The Metapolitics of Arktos
The full video and text of John Morgan’s speech at the recent Identitarian Ideas conference in Stockholm.
The following is the text of a speech delivered by Arktos Editor-in-Chief John Morgan at Identitarian Ideas VII in Stockholm, Sweden on 7 November 2015.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for having me back. It’s great to be back in Sweden. The fact that Sweden, a country which has come to be identified with the most extreme forms of liberalism, has managed to develop one of the most thriving nationalist movements in Western Europe is a fact that is inspirational to activists all over Europe and North America. So it’s an honor to be addressing some of those who made that happen here today.
I want to say a few words about the project that Daniel Friberg and I have dedicated most of our time, energy, and dedication towards over the past few years – specifically, what it is that we are trying to do with Arktos. As many of you are no doubt aware, Daniel Friberg and I, and also Mick Brooks who is here with us today, founded Arktos Media six years ago, at the end of 2009. Since then we’ve published over 100 unique titles in eight languages. For the first four years of our operations, we were based in India as a way of reducing our overhead costs, but since the beginning of 2014 we’ve been based in Budapest, Hungary in order to make it easier to connect with our core readership.
I imagine a question that exists in many people’s minds is, why are we doing all of this, and what are we trying to accomplish? This is something that really needs to be clarified, since many people have been more than happy to answer this, uninvited, on our behalf. To name but a few theories I’ve come across online, I’ve learned that Arktos is a Christian publishing company, a neo-pagan publishing company, a Eurasianist publishing company, an American conservative publishing company, a liberal publishing company, and a fascist publishing company. Likewise I’ve read that Arktos is “controlled” by American paleoconservatives like Paul Gottfried, by the Kremlin, by the CIA, by the Ukrainian nationalists, by the Indian government, by the international Zionist conspiracy, by Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, and my personal favorite, by the Soviet KGB. It’s unfortunate that I need to do this, but for the purposes of clarity, I state for the record that none of these is in fact true.
While several of those ideas are obviously crazy, and some of them clearly designed as a pathetic attempt to try to discredit us, I think part of the confusion stems from the fact that Arktos is involved in so many different types of projects. Indeed, while we are often thought of as a political publishing house, only perhaps half of our books could be described as overtly political in nature, and we have always envisioned Arktos as being much more than merely a political venture. Many are works of pure philosophy or literature, or relate to various forms of traditional spirituality. In terms of political thought, we have published many works from the European “New Right” school, but we have also published works from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives (including works related to Hindu nationalism), by the identitarians, by Alexander Dugin of Russia’s Eurasia Movement, and by American and English conservatives.
The truth is that there is no single ideological, philosophical, religious, or any other system of belief that we are trying to propagate through Arktos. As I once expressed it, what Arktos is trying to do could perhaps be summarized as trying to find alternatives to modernity – which basically means alternatives to the current liberal order based on individualism and materialism and the dominance of the state over every aspect of the lives of its people, and which runs contrary to anything traditional or communitarian, that has spread everywhere across the world. This can take many forms. Some of our authors would like to see us return to the ways of life of some previous age. Some of them, such as Mr. Faye, advocate for nationalists embracing the most radical forms of new technology and radical social thought and producing a new synthesis with the traditional values that first made our civilization great that will represent something entirely new in Europe. Many of them fall somewhere in between.
Arktos’ idea is that we should take a broad approach to the desire to seek an alternative to liberalism. While we think that each and every one of our authors has something valuable to contribute to this quest, we do not seek to win converts to any particular cause or way of thinking, especially since it remains unclear at this stage as to which ideas will take root in order to bring about the revival of the West. Rather our books should be seen as points of inspiration to hopefully inspire a challenge to new ways of thinking, even if it may sometimes take the form of opposition in some regards, among our readers. Adopting a specific belief system would limit what we can do and also limit the number of people to whom we can appeal.
We do not even see ourselves as being exclusively a “Right-wing” publisher. Indeed, the dichotomy of Left and Right seems today as something outdated and meaningless, particularly as many mainstream Rightists today are essentially liberals and thus not on our side, and some Leftists share many of our concerns about the modern world and liberalism. I would suggest that the dichotomy of liberal and anti-liberal is a more useful classification today. This is something we embrace in Arktos. We seek to create an alternative to liberalism, but not necessarily a new ideology, and we are open to anyone who has something useful to contribute.
