Playboy After Dark

Of late comes word that Playboy magazine will stop publishing nude photos of women, and will turn its focus toward being a lifestyle magazine. As a traditionalist Catholic, I suppose the correct reaction is to be happy to hear it. And yet I must admit that as a child of the 80s, this news caused me a pang of melancholy nostalgic reflection. After all, as with so many other young boys raised in the late 20th century, Playboy was the first place I ever saw a woman with her clothes off (Miss December 1983, to be specific – the delightful Miss Terry Nihen).

TerryNihenAC03

Here she is, in the most PG-rated portrait that I could find online

But more than anything else, the reaction I have is that this new strategy won’t work. The conventional wisdom is that Playboy has declined because the level of raciness found in its pages has been so thoroughly surpassed by more explicit material that it is no longer relevant. While there’s certainly some truth in that, I don’t believe that’s what’s really at the heart of Playboy’s relevance problem. The reason that becoming a lifestyle magazine won’t save Playboy is the fact that more than anything else, even more than its now-tame degree of raciness, it is the Playboy lifestyle itself that is no longer relevant.

So what exactly is the “Playboy lifestyle”? Rather than turning to the magazine itself to illustrate it, let’s have a look at Playboy’s Penthouse, a TV show starring Hugh Hefner that ran back during the Mad Men era (a revived version of the show, renamed Playboy After Dark, ran in the late 60s). It was a talk show with a somewhat unusual format – instead of a desk and a couch for interviews, it took the form of a hip, classy party happening in Hef’s swanky Chicago apartment – and you were on the guest list. The camera was your eyes and ears as Hef guided you around while mingling with all of the famous, cutting edge artists, intellectuals, and performers who had accepted Hef’s exclusive invitation. The likes of Lenny Bruce, George Plimpton, Roman Polanski, and Gore Vidal were there, along with songsters like Tony Bennett, Nat “King” Cole, or Sammy Davis, Jr. who could, with some encouragement from Hef, be persuaded to come over to the piano and favor the guests with a number or two. The decor in Hef’s pad was impeccable, and the guests so very elegant; the men in tuxedos (or at least tailored suits and ties), and the ladies in tasteful gowns from the finest designers.

Here’s a playlist of some of it:

And here’s Sammy belting out some tunes at Hef’s piano:

But Hef didn’t keep the hipness confined to his Chicago apartment, nor to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles (on the door of which is a plaque in Latin reading Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare, which translates to: “If you don’t swing, don’t ring”). No, to travel between the two (and anywhere else he pleased), he had the Playboy jet! And not just any private jet, but his own personal, customized DC-9 airliner designed to be a non-stop party in the sky, complete with its own disco, movie theater, dining room, full-service bar, photo editing station, and bathroom with stand-up shower.

All of this reflects the vision that Hef had for the Playboy lifestyle. According to the New York Times: “When Mr. Hefner created the magazine, which featured Marilyn Monroe on its debut cover in 1953, he did so to please himself. ‘If you’re a man between the ages of 18 and 80, Playboy is meant for you,’ he said in his first editor’s letter. ‘We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, [or] sex’”. Yes, the Playboy lifestyle may have been degenerate, but it was also jet-setting, cultured, and sophisticated. It was certainly avant-garde – in art, philosophy, music, and sexual morality – yet to be avant-garde in those things, it is necessary to know them in the first place. Any genuinely sophisticated person, even a degenerate sophisticate, understands that the heart of being cultured is found in cultivating the self, something that can only come of endless hours devoted to study; much of it dry, frustrating, and boring (a fact to which anyone who has actually ever read Nietzsche, or any other German philosopher for that matter, can attest). The Playboy lifestyle was aspirational, and like any aspirational lifestyle outside of the realm of fantasy movies targeted to adolescents, it required effort in order to achieve.

But to what do we as a people anymore aspire? Certainly not to real culture or sophistication. Nor either to much of anything else that requires serious effort, other than the soulless corporate drone jobs that fund our ability to spend the remainder of our existences sitting on a soft couch in front of an enormous flat-screen television set.

