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For John Morgan, an American expat living in Budapest, controlling the form the world takes comes down to shaping how white people dream.
It is hard to imagine that Morgan, a quiet, nebbish man with curly hair and a meek smile, is at the center of an international fascist renaissance, but this is the reality of fringe politics in the social media age. When it comes to building a propaganda infrastructure capable of radicalizing a generation, it is just as likely to come from a bookish copy editor as it is from a charismatic march leader. Morgan was the creative force behind much of Arktos Media and, later, Counter-Currents, publishers known for creating the intellectual foundation for a new fascism.
Morgan’s history in publishing reveals an important but neglected side of the story of US white nationalism: the focus on building a ‘metapolitic’ rather than the direct mobilization that many expect from “white power” authors of the 1980s and 90s. Metapolitics refers to the ways of thinking that are “pre-political,” the emotional center that feeds political motions. It engages with the paths of identity, morality, values, nostalgias, relationships, and the whole matrix of how people see the world. This explicit turn to metapolitics occurred when nationalist intellectuals, drawing on the ideas of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, began seeing that a new kind of social struggle was necessary after the fascists lost World War II. To win public support they couldn’t just make their arguments, they had to change the way the public thought before they even heard the arguments. If they could reshape the values of their people through art and literature then they would speak in the only language that mattered, and victory would simply be a matter of the long game.
Today, crushing economic uncertainty and climate collapse has reignited big questions about how we should organize our world. In response to a failing status quo, a far-right based on esoteric philosophers of tradition and reactionary white supremacist “identitarians” has begun to challenge the left for the monopoly on dissent through metapolitics as much as through direct politics. The emergence of national populist parties around Europe and anti- immigrant extremism codified in political discourse are symptoms of this instability. “Alternative Right” emerged in 2010 from this metapolitical stew when then-nobody Richard Spencer saw an undercurrent emerging. In the fringes of the American right, where he lurked, paleoconservatives, racial pagans, white nationalists, European New Rightists, and Traditionalists were establishing the intellectual foundation for an above-ground fascist movement. He coalesced this crew around his new website AlternativeRight. com where they worked to renew racialist thinking and pseudoscience, nationalism, and Aryan mysticism.
Part of why the mainstream media, government agencies, and NGOs missed the massive white nationalist insurgency that peaked in Charlottesville and with the election of Donald Trump is that they were looking for a dinosaur. While the old school of racist organizations, like neo-Nazis and the KKK, still certainly exist, in frightening and violent numbers, they were not the growth sector. Instead, it was a kernel of ideas that had been crystalizing, feeding on white angst and identity, and waiting to be carried into the real world. It has been the role of fascist publishers to do this work. These publishers are a central part of the fountain of discontent and racialism that feeds far right movements and has radicalized a population, shifting the political discourse away from liberalism and headfirst into caustic nationalist war. We see the trolling, the racial slurs, the hate crimes, but we don’t see the dreams that white nationalism is built on, and that is where it begins.
This space is where Arktos Media and Counter-Currents worked, becoming the literary wing of the alt-right as they published books of European far-right philosophy, nationalist fiction, and esoteric manifestos. If the alt-right was going to focus on building metapolitics, Counter-Currents and Arktos were going to be their literary foundation, and this was John Morgan’s mission.
Arktos Media’s New Traditionalism
The spike in white nationalist visibility, the formation of the alt-right, and the linkage with the European “identitarian” movement, all has Arktos Media at its center.
“It always leads back to Arktos. I really do believe that they have been incredibly influential,” says Carol Schaeffer, whose pioneering reporting unlocked how Arktos connects the often disparate global fascist movement.
“You really couldn’t have an ‘identitarian’ movement, which is really at the heart of dozens of groups, without the books and without the library and without the resources that Arktos has provided.”
While the project was co-founded by Jacob Senholt, its journey is really that of former Arktos editor John Morgan. As he would tell it, Morgan found his path to the right in his university libraries while an undergrad. Looking to explain his angst, he first came upon the German “Conservative Revolution,” which led him to the European New Right, a canon of French philosophers led by Alain de Benoist in re-invigorating the far-right in the 1960s. Benoist came out of the nationalist movement to maintain French Algeria, but after the May 1968 student revolt, anti-colonialist revolts across the world, and the New Left, he changed his tone. He used postcolonial rhetoric to argue for “ethnopluralism,” a sort of nationalism for all peoples, and argued for semi-autonomous regions based on ethnic, religious, and cultural identity. His form of nationalism was more diffuse, laced with neo- paganism, and used anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and, especially, anti-American arguments that obscured his racial intentions.
