NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020

Instructive bad reading, Part II: Dissecting fascism with the help of “Might is Right”

Editor’s Note: This is part four of a four-part series on the white suprema­cist text Might Is Right and the his­to­ry of Amer­i­can fas­cism. This series looks at how ideas stat­ed out­right in that late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry text have con­tin­ued to have influ­ence into the present day, from Satanists and Chris­t­ian fun­da­men­tal­ists to pale­o­con­ser­v­a­tives and right-wing ter­ror­ists.

Jump to Part One | Two | Three | Four


In Might Is Right, the author asserts that those who have things deserve them; those with­out deserve noth­ing. In the pre­vi­ous install­ment of this series, I said that Anton LaVey only hint­ed at the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for ego­ism and mis­treat­ment of oth­ers in his adap­tion for The Satan­ic Bible; in the orig­i­nal, the explic­it rea­son oth­ers deserve noth­ing is that they are sub­hu­man.

In fact, whole class­es of peo­ple are found fun­da­men­tal­ly want­i­ng; the book is quite trans­par­ent about this. Some are this way from birth such as all women, all Black, East Asian, South Asian, and Jew­ish peo­ple.

Peo­ple can be degrad­ed fur­ther, such as women get­ting divorced, but the taint can claim even Anglo-Sax­on white men if they believe in encour­ag­ing equal­i­ty or empa­thy in pol­i­tics or reli­gion; or they become over­ly learned; or they seek solu­tions on a basis oth­er than naked force.

With the pos­si­ble excep­tion of white teenage boys and their equiv­a­lents of emo­tion­al intel­li­gence, a mod­ern per­son will imme­di­ate­ly notice the absolute dis­dain the author has for any­one who is not a rich, white, non-Jew­ish man.

“Are all men real­ly brethren? — Negro and Indi­an, Black­fel­low, Kalmuck, and Coolie?” asks the author of Might Is Right. This is ulti­mate­ly more hon­est than what we got out of the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence or out of the phi­los­o­phy that is foun­da­tion­al to the Enlight­en­ment but elid­ed now.

In writ­ing, “He who is with­out wealth amidst unlim­it­ed quan­ti­ties of it, is either a cow­ard, a born slave or a lunatic,” the author pro­vides direct jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for set­tler colo­nial­ism as well as con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism. “If you have seized it and no one can seize it back, it is yours.” The rich cer­tain­ly believe it’s their virtue that jus­ti­fies their hoard, and they finance an unbe­liev­able amount of media to con­vince us to ignore our lying eyes, rot­ting teeth, and depres­sion.

“A woman is two-thirds womb. The oth­er third is a net­work of nerves and sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty,” the author declares else­where.

Con­tem­po­rary “gen­der essen­tial­ism” and oppo­si­tion to the Equal Rights Amend­ment are ful­ly sum­ma­rized with con­ci­sion in those two sen­tences.

In Might Is Right, our author has a clear audi­ence; his “you” only applies to white male read­ers, just as his use of “man” and male pro­nouns are not arti­facts of an old­er gram­mar but mean exact­ly what they say.

The book prob­a­bly is not writ­ten for peo­ple who actu­al­ly are wealthy but cer­tain­ly for peo­ple who imag­ine they one day might be and whose class inter­ests align accord­ing to their future fan­tasies rather than their present cir­cum­stances.

Now, because lib­er­als and left­ists share a deep desire to be cor­rect, because we have a deep need to be intel­lec­tu­al­ly coher­ent often at the expense of more use­ful mate­r­i­al results, we there­fore can be dis­tract­ed into think­ing this is an effec­tive line of attack against con­ser­v­a­tives, Repub­li­cans, and the right.

It is not.

In part this is because they’re valu­ing nat­ur­al instinct and sense; that is, “gut play­ers” in the George W. Bush mold. Or “Let estab­lished sophisms be dethroned, root­ed out, burnt and destroyed, for they are a stand­ing men­ace to all true nobil­i­ty of thought and action,” as the author of Might Is Right says.

“A cult of action for action’s sake,” as Umber­to Eco would diag­nose.

But main­ly it’s because peo­ple with right wing pol­i­tics aren’t real­ly prac­tic­ing any hypocrisy; you can take them at their word once you decode their mean­ing by get­ting away from the euphemisms back to the roots.

Their world­view is whol­ly coher­ent so long as you real­ize only some of us count as peo­ple. The rest are sub­hu­man.

At first glance, this can sound over­ly harsh as if this is an expla­na­tion unfair­ly demo­niz­ing a group of peo­ple you sin­cere­ly dis­agree with on some fun­da­men­tal issues but have oth­er areas of agree­ment, too.

