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The Spirit of a Spiritless Situation: On the Right's Failure to Organize

If you’re going to surround yourself by Marxists, I recommend doing so around the time of an economic collapse. I happened to be in such a situation during the financial crisis of 2008, and the experience was about as exhilarating as an experience can be, when you’re hanging around people who read the Grundrisse for fun. Indeed, there was a brief period of time when it looked like Congress would allow the entire financial system of the United States to collapse because individual Congressmen were not getting the pork they wanted from the bailout bill. What a way for the evil empire to collapse!—an economy based on sucking the last value out of every person and thing would perish because its managers longing for that one last dime! Of course, the pork was eventually delivered, the bailouts eventually went through, and the nation was kept afloat—our system is yet too plastic to splinter and fail. But there was a wonderful span of about four days when it looked like all the contradictions on which our system was based were going to come to a head.

This was also the time of the McCain/Obama election—a wholly bourgeois contest, yes, but one which we saw as a battle between our old ally Keynes and our enemy Milton Friedman, whose school of thought was looking worse and worse with each passing week and each new Paul Krugman editorial. Still, I joked with my friends that real Marxists surely must have been rooting for McCain and the Chicago School. Let the market correct itself, comrades! Make the system brittle, make the national income plummet to greater depths, let labor and capital fight like beetles in a jar! Of course, my proposal was met with scoffs. And I myself would’ve never seriously thought of voting against the Obama ticket. Sure, McCain-Palin would have more quickly ushered in the contradiction which finally allowed for a dictatorship of the working class. But Sarah Palin? Even a Marxist can learn prudence in those instances.

Still, I couldn’t help note the inconsistency of my Marxist friends. Were we serious about the collapse of capitalism or not? Did we actually believe in historical materialism, in the degeneracy of the capitalist system, in the inevitable rise of its contradictions which would lead to its doom? Or were we more interested in electing the brown, anti-American little effete who was sure to usher in sodomite marriage and government-by-Ted-Talk? Of course, the Old Master didn’t stand a chance.

I wouldn’t have been able to enunciate it then, but there’s something quaint, old-fashioned—dare I say, conservative about Marxism in its purest form. Marx was a brilliant man, but also very much a man of his time: Fundamentally bourgeois in his mindset, Eurocentric to a tee, racist and sexist, and, most crucially, consumed with a notion of class that now seems positively Jurassic in the age of “intellectual capital” and the “ownership economy.” We have become so used to referring to vague, arbitrary terms like “middle class” that we forget Marx’s definitions of classes possessed stark clarity—the proletarian worked in the capitalist’s factories, and the capitalist exploited his labor. Where are these factories today? Where are the workers? Who can take the labor theory of value seriously in a service economy driven by financial opacity and arbitrage?

Few modern Marxists are able to see Marx and his teachings as they were, but Marx would be appalled to see the state of modern Marxists. The great accomplishments of the “cultural Marxists” would undoubtedly horrify the man who thought society had reached its “acme of inhumanity” in 1845 with the widespread use of child labor. Now, he would look upon a world of workers so alienated from their true station in life that most of them think themselves nothing but consumers; not only consumers but consumers who let marketing execs determine their cultural lives and moral systems, consumers who dope and castrate their children to better conform them to the regnant superstructure. The Old Master would see, just as the modern reactionary does, that all these so-called accomplishments of the left are excrescences of the capitalist economy, attempts to homogenize the underclasses into a vast reserve of exploitable subjects. And accordingly, at any modern protest, Karl Marx would be spat-upon by mulatto lesbians, beaten up by pre-op trannies, summarily shouted down as a fascist.

“Marxism” is still used by the right as a bogeyman. But liberalism is far more radical than Marxism. Marxism made definite claims. But “liberalism” itself is an almost meaningless term; to one generation it means free markets, to another statism; the scourge of corporations in one generation, their greatest proponent to the next; just this past week we saw Democrats dust off the Tenth Amendment, after over one hundred years of obsolescence, in order to defend California’s right to keep their ethnic enclaves wholly lawless. For liberalism is not fundamentally a political project or an ideology, it is simply change oriented around the intransigent, incoherent claim that man can rule himself by his own standards. There is no shaming a liberal with hypocrisy because he has no set objective ends, only a means of attainment. The liberal state and the capitalist economy are, in tandem, the perfect Darwinian replicator: Together they have destroyed all traditional social forms, and what the state cannot crush, the market will. Liberalism is not a belief so much as a virus, holding within it the DNA of all the past “liberalisms” that have ever existed. There is no prior form of leftism which modern liberalism has not outpaced. Even poor Marx is left in the dustbin of history.

