Codes of the Underworld¹

One of the many concepts that has entered the mainstream from the Dissident Right is signalling. It’s first appearance came as criticism of social justice warriors, who were signalling their virtue by opposing someone or some thing, real or imagined. Virtue signalling is not new. It has probably been a part of human society since people began to settle into agricultural communities. Scipio Africanus, the great Roman general, who defeated Hannibal at Zama, was also famous for his virtue signalling.

These days, you will hear guys on the alt-right talk about counter-signalling. The easiest example of this is the newly minted rich guy going out and buying expensive display items, like cars or gaudy homes. NBA players are prone to this. They want to signal their wealth by acquiring highly visible, expensive items. An old money guy, in contrast, counter-signals by living in an old farmhouse that has been in the family for generations and driving a 40 year old Saab. He’s the sort of rich that feels no need to advertise it.

Signalling is a basic human trait. We all do it to one degree or another. Walk into a prison and you will see an array of tattoos on the inmates. These will signal gang affiliations, time served in the system, facilities in which the inmate has served and the individual’s violence capital. That last part is an important part of keeping the peace. To civilians, a face tattoo is always scary, but in jail, the right neck tattoo can tell other inmates that they are in the presence of an accomplished killer for a particular prison gang.

Virtue signalling and danger signalling are the easiest to understand, but people also use verbal and non-verbal signals to indicate trust or test the trustworthiness of others. A criminal organization, for example, will have a new member commit a pointless crime to demonstrate their trustworthiness. This is not just to sort out police informants, as is portrayed on television. It’s mostly to ascertain the willingness of the person to commit to the life of the organization. It’s hard to be a criminal if you will not commit crimes.

Outlaw biker culture is a good example of the use of signalling to establish trust relationships. Bikers have always, for example, adopted Nazi symbols as part of their display items. Bikers are not sitting around reading Julius Evola. What they are doing is signalling their complete rejection of the prevailing morality. By adopting taboo symbols and clothing, the outlaw biker is letting other bikers know his status, as much as he is letting the squares know he is a dangerous guy, who should be avoided.

This type of signalling is also defensive. Someone who is not serious or unprepared for life in a motorcycle club will try hard to hide this from himself and the club he is trying to impress. When those club members all have visible tattoos and swastikas on their vests, no one can kid themselves about what is expected from members. The visual presentation of the outlaw biker does more to chase away posers and trouble makers than character tests and initiation rituals. A biker is a walking entrance exam for prospects.

It’s not just an in-group/out-group thing. When you start prospecting for a biker club, you are routinely forced to choose between the moral framework of society and the morality of the club. The same process works in cults, interestingly enough. The prospect is always in a position where he must either divorce himself emotionally from his old life and the old world, or leave the club. It’s why one percenter clubs take their time patching in new members. It takes time to leave the old world and fully commit to the lifestyle.

That’s the way to read the alt-right and the stuff they say and do on-line with respect to non-whites, Jews and women. They don’t actually spend a lot of time talking and writing about these groups. They spend most of their time talking about how to organize themselves, the issues that face white identity movements and the philosophical points of their thing. The offensive memes and the racists language are mostly signalling. If you freak out over Hitler themed twitter avatars, then you are never going to be in their thing.

As with bike culture, it is defensive signalling to ward off entryists and the posers, but it is also a signal that joining their thing is more than just a secret handshake. If you are on-line talking about white identity, you’re never going back to the squaresville world of normie politics. You are rejecting that world as illegitimate in favor of the new thing. In effect, the racist memes are an offer. Accept it as a price of admission, but understand that by accepting the offer you are leaving the old morality behind for the new moral framework.

What this sort of signalling suggests is that the alt-right may have more staying power and more momentum, than their current numbers would suggest. Political movements come and go because they are rooted in the moment. “Free Silver” stopped being a rally cry once the currency issue was put to bed. The “Happy Warrior” stuff from the prior generation no longer has any relevance, as those ideological wars are now a part of history. Political movements are born to die, as soon as their issue is resolved.

The other thing about political movements is they are inherently open. The whole point of the Tea Party, for example, was to rally a lot of people from different ideologies to challenge the Progressives, who sacked Washington. The Tea Party people welcomed anyone who opposed the bailouts and reckless spending that was ushered in by Obama and the Democrats. That openness is what allowed the army of grifters from Conservative Inc to sail in and hijack the movement, turning it into a fundraising arm of the GOP.

