and Occidental, and this click-hungry humorlessness has diffused throughout the alt-right punchbowl as the imperative to justify itself to outsiders eclipses insider ribaldry. So what portends the Kali Yuga is not Jews or loose women, it is you, i.e., the inexorable pull that novelty and power exert upon the human psyche, which is why Evola’s advice was to ride the tiger, not stick your head in its mouth.

How sad to be peddling an ethos of order, hierarchy and opposition to commercial vulgarity in the .25 cents’ admission Imagination Land of new media, only to get mere first world pushback as they traffic in ideologies that really punished thought-crime. Now that they’ve had their fifteen minutes, the little D-list leadership will spend the rest of their lives panhandling like a one-hit wonder performing at an Indian casino, “Remember me? Just ten grand more to meet our goals this season.” Even Milo was writing interesting columns as recently as 2015, before the Twitter ban and his election year transition to full-time attention-whoring. Spencer’s criticisms of him are apt, and blissfully un-self-conscious.

So the problem with the 2016 NPI conference wasn’t the menace or poor taste of the coy sieg heiling, it was the quivering bunghole that compliments the kind of toast Spencer delivered. I mean, “Children of the Sun”? That’s what the Times was calling a Nuremberg rally? Sounds more like a Maya Angelou quote over a stock photo. Children of the fucking sun, why not “God’s Chosen People”? Take it from a tribesman, with that approach you’re going to be doing an awful lot of becoming, without ever being much of anything.

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“Hail Trump! Hail our People! Hail victory!”

The fact that the bourgeois American WASP is an over-socialized, emotionally sterile cardboard cutout who masochistically enjoyed deferring this past seventy years to comparatively dysfunctional cultures that have a little more cut-loose panache than his own is as little discussed on the alt-right as Germany’s no-go zones are on MSNBC—though Spencer has acknowledged it, calling it “the white problem.” But to suppose Trump will arrest these developments significantly is pitifully gullible optimism. As Spencer told some pie-faced yenta at Rolling Stone, “I think we’ve leveraged ourselves in an incredible way, but at some point we need to cross the Rubicon and have a footprint.” Translation: OMG, this might even lead to an internship. In a duck costume. At a mall kiosk. For (in the words of the great Marshall McLuhan) when you gaze long into the Facebook, the Facebook gazes also into you.

Power Lunch

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Let them eat hugely important topics

Media coverage of the alt-right has been profuse in the wake of the recent election. Based on the near-uniform reporting in mainstream outlets, it appears as though journalists covering the phenomenon have little prior familiarity with it. Normies affronted for the first time in generations with a resurgent far-right and a critical mass of unapologetic white racial consciousness originating—no less—with millennials savvily harnessing new media, evince not a little sputtering cognitive dissonance.

Maybe they’re right that this is all just a fresh face on fascism. But if so, such repackaging is not so much a subterfuge on the part of alt-righters, but the peculiar ambiance of the times that have given the alt-right momentum. Either way, one reason we keep hearing that there’s nothing novel about the alt-right is because media and academic conformists simply have no ready vocabulary to describe it that’s worthy of its novelty and moment. If the left-liberal hegemony of late-modern Americanism fails to suppress and supersede this new development, it will be because its pundits and cogitators failed to grasp its implications.

Of all the commentary I’ve seen in any mainstream publication, Atlantic editor David Frum’s comes closest (while failing) to treating the alt-right with any real depth or dispassion:

Over the past two decades, Americans have constructed systems of intellectual silencing that stifle the range of debate among responsible and public-spirited people. They’ve resigned hugely important topics to the domain of cranks and haters. If the only people who’ll talk about the risks and costs of a more diverse society are fascists, then the fascists will gain an audience.

A better way to put it might be, ‘If anyone who ever talks about the risks and costs of a more diverse society gets peremptorily maligned as a fascist in publications like the Atlantic, then anyone who speaks of such things will be a fascist according to the Atlantic which—not incidentally—is now a blog.’ But whaddoo I know? I’m not the editor of the Atlantic.

Obviously, David Frum cannot be arraigned individually on this charge he so richly levels at Americans as a whole, but his CV would seem to indict him quite a ways ahead of most others. What we have here is the unintentional concession from a ranking establishment figure, that public discourse in America is a consensus environment subject to peculiar ideological controls.

