Key Thinkers of the Radical Right: Behind the New Threat to Liberal Democracy

Greg Johnson’s review.

Here are excerpts from this new book:

* Terms such as “Fascism” and “neo-Nazism” are also widely used but refer to political parties that rose and fell in historical circumstances very different from today’s, and so have limited value in a contemporary context. Nazi symbolism may sometimes be used for its countercultural shock value, but there is no serious movement to reestablish the Nazi Party, and it is hard to imagine what real neo-Nazism would look like. Among contemporary thinkers of the radical Right, only one of any importance (Greg Johnson) expresses any sympathy for Nazism.

* Biographical details are scant, though one can trace an outline of [Greg] Johnson’s early intellectual trajectory through various published interviews. His father was a staunch Democrat and union member. Born in 1971, Johnson gravitated toward libertarianism in high school, imbibing the work of Ayn Rand as a college freshman: “I was a bit of a boy Objectivist . . . for a couple of years because of that,” he recalled. Interested in philosophy, his reading propelled him beyond Rand toward paleoconservatism and, ultimately, white nationalism. Johnson was “somewhat pro-Zionist” in his early twenties, and despite admiring the ideas of Leo Strauss in graduate school, increasingly perceived a “definite Jewish bias” in neoconservatism, becoming, he recalled, “more keyed into the Jewish slant on things.” Johnson’s increasingly anti-Jewish Weltanschauung crystallized after encountering the controversy surrounding Heidegger’s National Socialism. For Johnson, this “really called forth a lot of rhetorical thuggery . . . on the part of Jewish commentators, and it just didn’t sit well with me.” Having argued with Jewish graduate students about this, Johnson subsequently evoked a parallel between his own anti-Semitic acculturation and that undergone by Hitler. Relating the passage from Mein Kampf in which the future Führer claims to have spent hours debating and, he believed, demolishing the arguments of Viennese Jewish socialists only to see them carry on regardless, impervious to his logic, Johnson stated: “That’s when I knew this guy [Hitler] was telling the truth. That was so powerful. I’d seen that with my own eyes.”3

* After studying for a philosophy PhD,7 Johnson moved to Atlanta, Georgia. In late 1999 or early 2000 a chance meeting with Joshua Buckley, a former skinhead who subsequently edited Tyr8 (a radical Traditionalist, neopagan journal devoted to “Myth–Culture–Tradition”) proved pivotal: “Not just eye-opening, world-opening.” So fortified, Johnson took the plunge, transitioning from private intellectualizing to political engagement. His first step was attending a lecture given by the British Holocaust denier David Irving in September 2000.9 Thereafter Johnson immersed himself in radical Right political and cultural publishing, an activity from which he now makes his living.10 In late 2000, Johnson began to think about creating a metapolitical journal to advance white nationalist politics, but he considered this need fulfilled with the establishment in 2001 by the Charles Martel Society of The Occidental Quarterly (TOQ), a white nationalist periodical offering “Western Perspectives on Man, Culture, and Politics.”11 He became TOQ’s editor in 2007, establishing the journal’s online presence, TOQ Online, together with Michael J. Polignano, who, as a student, had achieved some notoriety for defending racial genetic difference in Emory Wheel, Emory University’s student newspaper.

* Having departed acrimoniously from the editorship of TOQ in April 2010,13 Johnson and Polignano cofounded Counter-Currents.14 Despite the personal rancor accompanying his departure from TOQ, Johnson acknowledges that his current venture represents a continuation of this intellectual initiative.15 Johnson originally intended Counter-Currents to become a major voice for European New Right thought in North America, publishing English translations of work by the French New Right ideologues Alain de Benoist and Guillaume Faye…

* The Counter-Currents website, the fulcrum of Johnson’s activities, provides a platform for a sustained intellectual assault on liberal social democracy and those values embodied by Christianity and liberalism, which are to be replaced by “a new moral hierarchy” (or the return to a “traditional” one) that “prizes the striving of life for differentiation, struggle and excellence.”

* When they met in 2001, Pierce told Johnson that while abandoning academia had been painful—he had a PhD in physics—nothing compared to the freedom of speaking the “truth” as he saw it. “If Pierce had never said those words, I may never have founded Counter-Currents,” Johnson states. “In that sense, at least, I am a follower of William Pierce.”

[Greg says that reading Kevin MacDonald made him a white nationalist.]