“I would actually buy back issues of Telos in order to read Alain de Benoist,” Spencer told me in 2017, discussing how the European New Right started much of the spark for him that led to the creation of AlternativeRight.com in 2010. “Even when I wasn’t fully knowledgeable of the French New Right, I could just tell I had much more in common with the French New Right than American Conservatism.” Traditionalism, paganism, anti-Christianity, universalism, globalism, all created a philosophical collage that was added to the hodge-podge that became the alt-right.
One of the threads the European New Right picked up on was Traditionalism, namely of Julius Evola and René Guénon. Traditionalism saw that all religious traditions descended from one single divine source, but only when they kept their “chain of initiation” and hierarchical “exoteric” practice. Evola took the notion a step further and went in an explicitly racial and imperial direction, arguing that we are currently living in the “Kali Yuga,” a “dark age” predicted in the Vedic scriptures. Evola believed that we were currently being ruled by the passions of the lower castes, workers, women, people of color, and pernicious secularized Jews, and that we had to return to a mythic Golden Age of imperial rule by a priestly caste.
Evola and Benoist made the largest impression on Morgan, but since their work was sparsely translated into English, he set about to meet compatriots online. The crowd he met eventually formed the publisher Integral Tradition Publishing in 2006. The print-on-demand revolution gave them the resources to do this since they could publish translations of books that would not sell a huge number, and so they could print them as needed rather than dropping a large investment in a volume that might only sell a few hundred copies over many years.
Morgan moved to India in 2009 to focus on Integral Traditions full time while living at a Hare Krishna ashram with another staff member, and eventually connected with far-right white Krishna leader Bhakti Vikasa Swami, who is generally maligned in the Hare Krishna movement for his violently regressive gender ideas. In late 2009 they shifted directions when they met enigmatic far-right Swede Daniel Friberg, who had made a name for himself across nationalist movements in Scandinavia and popping in and out of jail for offenses like possession of automatic weapons.
“It’s hard to ignore the fact that Friberg kind of seems to be always at the root of a lot of different projects. He has been extremely prolific as an extreme right person,” says Schaeffer. “He’s not a core theorist and thinker. He acts much more as a connector and organizer, and somebody who is really working to legitimize the movement while still remaining core to its true values, which is hate.”
Friberg, who brought the wallet to the operation, started his career with boots and braces in the white power scene and was in and out of prison between 1995 and 2010. He quickly moved away from skinhead subcultures to a series of organizations including the far-right Sweden Democrats, the Swedish Resistance Movement, and the Nordic League, which he founded. In 2004 Friberg finally found the European New Right, and a lightbulb went off. He tried his hand at a number of explicitly metapolitical projects that could engage in a sort of cultural battle, including the website Metapedia, which is a white nationalist alternative to Wikipedia known for vulgar racism and extreme anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (such as claims that homosexuality is a form of Jewish Sexual Bolshevism). In 2009 he joined together with a Norwegian far-right politician and two others to form a media company, which would absorb Integral Traditions and the rest of the inventory of the Nordic League.
This would be Arktos Media, which focused largely on the same books as Integral Traditions Publishing, publishing translated works of Evola and the European New Right. The Arktos catalogue now is still dominated by three authors: Julius Evola, Alain de Benoist, and European New Right author Guillaume Faye, known primarily for his aggressive Islamophobia.
Over the years they branched out to books of other types of racial esotericism, conspiracy theories, deep ecology, and white nationalism, and have been helped by the increased popularity of figures like the Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin and Markus Willinger.
“We don’t have any specific agenda at Arktos. We are not trying to promote a particular ideology or political system or whatever,” said Morgan in an interview with the THA Talks podcast.
I just call it ‘alternatives to modernity.’ What I mean by that is . . . all societies and all government systems, in spite of some remaining cultural differences, all basically subscribe to the same basic suppositions about politics. Even philosophically, to a certain extent. So our idea at Arktos was that we wanted to present books that challenged that. And say well, just because it has become the globalized way of doing things in recent years that does not necessarily mean that it’s the best way . . . I admit that there were aspects of fascism and national socialism that were interesting.
