On the Politics of Alternative History: The Alt-Right, Indo-Europeans, and Templars
After Pres. Donald Trump called the rules of U.S. Congress “archaic” this week and said that they are a “bad thing for the country,” his chief of staff said that the Administration has “looked at” ways to limit or repeal the First Amendment. Fortunately, presidents can’t amend the Constitution, but it’s clear that Trump doesn’t know anything about history or the law. In an interview on Sirius XM radio yesterday, Trump praised Andrew Jackson, a slave-owning former president who oversaw the Trail of Tears and thought Native Americans killed off a lost white race, claiming that Jackson would have prevented the Civil War had he been in office when it broke out. Trump wrongly stated that Jackson was angered by the war when it broke out (he died 16 years before it started) and claimed that few investigate why the war erupted. “People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question,” Trump said. “But why was there the Civil War. Why would that one not have been worked out?” Trump’s startling historical ignorance—not to mention failure to grapple with 150 years of scholarly research into the war’s origins—is matched only by his implication that the president he most likens to himself, Jackson, could have “worked out” a deal to compromise on whether black people should be considered full human beings. We already knew that Trump gets his news from Fox News, but apparently he gets his history from the History Channel—paranoia, conspiracy, and racist dog-whistles.
Speaking of which…
Late last week over at Lit Hub, Australian journalist Ramon Glazov published a fascinating piece on the development of alt-right views on the Aryan race and their similarity to the ancient astronaut school of archaeology. In the piece, Glazov correctly notes that modern so-called “alt-right” figures barely hide their allegiance to a vitalist view of whiteness, though today they are likely to place a somewhat decorous doily over the outright racism by cloaking it in terms of “Indo-European” heritage. We have seen this kind of reasoning many times before, notably with “alt-right” intellectual Jason Reza Jorjani, who promiscuously mixed ancient astronaut theories with Indo-European fetishism in order to cut out a wholly new semi-divine origin for the white race. Although Jorjani doesn’t appear in Glazov’s article, he is perhaps the epitome of the trends the author identifies.
But to return to Glazov’s article, he begins by tracing the origins of Aryan race theory back to Count Arthur de Gobineau, who in 1853 published 1,400 pages on human inequality, which more or less concluded that all innovation in civilization was due to the vitality and virility of white Aryans. Glazov quotes him this way:
In the above list no negro race is seen as the initiator of a civilization. Only when it is mixed with some other can it even be initiated into one. Similarly, no spontaneous civilization is to be found among the yellow races; and when the Aryan blood is exhausted stagnation supervenes.
This argument, in more refined form, remains the lifeblood of the alt-right. Jorjani, for example, made a strikingly similar case, different only in masking race under the guise of culture, in alleging that Islam had sapped the vitality of the Indo-Aryan race and was responsible for the stagnation of Iranian culture, a stagnation that could be reversed by letting Aryan culture go free. Gobineau had said something quite similar, though reversing the connection of race and culture, by arguing that Buddhism and Islam were religions of “decay” that arose among racial inferiors and seduced the Aryans into dangerous race-mixing. The similarities to Jorjani’s argument cannot be accidental, even if Jorjani masks race with culture while Gobineau considered culture a function of race.
The count’s racial reasoning found an appreciative audience in the United States among slaveholders, in Europe among anti-Semites like Richard Wagner, and, of course, among the Nazis. His claim that there was an Aryan master race was a bolt of racist lightning whose distant thunderclaps echoed in the white Aryan masters of Theosophy, the white Atlantean world-conquerors of Ignatius Donnelly, and the fruitless quest for the “white gods” of the Americas among fringe historians. While Glazov does not make this connection explicitly, he does note that Gobineau was himself a fringe historian who tried to ascribe ancient civilizations to a vanished master race: “Faced with any evidence of non-white civilizations, he could claim that white people had created them and then vanished. His evaporating ‘Aryans’ were not unlike the ‘ancient astronauts’ that UFO loons credit with building the Pyramids.” Glazov implies that Gobineau created the trope, but he merely borrowed the claim from a long Euro-American tradition of denying nonwhite peoples their achievements. The myth of the lost white Mound Builders, for example, had a hundred years of literature behind it when he wrote. Nevertheless, Gobineau’s book gave scientific cover to similar claims, and if the ancient astronaut theory echoes his work, it is because the ancient astronaut theory merely reworked the racist old lost white race and/or Atlantis tropes, substituting space aliens for Theosophy’s ascended masters, who in turn substituted for the white Aryans of Atlantis and the white Nephilim they replaced. The notes may change but the music remains surprisingly the same.
