- Counter-Currents - https://counter-currents.com -

Why I Write
What Does It All Mean?


Rembrandt, Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer

2,152 words

I suspect that the path which led me to work with Counter-Currents is somewhat different from that of many of the other people who contribute to it. I did not naturally gravitate toward the Right at an early age, as did many of those I know who are active in it. I grew up in suburban New York, and although there were certainly experiences I had there that were to shape my later worldview, I was not conscious of them as such at the time. Living in a relatively sheltered environment, there were no traumatic encounters with crime or violence that made me decide that I had to join the fight, which seems to be what drives many people to the Right.

I had little in the way of political consciousness as a kid — into my 20s, I was quite apolitical, and all I really had was the Default Liberal Position that most people in urban and suburban New York have, since that’s all I was ever exposed to — Republicans were basically the same as cartoon Nazis, absolute evil, and the Left was the side which was guiding us towards a glorious, Star Trek-like future, and that was basically it. Not that I unquestioningly believed everything that Democrats and liberals said, but more or less that’s how I saw things.

And yet as I got older, there was something tugging at the back of my mind that didn’t sit right with all of this. All I had in the beginning was the sense that there was something deeply wrong with the world around me, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. In my later teenage years, I finally decided, as many people that age do, that the problem was that I didn’t know what the “Meaning of Life” is.

Fortunately, with the help of a couple of helpful teachers who gave me good advice outside of class, I soon discovered that there was a whole world of writers, thinkers, and artists who had had the same sense of something wrong as me, and who had worked on this problem long before I even realized there was a problem. Soon, dead men like Dostoevsky, Beethoven, and Nietzsche, and a few living ones like Kubrick, were as important to me as my family and friends. I would not say that, even today, I could tell you precisely what the Meaning of Life is, but investigating such figures over the past thirty years has certainly helped me to discover a meaning to my life.

This discovery, however, had an interesting effect on me: I quickly realized that the sort of ideals that the people I was studying upheld were the exact opposite of those of the world that I knew around me. There was little pursuit of higher meaning, and little regret over its absence, to be found. Indeed, the pursuit of money seemed to be the main driving force behind most of what I saw, both in the real world and in the so-called “culture” of the mass entertainment industry. The fact that these men had recognized the same problems as I did strengthened my confidence that I was on to something important – and yet it was also quite evident that the world had gotten progressively worse since their times, in many respects.

Before long, I headed off to my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, confident that I would find myself in the company of others who were as dedicated to figuring out The Meaning of Life as I was. And I did find a few, but I was disheartened to find that most people there only saw being at a university as a stepping stone to some career to make a lot of money, or to eventually “save the world” (which often meant making other places in the world as much like America as possible). Even worse were those who told me that the people I admired were not, in fact, guardians of some higher truth, but were actually evil men whose real purpose was to uphold a system that oppresses everyone else in the world who isn’t a “straight white man,” and that the thing we really should be doing is studying texts written by everybody except straight white men. Even worse than those were the ones who held that there was no such thing as meaning at all, and that the back of a cereal box or the lamentations of a Third World refugee were just as meaningful as a Shakespeare play. Our ancestors sought a heroic vision, and to become the embodiment of the gods that they venerated; the world that we were expected to integrate ourselves into is a world of cubicles, solitary and vacuous entertainments, shopping malls, and certainly no god or titans – in other worlds, a world in which we are all forced into a tiny, prefabricated box. Anyone who aspires to the greatness of the past is condemned as a stubborn reactionary, a lunatic, or worse.

At first, I didn’t really know what to make of all this. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that the people who were assaulting the things I cared about weren’t interested in the Meaning of Life. Rather, they were misusing the tools of knowledge and culture to try to pursue some nihilistic or resentful political agenda of their own. I stuck it out until I got my degree, but I quickly learned that I had to figure out how to distinguish between what was useful and what I should discard in what I was being fed. But I kept reading, and listening, and watching, not just to what I needed for classes but on my own as well, and before long, something resembling a coherent worldview began to take shape.

In the years that followed, in a process that continued long after I finished with school, I came to realize that there is indeed a meaning to things. This meaning is something that is transmitted to us by our great predecessors in culture, knowledge, and achievement — and which is specific to the people who share in the blood of that culture, both figuratively and literally. This isn’t to say that we can’t learn from the fruits of others’ cultures — I’ve certainly benefited from some of the products of Indian, Persian, and Japanese civilization (and the interesting thing is that the cultures of those civilizations likewise affirm many of the same values and attitudes that so-called “Rightists” in the West advocate) — but, inescapably, there is a culture that is a part of us, and us of it, by birthright. So what I was responding to in the works of the great thinkers of my people wasn’t just a personal one; it was also an inner recognition that my heart was in some way the same as the hearts which had beaten within the breasts of those such as Wagner, Goethe, and Blake.

