Comments as Ochlocracy

This morning provided yet another example of the depth and beauty of life in the company of Nietzsche. Even though I have a small-fortune in books – grad school was just another way to feed my voracious appetite for reading, you see – none of them provide a gratification as instant and profound as I often find in Nietzsche. This morning I picked up the Stanford edition of Unpublished Writings from the Period of Unfashionable Observations (is it just me or does “unfashionable” fail to connote the magnitude of Nietzsche’s “untimeliness”? – score one for Cambridge!) with the intent to find a few notes on Socrates and Hellenic decadence. Just now I picked up the book and turned to a random page: 36. The notes on this page coincidentally begin a section devoted to defining what is a philosopher. His subtitle for the section gives away his intent: “Observations on the struggle between art and knowledge;” in other words, what do beauty and logic have to say about what is wise or true?

But what made me give pause was the second entry of the section:

19[99] “Ochlocracy of scholars instead of a republic of scholars.”

I had never seen or heard the word ochlocracy until the instant I read that line. I turned instinctively to the wonderful endnotes that accompany the Stanford editions (much deeper than the Cambridge footnotes – which I still find more useful if less valuable) to find the simple definition: mob rule. “Mob rule” in Greek political language! How can it be that I’ve not before encountered this marvelous word? How many times might I have used such a word both in print and conversation?

In my haste to contextualize the word (aside from, and much more prosaically than, Nietzsche’s lectures on the distance between Classical and modern education) I immediately thought of Counter-Currents. To put it mildly, I have a serious problem with allowing comments to be posted after articles. In the spirit of Nietzsche’s notebook entry, the scholars and activists published by Counter-Currents are the “republic of scholars” (even if that is being generous), while the commenters represent ochlocracy. I mean this, as did Nietzsche: not just as a critique of majoritarian politics but of the rule of plebian instincts and rabble mentality.

For there is nothing like working on my craft, diligently writing and editing for flare and clarity, and then being shot down by someone without even the courage to attack me and my craft using their own name. There are talented writers and thinkers – men who warrant our respect – who will not even look at the comments under their Counter-Currents articles. This is a shame, because Counter-Currents is devoted to presenting the depth and vitality of North American New Right thought. Certainly Collin Cleary, Jack Donovan, and James O’Meara (just to name three of my favorites) demonstrate these characteristics. Someone from near or afar would read their work and understand that, while it might be uncharted territory, the work is intellectual, sound, and engaging; so far so good.

But then the comments begin, and the months of labor, ferocity, and profound critique of modernity are disregarded by an unruly mob. And, just like that, all the impressive attributes of Counter-Currents and the North American New Right are reduced to ashes. Critique and suggestion by peers is something for which we are all working – to make a true university of the North American New Right for scholars and students. When intelligent and committed people critique my work, or add to it through better examples, then my work gets better and more credible – and a republic of philosophers is born. Perhaps, then, Counter-Currents should put aside the desire to make the site “inclusive” (ah, yes, the soothing rhythms of economic rationality) and truly moderate the comments. While some commenters might feel discriminated against (God forbid) this might actually force some of them to write essays and papers themselves. What is certain, though, is that it will make the North American New Right appear more valid, thoughtful, and creative.

11 thoughts on “Comments as Ochlocracy

  1. Actually, Counter-Currents comments are moderated rather heavy-handedly, a policy that has paid off after more than 2-and-a-half years, since our comments strike me as much superior to the comments on other comparable sites.

    We allow comments because they provide opportunities to discuss and criticize works, which aids the process of education. I encourage all authors to respond to comments, as they are a opportunity to further educate their readers and, perhaps, themselves.

    1. I view the articles themselves as extended comments, and the comments as corrigenda to the excesses and blind-spots of the authors. We each need to remember that we don’t know everything and enjoy no absolute value over others.

