Recently the question of realpolitik in the White Nationalist movement came up, and it generated the best kind of debate: pointed and informed, yet civil. In my favorable review of the 2017 film Chappaquiddick, I decided to take a novel approach to the Chappaquiddick affair by suggesting that Ted Kennedy had done the right thing by not resigning afterward and that the people of Massachusetts had done the right thing by standing by him, despite their man’s transparent acts of cowardice and deception. In other words, can – or should – a person sacrifice his own soul for the betterment of a political movement? Is this simply a rationalization of bad behavior? Or is it a kind of perverse altruism?
In my novel White Like You, a character wades into similarly murky waters during a futuristic rebellion against the United States. Before doing something unspeakably horrific – yet arguably necessary – he tells his fellow White Nationalists that his soul will burn in Hell for eternity so theirs won’t have to. That’s the important part: so theirs won’t have to.
This boils down to whether a certain act can be morally right but politically wrong or, conversely, politically right but morally wrong. Furthermore, we enter a real ethical thicket when we ask whether something that is politically right outweighs something that is morally right.
So let’s break out our machetes and dive in, shall we?
Here’s the offending passage from my review:
What if . . . Ted Kennedy had done the right thing? What if he had known that his importance to his cause outweighed the innocence of his own soul? What if his connection with his constituents – and their connection to him – had trumped his moral duty to the girl he accidentally killed? Now, from a partisan perspective we can object all we want. We can complain about how the Left has no honor, that they’re hypocrites and cowards and traitors and anything else we can think of. But they sure know how to win, don’t they? We can bask in our moral superiority over the Ted Kennedys of the world, but is that any consolation for losing the culture wars? And let’s be honest: If our White Nationalist paladin ever does materialize and offers us a shot at either turning back the clock to 1965 or realizing an ethnostate, which one of us would want to sink the movement over a dead girl in a lake? Putting him in prison for involuntary manslaughter is not going to bring her back, you know.
Before we analyze any of the responses, we should first set proper boundaries around the discussion. I’m not advocating crime or violence for the sake of a political end. That would be terrorism. I am also not saying the Right – and White Nationalists in particular – should abandon high political and moral standards when it comes to selecting their leaders. I am saying, however, that perhaps when behaving as political actors we should consider what’s politically good to be of slightly more importance than what’s morally good. Note that I limit this to when behaving as political actors. When people vote, they are behaving as political actors, not as moral ones. Hence John Q. Public, who plops for old Ted in the ballot box, does not contradict himself when he seeks the maximum legal punishment for the drunk driver who ran over his daughter. These are two separate fields of life, and they are governed by separate codes of conduct.
What Ted Kennedy learns at the end of the film is that, like it or not, he is a political actor more than a moral one. This does not mean he should have no morals. Instead, it means morals must come in a close second to political concerns when he determines how he should live his life. After all, millions of like-minded people count on him in the Senate. Who is he to let them down? His cousin Joey, on the other hand, wishes for him to be a moral person first, and a political person second. This is why he pushes him to do the right thing and resign. But for what purpose? So Ted can enjoy the tranquility of a clean conscience? So he will go to heaven when he dies? So Joey can continue to be pals with his more famous cousin?
When compared to the former option, don’t these reasons sound a little selfish?
Here was one comment that seemed to grasp this distinction:
Taking “the high moral road” is what that unspeakable bastard Jeff Sessions has been doing for two years, hurting the Trump presidency in what may turn out to me a fatal manner.
Cuckservatives and piety-soaked religionists on the Right are the one who talk about “righteousness” and “propriety,” and who are willing to lose battles because of those abstractions.
From our vantage point, in recusing himself with regard to the Russian collusion charge in 2017, Sessions was acting morally rather than politically. He didn’t have to, but he did it anyway because it was congruent with whatever oath he took when assuming the job of Attorney General of the United States. Of course, behaving forthrightly in politics is a great safeguard against corruption. Without a critical mass of honest men in government, entire nations can quickly descend into civil strife and poverty. India is a great example wherein politicians are expected to line their own pockets and promote family and clan members over rival family and clan members before executing their powers in an objective manner.
