The Dutch Calvinist ruling class became the first to truly embrace the idea that material wealth is a symbol of God’s blessing, a Satanic inversion of the original message of Christ. And the impact of that Satanic inversion continues to reverberate around the world today, not in the least throughout our former colonial empire.
This Satanic inversion now tends to dominate most Protestant denominations. The only inversion of Christianity I consider more harmful is the almost universal tendency to ascribe the attributes of Caesar to God. This is the harmful error that Whitehead notably argued against.
You can go a step further in this critique, by arguing that climate change began with the Dutch. If you believe that the large scale use of coal represents the start of the industrial revolution, the British are responsible. If on the other hand, you believe the problem began earlier, with the use of peat, then the Netherlands is ground zero.
I personally consider the Dutch to better reflect the problem than the British. The Dutch chose to make money, by burning the peat that had accumulated in this land in industrial furnaces. As a result of burning the very soil beneath our feet, our land sank beneath sea level. The response to this was to pump away the water, insofar as possible.
Today other consequences are revealing themselves as well. Peat doesn’t just store large amounts of carbon. Peat is a sponge. It absorbs excess water during rainfall, then it releases it during droughts. Now that rainfall is becoming increasingly irregular, we’re facing this brave new world without this natural sponge with which we were once blessed.
Among many indigenous tribes, it is forbidden to even dig in the Earth. When the divine is all around you, then you don’t wish to violate it. What people would burn the soil beneath their feet? It goes against every human instinct, yet the Dutch readily burned the layers of peat that had accumulated here and left our landscape littered with gaping holes filled with water.
The world is now dying thanks to multinational corporations like Shell, that enrich the Dutch treasury as they make the Niger delta uninhabitable and cooperate with a government that tortures and kills the people who dwell there. And the whole world feasts on the flesh, of animals that are born and murdered here. Pigs are born and draw their last breath in boiling water here. Their manure piles up to the point the soil acidifies and the oak trees start dying. But the people here love it. They vote to continue it.
A while ago some Dutch white nationalists broadcast a message here on some building that said “Jews ran the slave ships, white people abolished it”. I congratulate them, because unlike most Dutch people, they at least contemplate the kind of horror we are dealing with.
The first step towards solving a problem is arriving at the wrong answer. Just as low status white males who spend their whole day arguing on the Internet that climate change is a hoax understand the problem better than the average person, the white nationalists who perform mental gymnastics to blame slavery on the Jews understand it better than the average person. The fact that they lash out against it means they have internalized the trauma. They have to some degree made it their own, whether they wish to admit it or not.
The reality is that the French and the British abolished slavery. The Dutch had to be pressed by the British into abolishing it. When you see the Dutch PM apologize for slavery, you’re not really seeing some realization of the problem either, you’re just seeing the Dutch do what the Dutch do best: Following the path of least resistance.
Similarly, the Dutch enjoy seeing ourselves as victims in the second world war. But if we are victims, then so are the Austrians. What happened in reality, was again a country that followed the path of least resistance. Before the invasion began, we already had laws implemented that ordered the government bureaucracy to continue functioning as before. And this proved very useful to the occupying force, as that same bureaucracy had carefully documented every citizen of this country.
There is one noteworthy exception to the general pattern, one small glimmer of pride in my heart, in that the Dutch communists organized an explicit revolt against the persecution of the Jews. This was the only revolt against the Holocaust by non-Jews in occupied Europe during the second world war. And although it was of course a failure and never had a chance of success, it did accomplish one thing: It left this place with some dignity in the annals of history.
I know the period in history I was born into and I know the predicament we are faced with. And I also know the utter hopelessness of our situation. I was born into a society that has settled on making our planet uninhabitable, with billions of deaths during this century as an inevitable outcome. It settled on this outcome, long before I was old enough to have a chance to understand the problem.
When you wish to understand your predicament, one way of doing so is by looking towards analogies in the past. This is why I bring up the Dutch February strike, because it is the most useful equivalent to our predicament I can think of. I also see it as inspirational. It was an attempt to stop the machine of death, with no chance of personal gain.
