About a year ago, someone posted a link to the What’s Left podcast, hosted by Aimee Terese and Oliver Bateman, specifically the episode with guests Angela Nagle and Malcom Kyeyune. After listening to a number of episodes, I became a fan.
Terese was a Berniebro, a supporter of Bernie Sander’s 2016 Presidential campaign, but in the aftermath found herself increasingly alienated from the Left. Indeed, the title of the show, “What’s Left?” has two senses; one, what is left after the failure of the 2016 campaign, and two, what is the left itself?
Terese aims to use the tools of Marxist analysis on the institutions of the Left itself, and finds that the entire constellation of “progressive,” “socialist,” and even “Marxist” think tanks, magazines, publications, and organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America are simply extensions of the American Democratic party, and in a Marxist sense, are simply bourgeois representatives of the Left wing of Capital.
All four, Aimee Terese, Oliver Bateman, Angela Nagle, and Malcom Kyeyune, have been “canceled” by the Left precisely for using the tool of Marxist class analysis on the Left itself.
A central premise of marxist, materialist or scientific socialism, on the other hand, is that classes simply cannot act this way. Classes pursue their own interests and act politically not out of greed, or generosity, or any other personal bit of sentiment, but due to historical and economical pressures. It is this very simple fact that makes the ”materialism” of someone like Bhaskar Sunkara at Jacobin magazine, and of most leftists of his stripe in general, so incredibly contradictory.
For it to work, there has to be an unstated agreement among the faithful to never seriously use the tools of marxist analysis on the left itself. Any and all self-examination must remain on the level of personal discussion (”can person so and so really be a socialist, when her parents are so rich?”). The punishment for transgression against this agreement, for breaking the most sacred code of Omerta the modern left has, is swift and severe: you will get cancelled for this, and you will be added to the ever growing list of ”strasserites” and ”secret nazis” who tried to lure the faithful away from the true path.
What happened to Angela Nagle is instructive in this regard; her article, The Left Case Against Open Borders, was an attempt to argue against unrestricted immigration from a class-based, materialist perspective. It’s quite likely – and also quite amusing – that she would probably have received less sustained hate online if she had written that immigration shouldn’t be allowed as long as non-white people talk funny and smell bad.
Last year, I wrote an analysis of four popular “Dissident Right” bloggers, and attempted a more or less tongue in cheek “vulgar Marxist” analysis of them. I defined “vulgar Marxism” as the famous Upton Sinclair saying, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
Unlike the Left, the Right has no institutions. Aside from mainstream Republican think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, and their more “edgy” cousins such as Claremont, the Right has nothing, at this point, not even the Church. So it is more difficult to do a structural analysis on the Right. But you can do some speculation.
Despite the hysterical reactions from certain Disingenuous Right authors that self-righteously declare they are not for sale and are not influenced by any outside pressure, it’s obviously true that individuals respond to incentives as do institutions.
Money is clearly a motivating factor, however no one gets into writing for the Right for money, outside of the Republican think tanks and magazines. There is certainly no money in being a dissident. However, some of the most popular of the Disingenuous Right bloggers and vloggers do grift for money. Thus, they have to please their audience. On an individual level, people may in fact deny the are responding to financial considerations consciously, to preserve their ego. But this sort of self-deception is just that: it only deceives the self. Other people are not so deceived and understand that people do, consciously and unconsciously, respond to financial incentives.
Perhaps even more pathetically, many Disingenuous Right bloggers cultivate sycophantic commenters. Consciously and unconsciously, writers want to be read, and commenting is proof of the engagement of the readers. Vox Day, Jim Donald, and Z-Man are notorious for their sycophantic comment sections and a kind of online cult of personality. Affirmative Right’s Colin Liddell went from a complete lack of engagement to getting numerous positive comments when he decided to become an anti-anti-semite and engage in constant Jewish and Zionist advocacy; he was rewarded not by money, but with sycophantic commentary by Jewish Hasbara. For some, this is reward enough.
There is also the self-reinforcing nature of telling your readers, also known as “financial contributors,” that they are somehow smarter and better than others, a kind of “elite” that can prove their elite status by consuming the content, and especially supporting it via financial contributions.
