This is the transcript by Lee and Donna Hancock of Part 2 of Greg Johnson’s interview of Mark Dyal, which you can listen to here. Please post any corrections below as comments.
GJ: So Mark, you did your doctoral dissertation on the Ultras. Can you tell me a bit about the basic thesis of the dissertation and the things that you’ve studied, the things that you discovered?
MD: Sure. The dissertation itself is an examination of the relationship between belief and practice, or belief and behaviors. What I was mostly interested in doing was trying to figure out how these people were politicized, then how that politicization then became something knowable or something that you could actually observe. And the way that I thought I was going to study that didn’t actually play out, because of their extraordinary critique of modernity. So, once I had my hand in that pot it was very difficult for me to then use this kind of social science methodology that I’d been trained to use and that I had brought to Rome with me. That’s how, when we talked earlier about Nietzsche, Sorel, and Evola and these guys, that’s how I came to having to use them as a theoretical basis of the dissertation.
So, when I was looking at these very local . . . I guess even in anthropological terms there’s this idea that there are local reactions to globalization and local reactions to what I call liberalization. But I guess the radical thing about my work was that in looking at it in a European context the moral burden shifted more strongly to these guys, to these Ultras, simply because the American academy was not prepared to see them as being the victims or as having something worth defending or something that you could defend against, these kind of normal people that we play as the victims and as these kind of noble savages. So, I think I said earlier, for me the dissertation is primarily a critique of the relationship between morality and truth. So I guess all that makes sense, at least it does to me!
I think one of the cool things that I can relate to you as a little episode that might help that make sense was an evening with a group of particular Ultras’ family. I was with him, his girlfriend, and his mother and father – maybe his aunt was there – so it was a nice little group of Roman people. We had gone to dinner, and were walking across one of the bridges from the center of Rome back over towards St. Peter’s, and there’s a gypsy camp that’s been set up right there in the center of Rome. I was with this family, and they walked halfway across the bridge, and the father turned around very slowly and just had this gaze that was probably closer to that Indian. Remember the native guy they used to have on TV that looked at all the trash thrown around, and this tear comes down his face? It was literally the same, exact reaction that this really beautiful, kind, awesome Roman father had. He was a funny, kind guy, and he and never talked to me about his political beliefs. He knew his son was a Fascist, but I think he was probably a Communist himself.
And it was just horrifying to me that I was standing there as: number one; one of them by now, but also as someone doing social science research. And to see that I would have been expected to fight or to moralize on behalf of these gypsies that were so brutally disgusting in Rome was really a problem for me. I realized at that moment that there was no turning back for me, that I could not be someone that took the other side. So for me at that point it was a pretty clear and easy decision, but it just really brought home the beauty of what I had found and the changes that were taking place in me and the way that I understand the world.
As far as the Ultras themselves, going to Livorno with a group of Roma Ultras is really, really fun, because Livorno is a tiny, little town on the Tuscan coast, but it’s also the birthplace of the Italian Communist Party. So the people there . . . you walk through Livorno and there’s tons of Stalin Vive!, even though you might not be able to understand how that could be critiqued from a Fascist perspective. There’s tons of graffiti about the Soviet Union. The hammer and sickle is ubiquitous. The game itself is broken down into two curvas. One is the Roman Ultras that are chanting “Duce! Duce! Duce!” for ninety minutes, and the Livorno Ultras at the other end of the stadium and they’re singing partisan songs about the Soviet Union, about Communism.
So just being in that atmosphere and seeing the Fascists and the Italian flag . . . because being in that context the Italian flag becomes a very stark symbol of nationalism. And then there’s the Livorno people – the Livornese – and they have a huge banner across the end of the stadium that says “Our tricolore, our Italian flag, has a red star on it.” It’s just something that you would have to see to believe; and the police presence, and the anger, and this sort of visceral reaction between the two groups of fans is really extraordinary. So I was able to do that trip twice, just a lovely trip.
There was an occasion two or three times in Milano . . . The people in Milano are very aggressive, like the Romans are, so you’re much more likely to get in a fight or be accosted by a group of fans and have things thrown at you. So that rivalry for people that study the Ultras is very interesting, because there’s been so many episodes that are just hard to believe with violence and with kooky violence – people throwing motor-scooters off one level of the stadium, this kind of thing, and have it crash down on a group of people 50 feet below. For us it was mostly bombs or flares that were thrown, and a couple of bottles, and this and that. But still you get that energy. To be in a mob of people is, you know, it’s a very interesting thing to be in a mob of people that you really respect, that you’re willing at that point to fight alongside, and to fight for the same principles.
