A contrarian perspective on the “optics” debate in the dissident right

Counter-Currents recently came out with an article called “Nick Fuentes & Our Xenus“.  The main subject is the Groyper War.

The good

The groypers are known for confronting RINOs, neocons, and other flavors of mainstream conservatives and asking pointed questions.  The targeted politicians who reply with the truth about their beliefs will reveal that they’re basically liberals in disguise, or at least don’t give a damn about the public, and this makes them look bad among their voter base.  (After all, people who vote Republican do so because they want to elect a genuine conservative.)  Sometimes politicians choose to dodge these questions, which also makes them look silly.

The article says that Nick Fuentes does have some less than diplomatic moments, but he also builds bridges to the wider public.  I’ll concur that this is very important.  Moreover:

He had his shit together a hell of a lot more than I did at 19. He took optics cucking to levels that even I, a man who proudly served under General Vaughn in the Optics War, considered a tad excessive. He dressed like a boomer, and not only did he not use racial slurs, he didn’t even use swear words. He wasn’t the greatest thing I’d ever seen, but for a 19-year-old, I was really impressed.

This usage of “optics” basically means how good you look before an audience.  Indeed, there’s something to be said for that, and I’ll be delving a little further into it.

You had all these hard-partying faux tough guys walking around, and then this clean-cut Fuentes kid shows up looking like Alex P. Keaton wearing a suit and tie and with this extremely suburban Midwestern accent.

At least he wasn’t wearing a Hugo Boss outfit, because that like would be really deplorable and stuff.  I might add that asking questions isn’t so controversial, and one needn’t even reveal one’s own personal opinion.  This is what Socrates was doing back in the sandal-and-toga days.

The bad

Here’s where it starts going off the skids.  The author does have the best intentions, but it’s coming across the wrong way.  With a heavy heart, I’ll have to call it like I see it.  This – and what follows – almost ruins the article:

But certain things happened in the Dissident Right that caused the styles and fashions change. The wignats have been purged, larping is now considered cringe, and whole tough-guy shtick has really gone out of fashion. Probably because most people figured out how fake and gay the whole tough-guy shtick is most of the time.

First of all, nobody got “purged”.  It’s impossible to do so in a decentralized movement like the Alt Right.  The most that happened was a bunch of denunciations and internal dissention.  Let’s remember that “punching right” only helps our opponents.  In Deplorable Diatribes, I wrote the following about the reaction to the Charlottesville setup, a major part of what the author meant by “certain things happened”:

I’m casting about for an analogy to the armchair quarterbacking. The following is not a precise equivalent, but it’s the best I can do. After the Kent State shootings, did the antiwar movement put on a big samokritika session? Did they blame their leaders for creating a climate of tension leading up to it with militant rhetoric and disorderly activities? Did the peaceniks decide that holding demonstrations was a failed tactic? Did they resolve that they’d better not appear any further left than George McGovern? No, they raised holy hell about the National Guard’s itchy trigger fingers. It was indeed a godawful mess, and they did their utmost to make the administration look terrible over that. I’ll have to give credit where it’s due – leftists have the sense to point fingers at their enemies rather than their friends.

Long ago, William F. Buckley made great efforts to position himself as the non plus ultra of “respectable” conservatism.  He did quite a lot of purging among the National Review, and otherwise denouncing anyone so much as a millimeter to the right of himself.  Where exactly did that get us, pray tell?  This is why “Conservatism Inc.” is the way it is, and the dissident right doesn’t need to make the same mistakes.  Rightists are always suckers for “salami slicing” tactics.  Meanwhile, leftists won’t even blink if you call them extremists.

Secondly, regarding this talk of “LARPing”, I’ll start to take the author seriously as soon as he’s done as much for the dissident right as George Lincoln Rockwell.  (He was more radical than I am, but I certainly won’t slag him off.)  I’ll add that Commander Rockwell has been praised in several Counter-Currents articles, despite his uniforms and flashy optics-unfriendly stuff.  He did have his reasons for all that, which he explained in his books.  One may agree or disagree with him on that point, of course, but putting down people on our side is a little much.  I try not to be too exotic, but I won’t criticize those who are.

