Amerika

Interview with Jim Goad

From some years ago, an interview with Jim Goad that never really seemed complete, but nonetheless is an interesting view into this intriguing thinker, activist and troll. We are fortunate to present his words here on Amerika as a way of understanding the complex philosophy from which he comes. Without further ado…

You are known for taking what seems to me a deliberately “antisocial” viewpoint toward society, in which you shy away from the politeness, flattery and conflict avoidance/inoffensiveness that seems to be a modern behavioral code. Are there any social values to being antisocial? Can a civilization be “too social”?

I’m glad you at least qualified it with the word “seems,” because I’m absolutely and sincerely antisocial. It’s entirely effortless for me to be antisocial, and the idea that I’d “deliberately” write that way sort of insultingly implies the audience is important enough to me that I’d alter my style for them, even if in an antagonistic way. If I was polite, that would be the result of effort and deliberation.

And I don’t feel as if I “shy away” from anything; rather, it’s those who mince words in order to please their own chosen herd who are shying away. I’ve never heard of “shying away” from politeness, only from confrontation, so that’s a new concept for me. I simply value and respect myself more than I do any aggregation of humans I’ve ever encountered.

I agree with Nietzsche’s dictum about how madness is rare in individuals but the rule in society. And I don’t care if there are “social values” in being antisocial or not. That’s why I’ve always rejected the idea that literature should have “socially redeeming value,” or else it’s obscene and illegal. What if the crux of your writing is that societies are inherently loathsome?

I’m entirely suspect of herd psychology. All civilizations are too social, at least for my tastes. I think crowds are mostly for mental weaklings and the fundamentally unexceptional. If that makes me autistic or the enemy of some dimwitted conformist “movement,” them’s the breaks.

If you had to identify the most formative influences on your writing and more importantly, your outlook on the world, what would they be?

Parents. Nuns. Politicians. Social engineers. Anyone who barked out a transparent line of authoritarian bullshit that, under scrutiny, proved to be entirely implausible.

When I was a kid, it was the myth of Santa Claus. As a teen, it was the myth that Jesus rose from the dead. Around age 30, it was the myth that with a little nurturing and nudging, we’d all be equal. And whether or not I agree with them, I’m also fond of people who have the bravery to go against the grain because they sincerely believe they’re right.

The philosopher Plato and historians Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee write about a cycle of history, in which civilizations are born, age and die. They point out how this death-process begins from within and is a natural consequence of civilization aging, unless counteracted by the cultural and political leaders of those civilizations. Do you think such a thing could happen to our civilization here in comfy North America? What about Europe?

I tend to agree with the idea that civilizations are like super-organisms. Not too sure there’s much of a remedy once they start aging and dying. I think America and Europe are both obviously declining. And I agree with Toynbee that civilizations die from suicide, not by murder. People of European stock are the only ones on Earth who feel good about feeling bad about themselves. That’s not exactly a recipe for success.

Some would say we live in a time when our elites have decided on a political dogma that replaces reality. Others, more cynical, might say that the citizens spaced out. Either way, it seems there’s a schizoid division between what my television tells me, and what I observe. Do you find this to be true and, if so, how do you use your famously irascible personality and mocking humor to break down the dichotomy?

When in history did elites preach a dogma that was realistic? When they lied that Jesus rose from the dead? That all men are created equal? That they had our best interests in mind? As far as I know, all they ever did was preach things that would divide, confuse, and placate the masses.

A couple generations ago they were preaching something else, but I don’t think it was necessarily any more realistic. You know those comparative picture games where you’re supposed to circle everything in Picture “B” that’s different from Picture “A”? That’s what I try to do in my writing — I try to circle everything depicted as “reality” in the mainstream media that doesn’t jibe with the world as I see it.

But I’m skeptical enough about human nature that I don’t think it will result in any grand, sweeping changes and usher in some New Dawn that makes any more sense. At best, it might enable to find me a few kindred spirits whose very existence doesn’t annoy the living shit out of me, but anything beyond that would constitute self-deluded wishful thinking.

Did you observe any parallels between the types of political interaction and control found in prisons between inmates, and the types of political manipulation used in international politics?

I’m not sure I understand the question, but I’ll give it a stab—in prison, everyone seemed to get along because ethnic divisions were acknowledged and respected, whereas in international politics, no one gets along because these divisions are denied and demonized.

If you could live in an ideal society, what would it be? Is there any way for us to get closer to there?

Asking the wrong guy. To me, the term “ideal society” is an oxymoron. To me, what would be ideal is a place where there’s as little society as possible.

The term “intellectual” has been ruined by ivory tower academics and pretenders who spout complex-sounding verbiage that is contentless and self-aggrandizing. Is there room in our society for rugged thinkers who are not poncy academics, like the Ernest Hemingways and Jack Londons of old?

Again, what is “our society”? If you’re referring to the tightly controlled media-created modern hive mind, no, there’s definitely no place for white males who don’t feel bad about being white males. Modern society has defined the white male as Satan, and I’ve never seen any simplistic angels/devils theological construct that makes room for Satan.

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