Anti-globalization in the 1990s and early 2000s was overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the left. But now that the mantle of anti-globalization has been taken up by the right, it will be interesting to see how many on the left do an about face, and also to see if the right can succeed where the left has consistently failed.
When the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, the first major movement against it was the Zapatista rebellion in southern Mexico, which called NAFTA a “death sentence” for Mexican (mostly indigenous) farmers. They chose January 1, 1994 to announce themselves to the world precisely because it was the day that NAFTA went into effect. The Zapatistas quickly became a cause célèbre for the American and European left, chiefly because of their articulate and charismatic leader, Subcomandante Marcos. (Marcos is interesting from a racialist perspective because, while the Zapatistas positioned themselves as a movement of indigenismo, their spokesman and strategist – and the only one who has ever interested anyone – was a light-skinned Mexican who was probably much more Spanish than Indian.)
The first major anti-globalization protest was against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999. This was the now-famous “Battle in Seattle,” endlessly celebrated as a victory by the left because the protesters actually succeeded in shutting down the WTO meetings for a whole day, even though in the long run this accomplished absolutely nothing. It is also celebrated for its brief (very brief, as in a couple of days) alliance between union groups, which represented American manufacturing, and environmental groups like Earth First! “Teamsters and Turtles, Together At Last” read one protest sign, as union men marched side by side with leftist “street theater” kids, looking not a little uncomfortable about the juxtaposition.
At the time, President Clinton surprised everyone by making a statement in favor of the protesters, saying that the WTO attendees should “listen” to them. (Listening was then a popular theme among liberal politicians; Jonathan Bowden mocked Tony Blair for this.) It was typical Clinton doublespeak, since he has probably done more to promote globalization and destroy America’s manufacturing base than any other American leader, first by signing NAFTA into law, and then paving the way for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization by removing consideration of their human rights record from the renewal of its Most Favored Nation status. It was subsequently revealed that Chinese billionaires were making large, illegal donations to Clinton’s campaign. Anyone who lived through those times will remember that the Clinton and Bush years were the time when the flood of cheap Chinese products into America began.
The next big anti-globalization protest was less than a year after Seattle, this time in Washington D.C. against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It should be noted that, both in Seattle and D.C., the vast majority of leftist protesters were incapable of explaining what, precisely, was the problem with the WTO and the World Bank/IMF. Most were simply and vaguely “against the system,” which they identified variously as capitalistic, imperialistic, patriarchal, racist, or some combination of all of these. Many of the protesters, especially the younger ones, self-identified as communists or anarchists, which for most of them was little more than a temporary identity flirtation, akin to deciding that one is a punk rocker and getting a leather jacket and some hair dye from the mall. Most would go on to become rather standard and dull liberals, and I strongly suspect that an overwhelming majority of them voted for Hillary Clinton (if they voted at all) with little to no memory of having vigorously opposed the Clintons back in the 90s.
The most radical presence at the anti-globalization protests was the Black Bloc. The Black Bloc first emerged in Seattle, as a small band of anarcho-primitivists who took to vandalizing and destroying the property of companies that they felt were anti-environment and/or anti-worker. They famously targeted Starbucks in their hometown of Seattle, because they didn’t carry “fair trade” coffee. (I saw a photo of a smashed Starbucks from the recent anti-Trump protests – I suspect that the next generation of Black Bloc kids is just imitating what came before them, with little to no other reason why.)
Whereas most of the protesters were non-violent, being the usual bunch of hippies, communists, new age peaceniks, and the like, the Black Bloc not only destroyed property but sometimes fought with police. For this reason, there was active debate among the left as to whether they should support or disavow them. The general consensus was that, although many protesters did not support the tactics of the Black Bloc, those tactics helped to normalize the positions of the movement, by pushing the Overton window and making the non-violent protesters look tame in comparison.
Furthermore, a number of non-violent protesters said that they actually felt safer knowing that the Black Bloc was there, because they were like a protection squad. At the very least, the police were likely to be distracted by them, and therefore not have as much time to tear gas and pepper spray the others. It will be interesting to see if a far-right equivalent to the Black Bloc emerges. The recent attack on Richard Spencer by a Black Bloc member makes it clear that right-wing activists need to defend themselves against violence from the left.
The major turning point in the anti-globalization movement was 9/11. Some on the far left cheered the destruction of the World Trade Center towers – twin symbols of global capital – as was said at the time by rapper KRS-One. But that was hardly a position to win over the public in a time of national shock and mourning. For most Americans, globalization and its economic consequences in America (the left never cared about the cultural consequences) suddenly paled in comparison to an existential threat from the Islamic world.
The War on Terror triggered the left’s knee-jerk defense of any non-whites against whites. The response of the Bush administration to 9/11 – which was, let’s face it, monumentally stupid in so many ways – was opposed by the left as a racist, Islamophobic crusade of white supremacist Christian capitalist sexist oppressors who hate brown people and children and puppies. The identity-based issues that already co-existed beside economic issues in the confused leftist platform came to dominate. What is remarkable is how completely the left has abandoned the white working class in the last twenty years, despite the fact that the proletariat is supposed to be the leftist demographic. Couple this with conservatism’s open disdain for the white working class, and you have no small part of the reason for the rise of Trump.
The historical left dreamed of an alliance of the “workers of the world.” Perhaps realizing the futility of that dream – or perhaps not, since realization and acceptance of truth is not really the left’s forte – they have largely moved on to the new dream of an alliance between the many and disparate groups which they claim to represent the interests of, such as blacks, Latinos, Muslims, gays, transgenders, the disabled, and women. What is supposed to unite this rainbow coalition of the oppressed is, at base, hatred and resentment of successful straight white men, which the left hopes can win out over the coalition members’ various incompatibilities with, and hatreds of, each other.
The left has accepted the idea that “globalization is inevitable,” which is not surprising since their ideology has always been international/anti-national and universalist in its essence. For nearly twenty years now, the only people making any serious criticisms of globalization have been the European New Right and American paleoconservatives.
But then came Trump. Reworking much of Pat Buchanan’s rhetoric and platform from previous decades, and combining it with the grandiosity of his personal style, Trump is the first major American politician to criticize the global trade agreements that have decimated American manufacturing and facilitated the particular form of globalization that has been happening since the the mid-twentieth century. I don’t recall a Presidential candidate making any serious criticism of NAFTA since Ross Perot in 1992, before it even passed. And now, Trump is no longer a candidate, he is the President.
He has a lot on his plate. The trade deficit with Mexico is $60 billion. It is probably even higher than that if one factors in the number of illegals working in the U.S., repatriating some or all of their earnings. The trade deficit with China is a staggering $367 billion, which is also probably higher when Chinese theft of American intellectual property is factored into the equation.
