The Biden Buggy

In 2016 there was the Trump Train, now we have the Biden Boat or, given his age, the Biden Buggy. According to all of the polls, even those in keys states, Joe Biden is the clear favorite to win the nomination. He’s polling at around 30%, which is twice his nearest rival. In fact, the latest batch has him with three times the support of Bernie Sanders, who has been in the second seat for a year now. Everyone else is in single digits, bobbing up and down with the news cycle.

Of course, there is a lifetime between now and the first votes. For a guy like Biden, who is pushing eighty, that could be literally true. He is by far the oldest man to run for the nomination and would be the oldest man to enter the White House if he won. Trump set the record when he was elected in 2016, but Biden is a decade older. It remains to be seen if the media will allow that to be an issue. Right now they seem to be tasked with selling good old Uncle Joe to the voters, as the sensible antidote to Trump.

In fairness, Biden really is the Democrat version of Trump. They appeal to the same demographic. Biden has been pitching himself as “working class Joe” for close to a century now. It’s his go-to line whenever he is out campaigning. He tells voters about how everyone has known him as “working class Joe” or sometimes he uses the phrase “lunch pail Joe.” The fact that he has never done a minute of honest labor in his life never seems to matter. The old working class whites like it.

Like Trump in 2016, Biden is the last dance for a demographic about to disappear over the horizon. Trump found a way to win over voters, who remember back to All In The Family with fondness. Either they remember their dad as the Archie Bunker type or they were the Archie Bunker type. Biden is making a similar appeal, but with a decidedly romantic tone that recalls the Democrats past, when they talked about a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage. When the party was white and male.

While Democrats still need white votes, they are now the party of non-whites and increasingly the party of anti-whites. That’s probably what has all those old union types scrambling onto the Biden Buggy. They are tired of having to vote for someone that hates them. They are tired of pretending they are embracing their dispossession. It’s their last chance to have one of their guys at the top of the ticket. That’s why stories like this work for Biden. It sells to working class whites.

The risk, of course, is that this sort of talk will alienate black voters, who now make up 25% of the Democrat primary. Biden is considered a righteous honky, because he was Obama’s Stepin Fetchit for eight years, but blacks are notoriously fickle. If Harris can get some traction, they could easily abandon Biden for her out of racial loyalty. This stuff can also rustle the females, who are already worried about Joe and his habit of sexually assaulting women in public. Women are close to 60% of the Democrat vote.

Even so, the Biden bubble fits with a pattern in Democratic politics that goes back to the Reagan years. They looked at Reagan’s victories and concluded they needed to go Hollywood, which they did in a major way. The modern chat show format, for example, is a result of Clinton era media strategy. After Bush won in 2004, using a quantitative approach to reaching voters, they went all in on “big data” to elect Obama. After Trump beat Clinton in 2016, they will look for their Trump this time.

One challenge for team Biden is how to run as the nostalgia candidate, while pretending to be the candidate of the future. Given that his future will end at any minute, his credentials on the issue are not very good. More important though, the Left is about the glorious tomorrow, not the forgotten past. Look at their successful leaders and they were young and endlessly yapping about the future. Joe Biden may be as old as JFK, but he is no John Kennedy. He’s more like Walter Mondale.

The obvious challenge for Biden is his age. In his prime, he had a habit of saying nutty things that sunk his previous presidential ambitions. As he has aged, the tendency to say crazy old guy stuff has gotten out of hand. Like the habit of feeling up girls on stage and smelling their hair, his public utterances make people uncomfortable. For a man pushing eighty, weird public statements and moments of confusion will give even the most enthusiastic Baby Boomer pause.

His handlers have kept him under control, for the most part, by keeping him away from the public and the press. The media will do what the party tells them, but it is not hard to imagine some young ambitious activist working for the Post or the Times accidentally asking Biden the wrong question. At the debates next week, you can be sure the other candidates will try to get the old guy off his game, hoping he has a senior moment that will remind the public he was in office before they were born.

This is why the media activists are pumping air in the tries of the Warren campaign. She is the fall back candidate for when the party has to take the keys away from the Biden Buggy and put Uncle Joe in a home. She is no spring chicken herself, but her handlers are not wiping oat meal off her chin either. Her new economic pitch is aimed at the same old white people Biden is attracting with his lunch pail Joe act. That and she can appeal to angry single women and the snotty cosmopolitans.

It speaks to the age that both parties in the 2020 presidential election will be running explicitly nostalgic campaigns. Trump is a crude reboot of the Reagan years. His new slogan, Keep America Great, is a call back to the Morning in America ads Reagan used on his re-election campaign. Biden and maybe Warren are running as throwbacks to another age, when Democrats were the party of working class whites. Despite the celebrations for the browning of America, everyone seems to miss the old days.

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The Long Road

A familiar phenomenon in dissident circles is for the super-black-pilled to come out of the woodwork, anytime someone suggests reforming the system in any way. They will properly inform the reformists that the current system is beyond hope. Either the problems are past the point where reform can work, or the system is so corrupt reform is impossible. There is a sense in some corners of the dissident right that even talking about engaging politics is corrupting. This Spandrell post is an example

Another spin on this is to write-off all political actors as gatekeepers, assigned by the state to prevent dissidents from changing minds. The alt-right boys tend to go down this road, finding a way to describe figures like Nigel Farage as insufficiently authentic, because they hold some positions they don’t like. These guys are super-black-pilled on Trump right now, because he turned out to be a politician. It is another way of rejecting engagement in politics, as a pointless and possibly complicit activity.

This is an age old problem for outsider politics. Radicals in the past argued that engagement in formal politics was an endorsement of those politics and as a result, a sellout of the movement. There are still some IRA-types holding out against the Good Friday Agreement. Various communist movements in South America would suffer from schisms, because one faction wanted to join the political process as a party, while the other faction wanted nothing short of a communist revolution.

