Amerika

Interview With Henry Dampier

james_cook

The outer right resembles less a fringe than an asteroid belt, safely beyond the gravity of herd conformity and yet not entirely lost to the randomness of the outer space. Many of you are familiar with Henry Dampier, whose writings on Neoreactionary topics are among the clearer and more practical examples out there. Amerika was fortunate to get a chance to sit down over cigars, bourbon and philosophical heresy with Mr. Dampier in order to catch his perspective on life, neoreaction and dissident right writing…

What led you outside of the sheep-pen of the mainstream?

I spent more time reading books and periodicals than is healthy. I think that I started off as a fairly standard boy who was curious and enthusiastic about technology and science. This lead me to read all the great American science fiction novels of the 20th century in my early teens. This included Heinlein, Asimov, Stephenson, and Gibson. My love of novels developed my interest in other cloud-castle construction projects like libertarianism with some fanciful notions borrowed from leftists.

Overall, I think the sheep are happier and healthier for staying in the pen, and I don’t blame them for doing the sensible thing. If you picked ten typical sheeple at from a collection of the middle class and then compared them to ten random ‘woke’ people on the internet, the sheeple would be healthier and better adjusted to their society.

What was your childhood like?

I’m the son of a former investment banker and a former Ivy League academic. My parents both had eclectic first acts in life (my mother was a dancer in one of the leading American modern dance companies, and my father was a college basketball player). My parents’ divorce during my teen years both obliterated the family fortune and drove everyone crazy. Before that divorce, I was an overachieving student and athlete. Afterwards, I became sort of a zany, erratic, and ineffective nihilist-rebel type who was constantly in trouble and coasting on talent.

I had a sort of moral awakening combined with an identity crisis. I realized that the things that I wanted weren’t supported by the ideology that I had been promoting.

Growing up, I lived mostly in New York City, but my family also lived in Europe. My dad often commuted between New York and Europe by plane. I was fairly spoiled. It also introduced me to a range of different people. I started off closer to the top of global society, tumbled as far as I could tumble (mostly because of my own dumb actions), and then have been trying to claw my way back up.

Are you a happy person? Is “happy person” a realistic goal?

My moods go from happy-go-lucky and jokey to brooding without much of a middle ground. Happiness is a consequence of good health, good fortune, and good behavior. Happiness is an effect rather than a cause. Having seen and known very sad people, I do think that pursuing the causes of happiness is a good thing, and even realistic. Expecting to be happy all the time isn’t, in particular because good and bad fortune have a lot to do with it.

How did you encounter Neoreaction?

I was looking to borrow other skeptical arguments about Bitcoin and found Moldbug’s writings by Google search. I then followed the trail to other blogs.

On a more personal level, I had a sort of moral awakening combined with an identity crisis. I realized that the things that I wanted weren’t supported by the ideology that I had been promoting, and that I’d been going about it in a disordered way.

In your words, what is Neoreaction? How does it differ from the Alternative Right, New Right and White Nationalism?

Neoreaction, for me and some others, flows from a bunch of people who were enamored by deontological libertarianism and became disillusioned by some of its more impractical aspects. If Republicans are just Democrats who have been mugged by reality, neoreactionaries tend to be anarcho-capitalists mugged by history.

Neoreaction has three areas of focus: capitalist in economics, traditionalist in its view of religion, and more nationalist/Darwinian in its view of race.

Have there ever been two people who agree on every aspect of every area of focus there? No.

There is a lot of incredibly tiresome whining, whinging, and internet debating about the precise meaning of these terms. I consider almost all of it an enormous waste of time and energy akin to arguing whether or not the melee combat rules in the seventh edition of the dungeon master manual empower a hobbit to grapple an ogre if the hobbit’s strength score is above 18/99 and he has at least half a free hand when using a buckler and still has his move action.