The principles themselves . . . I don’t remember if we talked about Romanita and this sort of great concern for the sanctity of Rome and the sanctity of the Roman people and the idea that there is a Roman people. There were these things that became part of the air that we were breathing over there. I’m trying to think of one other really cool incident that might have happened, but mostly it was just 15 months or so of really kind of a nice rolling boil, and being around the people at CasaPound and being with the other kind of social destra people in Rome. You were just kind of geeked-up all the time, and you were ready and willing to engage people, but you were also engaged in, you know, it was this very prideful engagement with the world.
GJ: Sorel is a person that you’ve mentioned a couple of times along with Nietzsche and also Evola. What role did Sorel play in this? Were the Ultras themselves reading Sorel, or were you reading him and using him as a way of understanding them, or both?
MD: I would say both, mostly that there were one or two guys in the Boys Roma group that were really infatuated with Sorel. The reason why is very simple. Sorel has a very short part of the Reflections on Violence that deals specifically with the bourgeois prohibition against violence. So they were really infatuated with this, because of the fact that this Ultra and certainly the Rightist or Fascist Ultra phenomenon is very violent. And for them, what they talked about as the Ultras, was the ethic of violence, because by then we’re talking like late 2007, other than sporadic violence, the police started to get a better handle on how to keep these groups of people separated on game day. So the violence then became internalized and became, as I said, in Sorelian terms they started talking about an ethic of violence in that what they really were doing was this willing of violence as they understood it was creating a barrier between them and this bourgeois form of life. So they were reading him, and then, of course, I had to read him. I probably read a little bit more of it than they did, just because it’s in my nature to and they were actually doing things, and I was just reading, you know.
So I think I didn’t end up using much more than that idea from Sorel. I think I was able to connect it to the state, which is another aspect of the Ultras that I studied or talked about in my dissertation because it was very hard to get a handle on how this type of Fascism and certainly how this type of localism or even this traditional approach to life, you know, how does it work? Even we talk about it in the North American New Right, how do you deal with the liberal state in all of this? So, Sorel with Schmitt and Deleuze and Guattari and these guys. I was never someone that believed in . . . Well, I can’t say “never” but at that point, you know, this idea of individualism, this ridiculous dichotomy between free will and determinism and all these things just washed away from me. So I guess my epistemology paper makes all that clear. But when you start putting Sorel into a model of the liberal state you get this sense that there are these spaces which are somehow freed, and if you have a certain type of behavior, a certain type of mentality, then you can carve out enough free space where you can actually move and think and do things that aren’t tainted by liberalism.
GJ: So, Mark, all this violence is primarily directed at other Italians, and it’s also directed at other Italians over something that, at least to me – this is just my intellectual prejudice – is silly. I mean, this is a team sport. It’s a game. On the one hand I can see that games and team rivalries and local rivalries are engaging the same deep part of the soul that larger, more important, national spirit engages, right? But my question is: is this just a way that people let off steam? Is it essentially, therefore, a political dead-end? Or is this going to be the foundation, perhaps, of some kind of new, Italian, nationalist political movement that might actually save Italy from being colonized by aliens?
MD: You know, I really want to believe it’s the latter and not so much silly bickering. People ask me, “Are you sure those guys weren’t just drunken idiots who’d read Nietzsche, and you just read in what you wanted to find.” I laugh. I think it’s a legitimate question, but the idea that the Ultras . . . this is where it becomes really interesting. The way that they veer more towards Nietzsche maybe than traditional national Fascism is because, I don’t know if they could save the state or save the Italian nation in any way whatsoever. Because in a lot of ways . . . this is the point I was going to make with Sorel . . . they understand that the liberal state is something that has been imposed from without, that for these guys the natural state of Italy and of Italians are local city states. So, there’s a lot of academic literature that deals with trying to figure out if Italy even exists beyond being a peninsula that sticks into the Mediterranean.
What I discovered was that these types of questions are very legitimate. Because the Italians, and the Italians that are really committed to being Italian, understand Italy as a collection of city states. So the Milanese and the Romani and the people from Firenze and Venetia and – I might have talked about this earlier – there’s a constant state of bickering at least in the current political system that keeps this idea alive that these people are not the same, and they’re not necessarily committed to the same goals or ends. So the Ultras area are really exaggerated form of this. The phenomenon is called campanilismo which is the love of one’s bell-tower. Every little town or town has a bell-tower. So I can’t say that it could develop into a unified national movement per se. I think what you have is a great . . . there’s already such a wealth of shared cultural and historical information that these guys pick up on, so that the rivalries tend to have very little to do with sport. That’s not to say that sport doesn’t feed into it in the sense that, you know, if somebody gets shafted by a referee, and they lose a championship by a point to another team, they’re going to remember that kind of thing. But the initial rivalry is usually connected more to the political history of Italian city states.
