government

Golden Let-Downs

There’s something ironically reminiscent of the Obama years, in the expressions of outrage and betrayal by formerly loyal supporters.

We should not be too hard on them — or on yourself, if you happen to be in their number. The ability to criticize our representatives is a precious one. The disappointment and sadness expressed by his supporters prove how cheap and false the Left’s allegations were about the mindless loyalty of the right to their golden-haired God Emperor.

With the simultaneous attack on Julian Assange and the apparent softening on immigration on the heels of his bombing of Syria, how can anyone right of center (let alone a member of the Alternative Right) be optimistic about the remainder of the Trump presidency?

When I voted for Donald J. Trump in November, I was unconvinced by the actual policies he was promising… or at least not persuaded by them. It’s not that I thought he was a liar (by the standards of his office of aspiration), though any honest person listening to the man is forced to admit that he is less than honest. He’s from New York, for one thing. Even the “truthful hyperbole” strategy he employs — while essentially honest in nature — is dishonest in its mechanics. But there are more important things than a president’s truthiness.

A nation is not so much “led” by its leader as it is reflected by him. There are over 330 million of us and only one president: which one really holds more sway? Certainly the president is a powerful cultural figure, but no one could possibly be more powerful than the collective actions of an entire country. How else could we get a reality TV star as our leader?

Let’s be serious: Donald Trump was never going to make America great again. You can point 330 million people to water, but you cannot even move them, let alone make them drink.

I don’t say this to condemn Trump, of course. I voted for him, and stand by my vote, because I only voted for him for one reason: protecting freedom of speech.

The press, and even supporters, tend to softball the issue by couching all assaults against free speech as mere “political correctness.” Since the First Amendment only protects free speech from abridgment by Congress, it is easy to conflate the right with the law that ostensibly protects it. In doing so, we completely miss the constrictions on expression at the hands of corporations, schools, Hollywood, and the culture at large. They are every bit as dangerous to the civic health of a Republic as constrictions that come from the government itself.

To provide just one example, any criticism of Islam can be caricatured as “Islamophobia,” which takes any intellectual justifications out of a criticism and pathologizes a sincere, and perhaps even true, concern. This is not done at the Federal level, nor even the state level, but by television news programs, by parent-teacher associations, by church congregations, and by dinner party guests.

This means that government isn’t the problem. Government reflects the problem. The problem is with us. Perhaps, like Solzhenitsyn, we do not love freedom enough. Perhaps we love reality TV too much. But I repeat myself.

In my book, In Defense of Hatred, I wrote that the inability to defend what you love can lead us to an inability, or an unwillingness, to love in the first place:

If we cannot hate, then we will retroactively convince ourselves that we didn’t really love it. And the danger of unrequited loss by establishing a meaningful preference, might not be worth it. It might be better to never love.  To wish that what you loved had never existed, so you could be spared your pain.

If we cannot say what we think without fear of reprisal, then what’s the point in getting involved and learning enough to have an opinion at all? And if no one has, or is willing to articulate, a civic opinion, how can a Republic survive? It does not matter whether these restrictions come from the government or from other people. If we cannot use words to resolve our differences, than we will eventually have to use violence.

In 2015, Trump stepped onto the stage and said all the wrong things. It was exactly what we needed. Suddenly, everyone who was afraid to say what they really thought about immigration, about Islam, even about race and gender, saw a Golden example of a man breaking all the rules and winning.

No amount of backsliding on promises can undo this psychic victory. Now everyone knows that everyone else knows the problems with immigration, and we can talk about it. When everyone laughs out loud at the emperor’s nakedness, it is impossible to pretend that the robes are beautiful again. Trump happens to play both the part of the boy and the God Emperor simultaneously, a feat few others could so masterfully perform.

Let’s not pretend that the task of making America great was a burden for the president’s shoulders alone. Frankly, I’m glad he finally let the true believers down. There is something weak in the hope that a single leader will make all your problems go away. It’s a weakness of spirit that Jack Donovan touched on in his piece on Trump:

Men in America can’t keep waiting for someone to come and stand up to feminists and race-baiters and social justice warriors for them, and then stand behind them, saying, “yeah, what he said.” They can’t keep waiting for some elected leader to put big businesses and banks and all of the scheming, swindling, greedy sellouts that run this country in their place. These people hate you, and they don’t care what you think or what you want. No matter what happens to you, they believe you have it coming, and if you don’t do anything about it and take control of your own life and destiny — you will deserve it.

Whatever happens to white American men — and all of the men who are unable or unwilling to benefit from rent-seeking identity politics — will be up to us.

Enjoy the liberal and progressive butthurt, but don’t get too angry with Trump for letting you down. He had one job, and he did it. Make use of the cultural space restored by the God-Emperor, and exercise those rights which he has shielded from the culture at large.

That’s the heart of civic life in a Republic: the speech of the citizen, not of the dear leader.

Advertisements

On Wolves, Sheep, and Sheepdogs

Fool, prate not to me about covenants! There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other through and through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or the other shall fall.

—Achilles, “The Illiad”

I recently got into a little facebook conversation over a shirt that read “Operation Werewolf” on the front, and “We WANT the Total War” on the back. Much to my own regret, I had expressed reservations about its’ similarity to a Nazi program by the same name (and symbolized by the same rune), the denial of which wasn’t particularly helped by the phrase on the back.

Differences in spelling aside, the rune, the phrase, the symbolism, and the concept all predate Hitler, and the similarities were incidental (the group selling the shirt, known as “The Wolves,” are certainly not nationalists or socialists). As a point of comparison, a recent conversation I had over the “DadBod” phenomena led my conversation partner to point out that Hitler used Michelangelo’s David as propaganda. If looking up Greek art as an ideal for body image makes me a Nazi, call me Heinreich.