The salient question for modern dissidents is whether dissidents should engage in formal politics. Was it a good thing for Nigel Farage to win the EU elections, or did it prevent something better from happening? Is it better for Trump to win in 2020 or will it just prevent progress on dissident causes? In the case of Trump, since it is a future issue, is it better for dissidents to back some other candidate, in order to demonstrate to white voters that fake nationalism is a loser and can never be tolerated?

The answer becomes even more complicated if you accept, as is the case for most dissidents, that there is no electoral way out of the troubles created by electoral politics. That is, the solution to liberal democracy is not at the ballot box. The ballot box is the problem, so its perpetuation is a continuation of the problem. Logically, participating in the democratic process means perpetuating that which you oppose. Even if that is not correct, and it is not correct, there is that sense of hypocrisy hanging over it.

There’s also an unspoken truth that plays a big part in the debate. Politics is a form of ritualized combat. The groups form up, lock shields and do battle. For those in the groups, there is that sense of shared suffering and shared triumph that can only be achieved in group activity. For dissidents in America, for example, to participate in Trump’s campaign, feels like a temptation. They are getting the short term joy of that group activity, at the expense of the long term goals of their movement.

The danger of disconnecting from conventional politics, whether in the formal sense, as in elections, or the informal sense, as in meta-politics, is self-ghettoization. This has always been the problem with white identity politics in America. It has existed as a sub-culture that is out of tune with the rest of white America. Whenever they pop up in public, they seem weird and alien. In Europe, far-right politics suffered the same problem, usually devolving into fascists cults without a coherent reason to exist.

So, there is the dilemma. On the one hand, engaging in conventional politics runs the risk of expending energy on pointless and discouraging ventures that could possibly corrupt the movement and the dissidents. On the other hand, not participating runs the risk of becoming a weird sub-culture that has no impact on the culture war. Instead, it becomes a reason to do nothing, but congratulate one another on their isolation from the dominant political culture. Either road appears to be a dead end.

The reason this dilemma exists, is dissident politics, at least in America, has never matured beyond the juvenile state. In the post-war years, Buckley-style conservatism started as a legitimate reaction to radicalism, but never matured beyond a parlor game, so it was easily co-opted. The reaction to it, paleo-conservatism, went down the engagement path, but was always reactionary in nature. It never matured past being a long critique of liberal democracy. It was commentary, rather than a movement.

In contrast, the New Left that emerged in the 1960’s, from the remains of communist movements in the prior generation, did mature past this point. As a result, it was able to engage in politics, as the corrupter, rather than the corrupted. At the same time, it was able to stand apart from politics, providing a long running argument against it. The New Left was successful as a political movement because it had a clear agenda, taking over the institutions, and a clear purpose, to turn those institutions into weapons.

Modern dissidents, of course, face a very different battle space than the leftists of the past century. The New Left faced an establishment that was more or less sympathetic to at least some of their goals. They also could free-ride on other movements like black civil rights and the anti-war movement. They were also working in an industrial state, not a technological surveillance state. These are all critical differences that make the New Left a bad example for modern dissidents.

Still, it is a starting point for dissidents. The movement has to mature past the point of confusing activity with goals. A mature and self-aware movement will instinctively understand that the agenda is fluid and immediate, but also subservient to the larger goals of the movement. For example, if supporting a particular candidate weakens the opposition or advances some small part of the agenda, then engaging in politics is correct. If there is nothing to be accomplished in a given cycle, then sitting it out is correct.

The point being is that for a mature dissident movement, politics, whether reformists or adversarial, are about the larger goals. Trump winning election is not an end, but one of many opportunities to weaken the resolve of the people in charge and rally those who oppose them. Once that utility has been extracted, then the political activity of supporting Trump loses its value. This is true of activism and meta-politics. The goal is always to weaken the resolve of the other side, while boosting the spirits of dissidents.

The radical’s long march through the institutions was not implacably dogmatic. They compromised and adjusted, doing what they must to win each small battle, often turning defeat into a bloody-shirt to rally the faithful. Dissidents will need to make a long march through white bourgeois culture. It is not about capturing the institutions, but about capturing the foundation upon which they must rest. The New Left scaled the walls to capture the city. Dissidents will need to tunnel underneath it.

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Politics and Aesthetics

The Democrats are about to kick-off their fashion show for picking their next presidential candidate, so the experts are trying to set the tone for the season. The fashion show is a good analogy at this stage. Designers don’t always come up with new styles that work with the public, so they try different things, hoping for one or two that work. They hope to come up with something that catches the attention of a taste-maker, like a Hollywood starlet, then all of a sudden they have a hit with the public.

Steve Jobs figured this out the second time around with Apple. It was not about cutting edge technology or making a better product. That was a field with too many big money smart players. His game was going to be as trend setter and taste-maker. He tailored the company to be the symbol of the smart set, the people who fashion themselves a cut above the masses. These are the people who determine the latest styles. The lowly music player soon became a fashion and cultural statement.

Politics often works the same way. In 1992, Bill Clinton won the presidency largely on the cool factor. He was young, as far as Baby Boomers were concerned. He was also hip and cool. He played the sax on TV wearing sunglasses! Voting for Clinton became a fashion statement for the Left. Tony Blair played the same game in Britain with the “Cool Britannica” stuff. He was young and new and the future of Britain, despite being the man, who would usher in the end of Britain as an English country.

Politics and aesthetics are tightly wound together in any form of democracy, as selecting people for elected office is a popularity contest. The winner of the beauty pageant is not objectively better in some way than the others. She just has some way of appealing to the voters in the moment. The iPod was not some great innovation or invention. It just looked cool to the right people at the right time and became the standard for music players. Barak Obama was not a great statesman. He was just the right style at the time.

It’s not just left-wing politics in America that relies on an aesthetic to carry it forward with its supporters. In 1976 Ronald Reagan lost to the dour Gerald Ford in the Republican primary. The same Reagan won in 1980 and ushered in a great cultural revival called the Reagan Revolution. In 1976 men had sideburns and wore garish leisure suits. In 1986, men wore traditional men’s suits, bathed every day and kept themselves properly groomed. The political revolution had an aesthetic.

