Pedro Gonzalez, Woke Workplaces, and the Art of the Meme
The America First Weekly: Volume III
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Every edition of The America First Weekly includes Five Questions (a Q&A with an interesting figure, pseud or otherwise), Links & Screeds (all editors get to weigh in on anything they choose), and a friends-link to an original Featured Article by one of the AFW editors.
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This week, AFW editor Bedivere Bedrydant speaks with American Greatness Associate Editor Pedro Gonzalez.
Bedivere Bedrydant: Recently, Curtis Yarvin asked a leading TradCath what he would do if he had political power, and according to Yarvin, the TradCath couldn't give him anything more specific than "pursue the common good." Yarvin says the Left never has this problem, because they understand that their own policies always yield a "power dividend"—they create more power for the Left. So, Pedro, once the spiritual nationalists take power, what policies should they pursue, both to remake America and to yield power dividends to the Right?
Pedro Gonzalez: First, Yarvin is right. The left understands power, contemporary conservatives do not. I think this has to do with the left's materialism. Whereas the right is concerned chiefly with debates over principles and theory and "permanent things," over how they wish things ought to be or imagine they are, the left—regardless of what it says and pays lip service to—is not inhibited by these abstractions, but instead concerns itself with identifying, pursuing, seizing, and consolidating control over the concrete structures of power.
So, on the one hand, I think this question should begin one step back: How do we put ourselves in a position to prosecute our agenda? We can learn from the left in that regard.
On the other hand, I think many of the policy items and outcomes people like me want are obvious enough. Raise corporate taxes, create the equivalent of the Hungarian “Stop Soros” laws. Entire federal agencies must be downsized and outright abolished. We must take to task corporations that have bankrolled mayhem and misinformed the public through censorship, even if that means nationalization to either reform or dissolve them. Strip subversive think tanks of their non-profit status—I've made the case for solving the student debt problem in a way that would shutter superfluous universities.
Bedrydant: Are demographics destiny—meaning the white working class is going to be electorally disenfranchised by immigration and we'll be ruled by the KamalaReich for a thousand years—or are we all Hispanic supremacists now and planning to defeat AWFLs through law & order machismo with salsa picante?
Gonzalez: Demography is destiny one way or another. First, the GOP is hyping its performance with minorities for less than honest reasons—this is a great excuse to stop talking about the white working-class, to pretend the GOP has fundamentally changed somehow. But white voters still are and will continue to be for the foreseeable future the GOP's largest support base.
Second, if we grant it is possible to attract more minorities—more Latino men specifically—to the GOP by running caudillo-type candidates, that is itself an affirmation that demographics have changed our politics by making them more bellicose, more "macho." I think a little atavism is healthy, however.
Bedrydant: The (ongoing) realignment on the Right has, in large part, entailed chasing libertarians and neocons out of the GOP and bringing in the working class. But some libertarians have also publicly supported Trump, whether it's because of gun rights, anti-wokeness, or the prospect of boondoggles like the Green New Deal. What the heck are we supposed to do with the libertarians in our midst?
Gonzalez: I think the realignment is nascent. Therefore, I think libertarians and neocons aren't all the way out, but instead are trying to reintegrate their views as populist. Turning Point USA made itself the youth wing of "Trumpism," and thus injected many of these broke ideas into the movement. This is why I think the "America First" kids are important, they can offer a counterbalance. Ultimately, we should aim to marginalize libertarians and neocons, keep them away from "spokesperson" positions, and incrementally suppress their views as they resurge from time to time.
Bedrydant: Speaking of the realignment, it seems to be a lot further along "on the ground" than in the ranks of the GOP. Are the populist-nationalists on the national level (e.g. Hawley and Cotton) for real, or are they just branding? In other words, is there any hope for the GOP?
