Autopolitical Asphyxiation

The Prudentialist

The Prudentialist

Observing the world from a dissident and realist perspective. Musings on culture, politics, and international relations.

Recently I took the time to read N.S. Lyons’ article in City Journal about the bugaboo of counterculture and the “new right.” It’s quite a good article, and I highly recommend that you read it. It covers much of what has recently been reported on, from James Pogue’s article in Vanity Fair that has spurred so much attention, to the New York Times putting a call for someone to be a beat reporter for this online right space that has gotten so much attention as of late.

There are a few sections of the article I think are worth pointing out for discussion, because I fear in these cultural hubs that have normally been the epicenter of art house liberalism, maybe nothing more than just trends. Today’s post will hopefully highlight some concerns of the aesthetics of the “New Right” or “dimes square conservativism” that has gotten so much attention. It is great that these parts of America’s cultural regime are taking an interest into reactionary and heterodox ideas, however it must be pointed out that this may be nothing more than a flash in a pan moment of experimenting in something new and transgressive before moving onto the next hip thing and the New Right is dead in the water.

To preface the rest of the article before I go any further with this post is that I am not “in” the in crowd. I don’t live in NYC, Austin, or San Francisco. I don’t get any special money from any eclectic billionaires, and I’m quite skeptical of those who have no relation to right that lives in flyover country. This isn’t a reply to Pogue or Lyons, but the zeitgeist, which has behooved me to write this short post.

At the beginning of the piece, regarding Mr. Pogue’s Vanity Fair article, we are given the board as it currently stands, and what is going on here in the adjacent-to-the-mainstream US political scene.

That last bit about the demographics of this so-called New Right may have been what got the Times’s attention. But Pogue had even more striking news: these dissidents, he wrote, had established “a position that has become quietly edgy and cool in new tech outposts like Miami and Austin, and in downtown Manhattan, where New Right–ish politics are in, and signifiers like a demure cross necklace have become markers of a transgressive chic.” This may have been the most alarming news of all for the paper of record: somehow, traditionalist right-wing conservatism had perhaps become cool.

I can recall on numerous occasions since my irl political involvement back in 2014 that “conservatism is the new punk” or that being “right wing is the new counterculture” even from mainstream GOP apparatchiks and college republicans. Anecdotal as this may be, it was certainly talked about by the now-arch nemesis of today’s right wing, The National Review.

Lyons asks the key question, and this is where I’d certainly like to expand on my own thoughts from here. He writes:

Is it true—and if so, how is it possible? For at least a century, the Left has held a firm monopoly on “transgressive chic,” profitably waging a countercultural guerilla war against society’s hegemonic status quo. For the Right to capture some of the Left’s youthful energy and rebellious cachet would represent a tectonic cultural and political shift. We shouldn’t be shocked if it happens.

We should be shocked, quite frankly.

The Left’s Monopoly

The left’s monopoly on being “transgressive” and fighting against the norm is their de facto state of nature. Dialectics continuously create room for power because it is more time to discuss and deconstruct the ongoing narratives. While the alternative being offered by traditional Christianity (especially “Weird Catholic Twitter”) and exposure to reactionary writings and blogs certainly has an appeal, it cannot outpace or outrun the funding of the existing transgressive nature of the left. Even now as the right’s famous concern of what comes next being dismissed as the “slippery slope” we’ve got drag queen story hour and child castration in the name of transgender rights, going far beyond even the most milquetoast warnings of what would come after Obergefell in 2015.

Even now their monopoly on transgressive chic, while being clearly sponsored by hedge funds, banks, and other larger companies, still has its staying power. From dismantling the gender binary to the erasure of traditional European history, what is transgressive for the left is explicitly against what is White, Heteronormative, and Patriarchal. Nothing new under the sun, but when it’s subsidized and found in almost every facet of mainstream media, it will be there for sometime. Institutional Control does not care about how many times you depict them as demons and soyjaks, because odds are you’ll eventually respawn your twitter account for the 8th time asking for assistance to “help you find your frens.”

This is not to discount the work that is being done, and I will not be so cynical or dismissive of what’s being done, but know that there is more work to do be done in this regard. What Lyons and Pogue have accurately pointed out is that these things are happening in normally left leaning or progressive areas of America’s elite settings of capital and technology. Austin, New York, and San Francisco, places that have been the epicenter of someone’s cringe compilation. This, of course, is why so much attention, the Eye of Sauron from the Paper of Record, is being put into this, but I do worry how much this is nothing more than their own transgressive version of getting their ideological rocks off. However, the monopoly stands strong that the culture against those who resist will give the left even greater monopolistic control over body politic.

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From “punch a nazi” to “getting fired over donating to Kyle Rittenhouse’s legal funds” it exists all over. To transgress over civil society, the mystery cult of power offers power in the most raw way possible, being able to identify and ideologically peg your enemies.

After all, what does the right have in response to we can find the fact giant prosthetic breasts on a Canadian shop teacher, or deal with this kind of exhibitionist chicanery in their workplace? Hanging trans soyjaks aside, thankfully the answer so far has moved towards “state power” but there is more culturally that needs to be done as well.

Culture is downstream from power. If America had some kind of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson type running things out of CNN, Blackrock, and the WH Press Corps, things would be a lot different, no? But when the great silent majority is whittled down to being a loud vocal minority, it becomes easier to target them.

Politics as Kink

The right’s meme game, the ability to ratio journalists on twitter, form an N-Tower in the replies to the official Nutter Butter account, and the lindy/ever-present nature of gigachad is that it’s just plain fucking fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love to engage in shitposting (too many people seem to think I’m being serious when I do) and the cavalcade of apustajas on my timeline is often a welcome sight that I’m in friendly territory. However, it becomes easy to tell when one is there for the aesthetics and memes and not much else. This digital escapism, being deracinated from local problems allows one to enter twitter or forums to just say whatever they hell they want, no matter how inane it may be in order to be heard or to score on someone they don’t like happens often. It’s alluring, it has a certain kink to it.