This has always been true in the era of liberal democracy. The two great movements of the early 20th century, fascism and Bolshevism, had distinct aesthetics. The quintessential communist a century ago was a shabby looking cosmopolitan, with round spectacles and a few too many phobias. In contrast, the quintessential fascist was the beer drinking bourgeoisie hooligan, who disdained books in favor of the Faustian existence. Both sides were fighting over an aesthetic, as much as for power.

This is an important thing to understand about politics in any age, but especially in this highly democratic age. It’s about flattery, as much as anything. The people flocking to your banner do so because it validates an opinion of themselves. This piece in the Atlantic, celebrating Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg is a good example. The intended audience for that article are the sort of people, who want to belief their politics are controlled by facts and reason, rather than superstition and emotion.

The fact that both Warren and Buttigieg are pseudo-intellectual posers is not only not a liability, but it is an asset. The people they seek to attract are themselves supercilious dilettantes and poseurs. They get their opinions from the MSNBC and NPR, while claiming to be avid readers of the New York Times. These are the people who decorate their apartments with books they never read. Around a real intellectual, they are made to feel inferior, but around Warren or Buttigieg they are validated.

The argument that the democrats are heavily reliant on the super educated is what’s called flattering the reader. Democrats rely on blacks, foreigners and white people too dumb to realize they are being destroyed. That is the base of the party now. Warren and Buttigieg know they have no shot at those voters, so they hope to win the beautiful people in the party. They may not connect with the rank and file, but they can appeal to the trend setters, who have the tools to convert that into popular appeal.

Another way to see the entanglement of politics and aesthetics is look at the street battles between the alt-right and Antifa. One side kitted themselves out as preppy suburban fascists. The other side was a comical mélange of Italian Black Shirts and skateboard park anarchists. Neither side had a coherent, positive identity, so they cherry-picked styles and symbols from past movements. They could just as easily have faced off with one side in leisure suits and the other side wearing spats.

In fact, what characterizes this period is the lack of a political aesthetic that is authentic and original. This is an interregnum, where the old order is slowly giving way, but a new order has yet to form. More precisely, the battles lines between the contestants for a new order have yet to form. Instead, it is one side protecting the status quo and one side dissatisfied with it. The former has no reason to defend the old order, other than habit, while the latter has no conception of what should come next.

If there is to be a coherent political and social movement rise out of the dissident right, it will have to be more than narrow political arguments and meta-political commentary on social media. It will need a look that signals to the curious that it is a movement with a future for itself and its adherents. Just as men in traditional suits signaled a break from the 1970’s and the radical chic of the New Left, the new aesthetic will have to signal a break from the old political paradigm and the old Progressive morality.

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What Comes Next

One of the great challenges of dissident politics is creating and articulating a vision for what comes next. A large number of people have become aware of the central issues around identity politics, so what do they do to start changing society? Is the next step public activism? Is it creating a political party? Is it taking over an existing party or backing certain candidates? People have been conditioned to think politics is about changing public opinion in order to change the laws and culture in some way.

This is the liberal model everyone reading this has been raised to accept. Our history has been rewritten to support this idea. Our modern politics is full of symbols and rituals designed to reinforce this belief. Even the economic sphere is drenched in the principles of free market idealism. Don’t like that massive tech oligopolies are stripping you of you legal right? Just go create a competitor! The liberal democratic system teaches the people that they live in a massive market place of ideas, so change is about market share.

That’s probably the hardest thing for newly minted rebels to accept about right-wing identity politics. They have been conditioned to believe they must act on their beliefs in order to get others to do the same. In reality, there is no way forward within liberal democracy to attain the goals of national populists or identitarians. The reason is the system is fully evolved to perpetuate itself. Any effort by outside elements to engage the system result in the outside influences being fully incorporated into the system.

This is something that is easily observed in Europe, where it is still possible to create new political parties and participate in electoral politics from outside the very narrow mainstream. This wonderful translation, by Christoph Nahr, of a German identitarian essay on the subject is worth a read. This is a problem that exists in America in the form of Trumpism. How do dissidents engage in politics in order to further our goals, without being absorbed into the political habitus or destroyed by it?

This is something Sam Francis observed about the conservative movement when it was reaching its peak. In order for Buckley conservatives to become an effective political force, they had to embrace the rules and customs of liberal democratic politics, as defined by the Left. The Left controlled the moral framework, so in order to participate in politics meant embracing the Progressive moral framework. In the view of Francis, it was only a matter of time before they were absorbed by it.

That is what happened with Buckley conservatism. It could remain a challenge to the Progressive order only as long as exogenous factors created tension between themselves and the Left. The threat of nuclear annihilation artificially created a debate between the two sides of the increasing narrow political space. Once that exogenous force was removed, the moral gravity drew both sides into the center like a collapsing star. The result is the political mono-space of neoliberalism.

One way of approaching this problem is to accept the framework of liberal democracy, but focus on the people in charge. Like a church in need of reform, the Progressive clerisy can be replaced and thus reinvigorate the institution. If only the people in charge of the institutions accepted dissident ideas, then the system could be turned in the direction of dissident politics. This is essentially what Christian conservatives embraced in the 1980’s resulting in the Bush victory in 2000. It was a total failure for them.

It is this truth of liberal democracy and right-wing political philosophy that is the hardest for even the most sober minded to accept. The two are utterly incompatible. For generations, the Right has blinded itself to this reality, by fashioning itself as the defender of tradition and the restorer of community. They have seen themselves as the cleanup crew that comes in after the Progressive riot to put things back in order. For generations, the Right has been the janitorial staff of the Progressive state.