Gonzalez: I am deeply pessimistic of the GOP's future—surprise! I think there are some bright spots, fleeting glints of change, but the GOP is very good at capturing populist movements, rendering them harmless, and using those currents to institutionally revive itself without fundamentally changing. Hawley strikes me as a paper tiger and Marco Rubio is in fact a paper tiger. I think the guys "on the ground" should be wary of the GOP as an institution. They should look at policy, not what is said. If you look at the Democratic Party's 1932 platform, here's what you'll find:
The Democratic Party solemnly promises by appropriate action to put into effect the principles, policies, and reforms herein advocated, and to eradicate the policies, methods, and practices herein condemned. We advocate an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagance to accomplish a saving of not less than twenty-five per cent in the cost of the Federal Government. And we call upon the Democratic Party in the states to make a zealous effort to achieve a proportionate result. We favor maintenance of the national credit by a federal budget annually balanced on the basis of accurate executive estimates within revenues . . .
It's not simply that politicians are liars, it's that regardless of what is said, these debates tend to be only superficially about ideas—new or old—but generally boil down to power struggles beneath different masks.
Bedrydant: John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” What color pill are you taking these days regarding religiosity and republican government in America?
Gonzalez: I think Adams was right but it's probably irrelevant to us now because that document has been operationally dead since long before I was born. So, contra conservatism, we aren't—or shouldn't be—fighting to "conserve" the system Adams described because that system does not really exist but in name.
I think back to Machiavelli's The Prince and the Discourses. The Prince is a treatise concerned with how to acquire and keep power—but also, in a way, with founding and refounding orders, often by less than republican means. But the Discourses, a much longer work, is chiefly concerned with republican government. What I take from this is that sometimes, to save a republic, or refound a republic, it is necessary to do things that are not consistent with the formalities of republicanism. Hope for a better future begins when people are willing to do whatever it takes to see that future, and disillusionment is the first step toward seeing clearly.
Links & Screeds
Every week, each AFW editor comments on the news, shares links, talks about what he’s reading, or just rants. Presented in the order they arrive in the Managing Editor’s inbox…
After Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, the Slavophile writer, editor, and civil servant Ivan Aksakov gave a fire and brimstone speech to an assembly of other Slavophiles in St. Petersburg, lamenting the Tsar’s death and issuing a dire warning to the Russian people (presciently, as it turned out):
We are on the edge of ruin. One step more in the fatal direction we followed with such criminal light-headedness, and we attain to blood and chaos. This is no exaggeration, no mere words.
The Slavophiles tended to deal in potted and simplistic binaries between the West and Russia, but that did not stop them from possessing insight bordering on the prophetic. This is Aksakov in the same speech, having mentioned already the French Revolutionaries’ legal replacement of God almost 100 years prior with the “Goddess of Reason”:
The same thing happened in France the other day. It is ordered now to put in all the primary schools, instead of the word God, the word Nature… What is the use of political rights which allow, in the name of liberty and law, such a revolting infraction of freedom and truth?
If a law’s aim runs contrary to the actual purpose of the law, what use is the regime which produced such a law? My fellow spiritual nationalists should consider well the implications of such a question.
But the insight from Aksakov I want to focus on comes near the end of his speech:
As soon as the Christian world forgets the notion of God, the modern foundation of the State is shaken, as Christianity is the only great principle subduing, moderating, in due limits, the development of mere State principle. Society, which repudiates Christianity, but at the same time is unable to give up the exigencies inspired by Christian truths, individual freedom, and other Christian ideals— such a society is doomed to search only in the State for the realization of all these ideals, though they are perfectly unattainable in that region. In rejecting the spiritual weapon, that highest moral motive for good, based upon faith in supernatural truth, there remains only material force, however legal it may be.
I am no Nietzsche scholar, but this seems to me like the Russian Orthodox equivalent. Atheistic societies have repudiated Christianity, yet they attempt to cling to the political fruits of Christianity. But since they have rejected Christianity, they try to carry Christianity’s practical benefits to fruition within the machinery of the state. But this is “perfectly unattainable” (as the Russians of the 20th century would discover, and as Aksakov predicted):
But a Christian cannot simply cease to be a Christian; he will continually struggle with his former God, in his own soul and in the outside world. And the more he struggles the more discontented he becomes. Therefore the final fate of every Christian society which excluded Christ from itself is rebellion and revolution.