Cultural movements, like identity or race movements, are closed and exclusive. They certainly seek to grow their numbers, but only on their own terms. They place narrow rules on members and never accept divided loyalties. You are either in the thing or outside the thing. There is no in between. This is why the American Left has been so persistent and able to re-spawn after each collapse. It’s not a list of agenda items. It’s a lifestyle with a moral code and a wide array of symbols for the members to accept and display.

That’s what is evolving with the alt-right. There’s no way to be “sort of alt-right.” You’re either in it or you’re not in it. That’s become clear with the schism between the civ-nat guys and the alt-right. Rejecting a guy like Milo Yiannopoulos forces guys like Gavin McInness to decide. He can be edgy TV funny guy or he can be in the alt-right and everything that implies. The result is his thing is dissolving as some people bite the bullet and join the alt-right, while others go back to sleep.

The jury is still out as to whether the alt-right is the long hoped for response to the rise of the New Left in the 1960’s. Ironically, the worst thing that could happen for the alt-right is for Trump to be everything his critics in Washington claim. White identity politics can only flourish when whites believe they must be an intolerant minority, battling other intolerant minorities for space. What is clear is that the alt-right is not another Tea Party. It has staying power because it is a cultural movement, not a political one.

¹The title of this post comes from this excellent book, Codes of the Underworld.

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64 Comments on "Codes of the Underworld¹"

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Rhino
Guest

We own the right wing youth and do not particularly care about the niceties of democracy, so we don’t need a majority.

We just need enough to run the table.

Byzantine_General
Guest

Rhino, I hear you. With satisfaction, resolution, dread, and unutterable sadness. It didn’t have to be this way.

Kentucky Headhunter
Guest
Actually, I’m pretty sure that it has always been “this way”, and that the problems start when we drift or are pushed away from it. “An old money guy, in contrast, counter-signals by living in an old farmhouse that has been in the family for generations and driving a 40 year old Saab. He’s the sort of rich that feels no need to advertise it.” I’ve always wanted to be the richest guy that nobody had ever heard of. Imagine you’re the 10,000th richest person on Earth. More money than you could spend in a lifetime, I’m guessing. The only… Read more »
Saml Adams
Guest

As have warned more than one Progressive. You are forcing this whole thing to “pick your tribe”. And will not pick the tribe that promises the destruction of me and mine. And my cultural tribe perfected the art of the blood feud, among others things, so proceed at your own peril.

Severian
Guest

Bingo. I know, I know, if they could see obvious consequences they wouldn’t be liberals, but sheesh — if Whitey really is so evil, genocidal, etc., why the @#$# are you backing him into a corner?!? Both Literally Hitler and everyone who stopped Literally Hitler was as white as mayo on wonderbread. How many divisions do Disabled Lesbian Transsexuals of Colour have?

SWRichmond
Guest
Have been indulging my wishful thinking forecast of the coming of the overt “choosing of sides” event for quite some time now, looks like it’s actually happening. I really couldn’t believe how far people let it go before the pushback started. “And will not pick the tribe that promises the destruction of me and mine.” I am actually glad that the pushback was able to start before the Gulag roundups began. There is no doubt in my mind, and there hasn’t been for decades now, that the left is an existential threat and is driven by the BAMN mindset. If… Read more »
Member

As I have warned more than one of them: I didn’t hate you until you made me hate you.

Severian
Guest

I can’t say much about the alt-right, but let me second Codes of the Underworld. It’s one of those Moneyball type books, where you read it and go “no duh!” And then you wonder why you never saw it, why nobody else saw it, how people whose job depends on seeing it never saw it (in fact refuse to see it). There needs to be a better name for it, but nothing’s more valuable than “no duh!” literature.

wetburn
Guest

Wow, that was great. In hindsight, obvious, but that is the trouble with people, we ignore the obvious.

Ron
Guest
Great essay. Which is why I don’t care to wear or display anything with trademarks, symbols, or icons. Sooner of later, even the most virtuous symbols get hijacked by radicals,nut jobs, and someone looking to make a buck, polluting its original meaning and intent, and coloring you by association. I am not ashamed by the the proper display American flag, but when people wear it as a bandana or scarf or such thing, or use the flag itself in their protest or flying off a pole from the back of their pick-up truck, then I see the fulfillment of the… Read more »
notsothoreau
Guest

Some of us wear it as camouflage. I live in a blue state. I’m a Trump supporter. I wear Birkenstocks because I have arthritis in my feet and they make me look like a liberal. Sometimes you just want to blend in.

