— Counter-Currents —

The Identitarian Matrix

4,398 words

[1]Author’s Note:

This is a lightly edited transcription of my speech at the Kryptis Youth Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, on February 15, 2019. I tried to remove wordiness and repetition and clarify some important points. I want to thank F. K. for transcribing it. If you wish to volunteer to transcribe Counter-Currents speeches and interviews, please contact us at [email protected] [2].

Bring Back the Iron Curtain

I love visiting countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This is my first visit to Lithuania. I like it very much so far, and I want to implore all of you: Please bring back the Iron Curtain. Maybe get together in Warsaw, form a pact, and then bring back the Iron Curtain to protect this, the healthiest and best part of Europe, from the rot that is coming from the West.

I was asked to share my thoughts about how to create a Lithuanian nationalist youth movement. Now, I’m not young, and I’m not Lithuanian, but I like a challenge, so I accepted this task. 

Of course, the way to begin to create something new in your country is to look around for examples of things that work in other countries. So you might look at Generation Identity in France or in Germany. You might look at CasaPound in Italy. You might look at Identity Evropa in the United States, or Students for Western Civilisation in Canada, and so forth. 

But it is always dangerous to look to foreign models, because you don’t want your nationalist movement to seem foreign. That would defeat the purpose. You want your nationalist movement to seem rooted in your nation.

So my recommendation is to smell all the flowers, gather some pollen, then retreat back to your hive and commune with the spirits of your ancestors, and try to create something that’s authentically Lithuanian. But there are a lot of examples to look to, and I want to direct you to some examples that I think are very useful.

The Anti-Globalist Carnival

 There’s a book called The Struggle for the World by Charles Lindholm and José Pedro Zúquete. [1] [3] Lindholm is an American sociologist. Zúquete is a Portuguese political scientist. I read this book when it came out in 2010. It’s about anti-globalization movements around the world, and I was most struck by the fact that there is a chapter on the European New Right. The European New Right is placed in the broader genus of anti-globalization movements, and when I read the chapter on the European New Right, I was struck by how meticulous and fair-minded the treatment was. I was most impressed by that.

I was very interested by this book’s description of some Left-wing, anti-globalization movements. The first movement that really struck me was something called the World Social Forum. The World Social Forum began as a parody of the World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, in Switzerland. The World Social Forum met for the first time in 2001, in at very run-down place in Brazil called Porto Alegre, which means “Happy Port.” But Porto Alegre is a pretty down-at-its-heels, impoverished place, so the name is somewhat ironic.

A number of union organizers, Left-wing politicians, Left-wing academics, and anti-globalization activists got together and declared the World Social Forum. It was basically a parody of Davos. It turned out, though, that 15,000 people from all over the world showed up for this event. And when it was repeated in 2005, 155,000 people showed up. This was quite remarkable.

The World Social Forum was inspired by some examples of generally Left-wing but populist and grassroots anti-globalization movements that had taken place in the ’90s.

For instance, in 1998, something called ATTAC arose in France. ATTAC was a grassroots movement demanding the regulation of financial markets for the good of consumers. In 1999, there was the great Battle of Seattle, in which 50,000 to 100,000 protesters shut down the city of Seattle and the World Trade Organization that was meeting there at the time. And in September 2000, the Global Day of Action took place in Prague at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF was shut down by these protests, and the protests included a lot of street theater. For instance, one of the protests was a bunch of people dressed in pig masks playing soccer with the globe as a parody of what the International Monetary Fund is about.

Another group that inspired the World Social Forum is called CIRCA, which stands for Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army. CIRCA would do stunts, parody, street theater to make fun of various globalist institutions and trends.

At the World Social Forum, something called the International Youth Camp, or IYC, emerged. The International Youth Camp was essentially a place where a bunch of young people who attended the forums camped out together. But it took on a life of its own and had a permanent carnival atmosphere.

What all these counter-globalization initiatives had in common was a non-hierarchical, distributed structure that made great use of the Internet to coordinate between independent actors, many of whom were anonymous and unknown to one another.

