A Class in Iconoclasm
For the past eight years, Jim Goad has written a weekly column for Taki’s Magazine (takimag.com). In the 1990s, Mr. Goad was the publisher and chief writer of ANSWER Me! magazine, which was mainly about violence. In 1994, a man who shot at the White House quoted a line from the second issue. The third issue was blamed for a triple suicide, and the fourth issue led to an obscenity trial. Mr. Goad is the author of The Redneck Manifesto (1996), an examination of the history of poor whites in America, particularly their role as cultural scapegoats. He has just published his latest book, Whiteness: The Original Sin. He lives in the Atlanta area.
Hubert Collins: Your career has largely been defined as a marriage between more “traditional” counter-cultural fare (sex, drugs, rock and roll) and more dissident commentary on such things as race, sex relations, and political correctness. While the two have always been intertwined, the latter has certainly taken the lead over the former in the last decade or so. Your book on sex is now over ten years old, while the back issue of ANSWER ME!, with its interview of pornographic anti-establishment filmmaker Russ Meyer, is over 25 years old. Meanwhile, your two most recent books would fit very comfortably in a dissident library alongside F. Roger Devlin and Sam Francis. What do you make of this change in focus? Has the world changed, or you?
Jim Goad: I don’t think it’s a matter of me or the world changing. It’s more that I find a topic that interests me and squeeze every drop of blood out of it until I feel that I’ve said everything there is to say and I start running the risk of repeating myself. It’s been that way with sex writing, true-crime writing, and I’m nearing that point when it comes to attacking Cultural Marxism. That’s why I’ve started writing short stories and am more focused on doing podcasts, video livestreams, and narrating audiobooks.
I’ve hardly ever written anything about rock ’n’ roll because, as with TV and film, I find that overexposing oneself to music makes one hopelessly inarticulate.
What counts as “dissident,” just as what qualifies as “left” or “right,” can’t be quantified. F. Roger Devlin and Sam Francis would have been considered painfully mainstream 60 years ago, whereas Russ Meyer would have been beyond the pale.
I’m generally suspicious of group behavior, and if that seems like empty contrarianism, it’s only because I’ve said many times that wherever the crowd happens to be standing at any given moment, they arrived too late and for the wrong reasons.
Hubert Collins: You have on more than one occasion explicitly rejected the political label “conservative,” and although you did once see yourself as part of the Left, or at least a liberal, you don’t anymore. And while you did support Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, to my knowledge you have never openly supported any other political candidacy, not even Ron Paul’s, as many at Takimag did. Although you generally eschew labels of any kind, if you absolutely had to, what political designation best fits you?
Jim Goad: I think if anything, I reject egalitarianism. I think that’s the main political divide—are disparities in things such as wealth and longevity due to unfairness or to disparities in ability? I don’t think there’s an absolute answer, but I lean strongly toward the latter explanation.
I also despise moralism. And any kind of groupthink. I also think that once you ally yourself with an ideology, you start becoming a liar and a hypocrite because it necessitates filtering out any inconvenient data that doesn’t buttress The Narrative.
I think irredentism and any kind of traditionalism are losing causes. Cultures are an organic reaction to one’s environment. Trying to recreate a culture from the 1200s or 1500s or even the 1950s strikes me as a pathetic form of role-playing that is woefully inadequate for addressing modern circumstances. If these things worked, they would have lasted.
If one believes, as I do, that male and female roles are primarily dictated through biology, there’s no reason to do live-action role-playing as a “traditional” Amish family from the 1800s. Just let the men be men and the women be women without the silly need for petticoats and powdered wigs. If these gender roles are natural, as I believe they are, there’s no need for rituals and traditions. Just sweep the artificial egalitarian obstacles out of the way.
I resent being labeled “punk rock” because I’ve always made very clear that I hate punk rock, especially the fact that it started out to destroy rock and roll and then became rock’s longest-running nostalgia act. Of all musicians, punk rockers are the least articulate, and that’s saying a mouthful.
Hubert Collins: Although you have an infinite number of critiques of our current zeitgeist, you rarely (if ever) touch on what kind of society you would like to live in. What does Jim Goad’s cultural, racial, and political utopia look like? Or, as the late paleoconservative Joe Sobran would frame it: in what kind of society would you be a conservative?
Jim Goad: I’ve found that for people who are primarily oriented socially, they can’t conceive that someone could have any good reason for refusing to pigeonhole himself. People like to join groups. They appear to feel warmer when they’re huddled among the like-minded. It’s almost as if they can’t stand being alone with their own thoughts—or more likely, it’s that they have never had a thought of their own.
