GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

September 8, 2016

More Alt-Right Programming

Filed under: GA — adam @ 8:21 am

Here is what is meant to be a more minimal (7 point) program aimed at creating a “big tent” for the Alt-Right. Particularly worth pointing out here is a direct approach to the question of internal governance, avoided by other Alt-Right advocates of nationalism:

5) Freedom is a responsibility and not a right. The freedom of too many incompetent people to make too many bad decisions is harmful to society and constrains the freedom of virtuous and responsible people. There are externalities to most actions and when these are harmful to non-actors it is a kind of injustice. These need to campaigned against, or suppressed by force or the threat of force—the basis of the rule of law. A virtuous society is an ordered one that provides freedom from anarcho-tyranny.
6) If we must be a democratic society, the franchise should be limited. Universal democracy is a bad system. It gives power to the worst and shackles the fittest. It is a degenerative institution in which the weak and unproductive collaborate against the strong and sustainable.

Here, the insistence on human differences (points 1 and 4) is applied to the structure of the nation itself, with the logical consequence that democracy and liberal notions of rights are more explicitly rejected. I wonder how big the tent will be—Vox Day, whose 16 points we examined a few posts ago, showing his avoidance of any acknowledgement of hierarchy within the nation, has expressed agreement with all 7 points, so perhaps the rejection of liberalism and democracy is not that controversial on the Alt-Right. The recognition on the Alt-Right that much of what they want will require some kind of strongman or elitist rule demonstrates a more comprehensive awareness of the implications of their project than I, at least, have seen so far. At any rate, it is useful to see the Alt-Right take up the issue of the “regime,” and in a way that brings it somewhat closer to disciplinary absolutist reaction.

Points 2 and 3 are more familiar, but give us the opportunity to raise a couple of questions:

2) Our world is tribal. The struggle for survival which has produced all life on earth extends into biological human races, which both exist and matter to their members. Such conflict is neither immoral nor moral, but a condition we must engage with in order to develop any meaningful philosophy or ideology. It can be found on the streets, in the human resources department, at the ballot box, or in the trenches. Even something as trivial as the Oscars is fought over. Though it is currently politically incorrect to acknowledge that races and their national subdivisions exist and compete for resources, land, and influence over one another or over themselves, that does not mean the struggle has stopped. That one side has been cajoled into not struggling does not mean it is left alone.
3) Our tribe is being suppressed. The new left doctrine of racial struggle in favor of non-whites only, a product of decolonization and the defeat of nationalists by egalitarians after WWII, must be repudiated and Whites must be allowed to take their own side in their affairs. that says Whites are not allowed to have collective interests and literally every other identity group can do so and ought to do so is unacceptable.

Point 3 is really the easier one to agree with—of course, the new white nationalism/racialism is just—what’s the right phrase?—the chickens of victimary politics coming home to roost. The stupidity of imagining that you can accuse whites constantly, for decades, of being an oppressor race, without whites beginning to think, at some point, well let’s act like one, then, is simply staggering. Point 2 raises more problems. First of all, why say the world is tribal and then go on to talk exclusively about race? Tribes are nothing like races: tribes are internally structured social relationships, with strict kinship rules and an ethos of retaliation to offenses or insults against what is really an extended family. Whatever the biological reality of race, no race has ever acted as a race, with internal hierarchies, authority structures, forms of obligation, legitimation of violence, all understood to rest on racial grounds. A white guy from Wisconsin, and another from Arkansas, are not in the same tribe, no matter how racially conscious they are. Indeed, once you try to use biological, racial categories to organize a large scale community, the whole system breaks down—what would count as ethically or politically relevant genetic distinctions within a race? Politically, races are reactions to co-existence of groups of differing origins within modern society. No one has ever organized a racial polity or even movement of any significance—considered as an attempt to politically liberate and organize the “Aryan” race, Hitler’s Reich would have to be considered a complete failure, as he ended up at war with, and defeated by, much of (and the much less racially self-conscious part of) the Aryan world. Tribes, however, can act very cohesively and coherently as collectives, so I assume that the slippage here between “tribe” and “race” is a political fantasy in which races can act as tribes. (Moreover, tribalism is awful model for politics, since tribes cannot free themselves from the addiction to violence—the founding act of civilization is the king imposing an end to the vendetta amongst the tribes he rules over.) The political structure discussed in points 5 and 6 will not have anything to do with tribe or race—the more fit will rule, but either they will simply rule in the common good, determined by the ruler, or they will rule in the name of the race. In the former case, there is no reason to assume that race will remain the primary organizing category; in the latter case, all the conflicts of a modern social order are re-introduced into and intensified within the closed racial order, since there will be differing views of the good of the race, and one of those views might very well involve culling the unfit. (It should also be noted that the zero-sum struggle for resources characteristic of tribalism as portrayed here is incompatible with the freedom and autonomy of all nations in Vox Day’s 16 points—you can’t recognize the autonomy of a nation sitting on resources you need.)

