The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2019
What do you get when you have an anarchist diaspora Jew from the former Soviet Union who cannot abide the hypocrisy of the Left, but who is really nervous around the Right? Add to this someone who likes to write about himself, gonzo-style, as he tries to get a handle the important political issues of the day. Then throw in a penchant for endless editorializing, a deep-seated fear of footnotes, and a reflexive habit of telling lame jokes.
You get a person who should probably self-deport to Israel, where he would no longer have to worry about any of the above. In the meantime, we’ll just have to keep putting up with someone calling himself “Michael Malice” who recently stopped buzzing around Right-wing circles long enough to molt out a book about it. What he left behind is the marvelously mediocre The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics.
I cannot recommend this book to anyone – largely because it’s hard to imagine whom the intended readership is supposed to be. A person finding genuine value in this book would have to be clueless enough to require a definition of fundamental terms like “red pill” and “Overton window” and know absolutely nothing about anyone to the right of Sean Hannity, while having the reading stamina to sift through pages of meandering prose outlining how a rare book by James Burnham is absolutely critical to understanding Jonathan Haidt’s inextricable interconnection with the pick-up artist community. And then you’d have to find someone who believes that such convoluted theatrics actually matter.
Aside from the author’s right-of-center social circle, the handful of people quoted positively in the book, and their mothers, I got nothing. The Counter-Currents readership wouldn’t help much, either, since Malice’s idea of the “New Right” has nothing to do with Greg Johnson’s New Right, which Johnson has been writing about since at least 2012. That Malice completely ignores Johnson and Counter-Currents (along with quite a few vital members of the Dissident Right) and then populates what he calls the “New Right” with less threatening Alt Lite types like Gavin McInnes, Mike Cernovich, and Milo Yiannopoulos tells us all we need to know about how non-Right this book really is.
First, let’s talk about how The New Right bombs on a technical level. Michael Malice must suffer from ADHD, because he cannot stay on topic for his life. He begins a chapter which is ostensibly about a particular “New Right” personage and then invariably goes off on bizarre tangents in which he offers his opinions on a wide variety of topics, and sources only a fraction of them. It’s bewildering. For example, in the chapter entitled “The Vices of Gavin McInnes,” Malice begins fittingly enough with McInnes and his early days at Vice magazine. Then, what starts as a riff on McInnes’ joke about transsexuals (“These aren’t women trapped in a man’s body. They are nuts trapped in a crazy person’s body.”) morphs into a four-page digression in which Malice opines on the topic of degeneracy. He discusses Caitlyn Jenner, Weimar Germany, former Vice President Dan Quayle, the Murphy Brown TV series from the 1980s, and a book called The Idea of Decline in Western History by Arthur Herman.
At this point, I’m thinking, “Wait. Isn’t this chapter supposed to be about Gavin McInnes?” And then I realize that no, this book is not about anyone other than Michael Malice showing off his erudition. Despite all the scholarly razzle-dazzle, however, his opinions tend to skew toward the banal:
On the other hand, some of the New Right – especially the Alt-Right – focus much on “degeneracy,” a term like “racist” or “unfair” often meaning “that which I dislike.” The word is a reflection of the fact that in a society where people are free to make choices, others will sometimes unavoidably make choices that we ourselves wouldn’t. Sometimes they will even make choices that we personally find unappealing and downright repulsive.
And the way in which he hops from topic to topic with only the slightest of segues makes The New Right into a real Rube Goldberg of a book. Yes, some readers might marvel at how Malice can begin a chapter on Milo Yiannopoulos and then end it with a five-page discourse on the university system, the Constitutional Convention, National Review, the early Progressive Era, the Gilded Age, the London School of Economics, and whatever else he happens to be reading about at the time (in this case, it was a book called Illiberal Reformers by Thomas C. Leonard). But really, these are just cheap thrills.
Another failure of the book is the author’s consistent use of dubious claims. Many times in The New Right, Malice will make some grand statement like he’s Moses coming down from the mountain, but if you actually think about what he says or know something about the subject matter, he’ll leave you scratching your head. Either that, or his statements will refute themselves. Here are some examples:
Conservatives, blind to history, tout the nuclear family as the height of stability. Yet the nuclear family is rarely “stable.” There are deaths and births. Dad loses his job or mom gets sick. The relationships are dynamic.
(Right, like these bad outcomes don’t appear more often in non-nuclear families.)
Jim Goad is the Godfather of the New Right.
(Um, okay . . .)
