My friend and host of White Rabbit Radio, Tim Murdock, is fond of saying that Russia has built its army up as an empire-killer — specifically, that its weapons, equipment, and general doctrine is geared more towards countering American air and sea supremacy, with a special focus on anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, as well as weapons which can threaten the coastal areas where the Anglo-American elite lives from long distances.
I recently watched a video on Russia’s military budgeting, and it appears that Mr. Murdock is right: The Russian military is indeed optimized for beating back an American attack, hence its poor performance in Ukraine, where the Ukrainian army and territorial defense are fighting a very different war. But the video got me thinking. What if the Russians aren’t the only ones who have an empire-killer?
First, allow me to define my terms here. We use the term empire and it means many things to many people, but to me, it’s an organized group of people that uses a state or a state-type entity to project its will outwards and impose it upon the world. Many people use the term empire in opposition to the term nation, but I disagree. Nations can be empires; they can form the core of empires and act imperialistically. Of course, not all nations do that, and not at all times. I’ve discussed before how nations which have behaved imperialistically in the past can scale back their empires in order to preserve themselves by examining the career of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who managed to scale the Ottoman Empire back and save the Turkish nation at its core from dissolution. The core difference between the two is something I call the central organizing principle.
The central organizing principle is the idea by which nations and empires are held together and command and control are maintained in the hierarchy. Each group of people, and especially one that is associated with a state or state-type entity, must answer some fundamental questions: who are we, who is our friend, who is our enemy, who is our leader, how do we select him, who are his immediate subordinates, who advises him, how is his command exercised and to what end, and what are our laws? The central organizing principle informs the methodology of answering these questions and the way in which they are answered. The central organizational principles of nations are always some form of kinship, usually common descent from a legendary or heroic figure in the past, although in modern days this is frowned upon and some despicably deceptive proxy like language — or worse, “values” — has to be used. The central organizational principle of empire, however, is usually more complex.
Without beating around the bush, empires are built on a delusion shared by their ruling class. Maybe that’s a little harsh. Let’s say that empire is built on a dream woven by the empire’s ruling class for themselves, or sometimes woven for them by someone else who is their true master — or was, at any rate; dreaming a dead man’s dream is an unfortunate yet common disease of empires nearing their death. This dream is the empire’s vision of the future, and also its spiritual map, delineating the border between the sacred and the profane, in both space and time, identifying the axis mundi, the center of the world, from which flows its temporal mission, whatever it may be. It’s not always clear — dreams rarely are –, but it is there, it is to be obeyed, and it has a life of its own: No one man or even group of men can control it fully.
These delusions are obviously not true, but when an empire grows powerful enough and believes in them strongly enough, it can try to will them into being, reality be damned. We are seeing such a mad attempt to bully reality into complying as the Western Empire, headed by its ruling class concentrated in Washington, Los Angeles, New York, London, Brussels, and San Francisco, is trying to realize its own sacred dream of universal equality, no matter how many people die and how many nations are ground down into brown goop to make it happen. Ideas animate men who build power, which is then used to bring ideas into being, which serves as evidence for the truth of those ideas, animating men even more strongly, and so on until the empire’s strength is sapped and reality snaps back against it, devouring it and shattering its dream. Thus it has always been, thus will it be always. But what if reality can be helped along the way?
The worm of doubt is always with us, which is why faith is a virtue. Doubt is the natural state of man which must be overcome with the effort of faith, just as lust is the natural state to be overcome with the effort of chastity. Skeptics and doubters indulge the human animal’s natural predilection for disbelief, its natural conservatism, and its tendency to consider that things are as they have always been and will remain so always. When I say disbelief I don’t mean atheism or irreligion, but rather the absence of a mobilizing, missionary, and world-oriented idea, as opposed to the pacifying, animistic, and parochial spirituality of tribal and nationalist societies.
Ancestor worship is conservative and skeptical because ancestors are a material fact, and a legendary or heroic ancestor is either material fact or easily extrapolated from the material fact of his descendants. Ancestor worship has no time for grand, world-spanning visions. Its concerns are home and hearth, their security, and the propagation of the family, all being natural outgrowths of the biological imperative for reproduction.
