Let the Bastards Win: James Lawrence on White NationalismSpencer J. Quinn
James Lawrence at Affirmative Right wrote a nearly 10,000-word essay back in June entitled “What’s Wrong with White Nationalism?” In it, he gets a few things right, a few things wrong, and manages to obfuscate as much as enlighten when criticizing White Nationalism. He also offers little constructive criticism and no reasonable alternatives.
He recently doubled down on his thesis with a second essay, “An Antidote to the Jewpill, Part 1,” and spent the latter half of this equally voluminous effort picking apart Kevin MacDonald’s work. But tucked away in his critique of the Culture of Critique and so on is a promise to offer “that alternative theory” to White Nationalism and the Jewpill which apparently carries it on its narrow, bony shoulders. This got me excited. After some 17,000 words, we finally get to the crux of the matter — the answer to the hypermodern query which has been confounding White Nationalists since the misty old days of June 2021: What’s a White Nationalist to be if not a White Nationalist?
Sadly, after this little tease, Lawrence reverts back to his habit of smacking Kevin MacDonald around like a Pepe the Frog piñata — all “by way of introduction” to his fabulous new theory, which he frustratingly (and perhaps characteristically) doesn’t get to. All we get instead is a promise that in the second and final part of this series, “we will look at a religious variant of the Jewpill.”
How’s that for a cliffhanger?
So is he gonna go all E. Michael Jones on us? Or is it more of a Giles Corey Sword of Christ sort of thing? I guess we’ll have to keep hitting that refresh button on the Affirmative Right page until we find out!
Snark aside, they say brevity is the soul of wit. It’s also the soul of argument. If you want to be persuasive, it’s best to be brief, punchy, and impossible to misinterpret. And you know what the enemy of argument is? Suspense. If you’re trying to peddle a controversial opinion and you have to rely on suspense to keep people interested, that means you’re either buying time until you’ve actually worked that opinion out, or you’re deliberately withholding information that you claim your reader must know. Why would anyone do that?
Here’s a joke: A man visits a psychiatrist, saying he’s suicidal. After some time, the psychiatrist concludes that the man is suicidal because of his lifestyle choices. But when the man asks what lifestyle choices he should make, the psychiatrist says, “Ah! Come back next week, and I’ll tell you.”
That’s how I felt after reading James Lawrence’s extended take on White Nationalism. He’s basically telling me that as a White Nationalist myself, I’m making a huge mistake with my life. But after 20,000 words of convoluted argumentation, perplexing non sequiturs, obscure literary references, and K-Mac bashing, I’m no closer to knowing what to do than when I started. But the thing is, Lawrence makes enough insightful comments along the way that I get the feeling he’s on to something. I’m just not sure what it is.
So, for the sake of clarity, I will endeavor to distill Lawrence’s anti-White Nationalist perspective into a 3,800-word treatise upon which readers (and myself) can ruminate like cud. If I get any of it wrong, I’m sure Lawrence will be ready to dash off a 12,000-word dissertation explaining why. And I will leave Kevin MacDonald to defend his own honor, if he cares to.
Finally, I need to make something very clear. I welcome Lawrence’s critiques of White Nationalism and am grateful that he aired them. No movement is above criticism, and given how I found myself wincing at some of his pointed observations, it seems that Lawrence knows what he’s talking about and has quite a bit of truth on his side. Indeed, nothing hurts more than the truth.
In “What’s Wrong With White Nationalism?”, Lawrence correctly recognizes that “Westerners live under a totalitarian permanent government, obscured by a quasi-ceremonial election system.” He sees “liberal democracy” as having rendered fraudulent the “three pillars of the democratic state religion”: voting, activism, and agitprop. So far, so good. Then, in the wake of the implosion of both Donald Trump and QAnon, he accuses the Dissident Right of continuing to believe “in the dogmas and structures of democracy” despite how democracy is so obviously rigged against them these days. He would prefer to challenge these dogmas and establish a “new brand of conservative nationalist populism,” but unfortunately, dissidents on the Right insist on blaming corrupt individuals (e.g., “cuckservative politicians”) for their own failures and for the Left’s ascendency. This allows them to remain in their pro-liberal democracy safe space while pretending to further Rightist causes. This also prevents them from doing the one thing that can actually accomplish that: the destruction of conservatism.
Of course, one could argue that White Nationalism is a “new brand of conservative nationalist populism” which intends to “destroy conservatism,” but we will leave this aside because, as the frat boy in Animal House once said, “Forget it. He’s rolling.”
A few months ago — when Trump and QAnon were being forced to show their empty hands — I half-expected most of the Dissident Right to come around to this point of view by default. Surely, after such a monumental betrayal by the con party, dissidents would not go back to holding their noses and voting for it. Surely, after ‘trust the plan’, they would not go back to monitoring the public opinion situation and fiddling with the optics on their activist Nerf guns.
