From Sci-Fi to Alt-Right: Extremists and Conspiracy Theorists Using Lovecraft to Attack Feminism and L. Ron Hubbard to Take on International Bankers
A controversy arose this past week when anthropologists discovered that white supremacists had manipulated Google’s page ranking algorithm to make a racist and anti-Semitic hate site the snippet chosen for Google’s instant answer to queries about the definition of Boasian anthropology. “Boasian Anthropology is a pseudo-scientific Jewish assault on White European racial consciousness and identity,” the Google info-box informed its readers, taking the text from a white nationalist blog. Google expressed regret over the situation but said that the company had no responsibility to evaluate the content they excerpt: “The feature is an automatic and algorithmic match to the search query,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge. This is disingenuous, of course, since Google knows full well that many users cannot distinguish between a third-party snippet and an “official” Google-endorsed definition, particularly since Google offers similar-looking info-boxes for dictionary definitions, mathematical calculations, and other facts it presents as its own. Within hours of the controversy erupting, however, the anti-Semitic result disappeared from the Google top results.
This is not, however, the only place where white supremacists, nationalists, and separatists have been on the march. As I noted recently, white nationalists and the so-called alt-right have developed an interest in H. P. Lovecraft because of Lovecraft’s mainstream popularity as a horror author and his white supremacist and anti-immigrant racist views. Just as a generation ago the New Age saw weird fiction as a way to open readers to a range of alternative lifestyles and beliefs, so too does the so-called alt-right now want to use horror fiction as a metaphorical opening to racism.
On the Age of Shitlords website, there was a noxious article from an unnamed “guest writer” who offered a half-developed argument that Lovecraftian horror can be used to help young men understand why feminism is attempting to destroy men. Specifically, the writer suggests that the Lovecraftian process of discovering the ancient horror beneath the façade of the modern world—which he likens to taking the “red pill” in the Matrix movies—is an analog to how women come to see the entire world as evil through the corrupt and secret knowledge of feminism. The argument is doubly dark because it also suggests that education and knowledge are harmful to women.
Citing the experience of Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist blogger, the writer offers this: “What she is essentially saying, is in the context of her becoming a women’s studies major (the unlocking of the knowledge, or ‘red pilling’), she was able to see the horrors in the world for what they truly were.” He compares this to “The Call of Cthulhu,” where the process of putting facts together unleashes the horror of knowledge. This is, for the author, not a good thing but rather a false consciousness.
The problem here lies, that for most people the forbidden knowledge that either provides, even when backed up with suitable evidence will be outright rejected as if it were mere lunacy. This applies to both the feminists, as well as us. Because to many people the assertion that there is a patriarchy, is just as ludicrous sounding as saying there is a feminist agenda to emasculate the western world.
It shouldn’t surprise us that angry young men would latch on to both Lovecraft and anti-feminist alt-right rhetoric, but it should disturb us nonetheless.
But this kind of march to the abyss has been going on for some time. Years ago we saw how conspiracy theorists organized a campaign to align claims of giants and aliens with shocking Anti-Semitism. I’ve frequently mentioned that conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs rides right up to the line of anti-Semitism in condemning international bankers as agents of evil, recycling conspiracies originally created to demonize Jews. In a new interview with Skeptico, Marrs continued his dance with extremism in an interview in which he first praised Donald Trump for taking America back to the “self-confident and productive” society of the 1950s and then explained his newfound appreciation for the cosmic truths of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s novel Battlefield Earth. And of course he liked it because he saw it as a reflection of these same anti-banking conspiracies that he has previously linked to Jewish bankers.
Specifically, Marrs delivered a shameless and frankly bizarre advertisement for Battlefield Earth in which he praised the novel for exposing the workings of “intergalactic bankers,” which, yes, are actually part of the novel, but seem to have drawn Marrs’s interest due to his special obsession with international banking conspiracies:
But you can actually learn a lot from reading Hubbard’s work. Battlefield Earth, they’ve just issued a new edition, last year, and you can get really good deals on that in Amazon, and you can go to their website, battlefieldearth.com. But what’s cool is, here’s a story of an alien invasion, but yet it’s not like what we see today, like in Independence Day, where the aliens just come and want to blow up everything; these are the intergalactic bankers who have loaned money to the intergalactic mining corporation, giving them a contract to loot the mineral resources of the Earth. But they have a timetable, they’re supposed to complete it in such a such of time, and they’re beginning to push on this timetable and they’re getting worried because these pesky humans are causing problems, so they’ve got to go to the planet Psychlo and get these tall, hairy aliens to come and try to subdue the pesky humans on the earth.
This is what TV Tropes calls the “Space Jew” trope, in which stereotypes about Jews are projected onto evil space aliens. Marrs neglects to note that there is also a holocaust of an intellectual alien race in the novel, which also has echoes of Jewish stereotypes, and the humans of the novel’s era (3000 CE) are Neo-Nazis who worship Hitler as a genius and essentially a Messiah. No wonder Marrs loves the book!
Marrs also believes that Scientology’s critics are wrong about the organization because when he visited Scientology, they showed him a good time, like the Potemkin villages that showed Catherine the Great how wonderful the life of serfs was in Russia. He said that “based on my experience, everybody I’ve ever met, that’s had anything to do with Scientology are just really kind of nice, good people.” And as we know from years of experience with fringe writers and conspiracy theorists, personal feelings count more than evidence, and the truth of claims is based on personality rather than facts.
