Lauren Southern, Generation Identity, and the Quest for Meaning
In the Current Year, urging motherhood is being a rape apologist. Over 100 students recently protested Lauren Southern when she came to speak at Cal Poly on the “return of the traditional woman.” Southern was especially criticized for having once held a sign at a feminist protest that read, “There is no rape culture in the West,” leading one student to call her a “rape apologist.”
“What we were very upset about was that Cal Poly willingly gave people like them a platform to spew hate and make this campus more unsafe for marginalized students,” said one member of the Cal Poly Queer Student Union. “And it’s already very tough being a marginalized student at Cal Poly.”
Of course, there is a strong case the “marginalized students” at Cal Poly are not just a privileged caste but perhaps the most privileged caste in all of human history. Degenerate aristocracies of other societies at least spawned attractive luxuries like Fabergé eggs or Dutch tulips. We’re stuck with subsidized degeneracy in the form of the Cal Poly Queer Student Union and other organized parasitism. A life of guaranteed prosperity and material comfort is theirs simply if they identify as part of (or can invent membership in) one of the mascot minorities.
Many “marginalized students” are only in college to begin with because of the vast privileges granted by their membership in one of the protected classes. As for those few straight European-Americans present, the whole point of elite education is to learn to destroy your class rivals through weaponized speech and justify your own place on the top of the food chain.
What Southern is wrong about, though, is that there’s not just one but several “rape cultures” in the West. For example, we have the unfolding scandal at Baylor, where young White girls were allegedly pimped out to black players by White football coaches and boosters. And few feminists were troubled by the sexual abuse of thousands of English girls in Rotherham, while local authorities looked the other way. Still, she obviously knows this, and her sign was directed at the feminists who tell us to ignore the above and instead crusade against things like White fraternities.
Southern is fundamentally right when she says traditionalism offers an escape from a supposed sexual “liberation” movement that has turned into repression, hysteria, and the opposite of liberty. As she puts it in her book, Barbarians,
[We] have nothing but infinite license to put who and what we want in our bodies, while our freedoms to speak, to think, to dream, and to build get more limited every day.
More broadly, as she notes, she’s right to highlight how our entire generation has “experienced an utter dispossession, dilution, and disintegration of the Western soul” and how the great struggle of today is the search for “meaning.” The issue of immigration, and the larger issue of identity, is the key to finding that meaning.
Southern effectively criticizes immigration in Barbarians, with her chapter on immigration serving as a breezy “greatest hits” collection of restrictionist arguments. We get:
- Milton Friedman’s admonition you can’t have open borders and a welfare state and how immigration leads to more government;
- The negative effect of mass immigration on workers’ wages;
- The Left’s sudden U-turn on cheap labor and increasing population if it means more immigration;
- The inevitable progression from immigration to a “religious attachment to multiculturalism” and eventually cultural relativism;
- The deliberate deconstruction of the nation-state (i.e. The National Question)
Yet all of this is, in a deeper way, unsatisfying. Southern complains mass immigration “often allows in critical masses of groups that despise Western culture’s most precious heritage: that of freedom, classical republicanism, and the enlightenment.” However worthy some may find such abstractions, this is thin gruel to sustain a movement that will require sacrifice and courage to achieve victory, especially when the liberal intellectuals aren’t concerned about defending their own supposed “values.” Why should the Right save them from the consequences of their own actions and beliefs?
The same kind of questions can be asked about the “Alt-Lite’s” willingness to fight for free speech. This is admirable, but free speech is not worth very much if we don’t have anything substantial to say.
Something more is needed. That something is identity.
Southern took a courageous and important step when she recently visited France and worked with Generation Identity, one of the better organized and active European youth groups engaging in propaganda of the deed, metapolitics, and community organization.
In contrast to the “proposition nation” faux-conservatism of the United States, Generation Identity explicitly defends its people and homelands as part of a resistance to multiculturalism.