But I was wrong, of course, because cope springs eternal.
Lawrence hasn’t even mentioned White Nationalism at this point, but one must assume from the essay’s title that the hapless “dissidents” he describes above are indeed White Nationalists. Presumably, if White Nationalists decide to vote, donate money to MAGA politicians, or call up their Congressmen to bitch about illegal immigration, then they are simply playing with their Nerf guns.
Lawrence then takes a brilliant turn. He splits the Right up into three groups: high-church conservatives (i.e., neocons and mainstream cuckservatives), low-church conservatives (civ-nats and the Alt Lite), and the dissidents (the Alt Right). This is an elegant construction which everyone on the Right should internalize. From this, however, we learn that Lawrence’s main beef with White Nationalism is that, after taking over the Alt Right in 2016, it “weakened the movement” through its failure to recognize the three fraudulent pillars of the democratic state religion, and through its failure to check the Left’s ascendancy, just as George Lincoln Rockwell and others had failed before them. In other words, by incompetently and unsuccessfully promoting the interests of the white race, Whites Nationalists actually harm white interests by impeding the only movement which in real life could promote white interests: the anti-conservative, anti-democratic “movement” which James Lawrence has yet to tell us about.
At least that’s how I understand it. It would have been nice if Lawrence had stated this plainly in the first paragraph and then outlined a comprehensible description of said movement, but I guess you can’t have everything.
And then things get really confusing. He broadsides White Nationalists as being either “conservative-signaling ‘amnats’” or “fascist-signaling ‘wignats’,” but doesn’t give us examples. Tell me if anyone can make sense of this:
The wignats destroyed the original Alt-Right by adopting the failed strategy of Rockwell, and are now engaged in pointless third-position electioneering. The amnats are tainted by the fraudulence of Trump and QAnon, which must spell certain death for people who think that all things rotten can be polished clean by ‘good optics’.
I thought at first that he was comparing Charlottesville actors with January 6 actors. But what wignats are engaged in “third-position electioneering”? Matt Heimbach? The National Justice Party (NJP)? Can Heimbach still be called a wignat? Can what the NJP are doing really be called “electioneering?” I doubt it. And what out-and-out White Nationalists are “tainted by the fraudulence of Trump and QAnon”? Trump booster Vox Day had some egg on his face after Trump exited the White House, but I don’t think Day calls himself a White Nationalist. Who else? I have no idea. And if anyone can parse the last sentence above for me, please do so in the comments.
Lawrence does make a solid point that there has been a lot of cringe among rank-and-file White Nationalists. He also correctly summarizes how thin-skinned and paranoid some of them can be when you slaughter their sacred cows online. But he didn’t need 20,000 words to tell us that.
After this, Lawrence gets back on track by introducing a third kind of White Nationalist — the best kind:
Then there are the ‘metapolitical’ white-nats, who devote themselves to intellectual work, and are detached enough from activism to avoid the lows of MAGA cope and the heights of Nazi lunacy. Examples include Counter-Currents, Occidental Dissent, Occidental Observer, and Amren. Many writers on these sites are doing good work, documenting the course of anti-white policy in minute detail, and persuading open-minded white people that the regime despises them and that the feeling ought to be mutual.
Bravo. But when I read this, I began to understand Lawrence’s main issue. He’s looking to criticize not so much White Nationalism, but White Nationalists. This, of course, is perfectly valid, but perhaps he should have tweaked the title of his essay to reflect this. Truth in advertising and all that:
I don’t want to dwell on the actions of individuals [oh, of course you do, darling!], but we all know the general state of the Movement. Super secret fraternal organisations charging up to $10,000 for membership. Leaders who talk about racial loyalty, but can’t keep their hands off the wives and girlfriends of their right-hand comrades. Fanatical, witch-hunting anti-Semites who turn out to be married to Jews. So much backstabbing, doxing, baseless accusation, and real pathological behaviour that no-one in the Movement seems to trust anyone else at all. What an auspicious start for a new racially-harmonious ruling elite that will never again screw over its own people once they have brought it to power.
That’s about as jaundiced a take as one could get. So much for the glass being half full, right? I could certainly paint the Left to be just as bad of a shitshow, but that never seems to bother them when waging the culture wars. Why must whites hold their leaders to such utopian standards, when anti-whites clearly never do that?
Here’s another example of this tacit, anti-white double standard:
But modern white nationalists are entirely obsessed with racism, perhaps because is [sic] one of the more democratic elements of fascist ideology (which is why it also takes pride of place in mainstream democratic ideology, albeit under the Orwellian name of ‘anti-racism’). Race is an important reality of life, but to build an entire worldview upon it — to the exclusion or minimisation of everything else — can only lead to the sort of casuistry engaged in by Marxists obsessed with reducing everything to class.