This brings us to the culminating point 7:

The final alt-right shit-test is whether or not someone agrees with the reality that Jewish elites are opposed to our entire program. It is the third rail for a reason. The hardest redpill to take is a suppository, the Jewish Question. (Here I highly recommend Dr. Kevin MacDonald’s if you don’t have the time preference for an entire series of books on the subject). The disproportionate influence of an elite Jewish minority in Western societies has been a net negative. Jews, who have a three thousand year history of regulating their communities to be as insular as possible among the nations whose territory they dwell in have a consistent pattern of promoting the interests of their own ethnoreligious minority at the expense of the majority nation. It is what they do and when they do it here it is bad news for us. When given the power they have now it results in degeneracy, the losing of one’s race. Even in Israel one will find Jews who are firmly dedicated to the destruction of their host’s borders and hold in contempt the idea of loyalty to their national kin. Who shrieks loudest at anti-immigration nativism? Who praises their own ethnocentrism as a virtue and shames others for having the same feeling? It is a pattern that crosses time and borders, and there is a war against noticing it. The staunchest social egalitarians, anti-nationalists and “anti-racists” are Jewish, inside and outside of Israel.

Jews sympathetic to the Alt-Right should certainly have no illusions about “joining” it (insofar as it has something like a “membership”). That’s fine—we can’t join Black Power, La Raza, the Catholic Church and lots of other things. And we’re not so easy to “join” ourselves. The “net effect” of Jews on their host nations can, of course, be debated—it will depend upon what you consider valuable and harmful. But more important than all this is what I see as a very fair and indisputable point: can anyone deny that Jewish elites are opposed, and must be opposed to the 6 points above and virtually any other articulation of the Alt-Right agenda? Can anyone deny the predominance of Jews in the pro-immigration and anti-racist movements, or o the Left more generally? Or that Jewish leftist activism is very often overtly presented as “Jewish,” i.e., as promoting specifically Jewish values and traditions (“Tikkun Olam, etc.)? Jewish influence and power, and the fantastically varied nature of the perceptions and assessments of that influence and power, is best understood as an effect of unsecure power. The decentralization and differentiation of powers through the Western world over the last half millennium has created the conditions under which groups, like Jews, with a specific vocation and capacities, specific internal organization, relation to the majority community, i.e., as a kind of prototypical middleman minority, are able and compelled to exercise power in all kinds of un and under-acknowledged, and therefore difficult to measure, ways. Restore sovereignty, and the Jewish Question is resolved. Of course, a restored sovereign might be hostile to the Jews, might see their removal as central to its own restoration; but a strong and effective sovereign is more likely to find uses for the Jews, while blocking their subversive tendencies. Since a restored sovereign would, by definition, eliminate the left, that in itself would remove the main vehicle of antagonistic Jewish influence, allowing Jews to contribute productively.

