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Greg Johnson Interviews Mark Dyal, Part 1

markdyal [1]8,517 words

Editor’s Note:

This is the transcript by L. and D.H. of Part 1 of Greg Johnson’s interview of Mark Dyal, which you can listen to here [2]. Please post any corrections below as comments.   

GJ: I’m Greg Johnson. This is Counter-Currents Radio and our guest today is Dr. Mark Dyal. Mark Dyal has a PhD in anthropology and he has written several articles for Counter-Currents/North American New Right. I was very excited when Mark first got in touch with us because I’m always on the look-out for new writers and especially writers who have credentials – academic credentials like a PhD, and a lot of really interesting experiences as you are about to hear. So, Mark, welcome to the show.

MD: Thank you, Greg, for having me.

GJ: So, Mark, tell us a little bit about your life, you know, where you grew up; things like that.

MD: I grew up in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. And, you know, thinking about the Beach community, in fact, I had a really nice childhood. I was into surfing; I was into skateboarding; had a lot of really good friends. It was a small close-knit community and very outdoorsy and active. On the downside of that, I had a very normal, post-modern American childhood in that my parents were divorced when I was maybe three years old. I grew up with a Mom and a sister that doted on me maybe a little bit too much and that . . . I don’t know . . . they put brakes on my becoming a man maybe. And we ate whatever capitalism told us to eat, and we bounced around from school to school quite a bit as my Mom struggled as a single parent trying to find work. So, you know, when I was growing up it was cool. It was a interesting thing from my childhood I hadn’t contextualized maybe until I had found the New Right and certainly until I had found Nietzsche and had certainly found some of these people that made me think a little more critically about this bourgeois form of life.

At the time I thought, “Hey, it’s great,” you know. I learned how to consume for pleasure and that, looking back now, is something that – I don’t want to say “ashamed of” – but I want to say I understand how thoroughly it shaped me as a young adult. There is another side of that that I find very interesting now and that’s the role that my Dad’s family played in my life. And so this Dyal thing in Jacksonville is very interesting, because we’re kind of well-known and . . . I don’t want to say it’s a “noble” name for the City which is certainly not true. But the Dyals were one of these founding families of Jacksonville, and my Dad was real proud of that. And they’ve always been backwoodsy hard-working people and have a history in fire-fighting and a history in commercial fishing, and they’re hunters, and they’re strong and virile and proud men.

And I grew up estranged from that as a child of divorce, and so now I’m looking at my life as a forty-year old going, “My gosh, you know, this is what I want to celebrate about myself, and this is what I want my son to know about my family. And, you know, it took like, going somewhere else; it took the New Right; it took Counter-Currents for me to really understand the value of this . . . this . . . I don’t know. I don’t want to racialize it necessarily, but there’s something really cool and white and Southern about the way that my Dad and the way that his family lived. So, that’s it until I got old enough to start to get, you know, strange decisions on my own and I think we’ll probably get to those really soon so . . .

GJ: One of those decisions was going off to college. Where’d you go to college?

MD: I did my undergrad at Florida State, and like a lot of kids I made a decision to go to school based on a football team that I liked. And we were Florida State fans, and so I decided I was going to go there. I had no idea what I was going to major in; it didn’t really matter to me. I was just some kid that had to go to school and had to go somewhere, so I made that decision almost unthinkingly, and I ended up graduating it 1993 with a Bachelors in Communications which . . . maybe I could’ve gotten a degree in Philosophy or English and, had it even been slightly less useless . . .

GJ: Right.

MD: But it didn’t really . . . it didn’t really make me . . . it didn’t motivate me to go and find a particular kind of job, and maybe that’s good now that I look back on it. I ended up moving to Atlanta after graduation. I got a job with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I thought journalism would be great, and I was really enamored with it when I started, but there’s only so many City council meetings that you can cover in downtown Atlanta before you start to realize you have a really, really crappy low-paying job.

GJ: Right. So you said you could have majored in philosophy. Did you take a lot of philosophy courses as an undergraduate?

MD: I guess I had a Minor in Philosophy, almost like a double major but it wasn’t any type of philosophy that I’m into now, so we took some Greek philosophy. So it’s Aristotle and Plato and we did some 19th-century Europeans. So we had . . . I don’t even remember what it was; you can imagine. It was a regular entry level course. I liked the idea of it, but none of it seemed to make any difference to me. I didn’t understand that there was maybe a critique of modernity or a celebration of modernity that was giving us. I had no context or any political or civilizational context to place any of this stuff, and I think that’s a problem for a lot of kids that find themselves in classes that could be really, really ground-breaking for them, and they just don’t understand enough of it to know what they’re facing.

