Conan the Barbarian, A Favorite Meme for Bronze Age Pervert
"Hail Trump! Hail Our People! Hail Victory!"
That was the famous exclamation of Richard Spencer at a gathering of the Alt-Right in Washington, DC, shortly after Donald Trump's election victory in November of 2016. Some of the people in the audience raised their hands in the Nazi salute. A few days later, in an interview with the New York Times, Trump was asked about his Neo-Nazi Alt-Right supporters, and he was forced to say "I disavow the Alt-Right."
In August of 2017, Spencer and other Alt-Right leaders organized the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they protested the decision to take down the statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Park in Charlottesville. Participants marched while chanting Neo-Nazi and white supremacist slogans and displaying Alt-Right symbols. They were challenged by counter-protestors, and the clash between the two groups became violent. A white supremacist at the rally--James Alex Fields--drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors and killed a young woman--Heather Heyer--and injured 20 other people. He was later convicted of first degree murder.
When Trump was asked to condemn the Alt-Right rally in Charlottesville, he said there were "fine people on both sides," which was ambiguous in a way that suggested he was refusing to condemn his Alt-Right supporters. As a result, some of his leading supporters began to admit that they were wrong to vote for him. For example, Julius Krein--the organizer of the pro-Trump blog the Journal of American Greatness and the editor of the quarterly journal American Affairs--wrote an article for the New York Times entitled "I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It."
As a consequence of this controversy, the Alt-Right continues to support Trump, but many of their leaders now say they need to be cautious in their public statements, so that they do not openly speak about their ultimate aim of promoting cultural and political fascism, because this will be unpopular, and it will weaken Trump's position. They now have a new strategy. In the short run, they will be part of Trump's populist movement, but without publicizing their fascist beliefs. In the long run, however, they will work for Trump as paving the way for a fascist military ruler who will overturn liberal democracy and create a right-wing military dictatorship.
This new Alt-Right strategy is evident in the writing of Bronze Age Pervert (BAP), the pseudonym for a popular Twitter writer who has written the book Bronze Age Mindset, a self-published book that has become a bestseller at Amazon. There are rumors that this book is being read by people in the Trump White House, and that BAP might himself be a White House staffer. The book is certainly being studied by the intellectual defenders of Trump, such as Michael Anton, who wrote a long essay on the book in the Claremont Review of Books. Claremont's blog--The American Mind--has published a series of essays on Bronze Age Mindset, including an essay by BAP himself responding to Anton's review.
Previously, I have written about the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche in Alt-Right thinking, and one can see that here, because Nietzsche is the one author mentioned most often in BAP's book. But I see BAP as confirming my argument in my previous post on the Alt-Right Nietzscheans--that they draw their ideas from the early and late writings of Nietzsche promoting his Dionysian Aristocratic Radicalism, while ignoring Nietzsche's Darwinian Aristocratic Liberalism in his middle writings (particularly, Human, All Too Human). Consequently, BAP does not see how his Nietzschean fascism is refuted by Nietzschean liberalism.
BAP's thinking has been shaped by Nietzsche's teaching about the will to power and the Superman (Ubermensch). All living beings express the will to power by seeking to expand their mastery over the circumstances of their existence, and the Superman is the supreme expression of that will to power.
In Part One of his book--"The Flame of Life"--BAP calls this the "struggle for space," which is his answer to the question of the purpose of life.
"A healthy animal not under distress, not maimed, not trapped by man, seeks first when young: space. Animal seeks space in physical sense, territory. But this meaning isn't crudely physical, I give this as vivid image which is true for many animals that seek ownership of concrete territory. But more generally you must take it to mean something else, space to develop inborn powers. . . . You must learn to see the secret language of nature and what it drives at: there is one path that drives for the production of a supreme specimen. It is the path that governs higher life; survival and reproduction are only side effects of this path. Life is at most basic, struggle for ownership of space" (24-25).Most human beings--BAP calls them "bugmen"--live only for the preservation and expansion of mere life. But a few real men--the men of power--seek the exaltation of life as expressed in youthful beautiful bodies and the strength and courage of adventurous achievements, particularly in war. These real men were celebrated in Bronze Age societies as heroic warriors.
