A Marx of Your Own: Sam Francis’s References to Marx

In response to my recent profiling of Jacobin magazine, plenty of folks have chastised me for being entirely too harsh on the Marxists who populate the site, and too dismissive of their heterodox opinions. James O’Meara expressed his concurrence with one Jacobin essay I quoted from, “Burn the Constitution.” Another commenter suggested their views on economics were better than the Austrian-influenced ones many Alt Rightists have. Others said that we of the Alt Right should do our best to emulate Jacobin, not just make like Republicans and attack them. Radix editor Hannibal Bateman even told me that he reads Jacobin fairly regularly, and recommended I read their recent post “Burying the White Working Class.”

To all of this I say, “fine.” Trying to replicate their success is obviously something we are striving for, and I am sure that all of us could find a thing or two to agree with somewhere in the Jacobin archives. However, no one can argue that in the dichotomy of “pro-West” vs. “anti-West,” Jacobin is anything but firmly planted in the “anti” camp — no matter how interesting some of their ideas might be. The folks at Jacobin do not toy with their ideas and axioms in a void; they weaponize them for an end, and that end is to end the West. They hate the Constitution because it represents the West and its historical-political underpinnings, they hate Israel because in it they see a contemporary version of America’s settlers and pioneers, and they hate “neo-liberalism” because they see it as racist.

I heartily endorse any and every intellectual journey those of you on the Alt Right are inclined to take, but don’t let that blind you to the clear agenda of Jacobin. Further, despite its destructive agenda, I have to agree that Jacobin remains useful because one can often use Marxist concepts, such as “false consciousness” and “elite hegemony,” to frame our issues —even while rejecting fundamental aspects of Marxist theory completely, such as Marxist radical environmentalism. Indeed, Sam Francis, certainly no apologist of any anti-West force, used Marxist concepts for his own ends. Some examples:

False Consciousness:

1) If they [the Christian right] ever ended abortion, restored school prayer, outlawed sodomy and banned pornography, I suspect, most of its followers would simply declare victory and retire. But having accomplished all of that, the Christian right would have done absolutely nothing to strip the federal government of the power it has seized throughout this century, restore a proper understanding and enforcement of the Constitution and of republican government, prevent the inundation of the country by anti-Western immigrants, stop the cultural and racial dispossession of the historic American people, or resist the absorption of the American nation into a multicultural and multiracial globalist regime. Indeed, the Christian Right for the most part doesn’t care about these issues or even perceive them as issues, and in so far as it does, it not infrequently lines up on the wrong side of them…. Thus, the religious orientation of the Christian Right serves to create what Marxists like to call a “false consciousness” for Middle Americans, an ideology that appeals to and mobilizes a socio-political class but which does not accurately codify the objective interests and needs of the class and in the end only distracts and deflects its political action and ultimately works to buttress and reinforce the dominant regime.

Religious WrongChronicles, December 1994

Cultural Hegemony

2) The movement that came to be known in the 1970s as neoconservatism, largely northeastern, urban, and academic in its orientation, is now the defining core of the “permissible” Right — that is, what a dominant Left-liberal cultural and political elite recognizes and accepts as the Right boundary of public discourse. It remains legally possible (barely) to express sentiments and ideas that are further to the Right, but if an elite enjoys cultural hegemony, as the Left does, it has no real reason to outlaw its opponents. Indeed, encouraging their participation in the debate fosters the illusion of “pluralism” and serves to legitimize the main Leftward trend of the debate.

From “Beautiful Losers,” the closing essay in his 1993 book of the same title

While Dr. Francis did not make his Marxist reference in this passage explicit, as he did in the first example, I find it hard to believe he wasn’t echoing the below, written by a soon-to-be Communist terrorist.

The columnist functions as a pressure release valve. Columnists can write what they want the way they want. This creates the impression that any journalist can write what they want the way they want in their particular newspaper…. Columnism is a personality cult. Through columnism, the left-wing position that was developed by many and came to prominence in the move from theory to practice in the summer of 1967 and the winter of 1967–68, is reduced to the position of one individual, an isolated individual, to the views of an original, outrageous, nonconformist individual, who can be co-opted because in being alone they are powerless.

Ulrike Meinhof, “Columnism,” kronket, 1968 (in the collection, Everybody Talks About the Weather… We Don’t)

The Middle Class as an Affluent Proletariat

3) Middle Americans, emerging from the ruins of the old independent middle and working classes, found conservative, libertarian, and pro-business Republican ideology and rhetoric irrelevant, distasteful, and even threatening to their own socioeconomic interests. The post-World War II middle class was in reality an affluent proletariat, economically dependent on the federal government through labor codes, housing loans, educational programs, defense contracts, and health and unemployment benefits. All variations of conservative doctrine rejected these as illegitimate extensions of the state and boasted of plans to abolish most of them, and Middle American allegiance to political parties and candidates espousing such doctrine could never become firm.

From Household to NationChronicles, March 1996

The Michael Brendan Dougherty column that quoted this is somewhat famous; he also noted that Francis’s “political analysis always had a residue of [James] Burnham’s Marxist sociology about it,” and advised Gramscian tactics for overturning the present globalist elite. Sure, the word “proletariat” existed before Karl Marx ever used it, but who would honestly argue the Francis got it from somewhere else?

Replacing the Hegemon: The Snake Skin Analogy

4) I think that there is a political solution still possible, but as I hope my speech indicated, not through the Republican party or the mainstream right. I think in part it is a political, but also a cultural solution, part of “Plan B” is to build up a grassroots movement from the right that culturally can begin to displace and challenge the cultural apparatus that’s in place, and at some point will become political, and will become a new party or a new movement or a, something of that nature, that can then, essentially, replace the existing one. I think it was Karl Marx actually who compared this process to a snake shedding its skin, that the new skin builds up underneath the dying skin and at one point the dead skin simply falls away and is replaced by the new skin. That’s essentially the metaphor, the process, that I would envision. And American Renaissance, the Council of Conservative Citizens, and certain other groups are, I think, leading that fight today.

Race and the American Right,” American Renaissance speech, 2000

It wasn’t just any old piece of Karl Marx’s writing that invoked this snake metaphor, it was his essay “On the Jewish Question.”

As soon as Jew and Christian recognize their opposed religions as merely different stages in the development of the human spirit, as different snake skins that history has cast off, and recognize man as the snake that used the skins for covering, then they will no longer be in religious opposition but only in a critical, scientific, human opposition.

Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” 1843

Secessionism as “Infantile Disorder”

5) I do not believe that secessionism will prosper as a serious political movement, but I do worry that it will prosper to the point of becoming a serious political distraction—a distraction from the imperative that Middle Americans now face of constructing their own autonomous political movement that can take back their nation rather than assisting the new underclass and the globalist ruling class in breaking it up. The time left for us to do so is shorter than it has ever before in our history, and until we outgrow the infantile disorder that secessionism offers, the construction cannot begin.”

An Infantile DisorderChronicles, February 1998

The very title of this essay references the title of a Lenin tract, Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder. Lenin’s was a rejoinder of sorts against those who had critiqued the Bolsheviks for being insufficiently left-wing. Sam Francis felt the same way about those neo-Confederates and paleoconservatives still more interested in Rebel vs. Yankee than Middle American vs. Coastal Elite.

So, read and explore as much as you’d like, just as the late, great, Sam Francis did. Just be sure to do it with a goal of advancing the interests of our people.

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