“We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these, we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of a crowd. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will.”
-Gustave Le Bon
Who is Kali but She who cuts away that which is not, and leaves only that which is? If there were ever a single diety embodies all that one needs and requires, Kali is it. To the ignorant and foreign, She appears frightening and savage. This is warranted for She is fierce beyond description, but of the most beautiful fierceness imaginable.
Kali is reminiscent of the mythological tale in which Ishtar journeys to the Underworld. As Ishtar passes through each gate, seven in total, and at each She was asked to disrobe an item. First her crown, then her radiance, her bracelets, her veil, her robe, and so forth, until She reached the inner sanctum nude and without power. Such is the one who comes to know Kali, whom comes in intimate contact with Her through yantra, yoga, and mantra. As in Christian parable, come unto God as a child. Mind you, this does not mean powerlessness nor weakness. This is a presentation of self in its absolute core, stark naked, as a student presents herself unto a Master in pure earnestness to learn. One discards that which is not, and presents only what is.
This is the essence of Kali, a blazing knife with cuts through butter, which severs away that which is not, which burns away the dross, leaving only that which is. It is the apophatic approach, the negative approach, to speak as ‘you are not this, you are not that’. As one focuses on the yantra, it is as the insulation of a wire removed, leaving only the live wire itself. It is the removal of the dross, the clay, leaving only the fire, the raw power itself. In the imagery of Kali we see her with machete, with severed heads, with violent spirit, for She hacks away that which is waste. The more one clings, the more one clenches with attachment, the more painful and threatening this can be. The less one clings, as Ishtar through each gate, as an earnest nude student to a master, a child unto God, the easier the dross melts away. This is the paradox of clinging to dross by thinking it is strength, when it is the release of it which allows ‘that which is’ to be revealed, that raw fire or power. The less we cling or grasp, the more we have to spend or use. Naturally we are pure power, if only we would allow ourselves to be such by letting go and returning to this natural state. This is the beauty and ability of Kali, to directly cut through without mercy or hesitation.
Linguistically and theologically, in occult and elsewhere, there has been dubbed the ‘Left Handed Path’ and the ‘Right Handed Path’. I am not a pedantic on the matter. People can define it as they will. I mention it now relevant to this apophatic approach, to this approach through Kali. In the orthodox, the right handed, it is a slow and steady delayering to lay open only ‘that which is’. Perhaps lifetimes, perhaps not, but a cautious and steady orthodox approach through certain religious living. Then there is the heterodox, sometimes seen as transgressive even. It is the more straight and dangerous approach which instead of slowly lifting back layer after layer, it is as a hot knife to butter slicing away the dross, leaving only the raw power. This is the essence of Kali, an apophatic force that immediately burns away the dross, leaving only ‘that which is’. It is naturally threatening and frightening to one whom clings or is attached to the dross, but to one whom presents themselves as Ishtar did, or as a nude woman to a lover does, it can only be described as intoxicating and beautiful.
It is the baring of oneself to the utmost, but it is simultaneously through the apophatic force of Kali that it is done. Perhaps one may call it ‘atman’, or the ‘True/Higher Self’, or the ‘Primordial State’; the name does not matter. Personally I can only describe it as ‘raw fire’ or ‘raw power’, or as ‘only that which is’. Words fail me past what I have written above. It is a resonating hum, a steady vibration, a still fire, that I feel within and there is nothing else but that. This is the beauty of Mother Kali that brings tears to my eyes as I write this and share with the universe at large. If I could summarize it succinctly, Kali is that direct apophatic force which cuts away ‘that which is not’ and leaves only ‘that which is’.
The last 365 days have been a hell of a ride for the GOP.
In short, the GOP propped up candidates that represented the status quo Republican; in bed with big business, big banks, hawk interventionism, while carrying a Bible, sharing stories of how he came from nothing to something, and a Reagan reference for good measure. This was easily sold for decades, and the voters certainly bought it, until now.
In contrast there is Trump, the right populist, the one who rebelled against the establishment, who redevoted the right to caring about the working and middle class, that declared nationalism above globalism. In short, he answered the pleas of many who were sick of being screwed over by the Republican establishment. Who were ignored in favor of big business, big bank, and interventionist policies. Time and time again the people voted, desiring a right wing candidate that put their needs first, that put the American citizen first and foremost, and received the opposite or nothing in return. This was the death of the old GOP. This is why Trump won the nomination easily. He brought populism to the table and declared that every day American citizen mattered far more than interventionist schemes and pandering to Wall Street.
Trump has never been an end, he has only been a means, and an incredibly rough means at that. Those who support Trump acknowledge him as merely the means. A vehicle for a message, and at best the beginning of political development. Many have doubted he will win the Presidential election, and indeed he may not, but it is foolish to think the war stops there. No, things have only begun.
What we have seen is the GOP burned to the ground. The establishment placed stooges, puppets, those easily controlled, against Trump in an attempt to maintain the GOP status quo. The voters desired differently, and they made their voice heard. Once Trump was nominated the #NeverTrump movement formed, a last ditch effort for establishment Republicans to say no and support another candidate. It too failed, voters did not care, and it made these Republicans look like little more than cold wet fish. Once again another strike occurs, this time regarding the audio recording of Trump, which while inexcusable gave official Republicans yet another opportunity to riscind themselves in a #NeverTrump fashion, which they of course took. Interestingly enough, while nationally the polls do not favor him, his voterbase has stayed true, blatantly ignoring the position taking of establishment Republicans that would sooner see him dead than in any office. There is speculation, likely unfounded, that the GOP themselves are the ones who leaked the audio recording. While I find it doubtful without solid evidence, sadly within this context it would not at all be surprising. It is also not surprising many establishment Republicans have flocked to Clinton, with her hawk policies and Wall Street bedding.
I say all this to ask the question, if and when Trump passes, will the GOP return to its previous ‘big bank/big business/intervention’ priorities and again continue to neglect the every day American citizen? Like a rubber band returning to its original form after being stretched, will it return to the very positions and status quo which got the ‘house burned down’ by its own voters to begin with? A few months ago I would have hesitated and said, ‘perhaps not, maybe they will learn, maybe they will put forth every day citizens as first priority and assimilate populist values into the whole.’ I was naive and optimistic to say this, because truthfully I think they will do just as the rubber band does, and snap back to its former shape. Not a single lesson will be learned. They will trot out the Romneys and the Bushes, as if nothing ever happened. If Clinton does win, we will see this tenfold. Despite the house being burned downed, they will carry on as usual, returning to their previous line of business as if this never happened. As if their whole voter base throwing their puppet candidates back at them and voted for the one that refused to be coaxed into toeing the line was but merely a bad dream. They will live in a scorched house, like burnt matchsticks, and check their stock index as if it never happened.
