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We live in strange times. The ideology of modernity, the dream of neoliberal meritocracy, bleeds out on the tiles. The ideologies of the past, wolf-eyed fascism and stony-faced socialism, are blinking the sand out of their eyes. The age of Aquarius has undone itself, the stars reversing their courses. “When we are tired,” said Nietzsche, “we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” Is that what’s become of us? Nazis are on the march again, from Charlottesville to Berkeley. Who will save us from the fascist menace?

As it turns out, probably the fascists themselves. Today’s crop of latter-day Nazis is a sad and sorry bunch. Gone are the sharp Hugo Boss uniforms, the crisp military precision that convulsed a continent. The modern American Nazi is one part swaggering fratboy, one part sniveling basement dweller, and nine or ten parts transparent grifter. Even the ones who cloak their white-power beliefs behind the affable mask of the “alt-right” are as sorry a bunch of incompetent dipshits as you’re likely to find outside of the Saturday night drunk tank in a good-sized college town.

To the student of modern history this should not be surprising. Though often depicted in media as ruthlessly efficient jackboots, the actual Nazis were by and large idiot stooges who proved as incapable of administering a government as they were of running a war. The ideology of fascism is inherently an ideology of the stupid and mediocre, and when it grows out of a capitalist state it finds the lushest soil among the cretinous jetsam that accumulates on the fringes.

Fascism promises strength, respect, and purpose. These promises appeal to those who have none of the above. In a white ethnostate, your station is derived not from your ability to labor, as under socialism, or your ability to earn, as under capitalism, nor from your beauty or your intelligence or your charisma. It derives from your skin color alone, the one thing of value most Nazis possess. If you cannot succeed on a level playing field, you must tilt the field in your favor, clear away competition from women, from minorities, eventually from sufficiently impure whites: homosexuals, pagans, the disabled, those who ask too many of the wrong sorts of questions. Only when anyone who could possibly pose a threat to your ascendancy is gone will you be safe. For those who find themselves mired in failure but unable or unwilling to improve themselves, the only route that remains is to tear down everyone else. Fascism is every 8th-grade boy’s dream: I want to be really good at guitar without having to practice.

Those who are doing well on their own merits see no draw in fascism. Why would they? It offers them nothing that they cannot earn for themselves, without having to pollute their soul and tolerate the company of these morons. Fascism is for those bitter clingers who see the hand of the Other in all of their own failures. They cannot succeed at relationships because feminism has poisoned women’s minds. They could not succeed at school because of unqualified affirmative action students. They could not succeed at business because of the perfidious Jew. They cannot own their failures, and so they descend into conspiratorial muttering, populating the oppressor class with simpering caricatures. Covetous Jews, lazy hispanics, criminal blacks, fanatical muslims… individually, these untermenschen could not possibly prevail, and yet somehow they have mastered the art of cooperation to undermine the proud White man.

Consider Mike Cernovich. The 2016 Trump campaign catapulted Cernovich overnight from dubious-pill-slinging Internet nobody to dubious-pill-slinging Internet nobody with more than 300k Twitter followers. Cernovich rose to fame as the kind of sleazy date-rapist who makes advice videos for men who can’t get laid; lacking marketable skills, he lives off of the divorce settlement from his first wife, a wealthy Silicon Valley lawyer. Despite excoriating feminism for supposedly encouraging women to bleed men dry and leech off of their earnings, that is exactly what he has done. He tries to cultivate a gentleman-of-leisure act, filming his videos in front of a pool to show off his fancy house and material possessions — except it’s not his house or his pool, but that of his in-laws, who must wearily tolerate the fool their daughter married. Every aspect of his life is a lie: he claims to be a successful lawyer, but does not appear to have ever practiced; his fitness is not a result of a workout routine, but testosterone injections. Little wonder such a man would fall in with the alt-right. His skin color is the only thing he has going for him.

Similarly sad is the case of Baked Alaska, aka Tim Gionet. After achieving a modicum of success as a social media strategist at Buzzfeed, he began his alt-right odyssey with Milo Yiannopoulos, who you may remember as the provocateur most known for losing his book deal and his wealthy backers, and also dressing like The Situation’s grandma.

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Gionet’s specialty seems to be the self-own. He loves to film himself everywhere and at all times, and he does not seem to exercise any editorial control over these videos, perhaps unaware of what does and doesn’t make him look good. Thus you can see him hit on a 13-year-old, or get owned by a child, or harass a woman into breaking his iPhone and then beg indifferent cops to help him. He complains about getting owned by Uber drivers, club owners and, most often, his greatest foe of all: himself. After Twitter banned him he filmed himself ranting at customers at the local In-N-Out Burger. This is not a man on the forefront of building a new Aryan society, despite his professed admiration for the 14 words.

Fascism is the last resort of fuckups, failures and fools, a zombie ideology that allows them to blame everyone but themselves for how ruinous their lives have become. Fascism is not attainable long-term because any fascist government that somehow achieves power immediately sets about self-destructing. Because it only attracts the most craven incompetents, fascism rapidly purges itself of cleverness and talent. The danger is not that this half-baked collection of rubes and swindlers will take over this country, but that in the process of trying, they will bring it down on all of our heads.

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