Category Archives: Politics

Wake-Up Call

The significance of the current wave of populist agitation is that the working class is beginning to wake up to the fact that progressivism is its enemy.

In Spiked, Fred Furedi gets to the heart of the matter:

The best way to view the current populist moment is as a delayed response to the top-down cultural revolution that occurred in the Seventies. In that decade, new attitudes towards marriage, family life, relations between the sexes, the role of the nation and the meaning of citizenship came to be codified in many Western societies. By the beginning of the Eighties, new forms of cultural authority had been established by the political elites.

This so-called cultural turn is often attributed to the influence of ‘Cultural Marxists’ burrowing away in universities. But this analysis overlooks something important – that the cultural turn took place right under the noses of Thatcher and Reagan. It was in their era that the new post-Sixties cultural values were institutionalised by Anglo-American cultural elites.

In retrospect, it seems clear that the anti-traditional cultural turn that occurred under the watch of the Thatcher / Reagan political order was an attempt by Western political elites to establish a new foundation to their authority. Most strikingly, the emergent cultural oligarchy perceived themselves as mediators and gatekeepers in a globalised world where public life is impacted on by issues and problems that supposedly transcend the nation state and national control.

They devoted much energy to de-nationalising public life, and delegitimising the attitudes and values held by citizens. This was the era when the dogma that there is no alternative to globalisation really took hold. The belittlement of sovereignty – both national sovereignty and popular sovereignty – was a central task of the new cultural establishment. In a very short period of time, many people found that their long-held belief in the values of community, nation and family was being dismissed as outdated, irrelevant and even prejudiced.

We witnessed the pathologisation of customary attitudes towards family, community and human relationships. And the end result has been the crystallisation of a powerful sense of cultural insecurity in European societies. Over the past two or three decades, significant sections of European societies have been dispossessed of the values they lived by and which made great sense to them. Many of them felt silenced and defensive about voicing their concerns. They felt unable to raise their reservations about multiculturalism, diversity, immigration and the sacralisation of identity politics. In comparison to the younger generations – who are often influenced by the cosmopolitan ethos that is dominant in their schools and universities – older citizens felt culturally insecure and sometimes helpless. Those who lived outside the culturally privileged, globalist urban neighbourhoods felt very strongly that their way of life was despised and scorned by the new cultural elites. They felt like strangers in their own homes.

Working class rage now intuitively turns against the means that have been used to castrate and subjugate it: “progressive” assaults on family, “patriarchy,” masculinity, heterosexuality, rootedness. The working class is finally waking up to the fact that since the ’60s the left has been a shell occupied by an alien force. This “New” left retained the old left’s claim to represent the working class but its actual efforts were all directed at a single-minded effort to emasculate and prostrate the working class.

What actually happened in the ’60s under the banner of cultural revolution was the replacement of a senescent elite by its spoiled children. The snake shed its skin. It was a renovation of the elite. As it always does, one faction of the bourgeoisie had appropriated revolutionary rhetoric to mount an assault on another faction. But once this new “progressive” faction was installed in power (in the media and culture industries and in an expanded governmental bureaucracy now bloated with functionaries promoting “diversity”), it proved to be even more virulently elitist than the old elite since what it demanded in the name of fostering “tolerance” and “diversity” was working class submission to the wholesale inversion of working class norms. The working class was expected to disown the masculine virtues that had both inspired and sustained its militancy under the harshest of conditions. The refuge of family life was taken away from it through a relentless devaluation of fatherhood and the forced conscription of women into working “careers.” Men and women were coerced and encouraged to isolate themselves from each other and turn to homosexuality.

All of this was done to destroy what had held the working class together as a class, its class consciousness. It was an attempt to pulverize the working class and render its atomized constituents into docile, zombified consumers voracious for commodified versions of things that had once been communitarian possessions: self-regard, mutual support, the security of home life, familial continuity. All of this, the progressives poisoned at the root in the name of empowering women, perverts, and the formerly colonized (who became a steady source of cheap labor).

For some 50 years, these anti-working class “progressives” even managed to coerce the working class to vote them into power by means of a cleverly rigged political duopoly that reduced options to bad and worse.

The populist insurrections that we see today are the result of bad and worse becoming indistinguishable. In the United States, for instance, the Democrats are now the most jingoistic of the two parties. Their contempt for the working class was made overt by Hillary Clinton’s summary denunciation of those indifferent or opposed to her coronation as deplorables. Their elitism is flaunted by their open alliance with the most pampered and privileged sectors of society (Silicon Valley billionaires, Wall Street financiers, the media and entertainment aristocracies.)

Necessarily, class struggle has become a struggle against progressivism and its cultural abominations. Underneath a disintegrating disguise, the working class is beginning to glimpse the alien monster that possesses the left.

White Self-Hatred?

Why is white self-hatred fashionable?

I would suggest that it has something to do with a striving after what sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called “distinction.”

The basic concept is not hard to understand. Elites are motivated to find ways to distinguish themselves from the common run of humanity. They do this by means of a variety of affectations and rationalizations, the common underlying element of which is the assertion of the elite’s inherent specialness, reflected in its elevated intelligence, discernment, refinement. Without this faith in its uncommonness, the elite would be susceptible to the intolerable suspicion that its position is purely contingent.