But then, is it really “American” IP if the corporation that owns it has no loyalty to the United States, employing mostly foreign labor and having its headquarters in an offshore tax haven? President Trump is forcing a re-evaluation of not only the meaning of American citizenship, and its attendant responsibilities, at the individual level, but also at the corporate level. As the leftist self-caricature Michael Moore noted before the election, no one has ever stood up to “American” corporations for shipping jobs to other countries the way that Trump has.
If the left no longer cares about the white working class enough to appreciate this, the right – the real right – does. It’s too soon to praise Trump for deals and renegotiations not yet made, but all indications thus far are that he fully intends to make good on his promises to American workers.
Fidel Castro is dead!, as our President-elect informed us via Twitter. Since the Cuban dictator is now front page news again, I’d like to revisit the rather serious, long-standing allegations that Castro and his intelligence agency, the G2, were responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. If regular folks in America tend to favor the theory put forward by Oliver Stone in his film, Washington insiders tend instead to favor the notion that, as Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson put it, “Kennedy tried to get Castro, but Castro got him first.”
Contra Andy Nowicki, who did a podcast about this subject a few years ago, and who wrote a very good short story about Lee Harvey Oswald as the quintessential gamma male (to use Vox Day’s terminology from his socio-sexual hierarchy), I think JFK was done in by a conspiracy of some sort. I don’t have a theory as to who, how, or why, but there’s too much about the case that’s fishy, and anyone familiar with the media’s institutional policy of lying will recognize the same pattern in their coverage of the Kennedy murder.
My favorite example comes from the Washington Post and the New York Times, those twin beacons of journalistic integrity. In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations issued its Final Report on the JFK assassination, after a three year investigation. They concluded that there had been a conspiracy, based mostly on acoustical evidence which was alleged to confirm that there had been a shot fired from the infamous “grassy knoll.” In response to this finding, both newspapers issued, in all seriousness and on the same day, articles saying that the Committee had erred, and that just because there was someone else shooting at the President, at the same time and place as someone else, it didn’t necessarily mean that they were working together! “‘Two maniacs instead of one’ might be more like it,” said the Times. “[A] conspiracy between Lee Harvey Oswald and … a clone of the same man,” said the Post. managing to sound even more ridiculous than Milton William Cooper’s theory that the limo driver turned around and shot Kennedy with a .45.
The acoustics evidence has since been disputed, but allegations of conspiracy, of one sort or another, are perennial, and will likely stay that way, not only because of what Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style in American politics,” but because the Kennedy assassination was from day one treated as a political mess to be cleaned up, rather than as a homicide case to be investigated and prosecuted.
Lyndon Johnson immediately suspected the Soviets or the Cubans. These fears were stoked by reports that Oswald had visited both the Cuban and Russian embassies in Mexico City, only months before the assassination. At the Russian embassy, Oswald was alleged to have met with one of the KGB’s assassination specialists, Valeriy Kostikov. At the Cuban embassy, Oswald begged and pleaded for a visa to Cuba, claiming to be a friend and supporter of the Cuban revolution. To prove this, he brought newspaper clippings of press coverage of his activities as a one-man Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans.
The Russians thought that Oswald was either nuts or CIA. (Mark Hackard translated the recollections of one of the officers at the Russian consulate here.) The Cubans had similar suspicions, and denied him a visa. But after the assassination, and after Oswald himself had been killed by Jack Ruby, various witnesses began coming forward with stories of Oswald and Cubans in Mexico City, plotting to kill President Kennedy.
Johnson was convinced that it was a communist conspiracy. He was also convinced that if this fact emerged, it would mean not only a war, but the end of the Democratic party, which was perceived as “soft on communism.” Johnson’s good friend J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, put out a report only weeks after the assassination stating that Oswald was a lone assassin. When rumors of conspiracy persisted, Johnson convinced Chief Justice Earl Warren to head a Presidential Commission to investigate the murder by threatening him with the specter of nuclear war and “forty million deaths.” Warren allegedly was brought to tears before agreeing. Johnson later said that he told Warren what he had learned about Oswald in Mexico, and this was what had convinced him.
The allegations against Cuba are covered in depth in two books. Philip Shenon’s A Cruel and Shocking Act is a history of the Warren Commission, written with unprecedented access to not only declassified files but also interviews of Commission staffers. Shenon establishes that there was ample reason to investigate possible Cuban connections to the assassination, but that this was not done for the reasons stated above.
Brothers in Arms by Gus Russo and Stephen Molton takes the allegations further. The book grew out of Russo’s collaboration with German filmmaker Wilfried Huismann on a 2006 documentary, Rendezvous With Death. Huismann and Russo traveled to Mexico City and interviewed numerous witnesses, putting together a theory of a Cuban plot, in which Oswald was a willing participant, and of which Fidel Castro had foreknowledge.
Rendezvous With Death has never aired on American television, and received only a very limited DVD release in Europe. A poor quality version is available to view here.
The main argument for Castro’s guilt has always been that he had ample motive. JFK and his brother Robert were indisputably involved in efforts to kill Castro and overthrow his government (hence the title of Russo’s book, which is framed in terms of John and Robert Kennedy vs. Fidel and Raul Castro). Efforts by the U.S. to remove Castro from power began almost as soon as Castro seized power, during the Eisenhower presidency, and were continued and escalated under JFK. At the very moment of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, a CIA representative was meeting with a Cuban double agent, Rolando Cubela, in order to give him a weapon with which he was to poison Fidel. The plan was put on hold because of Kennedy’s murder. (Russo and Molton allege that Cubela was actually a triple agent loyal to Fidel all along, and would not have carried it out anyway.)
The main argument against any plot by Castro is that it would have been suicidal to attack the United States in this way. Also, the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was very visibly pro-Castro and pro-Communist made him a poor choice for an assassin if the Cubans had any intention of hiding their responsibility for the crime.
However, regardless of whether Cuban agents and the Castros were complicit in the murder or not, it is a fact of history that Lyndon Johnson and others thought they were, and reacted not by going to war with Cuba in retaliation, but by covering up the crime.
It should be noted that the evidence pointing towards Castro’s involvement is seen by other researchers as being a smokescreen, laid out in advance in order to provoke the cover-up that it did, indeed, provoke. Peter Dale Scott, in his book Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, says that there were two phases of the cover story. Phase one maintained that Oswald killed JFK in cooperation with the Cubans, while Phase two held that Oswald was a lone nut. In Scott’s view, the evidence pointing towards Phase one is fake, and was created in order to induce the authorities to perpetuate the Phase two story.
Thus debate rages on, with authors like Russo and Shenon arguing that Castro was behind the JFK assassination, while Scott, Oliver Stone, and most other “conspiracy buffs” hold that the conspiracy was actually anti-Castro in nature, designed to change American foreign policy and provoke an invasion of Cuba by framing both Oswald and Castro for the crime.