We today also suffer a growing realization that something horrific is approaching us, something we have never before experienced. And yet, we seem ultimately powerless, we stand no true chance of grinding the machine that has been set in motion to a halt. In fact, the ecosystems are already collapsing around us. So what are we to do?
Well, I’m obviously not the first to look at this. The most useful literature I’ve seen on this topic, comes from the anarcho-nihilists. The anarcho-nihilists are an anarchist tendency that has broken free from the traditional constraints of leftism. They envision no grand utopia in the future to work towards and don’t believe there to be any sort of objective goal to strife for.
Rather, in the anarcho-nihilist conception, resistance is just basically something you do. The term Jouissance is used for this. Its closest translation would be joy. The anarcho-nihilist resists, without attachment to the outcome. The best essay I’ve seen so far on this topic is Blessed is the Flame, which analyzes resistance in concentration camps during the second world war. As the author explains:
Though there are certainly lessons to be taken from World War II about the potential for whole populations to be rendered docile, there are also lessons about what it means to defy pacification in extraordinarily bleak circumstances. When we forget these kinds of stories, we forget about our own capacities for resistance.
The Holocaust is just one of many genocides observed throughout history. It was motivated by Hitler observing how the Ottomans got away with genocide against the Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. I don’t single out the Holocaust for being unique. Rather, it is just the most recent memory we here in Europe have, of such atrocity. And the author of Blessed is the Flame makes sure to emphasize this point too: Brutality is interwoven in our way of life.
The Nazis were only found (or remembered as) guilty because they lost the war. Their camps were not fundamentally unique, though they certainly brought a devastating industrial flair to the whole concept. Giorgio Agamben has aptly argued that the concentration camp is the defining feature of modern politics, as it represents a “site of exception” from the enlightened facade of civilized society. Indeed, everywhere we look today we see Nazi machinations at work, though these parallels are often too controversial to utter. And yet for those willing to see it, from the Gaza strip to the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre, from the factory farms to the Alberta Tar Sands, the logic of this civilization continues to show its true colors.
There are of course differences between our present situation and that in the camps. I’m reading this essay from the comfort of my laptop, well-fed. And yet if anything, that merely emphasizes the need for resistance. Within the camps, almost every opportunity for resistance had already been taken away.
We on the other hand, are being led to our deaths by people who expect to be dead before us. There is no sincere doubt about the outcome: First the poor, then us, then the rich. Anyone can comprehend what happens to the human body at a wet bulb temperature of 35 degree Celsius.
Everyone can see today to whom it happens first: The poor. You don’t have to be brown to succumb to this. It could be your parents in their mobile home near Houston, Texas, whose air conditioning unit broke down before they could afford to repair it. They remember heatwaves from their childhood. But those are not the heatwaves they suffer today. And those are not the heatwaves you will suffer through at their age.
There are economic models released that suggest we can cope with this, but these are produced by men who know what they are doing. They produce propaganda for the regime, so that the men in power can wash their hands in innocence: “The economists told me that six degree Celsius would reduce global GDP by 8%.”
Rather than convincing us that we are powerless, the machine works on the basis of encouraging us to look towards the here and now. You can cooperate with the machine and have a comfortable job selling people nonsense, or you can refuse to cooperate and dwell in your parents basement (sleeping outside will have you fined and arrested).
But this is not fundamentally new either. At every step along the way during the Holocaust, resistance was the more dangerous option. The system functioned so efficiently, by making resistance look like the irrational option at every moment in time. And yet, when you zoom out, resistance at any moment would have offered the highest chance of survival.
A critic would say you don’t benefit from seeing the society you live in as a concentration camp. But the reality is that the vast majority of mammals alive today, inhabit a literal concentration camp. In this sense I am more like a camp commander, than a prisoner in one of the camps. And in that position of course, you are best off just not paying attention to the suffering.
The reality is also that the concentration camps are expanding, not shrinking. In China, pigs are forced to dwell together on multiple floors. And humans increasingly face the same predicament.
“Too many brown people in my country” The low status white male bemoans. And it is of course correct, that a society requires having something that unites its inhabitants. There are Native American tribes today, where the members are free to build their house on any of its territory. That’s only possible because they are an organic community. In empires on the other hand, elites benefit from having a multicultural underclass, unable to unite itself and stand up for its class interest.