They also used street theater, as well as irony and humor, to mock their enemies and to mobilize their supporters. There was a jazz-like performative structure to these movements. Individuals would take up certain common themes and play with them — mutate them, invert them, blend them with other themes — then throw them over to somebody else, who would do the same thing, then pass it on again.

Now, bear in mind that I was reading this in 2010, before the whole Alt Right phenomenon that we got to know in 2015 emerged. And when the Alt Right came along, I thought back to these Leftist anti-globalization activists, because the Alt Right had a similar structure and a similar ethos.

I was also wondering: Where have all these hilarious Leftists gone? Because by 2010, and much less by 2015, the people on the Left were a bunch of po-faced, sour, humorless, angry people. I don’t think they could come up with anything like CIRCA anymore, and if they did, it would be a farce rather than a comedy. What had changed? Something had changed in the Zeitgeist.

These groups had created spaces, forums, camps, events as an incubator for anti-globalization ideas and activism. And these became very powerful. I saw a similar thing happening in our movement in 2015 and 2016, and I saw these groups as trailblazers. I doubt that they influenced the Alt Right, but it was an interesting example of parallel evolution.

Another model discussed by Zúquete and Lindholm is the international rave culture that started in the ’90s. Raves are all-night or all-weekend drug-soaked techno-music festivals. But with rave organizers, there was a very conscious attempt to create an alternative to capitalist normality. Raves had a quasi-sacral quality to them. There was an attempt to create a different social and mental space removed from all the incentives of capitalism and globalism. And one of the things that was most interesting about the whole rave culture is that it was almost entirely white. Of course, techno music as a whole is a very white genre of music.

Despite its anti-globalist, anti-capitalist ethos, the rave scene was ultimately politically impotent. It led to nothing but a lot of partying. And once the rave is over, you have a hangover for a few days then go back to work, back to being cogs in the global economic system, and all your alienation doesn’t change a thing. Raves were merely temporary alternatives to the global system. But they didn’t have any revolutionary or socially transformative potential in the end.

There’s a writer named Peter Lamborn Wilson, who also writes under the name of Hakim Bey. Hakim Bey wrote a book called T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone[2] [4] The Temporary Autonomous Zone is almost a theory of rave culture and what they were trying to create. They were trying to create a space that was autonomous from the incentives and pressures of bourgeois consumer-capitalist society. But we can create our own temporary autonomous zones as well, and if we do them well, they can have real revolutionary, transformative, social potential.

Identitarianism & the Spirit of Music

I want to draw your attention to another book. This is by José Pedro Zúquete on his own. It just came out, and it’s called The Identitarians: The Movement Against Globalism and Islam in Europe[3] [5] This is a tremendously useful book. The author is so fair-minded, and asks so many good questions, that I think he will be accused of being a sympathizer to Identitarianism, in a world where being a non-tendentious objective journalist almost makes you a fascist collaborator in the eyes of many. I’ve been following Identitarianism from the start, and even I learned a whole lot more about it from this book. All Identitarians need to read this book, especially if you’re serious about creating an Identitarian movement in Lithuania or in any of the other Baltic states, or wherever you are from.

Two elements in the emergence of the Identitarian movement were quite striking to me.

One is the emphasis on the ethos of what could be called “boys’ adventure tales.” The ethos of adventure is contrary to the ethos of consumerism and bourgeois society. Your dad might want you to get a degree and get a job, whereas the spirit of adventure might drive you to take the money that he sends you for college, buy a ticket, and go join the French Foreign Legion. This is something Ernst Jünger did as a lad. The spirit of adventure is contrary to the spirit of our age, and the Identitarian movements consciously cultivate that adventurous spirit.

The other striking factor is the importance of music. Two of the most important Identitarian founders — and I am using “Identitarian” in a very broad sense, now — are Fabrice Robert in France and Gianluca Iannone in Italy. Robert created Generation Identity. Iannone created CasaPound. 

Both of them started out running rock bands. Fabrice Robert ran a band called Fraction. Their music is described as a blend of ska, hardcore, and metal. I don’t know what that would sound like. I need to go on YouTube and see if I can find some performances. Iannone still has his band. It is called ZetaZeroAlpha.