And I also came to understand that this tradition of which we are a part isn’t limited to art and literature, but is also embodied in our religions, our values, and our political systems. A truly harmonious worldview, as was understood in the age before everything was “deconstructed” and extreme specialization in one area of knowledge became the norm, has to take all of these elements into account, and they have to be consistent with one another. Indeed, each is meaningless independent of the others. Otherwise, we are cutting ourselves off from the wellspring that sustained our ancestors for countless generations, and casting ourselves adrift in a current whose direction will be being decided by people and forces with nothing but their own interests at heart (or what is commonly, and mistakenly, called “freedom” in today’s parlance).

Eventually, after I imbibed these truths, I realized that simply appreciating the works of the past wasn’t enough. I also needed to represent and carry on this legacy myself. But in order to do that, I needed to seek out those who felt the same need that I did, and who were pursuing similar aims. This should go without saying, but in our age, it’s not as easy to do as it was in previous eras. The very essence of our civilization itself is under attack from every conceivable angle, I now understood, and the legions of the brainwashed were all around us, and unless there were people willing to do what was necessary to defend and perpetuate the great conversation begun by our forefathers, very soon the things that I loved about my civilization might be relegated to seldom-visited museums, or, worse yet, might not exist at all.

So I began to look around, and it didn’t take me long to realize that the Right was, for the most part, the only place where these same issues were being meaningfully discussed and acted upon. And by the Right I certainly don’t mean conservatism — I’ve never regarded myself as merely a conservative — but rather the “radical” Right; not necessarily radical in the sense of being extreme, but of being willing to question the very foundations upon which our civilization as it is currently constituted is resting.

I began exploring this world, reading its literature, and talking to others who were already in it, and eventually I began my work as a publisher in this area. I knew that in order to counteract one intellectual vision of the world — the vision of neoliberalism, globalization, and multiculturalism — we need another intellectual vision of our own, and using my talents in this field would be a way to aid this effort.

When Counter-Currents first appeared in 2010, it was quite apparent from the beginning that it was the best in the burgeoning field of blogs and sites dedicated to the True Right, and that status has never changed. Counter-Currents has always been more than just a political site. Greg, being a man of wide learning and a variety of interests himself, has always sought to cover all the aspects of the struggle we are facing: politics, music, film, philosophy, religion, history, and so on. In that sense, Counter-Currents seeks to stand alongside the intellectual giants of our tradition, and hopefully offer grist for the mills of the future giants of our people. There’s simply no way to achieve our goals without addressing all of the aspects of the problems we face, and the range of subjects that Counter-Currents has covered in its more than seven years is staggering. One never knows what surprises might be in store when one brings the site up each day. So it has always been my pleasure to contribute to Counter-Currents as best I could — for several years as a writer, and nowadays as an editor as well — since Counter-Currents “gets it” as no other group does. And I think this helps it to be an enormously attractive tool for bringing new people into our circles as well as a vital resource for those who have been here for a long time, by casting such a wide net. I certainly wish I had had access to something like Counter-Currents in my pre-Internet youth. It probably would have expedited the process of getting me to where I needed to be, intellectually speaking.

Most crucially, even if we understand what needs to be done politically, our actions will still be meaningless unless we get our souls back. And to get a soul, one has to have some sense of the Meaning of Life that I myself have been seeking all these years. We have to understand what it is that we are fighting for, and even more importantly how we fit into it, for us to be worthy representatives of the bounty that we have been handed as the heirs of a particular tradition — one could well argue the most important tradition that has ever existed in this world. And to do that, we have to learn from those who came before us and carry on our own work in their spirit. The struggle is both an outer and an inward one — and fortunately, Counter-Currents seeks to equip us for both sides of it. It is also the only such site that does more than just criticize and reject the world we find ourselves in. It offers a positive vision for us to aspire towards and the world that might take shape under our guidance; a world in which our descendants will drink from the same wellsprings that our ancestors did.

Those of you who make Counter-Currents possible by contributing your hard-earned cash earn our great respect and gratitude. Thank you. But even more importantly, by doing so you show that you have the discriminating taste to recognize that there is more to saving our people and their culture than mere slogans and negativity.

* * *

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Thank you for your loyal readership and generosity.
Greg Johnson