This week’s long read pick is Are the Kids Al(t)right?, written by Michael Anton at the Claremont Review of Books. It is a review of Bronze Age Mindset, a bestselling self-published ‘exhortation’ written by the anonymous “Bronze Age Pervert” (BAP), that has become hugely influential among the Pepe-memes-and-nihilistic-masculinity subculture loosely termed ‘alt-right’.
BAP-ism, Anton suggests, is a kind of Nietzschian perspective that views all of life as the struggle for “owned space”. In BAP’s view, this “space” has for some time been “owned” by a decadent elite that has reduced the vast mass of humanity to abject “bugmen” — soft-left male feminist types obsessed with trashy popular culture — a concept that owes a debt to Nietzsche made explicit in the text.
The apparatchiks and “bugmen” have, BAP claims, always attempted to hold back the naturally superior, whether via castration, ostracization or – today – via “a debilitating ‘education’ meant to render potentially spirited youth listless, hopeless and/or easily satisfied”.
What, then, is a more desirable state? If for Machiavelli the ideal man is “the founder”, for BAP it is the pirate:
Anton weighs BAP’s worship of power and profound hostility to established order and the notion of equality against the Founding Fathers’ ideas of counterbalancing rule by the best with justice, virtue and the common good. If we embrace the BAP-ist idea of “natural aristoi”, Anton asks, how are we to identify them let alone elevate them to rulership?
Is this a problem? The article conveys a sense of an author first repelled and contemptuous: “In structure and tone, BAM appears at first glance to be a simplified pastiche of Friedrich Nietzsche written by an ESL-middle-school-message-board troll,” then intrigued: “Say what you will about Bronze Age Mindset, it’s not boring. BAP takes a flamethrower to one contemporary piety after another, left and right alike (but mostly left),” and finally profoundly wrongfooted. Because the issue is that, correct or not, the young men of the alt-right are not interested in debating with more mainstream conservatives (or even, it seems, in conserving anything much at all):