Lyons makes a similar observation.

Humor is similarly something that today’s hectoring class can’t quite produce. Real humor tends to play off the ironic gap between expectation and reality, or between the social pretense of propriety and the obvious. Satire, in particular, is a form of transgression that points out the falsities of illegitimate authority.

However, as satirical as we can write, shitpost as we may, it helps in identifying friend or foe, but not much outside of cracking the ideological walls and pressures of being socially accepted. I love Zero HP Lovecraft’s The Green New Deal short story, satirizing left accelerationism, and while it clearly points out the obvious nature of the western death cult that is “going green”, one is inclined to note our collective voices and such do little against the powers that be. Perhaps this recruiting of potential elites (which I know Curtis Yarvin has been working on, they’re his people) may change that I have some concerns.

While speaking as an outsider, I fear that this may be nothing but a reactionary kitsch that offers nothing more than an alternative to the misery of the transgressive social mores of the left. As the Left has moved to uproot and remove everything from what makes culture tied to a people and nation, a deculturated people look an exit. In “Deculturation” by Thurston Botz-Borstein, we find ourselves constantly looking for alternative aesthetic vision to the current deculturated landscape, here is where one can find kitsch. It is in this where we find our current political imagery, from fashwave to frogs right wing kitsch is born.

Lyons writes:

Moreover, young people living under the permanent revolution of today’s cultural mainstream often tend to be miserable. Their disillusionment opens the door to subversive second thoughts on such verities as the bulldozing of sexual and gender norms, the replacement of romance by a Tinder hellscape, general atomized rootlessness, working life that resembles neo-feudal serfdom, and the enervating meaninglessness of consumerism and mass media. In this environment, the most countercultural act is to embrace traditional values and ways of life—like the vogue among some young people for the Latin Mass. We shouldn’t be too surprised if at least a subset of those youth seeking to rebel against the Man might, say, choose to tune in to Jordan Peterson, turn on to a latent thirst for objective truth and beauty, and drop out of the postmodern Left.

The postmodern left has a place for midwits and average joes, even their leading academics charging the barricades to dismantle everything for their own power and slice of attention are midwits. Whether it’s Anti-Racist Baby, The 1619 Project, or Transgender Children’s Books, their authors are morons by any objective scale. If you think otherwise, I have a beachfront property in Crimea to sell you. However it would serve this emerging “new right” or “deep right” to be treating holiness or the works of antiquity as nothing more than what black lipstick or a choker does for some shitlibs in universities and in the office. God doesn’t like it when you play pretend, especially for those who write about a peaceful transition of power out of the hands of our current elite and regime.

Taking Your own Breath Away

Lyons himself highlights some of my own concerns, such as the need for a counter-elite, how personnel are policy, and the need for actual educated well-to-dos to be your people rather than your enemies. However, near the end of the article, Lyons reaches his conclusion on a rather optimistic note.

Privileged young pretend-Catholics in downtown Manhattan might be unlikely themselves to become this counter-elite, but we can think of them as pioneers, reacting to and amplifying the same forces in the zeitgeist that may induce others to join the new counterculture. And, in doing so, they may open a gateway to subvert and perhaps, in time, seize a beachhead of cultural power from within society’s elite class.

Become this counter-elite? Most likely not, pioneers? Maybe. What time and time again concerns me is that how, in a world where people like Yarvin and his patrons view themselves like Coriolanus and red staters like myself as the Volscians (at least according to his own Shakespearean analogy) then the great question of politics comes to pass, can they rule over people that have long been kicked around as the butt of the joke? Those detestable red state Americans with their guns and religion, can they offer an alternative that doesn’t alienate their culture or norms the political and cultural war of the left has waged against?

As click-baity as the title of this article is, my greater concern with this emerging “art right” or “new right” in general is the political transgressive nature of it all. While these art shows, conferences, and recruitment lead to something that can change the tide of things? Or will it snuff out its own oxygen supply as the fad runs dry and things just don’t hit the same? It is easy to be allured by the alternative vision of traditional Catholicism and Latin mass, or quoting Burnham at a house party, but if it leads to nothing more than just another club or subculture, then this may very well lead into the oxygen being snuffed out of any potential movement. The potential shouldn’t end up like David Carradine.

Only Time Will Tell

Perhaps I am jumping the gun on this, and if I am proven to be wrong, then I would rejoice if things change in the right direction. After all, as I’ve learned from those who are in more entrenched political spaces with far more influence than I’ll ever wield have pointed out, this space of the internet is being listened to.

A cultural break within what Pogue described as “America’s young and well-educated elite” would present a direct threat to the Left’s monolithic institutional power, one far greater than even the mass populist revolts that have thus far caused them such anxiety.

Lyons is right, it certainly would, but to get off on the transgressive thrill of reactionary kitsch rather than institutional capture is one that I fear may happen. I am certainly a member of the commentarial class, although I certainly would like to be more. An ambition I cannot hide but I am aware of my desire to mean more without being worthy of it. A concern I find fair on my end, but if I can acknowledge it, then I hope that those recruiting, and offering an alternative vision for the nation, better have that in mind too. It shouldn’t be a battle of our midwits versus their midwits, something I think we’ve safely avoided so far, but caution is certainly necessary as they make advances in this countercultural allure and battle.

After all, if you’re gonna get off on politics, maybe don’t have the belt around your neck too tight before you go? 

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