Back in the ’90s, these two bands would tour together, which is very important, because today CasaPound and the Identitarian movement are aloof from one another. They maintain a certain distance. And the reason they maintain a certain distance is because CasaPound, being an Italian organization — an Italian social movement — is openly fascist. For them, that is quite authentic to their tradition, because there was never a systematic suppression of fascist ideas and parties after the Second World War, and, in fact, fascist parties have always had men in parliament; people with fascist identifications and loyalties have held prominent positions in Italian society ever since the Second World War.

Therefore, for them, it is not hopelessly self-marginalizing to avow the fascist tradition, whereas Generation Identity very carefully tries to avoid any connection with any form of inter-war fascism. So they and CasaPound maintain a separation from one another. But if you look at the roots, these guys knew each other. They toured with one another. The birth of Identitarianism comes from the spirit of music. There is an important lesson here.

Why would musicians be particularly well-suited for politics? Musicians are performers. It’s hard to get up and speak in front of people. There are many people who would rather die than get up in front of an audience and speak. And for those who do it, some of them are like me: Every fiber of my being screams against this. I don’t enjoy this kind of stuff, honestly. 

But there are some people who hunger for an audience, who hunger for attention. These are the kinds of people who become performers. They become actors. They become musicians. They want to get up on stage. They want your attention. Once they have the ability to read a room and connect with an audience and capture their attention, the next logical step for some of them is politics. There’s a deep logic to that. 

Another kind of person with the same set of skills is a priest. Priests have to be natural performers.

If you are doing pop music, youth music, you need to have a connection with youth culture, and that’s what we want, as well as a connection to a broader culture. 

There are also certain skills that are presupposed by anyone who’s a successful, even moderately successful, performer: a certain amount of entrepreneurial and managerial skills. Every band is a small business, and a lot of them fall apart because the people involved in them are only good at music, and they just can’t keep track of the other stuff. If you have a long-term record of being a performer, oftentimes that means you have certain, underlying practical skills that are keeping you in the game.

Those are very important skills. A lot of political groups fail because they have performers — leaders — but they don’t have people who can balance a checkbook, file government reports, and things like that. Iannone and Robert probably had those entrepreneurial qualities and managerial skills, which are essential to political success.

Creating Alternative Spaces

There’s another extremely important factor connecting priests and performers — musicians, actors — and that is the ability to create what I am going to call an “alternative mental space.” Now, that may sound like a very vague notion, so let me try and make it a little clearer.

First of all: alternative to what?

In our case, we want an alternative to globalization, liberalism, homogenization, capitalism, and materialism. That whole complex of motives, that complex of ways of being, is inimical to nationalism and national populism. And yet, these are the powers that rule our world. So we’re constantly trying to figure out how we can be nationalists and pay our bills, or not get doxed and fired, and so forth. The whole system is against us. And to project an alternative to that system, we have to find ways of getting our minds, and also our lives, outside of its clutches, if only for short periods of time. We have to figure out ways of creating national autonomous zones, Identitarian spaces.

Music festivals create such alternative spaces. Religious ceremonies do so as well.

The underlying distinction that generates religion is the sacred versus the profane. The profane world that we want to transcend is the world of globalization, liberalism, dumbing down, leveling out, and the destruction of our identities. An alternative to that could be understood as a sacred space, something above the profane world that we live in, where identity is an absolute value that cannot be priced — bought and sold — in terms of the filthy lucre of the global economic system.

Another way of understanding this alternative space is in terms of the carnival, which is always connected with religion, historically speaking. The carnival is a time when people can negate and invert established values and institutions. Thus, a lot of the street theater engaged in by these counter-globalization groups had a carnivalesque quality to it.

Perhaps the most important alternative to the bourgeois, global world, though, is what I prefer to call the “heroic world.” And that’s what we really need to aim at. We need to shift our minds from the priorities of people who think that the best life is a long and comfortable one, to the mindset of people who think that the best form of life is a heroic and responsible one, and who are willing to risk their comfort, their security, and even their physical existence for higher values. That is the ethos that will allow us to overturn this world.

Changing people’s consciousness, changing the mind-space that people operate in, can sometimes be accomplished by changing the social space they’re in. This is why rituals and festivals are politically very powerful things. When Richard Wagner wanted to transform Germany from the roots up, he first looked back to a model from ancient Greece; he looked back to Greek tragedy. 

