The Army of the West
In August 2014, when the world was marking the centennial of the Great War, a strange, poignant thing happened on 4chan, Twitter, Facebook, and other haunts of underemployed millennials: an image was being shared that had its origins in the France–centered movement Génération Identitaire a year or more prior.
I had seen it before, hundreds of times, but the sudden frequency hit me. We had joked about it for years already, but it really did seem like some sort of shared awareness was forming in those circles. In the wake of the election, it took an African woman to put it succinctly:
Rightists are a depressive lot, on average. Conditioned to see modernity as one long defeat, the closest thing to a rallying cry the American conservative movement ever managed to provide was William F. Buckley’s famous words: “[National Review] stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” Most conservative art has a similar tone, and even those pieces which are hopeful and triumphant have their somber moments elevated by conservative critics: We’ve heard many words on Tolkien’s idea of eucatastrophe, but not so many on the sheer beauty of the return of a king.
Jean Raspail’s 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints fit the conservative mood in the early 2010s. Sure, it was a novel where the heroes were willing to spit in the face of the death of the West one last time, but it was ultimately a novel of crushing defeat with little hope to moderate it. Even at the novel’s most defiant, it felt like a epitaph:
The ones who truly love their traditions don’t take them too seriously. They march to get their heads shot off with a joke on their lips. And the reason is that they know they’re going to die for something intangible, something sprung from their fancy, half humor, half humbug. Or perhaps it’s a little more subtle. Perhaps hidden away in their fancy is that pride of the blueblood, who refuses to look foolish by fighting for an idea, and so he cloaks it with bugle calls that tug at the heart, with empty mottoes and useless gold trim, and allows himself the supreme delight of giving his life for an utter masquerade. That’s something the Left has never understood, and that’s why its contempt is so heavy with hate. When it spits on the flag, or tries to piss out the eternal flame, when it hoots at the old farts loping by in their berets, or yells “Women’s Lib!” outside the church, at an old-fashioned wedding (to cite just some basic examples), it does so in such a grim, serious manner — like such “pompous assholes,” as the Left would put it, if only it could judge. The true Right is never so grim. That’s why the Left hates its guts, the way a hangman must hate the victim who laughs and jokes on his way to the gallows. The Left is a conflagration. It devours and consumes in deadly dull earnest. (Even its revels, appearances notwithstanding, are as grisly an affair as one of those puppet parades out of Peking or Nuremberg.)
The Right is different. It’s a flickering flame, a will-o’-the-wisp in the petrified forest, flitting through the darkness…
When, in 2015, the European migrant crisis became so obvious even the lügenpresse had to take notice, the common refrain on the internet right was that Raspail’s novel had been cemented as prophecy, and it was time to to ready for the last stage of the long defeat. All those half–joking memes about being born too late for the height of Western Civilization and too early for its rebirth had a real emotional undertone: We knew we were the children of dusk.
Yet! There was Donald Trump. It took a while for some people to come around, despite Trump’s resounding anti–immigration message in his campaign announcement, and his bold refusal to back down in the face of the first (of many) rounds of “He’s finished if he doesn’t…”
It took even longer for some Europeans to come around. As difficult as it was for some Americans to adjust to Trump’s Queens brashness, it was probably more difficult for Europeans, despite and because of the tendency of some to see Donald Trump as somehow peculiarly American. But, slowly, all those underemployed young men, the closet rightist professionals, the bodybuilders, the racist lawyers, the Australians, the Englishmen, and ultimately people across the West came together, first for Trump, then for Brexit, and then for Trump some more.
What happened? How had this unusual Army of the West arisen?
Raspail’s prophecy told of a West that was tied together only by its evil elite. Each Western people remained atomized in its linguistic, geographic, and conversational shell. For each people, the looming disaster may have only been their disaster, and besides, the elite weren’t listening. Raspail’s world was what we had resigned ourselves to the West being. Guillaume Faye, in Why We Fight (2001), put it particularly well:
In Western Europe, the best illustration of democracy’s absence is the fact that the established powers objectively favour our replacement by non-European, Islamic colonizers, without ever having consulted native Europeans. The people’s destruction, its ethnocide, is indeed programmed by the present pseudo-democracy. This makes it completely anti-democratic, since it destroys what needs conserving.
But something else had happened. The Internet, an anti-traditionalist force without equal, a babbling box that had failed its hopeful 1990s evangelists and had become a series of nihilistic Skinner boxes had also done something else: It connected the West. It encouraged conversation in a new common tongue, and it made us see our struggle as shared.
It let us mobilize across national lines for goals within a single nation.
So when it came time to drive the American press and its hack political professionals insane, to keep them up in a fury of Nazi–hunting that left “the most qualified presidential candidate in history” denoucning amorphous Twitter trolls and cartoon frogs, it could be a pan–Western movement. And it was.
The American election was a very near thing. 24/7 media coverage declaring a Trump win “impossible” certainly depressed Republican turnout, and only the social media shortcuts and the American people’s declining faith in our apparatchik press kept us engaged. Certainly, many went to vote on Nov. 8th like Raspail’s men of the right: they believed they would be shot for it, but did it with a smile. But there were those of us who believed in the win, and it happened.
In that razor’s edge election, everything made a difference, and it’s hard to discount the efforts non–Americans made in keeping the message alive on social media and in crafting images, videos, and words that would engage an American electorate desperate for a chance to strike back against the elites who had never given us a choice before.
Yesterday, a friend reminded me of “A Little Scraping”, a poem by that great Californian poet of eucatastrophe, Robinson Jeffers:
True, the time, to one who does not love farce,
And if misery must be prefers it nobler, shows apparent vices;
At least it provides the cure for ambition.
One does not crave power in ant-hills, nor praise in a paper forest;
One must not even indulge the severe
Romance of separateness, as of Milton grown blind and old
In his broken temple against the drunkards:
The ants are good creatures, there is nothing to be heroic about.
But the time is not a strong prison either.
A little scraping the walls of dishonest contractor’s concrete
Through a shower of chips and sand makes freedom.
Shake the dust from your hair. This mountain sea-coast is real,
For it reaches out far into past and future;
It is part of the great and timeless excellence of things. A few
Lean cows drift high up the bronze hill;
The heavy-necked plow-team furrows the foreland, gulls tread the furrow;
Time ebbs and flows but the rock remains.
Two riders of tired horses canter on the cloudy ridge;
Topaz-eyed hawks have the white air;
Or a woman with jade-pale eyes, hiding a knife in her hand,
Goes through cold rain over gray grass.
God is here, too, secretly smiling, the beautiful power
That piles up cities for the poem of their fall
And gathers multitude like game to be hunted when the season comes.
And so it was that we found time wasn’t a prison, either. The most depressive man of the right could wake up on that Wednesday morning and feel like, perhaps, the tide might turn. For the young, perhaps we were not the children of dusk after all.
The night of Donald J. Trump’s election, I watched the returns come in with internet trolls and other bargoers. One of the bargoers who wasn’t there for the troll gathering was an older Frenchman in a red MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat who was happy to see the Trump victory, but less confident that his home would be so lucky. I thought about him the next day, and thought about how, despite the language barrier, Americans owe the rest of the West our best efforts for Marine Le Pen’s Front National. Because if any Western nation still remains in thrall to the globalist elites who seek the destruction of our people, we haven’t won yet.
Our weird, strange, but very real Army of the West is still here. And we have only begun to strike back against the time.