This is all in the way of throat-clearing, to say that the problem with the modern right is that we are always duped by this enemy. We think we are attacking something solid, but this is always a form of shadow-boxing, and we make no progress. Liberalism is such a steam-rolling force that many on the right think it has something to teach us, even when it doesn’t.

It is of this offense that David Hines is guilty, most recently in his essays in the Federalist. There are few conservative writers so attuned to the facts on the ground as Hines, who first became well-known to the dissident right for his tweetstorm last year on the “cold civil war” and leftist organizing. That civil war language is bold, but Hines is fundamentally a pretty standard conservative. Reactions to his latest piece have some saying that Hines could easily throw his hat in the professional pundit ring with some success. But thank Goodness he doesn’t. The oleaginous slime adhering to the professional scribbler class has not been slathered over Hines.

Organizing is a big theme for Hines, and almost all of Hines’s punditry centers around the right’s failure to organize in any effective manner. This is certainly the theme of his first article, which centers on the demon-infested little maggots exploiting the Parkland shooting. To no one’s surprise, these high schoolers are not merely assaulting the Second Amendment from their parents’ living rooms, but have at their backs seemingly the entire machine of progressive politics, from Debbie Wassermann Schultz, a major teacher’s union, Michael Bloomberg’s groups, the Women’s March working on the upcoming March For Our Lives,, and Planned Parenthood (why not?).Hines wonders how it took two weeks for the media to pick up on the fact that the Parkland drama club is merely the public face of so many liberal institutions.

The answer is pretty simple: The media were lying. But I imagine the question was rhetorical, and Hines’s exasperation is feigned, given the rest of the article is an excuse to fall back to his regular hobbyhorse of organization tactics. Specifically, he calls out the modern right, who in their hubris and foolishness think that their internet followings have the capability of turning into a real-world political force without developing a real-world infrastructure beforehand. He holds out as an example Baked Alaska, who for all his thousands of followers online, couldn’t get together a handful of Trump supporters to have a flash mob in LA. According to Hines, no matter how many podcasts they produce, comment sections they commandeer, and moral victories they gain, as long as the right can’t organize in real life, the movement is doomed.

The right has incompetent institutions: This much is so true that it can’t be reproached. But in focusing on this fact, Hines’s critique threatens to mislead his readers into thinking the problem is far more soluble than it is. Especially in his most recent article, where he proposes some steps conservatives could take to equal lefties in their organizing, he threatens to give the right the false comfort that their problems are merely logistical. But this is far from the truth.

For one, there is an inherent contradiction in the right’s goals and the process of organizing. A friend of mine ran with some honest-to-goodness white nationalists in high school. Where are they now? Doing what they want. Any real white nationalist worth his salt knows that he has no hope of commandeering the state. He just wants to be left alone. So he buys some land, gets some guns, learns a trade, and he’s set. Imagine a protest at the Capitol: “We Just Want Our Privacy!” Most white nationalists have guns and have no desire to run afoul of anyone, let alone our police state. They’re happy right where they are. Ironically, the most extreme rightists are better acclimated to the world than those of us prattling on about the movement; the true extremists know their place.

But the more serious reason that the right can’t organize is that even when a will exists, there is simply no logical nexus which might hold the right together. The center cannot hold because there is no center. It isn’t about lack of gumption or motivation on the part of the right; it goes much deeper than that. The more important reason that explains the inability of the Right to organize is that, in all honesty, they can’t. To unify around a belief requires, first and foremost, a unifying belief. Something the right is remarkably bereft of.

This fact was pretty clear in Charlottesville. Those marching to defend the historic American nation really have not much to do with the Nazi larping on the AltRight. Even less can the Christian, who sees his freedom in imitating the meekness and temperance of his Creator, find common ground with the burlesque paganism operating as a motive force for so many on the Alt-Right. If you got all those Charlottesville protesters together and asked them to write even one paragraph of what their common substantive beliefs were, I doubt you would succeed. For these people simply do not hold compatible positions.