So that’s a good question in that it’s hard to truly connect these guys to the Fascist parties or the Fascist movement because they don’t necessarily want to engage in the state. They don’t want to create another unified form of Italy at all. If they had their choice, you know, these kids would have Rome and nothing else. But at the same time they do dabble. There is a ton of crossover. I mean, you’re talking about CasaPound having its own Ultra group in the Roman curva. So that’s not to say . . . I’d be willing to say that what I’m talking about transcends all the groups, all of the different teams. But, you know, that’s not to say that there’s not some variation, that there’s not tons of people that work diligently for Forza Nuova or Fiamma Tricolore or CasaPound or any of the other groups in Rome.
GJ: While you were in Rome did you have any contact with the more mainstream Italian Right?
MD: Yeah, by the time . . . CasaPound’s been around for a while but they were underneath my radar for most of the time I was there. I think it was just because, you know, as a researcher I was primarily trying to deal with this Ultra phenomenon, so CasaPound didn’t officially enter that thing midway through 2007. So by then I was already embedded with the people that were associated with Fiamma or with Forza Nuova. So I really got a nice bit of contact with the Forza Nuova people because they were the most . . . I found them to be more serious, and they had no intentions at all of working within the liberal political system, and I admired that much more than the Fiamma people who were part of MSI who had already sold out, you know. And when you start trying to deal with our situation from the position of bourgeois politics I think you kind of lose that revolutionary impetus and you lose the willingness to be in the streets and to have that kind of natural Italian approach to the Right.
So, to answer your question, Forza Nuova was for me very important, and they made it clear that they were serious and that they were smart and that they were very, very violent. But they also were, you know, comedians. They have a great sense of drama. But as far as the actual politics, you know, it’s pretty straightforward stuff when you start breaking down political agendas with either immigration or buying Italian. The thing with Rome kind of muddles it a little bit, because the Romans want Fascism to be Roman which, I think we mentioned earlier, it kind of is, based on Mussolini’s transformation of the city and this very kind of deep idea of Mari Nostrum and really the placing at all under the purview of either Romanita as a unifying element for all Italians or using this third Rome as another kind of unifying theme.
So Forza Nuova became really important because they were into all that. They weren’t really as devoted to it as they wanted to be because Roberto Fiore has a national agenda, so it’s very difficult in a lot of ways to sell Rome to Italians because they’ve all been inculcated by now by the Lega Nord people – the Northern League – that’s kind of convinced everyone that Rome is the biggest cesspool on the face of the earth. So you’re fighting, I guess, lots of different discursive levels when you start dealing with the Fascist groups, and you put Rome in the mix, and you start trying to figure out “What’s their position on Rome?” which is what I really wanted to know.
GJ: So, Mark, you finished the dissertation. Are you going to do any more research on the Ultras or on Italian politics more broadly, or are you just going to be focusing on other things in the future?
MD: I’d like to have the opportunity to follow up on some things. Obviously I have friends still. I’d like to do a deeper study of CasaPound since they really exploded in the couple of years – God, it’s been five years now – since I’ve been in Rome. But I don’t know. Being disconnected from the academic system will probably prohibit me from taking too much time off and going back over there unless I just decide to pack up the family and go, which of course would be a great decision for us. But it’s hard to envision in the current economy doing something like that. But I think it’s mostly . . . as far as studying other Italian phenomena, hell, I’d love to study anything. I’m very intrigued by any of the aspects of localism, whether it be cuisine or wine-growing, you know, there’s a ton of decisions that people over there are making even at the level of just trying to keep a tiny indigenous grape alive, because every little thing has value. I would love to do a deep study of any of these types of things, but at the same time I think it’s more realistic to plan to at least use that mentality in the things that I study here.
Unfortunately, I guess, I’m sometimes guilty of just denigrating the American experience because it doesn’t add up to this really meaningful existence that these people have especially in ways that . . . good lord, it seems very simple because it’s mostly just pride, and it’s pride in things of which we could certainly be proud of. We’re just not allowed to be, I guess. I mean, I don’t say that lightly. I know it’s the truth. But I think that’s in the context of a discussion on the New Right. We’re all fighting to figure out a way to get more of our people to wake up to what’s being done to us. So I’d never say never; I would love to be someone who could shed more light on the Italian Right. We’ll just see.
A lot of it has to do with making contacts and being face to face. I found that trust was really, really important. There were a lot of people, whether it be Ultras or Fascists, that wouldn’t have one thing to do with me until they saw me and continued to see me and saw the commitment that I had to everything they were doing, that I could talk about Fascism, that I could talk about immigration in certain terms, and I understood the history of Rome. So, mostly I would like to turn more of our people on to these types of things. So maybe I’ll stick with that for a couple of years and spread the word about Nietzsche and Sorel and Evola and certainly about Fascism and this form of the social Right.
GJ: You mentioned an interest in localism in Italy. Have you done any reading or research about Carlo Petrini and the whole Slow Food movement?