To support faith in its inherent superiority, the elite makes a point of embracing ideas and tastes that are flagrantly uncommon. In the arts, for instance, the elite patronizes just those artists and designers whose work is inscrutable and even repugnant to everybody else. Thus the modern phenomenon of the avant-garde. But, elite snobbery expresses itself in moral as well as aesthetic taste.

Just as the elite patronizes the artistic avant-garde, it also supports what at any given moment pass for avant-garde attitudes, preferences, and lifestyles. Some of the attitudes the elite patronizes may even have an anti-elitist cast to them. But this is of little import. The elite is immune to cognitive dissonance because it regards whatever avant-garde notions it adopts as no more than fashion accessories advertising superior taste. This habit of treating ideas as mere signifiers of elevated status reflects the elite’s belief in the invulnerability of its position. It is also an effective way to devalue and undermine the sometimes radical ideas the elite affects to embrace. It reduces ideas, ideologies, philosophies to mere trends, easily embraced because easily discarded.

(Most of the time, the elite is quite correct to treat ideas as of little consequence. It is only occasionally, through a combination of fortuitous circumstances, that ideas prove momentous. The foolish high-born women who promoted the spread of Enlightenment ideas in their salons did not foresee the French revolution that would put these ideas to deadly effect.)

The same elite that supported Marcel Duchamp nominating a urinal to the status of art in 1917 today supports a man nominating himself to be a woman and vice versa.

The more perverse the idea, the more its potential for signifying the elite’s extraordinary refinement. The uncommon are perpetually at war with the common. This is the logic that underlies the elite’s embrace of “progressive” ideas. Progressivism is the intellectual expression of elite snobbery.

The largely white elite’s embrace of anti-white rhetoric is to be understood as part and parcel of the elite’s affectation of moral superiority. Naturally, the elite does not feel that hatred of “white privilege” pits it against itself because part of the elite’s affectation is that the mere profession of progressive ideas places the professor above the common herd toward whom progressive invective is directed. The bad people, the deplorables, are always located among the low, uncomprehending, bestial masses. The common theme of progressive ideas is the lamentable backwardness of the common people.

This would explain why today, progressivism is so profoundly at odds with populism.  And why the vilification of white privilege is the ultimate expression of white privilege.

The Tyranny of Enjoyment

DOLMANCE: . . . What is it one desires when taking one’s pleasure? that everything around us be occupied with nothing but ourselves, think of naught but of us, care for us only. If the objects we employ know pleasure too, you can be very sure they are less concerned for us than they are for themselves, and lo! our own pleasure consequently disturbed. There is not a living man who does not wish to play the despot when he is stiff: it seems to him his joy is less when others appear to have as much as he; by an impulse of pride, very natural at this juncture, he would like to be the only one in the world capable of experiencing what he feels: the idea of seeing another enjoy as he enjoys reduces him to a kind of equality with that other, which impairs the unspeakable charm despotism causes him to feel. ‘Tis false as well to say there is pleasure in affording pleasure to others; that is to serve them, and the man who is erect is far from desiring to be useful to anyone. On the contrary, by causing them hurt he experiences all the charms a nervous personality relishes in putting its strength to use; ’tis then he dominates, is a tyrant; and what a difference is there for the amour-propre! Think not that it is silent during such episodes.

The act of enjoyment is a passion which, I confess, subordinates all others to it, but which simultaneously unites them. This desire to dominate at this moment is so powerful in Nature that one notices it even in animals. See whether those in captivity procreate as do those others that are free and wild; the camel carries the matter further still: he will engender no more if he does not suppose himself alone: surprise him and, consequently, show him a master, and he will fly, will instantly separate himself from his companion. Had it not been Nature’s intent that man possess this feeling of superiority, she would not have created him stronger than the beings she destines to belong to him at those moments. The debility to which Nature condemned woman incontestably proves that her design is for man, who then more than ever enjoys. his strength, to exercise it in all the violent forms that suit him best, by means of tortures, if he be so inclined, or worse. Would pleasure’s climax be a kind of fury were it not the intention of this mother of humankind that behavior during copulation be the same as behavior in anger? What well-made man, in a word, what man endowed with vigorous organs does not desire, in one fashion or in another, to molest his partner during his enjoyment of her? I know perfectly well that whole armies of idiots, who are never conscious of their sensations, will have much trouble understanding the systems I am establishing; but what do I care for these fools? ‘Tis not to them I am speaking; soft-headed women-worshipers, I leave them prostrate at their insolent Dulcineas’ feet, there let them wait for the sighs that will make them happy and, basely the slaves of the sex they ought to dominate, I abandon them to the vile delights of wearing the chains wherewith Nature has given them the right to overwhelm others!

Dialogue the Fifth, Philosophy in the Bedroom in Sade, Richard Seaver, and Austryn Wainhouse. Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, and Other Writings. 1st paperback ed. New York: Grove Press, 1966, 344-45.