September 6, 2016

Anthropomorphics and Reaction

Filed under: GA — adam @ 7:09 am

“Anthropology” suggests a fixed human nature but, for that very reason, an endless oscillation between that human nature and the myriad varieties of human order, belief and practice (which is exactly what the discipline of that name actually focuses on). Once you say human nature is “x” you must, in observing the varieties of human communities, identify x1, x2, x3, etc., until someone asks whether the “x” isn’t just an essence posited a posteriori to justify the field of inquiry itself—an essence, furthermore, that contrasts in its banality with the rich variety of observed human forms. The originary hypothesis proposes a single human origin, which we can sketch out as universally shared human characteristics: there is always mimesis and therefore rivalry, and therefore the possibility or reality of mimetic crisis, and, finally, therefore, signification as the deferral of the violence consequent upon that crisis. You could call this a “nature,” if you like, but since these elements of the human are only manifested in events, and therefore in differing proportions and forms, no human nature can be abstracted from the historical emergence of social forms. We are always trying to retrieve and restore some form of the originary sign, but since such attempts cannot be anticipated, any delineation of an abstract “Anthropos,” or logic of the human, will be obsolete in its utterance.

“Anthropomorphics,” then, suggests an ongoing transformation of the human, a dialectical movement of distancing from and retrieval of the origin. Even more, though, it suggests a reciprocal endowment of “humanity” by humans in their interrelations, rather than interaction between already fixed and defined beings. In an analysis I have had much recourse to lately, Eric Gans, in The End of Culture, shows that while the ritual form in which the originary event is commemorated is pre-verbal and exceeds in its “meaning” (its capacity to stabilize the community) any possibility of articulating that meaning by the community, the development of language, and myth in particular, confers upon those ritual acts and actors ever richer intentions. Those intentions derive from the accumulated interactions among members of the community and in turn become attributable to those members. If one member of the group asks another for “help” in some task, then one agent “helping” another can be retrojected to the ritual acts performed by the community (the god-ancestor “helps” the founder of the community, etc.), and then new modes of “helping” (and, perhaps, “hurting”) become imaginable in the relations between members of the community. In the process, they make each other human, or anthropomorphize each other.

The most crucial transformation in human order is that effected by the “Big Man” who, acting on his “producer’s desire,” or imagination (prevailing over the anticipated reception of a portion of what exists) disciplines himself and accumulates sufficient goods, power and the indebtedness of any other member of the community to place himself beyond any possible reciprocal gift relation. The emergence of the Big Man destroys, once and for all, the egalitarianism of the primitive community. The Big Man generates resentment, rather than just envy on the part of peers, because he doesn’t just have things that others want but sets the terms of communal interactions. The Big Man occupies the center that was originally occupied by the shared object of desire, consumption, ritual and ancestry. There will always be those who want to displace the Big Man, those who attribute to the Big Man the capacity and therefore the refusal to settle all their conflicts with others (justly, of course) in their own favor, and, at the extreme, those who want to eliminate “Big Manness” itself (and restore the egalitarian community). The successful Big Man will have to impress upon would-be rivals the foolishness of attempting any coup, without suppressing their ambitions (since they will be useful men); he will have decide when to decide upon conflicts between his subjects; when he does decide, he has to decide well and be seen to be doing so; and he must subject those who dream of a return to egalitarian relations to a judicious combination of terror, contempt and ridicule.