What it is is stringently anti-democratic. It agrees with Hoppe when Hoppe says that in the history of ideas, democracy has always been regarded as a soft variant of communism. Where it parts with the likes of Hoppe is in his deontological approach. I personally regard argumentation ethics as a nice thing but not a thing which is terribly useful for practical politics. People use force because it works and because of innate drives in the human animal. I’ve come to identify more with the conservative perspective as I’ve come to accept that human nature rarely changes much.

If I were to make a neoreactionary slogan, it would be ‘Burning a path to ordered liberty in the 21st century.’ Order is a necessary prerequisite for liberty, properly understood.

There are many key figures in the American ‘outer right’ who are ex-ancaps influenced by Rothbard and Hoppe. There’s obviously tension between these figures and others. Some of the people who are nastiest in their repudiation of their old influences are also some of the same people who were among the most fanatical in the past, but I guess that’s typical.

The Alternative Right really derives from Richard Spencer and his organization. I’ve become a bigger believer in the impact of individuals, so I’m going to focus on the individual there. Spencer wanted to come up with a new brand of right-wing thought that was more connected to the European zeitgeist. I imagine that he had been disheartened by what had happened to the American Conservative, which began as Pat Buchanan’s organ to float an alternative to George W. Bush’s compassionate invade-the-world invite-the-world conservativism.

Spencer attempted to abandon the Alternative Right term when he renamed his website to Radix and redirected his domain. Then, it took a life of its own. He seemed to want to promote a term, ‘identitarianism,’ that has never really caught on all that well. Identitarianism is a higher brow white nationalism that tries to shun Cletus the stereotypical ex-con white nationalist without overtly shunning Cletus and telling them that he is not wanted at the party.

The alternative right has sort of mystical and estoteric roots that isn’t really shared by neoreaction. Nick Land certainly makes allusions to mysticism and numerology, but it’s hard for me to tell how much of that is performance and how much of it is authentic. My private take on it has been to appreciate it the way that I would appreciate a novel, but not to treat it as if it were the real essence of the thing.

The alternative right became increasingly conflated with neoreaction because I think many people are hungrier for popularity and attention than they are for discussing what is true, teaching people, or even just having fun with ideas. Social media is a toxic medium that addicts people to facile quips, bad art, and dumb jokes. Those quips crowd out quality discussion (and I’m guilty of participating in this) in the same way that a good professor can’t give a profound lecture to a noisy room.

The alternative right reminds me a bit of the history of the hippies from the 1960s. They’re focused on freaking out ‘the man,’ doing their own thing, and promoting hedonism. There’s also a strong tendency to appeal to social science as a way to buttress their ideas: robotically citing Jonathan Haidt and Robert Putnam as if it could be persuasive. I don’t think that social science is epistemologically sound, so that puts me apart from a lot of people.

The alternative right is happy to become a democratic activist organization with one chief principle: “race is everything.” By simplifying and compromising, it grows, fueled by the constant provocations of ham-handed diversity-knapsack propaganda at universities. The alt right is well-targeted to the remaining white males at American universities.

The main distinction between it and neoreaction is that the alternative right is gleefully democratic, even if it’s occasionally skeptical of egalitarianism.

It agrees with Hoppe when Hoppe says that in the history of ideas, democracy has always been regarded as a soft variant of communism. Where it parts with the likes of Hoppe is in his deontological approach.

The identitarian tendency leans towards supporting political equality within a single race. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn also pointed out more than half a century ago, it also tends towards a sex homophily that’s overwhelmingly appealing to homosexuals. The reason for this is that ordinary relations between the sexes must involve the bridging of an enormous cognitive and physical gap. Men and women are far more foreign to one another than, say, Slavs and Southern Europeans (there are plenty of Southern European slavs).

It also tends towards socialism in its economics because of the equality principle. The refrain is that everything will be fine if we expel the foreigners, and no more thought is needed. That’s wishful thinking, but it also offers a clear goal and unifying principle.