No doubt, it’s possible for political coalitions to form around differently-minded groups in the name of expediency, even when those differences serve to invalidate the very premises of another group. But to be an active force, to get people moving, to get shoe leather in the streets, you must provide your adherents with some compelling force to get them there. Men are not motivated by proposals or policies, they are motivated by creeds. And the right lacks any unifying idea but for the belief that the left is, in various ways, shapes, and forms, bad. Anti-leftism is a principle for twitter rants and other online bloviating, but it is not a principle for action. Why does the right tend to attract so many madmen? Because madmen attach meaning to things that have none. To organize requires a sense of purpose. The collective right could have a million people on call, dedicated leaders, overflowing coffers, and yet they would still fail because they lack a purpose. It isn’t that the right is bad at organizing per se; they simply have no logical position to organize around. Hence arises the ceaseless debate over “optics” on the right; they cannot decide on their underlying motivations or goals, and so they focus on their trouser colors.

And the right’s failure cannot be limited to the contradictions between different factions. Even within particular groups, the liberal virus has so withered the logical foundations of traditional thought that even the most dedicated and morally valiant eventually break down under their own contradictions. Let me give an example of this: The anti-abortion movement during the Reagan/Bush years.

It’s hard to conceive of now, but in the years before the Casey betrayal, there were many good reasons to be optimistic about the prospect of overthrowing the abortion regime in the United States. Maybe the greatest of these was the number of zealots who were fighting abortion in the streets. The zeal was most notoriously seen in the violent attacks on abortion clinics and abortionists themselves—of course, these attacks were limited to a small group of people. Less notorious was the tactic of lying down in front of abortion clinic entrances, blocking the access of anyone who wanted to enter the facilities. For obvious reasons, this was an effective means of disrupting the operations of the clinics and deterring women from slaughtering their children, and as a credit to the abortion movement before God and man, the practice was widespread. Before his ordination, the current auxiliary bishop of St. Paul spent a number of weeks in jail for just this reason.

This all changed with the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994. The supposed impetus of the Act was the highly-publicized violence threatened and actually committed against abortionists. This was specious, of course. State law was sufficient to punish terroristic threats, property destruction, and homicide, and did not really need the weight of federal government behind it. The real reason for the FACE Act was to quash those protesters who were blocking traffic to the clinics. As they had already shown, anti-abortion activists were not scared of going to the state pen. But one year in a federal penitentiary is a much different matter.

To this day, there is no serious opposition to Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, not on federalism grounds, not on the grounds that it is redundant and overly punitive, not on the grounds that thousands of babies would have been saved over the past 24 years were it not in effect. Yet there are plenty of pro-lifers in Congress, plenty of pro-lifers in the parishes, plenty in the streets who were well-organized and capable of leading an opposition to the Act. Yet they did not.

Failure to attack the FACE Act was not owing to any lack of organization or leadership on the part of the Pro-Life movement, but because the Pro-Life movement would not commit to its logical premises which the Act brought out in the open. Not every anti-abortion protester has to believe that violence against abortionists’ people and property is morally justified—he may think the exact opposite. But he at least has to recognize that, given the severity of the crime meant to be deterred, the violent protester has somewhat of a point. If abortion is the murder of an innocent—as its opponents claim—then using violence to prevent this murder is justified in the eyes of man and God. But the movement was not willing to face this consequence, and thereby it emasculated itself. Because if abortion was not a crime worthy of prevention by commensurate force, then it was not really the crime they claimed it was. And if the crime was not murder, was it really one worth going to the Federal pen for?

And so a child’s right to life was made to heel before a driver’s right-of-way. A movement that had zeal, had organization, had political support that was both widespread and high-reaching, which on its face, should have been successful, could not survive without confronting the logical necessities arising out of its basic beliefs, or overcome the contradictions in the position it eventually adopted—that the prevention of the murder of innocents could coexist with respect for those murderers’ property rights. The movement could not overcome its own logical contradictions, and thus it was doomed.