The world-oriented, messianic idea requires a massive, willful effort to suppress these conservative tendencies and to disbelieve or transcend the data input of our lying eyes and ears. To reject this sense data is heroic, or at the very least the duty of every God-fearing man. When man rejects sense data in favor of the imperial idea, he is initiated into the power cult. From there on, he is not only his father’s son and his brother’s brother but also a believer in the idea, and sooner or later this divided loyalty will be tested. Some men will be able to remain loyal to the idea, others will choose biological reality. The former advance in the cult and become more committed, more motivated, and make the cult stronger.
Membership in the imperial cult of any entity which is either an empire or aspires to be an empire is a gruelling experience if you’re the kind of person who is skeptical, temperamentally conservative, and unable, for whatever reason, to believe your mullah over your lying ears. I imagine it’s also a gruelling experience for those who’ve never felt any particular affinity for sense data and have spent their lives looking for a fiction to inhabit. The catechisms must be repeated every day, every evening the demons of doubt must be cast out, every hour is a struggle against your lying eyes. It’s a wretched, neurotic existence, I imagine, but its reward is power beyond the wildest imagination of the conservative. Empire, put bluntly, gets shit done because it attracts and cultivates the kind of person who can get shit done, reality be damned.
All the while, however, it rests on the ability of the imperial cult to keep its members believing and to stave off man’s natural skepticism. Here’s where we get to the real empire-killer. The Western powers have developed a dangerous and potent weapon for taking out rival empires. Initially, it was used domestically, to take the fight to the natural skepticism of man concerning the imperial cult. That weapon is critique. The Western imperial cult is the first to turn the tables on this eternal enemy of empire, framing it as faith and as a sort of irrationality and denial of empirical data, whereas it frames itself as the rational, fact-driven, and logical worldview. When the skeptical, fact-driven, and conservative Romans faced Christianity, at least they knew they were going up against a messianic vision which had no time for reality, and the early Christians were not shy about admitting this. They stood no chance against this because the human soul always cries for something more than just mere existence — but at least they knew what the enemy was.
Now, we can go ask the French or the Jews about critique, and they’ll tell us it is this or that, but we can skip that step and conclude that it is a process by which myths, dreams, and beliefs are subjected to analysis and deconstruction. The ultimate end needn’t be malicious, as the child who takes apart the remote control is rarely malicious and merely curious, but the result is often the same: The belief system doesn’t survive this radical critique. It is not an attempt to refute, as refutation would only strengthen the faith of the believers. Nor is it an attempt to roll back, but rather the turning of its logic on itself and feeding the worm of doubt which lives in every man’s mind. A chaste society is undermined by promoting lust, and an empire is undermined by spreading doubt about its central organizing principle: the shared delusion of the imperial elite.
The critique employed as a weapon by the Western Empire is very subtle because it arose as a means of eroding away the conservative, evidence-based spirituality and cultural institutions of white people in the West. It engenders doubt about the very possibility of knowing (and being), a sort of empirical-existential nihilism. This doubt causes existential dread, which is salved with the redoubling of moral efforts. I’ve described the West’s sunset culture as a strange unbalanced one: metaphysical nihilism combined with moral absolutism. It is a binary star system where one is a black hole and the other, a supernova. Now that domestic opposition has been well and truly neutered with this method of critique, it can be exported to foreign lands and used to critique foreign national identities into irrelevance and then treating their national elites’ resultant existential dread by offering them admission to the imperial cult.
Of course, the most interesting way in which critique can be employed is by disrupting shared delusions of rival empires. Indeed, this may be its most potent use, and one which has ensured the place of the Western Empire as the foremost in the world. Let’s hear what Frank Zappa has to say on the subject of truth and beauty:
Information is not knowledge
Knowledge is not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is the best!
Wisdom is the domain of the Wis (which is extinct)
Beauty is a French phonetic corruption
Of a short cloth neck ornament
Currently in resurgence
This sermon is delivered in the album Joe’s Garage by Mary (from the bus), who appears to Joe in a vision. What does it mean? Nothing, really, but it is a powerful bomb going off in the middle of an empire-narrative. It detonates, shattering both the conservative, tribalistic approach to life and the rival imperial narratives to the Western one. It may sound silly, but Zappa probably did more damage to the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact than all the militaries of the West combined. Václav Havel even appointed him the Czech Republic’s Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture, and Tourism after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Central and Eastern European dissident culture was very strongly influenced by Frank Zappa’s music and message, winning these countries’ natural aristocrats for the West. To this day, even as Hungary and Poland have taken a more nationalist turn, the Czech Republic remains liberal/libertarian, in no small part due to Zappa’s influence.