MD: Absolutely! In fact I was going to mention Slow Food a moment ago when I mentioned cuisine. Slow Food is another one of these things, Greg. It’s a very simple idea designed to create a barricade around the Americanization of Italian lives. It’s very difficult for me to talk about these things in very simplistic or even simple . . . not “simple” but . . . for an American audience that’s never spent time around these people, you know, even for someone like my dad, it’s very hard to impress upon people how deeply these things are felt. So just the idea of avoiding the very few opportunities to ingest fast-food or the changes that have taken place with the introduction of more women in the work-place, you know, these things happened here so long ago that we don’t think anymore that it’s odd that a woman might get home from work and not have enough time to create a nice meal for her family. Well, you say that to an Italian in an Italian context these meals and the creation of this cuisine wherever you are is an extremely deep, meaningful part of life that these dishes . . . Good Lord, I was reading at one point that this oxtail, Coda alla Vaccinara, or one of these pastas like cachiopepe has been around longer than the United States. So we’re talking about a simple pasta dish that’s been in existence since the 18th century at least as far as we know, and you just sit there and go, “My God!” So I love the idea of Slow Food. I love that people are actually trying to incorporate that idea into the American dining experience. But you’re putting the cart before the horse here anyway.
GJ: So, Mark, any other thoughts on the race issue?
MD: I don’t know. What am I? I’m high on maybe race feeling, as Spengler said, but maybe not so much unconsciousness but at the same time I’m extremely conscious. It’s just maybe my . . . maybe the window out of which I look is maybe more narrow than people would assume, you know. So if I’m looking at Sparta and Rome that’s all I need to be motivated, stem the tide of this degeneration and certainly the understanding that our people are on a fast track to oblivion!
GJ: One of the things I’m going to write sometime in the coming year is a critique of these non-biological notions of race. I wrote a piece about Spengler’s discussion of race and, in the end – I didn’t state it in that piece – but in the end I basically concluded, “Look, he’s talking about different things.” On the one hand there are biological categories, natural kinds, different breeds of animal in the world. But when he talks about race he’s talking about more of a vital impulse for propagation. It’s like a biological, psychological vitalism. And I just think that’s a different thing than natural kinds, for instance. I do wonder about people who want to argue about notions of spiritual race and things like that, if they’re really just trying to bootleg in some kind of metaphysical dualism, I don’t know. There are questions that I need to settle on these sorts of issues.
I think, however, that biology is really the hallmark of classical thinking. Aristotle is a biological thinker, for instance. Plato is a biological thinker. Plato thinks in terms of organic wholes. He thinks of the city on the model of the soul, right, and things like that. I think modernity and modern biology provide a huge store of knowledge and a great gift to us, yet I think what my problem with modernity and modern science is, is really not so much scientific study – especially scientific study of natural kinds in biology; it’s this kind of overweening, progressive “We’re going to take control of everything; we’ve got it all handled; we can figure out everything; any problems that come along we can figure out,” that kind of attitude, I think, is problematic. But on the other hand I can also read someone like Spengler and I can listen to my own race-soul speaking and I just want to say, “That’s just Faustian man.” It’s like, “We’ve got this covered. If the universe starts degenerating over time we’ll just find a way of winding it back up again. Don’t worry.” It’s Nietzsche to me. It’s the idea that man can redeem the universe by becoming God.
MD: I think for me, because I’ve talked about my academic background so although Black Studies and made discussion of race imperative and cultural anthropology does not. I can say this flatly that beyond cultural anthropology which is what most people . . . it’s like primate studies and human evolution. Beyond physical anthropology the serious study of race is dead, you know, that there is no . . . Even a cultural anthropologist will only deal with a physical anthropologist if they are beneficial to whatever argument the cultural anthropologist is trying to make. So someone that is wanting to look at criminality you’re not going to go back and look at these Italian dudes that were talking about criminal behavior, criminal tendencies and racial groups. That’s never going to happen! You know, you’re going to talk about racism; you’re going to talk about lack of economic opportunity and you’re going to talk about all these kind of systemic causes that we have created really to move our explanatory devices away from being offensive to those that are the weakest amongst us, I guess you would say.
So I came from this environment and then I went to Rome and it was really interesting because these kids aren’t necessarily acting racially in their mind. Because I think they don’t really need to, even though for them culture – la cultura – is what’s under threat, and that is what matters. So maybe they’re not quite under siege enough to realize that it’s certainly a racial reality that we’re facing, at least as far as biological fact. So, you know, I don’t know. For me, I can’t really love biology just because I see it as a discipline. I see it as something that’s not value-neutral, you know, but at the same time certainly, like you said, I mean these ancients were onto something. I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to learn everything I could about Lycurgus who was the kind of – I’m not going to say “mythical” as if he didn’t exist – but the mythical lawgiver who turned Sparta into the warrior society that we celebrate today. Lycurgus was a straight-up eugenicist. He was promoting, all the marriages were planned, and the kind of physical exercise was demanded of mothers and fathers alike; and the idea that strong women have strong babies, and he talks about breeding and you’re reading it going, “Oh, this is insanity.” This is just a few years younger than Homer!