* Therefore, Johnson’s ability to assimilate, articulate, synthesize, and critique this broad range of white nationalist positions, to popularize and intellectualize them, combined with his commitment to cultural struggle through the rearticulation of “high” ’ and “low” culture in support of such propositions, places him in the vanguard of a new generation of white nationalist intellectuals—even though his sympathy for National Socialism and overt anti-Semitism sets him apart from many of them.

* Spencer’s Alt Right is not merely conservative. In their desire to smash liberalism, administrative equality, multiculturalism, and capitalism, as well as create ethnically homogeneous “homelands,” Spencer’s Alt Right is indeed revolutionary. This point is corroborated by George Hawley, author of Making Sense of the Alt-Right, who argues that, unlike mainstream conservatives, the Alt Right conceives of the immigration issue through a racial lens based on a core defense of white identity; rejects two sacred American values, values, namely, equality and liberty; and wants to, at minimum, end mass immigration to the US.

* In contrast to parliamentary politics and extraparliamentary violence, Spencer’s focus on the cultural realm makes his thought far more threatening for the system and highlights the important evolution of the radical Right on both sides of the Atlantic. That is, the radical Right understands that in an antifascist, antiracist, and anticolonial epoch, conspicuous displays of violence, support for colonialism, or overtly racist language are not acceptable. As Spencer stated, “We have to look good” because few would want to join a movement that is “crazed or ugly or vicious or just stupid.”

* Spencer is more known for his YouTube videos, tweets, television and newspaper interviews, and university speaking engagements than for any substantive body of intellectual work. In this respect, he differs from de Benoist, the intellectual leader of the French New Right, who won the prestigious Académie française prize in 1978 for his Seen from the Right (Vu de droite).21 What defines Spencer is not his writings but his oratorical skills and his ability to use social media to communicate messages of racial solidarity and white, nationalist identity to larger and mainstream audiences.

* In Schmitt, Spencer sees a thinker who hated parliamentary debate and democracy, a supporter of a state that was decisive and violent, and a champion of the ultranationalist cause. “Politics is inherently brutal” and “the state is crystallized violence,”32 insists Spencer, echoing Schmitt. Spencer also cites other Conservative Revolution thinkers, including Oswald Spengler and Ernst Jünger. In addition, Spencer is influenced by more overt fascists such as Evola, Yukio Mishima, and Francis Parker Yockey. With both the fascists and Conservative Revolution thinkers, Spencer plays a clever double game: openly rejecting violence but simultaneously legitimizing thinkers that promote violence, racism, anti-Semitism, and the rejection of liberal, parliamentary politics.

* Like whites, Jews should have their own ethnostate (Israel). In one interview for an Israeli television station, Spencer shockingly called himself a Zionist.42 Despite his anti-Semitism, Spencer also supports a “sort of white Zionism,” that would inspire “dispossessed” whites with the dream of such a homeland in a way that Zionism helped push for the establishment of Israel.43 Finally, Spencer holds that Jews should not be part of the body politic because they are a different race—a position Taylor rejects.

* Spencer is the leading communicator of the Alt Right message rather than its leading intellectual. What the Alt Right wants was neatly summarized by Greg Johnson: the implementation of Old Right ideals but through new right tactics and strategy.50 As the “Alt-Right manifesto” showed, Spencer’s obsession with race and Jews repeats central Old Right ideals. The rejection of violence, genocide, colonialism, and totalitarianism, and the focus on metapolitics, and global cultural ethnopluralism, are New Right tactics. Spencer’s intellectual influences are both Old Right—including numerous fascists—and New Right.

* It is clear that Spencer has found his niche as the Alt Right provocateur and media spokesman. The mass media are lining up to interview him, and university students are listening to his message. He is the vanguard of an alternative elite that will supposedly defeat liberal multiculturalism and turn the US into white ethnostates. In order to be successful, he will need to convert his predominantly online and anonymous Alt Right into a more organized white nationalist movement, which rubs shoulders with leading political elites in Washington and makes inroads with the masses of white Americans.

* samuel jared taylor—who prefers to go by his middle name, Jared—was born in 1951 in Kobe, Japan, to Christian missionary parents from Virginia, Virginia, and who instilled in their son the Christian ideal that all human beings are equally children of God. He attended all-Japanese schools throughout most of his childhood and early adolescence, where he learned to speak Japanese like a native. He would subsequently earn much of his living as a Japan expert, translator, and consultant to international corporations wanting to do business in the land of his birth.

