The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Reading Samizdat

Posted on | November 12, 2018 | Comments Off on Reading Samizdat


One of my habits — perhaps not a good habit, but valuable to my career as a journalist — is studying the radical fringe. This is part of what I learned from Hunter S. Thompson‘s career. If you want to know where society is heading in the future, pay attention to what is being advocated by those who are considered extremist kooks. Thompson made a habit of immersing himself in the fringe, writing about the “non-student Left” at Berkeley long before these young radicals emerged as a revolutionary force in American politics and culture. I’ve always enjoyed reading anything far-out and freaky, so long as it was actually true. Weird tales of human savagery, such as Thompson’s Hell’s Angels, are far more interesting to me than the bland stuff that passes for political “current events.” The vast collection of radical feminist books I’ve accumulated during the past four years could also be included in this category of fringe literature. How many conservative journalists have bothered reading the collected works of Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Adrienne Rich, et al.? Only me, I suspect, but how else to understand the deranged mentality behind the Hillary Clinton campaign and the #MeToo witch-hunt?

Before it was possible to buy out-of-print books via Amazon, my habit was to prowl used bookstores in search of obscure titles and forgotten classics. This is how I acquired old paperbacks of William F. Buckley Jr.’s Up From Liberalism and J. Edgar Hoover’s Masters of Deceit. Because my knowledge of Cold War-era history is informed by such contemporary sources, I’m rather inoculated against revisionism by the Marxists and postmodernists who nowadays prevail in academia. And it was during my used bookstore browsing forays, some 25 years ago, that I acquired a first edition of The Dispossessed Majority by Wilmot Robertson.

This is one of those Books You’re Not Supposed to Read and, indeed, it’s risky even to acknowledge its existence, as The Dispossessed Majority is not only racist, but also anti-Semitic. However, given the recent trends — everybody is getting banned from social media and fired from their jobs if they dare connect the phrase “open borders” with the name George Soros — I went plowing through my bookshelves yesterday to find this old book. Much like Jean Raspail’s 1973 The Camp of the Saints, a dystopian novel about mass immigration that now seems prophetic, The Dispossessed Majority offers some interesting critiques of how race was, and still is, publicly discussed in our society. You don’t have to share the author’s particular opinions on race, for example, to nod your head in agreement at this passage from page 51:

With the passing of the Melting Pot fantasy has come the anti-fantasy — the American Mosaic. The intellectual mise-en-scène has suddenly been rearranged to accommodate a new sociological fad, the pluralistic society, in which all races and nationality groups live harmoniously side by side, all maintaining and strengthening their racial and cultural identity, each making its own contribution in its own way to the total picture of American life.
Like the promoters of the Melting Pot, the salesmen of pluralism have misread history, which teaches that pluralistic societies are static and caste-ridden and a standing invitation to disorder and disaster. Historically disoriented, the voices of pluralism are also dramatically contradictory. They are opposed to racism in theory, but support minority racism in practice. They uphold group identity, but demand integration. They approve of racial quotas, but are against racial discrimination.

As an indictment of the mentality of those who advocate what we now call multiculturalism, this is exactly on target. We see this in the implementation of “diversity” policies at, e.g., Harvard University where a lawsuit claiming admissions discrimination against Asian students has produced evidence indicating that Harvard has established de facto quotas for black and Hispanic students. Harvard has denied this, and yet it appears that the university has determined that 14% is the “correct” number of black freshmen to be admitted every year. Just as The Dispossessed Majority said, administrators at Harvard now “uphold group identity, but demand integration.” This contradictory logic of “pluralism” cannot be justified by any purely educational purpose, and it is certainly not a color-blind policy of the sort endorsed by an earlier generation of liberals, who had been raised on what Robertson calls “the Melting Pot fantasy” of minority assimilation.

To repeat and emphasize what I previously said, you don’t have to agree with the author’s general opinions about race to see the truth of such prescient passages of The Dispossessed Minority, just as you don’t have to be a radical feminist to deplore rape and prostitution. And now, as Paul Harvey would say, for the rest of the story . . .

The Dispossessed Majority was just one of those many books gathering dust on my shelves until yesterday. What caused me to go hunting for it was that I remembered it included a calculation that, at the time of the first federal Census, the white population of the United States was overwhelmingly (77%) of British ancestry, with single-digit fractions of Irish, French, German and Dutch ancestry. This datum was relevant to something I was researching and, out of idle curiosity, I wondered, whatever became of Wilmot Robertson?

