The most important political book of the past year just might be a grammatically challenged manifesto in favor of nude sunbathing written under the pen name Bronze Age Pervert.
Where Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” inspired generations of libertarians to enter politics, and Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” did the same for idealistic liberals, a cohort of young, right-wing men are today gravitating toward “Bronze Age Mindset.” The self-published book urges them to join the armed forces in preparation for the onset of military rule.
Since its publication in June 2018, the book has gained a following online, and its author, known to his fans as BAP for short, has come to the attention of notable figures on the Trumpist right. Earlier this month, the book was the subject of a 5,000-word review by Michael Anton, a conservative intellectual who served as a spokesman for Donald Trump’s National Security Council. Anton concludes by warning, “In the spiritual war for the hearts and minds of the disaffected youth on the right, conservatism is losing. BAP-ism is winning.”
Anton is just one of the Trump world figures who has taken notice. “It’s still a cult book,” said another former Trump White House official. “If you’re a young person, intelligent, adjacent in some way to the right, it’s very likely you would have heard of it.”
Right-wing agitator Mike Cernovich said he knows of young staffers in the White House who are fans of Bronze Age Pervert’s Twitter account — where the author posts photos of buff, shirtless men and promotes far-right positions on the culture war — though he does not know if they have read the book.
The 200-page book mixes Nietzschean philosophy with critiques of contemporary Western society, denigrating homosexuality, Judiasm, Islam, feminism and much else along the way. “Inside every noble Greek was an unquenchable lust for power,” is one fairly typical statement. “Modern world not bad just because modern,” is another, displaying the author’s habit of lapsing into broken English by dropping articles. The book claims that the leaders of the European Union have “tiny moleman eyes.” Many of its passages are profane and unprintable.
The book’s ascendance in online, far-right circles is indicative of the latest phase of the culture war that has fueled Trump’s presidency.
Most of the well-known figures associated with the alt-right or “alt-lite” — Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, Richard Spencer — have been successfully demoralized, deplatformed or otherwise banished from the public square. But this has not eliminated the underlying source of their relevance: disaffected young men, mostly white, with internet access.
In large part, what’s left in the online spaces they inhabit are pseudonymous figures like Bronze Age Pervert, whose output tends to be more intellectualized, even esoteric.
While the loose alt-right network that became infamous in 2016 was filled with attention-seeking provocateurs who cheered on Trump’s rise, the new voices in this space are alienated and ambivalent about Trump. And far from being inspired by his signature call to “Make America Great Again,” their view of contemporary American society is decidedly dystopian.
Bronze Age Pervert is active on Twitter in a network of similar, pseudonymous accounts with names like Just Loki and 17thCenturyShytePost that revel in mythic, aristocratic pasts while trafficking in racism and anti-Semitism.
The memes — catchy ideas and images that are widely shared online — produced in such far-right internet circles, such as Pepe the Frog, regularly intrude on mainstream political discourse, sometimes even getting adopted by Trump himself. And the current fixations of these figures offer a glimpse of the concepts gaining traction there.
Figures in this space frequently refer to their belief that elite media is preparing Americans for a future in which their quality of life is greatly diminished and they are reduced to eating insects for protein.
“What is up with all these ‘we need to learn to eat cockroaches and maybe each other haha’ articles,” tweeted Just Loki on Wednesday, linking to a Newsweek article referencing cannibalism. “Perfect beer food—wash down your meal worms with a nice IPA!” tweeted 17thCenturyShytePost sarcastically in response to another article about eating insects earlier this month.
And because this corner of the internet fixates on population genetics and has a high affinity for Slavic and northern European cultures, there is a fascination with the Udmurt people, a small ethnic group that lives mostly in Russia, and the fact that a high proportion of its members have red hair.
The accounts also oppose mass migration, echoing the themes of the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory invoked by the gunman who perpetrated the Christchurch, New Zealand, massacre, and apparently again by the El Paso shooter. The idea, articulated in a 2011 book by the French writer Renaud Camus, claims that European elites are secretly conspiring to replace their countries’ white majorities with immigrants from Africa and the Middle East.
In his book, Bronze Age Pervert describes Western societies as ruled by “bug men” and “lords of lies,” urging readers to pursue a life of “sun and steel” — that is, tanning and weightlifting.
Across 77 chapters of cryptic musing, the book describes social justice as “disgusting parasitism,” opines that women who succeed in traditionally male domains are “spiritual lesbians,” and complains that the U.S. intelligence services employ too many Mormons.
Anton, in his review, earnestly reckons with the book’s critique of Charles Darwin and notes that at one point it cracked the top 150 bestsellers on Amazon. Anton writes that the book was given to him by Curtis Yarvin, an internet philosopher who writes under the name Mencius Moldbug, favors a return to monarchy and reportedly communicated with Steve Bannon through an intermediary while Bannon was in the White House.
After encountering the book’s intentional spelling and grammar mistakes, Anton gave up on it until former White House speechwriter Darren Beattie urged him to read it in its entirety. Beattie was fired from Trump’s White House last year after it was revealed he spoke at a 2016 conference attended by Peter Brimelow, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a white nationalist. Beattie, who denounced the firing as guilt-by-association, now works as a speechwriter for Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a close ally of Trump’s in the House.
Much like the Trump phenomenon itself, it can be difficult to tell where to place “Bronze Age Mindset” along the spectrum between elaborate joke and deadly serious. Reached via direct message on Twitter, Bronze Age Pervert, declined to discuss his real-world identity. In a rambling note, said he was influenced by a book about homosexuality in the Nazi army and claimed, “I’m largely responsible for the Trump administration’s push for universal worldwide sodomy promotion,” an apparent reference to the administration’s campaign to abolish laws that criminalize homosexuality. (This appears to be a joke. A source close to the White House who is familiar with the initiative scoffed at the claim.)
Satirical nonsense aside, events such as recent mass shootings inspired by far right ideas, as well as acts of violence by believers in the fantastical QAnon conspiracy theory, underscore the gravity of this corner of internet culture.
“There’s a whole generation of younger guys who are reading this and buying into this, but there aren’t a lot of paths to channel that constructively,” said one organizer on the Trumpist right, who declined to be named in an article that contained the term “alt-right.”
“Insofar as people are worried about radicalization on the right towards violence, one of the things I worry about is this generation of younger guys are going to conclude there’s no space for them or their voice in the political process, and the only way they can express themselves is in these ugly, corrosive ways,” the organizer said. “In my opinion, the way to help these people is not to turn them 180 degrees, but to turn them 15 degrees.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine