Alt-Right Supporter Uses Atlantis and ESP to Defend "Aryan Heritage," Blames Muslims for "White Genocide"
Today I intend to discuss the flawed intellectualism proffered by the so-called alt-right, a term I use here in contravention of recommended media usage because the example I will discuss comes from an intellectual of the alt-right school who denies being a white nationalist while writing approvingly of “Aryan heritage” and of “my support for the Alt-Right’s struggle to prevent another white genocide.” I will forestall efforts to dismiss my critique with arguments over the terminology of white nationalism in order to focus on the faulty arguments and bad history used to erect an alt-right philosophy.
In an “open letter” last week, a philosopher with a Ph.D. from SUNY Stony Brook suggested that he might file a defamation suit against the university after faculty in the philosophy department strategized about how to deal with an alumnus that they had identified as an “Aryan white supremacist.” According to news reports, they want to conduct a “review” of Iranian-American Jason Reza Jorjani’s Ph.D. work, even though there has been no allegation of misconduct, a move prompted by Jorjani speaking at white nationalist Richard Spencer’s recent conference, the one where some attendees gave a fascist salute as Spencer shouted “Hail Trump!” Jorjani provided a copy of the faculty meeting notes (which they mistakenly emailed to him), and I think that he has read too much into them. In the notes, an unnamed speaker accused Jorjani of being involved with white supremacy and then added, “We are going to review his research, his dissertation, and we may or may not issue a statement, though this runs the risk of giving the issue more oxygen.” As I read this, the philosophy department wasn’t planning to revoke his Ph.D., as Jorjani suggested, but rather intended to read his work in order to be able to discuss it should he achieve greater prominence within the so-called “alt-right.”
Nevertheless, if there is a movement to revoke his degree, then Jorjani is right to object to this unusual action, which would violate the principles of academic freedom. In doing so, however, Jorjani denied being a white nationalist and then defended his interest in Nazi Germany by embracing the fringe idea that Nazis were right to investigate the supernatural and magic: “I am not one [a white nationalist], even if I have argued, rightly (in my October Stockholm speech), that National Socialist Germany was the only political regime to seriously consider the implications of mainstream scientific recognition and widespread cultivation of those latent human capacities hitherto marginalized as ‘paranormal.’” (The Soviets and Americans also studied the paranormal, often with laughable results.) In his book Prometheus and Atlas (2016), based on his Ph.D. dissertation (which he requested be excluded from full-text research databases), Jorjani advocates the idea that “spectral agencies” from the netherworld act on human beings through “demonic possession,” from which claim he professes to philosophically prove the futility and wrongness of materialism and thus science and even objective reality itself. While he claims that the supernatural is merely a part of the natural world our ideological science refuses to accept because it would destroy our social, political, and economic structures (e.g. he thinks psychic powers would undermine confidence in the stock market), the feignt toward naturalism is essentially a cover for an effort to reenchant the world through an appeal to pagan mysticism, dressed up in the language of science but without the scientific method. For him, all is ideological. But what ideology?
In addition to Jorjani’s lengthy “open letter” of upset, I also read the introduction to Prometheus and Atlas, a book transparently modelled on the Apollonian and Dionysian division of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, but which, unlike Nietzsche, selected punished gods rather than creative ones in order to cast white people as victims. It was published by Arktos Media, a publisher devoted to Indo-European culture and the European New Right, which also happens to employ Jorjani as its editor-in-chief. Coincidence, I’m sure, like the fact that they focus on publishing Weimar-era “Conservative Revolutionary” German writers. Jorjani’s book, under much superficial erudition (and an overarching framework derived from Martin Heidegger, the influential German philosopher who was a Nazi from 1933 to 1945 and only ambiguously denounced the movement thereafter), fails in one key aspect: It does not appear to clearly distinguish between the actual supernatural (should such a thing exist) and a mere belief in the supernatural, because he simply accepts cranky fringe “research” into ESP, and in so doing is compelled to acknowledge the objective “reality” of Yahweh’s and Allah’s miracles, but denigrates them as parapsychological phenomena in order to declare the Jewish and Islamic gods to be genocidal Semitic tyrants opposed to the true Aryan’s faith in himself. Heil! Well, he doesn’t say Aryan and Semitic per se in the introduction to the book, but he does refer only to Europeans and Iranians—the Indo-Europeans, who were once termed “Aryan”—as the beneficiaries of Western civilization and the Arabs as “brown” people who corrupted its primitive purity. In his open letter, however, he takes pains to say that many of his friends and colleagues are Jewish, and that he spent time with “Jewish adherents of fascism.”