But will this be the final say…that is the hook of the matter. If Trump loses, time passes, will the voters simply forget and be okay returning to the previous neglectful and oblivious GOP of yesterday? I do not think they will, or at least the majority of them will not. While a minority, who were luke warm as always, will be happy in their timid and safe Jeb-like manner, just naive and smug enough to believe ‘the establishment knows best’. There will always be another minority, which already exist like burning ember, that will persist with the war even if having lost the battle. Not being content with returning to the previous GOP, the milquetoast GOP, the GOP that looks down their nose at the people and continues idolizing the status quo. They will not be content with this. It is not simply nor only the ‘Alt Right’, a makeshift label at best, it is a sentiment that has spread since the beginning of all this. That burning ember is indeed a sentiment, and one that will continue to grow as it has, whether Trump wins or loses the national election.
Only time will tell if the Republicans of two years ago will be the same kind of Republicans we see tomorrow or next year. It is a vital question of if the Overton Window has been shifted, if populism will continue to be a major component, and has Trump opened the way for populist-minded and nationalist politicians to step forth and redefine the Republican Party. It may be a generational thing, as my generation (the youngest voting millennials), has been deeply impacted by these ideas as well as deeply alienated by the regressive left. It may be a decade or two before we see the fruition of this.
Personally I hope to see a very different GOP in the future, one that is more concerned with national identity and struggling American citizens, rather than one that caters to the whims of Wall Street as it plans the next foreign interventionist scheme in the name of pseudo-democracy, while of course, holding a Bible snugly to their chest.
“Gasp, I am so offended by what he said I simply cannot even!”, says the whore, with legs wide open, twenty dollar bill clenched in hand.
We live in a society that attempts to be simultaneously both the madonna and the whore.
Our society is a grand spectacle, a postmodern Las Vegas that permeates our daily existence, from screen to screen, image to image. We have strive and nearly achieved every horizontal liberation imaginable. From celebration of sexual prowess, from sexual vulgarity on parade and in music videos, from the ‘pick up’ culture to the celebration of body positivity in every possible dimension. What is displayed in daily television would have never been imagined decades ago. Pop music lyrics are chock full of exaggerated confidence in ones sexuality and vanity. These divas are held to be a paragon of ‘feminist values’, from Beyonce to Britney Spears. We defend the right for women to wear provocative clothing. We defend the right for women to be just as sexually promiscuous and sleep about as men. This is our ‘achievement’.
Let me be forthright, I am not a pearl clutching conservative. I have danced in clubs, enjoyed the sexual liberation, played around with gender and sexual orientation, and absolutely enjoy the present day sultry cinema.
Though what is baffling, what is somewhat paradoxical, is this strange postmodern attempt to be both puritanical and whorish. Society both celebrates the fullest of sexual liberation and promiscuity, total horizontal liberation, while at the same time clutches its pearls in horror at the least sound of what is deemed ‘sexist’ or ‘vulgar’. Whether it be the supposed ‘rape culture’ or the evils of ‘patriarchy’ or the sin that is ‘slut shaming’. Society has become puritanical in accordance to its own secular sins which it has constructed. As a leftover empty shell of Christianity, secular humanism and its consumerist whims has deemed sexual liberation to be a massive achievement and yet still behaves puritanically if one dares transgress against their ‘secular sins’. In its achievement, women have glorified themselves as objectified pieces ‘in the name of feminism’. What may be superficially empowering for the woman in this will very well be attraction of the most base and crass as well. And yet, despite constructing this spectacle, of carnality run amuck, of sexuality and sex treated flippantly..they preach condemnation if a man make a disgusting sexual remark toward a woman. They are a whore one moment, basking in their brothel-like spectacle, and then suddenly a puritanical Sunday School teacher absolutely in horror that a man may behave boorishly or that a woman be treated less than an equal.
Ah, but the magic word that they interject, as if it magically balances society, that C word, the word ‘consent’. As if a society can be as boorish and crass in its sexual exploits and expressions, and not expect the negative underside of that to respond in kind. Let me be clear, there is no excuse or justification for sexual abuse or rape. The victim never has it coming to them. No absolutely does mean no. The abuser is the guilty party and has no escape clause from his agency. But what I am attempting to stress here is we have constructed a circus of sexual flaunting, of treating sexual relations as if it is mere fast food, of praising the vain and sexual egos of divas, as if they are paragons of excellence, the embodiment of woman. We construct this circus, this spectacle, this ‘liberation to the utmost’, tossing out the traditions and chivalry of yesterday, replacing them with what? With half-ass Macgyver rigged ‘make it up as we go along’ dynamic. We cannot hinge it all on this one word, this one contractual word ‘consent’. That is not sufficient. We have constructed a Playboy-esque media, then we clutch our pearl in puritanical rage when we dare see the nasty base and animal underside? Whether it be a man making a sexist pig remark about a woman or actual actions that take place. From music to pop star idols to consumer products, we have created a Playboy-esque environment, a strip club climate, an ideological apparatus that should not surprise us when it renders an aggressive assault or disrespectful gesture. How can we glorify the objectification of women in the name of ’empowerment’ and then act shocked when men treat women as such an object? We cannot construct a playboy environment and not expect the perverse to play. We also cannot pretend the mere contractual concept of ‘consent’ to be our magical word that harmonizes the discord.
What has happened to moderation and prudence? I do not mean prudence in a puritan sense, rather in having severe caution in our actions and decision making. And of moderation, we have glorified and taken horizontal liberation to the utmost max, and lost our way in the noise along the way. We have forgotten any vertical qualities, that of content and depth, of the spiritual and meaningful, of the rooted and transcendent. We have thrown that all away for the sake of carnal liberation. Mind you, I am no Christian, no devout Buddhist monk, and am not an Orthodox individual, but I can acknowledge when the excessive begins to corrupt and turn on itself. I can acknowledge that moderation is required. I dare not commit a middle ground fallacy. There is always flux and the pendulum always swings from one extreme to another. Nonetheless that does not acquit us from the apparatus we have designed. That does not release us from our responsibility. We have opened the Pandora’s Box with glee, and yet we seem incapable or too incompetent to moderate what has been released. When will we reign in on this excessive horizontal parade, or will we continue to celebrate it as if it is the paragon of secular liberation? When will we ever reflect upon ourselves rather than be so quick and giddy to condemn the horndog fool?
We cannot be both the whore and the puritanical churchgoer. We cannot paradoxically be both, as we do now, which is a never ending stream of conflict and dissonance. Synthesis must be found. We cannot be both the supreme libertine throwing off the shackles of tradition while simultaneously being a secular and zealous inquisitor out to condemn a witch to death. This is the chaotic dissonance that defines postmodernism. The living paradox that is the puritanical whore.
It is a trending thought these days that the everyday struggling millennial are not the struggling working class, or struggling middle class, rather they are just temporarily embarrassed Silicon Valley geniuses that will soon ‘hit it big’, and they too will be the next special guest on NPR.