Perhaps the best introduction to the movement is Markus Willinger’s (an Austrian) manifesto, Generation Identity: A Declaration of War Against The ‘68ers. The book addresses some of the same themes Southern does in her own videos and book.
Willinger’s “Declaration of War” targets the aging radicals who took to the French streets in 1968 and now comprise the ferociously anti-Western EU and national bureaucrats of today. Not content with deconstructing their own nations, Willinger blames them for dissolving society itself, leaving a generation “uprooted and disoriented.”
Similarly, Southern writes in Barbarians:
[I]t’s time to retire the term “conservative” to describe the right. My generation sees nothing worth conserving in the modern world. And we shouldn’t. To be a literal conservative today is to tacitly support the left. To be on the right today is to want to restore things that have been lost.
Indeed, as Southern, and those to her right, have often observed, even many older American conservatives have turned into the clueless “Boomerposters,” subsisting on happy talk about the Constitution, the Cold War, the military, and Ronald Reagan, totems as meaningless to today’s Third World America as the Oriflamme would be to the denizens of the no-go zones in the Paris suburbs.
The political struggle for this generation, is an existential struggle.
Gregory Hood wrote in reviewing Willinger’s book:
Willinger speaks for all those who know in their bones they have been cheated of their birthright–even if they can’t fully put it into words. Willinger deliberately positions himself as the voice of his generation, contemptuously confronting those who created this nightmare world that they are forced to endure. When he speaks about the nights of regret following a party, or the ennui and despair of an atheist generation which nonetheless cannot make itself believe, or the “cold and empty” world dumped upon European youth by the Generation of ’68, he is speaking for everyone. Though there are still the religious, the morally restrained, the idealistic, and the hopeful, Willinger has the courage to confront and give voice to the dark impulses and experiences within Western youth.
More importantly, these charges are laid at the feet of the Generation of ’68, the leftists who got the chance to build the kind of utopian society they wanted and instead gave us a disaster combining the worst aspects of deracinated capitalism and self-loathing socialism. By framing the struggle as “us versus them” and identifying and acknowledging the powerful psychological impulses behind identitarians, Willinger is able to go beyond just writing a political platform. The political and cultural struggle is a necessary part of the effort to redeem the individual lives rendered meaningless by the Generation of ’68. The war without, the war to save Europe, is part of the effort each person must make to win the war within.
Southern doesn’t quite get to that level of pathos. Instead, her work is more reminiscent of the freewheeling Internet culture of the chans, Alt-Right Twitter, and online nationalist communities. It’s more ironic, humorous, and approachable. However, both Willinger and Southern recognize Millennials do not know what it’s like to be raised in a society with “traditional” morality or an Establishment that supports patriotism. (The Canadian Southern was born long after the transformative rule of Pierre Trudeau.) Contemporary right-wing youth are driven less by the defense of real existing communities than by a sense of loss for what has been stolen from them and fury at those responsible.
Willinger frames the quest for identity as an answer to the problem of meaning. The ‘68ers tore down the institutions in quest of a vague “liberation,” captured in slogans like “It is forbidden to forbid.”
In contrast to such sentiments, Willinger argues the mission of the present generation is to build something new out of the ruins. He writes:
Your question, “free from what” was wrong from the very beginning. But we ask, “free for what?” And our answer is, “Free to find our way back to ourselves.”
In this sense, tradition, religion, ethnos, and history are part of the cumulative project, not just restoring European identity, but reawakening it as something vital, organic and new.
And identity, as he notes, becomes important chiefly during an encounter with the “Other.” The historical purpose of the conflict taking place now is for Europeans to rediscover their own identity and their place in the historical chain of their people, stretching into the distant past and forward into eternity.
In the end, the focus is not on immigrants, but on Europeans themselves. “Europe belongs to the Europeans alone,” he writes. He has no illusions about “assimilation” or “integration.” He explicitly renounces universalism in favor of an “ethnopluralist” model, rejecting the demands for “integration” of Muslims into Europe.