Of course, it didn’t have to be that way. As Fred Reed once pointed out: “The United States holds three hundred million souls, or people anyway, enjoying an historically high degree of wealth, leisure, and access to universities…. All that is needed for a truly Florentine flowering of the arts, of thought and culture, of manners, we have. Yet by most measures of cultivation, the country is a desert. A literate Florentine of the fifteenth century would regard it with horror”. And while there is a certain degree of laziness that is responsible for this, there is also the Whiggish horror of anything that smacks of genuine elitism (As opposed to the phony hipster elitism that one may attain by listening to unknown rock bands, ironically drinking lousy beer, watching the Daily Show, and reading Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn. An elitism that demands little more of its supposed elites than that they spread the right hashtags and vote for the right candidates is easily-achievable enough to remain acceptable to egalitarian, democratic sensibilities). This is a phenomenon found almost exclusively in societies that are either democratic or are in terminal decline (a correlation that should not be lost on anyone). As Oswald Spengler noted, in rising societies, the poor and proletarian seek to copy the manners of the rich and elite; in declining societies, the opposite is true. Our society is in a race to the bottom, and is so far along in it that we can no longer even see any use for a little bit of Picasso or Nietzsche with our titillation. Even if we say that these were only there to provide the enterprise with a veneer of respectability (and I, for one, believe Hefner to have been sincere in his desire for genuine sophistication to be a part of the Playboy lifestyle), what does it say about us as a society that we no longer have the slightest craving for that respectability? What do we crave, other than blind consumerism, meaningless sex, and validation via cheap social signaling?

No, the problem with Playboy wasn’t that its nudes were too tame; it is that there is no market left for the Playboy lifestyle. Nobody wants porn that you have to put on a necktie for, much less that you have to read some boring book in order to keep up with. Modernity is not about sophistication, but about authenticity, and authenticity is easy (Do you really think that corporations started to construct office buildings in the International or Brutalist styles because they admired the philosophy behind them? Or is it more likely that they took to them merely because they were cheap to build?). And of course, there is nothing more authentic than the procreative urge; than feeling the need to ejaculate and satisfying it through the quickest and most straightforward means available. Hardcore porn serves those purposes admirably; what is added to that by talking about philosophy or jazz, or by having a chat with Norman Mailer along the way? How inauthentic! How elitist! What a waste of time! Just get to the sex! Hey Mailer: “Go away – ‘batin!

This is us: a society with no desires beyond materialist comforts and whatever Whiggishly practical means may be necessary to acquire them. Beautiful naked women are no longer enough sugar to make the medicine of Picasso, Nietzsche, or Miles Davis go down. Hef is old, lives in a world that is far in the dusty past, and has the problem exactly wrong. He thinks that he can still sell an aspirational lifestyle – the one that he once aspired to, and eventually managed to build for himself – but it is only possible to sell an aspirational lifestyle in a society that still has real aspirations. We are no longer such a society.

Our aspirations are dead, our intellectual life is dead, our culture is doomed, and the only question left is whether or not Hef will die before the magazine he created does.

Goodbye, Playboy. We’ll always have December, 1983.

P.S. Hef eventually sold the Playboy jet, at which point it was converted into a normal airliner. Though now quite elderly, it is still flying today, in the service of a cut-rate airline in Mexico. And so Hef’s private plane, once the very symbol of the jet-setting lifestyle of America’s 20th century elites, is these days little more than a flying bus; its cramped, uncomfortable seats crowded with lower-class Mexicans. Make of that what you will.

Evola in Bemidji: An Analysis Of Season One Of “Fargo”

NOTE: The following contains spoilers for the first season of the TV series Fargo.

Leftists, libertarians, and anarchists (and the latter two might actually mean it) often speak of “borders, boundaries, and forms of control” as if these were all terrible things, blights on the human condition that oppress humankind, stunt its development towards a more refined and utopian condition, and prevent individuals from achieving a beautiful state of self-actualization. Of course they speak this way – as de facto (and often de jure) rejecters of original sin, they see human nature as essentially good, and human beings as blank slates except for that essentially good nature. When undeniably not-good (certainly by Modernist definitions) aspects of human nature – clannishness, laziness, greed, selfishness, violence, exclusion, even traditional gender roles or the tendency of some groups to be better at certain tasks than others – make themselves persistently and undeniably apparent, these are dismissed as “social constructs” (as if that too was a bad thing), which are invariably the fault of the usual designated villain groups. All of this, of course, is nonsense.