Finally, I fail to see how “tough guys” are fake and gay.  I don’t care for posturing, and in person I’m about as civilized as it gets, but I also strongly emphasize working out.  If that makes me fake and gay, I guess I’ll have to start listening to more Village People albums.  (Now that I’ve been declared queer, I hope I don’t have to start going to bed with men – yuck!)  However, anyone who can outdo my powerlifting score is certainly welcome, if he pleases, to call me a big fairy.

After that, the article tries to drive home the point by going into a lot of Movement gossip.  This is where I really wanted to pull out my hair.  I’m not sure how true (or otherwise) the particulars are, but I don’t care.  Gossip is destructive.  I’ve observed this fact ever since I was a teenage shitlord, back in ancient times.  (I’ll have you know that my old pal Marcus Aurelius agreed with me on this matter.)  This sort of thing tends to demoralize us and spread internal dissention.  Can we kindly knock that off, please?


21965 (xenu)

Then the article digresses about the evil galactic overlord Xenu from Scientology’s mythology.  (Xenu is also a major plot point in my book Space Vixen Trek Episode 13:  The Final Falafel.  That’s why I use our little grey buddy as my logo here.)  The Xenu myth – which is where they get their volcano symbol – is just as important to Scientology as the Garden of Eden is important to Christianity.  That is to say, if Xenu didn’t actually scatter billions of disembodied souls on earth back in the dinosaur days, then there’s no point in becoming a Scientologist.

Christianity does explain in a straightforward fashion about the Fall of Man and how salvation through Jesus is necessary because of that.  On the other hand, Scientology doesn’t explain about Xenu to newcomers, even if it’s the entire point of playing with their e-meters.  You have to reach the OT3 level, which generally takes at least $150K, to learn about that.  There are revelatory mystery religions out there, but the real reasons are that Scientology is a money-grubbing cult, and the Xenu story is absolutely ridiculous.

The reason for the digression is the following:

“Xenu shit” are ideas that the average uninitiated blue-pilled types just couldn’t handle right away. “Hitler was really the good guy” is some Xenu shit. People need a few red pills in them before they’re ready for that argument. Unless someone already has a penchant for conspiratorial thinking, Holocaust denial is Xenu shit. And, of course, “We’ve got to send all the Jews to Israel” is some Xenu shit.

I’ll add that the above positions are not mandatory for membership in the dissident right.  Moreover, there’s room for some nuance.  Still, it doesn’t matter so much whether one believes that (for example) Hitler was good, bad, or a far more complex figure than what you see on TV but nonetheless made dick moves occasionally.  Present-day debates do not stand or fall on whether or not Hollywood historiography was absolutely false, absolutely true, or grotesquely distorted and only occasionally true.  Anyone trotting out a “reductio ad hitlerum” argument against us is using sloppy debate tactics and should be called out for it.

Finally, we can start setting the bar a hell of a lot lower than this.  Remember, it’s the Current Year!  If you even believe in the existence of two distinct sexes, then this makes you “deplorable” even if you’re liberal.  That said:

Someone once told me “Red-pilling people is like defusing a bomb. You have to cut the wires in the right order or the whole thing blows up.” There’s not much sense doing the whole “Hitler was really the good guy” unless people understand the JQ. And there’s no point getting into the JQ with someone if they don’t understand race realism, because without race realism, the JQ is just an issue of assimilation.

Again, not all of the above items are essential views that all rightists have, but I’ll concur that there’s something to be said for introducing people to difficult concepts the right way.  In my own religion, which is almost as silly as Scientology, we call the slow approach “milk before meat”.  (Now hold that thought.)  Even so, there’s a bit of irony that the article doesn’t capture.  If the point of the groypers is to expose mainstream conservatives for hiding their weaksauce views, then why is it a virtue for dissident rightists to hide our radical views?

Delivering the right message

To digress from the article, this whole optics debate in essence is really just part of a larger consideration:  tailoring the message to the audience.  The important thing to remember is that the audience isn’t monolithic.  Because of this, you need to have more than one spokesman in your movement, more than one approach of reaching the public, and more than one message.

Highbrow audiences will not respond favorably to lowbrow messages.  For the most part, this is where the “bad optics” problem comes in.  However, lowbrow audiences are unresponsive to highbrow messages; it leaves them cold.  There’s also a middlebrow audience which needs suitable messages too.  In fact, none other than George Lincoln Rockwell discussed this in his essay “From Ivory Tower To Privy Wall: On The Art Of Propaganda”.