The problem is not that the Muslims are remaining separate from French culture. The problem is that they are in France, they have no business being there, they are not and will never be French, and they need to go back.
This is especially important because France has already tried the kinds of policies American conservatives claim will solve the problem of non-integration.
As Steve Sailer noted in 2004:
[T]he French have traditionally tried to do with their immigrants almost exactly what the neocons recommend here: cultural assimilation, education in civics theories, monolingualism, meritocracy, separation of church and state, and all the rest.
It hasn’t worked.
In contrast, while Southern clearly recognizes the threat mass immigration poses to Europe, her arguments about immigration are more universalistic and policy oriented:
- Immigration is bad because it is a “brain drain,” which hurts countries that send migrants;
- The “migrant crisis” is explicitly built upon fraud as few of these “Syrian refugees” are refugees, or, indeed, even Syrian;
- Migrants are coming to get on welfare and are imposing costs on the European people;
- And the result is a cultural conflict between migrants who are ultimately miserable and alienated and native Europeans.
All of this is true. But. . . so what?
Ultimately, the question facing Europeans and European-Americans can be put far more simply. Do we have the moral right to resist an increasingly obvious effort at naked dispossession?
Southern is obviously being hammered with accusations of “racism” and is showing some real guts, so we shouldn’t jump down her throat. But does Southern see an American equivalent to Generation Identity she would be willing to identify with, and if not, why not?
To bring it full circle, a similar question faces her in regards to promoting moral traditionalism. Southern has been criticized by those who subscribe to a particularly idiotic form of “horseshoe theory” that suggests she is being just as bad as Islamists by suggesting restrained sexual behavior. Naturally, the kind of moderately restrained sexual behavior that most Westerners practiced throughout the bulk of our civilization is not the same thing as Shariah. And Southern has also responded by arguing that her traditionalism is “voluntary.”
But if the recent past has taught us anything, it’s that culture is mostly driven from the top down, and we have less “choice” than we think. Relentless media campaigns promoting certain beliefs, coupled with economic, social, and occasionally governmental punishments for dissenters, have a way of changing the beliefs of most people even on those issues once considered central to any conception of morality. Even if people disagree with orthodoxy, they will keep their mouths shut as long as dissent is punished.
No matter how much empirical data proves radical feminism needs to be re-thought for the good of women themselves, no change will occur without state and media power. What good has the mountains of data done for the cause of racial realism?
It is better to rebut those who claim sexual modesty is proto-Islamic on Identitarian grounds. Of course, there are certain practices common across religions. But Islam is not our tradition, and has nothing to do with us. Its strange folkways have no echo in our blood or history. If Islam does triumph in the West, helped along by those same feminists and liberals who despise the more moderate restraint of Christianity, it can only be regarded as a conquest by outsiders.
If Westerners are to survive, it requires embracing, as European Identitarians have, a forthright defense of ourselves as a people, defending our traditions, interests, and ethnos. And to defend any concept of traditional America means accepting the reality of race, as the Founding Fathers and most European-Americans did throughout American history. As Jared Taylor put it, “For more than 300 years… American policy reflected a consensus on race that was the very opposite of what prevails today.”
Southern is in a unique place in the alternative media environment that has developed because of her defense of the Identitarians. She’s not close to being the most influential or widely read, and is certainly not the one who is pushing the Overton Window the most.
But Southern is the focal point between the “Alt-Lite” and the Alt-Right and is one of the few new media figures aware that “classical liberalism” is not synonymous with Western Civilization, nor is it sufficient to defend that civilization’s existence. For that reason, where she goes from here is important.
She is not without her critics. As Southern herself acknowledged, there’s an argument that a “traditionalist” woman shouldn’t be going around the country giving speeches. The sheer existence of a “traditional woman activist,” as she was described by the press, is self-discrediting. (Of course, they made the same argument against the late Phyllis Schlafly.)