Arktos intended to be what Morgan defines as the “True Right,” a trans- historical notion that is supposed to rescue the current right-wing from its foundations in liberalism. The “True Right” believes in hierarchical autonomy, the idea that identities are fixed, and human beings are unequal along these identity lines of race, class, caste, gender, and so on. This is what has helped him create a big tent of ideas, generating support from racial ecologists to neo-confederates to national-anarchists.
This led to some strange books, including those of Finnish ecologist Pentti Linkola. Arktos published Linkola’s 2009 book Can Life Prevail?, where Linkola argues that rapid population reduction needs to be put into place, which could be result in a mass genocide of billions. Linkola prefers authoritarian dictators and strict national boundaries, all in the name of a neo-Malthusian vision of the environment that justifies some of the most atrocious forms of human killing. An excerpt from the book was, strangely, featured in the left-wing magazine AdBusters around the time that the magazine began promoting the idea of Occupy Wall Street, giving Arktos a boost from an unlikely source. This is central to Arktos’ mission: taking ideas from the left like anti-capitalism and ecology, but for decisively right- wing reasons, like racial nationalism. They even sold books by primitivist writer and Deep Green Resistance founder Derrick Jensen, who argues for a mass return to hunter-gatherer lifestyles through armed struggle (Jensen did an interview with Counter-Currents in 2019.). Arktos has also been known to publish a range of books on Hinduism, including generally well-regarded authors (such as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar), which they seem to be able to do by virtue of their obscurity.
The largest boost Arktos had came with the arrival of the alt-right. While the alt-right had essentially been around since 2009, it really launched into the stratosphere in 2015 when a number of popular bloggers and podcasters like the Right Stuff joined the movement and started trending hashtags like “Cuckservative” in its name. Then Donald Trump came along, and they hit a moment of perfect synergy: their ideas had become palatable.
Arktos’ own connections grew over the years, and despite claiming to be uninterested in “activism,” they certainly built relationships. As Schaeffer reported, Arktos worked directly with members of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, drawing on the long history of white supremacist use of Vedic scriptures and fascination with Hindutva. When they moved operations to Hungary, they worked with with the anti-Semitic fascist party Jobbik. They have maintained connections across Europe’s national populist sphere, from the Front National to Golden Dawn, using their subcultural pedigree to make friends.
“If we’re talking about a ‘global’ far-right, we need to look at organizations like Arktos, which is working hard to expand the reach of fringe far-right thinkers internationally,” says Tess Owen, who reported on Arktos for Vice. She points out that it is the internationalism that made Arktos so significant, including publishing authors from nineteen countries and publishing some of their titles in up to eleven languages.
Morgan and Arktos moved to Budapest, Hungary in 2014, looking to get back to the Europe they so desperately longed for. They began pushing books popular with the alt-right, including popular books by Friberg himself. This positioned Arktos Media as the intellectual center of the alt-right since they had published a huge offering of intellectual work that would give the alt-right the appearance of depth. In 2018, trading off the last moments in the limelight the alt-right had, they released A Fair Hearing: The Alt-Right in the Words of Its Members and Leaders, an anthology featuring people like Richard Spencer, American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor, and academic anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald. Arktos saw that the “identarian movement” in Europe, which was largely the popularized social movement inspired by the European New Right, was analogous to the alt-right in the US, and so they began publishing their work heavily as well. As they grew, literature, audiobooks and neofolk music were included in their sales catalogue, including bands associated with far-right occultism and European nationalism like Rukkanor, Sol Invictus, and Blood Axis.
Arktos has also ventured into weird, fringe science and secret government conspiracies, a murky world where their outrageousness passes without much attention. This is what led them to be associated with the Flat Earth International Conference in 2017, which was also covered by fellow alt- right media operation Red Ice Creations.
Arktos, then, dove head first into the few avenues of intellectualism that fascism already had and has used that canon to build up an obscurantist library of the weird, pushing the limits on what kind of work they can publish so as to define their twenty-first century fascism as more than genocide mongering. But it was another behemoth of far-right publishing, Counter-Currents, that has emphasized the aesthetic dimension as essential to shaping the soul of the movement.