Hines recites a quote from Jonathan Smucker which he deploys in deprecation of impotent righties: “Power tends to appear magical to those who have less of it, and mechanical to those who are accustomed to wielding it instrumentally.” But power does not come from organization; organizations arise because of power. And that power is, in a sense, magical when compared with the material world and the tedium of logistics, because true power is based on ideas. And for the right, there are very few ideas which have not been so tainted by some liberal solecism as to be useless as a motivating principle for reactionary movement. To play the game of politics against this—or at least to think politics is sufficient in this battle—is to lose, because the logic of the world is against the reactionary.

The zeitgeist is more efficacious than a thousand meetings. Liberals argue about tactics because they don’t have to worry about definitions—those can always change, and with liberals, they always do. And the demands of liberalism control every institution, have infected every social circle, every religion. Liberalism’s apostles don’t even know they are so; they don’t even know they would die for the cause until they’re already gone.

Again: the modern right requires ideas because it requires faith in something unseen. Liberals don’t have to argue about ideas; the claims they make don’t require faith because to be alive in the modern world is to be immersed in an organic system from which any kind of alternative is invisible, any kind of escape inconceivable. The wounds of their god are tangible before them. Let’s turn back to Charlottesville and consider one of its martyrs, Heather Heyer. Who knows if she expected to die that day? She was an obese woman, nourished by crap corporate cuisine, sedated by junk corporate entertainment; she had offered her intellect to meaningless paralegal work, her womb to Netflix and Three-buck Chuck. If she was depressed, the market provided her with pills that could tranquilize her, which the state might have subsidized; if she wanted a quick endorphin-rush she could go on tindr and find some slummer to shake her haunches; if by some chance her subsidized contraception failed, she could kill her child at the local state-funded abortionist. Dressed in sweatpants, her parents eulogized her at the place of her death with words that would be trite in a three-minute pop song. Heather Heyer was a martyr for the left even before she died, she just didn’t know it yet.

Given the ubiquity of liberal thought, turning to mush all that is solid in the soul of every institution and man, the NRA stands like an obelisk. The NRA is the only effective right-wing organization in America, maybe the only organization that has ever actually protected the historic rights of Americans. This unique success has not been owing to its organization per se, though its organization is excellent. It isn’t about leadership or funding per se. It survives and thrives because the NRA has a definite logical position which it inculcates in every one of its members. At the heart of every claim made by the NRA is the moral claim that men have a right to self-defense. The immutable law of self-defense is the most basic of all natural rights, the one which must exist if any natural rights are to exist at all. And the very act of being in the NRA necessitates one adopt this fundamental belief. To partake in the organization is to be made a believer. The modern Catholic Church cannot even make this claim.

The total effect of this is remarkably small as far as raising a right-wing “consciousness,” to use a Marxist term. Gun ownership does not seem to be much of a gateway to any form of rightism outside Conservative Inc. By and large, gun owners are not greatly critical of democracy, not particularly good Christians, are deeply unskeptical of our Jacobin military and police, and don’t want to contemplate that Africans might have a different set of skills and capabilities as whites—though the gun-toters will happily blow their brains out if one of them tries to steal his flatscreen. In truth, the only rights Second Amendment nuts have protected are the rights enumerated in the Second Amendment. Gun owners will not defend their families, their neighborhoods, their women, their religion. Just guns and their flatscreens.

But we have to start somewhere. The logic of the modern state is skeptical of the right of self-defense because it threatens the state’s monopoly on violence. The technocratic state does not want to protect general rights, or even acknowledge their existence; it wants instrumental rights wholly dependent on the whims of the ruling class. Whether they understand these terms or not, the NRA opposes this.

When the NRA “organizes,” it does so not to promote its existence to the public or make some show of force, but to teach people how to use firearms. They don’t waste time, resources, or legitimacy to stage meaningless protests which are going to convince no one. NRA events are designed to make their cause stronger among their own members, not futilely trying to sway those who hate them. Most importantly, their members believe in their cause because the cause is something that can be believed in, and everything the NRA does serves to strengthen their commitment to their creed. Surely, the NRA could throw around its authority much more than it does. But why would it? There’s a story of a mobster testifying before Congress who was asked by one of the Congressman what it meant to be powerful. The response of the mobster, leaning back in his chair: “Power is like being ladylike. If you have to say you got it, you don’t.”