But it always stayed with me, certainly by the time I decided to go back to school, you know. I had thought about philosophy. But then again you’ve already got a degree that’s useless financially. So I started looking at sociology; I looked at American studies. You’re already going, “This guy is nuts; this guy had no idea,” and ended up settling on Black Studies. So once I had gone through a couple of jobs in Atlanta and realized that I was just really poorly suited for a job, that seemed like the perfectly logical solution. So I started applying around the country to different schools and for reasons at the time that were largely financial I landed in Black Studies at Ohio State.

GJ: Wasn’t living in Atlanta “Black Studies” enough for you? What attracted you to Black Studies as an academic discipline?

MD: You know, by the time I had gotten tired of the job at the newspaper I would find myself just going to the Central Atlanta Public Library and walking around and looking at books, and I don’t remember exactly why, but about that time I got into James Baldwin, and Baldwin became this person that was creative but critical and that pointed a way towards a form of life or at least a way to live in this form of life that would make sense for me. And so probably getting into the discipline made sense mostly from that, but I already had . . . you know, I like to tell people I was a well-meaning white kid. I resisted, like I said, this white, Southern pride that my Dad’s family had and the way that was always presented to me seemed, maybe . . . I didn’t know at the time but it was probably just a little bit vulgar and a little bit . . . simple, and it just never seemed to match. I understand now, my Dad was really fighting a cultural system. You know, he was telling me one thing, and everything that I read and everything that I saw or every interaction that I had with kids at school was telling me something else. So the logical conclusion for an 18-year-old was that your dad is crazy and he’s an archaic beast, basically.

So I got into Malcolm X and being a crack student of Black Nationalism, and we would go to bookstores and get books on Malcolm or Marcus Garvey or the Nation of Islam and this kind of stuff, and it was like me and my friends just thought it was the coolest thing. We just took it upon ourselves to deny any value of, you know, our own culture and history and not necessarily because we had been prompted to do so at school. I graduated from high school in ’88 and really don’t remember enough or know that I paid attention enough to see that our history was already being taken from us or at least being outlawed. It was mostly the music. I got into Public Enemy and Living Color and all of this stuff and this early nationalist rap thing. It all just made perfect sense.

Looking back I guess even saying the words now it’s almost asinine to even think about, but I don’t think I was the only one ‘cos we would go to these concerts and see other kids and it was all these white kids that, you know, would give you the knowing nod and, “Hey, look how cool we are and look how enlightened and how valuable we are as people,” and so I did that. And, like I said, at the time I started thinking about going back to school and I got into American Studies at NYU and, God, I really wanted to do that. And I loved the more philosophical or, at least, literary aspects of that particular academic department, but I just couldn’t afford it. And honestly I decided to go there and I called Ohio State just to be courteous enough to tell them that I was not going to school there, that I had chosen to go to NYU by hook or crook I guess, and the secretary answered the phone and said, “Oh, you’re calling about the stipend,” and this and that and I said, “Oh, what are you talking about?” They had offered me money to come there and I had to sit back and go, “Oh, I can go get a Masters Degree and make money off of it and get teaching experience and all this stuff and then parlay that into some form of a PhD,” and so I decided to do it.

GJ: Well, what kind of reception did you receive as a white Southerner who wanted to get a Masters Degree in Black Studies?

MD: The perfect question; you know, I was at this orientation and I sat there with all the other incoming students in the faculty and we went round and told everyone about ourselves. And I said to them that I was a white man from the South but not of the South. I kind of came up with it on the spot and, you know, I guess it worked ‘cos at least for the moment I ingratiated myself with a decent percentage of the faculty. The other students were very nonplussed, to put it lightly, that I was there at all. And so the whole time I was in Columbus, those two years, I was a total adversary to any of the other students because they correctly understood that this Black Studies thing was not supposed to be a space for critical thought, that it was primarily a space for black self-esteem studies or black “pat each other on the back and notice that we’re here in grad school in a university setting that really despises us and we’re gonna be rebels and study about Frantz Fanon and slavery and not have to be apologetic and not have to put up with too much critique in our positions.” And here I was.

