Screw Your Optics

Screw Your Optics

. 11 min read

[This article was originally published at The Warden Post on December 9, 2018 and republished at Affirmative Right on December 14, 2018 under the title "The Trial of James Fields and the Legacy of Charlottesville"].

As I’m writing news just broke that James Alex Fields, the 21-year-old Ohioan who plowed through a horde of peaceful protestors violent communists during the Unite the Right rally back in August of 2017, has just been convicted of first degree murder as of this afternoon December 7, 2018.

It was obvious from the beginning that Fields’ trial was going to be a sham, something akin to a Stalinist show trial. Leftism runs deep in the politics of the city of Charlottesville so it came as no surprise to anyone that the powers-that-be would seek the harshest conviction possible for Fields, thus making an example of him to the entire Right.

This article isn’t going to be about the grave obstruction of justice that took place and how an innocent man, seeking any means of escape in the face of a mob of blood-thirsty Antifa, was given a mock trial to be condemned from the start by a judicial system sympathetic to communist terrorism. No, this article is going to be about the optics surrounding the event in question and to properly begin, we need to go back to 2017, in the wake of the aftermath that took place during the events of Charlottesville.

Charlottesville was unique because it represented a turning point for the fledging political movement known as the AltRight, then consigned to the numerous webzines, forums and digital spaces of Internet. There had been other Identarian gatherings before Charlottesville to be sure, one thinks of the conferences hosted by NPI and American Renaissance, but nothing on this scale had ever taken place in modern American political history. Moreover, Charlottesville was a white glove tossed in the face of the politico-cultural establishment, “You will not replace us!” was a message that was short, powerful, and represented the anger and frustration of White Americans who had become both targets and victims of social marginalization.

So, when 32-year-old single mother Antifa rioter Heather Heyer as well as two helicopter pilots affiliated with local law enforcement were killed in the ensuing riot, there were many on the Right who began kvetching and handwringing, worried about the repercussions that these deaths would have upon how the Right wing would be viewed by the mass bulk of normiedom henceforward. Almost immediately, cries over “optics” began to be heard all over the Reactosphere.

On one side, there were concerns over whether or not the occasional swastika might do irreparable damage to the credibility of the Right wing. On the other, it was expressed that the need to establish a firm presence outside the online safe spaces that the Right had taken for granted outweighed any potential harm that a goofball or shill might do, as the rallies in question would always be an object of controversy.

Both sides had merit, to be sure. But it was those on the side of the former, by questioning if the Right should even hold public rallies at all, that came as almost excusatory and defeatist. Writing for Affirmative Right (then known as alternativeright.blogspot), a contributor to the weblog known as Daniel Barge published the article “Phalanx Cucks!” in October of 2017, two months after Charlottesville and shortly before the planned “White Lives Matter” rally that was to take place that same month.

In the article, Barge expressed concern over whether some of the more hardline, National Socialist elements of the AltRight, typified by the now defunct Traditionalist Worker Party, Vanguard America, and of course, the aptly named “National Socialist Movement”, might alienate normie centrists who might otherwise be sympathetic to the AltRight’s modest proposal that European descended peoples have a right to their own homelands. The issue lay with the fact that Barge and people with his views were being derided as “OpticsCucks” by those on the Right who wanted to maintain a street presence, as Antifa had become more riotous that year, due in part to the Right’s having been emboldened by Donald Trump’s election as president that previous November.

Barge likens a movement to a classical phalanx, a military formation common in the Greek-speaking ancient world. The phalanx finds its strength in the ability of its members to maintain formation. Thus, says Barge, a Rightist movement, protest or rally only succeeds if all those amongst its ranks agree in advance not to bring any form of controversy upon it. Such a demand is impossible for a number of reasons, the chance swastika in the throng of flags not being among them. The foremost problem being that any form of Right wing protest will be preemptively labeled a “neo-Nazi rally” even as it enters its planning stages. Barge anticipates this, going on to call such a realization:

“[…] a repackaging of the meme “they’re going to call you a Nazi anyway so you may as well go full lampshades and ovens, 1488, sieg heil!” But there is also more than a hint of ex-libertarianism in there as well, along the lines of “Freedom, bro, you can’t stop it.”

Such a conclusion is intellectually dishonest. It reeks of the worst kind of Do-nothingism found only among blackpillers. It unconsciously assumes that the battle has already been lost and that for the limited time that Europeans have left it would be better to remain hidden away online tweeting cartoon frogs at decrepit, ageing neoconservatives. It is a position common to all classical liberals and AltLiters, that it would be better to be as inoffensive as possible (while simultaneously remaining a little edgy) so that in the end, when the European race goes the way of the dinosaur, that they at least would be remembered as “one of the good ones.” Truthfully, what Barge and those who share his views are worried about is falling into the heresy of Stormerism.

