Cultural Marxism

Review: Travels in Cultural Nihilism: Some Essays


Travels in Cultural Nihilism: Some Essays
Stephen Pax Leonard
Arktos, 2017

“Many people advised me to write it under a pseudonym, for sailing too close to the wind is a dangerous business these days…It will perhaps mark my ‘swan song,’ academically speaking at least.” Thus begins Travels in Cultural Nihilism, a volume of twelve essays by the Oxford ethnographer Stephen Pax Leonard and one of the most eloquent and refreshing books I’ve had the recent pleasure to read. Perhaps overshadowed by the publication of Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe, which touches the same overarching theme – the collapse of the West, Leonard’s book is significantly wider in scale, richer in detail, deeper in analysis, and more impassioned in its deliberations. While several essays concern the morbidity of post-modern Swedish culture (where the author has spent some time living as a fascinated and concerned observer),  Leonard also offers robust and at times poignant meditations on Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the nature of the European Union project, same-sex marriage, feminism, Islam, the nature of pathological liberalism, and the insidious spread of Cultural Marxism. The author interacts effortlessly with the thought of Heidegger, Evola, Spengler, Scruton, Nietzsche, and Schmitt, while taking aim at Foucault,  Gramsci, and a large cast of contemporary malevolent political actors. Leonard, a Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford, is a trained linguist. He has previously published books on Scandinavia and the Arctic regions, including a fascinating Guardian article on his time among the Arctic Inugguit. Possessed of these credentials, Leonard may be considered to have a lot to lose by breaking silence on the matters he discusses in Travels in Cultural Nihilism. As he himself anticipates, the book could represent his ‘swan song.’ He notes that he has already “lost (and made) friends over the views held here.” It is rare and difficult for someone in the belly of the beast to speak out like this, a fact which renders Travels in Cultural Nihilism a work of significant courage as well as one of admirable erudition.

Even in the introduction to his book, Leonard enters the world of forbidden thought not with tentative musings, but with gusto and strength of conviction. Words aren’t minced. Excuses aren’t provided. Apologies are nowhere to be seen. Multiculturalism, declares Leonard, “has been a disaster everywhere.” In Sweden, it has been “forced” on a “kind people that are liberal-managed with the aid of a mendacious, Government-subsidised media.” Its failures there “have been covered up time and again.” The wider implications for the rest of West represent nothing less than “cultural pathology and the regression of humanity.” This cultural pathology is demonstrated best in Germany, where the same “thick crowds of tearful Germans embracing ‘refugees’ on railway platforms were months later dealing with mass rapes, suicide bombers, machete wielding immigrants, lorries being driven into Christmas markets, and an axe-wielding asylum seeker whose actions were inspired by the brutal atrocities in southern France (Nice) a week earlier.” Of particular interest to Leonard, in all of his essays, is the nature of government involvement in enforcing the multicultural narrative, an involvement laid bare in its utter cynicism by the actions of French police in destroying CCTV footage of the Bastille Day massacre in Nice. Aside from government actions, Leonard sets his mind upon the mentality of the masses, and ponders Spengler’s discovery that nihilism is a feature of collapsing societies. The author remarks that European society/culture is now essentially divided between “those who want to preserve historical modalities of belonging, and those who wish to extirpate them; those who want continuity and identity, and those who aspire to Rousseauesque tabula rasa.” Read more

Anthropology’s Obsession with African Origins

There is renewed interest in the “Out of Africa” theory of human origins because of a study showing sub-Saharan Africans interbred with an extinct hominid species. This article, originally posted in January, 2014, provides other reasons for being skeptical of African origins and shows how the “Out of Africa” theory has been promoted partly for reasons of political correctness.

When did humans first become human?  The answer is far from simple, because the question assumes that sometime in the past, humans achieved modernity and were locked within an evolutionary loophole where natural selection no longer applies.  Despite the absurdity of this scenario, and in stark contrast to empirical data, it is widely believed that humans have not changed physically or mentally for the past 50,000 years or so.

After the discipline of anthropology was hijacked by Cultural Marxism and it became crimethink to observe average group differences, a preoccupation with tracing everything back to Africa developed.  Africa does have an outstanding archaeological record revealing many firsts: the first bipedal hominids, the first stone tools, and the first anatomically modern humans that looked roughly like we do today (a vertical forehead, round skull, flat face, and prominent chin).  But largely due to the anti-racist politicization of anthropology, the currently accepted evolutionary paradigm is that Africa was the source of an intellectual watershed event sometime between 100,000 to 50,000 years ago, and that it was only a matter of time before this new breed of clever Africans spread out and replaced all the dim-witted archaic human populations in the rest of the world, such as Neanderthals.  (As used here, the term ‘racist’ refers to views that race and racial differences are a legitimate variable in research on humans, with none of the usual negative connotations found  in the popular and scientific literature.) The concept of behavioral modernity as it has been applied to the Paleolithic seemingly arose out of the Cultural Marxist obsession with proving that Africans are just as good as, and even better than the evil racist nineteenth-century White scientists who dared to rank societies and point out that advanced civilization never developed in certain areas of the world, such as south of the Sahara.

