I listened to a fascinating Counter Currents podcast about a recent “Twitter Drama” between C. A. Bonds and Bronze Age Pervert. I had never heard of C. A. Bonds, and I’ve never read Bronze Age Pervert. But the situation includes two issues in my wheelhouse that are worth exploring. Also, Greg Johnson’s hissy fit during the podcast is a great example of the Disingenuous Right.
Briefly, C. A. Bonds has a “Patronage Theory of Politics.” He seems to have recently removed much of his online writing, but I did find this, The Patron Theory of Politics. Without going into detail, the issue at hand is that C. A. Bond speculated that Bronze Age Pervert was receiving either money or publicity from the Claremont Institute, and BAP’s fans started trolling him on Twitter about their large payments of “Thielbucks,” a reference to Neo-Reactionary sugar daddy Peter Thiel.
I’ve been writing about Peter Thiel and the Claremont Institute and their sponsorship of Curtis Yarvin for two years now. I don’t know much about BAP, but if he were being funded, or given publicity, by the same circles it would hardly surprise me.
Greg Johnson reacted with emotional fury to this suggestion, and used a phrase he used against me, “paranoid ideation.” Briefly, I once posted on Counter Currents that Donald Trump had the support of some powerful Zionist figures, such as Sheldon Adelson, and related a personal story. During the Trump vs. Clinton campaign, a friend of mine attended a cocktail party in Manhattan, attended by some high rollers, many of them Zionist fundraisers. One told her, “I hate Trump, but we have to support him to help Israel.”
For some odd reason, this triggered Johnson so hard he accused me of “paranoid ideation,” implied that I made up the story, then deleted all of my comments on Counter Currents going back months. Obviously I found this overreaction quite puzzling, but knowing that Greg Johnson is a Drama Queen of the highest order, I didn’t really think much of it, until a week later he uses the same rhetoric he used against me in this unintentionally hilarious piece:
Greg Johnson’s blow up in the podcast about Bond and BAP was more or less the same, and it revealed something about Johnson’s extreme disingenuousness, a character flaw that seems endemic on the Right.
First, what Johnson does is interpret Bond’s analysis in the least charitable way possible, so much so it borders on a strawman. Basically, Johnson does the opposite of what a sincere person would do:
In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity or charitable interpretation requires interpreting a speaker’s statements in the most rational way possible and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation.
Johnson claims that if someone suggests that someone is getting paid, they are necessarily also assuming that that person is lying, and that is “paranoid ideation.” This is such a disingenuous claim it is astonishing. If I were Peter Thiel, and I wanted to fund a writer, I’m obviously going to choose a writer that shares the world view I want to promote. There is no “lying” and no one made any sort of claim that anyone was, but Johnson goes ballistic making this claim. I’ve been writing about Curtis Yarvin’s funding by Peter Thiel, but I’ve never claimed that Curtis Yarvin doesn’t believe a word that he writes and he is merely taking dictation from Thiel, but Johnson characterizes the situation as exactly that.
Fortunately, his co-hosts, Nick Jeelvy and Mike from Imperium Press, push back quite hard on this. They point out that, for one, obviously censoring some voices while boosting the signal of others is a very simple and obvious way that powerful groups can decide who has influence and who does not. Indeed, Johnson himself has been heavily censored and deplatformed – how could he pretend he doesn’t understand how this works?
Does Johnson really believe that there exists no “artificial” influence on Internet platforms? He’s never heard of a bot farm? Never heard of SEO? Never thought that someone like Andrew Sullivan, who has a large audience, can lend that audience to a newcomer like Curtis Yarvin?
Johnson is far from stupid, so why is he pretending he is?
A second astonishingly disingenuous claim Johnson makes is that if someone like Bond claims that someone like BAP is being funded or boosted by powerful interests, that is really just jealousy. This is also absurd. For instance, I recognize that Yarvin is far smarter, and a far better writer, than I am. I’m certain that his ideas are far more compelling than mine. Even if Yarvin was not being funded by Thiel and the Claremont Institute, and even if he wasn’t boosted on day one by Andrew Sullivan, I have no doubt that Yarvin would still be far, far more popular than I am.
Johnson’s claim that patronage has no influence on those being patronized is disingenuous in the extreme. Consider the concept of “access journalism.” If I’m a journalist who is getting quotes and tips from General Milley, I know that if write a negative article about him, I’ll lose my access. So, either I self censor, or I’m simply out of the game. If I were an op-ed writer for the New York Times, I’m going to know by the culture of my workplace that I will be rewarded for expressing certain opinions, and punished – possibly fired – for expressing other opinions. So the patron can have an influence merely by selection.