And yet, the reality of living near the equator is that you are left with two options, as climate change makes your harvests fail:
-Move to one of the growing megacities like Jakarta or Nairobi, which will also become uninhabitable soon due to the urban heating island effect. Without air conditioning, you will die there the way that couple in Texas did in June.
-Move away from the equator, to a place like North America or Europe.
And so the reality is not that we live in concentration camps. Rather, it’s that we’re being ordered to build them. That’s why men like Sam Altman from OpenAI set up systems like Worldcoin, which go to the world’s poorest countries and promise people money in exchange for having their Iris scanned.
They want your data, so that you cannot flee. The low status white males fear central bank digital currencies and I don’t blame them, I have two households in my street protesting against this stuff. But the systems that private corporations are setting up, are far scarier.
The low status white males fear a government that uses central bank issued digital currencies to control their lives. But their critique is shallow. You live in a society where your entire position as a human being is determined by a number in a database somewhere. And without that number, you can not do anything. You can not eat, you can not legally sleep anywhere.
The problem is not who controls our money. Rather, the problem is that money controls everything. And yet, the latter reality is one that the low status white male takes entirely for granted. Your constant fear of “running out of money”, which you have entirely internalized, is the system’s enforcing mechanism, the whip used to chase the pigs off towards the gas chamber.
The system doesn’t think it’s building concentration camps. Rather, by continuing business as usual, it is navigating itself into a corner where it has no other path than to build concentration camps. The reason Nazi Germany sent communists, criminals, homosexuals and ethnic minorities from all across Europe off to concentration camps is because the regime could not survive otherwise.
The people who built those camps did not think they would be used to murder people in gas chambers. In fact, some of the camps already existed before the NSDAP took over Germany.
If you wonder why I spent so much time and effort, arguing against the lockdowns, it is simple: That was the same sort of infrastructure, that can be used for the sort of evil we saw during the second world war. There are two moments to try to stop an atrocity: When it looks absurd to imagine it is possible. Or when it looks inevitable and you are powerless to stop it. Which would you choose?
The lockdowns also revealed the utter uselessness of the “far right”, along with the incompatibility between anarchism and the left. Anarchists have a long sordid history of allowing themselves to be used as useful idiots for the left. Once the regime is overthrown, the anarchists are sent off to the gulag or murdered, by the people in charge of making us all equal.
It became clear in March 2020, that overnight your entire society can change. Your government can lock you up in your home and make it illegal for you to leave your door. And your neighbors will endorse this. In the streets of Spain you would be booed by your neighbors, if you left your house to walk to the dentist.
And it also became clear that every promise of the future, any attempt at planning for it, is ultimately nothing more than a sick joke. Suicides began to pile up, among people who spent their days organizing festivals. People lost their life savings overnight, others saw their businesses sink into debt or go bankrupt. And yet, the billionaire class, the people who were building this high tech prison, grew ever richer.
Here too anarcho-nihilism has a vital lesson to offer: It encourages us to break free from the constraints of time. And as the author of Blessed is the Flame argues, the resistance in the concentration camps similarly required breaking free from the dictates of time. At every moment, the concentration camp offered prisoners a false image of a future. They were told they would be “sent to Sweden”. And upon entering Auschwitz, they were first met with a false promise: “Work makes free.”
