I was born in 1996. Despite my lack of memories of this decade, many readers of Counter-Currents undoubtedly have strong, perhaps viscerally negative impressions of the years 1990 to 2000, wherein optimism surrounding globalization made the Western intelligentsia confidently proclaim the last man and the end of history. Some of you might have positive memories of a simpler time before you were red pilled. Maybe you were in high school, involved in understandable pre-red pill degeneracy, unaware of this pivotal decade that for better or for worse has shaped white advocacy in 2018. This view is especially striking considering that to many the 1990s were a mere intermission on the stage of history, that generic decade, roughly between the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11. However, the perceived “nothingness” of the 1990s only further predicated the establishment of a reactionary, pro-white politics. That slumber and every other defining trend of the 1990s stare us in the face in 2018.
To be clear, Counter-Currents has touched upon this thesis. Morris V. de Camp brilliantly lays out how both the first Gulf War and the Clinton Administration gave new life to the far right. I hope to expand upon those findings by documenting how social, economic and political patterns of the 1990s gave rise to optimistic triumphalist predictions on the future of liberal democracy and more skeptical voices in the mainstream and fringe politics that predicted the explosion of the far-right and identitarian politics in the 2010s.
The one phrase that succinctly summed up the prevailing attitudes in the Western World of 1990s came from Francis Fukuyama who proclaimed that the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequently the Soviet Union signified “The End of History.” Totalitarianism would cease to exist. The world would gradually coalesce under liberal democracy and market capitalism. War would gradually become a thing of the past, save for a few remaining conflicts in the third world.
Despite the idealism surrounding this prediction, it did have at least some grounding according to the intellectual elite. Russia, the successor state of the USSR, was praised for its cooperation with the West as its once formidable military machines gathered rust from the arctic to the black sea. Enthralled in corruption, alcoholism, economic collapse, demographic death and malaise, no one anticipated any resurgence in nationalism, let alone long-term strategic challenges from a power that once threatened control over Europe. Any future wars could be handled by cruise missile strikes, drone attacks and air strikes in faraway remote corners of the third world, with Americans removed from the resulting effects. Formerly Communist China had embraced market capitalism. South Africa, currently on the brink of collapse, had nothing but the brightest future ahead for embracing multi-racial democracy and abandoning archaic, oppressive apartheid, so our leaders told us. Military Juntas which once ruled most of Latin America also gave way to democracy. Adios, mi general.
Compounding this dramatic political sea change, economic and social indicators seemed to affirm Fukuyama’s theory. Free Trade would lift millions out of poverty in Asia and Latin America. The white nations in return for lifting their trade barriers would be gladly rewarded through cheap prices as consumers in the global economy. Of course, they would also embrace immigrants from these same places for the same reward. The internet would create a new virtual shopping mall on an unimaginable scale. Financial deregulation would only add to what seemed to be unstoppable economic expansion in the 1990s. Why would people fight wars when they could happily consume in a new, interconnected world?
Despite this consensus, a counter-narrative began to emerge.
“The End of History” was answered with what became another dramatic soundbite, “The Clash of Civilizations.” The latter came from Samuel Huntington, in my view one of the last great mainstream public intellectuals America has produced. As Dean at the Harvard School of Government, he carried an air of legitimacy that allowed him to shape the public discourse in a way brilliant figures within our movement could only dream of. Still, accusations of racism which were lobbed increasingly toward Huntington at the end of his life, as Gregory Hood has shown at Counter-Currents. Still, Huntington’s commentary was likely the last gasp of sanity from the smartest guys in the room.
How exactly did Huntington shape the discourse? He pointed to undeniable watershed moments of the 1990s underlying a foundational ethos for us in the dissident right. Common religion, history, ethnicity and culture of peoples will draw them together. Differences in these factors will drive them apart, oftentimes violently. He pointed to the demographic rise of Islam and the economic rise of China as long-term threats to the West, which would become increasingly manifest as the former civilizations gained power and confidence in their own uniqueness while the latter became enamored with universal values and self-doubt in its own identity.
The world’s division into civilizational camps, a trend which has only grown dramatically since the 1990s was obvious in Huntington’s account. Western defense spending plummeted while Chinese and Islamic societies strengthened their militaries, oftentimes in collaboration, leading to what Huntington termed, “the Confucian-Islamic Connection.”
Wars were fought on a civilizational fault line as a Muslim demographic timebomb exploded in Kosovo, leading to Albanian claims on historic Serbian land. In Europe then, as in Europe now, Muslims understood that demography was destiny. The Yugoslav wars were really a clash of three civilizations: the west in the form of the Croats, the Orthodox east in the form of the Serbs and the Islamic world in the form of the Bosniaks and Albanians. From that little corner of Europe, all three factions became dramatic heroes of their greater peoples. Muslims murdered Croat tourists in North Africa. Orthodox Russia attempted to act as a protector state of its historical little brother, Serbia. The Pope fervently supported Catholic Croatia. The Yugoslav state, built upon ideology, collapsed in a war based upon identity. Perhaps no other moment so effectively encapsulated the shift from what defined the 20th century to what would define the 21st.