One’s view of the JFK assassination is often a result of one’s political orientation, with liberals tending to favor conspiratorial explanations and conservatives tending to favor the lone assassin theory. For example, Salon.com founder David Talbot has written several books accusing the CIA, while Bill O’Reilly promotes the lone gunman explanation in his Killing Kennedy. A similar division was seen during the House Select Committee on Assassinations, when all the Republicans on the committee voted for a finding of no conspiracy, while all the Democrats voted the other way.
Still, regardless of one’s politics, there can be no doubt that massive changes followed the Kennedy assassination, from the emergence of the leftist counterculture to the Vietnam war and the passage of the Hart-Celler Act (which JFK’s brother Ted had a heavy hand in), to name only a few. Many liberals like to lionize JFK, and some conspiracy theorists believe that American decline actually stems from the assassination, which they view as a coup d’etat. Oliver Stone’s film is based on this premise, and says that Americans have become “Hamlets in our time, children of a slain father-leader, whose killers still possess the throne.” It’s an effective poetic image, and one which brought about accusations of Fascism at the time.
Even Pat Buchanan, who I very much doubt was an admirer of the liberal, philandering President, wrote that November 22, 1963 was a great turning point in American history – perhaps the beginning of the end. Unfortunately for historians, professional and amateur alike, it has now become a cold case that remains unsolved, and speculations about Who Killed JFK have now taken their place beside the identity of Jack the Ripper and other historical unknowns. Whatever Fidel Castro may have known about the matter, he has now taken it with him to his grave.
James Traub’s history of Times Square in New York, The Devil’s Playground (Random House 2007) provides – perhaps unintentionally – an excellent case study illustrative of when and how American cities went wrong.
“In March of 1960, the New York Times ran a long front-page story under the headline ‘Life on 42nd St. A Study in Decay.’ The reporter, Milton Bracken, noted that ‘it is frequently asserted’ that 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues ‘is the “worst” in town.’ As evidence, Bracken adduced the ten ‘grinder’ theaters on the block showing racy or violent films from eight A.M. to four A.M., and the ‘male perverts’ who ‘misbehave’ during the shows; the homosexuals and transvestites who gathered on the sidewalks; the arcades in the subway stations at either end of the subway stations at either end of the block, whose pinball games and shooting galleries attracted drifters and runaways; the con artists bilking soldiers and unwary tourists, and the bookstores peddling ‘second-hand magazines featuring pictures of women stripped to the waist.’
“In the light of retrospection, of course, the dreadful depths of 42nd Street circa 1960 sound fairly innocuous. And in fact, Bracken was at pains to distinguish between the street’s increasingly noxious reputation and its daily reality. The youthful ‘deviates,’ he writes, may have been material for the psychiatrist, but not for the policeman. The drifters in the arcades could be counted on to comply when the officer on the beat shooed them away. The knives on display in the stores were for show rather than for battle. The jukebox in the IRT arcade was wholly devoted to opera. The police made relatively few arrests on an average night. Forty-second Street was an ‘enigma’ in an otherwise healthy city …” (This and all subsequent Traub quotations are from Chapter 9: “The Pokerino Freak Show.”)
Of course, for one who knows what to look for, and especially in hindsight, the warning signs were already there. But there is still the question of how a relatively harmless and contained zone, not even a proper red light district of the sort that Guillaume Faye writes about and argues for in Sex and Deviance, became the monstrosity that featured so prominently in Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver a mere fifteen years later.
Traub notes, “This moment in the early 1960s marks a middle point in the downward spiral of 42nd Street.” Later in the decade, some important events would happen that would push Times Square, and New York City, and other American cities, over the edge into full-scale urban decay. Their coincidence with the counter-cultural revolution taking place at exactly the same time should be noted.
The first stag films were introduced into Times Square by Martin Hodas, a Jew from Brooklyn, in 1966, and quickly became popular. For many years, pornography was illegal, but that changed in the 1960s.
“Police enforcement might have eliminated, or at least suppressed, this new level of erotica, but starting in 1966, the Supreme Court issued a series of decisions extending the First Amendment protections to explicit sexual materials. Real estate in Times Square had always adapted to the most high-profit uses; now, with remarkable speed, pornography became the boom industry of 42nd Street and Eight Avenue. Martin Hodas was soon a major producer and distributor of hard-core material, allegedly in collaboration with the Mafia …”
This led to many properties being bought and converted from their old uses – “camera shops, gadget stores, delis, cafeterias, and pinball arcades” – into more porn stores.
“Soon there were stores specializing in gay porn, kiddie porn, and S & M. Stores with forbiddingly blacked-out windows and kinky posters out front lined the street. Hubert’s Museum, the last relic of the old honky-tonk 42nd Street, closed in 1975. … The Supreme Court rulings also cleared the way for ‘massage parlors,’ which were … in effect, street-level brothels. By 1967, Eighth Avenue was lined with massage parlors. … By the mid-seventies, many of the 42nd Street movie theaters had switched to pornography, a change that further degraded the life of the street. Prostitutes often worked the aisles of the theaters … while thieves preyed on the derelicts who often camped out in the theaters, slashing open their pockets while they slept.”
These Supreme Court decisions that paved the way for porn and prostitution were the products of the liberal Warren Court. “Important decisions during the Warren Court years included decisions holding segregation policies in public schools (Brown v. Board of Education) and anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional (Loving v. Virginia); … that states are bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court and cannot ignore them (Cooper v. Aaron); that public schools cannot have official prayer (Engel v. Vitale) or mandatory Bible readings (Abington School District v. Schempp)”
All of this was bad enough. But there was one more ingredient which, when coupled with the ethic of permissiveness described above, proved a disaster. Traub continues the tale of New York’s – and urban America’s – downward spiral:
“In 1960, the decay of 42nd Street had seemed anomalous; but by the end of the decade, the downtown of virtually every old northeastern and mid-western city had begun to totter, or collapse. Suburbanization had robbed the department stores and the restaurants and the movie theaters of their customers; and as companies followed people, the cities’ employment base had begun to dwindle as well. And just as middle-class whites were decamping, large numbers of blacks, most of them poorly educated and unskilled, were migrating up from the South – 2.75 million between 1940 and 1960 alone. They were arriving just as the low-level manufacturing jobs they might have taken were leaving. It was a recipe for catastrophe. Crime rates, which had been remarkably low during the urban efflorescence in the middle decades of the twentieth century, began to surge. New York City had 390 murders in 1961; by 1964, the number had reached 637. In 1972, almost 1,700 New Yorkers were killed – a more than fourfold increase from barely a decade before. The number of reported robberies almost tripled from 1966 to the early seventies. Not only the volume but the nature of crime changed; knives and blackjacks gave way to the Saturday Night Special. Heroin hit the streets around 1964. The combination of guns, drugs, and enormous amounts of cash produced a lethal dynamic.”