Books Against Time
When Arktos moved to Hungary in 2014 the relationship between Morgan and Friberg began to disintegrate, with Morgan alleging financial mismanagement and substance abuse on the part of Friberg. Morgan had felt mistreated as Friberg lived a lavish lifestyle, allegedly frequenting popular clubs and sleeping till noon while Morgan languished away on Arktos for sub-minimum wage (by American standards). As reported by Tess Owen, in 2013 Friberg was appointed to the board of Wiking Minerals, whose owner had been shelling out money to fascist and anti-Islamic movements around Europe. In 2015 he became the CEO, a post that seems odd because, as Schaeffer has pointed out, while he has claimed to hold an MBA from Gothenburg University, there is no record of this. Friberg held the alt-right website Right On, which Morgan worked on regularly, including a frequent podcast, but he was still financially struggling and seeing little respect from across the professional desk. Morgan eventually contacted an Arktos shareholder about the potential embezzlement and after Friberg found out he fired Morgan who, despite holding a couple shares, was just an employee. Without much of a work history, and very little pay since he got far below American pay rates, he was in his forties with nowhere to go. That’s when he talked to Greg Johnson from Counter-Currents. He joined Counter- Currents in August 2016, and left Arktos for good in 2017.
Counter-Currents, founded in 2010, was the brainchild of movement philosopher Greg Johnson. In a white nationalist movement known for its working class and rural base, Johnson stands out with his erudite name dropping, tailored suits, and PhD. While Johnson had a brief career in academia, he was inspired to change career paths when he was first introduced to white nationalism in 2000. Once he believed his race was in an existential battle to survive, nothing else really seemed to matter.
After a controversial two-and-a-half-year run editing the white nationalist journal The Occidental Quarterly, Johnson had mixed up bad blood with the publisher and needed a new gig. What resulted was Counter-Currents, a book publishing house founded on June 11th in 2010 with his comrade Mike Polignano, that was going to focus on what Johnson was coining the “North American New Right.”
“[The goal was] to create a metapolitical publishing house of a ‘North American New Right,’” said Johnson. “A model for what we do, and what we want to do, is Verso Publishing, formerly New Left Books. They put out some high-quality work that has a definite political [and] metapolitical agenda to it . . . We want to create a forum, a kind of exciting intellectual movement where people who have something to contribute to creating a New Right intellectual synthesis and a New Rightist counter-hegemony can try their ideas out, develop them, hone them, and then propagate them out to the world.”
His New Right was similar to both the Alternative Right and the European New Right, supporting much of what historically was known as fascism while rejecting some of the organizational “excesses” of the interwar fascist parties. Johnson says that this difference is in “approach rather than doctrine,” and works toward the “transformation of culture to create a consensus supporting the ethnonationalism for all nations.”
Each book published by Counter-Currents is chosen based on the publisher’s belief in the quality of its content and its ability to build a base, rather than on whether it can sell a heap of copies. Johnson reports that each book will sell about one thousand copies in its lifetime, though some of its smaller, more literary fare sell far fewer.
“One of the factors that we have to keep in mind is that practically everything we publish we put out for free on the Internet beforehand,” says Johnson. Their actual book sales are for novelty or because the customer wants to support Counter-Currents financially, not because they can’t find the material. “People like free stuff. The growth audience for us consists of Millennials and they grew up with free stuff on the Internet, and we live in an increasingly post-book-oriented age.”
This is why Johnson saw massive growth of web traffic in 2016 for their thousands of articles, but their book sales remained fairly static. Since June 2010, when the website became active, they saw steady month-to-month growth through November 2017, when they had 206,887 unique visitors, when alt-right interest was peaking. This trend reversed itself as a result of “deplatforming” and public backlash against the alt-right, and they saw a fairly steady decline to 131,856 unique visitors in March of 2019.