A similar thing happens in professional workplaces, something I’ve been thinking about since our Five Questions with Chris Arnade last week. The “front row” educated professionals of Arnade’s formulation leave their towns and families for career opportunities elsewhere, while “back row” workers tend to stay in one place and take the jobs they can find in their towns and near their families.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the colleges and workplaces of the “front row” have become battlegrounds, where self-orphaned young people demand that their educators and employers treat them like their own children. Besides the multiplication of fringe benefits like snack bars, puppies, and massages in order to make these places feel like home, they also demand things like emotional “safety” to protect them from people with different worldviews, and wage equity so that they needn’t ever negotiate for their own salary, since doing so would expose the workplace as a site of competing private interests rather than the home of a common good, as the family home is.
But of course, it is also a picture of the spiritual ennui of our woke managerial class. The more that they look, the more they struggle, the more discontented they become. The Democratic Party cannot help them escape the nausea that rises within them on account of the universal sinful nature they share with all men, and since they have no spiritual recourse, they project their sinful nature onto the land that gave them birth: America.
The American “back row,” on the other hand, at least sympathetic to traditional religion if not altogether devout, maintain an awareness of their own personal need for divine guidance and aid, as Arnade discusses. They are thus naturally patriotic, because their gratitude for their nation is not corrupted by the sick-minded projection of our godless elites. Thanksgiving, thus, is at the heart of both religion and patriotism, and is the perfect starting point for articulating a spiritual nationalism for the 21st century.
The news that Jordan Peterson’s new book brought many of its publisher’s employees to tears reminded me of how perfectly the 2017 “Peterson Phenomenon” serves as a microcosm for the shifting tectonic plates in the West. I bet that if you had mentioned “Jordan Peterson” to someone in 2017, you could accurately predict how they voted in 2020 based on their reaction.
I caught the Peterson wave rather early, when I stumbled upon the YouTube video of his confrontation with ornery college students. From there, I browsed his YouTube channel and was struck with the power of his rather simple message: personal responsibility and Christianity are forces for good and our society is in peril the more we erode them.
I wasn’t surprised that Peterson’s fame exploded in 2017, but I was amused that I had seen it happen in real time. In high school, I wanted to be one of those pricks who bragged about liking The Pixies before it was cool to like The Pixies. Now I had my chance. But when I did brag about it to a good friend I was taken aback by his reaction. This was a friend whose opinion I had always respected, and here he was bemoaning the popularity of such a bigot. My shock at his disgust for Peterson was matched only by his shock at my admiration of him. (Guess who each of us voted for in 2020?)
When I asked for evidence of Peterson’s bigotry, it became apparent that he had actually not listened to anything of Peterson’s, but had only read the screeds about him. When I suggested that he was the victim of dishonest reporting, he acknowledged that it was perhaps a possibility and that he would have to read up more about him. I remarked that, instead, he should listen to Peterson himself. Sadly, this advice was not heeded.
But why should Peterson, whose career seems to simply inspire people to take up the mantle of personal responsibility, be so vilified? Why does the Left break down in tears when a man encourages other grown ups in the virtue of cleaning their rooms?
The answer came, as they often do, in the form of an old Alex Jones clip.
Why does the media offer up such impotent heroes like Justin Bieber and Michael Jordan. Why are we so distracted by the trivialities of pop culture and so ignorant of the deeds of great men like Magellan?
Jones declares that the globalists are suffocating your soul with pop culture so that, as an empty vassal, you can be easily controlled.
This might sound conspiratorial. But if you just rephrase it to: Worshipping impotent idols immobilizes us. In our ignorance and oblivion, power-hungry globalists can do whatever they want. If love for a nation is replaced by devotion to international pop stars, nations themselves will soon dissolve. Is this all that different from Jones’s declaration?
