In case you haven’t noticed I’m a bit– “oppositionally defiant” is, I believe, the clinical term. Growing up, most of the things I was really into – heavy metal, horror movies, fantasy novels, neopaganism, homosexuality – were introduced to me by concerned teachers or youth ministers decrying their dangerous and corrupting influence; the greater their moral panic, the more intrigued I became. Now their disfavor wasn’t a guarantee I’d like something, but the allure of the forbidden and suppressed was usually enough for me to at least give it a shot. It’s quite astounding, really, that I didn’t discover my fondness for drugs and alcohol until my late twenties.
Incidentally, this is also how my political evolution occurred. The first (and only) presidential election I voted in was for Bill Clinton’s second term. I had already begun to sour on the man since he hadn’t delivered on his promises with regard to gay rights and the environment, but I figured he was still better than Bob Dole, whom the Republicans were running for some inexplicable reason. Not that I would have ever voted Republican back then – this was the 90s, man; my favorite band was Rage Against the Machine and I wore a Free Tibet patch on my jacket. A couple years before I’d even delivered speeches to the school board peppered with Marxist slogans, that’s how woke I was.
I was working at a used book store then, and occasionally controversial titles would come in. My boss would jack the price up and put them on a special shelf behind the glass counter. Anarchist Cookbook. Complete Works of the Marquis de Sade. The Turner Diaries. Stuff by Crowley and LaVey. That Sex book by Madonna. It was an eclectic mix, but all were somehow guilty of wrongthink. So of course I’d check at the start of each shift for any new arrivals, and stash the interesting ones in my cubby until payday. Increasingly that came to mean conservative and Right-wing titles. The more out there their ideas were the more I engaged, trying to refute them with my infallible liberal logic; except the longer this went on, the more I started having this sinking feeling that the Right might be right after all. At least their worldview better aligned with what I saw happening around me all the time and their explanations, hard as they could be to initially accept, better explained this phenomena than the mainstream narrative I was getting fed. (Until they went off the deep end into delusional paranoia and idiotic racism, that is.)
And then I stopped caring about anything that wasn’t ancient Greece or Rome related. I put all of my energy into researching and writing about and worshiping Dionysos and his fellow Olympians (branching even further out later on,) moved cross country a couple times for the sake of polytheist community, taught classes, organized events, had my fifteen minutes as a minor internet celebrity and now I’m doing this, whatever this is.
With such a focus, my interest in Right-wing political theory faded to nothingness. It had always been fairly utopian; I’m one of those Romantic, pessimistic Right-wingers after all. (Where can I find a glacier to gaze upon until dreadful existential shuddering seizes me?) Dig deep enough and all political parties and figures prove disappointing. If they aren’t riddled with hypocrisy and moral failings than they usually lack the fortitude or intelligence to manifest their vision.
Which is why even when my interest was rekindled by the rise of the “intellectual dark web” and related cliques I remained politically uninvolved. True to form nearly all of them have been revealed to be liars, grifters, degenerates and imbeciles too concerned with tearing each other to shreds to enact any kind of mass conservative reform in the country. Plus, so many of their ideas are just so fucking dull and obvious. Say what you will about the books on the controversy shelf but they were never boring!