What philosophers can fill hundreds of pages demonstrating, artists can often illustrate far more economically. It is with this in mind that we may look at the rather unexpected reactionary implications of the recent cable TV series Fargo. Here we witness the liberation of one Mr. Lester Nygaard (played by the wonderfully talented Martin Freeman), and the consequences thereof. Lester is a fine test subject – an average everyman of Modern America in all senses of the word. He has an average job that he isn’t very good at, he has a wife who emasculates and despises him, he is childless far past the age at which he should be, and he is faring unspectacularly in financial terms. He is one of those men who, in the words of Thoreau, leads a life of quiet desperation, and he lacks the strength of will to liberate himself from it. But, as we shall learn, perhaps that was for the best.

By happenstance, into Lester’s life drops one Lorne Malvo (a mesmerizing, as usual, Billy Bob Thornton), who is a demon. Whether he is in any physical/spiritual sense is the sort of question that Coen Brothers stories always leave one with, but he looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, so for our purposes we shall call him a duck. Thus, given the opportunity, he sows chaos, as is the wont of demons. How does he do this? Via the same method that a demon (perhaps even, it is later hinted, Malvo himself) used to ruin the first man and woman – by liberating them, by giving them what they secretly wanted, by promising them that they could transcend their boundaries and limitations and be as gods. Thus with a few words (this is all it took in the Garden of Eden, as well), Malvo sets in motion the ruination not just of Lester Nygaard, but of many of those around him as well.

With those words, and two simple acts of violence which follow, he breaks Lester’s chains. But what are chains? And what does it mean to have the broken? When we use the word “chains”, images of slavery inevitably come to mind. But our chains are also the ties that bind us – to family, to friends, to community, to society, to humanity, and to God. They are the rules of conduct by which function the mutual obligations that bind us to all of these. A very few people – natural aristocrats of the soul – can transcend the rules without breaking those bonds. And, of course, virtually everyone thinks of themselves as one of those who could. But for most, the breaking of chains leads to a euphoric period in which freedom seems to lead them to triumph, after which… well, let us return to our example.

And so Lester is liberated both from his harridan of a wife and from any immediate consequences of her demise. But there is more than that afoot. Lester becomes liberated not just from the external entities to which he was bound, but increasingly from all internally-held constraints as well. He gains genuine confidence, a precious commodity which he never had before; he learns to value and believe in himself. All of which, modern society teaches us, is unmitigated good. And for a while, it is visibly good in Lester’s life as well. For a year, he has his time of triumph. He evades responsibility for his crime, he marries a beautiful and adoring new wife, he opens a successful business of his own, and he is honored both personally and professionally.

But was that ever so rosy a picture as it seemed? His new wife may be adoring, but she is clearly a trophy wife who Lester married for the wrong reasons. And his freedom comes at the cost of his brother’s. His brother was an unsympathetic jerk, to be sure – but he wasn’t a murderer, and didn’t deserve a murderer’s punishment. Part of Lester’s liberation has been a liberation from empathy; from the idea of not using others and justifying it solipsistically based on whatever that person’s worth is to him. His brother displeases him, so to Lester’s mind he deserves any punishment available whether fitting or excessive. His wife pleases him for her beauty and the ease with which she is dominated, but that produces no bonds of the sort that will prevent him from discarding her when he feels it necessary to do so. And that time will come, soon enough.

It comes because Lester’s path, now bereft of borders and boundaries, has no limit; no endpoint at which anyone, including Lester, can or will say “Alright, this is enough. Stop here and go no farther”. He is not an aristocrat of the soul, but only a common man. He does not know when enough is enough, and when enough is too much. There is nothing to stop him at Aristotle’s Golden Mean; there is nothing in his past or present experience to show him even where that might be, and thus he goes sailing right past it.

Yet here a point deserves reemphasis. Lester is not an aristocrat of the soul, nor is he a saint. But neither is he particularly or exceptionally prone to evil. Lester’s key flaw – his tragic flaw, in the sense of the Greek tragedies – is simply that he is a common man; one who has come into possession of more freedom than a common man can cope with. Of course, the demon Malvo knew perfectly well when he broke Lester’s chains that this was the case, and that eventually death, misery, and chaos would ensue because of it. But again, sowing chaos is simply what demons do – Malvo is very good at it and, as his suitcase full of audiotapes shows, has done it many times before. The demon understands that giving too much liberation to those who are unequipped to rationally deal with it will only lead to their destruction and the destruction of everyone around them.