There was, oddly enough, and I think the most important thing I got from Black Studies is that there were two or three professors there that weren’t really having that, that these guys were Ivy League educated scholars, and they were truly committed to an epistemological approach to these problems – this problem of the black man in modernity basically. So here I was coming in with Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey and all this stuff and they’re going, “Okay, read Foucault; read Hegel; read the early European race theory or the creation of the race concept; read Darwin.” And I’m sitting there going, “Holy shit,” . . . excuse me. I’m sitting there going, “My gosh, I don’t know anything about this stuff. I can’t read Foucault.” I’d sit there for days. I remember just sitting in the library for days and days reading Foucault in total silence trying to figure out what I was reading. Honestly it was many years later when I was halfway through the PhD that I finally started to realize what was going on with all that.

So on the one hand they had this impetus in the department that was big on Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” so you could point the finger at Europe and this early global economy that was purposely creating Africa as a space to be mined of its natural resources –human and otherwise – then you had these other guys that were coming in on the back of that going, “what do we need to know about the concept of development at all and how does development ensure a set of particular possibilities of meaningful action on the international stage?” So I’m caught between these two currents and being “the white guy” thing and always trying to figure out, “Okay, what are we actually doing here?” because one thing that a lot of our people would be intrigued by with Black Studies is that, like I said, this is not a critical space. So these people are not interested in undermining the value of race in any way whatsoever.

So I get in, and I get into this wacky, zany crew that was off way to what I would maybe say now to the Right of this Black Studies establishment there. And I’m going around saying, “Oh, this concept of race and it has a history and we need to look at the Enlightenment and we need to look at the origins of maybe the early 19th century . . . ” and these kids are stood there, and they just don’t want to know anything about any of that. So I’m going, “Alright, well, I have to be a white guy and they’re not gonna let my whiteness slide,” so it just became an opportunity for me to not even engage really with the other students at all. So I became one of these kids that basically went to dinner with my faculty and not my peers.

So one of the cool things, though, aside from the idea that these people can’t let race go because honestly they don’t have much value. If you start going, “Blackness is some empty signifier,” they can’t deal with it, because obviously their history doesn’t allow them to deal with it. So this one is something I think we can talk about because I think you already know I have a problem with whiteness as this bourgeois thing, but I also have a problem fully embracing the biogenetic concept of race. But I do want to say this. One of my favorite books when I was in Black Studies was Carter G. Woodson’s The Miseducation of the Negro, and what Carter G. Woodson was essentially to describe the black condition in the 1930s epistemically. He knew that the problem with black valuation of themselves was really a problem of how they were being educated to understand who they were. So I look at that now and I’m thinking, “My God, this is exactly what’s going on with us.” He says, “When you control a man’s thinking you don’t have to worry about his actions,” and that’s one of the buzzword things among the radical black crowd in this country. And you stop and think about it and you go, “This has always been with me and maybe even latently, I don’t know,” because I hadn’t thought about it for years and then all of a sudden it came to me and I’m like, “Oh Jeez, I still have this book on my shelf. Let me see what I was doing with it.” So he’s showing it as a direct correlation between conceptualization and action. So now we need to figure out that our disintegration and lack of a really good organic organizing principle as being fixed in the school curriculum, as being fixed in the popular culture, as being fixed in the public imagination or, as I like to say, the conditions of possibility in our entire cultural and intellectual system. So for me and the New Right I think that is going to end up being where that would be my niche maybe.

The other thing for Black Studies is I think it presents at least a Black Studies model, presents us with a good understanding of how important it is to understand our enemies, who our enemies are and what they’re up to. So I don’t look back on the Black Studies thing and having shame. I actually learned quite a bit. As far as that thing of professional student, I really needed to get a Masters because I was coming from the work world and I was just some guy that liked to read books. I was, however, active for a while in the Socialist Workers Party because of the Malcolm X thing because Pathfinder Press was publishing all of Malcolm’s features, so I thought, “Hey, I need to go hang out with these guys” and that didn’t last very long either. I got in trouble with one of the matriarchs here in Atlanta because I was praising Stokely Carmichael at the expense of Lenin. And I don’t know . . . I had no idea what I was doing! So unless you have something else to ask I feel pretty good about the Black Studies thing, haha.

GJ: Well that’s very, very interesting and I can see how the sorts of things you would study in that curriculum could be quite applicable to the white condition in America today. What writers did you like? I really like Frederick Douglass. Years ago I read his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. I really thought that was a very interesting book because when he describes his struggle with the slave-breaker, I thought “My God, this is Hegel’s master/slave dialectic illustrated very, very well,” and I often wondered if that narrative was being patterned on Hegel or if it was just recapitulating some reality that he and Hegel both described in pretty much the same terms.

MD: You know, I’ve never heard anyone claim that it was a purposeful representation of that dialectic, and, to be honest with you, I think for a while it became really valuable to this kind of nascent Black Studies thing because, I don’t know, Black Studies started I think at least conceptually after maybe ’69 or so. So, I don’t know, the first departments were probably in the early ’70s and so they’re trying their hardest to give some legitimacy to their critique of America, or of white America especially. I think that played a really important role, but at this point I don’t remember. I think we should be honest with how honorable that some aspects of the black experience here have been. I mean, certainly with a man like Malcolm X. Hell, even the FBI couldn’t find any fault with him.

You know, I’m really taken with “Du Boys.” Obviously we would say “Dubois” but the black people say “Du Boys” because it humanizes him a bit, I think. Now obviously The Souls of Black Folk is his most widely read work. He had a ton of sociology works that were based on late reconstruction in the South. He was one of the precursors, I guess we could say, of race as a social construct type thing. And because he was an elitist – he was educated at Harvard, I think – honestly I think he had read a decent amount of Nietzsche and he didn’t associate with the kind of pull-up-your-bootstraps thing that was going on that was really big in the South thanks to whatsisname. Let me suffer trying to think of the name of Booker T Washington – sorry! People that I like know otherwise though, Greg.

I loved Fanon and probably still do somewhere deep in my heart. I haven’t read Frantz Fanon in a while but Fanon was devastating. The Wretched of the Earth was a Black African nationalist manual, I guess similar to something like Mao would have done. And, you know, Fanon read a lot of Nietzsche so the first time that I was exposed to Nietzsche was through Fanon and it’s this kind of weird, existentialist reading of Nietzsche but it’s still there and it was still something I had to deal with. Fanon, in his first book, actually organizes the book in terms of Nietzsche’s kind of “life is something you have to say yes and you have to say no” and so he uses that as the criterion for organizing his book. And that’s something that just always, because I’ve been exposed to it for so long, I just love that idea. And I’d love that for all of us. I’d love that for what the New Right’s doing. It’s like we have to be able to say yes to something, otherwise just saying no is going to kill all of us eventually – not literally, I don’t think. But we have to have something that’s positive and something that’s beautiful and something that we’re willing to defend and not just always attacking people. And that’s something that maybe we can talk about if we have a moment to discuss some of the differences between Europe and America. You know, I think that’s something that needs to be talked about.

Have I already mentioned Baldwin? Good Lord, any person in this country that’s trying to master the English language needs to read Baldwin. His style is just subtle beauty and I don’t really know even a word for it. Reading his essays is reading someone that is literally a master of his craft. So I don’t really know. Other than that I don’t think I’ve carried that many books around with me by anyone else. Most of the contemporary Black Studies type stuff – Bell Hooks and Hazel Carby and these people – I had to know about for the most part but I never got to embrace. I actually attended a Bell Hooks reading here in Atlanta and, you know, it just goes from bad to worse. Here I am, you know, this kid – this white kid. And Bell Hooks is a militant black feminist to the point where she wants to destroy masculinity as a possibility for men of any race. So here I am. I go sit right there on the front row, you know, and there’s old Bell staring down at me and she’s having to talk to all these black women about how great it is to be black women and occasionally she has to make some little aside like, “We’re not forgetting about the plight of the white man either,” and just so patronizing. That was a full experience.

I went to a Malcolm X . . . I don’t know what that thing was; it was some kind of a dinner. I was, of course, the only white person there and they literally stopped me at the door and said, “You know what? This is only for our people and we’re not gonna let you come in unless there’s an empty space at the banquet table.” And of course I was like, “Yeah, that’s great.” Looking back now I think, you know, at least they know the value of what they’re doing. And then I guess the only other really awkward thing I experienced was going to a Sister Souljah book signing and I’d completely forgotten about that until I was just now speaking. That was bizarre ‘cos she didn’t care and she was perfectly happy to denigrate white folk in the presence of white folk. So, yeah, Black Studies and the whole black thing – it was probably good, I think, in the long-run for me now as some form of a professional thinker. It is going to be beneficial that I went and studied race amongst people that really have a stake in race. I’m not saying that we don’t, but obviously, you know, there are problems with the way we get to experience it here in this country. So if people are listening to me and they’ve already read what I’ve written on Counter-Currents, they should know that I’m not one of these Joel Ignatiev guys that is really intent to, you know, devalue our people in any way because it’s absolutely the opposite of, you know, what my thing is.

GJ: So you went on to study anthropology and you have a Doctorate in Anthropology. Tell us a little bit about why you gravitated towards anthropology and also tell us about your Doctoral research in Italy. I think that’ll be really intensely interesting to the audience.

