The Bernie Bro Question, Part Three: Cringe Encounters of the Third PositionTravis LeBlanc
*Trav takes long drag from cigarette*
The Optics War?
*Trav exhales long plume of smoke*
Yeah, kid. I was there.
*Commence flashback sequence, cue late ’60s acid rock*
There I was, deep in the jungles of the 504-um. I was just a small-town boy from the Midwest who wanted to make a difference. “Join the Alt-Right,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. “Trigger some libs. Save the white race. It’ll be great.” Now here I was, fighting a memetic optics war against a bunch of costumed trailer park neo-Nazis. This sure as hell wasn’t in the brochure.
I was serving in the 15th Airborne AmNat battalion as we went on optics patrol through the forum. The megathread was quiet. A little too quiet, if you know what I mean. Suddenly, Sergeant Weev orders us to halt.
“Shh! Listen!” At first, I didn’t hear anything. But then the low sound of voices came rolling through the trees. At first, they were soft and indistinct, but as they drew close and became louder, I could start to make out some of the things they were saying. They were things like “There is no political solution!” and “Who cares? They’re going to call us Nazis no matter what we do!”
“Oh shit! It’s the Wignats! Take defensive positions!” Suddenly we were being swarmed by a human wave of strawmen. No sooner did you shoot one down, another would rise up to take its place. People were getting flaming all around me.
Let me tell you, the Optics War was hell. I lost a good friend that day. His name was Ricky Vaughn.
*End flashback sequence*
The Great Optics War of 2018 raged on for several months, leaving behind a trail of broken dreams, broken lives, and broken boxes. It permanently divided the White Nationalist community into two camps: the American Nationalists AKA the Optics Cucks, and the Natsocs AKA the Wignats. Many hoped this split to be temporary, and that maybe the differences could have been reconciled, but if anything, the divide has only deepened since then, mostly due to two major events. The first was the schism between the Daily Stormer (widely seen as being AmNat Central) and The Right Stuff, which happened last fall. The other is the rise of Nick Fuentes and the Groyper Wars, which was hailed by many as the ultimate vindication of the AmNat approach. While some managed to stay neutral during the Optics War proper, those events managed to push most people squarely into one camp or the other. A notable exception would be the Brit Right (Patriotic Alternative et al.) which is kind of its own thing now and exists largely outside the AmNat-Wignat paradigm.
The divide isn’t really AmNat-Wignat anymore so much as it is AmNat versus Not AmNat, but I’m still going to refer to the Not AmNat side as “Wignats” anyway, just to be a jerk. Indeed, many of the original leading names of the Wignat side are no longer with us. Christopher Cantwell is in jail while Paul Nehlen and Patrick Little have faded back into the obscurity from whence they came.
And then you have Wignat Prime, Matt Heimbach. If you’re deep enough down the Dissident Right rabbit hole that you are reading Counter-Currents, then you’ve probably also heard that the former Traditionalist Workers Party leader has pulled a Christian Picciolini. On April 1, Heimbach put out a video declaring himself a “former White Nationalist” and anti-racist.
The interesting thing about the Heimbach case is that unlike Picciolini or Katie McHugh, who went from White Nationalist to full Cult Marx SJW, Heimbach has declared himself a class-first communist. As many have observed, he has hardly changed any of his views at all — rather, he changed emphasis. Heimbach was always a class warfare guy (he was kicked out of the National Socialist Movement for “promoting communism”), but it was always a secondary part of his shtick. Now it’s his whole shtick.
The whole Heimbach affair has been commented upon by everyone and their dog at this point and I can’t really improve on what has already been said. For more on Matt Heimbach, check out Ryan Faulk’s video “Matt Heimbach and the Perils of Wignatism.”
But this is a trend that you see throughout the entire Not AmNat spectrum as the Wignats have started rebranding themselves as explicit Third Positionists. A lot of them were already Third Positionists, but again, it’s a matter of emphasis, as critiques of capitalism have become more front and center while things like HBD and identity have become more secondary.
