This is a very important essay. Please read, comment, and share. — Greg Johnson
There’s no sense in mincing words anymore: The Alt Right has hit a wall and is presently faced with the hard task of pulling back and searching for a new course. The enemy media are (prematurely) claiming victory. Many progressives are hastening to vindicate the “antifa” domestic terrorist movement, discarding the pretense that liberal misgivings about organized political violence hinge on anything more than crass utilitarianism.
My purpose here is to offer some thoughts on what has happened and how our side can hope to recover its ground. I do not wish to exaggerate the present difficulties, nor blame people in the Alt Right for suffering what is essentially a form of state repression outsourced to volunteer paramilitary groups and powerful corporations. However, repression by those in power is a constant for us; what has changed is the effectiveness of this repression, which used to meet with a fluid, agile and durable target, and now increasingly enjoys a sluggish, clumsy and brittle one. One major reason for this is that prominent figures in the Alt Right, protected by a widespread culture of hooting down internal dissent, took strategic and aesthetic decisions that ended up turning an antifragile movement into a highly destructible one.
Where the Alt Right was once proudly decentralized, it now seeks unification (and is, of course, more divided than ever). Where it once contained a constellation of anti-progressive elements, it is now reduced to an isolated ethnonationalist core spitting fire at everything else around it. Where it once employed intellectual quality and transgressive trolling to equally great effect, these polar opposites have lately been merged into a dull and stagnant rehash of Rockwellian neo-Nazism.
As many of these changes were made precisely so that certain individuals could enjoy leadership, it would be perverse to allow them to shirk responsibility for the results. That said, I am not accusing anyone of deliberate sabotage: those who employed these methods certainly believed that they would work. This is why a true analysis of the present state of affairs must look beyond mere personalities and decisions and identify the deeper fault lines in the ideological fundament of our movement.
Your Brain on Liberalism
To understand why the Alt Right is failing, we can start by asking a simple question: how do most people in it envisage the victory of the movement? I would anticipate receiving three basic answers: 1) a mass white awakening provoked by anti-white depredations; 2) the rise of a reactionary post-Millennial youth wave; and 3) a collapse of modern Western civilization that will destroy the ruling power structure at a stroke.
None of these scenarios correspond to reality. Anti-white depredations that would have seemed unimaginable a few decades ago have not provoked ordinary people into rebellion. “Generation Zyklon” might be fairly conservative, but they have little social and political power, and many cradles in the West have already been filled by the children of the imported neo-proletariat loyal to the Left. As for a civilizational collapse: even assuming that such a thing could happen, it would likely favor those who already possess disproportionate resources and entrenched power structures. The big winners of the Western Roman collapse were the barbarian invaders, the Christian Church, and (sometimes) the late Roman landholding elites who got to merge with the invaders; the bagaudae rebel groups in the provinces were simply suppressed by old and new rulers alike.
All of these Alt Right victory fantasies bear a common stamp of origin: they are liberal fantasies. This fact that should not surprise us in the least, given that liberalism enjoys near-complete intellectual hegemony in the West, and forms the common ideological bedrock of progressivism and post-1945 conservatism.
One of the fundamental pillars of liberalism is what we might call a democentric view of things. In this view, men are born free, then choose to enter into a “social contract” and set up a ruling authority in order to secure their interests. This implies not only that the ruling authority is the servant of the people, but that the initiative to drive history is in the hands of the people; those in power can only choose to fulfil or deny the popular will. Although the ruling elites may disregard their obligations and repress popular demands, this can only prove ineffective in the long run, as the will of the people “inevitably” takes the course of insurrection and restores the original social contract.
Contrast this with the anti-liberal view, which we can call cratocentric or “rule-centered.” In this view, all men are born into subjection (i.e., as children under the sway of parents); society arises from the expansion and agglomeration of families, as the cities of antiquity arose according to Fustel de Coulanges; and the authority of the ruler is no more dependent on popular consent than is the rule of a father over his children. The masses can assent to the commands of the ruling authority, or else negate them, but they do not and cannot take the initiative to change society. Repression by authority usually works as advertised, and where successful insurrections do take place, they do not spring from a spontaneous popular will but from the power schemes of a rival authority.