"Among the Greeks the man of power was called aner, who was different from the other word used, anthropos, which referred just to some shadow-being, indistinct, some kind of humanoid shape. The real man was rare, and most males were not and are not real men! The word in beginning was used only for demigods and superhumans like Achilles or Diomedes or Odysseus. . . . These peoples saw the vigor of youth as the true driving force behind life and behind all things, forever renewing itself reincarnating itself anew in each generation. . . . In same way when I poast physiques of beautiful and handsome youths I do so because in contemplating them I am filled with a deep calm and joy--I see in them the persistent rejuvenation of this same eternal force that is inside all things. I see in this force the hidden design and intention of nature, its reaching beyond itself. . . . I have no doubt that the gods, if they exist, would look only like perfected and improved versions of beautiful physiques of young men, just like they showed themselves to the Greek oracles in dreams. . . . If you want to understand the true power of aion, of the eternal youthful energy that is the universe, you must study what remains from Heraclitus when he uses this word, and how he connects it to the idea of fire that is the essence of all things and all action. And he is very right when he says, 'The best desire one thing above all, ever-flowing eternal fame among mortals; but the many glut themselves like cattle.' This is what I believe in" (59-61).(You can see here BAP's unusual style of writing--misspelled words, words dropped out, no rules of punctuation--an internet pidgin language or what Anton says appears to be "a simplified pastiche of Friedrich Nietzsche written by an ESL-middle-school-message-board troll.")
BAP sees the separation between aner and anthropos as manifesting a natural hierarchy of human types. A few young men with beautiful bodies who are aggressively courageous in asserting their mastery over others in war and war-like competition for dominance are the highest expressions of human excellence. By contrast, the great majority of human beings--the bugmen--strive only for survival and reproduction, and they find security in obedience to the few powerful men who rule over them. Thus the fundamental fact of nature is inequality.
Modern science--and particularly, biology--helps us to see this natural inequality. "Science is a great tool because it can uncover for us the biological conditions of all life and the relationships between types of life. It can, as Nietzsche predicted, settle the question of the true hierarchy of values, or more precisely, the real ladder of life, the true hierarchy of biological types" (42).
There are at least three or four biological types. In addition to the many bugmen and the few real men, there is a degraded elite of those BAP calls the "lords of lies" or "owners" who rule over the Iron Prison by constraining the space for everyone one. These elite rulers are hidden. We don't know their names. Those whom the people identify as their rulers are only managers and ultimately enslaved to the system of the Iron Prison.
Throughout history, most of the time, BAP believes, the naturally lower human types have ruled in a way that has suppressed the aggressive spiritedness of those young males who are the highest human type. But in the historical cycle of cultures, the degraded societies will eventually collapse, and the young male warriors will assert their superiority as the only truly free men. We will see "the emergence of brotherhoods of savage men who have decided to purify the earth and rid it of the infestation of the human-cockroach" (51).
I must say, however, that after struggling to understand BAP's book, looking for ideas worthy of being taken seriously, I have concluded that there's nothing here but incoherent nonsense. I'll point to seven points where I find his book confusing, with the hope that other readers of the book might help to clear up my confusion.
1. IS MILITARY RULE (OR THE ETHNOSTATE) THE ONLY RIGHT FORM OF GOVERNMENT?
In response to Anton's attempt to engage him in a debate over the best form of government, BAP says that's beside the point: "If my book doesn't speak about forms of government, it is because that's not its intention, nor my aim right now."
That's not true, because BAP clearly declares in his book that "the only right government is military government," and "the military form of government is natural to human species" (112-13, 177). "In nature the vital part of mankind would rule and in the beginnings of many societies it does: military brotherhoods of men rule, and physical force as well as force of personality, charisma, draw the rest in an orbit around those who possess these in the highest degree. This is all by a natural and secret pull, by instinct" (164).
He says that "democracy is the final cause of all the political problems I describe here," and "the Constitution, the ideology, the doctrine of rights, is all so much nonsense" (155). Democracy will need to be abolished, which will happen when Trump is replaced by a military dictator--a new Napoleon (169-70, 189).
