Greg Johnson has penned an essay about Oswald Spengler and racial decadence that arrives at some pretty sweeping conclusions. A few days ago, Robert Campbell altered me to the existence of this article in a telephone conversation.
Three Senses of Race
Cutting to the meat of the essay, Greg Johnson starts off by arguing that race exists in three primary senses, the biological, cultural, and psychological:
1.) Race can refer to populations which vary by geography in gene frequencies and phenotype.
2.) Race can refer to having “racial consciousness.”
3.) Race can prefer to a primordial, life affirming, vital determination to expand and propagate and expand your tribe.
Nothing to argue with here. I would only dispute the idea that “racial consciousness” is “backward looking” whereas race in the psychological sense is “forward looking.”
In Colonial America, racial consciousness and race in the psychological sense evolved out of pre-existing English ideas and attitudes. Both were a response to the environmental conditions faced by Englishmen in the New World. The settlers took elements of their tradition (i.e., the concepts of just war and private property) and adapted them to their circumstances.
In the eighteenth century, Americans began the project of racial classification and interpretation of racial differences. “Science” itself (a method of understanding the natural world) is a tradition that stretches back into the Middle Ages and Greco-Roman Antiquity.
There is no conflict between “progress” and “tradition.” The only way to make “progress” is by working within the bounds of a tradition. This is most clearly seen in the history of technology where incremental advances in existing technology have led to new conceptual breakthroughs. Thus, the telegraph evolved over time into the cell phone, or the Kitty Hawk into the Columbia space shuttle.
Race and Culture
Having established the three senses of race (biological, cultural, and psychological), Greg Johnson moves on to argue that race informs culture, and vice versa. Nothing to argue with here either.
The societies built by Europeans are an extended phenotype. They reflect underlying heritable characteristics like intelligence and personality traits. At the same time, cultural memes (which are not heritable) are constantly influencing mate selection, which over time will change a population at the biological level.
Race Platonism and Race Traditionalism
Following Spengler, Greg Johnson next begins to discuss “Race Platonism” and “Race Traditionalism,” which he defines as 1.) that racial archetypes that are immutable forms and 2.) that the modern races have degenerated from ideal forms that existed in the distant past.
Both are easily dismissed.
“Race Traditionalism” is easily refuted by the fossil evidence of archaeology. “Race Platonism” is refuted by everything we know about modern biology and genetics.
If all racial minority groups were expelled from North America tomorrow, the White population would still evolve. Natural selection would continue to operate on mutations and genetic drift. In the absence of gene flow, Whites and non-Whites would eventually diverge into separate species.
Change is inevitable.
Outside of the “Radical Traditionalist” community, this idea is uncontroversial in White Nationalist circles.
Racial Preservation – Getting It Wrong
Having established the three types of race, the fact that culture informs race, and that genetic change is inevitable, Greg Johnson moves into more controversial territory. He declares that “racial preservation” is tantamount to “death.”
Johnson’s error begins in setting up a straw man of racial preservation. The ideal of “racial preservation” is not analogous to, say, killing a deer and having a taxidermist mount it on your wall, as everyone recognizes that gene frequencies change in each generation.
“Racial preservation” means nothing more than declaring that some traits (i.e., fair skin, fair hair, fair eyes, high intelligence, amiable personality, etc.) should be favored, selected, and encouraged in our culture.
This can be easily accomplished: Whites and non-Whites can be geographically separated, non-White immigration can be banned, the traditional American racial ideal can be promoted in all types of media, miscegenation can be outlawed, the tax code could be altered to encourage eugenic marriages, social services that deter family formation can be eliminated, etc.
If American culture and public policy was changed tomorrow, say, to reflect the White Nationalist racial idea, the United States would become more racially and culturally European over time, which is exactly what happened between Reconstruction and the the Civil Rights Movement. When JFK was elected president, America was almost 90% White; this happened by design, not by accident.
Racial Purity – Getting It More Wrong
After developing this idea that “racial preservation” is “death,” through an interpretation of Oswald Spengler, Greg Johnson goes on to attack the idea of “racial purity,” which he claims is incompatible with race in the psychological sense as a viral, life affirming world outlook.
Historically speaking, it only takes a moment’s reflection to dismiss this idea. In Colonial America, the ideal of racial preservation and race in the psychological sense evolved together and complemented each other. “Racial purity” meant nothing more than the determination of English settlers to preserve their European phenotype.
The frontiersmen had the will to power to seize land, clear it of Indians, and erect towns and cities. As White settlement expanded along the Atlantic seaboard, the first anti-miscegenation laws were passed; a racial caste system emerged; an elaborate code of racial etiquette began to govern racial interaction.
The “healthy men of race” – the American settlers – were expansionists who still thought of themselves as Englishmen, increasingly thought of themselves as Whites, and eventually codified their ideal of racial preservation into law. Like Americans have always done, they thought about the past, present, and the future.
There is no opposition between “vitality” and “racial purity.” If that were the case, 350 years of American history would be incomprehensible.
White Nationalism Is Degenerate – Jumping the Tracks
Greg Johnson concludes that “racial preservation” is “death” (from 1665 to 1967, America was dead) and that “racial purity” is somehow opposed to “vitality” (like when we conquered the North American continent). The next logical step is to conclude that White Nationalism is “overwhelmingly a degenerate movement.”
White Nationalism is condemned as degenerate … because, somehow, White Nationalists don’t want to Whites to evolve into the Talosians from Star Trek or Elves from Lord of the Rings. By advocating racial preservation (i.e., erecting barriers to non-White admixture), we are “murdering” and “mummifying” our race.