Named after the neo-Nazi online cesspit Stormfront and Andrew Anglin’s The Daily Stormer, Stormerism is the mistake of becoming (or at least appearing as) one of the most cartoonish, Hollywoodesque depictions of a neo-Nazi possible. On the one hand, Stormerism is popular because it is offensive, it produces shock value, it derides sensibilities; it is, in a word, trollish.

On the other, Stormerism ruins the credibility of any potential Rightist movement because it immediately associates it and anything like it with the most controversial regime of modernity. Overall, Stormerism is a relic of the nineties when people such as Tom Metzger, David Lane, Ben Klassen and Harold Covington were the only figures who represented any movement connected to White identity; a tragic time indeed.

Moreover, Stormerism wrongfully assumes the conditions of a nationalist uprising such as those that emerged during the interwar period of the 20th Century are still possible contemporaneously. In short, it is an archaism. It would be one thing if Stormerism were simply relegated to those angry, troubled individuals within Rightist circles who themselves are the subjects of parody, but the thing that makes Stormerism such a major heresy in the first place is that it has the potential to boil over into violence.

On October 27, 2018, 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue armed with a Colt AR-15 and opened fire on the congregants during morning Shabbat services. Apparently, the synagogue was targeted because of its connection to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which assisted in smuggling Central American migrants into the US. This was too much for Bowers who, in a now deleted post on Gab said:

“[..] I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

The feelings of rage and despair which Bowers felt over the ongoing Third Worldization of the West were justified, his reaction, however, was not.

It is wrong to assume that all the people who attended the Unite the Right rally or similar rallies such as the ones at Berkeley in 2017 were cut from the same or similar cloth as Bowers. The problem with the Do-nothing strategy that people such as Barge put forward is that it prevents any potential progress for a true nationalist movement. Make no mistake, the Right cannot survive holding up in its traditional redoubts online. The ongoing deplatforming of anyone mildly associated with conservatism is proof of that. At the time of writing this article, noted YouTuber Sargon of Akkad (alias. Carl Benjamin) and professional provocateur Milo Yiannopolous had both been deplatformed from both PayPal and Patreon. If a self-styled “classical liberal” such as Sargon or a “cultural libertarian” such as Milo are now synonymous with racism, violence and the AltRight, what does that say about the future for authentic Rightists who rely on social media and payment processors to get by?

To assume that White activists will choose to act like Rockwellian caricatures just because those at the center are “just going to call you a Nazi anyway” is nothing more than a cop-out. It is a constant excuse found in the mouths of people who are unwilling to take any real form of action regarding making potential sacrifices so the Right can make any kind of significant gains. It assumes that the one loon who shows up with a swastika both represents the beliefs of everyone involved while simultaneously invalidating their personal integrity.

Everyone on the Right knows that we should “do something” about mass migration, cultural subversion, and the ongoing decline of the Western world. The problem is that for all the complaints that people make about optics telling us what not to do, very seldom do they put forward any ideas of what we should do. The problem herein lies with one crucial matter that Do-nothings see as a yardstick that determines anything that the Right does will succeed or fail, namely, how it is received by the normies.

Normies by their nature are herd animals; they do not rock the boat or make waves. While they might be associated with a church, trade union or political party, their only real political investment comes in the form of voting to maintain the status quo. Whether a normie votes Democrat or Republican is relatively of no consequence, it just establishes a benchmark on which way public opinion has shifted towards which head of the hydra is considered likelier to maintain law and order, as well as a relative degree of economic security.

Let’s focus in on that phrase for a moment: public opinion.

This is what those on the Right who complain about optics are really concerned about. To them, the Right cannot survive on its own merits, to succeed, it must be well received by the vast bulk of normiedom. This is because, unlike the Left, the Right does not control the superstructure necessary to exercise its will. As of now, the Right cannot compete against the Left for control of political offices, corporate sponsorship, the media, cultural institutions, the university system, etc. The one thing it can compete for control over is public opinion. Unfortunately, this is the one thing the Right doesn’t need to succeed as a movement.

The desire for public approval is a red herring. Ask yourself, why do the Antifa get away with the away with the destruction and violence that they cause? Is it because public opinion favors them over the Right? No. It is because they are the retarded stormtroopers of the neoliberal world order.