Those Big Men who best solve these problems will render themselves so elevated as to become unchallengeable, reputed sources of unimpeachable wisdom, and origins (founders, fathers) of the community and an inexhaustible source of gifting. The gift economy becomes radically asymmetrical: the emperor-god gives his people their sources of life, while the people in return give their obedience and sacrifices that are inevitably inadequate. The relation to the sacred is still what we could call an exchange of imperatives—tell me what to do for you—while that exchange has been thoroughly formalized and ritualized. Resentments are always already recycled through the system of sacrifice. The emperor-kings’ decisions by definition confer life upon the people, and the people’s obligations to him are prescribed in inclusive and monotonous detail. The discovery/invention by the ancient Israelites of the God whose name is the declarative sentence (I Will Be That I Will Be) must have been possible because the emperor-king ceased, shockingly, to give life, at least to some, thereby releasing resentment on an unprecedented scale. Even god-emperors come and go, their dominion has limits, so something must endure that prescribes the order of their coming and going. This God, who cannot be called upon by name to give favors commensurate with the completeness of one’s compliance with ritual prescriptions, issues what Philip Rieff saw as a sacred order founded on absolute interdictions, what we could call an “absolute imperative”: an imperative not to do this or that but to give all of oneself in the presence of the ever present God. The God who can issue such an imperative, which transcends dependence upon the worldly provisions of the emperor-god, must have given far more than those emperor-gods, which is to say everything. The imperative exchange is replaced by a declarative culture in which the voice issuing the absolute imperative is always in dialogue with you to the extent that you defer the immediate imperatives to sacrifice either the target of your resentment or some proxy.

This revelation remakes the figure of the Big Man, but not in any obvious way, as the biblical history of the ancient Israelites makes clear. The constitution of a new kind of egalitarian community beholden only to God’s law (presumably as interpreted by judges and prophets) is certainly logically consistent with the monotheistic revelation, as is the Bible’s initial hostility to the institution of monarchy. But the Bible does eventually accept the notion of a king chosen by, and ultimately obliged to and judged by, God. Part of the reason is certainly that a king who can organize the entire nation will make the people less vulnerable to surrounding monarchies. But more important is the structural relation between the absolute imperative and the sovereign who is absolute in being answerable only to God. The God who has given all, including human life itself, and to whom all—all thoughts, all fears, all hopes, all deeds—must in turn be given is intelligible as the Sovereign of the world. He has made the world and distributed it among his subjects. Insofar as God’s relation to his creations is a model for relations between those creations, an analogous sovereign-subject relation is suggested as the perfect social model. Furthermore, if we are all equal in being given all by God and being obliged to give all in return, we can only know what it means to give all by observing and emulating those we see have given more of themselves than we have. We defer to those who have given more—who have exercised higher increments of discipline—and expect them to defer in turn to those who have given more (and therefore received more) than they have. There is always someone who has given and received more than anyone, and while we can’t be sure that that is actually the person who exercises sovereignty, neither is it our place to try and prove otherwise, so the best course is to hope that everyone acting as though he who rules is that person will help him become as close as possible to being so.

The problem is that this exemplary attitude requires a high level of discipline on behalf of sovereign and subject alike, and the word of God and guardians of tradition can always be drawn upon by those who would claim that we can, in fact, know that the current ruler has no basis to be considered the chosen of God. In other words, the hermeneutic generosity upon which absolute sovereignty depends can always be rescinded. Even more: that high level of discipline must continually be raised because greater and more widely dispersed modes of discipline generate new centers of power which both derive from the sovereign and represent its limits. Those new centers of power must be incorporated, and this process of incorporation is problematic because the sovereign is dependent upon loyal participants in these new centers of power to advise regarding their incorporation. All the problems faced by the Big Man—capable rivals, disputatious subjects unsatisfied by the ruler’s judgments, and those proposing ways of “restoring” the center supposedly usurped by the Big Man/King to some prior and innate consensus that can be shared without mediation—emerge and re-emerge, precisely in proportion to the success of the sovereign in enabling the creation of civilization.