Although democentric ideas may possess ideological hegemony over the modern West, cratocentric ones still possess their ancient hegemony over human nature. And when we critique democentrism from a cratocentric viewpoint, we understand that it is not really an expression of “anti-elitism,” but an ideological weapon to serve the long struggle of liberal elites against the traditional elites of the West. Democentrism is toxic to the legitimacy of an aristocracy, and hazardous to that of a monarchy; but it is a useful smokescreen for anonymous plutocrats, and a positive elixir of health for the managerial elites whose business it is to control society in the name of the people.
What does all of this have to do with the present state of the Alt Right? Well, let’s come to the point: the liberal managerial class ruling the West preserves its own legitimacy by using manipulation and patronage to construct a democratic facade for its own exercise of power. When it wants to destabilize a foreign government, it funds a color revolution, or encourages an internal rebellion. When it wants to impeach a renegade US President, and anticipates the need to disarm his conservative supporters, it comes up with a media-constructed assault on public opinion masquerading as a spontaneous protest by school shooting survivors. When it wants to strengthen that impeachment effort by getting hold of some juicy photos of brown children being shot dead by border guards, it whips up a caravan of illegal migrants to storm the US border. And so on.
As these examples suggest, this manipulation does not always succeed, at least not directly. But it has created a strong illusion of unlimited popular agency that infects even the self-described enemies of liberalism, fooling them into a false view of how power is achieved and exercised. The tactics pursued by the Alt Right since Heilgate can be compared to a cargo cult, in the sense that they rely on recreating the democentric facade of liberal movements. Protest marchers chanting racialist slogans are our Black Lives Matter, street brawlers are our antifa, and neo-Nazis are our trannies and homosexuals demanding public acceptance for their shocking private fetishes.
Everything is in place—except, alas, for the decisive factor, which is the patronage and toleration of those in power. And needless to say, when these tactics fail, the defeated upstarts start to get depressed about the inability of their people to spontaneously defend their own interests. Liberalism is a potent drug indeed!
The Fascist Path to Power
In light of this, it is worth taking a brief look at the ways in which the fascist movements of the early twentieth century achieved power. Many of those pushing liberal cargo-cult tactics in the Alt Right believe that they are imitating fascism, and they hold out hope for a “white awakening” because they know that Hitler and Mussolini rose to power on the back of popular movements. However, a closer look at the history of these movements refutes the popular myth of a fascist rise to power by pure mass revolution.
Robert O. Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism is of great use here. It discusses not only the successful fascist movements in Italy and Germany, but also the unsuccessful ones elsewhere, and distinguishes all of these from conservative authoritarian regimes that did not rely on the same radical and populist methods. It also separates out the stages through which a fascist movement must cycle in order to assume power. The aid of established power is needed at several points on the way.
The first stage begins long before the fascist movement is founded, and consists of the social, intellectual and political developments that contribute to making it a possibility. As everyone knows, the Great War and the rise of Communism in Russia were the most important preconditions for the original fascist movements. Less often appreciated is the role of what we would now call “metapolitics”: a longer process of mental preparation going back decades, in which the failings of liberalism and democracy were exposed and the decline of Western civilization was discussed. This smoothed the way for the creation of fascist movements in the wake of the Great War, but it did not guarantee their success (for example, fascism did not take power in France, although the French had experienced the longest period of mental preparation for it).
The next stage begins once the fascist movement is founded and consists of a process by which it roots itself in the social and political system—or, alternatively, fails to do so. Initially, the fascist movement seeks to maximize its popular appeal by creating a loose and amorphous “antiparty,” which serves to attract all sorts of people who possess wildly divergent interests but are united by a vague discontent. Later, although the movement continues to rally the people, many of these early followers end up being pruned off as alliances are made with existing social and political interests. In Mussolini’s case, this was achieved when the squadristi in rural Italy made themselves an indispensable ally of the big landowners, who were being squeezed between the laissez-faire liberal state and the socialists agitating their workforce. In Germany, Hitler managed to attract small businessmen and a few large ones to his cause, although most of these stuck with traditional conservatives (and certainly did not bankroll the NSDAP to the extent claimed by the Left). It is important to emphasize the toleration of both of these fascisms by elements of the power structure in their countries. Local police forces often sided with Mussolini’s squadristi, and Hitler’s Brownshirt toughs enjoyed lenient treatment by the conservative Weimar judiciary.