As indeed it does for Lester and those unfortunate enough to be in his vicinity when he finally implodes. His chance second encounter with Malvo in an elevator in Las Vegas sets the end in motion. It all seems very avoidable at first glance, but on further analysis, what happened was inevitable. Lester can’t help but to push too hard and too far; to ignore warning after warning and disregard common sense until it is suddenly, plainly too late. That is his new, liberated nature. To self-destruct was his destiny; the path without borders and limits can, for the common man, lead only to this and to nothing else. If it had not been this particular encounter that had sparked the beginning of Lester’s end, it would just have been another one; the fact that the circumstances involved offending the demon who liberated him is only a bit of Coen-esque poetry added to the story.

It is at this point that the effects of Lester’s newfound liberation kick into a panic-induced high gear. Consumed by cowardice, but also by a selfishness (at this point advanced into sociopathy) born of his liberation from the chains that bind him to others, Lester sacrifices his trophy wife, not an hour after she has committed a crime and taken an enormous risk by lying to a police officer in order to try to save him (Based on my own observations it was at this point that Lester’s few remaining defenders among the show’s fan base seemed to have finally given up on him). And when, as the final confrontation looms before them all, Molly Solverson tries to get him to tell her the truth, thereby sacrificing his freedom for the good of others, we see that at this point he is so far gone that he can’t even understand the parable that she uses to try to reach him (even though his faculties of reason are perfectly intact, as he demonstrates by easily solving the fox/cabbage/rabbit riddle). Thus do even more people die – the FBI agents assigned to watch him, the demon Malvo (this only through the selfless courage of Gus Grimly), and eventually Lester himself – finally dragged down to the bottom and drowned, literally, as a consequence of his decisions.

So what are the takeaways from all of this?

The first is that demons often – in fact, nearly always – appear as liberators and breakers of chains. “You will be as gods”, says the demon, who, unlike his prey, knows full well what that will mean. Giving the powers of a god to those without the godhead is a recipe for sowing chaos, which is, again, the business of demons. Thus, there should be a healthy skepticism of liberators. “Liberated from what… to what?” is a question that should always be asked. The average man may not have the vision or the wisdom to ask that, but natural aristocrats do, which brings us to our next point.

The second takeaway begins by reiterating that most people can’t rationally, much less virtuously, handle a great deal of liberation. Most people need to be taught and led, and it is, in fact, inhumane to deprive them of this structure and guidance. Lester’s basement prominently features a poster that shows a fish swimming against the direction of all the other fishes, with a caption reading: “What if you’re right and they’re wrong?”. But most people are not Socrates. They cannot rationally and virtuously find their own way; left to do so, they will, as Lester did, only turn into selfish monsters who destroy themselves and those around them. Most people can’t and shouldn’t swim against the direction of the rest of the fish, so it is the responsibility of the elites of society – of the very natural aristocrats who could find their own way – to make sure that the rest of the fish are swimming in the right direction; i.e. that the basis of the ideals on which their orderly and harmonious society is based are indeed rational and virtuous.

Because otherwise we end up with a world of Lester Nygaards. A world of utter chaos.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out

Let’s face it – being on the right is tough these days. The left has completed its long march through the institutions – media, academia, technology, government bureaucracy – and stands dominant in all of them. Through these, they have come to utterly dominate not only much of public policy and the mainstream news media, but also to act as arbiters of the mainstream culture as well. As Mencius Moldbug noted, in the Modern state, culture is downstream from politics, and public morals are set by whoever’s army is guarding the television station. Through their machinery of cultural control, the establishment left (which is by no means antiwar or against police statism on principle) has manufactured consent on all manner of issues. Not only that, they’ve created and sustained a culture of leftism – the propagation, whether explicitly presented as such or not, of leftist memes, not the least important of which is leftism as hip and intellectual.

This leftist culture has become the absolutely dominant mainstream culture in not just the United States, but all of the West. And there’s no hope of changing it anytime soon – not with the mainstream academic and media cartels enjoying the legal protections (not to mention the favor of much of the political system) that they do. And where does that leave the right? It leaves it in a position that’s…

…well, that’s a hell of a lot of fun, actually. Because we are the counterculture now. For the left, in all of its dominance of establishment culture, has now run into what I call Bakunin’s Corollary to Flair’s Law.