But whether ‘we’ or David Frum, or whomever, enable so-called cranks and haters to have a voice is much less interesting a question than whether those cranks and haters are saying anything true and worth hearing. Either Frum takes issue with the message regardless of the messengers, or there’s no need to peremptorily tar anyone as a crank and a hater. Even Frum acknowledges that the alt-right is responding to something. For those unbeholden to the interests he represents, a more interesting approach would be to ask whether other—cogent and visceral—interests are threatened, that the alt-right is advocating for. If so, then you’ve got to figure those interests, being prime targets of ‘systems of intellectual silencing,’ had rather not be serviced by the scarcely-chastened likes of David Frum.

The counter-revolution will not be internetized

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Vanguard of the breadline

Is there anything more transfixing than the lurid, sadistic hubbub in this degenerating land of naked opportunism? If the disgraceful Bernie Sanders stands as proof of far-left futility and co-optation, the alternative right stands for outright rejection of the eyeless smile that is reigning, late-modern Americanism—which is kind of like Emerson devolved to Dr. Phil and Dale Carnegie applied by Curtis Lemay.

What recommends the alt-right is that its targets and detractors are rattled more by its truths than by its falsehoods. Like the fish who in David Foster Wallace’s retelling inquires of his companion, “What the hell is water?”, Americanism’s acolytes carry no party card that they’re aware of. So the alt-right is a genuine red-pill, an unflinching gaze into the post-American abyss. But by giving it its moment, Hillary (who feeds as voraciously on the exsanguinated phantom of flyover fascism as she does upon the stem cells forfending her convalescence) unwittingly plunged the knife in and twisted: naming is the origin of all particular things, and after summer must come autumn. But until the cognitive dissonance of WNs jockeying for publicity at the trough of common denominator discourse asserts itself, their Apostle to the Gentiles will always be Milo.

Richard Spencer has obviously been reading his James Howard Kunstler. If the Kali Yuga is inexorable, why take such pains to subvert the uninspiring dominant paradigm when we could be digging cisterns? As noted here before, there is of course the possibility of managed opposition, witting or un-. That genuinely galvanizing subversion might emerge from the exertions of a grad-school activist peddling online “identity” as he eagerly bottom-feeds for awareness-raising coverage is no less conceivable than, say, a vindictive art school reject conquering half of Europe. Problem is, however potent a tool, however wide it opens epistemic horizons, other than bringing people together in spite of cultural differences what the internet excels at is keeping us all off the streets. Counter-intuitively, this is advantageous for the alt-right, at least in the short term, because the alienation of willing participants (i.e., device-symbiotic telecom consumers) expressed within the ostensibly manageable confines of interactive media platforms cannot simply be excised like Randy Weaver or selectively arraigned like the Ron Paul newsletters.

But while racism may be the Emmanuel Goldstein of the Trayvon administration, it doesn’t follow that race is everythingas Spencer has come close to postulating. What do I care about FBI crime stats when the Percocet addict casing houses on my block is a peckerwood, and the sassy black lady posting black power memes to Facebook is a good neighbor? So the zeitgeist shift is welcome, until it goes full retard.

What is the alt-right really aiming at, anyway? At some point, changing the national conversation is just busywork, but an ethnostate is a tall order when the status quo is liveable and even luxe. When it no longer is, me clinging to my guns, religion and antipathy will not be a committee decision. Meanwhile, what good is subversion of the dominant paradigm if you remain a supplicant for corn pone? Better to buy a seed bank and an Alex Jones water filter while UPS is still delivering.

In any case, the initial burst of these phenomena always gives way to staleness, and power is always crepuscular. Assuming (for the near-term) that her handlers somehow prove incapable of outlawing thoughtcrime—a project you’d better believe is in R&D—at this point only an HRC administration can extend the shelf life of the alt-right’s liberatingly mischievous confrontation with late-modern Americanism. Because—if the God-Emperor frog memes are any indication—a President Trump will almost certainly disappoint. It’s enough to make you nostalgic for the Austrian corporal. The counter-revolution will not be internetized.

One God, no Masters

04arouchlarge

Don’t ever stop throwing punches

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. (Luke 19:27)

But the rest of the world they confront with a contempt reserved for enemies.                                   (Tacitus, Histories 5:2-5)

‘Tis the season of Mars retrograde reactionary chic. I have only one horse in this manger and he most assuredly is not the messiah.

The Jewish sojourn lo these past couple millennia is ironic in that it mirrors the Gospel themes of stripes, stigmata, and resurrection. But while many an archetype has been cast in legend or approximated by a given personage in history, and while every nation has its spirits, gods and peculiarities, it’s rare for a literary archetype to be embodied in an entire people.