So if there’s someone who the New Right admires almost without hesitation or qualification, it’s not Donald Trump. It’s not even an American – it’s Nigel Farage, former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
[Pat] Buchanan’s Death of the West is indeed a seminal text for the New Right (one of the very few) . . .
(“One of the very few?” What’s that supposed to mean?)
. . . for someone who has a reputation for being abrasive, [Ann] Coulter acted like she’d known me for years. It was entirely at odds with her super-WASPiness.
(Right. Like the mainstream media is never abrasive toward Coulter. And what are you saying about WASPs, anyway?)
Yet despite all the imagery of racists as marching hicks, yelling and misspelling words, Yale-educated [Jared] Taylor is anything but. He speaks calmly, eloquently, and viciously.
(And Michael Malice writes neurotically, sloppily, and viciously. So there’s that.)
And it’s not just Malice’s statements that are dubious. So are his ideas. For instance, Jim Goad is the “Godfather of the New Right” for three reasons:
- He’s “ostensibly privileged due to . . .demographics.”
- He has “contempt bordering on disgust for elites.”
- He uses “nontraditional methods” to disseminate his ideas.
Really? This is the rubric we use to determine who is Right-wing these days? Who knew? Malice also believes that this “New Right” is essentially a union of Murrary Rothbard and Pat Buchanan. He also claims that the political idols of the “New Right” are two men who “represent two types of national vitality: creation and salvation.” According to Malice, Lee Kuan Yew, the Prime Minister of Singapore, represents the former, while Augusto Pinochet represents the latter.
As a person who has been writing for a Right-wing publication for years, I have no idea what he is talking about. Who says Farage is universally beloved on the Right? Malice and his pals? Who died and made them an authority? Who else besides Malice points to Rothbard and Buchanan as crucial forerunners of the Right (and not to, say, Sam Francis or Wilmot Robertson)? We might as well list Milton Friedman as the ultimate source of everything Right-wing, since so many on the Right today – in America at least – come from a libertarian background.
This is not to say that Malice’s ideas are necessarily devoid of value. It’s just that because he under-footnotes his observations, we have little historical or ideological context in which to place them. He also flits about from one observation to another without offering enough evidence to make any of them persuasive. If he wanted to convince us of his potentially interesting ideas on Yew and Pinochet, he should have devoted entire chapters to each of them with a bibliography and lots of footnotes so we can check up on his methods. Instead, he prefers to be superficial. In essence, he wants to make himself the source of these ideas so future authors will footnote him. But this requires a certain amount of faith that he’s not just pulling some of these ideas out of his ass. With specious arguments like the following, that is hard to establish (emphasis mine):
What makes matters difficult is when any slight connection between race and crime is forbidden to be discussed at all. Yet even [Jared] Taylor wouldn’t say that crime is caused by being black per se so much as it is caused by high testosterone and low IQ, which are supposedly correlated with being black. But then it would be the testosterone and IQ that are the problems, not the actual race itself.
But when the black race invariably acts ethnocentrically and in the interests of its own criminal class, we realize what a stupid objection Malice is making. Don’t blacks almost unanimously support measures such as gun control, law enforcement restrictions, and increasingly lenient prison sentencing? All of these make life easier on black criminals. One can try to isolate the low-T, high-IQ blacks from the rest, but the blacks themselves prefer their high-T, low-IQ norm – even if it leads to greater crime, poverty, and corruption – as long as their sense of racial pride and identity is not challenged.
I should point out that such silliness turns out to be the rule in Malice’s chapter on Jared Taylor. Often, he will quote Taylor making sense as usual and then resort to arduous syllogisms in an attempt to refute him. For instance, Malice makes the risible argument that racial diversity is good and this goodness causes rents to be so high in diverse places like San Francisco and New York City. What Malice doesn’t tell you is that big cities like these two are balkanized roughly according to race and are subject to tremendous amounts of crime, corruption, and poverty compared to non-diverse (read: white) places. People pay high rents because that’s where the jobs, money, and opportunities are – not because Uncle Omar’s Falafel House down the street serves fantastic baba ghanoush. And rents had always been high in major American cities, even before the age of racial diversity.
My favorite is Malice’s farcical claim that white men should welcome becoming minorities in their own nations because that will help make them “innovators of culture.” First, he’s implying that white men didn’t do such a good job of innovating culture when they were in control of their own nations – an idea that is demonstrably false and offensive, not to mention racist. Secondly, he assumes that our future non-white overlords will allow whites to innovate culture at all. Given the atrocious track records of blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, and Arabs in their own parts of the world, I strongly doubt they will.