It is somewhat ironic, though. The Alt-Right was founded by a bunch of ex-libertarians who became White Nationalists in order to save capitalism. Fast forward a few years, and many of those same people have reached the conclusion that in order to save the white race, they have to destroy capitalism. I don’t know how much of this is sincere conversion, how much is cynical careerism, and how much is strategic branding in opposition to AmNats. The Wignats’ old sales pitch was that AmNats were Diet White Nationalism while they were the full flavor, but with the Groyper Uprising, it became clear that the AmNats had won that Pepsi Challenge. Rebranding as Third Positionists allows them to offer a genuine alternative beyond “AmNats, but with worse optics.”
Admittedly, this is an improvement on their part. Unlike accelerationism (the Wignats’ previous defining characteristic) the role of socialism in a nationalist movement is at least a conversation worth having.
Wignats have always bitched and moaned that the AmNats didn’t want to do things their way, whereas the AmNats have always just wanted the Wignats to go away. There’s a reason for that, and because I like you guys, I’m gonna tell you what that is.
Wignats don’t redpill anyone. Wignats are all about blackpilling redpilled types. One thing you notice about Wignats is that none of them make any entry-level content. Not in the way that Nick Fuentes or Andrew Anglin do. By “entry-level content,” I mean content that a normie can read and enjoy without knowing a ton of political theory and/or 10 years of internet lore. And it would be pointless for them to try, because their ideas are completely unpalatable to normal people, and on some level, I think they know this. Wignats require a gateway movement in between themselves and the masses. Without one, they can’t grow. For a while, AmNats served this role for them. And this is why the Wignats have stagnated ever since the box broke on that fateful day back in 2018.
Wignats will tell you that the reason their ideas are not more popular than they are is because Andrew Anglin keeps saying mean things about them. “If only people would stop punching Right against us!” But this is pure cope. Nick Fuentes was ostracized by 80% of the movement, but he still managed to grind out a following without anyone else’s help because he makes a product that people actually like. Say what you like about Nick Fuentes, he did prove one valuable lesson: that you don’t need the support of “the movement” to succeed. You can just bypass the movement entirely and appeal directly to the masses. If Anglin is hoarding all the redpilled people, guess what? There are still millions of bluepilled people out there who have never heard of Andrew Anglin. Go out and redpill them. If what you’re selling is good, people punching Right against you doesn’t matter.
However, Wignats are not capable of doing the same kind of entry-level recruiting that Fuentes does because their ideas are fundamentally repulsive to normal people. They need a gateway movement that is capable of getting their foot in the door with the masses for them. Wanna talk about pipelines? Let me tell you about a pipeline that definitely does not exist. There is no such thing as a normie-to-Wignat pipeline. People wind up at Wignatism by way of something else.
So by pivoting to Third Positionism, the Wignats are clearly hoping to make the Bernie Bros in general, and the Dirtbag or “unwoke” Left in particular, into their new gateway movement to replace the AmNats who continue to shun them.
This has been particularly apparent over at The Right Stuff. TRS had originally been hostile to the Dirtbag Left because they believed that Chapo Trap House had ripped off their style, although this attitude appears to have softened. TRS has made anti-capitalism increasingly central to their brand in what one might suspect as an attempt to win over the admittedly large Dirtbag Left audience. Borzoi has said nice things about the Dirtbag Left, and Fash the Nation has increasingly started to sound like an antisemitic Bernie Bro podcast.
Recently, Eric Striker and Mike Enoch did a debate stream with a couple of Antifa weirdos. Interestingly, they billed their side of the debate as Third Positionism. Not “nationalism” or “White Nationalism” but Third Positionism. It’s like, OK whatever. Maybe they just think that’s a nicer sounding word.
