Submitted by Epaminondas
On May 31, 2019, the Western Intellectual Elite got an introduction to the ideology underpinning the new Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party via a translation of a speech from the beginning of 2013 (Greer). In it contained insight into the debate being had by the Party at large on the future of the Party, the Nation, and the People of one of the oldest contiguous nation-states. The opening assertion, “First of all: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is socialism [sic],” already contains language that presupposes many aspects of the Communist Party that one would not imagine they wish to reveal (Greer). By virtue of otherwise being unnecessary to say, the opening line reveals that there is real Party discord on what the true implementation of ‘socialism’ should look like. It also reveals that there are real tensions within how Chinese socialism has been defined between the socialism of Zedong and the socialism of Deng. More importantly, it reveals that there has been a break in the contiguity of China’s self-image. Finally, it reveals that these breaks in contiguity are so serious to the integrity of the modern state, that to leave them unaddressed could pose an existential threat to the integrity of the government. If there is anything the West should learn from how the East is behaving, it is that no matter how censorious a government, no matter how little civic engagement is permitted, the story a country tells of itself is of paramount importance in maintaining a well-ordered government. We in the West believe that civic engagement aids and abets this process. China believes it can be done by state power alone.
A time will come when it is patently obvious that self-narrative is largely formulated at the governmental level in the West as well. Watch any movie with a not-particularly-subtle political undertone (the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). The movie will be all anyone talks about for a good month or two before and after. A month or two after that, a commentator on TV will reference the movie in relation to some other event or work. You will now accept whatever premise they recall for the sake of understanding their argument. Now, post-incubation, a not insignificant number who couldn’t keep their wits about them (a litotes for ‘everyone alive’) has had their entire worldview poisoned, victims of their short attention span and uncritical thinking. Yet these people, the people who make the movies, pay the commentators, and write their scripts, are all real people who occupy physical space, and if they succeed long enough to draft the next group of filmmakers, commentators, news executives, they can re-write what everyone ‘naturally’ accepts as true for generations to come. Politicians regularly reference and interact with these people to make their rhetoric more relatable. News organizations get most of their stories from politicians and government officials anyway. In a way, whenever you see something on the news, even if a private company publishes the material it is in fact the State speaking. Therefore, what people convince themselves every day is a ‘free’ system as opposed to an ‘oppressive’ one, is in fact itself the very government they claim to be free from.
Enter the Bronze Age Mindset, a mode of thinking completely on the outs, a tradition not often sought by the pac-men of modern cultural caviar who assert that anything before 1965 may as well be cast into the gutter, never to be re-opened by the plebs. It’s unquestionably masculine. It isn’t particularly ideological. It doesn’t even obey conventions of grammar or style, and it doesn’t respect anything that came before it and likely won’t respect anything coming after. The pseudonym ‘Bronze Age Pervert’ in his opening line, where ancient authors typically place their most significant phrases, where Jinping reveals by assertion a tension in reality and narrative, asks the obvious question to the Disillusioned Young Men of the 21st century, the pithy question “What if you’ve been misled about life?” (BAP 10).
What follows are a series of 77 discourses, loosely organized into 4 parts, in which American culture is dissected and contorted in ways that the reader couldn’t possibly have predicted beforehand would have been a major concern. These range from what seem like foundational elements of American history, to modern STEM, and even to more idiosyncratic cultural contexts such as the differences between sects of Christianity and modern architecture. All of these are inverted with the foil of Antiquity, which BAP simultaneously takes as the highest standard of masculine prowess, yet also concedes could be a complete fabrication (142, 100). Some of the assertions BAP makes are so absurd that the reader should feel disbelief if they’ve been paying attention. Discourse 15, entitled ‘Whoremoans: Energy and higher life the same,’ concerning the flaws built into modern medicine and biology, contains the ironic aside “I don’t do irony! Learn that I don’t understand the gay idea of irony” (27, 28). Michael Anton, the author of the influential “Flight 93 Election” essay, found particularly humorous in his review the assertion that Southeast Asia and South America are literally one in the same, with the country of Honduras being a fraud (Anton, BAP 102, 103,). The ideas contained within Bronze Age Mindset are boundary-pushing, but they do not quite take themselves seriously enough to advance a distinctive philosophy. They are, as the title describes, more a ‘mindset’ than a theory.
The result is that the body of work exists in apparent tension. It’s unclear what the author would be willing to stand by if they wrote under their own name, and if taken strictly literally, the average reader, in what I can assure is a perfectly brilliant mind of minds, either isn’t capable of remembering too much of what came before or else came away slightly puzzled. Historically, very few people even learned to read, and no matter how modern education attempts to avail this problem of critical thinking, the average person will never be able to attain a serious understanding of most subjects and probably can’t make an informed judgement about what they’re directly looking at. Bronze Age Pervert, knowing this, places most of his serious advice on modern life and how one ought plan for the future in the 4th and final part, which, while building on the concepts fleshed out earlier such as ‘owned space,’ the modern ‘longhouse,’ bugmen, and ‘yeast-life,’ notably lacks internal tension and loses the ironic lapses in grammar.