Since the core of liberal democracy is the abnegation of community, in favor of the public will, free association is impossible. The person is identified and defined by his role in the democracy. On the other hand, all forms of conservatism begin with the organic social habitus of shared history and identity. Therefore there can be no conservatism without free association. It’s not the artificial freedom of individualism, as preached by liberal democracy, but the freedom of organic communities to reach their own destiny.

That is the reality of dissident politics. It is not about “politics” in the conventional sense of the word. It is about a set of understandings with the goal of constructing organic communities that operate outside of the liberal democratic system. That means breaking the conditioning of white people, who have been raised to reject this approach, so they can focus their energy on building a counter-culture that challenges the prevailing orthodoxy on moral grounds, not factual grounds.

This is an enormous challenge, as the aesthetic for the Right, especially the bourgeois class, is as a restorer and defender. It is a backward looking mindset that not only sees solutions in the past, but sees the past as the solution. Building a counter-culture at odds with the remaining orthodoxy is the sort of stuff they associate with degenerates and communists. Yet, that is what must come next as liberal democracy winds its way to its inevitable denouement. Dissident politics is about what comes after this.

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Of Two Minds

Probably the only thing that everyone agrees upon in modern America is that the ideological divide has grown wider over the last few decades. This divide becomes even starker when one redefines the Right to be the center of dissident opinion, rather than conventional conservatism. While the Buckley crowd runs faster after the radicals as they plunge into the darkness, the dissidents are pretty much where the Buckley Right was at the start of the cultural revolution in the 1960’s.

In fairness, the dissident right has moved further into the biological realism camp in the last ten years or so. If we define Left and Right as one pole being the blank slate and the other being biological reality, the Right has now moved further toward the later pole, as the Left has raced toward the other. This is explains why the great compromisers, the Buckley Conservatives, have been pulled apart over the last two decades. It is no longer possible to ignore these poles and no longer possible to bridge them.

One thing that everyone outside the radical Left seems to accept is the Left has become far more emotional and emotionally unstable over the last few decades. The Left, of course, would dispute this, if they bothered to address it, but even the most cowardly of Buckley Conservatives agrees with this assessment. The Left is now defined by its emotional outbursts and demands to shut down anyone that dares question the tenets of their faith. The waves of censorship are a direct result of these demands.

A good example of this institutional hysteria is the recent book by Hindu nationalist Angela Saini, which purports to show that biology is a social construct. This is a woman, who for very personal reasons, has to claim that race and ethnicity are figments of our imagination, but writes books celebrating her people. Saini is a great example of the internally conflicted and perpetually panicked Left. Her latest book is an effort to use cherry picked science to anathematize the human sciences, in defense of ideology.

The fevered tone, however, is self-defeating, as it further isolates the blank slate crowd as a ghetto culture of radicals. When an algorithm can create your face just from your voice, the notion that we are not what of biology dictates is preposterous. When ancestry companies are relying upon cheek swabs to tell people their race, ethnicity and the origin of their people, Angela Saini sounds like a mad woman. This is what the Left appears to be today. A collection of emotionally overwrought primitives.

The question is why the Left appears to be going mad. David Aurini has a go at it looking at the Big Five Personality Traits. The radical Left is high in Agreeableness and Neuroticism, while being very low in Conscientiousness. As a result, they panic when they perceive any threat and demand everyone get along – or else. They are also more intensely on-line (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube), which tends to amplify their sense of being surrounded by threats, thus elevating their level of panic.

Of course, another way to looking at this great divide is along sexual lines. The Left is clearly more feminine today than at any time. The people on the Left assailing biological reality are people like Angela Saini, Amy Harmon and Cordelia Fine. They write books claiming biology is a social construct. While there are some thirsty betas on the Left nodding along with these sorts of women, the point of the spear in the war against the human sciences is mainly populated with the daughters of Mars.

Another aspect to this is the browning of the Left in America. The Left is not only being feminized, it is being tribalized by people like Angela Saini. She can never be occidental and is therefore condemned to live outside the Western tradition. Because she can never be fully part of the West, but is detached from her people’s past, she has to work toward creating a new reality that can include the immigrant reality. While in the past, Left and Right existed within Western identity, the Left is slowly detaching from it.

This is probably the key reason the Left now feels so alien to even the milquetoast members of the Buckley Right. People like David French desperately try to keep pace with the Left as it rockets away from the core of Western identity, but he remains tethered to Western tradition. There’s simply no way to fit the shared reality of strangers, who immigrated to the West, into the shared reality of the natives. Their realities are too different and largely at odds. The Left is now defined by its degree of separation.

Just as important, this new identity evolving on the Left is a negative one. It is defined by its hostility to the core Western man. The attempts by those in the remnant of the Buckley Right to find common ground with the new Left is seen as an assault. Any effort to incorporate the identity of the new comers into the Western tradition is viewed as cultural appropriation, another way of saying an assault on their identity. As a result, it appears the West is at war with itself as the distance between the poles widen.

To some degree, the West has been at war with itself for a long time. One side has always thought the importation of strangers was suicide. The other side came to believe it was vital. There’s no bridging the gap between these two opinions. It turns out that the former was always correct. The new political divide, therefore, will be between those alien infiltrators, and their native collaborators, hostile to the heritage identity, and the natives, who remain in the core Western tradition and identity.

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In Paris, during the interwar years, the avant-garde and artists developed a passion for what they saw as black culture. Part of it was due to the trade in exotic items from French colonies in Africa and part of it was due to exposure to black troops from America and Africa during the war. The word negrophilia is derived from the French négrophilie that means love of the negro. The modern and fashionable of the day would collect African art, listen to Jazz and hang out at clubs where the Charleston was popular.

A century later, a similar sort of frenzy has gripped people who fashion themselves as sophisticated and fashionable. Instead of Jazz, they listen to hip-hop and worship black sports figures. Instead of collecting African art, they collect African orphans. More important, instead of admiring the cultural products of blacks, they have developed an unconscious worship of blacks. They have elevated them to minor gods, who must be protected at all cost. The protection of these gods is a sign of righteousness.