So I think that you’re onto something, and I do think this is something that I have to deal with as a thinker myself. I’m not trying to deny this stuff, and I have a responsibility; I have a child, and I feel I have a responsibility to have another child, so I get all that. My problem is that I don’t want to simply . . . I just think we need to continue to work as thinkers and work as people that are dedicated to our culture and dedicated to our people to be able to celebrate the aspects of our culture that are noble and that are worthy of celebration and that we can be proud of regardless of the “victims” that these people and times might have created.
I think all of us probably have a soft spot for 300. I talk to a lot of people and they do. They might not understand it as deeply as I do or kind of figure out the problems with it or whatever. But then, you know, I still have black friends that openly identify with Xerxes and the Persians; I just can’t comprehend it! I look at it and I’m going, “I don’t identify with Spartans because they’re White,” even though I am. I’m identifying with them because they’re honorable. These are the people that their behavior and they’re fighting an impossible battle to save everything that they knew and everything that they loved and everything that for them was worthy of saving. So, I don’t know. So I’m listening to myself talk, and I go, “Well, maybe there’s something there.” Maybe this is another aspect of how everyone else is allowed to be racially conscious and racially proud,m and we’re not.
So these are all things I’ll continue to deal with as a thinker. I don’t think it’s going to delimit or devalue some of the things I’ll be able to say in the meantime. Because I do think the Europeans are onto something with their kind of freedom and their kind of liberation from dealing with race as the central topic of discourse. I mean, look at the beauty of the works and the variety of topics that these guys are putting out. Race kind of becomes, well, they don’t live in a melting-pot yet like we do and that, when we talk about the differences between Europe and America, especially from my experience, these Roman kids – they have no idea. They don’t know until they get off an airplane and go through Atlanta’s airport would they ever understand what we’re talking about with the fact that we’ve lost control of our country. So they understand that New York is a kind of guazzabuglio – like a mishmash – and they don’t want that. They understand that there is some kind of inherent problem with people all living crammed together, and the only thing that reigns is vulgarity and mediocrity. So while I’m not a big racist or racialist, I’m big on purity, you know, and that doesn’t fly. But I believe completely that polities and communities should be pure and that you should live around people of your own type.
So what does that make me? I don’t want to say “contradictory” like maybe I’m some kind of Marxist. But I have a lot of layers of things that I’ll continue to bring out. And perhaps it strikes a nerve with someone and I try to have a vision towards kids and people that are not already ethically inclined to agree with us. But at the same time I’m not the best person to reach them, you know, because I’m very elitist and I’m a bit of a jerk and I’m very quiet and reserved as an individual and, you know, I’m not going to go beating on people’s doors. Luckily we have people like you and Professor MacDonald and the Occidental people.
I’m really intrigued by the idea of using the New Right as a university and as an academy in and of itself. We have enough people with credentials that we can write meaningful work, and you and John Morgan and other people can publish this work, you know? We can not necessarily survive monetarily but we can create. We’re creating an environment where people like me can actually have this really vital sense of community and sense of contributing to something that’s monumental and potentially revolutionary. I don’t have any misconceptions that it’s going to bear fruit any time soon.
We have people – Michael O’Meara and Kevin MacDonald, Sunić. These guys are heavyweight thinkers. These are big-time academic writers. To me, I’m trying to emulate them ultimately. Now, writing essays and stuff I think you need to be a little more open to, you know, style and common forms of language and whatever. But that’s kind of why I’m here. I feel like I’m a committed kind of revolutionary, honestly. I’m a “movement” kind of guy but at the same time, you know, I’m an intellectual. And this is a really cool thing that we have something that offers people with our motivations a forum.
GJ: Well, it’s really great to have you involved with all of this especially because I do think of this as a kind of online university – a virtual university – and you’re the anthropology department, Mark, so welcome on board. So I think that one thing that we should discuss, though, is metaphysical objectivity. I’m very strongly inclined towards traditionalism. There’s this metaphysical realism in traditionalism; there’s an objective order to things and yet you do find, within modern philosophy – especially late modern, postmodern philosophy – there is a critique of different perspectives. I think that’s important. I think it’s important to recognize, for instance that what’s called “knowledge” is often really in the service of power, it’s ideology, and so forth.