Contrary to what the shrillest of the Disingenuous Right would have you believe, it is not a “conspiracy theory” to speculate on people’s motivations. Chris Simmons, the CIA officer and author of Human Chess, said that a CIA case officer has to make a “sometimes uncharitable” assessment of someone he’s trying to cultivate as an asset or an agent. When interviewing someone for a job, you do not take their resume at face value, as resumes are of course mostly advertising rhetoric. You expect the interviewee to put their best foot forward, but you will also, you must, consider the negative aspects of the interviewee in order to make the choice to hire or not.
So-called “dissident” right content creators can be assessed in a similar way. The What’s Left people can use Marxist analysis on the Left because the Left has institutions; Marxist analysis does not typically apply to people on the individual level. Instead, the individual right-wing content creators must instead be analyzed by speculating on the incentives that work on an individual level. If the Right were to ever successfully create institutions, then that class analysis could be done.
I was already engaged with the online right when the “Dark Enlightenment” marketing campaign appeared. (It’s follow up, the “Intellectual Dark Web” was stillborn.) It was, in fact, a marketing campaign. One vivid example was a graphic that categorized dozens of different blogs as, e.g., “Ethnonationalist,” “Manosphere,” or “Economics,” and put them all under the general heading “Dark Enlightenment.” The “Dark Enlightenment” centered Mencius Moldbug aka Curtis Yarvin’s “Neo-Reaction” but included in the broader “Dark Enlightenment” many content creators that had little to nothing to do with “NRx.”
It was also obvious that to be included, one had to ixnay on the ewjay thing; only Kevin MacDonald and the Occidental Observer were too big to ignore.
It was obvious then that some amount of professionalism was put into these efforts, and if hindsight is 20/20, one only had to go back to Mencius Moldbug’s third post to read him thanking Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic for lending his established audience. When Curtis Yarvin reappeared at the Claremont Institute under his own name, it became obvious what had happened, and what was happening.
Since you get flak when you are over the target, it is interesting to see who squealed when pinched in the dark. Consider the hysterical reaction from National Review when it was discovered to be taking money from Google. Some well meaning speculation that Bronze Age Pervert was getting funding from Claremont had his online fans quickly jump in to attack the messenger, essentially proving the point. Greg Johnson fumed in outrage at the mere suggestion that there was financing going on, dismissing the speculations as “paranoid ideation.” When Curtis Yarvin is analyzed, many are quick to try to dismiss his influence on the wider “dissident” right, an obvious misrepresentation as his central role over the last nearly fifteen years cannot be denied.
Since I’m not a right-winger, and I’m not part of the “dissident right,” appeals to trite ideas like “don’t punch right” or “don’t infight” simply do not apply. I am not a “Dissident Right” content creator “infighting” with other bloggers. I am an outsider doing an analysis on the so-called “Dissident Right” and have found that the term “Disingenuous Right” fits far, far better.
Malcom Kyeyune pointed out that the leftists calling him a “Red Brown Strasserite” were engaging in Nietzsche’s slave morality. If they really believed that Kyeyune was a “fascist” then they should expect him to act like a “fascist” and attack them, and not plead for him to go easy on them. Since Kyeyune is a “Person of Color” it just added to the self-discrediting comedy of the Left when they called him a “white supremacist” for opposing mass immigration into Sweden.
Aimee Terese gets a substantial amount of hate when she points to the structure of the Left, their actual class role as bourgeois enforcers for the Democratic party and how their activism is simply disciplining the working class at the behest of the Left wing of Capitalism. Of course they are going to hate her for demystifying their actual political role.
For the Disingenuous Right, it is more and more obvious that much of their role is to mystify Jewish power, which was becoming a major issue in the old Ron Paul/Lew Rockwell right of the 2000’s and 2010’s. It is also telling that the one aspect of the Ron Paul right they will endorse is Capitalism, in order to tamp down on the growing appeal of “economic populism” to the grassroots right.
Hence, while it’s a bit tongue in cheek, “The Aimee Terese of the Post-Dissident Right.” If I were to do a podcast, I’d call it “What’s Right?” I am in a sense a refugee from the Ron Paul Right in the same way that Aimee Terese is a refugee from the Bernie Sanders Left; both of us look at the successor movements with a critical eye, and both of us have been more or less “canceled” by those movements for using the very tools of those movements to analyze the movements themselves.
My critical take on Donald Trump’s Zionism got me “canceled” by the Alt Right in 2015, by Counter Currents in 2019, and, for noticing their Zionist agenda, by the Affirmative Right in 2021.
It is quite liberating, and illuminating. I want to understand their political role.