MD: I made the decision to move into anthropology . . . we should say cultural anthropology because the four fields of anthropology –physical, cultural, linguistics and archaeology very, very rarely come into contact with each other. Obviously linguistics has a close association with cultural and archaeology has started to rely on the cultural people a lot more now because they’ve realized that just having a material explanation of some tin-can that washed up on a beach doesn’t always cut it intellectually in trying to explain what the tin-can is doing there. But I made the decision because I’d just gotten flushed out of the back of Black Studies and really, you know everything that I’ve talked about you should be aware that this was at one place.

So by the time I decided to get a PhD I had decided to get a PhD in Black Studies and ended up at UMass at Amherst, and I was there for a year and it was horrifying. There was none of the, “Hey, let’s go read Sartre. Let’s go read Fanon,” from any kind of a weird perspective. It was, “We’re gonna sit around and watch black movies.” It was more just a piling-on. Oh, I loved Ralph Ellison, by the way, the Invisible Man. They hated the Invisible Man at UMass just because ‘Invisible Man’ is another one of these books that tended towards the social construct understanding of race and it had to deal with the place of Communism and the Jews, maybe, and this kind of weird contradictory role of being the saviors of the black community but also the biggest oppressors at the same time. It just didn’t work. It was too complex, and the staff there just hated it.

So I only lasted there for . . . I was struggling. I was searching for an answer and I needed to get out. And there was a gentleman named Nigel Gibson at Columbia, and he was a big-time Fanon scholar, and so he suggested to me that I look at CUNY’s Cultural Anthropology Department, and so I did. I put on my best “I’m a Foucaultian, snotty, white, theoretically-based grad student” grin, and I went down and interviewed with a couple of people, and they all, oh, they assured me as glowingly as they could that I would be perfectly at home there; so they accepted me, and I accepted them, and it was great, and we moved to New York City, and so it just didn’t work out that way.

What I got into, instead of the race crowd, was a Marxist crowd. I didn’t know who David Harvey was. David Harvey, for those who know, is probably the pre-eminent scholar of Marxism in the English language, and he ran the show there. So for me to be sitting there going, “Well, we need to be talking about how Marx is just a liberal and how this economic man is in fact the problem and so just giving the economic man the means to produce and to secure the value of his own labor isn’t going to solve anything.” And these people would go, “What is this kid’s problem? I was so stubborn and so arrogant. And so they beat on me a bit. They had to discipline me. I think they put me in a place that they never dreamed was gonna happen.

So, to back up a little bit, you need to understand that Cultural Anthropology is theoretically and politically determined. So whatever the politics of the day are, that’s what Cultural Anthropology is going to focus on. So, right now, all the job openings are for people that study China and people that study Latin America and people that are really pro-immigration. They love globalization as a topic of study. But they don’t love European, at least, resistances to globalization. So, for instance, there was an article earlier this year in Anthropology News, which is a little newsletter type thing that the American Anthropological Association puts out, and this woman – I think her last name was Piano – wrote this piece about an illegal immigrant revolt in Lampedusa, which is an island south of Sicily which is the entry point for most of the illegals arriving from North Africa. And she just thought it was the greatest thing. “Oh my God, this is something we all need to celebrate and look to motivate more of with our studies. We need to get these immigrants to understand how they can destabilize these Western, racist, closed-off governments.” And she’s writing in a journal that’s sponsored by literally the discipline of anthropology.

So this was quite normal even then. I thought that for most people I was in school with they were there in New York to study higher rates of cancer amongst black women in Harlem, this kind of thing, and studying Chinese immigrants and the perils of the immigration process and studying . . . the veil thing was big at that moment, so anything to do with Islamic women being forced to unveil themselves in these Western secular countries, you know, they just loved anything that was like that.

So, at one point, I started studying Fascism, and it was a really . . . I don’t want to say harmless, but it wasn’t totally unthinking. What I had done is once I started reading Deleuze and Guattari and I had started really coming up the backside of Foucault and I’d inherently realized that this post-modernism and this supposed freedom of language to move from signifier to signified and all these things – I thought it was ridiculous, that what they were really pointing to was how devastatingly secure grammar becomes as a vehicle for controlling and creating thought. So one of these guys mentioned Fascism; I can’t remember which one it was. It must have been Foucault, and I thought, “My God, they’re onto it. This is it, that all knowledge is totalized.”