The New Right is European. I think that when Americans try to understand or import aspects of the New Right, things tend to get garbled, because the European context is totally different. To make matters worse, people are always trying to universalize or think that they understand something because they saw a YouTube video once, read a book, or read a blog post. I don’t pretend to understand stuff or to put on the great show of getting weepy for foreigners who live thousands of miles away.

Pretending to be a pan-European activist for equality within the races is pretentious.

I used up my quota of pretending to care about suffering foreigners during my time as an anti-war person in my early 20s. I barely care about anyone who lives in Washington DC, much less Germany. I could pretend to care more about the fate of Sweden, but as an American, a lot of that is just useless Facebook-optimized pretense. If an African mob burns a parking lot in Malmo and no one tweets about it, I wouldn’t even know that it happened.

Overall, I’m more cynical about ‘political scenes’ now than I even was before. When writers become more interested in cultivating cults than in writing well, I think that the people involved tend to wind up suffering from it. When the creative spark goes out, it becomes an exercise in repeating a private jargon endlessly to an audience of parrots.

Are you able to support yourself with your writing?

My Henry writing? No. But I do support my household as a commercial writer and salesman.

I would love to have more of my income come from my political writing, because I both enjoy it and I’m significantly better at it than most of the other people who do it.

The issue with making money from political rhetoric is that enough people do it badly for free that it oversupplies the market. I also genuinely enjoy the independence of commercial work. If you have to become a celebrity, it means you have to shift your beliefs around constantly to cater to the masses, especially if you’re more of a follower as a writer than you are a leader.

By being more concerned about leading a ‘movement’ than telling the truth, it also draws you into ‘entangling alliances’ in which maintaining your political network becomes more important than revealing truth or elevating your own understanding. This is how these kinds of movements tend to falter. The movement becomes an end in and of itself rather than a means to a set of goals.

Since getting more worthless internet points by having people like me more isn’t all that appealing to me, I would rather spend my time selling tote bags, virtual app currency, proprietary vitamin formulations, and truck loans. One of them really disrupts my ability to have a private life. The other benefits my private life. If I can’t support a public contribution of my time and energy with my own resources at the level of quality that I mandate for myself, I don’t want to do it.

By being more concerned about leading a ‘movement’ than telling the truth, it also draws you into ‘entangling alliances’ in which maintaining your political network becomes more important than revealing truth

The bank who wants me to push truck loans on people isn’t asking me to change my beliefs to what’s fashionable: they just want more warm leads from truckers.

The landscaping company who wants more website traffic just wants to introduce more homeowners to their all-natural lawncare method. Who I am and what I believe doesn’t really need to change with that kind of work. I just sell my time and attention rather than selling myself or altering my fundamental beliefs because of some shift in fashion. Even when I’ve had to write diversity boilerplate, I at least don’t have to believe it or even portray it as what I believe. It’s just me putting up my “Workers of the world, unite!” sign.

While I’m sure that I could eventually earn a good income with political writing, for the meantime I need to pay down debts and go down that path in stages before I feel comfortable with the risk, since I have responsibilities which will only become more extensive with time. You can’t buy diapers with retweets or ‘likes’ on your posts, but you can with dollars. It would be totally pointless for me to play-act as a responsible conservative on the internet while missing bill payments.

I think it’s pathetic when writers have to raise money on crowdfunding sites or beg for donations. The biggest asset an author has is the respect of his readers. I think it’s better to have a fair exchange of a finished product than it is to demand what’s effectively a preorder. By begging rather than exchanging, you lower yourself below the reader. But the reader wants to be brought up rather than to descend.

Also, I think the reason that most people who write for the ‘outer right’ under their real name are some flavor of marginal character is because people are so whiny and entitled to free writing about politics.

Eventually, as the bubble business model of the web dies, this culture-wide sense of entitlement will hopefully begin to die down. An audience of whiny and entitled people can only afford to get marginal and lazy writers and other content-creator types to make things for them. Not all audiences are like that.