Greek tragedy, it turns out, was an inherently religious activity. It was part of a greater religious festival. People would gather together as an audience, and on a stage — which was a sacred place — tragic dramas would be enacted. And these tragic dramas brought the deep identity of the participants to self-consciousness. Attic tragedy was about what it meant to be Greek. It was, therefore, a politically very potent thing, because bringing identity to consciousness can change the political world to better align with and express who we are. And that’s our task.

So when Wagner decided that he wanted to transform Germany from the roots up, what did he do? He looked back into German myth and epic. Then he crafted music dramas. Then he created a festival, the Bayreuth Festival, which was modeled on the Dionysia of Athens, where Greek tragedy was born. The Festival was designed to attract Germany’s elites into a space and an experience that would allow them to come to a deeper understanding of their identity, and on the basis of that, he hoped for a transformation of German culture and politics.

This is deep metapolitics. And interestingly enough, the term “metapolitics” was coined in the pages of the journal published at Bayreuth, under the editorship of Wagner’s son-in-law, Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

So what does this all mean for you? Well, if you know any musical geniuses, get in touch with them.

The key to creating an Identitarian movement is to create social spaces and activities outside the contemporary global system that allow the participants to come to consciousness of their identity, that uphold identity as something sacred, as the highest political value, and that can mobilize this new consciousness for political change.

The Limits of Play

One thing I want to caution you against, though, is too much frivolity, specifically making irony into an ethos. [4] [6] The Alt Right and also the World Social Forum and aligned movements very heavily employ comedy, mockery, parody, irony, and so forth. These are very powerful tools of deconstructing your enemy. When you mock your enemy, you demoralize them, and you also feel empowered. Whenever you can laugh at something, that’s a sign that on some level, you feel superior to it.

And this is why it was an important sign when all the humor went out of the Left. It means that they’re already psychologically defeated. They’re in a kind of snarling, retreating stance. They’re like protesters who are scrunched up on the ground as the police rain down blows with their truncheons. They’re not in a position of mastery and self-confidence anymore. Psychologically, they’re under siege, and we’re on the attack, because we’re funny, and they are not. 

They’re not funny. They’re merely laughable. People are laughing at them. People are laughing with us. And whenever they try to turn the tables on us, it’s incredibly lame, because they’ve lost their sense of being above us. And that’s a huge advantage we need to press.

But in the end, irony is only a tool. It is a way of moving in the right direction. It is useful for mocking your enemies. It is also useful for creating a safe mental space where people can try on radical new ideas. It is the equivalent of going to a store and trying on a shirt to see if it looks good on you. You’re not committed to it. If it doesn’t look good, you put it back on the rack. Or taking a car for a test drive, or buying something with a thirty-day, money-back guarantee.

If you can give people spaces or options where they do not have to commit 100% to something, they are more likely to try it, and if they’re more likely to try it, they’re more likely to buy it. And irony and ironic spaces are extremely important for that.

But ultimately, the ethos that we want is not the carnivalesque ethos, it’s the heroic ethos. And heroism does not draw anything from being non-committal — one foot in, one foot out — which is what irony is. Heroism requires 110% commitment, and irony as an ethos undermines that. It’s a very useful tool, but we have to keep it in check.

Another important thing to bear in mind is one of the big mistakes of the Alt Right in America: trying to take the memes and irony off the Internet and to do it in the real world. First of all, it doesn’t look good in the real world, and second, it collapsed a very useful distinction between dignified and plausible public representatives of our ideas, and a bunch of scruffy, anonymous, unwashed, vicious, but hilarious people on the Web.

As long as there is a space between these groups, the respectable, responsible public advocates could say, “I regret the excesses of our more enthusiastic brethren, but, you know, they do have a point.” That allows you to maintain your dignity, your public standing, and your political viability. But when those two worlds came together and the distinction collapsed, we had a problem.