This bit of connect-the-dots history, however, is only a sidelight to Glazov’s larger point, which is that the false claims and invented histories of the Aryan fetishists exist for a specific reason, one related to politics, culture, and above all identity: “All of their political ‘solutions’—segregation, separatism, immigration barriers—hinge on the assertion that white people are fundamentally different. Fantasies about prehistoric Aryans exist to fill this ideological need.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, when Glazov traces exactly how the alt-right thinks white people are different, he finds that nearly no one can agree. Instead, the answers represent two contradictory truths: Each claimant views his answer as representing a timeless and eternal truth about history and race, and each claimant’s view represent extremely modern concerns about politics and culture. Glazov’s analysis of Jared Taylor’s efforts to explain why the “white man and his civilization” are unique is biting:
If Mexicans and Malays “instinctively” hated “alien incursion,” national liberation movements against colonial rule would have formed centuries earlier. Today we can take the existence of Mexican and Malaysian nationalism for granted, but neither one was a thoughtless impulse. Someone, at some point, had to invent them and popularize them. If nationalism proceeded organically from race, we could also ask why there is so much sabre-rattling between Malaysia and Indonesia, or between India and Pakistan—countries whose boundaries and national identities did not exist before colonialism.
Glazov’s article is a fascinating read, but his implication that much of what drives the alt-right is the desire to see white Europeans as special isn’t just limited to the alt-right. It suffuses many of those who cast themselves as truth tellers trying to revise history in new ways, even when they are on the left and instead see European culture (and its imagined prehistoric antecedents), rather than the white race per se, as the wellspring of utopia. Consider, for example, the latest musings from former television personality Scott Wolter, who published the third part of his article on the Kensington Rune Stone in the spring edition of his corporate newsletter. Amidst the recycling of familiar false claims, Wolter added conclusions that derive directly from the same idea that there is a unique and fundamentally different stream of knowledge that is inseparable from European culture that is sanctified by tradition, by history, and by the divine:
Many believe the medieval Knights Templar evolved into modern Freemasonry. If so, it’s likely our Founding Fathers, many who were Freemasons, understood why the Templars came to North America to establish a “Free Templar State.” As we all know, our founders sought freedom from tyranny of monarchs, freedom of religion, and the basic individual rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Wolter’s views, mixing hyper-diffusionism with an effort to make America divine (literally descended from Jesus, in his view), are hardly unique in the annals of American history. In fact, I was struck by how much his leftist kumbaya celebration of the Free Templar State—in which a white elite became the ruling class over Native Americans, in an unfortunate echo of Leopold II’s genocidal Congo Free State—seemed to be a mirror image of what Glazov identifies as the views of Samuel T. Francis, a paleoconservative syndicated columnist who railed against assaults on “white racial and cultural identity.” Glazov quotes him trying to tie American government to the divine and ancient system of the Indo-Europeans, here performing the same secret occult work as the Templars as the vessels through which pass all that is good:
Some scholars believe that the tripartite structure of Indo-European society survived into medieval Europe with the division of society into “those who work, those who fight, and those who pray,” and it may also be reflected in the division of political functions into executive, judicial, and legislative in the U.S. Constitution, and even in the Christian idea of the Trinity.
Glazov correctly notes that transformation of the Founders into the mythic incarnation of the forces of divinity and history is a retroactive effort to sanctify one’s own political preferences, giving the sanction of eternal verity to events that are hardly old at all. “What counts as ‘primeval truth’ is, then, so relative it does not even have to be pre-modern.”
