Returning to the figure mentioned last time, Louis Beam, who introduced a theory on leaderless resistance into the white supremacist playbook.
Through this contribution to the racist movement, we can begin to see how the group might adapt to their environment. Beam (1992), wrote that it is important to adopt a fluidity in behavior and tactics. Maintaining a unified structure makes the cause more vulnerable to monitoring or destruction. A phantom cell organization is ideal, as those who share similar outlooks will act accordingly. Though, it remains up to the individual to assess what needs to be done, allowing for a multitude of responses.
On the internet, a multivariate response is guaranteed and the malleability of popular culture and memes ensure a fluid nature to the movement and the symbology it utilizes letting others know where they may stand, or dog-whistling as it is called. There is a blending in with the standard nomenclature allowing one thing to mean another while still maintaining a presence in innocuous usage, this seems to be an issue for self-perpetuation which will be covered eventually.
Essentially decontextualization is one of the more potent methods for this group to spread their message. With various responses and cells, there are going to be many venues from which one may be introduced to the ideology.
There has been one that seems to be a stepping stone into this realm, that of the intellectual dark web, Weiss & Winter (2018), which is a collection of academics and personalities that take on what they feel are unfair pressures from the mainstream and academia. They are infamous for tackling issues such as multiculturalism, IQ, LGBTQ+, and gender differences. They appear to be very anti-political correctness and often traditional in their views, though they do not necessarily agree on everything, all seem to be pushing for more rational discourse and debate.
The topics mentioned that they seem to gravitate around can be loaded, and if handled improperly can cause great harm to those that fall into the categories or maybe misinforming. Some of the members might make rather strong arguments, though the proliferation of their message on sites such as youtube and social media can aid in decontextualizing their meaning, twisting or pointing towards more toxic ideologies.
For example, one of the prominent figures in the group, Jordan Peterson, pushes the notion of hierarchies, (notably using lobsters as an example), as a vehicle for intolerance to deviations from what could be viewed as traditional values, as he suggests them as a way to address negative outcomes, though he fails to recognize societal or environmental barriers and, the concept of a traditional individual in modern society itself as standing in the way to better outcomes for many that may fall outside of the bubble he speaks from. His fear of gender identity and expression in Canada, due to bill C-16, has had him argue that postmodern neo-Marxists have infiltrated educational institutions and threaten to overthrow the established order and bring about totalitarianism. Peterson (n.d.) does not believe that power relations govern society, claiming it is a new form of Marxism, which is entwined with postmodern thought, despite the two theories incompatibility.
His jargon on the issue has been compared to cultural Marxism in the headlines:
“According to the theory of “Cultural Marxism,” a group of Jewish Marxists called the Frankfurt School have profoundly reshaped society and public opinion; deciding to abandon the original Marxist goal of an international working-class revolution, they sought to implement socialism through a slow, creeping takeover of “culture.” Under such names as “political correctness” and “multiculturalism,” so the theory goes, “Cultural Marxists” indoctrinated and shamed “the West” into abandoning Christianity, family, and nation in favor of a new worldview and system of control, involving mass immigration, sexual liberation, and moral and aesthetic decline” (Braune, 2019, p.2).
You can see the overlap with his own theory of postmodern neo-Marxism, like a redressing of the theory or even a decontextualization.
When you start to talk about society in terms of a conspiracy or unchangeable and natural hierarchical structures while ignoring issues of power, you open a door to others who might use the arguments for racist or fascist talking points. The same issue has plagued the concept of IQ, Chomsky (1995), notes that IQ has been utilized for racist purposes and is often “ideologically driven fanaticism masquerading as science.” Even with the usage of Darwinian theory, where Chomsky argues egalitarian findings are often overshadowed as they do not fit a narrative that favors those in power. He also jabs at groups that predate and which resembled the intellectual dark web with the line:
“It’s hardly necessary to review once again the misrepresentation and elementary fallacies in the work on IQ that we ignore “at our peril,” exposed years ago when the game became popular and now repackaged for today’s purposes — always eliciting much praise for the courage of the authors in lining up with the powerful and “breaking the censorship” imposed by the radical extremists who run the universities and the press.” (Chomsky 1995).
It should be noted, that Jordan Peterson likely isn’t a racist or a white supremacist and any videos of him with cultural marxism in the title appear to have been uploaded and retitled by another person. I could not find any of his uploaded videos with the theory in the title, nor could I find any footage or writings of his where he explicitly says or mentions cultural marxism, except in response to a question, to which, in his answer, he changes the framing to his neo-Marxist one. I found another intellectual dark web member, Ben Shapiro, has talked about the Frankfurt school, and he does not believe the cultural Marxist theory, per se, but sees it running implicitly through modern thinkers, something I found surprising given the antisemitic nature of the theory and Shapiro’s Jewish background.
These examples show how even those labeled as “top intellectuals” might be doing harm, even if some of their intentions mean well. The arguments they bring to the table open doors to other areas of thought that might be more intellectually dishonest and tainted by ideologies that lead to intolerance and violence. This is exacerbated by the way their content is shared and rebranded on various media platforms, with a simple retitle and maybe even some cut clips or a compilation of them “owning” or “destroying” their enemies. The message is decontextualized and made into a pipeline to serve a new agenda, and in most cases, a perversion of some already implicitly bigoted arguments.
More next time.
Beam, L. (1992). Leaderless resistance. The seditionist, 12, 12-13
Braune, J. (2019). Who’s Afraid of the Frankfurt School?“Cultural Marxism” as an Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory. Journal of Social Justice, 9
Chomsky, N. (1995, February). Rollback Part II: 2. The Surplus Population. Z Magazine. Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://chomsky.info/199505__/
Quote from paragraph 39.
Peterson. J. (n.d). Postmodernism: definition and critique (with a few comments on its relationship with Marxism). Retrieved 18, July 2020.
Weiss, B., & Winter, D. (2018, May 08). Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/opinion/intellectual-dark-web.html