Flair’s Law states: To be The Man, you’ve got to beat The Man.

Bakunin’s Corollary states: Once you do beat The Man, then you become The Man, whether you said you were going to or not.

And as it stands now, the left most definitely is The Man. Not only that, but they act the part, down to the smallest detail. A more moralizing, censorious, hectoring, endlessly instructive bunch of tut-tutting know-it-all pearl-clutchers you could not find anywhere. The left, long ago, when they were out of power, once understood the sheer joy of sticking a thumb in the eye of people like that. They understood both the necessity and the power of creating a counterculture. Now it is time for the right, and especially the alternative right – all manner of traditionalists, reactionaries, right-libertarians, separatists, monarchists, and elitists – to drop out of the establishment mass popular culture and work on creating a counterculture of our own. Not just because it is necessary in order to maintain and pass on our values in the face of the ceaseless onslaught of that leftist popular culture (Note that there is increasingly nothing – nothing – in popular culture that is permitted to be happily apolitical; to not incessantly parrot the left’s memes. Not television, not comedy, not music, not video games, not football or basketball, not web browsers or search engines, not even chicken sandwiches or hamburgers), but because it’s just plain fun.

You are the counterculture now. You get to flip the bird to The Man, to be anti-establishment, to get off the grid of pop-culture garbage and live the way you see fit. Those of the alternative right are not just in the positions of being the Marxes and Nietzsches and Gramscis opposed to bourgeois mass-culture morality, but we also get to be Kerouac in San Francisco, to be Wyatt and Billy on the open highway, to be Ken Kesey on his Magic Bus, to be Lenny Bruce making people faint from the stage.

Nearly everything necessary for this is already in place. In many ways, the alternative right community reminds me of my father’s descriptions of Greenwich Village circa 1964. It is filled with all manner of eccentrics and thinkers and radicals and rebels and misfits. Some speak deep truths, some seem half-crazy; some are charismatic and charming, others seem scary and dangerous. Sometimes it is the scary, dangerous, and half-crazy among them who speak the most deep truth. All throughout, there is a feeling of throwing off what the establishment gives us, of finding a better way. There is also a feeling that something big is inevitable, and coming sooner rather than later.

How exciting!

I’ve long said that the path to being a reactionary starts with conceding some points to the left. So let us start now, by admitting that many of the criticisms of the establishment and its machinery of cultural control that the left made when they were out of power (and now seem to have forgotten) were true. Their criticisms of the educational system, of how news is reported, of corporatism and consumerism, of the 9 to 5 rat race, of suburbia and its cultural and spiritual sterility, of the entertainment industry in general, and most particularly of television, were all absolutely correct. These aren’t the arguments of leftists, per se, but the arguments of those who are anti-establishment. By no means should they be rejected simply because they were once, long ago, voiced by the left. Remember that the left is demonic, and thus, like any demon, it will tell you whatever it thinks it needs to tell you in order to get you to do what it wants you to do. If that means lying to you, then it will lie; if that means telling you the truth, then it will tell you the truth; if that means mixing truths and lies, then it will mix truths and lies. If anything, the fact that the left said these things once, but threw them aside once they gained power, should indicate to you that there was some real truth in them. Beyond this, once one casts aside the foolish notion that an argument cannot possibly contain any truth just because one’s enemies once used it, the faculties of reason of any traditionalist or reactionary should make the truth of these ideas easy to discern.

So, then, the task before us is twofold: First, to reject the establishment mass culture. Second, to build a full and unique traditionalist/reactionary counterculture.

Sound familiar? It is, essentially, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”. A great figure of the left-counterculture made this saying famous, and it is a sentiment well worth revisiting for those who wish to create a right-counterculture.

Naming what exactly should be dropped out of is the relatively easy part, but still it bears saying.

First, as the leftists used to say, “Kill Your Television”. I am not one who generally thinks that machines are inherently evil. Television is an exception. It is no more and no less than a hypnotic mind control device. Don’t believe me? Sit a hyperactive toddler in front of a television and watch what happens. They freeze, turn away from everything they were doing, and stare at the screen. Gavin McInnes once noted that the “on” switch of his television was an “off” switch for his kids, and so it is. Do you think this device does not place ideas in the minds of those who fall into a trance in its presence? And what ideas do you think the Hollywood/New York axis wishes to place there? I recall reading one account of a father who, tired of his two under-10 daughters’ bratty attitudes, limited their television viewing to a DVD box set of Little House on The Prairie. The change in his daughters’ behavior was dramatic – within a couple of weeks, they were referring to him and his wife as “Ma” and “Pa”, and offering to help with chores. The lesson is obvious: people (and especially children) learn their social norms from television, far more even than from the people around them.