Of course, to an earlier generation of right-wing thinkers like H.P. Lovecraft, the fate of New York City had been sealed long before. In a letter to Robert E. Howard in March of 1933, Lovecraft wrote:
“… Civilisation is a place where human intelligence has tried to minimise the wasteful element of mere blind individual survival-struggle in order to let individuals at least partly attain and enjoy the objects of struggle. Incidentally, though, don’t take New York as a typical specimen of civilisation. That especial place has moved past the zone of civilisation into that of definite decadence – being rotten, as it were, before it is ripe.”
While Times Square has since been cleaned up by massive commercial development in conjunction with Mayor Giuliani’s crime policies of the 1990s, the situation facing many American cities today is not that different from what happened to Times Square between 1960 and 1980. The loss of manufacturing jobs, further facilitated by globalist trade agreements like NAFTA; widespread availability and use of drugs, which grow ever more dangerous as new synthetic compounds made in Mexico, China, and elsewhere flood American streets; sexual perversion and immorality that is now not confined to a red light district or even an urban area, but is ubiquitous in media and entirely mainstream; and finally, the unprecedented demographic changes which have filled American cities with ever-growing numbers of low IQ, high crime populations.
And yet, in the first half of the twentieth century, before these changes, Americans dreamed of the city of the future, filled with technological wonders and things of beauty and quality. But that dream became – to use a phrase from the black poet Langston Hughes – a dream deferred. America’s cities were victimized by profiteers, experimented on by social engineers, and then abandoned and ignored, like a mugging victim in old Times Square.
President Trump has vowed to “rebuild” America’s cities. He has dared us to once again Dream Big. In taking up that mantle and dreaming again the old dreams, we would do well to also remember the mistakes of the past, and the nightmares that they created.
What if Julius Evola had written a samurai treatise? What if Lao Tzu had written a long, systematic book of philosophy instead of the short, poetic chapters of the Tao Te Ching? What if the famed, long-lost book On Nature by Heraclitus – he who was called “The Dark” – were to be found and published?
In each case, the book might look something like Ivan Throne‘s The Nine Laws. Published by Vox Day’s Castalia House imprint, The Nine Laws is unlike any other book I have read in recent years. Its most direct influences would seem to be the philosophical and military classics of ancient Japan and China. As I have written elsewhere, as a long-time student of these traditions myself, I find their study by Westerners to be problematic and full of many potential pitfalls, especially in the current era of Western cultural amnesia and self-loathing. But Mr. Throne does not come across as some sort of xenophilic hippie rambling about cosmic consciousness and oneness. In contrast, he went to Japan as a teenager and spent years learning the art of Ninjutsu. Then he returned to the West, where he has created a successful life for himself, and now wishes to pass on the fruits of his experiences to the younger generations. (Having never met Mr. Throne, I must work on the assumption that the personal details he offers of himself are true – a hazard of this “dark world” that we inhabit.)
In my experience, the Westerners who choose to study Asian martial arts tend to be all-around healthier individuals than those who attempt to practice Eastern religions like Buddhism, Daoism, or Hinduism. The former group still end up absorbing some of the principles and insights of the Eastern spiritual paths, because they are so embedded in the martial traditions of those cultures. But because the martial arts are of necessity a practical undertaking, their practitioners do not tend towards the dissolution of character and identity that certain religious or quasi-spiritual worldviews can bring about or even encourage. A man claiming to be “enlightened” might evade disproof of his claim through sophistry and cunning, and his disciples might be made resistant to any criticism of their master through brainwashing of one sort or another. But a man’s claim to be a warrior is easily challenged, and easily verified or disproven.
The writing style of The Nine Laws reminds me very much of William Scott Wilson’s translations from the Japanese of such classics as Hagakure and The Book of Five Rings. What I have always liked about the Eastern classics – as filtered through competent Western translation – is the terse presentation. Blunt statement of fact overcomes the feeble non-commitment that masquerades as open-mindedness in so much liberal discourse. As G.K. Chesterton said, an open mind is like an open mouth – eventually it needs to close on something.
The Nine Laws is not an easy read, nor is it meant to be. I know that I will read it again, and find something new that I missed the first time around. I might offer that as a criticism – that Mr. Throne moves too quickly through too many points and does not take enough time to elaborate – except that I might offer the same criticism of life itself, and in both cases I would be met with indifference. The dark world, as Mr. Throne terms this realm we inhabit, doesn’t care if you can keep up or not. Fortunately, a book, unlike time, can be studied at one’s own pace.
This is a book that deals in principles, not specifics. As in the teachings of Confucius, one is encouraged to grasp the root of situations in order to understand them deeply and discern the best way to work with them. To do this, a kind of meditative awareness is required, an ability to see things objectively, rather than being swayed by one’s individual passions, hopes and fears.
The foundation of the book is the system of nine laws that the author has created. If, like Nietzsche, you are distrustful of systems (“The will to a system is the will to a lie,” he said) you will be happy to find that the ninth law represents the collapse of the whole system into chaos, like the collapse of the world-order into kali yuga or Ragnarok. One of the paradoxes one must grasp is that the dark world does have laws, and one of those laws is that there are no laws. This section of the book reminded me of Peter Carroll’s writings on chaos magic, especially his notion that laughter is the supreme non-dual emotion.
It’s important that this truth of no-laws is the last of the nine laws. One of the mistakes that people are prone to in these times is jumping into advanced, esoteric views without the necessary foundation. In the martial arts, as in the fine arts, one strives to move beyond technique by mastering technique, not by ignoring it or skipping over it. As the otherwise detestable Aleister Crowley put it, “The way out is through.”
The other formula at the heart of the book is the “dark triad” of the personality traits of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and narcissism. This was something I initially rolled my eyes at, since many of the discussions of this “dark triad” amount to little more than saying that chicks dig bad boys and therefore men should be jerks, as though the highest form of Western man were Patrick Bateman. However, for the Dark Triad Man, as Mr. Throne calls the ideal that he sets forth, that is not what it’s about.
Throughout the many chapters of the book are elucidations of different aspects of the traits called psychopathy, Machievellianism, and narcissism. In the course of reading, I began to see that, when distilled down to their essences, each of these traits is actually something else. In certain Buddhist schools, there is a teaching that negative emotions such as anger or fear are not inherently negative, but are actually just particular distortions of an energy that in itself is beyond the distinction of positive and negative.
In the case of the dark triad traits, the essence of psychopathy is detachment, which is the necessary basis for clear vision, as well as fearlessness. The essence of Machievellianism is wisdom, since the manipulation of events, for whatever purpose, requires skill and know-how – both of which are additional connotations of the Greek σοφός – as well as understanding of cause and effect, and which outcomes are truly desirable. As for narcissism, its essence is simply love. (This interpretation of the dark triad is my own, and Mr. Throne might disagree.)