But when has the Left ever placed what’s morally right over what’s politically right? When has the Left ever been willing to “lose battles because of . . . abstractions,” as our commenter put it? It’s one thing to behave honorably in government. It’s another thing to let your opponents continually play you like a chump. It’s one thing when opposing parties act in good faith and agree to disagree, at least until the next election. It’s something else entirely when one party wishes to maintain its nation’s greatness and the other wishes not only to destroy the nation but to subjugate the people who made it great in the first place.
Let’s break it down even further to understand exactly what we’re up against when it comes to the Left. These people, by their very doctrine, are race and gender denialists, despite the mountain of evidence supporting race and gender realism. They are committed Communists who have a sociopathic disregard for the suffering Communism has caused throughout the twentieth century. They are quite explicit about their hatred of white people and the civilization white people have created. Further, they are willing to have truck with all sorts of barbarians and savages in order to oppose people like you and me. You see, we’re the bad guys, and if putting up with astronomically high crime rates, dysfunctional inner cities, and a jihadist terror attack every now and then is the price to pay to shove people like you and me into a rabbit hole and keep us there, then guess what? They are going to pay it. They have been doing so for decades.
Why should we play nice with such people? Why should we constrain ourselves with the Marquis of Queensbury rules while our opponents keep hitting us in the cup and the referee keeps looking the other way? Why should we not play a little loosey-goosey with the law in order rid our government of Leftist influence? It’s not like the Left behaves any differently when they assume power.
So an argument can be made that Ted Kennedy did the right thing – not when he drove drunk, crashed his car into a lake, left a girl to die, and then attempted to cover it up. Such acts are both morally and politically wrong. No, he did what was right by placing political exigencies over moral ones once plausible deniability had been established in a court of law. Of course, if there had been any witnesses, or if they had found a knife in Mary Jo Kopechne’s back with Ted Kennedy’s bloody fingerprints all over it, then such a stratagem would not have worked. Plausible deniability would be impossible in such a case, and even the Left would disavow such a leader. This is what I meant by morals coming in a close second to politics, as opposed to a distant second. Negligent manslaughter they could abide as long as it could be gussied up to make their guy look innocent. Outright murder, not so much.
In the sport of boxing, there is a saying: “Box when you can. Fight when you must.” In politics it should be similar: be moral when you can, be political when you must. That the Left always comes out on top in the culture wars speaks to how the Right often fails to make this distinction while the Left never does.
Perhaps the leading objection to my original proposition came from Counter-Currents’ own John Morgan. Here’s what he had to say:
I disagree strongly that we need to adopt the Left’s moral Machiavellianism in order to be successful. This is precisely the thing that has been the radical Right’s downfall on so many occasions over the past 70 years, and most notably on the Alt Right just over the past couple of years: self-appointed movement leaders who claim to uphold conservative Western values and traditions, and then turn out to be nothing more than sociopaths who believe in nothing but themselves, and then go down in flames and humiliation when their hypocrisy is revealed to the public, discrediting the rest of us in the process. What we need are leaders who actually stand for something and practice what they preach, not people who adopt a “power at any cost” approach. It usually doesn’t work, first of all, and even when it does, do we really want the fate of our civilization in such people’s hands?
Hard to argue with that, right?
It seems to me that John and I are in general agreement, but because we frame the argument differently, it seems that we disagree. Observe:
“I disagree strongly that we need to adopt the Left’s moral Machiavellianism . . .” I do, too. John is one hundred percent correct here. The Left’s Machiavellianism involves adhering to gross double standards, waging campaigns of character assassination through slander and lawfare, looking the other way when political allies commit the most heinous of crimes, outright lying for political gain, and plotting the demographic destruction of political opponents. If the Right were to become this despicable, I would quit the Right. We all should.
But this does not mean we should do away with Machiavelli.