The alleged inimicality of Judaism or the Semitic spirit, on the one hand, and the Aryan or aristocratic spirit on the other, is a long-established cliché. Nietzsche called it master versus slave morality; Spengler described the Western as opposed to the Magian cultures. Conservative Catholic apologists still ascribe the insurrectionary personality of Barabbas to the Jewish people as a whole—instead prescribing Christ-like meekness (or torture, as necessary—and they’re right. I myself would indubitably have preferred Barabbas). Evola juxtaposed the emphasis on penitence and mortification inherent in primitive Semitic and Babylonian traditions with the crucible of knighthood he identified as embodying their Indo-Aryan counterpart.

But just how far are Judaism and yiddishkeit removed from the “world of Tradition” as Evola conceived it? Are the Jews merely the bearers of a fossilized culture, as Arnold Toynbee suggested? Or are we vectors of dissolutive modernity, its materialism and revolutionary ferment? If it’s the latter, this would be a sort of revenge of the nerds: the intelligentsia are the villains in any good critique of modernity. In The Cherry Tree, Chekhov even gave his ruined old nobles a sendoff by a “Jewish orchestra.”

Well, no one will deny that the Jews are a clever bunch, given to smarting disdainfully under every kind of regime—behavior that can’t be all that incidental to the biblical narrative of slave revolt. And I’ll buy the theory that yiddishkeit has a lot to do with contrarianism (“a stiff-necked people”). But envy, rebellion and cyclical decay of the social order are deeply human universals, so how specifically do the Jews factor into the erosion of the “world of tradition” and the onset of vapid, discombobulated modernity?

According to Nietzsche,

the Jews achieved that miracle of inversion of values thanks to which life on earth has for a couple millennia acquired a new and dangerous fascination—their prophets fused ‘rich’, ‘godless’, ‘evil’, ‘violent’, ‘sensual’ into one and were the first to coin the word ‘world’ as a term of infamy. It is this inversion of values (with which is involved the employment of the word for ‘poor’ as a synonym for ‘holy’ and ‘friend’) that the significance of the Jewish people resides: with them there begins the slave revolt in morals.

But which Jews are these? The Essenes, or the zealots? Of course we know which of these the Romans co-opted, and which they repressed.

When reading Nietzsche it provides crucial context to recall that he contracted his syphilis from a boy hireling. So did the Jews despise hellenistic bacchanalia because they hated life, or because they wanted to live? Did turn-of-the-millennium Jews despise wealth for it’s own sake? Of course not: they were being taxed to starvation by quislings—the Parable of the Ten Minas is not a nod to the poor, the humble or the meek, either it’s a public service reminder to pay your taxes and keep your fucking mouth shut, or it’s incomprehensible garbage.

So there was quite a bit of ressentiment of Judea on the part of Rome, was there not? “It belongs to human nature to hate those whom we have injured,” to quote the noble Roman. Somehow, slave driving just isn’t the portrait of well-being Nietzsche takes it for, and something in his cosmology smacks of reverse victimology. You got taken by slaves? I wouldn’t complain too loud about that if I was you.

As Voltaire said, a sucker plays himself:

We hold the Jews in horror, and we insist that all which has been written by them, and collected by us, bears the stamp of Divinity. There never was so palpable a contradiction.

Indeed. But how is that Harold Abraham’s problem? That I wrote the tune you imbibe to makes me neither an alcoholic nor a barkeep. If your religion of kindness is based around critiquing the moral turpitude of a far-off people fighting yesteryear for its life against debauched aristocrats, then I don’t know what to tell you. Next time, get your own damn fables.

In any case, the Jews inflicted more damage on the Roman military than the efforts of any subjugant people, and they managed this well after the bulk of the defeats that Nietzsche credits with providing the impetus for their supposed inversion of values. When the Jews decided “to be at any cost”, they made one helluva downpayment. How many times does your empire have to be shaken by Judean resistance before you realize the problem is you? So what Nietzsche remains insufficient to explain is how so heady a brew of values-inversion as the Hebrew scriptures could have been adopted by such bloodthirsty fishers of men.

No: this great scaffolding of ressentiment is a red herring. Our choices are always plain, the only overcoming that’s needed is to pluck them back from out the hands of those who would requisition them. If there’s never a shortage of self-proclaimed intermediaries, it’s because no one wants things to be that simple. Thus the wishful but not unfounded reading of Nietzsche that so animated the Nazis was to suppose that a kind of savior is being thwarted.

The Jewish sojourn lo these past couple millennia is indeed ironic, in that it mirrors the Gospel themes of stripes, stigmata, and resurrection. More ironic still is that at the first laxening of Christian resolve we became christian ourselves in all but name, and the death of god brought out our priesthood like hack satirists. Genocide and intermarriage got nothin’ on sanctimony.

