Last week, I discussed several books from antique and modern times about power. For power is a whole aspect of life, something that impregnates our choices, our actions, our judgments, down from the opener we choose among several to get this particular girl look up from her smartphone up to career choices that could set the mark for the next ten years.
Some on the left say “nothing is neutral”, because everything is about power. Such a sweeping statement is grossly exaggerated and reflects an unhealthy adoration of power, it still contains a kernel of truth. Knowing where your power starts, where a legitimate power rules, and where you can take it back and how, is far from evident, and can only be discovered through experience and a long reflection.
Antique thinking is usually more broader, fuller, thicker than its modern counterpart. It sounds less like a lecture course and more like a support for meditation. For this reason, if you want to gain shrewdness, I strongly advise to start with Plato or Aristotle. However, these are by no means enough. Since these distinguished philosophers pondered times have changed much and we are faced with challenges men from Antiquity did not know about—or much less. Today, an important part of what we struggle with is related to money and cultural conflict. These aspects are more directly addressed by contemporary books.
As you will note, pioneers in these areas were barely our friends. Of the following works, only two out of seven have been written by individuals who could be considered more or less on our side, with serious doubts staining one of them. If we are to beat the Hollow Empire on its own ground, meeting with its most cunning agents is necessary, no matter the sourness of the experience. It is not as if they had produced the first bittersweet books after all.
1. Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion
Penned in the aftermath of the Great War by a Jewish journalist, Public Opinion said a lot about the “manufacture of consent” before the infamous Noam Chomsky was born. You know what you’re up to when you crack the book open and meet with a quote of Plato’s cave allegory in full at the outset. As a reminder, the cave allegory depicts clueless people whose outlook is limited by blinders and who are led to confuse shadows of puppets with real things.
Public Opinion makes a sharp distinction between two kinds of individuals: first, the “elite”, the “expert”, the “specialist”, who has been trained and knows; second, the regular citizen, who is riddled with bias and prejudices and belongs in a “bewildered herd” in need for guidance. The public opinion, mostly shaped by the press day after day, is how the former guides the latter—for its own good, of course. (In a sequel book, The Phantom Public, Lippmann doubles down and draws an even more scathing picture of the Gentile average public.)
By criticizing the “unregulated” media and how people, when faced with incomplete or uncertain information, rely upon hypotheses, Lippmann explains how to manipulate people and justifies doing so. He distinguishes between a “real” world and a “pseudo-environment”, made of purported prejudice, superstition, stereotypes, myths and—you may have guessed—social constructs. The cool part, from Lippmann’s point of view, is that 1) the stupid goyim majority cannot tell the difference between truth and “social construction”, and 2) the pseudo-environment can be deconstructed, reconstructed, manipulated by those who know it exists and how to change it.
If you want to trace back the roots of the fake news media who loom over us today, Public Opinion is a must read, provided you can bear with Lippmann’s arrogant remarks about the “simpletons” or on how the girl next door should be dissected by a psychiatrist. In passing, you may note that hyped-up stuff like Daniel Kahneman’s work on “people’s bias” can easily be called on in support of a Lippmannian agenda.
2. Edward Bernays’ Propaganda
A nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays would be to advertisement and discrete marketing campaigns what Lippman was to journalism. Bernays is indeed a pioneer in occult influence, indirect advertising, clever use of symbolism, spinning and other practices he would brand under the euphemistic expression of “public relations.”
Propaganda, Bernays’ most famous book, explains some of these methods, along with successful uses he made of them. For example, in 1915, he promoted a Russian troupe of ballet dancers by promoting their colorful costumes in fashion, pushing opinion pieces about dance, and provoking American men (troll bait: “are American men ashamed to be graceful?”).
Bernays is mostly known for his “torches of freedom” campaign. To expand the market of cigarettes, he teamed up with a psychoanalyst, (((Abraham Brill))), and corrupt journalists, and together they spun pseudo-spontaneous happenings by young women who would all smoke in public at the same time. Looks pretty much like Soros’ Femens. More money for tobacco tycoons, more opportunity to spin a “progress” narrative for Leftists, less morals for everyone else.
Bernays also helped President Woodrow Wilson to betray his first election promise, namely that the US would not join the Great War, but managed to have another propagandist, George Creel, scapegoated in his place when this campaign was exposed as full of lies.