Dutch
Guest
I have always wondered what women are thinking with the tattoo thing. From comments on various sites, I see two sorts of responses, all from men. The first is basically “ew”. Unattractive, weird, off-putting. The second is “this one is easy”, and “nice for one or two nights is all”, and “great romp in the sack material, but you better run away from any longer term relationship with her”. Yet the women with tattoos seem to be signaling “I’m a tough, brave one” to their female peers. Seriously, what guy wants to have anything to do with a woman wearing… Read more »
Ron
Guest

Nothing makes a woman look more cheap that a tattoo. And when they reach middle age, and are still displaying them, Brrrrrrrrrrr! Give it up, lady!

Dr. Mabuse
Guest

OK, there will never be a better moment to introduce the classic SNL commercial for “Dr. Turlington’s Lower Back Tattoo Remover”. Because “you’re not young anymore; you’re not even close.”

https://vimeo.com/69310297

A.T. Tapman (Merica)
Member

Tattoos are an affectation of the underclass. Tats are also a pretty good marker for IQ,

notsothoreau
Guest

I have a tattoo and the only people that get to see it are my husband and my doctor. And I got it when I was 59. I really can’t stand the look of young women with full sleeves and tattoos on their chest (like the gal in American Pickers). And I don’t understand folks that get commemorative tattoos. I guess my point is that tattoos have to be visible to count as signaling.

Member

A tattoo or two on a woman tells you she’s willing to do things she might regret later. Good information to have!

Alzaebo
Guest

Tramp stamps really spoil the view.
Sorry, ladies, but it does.

Eclectic Esoteric
Guest

The internet has provided a battlefield for engagement in thought wars. Symbols are powerful cultural signifiers used to create boundaries and challenge opponents. Ironically, bots are banner carriers in some of these wars while trolls are employed as saboteurs. IQ is the nuclear force that determines the outcome and the extent of the fallout. I much prefer this kind of warfare than a mushroom cloud in my backyard (in my case, DC).

Trent Denton
Guest
You guys seem to forgot that People of Color reject your philosophy and in fact hate it with a passion. Read Leonard Pitts and verysmartbrothas to see what People of Color think of white identity politics https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/protests-against-removing-confederate-monuments-are-not-really-about-history/2017/05/12/8d2905d8-3732-11e7-b4ee-434b6d506b37_story.html?utm_term=.4bb2ed080aeb In the current moment, many Americans find themselves gripped by what some have termed “cultural anxiety.” Nearly two-thirds of white Americans believe that the country’s culture and way of life have deteriorated in recent decades. There’s no escaping that it’s still a question of roles, standing and hierarchy. A wish to maintain a social structure that prefers one group over the rest. It’s… Read more »
Worldly Wiseman
Guest

leonard pitts is gay.

notsothoreau
Guest

Perhaps you can explain why “people of color” is acceptable and “colored people” is not. I’ve always wanted to know why that is.

Calsdad
Guest
LOL. So the future is “equality” . Can we (finally) shut off the welfare payments then, since we’re all equal now? The threats of violence and outright hatred coming out of “people of color” – are one of the big reasons why the alt-right has gained so much traction over the last few years. It’s plainly obvious at this point – that we’re NOT going to go skipping off into the future singing Kumbaya with our “colored” brethren. We’ve been attempting it for quite a few decades now – and it hasn’t gotten any better. If we’re going to throw… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

Say what you will about the white colonizers, basically almost all of the people, in most of the countries that ran their white overlords out of the country, have suffered ever more greatly ever since.

This is especially true where the average IQ is a whole lot lower than the average white IQ. In places with a reasonably high IQ, non-white indigenous rule seems to work out mostly pretty well.

Sticky Burr
Guest

Shut up Tad.

Ryan
Guest

You make a good point. If white people are going to find the will to fight for the country they should know a lot more about Rhodesia.

