The Paranoid Style in White NationalismGreg Johnson
If you think this essay is about you, you might be paranoid.
Guardians of the conventional wisdom frequently accuse White Nationalists of being “paranoid” when we express fears of non-white crime, white demographic decline, race replacement immigration, and ultimately white extinction and white genocide.
White Nationalists are also frequently accused of “phobias” like “xenophobia” (the fear of aliens).
These accusations are not psychiatric diagnoses. They are not offered to help us. They are just cheap rhetorical attacks, attempts to dismiss our concerns as irrational. By pathologizing our views, our enemies seek to frighten off conventional-minded people who might otherwise take our ideas seriously. They might even gaslight the weakest among us into doubting their own sanity.
But in truth, White Nationalist fears of non-white crime, multiculturalism, and race-replacement immigration are quite reasonable. Even our most alarming ideas—white extinction and white genocide—are, unfortunately, based on objective facts and sober analysis.
Jewish historian Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” is often name-dropped as a classic treatment of political paranoia, but it is a disappointingly superficial magazine article, published in Harpers in November of 1964 against the backdrop of the Barry Goldwater–Lyndon Johnson presidential race.
Hofstadter does not reflect on the idea of paranoia; he simply uses it in an attempt to pathologize conspiracy theories and gaslight people who are inclined to think in conspiratorial terms. Nor does Hofstadter refute any of the conspiracy theories he mocks, and for good reason: they all have more than a kernel of truth, particularly Senator Joseph McCarthy’s warnings of Communist infiltration of the US government.
Frankly, the only good feature of Hofstadter’s essay is its title, which is why it is more often cited than read. I’m going to steal the phrase “the paranoid style” because, although the central claims of White Nationalism cannot be dismissed as paranoid, some people in our movement really do have a paranoid style—if not out-and-out paranoia—so the phenomenon needs to be taken seriously.
What follows are some notes on the paranoid style that will help us to identify it, with the ultimate aim of ridding ourselves of it. First of all, the paranoid style is bad optics. We are constantly being accused of paranoia and various phobias. There are easy arguments to counter these claims, but the best refutation is a matter of action. We simply should not behave like people in the grip of irrational fears. Second, the paranoid style is never far removed from actual paranoia, and crazy people don’t belong in a serious movement.
“Paranoia” literally means being out of one’s mind, from the Greek roots “para,” meaning outside or beside, and “noos,” meaning the mind. But paranoia refers to a much more specific form of derangement, namely holding irrational beliefs—but not just any irrational beliefs: irrational beliefs motivated by fear. Paranoids have irrational fears. The things they fear are irrational, and the way they fear them is irrational.
Fear is not necessarily irrational. Bad things happen all the time. By its nature, rational action pursues the good and avoids the bad. Whenever one is about to do something, it is entirely reasonable to ask, “What’s the worst that could happen?” among all other possible outcomes.
Paranoids don’t just fear the worst, they believe the worst, and they do so compulsively and irrationally. What makes a fear irrational? It is irrational to fear things that are unreal or unlikely to happen. Paranoids, however, can’t help it. For paranoids, fearing is believing.
In my experience, paranoids are not just delusional. They also want you to share their delusions, for if you share their delusions, the delusions seem more real and the paranoids feel less alone. Paranoia is a lonely and terrifying place. Paranoid ideation is not pleasant. It is a self-destructive compulsion akin to drug addiction. Paranoids are like moths frantically fluttering around a lightbulb until they die in fits of agony.
But how does one convince people of delusions? To do this, paranoids generally resort to two techniques: demanding that you treat them as authorities, so you simply accept their core delusions on faith, and making up tissues of lies that support belief in the core delusion. This is akin to the “pious fraud” who makes up stories about divine revelations and miracles to support core religious articles of faith.
One wonders if paranoids consciously lie to shore up their delusions or if some of them really believe the stories they improvise on the spot. Surely some of them are conscious liars who take pleasure in duping others because it makes them feel powerful. Naturally, if paranoids are willing simply to lie, they are also willing to use all lesser forms of deceptive rhetoric and emotional manipulation as well, and when those fail, they will move to screaming rage and physical assault.