      1. M was that your attempt to summarize the entirety of modern plebeianism? So, for you, expertise is of no importance? Anyone with a mouth may speak on equal terms with any other lingual creature? I suppose this is why I am no racialist, because no one gets a free pass from me. If you aren’t qualified to speak, keep your mouth shut. If you want to speak, make yourself worthy of attention.

      2. “So, for you, expertise is of no importance?”

        Rather that the Counter-Currents authors seldom rise to the level I would call ‘expertise’. They are largely opinion pieces with little grounding in science. The only exception seems to be Jack Donovan’s reviews of whatever he happens to be reading. What you call “deep critical thinking and wisdom” more often seems to me regurgitation of others’ deep critical thinking and wisdom. As Zarathustra Durden said, sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.

        If you ask me, the need to associate one’s own name with those of famous men — or lack of suspicion that one even does so — might be called “plebeian” with equal, or just as little, justification.

        I do agree that commentary is mostly a waste of time for authors and readers, and a somewhat insidious hobby for those commenting. Lately I have been limiting mine to less than a dozen per week. By the way, many of my comments have been lining the moderators’ trash bin, in particular those aimed at the excesses of James O’Meara, whom I view as an intellectual impostor of the first order. Am surprised you haven’t noticed.

        If your disgust in this matter is so great, do what Donovan has done and turn off comments here. I’m sure Greg would even oblige you by disallowing comments on your articles.

      3. I’m not placing James O’Meara on the level of Sophocles, but he takes his work seriously and writes with craft and style. Is that enough to be wise, expert, or otherwise? No, and you are right to hold “us” to a higher standard.

        But, while it would appear that I am just a buffoon hiding behind a Nietzsche mask, what I have done, in fact, is model every aspect of my life on lessons gained from FN, Roman militarism, and Homeric essentialism. This is why I name drop – someone is much better off being led to greatness than taking my word for it.

        Your critique of the NANR is legitimate, though, and my hyperbolic praise of it is highly contextual. That being said, you know more about the functioning of race than anyone with whom I’ve spoken. Why not join in the fun?

        As for comments on this meager site, I don’t write much here worthy of comment but those I do receive tend to be from the students to whom I have issued challenges. As for C-C, again, it’s not so much that site but all sites. It is modernity.

      4. N writes somewhere of the man who waits so long to run, that when he stands, finds he can hardly even walk.

        Also, what I have to say – in full – would never make it past the censor. The biggest part of WN, as WNs themselves say, is giving people hope. My #1 pastime is killing it.

        Your best angle is indeed how your personal life and reading relate. You can dispense with the mask. Mark Dyal is more important than Friedrich Nietzsche.

      5. Well said! Hope is for the black diaspora. We need the ice cold determination to do what is necessary. I do tend to be less pessimistic than you, however, if only because nihilism is not permitted in my house.

        You should write just to help alienate the bourgeois element of the NR. Jack and I need you on our team. Sapienza, Violenza, e la Bellezza!

    2. The comments tend to be of a wonderful quality. The best of our commenters are certainly part of the republic about which FN wrote. My problem with comments is a general one: the promotion of OPINION over deep critical thought or wisdom. It is a function of rabble-in-judgement-of-life. Honestly, C-C is not only here to give voice to a current of thought/frustration, but also to a nearly extinguished respect for quality in our people. Internet comments tend to breed that extinction.

      If we sincerely want to make C-C the University of the New Right, then the instructors must be respected enough to instruct. The current structure is like having a professor being heckled by some kid playing on his phone in the back row of a classroom, who then takes over instruction of said class based on what he saw on TV or his cereal box.

      I guess I just cannot buy into the idea that wisdom is an easy game or that it can be gained by computer-based banter. Instead the comments-model breeds delusions of grandeur and cowardice.

      1. I tend to agree with Mark. The culture of modern America is such that “everyone is entitled to their opinion,” and that the opinion of a boob who just heard about something for the first time two minutes ago is as valid as that of a person who has been deeply engaged with the issue for years. As Mark said, the problem is our culture, not CC specifically. I understand that Greg is trying to make CC as inclusive as possible.

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