Individual politics shape how various claimants mold history to suit their ideology, but it probably is worth noting that the whole claim about a Free Templar State in America originated in France with Eugène Beauvois, a racist historian who ascribed Native Americans cultures to an influx of largely white Christian immigrants from Europe, starting with the Celts and ending with the Templars.
5/2/2017 10:43:09 am
Wow. Wolter must really be jonesing for a platform now that his television career is over. Finished. Caput. Enough so that he would put his entire company at risk by exposing himself as a complete imbecile and fabricator of history in his own company newsletter, thus calling into question the expertise of anyone associated with the firm. He doesn't see it though, and never will. He truly is a marvel of moronic vanity.
5/2/2017 12:23:28 pm
Trump didn't call the Constitution archaic. If you look at the transcript of the interview The Independent is referring to, he is explicitly calling the rules of the House and Senate archaic.
5/2/2017 05:23:40 pm
I am not one to defend the Wigged Pumpkin, but on this, you are technically correct ("the best kind of correct"). Drumpf was referring to the internal rules of the House and the Senate. However, what he was really doing was complaining that they won't give in to his every demand. the Constitution DOES state, quite clearly, that the House and Senate are permitted to set their own rules. They did. Now, though, because he passed his own self-imposed time limit for getting things done and has accomplished nothing, he wants to blame the House and the Senate and their "archaic" rules for not letting him act as Dictator and Chief.
5/2/2017 05:24:45 pm
You're right, that was about rules of Congress, the filibuster concept and so on. And the Democrats already made a big change to filibustering in 2013. But that was great, of course, and not changed to mean something else entirely in the news because, well, that was 2013.
5/3/2017 03:22:18 pm
Colavito needs to stop the liberal rants against anything conservative or Republican and stick to what he knows. Yes Jason, we get you are a liberal snowflake with lots of guilt at being born white.
5/2/2017 06:35:14 pm
I'll fix the wording to clarify.
5/2/2017 02:11:43 pm
Isn't Iran named after Aryans? Should we expect the white supremacists to embrace them to their bosom soon?
5/2/2017 02:46:11 pm
There is this odd carving of two men riding one horse at Rosslyn Chapel, which is a symbol of Templars. Then there is a Hooked-X embedded at the chapel, though it is in the form of a mason's mark, also containing a "diamond." We flash forward to the situation of the Hooked-X being depicted as part of a "secret" style of writing, in the latter part of the 19th century...a secret style of writing attributed, most likely it seems, to the Freemasons. Anyway, this is a potent arrangement of certain segments of history, though controversial...especially here.
5/2/2017 05:45:31 pm
Yeah, whatever bro. It's too bad Google, Big Academia and the Samsonite Institution are both suppressing and ignoring, on alternate days, all the "the many remarkable evidences".
5/3/2017 01:22:46 am
Again, it has the makings a fine fantasy novel. But fantasy is all it is. And there are literary blogs that are probably a better fit than this one.
5/3/2017 06:48:14 pm
Here's a puzzle: why would the Templars leave the very people and wealth they had been so good at maintaining, in order to travel halfway around the world to a continent where there was no money? I mean, they were funded by kings and rich merchants, had a lot of property and money, they had connections and access to power, and even when disbanded could easily join a similar group of people doing mostly the same thing... Even if they felt like they had to escape, would they really be so motivated as to leave their entire world (because that's what Europe was to them) and go live in some barbaric uncivilised backwater? Isn't it more likely they'd stay where they were and turn their skills to something else, or simply move to a country where their skills were more appreciated?
5/3/2017 07:05:03 pm
You underestimate the Fringe. They're not constrained by such trivialities as logic, reason or accuracy. They just make stuff up as they go along. Most for profit or notoriety. Others guided by those pesky voices only they can hear.
5/4/2017 12:05:33 am
FLIP, what you are saying sounds a bit odd, but that is what happened, apparently. Templars started out poor and then became wealthy in the sense that they became Europe's bankers, charging interest even, which may have had something to do with their fall from grace (in God's eyes), besides losing Jerusalem.