I often get criticized for refusing to join teams. This is typically framed as some sort of cowardice rather than an honest aversion to groups. A reviewer of my book The New Church Ladies for Counter-Currents alleged that I don’t pick a side due to a fear of social disapproval. But by refusing to pick a side, I get disapproval from both sides. Obviously I’m not afraid of disapproval. Mind you, the reviewer used a pseudonym—possibly due to a fear of social disapproval if his real name were used.
My ideal society is one that wouldn’t force me to engage with it in any capacity beyond meeting basic material needs. I’m deeply suspicious of the way groups behave. I agree with Nietzsche’s dictum that “Madness is rare in individuals—but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.”
The reason I’m so critical of leftism is that it currently holds the moral whip hand in society, and from my reading of history and my personal experiences, I find that whatever group wields the moral power to be absolutely insufferable.
This is exactly why I’ve recently been so critical of the psychotically wacky moral preening about “degeneracy” among certain far-right factions that only a year or two ago were race realists with a sense of humor. Screaming about “degeneracy” wasn’t what got Trump elected—it was his irreverent humor and refusal to bow to the left’s howling, humorless moralists.
Not for a moment have I believed that if the so-called “right”—again, I think these terms are basically useless and unquantifiable—were to gain the moral upper hand again that they’d be any less shrill than the left currently is. Power corrupts, and moral power corrupts absolutely. I suffer no need to comfort myself with soft delusions about belonging to the “good” side.
Just like Mencken said, an urge to save the world is almost always a cover to rule it. I’ve found that loud public displays of finger-pointing about someone else’s supposed moral failings is typically a psychological shield that allows someone to harm others with impunity—meaning that it’s a way to get away with behavior that would be considered immoral if it were stripped of the shield of “justice.” This is why it’s never “kidnapping” when the government incarcerates people nor “theft” when they tax people against their will.
Hubert Collins: Your Takimag column, “The Men Who Taste Jews in Their Sandwiches,” is a superb primer on the so called “Jewish Question,” a topic that is rarely addressed with much nuance. However, you do not have any analogous column on race relations more generally or immigration—though do correct me if I am wrong here. While you often discuss biological differences, crime-rate differences, and double standards—and with refreshing frankness—you also at times express a preference for the company of average non-whites to white liberals and white elites. You also have defended miscegenation more than once, and tend to keep more “racially idealistic” movements and outlets, such as the alt-right and American Renaissance, at a distance. Do you have strong feelings about whether everyone could ultimately “just get along” in the United States? If so, under what circumstances do you think American racial harmony could be achieved? What do you think about the idea of creating ethnostates, or having government-mandated racial segregation?
Jim Goad: The term “keep . . . at a distance,” sounds like I’m being accused of condemning something for moral or social reasons. I’m fairly certain that I’m more morally objectionable to the status quo than any of you are. I’ve also found that people who think in terms of “us” show absolute bad faith regarding someone who doesn’t. So when someone’s default mode is to accuse me of insincerity, I’ve learned to suspect that they’re projecting.
I’ve positively reviewed Jared Taylor’s book White Identity and I’ve had him as a guest on my podcast. I’ve also provided forums for people such as Andrew Anglin and Mike Enoch who are considered far more radioactive than Mr. Taylor. I’m not sure how that qualifies as keeping them at a distance. I was once asked to speak at an AmRen conference but backed out after the speakers were portrayed collectively as spokesmen for the white race. I speak for no one but myself.
But since I’m quite honest that I never think in terms of “we,” I get accused of all sorts of character defects by those who are either too weak or too conformist to think in terms of “I.”
I feel that I fully comprehend and accept that most people are socially wired. But I’ve almost never found a socially wired person who seems willing, or even able, to grant me the same courtesy. When someone treats “individualism” as if it’s a dirty word, I get the strong sense I’m dealing with a dangerous clone.
Then again, I’ve also said that the problem with being an individual is that you wind up outnumbered. I’ve described myself as “defensively white”—the only time it becomes an issue for me is if someone wants to harm me for being white. Then they’ll see exactly what sort of fighter I am.
I have a son, and I’d prefer he didn’t grow up in a world where he’s surrounded by non-whites who’ve been trained since birth to hate him. And I will do everything to protect and defend him. Beyond that, I’ve found that group identity tends to appeal to people who don’t have much to offer as individuals.
I’m not sure where I’ve “defended” miscegenation. Do all things have to be either condemned or defended? I’ve simply observed that a lot of black people seem much more realistic, less judgmental, and more fun to be around than nearly any white liberal I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering.
