An immense change in American life occurred between roughly 1980 and present: a shift from life within a thriving civilization to life under a managed decline. This shift is the end result of laissez-faire economic and immigration policy, as well as catastrophic foreign policy entanglements instituted by elected politicians who represented themselves in one way, but were actually only loyal to moneyed, private interests. Or perhaps we should be more nuanced– admit that rapid technological innovation and other nebulous social and cultural forces played their role, and demonize the politicians not for causing the decline, but for not doing enough to ameliorate it. Regardless of where and how one places the blame: the decline is here, and it is ugly. Its effect is obvious to anyone who has traveled through flyover country: the spiritual and economic gutting of the American middle and working classes, the preclusion of any hopeful vision of the future for anyone but the internationalist elite and those in their favor.
The thrust of the above argument can likely be appreciated by any serious-minded Trump voter, and I suspect it summarizes the solitary thread of agreement uniting the deeply divided, big-tent, “Dissident Right” movement. Right-wing pundits like Steve Bannon and Tucker Carlson have discussed this shift at length in as far as it presents a political problem with potential solutions in the realm of electoral politics, and the denizens of the online right have approached in metapolitically, drawing a range of metapolitical conclusions.
The issue is also one of aesthetics, and a study of the decline in American life can be made through a study of aesthetics alone, especially through an analysis of quotidian and nostalgia-inducing curiosities and cultural artifacts. Based on these, we might understand the recent-past, and speculate upon possible or “lost” futures. This corner of the metapoltical discourse—what we might call “The Politics of Aesthetics”– has always been a primary interest of mine. In the dissident sphere, I have always associated it with Brandon Adamson’s altleft.com, and more recently it has been taken up by at least two, new outlets: The Perfume Nationalist podcast, and the output of “7-11 Nationalist” Rich Houck.
While this blog has largely been retired, it seems that questions concerning “the politics of aesthetics” are finding a new space and audience within the dissident sphere. These topics and questions were the animating force behind “AltOfCenter”, and so it feels right to update my thoughts on the matter for the tumultuous but potentially fruitful year of 2020.
The time has come to offer a more cohesive theory of “homonationalism”. This, I think, can be achieved with the help of Camille Paglia’s landmark work of social criticism, Sexual Personae. Paglia’s book offers a theory of “homonationalism ” (my word, not hers) which is part and parcel of a broader, sweeping, theory of the continuity of Western Civilization. Ultimately, Paglia’s theory offers a convincing explanation for why homosexual men constitute a cast of elite, “cultural shaman” whose contributions to the history of the West have been tremendous. From this, I will make the case for the unique role of homosexuals in the current state of Pro-Western nationalism.
Anyone with a pulse and half a brain knows that work sucks. From comics like Dilbert to cult classics such as Office Space and Fight Club, the 9-5 grind has long inspired despair and twisted gallows humor. However, one doesn’t have to be a pop culture expert to know that people hate their jobs. Just take a gander at polls, which show that a whopping 13% (!) of employees around the world are engaged at work. I imagine that if these polls only measured the attitudes of regular workers and omitted top managers and independent entrepreneurs, that percentage would be even lower. Of course, these numbers are hardly surprising, since anyone who enjoys waking up early every day and commuting to work is clearly nuts.
“Whenever I’ve developed an enthusiasm, I’ve always been curious in what debunks my enthusiasm… when I got interested in Judaism I became interested in those books that were most damaging to Judaism… when I was a Christian I became interested in what debunks Christianity… when I was a Capitalist I became interested in Communism… this is the way I’ve always lived my life, I realize that to everyone else it seems schizophrenic and wildly contradictory and impossible to put together…[it’s] just the way I investigate everything.”
— Luke Ford in Stark Truth TV’s new documentary “Supply”
Luke Ford has been many different things in his 52 years; so many so that it is impossible to keep them all in your head at once. He might be well described as porn journalist turned alt-right journalist who, all the while, has remained a steadfast convert to Orthodox Judaism, but this description would leave out other distinct flavors: Luke’s being Australian, his background as the “son of a preacher man”, his devotion to the Alexander technique and other ergonomic endeavors, not to mention his interest in psychology and 12-step work.
Perhaps the most catch-all way to describe Luke, though–other than as a man at life-long war with his own narcissism– is as an investigator: a seeker of truth, who tends to position himself as close to the source as possible. While some of us are interested in Jewish spirituality from afar Luke put on the Kippah and Tzittzit himself, and moved to the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angelas: one of the city’s two hearts of Orthodox Judaism. While we’ve all found ourselves enticed by pornography, Luke has the distinction of actually having immersed himself in the industry for a decade, interviewing hundreds of performers and producers, and even directing a porno himself. And of course, while if you’re reading this blog you likely have interest in the alt-right, chances are you have not explored it as up-close-and-personal as Luke, whose daily livestream has featured virtually every major figure in the movement.