Yeah. You know, James, the Left is “obsessed with racism,” too — especially the anti-white kind — and it seems to work pretty well for them. Maybe that’s the key to their power. Maybe whites as a group get slapped around so much these days because we aren’t “obsessed with racism.” Maybe most whites are actually trying to make colorblind multiracialism work, while most non-whites on the Left are simply pushing for white dispossession through mass immigration and demographic change. Maybe, just maybe, if enough whites were to adopt a more racialist attitude, we could stand up to this bullshit and stop it once and for all. Just sayin’.
At one point, Lawrence accuses White Nationalists of failing to come up with better ideas. But I have the feeling that he’s saying this about the online characters who accuse him of being on the Mossad payroll and not about the true idea people behind White Nationalism. Greg Johnson gives us ideas in almost every article he writes, not to mention a theoretical framework behind White Nationalism. Ditto Kevin MacDonald with regards to the Jewish Question. And then there’s the ISEE Model of White Survival, which I recently reintroduced in my article “On Red State Secession.” There are others as well, and Lawrence seems to understand this — which is another confounding aspect of his essays.
Much of Lawrence’s critique beyond this underscores his assertions that White Nationalism “cannot possibly pass its own test” of promoting white survival for two main reasons: first, it has done nothing but fail in the past (e.g., Rockwell and Adolf Hitler), and second, it has so little power these days that challenging the Left through arms can only end in disaster (“division followed by reconquest”). What’s worse, white-nats cope with this failure by vainly hoping for a better future.
But most white nationalists respond to failure by doubling down on the most democratic elements of fascist ideology. They more they fail to make any headway in the here and now, the more they retreat into the deus ex machina fantasy of a White Awakening — a spontaneous mass conversion, that will be triggered when white people lose hard enough, and will either topple the state from below or instantly ‘flip’ most white elites.
Any delusion that is proven wrong in the present can find a safe refuge in the future, and the delusion of democracy as a state ultimately controlled by its people is no exception.
I get the feeling that James Lawrence is being Eeyore for the sake of being Eeyore.
What is wrong with hoping and pushing for an ethnonationalist future for one’s people? Was that not what Theodore Herzl was doing 120 years ago, back when Israel was barely an itch in his fancy Viennese trousers? What about Nelson Mandela or Gandhi? Didn’t they also rely on a “mass conversion” of their people to bring forth historical change? Why is this approach kosher for non-whites but not for whites? And how is persuading a majority of one’s people to come to a particular viewpoint necessarily democratic, anyway? Would Lawrence prefer that “metapolitical white-nats” persuade a minority of whites to go get that ethnostate? Would that be anti-democratic enough for him?
To add to this cornucopia of failure, even the national borders of an ethnostate will fail to protect whites, since the Left runs a worldwide empire which will either invade it with arms or pervade it through progress.
I think this paragraph sums up Lawrence’s defeatism pretty well:
Leaders who can start a civil war, but cannot end it on their own terms, condemn their people to the hardships of endless fighting or brutal reconquest and suppression. No wonder it is so hard to get even sympathetic whites interested in the ‘myth of the white ethnostate’. Maybe their racial survival instincts are not so defective after all.
So let me get this straight: Voting, activism, agitprop, metapolitics, civil war, ethnostate — these will all lead to failure. So what will lead to success? It seems that Lawrence’s only recommendation is for whites to keep their heads down and let the bastards win. Lawrence claims that White Nationalism works counter to white survival, but I fail to see how his alternative is any better.
Ironically, Lawrence is at his best when answering the question, “What is missing from white nationalist maps of meaning and rules for life?” In so doing, he pinpoints the “core principle” of White Nationalism as being “all races function as extended families.” This, he seems to believe, is explained best in Frank Salter’s 2003 work On Genetic Interests, which he proceeds to pick apart, something that he is really good at. This is all well and good and, as with MacDonald, I will leave Salter to rebut Lawrence’s critique if he cares to. Lawrence’s main position, however, is that meaningful ethnic kinship really doesn’t go much further than first cousins, and White Nationalists are deluding themselves if they think that they can rally whites around the flag of race when in the past whites have acted against their own racial interests — and against each other’s — in deadly fashion.
This might be the best paragraph in his essay:
Quite clearly, state power overlaps with extended kinship, but cannot be reduced to it as per Hitler’s analogy of the ‘vessel’ and its ‘contents’. Rulers are after power, order, loyalty, etc., and extended kinship is just one more tool to be used to these ends. Like any social force, its malleability has definite limits, but it tends to be the subordinate partner in any alliance with the state. For example, during the era of nationalist wars, the state championed the nation but hardly furthered its genetic interests by herding the flower of its youth to slaughter.