As far as anyone getting along for an extended period of time, I think that’s impossible. I’ve always said that if the only two people left on the planet were identical twins, they’d find a way to play Crips and Bloods.
Because of this, I think that multiculturalism is intensely naive in thinking that you can cram people from different races and cultures and ideologies together and they’ll all get along so long as you purge the “bigots.”
Hubert Collins: Your writing style is unusual. The only readily apparent influences are H. L. Mencken and Hunter S. Thompson. The website “Literature Map,” claims that two of the authors most similar to you are David Hackett Fischer, the neoconservative historian, and Miguel Serrano, the deceased Chilean Nazi mystic. While this is obviously wrong, it is a testament to how difficult you are to pin down. I put some of your prose into the website “I Write Like” and had it analyzed a few different times in an attempt to come up with writers similar to you. The results were: Kurt Vonnegut and HP Lovecraft twice each, and Stephen King and Arthur Clarke once each. What do you consider to be the great influences on your style—writers and otherwise?
Jim Goad: I suspect the main influence on my style is the fact that I grew up in the Philadelphia area. Not only do we have the vilest accent, but a sociological study that I’ve been trying to dig up for years once concluded that we are the most hostile of all Americans. We are crass, irreverent, and foul-mouthed. And Philadelphians remind me of Southerners in the sense that we lost something—Philly was once the biggest city in America and its capital. So there’s a hoagie-sized chip on our shoulder. But there’s also a resigned sort of cynicism about this situation that can make for good comedy. The funniest people I’ve ever known are all from Philly.
I hate Hunter S. Thompson and think Tom Wolfe was the far superior writer. Mencken is my favorite writer, but I doubt that he’d have a career today. He was simply too mean. The same applies to W.C. Fields, who was born only three miles from where I was born. Fields was gloriously cynical and misanthropic.
Probably the other main stylistic influence was the experience of being beaten down by parents and nuns while I was growing up. Again, it cemented my belief, which I hope to flesh out one day in a full-length philosophical treatise, that moralists are the least ethical people of all.
Hubert Collins: A friend once lamented that despite your talent, your Takimag columns represent a sort of “treadmill of reaction,” in that you lambaste all the right people, but never quite build up to any vision or flesh out any ethos. Have you ever considered writing more about things you feel positively about? Do you see the purpose of your writing as being more to destroy (or even “deconstruct”) than to build?
Jim Goad: Pray tell, what has your friend actually built beyond some vague “vision”? I doubt he’s built anything of substance. And I doubt he has the good faith to entertain the idea that I may not see the human condition as redeemable. Nor does he seem to possess the good faith to consider that maybe my views are sincere and I’d hold them whether or not anyone was listening to me.
I attempt to slay the bullshit-peddlers and have fun while doing it. If people have fun while reading it, I’d say I’ve contributed more to bettering humanity than 1,000 pinched-face ideological militants could ever hope to achieve.
Hubert Collins: Where do you think the political correctness, racial egalitarianism, and anti-whiteness you so despise come from? The theories of its origins seem endless: atheism, the Frankfurt School, postmodernism, Marxism, feminism, the Boasian school of anthropology, Jewish influence, perverted Protestantism, Christian slave morality, etc.
Jim Goad: Yes to all of those, which is why I’m so critical of this new wave of Christian traditionalism among the far right. First of all, I hate that I have to remind people that Christianity is not a European religion. Europe suffered in disease and squalor during most of the Christian era, and it was only when trade routes opened up and economic/territorial conquest was seen as a good thing that Europe began to flourish. And how could any race realist embrace a religion whose modern adherents are majority non-white?
If atheism can be defined as the belief that everything arose from nothing, it’s dumber than most major religions. I’ve always said I’m agnostic, because I think that’s more honest than claiming certainty about either the idea that we all arose from the void or clinging to ancient belief systems that are riddled to the core with contradictions. It’s nobler to admit you don’t know then to pretend that you do.
Hubert Collins: You are an interesting case of an “invisible influencer.” Your writing on race has made you persona non grata in the mainstream, but your undeniable talent and the countercultural credentials you earned from your writing in the 1990s command respect among not a few famous creative types—though some of them have mixed feelings about that fact. Some bigger examples include comedian Patton Oswalt, a total leftist who steadfastly defends his friendship with you; novelist Chuck Palahniuk, who has joked of his “secret friendship” with you; and Leftist journalist/pundit Matt Taibbi, who has sheepishly confessed to being deeply impacted by your work. It strikes me as a fair assumption that there are plenty of other writers and performers in and around the mainstream who happily read your stuff, but would never admit it in public. How much does that lack of credit bother you? Do you think the tide will eventually turn and it will become acceptable to like your work again—in your lifetime or otherwise? Is there anyone you are absolutely convinced is secretly reading you?