Noam Chomsky’s writing about the press was attacked by mainstream journalists exactly as Johnson is attacking Bond here. Chomsky simply pointed out that people who did not hold the opinions of the powerful would simply never be selected as journalists in the first place – his critics called him a “conspiracy theorist” for suggesting that, Johnson would no doubt accuse him of “paranoid ideation.”
Since Greg Johnson is clearly very intelligent, it is not that he doesn’t understand these things. So, why would Johnson be so disingenuous about such a rather banal analysis, that patrons have influence on those they patronize, and that those who gain influence in a society do so because they are backed up by some power?
Well, Johnson has done a little psychoanalysis on me, so I’m going to do a little psychoanalysis on him.
Just a few months ago, Johnson explained that due to being financially deplatformed, he was relying on a smaller number of donations from more wealthy people who could donate a larger amount. So perhaps this analysis causes this extreme emotional reaction from Johnson because he immediately takes it as a personal attack on him, even though the analysis clearly is not. Perhaps the lady doth protest too much?
Second of all, one might suspect that Johnson’s allergy to second guessing people’s motivations is because of his personal situation. Being gay, in the Right, is difficult because one has to stay in a sort of “closet.” One has to engage in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “neither confirm nor deny” that one is gay, which surely must be frustrating. So, if someone were to wonder, “why is Claremont Institute, a neo-conservative think tank, funding and popularizing writers like Yarvin and BAP” this triggers Johnson emotionally, leading him to accuse people of “paranoid ideation” because peering behind closet doors, inquiring into hidden influence, are lines of inquiry Johnson has often been on the receiving end of.
But still, Johnson’s utter disingenuousness is astonishing. But then, I remember, he’s a right-winger, so it goes with the territory. Clearly, disingenuous people are attracted to right-wing politics.
I agree completely with Johnson’s comment that having someone “slightly to the left of us” in the mainstream is a good thing, not a bad thing, and it’s “our” job to then bring them all the way. But Johnson – again, completely disingenuously – simply ignores the well known tactic of co-option.
The tactic was expressed by legendary Republican operative Lee Atwater in this infamous interview. While this interview has been greatly mischaracterized by Democrats, Atwater makes the point clearly:
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now you don’t have to do that. All that you need to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues that he’s campaigned on since 1964, and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.
Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?
Atwater: Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, “Ni**er, ni**er, ni**er”. By 1968 you can’t say “ni**er”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this”, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Ni**er, ni**er”. So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the back-burner.
Atwater is describing quite clearly how the GOP got the Southern vote NOT – as the Democrats claim – by appealing to racial interests but instead how they could ease out racial appeals by abstracting them away. You first have a population completely in tune with their own racial interests, but by the end of it, they wind up voting for a slate of issues that has completely avoided addressing their racial concerns. They get a pro-white dog-whistle, but they vote for anti-white policies. This is standard issue GOP politics, and this is the co-option people are concerned about.
Greg Johnson clearly understands all of these things, so why is he being so disingenuous?
Indeed, Yarvin was extremely successful in co-opting the online right from 2007. At the time the online right was centered around Ron Paul, AntiWar.com, and its sentiments were anti-war, and increasingly, anti-Israel.
With skill that would have made Lee Atwater proud, Yarvin – with great assistance from Andrew Sullivan – spent a decade dog-whistling to that right, and slowly – but surely – turned them away from libertarianism towards the novel idea of … “monarchy” … and explained that it’s not Jews behind the anti-white rhetoric coming from Harvard, it’s actually … neo-Calvinists. Instead of cynical Zionists at AIPAC promoting war by bribing politicians with money and blackmailing them with bad press, it’s actually well meaning, but impractical, neo-Calvinists who caused the war because they wanted to help Muslim girls get an education. If you suggest that in reality, the warmongers at AIPAC have more self-interested motivations, Greg Johnson will accuse you of paranoid ideation.
The Right of 2007 was openly discussing Jewish power, AIPAC’s warmongering, and Jewish anti-whiteness. Now, the entire online Right is reading Joel Kotkin at Claremont telling everyone Jews are the biggest victims of Critical Race Theory.
I’m not “jealous” that Yarvin was so successful at co-opting the Right. I’m angered that he was, and terrified of Yarvin and Thiel ever getting their dictatorship. The fact these people are all either Jews, or funded by Jews, make it obvious that it is Jewish interests, not American interests, that are being promoted by Claremont and the Right.