Radix Live: Bernie's Bust https://t.co/PpiXDMRtQT
— Richard 🌞 Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) April 9, 2020
Shortly after Heimbach’s conversion, Richard Spencer did a live stream entitled Bernie’s Bust. His guest was some guy with a Freddie Mercury mustache who I had never heard of before. In Spencer’s typical contrarian fashion, he not only pooh-poohed the prospects of a Bernie Bro-to-Dissident Right pipeline but said the opposite was more likely. “I think that in this kind of funny way that if there’s going to be a pipeline, I think it’s actually going to be the Alt-Right-to-Bernie Bro pipeline.”
He went a step further and announced his intention to become a Bernie Bro himself: “I think there might be an Alt-Right to Bernie Bro pipeline where we might not always be accepted [understatement of the century — Trav] but we’re at least sympathetic to the ideas. We’re not going to counter-signal them, try to basically, going to try to change Right-wing energies towards socialism and foreign policy.” He continues: “I hate to break it to you MAGA dudes, but there is no way in Hell that a self-respecting serious Leftist who has read their Zizek is going to conceivably have anything to do with you. Like he would more likely vote for Biden.”
Well, Richard, I’d be willing to bet that there are a hell of a lot more Dirtbag Leftists willing to vote for Trump than there ever were Alt-Righters willing to pay $10,000 to listen to your phone conversations.
Snark aside, Spencer’s claim is observably untrue. When Red Scare’s Anna Khachiyan decided to build bridges to the Right, she got Steve Bannon, the literal architect of MAGA, on her podcast, not Eric Striker. Another example would be Benjamin Studebaker, Aimee Terese’s former co-host on What’s Left. He’s related to the Studebaker car manufacturing family. We’re talking about some real working-class heroes here. On the night of Super Tuesday, Studebaker tweeted out this:
I am taking March off from podding
This is too depressing and I need some time to think
— Benjamin Studebaker (@BMStudebaker) March 4, 2020
Then when he came back, he says this:
I have decided not to return to What's Left. We did some good work, but it's time for me to move on to other things. I wish Aimee and the show well.
— Benjamin Studebaker (@BMStudebaker) April 1, 2020
And then a few days later, he says this:
I support re-electing Trump with a senate controlled by the Democrats. Vote for the Democrats in senate races, but vote for Trump for POTUS
Don't let Biden cut Social Security and do post-corona austerity deals. Lock the government up in unproductive partisan conflict
— Benjamin Studebaker (@BMStudebaker) April 8, 2020
He’s not alone. Judging from the comments in this post, there appears to be a non-insignificant faction of the r/StupIDPol crowd that believes that Trump would be better than Biden for advancing Left-wing goals. The thinking is that while they are both essentially neoliberals, Trump is at least rhetorically populist and there is value to that in terms of moving the Overton Window. Which, coincidentally, is the same argument that most AmNats use for backing Trump. From what I can tell, a lot of Dirtbag Leftists are less hostile to Trump than most Wignats are. This could be because, unlike Richard Spencer, most Dirtbag Leftists have never been personally disavowed by Trump. Because they are not morons. But there could be more factors at play there.
Trump is actually dumb as hell if he doesn’t take this opportunity to become the greatest president of all time by instituting some bare-minimum progressive measures instead of being content to play the villainous foil to the DNC
— Anna Khachiyan (@annakhachiyan) March 18, 2020
You see, here’s something about the Bernie Left that a lot of people on the Right are fond of overlooking. While people like to point out all the overlap between the Bernie Left and the Dissident Right, there is one very big thing that the Bernie Left have in common with the establishment Right and the Ben Shapiros of the world: a visceral hatred of identity politics. And that’s not some ideological afterthought, either. It’s a core tenet. “Idpol” is a severe pejorative in those circles.
Another thing is that much of the appeal of the Dirtbag Left is that they are funny. Wignats are not. I mean, name a funny Wignat. OK, other than Mr. Bond  name a funny Wignat. OK, other than Mr. Bond, name a Wignat who is funny on purpose (I’ll admit that several of them are unintentionally hilarious). While the Dirtbag Left may have more in common ideologically with Third Positionist Wignats, aesthetically and in terms of temperament, they are more similar to AmNat outlets like The Daily Stormer and Nick Fuentes’ America First than the Traditionalist Workers Party.