But when you say that you’re put in an awkward position because, on the one hand, if you universalize that claim then you have to say that your own statements about knowledge are non-objective or they’re conditioned in some way, perhaps ways that you don’t know, that they’re in service to some regime, whatever. Or if you say, “No, this is an absolute claim,” then you’re sort of put in a position like Hegel was. Hegel believed that all knowledge was conditioned. But he had arrived at the absolute condition – namely, the end of history – so he could make absolute statements whereas everybody else before him couldn’t. It was all relative and contextually relative to inadequate states of human evolution.
I think that, for me, the way I want to put this all together is simply to say, “Look, there’s an objective order to things, and there are more or less adequate world views, and it is perfectly possible to explore the relativity of different world views, how they function within social systems and things like that.” But you just can’t lose sight of the fact that, still, I think there’s some kind of objective measure. So, when you talk about cultural anthropology . . . I could have had a minor in Cultural Anthropology as a graduate; I just never filled out the paperwork because I was so sick of it. It was basically just Marxism, neo-Marxism, post-Marxism, postmodern Marxism, feminism – it was very much just ideological axe-grinding from beginning to end, and very little of it is knowledge in my view. Why not just say, “That’s all ideology, but there is truth about culture; there is truth about the human race too”?
MD: Yeah, well, I think what we have to do as these thinking . . . I don’t want to say “critical” in the negative sense, but we’re critical individuals. And I think ultimately as “Okay, we have this intellectual movement,” and, you know, perhaps some of us will break into certain camps, you know. At this point I would certainly continue to . . . I would have to be more or less postmodern because objectivity is still a problem for me just because I’ve been conditioned to have a problem with it. So I think if we say, as thinkers, we might have some disagreements, but I think what we come back to as people that are committed to the race or our people, however you want to say it. You have to have something to come back to.
And, you know, kind of my point would be with that paper on epistemology was that, number one, I am surprised that nobody said to me after what you said just now, you know. Here I am talking knowledge in a certain way and no-one said, “Oh well, you know, you are also . . . ” This epistemology is impossible to make any positive statements on knowledge and how it acts in the human body or human mind without being also certainly in league with these modern concepts I’m trying to get away from. But I think it also makes a lot of this irrelevant because we have a goal. That’s why I always wanted to say to people, “Don’t worry, I’m there. I’m fighting this for the right reasons.” Yeah, maybe I might be esoteric, and maybe I’m a little muddled, and I’m certainly not a traditionalist, and I’m highly Nietzschean. But none of these reasons would prohibit any of us from fighting together or at least thinking and working together.
So, you know, it’s difficult maybe in America: I think Baudriallard and these people were really prescient with their critiques of America. Hell you could take it back to Tocqueville. These Europeans really seem to get this simulacrum and they understand that basically Vegas is America at least for urban Americans. Now you get out in the countryside and it becomes a little more Italian for me because there’s a real, like you say, objective reality. The sun comes up and goes down and you can watch the sun move across the sky seasonally and you were connected with the earth and, you know, your work provides food and all of these things are still, you know, I think you get a better link to the primordial in man and especially in our people. It’s kind of like you said before it’s having an indomitable will, and I think the traditionalists certainly try to tap into that idea, to come back at it from a Nietzschean perspective you know, and to think about Nietzsche on the mountaintop and hiking and doing all this stuff, and Evola the same thing. To me, those become more important even conceptually, even at the level of how I try to organize what I want to do as a thinker, than the mere kind of politics of language and the politics of knowledge at all.
I read the Michael O’Meara piece that was published this week on American supremacy. You’re looking at it, and it makes perfect sense. Maybe you have to struggle with this for a while like we have which is just perfectly great in my estimation. I think we should all suffer for what we know. And you should have to struggle and you should have to . . . you should only know something once you’ve really, really dealt with it over the course of a decent amount of time. But we read these pieces on Counter-Currents, and they make sense. So if we want to chalk it up to something objective, if we want to chalk it up to a shared ethical universe, for me that almost becomes objective after a while as well, at least as something that is quantifiable. So I don’t know how much that would add to what we’re trying to get at, but there is . . . I don’t know. Sorry. Edit.
GJ: No, that’s all very good. I think the point you’re making is that there is the lived experience, there’s the lived reality of what we’re doing, and then there are the different theories that we have to try and explain it. And the lived reality is a sense of danger, a sense of racial and cultural oblivion, and the sense that there’s an enemy, the sense there’s a struggle, and then the theories come later. So we all have that common ground of lived experience, of shared struggle and shared dangers and things like that. I think it’s very important not to let, after the fact, theorizing become such an all-important thing that it basically blinds us to that primal lived common reality.