This isn’t to say that the dark triad traits cannot become monstrous. They can, and in more ways than just those that the common notions of these words suggest. Detachment can become apathy. Wisdom can become empty, abstracted concepts that bring no profit to the wise. “In much wisdom is much vexation” says the Book of Ecclesiastes. As for love, modern liberalism and society give ample illustrations of the myriad ways that “love” can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misused.
Love is, of course, the supreme virtue and even the identity of God in Christian theology. One question that kept going through my mind as I read the book is how the worldview espoused in The Nine Laws fits into the Christian view of the book’s publisher. While a Christian may differ here and there with certain points or interpretations that Mr. Throne makes, I think that overall his view of “the dark world” is actually very much in accord with the Christian notion of a fallen creation, ruled not by the God of love but by the father of lies.
The Nine Laws is not a book for everyone. It is addressed specifically to men, and specifically to men of the West, especially the final section which addresses the present crisis of European and American civilization. From the traditions that he was raised in, and from the traditions that he sought out in far corners of the world, Mr. Throne has crafted something uniquely his own, which he has now put before the world as something to be learned from. In this reviewer’s opinion, it is well worth the time and effort to engage his words and thoughts.
Steve Sailer recently compared the Alt-Right to punk rock. It’s an apt analogy in more ways than one, and as someone whose adolescence was informed by that music, it’s one that I readily appreciated. I’ve long thought of writing an essay about the implicit whiteness of punk and hardcore music, especially since it’s a rather under-appreciated genre on the AltRight.
That’s partly understandable since a lot of punk rock is utterly nihilistic and degenerate – indeed, punk got its start by unabashedly wallowing in the filth of New York’s urban decay of the 1970s. But it can be seen in the larger context as a reaction to an already degenerate society, much the way Julius Evola regarded the Beat movement a few decades prior.
Music journalist Simon Reynolds writes:
“In ‘The White Noise Supremacists,’ a controversial Village Voice essay published in 1979, Lester Bangs pointed out the uncomfortable connections between the near total absence of black musicians on the CBGB scene, punk’s penchant for using racist language (all part of its antiliberal, we-hate-everybody-equally attitude), and the perilous ambiguity of punk’s flirtations with Nazi imagery. Factor in the sheer unswinging whiteness of punk rock and most New Wave music, and you had a situation where, for the first time since before the 1920s hot-jazz era, white bohemians were disengaged from black culture. Not only that, but some of them were proud of this disengagement. Just a week before the Bangs essay, the Village Voice profiled Legs McNeil of Punk magazine. Writer Marc Jacobson discussed how McNeil and his cohorts consciously rejected the whole notion of the hipster as ‘white negro’ and dedicated themselves to celebrating all things teenage, suburban, and Caucasian. Years later, McNeil candidly discussed this segregationist aspect of punk in an interview with Jon Savage: ‘We were all white: there were no black people involved with this. In the sixties hippies always wanted to be black. We were going, “- fuck the Blues, fuck the black experience.”’ McNeil believed that disco was the putrid sonic progeny of an unholy union of blacks and gays. Punk’s debut issue, in January 1976, began with a rabid mission statement: ‘Death to Disco Shit. Long Live the Rock! I’ve seen the canned crap take real live people and turn them into dogs! The epitome of all that’s wrong with Western civilization is disco.’”
Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up and Start Again, Chapter 9: “Contort Yourself: No Wave New York”
If you watch the documentary American Hardcore about the 80s hardcore scene, you’ll hear this same sentiment about white kids wanting to move away from black culture and have something of their own. Of course, it’s always couched in anti-racist language, made out to be about not wanting to culturally appropriate black music or some such thing. But even if that is the legitimate sentiment, whites will find themselves in a double bind, since rejecting black culture can easily be seen as racist in motivation, just as embracing it is also racist since it’s usually characterized as a kind of theft (such as with the recent denunciations of Justin Timberlake.) Whites are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and this impossible situation is no small cause of the present discontent.
The manifestations of anti-liberalism and white racialism in early punk rock ranged from merely failing to pay heed to the absolute prohibition of the swastika (The Sex Pistols, The Dead Boys) to songs like Black Flag’s “White Minority” and Minor Threat’s “Guilty of Being White,” the authors of which vehemently insist that they were completely tongue-in-cheek, ironic, satirical, or whatever other description allows them to keep their antifa credibility and avoid having to acknowledge the legitimacy of the feelings they expressed. (In contrast, non-white journalists like the New York Times’ Kelefa Sanneh are more honest in saying that 1980s hardcore punk was “among other things, the sound of whiteness under siege.”) And because such songs could never be written by anyone remotely near the mainstream today, in a culture that has moved considerably leftwards since 1980, they continue to haunt their creators, who keep having to “whitesplain” them to new generations, much to their chagrin and embarrassment I imagine.
“White Minority” was a song by Black Flag (named after the anarchist symbol) from 1980, written by founding member Greg Ginn. It goes:
We’re gonna be a white minority
All the rest will be the majority
We’re gonna feel inferiority
Gonna be a white minority!
White pride –
You’re an American
I’m gonna hide – anywhere I can.
Gonna be a white minority
Better believe it’s a possibility
Just wait and see
We’re gonna be a white minority.
Ginn has always said that he wrote the song to ridicule the concern that it expresses, and there is no reason to doubt him on that, especially since the song was usually sung by a Latino singer before the band settled on Henry Rollins as their main frontman. The irony is that, regardless of intent, the lyrics proved to be prophetic, as a 2015 Washington Post article about American demographic change since 1980 shows. Indeed, in California, where the band was from, whites already are a minority. If young punks thought it was funny to mock concerns about impending white displacement because it seemed like it could never happen, the joke was ultimately on them.
Black Flag can be seen performing the song in Penelope Spheeris’ 1981 documentary about the L.A. punk scene, The Decline of Western Civilization, recently released on DVD. The Spenglerian title of the film came from Germs’ singer Darby Crash, who was heavily influenced by Spengler’s magnum opus, and who openly called himself a Fascist.
Around the same time, on the other side of the country, Minor Threat recorded “Guilty of Being of White.” Written by Ian MacKaye, the lyrics stem from MacKaye’s experience as a white minority in a majority black school in Washington D.C., an experience he shared in common with Henry Rollins:
I’m sorry – for something I didn’t do
Lynched somebody – but I don’t know who
You blame me – for slavery
A hundred years before I was born
Guilty – of being white
I’m a convict – of a racist crime
I’ve only served – nineteen years of my time
MacKaye now describes the song as “anti-racist” since he felt that blacks were being racist against him. Apparently, he didn’t get the antifa memo that blacks can’t be racist no matter what and everything they do is an appropriate and excusable response to oppression. Indeed, MacKaye has been taken to task by the Punk Rock Thought Police for the song’s lack of political correctness ever since he wrote it.
