In Defence of Countersignalling

James Lawrence

According to Wikipediacountersignalling is “the behavior where agents with the highest level of a given property invest less into proving it than individuals with a medium level of the same property”. In other words, it means “showing off by refusing to show off” – and thereby differentiating yourself from those who have to show off, in order to distinguish themselves from those who have nothing to show off. A good example is seen in the behaviour of old-money aristocrats who downplay their wealth and disdain to spend money on frivolities, distinguishing themselves from parvenus who have to buy all sorts of status symbols in order to distinguish themselves from the working class.

Somehow, when I hear Alt-Right people denouncing the “countersignalling” in our movement, I can’t imagine that they are using this definition of the term. To do so would suggest that the “given property” in this case is Alt-Right bona fides – and that the fashy eagles among us, who have this property in abundance, are content to fly low and quietly, while the chickenhawks of metapolitical war show themselves up in garish Nazi plumage and the shrill cry of “cuck-cuck-cuck”. But let us be kinder to the position of the counter-countersignallers. Due to complexity of the signalling game, it is also possible for a pauper to mimic the countersignalling behaviour of the aristocrat, along with his open disdain for the spending habits of the parvenu – but he does it not because he looks down on the parvenu from above, but because he resents him from below, and wants to gain a spurious form of high status without actually possessing the basis for it.

Obviously, the internet opens up boundless opportunities for this kind of countersignalling, and obviously the Alt-Right is as rife with it as anywhere else in cyberspace. For example, fairly mediocre people who share most of our core beliefs will countersignal against the Alt-Right as a whole, presumably because this makes them look like deep original philosophers whose beliefs cannot be contained in any one political movement. And within the Alt-Right, I have encountered people who countersignal against widely used terms like “cuck” and “degenerate” – not because they have a good reason why they are no longer useful, but simply because they are becoming too widely used, like an obscure edgy band that commits the sin of getting popular.

It is important to differentiate this behaviour from a healthy difference of opinion, i.e. the sort of thing that used to be considered part and parcel of a big-tent movement like the Alt-Right. We should remember that, just because a large number of people in both our leadership and our rank-and-file have apparently decided that the Alt-Right needs to be more tightly organised, this does not mean that they are right; in my view, the Alt-Right should stick with the “hundred flowers” approach that made it great, and save the organisation for when some of these flowers strike roots outside cyberspace and become solid hierarchical trees. But let me get back to the main point: insofar as countersignalling implies pointless contrarianism for status points, we can all agree that it is irritating and narcissistic behaviour, and I have no interest in defending it.

My question is this: can countersignalling, regardless of personal status motives in some of those who do it, ever serve the common good of the Alt-Right? It is true to say that the frugal aristocrat is just as much a status-seeker as the parvenu; but it is also true to say that the aristocrat’s form of status-signalling allows him to keep his money, while that of the parvenu induces him to lose it. Moreover, if countersignalling could somehow be eradicated, one would expect that everyone with money would simply outspend each other for status to the point of general ruin. If countersignalling serves a social need, then, our primary concern should be to keep it within the Alt-Right, rather than allowing it to carry those who engage in it back into the mainstream.

I propose to look at two areas of the present Alt-Right that tend to draw heated accusations of countersignalling: 1) the “White Sharia” meme, and 2) The Jewish Question. My overarching assumption is that every belief, meme, popular opinion, etc. exists at two different levels: first at the factual level, at which it stands or falls on its objective accuracy, and second at the social level where it serves as a focal point for social signalling. Bearing this in mind, we can understand that a good position at the factual level might turn out to be not-so-good at the social level. Conversely, one might say that a factually inaccurate position can have a positive social effect, but that is a much more questionable argument and one that I do not intend to make here.


White Sharia itself is a good example of an attempt to produce a positive social effect from something with zero factual content. The promoters of the meme openly state that they don’t want to copy sharia law, just reintroduce traditional patriarchy in the West (apparently the meme is supposed to fry progressives’ brains and wake them up to the contradictions in their ideology, which just goes to show that some of our most “extreme” people still hold some touchingly naive views about the nature of our enemies). As for the sharia law actually practiced in places like Saudi Arabia, it’s light on women and harsh on most men (especially those who don’t have the resources to keep up with female hypergamy) – and this coddling of women, according to Martin van Creveld’s The Privileged Sex, has been the norm for most human societies throughout history. Moreover, the “submission of women to men” in traditional patriarchy refers to the relations between wife/husband and daughter/father, not to an imaginary order in which all men lord it over all women; and it is not men but women who police female sexuality in such societies, employing their talents for cruelty and ostracism to keep the price of sex high, as Schopenhauer understood when he spoke of the esprit de corps of women.