Similarly, the Left gains political advantage by convincing everyone they are either a victim or a victimizer. For the victim who suffers because of various socio-political forces outside their control, their salvation is found in the State and those control it. For the victimizer, their salvation is found in perpetual groveling to the victimized class and letting them “take the lead,” which means, of course, also worshipping the victim’s Lord and savior. In other words, the Left doesn’t want you to clean your room. They want to clean it for you, and expect you to love them for it.
Jordan Peterson’s uncompromising call to personal responsibility threatens the very hope of the Left’s political narrative, which promises salvation through surrendering national sovereignty, tainted as it is by racism, and submitting to the credentialed, race-conscious, managerial and global elite.
But personal responsibility is the stepping stone to Nationalism, for they are of the same essence: Love and care for one’s own home.
Untameable Native King
Inspired by C.Y. (M.M)
The Japanese Emperor has been a largely ceremonial figure since the 12th century. The British Monarchy hasn’t been functionally powerful since King Charles I, whose reign began with him being 5’6” but ended with him being 4’8”. The Forbidden City, built by over 1,000,000 laborers still imposes itself in Beijing and 5,000 years after its construction the Giza Pyramid of Khufu still towers above nearly all other buildings in Egypt (only a handful of Cairo skyscrapers are taller).
Once upon a time, a visitor to the Parthenon would be required to make a sacrificial offering, give gold or valuable treasure to the priests in exchange for passage and favor. The trip would be made to harness divine assistance, like Xerxes who, according to Herodotus, sacrificed 10,000 bulls to Athena in Ilium before his Ionian invasion. Or maybe the trip would be to give an offering to the gods in thanksgiving for a favor granted. Like the Carthaginians who sacrificed their children to honor the gods for saving their city.
But those things don’t occur anymore. Instead, today, a visitor to Beijing doesn’t have to get the Emperor’s permission to enter the Zijin Cheng, the sacrificial fires of the Acropolis remain unlit, and the Giza Pyramids have been looted for over 700 years. So then what happens at these former centers of political authority? Tourists and visitors pay money to take pictures.
Taking pictures strikes me as a modern indicator of fading political power. And yet this seems like a cultural paradox in our social media posting, TikTok fame, Snapchatting, Instagram era. Combine this with the power of traditional media and its constant presence inside our own home; we are inundated with images. How, you might ask, with digital images being so prominent in our daily lives, could images be synonymous with lost authority? Walk with me through this quick thought experiment.
Can any of you describe, with any accuracy, the CEO of Blackrock Financial ($7.4 trillion in assets)? His hair color? His eyes? His jawline or lack thereof? Were there pictures taken when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation became the second largest donor to the WHO? What about Mark Suzman? He’s the CEO of the largest private foundation in the world with assets of $46.8 billion. How about Jurgen Mossack or Ramon Fonseca Mora, the founders of the discredited Mossack Fonseca Law firm which laundered money and evaded taxes for people like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jianping, and Saudi King Bin al Saud. The more amazing thing is it was only the 4th largest offshore holding company. Who are the top 3 and whose money do they hold you wonder?
These people and many, many others make the decisions that literally run the world. They dictate not only economic, but political responses to situations. Sheldon Adelson didn’t donate over $70 million to Donald Trump’s reelection for nothing. Bloomberg’s $57 million toward Joe Biden’s campaign will obviously be brought to his ailing mind. Does anyone think that the Libyan intervention in 2011, resulting in the removal and death of Muamar Gaddafi, didn’t have to do with normalizing diplomatic relations in 2006 in order to open the country to international investment? Or that the Afghani war and occupation resulting in that country's largest opium exports doesn’t correspond with massive increases in American opioid prescriptions?
Speaking of which, do you know what the CEO of Pfizer looks like? What about Moderna? What about McKesson? What about the “Global Management Consulting” group McKinsey Corp. who advised, in a recorded meeting, that Purdue Pharma give out rebates for pharmacy clients who died from oxycontin overdoses. Just typing the words, global management consultant, makes my skin crawl. Alex Jones says that the Davos elites want to use us like human batteries, but he’s wrong. To them we aren’t batteries, we are sheep being fleeced and once useless, slaughtered in the stockyards for slight compensation.