Long-time readers will know I grew up playing Red Alert 2, as well as its expansion, Yuri’s Revenge. The Yuri faction of that venerated real-time strategy game is considered notoriously overpowered for a very simple reason: Yuri can mind-control enemy units. From lowly conscripts to super-heavy tanks, the might of the enemy can be very easily turned against him. The West, of course, is better at mind control than even Yuri. So, what good are Mr. Putin’s missiles, anti-aircraft artillery, and ship-killers? When you read Russian “geopolitical” thinkers, you realize that they are preparing for war against a classic thalassocracy focused on controlling the air, sea, and at some point in the future the Earth’s low orbital space, but they are in fact locked in an information war with a cult armed with the ultimate empire-killer: the power to unweave the communal dream which makes empire possible.
We have witnessed some attempts by Russia to fight an information war, but so far we’ve only seen crude, Soviet-era disinformation campaigns which blindsided those of us in the Dissident Right who were willing to give Russia the benefit of the doubt. The Western Empire was not deceived, the Ukrainian government was not deceived, and anyone who claimed there’d be no war is now a spent asset. The information war is, for the time being, completely one-sided. We have seen no massive outpouring of support for the Russian cause in the West, but rather we have seen a unification and a renewed sense of purpose for the Western Empire. Furthermore, we are witnessing an exodus of many of the most competent and intelligent Russians to countries which will have them. Russia’s professional upper middle class is seeking refuge and driving up the local rents from Istanbul to Yerevan to Tashkent. Once again, the West has managed to hollow out its rival empire and rob it of its cognitive elite without firing a single shot.
This is incidentally why the enemy is so afraid of us on the Dissident Right and why it is so interested in suppressing us, subverting us with infiltration and cooption, and otherwise hampering our activities. By identifying its methodology of critique, and even more importantly reversing it on itself, we plant the worm of doubt in the heads of the imperial cultists. Our own radical critique of modernity is causing them to doubt their own. Some will be neutralized, others will defect, others still will banish their doubts with renewed fervor — but in any case, we are making waves at the heart of the empire cult. Every time we name them as a cult, we take away part of their immunity to critique. Every time we subject their cult to critique, we induce doubt. Every time we offer an alternative, we nourish that little worm of doubt to grow into an Arrakian sandworm. The imperial cults in Moscow and Peking are interested in us for the same reason: They’d like us to critique the West, but prefer to have a measure of control over this space so that they won’t find themselves subjected to nationalist critique just as they’re trying to pass themselves off as nationalists (they’re not).
Critique is a dangerous weapon, but a very effective one. It is by far the greatest empire-killer on this planet, and its elegance is a wonder in itself. Just as the seducer appeals to the naïve young woman’s lust, just as the candy manufacturer appeals to the child’s gluttony, and just as the conman appeals to his mark’s greed, so does the West appeal to doubt — those very same things that would otherwise destroy its own imperial cult, but by wearing the garb of objectivity and appealing to common sense, it manages to stay safe for now. Even epistemic nihilism, which is the bane of any empire that it can’t hit because it revels in post-truth . . . Only its moralistic tendencies are a weak spot, but those are very well-shielded by the Nuremberg Moral Paradigm.
Any movement towards deconstructing this imperial cult have to begin with the rejection of this moral paradigm and the introduction of a nationalist alternative in its place.
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
Paywall Gift Subscriptions
- your payment
- the recipient’s name
- the recipient’s email address
- your name
- your email address
To register, just fill out this form and we will walk you through the payment and registration process. There are a number of different payment options.
Every Nation Is Perfect by Its Own Standards
The Union Jackal, August 2023
Death by Hunger: Two Books About the Holodomor
The Disaster of the Ukrainian Spring Offensive
Understanding the “Evil Empire”
The Problem with Mercenaries
Thoughts on the Wagner Mutiny
Believing and Knowing: Ethnonationalism and Religion