In a 1983 roundtable discussion with two other musicians, including the leader singer of the far-left band MDC (Millions of Dead Cops), MacKaye explained why he wrote the song:
“I live in Washington D.C., which is 75% black. My junior high was 90% black. My high school was 80% black, and throughout my entire life, I’ve been brought up in this whole thing where the white man was shit because of slavery. So I got to class and we do history, and for 3/4 of the year slavery is all we hear about. It’s all we hear about. We will race through the Revolutionary War or the founding of America; we’d race through all that junk. It’s just straight education. We race through everything, and when we’d get to slavery, they’d drag it all the way out. Then everything has to do with slavery or black people. You get to the 1950s, they don’t talk about nothing except black people. Even WWII, they talk about the black regiments. In English, we don’t read all the novelists, we read all the black novelists. Every week is African King’s Week. And after a while, I would come out of history class, and this has happened to me many times, like in junior high school, and you know that kids are belligerent in junior high, and these kids would jack my ass up and say, ‘What the fuck, man, why are you putting me in slavery?’”
“And I’m just saying I’m guilty of being white – it’s my one big crime. That’s why I get so much fucking shit at school, that’s why I cannot get on welfare in Washington, most likely. That’s why when we took the PSATs, when Jeff checked off the black box, he got awards, he got scholarships, he got all kinds of interest, but when he admitted he was white, all that was gone. Just like that. It’s ridiculous. I don’t think it’s fair.”
MDC vocalist Dave Dictor then goes on to comment about the history of slavery and the oppression of the black race. MacKaye responds:
MACKAYE: But what is guilt going to lead to? … if someone made you constantly feel guilty, what do you think that may result in?
DICTOR: A resentment …
MACKAYE: Thank you. And what would that resentment lead to? You just go right back. They’re going to beat me over the head about African kings and stuff to the point where I’m going to say “well, fuck the African kings. And fuck the black people too. Fuck all this shit.’ … It’s an unfortunate thing, but when I’m in Washington D.C., I’m the minority, so I have a totally different view. … [I]f I’m walking down the street and I see a whole lot of black kids coming up the street, I know from my experiences, I know that there can be trouble. I know someone can say, ‘Oh, you’ve been bred to hate black people.’ But if I’m walking down the street and I see a bunch of rednecks coming down, I know even more that my ass is about to get fucking kicked. But people don’t jump on me for hating rednecks …
Another Minor Threat song with a lasting influence on the punk scene was “Straight Edge,” which has the distinction of spawning an entire social movement from just one song. Straight edgers were a fixture of the hardcore scene in the 80s and 90s, and represented something very different from the punks of the 1970s.
From Punk to Hardcore
If punk was ultimately a nihilistic reaction to the decadence of the 1970s, then its transformation into hardcore punk in the 80s was a step towards positivity, towards creating a scene with healthier values, rather than merely wallowing in self-destruction as so many of the original punks were wont to do. Straight Edge, for example, rejected punk’s ethos of alcoholism and drug abuse in favor of an ethic of sobriety, self-care, and moral uprightness (even if that was sometimes confused with moral uptightness and all-around priggish behavior, as anyone ever accosted by a straight-edger for drinking a beer or smoking a cigarette can attest.) Considering the huge problem of drug abuse and addiction among poor white youth today, the fundamental message of Straight Edge is as relevant as ever.
Furthermore, many hardcore bands’ lyrics often contained messages of encouragement and hope, of keeping it together in the face of adversity, of standing strong and proud, of not giving in to the decadence and decay all around, but rather building something positive. The audience for these words was mostly poor white kids, utterly lacking in any kind of wise guidance from their family or environment. Whatever its faults (including lack of musical ability, aversion to melody and beauty, and a general tendency to YELL! instead of sing) hardcore was an attempt by a neglected generation – the children of the baby boomers – to create some sort of structure amidst the chaos, to salvage something positive amidst the ruins of the sixties.
Another sub-genre of hardcore was, of course, Oi! and RAC (Rock Against Communism), explicitly pro-white and usually associated with the skinhead movement. I’m not an expert on this scene, and so I’ll refrain from commenting on it here, as I’m sure there are plenty of more qualified writers on the subject than myself. But the flip side of the emergence of explicitly racist hardcore punk was the emergence of explicitly anti-racist and anti-fascist punk at the same time. Anyone familiar with the genre can see that this is the form of the music that came to predominate. While being illiberal may have been an acceptable anti-establishment pose during the Carter administration, anti-conservatism became the new order of the day (or rather, disorder of the day) during the Reagan years. By the time the 80s ended, ten years of growing older while hating Reagan and Bush led easily and effortlessly into becoming full-fledged 90s liberals. A good example of this transition is Henry Rollins, who I’ll critique a bit in Part Two of this article.
Henry Rollins’ Muscular Liberalism
When David Cameron coined the phrase “muscular liberalism” years ago, I like to imagine that he was thinking of Henry Rollins, who has long embodied a thoroughly peculiar combination of party-line leftism and masculine aggression. Rollins went from being the lead singer of Black Flag, to fronting his own Rollins Band in the 90s, to being a successful indie author and owner of his own small publishing company, to being a film and television actor and now a regular columnist for L.A. Weekly. Like the Sixties radicals before him, he has gone from rebelling against the system to being a part of it – though also like his long-haired forebears, he seems unaware of this fact.
Though I listened to some of Rollins’ music in my youth, these days I often find myself irritated by some of his comments and interviews. Maybe it’s because of the incongruity between his personal aesthetics and his expressed opinions – the guy is into close-cropped hair and weight-lifting, yet his politics are all the typical touchy-feely liberal sentiments that one expects to hear from hippies and HuffPo “male feminists.”
In a recent article, entitled, “White America Couldn’t Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day,” Rollins says:
“If white America experienced a fraction of what black America deals with regarding law enforcement, incarceration, the court system, employment and countless other facts of life, they would immediately and collectively lose their minds.”
He then goes on to establish his credibility as one of the good white people, because he used to hang out with rapper and actor Ice-T.
“I learned another lesson many years later, in 1991. I was on the first Lollapalooza tour. It was one of the best summers of my life. I spent a lot of time hanging out with Ice-T. We talked almost every day. He is one of the most articulate and intelligent people I have ever met. I wish I had a teaspoon of what he’s got. I also spent time with his bandmates and crew.”
This is how white liberals talk about black people: First, they signal their own anti-racist virtue by showing that they easily and effortlessly bond with blacks. Then, they praise them to the skies. Whenever they meet – or, far more likely, merely hear about – a black guy who is not a stereotypical thug idiot (even though Ice-T got famous by representing a stereotypical thug on his records and in films) they will heap accolades upon him saying, “OMG, he’s, like, soooo smart. He speaks soooo well.” (Echoes of Obama ’08…) What they actually mean is: “… for a black guy.”
