For those of you who are not aware, I used to briefly freelance for Brett Stevens over at Amerika under the pen name Charles Lyons. Brett Stevens is a brilliant writer and is one of, if not the most, prominent leaders in the American New Right movement. He has been blogging away over at Amerika for several years now. I asked Brett if he would be interested in an interview with Fanghorn Forest so we can get to know him better.
FF: If you could, give a brief introduction about yourself and your website.
BS: Amerika.org writes about conservatism from a Nietzschean perspective, which means that we adopt a moderate, mainstream conservative perspective and inform it with the scope that Nietzsche used. In particular, this means we think in thousand-year intervals and more about the philosophy behind politics than the politics itself. As a result, Amerika is not a great place to find the latest anti-Obama memes but it is a good place to find the underlying ideas behind the political tokens being bandied about in public. I ended up as editor of this site after running a number of underground blogs and zines on philosophical and political topics, and simultaneously becoming both “mellower” and more intense in my commitment to pulling humanity out of its dead-end path. Most people know me from previous projects like CORRUPT and NIHIL.
FF: What made you decide to start Amerika.org?
BS: All philosophy that is not ideology/wishful thinking based is conservative. If you believe that reality is more important than what other people think, and can anticipate the results of actions in the future, you are a conservative, even if unaware of it (as I was for almost three decades). The problem is that conservatism — that is, the abstract idea and concrete practice of being conservative — has been hijacked by both mainstream conservatives who turn it into liberalism, and underground conservatives who tend to make it into a personal crusade against a world that has done them wrong. I envisioned Amerika.org as a kind of connective tissue between the different conservative groups, distilling these complex political games down to their ideas and their manifestation in reality. I oppose politics itself, basically, and think we should get back to the philosophy underneath it. Since no one else was doing this, I sighed and said, “OK, I’ll have a go.”
FF: How would you describe your current political beliefs? Is there any title (or titles) you would ascribe yourself i.e. paleoconservative, neoreactionary, traditionalist?
BS: Most of the titles I could use — new right, paleoconservative, identitarian, neoreactionary, traditionalist, reactionary, realist, monarchist — overlap more than not, so as sensible place to look would be at the intersection of those. I am informed by all of these traditions and take my own path which is based in reality itself on a thousand-year scale or greater. Since all of these descend from conservatism, or non-utilitarian consequentialism, I would probably identify as a conservative most of all. Categorical language is not as useful here as a description of my approach. I view political questions as philosophical questions. I view the anchoring for those questions in the long history of cause->effect logic that humanity can see through history, and I treat history as my lab and logic as my science, and work out what human actions create what results. Then I shop for what actions I should take by looking at the results of previously similar actions. My only other treatment on the top of that is that I believe in “the good, the beautiful and the true,” so I look past the utilitarian ideas that were OK with most people polled at the time, and instead seek ways to create eternal beauty, truth and goodness out of what currently. This approach has been taken by every human being who has ever advanced human society or learning.
FF: Who have been the biggest influences on your current political beliefs?
BS: Although this sounds bizarre, the biggest influences have been analytical thinking itself, meditation and time spent in nature. I came to my beliefs at a very young age and it took many years for me to figure out how they played out in reality and how to communicate to them among others. On the political from, Alexis de Tocqueville, Samuel Huntington, Guillaume Faye and Alain de Benoist have been most influential. In philosophy, it has been F.W. Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Schopenhauer, Pentti Linkola, Immanuel Kant, Plato and Julius Evola. In literature, Michel Houellebecq, William S. Burroughs, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen have been most influential. You will notice quite a bit of overlap with the classics, and that is really where my beliefs found their first voice, especially among the epic poetry of the Indo-Europeans such as the Kalevala, Odyssey, Nibelungenlied, Aeneid and Mahabarata. On the contemporary front, I read a lot of Paul Gottfried, David Brooks, Nick Land, Troy Southgate and Gwendolyn Taunton. But these writers essentially helped me to gain a voice for an idea I found deep in my inner self and in the nature surrounding me.
FF: What are some of your favorite political books/works that you would recommend to the reader?
