The Alt-Right Two-Step: Castalia/VD Goes After Baen

I like mental models – ways of simplifying complex real world events to the point where they are useful enough without becoming grossly misleading. In current politics, we are seeing a resurgence of an extreme nativist right that rejects the free-market/libertarian-lite elements of recent conservatism. That phenomenon is complex, multifaceted and playing out on different stages in different ways.

So I must give some brief and limited praise to Vox Day – a minor player in the reassertion of crypto-fascism but one who acts like a petri-dish culture of the essence of it. His plays tend to either echo or pre-empt what we see playing out by more dangerous and powerful forces elsewhere.

I was working on a post describing one element of mental model of how the alt-right operates when Vox Day posts an elegant example of exactly what I wanted to talk about: https://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/mailvox-sjw-convergence-at-baen.html Warning: nonsense follows:

Despite what many SJWs think, Baen is not actually on our side, rather, Baen is the No Man’s Land between the SJW and the Right. I suspect we’ll know Baen has fully converged when it abandons its garish trademark covers in favor of the washed-out faux literary style favored by Tor. Not that there is anything right about one or wrong about the other, but SJWs always have the need to let everyone know they have taken control, and that would be the most public way of making it clear to all and sundry.

Anyhow, should Baen eventually go the way of its big brother, Castalia will be here to assist any of its authors who prefer to align with the Alt and Traditional Rights rather than with the cultural Marxists.

I’d love to say I saw that coming but sadly I never said anything overtly pointing that out. However, it is so obvious that Castalia would eventually have to start bad-mouthing Baen from both a commercial and political point-of-view that it almost hides the wider process.

The process is this:

  1. Attack the left, vehemently, vocally but not necessarily EFFECTIVELY. They do not need to win a vote (although they are happy if they do) or stage an effective boycott, they just need to ESTABLISH CREDENTIALS. The point is to show that they are the ‘true’ right by being loudly (even absurdly or self-damagingly) anti-left. An actual coherent right-leaning ideology isn’t needed.
  2. Attack the right from the right. Having established their credentials in step 1, the alt-right then attacks the right on whatever point they are weakest rhetorically. This can even include co-opting left-leaning critiques but may be more focused on nativism.

This process can be repeated recursively at multiple levels. Take a basic Trump example:

  1. Attack President Obama by full-on birtherism. In the last US presidential election cycle, Trump adopted birtherism – the confused claim that Obama was somehow not a natural-born-citizen. For Republicans, this had become a self-damaging position to take that tended to lose them appeal rather than gain it. To a wider audience, it made Trump seem *less* relevant. However, the pay-off was that the self-damage to his wider public credibility enforced his rightwing credentials.
  2. Attack Bush, the GOP establishment and lingering neo-conservatism during this election cycle by using the Iraq War as an example of incompetence. True, the libertarian wing of the GOP had been doing this for longer but Trump could make it stick without sounding like he was siding with the left.

In terms of Vox Day you can see lots of micro-examples:

  •  1. Publish SJWs Always Lie to establish credentials. 2. Follow-up with a book attacking conservatives.
  • 1. Validate and boost Sad Puppy leaders such as Sarah Hoyt in a supposedly anti-SJW attack on the Hugo awards 2. Follow-up with personal attacks on Hoyt’s Portuguese background.
  • 1. Publically announce a list of SJW’s to help ’employers’ identify dangerous leftist. 2. Populate said list with ex-Brietbart journalists, centrist Jewish people etc.
  • 1. Push a quixotic boycott of supposedly ‘SJW converged’ Tor Books. 2. See above for the start of bad-mouthing Baen books.

This is not to say that the alt-right has a wider objective of actually attacking the left and social progress. Obviously, they do. However, their shorter-term goals are competing against the more established forms of rightwing ideology.

With Castalia, Baen and Tor, the commercial strategy and the political strategy work in exactly the same way. Castalia positions itself very loudly as the anti-Tor. Aside from publicity and branding (which are important), this is not a deep commercial attack – Castalia isn’t actually going to win over many readers from Tor books nor is the apparently on-going boycott of Tor Books going to hurt Tor. However, it is publicity of a kind, branding and *credentials*. In terms of winning readers, Baen is a bigger competitor.

If Sad Puppies had remained a stronger coalition then we would probably now be seeing more aggressive attacks by Rabid Puppies on them as a group. As it is, the more low-key approach for Sad Puppies 4 has probably saved them a lot of Vox-directed vitriol.

 

 

 

 

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25 comments

  1. Stevie

    That’s an interesting analysis; what with the plague, and then plague+Brexit, I haven’t been able to face depressing myself still further by watching the Rabids and the Sads, but this does make sense. And having said that I must return to hibernation prior to packing for a long holiday; I really do need it ☺️

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  2. Mark

    Down in the comments VD seems to be amending his approach a bit to “I’m not attacking Baen, I’m just warning them” but his attack on some of their (unnamed) authors is pretty clear. It’s pretty similar to attacking e.g. Brietbart writers he doesn’t like for perceived ideological impurity.
    I wonder if one of the MGC will bite. It’s well-designed to tempt them into a response.