The bait ‘n’ switch

They-Live

Trump 2016

As a youth I admired a man, an experienced man with the wisdom of a poet. He was the hunter and I, the dog. I subsumed his instruction like a sultry musk. But when I asked a poignant question the smoke cleared, and he had vanished….

The promise of the good life is the bane of examination

Orchestrator of spectacle

Capturer of imagination

A grand discovery indeed, that connected fear and loathing to vices

Fool me twice, never again: an ancient, malevolent license.

The obscurantist’s inimitable art is to put a price on the sublime, not from town to town, but everywhere, for all time.

A discerning host, your merry diversions are his constant attendance to business.

 

Acute Jew

sic semper tyrannis

sic semper tyrannis

I.

May I recommend the Israeli author Etgar Keret? His work has been widely translated from the Hebrew and he writes occasional columns in the New Yorker and the Guardian. He stands accused by certain reviewers of solipsism and misogyny, but the first is outweighed by likability and the second is guilt-ridden enough to temper its vulgarity. With punk succinctness (the bulk of his oeuvre is novellas) he lays down an incredulous exasperation, twinkling through lurking shades of methodical mental illness and characteristically verbal-abusive Jewish impudence. We see these same psychic fistulae in other artists whose work cannot be fully understood without reference to yiddishkeit—Babel, Kafka, Seinfeld. The Jews have the same relationship with senility as the Catholics have with epilepsy. Half Jews like Vladimir Visotsky and JD Salinger belong in a slightly different category—the mold is broken, the hybrid vigor overwhelming. “Justice, justice you shall pursue”….. St. Paul was driven by this madness, as were Freud and Trotsky and Lenny Bruce—mold-breakers, if not half-breeds. Not counting plagiarism (which those last four were richly guilty of), their scruples precluded the kind of emotional opportunism one encounters all over Keret’s Israel. Either way, it’s easy to see why these people are difficult to live with; we can barely live with ourselves. Borderline Personality Disorder might just as accurately be labelled Acute Jew.

What is interesting to observe about Keret, though, isn’t this characteristic Jewishness, but that it seems to subsist without much reference to Gentile influence. To understand Kafka, you have to understand pre-war mitteleuropa; to understand Babel, you need some sense of the Russian arch. You cannot appreciate Seinfeld without first appreciating America. But Keret presents entirely as a product of Jewish civilization—Yitzhak Ben-Tzvi would be proud, if uncomprehending. He plays entirely on effects that went indissoluble in exile, reemerging in the Levant one fine day to resume their invidious solipsism as if the intervening centuries were nothing but an aberration.

This is an awkward thing to behold. You meet bourgeois, well-travelled Israelis, and oftentimes the most they can tell you about modern Europe is its orientation toward Jews and Israel, or the skiing, or the prices (especially the prices). The most they can tell you about Americans is that we tend to overpay unreflectively, that we haven’t any good, fresh bread, that we act friendly but we’re just pretending. The most they can tell you about Kafka or Einstein is that they were Yidden. They smart at any notion that breaches the nationalist programing they received in primary school. It isn’t that they disagree; they can’t fathom such things. They’re in step with the most liberal current ideas about sexuality, abreast of the very latest technology. They insist that their country is on the front line of the West and of modernity in a benighted corner of the globe with a rich, Western heritage that only they, through hard luck and gumption, are suited to defend. Yet with the exception of a handful of times and places in the Western experience where Jews were heavily involved, their upbringing has utterly de-emphasized nearly every benchmark that otherwise lends commonality to the identities and intellectual traditions of the West across dozens of other cultures and languages.

Of course, Keret is of above-average worldliness, which is why I referenced him. The hucksters and harpies who populate his pages make the mundane maddening to an extent no other Israeli writer has achieved. His fiction bears traces of Chekhov’s influence, and it entirely lacks the deadening mimicry of America that one so often finds along the bourgeois cutting edge of other highly modern, marginally Western societies. But the overwhelming sense one gets from his work is the reemergence of an ancient cast of misanthropes who’ve nothing but flagrant disregard for all the rich commotion that has been taking place, aboveground, without them.

And yet, what makes this separatism remarkable is not so much its longevity, but the packing of bags it entailed. The Nazis and the Fascists were just like any other penny-ante pack of bandits whose meagre vocabularies tended to over-employ the word respect. Vladimir Putin has this in common with your run-of-the-mill, twentysomething male Wal-Martian. The Zionists are little better, but at least they took their ball and went home. Where communism, progressivism and Christianity propose to alter the world for the benefit of various handicapped classes, where other romantic nationalisms proposed to redraw the lines around various peoples, Zionism proposed to redraw the Jew himself.