This new form of negrophilia is entirely a conservative thing. That’s conservative as in right-wing Progressive, not historic conservatives. These are the people who see Candace Owens as something of a shaman. So much so allegedly sober minded people are willing to embrace nutty academic fads in order to prove their love for her. It’s not her specifically, but black exceptionalism in general. Any black who embraces the habits of white bourgeois society becomes something sacred to be defended at all costs.

You see that with the so-called principled conservative crowd, who are suddenly up in arms about the media harassing someone for their political opinions. Those principled conservatives took to their quill pens to denounce the Daily Beast for posting personal information about a black Facebook user, who mocked Nancy Pelosi. He either created or doctored a video of Pelosi, which showed her slurring her words. The Left was very upset by it, as it mocked their octogenarian leader.

Up until this point, the principled conservatives were silent on the campaign of harassment by the Daily Beast against other people holding taboo opinions. The reason is those victims were white and their opinions are pro-white. Conservatives were not just silent about the social media purges of pro-white users, they celebrated it. They wrote snickering posts about how private companies had the absolute right to censor speech and the victims were free to create their own platforms.

The obsequious David French tries to find some principles that makes it OK for the media to harass white people, but not black people. All he is able to do is insert himself into the story as an alleged victim of mean people on-line. His effort to defend the sacred black man is just autoethnicgraphic groveling. For those unaware, when the term “cuckservative:” was popularized, French was one of the first guys to see it turn up in his twitter feed. He has never recovered from it.

One thing to note is that none of these principled conservatives can be bothered to defend a principle here. Theirs is an emotional response. They see a sacred black in distress and they naturally rush to his aid. It’s what drove them to slobber over Diamond and Silk, the black YouTube performers. It’s what made Sheriff Clark a star. Sure, it is a way for them to shout “DR3” as they hiss at the Left, but the driver is not just the desire to zing the Left. These people worship an idealized black.

This fever has gripped them to the point where they are unable to defend their own ideas, what few of them exist, without finding a back to confirm them. Conservative Inc. has been vexed by the rise of white identity politics, but could never muster much of an argument against it. The reason is it would require attacking left-wing identity politics and they can’t risk that, so they now have a black to do the job for them. Blacks are always used as a cat’s paw by principled conservatives.

Of course, the cause of this is a phenomenon that started on the Left in the 1980’s, when liberals moved past the street theater of radicalism. Instead of going to the ghetto to link arms with people like Jess Jackson, the new radicals wanted to invite blacks into their world. Not just any blacks, of course. They preferred the talented ten percent, who would be happy to confirm the sensibilities of bourgeois radicalism, by aping the opinions and mannerisms of the bourgeois bohemians. Barak Obama says hello.

Forgotten to the mists of time were Obama prototypes like former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke. Back in the 1980’s, he was the first of a new breed of black politician. He was Ivy League educated and more comfortable in the boardroom than the ghetto. As the saying went at the time, he was black, but not, you know, black. His role was not to be the voice of black America in the ruling class, but instead to be the symbol of ruling class virtue. White politicians loved having their picture taken with him.

Because today’s principled conservatism is just yesterday’s Progressive fads, the modern conservative now embraces the negrophilia of the 1980’s. Just as the liberals of yesterday were interested only in an idealized black, today’s conservatives only care about blacks who play a similar role. They ignore the blacks who the Left employs to attack white culture, as they fear being called a racist. Instead they worship people like Candace Owens and Diamond and Silk, who are willing to confirm their virtue.

That’s not to say that Sheriff Clarke or Candace Owens are dishonest in their presentations or running a con on white people. They seem sincere in their beliefs. According to all accounts, they are genuinely nice people. The thing is, what they say is not remarkable. The reason they are stars is they are black people saying the same things Sean Hannity says every night. These principled conservatives love these people because they assure them they are not going to be called a racist.

The one big difference between the Left’s negrophilia and that of these principled conservatives is self-awareness. For the Left, these good blacks were just useful pawns in the culture war. They were a means to an end. For principled conservatives, these sorts of fads are an end in themselves. That’s because principled conservatism is a defensive crouch, not a set of ideas aimed at a goal. Despite all of their howling about their principles, principled conservatism is just a pose.

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The Unraveling Right

The defining feature of American Conservatism since the rise of Buckley and National Review is that it managed to conserve nothing. In fact, the movement was largely born out of the Civil Rights Movement, in which the New Right, as they were called then, conceded the right of free association to the Left. From that point forward, conservatism in America was mostly just a modification of Progressivism, often following it around like a shadow from one new radical idea to the next.

The truth is, whatever Buckley imagined for his movement in the beginning, it was soon turned into a partner of Progressivism. In exchange for a free hand in dealing with the Soviets, the Right would allow the Left to dominate domestic policy. It may not have been explicit decision, or even a conscious one, but that was the result. The Reagan years are a great example. The revolution cultivated the seedlings of global finance and presided over a massive military buildup. Domestically, it did nothing.

In fairness, the Buckley project did bring about the end of the Cold War, which few people imagined was possible in the 1960’s. Into the Reagan years, most people in the West thought the Bolsheviks were on the right side of history. The trouble was, this habit of acquiescing to the Left on domestic matters had become a part of the Right’s fabric. When it was time to turn back to domestic policy, they could not do it. Instead they allowed themselves to be tricked into a new foreign adventure by the neocons.

That is a useful way to think of the last thirty years. Buckley and his minions did such a great job of defining conservatism as the sidecar of Progressivism, it was incapable of adapting to the post-war reality. Instead, it put all of its energy into finding a new foreign policy cause to fill the void of fighting communism. Meanwhile, the Left was fully prepared to spend the peace dividend on outlandish social experimentation like open borders and homosexual marriage. The Right just stood by and watched.

