Archives for posts with tag: Alt-Left
Pezness

“Lived any good books lately?”

As a high school outcast with a budding interest in art and literature, I remember feeling a sense of envy in reading about the participants in interwar creative-destructive movements like Dada and Surrealism – or, for that matter, Fascism – for the reason that all of these painters and writers had like-minded contemporaries with whom to collaborate or squabble, whereas nobody else in my school seemed to share my self-ostracizing affinity for vintage nationalisms or was openly willing to acknowledge the faintest racialist sentiment. Retiring into a corner of the school library with a book of European propaganda posters in those days before the explosion of internet politics, I could believe that I was the last of my kind. Then, a few years ago, it occurred to me that, without my realizing it, my historical arts movement moment had found me in the dissident sphere of online nationalism. The creative ferment, the comrades, controversial personalities, struggles, debates, the sense of participation in important events, had all become real. But is this milieu so real – or is it to some extent, as retrofuturist poet Brandon Adamson now suggests, a “dark game of Candy Land” – a “situation where someone perceives that their actions and decisions are meaningfully influencing the course of events, but in actuality those actions are being directed and manipulated within a controlled environment by outside forces”?

Rats of Nationalism

Are we rats?

“There is a familiar trope which often was jokingly repeated around these circles a few years ago,” he begins. “It goes, ‘Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way,’ with some variations replacing the word ‘treasure’ with ‘ethnostate’ or whatever else is relevant to the topic being discussed, the implication being that the experiences on the journey are potentially more valuable than the reward which awaits upon reaching your goal. That might as well be a metaphor for this phenomenon,” Adamson poses. “What you have to remember though,” he cautions, “is that the goal is the most important thing, and some of those ‘friends’ you meet along the way aren’t really your friends …” Adamson’s latest work, The Rats of Nationalism, is an unexpected book from a Diet Coke tweeter – but perhaps also a necessary one. It is, in one sense, an easy read; but it is also uncomfortable. The author has set himself a commercially counterintuitive task in that, though he has written a conspiracy book of sorts, he retains his contempt for the conspiracy genre, chooses not to market his book to that audience, and has only gotten a couple of pages into his text before he feels compelled to dismiss “that crap”, with alternative takes on the JFK assassination lumped together with flat earth and Roswell extraterrestrials. Many prospective readers in the dissident sphere, too, will be disappointed to learn that the “rats” in question are not a mean-spirited ethnic stand-in, but instead a reference to themselves.

Brandon Adamson

This image of an earnest-eyed Brandon Adamson appears on the book’s back cover, conveying the author’s tone of concern, while the choice of attire likewise connotes the Adamsonian sense of humor, which is also present.

Online nationalists, Adamson worries, have been “reduced to regurgitating the latest viral meme mantras and cornball lingo that’s been pre-packaged, shrinkwrapped and spoon-fed to them, straight from the imageboard ‘meme factory’ cesspools, Discord honeypots and compromised group chats.” The uncritical approach to non-activism has, Adamson indicates, not only rendered nationalism ineffectual and self-defeating, but created the conditions for an elaborate series of virtual laboratory experiments. “People just gobble it up like candy” – a motif pursued throughout the book. “Just go through the motions, and you’ll be rewarded with clout,” this book smirks, unimpressed: “To paraphrase an old saying, never look a Pez dispenser in the mouth.” Among the book’s most important ideas is that the conventional wisdom on the “fed” archetype and on “fedposting” generally is outmoded and overly narrow. Adamson’s thesis is that the “fed” we encounter online might be less interested in prodding patsies into bomb plots than in maintaining a tepid equilibrium in the political ecosphere. “Unfortunately, few of us are completely resistant,” he acknowledges: “I wish I could say that I was totally immune to this form of manipulation, but indeed I have […] enthusiastically been swept up in many memes and diversionary ‘ops’ over the years. It’s difficult not to be,” he confesses. “People want to be part of something fun. […] Authentic dissident political advocacy on the other hand is an isolating and dreary business.”