Reading Propaganda, one will notice how much Bernays tries to justify and regulate—in words—his own practice. In a democracy, it would be necessary that “our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” Well, perhaps freedom of speech for everyone encourages an arms race on the market place of ideas, yet Bernays conveniently forgets (((who))) started self-promoting and playing tough competition at a time when it was considered trespassing on someone else’s territory.
3. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged
Hardly in need of introduction to the American reader, Atlas Shrugged can be understood as a philosophical tale on personal and social power. Far from being the greedy bastards they are sometimes depicted as, the Hank Rearden, Francesco d’Anconia, Midas Mulligan et al. are heroic characters with a neat ethical code and sense of integrity. Full of masculine energy, they follow their callings, are self-controlled and strong-willed, develop abilities that make them able to thrive and contribute to the wellbeing of society. All are virtuous and some, like d’Anconia, are curious, even playful.
Tightly woven with the main characters’ adventures is a true sense of genuineness. Hank Rearden could earn even more money than he already makes by associating with the corrupt government, but he does not. Midas Mulligan could keep investing cleverly as he does, but he’d rather scuttle his own empire than bow before an unfair judgment. John Galt could live in a mansion if he patented his Tesla-like motor, but instead he will spend years in a small flat, posing as a humble rail worker, so that he and other good-minded individuals manage to fix a world turned insane.
Atlas Shrugged is based on a sharp distinction between external goods, such as money and social status, and internal elements such as integrity and values. John Galt teaches all of his targets to abandon the former, no matter the suffering this implies, so that they can keep the latter. Only those who betrayed their own moral sense for a place inside the system, as Galt’s former professor Robert Stadler, or those who seem like they never had any, will argue that integrity is but a social construction or that no one should be truly independent. Ayn Rand’s depicting of the literati as a bunch of neurotic assholes willing to take over what they could never create is hilarious and, although it is sometimes simplistic, remains essentially truthful.
Sure, Atlas Shrugged has to be read with a huge grain of salt. Objectivism has no objection against feminism, heaps scorn upon family and race, and obviously encourages robber barons to do anything they please. Even then, Ayn Rand’s main work remains infused with a constructive sense of life and a relevant analysis of important power relationships.
4. Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals
After books about journalism and advertising come the most infamous one ever written about politics. An agitator and rabble-rouser since the end of the 1930s, Saul Alinsky had more than thirty years of experience when he published the Rules for Radicals. This book has been covered twice on ROK, so I will only comment briefly on it.
Whereas Lippman’s elitist, long-winded prose has a philosophical vibe that makes him look like a doppelganger of James Burnham, and while Bernays’ book has this “40% advice, 40% stories, 20% bullshit” mark so typical of corporate-personal improvement stuff, Alinsky clearly writes to put his reader on a particular track. A master practitioner of pilpul, he manages to mix up a might-is-right stance close to Ragnar Redbeard’s with a sanctimoniously Marxist tone. If you manage to bear with the Leftism-hammering part of his prose, Rules for Radicals explains many strategies any organizer or agitator can use in particular circumstances.
Stirring up grievances, emphasizing trivial or unimportant events while making actually important ones taboo, pressuring key individuals, rattling up a compromise through a war of attrition before abusing from it, making a particular target audience “pregnant with hope” in you while intimating another audience so that it stays out of the way are all strategies that Alinsky explains.
Rules for Radicals gives an insider view to the intricate workings of the Left, which still applies many of these strategies today. A reader on our side can also pick up some advice, especially since Alinsky have been an outsider to the parts of the establishment he was helping to lay off, just like we are now.
While reading this one I started thinking about how the Left tries to block us from imitating it. Our attempts to organize—legally—are always frantically scorned and repressed. Another example is how they managed to create a “courageous rebel” aura around their characters who faced repression whereas every red-pilled individual who rises gets reduced to a lowest common denominator and defamed. Clearly, the lukewarm conservatives Alinsky faced were nothing compared to the establishment we face. I guess it will make our victory all the more praiseworthy.
5. Esther Vilar’s Manipulated Man
Issued in 1972, only one year after Alinsky’s Rules, Vilar’s Manipulated Man is completely different in all respects save perhaps the topic. Originally written in German, penned by a Jewish author, The Manipulated Man comes from a woman who became sick with how her sex plays the oppressed, frail, in need of help to extract free service from the other, i.e. men.
Just like judeocritical Jews are often the best critiques of their own background—think of Gilad Atzmon or Paul Gottfried—the rare breed of women who are too honest and good-natured to go along with the manipulative stance of their peers give valuable insights. Vilar was red-pill, manosphere-friendly before the words were coined.