MD: You know, it’s very important for me to continue to think about the New Right, or not even continue. Hell, I just kinds of got here, officially. But the fact that you guys welcomed me so warmly was . . . I don’t want to say “surprising,” but at least it validated my struggle, and it validated the sacrifices that my family is making, and it validated the ideas. Maybe something I didn’t make super-clear earlier was that I kind of came to this organically. Evola, Sorel, and Nietzsche and living in Rome and being around Fascism and certainly studying Fascism in a very kind of serious and reverent way: it alerted me to a strain of thought, this counter-enlightenment thought, it’s been called. So I thought, “Hell, I’m just going to pick up and run with this!” There is some way I can use Nietzsche in a pure form, that I can write, and I can critique, and I can conceptualize, and I can talk about the problems in America, and I can talk about the problems with globalization, and I can talk about the problems in Europe or Rome or Italy or whatever in these Nietzschean terms, and talk about cultural degeneration, and talk about ascension, and talk about strength and weakness, and talk about morality.
So then, when I found Counter-Currents, I thought, “My God, there are all these people that are already doing this.” So, again, like I said, it gave me pause to make sure that I had something to bring to the table and that you guys embraced me was really extraordinary. So I go and start – I don’t say “conversations” – with Collin Cleary and with Matt Parrott and the fact that it wasn’t mud-slinging, you know. Honestly, the Matt Parrott paper I was really, really honored by. I felt like here’s a guy that’s been here, made this decision earlier than me and he wrote a wonderful response, and a response that I thought honestly was a little more maybe surprisingly in my corner than maybe other people thought it would be. So I’m kind of going, “I see how this thing works.” We need to be serious and we need to respect each other and, yeah, we have these differences but we’re all – at least from my position – trying to learn. Good Lord, just the stack of books from Counter-Currents and just the journal the North American New Right, every page I am scribbling on and trying to figure out how to make sense of something.
It’s a beautiful thing that you have people at the Ph.D. level that are still challenging each other and that we’re not having to read Telos or some weird, ultra-academic journal to be stimulated and to understand the gravity of these ideas and the gravity of what’s happening to us, and the creation of an awareness of who we need to be concerned with, and these unnamed people and these unnamed systems of thought. I take that very seriously and the idea of you treating this as a university: I hope that we can continue that and continue to have subjects and content that perhaps can begin to rival what the true – I don’t want to say the “true” but at least the sponsored academy is up to. Good Lord, the idea of some kid trying to write a paper on Foucault would find his way to Counter-Currents, I mean, you just never know what that could mean, you know. So I take that all very seriously and I’ll be eternally honored to be amongst you guys. All of us are brave; all of us are committed; all of us have made sacrifices in doing something that history is going to have to deal with.
GJ: Well, I like your attitude. So tell me, what are some of the projects that you are envisioning?
MD: As far as writing essays, I started off with Walter Otto’s Homeric Gods which is, my gosh, what an extraordinary book that is. That was just to get people to pick up Otto’s book. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t ever take my word for any of it. Man, if I say something that inspires you go find out what Otto said. Go find out what Nietzsche said. Go read Evola. Go read Sorel. I want to write a nice paper on Sorel. You know, as I continue to find my voice I’d like to maybe write things that are really academic in style, if you want that or if you feel that Counter-Currents is the proper vehicle for it. Obviously we have a couple of options as authors. The epistemology paper, I feel was something that I needed to get out of my system. I wanted to put some things out there and all I needed was dialogue and, honestly, I think that’s kind of what we started. At least I tapped into something where people might have gone, “Yeah, there might be a problem here.”
I’m trying to write a paper now. The note accumulation process is already two weeks old, and it’s non-stop. But I’m wanting to write a paper on epigenetics and the relationship between the vital body and vital concepts. So I want to kind of tie Nietzsche in with Sparta and talk about this maybe to try and motivate some of us to get into the gym, you know, to become more ready, I guess, as Jack Donovan might say. So that’s something that’s coming up. I think we’ll write a couple of things that are maybe less exciting for some of us. I want to write something on Deleuze and Guattari. I want to write some stuff on Foucault. The Sorel piece should be really good. I still have a lot to learn before I pick up a pen and actually say his name too much. And I’m really intrigued by some of the podcast opportunities that you posted. Of course, I tend to hate my voice in recorded form and maybe when I hear this I might say, “Well, maybe no-one else wants to suffer listening to my voice for too long!”
GJ: No, you have a good radio voice, you really do. So I don’t think that’s going to be a problem at all. I think the Deleuze and Guattari idea, Sorel, Nietzsche – all of those are really good. What I would like to do, and what we have done over the last two-and-a-half years, is create a kind of online encyclopedia so that people who are doing online research will come and find a really compelling little piece about a particular work by Nietzsche or four important concepts from Deleuze and Guattari explained in simple ways, and people will come back again and again and again because they’ll get it; it’ll be compelling, and it’ll also be from our point of view. So the goal of Counter-Currents is to be about the whole world, from our point of view. So that’s really important.
One figure that I wonder about: if you’re into anthropology and you’re into the Italians and Italian language and culture, have you read Vico?