Anyone who has had their brush with Israeli culture knows this effort has been hit-or-miss. Of course, through Israel, Jews have demonstrated martial prowess, but perhaps all this proves is that the cobwebs needed brushing aside. Animals and men go mad in cages; a long enough litany of military setbacks will turn even a Yule Brenner into a Peter Lorre. Where various empires furnished the bars, the Sages made up the gilding. Modernity did away with both, but it couldn’t digest man’s tendency for tribalism. And while early 20th-century Zionism fixated on altering the Jew, under inescapable American tutelage Zionism today makes its most stringent and irrational demands of the Arab; not only does it invade his home, it demands his acceptance. This is pure insanity—the manic optimism and febrile entitlement of Democratic Man, held up by airport security off somewhere in literal East Jesus.

II.

Contrast this schizoid opportunism with Catholicism and Islam, religions that share a strong emphasis on man’s intrinsic capacity for reason, which each claims to satisfy perfectly and to the exclusion of all other ideas. Though I doubt these claims, I agree that a person’s full, healthy development depends on the opportunity to discern reason from faith, and weigh the two against one another.

A sweet, dim-witted old Adventist once told me something I liked. She told me, “You are the priest of your family.” In Judaism, the nearest approximation of this and other dissenter sects of Christianity is Karaism, whose practitioners are required to draw their own conclusions from scripture (within specified guidelines), rather than defer to experts.

Though an orthodox Rabbinic (i.e., not a Karaite) Jew, my grandfather conducted himself as though he was the priest of our family. He taught my brother, cousin and I (paternal half-breeds, all, and therefore not Jewish under Rabbinic law) basic Hebrew liturgy and scripture, as well as a smattering of Mishnah, and started officiating his own holy day services at home with a small circle of friends and family when he came into political conflict with the local rabbi. He was our last direct link in an unbroken chain of tradition.

Now I am married to an Orthodox Christian. To our marriage she brought along a sweet, gregarious and fair-minded little boy, the product of a previous marriage to a fellow Russian. Our son’s natural father was disdainful of religiosity and my wife, a non-practicing believer, opted not to have him baptized. But I understand it as my duty to furnish my children with faith against which to weigh reason—a method for counting the stars, so-to-speak.

Judaism is nothing if not the self-styling of a racial caste, and to transmit it to my unmistakeably Slavic older son would be to paint over a zebra’s stripes and mark him as a permanent outsider. So with his and my wife’s agreement I had him baptized by the nearest Russian Orthodox priest.

Though the humble little church and the manner of worship conducted within it was beautiful and uplifting, the process of getting our son baptized was somewhat uncomfortable—as a matter of course our family’s religious backgrounds were inquired about beforehand, and although I was welcomed in (which I wouldn’t have been in Russia), there was a palpable discomfort at my presence from the deacon and the arthritic old pater, who made it plain he didn’t want me around once he ascertained that I myself was not interested in converting. At one Sunday service we attended, the elderly deacon, Hungarian-born as it happens, informed me that as a child in the 1930s his parents worked in the Rome office of some German company or other, and that along with a handful of SS-officer embassy attachés, they used to host a Jewish business contact and his wife. He said this just goes to show that my background is a trifling thing because, as Christ teaches, people aren’t so different.

Well that just doesn’t make things very interesting, and of course I beg to differ. I recently bought two children’s bibles for my sons, one Christian (The Golden Book Children’s Bible) the other Jewish (The Book of Adam to Moses). The Christian one leaves out almost all the jealous, avaricious intrigues of the Old Testament. Its Queen of Sheeba is a chaste diplomat (and white!). It omits the Song of Songs (always a source of adolescent wood in the shul pews), and its Proverbs has nothing to say about the advisability of joining a gang, of committing a robbery, or of going whoring. Its illustrations are bright and cheery. In contrast, though it uses ambiguous language, its Jewish counterpart omits none of the original’s salacious and morally disturbing details. Its illustrations are black, white, a bit abstract and dissonant.

Dissonance, for most people, is exasperating, and Judaism is as exasperating as the Jews. The first in a trifecta of characteristically Western theodicies that sacralize mankind’s aspirations against nature’s starkness, it fails to follow through and build upon those ideals, neither with the kind of comfort food Christianity holds out, nor the unambiguous finality of Islam. It contains laws, and hidden meanings, but no ready logic, and no real bedtime stories.