So this idea that we can be liberated somehow from these terrible things that Kevin MacDonald so lovingly calls this “culture of critique.” You look at the Frankfurt School and the destruction of the family and the destruction of ethnic consciousness and the destruction of the feeling of proprietorship to a nation — all these things are so awful that we have to get rid of. So I was thinking, “I need to use this.” And I was talking to a professor one day about Italy and just talking. And this professor, Jane Schneider – I’ll say her name though she’ll hate me for it – but she’s so beautiful as a person but so liberal at the same time, she suggested, “Oh, you should go to Italy and study some form of this neo-Fascism.” I thought, “My God, I’ve never really considered that, that I really could do it.” So I took a little bit of time to go through finishing up your coursework and you write proposals and you pass exams. So I ended up going to Rome in October of 2006.

So I don’t think that they knew I was going to go over there and really become one of these neo-Fascists that are beating up immigrants on the streets of Rome. I didn’t necessarily do that. But what I said to myself was this: anthropology likes to harp on itself, to let your subjects speak for themselves, but nobody ever does because if the subject starts to speak too illiberally then they are just chastised and told that they’re parochial and told that their views are just a symptom . . . I don’t even know what kind of a terminology we’d use anymore to denigrate people who are proud of themselves who aren’t brown or black. So I said, “I’m going to do this.” I got to Rome. The first day I was there, this first person that I talked to asked me how much I know about Nietzsche. I went, “Oh yeah, I got that. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of him there.” But I kind of didn’t. I knew enough that whatever I had been allowed to study in school, so there’s one or two essays that anthropology was really fond of. I think, “On Truth and Lying in a Nonmoral Sense” was one, and then the untimely meditation about history – I can’t remember the name of it. So they loved these essays. But they never went further. They never wanted to know anything else that Nietzsche said. They weren’t really interested in a critique of metaphysics.

So I had this good . . . I won’t say postmodern American, but I had a really good polite American academic reading of Nietzsche in my pocket. So I said, “You know what, that’s not gonna work.” So I’m living in Rome. I got on amazon UK and ordered basically a stack of Nietzsche books, and I sat there in Rome in my little apartment and started reading these books, then I would go out and talk to the people and I would see what was going on and I would go to the forum. And all of a sudden Nietzsche was talking to me as if he was standing right next to me, and it was just the most extraordinary, certainly conceptual, revolution but also probably the most ethical transformation that’s ever happened to anyone, that all of a sudden I realized that my entire past was serving someone other than who was worthy of it.

So I studied there for almost two years and more or less became one of these kids. I say “kids” endearingly because I will always think of them even though maybe some of them were older than me they all acted with such a spirit of vitality and humor, but also cattiva; they were very kind of aggressive and very, very nasty dudes, and you could look at them and tell. I saw them in action enough to know that a punch in the face is: what it sounds like and what its consequences are. And so I was there and I’m studying Nietzsche and reading about violence and I’m reading about the nobility and the ethics of the idea that violence can be a critique of the bourgeois form of life and some form of liberalism. So it all just started to make sense to me. So I’m in Rome and I’m reading Nietzsche and I’m discovering Evola, and I don’t really remember at this point if I knew who Evola was before these kids. And actually one of the Ultra groups, who are what I guess we would call hooligans – they go to the stadium and there’s a lot of pageantry, and they wave flags and they sing songs, and they used to have smoke bombs and real bombs and flares and do choreographies; these big, beautiful displays of Romanita and, you know, but they’re all Fascists at the same time, at least maybe more than half of them.

So I’m going around doing all these things, and I’m seeing this love. And I’m standing there as this deracinated American kid and, all of a sudden, I’m surrounded by the reality of what it means to have a culture, what it means to be in a community, and what it means to have something to fight for. And you come from America, and especially the American academy, for those who don’t know it is not even possible to talk about civilization. I mean “civilization” is literally a racist buzzword. So you come from eight or so years of being disciplined, and all of a sudden you go somewhere where they’re not only talking about civilization, they are living it, and they’re defending it. So it’s not abstract to them. It’s not abstract at all. It’s the ground that they walk on. It’s the food that they ingest. It’s the air that they breathe.

So I’m having to come to terms, not only with my former Black Studies self. I’m having to come to terms with being an American. And I’m understanding immediately the problems with capitalism and the emptiness of the bourgeois form of life as Nietzsche would call it, and the idea that all the value and anything organic is stripped from our lives. To the point that even smart, critical Americans end up being extremely nihilist and very destructive. And there’s no possibility of the creation of community amongst people that are going, “Well, I’m not gonna have kids and I just hope that this whole despicable race comes to a screeching halt.” This is kind of the attitude that I find among smart people here, especially in Atlanta. And I don’t really know what to do with that. They don’t really understand how nihilistic it is. And, like I said, it’s horrifying for me based on my experiences in Rome and how Rome shaped who I am and how I deal with the New Right especially.