All was well when Alt Right Twitter-trolls were triggering journalists, and journalists were writing furious, coked-up Buzzfeed diatribes saying, “All these people are a bunch of horrible Nazis,” and then people would Google the person and find . . . Jared Taylor. And they would not see a horrible Nazi, but a reasonable guy who sounds disturbingly sensible. Whenever that happened — and it happened a lot — it undermined the establishment narrative.

But when you can Google the story, and, ohmigod!, there’s actual footage of somebody behaving exactly like the Buzzfeed reporters say, that doesn’t undermine the media’s credibility, it reinforces it. It also undermines our ability to play the game in which we can benefit from the energy of the trolls but maintain the dignity and seriousness that’s ultimately necessary if we’re going to gin up that heroic ethos to win.

So again: create alternative spaces, be authentic, don’t make your nationalist movement seem foreign, and take inspiration wherever you can get it. But if it seems foreign, keep it esoteric. And the main reason to do that is because ultimately, we believe that ethnonationalism is rooted in nature, in objective reality. It’s also rooted in the healthy part of any national tradition. And if you can find a way of rooting ethnonationalism in nature, which is common to us all, and to things that are authentically part of your own national tradition, you will be able to connect better with your people. And that’s ultimately the most important thing: to connect with your people, if you’re going lead your people to safety.

In their Hearts, they Know We’re Right

One last thing that you need to keep in mind: I remember when I first learned to ride a bicycle, my dad put training wheels on it. I was just a little kid, but I remember realizing that it was going to take an act of will, an act of self-confidence on my part, to kick aside the training wheels. 

I want to argue that everything you, as Lithuanians, will learn from books like Zúquete’s The Identitarians, or from me, or from Jared Taylor, or online, or wherever you encounter ideas, everything you’re going to learn from outside to help create your Identitarian movement is going to be like training wheels. But eventually, you’ve got to kick those training wheels away.

And what’s going to sustain you when you take that leap, that act of will? The thing that sustains me, and that sustains all of us, is the following conviction. 

Years ago, when Barry Goldwater was running for President of the United States, Charlton Heston, a famous actor who became a conservative, was making a movie somewhere in Southern California. Whenever he was picked up in the morning in a limo and whisked off to work, he would see a Barry Goldwater billboard that said, “In your heart, you know he’s right.” He would see this billboard every day, coming and going, and at a certain point, it hit him. He said, “Sonofabitch! He is right!”

And I’ve always thought it would be a really great, kind of douchey, move on my part to title one of my books In Your Heart, You Know I’m Right. But that is something I truly believe, something that we have to believe. What we stand for is not only based on nature, but we must have faith that our people are not so poorly constituted by nature that they don’t have the ability to see and value what’s natural. It would be very weird if an organism came into the world, and needed to go with the grain of nature to survive, but didn’t have the ability to recognize what goes with the grain of nature.

We have to believe that all of our people basically believe what we believe. We’re not monsters; we’re just ahead of the curve. [5] [7] That’s a very important thing to keep in mind: We’re just a little more ethnocentric and a little more sensitive than your mother or your father or your neighbor, or whoever is the first normie that pops into your head. They’re not another species. They are our own flesh and blood, and they are constituted in the same way: to feel comfortable around people who are like them and a little anxious around people who are different.

We know that’s how the brain works. They might have a lot of ideas in their forebrain programmed into them by their college and their minister and Hollywood, that conflict with those intuitions, but we all believe those things. In their hearts, they know we’re right.

So when you get your formula together to create an Identitarian youth movement, and you try on various things for size, and you come up with a workable model, and you say, “Okay, we’re going to try this!” — at a certain point, you will kick away the training wheels, and you have to be sustained by the assumption that all those people out there, that you are trying to help, in their hearts, they know you’re right.


[1] [8] Charles Lindholm and José Pedro Zúquete, The Struggle for the World: Liberation Movements for the 21st Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010). 

[2] [9] Hakim Bey, TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, second ed. (Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 2003). 

[3] [10] José Pedro Zúquete, The Identitarians: The Movement Against Globalism and Islam in Europe (South Bend: Notre Dame University Press, 2018). 

[4] [11] Greg Johnson, “Identity vs. Irony,” From Plato to Postmodernism

[5] [12] Greg Johnson, “Ahead of the Curve,” In Defense of Prejudice