5/4/2017 04:54:10 pm
"I believe there was a time when visiting and attempting to claim land way south of Hudson Bay was likely a valid proposition,"
5/2/2017 04:41:02 pm
>>>After Pres. Donald Trump called the Constitution of the United States “archaic” this week and said our system of government is a “bad thing for the country,”<<<
5/2/2017 06:39:45 pm
One of the problems with everything Trump says is that he is so regularly incoherent that it's hard to understand his point sometimes, or even if he understand his own point. Clearly, I ought not to have trusted news reports without trying to make sense of the transcript. I've amended the sentence accordingly.
5/2/2017 06:52:28 pm
Hey, no sweat. You're gonna be better than ever before. You're gonna live bigly. It's true. Believe me. ;)
5/2/2017 05:23:35 pm
Nicely done Jason.
5/2/2017 05:58:05 pm
One of the things that suck(er)ed me in when I came across Holy Blood Holy Grail in 1984 or so was the authors' argument that Jesus had a legitimate claim to being King due to his descent. Of course due to depending on a single source, the New Testament, it's kind of shaky but makes infinitely more sense than being divine, whatever that is.
5/2/2017 06:38:08 pm
It depends on what you mean by "divine," I guess. Wolter, of course, doesn't believe Jesus was the son of God, but he nevertheless thinks that Jesus was part of a divine kingship with secret knowledge and connections to some archaic source of wisdom. I'm using "divine" in a bit more of a figurative way.
5/3/2017 12:08:46 pm
I just read Scott's article in "The American Edge" newsletter, and I think I better understand where he is coming from. As far as I know, he isn't a Christian, and history is pretty clear that Freemasonry isn't a Christian organization. Freemason's ideology dosen't fit in with Christianity, especially since Freemasons generally welcome all faiths across the globe--those that believe in one God, anyway, I take it. Personal salvation doesn't fit in...personal advancement does. I don't think Scott believes in "The Divine."
5/3/2017 03:58:24 pm
Wow, the effing nonsense never stops with you, does it?
5/2/2017 06:43:44 pm
You bringing up Count Arthur de Gobineau made me think again of the documentary series 'Hidden Colors' which makes the same kind of sweeping claims about the origins of human civilization, but states that it was all down to (West) Africans.
5/2/2017 10:38:28 pm
Inspired by months of reading this website, I wrote the following. Hope you like it:
5/3/2017 01:18:03 am
I don't care one way or the other, but I will demolish.
5/3/2017 04:09:46 am
As W. A. Wilson proved conclusively, George Washington was actually Adam Weishaupt, who was Bavarian, so its quite impossible that he was a different german from Hannover.
5/3/2017 10:37:45 am
No, I'm not aware of any change. I'm not sure why it would say that. I tested it out with my Facebook account, and it looks like the like button and linking are working for me.
5/3/2017 02:48:42 pm
I posted both this column and the linked article yesterday with no issue.
Darling! I see you DID hear me! It's lovely to find OUR TARDIS is Almost Exactly as YOU left it, when wandering off into the wild wood of observer bias. I can tell your still annoyed by that Devil Tacticus. Has his radiant candor so starteled you into omitting the insuination common at one time that Ludwig of Bavaria was more fond of his troops than any other mistress? Perhaps not. You DID thougtfully remember to include POTUS Trump's edited commentary and a thoughtful gentleman patron of this virtual salon pointed NOT to the abuse of natural philosophy carefully gilded to bolster your own upbringing but rather to what your penchant for reflexivity dismissed: Free Will. The gentleman who mentioned this however chose to follow you thru the Alt-Right observer bias curve into ideology and himself lost the vantage point but retained the civic intent by using the idiom "First Amendment." As attending Hagatha rather than Troll contributor to Jason's "Salon" please pardon me my sweet for choking on the Krauter's ratio of water to wine this evening. It's TOO KIND OF YOU & YOUR TARGET(s) to discuss all ideology as if it's not a Phyrric Victory move so far "Left" one ends up "Right." Look at those Mormon Natives. Now.
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