A few years ago, the fans of Nick Fuentes were no different from the fans of any of the other internet personalities that inhabit the video space. They liked his work and felt like they knew enough about him to like him personally. This is the unique aspect of video compared to audio and the written word. There is always a stronger emotional connection with the audience in the video format. Otherwise, Nick Fuentes was just another popular YouTube guy.
Since then, much has changed. Fuentes has inserted himself into the Trump story in ways that other political entertainers have avoided. He participated in the “Stop the Steal” rallies after the 2020 election. He was at the infamous J6 rally. He was by far the most enthusiastic supporter of Trump during that process. He also transformed from a commentator to something of a guru for the Zoomers. He was not just a YouTuber, but the cult leader of a youth political movement.
That is the way to think of the Fuentes operation now. His group is a cult of personality driven by people who believe in Nick Fuentes. He is not an entertainer or a political commentator, but the spiritual head of a movement. It is not just his followers who speak in these terms but Fuentes himself. He regularly reminds his followers that one day soon they will take over the world and remake it in their image. They are the change they have been waiting for, to quote a past cult leader.
In the modern age, the word “cult” conjures images of a lunatic leading a collection of naïve or desperate people. The words “UFO” and “suicide” tend to be attached to the word “cult” when describing an undesirable group of people. Neocons, for example, are often compared to a suicide cult. Then you have the image of the cult leader who is always a charlatan or crackpot preying on fools. The cult leader is never someone doing good things or operating from good intentions.
This was not always the case. The ancient world had many cults, and no one thought it strange for someone to be in a cult. Often, a cult would organize around a place where something special happened. Then you had mystery cults like the Eleusinian Mysteries, which dated back to the Greek Dark Ages. The Norse had cults that often revolved around personal or household gods. Of course, the ancients had many cults of personality centered on a charismatic figure.
That is how we need to think about the Fuentes phenomenon and other cults of personality that we are seeing. The ancient Greeks did not have political parties as we think of them, but personality cults that played a similar role. In the Roman Republic, politics revolved around strong popular figures. The more a society embraces the democracy idea, the more inclined they are to look to individuals who can lead the people in the direction they want to go.
Look back at American politics and you see the trend. Reagan was a highly charismatic figure whose support was mostly personal. Clinton was another highly charismatic guy whose support was entirely personal. He was compared to the acronym figures of progressive lore, as if he was the return of the king. Obama was obviously black Jesus for progressives. He never said anything of substance, but his followers would swoon when he spoke. Trump, of course, is a similar figure for his followers.
This is where we pick back up on the Fuentes story. To his followers, he is the young Trump or maybe the heir to Trump. While Fuentes never says this explicitly, his presentation suggests he understands the connection being made. He often talks about Trump as an imperfect messenger, which naturally implies that Fuentes is the new and improved version who can see the flaws, but still support the man. The cult of Nick is sure he will be president one day.
This may seem a bit weird, but it is important to keep in mind that this generation thinks about things wholly in the context of the internet. Clout is the currency of this world and that comes in the form of audience. That audience does not have to be in favor to count for clout points. You can have clout when lots of people oppose you. This is why Nick claims to be the most censored man on the internet. What he is saying is that he is the most important man on the internet and thus the world.
Because of our interconnectedness, the cult-like aspects of the Nick Fuentes movement jump out when you interact with it. For starters, all of his fans say the same things about why they like Fuentes. He has clout, of course. He also gets the message out to the biggest audience. He is the most successful leader in the history of “the movement” which is never explained. To what end is never addressed. What matters is that Nick Fuentes is famous, so he has clout.
That is where you see this as a cult of personality. Question the members and you will find that they have no agenda beyond supporting Nick. Press further and they do not know Nick’s agenda or even think about it. They trust Nick. The closest you will get is he wants to restore America to a white Christian nation. By Christian they mean Catholic, only because Nick Fuentes says he is a Catholic. He also wants to remove the Jews from power, even though he has Jews in his movement.
The Jewish aspect is a big tell, as far as whether this is a cult. Go to a Fuentes event and you will find Jewish supporters. The most committed Fuentes followers will welcome them without much thought. Key figures in the Fuentes operation are Jewish, despite Fuentes railing about Jews every day. This weird contradiction is the sort of test of faith you always see in a cult of personality. The truest believers easily accept the obvious contradictions and still love their leader.
Similar to the Jewish issue is the political issue. When pressed, the followers of Nick will say they are the only force opposing the system. In order to overthrow the system, they plan to take over the system through conventional means like elections or participation in mass media. In other words, they oppose the system by supporting it and they will overthrow the system by taking it over and using it to impose their vague version of a white Catholic democracy.
This is where things get interesting. If you manage to pin down one of the more intelligent members on these contradictions, they shift gears and tell you why it is important to not have a coherent agenda. They will say that ideology is the enemy because it is Jewish or liberal or some other scare word. This comes from Nick Fuentes who says this whenever he is pressed on specifics. In other words, the followers closely mimic their leader to avoid thinking about it.
In fairness, there is nothing going on here to raise alarm. This is not a suicide cult or terrorist cell headed for disaster. Nick Fuentes is not Jim Jones. Most of the followers are primarily drawn to the irreverence of Fuentes and the movement. If you press hard enough, the most committed will confess that much of what they are doing is sort of a performative lampooning of society. The Cult of Nick is bathos and pathos to create an emotional experience that is the only real point.
This explains the appeal, despite the many missteps of Fuentes. The young males attracted to this are from a common demographic. They are from white middle-class suburbs outside the South. Most were raised by women, and their play was exclusively online in the form of gaming. The intensity of the “groyper movement” provides something real compared to the synthetic reality of their upbringing. It also is largely free of women, which makes sense in this context.
Ironically, it also has the intense youth culture aspect that drove the 1960’s counterculture youth movements. The Boomers did not trust anyone over thirty and the Zoomers agreed with them. This is not Peter Pan syndrome, but a sense that their unhappiness is due to the failings of adults. The Boomers blamed the adults for squandering the promise of America on war and money making. The Zoomers blame the Boomers for doing the same thing.
That brings us to where this is headed. It has been assumed that Fuentes will follow the same arc as other e-celebrities. In time he would do things to ruin his clout and end up on the bench with people like Richard Spencer. That has not been the case. His wacky adventures with the mentally unstable Kanye West only made him more popular with his young fans. It got him attention, so it got him clout. In this regard, Fuentes is a unique figure in that all publicity is good publicity.
The challenge for this cult is time. Fuentes is twenty-four and his typical follower is in his late teens and early twenties. In five years, Fuentes is no longer a kid. His core followers will be entering the work world. There will be new young guys hunting clout with Generation Alpha, perhaps using Fuentes as a foil. In other words, the Cult of Nick will need to transition from the Neverland of internet culture to the hard reality of the material world that has all of those nasty adults.
This assumes the material world remains the controlling factor. Just as the Zoomers are an inflection point in history, the Cult of Nick could be an inflection point in how politics are conducted in an internet democracy. Fuentes may feel like a stranger in a strange land to those anchored in the analog world, but he could be the leading edge of the digital age that will sweep away the analog age of politics. Perhaps the Fosterite Cult of Nick becomes the Church of All Worlds.
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