The worst-case scenario in a debate is that one’s opponent is intellectually dishonest. Thus in debates, paranoids tend to go straight to accusations of bad faith. For paranoids, there are no honest disagreements or honorable opponents. There are simply bad actors and venal shills. Since most of our movement consists of exchanging ideas online, such accusations are generally the first sign that one is dealing with a paranoid.
Of course there really are intellectually dishonest people, but the problem with paranoids is their lack of evidence and their rush to judgment. Paranoids are often lightning-fast because they move from suspicion to certainty without the necessity of gathering and weighing evidence. The best way to counter them is to slow them down and ask for evidence. “Now wait just a minute there, sonny . . .”
Since paranoids usually come off as cranks, they have plenty of opponents, a number that only increases with time. If one has many intellectual opponents, the worst-case scenario is that they are all conspiring together behind the scenes. Thus paranoids routinely describe their opponents as parts of sinister “conspiracies,” “alliances,” “axes,” “cults,” “mafias,” and other networks, imagining all sorts of covert horse-trading, handshakes, and maneuvers to swindle the paranoid out of his just deserts.
Of course such conspiracies can actually exist, but the problem with paranoids is their hasty reasoning and lack of evidence. Paranoids like to paint ballroom sized canvases with broad brushes at furious speed. So the best way to respond is to focus in on the details and ask if they are based on fact and if they are really connected with one another. “Cool story. But is it true?”
In my experience, paranoia is also often connected with narcissism. I have already discussed one aspect of the paranoid’s narcissism: his desire to convince an audience of his delusions. But narcissism is not just a fruit of paranoia, it is also a root of it, especially narcissistic delusions of grandeur. If one has an inflated self-image, the fact that other people seldom share it requires an explanation. Since a narcissist by his very nature is resistant to revising his self-image, he has to conclude that something is wrong with other people. They would acknowledge his superiority, if only they were not stupid or jealous or malevolent.
Furthermore, since it is inconceivable to a narcissist that many different people would independently draw the same negative conclusions about him, he is again drawn to conspiratorial explanations, positing the existence of whispering campaigns whereby a few malevolent people spread lies around like a cold virus.
Again, envy and coordinated campaigns of slander are real human phenomena, so one can’t dismiss such explanations out of hand. Instead, one has to ask for evidence.
Another trait I have noticed in paranoids is a tendency toward categorical, binary, and all-or-nothing thinking. Categorical statements are absolute and unqualified. In a binary situation, there are only two options. One binary option is all-or-nothing.
Of course, there really are categorical truths. There really are binary situations, including all-or-nothing options. But one needs to offer evidence for them. The paranoid mind is drawn toward such thinking, regardless of evidence, because of an irrational attraction to the extreme and momentous, especially if accompanied by a frisson of fear.
There’s also an element of intellectual laziness to such claims.
A paranoid might wish to argue that something about Trump’s foreign policy is not as it seems, but instead of offering specific evidence, he simply announces a categorical metaphysical statement “Nothing is what it seems.”
A paranoid might want to argue that a certain event was not a coincidence, but instead of offering specific evidence for his thesis, he simply resorts to the categorial metaphysical statement “There are no accidents.”
A paranoid might wish to establish that two apparently unconnected events are actually covertly connected, but instead of actually showing the connection, he appeals to a categorical metaphysical statement “Everything is connected.”
Another feature of the paranoid style is to put the stamp of eternity on things, because a problem that has always existed is worse than a problem that emerges at a specific time under specific conditions.
Donald Trump is not a disappointment because he failed to implement his most important promises—immigration restriction and America first in trade and foreign policy—in the face of stiff opposition. No, Trump is a fraud, because that is the worst-case scenario. But there’s something still worse than being a fraud, hence the accusation that Trump was always a fraud. He never meant to keep those promises.
Yes, some things are forever, but most aren’t, thus here too it comes down to a question of evidence.
