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The Bryce Mitchell Option

MMA fighter Bryce Mitchell is not going to fight and die for the US ruling class

I can’t get this MMA fighter Bryce Mitchell off my mind. He’s a working class white dude from Arkansas who was asked what he thought about the Ukraine situation. His response, in part:

When he’s not in the ring, Mitchell is a cattle farmer. He also holds odd beliefs, such as that Covid was engineered by the US Government and released deliberately into the population, and that mass shootings might be staged to justify taking away guns. You are thinking: wow, what a crackpot, why listen to him? Well, aside from the fact that he’s right on this particular issue, you should listen because this man and his social class are the kind of people who are sent to fight America’s wars. He is a straight-outta-central-casting Deplorable. A Bitter Clinger too, probably. Ha ha, look at the hick, some of you are saying. That “hick” has more common sense about what’s happening now than Sen. Lindsey Graham, among others.

Look at this poll from March 1:

There it is: the poorer you are, the less eager you are to want to go off and fight this war. Mind you, if NATO is attacked, America has no choice but to fight. Still, the point is that those making the least money are the ones least eager to fight, while the wealthier you are, and therefore the more insulated from consequences, the more eager you are to fight. While the class warfare aspect of these findings are important, it seems to me that of equal importance is the finding that even if war broke out in Europe, only half of Americans think the US should be involved. Think about what that says about support for our NATO commitments. My guess is that this is a reflection on twenty years of failed US warmaking. Most people are just tired of it — except for the richest Americans, of course.

Tucker Carlson was on fire again last night, talking about the tsunami of economic misery we’re about to suffer because of all this:

Two things can be true at the same time: that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal SOB, and that the American leadership class is driving our country into the ground for no good reason.

I really hope you will watch that Tucker segment. The man is saying radical things about the ruling class. He lays hard, too, into Republican leadership in Washington, saying that they are all screwing over their voters. Who knows how much longer he will be permitted to be on Fox… .

You watch: when our economy crashes because of all this, the ruling class, with Republican Party support, will construct a social credit system to control the dissent. As I have been saying, what is being done to the Russian people will ultimately be done to any and all of us here at home who get in the way of the ruling class in government and business. It is worth noting that only some of the withdrawal of US businesses from Russia is happening because of sanctions; most of it is the business class deciding of one accord to punish Russia. That is certainly their right, but listen to me, if you don’t think Woke Capitalism is preparing itself to cut any one of us out of the economy to punish us for being unpatriotic, bigoted, or whatever, you are fooling yourself. Watch the Tucker clip and listen to Sen. Elizabeth Warren talking about how the state has to go after crypto now to force crypto companies to stop doing business with Russians.

Putin’s claims that Russia invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the country are absurd … but not totally removed from reality. The Azov Battalion is a longstanding anti-Russia militia made of actual neo-Nazis.That’s not Putinist propaganda: it’s true. In 2014, the Atlantic Council, the powerful Washington think tank, published a stirring piece praising Azov’s patriotism. Read this piece from VICE about how the neo-Nazi militia became respectable in Ukraine. Again, this doesn’t justify Putin’s invasion, but it damn sure ought to make you understand that the black hat/white hat vision of this war is false and manipulative. Everybody is so in love with the idea of Ukrainian president Zelensky as a hero — he really has been brave — that they are willing to excuse the fact that he too is an agent of propaganda aimed at manipulating the West into coming into the war on his side (e.g., the staged photos, the claim that Russia intentionally shelled a nuke plants, etc.). I can’t blame him, really, for going all-out to save his country, but Americans ought to realize that we are being sold a Narrative.