If you own a grocery store, and a man comes in from a painter’s truck in overalls to buy groceries, you don’t try to sell him a one-ounce jar of Russian caviar at two bucks a throw. You offer him beef, potatoes, and bread. If a French diplomat comes in, you don’t offer him hawg jowl; you might try the caviar. It is the same with propaganda. If you wish to win the “trade” of all potential “customers,” as we must do if we are to survive, you must have in stock a complete line of goods, especially the kind of goods most desired by the majority of your potential customers — and that means bread, potatoes, and beef, not caviar and truffles. If you can open a special store to peddle only caviar and truffles, do it in the silk-stocking district. Conversely, if you want to open another branch to sell only chitterlings, hawg jowls, and the like, then do it in the [African-American] section of town. And if you want a mass grocery business, in the name of sanity, stock up on something besides caviar and truffles.

So the takeaway is that all three approaches have their proper place, and all can be pursued where possible.  That said, the middlebrow approach should receive the greatest emphasis since this is where most of the public is.  Elsewhere:

The worst waste of money I have ever seen in the whole field of propaganda was the special Sunday supplement the Birch Society put out not so long ago in newspapers all over America. It cost as much as a quarter of a million dollars in some cities. Had it been designed to appeal to the mass, the “average man,” the man who votes with his heart instead of his head, it could have been worth the millions it took to publish. But it was foolishly aimed at a relatively tiny minority. On the front cover, in full color, it showed a typical Birch Society meeting, in the home of a man obviously wealthy – in the kind of living room which would make the average, working-class, overalled American uncomfortable. The Birchers were sitting around sipping tea with their pinkies daintily extended, and the whole atmosphere was foreign, ridiculous, and even painful to the man in overalls — to America’s millions of “ordinary Joes.”

Catering to only to “people who matter” isn’t a great strategy either.  (The corollary is “to hell with everyone in this other social class – we don’t need their support” or “the grassroots will always back us anyway, so we can sell them out”.)  We see lots of examples of that in conventional politics, where the candidates cater to swing voters and even try to poach voters from the other party.  When they do that, they count on the unquestioned approval of their main voter base, even if the politicians all but drop their pants and moon their constituents on national TV.  That’s one reason why there is so much cucking out in politics, which the groypers themselves are calling out.

The synthesis

Bringing this discussion back in, the Counter-Currents article is correct that the groypers are doing something right.  It’s good that someone is embarrassing all those phony conservatives by asking tough questions.  It’s also good that the groypers are a moderate and well-dressed faction that helps open up the eyes of a new audience.

Still, that’s only the beginning.  Once you’ve convinced the Republican voters that neocons are pussies and usually liberals in drag – what then?  Remember the above quote – “Red-pilling people is like defusing a bomb. You have to cut the wires in the right order or the whole thing blows up.”  So who’s there to cut the other wires after the first one?  You’ve scratched the surface, and there’s something to be said for that, but there are many other messages that need to be conveyed too.  (By the way, most of them have nothing to do with former German chancellors.)  Our counterpropaganda must counteract the effects of a lifetime of TV watching.  Obviously that includes lots of subjects – some easy, others not so much so.  Time is not on our side, and setting up a Red Pill correspondence course would be a bit unwieldy.

Therefore, we need to have people putting out the stronger stuff too, for those who are ready for it.  Obviously not everyone will be ready for certain points yet, but messages become accepted after frequent repetition.  (In fact, Commander Rockwell himself made that point.)  Also, the more people who are challenging the leftist Narratives, the less effective they are.  Likewise, all the taboos attached to them start to lose their power.  That’s why it’s about damn time to stop “punching right” and slagging off the people who really are putting out the hard-hitting messages.  This means quit going after the “wignats”, the “LARPers”, and the “fake gays” like me who spend too much time at the gym.  Put your real enemies on target instead.

Finally, we’ll never get “optics” just right.  The MSM is a leftist institution, and they can spin things however they like, so we’d better get used to playing on enemy territory.  They’ll call us all sorts of names no matter what we do or how many of our own friends we denounce.  The only way to win their approval is to believe the same way as them.  I’d rather just be a heretic in their opinion.

A contrarian perspective on the “optics” debate in the dissident right

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