Resistance under those conditions doesn’t just mean rejecting the glorious future that is promised to you, of transfer to Sweden or freedom in exchange for labor, or high returns for your 401k or flying cars built with room-temperature superconductors. It also means breaking free from the constraints of time altogether. As the author explains:
Here I do not mean to argue that those who fought back in the Lagers experienced some mystical chronological transcendence that granted them supernatural bravery. Rather, I am pointing towards the possibilities that exist when we confront our own futurelessness and find the will to act: When we don’t believe the lies about where we’re heading, when we don’t sink into absolute despair about how fucked we are, and when we don’t just keep our heads down and think about the present moment — when we step out of that debilitating sequence and act against the existing order, no matter the odds. This often means confronting death, imprisonment, alienation, and a variety of other dangers. For the anarcho-nihilists, it also means opening oneself up to new possibilities of being alive. These cries to “stop time” and to discover jouissance are essentially asking us to sever any attachments we have to the existing order, and to position ourselves outside of and against its progress. So long as Häftlinge saw a future for themselves in the camps, or remained suspended in the present moment, or gave up on living completely, the Nazis would never have to deal with a moment of defiance. By shattering those chronological modes, some inmates broke with the rhythms of the camp and carved out a different fabric of time. Similarly, so long as we believe that this society is making progress, and so long as we can glimpse a future for ourselves within it or a future for our children, we will remain in some way wed to it. When anarcho-nihilism urges us to abandon those chronological modes, it is in essence asking us to sever all ties to the continuation of society and work instead to negate its existence. In this rupture of time we find a richness of life unimaginable within the existing order. Messianic time is the chronological awareness in which jouissance can flourish, for rather than deferring our rage to the future we can finally realize that now is the time we’ve been waiting for.
The important thing to keep in mind, is that concentration camp resistance was both a product of and hampered by ideologies that people often already adhered to before being imprisoned. And the impact that those ideologies have, is context dependent.
In the Netherlands and in the camps, communism manifested itself in resistance to Nazi atrocities. And yet in the Soviet Union itself, where it became tied to power, it manifested itself in the form of unspeakable atrocities, equivalent to what we saw in Nazi Germany.
This happens with seemingly every ideology. Consider wokeism. A handful of privileged wealthy lesbian Jewish college professors produce obscurantist literature for a living that ultimately results in insecure depressed teenage girls signing up for medical procedures to grow moustaches and have their breasts turned into medical waste. It turns disenfranchised maladjusted human beings into the sexless neutered working bees the Nazis sought to produce in their concentration camps.
A critic would say that it is outrageous to compare “gender affirming healthcare” to Nazi human experimentation. And yet that reveals the insidiousness of power. The modern state does not forcibly neuter its unproductive citizens. Rather, it indoctrinates you, until you yourself want to a genderless entity with amputated breasts, something that effectively did not exist twenty years ago. Women were promised they would be liberated. But the sign on the gates was deceptive: Liberation would come from no longer being women.
It teaches you to hate your own body and it deploys social media for this purpose, where algorithms and censorship weaponize peer pressure against you. This is not new, we know what it is. It is mimetic desire: You are taught to want something, by seeing other people want it.
Wokeism, originally sold to college students as an ideology to liberate homosexuals, women and ethnic minorities, became tied to power and has now culminated in a system that orders you to engage in non-reproductive sex and to be “proud” of this.
The great woke festivals in cities like Amsterdam, where hundreds of thousands gather to see parades of boats sponsored by the likes of Shell and other Dutch corporations serve only this purpose: To teach you to live the life of an atomized individual, devoted to shallow hedonic pleasure, pleasures that are delivered to you by these same corporations.
But this utopia they sell to you, eventually becomes a new concentration camp. The airplanes that fly you into this nation’s capital city to see the hired bodybuilders in thongs on boats, will also ship you to the final destination this system has in mind, not just for you, but for all life on planet earth: Death.
It seems as if it is never an idea that turns us into monsters. What turns us into monsters is power, control over other animals. The freedom fighters of today, are the concentration camp commanders of tomorrow. But what if there is no tomorrow to strife for?
And this is where anarcho-nihilism happens to shine. The anarcho-nihilist doesn’t work towards a glorious future where power is distributed fairly by the commune and all the low status white males have fair labor conditions in the coal mine as the anarchist college professor writes their slam poetry. It does not engage in promises or plans for the future. There is no luxury gay space communism at the end of the tunnel. Hence the slogan: No Future.
And because it does not believe in a future, it can not become an instrument of power. As Serafinski, the anonymous author of Blessed is the Flame, quotes the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire:
what really counts is the strength we feel every time we don’t bow our heads, every time we destroy the false idols of civilization, every time our eyes meet those of our comrades along illegal paths, every time that our hands set fire to the symbols of Power. In those moments we don’t ask ourselves: ‘Will we win? Will we lose?’ In those moments we just fight.