Johnson’s mission started, in a lot of ways, by following the lead of the eccentric Nazi, Savitri Devi. Known for her outlandish claims, like that Hitler was an avatar of the Vedic god Vishnu, Devi mixed esoteric Hitler worship and Hinduism in a strange synthesis that continues to have ripples across the right. Johnson started by publishing her archive before putting her books back into print, including her opus The Lightning and the Sun. Johnson dove headfirst into this esoteric sphere, publishing, for example, two books by Collin Cleary, best known for dense books on heathen theology based on a concept some writers have labeled as “metagenetics.” Inspired by a tract by Carl Jung analyzing the rise of Hitler, metagenetics is used by “folkish heathens” who see the Nordic pantheon of mythic gods emanating from the subconscious of people of Northern European descent. Gods are Jungian archetypes that represent the spiritual and psychic nature of the Germanic peoples, and therefore the neo-heathen religion, as practiced today, is an attempt to reclaim that racial consciousness.
While Johnson himself does not believe these things in a literal sense, he views them as useful mythological metaphors for what he has determined are the human qualities of tribalism and proper social organization.
While Counter-Currents uses obscure literary and philosophical titles to obscure its motivations, Johnson is rather candid about his white nationalism. Some of his best sellers are collections of his articles, which he compiles into volumes with titles like Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country or the more recent, The White Nationalist Manifesto. His blog is filled with regular contributions on race and IQ and “Jewish power,” and he provides interviews with neo-Nazis like Northwest Front and Combat 18 organizer Harold Covington.
What makes Counter-Currents particularly unique compared to other neo-fascist publishers is that it sought to reclaim the literary and artistic space from the left. It built a stable of its own fiction authors, a key figure of which it found in former English professor Andy Nowicki. Best known as a reactionary Catholic and contributor to the original AlternativeRight.com, Nowicki chose to publish with Counter-Currents despite claiming he was not a white nationalist. Nowicki was the co-host of Richard Spencer’s first podcast, Vanguard Radio, and became the editor of AlternativeRight.com with Colin Liddell when Spencer took over the National Policy Institute. Nowicki and Liddell had a famous falling out with Spencer in the beginning of 2013 when Spencer, tired of what Nowicki and Liddell had published on a website known as his creation, shut down AlternativeRight.com without much fanfare.
Nowicki’s most famous book on the Counter-Currents line-up was The Columbine Pilgrim, a story that follows its main character, Tony Meander, as he contemplates the meaning of mass shootings and eventually lands on suicide. While Nowicki was no literary luminary, he was one of their own, and his work became popular in the early alt-right as an example of their literary prowess.
Johnson is best known for rescuing artists and authors who have been marginalized for their racism. Formalist poet Leo Yankevich was recruited largely because he was a vocal racist and anti-Semite, even though it rarely appears in his work. Seattle’s iconoclastic porcelain sculptor Charles Krafft entered the Counter-Currents fold after an article in The Stranger revealed he was a Holocaust denier, someone who doubted that the Holocaust occurred according to the historical consensus. Krafft’s work largely includes things like creating sculptures of guns and Hitler out of the same floral porcelain that you might find in formal china in the 1960s, ironic Americana at its best. Authors like H. L. Mencken and H. P. Lovecraft have been the subject of Counter-Current books and articles because they were proud elitists and racialists, and Johnson went as far as to name an award for literary achievements after Lovecraft. Kerry Bolton, known for his huge repertoire of apologist books about Russian nationalism and fawning treatments of fascist authors like Francis Parker Yockey and Oswald Spengler, did a volume called Artists of the Right for Counter-Currents highlighting the work of modernist writers sympathetic with Fascism like D. H. Lawrence, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Filippo Marinetti, W. B. Yeats, Knut Hamsun, Ezra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis. Counter-Currents is filled with books and articles of film criticism that tries to reclaim different movies as their own, including The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, Fight Club, and various comic book fare, continuing to build the right-wing literary canon.
While each of these books does its own work to disseminate right-wing ideas, it also has the effect of reframing existing art so that the far-right seems more permanent and present. In this context, fascists are not fringe, they are a part of our literary and artistic history, and that perception helps their presence to appear more palatable and normalized. When Counter- Currents is able to show off well-known artists like Charles Krafft it creates a bridge to an art community.
To Johnson, this publishing work is essential to the white nationalist project. His view, since the start of the alt-right’s public presence, has been that there is a lot of work still to be done on the metapolitical front, and the alt-right simply is not in a place yet where they can get in the streets and fight the left, which is why he rejects their activism.