Fair enough. But is he right? Perhaps. It is unsettling to think that all the ethnonationalist rah-rah coming from the Dissident Right may amount to bubkes in the long run. What if, through some fluke of evolution, white people just don’t have enough ethnocentrism in their DNA to withstand the intrusion of other races into their homelands? Perhaps they are just too xenophilic, too individualistic, too curious, too nice.
Maybe reality simply sucks and the future just ain’t going to be white.
Yeah, this is a frightening scenario. But you know what’s even more frightening? Going down without a fight. This is what Lawrence seems to be recommending, despite recognizing the evil and danger presented by the anti-white Left. The only hint of hope, however, appears in his oblique admission that while White Nationalism itself is no more than “hokey cult voodoo” (and not terrible as far as hokey cult voodoo goes), the reasons for its existence are not. At least that’s how I interpret the following sentence: “White nationalism may be a weak ideology, but this frame around it is so strong and semi-truthful that it demands a whole post to itself.”
And, naturally, the frame around White Nationalism involves the Jews — which, like the psychiatrist above, he will tell us about next week.
Thus, after summarizing, interpreting, and commenting on Lawrence’s critiques — as well as giving him the benefit of the doubt for acting in good faith — I’d like to briefly present seven reasons why his ideas may not be as complete as he thinks they are:
- He offers no alternatives for success. For him, it’s all gloom and doom. But we already knew this.
- He assumes that the Left will remain static in its ability to oppress the Right and rule everybody else. Things are constantly in flux, and who’s to say that in 20 or 50 years, this will still be the case? By banking on non-white immigration to overturn white majorities, the Left — especially the Jewish Left — is playing a dangerous game. Many of these non-whites are no friends of the Jews, and the resulting friction could weaken their anti-white coalition. Further, given how savagely fractious Third World politics can be, such a coalition could be weakened even more as different non-white groups vie for power. In such a chaotic environment, White Nationalism could thrive.
- He assumes that whites will remain static in their temperament and traits — at least in the West. Races evolve over time as they respond to environmental pressures. Who’s to say that the millions of feckless, xenophilic urban-dwellers who currently make up most of the white Left won’t ultimately dwindle into irrelevance, leaving the majority of the race to the more fecund, militaristic, traditionalist types — the very types who would be more receptive to White Nationalism if the circumstances called for it?
- What he claims will fail miserably for whites actually works astoundingly well for Jews and other non-whites. Obsessing over race is what took both of these groups to the dance, but it is what takes whites out of it. Go figure.
- He cherry-picks the worst cases and ignores promising data. When I started at Counter-Currents in March 2016, it was rare for even a popular article to receive 10,000 hits. This is now commonplace, despite the deplatforming and DDOS attacks this site has had to endure. For example, as recently as April 2019, my article “Golems, Golems, Everywhere” was the second-most viewed Counter-Currents article that month and garnered 5,812 hits. 15 months later, in July 2020, my article “Wallet Lives Matter” was the eighteenth-most popular that month and took in 13,425 hits. This momentum has continued, with my April 2021 article “Biden to Whites: Drop Dead!” coming in eleventh for the month with 18,955 hits. It would have been nice had Lawrence actually spoken with real White Nationalists, advocates, and identitarians to collect this kind of data himself. Instead, however, he just assumed that most of us are cringey shitposters propagating outmoded and unworkable ideas. Furthermore, how can his negative image of white-nats explain the consolidation of the Dissident Right which has been going on this past year? People who are not White Nationalists, identitarians, or advocates are now associating with people who are. Jim Goad coming to Counter-Currents is a great example. So is Colin Flaherty associating with Jared Taylor. And how can Lawrence explain a Jewish dissident like David Cole, or a mainstream Asian-American columnist like Michelle Malkin speaking at the 2021 American Renaissance conference? All of these changes can be seen as a coup for the Dissident Right. Maybe we’re not so bad after all?
- He downplays the possibility that the online trolls who accuse him of being a Mossad lackey are in fact feds. Recently, the FBI engineered a plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer in which there were more informants than there were perps. So Lawrence should probably toss this really big grain of salt into whatever mess he finds himself in online.
- His suggestion that the best plan for white racial survival is for whites to keep their heads down and not antagonize the Leftist beast ignores the atrocities of the early Soviet period. How well did passive resistance work out for Soviet dissidents? Not well, to the tune of 20 million people dying in gulags or terror famines prior to the Second World War alone. Can we really trust our current Leftist overlords not to do something similar in the future?
Despite our disagreements, I give James Lawrence a lot of credit for writing these two essays, and I look forward to his third. I hope he’ll see past all the teasing and snark and realize that I take him very seriously. He makes quite a few valid points, and ultimately may be correct. I don’t think he is, but even if he is, I would still choose White Nationalism over anything else. Why? Because it assumes the most serious fighting stance against the Left. And if there is one thing we can count on, it’s that the Left will some day soon bring the fight to us.
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