Malice also does something I have never seen before. He claims that during his 1996 presidential campaign, Pat Buchanan literally got on his knees to apologize to the executor of Murray Rothbard’s estate for some slight he had made against Rothbard. And the source of this embarrassing encounter? “Private conversation” is all the footnote reads. That any author would offer such a lame excuse for a source is simply astounding. Private conversation with whom? Where? When? May we have a transcript, please? I guess the conversation wasn’t very “private” if Malice is going to disclose its juicy bits to the entire world. Did he not at least check with Pat Buchanan (who’s not dead, by the way) to verify this? Does he not realize how shifty it is to include hearsay as an honest source in a supposedly serious work?
Here’s one for ya, Mike. I have it on excellent authority that despite his perverse fascination with white gentiles, one Michael Malice, aka Michael Krechmer, harbors a very Jewish antipathy towards white people. He’s smart enough to think circles around the Left, but really doesn’t want to share political space with whites who are woke on the Jewish Question and are likely as ethnocentric as he is. Thus, in The New Right, he tries to make those bad whites disappear by framing the acceptable Right around less threatening Alt Lite types who are either Jewish themselves or are too afraid of Jews to get lippy with them. Malice claims that this is all part of the grand Jewish strategy of divorcing the white population from its most ardent and ethnocentric defenders in order to ultimately achieve white genocide in the next century. “A final solution, indeed!” the aptly-named Michael Malice said as he rubbed his hands together and cackled with malicious glee.
I’m kidding, Mike. I’m kidding.
And now here is where we say nice things about Michael Malice and The New Right. Despite buying into the “racism is bad, you guys” shtick of the Left, Malice does offer excellent reasons for the necessity of Right-wing ideas. He can also be relied upon to skewer the Left the way it needs to be skewered. One insight I especially appreciated was how he dismissed the Mussolini-was-evil-because-he-was-allied-with-Hitler argument. “Condemning Mussolini for allying with Hitler is in some ways like condemning the United States for allying with Stalin to fight the Axis.”
He also asks the right questions whenever he’s not sweating bullets in the presence of white gentiles:
In an attempt to restore order to Chile, Pinochet and the military staged a coup in 1973. Allende died during the conflict, either by his own hand or that of his men’s. Pinochet’s men ended up killing over three thousand people as they seized power. These three thousand deaths are at the heart of the argument against Pinochet. When compared to the (literally) hundreds of millions of people in various countries killed by their own respective communist governments, this isn’t even a rounding error. Nor is it a huge number in what was effectively a truncated civil war. The question is, therefore, is it wrong to kill several thousand people who back a government in the process of installing a communist dictatorship, with all that that entails?
His penultimate chapter deals with the Charlottesville riots and offers up-close portrayals of Pax Dickinson, Augustus Invictus, and Christopher Cantwell. Here’s where I tightened up and expected the worst. Despite his scathing criticism of the Left, Malice still accepts the Left’s egalitarianism and taboos against race realism. He seems to think that Ann Coulter and VDARE are as far right as one can go and still be respectable, because although these people discuss race a lot, they only do so in order to win elections. And then, because he’s such a brave guy, he goes beyond that and interviews [gasp!] Jared Taylor. It’s a frosty interview, with Taylor being quoted very little and Malice spilling a few toners’ worth of ink trying to refute him. By the time we get to Charlottesville, I’m thinking he’s going to stick a fork in the Right and claim we’re done like dinner.
But no. Instead, he treats us to an extended interview with Cantwell, who comes across as thoughtful, reasonable, and forthright. One can agree or disagree with Cantwell, but based on The New Right one cannot malign him simply for having dissident beliefs. It’s as if Malice had been sailing on a barge this entire time into the heart of darkness, but when he finally gets there, instead of finding “the horror, the horror,” he meets someone who’s actually pretty cool. Not only this, he lets Cantwell have the last word so the reader can come to his own conclusions about the subject matter.
See, this is called “journalism,” and whenever Malice gets over his racist hang-ups about white people and ceases to link obscure tidbits of history to make arcane, brainy points, he’s actually pretty good at it. Of course, if you distilled all the proper journalism out of The New Right, you’d get 26 pages instead of 290. An improvement, no doubt. And then he would have had room to interview Greg Johnson, so he and his readership can discover what the New Right is really about.
 Private conversation.
Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You.