Because of all this, he can craft allegations of a conspiracy to suppress the supernatural out of what were in reality genuine efforts to see through the ideology of belief. Oh, and of course as an Iranian he also concludes that Greek philosophers and thus the Western tradition as a whole owe their accomplishments to … wait for it … Persia. From Persia, which he sees as both white and spiritually pure before “brown” Arabs hijacked it for Islam, he sees the Aryan heritage as reemerging. In his open letter, he writes: “This Aryan heritage has roots in the Earth that are thousands of years old and the branches of its tree will grow through distant star systems.” Space Aryans! It seems like there was a Star Trek episode about that… And a movie…
When I say Jorjani’s erudition is superficial, I should give an example: He bases a lengthy argument (and, frankly, the book’s title and its central thesis on Western Civilization) on the idea that the Titan Atlas was “the world-building sovereign of Atlantis,” citing it to Plato. But Plato’s Atlas, as described in the Critias, was the son of Poseidon by a mortal woman, one of ten coequal children, and he is not the primordial Titan but rather the embodiment of the name “Atlantic” (which, in reality, was named for the Titan), just as other names of the children embodied other geographic areas, such as Gaderius, retroactive namesake of Gades. In short, they were different dudes. Jorjani, drawing on fringe literature, mistakenly identifies Poseidon’s sons as the Giants and/or Nephilim (he specifically connects Atlantis to the Watchers), conflating the Gigantomachy and the Titanomachy after mistaking Poseidon’s ten sons for Kronos’ brothers and sisters, the Titans. Jorjani knows all about the fringe argument that Atlantis was the “antediluvian world” of the Bible, and very little about the actual literature involved. Indeed, he claims that Atlantis was “the common origin ‘myth’ that lies at both founts of Western Civilization: Classical Greece and ancient Israel.” In truth, Plato most likely modeled parts of the Critias on a version of the Near East Flood Myth known to him, just as the Nephilim section of Genesis draws on that same source material. Since the Atlantis story does not stretch farther back than Plato, it is hardly a foundation of Greek philosophy or culture; indeed, most Greeks didn’t think much about Atlantis at all.
Jorjani’s slippery reliance on fringe literature is exemplified by his discussion of UFOs and folklore (he’s a big fan of Ezekiel’s “spaceship” encounter), which he explicitly bases on Jacques Vallée, cheerfully ignorant of Vallée’s poor evidence and faulty reasoning. He is, for Jorjani, a valuable source precisely because he stands opposed to “mainstream scientists.” Jorjani wants to see UFOs as part of the troubling paranormal realm that challenges the scientific consensus on materialist reality, but his argument presupposes a “UFO phenomenon” that cannot be proven to exist outside of the human perception that independent experiences (lights in the sky, encounters with humanoid beings, night terrors, etc.) are somehow part of a larger phenomenon. In other words, he again chooses not to distinguish between human perception and how we can determine whether that perception has an objective reality.
He may playact at scholarship, but Jorjani’s work is as riddled with error as any other fringe writer, despite the more complex sentences and appeals to Germanic philosophers.
In addition to being a supporter of paranormal research, Jorjani has also been a guest on Red Ice Radio, an outlet for both fringe history and white nationalism, and he declared the arrival of Islam in the old Persian Empire to be “history’s first and greatest white genocide.” He claimed in his “open letter” that his goal in marrying fringe history to alt-right politics and Germanic philosophy is to prevent another “white genocide” by Muslims.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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