The most absurd part of Spencer’s stream, and what makes it impossible for me to take Spencer seriously here (not that I ever did), is that earlier in the stream, Spencer states his belief that the Bernie Bro Left can’t win. Earlier, Spencer explained that there are three components of the Democratic Party: the establishment wing, the POC coalition, and the Bernie Bro socialists. He says: “So basically, the Bernie Bros are caught between those two pincer movements, the establishment and the POC coalition, and they just got crushed and they’re always gonna get crushed.”
So let me get this straight, Richard. You plan on defecting from the Dissident Right to a side that you don’t believe can win.
You know, I bet those guys over in the DSA are sitting around thinking “You know what we need? More blackpillers. The thing that is clearly holding us back is the lack of defeatists in our ranks. And if we could get someone with a long history of PR catastrophes, that would be even better. We need some real bridge-burners around here. We need someone so unlikeable that they get disavowed by the people they toast to.”
I mean, Spencer is not wrong in his assessment here: the Bernie Bros cannot win. I’ve been banging that drum for a while now. But you see, that’s the kind of thing you say when you are trying to get them to join you. It’s an incredibly stupid thing to say when you are trying to join them. If someone is joining up with a movement that they do not believe can win or succeed at making any real-world change, then I have to wonder about their true motives. I can only assume that they are either an aspiring martyr, a careerist, or someone who has no serious ambitions beyond looking smart on the internet. And Spencer doesn’t strike me as the martyr type.
Indeed, there is a ton of money in the Dirtbag Left. Chapo Trap House quite famously makes $170,000 a month off their Patreon (no doubt all coming from the working-class coal miners, factory workers, and chimney sweeps who comprise the majority of their listeners). $170,000 is a lot of money. In 2015, $170,000 would have allowed you to listen to 17 of Richard Spencer’s phone conversations.
While the use of paywalls in the Dissident Right has always been somewhat controversial (some feel that paywalling Dissident Right content is essentially trying to profit off white genocide), paywalling is standard among the Dirtbag Left’s major players. This seems quite odd; not in the “hey, I thought you guys were against capitalism derp derp” sense, but in the sense that these guys supposedly want to put together a working-class movement (i.e., uniting people who have no money).
Anyway, good luck with your new venture, Richard. If nothing else, I’m looking forward to hearing you make the class reductionist case for re-taking Constantinople. “Look guy, the Turks have been asking to speak to the manager for centuries.”
For the record, I am not passing judgment on Third Positionism as a concept here. At most, I’m questioning the motives of some of the people who have suddenly pivoted towards it. If anything, I’ve always looked at Third Positionism the same way I look at Star Trek. It’s fine in theory, but the kind of person who is into it, like really into it, tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth and make me somewhat reluctant to go down that road just because I don’t want to become one of those people. NAXALT, of course. Keith Woods has made some interesting Right-wing arguments for socialism. One of Woods’ more compelling arguments is that his home country of Ireland has never had a serious Marxist movement, and yet they have wound up in the same Globohomo dystopia as the rest of the West. So the culprit cannot be “Cultural Marxism,” as many on the Right claim, but actually Cultural Neoliberalism.
IMO, if the Dissident Right is going to dabble in socialism, whatever, but it’s probably a good idea not to use the word “socialism.” The word has a lot of baggage, especially in America where people associate it with stuffy Europeans and college radicals. Say what you will about Joseph McCarthy, but he was so damn good at his job that 60 years after his death, “socialist” still has such an intense stigma attached to it. Any socialist policies advocated by nationalists should be billed as simply “pro-worker” or some other, friendlier-sounding euphemism.
Rehabilitating words is a fool’s errand.
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 I’ve never been convinced that Mr. Bond was not a performance art troll. He always struck me as a little too self-aware of his own ridiculousness.