With the ever increasing appeal to limitless globalism and ‘for the greater good’ arguments made by neoliberalism, we see less sympathy for the struggling and more callousness in a blend with ‘ivory tower’ pretentiousness. The increasing nomadic spirit, the increasing cosmopolitan spirit, has less and less connection with ‘rooted’ vertical quality. Instead it praises absolute quantification, that is, every detail of a person’s existence reduced to commodity and number. Horizontalism is the highest virtue, those attributes that include solely praising economic value and flattening the world into a commodified corporate ‘monoculture’. It smugly and self-assuredly mocks the vertical; that which appreciates what should not and cannot be monetized, as well as deeper connections regarding heritage and family and culture. This nomadic and cosmopolitan thinking is an infection that simultaneously claims ‘this will help us all’ while self-righteously sneering at those whom express care for the struggling and the local. Amongst the multiple political fringes that contain hatred, from white supremacy to antisemitism to cop killing, nothing can compare to the moral bankruptcy and self-deception this trend incarnates.
There comes a point where one must realize the struggles of fellow citizens seen everyday, in everyday life, matters far more than the fanciful academic flights of the pretentious and worldly. Wether it be caring for loved ones due to health problems, working men barely making it despite sweating blood in earnest, or inner city living day to day dodging murder and crime. No hopes of increasing global markets and corporate saintliness with claims it will help even the lowest common worker in America will suffice nor deliver on its promise. If there is no care for the common man even amongst those who struggle themselves, then there will be even less possibility that investing in neoliberal pipedreams of a flat world will render anything different. As the expression goes, one does not ask the fox to guard the henhouse, or worse yet, believe the fox is the only hope of the hens being saved.
This doesn’t require adoption of Marxism, or any such ‘eat the rich’ mentality. I firmly believe hierarchy of multiple kinds exists naturally and that this is a positive thing, though unfortunately too often abused and exploited. I do not believe one must abandon the market altogether and seek out the ideal state which will allocate perfectly. What I do believe must be an absolute priority, an absolute commitment held within ones own heart with fervor, is that ones fellow citizens and loved ones must come first and foremost. That their struggles, financially and otherwise, must not be callously dismissed in the name of the ‘higher economic theory’ or ‘the greater good’, when often the exact opposite is delivered despite the supposed good intentions…if genuine good intentions are there at all.
If one calls this populism, nationalism, or working class solidarity, these labels are merely labels that do not convey the heart of the matter. That heart of the matter being, whether it is a struggling family in the rural with ancestors tied to the land or a struggling inner city family whom are first or second generation, they are a citizen and their pains are nothing to be dismissed or scoffed at. No cosmopolitan ‘citizen of the world’ grandstanding and adoration of a ‘neoliberal’ status quo is going to relieve this, acknowledge this, and is likely ultimately only going to worsen this situation. The callousness is implicit in the cosmopolitan mindstate in that again it reduces existence down to tangible quantification and commodification, immediately dismissing the vertical intangible meaning and content that makes a people and culture worth saving to begin with. It will of course deny this, claim it values these things, while simultaneously dismissing it as ‘ignorant uneducated rubbish’ and again claiming it has the ‘higher ground’ for the ‘sake of the greater good for all’. No matter how self-assured a fox may feel in its ‘goodness’, it is still a fox.
No doubt this is a symptom of the times. Zygmunt Bauman refers to it as the ‘Liquid Age’, and René Guénon referred to it as the ‘Reign of Quantity’. However it can be described in language, in philosophical words, it pales in comparison to how awful it truly is and has become. Not only have the working class and middle class suffered, losing what little control they once had, whole regions have begun to lose as much control. Both on the micro and macro, victims of much larger global economic forces that not only may destroy it economically, but ravage the vertical qualities it contains, leaving it a desolate shell of what it once was culturally and in spirit. The nation itself cannot protect its own from what Bauman calls ‘negative globalization’. In the too idealistic aspiration to globalization, the positive falls far short and the negative is far too profound to be controlled or contained. There is no sign that this is lessening, and with the ever increasing cosmopolitan trend and mindstate, one can only predict that things will continue to get worse or simply continue as is.
From the individual person in daily life to the international realm, the infection that propels one to quantification and horizontalism is not ceasing. What was once a genuine desire for a better world has worn off or simply passed, revealing that beneath that veneer there is a sneering dismissal of the struggling and a pompous self-assuredness in its own ‘greater good’ mission, no matter the cost nor destruction. The heart is lacking, and appreciation for the verticle intangible becomes rare. I don’t have an optimistic conclusion or prediction. Only that people must return to the heart of the everyday mundane, the everyday struggle, to the meaning of family and heritage, to the vertical rather than the horizontal.
At the time I writing this we are 36 days aways from election day. Between both sides, whomever people support, the vast majority recognize this has been the most tragic elections in decades. Perhaps even the past century. We have two people that represent the absolute worst aspects of the corporate ‘upper crust’ of America. Possibly more horrendously reprehensible than we have seen in decades. People may decry the ‘equally awful’ argument, which is fine, and most of us, including myself, will end up voting for the ‘lesser evil’ of two repulsive people. In a grander view of it all, how disgusting have we become that we defend our chosen candidate with such ferocity while knowing, in the back of our mind at least, that this candidate is a truly repulsive human being and that in such passion we are defending the repulsive? I am guilty of this completely, the vast majority probably are, and it comes to a self-reflection for one to realize, ‘wow, we really have fallen, if perhaps we were ever better to begin with’.
And there are the less self-aware of both sides that genuinely and sincerely believe their candidate is a wholesome and good person. I cannot find myself to be angry at them, only saddened that they feel so desperately the need to believe in the goodness of a candidate that they do coax themselves into having such a faith. How can one be mad at people who desperately want to believe in a good candidate, or a good at all? One could smugly dismiss them as naive for having that faith, but I don’t think its wholly naivety as much as it truly is simple human desperation.
Many expect Clinton to win, partly because she is more seasoned at the ‘political game’, and partly because that which is most familiar is likely to continue. I cannot expect anyone who supports Trump or only opposes Hillary, to be in any way disappointed or angry if Clinton does win. People prefer a failing familiar situation to an unknown and possibly better situation. It will be unlike America to choose something that is unfamiliar, whether it would have been Bernie Sanders, or whether it could be Trump. The failing policies, domestic and abroad, of the past two decades would continue. As Obama promised ‘Change’, and little change occurred aside from the worst, except that false promise is not sold this time. It is only the promised continuation of what has been, which is only the familiar failure and misery we already know too well.
Humans prefer a miserable failure to an unknown alternative.
If and when this ‘demon’ that is the spectacular failure of the past two decades continues to live, to be continued, it will be due to this preference to the familiar. There are those ‘across the pond’, of the New Right and other ideologies, that do not expect America to be anything other than what it has been for the past two decades. Mind you, this is not a compliment, rather this is to expect the rabies ridden dog to continue on with rabies. While the rest of the world has to ‘deal’ with this dog, as usual.