MD: Yeah, I haven’t read a lot of Vico, and honestly at this point I couldn’t tell you what I read. So it’s probably not an adequate response at this point, you know, and it might be more due to my lack of will to be disciplined by anthropology than any deficiencies in Vico’s writing. Like I said, once I figured out I could use my big three – Nietzsche, Evola, and Sorel – I shut my eyes basically to anything else. Hey, it got me a PhD. If you would like me to read him more, I would certainly be glad to. That’s right up my alley, being asked to read something and report on it. I think I’m already on dock for a piece on Latour from a mutual friend.
GJ: I’m not recommending that you go and write a book report on Vico or anything. But I think just for your own edification you would find him a very pleasurable thinker and a very stimulating thinker because he is a great philosopher of culture, a philosopher of history. He influenced Sorel tremendously. I don’t know if there’s any influence with Nietzsche at all, but so many people have taken Vico and taken Nietzsche and sort of put them together into an interesting monster. They fit together nicely.
That’s also true to some extent with Evola, because the way I read Vico is this: there are two different kinds of cyclical theories of history. There’s the traditionalist model, and there’s what I’m going to call the “Vician” model, and the Vician model would include Vico but it would also include Spengler and it would include Nietzsche. It’s a kind of vitalism, where the Golden Age is not defined in terms of intuitive knowledge of the absolute and perfect behavior. It’s not the pinnacle of civilization. It’s actually crude and barbarous, but what’s golden about it is its vitality. It’s a sort of Robert E. Howard vision of the Golden Age rather than some kind of Platonic or Evolian or Guénonian vision of the Golden Age where everyone might as well be a disembodied brain or something like that.
Civilization arises from this primitive vitality, and then, as we become more and more refined, civilization gets us further and further alienated from the vital roots of civilization, and then civilization undergoes a decline and a downfall. And then vital barbarians pop back up on the scene and get the whole thing started over again. And that, I think, is a very appealing way of incorporating a traditionalist, cyclical model of history but, at the same time, it doesn’t deny or contradict the evidence of history from archaeology and cultural anthropology and things like that, and it doesn’t deny even Darwinian evolution, which is the thing that the people who want to take the Traditionalist view as a dogma end up doing.
MD: You know, I’ve started as I’ve read through, I think, North American New Right and your book especially, deal with Spengler and Yockey in ways that I’ve never encountered before. Mostly because I’m very deficient in reading the primary sources thee. But this idea of cycles and stages of civilization, as far as anthropology goes, that’s as archaic as you can possibly get. That went out with 1882 maybe, just to take a date by chance. And, again, we go back to this idea that, you know, if you guys are talking about something and what’s most important for me especially is this idea of vitality is addressed then all I can do is fight the world that I’m living in and create a narrative for my son that shields him as much as and for as long as possible from the degenerative effects of whatever stage we’re in now, whether it’s modernity, post-modernity, the Iron Age – whatever it is.
So I don’t know. I’m not trying to say, “Oh, it’s just language and parlor games,” as somebody once told me. Because I do think this ability to conceptualize the world and conceptualize our species or race or whatever in ways that gets us beyond the mere Christian teleology and this liberal kind of end of politics and all this thing is a good thing. I think we do need to be awakened to the idea of vitality and how important it is for the history of European peoples. That’s kind of what my point was earlier in saying that the relativism and all these things I just really dislike, because there’s no way that you can relativize any of it and not do harm to what our people have done, and maybe somebody’s not going to like that, but I don’t think, if you look at it, the historical record or the archaeological record, the anthropological record, the philosophical record, the whatever record, there’s no way you can refute who we are.
And we are the ones that have lost sight of that now. I don’t know. Is it that easy that we wake up to it? It was that easy for me. I mean, hell, nobody could have been more at odds with the greatness of Europe — just to put it simply – than I was. There’s no-one . . . Maybe it’s too fast of a transformation. Maybe I was blinded to one thing and I’m blinded to another now. I don’t know. I’m not romantic about Europe. I just don’t have any problem with centuries of violence, because that’s what we’re talking about; it’s this vitality. We’re talking about a will to destroy and a will to create.
GJ: Well, Mark, I think we’ve got plenty of material. I think this has been a really good conversation, and I want to thank you. And I look forward to many more conversations like this in the future, face to face and on Skype. Maybe we’ll let the rest of the Counter-Currents audience listen to a few of them too.
Remembering Dominique Venner
(April 16, 1935 – May 21, 2013)
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 335 Dark Enlightenment
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 334 Greg Johnson, Millennial Woes, & Fróði Midjord
The Silence of the Scam: The Killing of Dr. Lesslie
Remembering Jonathan Bowden (April 12, 1962–March 29, 2012)
The Oslo Incident
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 333 Greg Johnson, Millennial Woes, & Fróði Midjord
The Worst Week Yet: March 28-April 3, 2021