There’s also an element of narcissistic preening to claiming that one has always had the inside scoop.
But aren’t paranoids sometimes right? Yes, but that should not give them any credibility. If you believe the worst about everybody, sometimes you will be right, but merely by accident, in the same way that a stopped clock is right twice a day. But if you happen to glance at a stopped clock at the right time of day, that is no reason to regard the instrument as reliable. In the same way, the paranoid mind is not a reliable guide to the truth, even though sometimes it might stumble on the truth by accident.
Not everyone who exhibits the paranoid style is actually paranoid. But there are enough paranoids in the White Nationalist milieu that others have picked up their tropes by osmosis. This is a problem, because, at core, White Nationalism is an intellectual movement. We are a vast online educational project.
But, unfortunately, we are also a school for unreason because this movement has no barriers to the entry of crazy people, nor any ways to quarantine or expel them. The best we can do is inoculate ourselves against such influences by teaching our people how to spot and avoid them. This is crucially important, because at present, our movement’s greatest strengths are truth, intellectual rigor, and the credibility they grant us in a culture based on lies and unreason. We need to guard these advantages zealously from both critics without and crazies within.
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Thank you for this article.
It’s so important that as many people as possible in our scene read this.
Everytime I argue something, I make sure to use Occam’s ???? Razor.
E.G., if someone does a stupid thing, your knee-jerk should always be that they did the thing because they’re dumb of ignorant, not because of some vast plot.
Not only is it usually correct, but it makes you come off as less of a crank to those who you wish to convince -and- is less demoralizing go people who are already on your side.
The Jews are a good example of this: anti-Semites are de-facto Jewish supremacists because of how much they inflate their knowledge, agency, intellect, and control.
If the Jews really were THAT powerful, there would be no point in even opposing them, because they’d be perpetually 10 steps ahead of whatever the Goyim were up to
The key to understanding Ockham’s Razor is that (a) William never stated the principle directly (it has been inferred from his method of argumentation) and (b) it’s not really a logical argument, but an aesthetic one (i.e. ‘simpler’ is in the eye of the beholder). In most descriptions of the ‘Razor’ the assumption is that all other things being equal, one should prefer the simpler explanation. It is very, very rare in argumentation that ‘all things are equal’ so, ultimately, it’s not as useful as it seems. For a genuinely paranoid person, the notion that someone is out to ‘get’ them is the simpler explanation.
Good points all, Hamburger. I have just one more to add: Occam’s Razor is properly applied to scientific rather than social subject-matter. After all, nature is not a conscious being and therefore cannot seek to deceive you; man, however, can and often does deceive others. Man is so much into deception, in fact, that sometimes he even deceives himself!
Both you and Benjamin are correct. That one explanation which accounts for all data is simpler than another does not necessarily mean that it is correct. OTOH, the true antidote to the Conspiracist Fallacy is the requirement that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
I have no ‘dog’ in the 9-11 Truther hunt. I am totally open to evidence that 9-11 was the result of a government conspiracy, an Israeli spec op, etc. But given what I know about the difficulties of concealment, as well as the unlikelihood of large numbers of experts all agreeing as to the culprits and their methods, esp on an issue not as fraught with political incorrectness as something to do with race or gender, I will stick with the conventional wisdom until dispositive evidence demonstrating its falsehood has been presented.
The problem with the ‘extra-ordinary claims requires extra-ordinary evidence’ standard is that there is rarely a neutral judge to determine what is ‘extraordinary’. My experience with those who try to use the Sagan Rule is that it’s purpose is to discourage investigation of the claim, not encourage doing so.
I a rule similar to your own: If a quotidian explanation is sufficient, an eccentric explanation is not to be preferred (without ruling out whatever valuable insight might reside in the eccentric view).
