Friday, January 10, 2020

The Johnson Conundrum

The resiliency of Greg Johnson: An analysis of a skillful political actor.

Question: How has Greg Johnson not only survived various scandals and other embarrassments but emerged stronger than ever?

After the episode of the Pilleater Chronicles and its fallout and then the revelations about Polignano, folks like Forney were telling us (and this was nearly a year ago) that “Greg Johnson is finished” etc. The whole Forney-Friberg-Spencer anti-Johnson axis (that exists even though they may have squabbles among themselves; e.g., Forney being critical of Spencer) more or less adopted the line that Johnson and Counter-Currents were in terminal decline – “finished”- and  that there was no recovery from the scandals. These types were saying the same thing after Johnson was publicly humiliated by the HopeNotHate Hermansson infiltration, and his having Hermansson give the keynote address at a Counter-Currents meeting.  Then there was the Lewis infiltration.  Any one of these scandals would have been sufficient to delegitimize, perhaps terminally sink, another, less resilient, “movement leader.”  After each of these scandals, Johnson’s leading rivals in the Alt Right loudly predicted his imminent “movement” demise.

They were of course wrong, and Greg Johnson and Counter-Currents continues to go on strongly, raising money, continuing to be “big” in Der Movement – in fact, it is the Forney-Friberg-Spencer faction that seem to be in decline. If there has been any “victor” in the feud, it has been Johnson. Forney continues doing his thing but with very limited influence, Friberg apparently the same, and Spencer is reduced to wrapping himself in the Iranian flag and tweeting about his love life. On the other hand, the destructive Frankenstein monster that is Counter-Currents keeps on lumbering along, and it was Johnson who made international news after being arrested in Norway.  Johnson stands up there with Taylor and MacDonald as among the "Elders” of the (particularly, American) “movement”- I would argue that Greg Johnson’s power and influence within the “movement” has never been greater.

So, how has this happened?  How did Johnson emerge like a phoenix rising out of the ashes from these scandals to reach a pinnacle of influence, despite the scandals, and, perhaps just as importantly, despite the fact that Counter-Currents has displayed a shocking decline in quality, with the most moronic, superficial, hypocritical, pretentious, and juvenile crop of “writers” ever assembled at any one Far Right site?  Counter-Currents should be sliding into Majority Rights-style oblivion and irrelevancy, but, so far, unfortunately, the opposite is happening.

It would be instructive to examine why all of this is so. Such an examination will shed much needed light on Der Movement, and illuminate the underlying rot within that allows someone like Johnson to prosper.  After all consider – Spencer received more criticism, attacks, and disavowals because of the nonsense of Hailgate than did Johnson for the Pilleater and Polignano scandals, which were, at least in my opinion, far worse.

I don’t recall Taylor, Brimelow, and Devlin et al. publicly distancing themselves from Johnson over issues that are far more serious than Spencer acting like an immature jackass.

Some possible reasons for all of that include:

The affirmative action program.  The “movement’s” ethnic affirmative action program is an important factor here. Johnson claims to be of English descent, of founding Old American stock, whose family has been in America since colonial days; he is also phenotypically Nordic.  Now, since Spencer himself is an Anglo-Germanic Nordic, and he has collapsed as an activist, having the proper ancestral (and phenotypic) bonafides is necessary but not sufficient.  One can have the “proper” ancestry and phenotype, but if they crash and burn completely, and are politically inept, nothing will help them. On the other hand, if Johnson was a wop or hunkie – or even possibly a “Nordish” mick – he would have not survived the scandals, regardless of anything else. Ancestry and phenotype are important factors here.

Lesson.  If you don’t have the “right” ancestry, forget about trying to have any influence in Der Movement. If you do have the “right” ancestry, then you really have to be incredibly inept and politically clumsy to fall from grace (e.g., Spencer).