So you get a few types of people who write for this kind of fringe audience:

  • Bright and interesting writers who contribute fascinating work until they burn out and move on to other projects, like Moldbug.

  • Attention whores who will do anything for a ‘fav’

  • People who try really, really, really hard to make it a full time job when the audience won’t support it, which makes everything they do seem cloying and grasping as they lurch from personal disaster to disaster. “Please like and subscribe!”

  • A small number of professionals like Vox Day who, through superhuman work ethic, actually make it work

The real goal of a fringe writer should not be to serve the fringe, but to get the fringe to conquer the quality cultural territory. When the fringe belief becomes common sense, that is success. Many people tend to get hung up on trying to be the coolest cool guy in the edgy gang, but that’s a huge waste of time. This also leads to the common crab-bucket behavior of fringe figures: keeping the fringe fringe-y is more important than accomplishing the ostensible goals of the group.

In your view, what is the difference between opposing diversity and hating, say, Negroes?

If you oppose diversity, you can reasonably treat with other groups and come to a settlement. It also gives you something to offer other groups besides the threat of destruction.

When your whole approach to the other groups is to say “hey, we’re going to exterminate you and take all your shit!” — and the other group can resist — they are going to throw everything that they have into resisting you. When your approach is ‘separate nations for separate people,’ there’s a negotiation that can happen there. Whatever resistance might be there can be worked around.

A lot of people in the ‘hatred’ camp are a bit like less effective and less hard-working versions of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi, the founding father of ISIS, understood that the new Iraqi state could be undermined by provoking religious and ethnic conflict. The new Iraq wanted to maintain the old borders of Saddam’s Iraq without using Saddam’s methods for enforcing a polyglot nation-state. The new identity that Iraqis were supposed to adopt was to become, basically, White American Democrats.

Zarqawi saw that the Americans were not going to succeed in making Iraqis into people from Park Slope, Brooklyn. By bombing symbolic shrines and provoking Shiite militias to retaliate, he created a civil war and provoked the Americans to crack down. This crackdown raised the perceived costs of the war even as it temporarily ‘succeeded.’ Because Americans are soft and don’t believe in mass executions, the US would basically go and capture people in terrorist camps and then build new prison camps at taxpayer expense. In these prison camps, the future fighting force of ISIS socialized, exchanged ideas, and made plans. When the US released these guys, they went right back into the fray. This is exactly how Zarqawi got his start in a Jordanian prison much earlier.

When your approach is ‘separate nations for separate people,’ there’s a negotiation that can happen there. Whatever resistance might be there can be worked around.

In the long run, Zarqawi’s vision has wound up creating the conditions for the recreation of the Caliphate. The enforced diversity of the old regimes has been obliterated by force in large swaths of the Middle East now. That is one way of overthrowing the modern nation-state. Ironically, post-modern-internet-nationalism is revolting around the conditions created by the previous generation of nationalism which created states like Iraq in the mold of modern Germany, France, the US, and even the UK.

The reason why I bring this up as it relates to ‘opposing diversity’ is that I think these terms are more relative and fluid than many people like to think that they are. Iraq is not all that racially diverse if you ignore the Kurds, but it is/was religiously fragmented. ISIS is religiously uniform but ethnically diverse. The USSA is ethnically and (nominally) religiously diverse, but demands lockstep ideological conformity.

The old nation-state sought to break down barriers between sub-races, sub-nations, and most importantly religious groups.The new nation-state wants to create a universal government under a single religion: progressivism, which is just another word for Communism.

In contrast to what Zarqawi did to make ISIS possible, American alt-rightists don’t recognize that they really don’t have the popular support nor the zeal to provoke a civil war. Zarqawi was a realistic bandit who was comfortable with ultraviolence. He did not hesitate to do things like trick retards and old maids into suicide bombing weddings. ISIS destroys diverse nation-states on one hand, while proclaiming a global polyglot caliphate that encompasses many races worldwide. Even worse for the prospect of militant alt-rightism, the glue of nu-white-nationalism is a much weaker social glue than that of something like Wahhabism.