The Coen brothers deal with this omission in their updated Book of Job, A Serious Man. In this film, a decent family-man is hamstrung by egregious, unearned misfortune. At the end of his rope, he consults with a series of feckless, indifferent rabbis, only to be told kitschy allegories and peppered with unactionable platitudes. A meticulously fair (read: neurotic) man who expects the world to at least be fair at bottom, he seeks solace from his faith as his misfortunes multiply unabated.

As it happens, there’s an astute review of this film at the pseudo-highbrow white supremacist web journal, Counter-Currents, whose editors are big into Savitra Devi and the Hidden Hitler (or something). Its design gives the feel of a Rothschild coven; one gets the sense they aren’t big fans of Orwell. Most of the pieces they publish are written in the style and at the level of a college admissions essay, but they’ve also got a good many editorial gems and some excellent crib notes on modern European heavyweights like Heidegger. Among the gems is this Serious Man review, by one Trevor Lynch. Check it out; it’s brisk reading, I promise.

Anyhow, the reviewer concludes from A Serious Man that the Coen Brothers are confirming his revulsion of Jews, by breaking their congenital mold to lambast Judaism’s hollow, compulsivity. It apparently never occurs to him that this is not apostasy so much as self-criticism, and though he pinpoints Judaism’s stultifying verbosity and solipsism, he cannot concede that so thorough and ineluctable a capacity for self-criticism is a virtue, nor that it’s indicative of how large a measure of the insights that Jews like the Coens bring to modern storytelling arises from their grappling with the conceits and deficiencies of character peculiar to our kind. But if Judaism, as the reviewer maintains the Coens are saying, offers “no meat and no marrow for the serious man”, perhaps protagonist Larry Gopnik’s mistake is that he takes Judaism, along with everything else, so goddamned seriously. The goy’s teeth (you’ll have to see the film) represent absurdity, which the rabbi and the dentist greet with apprehension but ultimately wave off with a characteristically Jewish shrug, while Larry Gopnik allows himself to nearly be driven insane by it. Not-so-subtleties like these are as lost on the hapless Professor Gopnik as they are on vindictive and equally serious ideologues like Trevor Lynch.

But far from exemplifying a strictly Jewish penchant for platitude, Job is just the Jewish take on a universal theme. The Coens aren’t recapitulating it, as our Aryan brother presumes. They’re augmenting it out of a peculiarly Jewish inventory. This is the yiddishkeit that’s so despised over at Counter Currents, and it will always elude their steely knives. But no religion, no philosophy, no manner of thought or line of inquiry is going to be more or less adequate than any other when it comes to the really big mysteries. Or, its relative adequacy is going to depend in turn upon the deductions of the source and each recipient’s own proclivities, rather than the peculiar merits of the milieu it emerges from. True, relative to other faiths Judaism tends to exacerbate the tensions the great mysteries provoke, rather than ameliorating them. But for Job and A Serious Man, the message (the reviewer’s “meat and marrow”) is real straightforward: suck it up, and lighten up, respectively. If the good Saxons at Counter Currents prefer Marcus Aurelius, that’s up to them, but don’t go barking up my boabab if the message doesn’t tickle your pickle. Like Rabbi Marshak, I’m thinking. That Judaism is replete with nonsense like any religion goes without saying, but Job isn’t it.

Christianity and Islam may not offer entirely satisfying answers either, but in attempting to, they stop the proverbial buck. In contrast, by positing a chosen caste, Judaism demands a measure of self-confidence that Christianity eschews, and Islam overdoes. And while the Hebrew God’s anthrocentricity innervates millennial Western theodicy, in His capriciousness He remains an Eastern God of Nature, the nature of the political animal in the anthropocine epoch. Western politics have their genesis as much along the colonnades of Athens as they do in the tent camps of recriminating Bedouins. In a democracy, we’re all elders of Chelm. Not even by putting words into God’s mouth have the Christians and the Muslims succeeded in stemming man’s internecine cat-scratching, not within families and not between nations. Not for wont of ventriloquy, the Jews have long been rending and gnashing at His silence. Neurotic? Hell yes. But don’t count it out. Buck-stopping imperial religions can run from this dissonance, but they can’t hide.

Punk’s Undead

Forgive them, mother

Forgive them, Mother

The Pussy Riot case proves nothing more clearly than the opposite of what it’s deployed to suggest: that Putin’s gravest failing is not his tough guise but its inverse, i.e., his enfeebled effort to play the democrat, which is nearly as half-assed as his much decried tyranny. To the considerable extent his regime concerns itself with domestic public opinion, this is really just an effort to keep one step ahead of America’s diffuse, variegated but—in toto—formidable techniques on that front.