Costs vs. benefits.  Let’s compare Spencer’s Hailgate to Johnson’s scandals with respect to the response (or lack thereof) of other "movement leaders." I argue that “movement leaders” may well have had practical political reasons for disavowing Spencer while being silent about Johnson, through the weighing of costs vs. benefits.

Hailgate – although in and of itself petty nonsense – became national news because of the Alt Right-Trump connection and because of Spencer’s notoriety at the time, and because of the fact that the 2016 election results were fresh in everyone’s memory. The media leveraged Spencer’s poor judgment to attack other Alt Right leaders as “suit and tie Nazis.” This endangered the status, reputation, and money-making ability of various “leaders” and gave them a very strong motivation to publicly disavow and criticize Spencer. The benefits of disavowing Spencer were clear. What about the costs? These "leaders" probably considered Spencer an immature lightweight and judged that the costs of disavowing Spencer were minimal – Spencer would not, or could not, mount an effective counter-attack against them, and the supporters of these other “leaders” would be unlikely to withdraw support over their Hailgate criticism.

On the other hand, Johnson’s scandals have not been national news and have not directly impacted other major Alt Right figures. These others may have a moral and ethical obligation to criticize Johnson, but what do any of these types care about morals and ethics?  It’s a purely utilitarian consideration for them – there are little practical benefits for disavowing Johnson.  On the other hand, there are real costs. Johnson is a much more dangerous person than is Spencer, and more likely to mount an effective counter-attack. One could imagine Counter-Currents suddenly critiquing Amren over the JQ or once again saying Amren conferences are a waste, or critiquing VDARE’s taking so much “movement” money or once again criticizing Derbyshire, etc.  The same intensity that Counter-Currents focused on the likes of Spencer and Friberg would now be aimed at these other targets.  So, there’s a cost with no practical benefit, and issues of morals and ethics and character mean nothing.  So, these folks give Johnson a “pass” for things worse than what Spencer did.

Lesson. Morals, ethics, and character count for nothing in Der Movement and among “movement leaders.” It is all practical considerations of image, status, and “movement” politics, with a focus on assuring maintenance of supporters and supporter donations.  A well-connected person whose influence is feared by others of like standing can get away with more than someone like Spencer, who is more isolated and is not considered to have the gravitas to be a “heavy player” in the “game.”

The political game.  Johnson, for all his manifest faults, is very, very good at playing the political game – or at least as good as someone who has horrifically bad judgment and who likes feuding can be. Johnson inevitably ends up on bad terms with people in the “movement,” including former allies, but you’ll note that he typically only engages in one major feud at a time.  Former allies may become enemies, and sometimes, typically briefly, vice versa, but these twists and turns occur one at a time. He never engages in any major “two-front war.” Alliances are formed and broken, one feud is engaged in and won, former allies then become foes, new allies are recruited, etc.  Jorjani was used skillfully here – and that was as much the result of Spencer’s political clumsiness and it was Johnson’s skill at using people for just as long as he needs them to undermine his main foes. All these people are used and discarded as fits the agenda, with consummate political skill. As historical analogies, consider Julius Caesar using and discarding Pompey or Augustus doing the same with Marc Antony.  Or how Catherine the Great used and discarded “court favorites” (including lovers) to achieve power. Hitler used and the discarded various people during his rise to power – Eckart, Strasser, Rohm, etc.  One can consider how various organized crime figures rose to prominence through alliances, which they later discarded when it no longer suited them (often killing the former allies).  The Kennedys used Mafia connections to reach the White House, after which Robert Kennedy moved against these former allies. Then there’s the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939.  You get the picture.

Johnson is also good at “glad-handling” and having friendships with “movement” bigwigs that – for as long as they last before falling apart – provide a cushion of support and prevent those bigwigs from calling out Johnson’s faults. Taylor as an example.  Note that Johnson won’t call out Taylor for “being in bed with the press” (as I note here), while criticizing others. Note that Johnson now supports and attends Amren conferences despite telling us several years ago that attending such meetings was a waste of time and money (money being, of  course, better used for “D’Nations” to Counter-Currents).  Thus, in summary, despite his proclivity to feud, Johnson has still maintained friendly relations with a number of “movement” bigwigs, and that no doubt helps insulate Johnson from the consequences of his manifest failures and various scandals.