There is also a valid case to be made against “e-celebs” begging for cyber-shekels, especially as, when one suspects, many of those appealing for funds through their Patreon are young women profiting off their thirsty beta orbiters. Indeed, some would contend any speech or cultural critique that is not done anonymously is doomed to subversion, as the writers will always be forced to pull his or her punches to ensure some measure of social peace, financial viability, or access to services such as YouTube.
More broadly, politics destroys people, especially young women. The thousands of young female journalists or activists fed into the meat grinder of right wing activism, or the DC open bar circuit are just as lost to motherhood and family as any SJW nonprofit head with a gender studies degree, and this remains true whether they labor in Conservatism Inc. or in the edgier realms of the Alt Right.
But, speaking as someone also dependent on donations, there is a more charitable interpretation. As Donald Trump has shown, brand in the modern era is mostly a product of personality, and this requires at least some people to put themselves out there, with their real face, real name, and real person on the line. Regarding the need for funds, alternate media depends on individual contributions, as we all have been successfully purged from the major outlets and from receiving grants by major foundations.
There’s also something larger at work. The contradiction between a “traditionalist” ideology and an activist lifestyle is part of the tragedy of our generation. To devote oneself entirely to the private sphere and avoid the stress and chaos of politics makes it far easier to sustain romantic relationships, get married, join a church, have a family, enjoy prosperity, and live a more “traditionalist” life.
Rich White liberals may believe “far-left” things, but tend to have more stable and socially conservative families. As Steve Sailer put it in his review of Murray’s Coming Apart, they “Talk Sixties but Live Fifties.” They certainly have more stable private situations than most “right wing activists,” many of whom must scramble to make ends meet, travel constantly, and generally live like rootless cosmopolitans while singing paeans to the importance of community. If an activist keeps his beliefs largely private, he must contend with the psychological strain of leading a double life. If he goes public, he will find that, unlike the Mafia, the forces of tolerance and diversity will go after your family, and they, out of fear, might blame you for it.
Yet to keep one’s head down and acquiesce to being a Last Man and a consumer is to simply allow the decline to continue. Indeed, it makes things worse because it’s your taxes, your subverted patriotism, your respect for institutions, and your general good will, and sense of fair play turned against you. Even your tithes and church donations may be in the service of evil. If you lead a “good life” and do what you are supposed to do, ultimately, all you have done is serve your most vicious enemies.
*Contra *Southern’s book title, it’s we who publicly dissent against egalitarian dogma, who are somehow in but not of society, who are the “barbarians,” in the classical sense. We are outside this society, exiled from the *polis*, and denied its social (and occasional governmental) protections and privileges. Sad as it is to say, by contemporary standards, the crazed primitives on many college campuses are the ones considered “civilized,” while the urbane Jared Taylor is regarded as a savage by the Great and the Good.
But people take up this life anyway, especially an increasing number of young people. To fight for our own people and culture, something taken for granted at perhaps every other time in history, is the one thing that is not allowed.
Whether one revels in the decadence, as the Cultural Marxists do, or revolt against it, the void in our souls can’t help but lead to a relentless alienation driving us every day of our lives.
For that reason, as the work of Southern and more vanguardist activists in both Europe and North America has shown, what is taking place is beyond politics. And debating tactics, propriety, or even morality is somewhat beside the point.
An entire generation has been stripped of their culture, identity, and future.
Involvement in the struggle is a compulsion for an increasing number of people, not because there is something to be gained or even because success is likely, but because no one with any self-respect can be mollified by the ruins our occupiers tell us is meant as our inheritance. People throw themselves into it out of a primordial Need, not out of political calculation.
Ultimately, Europe and North America will rise or fall together, as they are part of one great civilization and share the same fate. Regardless of what President Donald Trump does or does not do, if he fights or cucks, identity is at the center of the new North American and European Right. A generation is searching for meaning, and they will find it in the fight for our survival. And the reason more people are joining the fight is that those people standing on the sidelines, to a large extent, are already dead.