Taken further, even if Trump wins, and this ‘unknown alternative’ path is taken, they still do not expect much different, because one must question if this ‘unknown alternative’ will truly end up being such an alternative or only the facade of being an alternative. Personally I would rather vote for the ‘unfamiliar and unknown alternative’, even if a gamble, than to continue the horrific and stench ridden policies of the past two administrations. This isn’t being a radical. This isn’t burning anything down. This isn’t even youthful idealism. It’s more a passion for development, even if unsafe, rather than continue with the pallid and decaying. A person with feeble drive will cling to the familiar, even to to worst extent. This election, in all its protest and anger and fear of change, perfectly demonstrates how sickly it currently is. It is full of sound and fury, and as empty in spirit as it could possibly be.
Call it pessimism or realism, but one can best predict what will occur based on what has previously and conventionally occurred. What we have seen under the Bush administration and under the Obama administration will only continue full force under a second Clinton adminstration. This is worthy of severe lament, and something we should only be ashamed of. Under a Trump administration, there is the ‘wildcard possibility’ that the this continuation be broken, for better or for worse, or perhaps not broken at all. If it be broken, for the better or for the worse, it will at least shatter and dissolve the ‘demonic’ and ‘brimstone’ order that currently exists. Necessary destruction is required to bring about required creative chaos that can bring forth birth and development. Of course this is an unnerving sentiment, as it should be, but it is better to embrace creative chaos than suffocate on the continuation of rot.
This election season increasingly feels more like a Dostoevsky novel. That isn’t anything to celebrate, regardless of who wins, and if anything it should prompt us to seriously analyze ourselves concerning how two utterly repulsive candidates such as these became our chosen candidates, and more importantly, why are we so fragmented and bankrupt as to continue defending and supporting our chosen one, despite acknowledging their repulsiveness? Again, I am just as guilty of this as any other. Perhaps this election, like a miserable sinner acknowledging their toxic vices, can teach us about ourselves and lead to a redemption of sorts in the future. Or perhaps it doesn’t, and in another eight years, we have an equally disgusting race and have just as disgusting candidates, if not worse, and repeat this all over again.
What hell have we created for ourselves then?
In our current political climate, both in the US and Europe, the age old dichotomy of left versus right has faded. What is coming to the forefront is a matter of nationalism versus globalism. Both terms seem vague, encumbered, and looming. As towering as it seems, it is the defining pivot of sufficient sovereignty or utopian solidarity. In the following I aim to lay out the bones of each, an analysis or survey, of what temperament is composed of.
Globalism is a vague word, as is neoliberalism. They are tossed around too easily, and one may struggle to define the weight it carries. At its essence, globalism aspires to unite all people, all nations, all religions, in a form of solidarity and good will. It is a fool’s myth to say it aspires to have a ‘one world government’. No, that is not required, what it does seek out is a unified agreement from all nations, all peoples, all cultures, to conform to a neoliberal hegemony. By neoliberal, one means a free market and near-limitless commodification, across all cultures. In the past it has been dubbed the ‘McDonaldization’ of the world. While dated, this remains fairly true. Globalism aspires for the international realm as a whole to conform to the corporatization model, that is, the commodification for profit anything that can be commodified. Rhetorically it is veiled in speeches of progress, of multiculturalism, of secular humans and human rights, of democratic and Western values. This is the banner which it wraps itself in to appeal to the humanitarian sentiment, the bleeding heart which yearns for utopian unity. At the core, it is about power, the conforming of cultures to the Western neoliberal hegemony only means submission and membership to that which is the defining hegemon. Whether it be through forceful interventionism or significant international trade deals, it is about power and extending the hegemonic mesh.
In the superficial it speaks of diversity, but the only diversity it cares for is skin deep. It appreciates diversity as long as that diversity conforms to neoliberal humanist values. It cannot tolerate diversity in content, for diversity in content implicitly means conflict. In rhetoric it sings of ‘one human race’, of ‘one world’. It looks out upon a world of borders, conflicts, differences and sees only its own idealism reflecting back. . In disregard for differentiation it brings in refugees, alien cultures, alien religion, and yet brings them in despite the inevitable conflict it will bring. Foreign interests and foreign people are of higher importance than ones own nation, ones own people, because through the lens of idealism there is no difference between the two. Borders exist only technically, a technicality treated flippantly. The globalist lives in a post-border, post-nation world, despite reality blatantly contradicting this delusion. The cosmopolitan declares himself a citizen of the world, as if we all are, and yet this is not the reality of the situation. Globalism is an idealism which sees not the world as it is, but sees the world as it wishes it could be. It is not the utopia of communism, it is more pragmatic only because it must be. Globalism is Kant’s democratic peace theory with the US at the helm and commodification-for-profit in its heart. It sees no deeper meaning in culture or existence other than use-value. It is quantification and horizantalism to the utmost, differentiations be damned.
In stark contrast is nationalism, a term that carries heavy and sometimes troubling baggage. It has been taken to fundamentalist degrees in the past. It has been taken to raw knuckle xenophobic degrees. While globalism cannot see the Other and declares us all as one. Xenophobic nationalism sees the Other and fears it. This must not occur and nationalism must be freed from this baggage. What is nationalism in essence is but this; a nation puts its people first and foremost in all matter, that is its function, its purpose, it exists to be for the people and the people for it. Nationalism is a threat to globalism. It is threat because it soberly declares its individual sovereignty and does not desire to conform to the neoliberal hegemony, or whatever hegemony reigns at the time. It stands as its own, autonomous. It reserves its differentiation, its uniqueness and individuality. It doesnot desire to dissolve into this ‘melting pot’ of globalism. It remains an individual, separate, different from its neighbor. It is healthy to learn from ones cultural neighbor, but remain different in content. Neither isolation nor in solidarity. Nationalism is the ice cube that refuses to melt into the idealistic ‘one world, one human race’. Nationalism refuses to commodify itself, quantify itself, melt into the horizontal ‘unity’.
What nationalism is called a devil for is its own inherent purpose that is caring for its people first and foremost. It is called selfish, isolationist, petty, and so forth, only because the current set of morality is self-destructively slavish. That which is meek, which kowtows, which humbles itself, which allows itself to be used, which praises the Other and flagellates itself…this is what is called righteous, the very things that will drive it to its own destruction is called righteous and good. Nationalism refuses this. It places its own people first, feels no guilt nor shame, it creates its own values according to its own, it is selfish in that self-preservation is selfish. This is not immoral. This is strength and retaining upright in-itself. Nationalism accepts the devilish pretense a neoliberal hegemony views it as…but more importantly it cares about its own, and exists only to protect and love its own.
Without a doubt both poles are full of idealism. It becomes messier when applies to real world politics, domestic and international. It becomes messier when it comes to culture and the spreading of knowledge. Nothing is sharply cut in politics. In the direct application of policy and relationship there are nuances upon nuances, like the grain found in wood. Nonetheless, these idealisms are the heart which beats inside either force. Globalism will seek to create a monoculture, a one people, a purposeful blindness to differentiation. It is all in the name of progress and humanitarianism, but it craves nothing more than furthering its hegemonic mess and commodifying whatever it touches. Nationalism wishes for each nation, including itself, to take care of its own first and foremost. There is no question. Foreign interests, foreign people, these are second to its own people. It does not seek to dissolve into an international melting pot. It is driven to retain its individuality and content. It appreciates, adores, and recognizes the fullness of differentiation.