Further, whatever what actually happened, the actual “technics” of each accomplishment, the end result was that – if Polignano’s correspondence with Friberg can be believed – Johnson was able to remove Polignano as having any control over Counter-Currents. And John Morgan, originally with Arktos, has ended up with Counter-Currents.  Whether all of this was the result of Machiavellian plotting or just serendipity, one cannot argue with the results. Johnson has weathered all sorts of storms, out-maneuvered rivals, and has a firm control of the Counter-Currents “empire,” such as it is. He therefore is revealed as a reasonably savvy player in the game and art of “movement” politics.  Much better than the likes of Spencer, who, by contrast, is politically clumsy and inept.

Lesson. Being right is not enough to advance your position; being wrong is not enough to retard your progress.  Humans are essentially political animals, and in any grouping that has individuals vying for status and to advance their agendas, political maneuvering will be important.  Johnson is a savvy political operator and thus has not only survived scandals that would have wrecked other prominent activists, but he has prospered while his main rivals (e.g., Spencer) have fallen by the wayside. 

Should activists involved in Der Movement concentrate on such internal politics? The benefits are clear.  What about the costs?  There are costs of time and energy.  There is the mental costs; this can be exhausting, particularly for people who are by nature introverts.  Political maneuvering can always backfire. It also compromises, to some extent, honor and integrity, and, if it is noticed by others, can stain one’s reputation as an honest broker.

A cost-benefit analysis can be done. It depends on context.  An overt and public activist like Johnson has more to gain from politics than someone pseudonymous; however, pseudonymous activists can still benefit. Extroverts have it easier than introverts, but as long as they are not extreme and semi-autistic, introverts can still benefit from politics. The main thing is the affirmative action program.  An activist of Northwest European ancestry – particularly those of British/German/Scandinavian ancestry – can derive great benefit from engaging in “movement” politics since they have great potential for advancement and a rapid rise to leadership. On the other hand, activists of Southern (especially) or Eastern European ancestry  have little or nothing to gain since, regardless of how skilled they may be at the political game, their ancestry bars them from rising to the extent of those from more favored groups. Years of effort can be quickly wiped out by comments about “Moops and Mongols” and other manifestations of “movement” ethnic fetishism. So the relative costs and benefits in this case primarily vary based on their potential benefits, and that varies based on the ancestry of the activist in question. Now, in a truly pan-European movement, this factor would be eliminated, but perhaps there political maneuvering would be somewhat less important than it is in Der Movement.

The cabal and the alliances. Political connections go beyond just one-on-one relationships and include group alliances. There has been talk about a “homosexual cabal” in the “movement” – one that I was warned about as far back as the early 2000s.  There is also the HBD-ethnonationalist-Nordicist alliance. All these groupings, working behind the scenes, can provide crucial support for “movement leaders” who are well-connected.  On the other hand, people like Spencer, more isolated, and whose support is out-in-the –open and very shallow, have no deep support network that can provide a cushion in times of crisis.

Lesson. What goes on behind the curtain is often more important than what goes on in front of it.

The personal revelations. The personal revelations on the Pilleater tape did not have the effects that Forney, Friberg, and company thought, because it was basically an “open secret” in the “movement” for anyone who had a triple digit IQ, and anyone demanding “proof” was basically just engaging in obstructionism or were low-level idiots without any standing in the “movement.” Other aspects of that tape didn’t have much of an impression because things – such as bad behavior at meetings – have been rumored for a long time.  As far as Polignano goes and the revelations in that discussion with Friberg, who in the “movement” really cares about someone with a name like “Polignano” anyway?  Someone named “Johnson” screwing over someone named “Polignano” is a positive in Der Movement, not a negative.