Well, it turns out, this was the nom-de-plume of Humphrey Ireland (1915-2005). His parents were high-society types, his father a successful pioneer in the aviation industry, and Ireland attended Yale before becoming an advertising executive. In the 1960s, Ireland began writing under the pseudonym Wilmot Robertson for Western Destiny, a journal published by Willis Carto, a notorious anti-Semite. Ireland moved to the hills of western North Carolina and, after the publication of The Dispossessed Majority, spent 25 years publishing a magazine titled Instauration. This magazine played a role in one of the notable purges in the history of the conservative movement. In the mid-1980s, National Review editor Joe Sobran praised Instauration in one of his syndicated newspaper columns and, in 1986, this became part of the evidence that Midge Decter cited in a letter to Buckley accusing Sobran of being “little more than a crude and naked anti-Semite.” In response, Buckley defended Sobran and promised to limit Sobran’s criticism of U.S.-Israel policy. Seven years later, however, in the wake of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and Pat Buchanan’s 1992 GOP primary challenge to George H.W. Bush, Buckley found himself confronted with still further complaints of Sobran’s anti-Semitism, and Sobran was fired from National Review.

Looking back to that long-ago controversy, what shall we say? Being quite vehemently pro-Israel myself, and the exact opposite of an anti-Semite, I regret both Sobran’s drift into anti-Semitism and the almost paranoid hyper-sensitivity that led to his being purged at National Review. Many would argue that, by the time Buckley fired him, Sobran had already gone too far, but if this is admitted, still the question remains why he went so far. Sobran was an extremely intelligent man and a gifted writer, and his auto-defenestration should arouse our curiosity. My hunch (and it is only a hunch, for which I can offer no evidence) is that Sobran drifted into anti-Semitism precisely because it is so strictly taboo. This is a tendency I’ve observed in similar cases: Resenting the way political correctness infringes intellectual freedom, some people start flirting with anti-Semitism as a sort of daredevil stunt. This is dangerous.

Sort of like the teenage girl who starts dabbling in tarot and astrology and ends up in a pagan lesbian cult, the conservative who starts playing footsie with Jew-haters can easily be sucked into a vortex of paranoid theories about Zionist conspiracies, so that everywhere he looks, he perceives the hidden hand of the cunning Jew. One of the reasons this vortex is so dangerous is because, quite frankly, there are some Jews whose activities lend credence to such paranoia, and if raising concerns about the political influence of George Soros makes you an anti-Semite, there are an awful lot of conservatives who will have to be purged from the movement to obtain an acceptable degree of purity.

Should I fear that my mention of The Dispossessed Majority will cause some readers to buy the book and turn into Klansmen? Well, I hope not. It is difficult for me to imagine that any intelligent and reasonably well-educated person would read the book and be converted to an extremist viewpoint by an author who, for example, employs the archaic typology of white people as “Nordic,” “Alpine” or “Mediterranean.” Whatever the merits of such classifications in purely anthropological terms, they are irrelevant to any current debate about race and public policy in the United States. For the purposes of current debate, “white” is a homogenous category. The social-justice fanatics don’t care whether your ancestors were Puritans who arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower or Hungarian Jews who came to Ellis Island via steerage. What matters is that you’re white, and therefore condemned as a possessor of unjust “privilege,” complicit in the oppression of non-white minorities. Remember that during the Trayvon Martin uproar, George Zimmerman (whose mother is Peruvian) was labeled a “white Hispanic.” If the Left treats white people as an amorphous mass, a collective force of oppression, it is foolish to quibble over trivial distinctions. Was Antonin Scalia a “Mediterranean” type? Is Tucker Carlson “Nordic”? So what? Welcome to the 21st century, where nobody cares.

When studying the radical fringe, and reading Books You’re Not Supposed to Read, it’s necessary to be able to discern that which is true and valuable when you find such truths sandwiched between things that are erroneous and foolish. Is it true that “pluralistic societies are static and caste-ridden and a standing invitation to disorder and disaster”? Well, if you’ve studied the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and especially the sad fate of the former Yugoslavia, you have to say that The Dispossessed Majority was correct in that assessment, and if Americans want to avoid this kind of “disorder and disaster,” we had better be willing to learn some lessons from history.



Comments are closed.