James Lawrence, another author at Affirmative Right, wrote a very insightful piece on how the Right could potentially expand its base to include a coalition of small business owners and professionals, i.e., normies. Expounding on how the fascist revolutions achieved success, Lawrence writes:

“Initially, the fascist movement seeks to maximise its popular appeal by creating a loose and amorphous ‘antiparty’, which serves to attract all sorts of people possessing wildly divergent interests but united by a vague discontent. Later, although the movement continues to rally the people, many of these early followers end up being pruned off as alliances are made with existing social and political interests. In Mussolini’s case, this was achieved when the squadristi in rural Italy made themselves indispensible to the big landowners, who were being squeezed between the laissez-faire liberal state and the socialists agitating their workforce. In Germany, Hitler managed to attract small businessmen and a few large ones to his cause, although most of these stuck with traditional conservatives (and certainly did not bankroll the NSDAP to the extent claimed by the Left). It is important to emphasise the toleration of both fascisms by elements of central power: local police forces often sided with Mussolini’s squadristi, and Brownshirt toughs enjoyed lenient treatment by the conservative Weimar judiciary.”

So, recognition by the well-to-dos precedes public approval. Allying oneself with those already firmly integrated into the superstructure, the Right can then hope to make the gains it desperately needs. The formation of an “antiparty” will be key to any future where a Rightist victory is possible. Lawrence goes on to say that the social nationalist revolutions had their success not only by appealing to the masses, but that their eventual success was determined by the anxieties of middle class voters who feared that a hypothetical communist victory would prove disastrous for their livelihoods. Lawrence explains:

“[…] successful fascist movements must cultivate not only the masses but also the vested interests of society. They must be encouraged, or at least tolerated, by an established ruling elite focused on the greater threat from leftist revolution. Eventually, they must make a bid for power, and find conservative patrons who are both willing to cooperate with them and obliged by their own crisis of legitimacy to do so. Where no such opportunities existed, fascism got nowhere; and where it confronted conservative authoritarian regimes, it typically ended up being repressed.”

While it still existed, the Traditionalist Worker Party made great gains by appealing to the needs of, and providing aid for, impoverished Whites in rural parts of the country, especially Appalachia. The fact that the TWP was a National Socialist project meant diddly to those Whites living in poverty who were looking for anyone to listen to their grievances. Despite its “bad optics” TradWorker was one of the most well organized and formidable paramilitaries on the entire Right. The fact that it went belly up due to the personal proclivities of its founder and chairman is beside the point, only proving that infighting and personal drama is a worse look than columned ranks of blackshirts.

Another example we might do well to look at is the Proud Boys, as they are great example of what not to do when it comes to defining your optics. During his tenure as chairman, Gavin McInnes constantly ceded moral authority to his Leftist detractors, eventually throwing the organization that he himself founded under the bus to prove that he wasn’t a “white nationalist.” The Proud Boys were, and still are, a group of civic nationalists. But despite boasting of all the BASED black guys that they had as members, they are still listed as a hate group by the SPLC. Clearly, kowtowing to accusations of racism and bigotry in an effort to improve one’s optics means little when you have already been marked for death.

So, to conclude, where do we go from here?

I want to make it clear that for the Right to survive it needs to determinedly establish an offline, street presence for itself. If the need arises that Right Wing Safety Squads™ need to be established to protect Rightist or libertarian events, so be it. The Far Left is more than happy to send innocent people who aren’t even affiliated with Identarian politics to the hospital because they had the gall to attend an “Patriot Prayer” or MAGA event and make their voices heard. This also applies to the desecration of monuments associated with traditional American history and culture. A message must be sent so that in the future the destruction of landmarks associated with the historical American nation will not be tolerated. We already know that simply writing to one’s local representative or city councilman is not going to be enough.

Lastly, a final word about optics. The above is by no means to be taken as an advocation of violence. Far from it. I know good and well, as I’m sure James Alex Fields’ does too, that even simply defending oneself against anarcho-communist aggression is enough to be considered an act of violence. However, I will concede that some of the Do-nothings have a point, when we present ourselves to the public eye, do we want to be seen LARPing in the uniforms of a dead ideology associated with the murder of millions? Of course not. For their uniforms Identity Evropa and Vanguard America chose a white polo and khakis, a little posh in my opinion, but they were certainly onto something. When the Civil Rights protestors of the 1960’s performed their marches, they did so in their Sunday Best. I highly recommend doing the same.

That is what we are fighting for: our civil rights. More importantly, we are fighting for the right to make sure our homelands stay ours—that our cultural heritage remains a gift from our ancestors, to us, to be handed down into posterity; that our grandchildren inherit a future where they will not be a despised minority in a crumbling civilization on an overpopulated, resource scrapped planet—that is purpose of all of this.

And optics be damned otherwise.