Though glossier and holier-than-thou, the United States’ own forward march of dependent lividity employs all the same time-tested techniques that Putin does. But if recent media exertions designed to turn public anxiety over these into a race issue are any indication, stateside, mind-control commands the very heights of sublimity. It’s just that, in Pussy Riot’s case, Putin’s bumblefucking big-bad-wolfery was practically begging to be pressed into service.

Like Sheena, Heroin Bob and the distressed damsels of Pussy Riot, I was a young punker. I still am (an old one)—all my pottymouth training took place in that aesthetic and olfactory milieu.

Here’s a fun example: as a fourteen year-old, I watched the bass player of the Dropkick Murphys unstrap his guitar in the middle of a set, grip it by the fretboard like a Louisville Slugger and send a guy who had just jumped onstage and given a Hitler salute to the neurosurgery ward…. and get away with it (the guy was actively seizing as security dragged him off).

I’ll be the last to decry the violence of such an act. But the irony of the incident was that, at least aesthetically speaking, Dropkick is no more punk than the IRA is dissimilar to the Black-n-Tans for methodology. To wit, after conking the hapless ruffian, the bassist stepped over him, grabbed the mic and, to the approving roar of the crowd, declared in stentorian fashion that “This is nobody’s private political forum”—easily the most blasé condemnation of fascism I’ve ever heard.

But if Saturday night’s alright for fighting, try donning a sickle-and-hammer T-shirt to a Leftover Crack show and see if you can elicit one-tenth of one percent of that reaction from a human rights-conscientious schtarker. Just don’t overthink it—in punk-rock as in Komsomol, rules are rules.

The obvious criticism of Pussy Riot-hype is that no artist who enjoys the explicit sympathy of the Euro-Atlantic ruling class’ frontman (however melanotic a hipster he may be) retains a shred of punk credibility. But while (say,) Jello Biafra may not view Hillary Clinton’s Department of State as a moral improvement over Alexander Haig’s, any sanctimonious rabble that leaves an appreciable legacy will have its Bolsheviks and its Mensheviks. Before a bearded lady joins the circus, she’s just a freak—afterwards, she’s a commodity, but that doesn’t make her any less of a bearded lady (see also: Billie Joe’s return to the Gilman).

So Jello’s great claim to political correctness is that he’s a cut-rate bearded lady. In contrast, not only did the basically apolitical GG Allin not have a retirement portfolio, he was perceptive enough to croak rather than sticking around to appear on This American Life with Ira Glass. We can only imagine what Jello wouldn’t say if GG had lived and was out touring for car payments and being blasted as a misogynist on Gawker.

Another fine example: the other day I was driving along, listening to Born Against on my car stereo. If they were still around, they’d be #Ban[ning]Bossy, whereas circa 1993—the last year there was a substantive subset of unshorn college womyn—this band was raging against pro-lifers, John Wayne’s body, evangelicals, &c.; basically, avulsing a flux of creepy-crawlies with their gnawed-down fingernails. And thank God they did: are we, in 2015, living in a world forged by VFW Dole voters? By the Moral Majority? Then again, were we then (in 1993)? Sure, G-Dub did a lot of pandering to pro-lifers, but did he (as in: he himself, not some Iowa state senator) restrict baby-murder even just a little, i.e., did Planned Parenthood get one less federal dollar from January ’01 through January ’09? How likely is it that dead babies are anathema to the Bush clan, anyway? They’ve done a lot of pandering to the NRA, too, but after two terms of Texas, the number of rounds in my magazine is still subject to the Clinton-era limit. If you think Ricky Bobby wants the full body scan any more than Ed Snowden, I’ve got a 1911 with a 12-round magazine I wanna sell you, in Brooklyn. (I also thought I heard Matt Taibbi telling Amy Goodman that the Holder DoJ has not prosecuted a single banker, though I may just be off my Abilify.)

But if your entire sense of gall is predicated on the fear that Tony Perkins, Grover Norquist and Bill O’Reilly will one day lead columns of tanks down the Capitol Mall, Tiennamen-style, put Bernie Sanders, Lena Dunham and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on show-trial, then recommission the Enola Gay to frack Yellowstone with, you may be having a hard time following. I’m not saying they wouldn’t do it—I’m saying that such power exists somewhere, and that your Daily Show cast of villains will never even warm their hands in its toasty glow. “So you mean The System, the one that shredded Glass-Steagal and invaded Iraq for sport, is progressive?” Not exactly. I’m asking you to consider the purposes progressivism serves.