McChuck
Guest
Wow. Blacks are so abysmally stupid as to think they are a majority in America. Wake up, Trent. We whites outnumber you here by six to one. And we have the guns, the training, and the discipline. Oh, and all the money, most of the property and businesses, the personnel of the military and law enforcement organizations, etc. America is not South Africa. We’ve seen what happens when you let the blacks take over the government – white genocide, then black poverty and starvation. We’re not letting it happen here. You have to go. Not us.
Brigadon
Guest

The Nigger has spoken.

Zeroh Tollrants
Guest

Yay! Yet another site/another day with Tiny Duck pushing for all the Alt Right “Nazis” to read that barely literate black site, “Very Smart Brothas.”
False advertising, btw

TomA
Guest

The root spectrum is neither political nor cultural. It is productive versus parasitic. For most of our history, it was the most robust among us that lived long enough to reproduce, and we are their descendants. The advent of great affluence (and the rise of the professional grifter politician) has fundamentally altered evolutionary selection in favor of parasitism. Liberals (at their core) are parasites, and their ideology and behavioral traits are secondary to the real harm this does to our species. We are now selecting for weakness.

Ryan
Guest

Precisely as always Zman. Vox Day has penned the 16 points of the Alt-Right:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-alt-right-is.html

This is number 14:

“The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children.”

If not the sole purpose the main purpose of including that point is to keep out anyone emotionally committed to the old system.

Dutch
Guest
Those 16 points have immense value in a world where everyone has a place, and that place is the one that reflects each person’s heritage and culture. The Left has taught people that they don’t have a place in the world, unless they seize it from someone else. They have also taught people that the world is a series of scams, and you had better generate or join the scam that takes care of you. Finally, they have taught people that government is the biggest, most powerful scam of all, and one should get on the right side of government… Read more »
UpYours
Guest
“The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children.” More cut-n-paste from Stormfront and VNN. The alt-white monkeys do not even have original ideas. Now, they are thumping their little boy-chests since they think Trump win validates their crap. WRONG. Trump’s win does not validate white nationalist garbage anymore than Obama’s win was a validation of Black Panther’s militant racism. Say what you want about the Tea Party at least the TP resulted in GOP house control in 2010 and kinda stopped O from further carrying out his hope-n-dope. Otherwise Mr.… Read more »
Sticky Burr
Guest

Right, i know the only reason I voted for the GOP in 2010 was because Dick Armey told me to, with him and the rest of the TP grifters I probably would’ve voted Democrat.

Sticky Burr
Guest

Without, that is. You need a comment edit capability here Mr Z.

McChuck
Guest

Um, one of the first things the Obama administration did was drop all charges against the Black Panther Party, in a court case that the government had already won.

Member

If an idea is good… it doesn’t matter whether it’s original.

Member

You are giving the Tea Party a lot of credit for votes they had no influence over whatsoever. In case you missed it somewhere along the line people tend to be individual agents.
In case anyone was wondering, I chose this moniker out of respect for the spirit of tea partiers and not because I was one myself. I just needed a pseudonym for disqus and this sounded good.

Member

Gavin McInnes and the alt-lite are also causing a split. He told his Proud Boys to avoid looking alt-Right, probably because of the ADL. But this is simply splitting them.
More to the point, he and Chernovich made second class badthink people list anyway. Cernovich is threatening to sue. They don’t realize until they go full left rainbow feminist the left won’t leave them alone.
This is the age of identity, and civ-nat isn’t one.

Rhino
Guest
They’re just a ramp to the alt-right. I try not to counter-signal them. People talk about the red pill like it’s just one thing, but you actually get red-pulled in many steps. The Muslim Question is likely the most common of the red pills, but media question, the higher education question, the Jewish question, but the very last of them to be taken is the equality question. You are alt-right when you reject egalitarianism. For some people this takes the form of monarchism or whatever and others think of Mussolini’s Italy or the Reich. Others just imagine a meritocratic “caste”… Read more »
Dutch
Guest
The white guys club was always an open one, and anyone was always welcome, people of color or women. One of the old tenets was that you knew your place in the white guys club, and didn’t abuse the club privileges. You all were part of a team. Pro football was a classic example. Great players like Johnny Unitas just shut up and played. Then Joe Namath, of all people, blew open the door. He got cocky, adopted the pimp-black dressing and personal behavior signals, and wore the white shoes on the field. It opened the door for all the… Read more »
james wilson
Guest

Alt-right shit testing=no pearl clutchers may apply. Why I read this blog first.