The third stage, and the final one as far as we are concerned, involves the “seizure of power” by which the fascist movement achieves unrestrained rule. But in order to achieve this, the fascist leaders must first be appointed into government by conservative elites, who typically wish to make use of their popular following in order to bolster their own legitimacy. The 1922 March on Rome was nearly thwarted by the Italian government—trains carrying the majority of Blackshirts were stopped by police, and the government possessed the military force to repulse the nine thousand who turned up at the gates of the city—but King Victor Emmanuel III, fearing the consequences of open bloodshed, declined to impose martial law and instead offered the prime ministry to Mussolini. After trying and failing to imitate this gambit in 1923, Hitler sought power through the political system instead, and was eventually appointed to the chancellorship by a conservative elite that had been ruling without a parliamentary majority and wished to return to popular rule. Had the intention been to lock him out at all costs, this could have been done, as the NSDAP’s large electoral support was beginning to drop off at the time.
In summary, successful fascist movements must cultivate not only the masses but also the vested interests of society. They must be encouraged, or at least tolerated, by an established ruling elite focused on the greater threat from leftist revolution. Eventually, they must make a bid for power, and find conservative patrons who are both willing to cooperate with them and obliged by their own crisis of legitimacy to do so. Where no such opportunities existed in the 1920s and 1930s, fascism got nowhere; and where it directly confronted conservative authoritarian regimes, it typically ended up being repressed as one more phenomenon of public disorder.
The fascist experience can teach us many things. It illustrates the importance, yet also the limitations, of metapolitical action. It tells us that anyone attempting to follow the route to power walked by the fascists must appeal to a vast array of classes and interests and must work with national sentiment instead of offending it, which rules out anyone who chooses to marginalize himself by waving the flag of a defeated foreign enemy. It also reminds intellectuals that the angry young men attracted to the Right, who often egg each other on into unwise patterns of behavior, are in fact indispensable to the cause—what matters is to put them to good use defending the people being bullied by the Left, instead of wasting them in pointless street parading or noxious infighting.
However, the most important thing that fascism teaches us is that it cannot be recreated in the present era. The ruling power structure was founded on fascism’s defeat and is watching out for its revival at every turn. The modern avatar of leftist revolution is not a military threat from beyond the frontier, but a political enemy ensconced in every official institution, and it is now the “antifa” and “SJWs” who enjoy judicial leniency and elite patronage. The managerial revolution in industry, and the abandonment of white proletarian interests in favor of foreign immigrants by the Left, has neutralized a great deal of the old opposition between Bolshevism and big business. Perhaps most importantly in the long run, the West is no longer made up of sovereign states based on the rights of a fighting citizenry but consists of the territories of a de facto US Empire that pursues its expansionist goals through manipulation and subversion. And while there are still “conservatives” in office, these are no longer the anti-liberal traditionalists who used that name before 1945, but right-liberal “loyal opposition” who pride themselves on keeping the real Right out of power.
Of the three stages of fascist pathbreaking, the only one available to us right now is metapolitics. Thanks to the internet, a true “free press,” the savagery and hypocrisy of the liberal oligarchy can be communicated every day to ever-increasing masses of people outside the official media structure. This can never induce the masses to rise up and replace that oligarchy of their own accord, but it can ensure that they become convinced of its illegitimacy and unwilling to react strongly against threats to its power. That is the first step from which all others must follow.
From Fourth to Second Generation Warfare
As regards political action, in a situation where previous roads to power have been closed to us, there is only one model that can offer any hope for success. This is the guerrilla war—or, more precisely, the Fourth Generation War (4GW) described by William S. Lind in his works On War and Fourth Generation War Handbook.
It goes without saying that I am not suggesting a physical war with the managerial state, and anyone who does so is either a fool or an enemy shill. But it should be clear to us by now that politics is war by other means, and that we are in the strategic position of “non-state actors,” prevented from fighting in the open against enemies who enjoy official backing. Non-state actors are no exception to everything that I have said about power and patronage, and the most effective ones are aided and financed by sympathetic states. However, we know that patronage is not required for the creation of a political guerrilla movement, as we ourselves have witnessed the creation of just such a movement out of absolutely nothing.