Nevertheless, the White Sharia meme has had a powerful impact because it speaks to the frustration of Western men at the degraded behaviour of Western women, who have been liberated from any need for husbands and fathers by a managerial state that feeds them on the requisitioned wealth of millions of men. But here also lies the problem. I am not saying that we should be too “high-minded” to give a voice to male social and sexual frustration, still less that we should follow sneering females and their bitch-boys in blaming all such frustration on the deficiencies of males themselves. But in light of the privileging of females in societies throughout history, the protective behaviour of most men towards women, and the weak traction of the “men’s movement” even now, we can safely say that men are culturally and biologically ill-equipped to fight any sustained political cause framed as a war against women.

This being the case, what happens with ideological focal points that try to focus male anger squarely on women – as is the case with White Sharia, which provides an outlet for all sorts of violent and vengeful fantasies – is that they tend to fill up with males of objectively low human quality, who use them as therapeutic outlets for their unproductive whingeing and ranting. (No, this does not mean that everyone promoting the meme right now is a resentful omega male – only that such people will gradually cluster around the meme, and in time make it toxic to everyone else.) We saw this with MGTOW, which was supposed to be about positive self-liberation, but degenerated into miserable bitching; and even feminism, which appeals to the less hierarchically-organised female sex with massive corporate and government support, has never quite managed to shake the perception that it is a sour-grapes club populated by fat and ugly women. Of course, the dregs of the sexual marketplace can always provide a large and vocal audience – but don’t expect them to hold onto their “principles” for long in the event that they finally get laid.

What men can do well, and very seriously, is to fight other men for possession of women – which is why the Alt-Right should, as I have suggested, focus instead on the male managerial elite that has made all the excesses of Western women possible by usurping the position of husbands and fathers, and channel male anger against this elite into the general project of cutting our people loose from the Cosmopolitan managerial state. That said, a bad idea in the field is worth any amount of good ones in the bush, and it is impossible to deny that White Sharia has arrived first. So, assuming the continued existence of White Sharia or similar ideas on the Alt-Right, one way to make use of the anti-managerialist view would be to consciously allow it to become a focus of countersignalling: by choosing to focus less on the evils of women, and focusing more on our struggle against the managerial elite that enables these evils, higher-quality men could differentiate themselves from the morass of sour grapes without backsliding into a pro-feminist point of view.

We see a similar situation when we turn to the Jewish Question (JQ). Here it is necessary to clarify that when I say “countersignalling”, I do not mean “disingenuously pretending that the JQ does not exist”; although there are very persuasive reasons for such denials, no-one who engages in them can call himself a truth-teller or make a full account of Western decline. What I have to say about signalling and countersignalling here applies strictly to those who are willing to openly discuss and criticise the Jewish Question.

At the factual level, the core material of the Jewish Question is well attested. The disproportionate wealth and power of the Jewish elite in the West, its ability to organise the wider Jewish community, and its overwhelming predilection for radical leftism, subversion and anti-nationalism everywhere outside the state of Israel – all of these are facts in the public domain, and the only “conspiracy” here is one of mainstream silence that merely attests to these facts all the more strongly. In addition to this, the capture of vast swathes of the mainstream Right in America and Britain by Jewish neoconservatism has given rise to a “wise prejudice” against Jewish entryism on the Alt-Right, to the point at which many outlets (but not this one) simply refuse involvement by Jewish individuals. Conversely, many common rejoinders to this attitude on the Alt-Right have always struck me as factually weak: for example, I do not believe for a moment that any more than a minority of Jews feel much deep attachment to European heritage in the era of Zionism, or are ready to make an alliance with European nationalists against Muslims.

When leftists still ‘did’ honesty.
While acknowledging all of this, though, I have often felt the need to point out a few important truths. First of all, the reasons for our present crisis cannot be reduced to the simple formula of “the Jews did it”, as progressivism in the West was already well-developed by the time Jewish leftists started to take advantage of it in force. (If anyone should contest this point, perhaps he could explain how the Jews in Europe got out of their ghettoes in the first place, or how much Jewish influence was needed for the likes of Toussaint Loverture to translate Enlightenment ideals directly into anti-whitism). Second, as Julius Evola often pointed out, the traits criticised as Jewish before 1945 are now strongly represented in many “Aryans”, and the Cosmopolitan loyalties of Western political leaders are entirely missed by those who focus on the game of spot-the-Jew. Third, while Americans live in the headquarters of Jewish power and are forced to confront it squarely, it is permissible for Europeans in the Alt-Right to put less emphasis on the Jewish Question, as we can just reject American culture and influence outright without bothering to separate it into its white, black and Jewish components.