Reading what may go down as the book’s most controversial chapter, “The Rat Meat Market (An Interlude)”, I almost wondered if I had stumbled into one of Hipster Racist’s Hipster Racist fan fictions. I think that The Rats of Nationalism would stand on a more solid footing if this idiosyncratic foray into “MKUltra-lite” intrigue had been excluded, as it is this chapter to which Adamson’s critics are likely to have recourse in attempting to discredit the overarching thesis; but, even if nothing Adamson has written in his book is true, it is now much more likely to become true as a result of his having written it. Is Adamson just petitioning the federal government to send a cute spy to watch old movies with him? To his credit, he ends the “Interlude” with this disarmingly Adamsonian passage: “Maybe a certain percentage of this book is just me thinking out loud and talking out of my ass, while the remaining percentage involves me relaying things I know for a fact. I won’t reveal the exact numerical breakdown because I’m not entirely sure myself, and I hate math.” To do the poet-polemicist’s arguments justice and to receive the author’s more specific insinuations of disingenuous candy-vending, people will need to read The Rats of Nationalism in its entirety; and, as he points out, the impulse toward a “Post-Rat Nationalism” and the consciousness of “another type of fed” bear potentially urgent relevance not only for the Alt-Right, but for any figure involved in counter-establishment activism: “If you’re active (even in a limited capacity) in political circles of any kind on social media, there’s a very good chance you’re following and interacting with this type of fed regularly, without even realizing it.” Consequently, The Rats of Nationalism might even be the most important book you read in the current year.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of, most recently, Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

Phteven 0

Phteven Universe, for the uninitiated, is the musical project of Pilleater, one of the more individual and idiosyncratic racial thinkers to have carved out a niche for himself online. An original, challenging, confounding, and often obnoxious figure, Pilleater in his now substantial body of Alt-Leftish critical and creative work explores a wild frontier at the margin of the Alt-Right without ever really being of it, putting in occasional co-host appearances on Robert Stark’s Stark Truth podcast, writing books, and doing everything from comedic impressions of Alt-Right figures to music reviews on his frightening YouTube channel.

Pilleater

Pilleater

Musically, the oeuvre of Phteven Universe is not entirely separable from its creator’s perverted boutique ideology of “Asian Aryanism”. Even the name, referencing as it does a grotesque viral canine meme and a Japanese-influenced Cartoon Network TV series, is expressive of Pilleater’s interest in internet subcultures and Asiatic hybridism, conveying as well the sense of whimsy that characterizes much of Pilleater’s output.

The first, self-titled Phteven Universe album advertises itself as a vaporwave release – and there is certainly some memorable vaporwave on here – but to pigeonhole Phteven Universe as a vaporwave artist, while this perhaps is useful as a marketing niche, is to do a disservice to the eclecticism of the tracks. This one opens with effervescent waves of peace, melancholy, and inspiration wafting in with wetness and the sounds of birds – only then to plunge the listener into a morbid cityscape with soundbites expressing contempt for the soulless corporate mentality.

Phteven 1Then comes a sassy succession of late-80s-sounding Terminator-X-style hip-hop sounds and quaint computer noises. Keeping the scenery in flux, the album evokes a windswept expanse of blue desert followed by a slick retrofuturistic club beat, after which the listener is treated to a truly inspiring vapor track sampling the Commodores’ “Easy” over determined pulses of synth ascending into triumph. The vocal is spaced out – way out – so that the listener can believe it and feel it when told, “I wanna be high – so high.” This moment alone was so glorious that I actually felt a bit bad about having paid so little to own this awesome tape.

The second side of Phteven Universe is another eclectic nostalgia trip, launching from a disorienting opening into a sample of the once-ubiquitous “You’ve Got Mail” announcement and leading into an earnest, ballad-style piano number, followed by the inarticulate moan of a man ripped painfully out of a comfortable but no longer accessible past, both sad and soothing. Then the album gets crazy again and shifts into some oriental synth cutesiness followed in succession by slick, ritzy, high-rise vanilla elevator funk, a track with aggressive percussive elements resolving into a pastel chill session, and then “Fuck Off Melissa”, a nasty track evocative of a futuristic mutant sex club and reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire of the era of The Crackdown.

Phteven 2

The second release, おさかなといっしょ – which, if Google Translate can be trusted, comes out as “With Fish and Lettuce” – consists of a first side inspired by primitive video game soundtracks and a second side that recreates what I have to imagine a night out at the gay disco must have sounded like in the early nineties. It had me thinking of C+C Music Factory, but Pilleater is very particular and autistic about his club music obsessions and probably has something else altogether in mind. The creepier and more interesting first side, which apart from nostalgia bears no immediately apparent relationship to the second, gives the haunted impression of bad AM radio reception and a lonely, neglected vintage Nintendo game that seems to ask with a touch of menace, “Hey, kid … why don’t you play me anymore?”

