Thursday, 1 December 2016

PUNCH EVERYWHERE



Lately a chorus of admonitions has arisen amongst some in the alt-right commentariat, to the effect that that a loyal adherent to right-wing ideals ought never "punch right." 

By this, they seem to mean: If someone else who shares your essential viewpoint makes a tactical mistake or even does something that you consider to be gravely wrong, keep your negative opinion to yourself. By all means, share your concerns in private with other loyal soldiers of the cause, but defend the wrongdoer publicly because he is your comrade in arms, and because you don't want to give aid and comfort to the opposition by exposing dissension in your ranks. 

Like most essentially erroneous notions, this one contains a generous cluster of truths, to wit: Fidelity is a virtue. Friends don't stab friends in the back. Good and proper soldiers train their firepower on the enemy, not on those with whom they share a foxhole. And so forth.

Indeed, when placed within the context of a martial metaphor (“We are at war!”), it becomes easy to construe any contrary behavior as synonymous with treason. But metaphors in truth have only a limited utility. That is to say, reality is never totally reducible to mere rhetoric; therefore, all judgments made from metaphorical reasoning should be regarded as merely approximate, not exactly analogous.

It is true that those of us who battle the depraved and debased contemporary Zeitgeist are indeed at war, in a manner of speaking. But it does not follow, from this figurative truth, that airing disagreement over tactics publicly amounts to “cucking” or selling out the cause. As RamZPaul usefully pointed out recently, such a stance winds up crippling a political movement by making its adherents hostage to its most fanatical and unreasonable members.

"How tall was Hitler? THIS tall."
Tactically speaking, then, refraining from “punching right” is detrimental when it comes to the overall success of the Alt-Right movement, because it allows the Alt-Right’s enemies to represent the entirety of the movement by the examples set by its least thoughtful, most crankish adherents. If someone somewhere behaves like a boorish Nazi caricature, and none of the more credible members of the Alt-Right can bring themselves to criticize this person out of obedience to this injunction against “punching right,” then the left-liberal Lugenpresse has an excuse to represent the bulk of the movement by its most unsavory, least credible elements.

Some who read this are no doubt shouting, “The Lugenpresse is going to say we’re all Nazis anyway, no matter what we say, so what are you even talking about, Nowicki???” 

This rejoinder is substantially correct—the Lugenpresse is gonna luge after all; it’s just what they consistently, even habitually do—but it also substantially misses the point.

It’s not about convincing the press to be honest—that is a lost cause; the press will lie and misrepresent us, no matter what. Rather, it is about reaching those who are already in the process of being “red-pilled,” and who have begun to see through the “matrix,” (to use an admittedly much overused cinematically-derived metaphor), but haven’t yet made up their minds where the truth truly lies.

Because believe it or not, smart and discerning members of the public already know that the truth isn’t necessarily what they read in the papers or hear quoted by vapid, smirking newsreaders at CNN, or by vapid, smirking pseudocomedians on “The Daily Show” or “Real Time With Bill Maher.” Smart and discerning people will disregard the official propaganda, and will go to the source to find out the facts. It is for these people—the ones who are not thoroughly brainwashed—that we should feel compelled to correct the record. It is for the sake of winning them over that we should—from a tactical perspective—care about looking credible and sane.

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But there is a better reason for not being afraid to “punch right,” or to punch in any other direction, for that matter, and that is because, if one cares about veracity, there are plenty of manifestations of bad faith and stupidity-- on the right, left, and center alike—that are, shall we say, eminently punchable.

Before one strives to be a “movement” man, after all, one ought first and foremost strive to be a proper man, full stop. 

Politics and ideology are to a large extent about finessing and managing a message, but politics and ideology should themselves be subordinate—again, properly speaking—to truth. And if truth is one’s animating passion, then one’s willingness to speak truth ought not be contingent upon any tactical considerations. Truth is truth, whether it be operationally good or bad for any particular cause.

To be sure, a cause can and should be rooted in truth. The Alt-Right speaks truth in many ways—about race, about sex/gender, about sexuality, etc.—that all representatives of the contemporary Zeitgeist expressly deny truth. In this sense, adopting and advocating an Alt-Right perspective already involves “speaking truth to power.” That said, becoming overly doctrinaire in one’s stance—even if that stance is substantially rooted in truth—can all too easily lead one to become horse-blinded to the “facts on the ground.”

The truth is that bad people are doing hideously evil things, stupid people are doing patently idiotic things, from every conceivable direction on the ideological map. A proper man isn’t afraid to speak the truth, and a fearless truth-teller doesn’t feel constrained from making truthful observations just because it might have tactical repercussions for the ideology he has adopted. 

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In fact, the first time I heard the admonition to pull punches, it was from a lefty chiding fellow left-wingers. In this case, however, the admonisher was Doonesbury comic strip writer Gary Trudeau, and the object of his wagging finger was the staff of the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo.

In the wake of the assault upon the magazine by Islamic terrorists in January 2015, resulting in 12 deaths, Trudeau saw fit to decry the journal for “punching down.” It was, he quite haughtily averred, an “abuse of satire” to attack those who were lower in social stature—i.e., the dirt-poor, ghetto-dwelling Middle East migrant population of Paris—instead of assuming its proper role of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.”

In the Charlie Hebdo case, Trudeau assailed the act of “punching down” as being in bad taste, not because it wasn’t truthful, but because it was ostensibly “mean” to bait the socially marginalized in such a manner. In the wake of the Alt-Right’s “hailgate,” some are complaining about Alt-Right writers who are “punching right,” not because the Nazi salutes which some threw up at the conclusion of Richard Spencer’s speech (in response to Spencer’s intentionally trollish, ironically Hitlerian toast: “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail, victory!”) were prudent and proper behavior to showcase to the world, but because Alt-Righters shouldn’t “punch right.”

In both cases, those demanding that punches be pulled are in fact demanding that truth be subordinated to some other consideration. Both have it backwards: truth must come first, as a matter of principle and honesty. One should therefore be willing to punch in all directions, both for the sake of the cause and for the greater sake of truth itself.

Andy Nowicki, assistant editor of Alternative Right, is the author of six books, including Lost Violent SoulsHeart Killer and The Columbine PilgrimVisit his Soundcloud page.

 

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