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The Ideological Confusion of the Dissident Right

I am loathe to point to Gregory Hood as an example of anything undesirable. He is, in my estimation, among the greatest nonfiction writers of our age. If America were a just society he should be regarded as a national treasure, published in the most prestigious outlets and his ideas eagerly discussed throughout the halls of power and regarded as a source of national pride. He could have had an illustrious if contemptible career as a conservative commentator were he not a man of principle; were he willing to serve Mammon over Truth, but instead he chose the worthiest of causes.

But lack of a foil to bite into renders a critique purely abstract, without the potency of a blow that meets its mark. No one else, to my knowledge, has laid out so plainly, and so approvingly, the ideological confusion at the core of the dissident right. In his most recent, and otherwise excellent, speech at AmRen, Hood said the following:

We’ve spoken a lot this weekend about the need for a new political theory to respond to liberalism. Perhaps it will be Identitarianism. It has three pillars. First, the “Machiavellian” political tradition, best explained by James Burnham and Sam Francis. Second, a biological understanding of human behavior, emphasizing evolution and the reality of human inequality. Third, a Traditional view of spirituality, because we are not just animals.

Each of these pillars is opposed to the other two. Machiavellianism holds that ‘men seek to dominate each other or to escape domination by others’ as rational actors driven ‘by insatiable appetites and irrational beliefs.’ Ideas and motivations, in this view, cannot be rationally understood and contested, but are merely emanations of irrational psychological impulses, while the political arena is a rational contest for power between these. From irrational foundations sprouts a world of rational power-maximisers in competition.

Gregory Hood’s other modernist pillar, Darwinism, holds the exact opposite. From a Darwinian perspective man’s sentiments and impulses are rational, or at least have a basis in rationally-understandable mechanisms. They have been carefully sculpted by millions of generations of natural selection to serve his own genetic survival.

But evolution is an ateleological process. This means not that Nature, especially in the biological world, is devoid of ends towards which these processes move or meaning or divine immanence, but that there is no teleological mechanism in the processes themselves. Unless a propensity to act as a rational power-maximiser has throughout our evolutionary past consistently driven survival and reproductive success, this is an improbable model of human behaviour. While ambitious elite men enjoyed relatively high levels of reproductive success throughout history, for most of the population such a drive was more likely to land them in trouble. We should expect a drive for conformity, and for cooperation and acquiescence towards authority within hierarchical social structures, to predominate over unbridled competition for power. As evolution propagates whatever survives and reproduces most within any particular environment without any teleological guidance, we should see frequent mismatches emerge as the environment changes. For example, as ideological nonconformity throughout most of history hurt one’s social status and reproductive success, we should expect widespread pathological conformity to antiwhite ideology on the part of whites, tempered only by conflicting impulses towards ethnic self-defence, self-esteem and solidarity.

Though natural selection favours whatever best serves genetic survival, it ateleologically leads to the spread of whatever serves that immediately within a generation, and gifts man with no overarching rational drive for power or even survival. Organisms instead develop many individual psychological impulses that serve their survival without any inherent understanding of their purpose. We enjoy sex and are driven to seek it for it leads to the reproduction of our genes. As our ancestors had no birth control this served them well enough and they developed only a comparatively weaker parental impulse to reproduce for its own sake, though we can see the flaw here in our modern world of birth control. Natural selection is a blind watchmaker, and the will-to-power supposed by Machiavellianism as a basis for rational behaviour is totally incongruent with a biological understanding of man.

Darwinism turns completely on its head the Machiavellian world of rational actors driven by irrational impulses as surely as it upturns the old myths of a personalistic creator. The Darwinist sees a world of irrational actors driven by rational impulses. The dissident right cannot be both Darwinist and Machiavellian. One pillar must fall.

Even the most cursory review of the empirical evidence settles the issue in Darwin’s favour. Far from an ingrained preference for multiracialism among some portion of the population driven to impose itself on society, as Machiavellianism would predict, brain scans show a universal disgust response towards interracial couples. There are similar findings everywhere. Infants prefer their own race, regardless of what politics they grow up to have, before they are socialised into the dominant ideology of antiracism. The partisans of such practices are driven not by any internal, irrational impulse, but by an ideology that has won them over against their own instincts, be it through rational or irrational means.

Doubtless there is a genetic basis for why some resist this ideology more than others, whether it lay in a greater predilection to conformism and obedience to authority, a tendency to follow abstract, rationalist morality and disregard disgust instincts, or some other impulse that is not inherently pathological but mismatched with current conditions. We see everywhere irrational behaviour from otherwise perfectly rational and healthy individuals. As if the overwhelming evidence for Darwin’s theory of descent were not enough, we find that its predictive power is unbreakable anywhere and everywhere in human affairs.

As if these two incompatible pillars were not an unstable enough foundation for this new, antiliberal theory, there is a third pillar irreconcilable with either Machiavellianism or Darwinism; Traditionalism; ‘because we are not just animals.’ The core premise of Darwinism is that we are. Machiavellianism treats religions and ideologies as nothing but myths to aid elite minorities in the domination of majorities. After Hood names Machiavellianism as a pillar of the new identitarian theory, he goes on to say that ‘in the end, it’s not about “the elite,” or even about overcoming power. A materialist, cynical view does not motivate men.’ Truer words have scarcely been spoken, and yet they are irreconcilable with the implicit endorsement of Machiavellianism that preceded them.

Gregory Hood accurately describes the ideological eclecticism of the dissident right, yet seems completely untroubled. The dissident right is an almost comical jumble of half-baked, usually contradictory, ideas. Were it not for the potency of its core issue; race, it would long ago have faded and taken its place besides Posadism as a bizarre and amusing historical footnote.

American white nationalism once had a consistent and serious worldview. Roger S. Griffin describes it well in The Fame of a Dead Man’s Deeds. Since then it has been drowned under the sheer weight of every absurd idea that has leaked into dissident right thought. We’ve been beset by salesmen for everything weird and not-so-wonderful; Evolian Traditionalism, Catholic Integralism, Russian National Bolshevism, Burnham’s Machiavellianism, the pseudoscience of exousiology (since renamed ‘qualitative sociobiology’), Hallerism, Randian Objectivism, Nietzscheanism and on and on. The dissident right is less a movement than a marketplace, and so deep are we buried in exotic goods that, like a Nineteenth Century Englishman gone native in Calcutta, dressed in pajamas and armed with a salwar, we have forgotten who we are. If the dissident right wants to find itself and define its doctrine, it needs a return to its roots. There is a solid basis for our ideas in Darwinism and Naturalism, and we will find everything that we sought when we dig it up from under all the ideological clutter that we have lost ourselves in.

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