This summer, I spent an hour on the phone with Richard Spencer. It was an exchange that left me feeling physically sickened. Toward the end of the interview, he said one thing that I still think about often. He referred to the all-encompassing sense of white power so many liberals now also attribute to whiteness as a profound opportunity. “This is the photographic negative of a white supremacist,” he told me gleefully. “This is why I’m actually very confident, because maybe those leftists will be the easiest ones to flip.”
However far-fetched that may sound, what identitarians like Mr. Spencer have grasped, and what ostensibly anti-racist thinkers like Mr. Coates have lost sight of, is the fact that so long as we fetishize race, we ensure that we will never be rid of the hierarchies it imposes. We will all be doomed to stalk our separate paths.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, in A Time of Gifts, wrote about the thin, porous line between rival fanaticisms after meeting some newly-converted fascists who, just the previous year, had been committed Communists. In The True Believer, Eric Hoffer analyzed at length the psychology of fanaticism, in which the need to believe and belong far outweighed the ideological particulars of this or that doctrine. In this regard, Spencer is far more sophisticated than huckster preachers like Coates and his idiot legions of white progressive devotees, who would be better off, and do far less political damage, by simply going back to church to deal with those unacknowledged salvational needs. Wearing sackcloth and practicing flagellation could easily take the place of identity politics for white people consumed by a sense of sinfulness, and be more easily ignored by the rest of us.