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    • camestrosfelapton

      I doubt MGC will now that Peter Grant is a Castalia writer. Dave F had praised Castalia’s conditions but he has worked with Flint, so he might – perhaps diplomatically. Hoyt may via her own blog.
      Tactically the best choice would be to call it out as a cheap commercial attack but failing that they would be better ignoring it than getting embroiled ina VD head game.

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  3. Andrew M

    Did you notice the line about ‘Correia-style gun porn’ in his launch of the New New Heinlein? I thought it was an interesting indication of the growing distance between the camps.

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  4. Bonnie McDaniel

    This is also known as “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” and “making yourself completely irrelevant.”

    Either way, Mr Beale is officially a farce.

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  5. thephantom182

    Camestros, you seem to put a lot of work into detesting Mr. Beale. I can’t for the life of me imagine why. Would it not be better to simply ignore everything he does? He’s a bloviating coat-tail rider, he latched on to a grass-roots movement and is riding it for personal gain.

    The guy believes in ‘national IQ’. One really doesn’t need to do much more than mention that.

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  6. KR

    To me it seems like the unholy alliance of brand marketing and nihilism. I don’t think it’s an accident that Cameron was in PR and Milo’s twitter handle is Nero. When I saw the title of VD’s book “SJW’s always lie” it struck me as being so cynically calculated to entrench a phrase in that alt-right discourse that could be directly attributable to him and thus raise his personal brand and notoriety (I prefer thinking of it as notoriety than credibility). Ann Coulter writes books with the same strategy. They are privileged, narcissistic gadflies; Cameron, Boris and Farage all resigned rather than have to deal with the fallout of their self-serving gameplaying. It’s much easier to destroy than to build and they are giving fuel to forces it’s going to be hard for the rest of us to contain and repair. It’s been very illustrative to watch what’s happened to North Carolina in a very short time, following the what’s-the-matter-with-Kansas model.

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      • thephantom182

        This is hilarious, coming from somebody who asserts the whole Brexit thing is nothing but racism.

        I will agree that Beale appears to be a narcissist, only out for himself. But that does not mean -everything- he says is untrue. SJWs do always lie. Every single time. It’s like a disease with them.

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      • camestrosfelapton

        “This is hilarious, coming from somebody who asserts the whole Brexit thing is nothing but racism. ”

        I can’t work out if you are trying to tell me that you have an issue with reading comprehension or an issue with being truthful.

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      • thephantom182

        Are you really going to pretend you didn’t say the whole Brexit thing was about racism, and the ‘Leave’ side was Naziesque racist demagoguery?

        Of course you are, silly me. Never mind.

        Incidentally, off topic on the subject of fMRI studies and Conservative Brain Structures, interesting news: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/06/27/1602413113.full

        ” In theory, we should find 5% false positives (for a significance threshold of 5%), but instead we found that the most common software packages for fMRI analysis (SPM, FSL, AFNI) can result in false-positive rates of up to 70%. These results question the validity of some 40,000 fMRI studies and may have a large impact on the interpretation of neuroimaging results.”

        Another promising method of controlling those pesky Conservatives bites the dust. I feeeeeel your pain.

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      • camestrosfelapton

        Well as what I actually said can be read right here on this very blog, then no pretense is needed – except on your part.
        The fMRI stuff? You appear to be mistaking me for somebody else who made claims around this in the comments in another post (I forget who and which post it was).
        fMRI us a new and interesting science but many people have been pointing out that a lot of research utilising the technology is either poor or overblown.

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      • PhoenicianRomans

        It’s also worth noting that Beale totally exposes his ass by claiming that this invalidates scientific evidence,.

        Let’s see – a tool is created which measures brain activity. Scientists use it. And now scientists come along and show that it isn’t as accurate as once thought, and that improvements will be required for better quality science. Of course, the very definition of science involves the systematic and iterative refinement and even invalidation of observations and theories about the world.

        http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/howscienceworks_02

        Beale, idiot that he is, has just used a textbook example of the scientific method in action as an attempt to deflect people ridiculing him for being the racist, creationist fool that he is.

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  7. iamzenu

    This will be interesting. The posters at MHI used to love Vox. He was the man that was going to destroy the SJWs. Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies. They are all just goofy puppies.

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  8. Cora

    I find it hilarious that the anonymous person who supposedly wrote to Vox has no idea who Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt are, considering the combined puppy campaigns heaved them into the Hugo ballot in the short form editor categories last year and Vox put Bryan Thomas Schmidt on his initial Rabid Puppies slate this year.

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  9. Heh

    It’s amusing that Vox claims to admire Tolkien, the man who wrote this to a German publisher:

    “I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.”

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