Illicit, the third Phteven Universe release, opens with some busy, hectic, alien-sounding material somewhat reminiscent of Prodigy or Ministry’s classic “Stigmata”, warning the listener, “There is no future.” This is followed by more distorted video game sounds in keeping with the material on おさかなといっしょ, but this time mining a more baroque melodic vein. From here Illicit turns dark again, with chaotic, repetitive cacophony evocative of a malevolent universe. As eclectic as Phteven Universe, however, Illicit never settles into a single style for very long and progresses through guitar discordance, African chanting, more homoerotic club music after the fashion of おさかなといっしょ’s second side, some funky programming and S&M percussion, industrial sounds, high-NRG dance, and a disjointed jumble of childhood memories, blips and beeps, gothic electronica, KMFDM-style angst, and – most hilariously – a sample of Jamie Stewart’s Stark Truth appearance in which the Xiu Xiu artist hissily unleashes on the Alt-Right.

Phteven 3

Side B continues with the eclecticism, getting underway with some pleasant hypnotica before launching into machine-gun-like percussion followed by more throbbing homo nightclub shenanigans. Next some breezy synth washes over an unobtrusive beat – one of the few soothing moments in Phteven Universe’s oeuvre – but the respite is brief, as the horizon darkens and gloomier tones return, followed by hip-hop and trance-like obsessions. It must be noted, too, that some of the ambient explorations and the disquieting ruminations on Illicit’s second side would seem to belie Pilleater’s cultivation of a clownish persona, so that the album is far from a mere hodgepodge of carnival weirdness. This is an album that at times expects and receives a listener’s serious attention. The creepy voice comes back again before Pilleater apostrophizes a “dream girl”, and ends on a bit of a Wendy Carlos note, with some classical synthesis.

Getting off to a fun start with some Moonman and dis rap samples and some soulful, moaning retard scat, Asian Girlfriend further develops the styles established on the previous Phteven Universe releases, with more naughty club thumping, baroque video-gamey electronica, discordant lo-fi dystopian cuteness, atmospheric electro-percussion worthy of old-school New Order, and more dark and whimsically primitive gaming, some of it sounding almost sentimental – or it would, at least, without the mutated robotic muttering over it. As with the previous albums’ smatterings of vocal passages, Pilleater seems not to be too concerned with whether or not the words are heard – except when it comes to needing help with his algebra homework; that bit gets the proper enunciation it deserves. The highlight of Asian Girlfriend, however, is easily the nasty dance number “Consent”. If you don’t like this one, it’s probably just because Pilleater can do, as he puts it, so many things – “and you’re just jealous!” The artwork alone would make Asian Girlfriend worth owning.

Phteven 4

Phteven Universe, again, is much more than a vaporwave fad-follower; but Pilleater’s commentary on the sociopolitical significance of vaporwave is key to understanding what he is attempting with his music and new Apocalypse Culture. “At its core, the vaporwave genre nostalgically admires the past: VHS tapes, electronic synthesizers, retro-futuristic cars, vector grids, vintage arcade games, bad consumer products, Japanese culture, etc.,” he writes in his essay “Fashwave Sectarianism vs. Vaporwave Hegemony”. At the same time, he concludes, vaporwave is “the music of the future.”

If vaporwave is inherently reactionary, nostalgic, and retro-futurist, it is already Right-wing. The whole thing is Right-wing. Not just the fashwave secession. What I would like to see is a critical discourse that accompanies and interprets the vaporwave genre as an essentially anti-liberal art form sprung from a sincere longing for the future we were promised but denied, without cutting itself on edgy National Socialist and Evola memes. Sure, people will try to trot out Capitalism and Schizophrenia, but it’s up to us to call out such errors in thinking. It is up to us to construct a dominant anti-liberal paradigm to eventually turn vaporwave discourse, and the music itself, against the globalist nihilism and transhumanist philosophy of Eccojams and Floral Shoppe.

Fashwave is dead! Long live fashwave!

Do Pilleater’s Phteven Universe project and Apocalypse Culture revivalism lend themselves to the construction of this anti-liberal paradigm? As Varg might suggest … let’s find out!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

 

 

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