Tuesday, 6 December 2016

INTRO TO THE ALT-RIGHT (3): JAMES LAWRENCE


Interviewed by Ryan Andrews

The intention of this series is to provide the reader with thumbnail introductions to a variety of Alt Right personalities and their ideas. The three main questions—which are straightforward and aimed at revealing the core—will be the same for each interview. (The lightning-round questions will vary somewhat.)

The subject of this interview is James Lawrence, who is a contributing editor to this website.

Briefly describe your journey to the Alt Right.

Intellectually, I didn't so much journey to the Alt-Right as begin with it, back in the early 2000s when the various strands of the present movement were still more or less isolated from each other. By pure accident I stumbled on the work of John "Yggdrasil" Gardner, and from there swiftly found my way to such early luminaries of American white nationalism as Jared Taylor and Dr. Kevin MacDonald, as well as a host of lesser-known writers connected to the British nationalist scene. In the course of searching for reading material, I also happened upon other strands of anti-progressivist thinking, such as the antifeminist writer Angry Harry and some of the libertarian critiques of democracy that would later inspire neoreaction. It was only after this that I started educating myself more widely - a process that is, of course, still ongoing.

However, there's a difference between knowing something and acting on it, and it is on this point that I can speak of a journey to the Alt-Right. Initially, knowing the extent of the forces arrayed against us, and having little time for "loyalty" to a race or civilisation that rewards loyalty with pure hatred, I had no intention of involving myself in any sort of political struggle. I adopted an inner cynicism and outer conformity to liberal norms, pursued individual self-improvement and "happiness," and in the course of this even physically removed myself from Europe, but got no peace of mind from this due to the nagging feeling that I had short-changed myself. Eventually, through a combination of experience and thinking, I came to a set of different conclusions: that the fruits of self-interested strivings are poisonous and corrupting, that a just cause is worth pursuing for its own sake, and that the prospects for success or failure in such a cause simply do not matter. At the moment I am not yet in a position to do much more than contribute ideas, but I am working towards changing this.

The Alt Right is an umbrella term covering several different ideologies and sub-ideologies. Whether it be big or small, an ideological or a factual belief, what is your personal pet issue?

I suppose that I am mostly interested in the issue of social and political elitism in a society that pretends to be open to all. Some time ago, I experimented with the term kakistocracy ("rule of the worst") to describe the hostile and irresponsible elite and the perverse networks of social privilege that have coalesced in the West since the defeat of traditional power-holders. According to the "Machiavellian school" of Mosca, Michels and Pareto, elitism is a perennial feature of all human societies without exception, and this insight should be remembered during the current upsurge of popular political rejectionism embodied in Brexit and the Trump campaign: a movement devoted to eliminating "elitism" per se would always be doomed to fail, but a movement to transfer popular allegiance to a worthier counter-elite has at least a fighting chance.

I think that the Alt-Right all too often works on a shadowy and anodyne concept of "the elite," or else is led (by the nationalist reduction of human history to the struggle of races) to focus on the workings of Jewish elite power to the exclusion of everything else. In the one case we need to narrow and clarify our view, while in the other we need to widen it considerably. If we cannot define the ruling class that has declared war against us as succinctly as possible, whilst paring away from view - for the moment - the various "protected groups" that it likes to use as human shields, then we cannot expect to expose this class to the people (itself an important blow against its moral legitimacy) and polarise a majority of Europeans against it.

What strand of Alt Right thought do you most dislike/disagree with, and why?

Having witnessed the present-day Alt-Right mesh together from various strands of anti-progressivist thought on the internet, I take the view that this process was both natural and inevitable, because the various thought-strands (e.g. nationalism, antifeminism, neoreaction and so on) represent so many pockets of truth carved out from the Matrix-like virtual reality of progressivism. The longer we allow this process to go on, and keep the links between the different strands open, the more chance we have of reconstructing a radical and multi-faceted non-progressivist view of the world. For this reason, I am willing to see the inherent value in most strands of the Alt-Right, and try to stay on guard against the temptation to break up the "big tent" or remove oneself from it prematurely.

This does not mean that our discourse does not occasionally fall into certain undesirable tendencies, and if I had to pick an all-time stinker it would probably be the religious schism between neo-paganism and Christianity. Although I am not a practicing adherent of either religion, I deplore the bitter and vicious discord generated by this schism, and can see that the argument for changing the religion of the West usually has far less to do with religious belief as such than with trying to harmonise religion and politics. Ironically, so far this has only succeeded in producing a rather pointless disharmony in our political movement, and I think we would be much wiser to hold politics distinct from religion (this includes, of course, rejecting the idea that religion can ever discredit our politics).


Lightning Round:


Greeks or Romans?
I would have to say Romans, for giving Europe a political tradition that threads her history together and is still looked back to by many of us in the present day.

European Imperium or the Ethnostate?
Imperium.

Trump or Farage?
Farage. Trump has won the more impressive victory and brought mainstream discourse closer to our position, but I will reserve judgement on his character until I see evidence of his willingness to put his words into practice. I admire Farage because he pursued a single idea throughout his entire political life, achieved it against the odds, and clearly would have "gone back to the plough" after the Brexit vote had he not been dragged back into politics by the inability of his party to function without him.

Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy?
Dostoyevsky.

Who is the most insightful (contemporary) mainstream political commentator?

I usually enjoy reading Brendan O'Neill. I suspect that he often just takes contrarian positions against the establishment opinion of the day, but since the establishment opinion is so invariably wrong, this in itself becomes a winning strategy.


 

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