Jim Goad: I recently commented that nearly everyone who is fearless enough to admit in public that they like my writing also feels the need to clarify that they don’t always agree with it. I call this “reaching out from the crowd to shake your hand.” It seems like a way to say, “Please don’t throw a rock at me for liking him.”
Anyone who knows anything about my career and personal life would realize that I’ve never sought to be popular. At the peak of my popularity, which I would estimate was around 1993, I felt that if this many people loved me for telling them that I hate them, I was doing something wrong. That’s partially why I released the “Rape” issue of ANSWER Me!—to send the fanboys who thought Charles Manson was cool but who gasped at the very idea of “date rape” running for the hills.
Mind you, I’m not seeking to be unpopular, either. But my motivation has never been to please the reader. At best, the reader is incidental. All that matters is that I feel OK putting my name on what I produce.
Hubert Collins: Both your career and life are a mix of success and setback. You have influenced many, offended even more, spent time in prison, edited a popular website, authored many popular books, made an undeniable impact in the world of arts and letters, and had consistent money problems. Is there anything you wish you could do over again? What advice would you give your young admirers? (Aside from being cautious in their choice of romantic partners, of course.)
Jim Goad: I’ve heard that on Anton Lavey’s tombstone has the inscription, “I only regret the times I’ve been too nice to people.” Upon first meeting me, many people have expressed shock, and even disappointment, that I’m so polite. The usual pattern is that I’m polite until someone interprets it as weakness and starts stepping on me, at which point I deal with them in the harshest manner possible. I’ve often said that I’m angry not because I’m the asshole, but because so many “good” people are.
There are exceptions to this rule, though. I can experience deep, agonizing remorse and guilt for the way I’ve treated people close to me. But I am often considered to be a “sociopath”—which, like, “narcissist,” is a woefully overused term among moronic armchair pop psychologists—because I can’t be forced to feel shame or remorse by others. It has to come from within.
I also regret getting into arguments with people who are clearly stupid or dishonest. It took me a half-century or so to realize that a huge quotient of people have absolutely no honor and no interest in the truth. There’s a huge difference between wanting to be right and in wanting to know the truth. I’d rather know the truth, no matter how unflattering it is to me or my most cherished beliefs.
As far as regretting anything I’ve written, no. It was the way I felt at the time. And I’ve never put my name on a word that wasn’t sincere.
Hubert Collins: Can you recommend to readers one album, one political-science or philosophy book, one novel, one history book, and one place to visit that you think will help them see the world more clearly?
Album—A Bird Named Yesterday by country singer Bobby Bare. It’s an astonishing 1967 song cycle lamenting that his hometown has been bought out by corporate interests and is systematically erasing the place of his youth. Much more sophisticated and touching than anything the rockers were doing in 1967.
Philosophy book—The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. I’m fully cognizant how much this will puzzle and infuriate readers here, but this book convinced me that Eastern religions were far more advanced than Western monotheism.
Novel—Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I had the eeriest feeling reading it because his thinking processes mirrored mine. I felt as if I had written it. Like me, he was epileptic, and possibly also somewhere on the autism spectrum, and regarding the increasingly frequent “autism” slur—apparently it’s now a mental illness to value logic over social approval. If that’s the case, count me absolutely cuckoo.
History book—They Were White and They Were Slaves by Michael A. Hoffman II. It demolishes the reigning myths about slavery and collective guilt regarding slavery. It was allegedly “debunked” by an Irish librarian who was supported by the SPLC. In an article on Taki’s Mag called “White Slavery Denial,” Hoffman and I systematically debunked the debunker.
Place to visit—Jail or prison. When I interviewed black novelist Iceberg Slim, author of Pimp: The Story of My Life, he said that society would change for the better overnight if every American were forced to spend a year in jail. It would quickly disabuse anyone of the idea that incarceration has anything to do with morality and justice and everything to do with demonstrating who has the most power to abuse. I’d be fine if the government were simply honest and said, “We’re the biggest gang, and if you fall astray of our demands, we will crush you.” That’s preferable to pretending it has anything to do with righting wrongs. As all of our mothers supposedly taught us, two wrongs don’t make a right. But nearly everyone these days, in their manic quest to make sense of a chaotic world, seems to have forgotten that.