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One of our recurring questions here is the nature of madness: do people go mad? Or were they still mad, but just passing through as usual?
At the UnPopulist, Tom Palmer catches up with Jordan Peterson, a conservative black web truth teller/brave alt-right intellectual, who has made the journey from secondary curiosity to Putin apologist. Here is Palmer:
Turns out there are people who believe that Putin was forced to invade Ukraine because Russia is part of the West and therefore has a stake in its culture war which Ground Zero is sort of Ukraine. This is the view that Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology and popular lecturer at the University of Toronto, expressed in a recent 51 minute video monologue. In fact, he thinks the invasion of Russia has something to do with controversies over gender and gender identity in the West.
Tell me more!
Peterson rose to fame through his ruthless criticism of awakening and his crusade on gender identity, pronouns, and more. But in this monologue, he focuses his anger on Supreme Court Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings. Peterson was particularly upset that Brown dodged Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn’s “pitiful question” – as Peterson himself puts it – in which Brown was asked to “give a definition to the word “woman”.‘” Jackson refused, noting that she was “not a biologist.” As far as Peterson is concerned, Jackson’s refusal to answer Senator Blackburn’s simple question is evidence of a ‘deranged’, ‘degenerate’ West. and “crazy”. . . .
Russia is part of the West, he asserts, and “Russians believe they have the highest moral duty to oppose the degenerate ideas, philosophy, theology of the West.” More strikingly, this belief, Peterson insists, is “not wrong”: “And there is something about it, which is not wrong. And that is why Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is, more truly, a civil war in the West.
Now everything is logical. Nationalist-conservatives (a) love Putin and (b) are excited about the civil war. Peterson has found a way to combine the two: The invasion of Ukraine is the new civil war. And the Russians protect their “heritage” and their sovereignty?
I mean, in a way that all kinds of scans, right? Especially when you realize that from this point of view, the Russians are the Confederates – and that’s why Peterson and a few other conservatives support them.
In the case of Peterson, I think the answer to our original question was always pretty obvious: the guy was crazy as hell from the start. Here’s Palmer on Peterson’s origin story:
Peterson has gained a huge following on the internet by sometimes saying – in very deep tones – things that sound pretty sensible, such as“If you want to change the world, you start with yourself and work outward because you build your skill that way. I don’t know how you can go out and protest against the structure of the whole system economical if you can’t keep your room organised. Sounds like reasonable advice to a young person to me. His books and lectures offer a lot more advice like this, like “pet a cat when you meet one on the street “. I love cats, so that’s fine with me, but he lost me in his book ’12 rules for life’ to ‘move forward to take your place in the dominance hierarchy’.
LPT: If you see a person in the public square saying things that match your background, but also maybe seem a little crazy. . . they are mad. Or, as Neil McCauley said (perhaps), “If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt.”
Read the whole thing and subscribe to the UnPopulist.
John Ganz has some thoughts on the origins of what he calls American Völkisch.
The chapter of my book that I’m currently writing deals with the Ruby Ridge incident, where Randy Weaver, a survivalist, and his family clashed with the federal government during a siege of his cabin in Idaho. As you may recall, the result was tragic: the Weaver clan killed a Federal Marshal and the Feds killed Weaver’s wife and son. The clash at Ruby Ridge may have been the key moment in the creation of the modern militia movement. But what interests me at the moment is what the weavers believed and how they came to believe it. The weavers were adherents of a Christian identity, which states that the white Anglo-Saxons are the true Israelites of the Bible and that those who are called Jews today were in fact the offspring of Satan. They thought the US government was dominated by a satanic conspiracy and were willing to kill and die for their beliefs.
Ganz asks how the Weavers, a normal Midwestern couple, became radicalized. His answer is that their story,
implies that they go deeper and deeper into apocalyptic and conspiratorial thinking, but very roughly Christian identity, which was actually developed by American Nazis in the 1930s, easily plugged into the religious traditions in which the weavers grew up. It contained millennialism, the idea of a chosen one, Bible prophecy, and she organized people into local congregations: it wasn’t far from the evangelical, reformed, and fundamentalist Protestantism they grew up with, so it didn’t seem not so foreign. But it distorted a principle of Calvinism: instead of believers seeing themselves as metaphorical Israelites, a community of believers in covenant with God, it taught that they were literal descendants of the lineage of the tribes, who were also in makes the Aryans of Europe, not the Semites of the Middle East. In short, it replaced the concept of community with that of race.