This analysis may have been brilliant foresight because, as the alt-right increasingly becomes persona non grata, Counter-Currents has been largely shielded. Johnson has organized conferences, like the Northwest Forum in Seattle where he now lives, which has been confronted by antifascists, but not close to the extent that organizations like Identity Evropa or the Traditionalist Workers Party have. Still, Johnson has not come under the radar entirely and was run out of San Francisco after Bay Area Antifa published his information. More recently, his work (and photo) was exposed by a Hope Not Hate investigation that infiltrated alt-right circles with a clever backstory and a hidden camera.
Surfing the Kali Yuga
The space carved out by Arktos Media and Counter-Currents is larger than the books they sell, because, in a sense, that is secondary. The books, while influential in their circles, are influential just in their existence. This adds the appearance of philosophic depth, the sense that if there are volumes upon volumes expounding a wealth of ideas, they and their supporters can’t be simply brain-dead skinheads.
It also provides the claim, or cover, that their work is simply that of ideas. For Morgan, his claim is that critical inquiry leads him to his conclusions and that it is the inquiry itself, that move to rethink modernity (however he defines it) that is leading the charge. This is the “free speech” defense couched in flowery jargon, essentially suggesting the opposition is simply trying to rob them of their right to think things. This neglects the fact that, from its very start, this was always political organizing, from its inception to its conferences to its front facing media. The metapolitics they are building, based on the theories presented by the European New Right, were intended to be a covert way to convert the underlying culture of the West. This is a political mission, one that seeks results from its investment, even if that investment is in arcane books about Indo-Aryan languages. The “free speech” argument here tries to depoliticize the political, not from its effects but from its public branding, providing it both the cache of intellectualism and the plausible deniability. If you oppose them in their quest to save us from the dark age of the Kali Yuga, it’s you that are the agent of repression, they are just asking questions. In a political world a political act runs from a flyer to a ballot to a poem to a bomb, and John Morgan knows the power of telling white people they were right all along. He has bet his career on it.
“What makes Arktos so dangerous is that their titles are widely available: they’ve managed to skirt corporate bans on hate content by shrouding their ideology in pseudo-academic language,” says Owen.
Far-right publishing companies like Arktos have sought to give white nationalism a veneer of pseudo-intellectual legitimacy by dressing up old, ugly, racist ideas in euphemisms. For example, their authors don’t talk about whiteness, they talk about “European identity.” This is part of a calculated strategy: Move out of the fringes, and into the political mainstream.
This is intentional not only to bring in new people, but for them to solidify their ranks. Every great movement has figureheads, thought leaders, people that can show the way, and those are the foundations that take an impulse and make it a multi-generational social movement. This requires a canon, a set of literatures that can act as an ideological foundation (whether they are read or not).
“To have an intelligentsia you have to have things like Arktos and Counter-Currents,” says Spencer Sunshine, a researcher of the far-right who specializes in understanding the syncretic aspects of these movements that often defy conventional understanding. “To have a group that has the pretense of sophistications, like Identity Evropa, is aided greatly by Arktos and Counter Currents . . . intellectuals can stick around and influence in the movements over years.”
The books have been influential in the quietest of ways, purchased online and read without watching eyes. This has been profound for the growth of the alt-right and can help to solidify a fascist ideology in a person who may have only had a passive fascination with far-right blogs or YouTube videos. This work has historically been profound, with Julius Evola in particular motivating the fascist terrorism in Italy in the “Years of Lead” in the 1970s or today in the Eurasianist Russian nationalist movement led by Aleksandr Dugin. Even Steve Bannon revealed the influence of Evola on his thinking, a move that shows that his ideas are more than troll deep.
Their metapolitics are a direct challenge to the left in as much as they try to undermine its vision at the source rather than only battling over political outcomes, like resulting immigration or affirmative action policy. Instead they want to take over how white people dream, to colonize imagination and replace it with a new sense of right and wrong. But the left can build a metapolitic of its own, living in the world of vision and inspiration, and ensure that the mass of people who can be seduced by nationalism can receive a counter-narrative, one that sees their liberation bound up in those of the marginalized communities that fascists hope to trample on. This can mean returning to the world of art and ideas, not decoupling practical organizing from the creation of ideas. A metapolitics of the right works when equality and democracy lose legitimacy, a hegemony whose loss would mean the end of the post-enlightenment project. Much of the failures of the social democratic left to live up to its promises, from loss of the New Deal and New Left in the eighties and nineties to the turn towards neoliberal economics, has created a feeling that the left lacks a utopian impulse to change the world. That is a metapolitical framework that fascism is taking up with intentionality and vision, yet it is one the left molded and built and can be reclaimed.