I am referring, of course, to the Alt Right, which in its original form showed a promising application of guerrilla methods to political warfare. As a diverse collection of autonomous Rightist groups operating under a loose brand name, it presented no single target for the enemy to attack. The movement had no single leader who could be vilified, co-opted, hyped up as the ‘big bad guy’ indispensable to all Hollywood narratives, or harassed and made to look stupid in public. In the absence of such a hate figure, it was Hillary Clinton and her official media backers who made themselves look ridiculous by declaring war on Pepe the Frog.
Online trolls associated with the Alt Right used Nazi imagery to publicly flout the speech restrictions imposed by the Left and transform the “Brown Menace”—the justification for every foreign imperial war and domestic repression campaign, treated with due reverence by Leftists and fake conservatives—into a big stupid joke. It is impossible to say whether the majority of those using this imagery were consciously doing so as a means to these ends, although expressions such as “Great Meme Wars” imply that this was actually the case. The point is that it was done by rank-and-filers sniping from the undergrowth of anonymity, and when the shrieking volunteer commissars wanted to hit back at Alt Right public figures, they found none who were foolish enough to present themselves as targets by endorsing Nazi imagery.
By extending its branding to milder strains of conservatism as well as ethnonationalists and reactionaries, the original Alt Right conformed to the 4GW principle of “hugging the civilians,” forcing the enemy to infuriate ordinary people by attacking them in order to get to the guerrillas. In the physical 4GWs of Iraq and Afghanistan, American forces sowed dragon’s teeth among the local populations every time they shot at a guerrilla fighter and hit an innocent bystander. In the political 4GW against the Left, the same effect was achieved when Clinton dismissed half the American electorate as “deplorables” in response to the rise of the Alt Right. When this sort of thing happens, and the guerrillas (Alt Right) shoot back while the client-rulers (cuckservatives) wring their hands, the loyalties of the people begin to shift in a new direction.
After finding an informal patron in Donald Trump, the Alt Right acquired the ability to go on the offensive. The election of Trump, which offered the chance to substitute a real conservative political class for the professional losers of the loyal opposition, should have been understood as the first step towards reopening a road to patronage that has been closed to the radical Right ever since the defeat of fascism. However, many Alt Righters in the US—who had been happy to castigate democracy as a rigged game during the years of Obama’s rule—treated this event not as the capture of a bridgehead but as the crowning victory of a war. They had Cast Their Votes, Thrown the Bastards Out, and Put Their Man into Office, and some of them really started to say things like “we are the establishment now.” They forgot the prudence learned by everybody who lives under a totalitarian regime, and blissfully reverted to the liberal faith of their hearts, discarding hard-won knowledge under the pretext of taking action.
This set the stage for the regression of the Alt Right into conventional tactics, or Second Generation War (2GW), the tactics of the state forces that tend to lose Fourth Generation wars despite massive superiority in money and muscle. This began with rank-and-filers shaming people for exercising basic prudence, but it was formalized by Richard Spencer’s Heilgate stunt in November 2016. Spencer, who had created the original Alternative Right website in 2010 and shut it down three years later, almost certainly regretted publicly discarding the Alt Right brand just before it exploded in popularity. In the old Rockwellian tradition, he decided to raise his name by using Nazi symbolism to play the enemy media, forgetting that this strategy always entails being played right back. By sparking a media outcry and winning over the large audiences flocking to the increasingly Nazi-themed outlets of Andrew Anglin and Mike Enoch, Heilgate succeeded in its covert goal of presenting Spencer as the leader of the Alt Right.
However, the wider effect of the stunt upon the Alt Right was disastrous. It drove a wedge into the loose alliance between radicals and populists, negating the 4GW strategy of “hugging the citizens” and allowing the core of the movement to be isolated as a target. The Alt Right quickly reformed into a small alliance of edgy white nationalist groups revolving around Spencer, and promptly isolated itself further by declaring war on the “Alt-Liters” who had broken off to form the New Right. At the same time, a plan was unveiled to redefine the new Alt Right as a centralized coalition, commanded by an eponymous corporate entity under Spencer’s leadership. This threatened the organic unity of the original Alt Right, by making it harder for diverse groups to coexist within the same movement—and sure enough, ever since the change from “rhizome” to “tree” was made, the result has been a bitter fruit of obnoxious internal crusades against homosexuals, women, insufficiently edgy people, and other targets.