Nothing is clean. Interdependence permeates every topic, every subject. No nation is an island. But one must ask how much one appreciates differentiation in content? Is it not differentiation that makes existence worth living and the world worth seeing? Differences are rich, as they should be. The task of globalism is to level it, to make it horizontal, to eliminate difference. It has no awareness of vertical depth of content. It sees only a unit, a quantity, to be acquired and commodified, to be assimilated into a corporate monoculture, all in the name of progress and humanity.
Disclaimer: In my attempt to thoroughly survey and present the following, I do not mean to imply that I support the positions therein. While there are some positions I agree with completely, there are plenty of positions I do not agree with at all. This is not a piece on my personal feelings or beliefs regarding it. This is only a modest attempt to clarify and differentiate the subjects for those interested. I am no expert. I have no authority. I am not a part of any political organization or party. This is strictly based upon my own personal studying and observations. Thank you.
In its most succinct, in the fewest words, the Alt Right could be best defined as “an American counterpart to the European New Right or an Americanized version of Identitiarianism.” It particularly emphasizes anti-globalist, pro-nationalist, and populist positions.
What is the Alt Right? Only within the past year has it entered into mainstream discourse. There have been numerous major news sources that have attempted to explain it, usually resulting in an incoherent mess or a knee-jerk condemnation. The ‘Alt Right’ has been around for decades, and I presume with the rise of Trump, the escalation of ‘SJW’ campus activism, and the general ‘trolling’ seen on Facebook, /pol/, ‘frogtwitter’ is what led to gaining more attention (for better or worse).
A major misconception is the ‘Alt Right’ is a collective ideology or a collective set of positions. It is not. It is merely an umbrella term to generally speak about any politically rightist ideology that is not the Republican Party/GOP, and is typically not the Libertarian Party either. It is indeed a catch-all term for ‘alternative’ rightist ideologies that are on the fringe and does not lie within average American political discourse. At best, the American ‘Alt Right’ is a hodgepodge of other rightist ideologies mixed with internet culture and lingo. At worst, it can be considered the ‘low brow’ American style of the more educated European New Right. It is not something to be addressed properly, rather a mishmash to be dissected to better understand.
For the sake of discussion I will dissect this umbrella term, differentiating the specifically American ‘Alt Right’ style as well as the more established schools of thought associated with it.
European New Right: In its broadest and most developed form, the ‘alt right’ is a derivative of the European New Right. This is a label used to describe far right and nationalist ideologies/parties which differ from region to region, or country to country. It rejects both communism and capitalism, instead aspiring to either a third alternative or a return to a previous traditional form of rule is considered. It differs largely from the American Right ie GOP/Republicanism in that it rejects crony corporate capitalism, interventionism, ‘bootstrap’ individualism, and ‘market-revering’ classical liberal values. Both communism and capitalism are children of the Enlightenment, or rather children of classical liberalism, and the European New Right is at times illiberal in that it questions and reassesses these Enlightenment values as they have been distorted today, while reaffirming its original meaning. Socialism is on the table for consideration, but not the wholesale adoption of Marxism. It questions and at times may reject totalitarian secularism, cosmopolitanism, globalism, egalitarianism, humanitarianism, neoliberalism, free market, unchecked immigration etc. It may advocate state sovereignty, hierarchy, tradition, moderate secularism, religion, nationalism, realpolitik, ethnocentrism, stringent immigration policy or anti-immigration, non-interventionism etc. In short, a nation’s people comes first and foremost in priority, that is the sole purpose of a nation is its people. A common example of the European New Right is the ‘National Front’ party of France, Aleksandr Dugin and the Fourth Political Theory is also a unique example though Dugin would not consider himself such, nor would his supporters. Another example is UKIP of the UK and the famous Nigel Farage, known most recently due to ‘Brexit’. For Note: throughout there are elements of antisimitism, racism, and anti-LGBT but this absolutely must be judged situation by situation and cannot be blanketly stated as being true for all or the whole. Race realism and White Nationalism is none too popular within the European New Right, despite what detractors may say. Acknowledging nuances is vital.
notable figures worth reading: Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, Ernst Jünger, Nietzsche, Hiedegger, Alain de Benoist, Tomislav Sunic, Dominique Venner, Anthony Ludovici, Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage
-Found within the above or overlapping-
Nouvelle Droit: essentially the ‘New Right’ of France. Primarily influence by Alain de Benoist, whom founded the thinktank GRECE. It does not see itself as a political party or political force, rather as a school of thought, both culturally and in political theory. It advocates the rejection of Christianity, of monotheism, of neoliberalism/globalism, and explores the application of Pagan values. This is not as a religious practice, rather as a philosophy or approach to existence, a reevaluation of how we evaluate. Although called the Nouvelle Droit, it is not strictly of the political right as it also includes and discusses leftist ideology as well. Rather it ceases to rise above the two, or to synthesize, to create new altogether.
Traditionalism: simply put, this is the denouncement of modernism, not for the sake of ‘going back’, rather of bringing culture to be once again in-tune with exoteric traditionalist ideals. Figuritively speaking these are those whom believe the French Revolution was a total mistake, a travesty, and ‘liberty, equality, eternity’ is to be rejected altogether. Typically they advocate an absolute monarchy, a return to Christendom, or a form of aristocracy. A perfect example of this position is Joseph de Maistre, a merciless advocate of monarchism and condemner of the Revolution, or the revered Nicolás Gómez Dávila. Most traditionalists of this nature tend to be either Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. While they probably differ from other forms within the European New Right, they fall within the category.
Radical/Esoteric Traditionalism (also known as Perennialism): A unique and fascinating subsect is ‘Radical Traditionalism’, though this is a slight misnomer using the word radical. Individuals vary. In short, it is the emphasis of ‘capital’ T Tradition, rather than ‘small t’ tradition of the above. Therefore Traditionalism or Perennialism is a more accurate term. In short, this is the return to esoteric Tradition, that is the Perrenial Truth which multiple religions spring from. Some are universalists regarding this, others are not. It is said mankind is certainly in the ‘Kali Yuga’, a dark age of spirituality, in other words, the mundane/man is currently divorced from the transcendent. In context of Plato, we are completely divorced and ignorant to the Realm of Forms. The ‘Kali Yuga’ is as much a mental/spiritual mindstate as it is a cosmic period. One that is purely materialist, quantified, egocentric, inverted, and vice-driven. Few who adhere to Esoteric Traditionalism are actively involved in politics, inspired by the detachment of Nietzsche or Evola. Nonetheless it is a common current or overlap with the European New Right at times, and is worth studying simply due to its powerful content and depth. There is also a particular reverence to Eastern teachings such as Buddhism and Hinduism, also an emphasis on Hindu Nationalism.