The fact that Conservative Inc., the material and monetary manifestation of Buckley’s project, still staggers on, despite losing most of its relevance and audience, is a testament to institutional power. People get used to worshiping at the same place, so even when the place no longer deserves their worship, they return out of habit. For the same reason the Episcopal Church still exists, National Review still functions as a flagship for a movement that is long past its expiration date.

A sign that this hollow institution sits atop an equally hollow movement is this recent exchange between someone calling himself Sohrab Ahmari and David French, of National Review. Ahmari makes a case familiar to most on the dissident right, that conservatism has conserved nothing. More important, its very design is to ensure that it can never win a fight with the Left in the culture war. It is the designated opponent that puts on a good show, but in the end concedes the game to the Left.

The response from David French is an amusing confirmation of the most biting criticism of Conservative Inc., in that it combines a total lack of self-awareness and a dog’s breakfast of empty slogans. The fact that the French essay is heavily decorated with advertisements and pleas for money just adds to the humor. His argument is that making a bunch of ritualized noises about the past, while being rolled in the Culture War, is the definition of conservatism. Everyone agrees with this.

What Ahmari builds his case on is the observation that people like French invest heavily in maintaining a set of rules on the Right that prevents victory. That is, a primary activity is endlessly reminding people that to be conservative is to live by a set of principles. These principles control how the Right engages the Left. On the other hand, the Left is happy to help the Right enforce these rules, as the Left never plays by any rules. It plays to win, so these principles become a road map for winning every battle.

This is a certain type of sandwich, where normal white people are faced with an impossible dilemma. They can lose their moral purpose by breaking their own rules, while beating the Left, or, they can hold onto their principles and lose. That’s the role of people like David French. He’s like the Army chaplain, who convinces the troops to embrace pacifism. Alternatively, he is the Tokyo Rose whispering subversion into the ears of white people, undermining their will to fight.

The response by the rest of Conservative Inc. to the Ahmari post is revealing, in that it is not much of a defense of French or Conservative Inc. Reason Magazine babbles about individual liberty while calling Ahmari names. The fact that the core of the Ahmari post is that the individualism fetish is why the Right keeps losing is lost on the writer. Winning the culture war requires collective action with a collective purpose. There can be no individual liberty without first defeating the Left and retaking the public space.

Probably the most illuminating defense of French comes from Michael Brendan Dougherty in National Review. His post reads like it was coerced. There is a long meandering summary of the recent history of conservatism. The actual defense of French boils down to “he is worthless and his approach is laughably stupid, but hey, he’s a nice guy and is popular with my boss.” Conservatism is mostly just logrolling now, so this “defense” is a good example of why National Review is nearing an end.

The lesson to be drawn from the failure of conservatives, for those who will take up the culture war, is that principles are about what you won’t do. They are prohibitions on your behavior. When you engage the enemy with a long list of things you will not do in the fight, you have provided him with a road map to victory. That’s been conservatism for the last thirty years. Whether conscious or unconscious, their cherished principles have amounted to nothing more than a primer for how they will throw the fight.

The fact is, principles are worthless unless you can enforce them. The whole point of having principles is to legitimize the maintenance of order after the victory. Logically, the first step in a principled agenda is to win. That requires collective action and a willingness to play rough, not individualism and a fetish for tone policing. An army of individualists is a hunting ground for the well-organized. In order to get anything like a conservative order means white people acting collectively and doing what is necessary to win.

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Cynicism, Then Revolt

A popular line from libertarianism is that the state is violence. Another way of stating this is the state has a monopoly on violence. The implication is that the state imposes order, the order of those who control the state, with the threat of violence or through actual violence, in the case of law enforcement. It is a Hobbesian view of society, in which order is imposed, but an inaccurate one. Society, even authoritarian ones, rely on consent and a shared set of rituals and symbols to perpetuate consent.

Even the most authoritarian of societies, the prison, where the members have no control over their bodies, relies on consent and ritual to maintain order. The regularization of prison life, along with predictable symbols of authority, keep the prisoners from revolting against the guards. Without cooperation from the inmates, a prison would be ungovernable. The cost of housing and feeding humans in perpetual revolt against their captors would be prohibitive. A prison requires consent.

In a western liberal democracy, order tilts in the other direction, where the state relies more on ritual and symbol to encourage the consent of the governed. Elections are a big part of the ritual, where the people are made to believe their concerns are considered by the office holders. Every western nation has symbols and rituals to remind the voters that they live in a democracy. In America, patriotism is used to manipulate the people into supporting the system, despite their misgivings and distrust.

Order in America relies on the balance between the state’s monopoly of violence, the consent of the people and the maintenance of symbols and rituals that are the physical manifestation of the American creed. As long as the people trust and respect those symbols and rituals, they will support the current order. More precisely, as long as they believe those rituals, like elections and civic participation, support the American creed, they will respect the institutions of the state that maintain order.

Most likely, the process by which a liberal democracy moves from order to disorder, is like walking through a submarine. The people start in the compartment of high trust, but events lead them to leave that compartment and move to the next compartment called doubt or distrust. Once there, the door closes behind them. This is where the people begin losing faith in the office holders. The next compartment from there is cynicism, where the people have lost all trust in the system and the ruling class.

In this phase of social evolution in a liberal democracy, there is some remnant of consent and some tug of patriotism. The emotional connection between the citizens and the state is vestigial. It is a memory and a sadness at the onset of political cynicism, but then slowly builds to an anger at what has been lost. This is what Darren Beattie fears is right around the corner for America, if Trump’s agenda fails due the deliberate thwarting of the public will, by the people controlling the state.

It is safe to assume that the marginalized supporters who came out to vote for Trump will be forever divorced from the shared consent of the people. They will stop voting and stop thinking their future lies with democratic solutions. Just how many of Trump’s voters will fall into this state is hard to calculate. On the other hand, the coalition of the ascendant will be energized by this, so the general level of cynicism will be offset to some degree by enthusiasm from the coalition of the ascendant.