A quick aside: If this all sounds familiar, here’s some background on Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, of a piece in the rampart sometime ago :
Mastriano also has an increasingly familiar profile religious profile. He described the Gulf War, in which he served in 1991, as a “holy” war – a belief reflected in his bizarre 2002 diploma thesis, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Sphinx.” He attended events of the charismatic Christian dominionist movement known as New Apostolic Reform. He shares anti muslim memesfrequents militiamen for guard confederate statues at Gettysburg, and constantly hits all the main themes of Christian nationalist discourse in his speeches and other activities. In a particularly vapid moment, he announced his candidacy for governor as wearing a tallit and blowing the shofar—symbols that Christian nationalists have appropriate of Jewish tradition and used to declare apocalyptic spiritual warfare.
You don’t have to be the world’s greatest detective to see what’s going on here. In any event . . .
Return to Ganz:
Many of the doctrines concocted by the far right make similar variations on core American myths. There is a constant effort to appropriate Americana. For example, Posse Comitatus, which I wrote about recently, is tied to the teaching of Christian identity and plays on Old West themes of sheriffs and vigilantes; The Militia movement tries to appropriate the language of the Constitution. . .
It occurred to me that one thing that might help us understand this phenomenon was the work of George L. Mosse, namely his book The Crisis of German Ideology: The Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich. Mosse’s argument is essentially that Nazism did not come out of nowhere, but that there was a fertile cultural context that dated back to the 19th century: the völkisch movement. “Völkisch” is a bit difficult to translate, on the one hand it can be as innocuous as “popular” and “populist”, but in this context it evokes nationalism and mysticism of blood and soil. The Völkisch ideology had its roots in a romantic revolt against modernity: its adherents were deeply interested in the natural, the “return to the land”, old folklore, mythology and Germanic traditions. It often had a racial and anti-Semitic component, pitting the down-to-earth, practical German people against the abstract, foreign Jew. The Nazis both came from this subculture and took advantage of its penetration into the national imagination. In Mosse’s account, Nazism was an ingenious combination of völkisch anti-modernism and modern mass political techniques. . . .
A way of conceiving this far-right Americana as a kind of American völkism: an ideological imagination that is a reaction to the modern situation but presents itself as rooted in the land, in the oldest traditions and traditions of the country.
Look, it’s not a right lineage from the Völkisch movement to “traditionalists” like Jordan Peterson and the Nat Cons. But you can see from point to point.
You should read Ganz’s entire post.
It’s a YouTube channel, not a newsletter, but Regular Car Reviews is one of life’s pleasures.
In the middle of this week’s Hyundai Ioniq 5 review, Mr. Regular has a little digression in which he offers slogans for Motel 6 advertisements.
Motel 6: Look, we’re not happy either.
Motel 6: If they had to leave, they would have already left.
Motel 6: Drink 10 Authentic Miller Drafts and wait for it to end.
Motel 6: Did anyone really see you do that?
Everything about this channel is awesome. Enjoy.
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ICYMI this week:
The next level – Tim Miller, Sarah Longwell and I tackle Herschel Walker and Dr. Oz.
beg to differ – Mona Charen leads a discussion with guests Professor Steve Vladeck and Bill Kristol on how far the Supreme Court will go this term when it comes to race and elections.
Through the movie aisle — Sonny Bunch, Alyssa Rosenberg, and Peter Suderman ask if this is a controversy or non-controversy that Billy Eichner blamed straight people for Brothers bombing at the box office before reviewing Blond.
Discussion group -Sarah Longwell and Politics Holly Otterbein listens to swing voters in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race.
The Rampart Podcast – Kara Swisher joins Charlie Sykes to talk about billionaires like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel who don’t care what they break.