This process is the source of the unsecure sovereignty that Reactionary Future considers the prime political and moral evil. Those capable rivals draw upon phantom modes of centrality (some relation between each individual separately and some unoccupied legal, moral, administrative, or spiritual center to which some rival center of power just happens to offer access) to radicalize subjects’ complaints about the king’s judgments—they are no longer mistakes that must be tolerated and that we are anyway unequipped to judge and therefore may not be mistakes after all but our own contumacy, but inherent in a system that has usurped the subject’s real relation to God, or Nature, or his own Human Nature. This process of unsecuring sovereignty is a process of anthropomorphosis, as we are all compelled to attribute intentions of usurpation, subversion and domination to everyone else (except, perhaps, for that one who pulled aside the “veil” for us, to whom we owe unconditional devotion). Now, the continuance of absolute sovereignty also requires anthropomorphosis, as new modes of discipline require new attributions of intention, to both sovereign and subject alike. The sovereign must be imagined as someone capable of deferring and deterring conflicts through means unimaginable to the rest of us, including his ongoing dialogue with God; while subjects must be imagined of being capable of acknowledging the sovereign’s contributions to their ever richer and more complex lives, along with a system of deferences to variously defined superiors in various fields and situations. Our deferences require that we continually supply intentions to those whose discipline we acknowledge as models—they have our and others welfare in mind in ways that we strive to understand. A corollary to the maxim that sovereignty is conserved is the maxim that the space of sovereignty must be saturated: if we cannot attribute the consequences of the acts that undergird our lives to those duly appointed to carry them out we will attribute them to more or less hidden rulers; the more unsecure the power, the more devious, menacing, cruel and omnipresent those powers must be. While certain patterns emerge—the Jews seem to be a particularly popular candidate for the hidden rulers—and certain attributions may be more or less accurate than others, no consensus can possibly be formed regarding the “real” rulers, as different factions attribute more and more inventive and implausible modes of domination to each other.

Reactionary politics, then, is a kind of anthropomorphics: it reads all forms of discontent, all forms of “mythmaking,” all narratives of resentment towards some overbearing usurper of our power, as manifestations of resentment towards unsecure power. Ultimately, our real resentment towards the Big Man regards his failure or refusal to align our realities with our own understanding of our just place within them. He is weak, manipulated, or simply not the “real” ruler. Complaints of the sovereign’s cruelty are complaints that his cruelty is not deployed in our favor, which diminishes his sovereignty. All kinds of quasi-mythical political figures are created to account for this. If these resentments are not met with demonstrations of secure power, they create the unsecure power they complain of. Along with exposing these resentments of unsecured power, reactionary politics articulates the kind of secure power those complaints are really demanding. What kind of power would the state have to have to do what you want done? For it to have that kind of power, what hierarchy of effective command would have to be in place—and how would the sovereign have to act upon and frame all other power centers so as to put and keep it in place? Finally, if the state had those power centers so aligned, what would it actually do? Probably not exactly what you wanted, after all—which means that you are not sovereign over your own desires and resentments. Promoting such an anthropomorphics, a study of the conversions needed to promote sovereignty over desires and resentments by desiring secure sovereignty and resenting the actors who further unsecure it, is the work of reactionary political theory.

Sovereignty is always conserved, but that does not mean sovereignty remains in the same hands from moment to moment. Unsecure sovereignty means divided powers, who will ultimately be pitted against each other, but it also means that one of those powers rules here and now, another then and there. Sometimes the Supreme Court is sovereign, sometimes the President. Sometimes, perhaps, Harvard. This is the source of resentment. But the conservation of sovereignty also implies that each and every one of us, in his daily tasks, is somewhere in the chain of command issuing from one site of sovereignty or another. We are sovereign over some small portion of those daily tasks, which is why we can resent failures of sovereignty on larger scales. The teacher who exercises sovereignty in the classroom knows whether the students have learned something as a result of his efforts, so he can know what it means for there to be no discernable connections between efforts and results. Complaints regarding the insecurity of sovereignty derive from the model of those areas where the complainant exercises some sovereignty of his own. The problem of political thinking is to scale up the self-discipline we practice so as to exercise sovereignty where we can. Or, rather, the problem of political education is showing others how to do so. If reactionary absolutism is right, such efforts at scaling up will make absolute sovereignty, sovereignty derived from the absolute imperative (a function of one’s efforts to see beyond the constraints imposed by one’s desires and resentments), ever more persuasive. We will find that those who unsecure power at the highest levels do so at intermediate and lower levels as well, so that anyone interested in sovereignty of any kind, anywhere (in the family, at the workplace, on the street, in the marketplace, etc.) must feel it and resent it.

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