Well, I disagree.
Greg Johnson is condemning the healthy elements of White Nationalism as degenerate. By healthy, I mean White Nationalists advocate America’s traditional racial and cultural ideals over modern progressive ones, which is to say, we select for European phenotype.
Among other things, White Nationalists want to separate the races, ban miscegenation, increase the birthrate, and promote aesthetic images of White beauty and health in the media. What is degenerate about that?
Progressives advocate miscegenation, race anarchy, White guilt, transfers of wealth from Whites to non-Whites, third world immigration, multiculturalism, affirmation action, and diversity. If there is something “healthy” about the progressive agenda (the first interracial kiss occurred on Star Trek), I certainly have never seen it.
White Nationalists are degenerates, but not for the reasons Greg Johnson describes. The problem is that White Nationalists, even the ones who have given up America (yours truly included), are still culturally American themselves. Even the most diehard racialists are only a few degrees mentally removed from the American cultural mainstream.
The same degeneracy that afflicts American culture in general (expressive individualism being the best example) has deeply penetrated the White Nationalist movement. When Neo-Nazis parade through Toledo, they are simply carrying on the long established avant-garde tradition of shocking the bourgeoisie. When White Nationalists get piercings and tattoos, they are merely aping their aracial peers.
I could continue to list examples, but the two above are sufficient to establish my point. White Nationalists are not immune to their cultural environment. It is a constant struggle to separate ourselves, mentally and physically, from the sewage that pulsates through our culture. Even the best of us are subtly influenced by it.
A “Vital” White Nationalism
Now that “racial preservation” has been labeled “death,” “racial purity” called “mummifying the race,” and White Nationalism has been pronounced “an overwhelmingly degenerate movement,” Greg Johnson wants to create a new vital White Nationalism, and has a few ideas as to how to go about this.
His starting point: the “animal vitality” of a Star Trek convention. I’ve known Trekkies in the past. None of them have struck me as particularly virile. Quite the opposite.
Johnson diagnoses the problem: White Nationalism is “conservative,” which is to say, “backward looking,” devitalized, decadent, decadent, and gloomy. Star Trek is “progressive,” which means forward-looking, optimistic, and hopeful.
Come on, Greg.
This isn’t even a good interpretation of Star Trek. In TOS, Captain Kirk fought the Klingons. In TNG, the show bombed until the Borg were created as a villain. The Deep Space Nine series was entirely about war with a race called “The Dominion.” Voyager bombed until the Borg returned as the major villain. Finally, Enterprise was a flop, even after the directors tried to revive the show through a grab bag of conflicts with the Klingons, Borg, Xindi, and Romulans. In the latest Star Trek movie, a Romulan time traveler destroys Vulcan, the home planet of Spock.
There are no social penalties (aside from nerdiness) with being labeled a Trekkie. No one loses their job or goes to prison for watching Star Trek. No one utterly dehumanizes Trekkies. They are not socially ostracized by their own families. This is a really bad analogy.
In Johnson’s view, a “vital White Nationalist movement” would be a “utopian, progressivist, eugenicist mythical-cultural phenomenon.” Maybe something like a combination of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. I think this prescription speaks more to Johnson’s aesthetic and intellectual tastes than it does to reality.
History: Our Guide
Greg Johnson thinks we should look to the future as our guide. I think we should look to our past. What factors motivated White Americans to seize their racial destiny and conquer a continent?
Answer: it was a combination of things.
The American colonies were established out of religious, commercial, and geopolitical motives. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the English wanted to rid themselves of a swarming underclass, compete with France and Spain in the New World, create an outlet for their industrial production and a source of raw materials, and bring the Gospel to the New World.
As Virginia and the other colonies matured, Americans expropriated land from the Indians. The Indians were considered savages, heathens, and non-Whites. They were squatting on land which the colonists could develop and build into a free society. For racial, ethnic, religious, moral, and economic reasons, the Indians were dispossessed and pushed further West.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science labeled non-Whites inferior, and studies were produced that convinced the brightest minds to support segregation. Greedy settlers motivated by self-interest poured into Indian lands. Racial idealism and geopolitical rivalry with Britain motivated Americans annex Texas and seize the West from Mexico.
In sum, Americans conquered North America for commercial, religious, geopolitical, cultural, political, moral, racial, ethnic, intellectual and self-interested reasons. Everything from racial idealism to religion to science to morality to divine providence was cited to justify the expropriation.
The lesson to be learned from this is that White Nationalists should appeal to the full suite of human interests, not any specific one, to justify the reconquest.
What crippled the American project?
One European bad idea after another: liberalism, anti-slavery, natural rights ideology, communism, democracy, capitalism, millenarianism, anarchism, fascism, anti-racism, expressive individualism, libertarianism, postmodernism, feminism, nihilism, humanism, etc.
The effete sons of rough frontiersmen became infatuated and possessed by these abstract ideas. These abstractions were pushed to ever newer extremes at the expense of common sense, self interest, and tradition. When combined with material abundance, they produced the moral rot which has always been the source of republican decline.
Oswald Spengler can be included in this category: Western Civilization is doomed, cultures go through life cycles, we are living in the terminal phase of civilization. I can’t think of a better prescription for helplessness and inaction than Spenglerian historical determinism.
Revitalizing the White Nationalist movement lies in recapturing the racial attitude of our pioneer ancestors. The solution does not lie in the dust covered books of long dead European philosophers.