As komsomolka Nadyezhda Tolikonnikova informed one man post-sentience sleep apnea awareness campaign Slavoj Zizek in the Guardian, “Modern capitalism seeks to assure us that it operates according to the principles of free creativity, endless development and diversity. It glosses over its other side…” (Does anyone put their criminal history on a résumé?) “…in order to hide the reality that millions of people are enslaved by an all-powerful and fantastically stable norm of production. We want to reveal this lie.” That must be what she was doing on House of Cards and The Colbert Report—but then, would Lenin have gotten anywhere without the Kaiser?

Notice how unfiltered her big-girl thesis statement is. Taking a piss demands more mental energy, one at least needs to aim (well, maybe not Pussy Riot). What in the hell does Putin have to do with the enslaved millions? A cheese-fond knee-capper with a badass dojo is all he is. Are they his sweatshops, or Black Friday’s? For chrissake, Flava Flav bears more responsibility for the predations of global capitalism than Vladimir Putin does.

The norm of production is manic, not normative; precarious, not stable. What’s normative and fantastically stable is consumption, from pickled daikon right on down to Dinty Moore (TM) beef stew, yet these two beacons of post-retro moralism are blind to what any Dinty Moore consumer can garble if not exactly articulate, which is that Soilent Green is The People. So thoroughly is Anthony Bourdain to the reigning racket what Lazar Kaganovich was to Stalin’s that you’re even liable to find a can of Dinty Moore wet food in your Chopped basket. Do you reckon a ground-down Shenjien assembly-line tech would rather organize his colleagues, string up the foreman and issue a list of demands from behind a makeshift barricade, or indenture himself to the Triads for passage to the States—or Peru—on the off chance his kids’ll ever be in a position to afford the kinds of products he and his ilk manufacture?

Remember the mid-90s? I seem to recall a lot of fulminating over sweatshop labor. There were stories all over NBC’s Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, 60 MinutesTime and Newsweek. Nike was on a PR defensive. A bunch of brace-faced bar mitzvah kids from my synagogue organized a downtown candlelight vigil with their counterparts from the local Catholic school. Being anti-sweatshop was all the rage. Now? More sweatshops, more Whole Foods, more free range, fair trade, more low impact, more farm-to-table…… more contrived moral distance, but if you want a piece you’re gonna have to be paying a lower tax rate than somebody’s secretary.

In 2015 Nike is on the right side of history, and more evil than ever. The System picks its battles; these are what we call progressivism. Those skinny jeans aren’t going to stitch themselves, so moral qualms are outsourced to identity politics and presto!, everyone’s a Twitter activist, and no one’s a revolutionary. Thus the stability of the “norm of production”. Give it thirty years and see how you like the alternative.

Ever wonder why, since the early-90s—that pitiful last outburst of rock-n-roll ardor and petulance—there hasn’t been any superseding groundswell of teen spirit? The iconoclasts of that period are all now bloated icons. Meanwhile, weed is literally five-hundred times stronger, psych meds have become party drugs, the great satirists of the day are a pair of regime spokesmen, actors and actresses shamelessly model cosmetics and haute couture well into their sixties and seventies, Hollywood is cannibalizing itself with remakes and biopics of dead celebs before they’ve gone cold and the country’s number-one public intellectual is a food tourist. And they’re all red-diaper babies.

Menachem Begin (Yasser Arafat’s and my personal favorite fascist) once hypothesized, based on his experience of NKVD interrogation, that the publicized confessions of disgraced Soviet leading figures were almost never procured by direct physical coercion, but by gradually giving the prisoner to understand that if he were to persist in maintaining his innocence, his obstinacy would go unacknowledged and unremembered by the cognitively manicured society beyond the prison gates. How much more is this the case where the tap yields potable water, Payless is having a perpetual two-for-one sale and anyone can become a YouTube sensation? People protested sweatshops, and they got gay marriage, and if Kennedy sides with Ginsburg a whole lot of bar tabs will become wedding registries, and a whole lot of rent checks will become mortgage payments. “Endless development and diversity”, anyone? I’m afraid slave labor’s here to stay. I don’t much like it either, but if it really bothered me, I wouldn’t be in college, learning progressivism.

If you’re so disturbed by consumerism, no one’s stopping you from donning a bear skin and going foraging on BLM land, or dumpster diving, or cashing in your chips and homesteading. In Russia, they’ve got the whole of Siberia. There’s a well-known Old Believer named Agafia who has been subsisting off the taiga, single-handed, for upwards of five (count ’em) decades. Pussy Riot, on the other hand, was living in the heart of Moscow. I don’t think they hand-stitched those balaclavas.

(Updated 09/2015)