If Huntington was alive today, could his “Clash of Civilizations” theory lead him into the camp of the North American New Right or contemporary white nationalism? He left behind some clues. He insisted in interviews that he was not a “racist.” He also made clear his deep concerns that something was becoming terribly wrong in the America of the 1990s as the results of post-1965 immigration manifested themselves. He outright discussed the the eventual minority status of white Americans as a result of this phenomenon. He more or less came to the conclusion that this watershed moment would pose severe challenges for the country in terms of having a shared, sustainable identity and culture. His response to the creation of what he deemed “a torn country” would be the promotion of America’s founding culture at the expense of multiculturalism. As he stated in his final, and most sneeringly derided work, Who Are We: The Challenges to America’s National Identity, “America cannot become the world and still be America.”
In short, the answer to such a question proves elusive. While Huntington prescribed a Civic Nationalism of Anglo-Protestantism for the rapidly browning multi-cultural America of the 1990s, how far would he be willing to go? Did he honestly believe an Afro-Latin-Asian America of 2050 could adopt what he termed “the American creed” as effectively as the White America of 1960 had? Doubtful, based on his research. It is likely wishful thinking to say that Huntington was truly /our guy/. That said, he made clear that ethnonationalism was on the rise in 1990s, from Los Angeles to Ukraine (a country he warned was on the precipice of civil war) to China. He has only been proven right as time goes on due to an innate understanding of truths that continue to drive individuals into our movement.
The 1990s proved that history ultimately unfolds as a clash of narratives. “The End of History” became effectively answered by “The Clash of Civilizations” in explaining the changing world around us. Indeed, this latter narrative became increasingly evident in white America’s beginning backlash to the new multicultural and multiracial nature of America in the 1990s. Patrick Buchanan’s presidential runs foreshadowed those of Donald Trump, who undoubtedly contributed to the dramatic growth of the alt right and white nationalism. American Renaissance was born as Jared Taylor attempted to build a case for pro-white advocacy through ironclad facts and logic. Vdare came onto the scene, which helped frame immigration in the context of the increasing “Brazilification” of America. Alienated whites of the decade became increasingly drawn to the militia movement and what is now termed “White Nationalism 1.0.” The optics were appalling and had no chance of drawing in a wider audience of concerned whites. They did serve to portray a subset of whites being angry, disgusted and fearful regarding their prospects in a changing country. William Luther Pierce, in his radio tirades, presented a dissatisfaction—to put it mildly—with the current American system.
The 1990s saw various factions of a far dissident right emerge primarily in response to American consciousness coming to fore with the realities of immigration legislation passed decades earlier. Whites were reduced to a minority in California by the year 2000. In the mainstream consciousness, America ceased being a white country with a black minority. It became one of Hispanics, Asians, Blacks and some whites who still needed to renounce their privilege of being a majority in a land their forefathers built. Bill Clinton became the first president to openly cheer to his supporters that their grandchildren would be minorities by the mid-21st century, thereby solving all of America’s problems in race relations. In a response to a changing world, various forces of right-wing backlash responded with different approaches of varying degrees of success. The North American New Right, the alt right and neoreactionary politics still reflect these challenges of movement diversity.
With various responses from the dissident right, an unprecedented new reality of the 1990s led white Americans to confront a clash of civilizations in their country. Not one in the form of war, bombs, or violent ethnic cleansing, but rather one of metapolitics, that is one of the changing public consciousness. The contemporary elite assaulted the White American mind with rosy reports of walls coming down, of immigrants creating a new vibrant culture, of war permanently ending, of new economic prosperity ending insecurity. White Americans also became increasingly skeptical of that vision preached by a protected, insulated and distant elite by witnessing the world around them. They grew uneasy in their current reality, despite a barrage of removed optimism. New forces tried to reach and channel the uneasiness and uncertainty of white America.
This Clash of Civilizations did not resemble the bombed-out streets of Sarajevo. It took place in the security of cul-de-sacs and subdivisions, monuments of dead-end American prosperity. If anything, the 1990s proved to be for white America a clash between civilization and the absence of it. Did this country’s forefathers envision deracinated suburbs as the ideal expression of the society their posterity could create? Did pioneers, settlers and colonists strive for one’s identity to be forged by modern capitalism? Did they praise the free market to the ultimate extreme of replacing the founding stock for cheaper labor to benefit vaunted “job creators”?
At the dawn of the new millennium, White Americans began to understand that nihilistic economic success would not save them. It would only accelerate their march to oblivion, as debt-driven consumer capitalism reached stratospheric heights and obfuscated one’s search for self-actualization. Of course, this sense of trying to find understanding of self-purpose is the root of what is driving individuals into a new radical way of thinking, displacing the aimless and hopeless status quo. This self-actualization is the good life, which the Greeks termed eudaimonia, the goal of ancient philosophical reasoning as Greg Johnson has pointed out. The world of the 1990s, along with our present world, did not even come close to addressing this basic human need. To quote both a common refrain of our movement and that seminal film of 1999, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”