The essence of the white liberal attitude towards blacks is patronization, which is why they will never hold blacks to the same standards of behavior to which they hold whites – because they unconsciously regard blacks as children or animals who are incapable of living up to them, and who therefore require special treatment.
White liberal patronization of blacks is also mostly patronization from a distance, as in the old joke about the difference between American whites in the north and south: “Southerners say, ‘We don’t mind blacks livin’ next door, as long as they ain’t uppity.’ And northerners say, ‘We don’t mind blacks being uppity, as long as they don’t live next door.'” Of course all the Hollywood stars and starlets support Black Lives Matter, no matter all its thuggery and buffoonery – because they live in Malibu, not Compton.
“On days off, or when our buses would pull into the same place, we would eat together. All his [Ice-T’s] guys wore gold. I have no idea what a necklace is worth, but it all looked expensive to me. When we went into places, white patrons and staff tripped on these guys. This is when I understood one of the reasons for the visible display of wealth. My whiteness assured them that I could pay for my meal. Ice-T and his guys had to demonstrate their ability to pay by literally wearing a show of wealth.”
No, Henry, the white patrons didn’t “trip” (hey, don’t culturally appropriate black slang!) because they were worried that your black friends might stiff the restaurant on the food bill. I have some favorite restaurants that I’m quite fond of, but I’ve never worried on their behalf that someone else might dine-and-dash. They were worried because those guys were probably dressed the way that guys in gangsta rap videos dress, in which they often brandish guns and perpetuate an image of themselves as cold-blooded killers. You can’t make yourself famous saying “I’m a killer! I’m ruthless!” and then expect people to treat you like a harmless nice guy, especially when those people have never seen or heard of you anywhere except through your media persona.
As Jack Donovan writes in Becoming A Barbarian:
“It makes perfect sense to assume that a black man on the sidewalk who is outfitted like the stereotype of an urban street thug will act like an urban street thug. He’s signaling in-group affiliation and identifying himself with urban street thugs. If he was wearing a cardigan sweater with a button-up shirt sitting in a college classroom, you might not worry as much. You might be wrong about either one, but based on the information available, the odds are in your favor.”
Furthermore, if it had been 1981 and not 1991, Rollins might have went into the same restaurant with his white punk rock friends – and probably would have gotten a similar response, because some of those guys would have had spiky blue hair and safety pin earrings and generally would have been dressed like extras from Night of the Living Dead.
People are alerted and unnerved by difference, by what is unfamiliar. It’s a perfectly natural, biological response. But in the worldview of liberals, noticing difference is a thoughtcrime (hat tip to Steve Sailer again.) Instead, one should only notice when others notice difference, because obviously the only reason someone might notice difference is because they are an evil, vicious hater. This is the absurdity of the leftist view, in which a kind of perverse hypersensitivity is the supreme virtue: Don’t notice the natural diversity of human nature. But be ever vigilant for others who do notice it, and be sure to shame them for it.
The article goes on to speak of “the two Americas,” a notion Rollins may have gotten from liberal political scientist Andrew Hacker.
“When I really started to understand the two Americas was in third grade. On the last day of school, we were all told if we had passed or failed for the year. There were several kids older than me in my class. They had already been held back and were getting older as their education stagnated. When some of these kids were told that they had not passed, the expression on their faces didn’t change.
“Earlier that year, in the play area one day, kids had lined up for free bag lunches that were handed out. There were more kids than lunches. One kid put a pencil through the palm of the kid who got the last one. We all stood there and watched as he screamed.
“It was in this year that I understood that my life in America was going to be different, not only because of the color of my skin but because of the advantages that came with it.”
I really don’t understand what Rollins is trying to say here. If some kids are repeatedly failing the same grade, the most likely explanation is that they are not good students, either because they lack intellectual ability, or because they have some kind of personal or emotional difficulty which interferes with their learning. Is Rollins suggesting instead that these kids performed as well as the kids who graduated, but were held back because the school was racist and refused to pass them out of spite? If so, he gives no indication of that.
As for the free bag lunches story, it doesn’t seem to be relevant at all. Were the lunches only given to the white kids? Highly unlikely, not least of all because the school was mostly black, as Rollins says later. But if so, is he then saying that a black kid stabbed a white kid with a pencil because he didn’t get a bag lunch? Not a very good story to inspire sympathy for black youth.
As for the “advantages that came with” his white skin, what were they, exactly?
“I went to a school in Washington, D.C., with mostly African-American kids who were bused in from different neighborhoods in the same city. It was a constantly harrowing experience. I got picked on for the color of my skin. Pushed into the urinal, head slammed into the water fountain, shoved down the stairs. It was miserable.”
That doesn’t sound much different from the kinds of experiences that led Ian MacKaye to write “Guilty of Being White.”
So let’s review the examples of black and white behavior in Rollins’ article. Blacks: picking on a kid for being white by pushing his head into a urinal, slamming his head into a water fountain, and pushing him down the stairs. Whites: “tripping on” a group of black guys who walked into a restaurant. Clearly, then, the whites are the villains, because, as I stated earlier, white liberals will never hold blacks to the same standards to which they hold whites.
Henry Rollins is an interesting case because, in addition to the abuse he suffered from his black classmates as a child, one of the important events in his life was the murder of his best friend Joe Cole, by young black males with guns. From Wikipedia:
“Cole and Henry Rollins were assaulted by armed robbers in December 1991 outside their shared Venice Beach, California, home on Brooks Avenue in the Oakwood district. They had attended a Hole concert at the Whisky a Go Go and were returning home after having stopped at an all-night grocery store when two armed men – described as African-Americans in their 20s – approached them demanding money. Angry that Rollins and Cole had only $50 between them, the gunmen ordered the two men to go inside their house for more cash. Rollins entered at gunpoint. However, Cole was killed outside after being shot in the face at close range while Rollins escaped out the back door and alerted the police. The murder remains unsolved.
“In a 2001 interview with Howard Stern, Rollins … speculated that the reason they were targeted may have been because days prior to the incident, record producer Rick Rubin – who was a fan of Rollins Band – had requested to hear the then newly recorded album, The End of Silence, and turned up and parked outside their Venice Beach home in his Rolls-Royce, carrying a cell phone. Because of the notoriety of the neighborhood, Rollins suspected that this would bring trouble because of the implication that they had a lot of money in the home; he even wrote in his journal the night of Rubin’s visit: ‘My place is going to get popped’.”
This is a terrible tragedy that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I don’t think that the solution which might prevent further incidents like it is liberalism, muscular or otherwise.
It’s said that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality. But Rollins goes against the grain, having clung to, or even doubled-down on, his leftist beliefs in spite of being a victim of black criminality, and earlier having been bullied by black kids at school. Without presuming to psychoanalyze a man I don’t know, I suspect that the only way one can think in this way is through willful repression of one’s instincts and feelings. And indeed, white liberalism is exactly that: the forced repression of one’s normal and healthy instincts of self-respect and self-preservation. One need only look to present-day Europe and its examples of white victims of non-white crime who feel more guilty than their attackers.