“My con­ser­v­a­tive friend just has a dif­fer­ent view on for­eign pol­i­cy than I do”; “my lib­er­tar­i­an cowork­er has a dif­fer­ent idea on fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty”; “my evan­gel­i­cal neigh­bor has a good heart, we just can’t see eye-to-eye on reli­gious issues.”

And to be clear, not every per­son on the right is a fas­cist.

But when you talk to such peo­ple and probe for the con­tra­dic­tions in their rhetoric, often stem­ming from their use of euphemism, what you’ll find is that at some point, they set aside whole groups of peo­ple as not count­ing ful­ly as peo­ple.

You will be con­fused about why armed, mask­less white men and women scream­ing at cops over hair­cuts was okay, but that peo­ple choked to death on the street, or shot in the head with maim­ing rounds protest­ing peo­ple being choked to death on the street, had it com­ing.

You will find it curi­ous Ruby Ridge and Waco are bywords for gov­ern­ment over­reach among so-called patri­ots but not the assas­si­na­tion of Fred Hamp­ton by Chica­go police and MOVE bomb­ing in Philadel­phia.

It is not hypocrisy; they are just count­ing peo­ple and injuries done to them dif­fer­ent­ly from those they don’t con­sid­er peo­ple.

This is why Patrick Hen­ry, a slaver who traf­ficked chil­dren in chains, felt no shame in say­ing, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be pur­chased at the price of chains and slav­ery?” Those chil­dren did not count as peo­ple.

Hen­ry was aware of them, sup­pos­ed­ly ago­nized over them in pri­vate moments, but they did not count in the equa­tion of lib­er­ty.

They were, how­ev­er, a reminder of what the Found­ing slavers feared the most.

Though not from the Unit­ed States, the author of Might Is Right is obsessed with slav­ery; he blends the poet­ic hyper­bole into the lit­er­al ante­bel­lum expe­ri­ence so often it’s not clear if that dis­tinc­tion actu­al­ly holds any mean­ing for him.

He is obsessed with hier­ar­chy. The world exists to him only in terms of peo­ple who can abuse oth­ers with­out con­se­quences and those who are help­less to stop abuse, so in a very sin­cere way, if you ain’t first, you’re last.

In the video essay, “There’s Always A Big­ger Fish” from Ian Dan­skin’s Alt-Right Play­book series, Dan­skin lands on the core dis­tin­guish­ing issue of the right that makes oth­er­wise cen­trist con­ser­v­a­tives so will­ing to hold their nose and work with fas­cists over even ano­dyne Social Democ­rats.

When you view soci­ety as a pyra­mid, improve­ments for those at the bot­tom is ter­ri­fy­ing because you can only see it hap­pen­ing by anoth­er group — yours —replac­ing them there. As the title of Dan­skin’s essay alludes, their fun­da­men­tal belief is that no improve­ment in inequal­i­ty is pos­si­ble, just a replace­ment of who is the big­ger fish and ben­e­fits more.

“What­ev­er the Marx­ists, the Social­ists, the Black Lives Mat­ter activists, or Democ­rats say when they talk about greater equal­i­ty, they mean they will be mas­ters and you the slave.” This is how peo­ple on the right hear such mes­sages.

It’s the same rea­son why the Unit­ed States was able to work with Fran­co’s Spain and South Kore­a’s Japan­ese col­lab­o­ra­tors after the Sec­ond World War, or push Pinochet to remove Sal­vador Allende from elect­ed office in a coup.

And this why see­ing a Black pres­i­dent deeply fright­ened so many white Amer­i­cans, and why most could sup­port Trump in 2016.

The author of Might Is Right says:

Social­ism, Chris­tian­ism, Democ­ra­tism, Equal­i­ty­ism, are real­ly the whin­ing yelp­ings of base-bred mon­grel-mul­ti­tudes. They howl aloud for State inter­ven­tion — “pro­tec­tion for suf­fer­ing human­i­ty”

Any­thing that mix­es up the, as they see it, inher­ent, nat­ur­al hier­ar­chy of peo­ple is anath­e­ma. For a fas­cist, force is para­mount but simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ideas have the poten­tial to upset the nat­ur­al order and must be stamped out.

Note that word “mon­grel”: the most dan­ger­ous chal­lenge is around breed­ing, puri­ty of stock, sanc­ti­ty of blood.

White fragili­ty isn’t just about indi­vid­u­als respond­ing to prob­lems, it’s also the con­cept of white­ness, which in Louisiana at the time Might Is Right was pub­lished, all the way until 1983, defined a per­son as Black if their ances­try was 1/32nd so. Homer Plessy of the famous 1896 Supreme Court seg­re­ga­tion case had only one non-white great-grand­par­ent. Yet this was enough.