Thankfully for the enlightened few, BAP’s tension is very deliberate and plays a very important role in how we are to take the rest of the work. It’s also a style of writing that is not without precedent either. The poet Pindar uses this sort of deliberate-but-feigned revisionism to his own advantage in 7th century BC Greece to flatter the gods. In the first of Pindar’s Olympian Odes, Pindar makes a deliberate rejection on the myth of Tantalus and Pelops, the story of a father who fed his son to the immortal gods in a banquet, only for him to be revived, his already-eaten shoulder replaced with one of ivory, and his father brutally punished in the depths of Tartarus (Race 51 -53). Pelops goes on to become one of the foundational heroes of Greece, giving his name to a portion commonly referred to as the ‘Peloponnesus’ today. Pindar retells the myth in verse only to reject it, stating as his justification:
“But for my part, I cannot call any of the blessed gods a glutton – I stand back: impoverishment is often the lot of slanderers” (53).
Having gone to the length of already stating the fraudulent story, and therefore completing the ‘slander,’ Pindar goes back on himself and thinks for his own well-being if he goes against the will of the gods. We can accept this from Pindar because Pindar is not a philosopher: Pindar, like many of the poets, may have formed the baseline education for the Greek nobility, but due to his mode of conveyance could play with the truth as he liked while singing the praises of his subject athletai. Obviously, Pindar believes one version of the story, but in order to convey the truth and convey an aphorism of caution to his readers, and pay the honor necessary to the gods, all without breaking the fourth wall, we get an interesting break in the praise of Hieron of Syracuse to discuss the nature of fable and reputation.
It is precisely within this tradition that one should place Bronze Age Pervert and his work. Bronze Age Pervert explains in the brief prologue that his “is not a work of philosophy. It is exhortation” (1). And in this case it is an exhortation to a disgruntled class of young, native-born American men who are tired of their dreary university culture, who can clearly see the fraud in much of what they are expected to believe, and who himself is writing in a deeply tenuous environment where almost nothing real about modern life can be acknowledged without facing serious social ostracism, and increasingly, loss of livelihood. Like our venerable and uncontroversial Pindar, Bronze Age Pervert sneaks necessary first principles into a hostile modernity, carefully cloaked in narrative tension and a style not avoiding the absurd, that were commonplace knowledge as late as the First World War.
Perhaps our best example of a BAP-ian revisionism occurs in the 61st discourse of his work, in which he departs most distinctly from the self-narrative of modern America and Europe. The reader cannot understand what is going on in Bronze Age Mindset if they do not understand that people engaging with Western history today are engaging in self-flagellation. Everything that makes Europe praiseworthy offends the modern sensibility. Bronze Age Pervert takes this opportunity to unequivocally and unquestionably glorify Europe’s history precisely due to her martial prowess. Men, and bear in mind that it is particularly men, who are otherwise vilified in modern culture are transformed into heroes “equal in daring, intelligence, magnitude of spirit, resourcefulness and achievement any of the great men of the Greeks and Romans” (151). It’s these characteristics Bronze Age Pervert cares about. Most people do not have the courage to praise the Founding Fathers or European explorers for their achievements. They find it sufficiently ‘conservative’ to defend the Constitution. Where modernity takes heed of ingrate outrage, BAP asserts “the Constitution, the ideology, the doctrine of rights, is all so much nonsense and has nothing to do with [the taming of the American continent]” or otherwise building the groundwork for the modern Liberal International Order (155).
Just as we saw Xi Jinping try very desperately to cloak the break in Chinese Socialism’s contiguity, BAP here acknowledges that Europe is taught to hate herself by praising the very things Europe condemns. Power is what BAP values, just as power is what Achilles valued, and what, in his footsteps, Alexander, Pompey, Caesar, Augustus, and the rest of the European heroes who came afterwards valued. Perhaps the single greatest transgression Bronze Age Pervert commits is to find the very presence of ideology offensive, in place of the pursuit of power, within the hearts and minds of young men.
The very same material Bronze Age Pervert discourses upon at is totally hidden except from those who have spent unregulated time online and read the Classics without asking their professors approval. What difference is modernity from Chinese censorship if no one says what is obvious? What difference does it make how large the government is if corporations can just as easily confiscate your property? As the previous generation ungracefully and thoughtlessly dies off, having left turned many stones better left settled, a Disillusioned Young Man awakens who will not respect a 60-year-old ‘tradition’ that clearly has nothing but disdain for himself. If there is any fitting description of what the true ideology will be for the American Right, who are increasingly emerging not from the Republican Party, but from the American Underground, it will be a Bronze Age Mindset with American characteristics.
Anton, Michael, “Are the Kids Al(t) Right?” Claremont Review of Books, 8/14/2019, 9/21/2019
Bronze Age Pervert, Bronze Age Mindset, 8/20/2019, 9/21/2019
Greer, Tanner, “Xi Jinping in Translation: China’s Guiding Ideology,” Palladium Magazine, 5/31/2019, 9/21/2019
Race, William, “Pindar: Olympian Odes, Pythian Odes,” Loeb Classical Library, 50-53, 1997, 9/21/2019