Even yours truly isn’t completely immune to Godwin’s law. Ultimately, I did buy their T-shirt.

But the concept got me thinking about the ideology behind what the Wolves were doing with Operation Werewolf, what the founders call an all-out war on weakness (the war to which the back of the shirt refers; which is why pictures from “the front line” are all of members working out). There is more symbolism too; the Wolves are a self-reliant, interdependent heathen group, like their animal namesake (minus the heathen bit), which makes the wolf-trap symbol fitting in spirit as well as in etymology. Further, the werewolf concept brings to mind Robert Eisler’s “man into wolf” thesis from 1951, in which the justification for sadism and masochism is hypothesized to lie in an ancestral transition from peaceful, herbivorous apes into carnivorous, violent ones, and that finding pleasure in pain lies enmeshed within this latter identity. It is this juxtaposition of power, freedom, and fear that is most worth exploring, and what better way to do it than by comparison to a more recent, uniquely American wolf story.

Lt. Dave Grossman wrote “On Killing” in 1996, where he argued that there are fundamentally three kinds of people in the world: there are sheep, good people who couldn’t hurt others even if they wanted to, but mostly aren’t so inclined. There are wolves, who will kill the sheep if given the opportunity. And then there are sheepdogs; those who look a bit like wolves, but protect the herd from the outside. From the wolves. (Please leave the furry jokes for sheep, you Scotsman.)

If this paradigm sounds familiar, you may have seen it from American Sniper,

Or perhaps from other darker, more humorous places in pop-culture,

But in either case, the interesting differentiation is not between sheep and sheepdogs (or pussies and dicks), the two that are presumably on the same side. The more important dichotomy—if it is that—is between the sheepdog and the wolf.

To extend the metaphor a bit, the sheepdog and the wolf are related, while the sheepdog and the sheep are not. Even as Grossman describes how “the sheepdog has a little wolf in him,” just a cursory glance reveals the comparative distances in ancestry between the dog and the wolf compared to the dog and the sheep. The dog also eats meat, can kill, and, if demanded by his master or the needs of the flock (which we MUST not call a “tribe,” let alone a “pack”… yet), will kill, and will do it without hesitation.

What is the difference to a sheep between a wolf and a sheepdog from another flock?

To us humans, the soldiers of other armies look an awful lot like sociopaths and monsters. Propaganda programs spend a lot of money portraying “the enemy” not as simply belonging to a different herd, but as being evil. They are wolves, but our soldiers are sheepdogs. As the saying goes, one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Do the fighters of the Taliban really view themselves as heartless savages, and American soldiers as sheepdogs, cruelly keeping them away from the tasty sheep-thighs of innocent Americans?

I don’t mean to depict the Taliban as morally comparable to American soldiers; the point is that comparing them morally misses the point. We like our soldiers because they are ours. We share values, ancestry, culture, and nation. We think that our values and culture will be better for Afghans, and this might even be true. But they don’t want it. They don’t share our values, our culture, our religion, and ancestry. Our drones, our animatronic sheepdogs raining death from the sky, look an awful lot more like wolves to them than benevolent sheepdogs, protecting those innocent sheep from wolves that they would probably more readily view as benevolent protectors than our soldiers.

Does this make us evil? No. It just makes us “evil” to them.

But here at home we are not one big happy herd either. Complaints and outrage over police brutality—very justified concerns—indicate that most Americans feel that if the police are serving and protecting somebody, that somebody isn’t them. What’s clear is that a difference in loyalty, not in disposition, is the line between wolf and sheepdog.

And then there are sheep.

Sheep complicate things. A lot. Sheep have a habit of viewing their own protectors as wolves. In large enough numbers, and when the loyal dogs of Plato’s Republic do a good job for a long time, the sheep take their security for granted, forgetting that they can only lie peacefully in their beds at night because rough man stand ready to do violence on their behalf. Criticism of some particular war becomes a criticism of war itself (“what is it good for? absolutely nothing!”), and ultimately, of the warriors who wage it. Their forgetfulness makes them unable to handle the truth, and the truth is that violence is golden. It is the currency of self-preservation, and by extension, everything that comes with life.

If the only difference between a wolf and a sheepdog is loyalty to sheep, why would you ever be a sheepdog?

There is a multi-layered perversity in the attitude of the sheep. First, there is something disconnected, almost creepy, about the way people who would never dream of using violence themselves have no issue using the power of the government—crowd-sourced violence—to impose their will on anything and everything imaginable, be it yoga pants or sodas that are too big. This is compounded by their contempt for the very people enforcing it; the police, the military, and the politicians they themselves voted in to pass these very laws. But the contempt is explained by the fact that the enforcing powers that be—the sheepdogs—in fact do not represent their interests… and how could they? The demands of the sheep are innumerable, contradicting, and mutually exclusive.

Perhaps it is time to do away with the false separation between dogs and wolves; it is the difference between canines and sheep that is important. The solution to the impossible demands laid upon the sheepdog is to transform into a wolf, a canine freed from the obligations laid upon him like a pack-animal by others who do not care in the slightest about him.

The description of wolves as hungry, vicious killers is wrong anyways, just as all other war-propaganda of the past deliberately mischaracterizes them to ensure you stay on the team of us. When lies become a necessary part of that process, then perhaps you shouldn’t be on the team.

When it comes down to it, there are only two kinds of people; those who can protect themselves and others, and those who need others to protect them. The wolf-man is the man who has rejected his muzzle. He is not loyal to the herd, but only to his pack—others who are strong who rely upon him, and upon whom he can rely, or who are not strong and need protection, but will respect him for providing it. More like Rorschach and Batman, the wolf does not kill because he can, but simply doesn’t feel the obligation to save people who sneer at those who guard them while they sleep.