Fair enough. But conservatives wisely used to mention occasionally that there is such a as thing being too openminded. Some questions are settled so life can be lived. Others probably don’t have enough intial justification for their asking, or pursuing if asked. Also, leftists these days hide behind radical scepticism (eg, because some traditional wisdom has been falsified, therefore all traditional understandings must be kept open to interrogation and ‘transgression’)
One thing I most definitely think has been established are the core truths of white nationalism: that race is biologically real; races are not fungible; our race is headed towards extinction; immigration is non-military invasion; diversity is bad (at least for us; not for some of Them); the Jews push diversity onto white nations; and that racial protection should be put first in the ideological hierarchy of all whites (or at the very least, all non-leftist whites).
Fear is wisdom in the face of danger, it is nothing to be ashamed of. ~ S. Holmes
Courage is wisdom in the face of fear. — G. Johnson
This is an especially worthwhile topic.
I’d like to interject another peculiarity that is worthwhile, which isn’t totally unrelated. And that’s the “hot take” phenomenon.
I feel that the dissident right is FULL of narcissists. I believe that this is sort of a natural by-product of any intellectual movement, especially one that emphasizes Darwinian competition and/or hierarchy. Intelligent people often wish to rise to the top, or at least, gain recognition for their ideas. When people find themselves in groups having discussions about dissident ideas, group dynamics invariably kick in. People who are narcissists and have a desire to be dominant will run off or alienate people with good ideas but who are “handicapped” with a sense of humility.
This tends to lead to judgements (or refereeing) coming from the “chorus” (to borrow from Greek drama). In this movement, the chorus always seems to be looking for the “hottest” take to offer approval to. “Hot takes” seem often to be the ones that best fit pre-conceived narratives rather than the ones best backed up by evidence.
Being that the right does tend to embrace conspiratorial thinking, the hot takes always seem to come back to these same narratives, even when simpler explanations are also apparent. If the simpler explanation doesn’t lend itself to “blaming a particular group with large nasal extremities”, then it isn’t adequate.
Obviously there is ample evidence to support the notion of tribal behaviors in every racial group. To deny that is insane.
But the lesson I have taken away is to avoid the groups who mock suggestions that don’t fit these preconceived narratives. Which tends to make it hard to find a rational thinking group, to be honest.
All fringe movements attract narcissistic and narcissist-adjacent personalities, due to a variety of reasons. Dissident politics and WN are especially at risk because a) They fulfill a the narcissistic/sociopathic fantasy of being a notorious villain and b) the element of “better to rule in hell than serve in heaven” is better served here.
I write this in full cognizance of my own pronounced narcissistic traits which have to be kept under strict control if I am to help the movement.
I think you almost have to have some narcissistic traits to end up redpilled. Think of what kind of person can look at essentially everything that they’ve ever been taught by the establishment and say “It’s all a lie.” Anyone capable of that certainly isn’t wanting for confidence.
But that is not narcissism.
What Corday is describing is resistance to the tribal signal, which is often a sign of low agreeableness as a psychological trait (and to a certain extent, low conscientiousness). These traits are not necessarily narcissistic, but they are a common thread linking all cluster B personality disorders, which manifest in the male as antisocial or narcissistic personality disorders.
There’s no denying that there’s a sizable and visible minority of dissident rightists who are antisocial and narcissistic, and at least a plurality of us are sub-clinical (not enough for formal diagnosis, but still elements thereof) cases of cluster b disorders. Grandiose paranoia is also something which is common to cluster b personality disorders.
My recommendation is to accept these facts as they are and attempt to moderate any damaging behaviors, which is best done through participation in organized religion and periodic comprehensive reality checks, the best of which is the classic roast, done in public by your closest friends.
Narcissism is very widespread wherever there are ‘power’ positions, from local councils upward. The leadership of the Left throughout history are notable for their narcissism (I wrote a barely read book on the subject). Once one is conscious of the signs of narcissism one can readily discern it very widely throughout society.
If the Right is ideologically focusing on Darwinism, then that is another example of the Right losing its way, and succumbing to theories that are innately foreign to it, such as libertarianism to which it is aligned. But nothing about Darwinism is “Right”. The Rigth believes in the organic community, Gemeinschaft in sociological terms; social Darwinism, like Marxism and free trade, breaks that concept down like a cancer.