There is a difference between opposing the modern conception of ‘diversity,’ which tries to recreate the Tower of Babel, and being a hard-line identitarian. Some measure of diversity is going to be present within any society and any form of government. Even within races there is substantial diversity, both innate and chosen. The question is what a given state and society can manage. Diversity raises coordination costs. There are also some Darwinian reasons to be concerned about excessive ‘human biodiversity.’

Roger Scruton describes diversity as a means by which elites externalize the costs of their actions and reap the profits. So, for example, a big technology firm outsources the real costs of diversity onto the workforce and the government while reaping the profits from their labor. A community that used to be cohesive with a common set of values now needs to deal with the increased costs to their quality of life caused by the mass importation of a foreign population. The company that did the importation does not need to do the security screening of their new employees. The state does that. But the corporation and the state keep the earnings while imposing the costs, both seen and unseen, onto the citizens.

The root causes of our diversity crisis are complex. Many come from fundamental errors in modern conceptions of knowledge: especially the tendency to say that what can’t be arranged in a statistical table doesn’t count as a ‘cost’ that has been shunted off onto someone else who did not create it.

Hatred, being pleasurable to many, can become an end to itself. People just fixate on working themselves up into a hate-lather instead of attempting to come up with solutions. Since they don’t see a solution, they just run themselves into a loop of entertaining rage. Some people play League of Legends, and other people play “let’s post on the internet about how much we despise [race].” The effect of the behavior is the same, because it’s very easy to overestimate the actual reach of what happens in internet discussions.

Do you listen to any death metal? What do you listen to?

Not really. I just listen to classical, bad metal that I don’t know anything about, and some rock stations when I drive.

Do you think the West can save itself, or part of itself, or is all lost?

Part of itself, but not the whole thing. I think people like to get themselves worked up in believing that they need to save the ‘West.’ I think we should give the left what it wants by territorially amputating large sections of the Western world.

I think that by trying to save the whole thing, the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. By saving part of it, the rest might be saved later, even if just as land and not the people who live on it.

One of the reasons that the West has gone so far off the rails since World War II has been because of the elimination of competition between states. States are competing again. We should aim to raise that competition without blowing up the whole planet.

What do you hope to express via your writing?

After a long time of being comfortable with my own level of knowledge and cultivation, I started to understand how ignorant that I actually was about history and the nature of things.

When I write, it’s usually me building my own understanding and knowledge by packaging it for other people. Many people suffer a lot from the popular deceptions that have shrouded our culture. I think that puncturing those deceptions helps people to develop a reason why to survive. That’s what causes many people to suffer: they don’t have a good reason to live.

I think we should give the left what it wants by territorially amputating large sections of the Western world.

I also speculate with conviction that the age of the herd is coming to an end because of where we are in the cycle of military competition. A mass army of conscripts is no longer a competitive advantage in war. The army of mass conscripts was the ‘killer app’ of democracy. Since it is obsolete and has been abandoned by all of the advanced democratic countries, a new form of politics which mimics the developing structure of new military forces is going to supplant it.

I don’t share the belief that this new military will be primarily non-human, but it is indisputable that the dominant new military organizations are more similar to the elite-driven armies of our feudal past than they are like the mass armies that conquered the planet after the 18th century.

This speculation, combined with my conviction that the fiscal-monetary systems of the Western countries are headed for doom, tells me that there’s going to be an enormous need for political reorganization on new principles within my lifetime. Writing is a great way of speculatively preparing for that development.

I also wanted to get new correspondents that were worth discussing current events with. I have that now, and don’t need to use social media to talk to them.

In the future, I want to write about important political topics of practical importance to ordinary English-speaking people with good sense at a high level of quality.

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