3/2/2017 11:22:42 am
What I find bizarre about using Lovecraft as a gateway to anti-feminism is that Lovecraft's fiction has few female characters and no sexism that is not tied-up with racism.
3/2/2017 12:30:40 pm
I think you're making a mistake when you filter a Conan story through your modern sensibilities.
3/2/2017 12:45:35 pm
I really enjoyed the following essay about the link between Conan the Cimmerian and racism:
3/2/2017 12:50:56 pm
Sorry, I forgot to post the link to the essay about the racism in Conan: http://ferretbrain.com/articles/article-839
3/2/2017 01:26:33 pm
Like I said, nothing about white supremacist thinking makes sense to me. These are the same groups that support Scott Wolter's theories and the Solutrean Hypothesis.
3/2/2017 05:48:38 pm
I'm afraid Howard and Lovecraft are both strongly admired by white supremacists.
3/2/2017 05:57:17 pm
What is so strange about a white supremacist supporting the Solutrean Hypothesis? The Solutrean Hypothesis is all about how the first humans in the Americas were white people.
3/2/2017 06:56:14 pm
Buddhist, I didn't say there was anything strange about their acceptance of such pseudoscience; I said it doesn't make sense.
3/2/2017 07:59:20 pm
Actually, Buddhist, the Solutrean hypothesis is about how the first (or at least some early) people in the Americas were European, not that they were white. In fact, we have every reason to believe that what we now call "white people" didn't exist in Europe or anywhere else at that time.
3/2/2017 08:44:33 pm
Shane Sullivan: You raise a good point, but in fairness, I have no doubt that to many White Supremacists, European = White.
3/3/2017 11:51:06 am
3/2/2017 12:08:21 pm
That Google thing isn't too surprising. Thanks to the recent fallout surrounding PewDiePie, white nationalists are taking advantage of the attention.
3/2/2017 01:27:02 pm
I am beginning to get the impression that every single fringe writer is an active agent/propagandist, or at least an unwitting dupe, for the ultra-right-wing. I read a lot of fringe stuff in my younger days, read New Age stuff, and I always had the feeling they were rather anti-authoritarian, were challenging "the system." I see now that what those folks were doing was undermining belief in facts and any sort of fact-based reality, and undermining the very notion of trustworthy authority. And along with losing the ability to see reality, we got the adolescent thrill of bucking the oppressive system.
3/2/2017 09:16:32 pm
It is exactly that way, postmodernism, which started out as literary criticism was subsumed into the New Age movement and become a corrosive ideology that has been embraced by both the Left and the Right.
3/2/2017 01:39:07 pm
I'll bet Google queries for "Bosnian anthropology," "anthropology of boa constrictors," and "where can an anthropologist buy a good inexpensive boa?" are at least a bizillion times more frequent than "Boasian anthropology."
3/2/2017 03:39:51 pm
Love HPL & Howard & pulps in general - even if I do have to hold my nose when I run into their more racist/misogynistic/Christofacist problems.
3/2/2017 04:29:11 pm
Anti-Semitic stereotypes have never been specific to Anti-Semiticism. Blood libel goes back to Roman times and was used by heretic hunters in the middle ages.
3/2/2017 04:32:14 pm
If this were the only thing Marrs had said on the issue, I'd agree, but in his past statements he has been much closer in terms of using elements of the Protocols and Icke's Lizard People. He also has a tendency to identify specific Jewish bankers, such as the Rothschilds. Whether he is doing it on purpose or just doesn't realize where his claims originate, I couldn't say.
3/2/2017 06:30:24 pm
Not meaning to tick anyone off, but there was a time when Christians were forbidden to engage in or were restricted in, lending money. Who you gonna call? And the Rothschilds do control a buttload of money and banking.
3/2/2017 08:55:02 pm
That's actually somewhat untrue. Christians were never forbidden to lend money. What they were forbidden to do was CHARGE INTEREST. So most people DIDN'T lend money on any kind of scale, because it was just a bad deal. You had no leverage to be sure you were paid back, and especially not to be paid back in a timely fashion.
3/2/2017 10:34:00 pm
"That's actually somewhat untrue. Christians were never forbidden to lend money. What they were forbidden to do was CHARGE INTEREST. So most people DIDN'T lend money on any kind of scale, because it was just a bad deal. You had no leverage to be sure you were paid back, and especially not to be paid back in a timely fashion."
3/2/2017 05:13:45 pm
My personal favorite novel about intergalactic conspirasies is definitivly Frank Herbert's "Dune".
3/2/2017 08:59:10 pm
Great book. Lousy movie. They left out so much it didn't make any sense. With the amount of material to cover the movie should have been a trilogy, at least. It would have been much better than Star Wars but it was not for kiddies so wouldn't have grossed as much.
3/2/2017 10:48:03 pm
Tru dat. I feel the same way about Serpico and Story of O.
Day Late and Dollar Short
3/3/2017 01:18:14 pm
Speaking of remakes! Denis Villeneuve will direct the new Dune movie. Personally, I'm very excited about this project.
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