So what does this have to do with our current state of affairs? Simply that wherever you see pictures being taken, whether Kamala Harris dancing with children, Donald Trump signing legislation, or Joe Biden reciting his favorite Palm, you’re not seeing where the power is. Barack Obama gives an interview for 60 minutes while senators grandstand over Supreme Court Justices and House members “sit-in” for equality but somewhere a software code in a Dominion server switches 6,000 votes and decides an election. Who wrote that code? What do they look like? What does it look like?
There are no pictures where there’s power and where there are pictures, the power has gone.
Ulysses S. Musculus
Last week in this space I added my humble verse to the growing literary/artistic movement of the online right. This week on Medium I add my reflections on that movement to those of Curtis Yarvin and other excellent thinkers who have commented on the rise of dissident art on the Nationalist Right. None of these thinkers has done more to outline the contours of the movement than Rachel Haywire in her book The New Art Right. I recommend it to all America First Weekly readers. I take my art with a bit more Christian flair than the average online right-ist, but inasmuch as art is an attempt to speak the truth inspired by the Muse I applaud the attempt. We will leave it to philosophers to discern what, if any, truth there is in the poesis.
The thread I haven’t had time to tug on is whether we have a truly nationalist artist at all at the moment. Come at it another way: When was the last time we had a national novelist or poet? Was it T.S. Eliot? Too international. Faulkner? Too provincial. Steinbeck? Hemingway? Frost? Perhaps, but all three died over fifty years ago (and their best writing came long before their deaths).
Modern film is unquestionably the result of the overwhelming success of the American cinema industry but even there, what film has spoken to the soul of the nation? Film Studies 101 hammers on the racism of “Birth of a Nation” ad nauseum, and in a sick, twisted way that was an attempt, albeit one I would want to distance the new nationalism from. Still “Birth of a Nation” is contemporaneous with Gershwin, Sousa, and World War One. Is that how long it has been since nationalist art was seriously attempted in this country? It has been far, far too long. Our art is either too individualistic, too cynical, too trivial, or too infected with the interests of the “global citizen.” We need a Wagner and instead we get the nominees for Best Picture of 2019. Many fine films. None that captures a positive vision of our nation’s deepest longings and aspirations. We need a clarion call and get critique, but critique without the blood in it that could make us truly reflect. The irony is that artistic projects inflected with “1619”ish criticisms are liable to end in a nation engrossed with a spiral of scapegoat lynchings and counter lynchings. Whereas a true nationalist work of art X-rays our soul and causes us to pause in humility before we act. Moby Dick speaks volumes about America and Americanism, inspiring us to better and warning us against what may come. Such art articulates our high ideals and envisions our deep longings, while staying connected to the nature of who we are. This forces us to a posture of humility, even as it empowers us to act boldly, and with solidarity, knowing we are knowers who do not yet know all.
In every week’s edition of The America First Weekly, we provide a “friends link” (no Medium subscription required) to that week’s original article written by one of the editors.
We will see art moving in a rightward direction. Indeed can anyone imagine art moving in a leftward direction? Just look at the hectoring woke-nones scolding any artist who dares step out of line.
Where is the Wagner of the 21st century American nationalists? I’m sure he’s out there, even if he has only just been born. But I haven’t listened to, read, or seen anything yet that would lead me to coronate some contemporary artist with such a crown.
The closest I’ve come is when I (Bedivere) picked up Houellebecq’s Submission a few years back, and read it in a single sitting. But he’s French, and a bit of a doomer. In fact, reading Houellebecq feels on some level like reading blackpill memes come to life as legitimate art. Which is what we should be looking for once our Wagner comes, as Ulysses S. Musculus argues, in this week’s Featured Article: The Art of the Meme.