The concept of beauty throughout history has been a force for creation, inspiring mankind to reach the pinnacle of civilization. From men accomplishing great things to win over a lover, the beautiful female as a muse for the artist, religions building great temples and cathedrals to attract worshipers, kings and emperors building monuments to demonstrate their greatness, and businesses using aesthetics in architecture and advertisements to attract more consumers.
In today’s society aesthetics serves primarily as a force to manipulate people to keep them striving and conforming to the liberal capitalist system. Advertisements use aesthetics to create a vision of a product to consume; not just the product itself but an overall aesthetically pleasing scene involving beautiful women, luxurious furnishings, great architecture, natural scenery, and music to create the mood.
Aesthetics then become a mechanism to keep people enslaved to the system in hope that they can one day date or marry an attractive woman, buy aesthetically pleasing merchandise, vacation in aesthetically pleasing locals, and live in an aesthetically pleasing community.
Prior to the 1950’s, the urban core of LA, centered around Downtown, was relatively small. It was also much more compact and vibrant, however, than it became in the second half of the 20th Century. In recent years, there has been renewed interest in urbanism and walkable communities, and LA’s downtown, historic core is now revitalized and booming with new highrise construction.
While LA is just in the early stages of creating an integrated metro system, the region once had a vibrant street car system connecting the urban core with extensions to street car suburbs such as Santa Monica and Pasadena.
According to Curbed LA : “in 1945, a sinister corporation called National City Lines took over the thriving Los Angeles Railway, which served most of the sprawling region. Then, over the course of the next two decades, LA’s extensive streetcar network was eliminated and the iconic Red Cars that Judge Doom mentions were replaced with shiny new buses.
There has been a growing movement within the New Urbanist scene to retrofit car-oriented suburbs. There is even an excellent book on the subject titled Retrofitting Suburbia by Ellen Dunham-Jones. The book focuses primarily on retrofitting aesthetically unappealing, car-oriented suburbs that were built in the 2nd half of the 20th Century.
Despite opposition from suburban NIMBY’s this idea makes practical and aesthetic sense. Your typical American suburban commercial thoroughfare is lined with ugly strip malls with massive parking lots that are aesthetically unappealing, ecologically unsustainable, and unfriendly to pedestrians.
I spent an afternoon with Robert Stark in the podcaster’s hometown of Santa Barbara, California.
I arrive at his place around 1:00 PM: a magnificent vaporwave mansion in the Santa Barbara Hills, overlooking the city below. It is amazing to think that it is from here that Robert has recorded hundreds of interviews with fringe celebrities ranging from deplorables like Richard Spencer and Greg Johnson to oddballs like Xiu Xiu lead singer Jamie Stewart, and Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe…
In the 1980’s, the San Fernando Valley was known as “America’s Suburb” (think the original Karate Kid and Fast Times at Ridgemont High). It has come a long way downhill, at least from a middle class perspective. LA’s stark income inequality is as visible here as anywhere else, with neighborhoods populated almost entirely by immigrants planted right next to wealthy, gated communities. The white middle class that once called the valley home have long since fled to nearby Santa Clarita. Here I’ve captured some of the destitution of Van Nuys Boulevard, moving into the neon of the relatively prosperous Ventura Boulevard.
All hegemonic systems of value have an expiration date, and that of liberal universalism is fast approaching.
For decades the liberal crusade for equality went about deconstructing every institution with which the average person could orient their Identity, calling into question the unstated premises at the heart of these institutions, and highlighting their “myth” character, as well as the inequality masked or “naturalized” by those premises– preferring a “nurture over nature” explanation of every hierarchy existing within society. Its late and final stage– cultural-Marxist, millennial, “SJW”, Identity politics– brings the universalist doctrine into a totalitarianism by extending its egalitarian logic to the fullest extreme, suggesting every inequality is the result of a “social construct”, and vowing to “deconstruct” such inequality wherever it can possibly find it. In doing so it has brought to the West a pandemic crisis of gender, sexual, racial, and national identity, responses to which we should only expect to grow more volatile and polarized.
This is a blog about politics, sexuality, aesthetics, and how they are connected.
It is as personal a blog as it is political– as much a reflection on my identity and its contradictions as a reflection on the state of the West, and its contradictions.