“For the left to have a metapolitic the left has to have a vision and I don’t know that it has a vision,” says Spencer.
For the alt-right, Counter-Currents and Arktos, particularly Evola and the European New Right, has helped to move people along their ideological path and introduce them to styles of European nationalism that helped coalesce them into a conscious mass movement. This has all been in the service of building an American “identitarian movement,” and the alt-right has done well to refashion the strategies of Generation Identity and other identitarian direct action projects that are growing across Europe. This is the model of fascist movements in the twenty-first century: less electorally focused, instead developing multitudinous mass movements that play on the same impulses that the left does, and using cultural, social, and artistic means as a point of struggle. In a way, the conditions of the Internet and the fragmentation of political organization that the left has seen over the last twenty years has now been taken up by the far-right, and now an asymmetrical cultural war is taking place in rapidly changing European and North American cities. In this world, publishers mean as much as a Grand Dragon of the KKK does and unveiling them should be imbued with an equal level of immediacy.
Friberg, Johnson, and Morgan have been successful in their primary goal: to introduce a metapolitic that can corrosively break down Western liberalism. While they are minor in comparison with major publishers and academic institutions, their efforts have the potential to take an influential spot in the world of dissident radical works. Around issues of white identity, these publishers are a large reason the alt-right were able to create argumentation and claims of legitimacy. For any movement to succeed it has to build up a body of ideas that can take followers beyond immediate impulses and can give their desires profound conviction, and that requires a layer of intellectual work that is simply vacant from much of the street level white nationalism. This is why an academic caste exists in these circles, to continue to reinforce the sense that the mass fascist movement is really onto something.
To understand these publishers, these people, is to understand how white nationalism functions. There are underlying logics here, ones that are attempting to feed bigotry with motive, and without plotting the relationships and output a counter-force is impossible.
The organizations that made up the ground-game of the alt-right, like Identity Evropa, have treated themselves like a vanguardist cadre, and this literary canon has become a way that members are able to develop and solidify their ideas.
“Many [Identity Evropa members] are learning these truths on the Internet and in the safety of their own home,” says Nathan Damigo, the founder of Identity Evropa discussing what role these books and websites play into the radicalization process.
The alt-right started to decline in 2017 in a perfect storm of ineptitude and organized antifascist pressure, which peaked after the violence of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Both Morgan and Johnson sat that one out, saying it was a bad idea, but no one wanted to listen to two bookish academics inside of the increasingly volatile white nationalist movement. Now the alt-right has seen a significant push of “deplatforming,” the refusal of social media and web platforms. This has come as activists have pressured Twitter, Facebook, Patreon, web hosting services, and public venues to disallow white nationalists, and they are listening. This has been incredibly effective for left organizers who are striking a blow at the foundations and has destabilized organizations in a way only possible when the thought creators are singled out.
This was actually not a new issue for the publishers. Johnson generally did not sell Counter-Currents titles on their website, but instead used the Amazon Affiliate program to get a portion of the sales of the books when people purchased the titles from a link from the Counter-Currents website. Amazon shut down Counter-Currents Affiliate account years ago. Now Amazon, which is a massive seller for both Counter-Currents and Arktos, is shuttering white nationalist titles one by one, and as of this writing few titles from either publisher remains. They are quickly trying to establish alternative sales platforms, including selling the e-pub formats like Mobi on Selfy, but without the Amazon behemoth in their corner it will be really difficult for them to survive.
This may end up being fine for Johnson and Morgan, who seem content to live in a world of ideas and eke out a living by peddling vanity projects to a dedicated following. For Friberg and the rest of the movement, this is not enough, and the books will remain pathway towards revolution. These books are simply a seed, it is what the far right does with them that matters.
Shane Burley is the author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End
It (AK Press, 2017). His work has appeared in Jacobin, Salon, Truthout, In These Times, Waging Nonviolence, ThinkProgress, Political Research Associates, Alternet, and Roar Magazine.
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