Philosopher and white nationalist Dr. Greg Johnson was arrested in Norway yesterday, pending deportation from the country. According to Norwegian authorities, Johnson was arrested because he was considered “to be a threat, not because of what he could do but because of his hate speech and his previously expressed support for Anders Breivik.”
Not to be too blunt, but since I am not presently facing arrest and deportation myself, I’ll bite. Anders Breivik’s action was to attack his political opponents. His target was a far-left political youth-training camp, grooming future labor “community organizers.” His crime was that he did so on his own, rather than using “legitimate” government power, as was done in Waco, Ruby Ridge, and countless, less famous incidents.
And not all attacks on political opponents need be lethal. One might, for instance, simply deport them.
As it happens, however, Dr. Johnson did not support Breivik. The claim was a lie, based upon a poor reading of an essay written by Johnson in 2012, which although sympathizing with many of Breivik’s complaints and motivations, ultimately condemned the man’s terroristic actions:
From a New Right perspective, Breivik’s overall strategy is counter-productive. Our race will not be saved by armed struggle, but by the transformation of consciousness and culture. The Norwegian Labor Party did not come to power by force of arms, but because the New Left laid the intellectual and cultural groundwork. For the New Right to do the same, we need to maintain freedom of speech and association and learn to use the infrastructure of the whole political spectrum to spread our message outward and draw people and resources inward, in a more radical direction.
It is necessary for the New Right to draw a bold, clear line between our approach and Old Right approaches like Breivik’s, because his approach does not complement ours but fundamentally undermines it.
Some of the points of sympathy, however, are worth considering on their own merit, rather than upon some superficial black-and-white legal binary.
Is Europe undergoing an actual genocide? (What is a genocide, exactly?)
Is there ever a justification for extra-judicial violence? If so, what might that look like? Might genocide be included?
These are the sorts of questions philosophers are notorious for delving into, and also the sorts of questions journalists and government agencies are notorious for misinterpreting. Sometimes accidentally. Often intentionally.
But these more interesting points notwithstanding, Dr. Johnson has a much longer history of thoughtful opposition to terrorism than nearly anyone who might try to condemn him for it. (Who could really say with a straight face that European authorities have been effective in mitigating terrorism?):
Some of his essays condemning terrorism:
Against White Nationalist Terrorism
Understanding the El Paso Walmart Massacre
Understanding the Halle Synagogue & Kebab Shop Shootings
Author of The White Nationalist Manifesto Blames Trump for El Paso shooting
Understanding the New Zealand Mosque Massacre
Understanding the Sikh Temple Massacre
Understanding the Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre
Understanding the Charleston Church Massacre
Understanding the Poway Synagogue Shooting
Understanding the Quebec Mosque Massacre
On the Necessity of a New Right
I am an acquaintance of Greg Johnson, and happen to like him greatly as a person. In a movement often dominated by narcissists and disingenuous hacks, Johnson is both sincere and uniquely decent as a person, and serious in his work.
We are not on the same path. I am neither a white-nationalist nor a fascist (I believe that the state arises from the nation, not the other way around, and that national identity includes race, but is not exclusively racial). I find myself increasingly apolitical, edging almost into the realm of anti-political sentiments.
But one need not be politically aligned or even sympathetic to someone arrested for their political views to be alarmed by the phenomenon. Incidents of this kind are the sorts of things that happen in banana republics and Orwell novels, not in free societies. We keep hearing from the arbiters of political opinion that what we need is more “dialogue” and “tolerance.” If there is anyone within the American far-right with whom one would have the best chance of actually having that productive dialogue that everyone claims to want, it would be Dr. Johnson.
It certainly isn’t Richard Spencer.
But of course, they don’t want dialogue.
They want the appearance of wanting dialogue. And they want to arrest or get rid of those who disagree with their own politics.
But I suppose in hindsight, Greg Johnson may be lucky.
He could have just randomly decided to hang himself in a jail cell, after screaming for a few minutes.
…or gotten mugged.
…or dropped a barbell over his own neck.
…or suddenly took to huffing helium.
…or killed himself in Haiti.
…or died in an explosive car accident.
…or he could have just decided to drink a few gallons of mouthwash.
Call me crazy, but maybe Breivik’s real crime was not working for the right agency.
In such a climate, I’m not sure it’s really right to think of ourselves — the West — as a first-world civilization anymore. Perhaps I am being naive and idealistic, but I always imagined that the marker of a free society began with the general absence of this kind of corruption — arresting and deporting political nuisances or simply killing them off. Now, thanks to pundits suddenly deciding to talk about Russia, all of these liberal democrats have suddenly rediscovered concern for the welfare of the free Republic!
What free Republic?
You, liberal democrats, killed it.
And you continue to kill it when you make exceptions to legal protections for people you disagree with. People like Doctor Johnson.
I’m not alone in my judgment. People who have lived through real third-world political conditions are picking up the signs faster than the average American, but even the rest of us are beginning to see what’s happening (emphasis mine):
On Thursday, news broke that two businessmen said to have “peddled supposedly explosive information about corruption involving Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden” were arrested at Dulles airport on “campaign finance violations.” The two figures are alleged to be bagmen bearing “dirt” on Democrats, solicited by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will be asked to give depositions to impeachment investigators. They’re reportedly going to refuse. Their lawyer John Dowd also says they will “refuse to appear before House Committees investigating President Donald Trump.” Fruman and Parnas meanwhile claim they had real derogatory information about Biden and other politicians, but “the U.S. government had shown little interest in receiving it through official channels.”
For Americans not familiar with the language of the Third World, that’s two contrasting denials of political legitimacy.
I speak of a man arrested in Norway, but Johnson was also kicked out of a gym here in the United States just a year ago, and this done in a state with “non-discrimination” clauses. Apparently, discrimination based upon political opinion is not included.
…actually it is included, but that doesn’t matter in our Banana Republic.
The only question I can think of is this: if sympathy for some of Breivik’s motives (even while condemning his actions) is “support for terrorism,” what would be the morally appropriate label for supporting the present political establishment?