The Prince is a classic for a reason. There is truth in it, and it has predictive power. In the fallen world of politics, Machiavelli unfortunately works. The word “unfortunately,” however, differentiates Right-wing and Left-wing Machiavellianism. In the latter case, politics are based entirely on lies, so Lefties will of course see their form of stiletto-wielding, cloak-and-dagger Machiavellianism as a positive good. These people have no honor and will celebrate their own mendacity and hypocrisy as long as it brings them victory. In the former case, however, honesty and transparency should be the norm, and the Right should box as cleanly and as often as possible. This shouldn’t be terribly difficult, because the Right has truth and centuries of tradition on its side. But if the Left strays low, then we should not hesitate to fight back in kind.
“This is precisely the thing that has been the radical Right’s downfall on so many occasions over the past 70 years.” This is a matter of record, not opinion, so an agreement should be possible. Since the Second World War, has Machiavellianism really been the downfall of the radical Right in the West? When has the radical Right held such power that it could even engage in Machiavellianism? A person would have to already be a player of considerable influence within an existing power structure before Machiavellianism even becomes an option, right? (Machiavelli didn’t call his book The Peon, after all.) This hasn’t been the case in America since 1945 – and especially not since 1965. Whenever the American radical Right – such as it is – met its downfall, it was often the result of political ostracism and conspiracy (for example, William F. Buckley’s expulsion of the John Birch Society), assassination or imprisonment (for example, George Lincoln Rockwell and Francis Parker Yockey), or just stupid or violent behavior (for example, the recent self-destruction of the Traditionalist Workers’ Party). I’ll leave it to John to provide examples from beyond America where Kennedy-esque moral indiscretions may have led to the downfall of Rightist movements (Pinochet? Franco? Le Pen the elder? Who else is there?), but in America, I think it’s fair to say that the radical Right operates outside the realms of official power and so cannot engage in the kind of deception Ted Kennedy did, even if it wanted to.
“. . . self-appointed movement leaders who claim to uphold conservative Western values and traditions, and then turn out to be nothing more than sociopaths who believe in nothing but themselves, and then go down in flames and humiliation when their hypocrisy is revealed to the public, discrediting the rest of us in the process . . .” Yes! Yes! Yes! We all know whom he is talking about, so I won’t name names here. In the past couple years, the “Alt Right” has undergone painful diastrophisms and disappointments thanks to the unethical and completely self-serving behavior of a few influential individuals. These events were covered extensively by Counter-Currents at the time (including one article by yours truly). The fallout caused real setbacks for the movement and turned out to be an embarrassment to the Right. When purporting to lead a political movement, such behavior is immoral on its face, politically self-defeating, and should be condemned in all cases.
But is this what Ted Kennedy did? I don’t think so. His sin was basically twofold. It was a non-political transgression (driving drunk, leaving the scene of an accident, etc.) followed by a suite of political transgressions orchestrated to save his career (for example, denying he was under the influence of liquor when he had been drinking wine all night). And aside from poor Mary Jo Kopechne, however, who was the real victim of these sins? The Republican Party, of course, and every conservative, traditionalist, and Right-wing American who voted for it over the next forty years. In other words, by lying about Chappaquiddick, Ted Kennedy did not turn on his own. Instead, he served his own. The individuals John refers to, on the other hand, turned on their own and served no one but themselves. They punched right, so to speak, and quite viciously so. They embezzled, they lied, they slandered, they doxxed. And nowhere was a victim on the Left to be found.
This, to me, makes all the difference. Ted Kennedy engaged in a form of realpolitik that benefited his side. He took his own side in a fight. One day, I hope the Right and white people as a race will do the same – but only rarely, and only when we must.
And why? Because the Left is trying to smash us through demographic genocide. They wish to ultimately dispossess us, oppress us, and miscegenate us into non-existence. This is their endgame. They do not adhere to rules, and they will not stop. This means that if we don’t take our political struggles with the Left seriously, and are too principled to be willing to fight dirty when we have to, then we’ll have a lot more to lose than our souls.
Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You.