The problem with this paradigm is that, using the same set of criteria proposed by those scholars pushing for an African origin for modern behavior, it seems to have originally appeared in Europe instead, when modern humans first arrived there and replaced Neanderthals.  Furthermore, the so-called modern behavior in the African Stone Age is not qualitatively different from that of Neanderthals, who were supposedly replaced by cognitively-advanced modern humans. Read more

Western Greatness and Its Enemies  

Faustian Man in a Multicultural Age
by Ricardo Duchesne
London: Arktos, 2017

Prof. Ricardo Duchesne’s first book, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (reviewed by Kevin MacDonald in TOQ 11:3, Fall 2011) argued that the West was already a uniquely creative culture several millennia before the industrial revolution led to today’s vast differences in wealth and living standards between it and most of the rest of the world. The West’s uniqueness lay not in institutions such as democracy and representative government, nor in great books and abundant artistic production, nor in free markets and a ‘work ethic’—but in a more primordial Faustian drive to overcome obstacles and achieve great things. The original historical expression of this drive is the heroic ethos which informs Homer’s Iliad and Germanic heroic poetry: the overriding ambition of the aristocratic warrior to achieve immortal fame by engaging in battles for prestige in contempt of his own mortality. This ethos the author traces back to the Proto-Indo-European pastoralists of the Pontic steppes.

Following publication of The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, the author turned his attention to the decline of the West. He notes the prescience of Oswald Spengler, the major theorist of civilizational decline of the past century, who anticipated

the eventual exhaustion of the West’s energies in the rise of internationalism, quasi-pacifism, declining birth rates, hedonistic lifestyles, coupled with the spread of Western technology in the non-Western world and the rise of ‘deadly competition’ from Asia.

All this is, of course, right on target. But Duchesne sensed something missing from Spengler’s account. There is one major factor at work in the contemporary West which goes well beyond the spiritual, political, economic or geopolitical exhaustion that was the fate of Rome, China and other ‘old’ civilizations: the massive immigration of cultural and racial aliens. As he remarks, this is “a new variable with truly permanent implications.” Read more

Obey Your Ethnic Masters: A Simple Message for Stale Pale Folk

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of infallibility and the promise of certain knowledge. Singer Neil Young keeps on searching for a heart of gold. I keep on searching for certainty. Or rather: I search for more of it, because there is an infallible system of certain knowledge. It’s called mathematics and I think it’s mankind’s greatest intellectual achievement. Among much else, mathematicians can say with absolute certainty that prime numbers never run out and that we can never square a circle with straight-edge and compass.

The Infallible Tyrant

But here’s a curious thing: mathematicians don’t claim infallibility. Except that it’s not curious. Mathematicians don’t need to claim it: they have an objective way to prove their ideas. “Infallibility” is an ideological claim, an assertion of power and dominance (actual or desired), not something that a true system of knowledge ever needs to wield. As Bertrand Russell pointed out: “Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion.”

What’s true of theology is also true of politics. Here is Leszek Kołakowski, the great Polish philosopher and intellectual historian, in Main Currents of Marxism (1978):

A particularly blatant example of aggressive Stalinism was the ideological invasion of the natural sciences. … [I]f we take a panoramic view of the history of those years we may perceive a certain gradation of ideological pressure, corresponding roughly to the hierarchy of the sciences established by Comte and Engels. Pressure was almost zero in mathematics, fairly strong in cosmology and physics, stronger still in the biological sciences, and all-powerful in the social and human sciences. (Op. cit., Vol. III, “The Breakdown,” ch. 4, “The Crystallization of Marxism-Leninism after the Second World War,” pp. 131 and 139)

Stalinism was aggressive because it claimed infallibility, as Kołokowski notes: “When the party is identified with the state and the apparatus of power, and when it achieves perfect unity in the shape of a one-man tyranny, doctrine becomes a matter of state and the tyrant is proclaimed infallible. … Lenin had always been right [and] the Bolshevik party was and had always been infallible” (Op. cit., pp. 4 and 93). Marxism is, in effect, the marriage of politics and religion, mixing the psychology of the latter with the secular concerns of the former. Where Christianity has an infallible Magisterium or an infallible pope, Marxism has an infallible dialectic and a succession of infallible leaders. Read more

Racial Forensics in an Age of Race Denial

What happens when a forensic anthropologist is asked to identify the race of skeletal remains in a politically-charged climate where “race is a social construct”?  A classic case of doublethink: simultaneously accepting two contradictory beliefs as correct.  An article titled Forensic Identification of “Race” published in the journal Current Anthropology states:

The identification of the “race” of human remains by forensic anthropologists in New Zealand provides Maori with a service that is both helpful and contentious…Doing so is ethically paradoxical because the estimation of “race” implies that races exist, a concept that has been questioned and rejected by most anthropologists. (Cox et al. 2006)

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand who share a similar history with Native Americans in that they were largely displaced by colonial Europeans and have since earned their valued non-Western victimhood status which is currently being used for political redress in lieu of historical grievances.

When human remains are found in New Zealand, the Maori request forensic analysis to determine whether the bones are their own ancestors or instead of European descent.  This process is guided by a set of codes adopted in the New Zealand government which protect the rights of Maori to have their traditions and beliefs respected.  These codes acknowledge the special significance of Maori human remains because of the Maori view that human remains retain the spirit of the deceased after death. Read more