Of what importance is this intellectual work in a struggle which is primarily taking place in the real world, one may ask? I would answer that the political struggle is only the outward form of a battle that is really more cultural, and culture rests on what lies within the soul of each individual who participates in it. In order to build individuals willing to sacrifice the comforts of modern life for the sake of an ideal, a solid sense of identity and purpose must first be present. This is the essence of metapolitics: it is the attempt to redefine culture, or one might more accurately say in the case of nationalists and traditionalists an attempt to restore culture, by making a particular set of suppositions seem entirely natural to the people in a society. One can find out more about this in the books New Culture, New Right by Michael O’Meara and Against Democracy and Equality by Tomislav Sunic. This is what the Left has been doing so well over the past half century. In fact, the entire West today is in the grip of a radical political ideology which has set the average individual against the traditions of his forefathers, against the needs of his community, and even against the interests of himself and his people. It is quite amazing, in fact. Two centuries ago it would have seemed like something strange, if not insane. And yet by establishing control over the cultural institutions of our nations, the radical liberals have managed to convince the vast majority of people that the mode of life we are in today is something completely normal, and in fact superior to anything that came before it, when in fact we are in a time in which Western man is more alienated from his society and his fellow man than ever before.
Therefore, what we need to do is to imitate their example in our own way. This means waging war on the cultural as well as the political level. It may be difficult to discern on the surface how books of political philosophy, or on spirituality or literature, help in this endeavor. And yet I would argue that it is very difficult to motivate people simply using straightforward political arguments, and certainly not merely by criticizing society as it is (something the Right is all too good at). Something positive is needed as well. People need a vision of the future that can inspire them and give them something not only to fight for, but to give them motivation in their daily lives. I believe that books remain the best way of instilling this sort of vision in people. And given the enthusiastic response we’ve received from many of our readers over the years, I think this strategy is working.
As should be clear by now, there is no single label that one could apply to Arktos with any accuracy, given the vast range of ideas that we engage with. If I had to pick one, however, I would borrow the term “true Right,” which was first coined by the Italian traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola, who defined it as “those principles which were accepted and seen as normal by every well-born person everywhere in the world prior to 1789.” I can think of no better definition than that. It is obviously very different from the false Right that participates in the meaningless spectacle that passes for politics throughout much of the West today. Of course, one could point out that Arktos benefits from many of the features of the world of globalist liberalism: given the sort of technology that our operations rely on, such as the Internet and easy international travel, it would have been unimaginable even just 15 years ago. But I believe it is possible to use the tools of modernity against it, in an effort to reform it.
The other question that I frequently get is why Arktos is based in such exotic locales as India and Hungary. In the case of India, where we were based for the first five years of our corporate existence, the short answer is simply that we needed to be in a place where we could afford to operate with the meager funds we had at our disposal in our early days. Although at the same time it was good to be in a place where daily life is still for the most part an expression of the traditional spirit rather than a liberal one. But after doing this for a while, we began to grew tired of the many challenges that everyday life in India presents (imagine what it’s like to try to get somebody to come out and fix your Internet in a country where you don’t know the language and where cows and other livestock are wandering in the street outside your apartment), and we also had a growing desire to strengthen our connection to where most of our readers are.
Given the fact that our profits had been steadily increasing from the beginning, by 2014 we finally had enough funds to make this a reality. So, why Hungary, you may ask? Part of it is certainly the fact that it is possible to operate inexpensively there as well, and also simply because those of us on the Arktos staff have been charmed by the country’s beautiful aesthetics and culture, and its excellent cuisine, among other aspects. But we were also drawn to it due to the fact that Hungary has established itself as the greatest opponent to liberalism in the European Union today. Indeed, Hungary’s current Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, who has recently garnered a great deal of praise due to his handling of the migrant crisis, gave a speech last year in which he called for Hungary to become what he termed an ‘illiberal democracy’, citing China, Turkey, and Russia as examples. Indeed, we have made fruitful contacts with people in Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party; the more radical nationalist party, Jobbik; and even with the Magyar Munkáspárt, or Hungarian Workers’ Party, which is the Communist party. It is important to stress that the latter party, while Communist in name, could more accurately be described as a National Bolshevik party, meaning that it combines elements of nationalism with Communism; while it retains Communist economic ideas, it remains a staunch opponent of immigration and globalism. Such syntheses are not unusual in Hungarian politics; indeed, Marton Gyöngyösi, the International Secretary of Jobbik, said to me recently that many of the parties in Hungary today, and even in other countries, escape easy classification along the Right/Left spectrum, and similar to what I said earlier, he suggested that liberal and non-liberal is a more constructive way of understanding European politics today.