But instincts and feelings, though repressed, cannot be eradicated. Maybe that’s part of why I liked Rollins’ portrayal of “white supremacist” AJ Weston in Sons of Anarchy. Weston was of course written as both evil and foolish, as both a rapist and also the wearer of a very childish and clownish tattoo that says “I Kill Niggers.” (Couldn’t they at least have made it a sticker on his gun or baseball bat that said “This Machine Kills Leftists” or something, a la Woody Guthrie?) But he was also the most die-hard true believer of all the racialist characters on the show (which is why he is portrayed as evil and foolish), giving voice to a radical right worldview in several memorable scenes, such as when he says:
“I just pulled my six-year-old out of T-ball ’cause I found out they’re giving trophies to every boy on every team for simply playing the game. Trophies should be earned. Teaching children that everyone’s equal is a dangerous philosophy.”
Then, after shaming the man he is talking to, who is ostensibly a fellow racialist, for hiring Mexican workers rather than whites because they are cheaper, Weston looks him dead in the eye and says, “Never put money over race.”
Rollins himself said that Weston “has no redeeming social qualities, except that he likes his kids. Past that, he’s incorrigible and awful.” In contrast, though, he feels no need to make such a moral denunciation of his latest on-screen character, a serial killer named Bernard in The Last Heist:
“I read the part and I thought I had a little idea for it that he would be friendly and smiley and very lethal. The preparation was basically living with the undeniable belief that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Killing people, yeah, but I’m sending them to a better place. If you were to look at me and go, ‘You’re a horrible person.’ ‘No, no, no hold on a minute, I’ll help you, too.’ The only thing that gets in my way is people going, ‘Ow, ow, you’re cutting the eyes out of my head.’ ‘If you’ll just shut up and let me do my work, I could get through this a little quicker.’
So serial killers can be laughed about, and can also be kind of understandable if you try to see things their way for a moment. But racists are just … eww, as Rollins says again in this stand-up routine about his experience with Sons of Anarchy, in which he really goes out of his way to distance himself from the Weston character. “What about me, says to you: White Power!?” he asks. Well, Henry, you’re a physically strong, reasonably intelligent, and successful white man. You’re white, and you have some power. What’s wrong with that? (Also, you look like a skinhead, which is why you were picked to play one. Duh.)
The fact is that Rollins’ dismissal of the Weston character is too simplistic, and also reeks of liberal virtue-signalling of the “I’m soooooo not-racist” variety. Weston is partially sympathetic in the same way as Derek Vinyard in American History X (though less so, since Vinyard is more principled and less criminal) – insofar as he values ideals over money, and also because he is a disciplined man, like Rollins himself.
In an interview from MTV’s 120 Minutes in 1992, Rollins relates that he was a troubled kid who was put on Ritalin because he was always acting wild. (He doesn’t relate the other part of that story: that he was being abused because he was white. In the course of researching this article, I couldn’t find any instance of Rollins putting two and two together and saying that being picked on for being a white minority was a reason for his having behavioral problems as a child.) It was only after he was sent to a disciplinary school, Bullis Prep in suburban Washington D.C., that his situation changed for the better. Specifically, he had the benefit of a mentor, his history teacher Mr. Pepperman, who took young Henry under his wing and introduced him to weight-lifting.
The story of how Mr. Pepperman helped the young, misguided Rollins to gain direction, focus, and confidence is quite inspiring. He wrote an article about it, and about his relationship to weight-lifting in general, called “Iron,” which was later retitled “Iron and the Soul” though not by Rollins himself. He also tells the story in detail in a podcast episode here. As he tells it in an L.A. Weekly interview:
“Around 10th grade, my fresh-out-of-Vietnam-vet history teacher Mr. Pepperman said, and I quote, ‘Henry, you are a skinny little faggot, you need to lift weights, and I’m going to teach you how,’ which was more input in life than my father ever gave me. (That’s just how people talked to you in those days.)
“He took me to the school gym and showed me basic compound lifts. He made me do a workout regimen and told me not to look in the mirror until he said so. I worked out from, like, October until Christmas vacation, and during the last day of exams he let me take my shirt off and look at myself. After that I threw out the Ritalin because I didn’t need it, my body is telling me to work out.”
In “Iron,” he says that during this initial work-out season, Mr. Pepperman would also surprise him at school by punching him in the solar plexus without warning, dropping him to the floor. It wasn’t until he could take the punches without effect that Pepperman gave him permission to look at himself and see the results of his workouts.
So what sorts of values, what kind of ethos, helped young Henry Rollins to grow into a strong and capable man? He was removed from the majority-black public school where he was bullied and abused just for being white, and placed in a private school in the suburbs – one which I doubt gave everyone a trophy just for playing the game. He was taught to be self-reliant and to stand up for himself by a decidedly un-PC disciplinarian and mentor. All of this seems to have been greatly to his benefit. So why is Rollins so averse to acknowledging that the right-wing view has validity and legitimacy?
Rollins’ article ends with some feel-good platitudes of the sort which might have made the young punk rock Henry puke:
“[Y]ou have to take it upon yourself to be an infinitely fantastic person every single day…. This century will be about incredible individuals.”
“Equality, tolerance and decency are not inherently American or human traits. They are values you choose to adopt and use or not. So, be amazing all the time.”
“Be amazing all the time?” Does he really believe this Hallmark card crap? Is this really what he would tell a kid getting bullied and abused the way he was in school? Is it the sort of advice that helped him – or was he instead helped by being told, “Henry, you are a skinny little faggot, you need to lift weights”?
The reality is that, as Jack Donovan writes in his aforementioned manifesto of muscular anti-liberalism: “This moral universalism makes men weak, vulnerable, and stupid.” To tell white people that the solution to America’s racial problems is for them to be “infinitely fantastic” and “adopt equality” is irresponsible and wrong. While tolerance and decency are fine virtues (I for one do prefer them to intolerance and indecency), they can become problematic as values when they are not held by all members of a society. Furthermore, I would argue that efforts to cultivate a little more “tolerance and decency” amongst, say, Chicago street gangs, would have a better net effect on black lives than yet another shaming sermon aimed at whites.
“[I]n a pluralistic or multicultural zone where there are many people from many groups, many of whom have different values, codes, and loyalties, there is a far higher likelihood that your generous assumption [of common values and social codes] will be wrong. You can choose to believe that everyone really wants peace and harmony, or that people all just really want to get along and follow the rules, but your belief would be wrong. Choosing to believe something doesn’t make it true.”
No, it doesn’t. And maybe, at some level, Henry Rollins knows that already, since he kind of gives the game away when he says that equality is not an inherent human trait.
True, indeed. In fact, AJ Weston couldn’t have said it better himself.