notable figures worth reading: Julius Evola, René Guénon, Nietzsche, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Mircea Eliade, Frithjof Schuon, Savitri Devi,Titus Burkhardt, Hossein Nasr, Gwendolyn Taunton, Algis Uždavinys
Deep Ecology: Think environmentalism is strictly a ‘lefty hippie matter’? While ‘deep ecology’ may have not originally been seen as rightist, it has become increasingly so. It acknowledges human life as simply another form of life, no higher than other forms, calls for a complete restructuring of civilization. Probably closest to or overlapping with anarcho-primitivism in political aspiration. What makes it right-inclined is its inherent antihumanist and indifferent temperament. One particular figure is the radical Finnish ecologist Pentti Linkola, whom has stated some fairly indifferent and brutal remarks about humans. Another would be Ted Kaczynski, also known as the ‘Unabomber’, whom despite his brilliance and fascinating manifesto took a violent turn. And his intellectual peer John Zerzan, whom still writes on the topic extensively. Looking to the past there is Savitri Devi, both a Hindu Nationalist and Nazi-sympathizer, wrote brilliantly scolding how man treated animal life, also advocating a restructuring of society to better adhere to nature. In film as well one can find similar positions, Wernor Herzog is a fan among the alternative right for acknowledging nature’s inherent indifference and the natural hierarchy or natural savagery found in nature. In his films a man’s ego is taken to godlike proportions only to be destroyed, and in his documentary-style films he thoroughly appreciates indigenous peoples despite them being eradicated by supposed ‘technological progress’, or in another a man who attempts to anthropomorphise bears as being loveable kin faces the inevitably indifference of nature. In conclusion, deep ecologists do not take the ‘bleeding heart’ approach to environmentalism, rather they acknowledge the indifference of nature, the pompousness of man, and realize man is simply another creature.
A Relative or American ‘younger sibling’ of the Above
The ‘American’ Alt Right: It has only been recently with the rise of Trump with his slightly nationalist and anti-globalist themes have we seen the American ‘alt right’ receive mainstream attention. Before then the American Alt Right kept to subterranean dens like /pol/ on 4chan, and other similar websites. I will divide the ‘American Alt Right’ into three categories to better dissect this hodgepodge of a community.
The anti-SJW /pol/ ‘Red Pill’ ‘Frogtwitter/Hatetwitter’ Trolls: These types are probably the loudest, funniest, and often times obnoxious of the bunch. Whether discussing the ill effects of ‘cultural marxism’ or engineering the next big meme. Lately they have received national attention due to their guerilla tactics against the SJW (the highly PC univ campus/tumblr users, dubbed ‘social justice warriors’). The /pol/ use the internet, specifically memes and trolling, to keep the SJW in check. This has resulted in the recent Leslie Jones twitter bullying and other like occurrences. It is no mystery that many have become fans of Trump due to his own forthright and controversial behavior. Many of them do hold positions derivative of the European New Right, though it greatly varies as to how much of it is an educated opinion and how much of it is conspiracy theory or Youtube drivel. Whenever mainstream news (also dubbed ‘normies’) attempt to write about or understand the American Alt Right, this is who they end up discussing, and in typical knee-jerk reaction go on a panic spiel about how terribly vile and racist they are. While that element does exist, the nature of /pol/ or ‘hatetwitter’ is to be offensive or humorous or both. It is as much a strategy or tactic as it is sending a message.
The genuinely educated: there are Americans who have read and admired European New Right figures and material, taken it into consideration regarding their position as an American citizen, and have applied/adapted it to American politics. There are also those inspired by the former intellectual countercultural movement known as ‘Neoreactionism’ (NRx for short), primarily led by Moldbug and Nick Land; emphasizing race realism, realpolitik, natural hierarchy, and a rejection of postmodernism. One could conclude that the American Alt Right is a collaboration of European New Right influence, Neoreactionist influence, White Nationalism, and Paleoconservatism. It differs in opinion as to which has been the greater influence. Only with Trump have we seen a surge of hope, a hope in which some thought Trump could be the next ‘Nigel Farage’ or ‘Marine Le Pen’. While that is looking unlikely, Trump has at least shifted the Overton Window to allow such a candidate to possibly rise in the future. He has merely become a means in a longer view.
There are few other political figures similar, but two I would note as examples. One popular American political figure which could be said to embody some such factors are Pat Buchanan or Paul Gottfried, particularly that of Paleoconservatism. Also the younger political figure running for office currently that also shows that the European New Right can be adapted within the American context, that being Augustus Invictus of Florida. There is also an annual event and publication, for better or worse, opinions widely differ, called ‘American Renaissance’, led and founded by Jared Taylor. (I must admit I have met as many in the ‘alt right’ who hate this event as much as support it. Many feel it only purports the worst details of said ideologies) One prominent and specifically American Alt Right intellectual is Richard Spencer, supposedly the one who coined the term ‘Alternative Right’. He is worthy of mention due to his lifetime of political publication and intellectual merit, even if one disagrees with his positions. Again keep in mind individuals differ largely in this political spectrum. The above range from simple Paleoconservatism, to Civic Nationalism to purist White Nationalism or Identitarianism.
Some are far more open to race realism while others disagree altogether, some may be devout Catholics, while others may be total atheists or folk pagans.
Overall the primary themes remain: anti-globalism, pro-nationalism, race realism, populism, stringent on immigration, against crony corporate capitalism, pro-hierarchy, against interventionist politics, in short, the exact opposite of everything neoliberalism stands for.
The Undesirable Element: By this I mean the usual ‘boogyman’ that liberals go after immediately. The Neonazis, the KKK, the Christian Identity, etc. In truth they do not have near the power the liberal left pretend that they have. Even among the ‘American Alt Right’, and particularly to the European New Right which do not acknowledge their existence nor should they, these ‘extremist hate groups’ are the low-brow, uneducated, and daresay unrefined ‘knuckle dragging’ which only serve to poison and counter any serious ‘Alt Right’ efforts. They have done more harm to rightist ideologies by simply existing. They are typically the ones the liberal left attack first and use an example first. It is no mystery why David Duke has been mentioned numerous times lately. I admit this does not sound neutral of me, but this is what I have observed from the bulk of rightist advocates, and I wholeheartedly agree.
In conclusion, the ‘American Alt Right’ is a ‘younger brother’ American counterpart to the European New Right, though still decidingly American. It is an alternative to both communist/egalitarian direction and capitalist/market/neoliberal direction. It opposes the corporate greed, materialism, and Neocon interventionism that the GOP has practiced. It also rejects the radical multiculturalism, globalism, and neoliberalism that the Democratic Party fully supports. The American Alt Right is still in development, is not a collective whole in ideology, and is a budding political movement that may take decades to reach maturation. I hope this brief guide helped answer questions and sate curiosity. It is much better to comprehend a political position than to immediately condemn it. Only through unrestrained discourse, the freedom to question and discuss any subject, can we develop ourselves as a society.
