Milo Yiannopoulos is out on the speaking tour, drawing as much attention to himself as possible, but also trying hard to differentiate himself from the people the Left currently hate almost as much as they hate white men. The new Goldstein of the Cult of Modern Liberalism is Richard Spencer and anyone they can associate with him. Spencer is variously described as a “white nationalist”, a “white supremacist” and, of course, a “Nazi.” As a result, Milo is trying very hard to prove he has nothing to do with any of it.
From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense. The people running the media in America are as committed to the New Religion as anyone so they will never allow a bad thinker into their thing. Milo dreams of being the gay Bill Buckley or the thinking man’s Rip Taylor. It’s hard to know what he is doing as he does seem to flit from one thing to the next, always in the pursuit of attention. Someone pointed me to this podcast by Sam Harris on Milo.
I don’t count myself a fan of Harris or Yiannopoulos so whatever issues they have are unknown to me. I don’t have anything against them either. I just don’t pay much attention to them. Just taking it on face value then, I’d say Harris is mostly correct. Milo is just an attention whore and he has found a way to be good at it in a way that causes people to give him money. It is social commentary as performance art, something comics have been doing since the Greeks.
Milo is a flamboyantly ridiculous person saying taboo things that are obviously true and everyone knows they are true. There is a long tradition in the West of lampooning the people in charge, especially the people in charge of public morality, which in the West, are often in charge of politics. Further, using a “fool” to ridicule the rulers is common. When Milo goes on campus and mocks feminists, as a ludicrously gay man, it insulates him, so he can say things about the womyn that are both true and forbidden.
That’s all good stuff and well within the Western tradition. In Germany, Till Eulenspiegel is a folkloric hero, who mocks politicians and public figures with political satire. He holds a mirror to make us aware of our times. The English had their court jesters, with some becoming quite wealthy. A fellow known only as a Stańczyk was a famous Polish jester and is a national hero to the Polish people. The point being is that fools like Milo are both useful and necessary, because they tell us something about our age.
That’s where guys like Sam Harris miss the point and get it wildly wrong. There’s a good case to be made that even Milo is not grasping the implications of his shtick.
“The reality is, if you force everyone to play identity politics, if you insist in pitting whites against blacks, women against men, straights against gays, the reality is you guys are gonna win and the left isn’t going to like it very much,” declared MILO. “But there’s a better way. Don’t fight identity politics with identity politics.”
That sounds great. What is it?
“White pride, white nationalism, white supremacy isn’t the way to go,” he continued. “The way to go is reminding them and yourselves that you should be aspiring to values and to ideas.”
Wonderful. And what are those values and ideals?
“You should be focusing on what unites people and not what drives them apart,” MILO concluded. “You shouldn’t give a shit about skin color, a shit about sexuality… You shouldn’t give a shit about gender, and you should be deeply suspicious of the people who do.”
This is reminiscent of recent forays into doubt by big shot intellectuals like Charles Murray, Steven Pinker and Robert Putnam. In all three cases, they work through the case against the prevailing orthodoxy of the blank slate, egalitarianism and multiculturalism, only to be horrified by where it leads. In the case of Murray, he has been trying to atone for the Bell Curve ever since. Pinker now sounds like a raving loon and Putnam chants Progressive pieties to avoid finishing his thought.
In the case of Sam Harris, he is smart enough to know that the foundations of the Progressive orthodoxy are oogily-boogily of the first order, far more detached from reality than conventional religion. He’s either afraid to take his critique through to its logical conclusion or he lacks the imagination to see what comes next, so he rolls into a ball and starts gassing on about “unifying people with values and ideas.” Any variation of the word “unify” is a signal that what comes next is gibberish.
This is, in the realm of practical politics, why the Buckley crowd is circling the drain as a political force. Way back in the 60’s, they could not bring themselves to challenge the implausible claims by the Left with regards to civil rights. Instead, they picked the losing hand of state’s rights, hoping to avoid facing the Left over the “negro question.” As a result, they ceded the moral high ground to the Left with regards to race and identity. No amount of legal precedent could stand in the way of social justice!
Ever since, the Buckley-ites have had to fight the Left while acknowledging that the Left is their moral superior and the arbiter of civil morality. That’s a battle that can never be won as the other side will simply declare your latest position to be heresy and out of bounds. No matter how logical and right your position, it can never withstand the moral authorities saying it is wrong. That’s why the Left has won every battle in the culture war. They can thunder, “you may have facts, but we have righteousness!”
There’s another problem with what Milo and Sam Harris are saying. Let’s stipulate that identity politics are a bad thing. Is playing that card better or worse than losing to the Left as they relentlessly play the identity politics game? Unless you have a serious mental illness, you have to see that the Left is nothing but identity politics now and they are winning. Just turn on the TV. Just look at the best seller list. The people of the New Religion hate white people, particularly white men and they will not be talked out of it.
The question that faces every man is not “what sort of society do I want for myself and my children?” That’s a lie and it has always been a lie. The question is “What are my choices and how do I achieve my preferred option?” The choice pushed by our betters is a world run by Black Lives Matters and women dressed as vaginas. If the other option is white pride, white nationalism and white supremacy, it is not hard to see how this is going to go.
All of the howling and complaining from the Official Right about the rise of the so-called alt-right is due to the unanswered question from the Milo piece. If the identity politics of the alt-right are bad, what’s the other option? If the answer is submission, which has been the case for the last three decades, at least, then the response is not just going to be “no” it is going to be “hell no!” No amount of moral preening is going to work because that is the thing people are rebelling against. What’s left is what is always what’s left and that’s force.