People associated with all of these parties have expressed enthusiasm for the work that Arktos is doing, and we in turn have been inspired by their commitment and originality in pursuit of a better Hungary. They are actually enacting the sort of metapolitics that Arktos is also working with in its own way, and with great success, as indicated by the fact that two-thirds of Hungary’s voters selected either Fidesz or Jobbik in the last election. Hungarian politicians are also frequently visionary in how they understand how Hungary’s struggle against liberalism must fit into the struggle of similar parties across the globe. To cite an example close to home, in 2013, while we were still in India, we facilitated a meeting between representatives from Jobbik and the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party which was swept to power on a tide of enthusiasm from voters the following year. And I think it is correct that if we are to defeat our liberal globalist enemy, we ourselves must adopt an alternative form of globalism, seeking alliances and common ground with individuals and groups who share our desires everywhere, even outside of Europe. While we stand for the traditions and interests of our own people, we must put aside our differences and open ourselves to those taking a similar approach from among other peoples. The narrow, ethnocentric viewpoint is a relic of the past. Only together, by working with nationalists and traditionalists everywhere, can we succeed. Toward this end, Arktos seeks to represent as many of these facets of the struggle as possible, which is one reason why we have published several books pertaining to the traditions of India, for example.
Some of you may wonder what our most popular titles are. Generally, our bestselling titles tend to be those by Guillaume Faye, whom you met here today; Alain de Benoist, the founder and leader of the French New Right movement, and the inventor of the concept of Right-wing metapolitics; Alexander Dugin, the Russian philosopher and geopolitician, and former advisor to Vladimir Putin; the Italian traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola, who sought to re-establish the mindset and wisdom of the ancient world amidst the ruins of the modern world; Markus Willinger, the Austrian identitarian author; Brian Patrick, a professor at the University of Toledo who specializes in the science of propaganda and the American gun rights movement; and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is India’s most popular yoga guru today. Recent titles that have done well also include Dominique Venner’s The Shock of History. Venner was a renowned historian and veteran paratrooper of the Algerian War and the OAS who infamously committed suicide in Notre Dame Cathedral in May 2013 as a protest against mass immigration and the increasing liberalization of France, and he actually wrote The Shock of History specifically for Arktos as a means of introducing his worldview to the audience outside of France, so we were quite honored to be the ones to present that in English. And I would be amiss if I didn’t mention The Real Right Returns by my friend and colleague Daniel Friberg, which became an instant bestseller; in fact it sold more copies in the first three days of this month than any other book of our has sold in any three-day period to date. And soon we will be publishing a Swedish translation of How to be a Conservative by the English author Roger Scruton, who is the most important philosopher of conservatism today. (I understand that the Chairman of the Sweden Democrats is a fan of Scruton.)
What I think Arktos’ success indicates is that we are presenting a message that resonates with people. People in Europe and America are getting tired of the same old slogans presented by liberals that go against what everyone sees with their own eyes. They haven’t been able to come up with anything new since the 1960s; they just keep harping on the same old tired clichés that are falling into ruin around them. The attempt of liberals to convert the world into a gigantic shopping mall where everyone is the same is ending in failure. Intellectual and cultural vigor is passing, if it hasn’t already passed, to the Right. We can see this in the rising popularity and electoral success of Rightist parties across Europe. This is a trend we can ride. The future belongs to us. In Arktos and Motpol, and similar organizations, we are forging a new vision for the West. Many difficult challenges yet lie ahead of us, but we shouldn’t despair; rather, we should welcome the fact that we are presented with an opportunity for adventure. Please join us as we forge a new world.