BS: It is impossible to discuss next-generation politics — by which I mean what comes after the current hodgepodge of liberal democracy, consumerism and totalitarianism fades — without having read “The Republic” by Plato, “The Clash of Civilizations” by Samuel Huntington and “Archeofuturism” by Guillaume Faye. I think it unwise to discuss politics at all without having read the Plato and some Nietzsche, preferably “Human, All Too Human.” Those who live in America should be familiar with “Democracy in America” from Alexis de Tocqueville. The traditions of the past were more sensible where a general background in literature, philosophy and history was expected; this is better than “critical thinking” which is a pre-formed substitute for critical analysis, which cannot be taught in the modern format but like all complex things can only be learned through application.
FF: What do you believe is the greatest problem Western Society faces today?
BS: Its imminent death. Western civilization has been in decline for at least 2,000 years, and up until recently, the forces of health managed to keep the decay at bay. With our population bloom at the lower echelons of society, we turned over to democracy in 1789 and after that the collapse accelerated exponentially. All of our problems arise from this condition. It can only be fixed by changing the direction of our inward spirit, our goals and our values.
FF: How do we fix that problem?
BS: Fixing the decline of the West requires we think differently about our purpose. Survivors of the coming cataclysm will be those who turn to reality and ideas which are eternally true, but those ideas are the opposite of what is in vogue both now and perpetually in the narcissistic human mind which wishes to impose its desires for what “should” be true onto the world regardless of actual truth. We will need a cultural revolution to pull out of this tailspin and only a small number of people will understand, so we are looking at most of the people in the West being cut free to chase their immediate self-gratification in third-world states where such things are popular. There will be a breakaway of Westerners; the only question is how many people will still be sane enough to do this, and how much of our culture and learning we get to take with us. The experiment in individualism that led to democracy has failed yet again, as it did in Greece, with the same consequences: the collapse of civilization and its replace by a third-world impersonation.
FF: What does an ideal American society look like to Brett Stevens?
BS: A network of kings who collaborate to rule under an Emperor who wages war, with a mesh of lesser aristocracy under that on down to lords at the local level who own most of the land. Cities would be small, under 70,000 people, and networked by trains more than highways. Government under the kings would be small and have few functions, with most values applied by culture and not by the hand of government. Most land would remain in its natural state, owned by the lords who alone could hunt on it, and mental defectives — you would recognize these as armchair neurotics, religious fanatics, liberals, criminals, solipsists, the insane and the retarded — would be exiled. The goal would always be quality over quantity. I also favor a strong religion, like a streamlined Nordic interpretation of Hinduism ruling over medieval Christianity. Most of all, this society would not be formal. Rules would be seen as inferior to knowledge of goals and values, and people who needed lengthy instructions or self-help books would be seen as mental defectives.
FF: What do you believe is the most ideal system of government?
BS: It’s not really government, but monarchy. Monarchy is a form of leadership that puts people of noble character and high intelligence into leadership positions and lets them act organically. It is supported by an aristocracy that breeds the best of humanity and puts them in position to assume rule, working their way up from local government to the national level. This cannot exist without a strong national identity, which requires the triad of culture, heritage and values. This is a method of leadership more than a system of government. Government to my mind implies an institution which acts to manage the lives of its citizens, which monarchy does not do. Monarchy leads a nation and wages war against its problems both internal and external. It does not apply the babysitter-cum-disciplinarian role that government takes on. It has basically one punishment, which is that people who do not fit or transgress are sent away. As a result, all punishment is severe and thus rarer. Most modern problems would not exist after 90 days in a monarchy.
FF: What are your thoughts on the neoreactionary movement?
BS: It has a lot to offer where tempered by traditionalist, new right and paleoconservative beliefs. The best way to think of neoreactionarism is to view it as a kind of salon, or a place for discussion. It exists to help us break out of the taboos that maintain the power structure in our time, and to be able to speak realistically about the perpetual problems we face in modernity. The modern method of thought control involves forcing us to think solely in terms of the human individual and its preferences, which enables those in power to categorize anything other than what they desire as hostile to the individual. That produces the usual laundry list of -isms, like sexism, classism, racism, homophobia, etc. which are all basically the same crime, which is violating the taboo on the individual having a preference to put desires, judgments and feelings before reality itself. These are merely methods of control, much like other nations use military police to beat up dissidents. In the West, we simply categorize any thought other than what the ruling junta wants as degenerate, call it nasty names and imply that those who think that way are ignorant, and our market-based society does the rest to exclude them. Neoreaction breaks through this control method by finding new ways to discuss these topics that find personal relevance in the impersonal, and as a result show us why we should talk about these things and how to think about the benefits that thinking outside of approved dogma can bring.