The truth never mentioned in the Beattie column, because it is forbidden, is populism is just code for white. What Trump represents is the white population, who think it is still possible to hold onto heritage America. If we just get immigration under control and fix some of the trade deals, things will slowly get back to normal. Oddly, this is the one thing the Left gets right about Trump. He does want to make America white again, if not demographically, certainly culturally and institutionally.

There is no question that many whites in America have moved from the compartment of distrust to the compartment of cynicism. Beattie is wrong to assume this process is not already underway. It started a long time ago as a trickle on the Right and now the pace is accelerating. This is evident in the growth and persistence of the dissident right, which has thrived despite the authoritarian tactics of the ruling class. Despite having more political prisoners than ever, we have more dissidents than ever too.

Still, Beattie is not wrong to assert that the failure of popular causes, like immigration controls, will push many more people into the cynicism compartment. The result will be an America where consent begins to fade and is replaced by coercion. White people will continue to follow the rules, not because they respect those rules, but because they fear reprisals from the state. The authority of the ruling class will no longer be based in their legitimacy to rule, but their control of the monopoly of violence.

In the trenches, soldiers will fight and die for their comrades, despite the rotten conditions their leaders create for them. In human society, the people will tolerate great deprivations in support of their neighbors. That social capital, upon which authority relies, will help maintain order, even when the rulers have failed in their duties. In a land where everyone’s neighbor is a stranger, there can be no foundation of social capital upon which to rest authority. The people must trust and respect their rulers.

That’s the next compartment after cynicism. When Trump’s agenda fails, as it sure will, white cynicism toward the system will grow. It will reach a point where the ruling class can only maintain order through coercion. They will live in fear of crisis, as the people will have no reason to sacrifice and no trust in the system to see them through the difficult times. The relationship between ruler and ruled will be like an old married couple hanging on until the kids are grown. The divorce is inevitable.

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The Little Fights

An old joke about libertarians is that they are fond of saying, “That works very well in practice, but how does it work in theory?” It’s an old joke that goes back before such a thing as libertarianism existed. It is often used to zing the excessively intellectual. The joke itself is a twist on the fact that strategy, based in theory, often fails miserably in the field. The world of theory is neat and tidy, while the real world is messy. Ideologues can’t grasp this distinction and live only in theory, which is the point of the joke.

No doubt, libertarians will take exception to this characterization, but this truth is an issue faced by all outsider politics. What often makes them outsiders is an excessive adherence to ideology or to a set of narrow demands. Their unwillingness to compromise makes them unappealing to most people. The various green movements are a good example of theory clashing with reality. You can talk people into being more environmentally conscious, but people are not giving up their cars to please mother earth.

Some on the alt-right suffer from this malady. The reaction by some of them to the British election smacks of that old joke about practice versus theory. Here’s Mike Enoch criticizing Nigel Farage as a gatekeeper, while offering a defense of Carl Benjamin, of all people. Richard Spencer went down the same road when he was on the same YouTube show this week. In both cases, they jam the results into their preferred moral framework, rather than analyzing the results in the proper context.

Farage is a single issue guy, who is first and foremost a politician. He is not a strategist or a political theorist. He is a pitch man, selling a simple idea. Britain needs to get out of the EU and begin functioning like a normal country again. Beyond that, he has no strong opinions on much of anything. In fact, he is willing to embrace the popular side of anything in order to eliminate it as an obstacle. His forays into meta-politics are always with an eye on influencing practical politics, which is where is he is best suited.

The way to think of this is to consider the doughnut shop. Political theory is a debate about how retail commerce, like donut shops, fits in with a preferred social organization. Are doughnut shop keepers bourgeois flunkies of the capital class, oppressing the proletariat, or are they an organic resistance to central planning? In the world of political theory, the choice of signage is not a topic of debate. The closest things come to the actual doughnut shop is having the debate in the doughnut shop.

Meta-politics is the debate and discussion of actual doughnut shops and the various ways of making doughnuts. This is the same as comparing the merits of anarcho-capitalism with other types of libertarianism. The practical benefits are described and compared, but in a largely abstract way. After all, the relative merit of one policy compared to another is similar to the comparison of one type of doughnut versus another type of doughnut. Often the people doing the comparing matter more than the comparison.

Finally, politics is the act of selling doughnuts. The guy running the shop is not all that concerned about the propriety of selling more cream filled versus plain, as his primary task is to sell doughnuts. In theory, having 85 types of doughnut on offer makes sense, but if it results in lots of waste, then having just the five most popular types is going to make more sense to the doughnut maker. This works in practice, so he is not going to care if it violate theory or rustles the jimmies of the food critics.

In this regard, a guy like Farage is the doughnut maker. He is focused on winning over as many people as he can to his single issue. Politics is a sales game, where the salesman is always trying to figure out the needs and motivations of the voter. His politics, therefore, have to be flexible enough to fit many situations. The good salesman removes all of the reasons to say no. He attacks the objections, rather than just pitch the benefits. In politics, the game is to avoid disqualifiers so the voter focuses only on the pitch.

That’s why Farage’s new party won big, while Carl Benjamin, Sargon of Akkad, and UKIP were humiliated at the pols. Farage is a likable guy, who avoids taking controversial positions on inconsequential issues. He maintains his focus on the one issue that matters to him, Brexit. Benjamin is a smarmy ideologue who never misses a chance to step on a rake. He embarrassed himself and anyone associated with him, by confirming all of the claims made by his critics. It turns out that there is such a thing as bad publicity.

The alt-right guys will contend that winning is pointless if it does not result in a change in policy or a change in the political culture. That is a fair point and something anyone voting Republican the last 30 years can understand. The GOP has won many elections, but delivered very little to their voters. In the case of the British election, this analysis does not apply as the vote was not an actual election. It was a test of the political atmosphere in Britain that will influence the upcoming struggle to find a new Prime Minister.