Liberal causes are always diffuse, always based on either breaking down existing forms, established by tradition or by nature, or protecting the destruction they have already wrought. But a truth once asserted, can simply be and lose strength only when it is forgotten. The liberal must always be in the process of persuading; the reactionary is always in the process of forcing people to remember what they already know. Protesting itself is an act of weakness, a sign that the implicit violence of public approval is necessary for your cause’s legitimacy.

For the NRA to continue to prevail, they merely have to stay true to themselves. The left has to worry about tactics, gun owners have to worry about courage. And as long as gun owners stay strong, they control the terms of the battle. Every new attack from the left sees increased NRA membership and a glut in gun sales. The worst thing that could happen would be for liberal agitation to stop; for the mighty Roman NRA to be without its Carthage. Remember, liberalism cannot survive real conflicts, it cannot allow for contradictions; the parasite it is, it cannot thrive without first poisoning its host. Liberalism conquers by dissolving the virtue of its enemies, not by the virtue of its own strength. But how will they do this with the NRA, when the central impetus behind the organization is so simple, so unassailable? Like a butternut too hard to crack, it can only be destroyed by interior rot.

Again, liberals don’t win victories by convincing anyone of their arguments, but by wearing away the values of regnant beliefs and institutions until the average man’s choice is between one of many liberalisms. The one way the NRA will fail is if it begins doubting its own strength—and yes, wasting money on things like organizing events which depart from their one true purpose. The media don’t matter, opinion polls don’t matter, votes don’t matter.To depart from the creed, or to believe that creed is dependent on liberal politics, is to give away the game; to accept the left’s terms is to reject solidity, and in so doing, to lose everything.

Not even my Marxist friends could handle the full meaning of the dialectic of history. But then again, very few can. Every sane man is a conservative in the sense that every man needs time to acclimate to great changes—even anarchists prefer to know what they’re going to eat for breakfast next morning. Human nature, in its animal sense, is moderate, conservative; our thoughts are radical because truth is radical.

In the short run, the conservative is the primary enemy of the reactionary. The liberal is like a disease injected into the social body, the conservative is the tranquilizer allowing it to more painlessly spread. It is the conservative who lets the dialectic continue without contradiction; who allows definitions to be softened, rights to be blurred, constitutional powers to wax and wane. The conservative is a coward—too frightened to give into that world where (to return to the Old Master), “all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” Yet the conservative blanches when confronted with the necessary opposition to this, which is to unite to the Eternal. The conservative simply wants peace of mind and what material comforts he can have. And to allow for this, he lets his reality be a kind of Bayesian analysis, requiring the hedging of bets, the weighing of alternatives. And thus, the purpose of the conservative is to not allow definitions to change too quickly but to still let them change. Such a stance can be defended on no intellectually honest terms outside the realm of liberal fallacy, but cowardice makes liberal consciences in them all.

It’s tempting, along with Moldbug, to call the United States a communist country. But communism is something solid, tangible, definable. Marx’s materialism makes sense only in a system where contradictions can form. And yet contradictions cannot form without something concrete first being said. The contradictions which Marx expected to see in liberal capitalism are actually played out in communist societies, because communist societies take a position on class structure, on law, on government, on which the passage of time can have an effect. Liberals face none of these constraints. Liberalism doesn’t have to suffer from contradictions because it never has to stick to a definition. And yet the chaos by which it destroys and conquers would be unendurable if it came on too fast. The poison of liberalism, without conservatism as a palliative, would soon wear out the body politic, would ossify into something that might be attacked. The liberal yearns for the fleshly desire of concupiscence, the conservative the fleshly desire for rest. Both are looking at the world the same way.

But our politics requires radicalism because our intellectual lives require radicalism because being itself requires radicalism. Either Being exists, or it doesn’t; either Truth exists, or it doesn’t. It is not only cowardly to stake a halfway point but incoherent. The goal of the modern right is to discover what is True, what is definite, even if it is painful—especially if it is painful—and to live according to the Truth as best as we are able. Absent this, all right-wing organizations will stand like Potemkin villages, ready to be toppled with one push. And all else must melt into air.

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