In a clear style, she exposes the true character of feminists (aggressive, power-thirsty, always projecting their own character on the other, blaming everyone but themselves for their own misery), the daily exploitation of approach anxiety-ridden men, and how the hardest-working sex becomes more and more frail and forced into passive obedience whereas “stress-free” women become a driving force in politics.
In a single stroke, Vilar removes the veils of gallantry, white-knightism, and accusatory narrative-hammering of both feminists and the more moderated women. The Manipulated Man is as relevant today as in the 70s. It also gives a key view of the context nice guys of our generation have been raised in—a context that has nothing to see with patriarchy.
In several ways, The Manipulated Man is like Herrnstein’s and Murray’s The Bell Curve: it sold much, but only “behind closed doors” would the authors receive support, and upfront, they would face heavy-handed media defamation and death threats.
6. Robert Greene’s 48 Laws
Having gained personal experience of power dynamics through working at Hollywood, Greene used his passion for history and writing talent to create the 48 Laws of Power. The result was a best-seller. Honestly, its success was deserved.
Greene’s “laws” are general rules that apply more or less in many power relationships. Some of the rules always apply, some are more context-related, all of them help to gauge a particular situation and know what is going on. The 48 Laws have a very nice layout, tell stories on an upbeat tone, and interpret them both elegantly and deeply. As this book has become a classic, with innumerable sources quoting it, I would advise you to get a cheap used copy if you haven’t already cracked it open.
7. Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I’m Lying
To end this list comes a version 2.0 of Edward Bernays. A college dropout, Ryan Holiday understood (1) how the “big names” of mainstream Internet media were taking their stories from smaller bloggers, and (2) how to bribe bloggers. Trust Me, I’m Lying hilariously explains how Holiday triggered feminists to have them promoting a crappy movie without even knowing why, or how he flattered and bribed female Instagramers so that they would make “free” advertising for American Apparel. Gawker and Jezebel get exposed as unethical, scandal-seeking, brain-unplugging outlets.
When it comes to justifying the book, Holiday says he eventually grew disgusted with all the deceit around and opted for spilling the beans. One should be wary with this kind of display. Many offenders try to turn their bad reputation upside down by claiming loudly that they shifted to a road to Damascus. Nevertheless, it is very much possible that Holiday became genuinely disgruntled because he is not Jewish.
He depicts (chapter 14) Andrew Breitbart as a “media manipulator” who never grew weary or morally disrupted by what he was doing. Perhaps at least some non-Jews cannot imitate the “chosen people” all the way down without feeling like they are betraying themselves to the bone.
Trust Me, I’m Lying suffers from a liberal bias in the choice of some of its examples. Mentioning Breitbart, Holiday basically accuses “angry Republicans” of the mischiefs SJWs are actually doing, and shows sympathy to undeservedly promoted blacks whereas he does not show any for SJW-targeted dissenters. It also becomes repetitive after a while. Still, it is a very good book for a twenty-something’s, and it can be seen as an applied version of Bernays’ craft.
Power over oneself and social power are two different things. Someone can quietly enjoy the former and live a good, happy life, without much of the second, whereas someone who enjoys a lot of the second kind of power may bring ruin to himself and others by acting like an entitled crybaby. In any case, social power today all too easily turns into something disgusting. For often one must craft a picture, a public appearance of oneself which at bottom is deceitful.
Being honest with the normie, brainwashed masses, or with the crooks looming over us is like casting pearls before swine. Understanding Leftism, or the System, or women, and seeing past the endless new façades is liberating. But the very fact that we must sometimes act on a Machiavellian way feels disturbing. And yet we don’t have the choice—game is just about that, and the masses must be told with “pedagogy”, i.e. in a crafty way, to be steered in the right direction. Andrew Breitbart had to be Breitbart to red pill a much wider public than Vdare or ROK.
To get more social power, we have to be creative and flexible, to come unexpected. Never compromise, though, on the fundamentals. Ayn Rand had this right and Julius Evola did, too. Taking up this wording, this role, this cause and so on does not necessarily mean deep agreement with it. As we could say many cases, “it is not that simple.” And even then, I got a stomach pain while reading Alinsky’s Rules, and a second time later when I went through Holiday disingenuously painting himself as a liberal truth-teller—which seems rather paltry just considering the title of his book.
Apart from Atlas Shrugged, all the books mentioned here are sour to some extent, and perhaps dwelling much in them could be considered as a katabasis after which the sacred texts only appear more illuminating and rejuvenating.