“Conspiratorial thinking” is a legitimate method of analysis, but like anything can be taken too far. Conversely, saying there are no conspiracies is naive at best. What is a conspiracy other than getting together to make a plan? Nonetheless, what is often missed is that conspiracies are symptoms rather than causes; able to fester when the social, organism is in decay.
“Hot takes’ seem often to be the ones that best fit pre-conceived narratives rather than the ones best backed up by evidence. ”
I am guilty of this
I’m thinking of so many Philip K Dick quotes right now, lol.
There’s certainly reason to be paranoid but I’m not sure where healthy paranoia ends and crazy begins. Suspicion vs knowing?
“Paranoia is just having the right information.” 😛
Does Paranoid have a website by any chance?
He has many. If you want to suggest some, please post them below.
im guilty of it
im now starting to understand in the hard way why jews have developed a lot of genetic ilness related to paranoia ,incapable of trusting anyone in hostil world overhelmed by cristianity to dilute their identity and surrounded by enemies they extremed their senses until they saw enemies everywhere even when there was none.
now the tables have turned and a secularized version of crisitanity putt in place whose mision is to disolve european identity like cristianity did with jews 2000 years ago so is natural if we follow the same path than more and more europeans end up becaming paranoid freaks like jews .
as jews return home we became rootless nomad …….
yes this is interesting and I feel this similar tendency. The online arena also helps the paranoid style because of how much information is thrown at the reader at once. its nearly impossible to sift through all the information at once and create a basic gestalt of what you just read without using the paranoid shorthand. Increasingly the discussion moves to more and more purile forums to spread to wider audiences and the discussion gets watered down so that less intellectually inclined people can understand. all these situations allow for the paranoid style to dominate.
another interesting element of the paranoid style (at least in the united states) is its connection to the puritanical mentality of the founding stock. American protestantism has an element of paranoia in its roots. you have a situation where the preacher or “know it all” guy tells you the inside truth and the people all believe it. joseph smith and the mormon experience are great evidence of this.
Great article ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BTW. Did we ever find out if Chateau Heartist ever got up and running again?
The 1960s-era John Birch Society and the Patriot/Militia movement of the 90s contained many good, patriotic white activists but their fatal flaw was their endless, unfounded conspiracy theories.
The Left had a field day mocking them over this issue.
Our movement is nowhere near as paranoid as they were but the author is correct that this is a legit issue.
Many Jews fear Trump. One Jew told me his relatives were preparing for the government coming after them after Trump was elected, similar to how Alex Jones claims we are going to be sent to FEMA camps. Jews are paranoid about another holocaust even though most of them marry out. I guess some think the goy are black widows. It is funny because philo-semites are absorbing their phenotype and critics of Jews are doing them virtually no harm.
I am not paranoid. I simply have an amygdala which is triggered by racial decline. I have a strong sense of taste. Paranoia probably stems from a strong amygdala, but it is not the same thing as taste. They call us paranoid because they lack taste and cannot understand ours.
Wow. This article described, almost to the word, a family member of mine whose conspiracy theories (and outbursts when you dare even question them) I’ve had to endure for over twenty years.
This is not really relevant to this post, but …
Why are so many antifa freaks/terrorists … WHITE? This is just so embarrassing and demoralizing:
I think everyone should view this Twitter thread for a few minutes. Never forget the sheer evil, psycholpgical aberrance, and wanton destructiveness of whom we’re fighting against.
I take a contrarian point of view. Paranoia is an innate, instinctive aspect of the human psyche. Distrust & mistrust are good things. However, authorities always want to repress this inborn fear, so that the population becomes easier to govern. Nationalism will only succeed if it becomes an acceptable arena in which to express such anxieties. We need more suspicion, not less.
You missed the point. The issue is whether suspicions and fears are rational and based on truth. Paranoia is by definition irrational.
It is usually impossible to assess what is rational. If such a truth-assessment can ever be made, then it will take decades. The only certainty, then, is fear. The only thing available right now is paranoia.
You sound like a nutcase, to be honest.
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