Ideally, one would cut oneself off from it totally. Many find this rather difficult (I must admit, myself included at times). Some keep a television set, but make sure it is disconnected from broadcast channels and use it only as a monitor for a carefully-selected library of DVDs. Others (myself included) don’t own a set, but download a few select programs from torrent sites and watch on laptops or tablets. My total viewership of television programs tops out at perhaps 3-4 hours per week during particularly good seasons. Any traditionalist should strive to do the same. In fact, traditionalists should reject – should “drop out” of – all popular culture (especially that produced after, say, 1966) to the greatest degree possible, and make sure their children are exposed to it as little as possible. Music, video games, even the web – either drop out of it completely, or, at very least, carefully limit the time and scope of it in your life and the lives of your children.

While we’re on the subject of children: DO NOT send your children to a public school. “Drop out” here too; by which I do not mean that your children should go uneducated, but that you should – you must – homeschool. To do otherwise is pure child abuse. Perhaps fifty years ago, this was not the case, but these times are not those times. The failures of the public schools need not be repeated here, but they are undeniable, and any reasonably smart ten-year-old whose attention span hasn’t been destroyed by television can learn more by being left alone all day with a stack of books than they can in any public school classroom anyway. As for the universities, there are not quite any suitable replacements for them yet, but some lurk just over the horizon and will appear before long.

To say that one should “drop out” of – not bother listening to and not ever trusting – the mainstream news media goes without saying.

One more thing to drop out of is the hamster wheel of consumerism and “career”. By this I do not mean to suggest that one should go on the public dole. Rather, be mindful of the old saw “Work to live; don’t live to work”. Defining oneself by one’s job is a soulless Whig horror, and yet everywhere in this Modernist world, “career” is thought to be everything. This should be rejected. Do something you don’t hate, and work only as much as you need to in order to get by. How much is that? This will shock many, but I assure you that, if you are single and don’t live in the urban core of a megacity, you can get along fine on $1000 per month. How? By living with what you actually need. Here I don’t necessarily suggest going as far as the Minimalist movement, though I believe them to be largely on the right track. Rent a room in a house instead of having a whole apartment to yourself. Drive a good-condition used car. Buy and keep only the clothes you’ll actually wear. Buy quality and make it last. This is getting possible even in electronics, now that desktop/laptop computers have passed the “good enough” threshold, with tablets and smartphones not far behind. Speaking of which, the only electronics you really need are a laptop and a smartphone, and even the need for the former is becoming questionable for many. As for the latter, they are getting cheap, and a decent service plan can be had for $50 a month. You can work less, and make less, and live with less, and devote more time to the pursuits that mean something to you.

Drop out of fast food. Abandon all junk food to the extent that you can. Leave that poison to clog the arteries of the lumpenproles. Eat like a human being, even if it takes longer and requires more effort. For your physical health, yes. But it’ll work wonders for your sense of self, as well.

Perhaps most importantly, drop out of the need to conform to the prevailing establishment culture; which includes dropping out of the need for its approval. When a culture is decent and virtuous, conforming to its norms is a good thing. When it is not, conforming to its norms is moral and spiritual suicide. Such is the case now. The prevailing establishment culture is a horror. Rebelling against it is a necessity. But more, it is fun. Revel in it. Go on – raise your middle finger to The Man. It feels great!

Which brings us to our next point: If there is to be a right-counterculture, what shall it look like?

This is a difficult question, and I do not pretend to have anything approximating a full answer to it. But I can start by confidently stating a couple of things that it shouldn’t be.