The author reduces wom­an­hood to breed­ing poten­tial, and the dan­ger of let­ting a per­son who can become preg­nant choose their own part­ner is that they might choose wrong and give birth to off­spring with bad, non-white genes.

The Nazis picked up their eugen­ics pro­gram from extant ones in the Unit­ed States, par­tic­u­lar­ly Cal­i­for­nia. We forcibly ster­il­ized those who were insti­tu­tion­al­ized and oth­er­wise “unde­sir­able”, which in the Unit­ed States meant tar­get­ing non­white peo­ple who could become preg­nant.

Today, white suprema­cists have a four­teen-word slo­gan based entire­ly around this obses­sion with breed­ing and puri­ty, and for that, those they view as women have a cen­tral role. Usu­al­ly, it’s dressed up in kinder lan­guage of dis­tinct but equal spheres of influ­ence and the like.

Might Is Right does not even attempt such pleas­antries at any moment.

It has such sim­ple views on gen­der that sug­gest the author had few con­ver­sa­tions with women that involved him lis­ten­ing to them. But his writ­ing demon­strates how patri­archy is inex­tri­ca­bly wound around white suprema­cy, even as sub­or­di­nate white women are inte­gral to sup­port­ing white suprema­cy.

For the wel­fare of the breed, and the secu­ri­ty of descent, [women] must be held in thor­ough sub­jec­tion. … Woe unto him, woe unto them, and woe unto our Race, if ever these lov­able crea­tures should break loose from mas­ter­ship, and become the rulers or equals of Man. (But that is impos­si­ble.)

The best fight­ers are the best race-pro­duc­ers. This is the ver­dict of Biol­o­gy and the instinc­tive belief of the whole Fem­i­nine world in gen­er­al.

The author specif­i­cal­ly ref­er­ences French women in 1871 throw­ing them­selves at what he describes clear­ly phys­i­cal­ly supe­ri­or, less cul­tur­al­ly effete spec­i­mens of con­quer­ing Ger­mans. This is indis­tin­guish­able from sim­i­lar rants today by Cana­di­an Neo-Nazi Felix Lace claim­ing that French women in the Sec­ond World War threw them­selves at con­quer­ing Ger­mans.

So the ide­ol­o­gy will simul­ta­ne­ous­ly argue that women are drawn toward the nat­u­ral­ly supe­ri­or traits of strong white men but also the puri­ty of blood is in con­stant­ly in dan­ger from too much race-mix­ing. Ide­olo­gies of “free love” and repro­duc­tive auton­o­my for women endan­ger the future secu­ri­ty of the white race.

This mix­ing up of hier­ar­chy is as much an anx­i­ety in Might Is Right as with Lace.

How­ev­er, more respectable white suprema­cists like Ste­fan Molyneaux or more dis­tant fas­cist-laun­der­ers like Jor­dan Peter­son will make the same argu­ments about “enforced monogamy” so that lib­er­al insti­tu­tions like The New York Times will hear them out.

The basis of the incel (“invol­un­tar­i­ly celi­bate”) reac­tionary cul­ture and its result­ing ter­ror­is­tic vio­lence is not that these men are upset they can­not have sex.

It’s not even that they’re upset they’re unable to have sex with the women who meet their stan­dard of attrac­tive­ness.

They will in fact go out of their way to sab­o­tage sex work­ers who could pro­vide that for them. They do this because they are not frus­trat­ed by their own lack of sex­u­al grat­i­fi­ca­tion; they’re frus­trat­ed by the self-mas­tery of women.

More than a cen­tu­ry before, Might Is Right expressed the exact same impulse but more pre­ten­tious­ly:

Pros­ti­tu­tion (for hire) is also the direct out­come of unnat­ur­al con­di­tions… If our mod­ern Sodoms were all razed to the ground, how Nature in all her peren­ni­al puri­ty would rejoice exul­tant­ly?

Incels are upset that women are not forced to have sex with them because, for them, that is what the nat­ur­al hier­ar­chy is sup­posed to be. The con­tra­dic­tion between what their ide­ol­o­gy tells them they should expect and what the world actu­al­ly is can only be resolved by vio­lence and destruc­tion, not intro­spec­tion.

In the next install­ment of this series, which will be pub­lished tomor­row, we’ll look at why con­spir­a­cy, specif­i­cal­ly anti­se­mit­ic con­spir­a­cy, is the cor­ner­stone of fas­cis­m’s belief sys­tem to avoid that intro­spec­tion.


Jump to Part One | Two | Three | Four

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation


    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local pol­i­tics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for mon­ey.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy jour­nal­ism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time dona­tion