If the methods of the decentralized Alt Right can be compared to guerrilla warfare, centralization was equivalent to crawling out from the undergrowth and forming up as conventional battalions in the open field. And at Charlottesville, the Alt Right marched directly into one of the strongpoints of the enemy, with no plan other than to triumph by muscle and will. Although the men present showed great bravery against the antifa scum and politicized police sent against them, how could they have hoped to win against the weight of media, judicial, corporate and political power stacked against them? Needless to say, it is the failure of the Alt Right to keep up these costly frontal attacks has brought us to the present state of affairs, in which the enemy media demoralizes our people by gloating over the humiliation of the Spencers and Heimbachs they themselves elevated into place.
How, in retrospect, could things have been done differently? And how can things yet be done differently?
We have to admit that that the pre-Heilgate structure of the movement could not have survived forever, and certainly not outside of cyberspace. The fact that rank-and-filers in the Alt Right felt the need to out-edge each other in order to gain status is proof enough of the need for formal leadership and hierarchy. But if the contours of the original movement had been respected, the natural development would have been towards the creation of several real-life organizations within the overarching brand of the Alt Right, which would have tried out various approaches until one of them gained the strength and momentum to absorb the others.
Ideally, these organizations would have carried the guerrilla tactics of the online movement into real life: harrying the enemy and luring him into overplaying his hand against ordinary people, instead of isolating ourselves from those people and courting their hatred by signaling as a threat to social order. Instead of rushing to usurp the brand name of the entire movement, the leaders—again, ideally—would have been wise enough to maintain a degree of plausible deniability between real-life activity and online discourse, making it less likely that political action will backfire on metapolitical work by inviting corporate-antifa censorship.
Although spent political capital cannot be recovered, there is nothing stopping us from taking this course in the present day. Organizations like Identity Europa in the US (apparently modelled on Europe’s Generation Identity) are using political guerrilla tactics such as flash demos and leaflet bombing. Antifa, who feel vindicated by recent events, continue to push conservatives towards radicalization by violently harassing them. The political bridgehead in the U.S. established by the Trump election is still intact, though much beleaguered, and the fight against impeachment may offer an issue around which the Rightist elements sundered by Heilgate can be reunited.
It may be that we shall have to discard the name of the original movement in order to recover its ethos. The centralized Alt Right exists mainly as an idea, which may serve to funnel donation money up to the handful of outlets that follow its rigid orthodoxy but exacts an intolerable price in strategic uselessness and internal friction. Distancing ourselves from the Alt Right brand name cannot make it go away—we are stuck with it for the foreseeable future—but it may dispel the illusion of unification and allow the decentralized substance of the movement to reassert itself. And if we should require another catch-all name that can be used for the purpose of “hugging the civilians,” there is always the New Right brand currently being used by civic nationalists, who would be powerless to prevent its repossession by ethnonationalists and reactionaries.
Perhaps the long-term success of our struggle will hinge upon future tectonic shifts in the Western power structure. However, at the very least, we can reject the patronage of the only power actor willing to support insane strategy and neo-Nazi stupidity: the enemy media. As Greg Johnson has observed, the media and certain Jewish organizations exert a great deal of control over the selection of leaders in the radical Right, simply by hyping up anyone who confirms their stereotypes as a serious threat and channeling credibility in his direction. It is no accident that the fifty-year-long cautionary tale of ‘WN 1.0’ began when George Rockwell thought he could manipulate the enemy media and resurrected itself for a second act when Richard Spencer fell into the same trap. The fact that both men were, in my estimation, generally sincere in their motives did not prevent the media from making use of their antics in order to discredit the wider movement.
The maxim no enemies to the Right can only hold true in the context of no alliances with the Left. This precludes courting the attention of the enemy media, just as it precludes selling our principles out to the Left and trying to win mainstream “respectability.” Those who want to lead this movement to victory have no serious choice other than to pursue steady, organic growth through meritorious action, and give the Fake News nothing but the savor of a door in the face.
 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/19/the-Alt Right-is-in-decline-has-antifa-activism-worked
Enjoyed this article?
Be the first to leave a tip in the jar!
How to Divide White People
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 561: An All-Star Thanksgiving Weekend Special
Black Friday Special: It’s Time to STOP Shopping for Christmas
Nueva Derecha vs. Vieja Derecha, Capítulo 12: La Cuestión Cristiana en el Nacionalismo Blanco
The Spanish Protests of 2023
We Told You So, Again
Remembering P. R. Stephensen
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 559: The Return of Tommy Robinson