The first thing it shouldn’t be is an imitation of the leftist counterculture of the beatniks, the hippies, and the hipsters. Every time something rightist/traditionalist/reactionary tries to copy an artifact of leftist culture, it turns into a risible failure. Anyone who doesn’t believe that can try listening to some “Christian rock” – for as long as you can stand it, that is. Or try watching some episodes of The Half-Hour News Hour – the short-lived attempt to create a right-wing version of The Daily Show. No, a culture (or counterculture) that suits one faith, philosophy, or worldview will seem bizarre or out of place when adopted by another. For a right-counterculture to look like Woodstock, differing only in that copies of Evola’s works are substituted for those of Alinsky, would be ridiculous. And more, it would be falling into the trap that so consistently ensnares mainstream conservatives: allowing the left to define us. Ironically, the challenge for “reactionaries” is to stop reacting to the left – including by trying to copy them or produce “our own” versions of what they have done – and to start building that which is truly and uniquely ours. Our own ideas, our own art, our own (counter)culture.

The other thing it should’t be is an attempt to restore the pre-hippie “conservative” culture of 1950s America. I once heard Glenn Beck say that the world he wanted was “the 50s, but with civil rights”, and I daresay this captures the sentiments of most of mainstream conservatism. But (beyond the simple fact that Glenn Beck wanting it is a bad sign), there are a couple of fundamental things wrong with this vision. The first is that that world was neither truly traditional, nor did it have any real strength to it. It has been said that the hippies were pushing on an open door, and that was quite correct – the ease with which it crumbled when a few teenagers blew marijuana smoke in its face shows its essential weakness. It was a point along a path, and it is not possible that we shall tread that way again. And what made it unsustainable is that it, too, was an artifact of the Whig worldview. This worldview/philosophy, like all of them, has a logical endpoint; a destination that it cannot be halted from moving ever-closer toward (This is the true meaning of William F. Buckley’s remark that conservatives stand athwart history yelling “Stop!”, and of Spengler’s remark that time does not suffer itself to be halted). We cannot say that we didn’t like how the story ended, so we shall rewind the tape to a certain point in the tale that we did like, hit Play, and hope that it ends differently this time. That just won’t work. The honest truth is that the much-mythologized pre-hippie America was pure Whig/commercialist, and had much that was ugly about it, including the very lack of soul and a strong moral center that led to its easy demise. There was little to stir the soul in it.

No, we need something different. Something old-yet-new; something that both reaches farther back, and forward past the collapse of the current system.

What shall it be? Well, I don’t know, really. Most likely, it has to develop organically, and will do so – if at all – in a way that cannot really be predicted. That said, I have a few humble suggestions for starting points.

My recent visit to Maker Faire has convinced me that adopting/co-opting the Maker/DIY movement as our own would be a good place to start. Even if it’s not directed towards anything critical for survival, the very process of learning craftsmanship, inventiveness, patience and persistence – no matter what it actually produces at the moment – is something that will serve one well, especially in lean times. Learn to make something useful, or to fix something broken. This is not just as a means to further self-sufficiency, but as a replacement for television and other bourgeois/proletarian forms of establishment mass entertainment as well. If you have children, build something with them – a go-cart or a treehouse or a Raspberry Pi-powered omelette-flipping robot. Teach them, or learn together – but don’t stare separately at electronic screens.

Again, something akin to the Minimalist movement (though not necessarily as stringent) would be a good thing, especially if one does it alongside cutting mainstream establishment pop culture out of one’s life. What, for example, do you need a TV set for if you don’t watch television? Have less stuff, and make more of what you do have with your own hands.

In music, some strains of punk and heavy metal have a traditionalist/reactionary element to them, and if that is to your taste, then by all means listen to, or perform, that. A renewed interest in classical music can’t be viewed as a bad thing either. But perhaps even more promising, to me at least, is traditionalist folk along the lines of the Quebecois group Mes Aieux. Get to know and appreciate the musical styles of your ancestors, and perhaps even learn to play them or to compose in those styles yourself.

In clothing, men should reject the infantilizing manchild look that James Howard Kunstler has so bitingly condemned. Traditionalist women must rediscover feminine dress – skirts and dresses instead of trousers – as part of rediscovering the feminine in themselves. This is, in fact, far more important than anything connected to male modes of dress. How men dress is not a political statement – how women dress is. the left, as part of their motte and bailey doctrine, may deny that it is important, but one can easily watch them go into hysterics when one suggests that this “progress” should be undone. Rejecting masculine modes of dress rejects not just feminism, but the entire Whig paradigm of all people as “equal”, interchangeable cogs in the machinery of industrialized Modernity. It says that the uniquely feminine within you has an irreplaceable value; a value that you place above other concerns. To be truly feminine is to live life as art. Nothing could be more bold, or could challenge the Modernist world more stridently.