*parts have been edited based upon feedback I have received. thanks.
For decades inherently liberal concepts like feminism and the acceptance of homosexuality has been primarily leftist in ideology. Right leaning ideologies emphasize religion, tradition, importance of norm, nationalism, and so forth. Feminism or homosexuality has always been absolutely counter to these values. Currently we are beginning to see the blurring and shifting of once concrete definitions of certain political ideologies. This is due to multiple factors such as older generations passing, the slow acceptance of various social changes, the liberal left becoming far more extreme regarding identity politics and censorship, the liberal left adopting modified religiosity, the right becoming less race sensitive, etc. This is a matter of thesis colliding with antithesis and forming a fascinating synthesis. Ideology is not static. Ideology is in constant flux, even if that flux be subtle and slow moving. One such interesting variation to emerge from this collision of oppositions and its merging into a unique phenomena is the possibility of the compatibility of general feminism and homosexuality with nationalist ideology.
The term ‘nationalism’ is encumbered with negative baggage and negative connotations. In its lowest form it is knuckle-dragging xenophobia and angry mob rule that attempts to scapegoat the alien for the sake of needing a scapegoat, resulting in mindless violence and the breakdown of culture. In its highest form it is the intellectual appreciation of the power of the collective whole, the advocation of the excellence of a nation and its people, the further pursuit of excellence, and the aspiring of a nation’s self interest. It is the citizen aspiring to their own individual excellence and the nation’s aspiring to national excellence. Whether this be called abstract, transcendent, or principles, it is a unifying grand narrative for the people which constitute the single nation. Often this is called patriotism, since nationalism has negative connotations. Personally I am not a stickler about which word is used, only that patriotism has taken on campy and flippant meaning, empty hokey rhetoric tied to superficial holiday celebrations rather than the deeper meaning I just described. Whichever word one may prefer, it should be noted nationalism is not restricted to the horror stories of the Romanian Iron Guard or other similar fascistic ideologies that swept the 20th century. Nationalism is alive and well today, particularly throughout Europe. Increasing Euroscepticism is beginning to balk the cosmopolitanism of the EU, such as the recent Brexit, and the rise of national identity in France. The ‘boogyman’ historical baggage of the word must be separated from the concept itself. And as a disclaimer I do not in any sense or way advocate violent xenophobia, racism, and ‘lowest common denominator’ mob rule or crowd impulsive which is self-destructive and antithetic to excellence. I also find the ideology of ‘white nationalism’, which in my opinion is a completely other ideology altogether, to be just as low brow and dimwitted.
With that preface stated, we are beginning to see an increase of educated powerful women in nationalism as well as less than phobic positions on homosexuality. Both right and left will certainly take issue with me putting someone like Marine Le Pen or Natalia Poklonskaya in the same sentence with the word ‘feminism’, but I must ask one to restate the essence of feminism; is a woman who is educated, has their own career, and in a position of power not qualify one as a feminist, or at least embodying some feminist qualities? It is certainly not something we would have seen a century or more ago. It is certainly something did not not become common until after the rise of feminist ideology and equal rights for women. So whether one agrees or disagrees that fits the term ‘feminist’ in the ideological sense, one must acknowledge it is certainly a result of the worldwide political movement and the rise of equal rights for women. The left tend to refuse to acknowledge an independent established woman as being a feminist or similar thereof if said woman does not share their leftist positions. I find this to be incredibly dishonest. Simply because one does not agree with an established woman’s positions does not mean that woman is any less established or independent, or cannot in be acknowledged as embodying at least certain feminist qualities. Likewise, those established women on the right are probably hesitant or outright against being labeled as feminist or being associate with feminist ideology in any way. This is altogether reasonable as the label as garnered negative baggage, but just as I stated regarding the left, they must at least acknowledge that themselves being a woman of equal rights, educated, and in a position of power is not something that would have readily or commonly happened before women’s movements and the influence thereof. Not to say their established independence is completely due to that movement, as women have had influence and positions of power to an extent before feminism occurred, but we must acknowledge that the rise of early ‘feminist’ or ‘equality for women’ movements did indeed have a powerful influence on much of the Western world. That being said, do famous and successful rightist and nationalist figures such as Natalia Poklonskaya, Marine La Pen, Elvira Nabiullina show the compatibility of women and nationalism? Or specifically, the aspects of feminism compatible with nationalism? With the above examples, I would answer with a resounding yes. While feminism or ‘women with equal rights’ politics begun inherently liberal and left, after decades of influence and collision, it is apparent there has been an interesting synthesis of the two that has occurred. Rarely if ever do we acknowledge this, but it is seen among voters as well as the women leaders in political positions with nationalistic or right leaning. I suspect this will only increase as events like Brexit occur, and there is a turn away from cosmopolitanism.
Second is the compatibility of homosexuality with nationalism. Again we find an originally liberal and leftist issue finding unique refuge in an ideology that as been traditionally against them. Leftist critics have dubbed this ‘homonationalism’, and recently we have seen an increase due to the rhetoric and leftist sentiment catered to Islam. The left has become so infatuated with its defense of Islam as a minority that it fails to acknowledge the rampant anti-LGBT position that Islam holds. Many homosexuals are aware of this and thus take up a nationalist counter to the widespread mass immigration and passive acceptance of Islam. Again this is mostly seen in Europe, though after the recent Orlando shooting by an radical Islamic terrorist it has brought the topic up in American discourse as well. From campy opportunists like the purposely ‘overly patriotic’ Milo Yiannopoulos to other LGBT individuals of like mind whom are sick of the extreme direction the liberal left has gone concerning identity politics and its ‘cozying up’ to Islam. Another example is the odd relationship between homosexuality and Israel national politics. On the one hand there are homosexuals who take up nationalist identity in defense of themselves from foreigners or in affirmation of the state’s position of LGBT matters. On the other hand, many criticize Israel for ‘pinkwashing’, that is using their support of LGBT matters to better their public image and distract from their injustice toward Palestinians. What is most unique is that the leftist criticism of ‘homonationalism’, that is the state sanctioning of LGBT individuals, in which the state not only legalizes LGBT issues but assimulates LGBT identity into mainstream conventions and to further bolster state authority/imperialism. This same critique, observed from a rightist position, only further confirms the compatibility of homosexuality with nationalism at large. Neither dismissing nor destroying traditional norms or conventions, but while also being fair and just to the small percentage of homosexual individuals as productive citizens. Traditional norms or conventions does not immediately entail the discrimination against homosexuality, nor does the acceptance of homosexuality entail the destruction of traditional norms or conventions. They can both coexist, and the assimilation of LGBT individuals can be utilized to affirm the cultural or state hegemony. The compatibility between homosexuality and nationalism is not altogether new. Indeed, looking back at 20th century movements, primarily fascism and similar, there were multiple homosexual males that were outspoken advocates. The Decadent Movement contained both nationalist or fascist sympathy as well as libertine sexual practices including homosexuality, as typified by Gabriele D’Annunzio, though he himself was not homosexual. In the contemporary is Jorg Haider or Pim Fortuyn, both homosexual and outspoken nationalists.. This may not be surprising as both fascism and the completely separate nationalism both are considered ‘masculine’ ideologies. At its most extreme it is downright hyper-masculine and androphiliac. Point being, whether historical or present day, male homosexuality easily finds compatibility with nationalism. What I do posit is that not just male homosexuality, but general LGBT could potentially become compatible with nationalism as well. Again a matter of ideological dialectics which I speculate will synthesis, in response to global issues, that will cause this subtle and slow increase of LGBT individuals leaning far more to the right, particularly if the liberal left continues its extreme course.