After attending Yale University, where he obtained a BA in 1973 with a major in philosophy, Taylor spent three years in France, getting an MA degree in international economics from the Paris Institute of Political Studies. During what he calls a brief “vagabond” period that interrupted both his undergraduate and later graduate college years, he traveled extensively in West Africa learning about its people and improving his French in Francophone regions of the continent. He is said to speak excellent French. In the 1980s Taylor was the West Coast editor for PC Magazine and worked as a business and finance consultant.1 Between 1978 and 1981 he worked as an international banker for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York City. One could hardly imagine a background more likely to turn a young man into a liberal, internationalist, cosmopolitan, and defender of a globalist perspective.

Sometime in his early thirties, however, Taylor began to reassess the cosmopolitan and liberal internationalist viewpoint that so many of the people around him professed and that he had absorbed without serious reflection. We may all be children of God, and learning about cultures and peoples different from one’s own can be life enriching, but Taylor came to believe that a stubborn fact of human nature is that human beings are tribal in their feelings and associations…

* While he believes Europeans may have a larger proportion of creative geniuses than Asians (for reasons not entirely understood), he insists that they are clearly not the smartest people on the planet in terms of what the psychometricians call “g” or general intelligence. The rapid advance of Asian American students at the most selective US universities, Taylor believes, partially reflects this superiority. “I think Asians are objectively superior to whites by just about any measure that you can come up with in terms of what are the ingredients for a successful society,” he once said in an interview.18 Taylor also seems to believe—although he hasn’t spoken about this nearly as much as he has spoken about Asians—that the Ashkenazic Jews stand at the top of the intelligence pecking order, above both whites and Northern Asians. All of the academic psychologists who have influenced his thinking report the IQs of the Ashkenazim above that of any other ethnic group and believe superior intelligence explains the outstanding Jewish achievement achievement in such cognitively demanding fields as mathematics, physics, economics, chess, and a host of natural sciences.19

The relationship of Taylor’s American Renaissance group to Jews is in some ways atypical of other white advocacy groups in America, including other primarily intellectual organizations like Greg Johnson’s Counter-Currents and Kevin MacDonald’s Occidental Quarterly. Taylor welcomes Jews to his organization, has had several Jewish speakers at American Renaissance conventions, and seems genuinely to like Jews on a personal level. Taylor would surely like to see more Jews, at least European Jews, join the ranks of supporters of American Renaissance. While he regrets the fact that so many American Jews are hostile to the white identitarian views he espouses, he believes Jews can be won over and could become powerful allies.20

His embrace of Jews has led to tensions within his white-identity movement since it includes at least some people openly hostile to Jews and to the pernicious effect they claim Jews have had on white interests in America. For what seems like tactical reasons, Taylor has sought neither to officially welcome, censure, nor expel from his movement those openly espousing anti-Semitic viewpoints. Such a neutral stance, however, has not always produced the group harmony Taylor clearly desires. At one American Renaissance convention, an open clash erupted between David Duke, an avowed enemy of Jews and their influence in America, and Michael Hart, a Jewish astrophysicist who shares many of Taylor’s views on race and American society.

* Taylor is consistent in his thinking on this in that, unlike defenders of the Old South, he believes government-mandated segregation laws were unjust: with freedom, people will tend to harmoniously self-segregate on their own, he believes. He sees laws prohibiting interracial marriage, which almost all southern states retained until they were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967, as patently unjust. Taylor thus combines with his white racial advocacy strong elements of traditional “values conservatism” and classical liberal understandings of individual associational rights.

* The main thesis in Gottfried’s work is that all modern political ideas have become unmoored from their historical settings.

* …Gottfried’s wider but unspoken belief is that liberalism is an authoritarian ideology not content to remain within the borders of politics as it seeks to become a permanent and undisputed civil religion.

* Gottfried’s association with the Alt Right was more of a stepping-stone for Spencer than it was an end point for Gottfried. Spencer found himself at odds with several mainstream conservative organizations before meeting Gottfried and attending H. L. Mencken Club meetings… 55 Jacob Siegel’s November 2016 Tablet article linked Gottfried directly to Spencer as his mentor, but this seems to be a nefarious claim as Spencer was never a student of Gottfried.56 In fact, Gottfried reports that Spencer stopped attending H. L. Mencken Club meetings in favor of creating his own organizations such as The National Policy Institute and Washington Summit Publishers. Spencer stopped attending the meetings of his H. L. Mencken Club years before his reputation garnered national attention, according to Gottfried.

* Gottfried has the rare ability to write a well-respected monograph, and then change tone and publish polemics on the level of H. L. Mencken. It is the combination of both abilities that Gottfried has returned conservatism from its Cold War manifestations back to the Right where skepticism and disillusionment with late modernity are the only two principles worth maintaining.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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