BAP says that one of his favorite military dictators is Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled over Paraguay from 1954 to 1989 (113). Throughout his rule, Stroessner declared a state of siege so that he could suspend all civil liberties. He was responsible for murdering thousands of people and imprisoning and torturing many others. It is said that he enjoyed listening by telephone to the screams of the people being tortured in his prisons. Wow! Now there's a real aner!
In a few passages of his book, BAP suggests that the best form of government is not just any kind of military dictatorship but military rule over an "ethnostate." He recommends that his readers should study the idea of the ethnostate as a guide for their "final aims," although they should be careful not to talk about this in public, because this would expose them to their enemies (171, 176).
The term ethnostate was first coined by Wilmot Robertson in his book The Ethnostate (1993), which claimed that statehood should be rooted in a homogenous racial and cultural identity. Later Richard Spencer adopted the term for the Alt-Right. In the winter of 2007, Spencer was a graduate student at Duke University taking a course on "Nietzsche's Politics" taught by Michael Gillespie in the Political Science Department. Spencer wrote a paper for that course on "Politics in the Grand Style: Nietzsche, the Judeo-Christian Legacy, and European Unification," which is available at Spencer's website. He argued that "the deeper character of the Ethno-State . . . is Nietzschean at its core." But one must see that Nietzsche was not an "ethno-nationalist." Rather, he was a Europeanist who thought that contrary to the "insanity of nationality," "Europe wants to become one" (BGE, 256). And so Nietzsche thought that "good Europeans" should look to a future unification of all of Europe into one culture, thus fulfilling what Napoleon had tried to do in his imperial conquest of Europe. This is what Spencer has defended--in effect, an expansion of the European Union into one European Ethnostate based on the European Judeo-Christian culture.
So BAP seems to have something like this in mind when he mentions the idea of the ethnostate. He also mentions a similar idea when he refers to "Eurasianism," which points to Alexander Dugin's Eurasia Party in Russia, which promotes the idea of expanding Russia into a massive Eurasian Empire based on the Russian Orthodox culture, an idea that has had some influence on Vladimir Putin.
So why does BAP hide his thinking about a military ethnostate as the best regime in his response to Anton? Is it because he doesn't want to draw attention to the craziest ideas in his book? In his book, he warns his readers that if they choose to go into political life by joining the Trump movement, they should denounce and disavow his book if they are asked about it, because "you must have an instinct for how much normies are able to take" (170).
2. A SELF-HELP BOOK?
BAP tells his readers that they must "try to live according to a Bronze Age Mindset." But then he says: "You must not misunderstand this. This is not self-help book and I can't help you with how to live" (112). He then continues giving advice about how to live: "I hope to show you that things don't need to be this way, and that you don't need to limit yourself to small things. Above all you must reach for the great aim, physical and military independence. Only the warrior is a free man."
So which is it? Is this or is this not a self-help book?
He insists: "Self-help is completely useless, and not what this book is about" (129). But then, again, like any self-help book, BAP fills his book with examples of men that his readers can imitate. For instance, he tells the story of Pedro de Alvarado, a Spanish conquistador in the New World, and he writes: "This man was a born pirate: right before his death he was planning a great expedition for the conquest of China and the Spice Islands. Alvarado was a nemesis to civilization, and this is right and good. God sends such men to chastise mankind. I want you to be like this: to listen to these instincts in you" (156).
His favorite examples for imitation are the new pirates of recent history--mercenary soldiers like Bob Denard and "Mad Mike" Hoare, who he presents as "the modern rebirth of Bronze Age vitalism" (159). Hoare died just a few weeks ago (February 2), and the obituaries have recounted his adventurous life. Soldier of Fortune magazine has some good articles on Hoare here. and here. That magazine is all about the modern world of mercenaries.
BAP advises his readers that they should join some military organization or intelligence agency to gain the professional training that they will need for becoming successful mercenaries. Is he serious about this? If so, why hasn't he himself done this? Or has he?
To be continued . . .