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644. Progress (XIII)

It has often been observed that the US system, the wider Western system, seems to be able to co-opt any dissentient current directed against it—so that it has long been possible to buy Che Guevara diaries from your local Paperchase outlet in the mall, beautifully produced and expensive and yet entirely developed by a system that Guevara opposed. This point has been made by multiple people from different backgrounds: soft leftists in The Rebel Sell, a book that chronicles how Che Guevara diaries came about; post-Marxists, such as Slavoj Žižek; Jordan Peterson, who once acquired a mass-marketed Karl Marx soft toy as an ironic gesture—a triumphant note for soft conservatives; and the radical right orator, Jonathan Bowden.

However, the last name made a slightly different point: Bowden noted that the Western system can co-opt anything except religious fundamentalism and Hitlerism. You can make an ironic advert for your company with Soviet-style posters on the tube, perhaps with a hammer and sickle here and there, yet to do the same with a swastika is unthinkable. You will not find an ironic Himmler diary in your local mall, complete with an inspirational quote for each day—although for the true dirty beast there are doubtless recondite suppliers…

Bowden’s point was a conceptual pleonasm—for elsewhere he noted that National Socialism was really a Western Taliban, a form of religious fundamentalism based on ancient Greece; it was a completely Western movement that went right down to the West’s foundation and even cleared off Christianity as an accretion. So, put simply, the system cannot co-opt religious fundamentalism. This gets to the nub: the system cannot co-opt religious fundamentalism because the system is based on anti-metaphysical and anti-religious principles—whether Marxist or, as with America, Enlightenment principles. It can co-opt so-called “countercultural” currents, whether anti-consumerist hippies or Marxists, because they belong to the same family—it is a wide family, since it includes the followers of Adam Smith and the followers of Marx, yet the commonality is the denial that there is anything prior.

It is true, as Yarvin observed, that a film about Che Guevara is lauded because America is a de facto communist country—men like Guevara are merely misled, not evil. Yet they are only misled and not evil because they make no prior assertions: all peasants in South America could be equal, in principle, once the revolution happens—they could all achieve equality, diversity, and inclusion if they embraced Western democratic norms. So long as you make no intrinsic claims about humans you are “one of us”. The left used to complain about American “cultural imperialism”, and one Chilean Marxist even created a book that argued Donald Duck (particularly the millionaire Scrooge “Moneybags” McDuck) spread “capitalist values” about the world—it is these tendencies that are largely absorbed, and they are not absorbed primarily by the market but rather by the system’s general provisional and egalitarian nature.

It is nothing to do, as leftists sometimes say, as even the Landian accelerationists say, with the market’s infinite malleability and ability to turn “anything” into a profit—the market cannot turn “anything” into a product; it stops short at primal religion and race (often intertwined with religion, especially in paganism)—basically because taboos are non-fungible. Who just defeated the West? The Taliban, religious fundamentalists. Unlike with Vietnam, where the left undermined the war effort, this defeat occurred even though the whole system was behind it—an indication as to its real weakness, and a recessional point.

“The temple is the temple because it is not for sale,” chanted Ezra Pound; if it is not fungible, it must be evil—the Western system wants to negotiate, albeit in a rigged way. Taboos, initiations, and mystical insights are all inadmissible because they exclude the masses, require elitist structures, or suggest knowledge can be arrived at through direct intuition without debate or expert advice. If you really want to stop “cultural imperialism” you have to become a tribal religious fundamentalist.

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