Lesson. What people think is going to have a profound effect upon revelation may not do so, if the revelations are already suspected and/or known, or if the people hearing the revelation actually don’t think what they are hearing is really a bad thing at all.

Ideological flexibility.  Johnson maximizes support with remarkable ideological flexibility - what some would call inconsistency or even hypocrisy.  Johnson is a leading proponent of petty nationalist ethnonationalism – yet Counter-Currents publishes and promotes the work of Francis Parker Yockey and previously hosted some of my own essays promoting pan-Europeanism.  Counter-Currents has both promoted and criticized HBD, has both promoted and criticized Nordicism, has both promoted and criticized racial purity, has both promoted and criticized Amren conferences, has promoted both Traditionalism and Futurism, has White-Knighted as well as run the work of Devlin, Johnson has harshly criticized Derbyshire and then shared the stage with him at Amren – you get the picture.  This maximizes support and lets Johnson have a foot in different “movement” factions.

Lesson. Being two-faced has its advantages.

Practical consistency.  The ideological inconsistency doesn't bother the Type I retards that constituent the majority of Der Movement, since their own "ideology" is simply a mash-up of Kempian Nordicism, chugging gallons of milk, screaming "Kek!," etc. Indeed, as stated, the inconsistency is an advantage to maintain appeal among "activists" who are a cut above the dimwit majority and actually do care about ideas, but themselves are still too dim too realize that Counter-Currents has been all over the board on a number of important issues.

More important perhaps is consistency in the practical realmSuccessful activists tend to be ones that consistently are associated with a particular project or group or organization of project.  Taylor with American Renaissance.  Johnson with Counter-Currents.  MacDonald with The Occidental Observer and his various books.  Pierce (and Strom, who has survived controversy of his own) with the National Alliance. On the other hand, the more unsuccessful activists, whose careers are less than the sum of their parts - Spencer and Duke for example - have a history of jumping from one failed project to another.  At some point, I lost track of all of the various groups that Duke formed, led for a few years, and then abandoned. There was the White version of the NAACP (NAAWP), then wasn't there something called NOFEAR, then EURO, etc?  And that was after his Klan days and his foray into electoral politics.  Spencer has had his varied Alt Right websites sites and the Alt Right corporation, and all sorts of other podcasts and projects, jumping from one to another. All of this failure and inconsistency  does not inspire confidence. On the other hand, stability such as Johnson with Counter-Currents gives him an air of "competence" and is another reason he survives scandal better than Spencer.

Conclusion. This is by no means a comprehensive analysis, but touches upon what I see as some of the main reasons why Johnson has survived and prospered, while Spencer has imploded.  Of course, some of it is just better judgment – Johnson had the good sense not to be involved in Unite the Right.  But, still, comparing the flak that Spencer got for Hailgate compared to Johnson thriving after scandal begs for an explanation - that I have tried to supply.  As further events unfold, more such analysis may be forthcoming.

The underlying lessons here demonstrate the importance of political networking, and various non-merit attributes, in elevating and sustaining individuals in positions of prominence in Der Movement. They provide a blueprint for “activists” with the proper affirmative action-approved ancestral backgrounds to follow to effectively play the political game, and allow others to better understand how they are being “played” by the “leaders” they so blindly support.

Johnson is not going anywhere; he is seemingly here to stay. Although there are some in the “movement” who will never accept him, enough others will so as to ensure that he will be a force within Der Movement for years to come, barring any unforeseen circumstances. And it is difficult to imagine what such circumstances could occur that would dethrone Johnson from his “leadership” position. Given the previous incidents and scandals that have proven unable to do so. As we can see, Amren continues to peddle Johnson’s work. One can expect that Greg Johnson and Counter-Currents will continue to have a significant impact on racial activism and prove the predictions of Forney false.

In any case, we can hope this analysis provokes more discussion and debate and, perhaps, soul-searching among “movement” “activists” with respect to their “leadership.”