In conclusion, the hard lines of yesterday that defined political affiliations are being blurred and at times rewritten. As issues arise, collide, conflict, there will be an interesting rearrangement of allegiances. Where identity politics and universalism fails abysmally, people of younger generations will begin to look to other narratives to better define themselves and their interests. I believe the assumed incompatibility of ‘feminism’ and homosexuality, as well as general LGBT, will erode over time. Despite surface value disagreement over this by both left and right, I believe over time the factors and conditions will fluctuate in such a way that it renders this compatibility incredibly plausible.
“The soul is the prison of the body.”
Foucault first said these words, which strongly echo his teacher Louis Althusser. Ideology does indeed contain and form our consciousness. There is no escaping ideology. We swim in ideology on a daily basis. It could be argued what we know as ‘oneself’ or ‘ones consciousness’ is little more than the emerging product of multiple intersecting ideologies. Foucault takes this to its ultimate conclusion that ‘the soul’ (call it consciousness or psyche) is the true prison of the body. The body which is free by default. This brief summary is the basis of the following observation; it is society, not the State, which has created an ideological prison of which the policing panopticon sits in the center.
For decades the cliche prediction has been an Orwellian dystopian of the State becoming totalitarian, observing and policing every detail of a citizen’s existence, punishing those whom step out of line. We have always feared the State, rightfully so after Stalinism, Maoism, and so forth. The Orwellian nightmare would occur through the State, sooner or later. Perhaps this was inaccurate, perhaps the Orwellian totalitarianism was outsourced to the people themselves. Foucaul’s suggests as much when he uses the panopticon as analogy of ‘an All-Seeing eye’ which constantly observes; no bars or chains needed, as the power of ideology itself would be enough to imprison the body and keep individuals in line. This has often been interpreted as a surveillance state, with NRA and the like. This is understandable, but what we are seeing now are the people ideologically policing the people. Whether it be in discourse or in political activism, people do not fear ideological deviation due to the State intervening, rather they fear the general public. It is the general public which will punish them for deviating ideologically, not so much the State itself. This is not entirely new nor am I the first to state this, but we increasingly see this panopticon policing taken to bold new levels as social media and the internet permeate our lives.
In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the main character Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet colored letter ‘A’ upon her breast, so she will be constantly reminded of her transgression and the townspeople will be reminded as well. In short, she is ideologically branded and stigmatized. Puritanism is not new to us, while before it took a religious form, it now takes a secular form, though no less religious in practice. Whether one calls it ‘progressivism’, ‘social justice warriors’, the ‘liberal left’, these names are inadequate and have become passing buzzwords. Recently I came across a term that seemed to capture the ideological regime overall, that being ‘totalitarian humanism’. This term best describes the ideology which is radically egalitarian, secularist, cosmopolitan, and has produced a list of ‘secular sins’ that if committed are worthy of public shaming, not unlike that found in Puritan Christianity. Again, this has been written about already, and there is no shortage of pieces criticizing the ‘bleeding heart politically correct’. I do not wish to add to that stack. What intrigues me is its totalitarian and self-policing nature that fits well the Foucault panopticon, and could lead to its own unique Orwellian future.
Recently there was an announcement of a website which allows people to publically claim another person as a racist. Social media has already allowed ‘doxxing’ and other similar ‘branding’ methods. While racism itself is generally distasteful, are we reaching a point in our technological development as a society that we can begin ‘branding’ others whom deviate ideologically from the ‘party line’ or group consensus? If an ideology produces a list of ‘sins’ which one should not commit, and those whom commit the sin are to be publicly shamed for doing so, those whom shame the ‘sinners’ feel self-righteous in their action; at what point does this cross the line from acceptable norms and unacceptable behavior into outright puritanism? Discourse is not advocated, as that allows a dialogue, and a dialogue requires two positions communicating. Dialogue is immediately shut down as one position is declared a ‘sin’ by the other, it is then condemned and shamed. This is not discourse. This is not a liberal exchange of ideas and thoughts. This is a religious condemnation of what is immediately deemed unacceptable.Furthermore, it is not the State persecuting those whom deviate ideologically, nor is it the Church burning those at the stake whom deviate ideologically as we have seen in the past. No, this is the general public, through social media and other means, policing themselves with all the fury and treachery of a ‘secret police’. At what point does our increasingly technological society, each connected to each, begin to become its own panopticon as it scrutinizes and overtly punishes the non-conforming?
Free speech as a law is not under attack. That does not mean discourse itself is not being constricted and gagged. In the panopticon analogy, the prisoner does not need a cell or chains, it is his own fear and ideological psyche which keeps him imprisoned. It is not the fear of the State or Church, it is the fear of his fellow countrymen and neighbor that keeps him inline. Have we become this already? Is the Orwellian dystopia inverted, not a totalitarian state but a totalitarian public? Not a totalitarian theocracy but a totalitarian humanism? Perhaps it is an inside-out prison, unlimited bodily mobility but highly restrictive ideological mobility. The more technology develops, the more it permeates and brings us within its apparatus, the more opportunity for this self-policing to reach new heights.
The answer to this constriction is twofold, first is that civil dialogue must be advocated above all. The immediate condemnation of a subject without discussing its contents is not dialogue, it is a form of puritanism. It engenders resentment and causes further schism. Even if this means discussing subjects which are uncomfortable or initially offensive. Second is that people must not fear deviating ideologically. One does not by necessity have to deviate, but also should not be afraid to either. It may result in backlash, and one has to be wise in predicting the consequences of such actions while maintaining authenticity to self. Identity politics and partisanship has bogged the individual down in false obligation that is more akin to shackles than duty. No single detail about ones identity should usurp the whole. No single detail about ones identity should indenture them to a single political party. As previously stated, freedom of speech is not under attack. It is discourse itself that is being constricted and lessened. It is again not a physical chain or shackle that binds, it is ideological fear that binds.
There is no need for a totalitarian state to rise up and police the details of our lives. We are doing that ourselves, to ourselves. Often it is in the name of progress or humanism or ending oppression or ‘being on the right side of history’. It does not matter what self-righteous cause is on the banner. A man will serve whatever god best justifies his actions. And if he feels his puritanism is justified and righteous, then he will never doubt himself. None of this requires theism, it only requires a cause one dogmatically believes in.