Finally, as the Alt-Right has no weapon against the money and power of the Left other than the truth, we cannot afford to give a free pass to blatant factual inaccuracies caused by overreliance on spot-the-Jew. Take, for example, this article on “The Alliance Between China and Zionism”, which forces the square peg of Jewish subversion into the round hole of Chinese history with a series of incredible claims. The massive peasant rebellion that brought down the Ming Dynasty in the 1640s is reduced to a “revolt against Jewish influence” on the grounds that it destroyed the synagogue of Kaifeng (in fact Kaifeng, famous for its Jewish community, was only one of the cities fought over in the rebellion, and its synagogue was destroyed with the rest of the city by flooding). The Anglo-Chinese Opium Wars during 1839-1860 are reduced to a fight between China and the Jewish Sassoon trading dynasty (ignoring the fact that the British Empire had a wider interest in selling opium to reduce its trade deficit with China, as well as the fact that the Sassoons only beat out the Scottish Jardine-Mathesons for decisive control of opium by the 1870s, i.e. after both Opium Wars had concluded). The Chinese Nationalist oligarch T.V. Soong is arbitrarily assumed to have been Jewish on the grounds that he headed up “Sassoon’s Bank of China” (the Bank of China was a Chinese government enterprise whose headquarters stood next to the Sassoon House on the Shanghai Bund, but in any case the idea that the Soong family were Jewish is attested to by no evidence whatsoever). Remember, folks, the Left only get away with this sort of thing because they’re in power.

Now, I like to think that I point this stuff out because I care about sticking to the facts and building a serious movement. But if some should accuse me of engaging in mere socially-driven “countersignalling”, then I am happy to admit that this is also the case. This is because, as I have said, ideas exist at both the factual and social level – and the Jewish Question, at the social level, is the focal point for a toxic form of signalling.

Due to a combination of progressivist ideology and Jewish power, the Jewish Question is almost certainly the most taboo subject in “respectable” Western discourse, and this obliges many otherwise smart and truthful people to skirt around it. To broach the topic in public requires a good deal of courage, especially for a person bound to a job and family; but this step is taken much more easily in the case of a loser in life who has nothing left to lose, and this is reinforced by the fact that the Jewish Question is easily grasped by duller people while other aspects of the Alt-Right are not. Moreover, as everyone else in the Alt-Right is rightly on the lookout for Jewish entryism and subversion, it is very easy to gain cheap status (i.e. status not earned by actual virtue, intelligence or hard work) in the movement by raising doubts about other people’s stance on the JQ and signalling that your own is more hardline. The stage is thus set for a signalling spiral in which the lowest elements of our movement are constantly able to outmanoeuvre the more virtuous, hardworking and promising elements.

This would be okay if it were just a matter of duller people outsignalling smarter ones, but it extends to questions of competence and trustworthiness too. If you have a record of non-achievement in Rightist activism, but still want to lord it over other people and tell them what to do, then it’s a good idea for you to signal maximum anti-Semitism – you’ll gain some status as “the guy with the hardest line on the Jews”, even though your words about Jews on the internet are not worth a fraction of someone else’s functioning organisation. If you are the kind of person who likes to tear other people down rather than build positive structures, then you signal maximum anti-Semitism too – anyone else with a smidgen of human decency can be framed as “too soft on the Jews” simply for not wanting to mass-exterminate them, and anyone who hasn’t taken the trouble to divest himself of the religion of almost two millennia of his ancestors can be accused of literally worshipping a Jew. And if you have some skeleton in your own closet of which others aren’t likely to approve, then you too should signal maximum anti-Semitism, preferably while implying that everyone else is a shabbos-goy – because people in glass houses can actually protect themselves pretty well by throwing lots of stones.

Now, I want to spell out that I am not peddling the old canard that “anti-Semitic rhetoric = low human quality”. There are plenty of high-quality people in the Alt-Right who focus strongly on Jews (e.g. Kevin MacDonald) or take a hard line on them (e.g. Greg Johnson, Matt Parrott), although such people tend to have founded their status on something more substantial than their opinions on Jews. All that I am saying, and no more, is that the Jewish Question provides an opening for low-quality people to start destructive signalling spirals as a means of trumping higher-quality people. To countersignal against this is necessary to bring the status competition back onto terms of virtue, intelligence and hard work; and even if you don’t agree with this reasoning, you must surely see that such countersignalling is inevitable, as no-one wants to be associated with the special-needs class of anti-Semites even if they are just a loud minority.

Once more, then, we arrive at the question of how to keep this countersignalling within the bounds of the Alt-Right’s basic stance on the Jewish Question, i.e. how to prevent it from pulling people back into a cuckservative or Alt-Lite position on the subject. The clear solution is to maintain the focal point of “willingness to openly criticise Jewish subversion” (something that usefully burns all bridges with the mainstream) as a basic litmus test of Alt-Right bona fides, and then allow people to signal and countersignal within this framework as they see fit.