So, how do we deal with consumption? How do we deal with trying to create a community out of a bunch of atomized individuals whose populations are largely defined demographically? It’s like corporate marketers are the only ones who care anything about demographics at this point. So I’m going through all this and I’m writing field notes, and I’m thinking about the dissertation and what I want to say. And what I have to come up with is that Rome is one of these spaces where value and tradition still matter and that the devaluation of existence that capitalism this liberalism does to us is being contested. So the academy loves the idea of contestation. But they don’t love it in those terms. So as I said earlier I was kind of committed to letting these kids speak for themselves. Well, when I went back to New York City after two years in Rome and I’d laid on the table in front of these people basically a dossier. And I started talking to them about Nietzsche, “Well, yeah, they’re going to CasaPound, they’re going to Romulae Genti, to different kind of social clubs and they’re not only discussing the problems of immigration in totally cultural terms. By that I mean they understand immigration as what the costs are to their local culture. They’re not worried about immigrants and corporations having enough cheap labor. That’s not a concern of anyone I was with in Rome. Their only concern is what the price is Romans are paying when local trattoria and little restaurants and cafes are closing and Indian-owned T-shirt stands are opening up in their place, you know.

So I went back and I talked to my betters, and said, “Look these kids are reading Nietzsche; they’re reading Sorel; they’re reading Evola. They’re committed to a form of traditionalism.” I had to explain traditionalism. Basically I wrote my dissertation for people that had no idea how to even critique it. The only thing they said was “Leave out the traditionalism thing,” because at that point I had contacted Josh Buckley. He started talking to me, or I started reading the TYR journal and I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, all this is very applicable,” and I guess my professors just didn’t want to deal with it, so they told me to leave that behind.

So here I am. I’m critiquing capitalism. I’m speaking in glowing terms of people defending their culture and defending something that is a birthright, that this is an inheritance, and just normal kind of working-class people. I suppose if I had moved to Rome and studied Valentino or some fashion design that it would have been so bourgeois that I wouldn’t have noticed any difference between these Romans and someone who studies or works in a similar industry in New York. But I just happened to go there and embrace the most radical and the most socially committed people in Rome and then the most socially committed people I’d ever been around.

So that energy is something I’m trying to bring with me back here. It’s just difficult when it doesn’t translate very well to anyone else in the community. I’ve been able to find two or three other people, maybe four, and people come and go. I’ve realized that the libertarians and the kind of vulgarly racist Republicans don’t want to have anything to do with this. But I’m hoping and I’m assuming, based on my experiences in Rome, that kids that are on the far-Left, that have started in on this culture of critique, I think if we can get them to realize that if they just continue the critique they will arrive in our camp ‘cos there’s no other conclusion they can reach. If you want to be a radically-minded white youth in America there is nothing more radical than being a proud, white youth and knowing your history and knowing the nobility and knowing the potential for greatness and the literal greatness of our people and what we’ve accomplished.

I focus on Greece and Rome just because I love Southern Europe and I love . . . I shouldn’t say the “Latin thing” because obviously the Greeks weren’t Latin, but you can study just Sparta and Roma and be filled with enough positive energy and enough potential glory and such an extraordinary critique, especially in Nietzsche’s terms, such a critique of modernity, that you will fight for the heirs of Greece and Rome, you know, even if we in America would talk about that in terms of fighting for white people. You’d fight until your knuckles fell off.

Once I wrote the dissertation I needed to get a job, obviously, but I knew I didn’t want to get a job. So I started the interview process. And I’m not dumb enough that I’m going into job interviews talking about, “Oh well, I’m a Fascist.” I have to go, “Well, I shaved my head long before I moved to Rome.” I had to present myself as more of a Jason Statham type shaved-head guy and not a skinhead. And they just didn’t buy it. They weren’t totally concerned about a European critique of American capitalism or global capitalism. They weren’t totally concerned with Fascism. They certainly had no interest in what Western Europe was trying to do to save itself, from the Right. So I had a tough time of it. And they would talk to me about multiculturalism. They would talk to me about what strategies I was going to have for keeping my students interested in cultural anthropology, you know because they have Twitter now, and they have all these things. I’m sitting there thinking, “My God, have you people read any of Nietzsche’s early writings or essays or lectures on education and what education’s supposed to be about?” So I was just completely disgusted, even beyond politically disgusted.

So when Counter-Currents was born it made me pause, because as much as I love Arktos . . . and Arktos was probably the first thing I really found because I’m a book freak and their books are beautiful. Anybody who was publishing Evola I had to know about. So I started just buying up all the books I could get and reading and reading and reading and was still trying to dabble in Traditionalism a little bit. But I’m not a good fit with the traditionalists because I’m too Nietzschean really. So I guess you would just call it some kind of metaphysical order of being that we’re supposed to just kind of tap into, I think I went too far with Nietzsche to really think that that was legitimate. I know it’s horrible. I’m probably offending everybody. I’m sure Collin just rolled over in his bed. But I don’t know. If I got into paganism it was more about the ethics for me. These are things I take deadly seriously, but I don’t know how seriously I take them academically.

So, to read Evola and to read Guénon and some of these guys I just read it and go, “Oh, that’s beautiful,” but luckily we have a space that embraces traditionalism, but also there’s such a strong Nietzschean current. And obviously the whole race bio thing which we’ll talk about. So, long story short, at least I knew there was a community. So I would talk to my wife and go, “Babe, I just need you to understand that what I want to do is never going to make us any money. It’s something that you do because you’re committed and it’s something that you do because you’re noble. It’s not something that you do because you’re bourgeois.” She said, “You know what? Give it a year. Try to find a job and do everything that you can do honestly and try to find a job for a year, and if you don’t find a job then give it up,” and so that’s basically what I did.

So I was kind of around. I know you knew I existed. And I was in a lot of conversations with John Morgan and I was just reading. Mostly I was trying to figure out exactly what I was going to say. I was really scared because every time I would turn on Counter-Currents I would learn something, and I would go, “My God, these people are serious. They’re doing it really well. Look at this; this reading of Nietzsche’s phenomenal, and look at the things that I’m learning – Stoddard and all these people I’d never heard of, not to even mention the contemporary authors like Benoist and Faye and all these people.” So finally I read Pierre Krebs’ Fighting for the Essence, and when I read that book I said, “Oh my gosh.” I don’t even know when he wrote the thing. Let’s say he wrote it ten years ago. Every time I turned the pages I said, “I could have written this!” This is it, this highly kind of European . . . this focus on peoples. It’s this kind of, still, maybe a discomfort with race. But beautiful and eloquent and powerful and movement-based. So it made me think alright. It gave me a little bit of self-confidence. Once I had started really paying attention I had to deal . . . I still kind of had to come to terms with race.

So, if I had to make a statement and I kind of feel like in a way that I do, because when I wrote my epistemology paper I was necessarily . . . I certainly wasn’t trying to come across as “race as a social construct” as much as get people to realize the limits to bourgeois conceptualization at all, and by “bourgeois” in this case I would just mean “modern”, that I’m concerned about our ability to be counter-modern our ability to be at war with modernity but still conceive of ourselves in terms that are extremely modern. So, for me, I have a problem with it. I don’t know in the long run how much it matters that we’re all fighting for the same cause, you know, if Matt Parrott and Jared Taylor and some of these guys, I’m gonna be there just like they’re gonna be there. So I’m kind of hoping we can all look at this as more of our own little academy and learn from each other, and not so much have to preach to the choir but know that we are right as part of a community that understands each other, that we have this kind of common language and we have these common ethics that, in a lot of senses, is very rare so that we can speak to each other and not be like, “Oh, this Mark Dyal is . . . ” something maybe that I’m not.

With the idea of race, you know I read Evola and love this idea of race of the soul and race of the spirit. But at the same time I’m more of a supremacist than a separatist, or maybe am a supremacist-separatist. I guess I’m very . . . I guess eternally skeptical of the role of the academy and the role that concepts play in our movement. So there’s this highly pluralist move amongst the separatists and it just reeks to me of apologia and of pandering to, “Oh yes we are going to be white people and we are going to have our own ethnic interests, but do not fear, because, unlike white people in the past who were so warring and daring and who were explorers, we’re not going to impinge upon your own ethnic reality.” And I’m looking at it going, “Dude, I’m not apologizing for anything.” I’m just not doing it. There’s no reason for us to be ashamed. There’s no reason for us to even give pause in front of what happened in the latter parts of WWII. I don’t care. None of it has any moral or ethical weight for me in a negative sense. Nobody can say anything. “Oh, you’re a racist.” “So what?” This is the way I look at this — in academic terms, always, of course.