After waiting well over a year, I was happy to get my hands on a copy of Michael Malice’s latest book, The New Right, which takes fans on an in-person, Hunter S. Thompson-esque trip beyond the parameters of respectable conservatism. Only instead of mescaline and ether, it’s racial phenotypes and inquiries as to whether Malice is Jewish. Richard Spencer has already given it a negative review, in case you need further encouragement.
Malice, being both a mainstream-enough personality and an implacable anarchist, has had the opportunity to shapeshift (in-joke) between groups a mile apart. This is how he finds himself in a Fox News greenroom one moment and at a devilish, hush-hush, neo-reactionary dinner party the next.
Fans of Malice know him as the inveterate social media troll, letting “midwits” hang themselves on his one-liners for the amusement of his followers. The book reads like Malice’s Twitter feed in some ways, with each chapter or subsection an extended explanation of an idea that he’s pondered over the years. This can make some passages feel like asides, such as three pages about the causes of homosexuality or a whole page describing a scene from Twin Peaks. Very much a product of its author, The New Right should not be read as an academic disquisition, but an on-the-ground perspective of a strong mind with a good pen.
This is not a book about the alt-right, strictly speaking, or racialized politics; it’s broader than that. Malice defines what he calls “the New Right” as “a loosely connected group of individuals united by their opposition to progressivism, which they perceive to be a thinly veiled fundamentalist religion dedicated to egalitarian principles and intent on totalitarian world domination via globalist hegemony.” The name is taken from when modern American conservatism was developed in the 1950s under the aegis of Bill Buckley, whose leadership and demeanor receive a thorough thrashing.
One of the best chapters is a depiction of the New Right’s intellectual heritage, with Malice giving the sainted role of godfather to both anarcho-capitalist theorist Murray Rothbard and TAC’s own Pat Buchanan. The defining year was 1992, when the paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives allied against George H.W. Bush’s globalism and Bill Clinton’s neoliberalism. Yet the combination of Rothbard’s irreverence and Buchanan’s nationalist policies didn’t last past the 1990s.
While this political history is a highlight, the book is overwhelmingly about culture. For members of an older generation, The New Right will serve as an unofficial encyclopedia of right-wing internet phenomena, from Gamergate and pick-up artistry to 4Chan and Pepe and Augusto Pinochet memes. Right-wing dissidents and iconoclasts get their moments in the spotlight, including Jim Goad, Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, Ann Coulter, and Mike Cernovich. Malice is fair to his subjects, even friendly, but he’s unafraid to skewer their outlook on the world. His 10-page dissection of Buchanan’s The Death of the West (which Malice calls “a seminal text of the New Right”) will leave paleoconservatives scratching their heads and pulling on their collars.
Malice’s description of high and low culture, and how the latter becomes the former, is a topic worthy of a book all its own. “After a marginalized person or group creates some aspect of culture, it goes from outlandish to edgy to stylish to mainstream to déclassé. The marginalized invent it, and then the edgy early outlier adopts it…. This is why so much of our culture is made by blacks, gays, and Jews—all out-groups of their time.” Malice attempting to explain this theory to white nationalist (and stuffed shirt) Jared Taylor has a comedic element all its own.
Malice has made a career as a co-author and ghostwriter for celebrities, and even been the subject of a biographical comic book. His first fully independent book, Dear Reader, is an autobiography told through the eyes of North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-il. As a longtime fan, I’m satisfied to report that in The New Right he’s able to finally gift the public his own undiluted observations, dripping with the usual Malice.
Hunter DeRensis is a reporter for The National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.