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From the always interesting Farans Kalosar:
Among the forces that generated Richard Spencer is the University of
Virginia’s infamously reactionary Department of English, from which this
Pillsbury Dough Boy of the far right obtained a BA with (God love us)
“High Distinction” in 2001. That opened the door to the University of
Chicago, which also predictably–with characteristic total lack of moral
and intellectual integrity–fell all over itself kissing his stinking fat
ass. and awarded him an MA for an antisemitic screed that would have
disgraced Julius Streicher.
You can’t usefully call these institutions fascist themselves in any
global sense, but there is nothing they like better collectively than
falling on their knees before “the intelligent conservative,” the
goofier the better. In the dotage of postmodernism, the emergence of one
or more high-concept Nazis from one or more of these expensive shitholes
was more or less inevitable. What do you expect from a milieu that still
venerates the rebarbative Paul de Man?
This is an old story. When Martin Walker spent a postgraduate year at
Harvard (1969-70), he kept a portrait of Hitler on his mantel and was
notorious for late-night bouts of martial arts sparring with a
like-minded neighbor who was writing a thesis on Nietzsche. The walls
shook. Walker accumulated an entourage of right-leaning prep-schoolers,
very much like UVa students, who shared his orientation and formed
something of a network in the university. Despite his subsequent career
with the ostensibly leftwing Guardian, Walker never to my knowledge
expressed any regret about the Hitler portrait, however quiet he kept it
publicly. His political utterances were exceedingly guarded, but it is
not too difficult to see the actually colorful and even charismatic
Walker–from the university point of view–as a prototype of Spencer,
however drab the later may be by comparison.
As with jesting Pilate, the question “What is Truth” is forever on the
lips of the moral and intellectual alcoholic frauds and sex maniacs
(Albee and Nabokov got that much right) who populate so much of the
professorial zoo. This is the result of their–as they see it–delightful
subtlety and playfulness–and a perverted sense of free speech which
allows the creation of monsters merely for the sake of novelty. For
balance, every so often they throw up a Braying jackass to cry up the
Nazi menace that they themselves have perversely cultivated and partly
As has been stated often enough in these pages, taking the Nazi bait and
responding with hysterical antifascism is precisely the wrong thing to
do, though of course it is what the center and right expect and want.
Unless you are an exceptionally faunlike, perverted, and capering UVa
Professor of English Language and Literature, Spencer is chiefly
remarkable for a total lack of charisma and a general mediocrity that
makes it astonishing that anyone even notices him, let alone follows
him. He, like Milo, is a damp squib that would certainly fizzle out on
its own without the twin boost provided on the one hand by the
prestigious universities that created him and on the other hand by
antifa and the furore it generates.
The academic willing role in all off this begins IMHO, as revenge for
the student strikes of the late Sixties and 1970s, which afflicted the
tenured with a mortal sense of injured majesty that has echoed down the
ages ever since. It’s quite remarkable how persistent this has been
given the transitoriness of the “student revolt,” which by 1972 had
degenerated into mere lifeless ritual, and which–owing to the lack of
class-based mass organization amid the frenzy of ultraleftism (crudely
stated)–would have fallen apart of its own accord anyway.
Is this history rendering judgment on the strike fist iconography and
accompanying, often merely symbolic violence of that time? In 1969 or so
a mob of Harvard students marched on the ROTC building with the stated
intention of burning it down. This would have been difficult because
nobody involved had any materials with which to start a serious fire or
any notion of how to do so. The official lie is that a heroic,
spontaneous student opposition confronted and quelled the would-be
arsonists bravely. In reality, the whole thing fell apart from lack of
interest and accelerant, and everybody went home to play pinball. But it
did happen, and gave rise to the complete fiction, during the student
strike a year later, that the striking students were conspiring to set
fire to Widener Library. This lie was willfully and deliberately
propagated by the University authorities, and is repeated to this day by
The actual violence of the student strike consisted of an SDSer (was it
Michael Kazin?) symbolically laying hands on Dean Archie Epps and
escorting him gently from occupied University Hall, which was then
invaded and laid waste by a rioting mob of state troopers. There were a
few street clashes with the police in which non-students shattered
plate-glass windows in anticipation of anitfa, but this was deplored not
only by the authorities but also even by demonstrators who were
perfectly willing to fight with the police up to a certain point. But
there is no doubt that this and similar occurrences were part of the
justification for a murderous assault on the forces of the left (Kent
State, etc.) and marked–though they did not cause–the beginning of the
neoliberal turn that is currently devastating the political life of this
The New Left had “politicized the university.” What a crime! What a
stain on the white radiance of eternity!
But what should or could the student left have done differently?
This is a tough question. People in SDS before it fell apart were trying
hard for a Marxist analysis, but most of them got it wrong–as witness
Progressive Labor mud-wrestling with the Revolutionary Youth Movement.
Certainly the willingness the to cry “fascist” at every turn has led to
the current hysterical, moralistic, and politically sterile fad of
No answers here. My own feeling is that the unmasking of university
connections with the CIA and what used to be called “the pigs of the
power structure” was a necessary phase, and that the Vietnam War had to
be opposed even at the risk of political error. And while the Marxism of
SDS was in every way defective, there is no doubt that it influenced
numbers of people to seek out the real thing. The fact that universities
three generations down the road are still vigorously fighting the
long-vanished students of my day strongly suggests that not everything
they fought for should be thrown out with the historical bathwater.
Let’s hope the serious undercurrent is still running amid all the
adventurist bullshit. Maybe this time someone will get away from the
masked mob of macho twerps and bullies and get it right.
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