But the single most important task is to develop a unique traditionalist/reactionary aesthetic in everything. There is no aesthetic to mainstream conservatism beyond the aesthetics of a Wal-Mart. Traditionalists and reactionaries must break with this, and make it clear that they value the beautiful simply for its intrinsic goodness, apart from any “practical” concerns. We should – must – develop an aesthetic style that reflects our vision of truth and beauty. Like the intellectual ideas of the movement, it should be simultaneously old and new. It should evoke the best concepts of the past, without simply rehashing exhausted ideas. And it must be uniquely, recognizably ours.

Among other things, what all of this demonstrates is that the traditionalist/reactionary movement already has enough intellectuals; what it needs now are artists and poets. This should by no means be taken as an insult to the intellectuals we already have – just the opposite, they do such fine work that there is barely any need for more of them. But as for people who can produce the art, the music, the poems, the novels, the architecture, and the aesthetics that are needed by the movement in order to develop its unique (counter)culture, they are still sorely needed. The idea that the right cannot produce any such people is ridiculous leftist slander – the likes of Ezra Pound, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Samuel Johnson, H. L. Mencken, and Christopher Nolan are testament to that. Mainstream conservatism perhaps cannot produce them, but a soulful traditionalism can. And so I put forth a call to such people to make themselves known, and to lend their strengths to building something great.

For those who are not artists or poets, I say again: Recognize that you are the counterculture now. Live it, revel in it – throw off The Man and his constricting, bourgeois mass culture. Stick your finger in his eye, tell the truth, and live the way that you know is best. The left may have utterly conquered that mass culture and turned it into their most powerful weapon, but that means that they can no longer, no matter how they try to present themselves as such, be the one thing that we now can be: the authentic outsider, the dancer to a different drum, the rebel who rejects the whole damn thing and lives as he sees fit.

There could be nothing more enthralling; nothing more fun! And now – right now – is the time.

Vox: At Your Feet Or At Your Throat

Yes, yes, I know – I said that I don’t like reposting thoughts from other authors in their entirety, and now I’m doing that twice in a row while I work on my next original work, but Vox Day stole the thunder of an upcoming piece I was going to write so thoroughly that, while I can’t let this thought go unexpressed here, I also want to give Vox credit due for beating me to this particular punch. So here’s the key passage from him, in which he speaks about the left and its sycophants and fellow-travelers:

“First, give them an inch and they will not only take a mile, but will insult you in the process. Second, there is absolutely no reasoning with these people. They are an implacable enemy and no quarter should be shown to them even when they wave the white flag and start talking about negotiating a settled peace.

As Churchill once said of the Hun, he is either at your feet or at your throat. We can’t leave them alone because they won’t leave us alone. We can’t tolerate them because they will not tolerate us. So, root them out of your lives, stop supporting them, stop enabling them, and stop funding their assault on your beliefs, your family, and your faith. There are no fences upon which moderates can safely sit in a cultural war…

One cannot reason with totalitarians. One can only refuse to submit to them. And sooner or later, one must fight them.”

This, right down to the Churchill quote, is precisely what I myself wished to express. And if I did not voice it first, I will at least add my humble voice to it. And with my voice, I will fight them. So consider the battle joined, Vox.

Because he is right – nobody should feel any obligation to “be reasonable” with the left. Being reasonable with people who will do nothing but use it as an opening to destroy you is just being a sucker. I see nothing in the Bible, nor in any other book worth listening to, that requires me to be a sucker. So shut them down, shut them out, shut them up. No quarter. No mercy. Their plan is Permanent Revolution, and they will eventually come for you no matter what – so give them hell!

The Super Bowl Is America

Shameless Commercialism? Sickening exploitation of women and children? A ghastly, inappropriate response to a recent tragedy? Women who dress and act in public the way you’d have to go to a strip joint to see women dress and act 30 years ago? Loud, unlistenable, mass-produced music product? Techno-grandiosity in the service of crass, meaningless, artless distraction? Shameless ass-kissing of the military-industrial complex contrasted perfectly against an embarrassing failure caused by neglected, crumbling civil infrastructure?

The Super Bowl really is a microcosm of America today.