It’s why calling Farage a gatekeeper or part of the problem is pretty dumb. The election results give support to the Brexit hardliners in the Tory party and give cover to the moderates, who can now side with Brexit. Britain leaving the EU has enormous downstream consequences for nationalist movements all over the continent. The British leaving the EU strips away the taboo. It is no longer unthinkable for other countries to consider leaving the EU as an option to being ruled by Brussels.

The point of all this is that what we saw in Britain is a good example of why outsider politics remains on the fringe. Ideologues can’t understand why candidates don’t run as ideologues, refusing to compromise on anything. The alt-right guys want candidates to run as open and avowed racists. In the case of Farage, they wanted him to talk about the Paki rape gangs and knife wielding Muslims, rather than his main issue. They simply don’t get why valiantly losing is a bad idea, so they criticize guys like Farage.

It’s also why the Left has been so wildly successful, compared to their numbers. It has been popular for generations to accuse liberals of being unrealistic dreamers, but in reality they operate like cold blooded pragmatists. They win every small fight so it makes it easier to win the next small fight. They are like rats gnawing at the support cables of the status quo, knowing that one day the cables will snap. They never confuse political philosophy with retail politics and they never lose sight of larger goals when in small fights.

Farage winning the election is a small victory, but that’s what it takes to change the culture, winning the small battles. It is the cumulative effect of changing a mind here and a mind there, of normalizing a bit our stuff here and anathematizing some of the orthodoxy over there. It’s messy and boring, which is why ideologues don’t like it, but it is the only way dissident politics can change the culture and eventually change politics. What our side needs is more guys like Farage and fewer rigid ideologues scolding him.

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Echo & The Cucky Men

One of the strange aspects of the Obama years was how much of what they did was an effort to address old wounds that still haunted the Left. Health care reform is the obvious example. The Left never got over how Bill Clinton threw the Left overboard after Hillary’s health care debacle led to the 1994 election wipe-out. The Obama effort was all about addressing that old wound. The ultimate product looked like the result of a revenge fantasy, mostly because it was about addressing those old wounds.

It was not just health care. The entirety of the Obama administration was about the past, despite his endless jabbering about the glorious future. Their dealings with Iraq and Afghanistan were mostly about “proving” Bush was wrong and they were right about how to respond to 9/11. Their Iran policy was a do-over of the Carter years and their Russia policy was a do-over of the 1980’s. They even pitched Obama at one point as the Progressive answer to Reagan, He was their Ronald Reagan.

It’s not just the Left playing the old records and dreaming of better days. The 2016 Trump campaign was a WWE version of the Reagan campaign of 1980. The slogan “Make American Great Again” was borrowed from the Gipper. He ran on the slogan “Let’s make America great again” in his successful 1980 presidential campaign. It’s pretty clear Trump intends to use some version of “It’s Morning In America” in his reelection campaign next year. This campaign ad will feature a panda, rather than a grizzly.

Of course, his presidency has been a call back to past events as well. The seditious conspiracy against him by the FBI and CIA is an echo of what the Left accused Nixon of plotting back in the 1970’s. Both sides are replaying the past as a do-over. Team Trump is going win the Watergate this time, while the Left is sure Trump is going to pull off his face at any moment and reveal himself to be Tricky Dick. In this version, to keep with the current age, Peter Strzok is the soy-man version of G. Gordon Liddy.

The endless echoes of politics past is sure to continue, as we see in the Democratic presidential field. The only two people talking about the present are Gabbard and Yang, both of whom will be ushered off the stage by Labor Day. The rest all sound like museum exhibits from previous eras. Joe Biden is actually running on the slogan “Make America Normal Again.” That sounds a lot like Carter’s campaign in 1976, after Nixon and Watergate, where he promised to restore dignity to politics.

Politics is always a repeat of the past, to some degree, but what makes this age a weird echo is debates themselves. The biggest issues facing the West are never discussed, outside of dissident circles. Trump ran on immigration and trade, but no one talks about those anymore. The Democrats could be running on the student debt issue or the crisis facing the young people of the middle-class. Instead they are talking about socialism, as if it is this brand new idea that has never been tried.

One reason for this entirely backward looking perspective is demographics. Both political parties are built to compete for the votes of Baby Boomers, who remain the largest identifiable cohort. The Boomers are entering the last turn of their race, so inevitably they are sentimental and nostalgic. The fact that the most likely contest in 2020 is between an octogenarian and a septuagenarian, both white and both male, will allow Baby Boomer voters to feel like they are still young and hip.

That’s probably the single biggest cultural problem facing America today. The Baby Boom generation is not going to age gracefully. Instead of picking which one of their kids will take their keys away, they will keep a white-knuckled grip on the wheel until the country goes over the cliff. Nancy Pelosi should be in a rest home right now. Instead she wanders around the capital in her bathrobe and slippers, the third most powerful person in the Imperial government, unable to remember her own name.

The blame is not all on the Boomers. As America becomes majority-minority, the cost of cobbling together a coalition goes up. Bringing blacks and angry Jewish feminists together into a coalition is near impossible. Delivering anything to the white middle-class means standing in front of the open sewer that is Progressive morality. Multicultural America is an ungovernable riot of competing interests, so it is a lot easier to go the nostalgia route and court the white Baby Boomers. It’s easy and fun.

There’s also the fact that no one wants to face up to the truth of the current situation in present day America. Inviting in 50 million strangers was a bad idea. Fixing it means telling most of them to go home. Civil Rights was arguably noble and decent, but the downstream result was a disaster. Bringing back free association is too scary for the soft men and unstable women of the ruling class. Our political class is mostly cucks and kooks, unable and unwilling to muster anything resembling courage.

That’s where we are now. America is a country ruled by cucks who are afraid of the future, so they rummage around in the past. They’re like children putting on shows for their parents, wearing their clothes and singing their songs. It’s all echoes of the past and cucking to current fads. It is an entirely useless ruling elite that will have to be wiped away, before we can face the future. Barring an asteroid strike and societal collapse, it means waiting for the great Baby Boomer die off to clear the path forward.

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