Member
I just have to tell this story. When I was in med school students had to take call for various services when on rotation. Whenever I was on call in the downtown trauma hospital I would hang around the surgery residents in the ER and they would let me sew up drunks. Later on they would recognize me and let me do some minor operations when the attending wasn’t in the OR. Got a head start on residency experience that way. One night a guy had come in after a failed suicide attempt and was ID’d as being wanted on… Read more »
Member

Kinda unfair hit on the Tea Party at the end there. They are still around. They were crushed under the political boot of the Obama administrations’ DOJ and IRS in cahoots with the GOPe.

The Tea Party was leaderless, a true grass roots movement, and was quickly subverted and manipulated by political hacks who deemed themselves leaders and set up organizations to take in money… all the while, mining data and gutting the movement.

It’s worthy of a book what happened. And the Tea Party is directly responsible for the election of PDJT.

Karl Hungus
Guest

the tea party was way too nice to be effective. still are.

Dr. Mabuse
Guest

They meant well, but I’ll be happy if I never again hear about how Tea Partiers picked up all their garbage after their rallies. A bit of virtue signaling right there, I think, and it was about as useful as SJW virtue signaling. The Deep State isn’t intimidated by clean sidewalks.

Dutch
Guest

The “pick up the sidewalks” message wasn’t to the Deep State. It was to those of us who take some pride in our almost-lost culture and manners. It is saying that the people on our side all have each other’s backs covered, in big ways and small ones. Picking up the trash is a small “taking care of the Homefront” act.

Rod1963
Guest

What got Trump elected were all the folks the GOP and Tea party blew off – white blue collars and middle-class types in the Rust belt.

Trump actually talked to them and about the issues important to them. The Tea Party never brought up any issues of a populist nature that Trump did.

Member

How exactly did the Tea Party blow off blue collar whitey? Everyone I know in the Tea Party around here were white middle class, blue collar, disaffected Dems and Republicans and Independents. Mostly Independents. Weird you’d say that.

DemonicProfessorEl
Guest

On that note, who’s up for a game of Poker – Hitler Hold ‘Em?

Member

In an airtight facility (which no one could find in any death camp—strange).

Glen Filthie
Guest
But – is the alt-right ‘racist’? I don’t see it, unless we call a spade a spade and start referring to wanks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as ‘racists’. Being honest about racial realities is not racist. Blacks do have lower IQ’s, they are more violent, and they can’t govern themselves, much less anyone else. As one of my favourite bloggers says: Mokita. Also a point about the bikers, Z-Man: the tired old trope of the scarred, anti-social beardo with a hog, a MAC 10 in one saddle bag and a kilo of coke in the other is fodder… Read more »
McChuck
Guest
Soap box, ballot box, jury box, cartridge box. We’re finally using the soap box, and that’s got the left pissed. We need to work better on the ballot box. The soap box will help that. We need to get more news out about fraudulent Democrat voting. Not that the Democrats care – to rile up the Republican base that we need to swim in. We also need to get more into the jury box. Let’s be honest – the federal judiciary is almost entirely leftist. We need to fix that. That takes the ballot box and the balls to start… Read more »
Glenfilthie
Guest
Spot on Chuck. The progs are in an interesting dilemma: they may hate us bible clinging gun toting red neck hicks with the heat of 1000 suns… but the military and most rank and file law officers hate them right back. Hell, even upper echelon law officers are in revolt and speaking openly about gun control and black crime and other taboo subjects the left doesn’t want discussed. Classical socialist behaviour means corrupting the military and law enforcement and using them as thugs for the govt… but that will never happen in today’s America. You will see civil war first.… Read more »
McChuck
Guest

The alt-right is the first group to actively fight back against the left. That means they are, so far, the only group to have a chance of surviving and prevailing in the culture wars against the left.

If you don’t fight, you can’t win.

Member

“Signaling” has one “L,” Einstein.

sirlancelot
Guest
The left still owns the media and will continue to ratchet up the rhetoric. It’s kept whitey scared till now, why won’t it keep working ? Speak out and the government spy residing in your home ( wife, parents, children ) will turn you in for ” your own safety “. Even that sympathetic neighbor you think is on ” your side ” will turn you over to government agents for all the crazy talk. No, a successful movement will require a lot more than signaling to have a successful chance of opposing the left. Even if kept secret there… Read more »