Part of that Narrative is strutting like a peacock on the American stage. The US ruling class — the professional managerial class, I mean — really does believe that America is on the Right Side of History. That history includes redefining marriage and family to suit ruling-class sexual values. Richard Hanania writes about how Vladimir Putin became the Great Satan of the ruling class after Russia in 2013 passed a law banning “LGBT propaganda” aimed at the young. More:

The US response in the media to Pussy Riot and the anti-gay law was nothing short of hysterical, and coverage of Russia, a country that had previously been viewed largely with indifference by American elites, has never been the same. My impression is that the gay propaganda law may have gotten more coverage in the American press than any other event that happened in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

In the 2012 election, when Romney called Russia “our greatest geopolitical foe,” Obama famously responded that the 1980s called and it wanted its foreign policy back. This was before the gay propaganda law. Although it’s hard to prove that this was the turning point, as someone who was studying international relations at the time on a university campus and who paid close attention to American politics, it felt as if some Rubicon had been crossed and any move towards friendlier relations was impossible. By 2015, even before the rise of Trump, Putin was not the leader of a country, but a Hollywood villain.

In 2014, we saw the overthrow of Yanukovych, the Russian seizure of Crimea, and the beginning of the war in Eastern Ukraine. While this was a big deal to foreign policy hawks, it did not capture the liberal imagination in the same way that the gay propaganda law did. Russiagate required years of demonization in order to take off, and beginning in 2016 Putin became not only a homophobe and anti-feminist, but the man who may ultimately end American democracy.


I think most people are going to be inherently skeptical of the idea that LGBT and identity politics more generally play such a large role in international affairs. Yet people have less trouble accepting the fact that largely symbolic culture war issues related to race, gender, and sexual orientation drive domestic politics. Foreign policy elites are from the same class that gave us the Great Awokening, and if your model of members of this class involves them being illogical and destructive fanatics on matters of identity (the correct model), you should assume that they take their attitudes with them when thinking about international affairs. Their assumptions, deepest convictions, and construction of reality shape the ways in which we discuss geopolitical issues, which most Americans have no firsthand experience with.

One may ask why Pussy Riot and the Russian gay propaganda law made such a big impression in the United States when other countries like Saudi Arabia have much worse records on human rights. There are some 71 countries right now that ban homosexual relations. Russia didn’t even do that, and there is apparently a gay scene in Moscow that looks a lot like it does anywhere else in Europe.

Russian opposition to LGBT triggers American elites more than anti-gay laws and practices elsewhere because Russia is a white nation that justifies its policies based on an appeal to Christian values. Unlike a country like Hungary, it actually matters for international politics. Remember, we’re talking about the same elite that can only get excited about random attacks on Asians if they can pretend it’s white people who are doing it, and can’t be bothered to care about black people shooting each other every day but will make excuses for those who burn cities down in response to a police officer shooting a criminal in the course of an arrest. Homophobic Muslims or Africans will never inspire all that much righteous fury in these people. The template of “white conservative Christians bad” is fundamental to their worldview, and this leads to not only hostility towards Putin, but also nations like Hungary and Poland, even if the latter are uneasily accepted as friends because they were grandfathered into NATO, the alliance that is of course aimed at Russia.

Yep. Last night I gave a talk to a group of college students in a small city in the north of Hungary. I talked about wokeness and sexual politics. I played for the students the clip of the Blues Clues Pride Parade propaganda created for pre-K children. You should have seen their faces. One girl sitting on my right turned her head away; she couldn’t believe that this was being promoted for little children in America. Yes, I told her: this is who we have become as a nation. It’s a country whose ruling class considers it a sacred obligation to destroy traditional family norms. The people who make and promote this stuff are the same people who falsely call Hungary a fascist dictatorship.

Look what appeared on Twitter yesterday. Tom Bevan runs Real Clear Politics:

Keep your eyes on hating Putin, and you will not be able to see how the US ruling class is destroying your children’s moral sense, and concept of normality.

To repeat: two things can be true at the same time: Putin is a war criminal SOB for invading Ukraine, and the Western ruling class is going to use Putin’s evil deed to further entrench itself and its values. Why is it that though Putin’s values regarding sex and sexuality are every bit as conservative as those held by the Saudi monarchy, nobody in the US ruling class cares about that? Why is it that Xi Jinping holds the same or similar values, runs actual concentration camps for Uyghur Muslims, and oversees a techno-totalitarian surveillance state that puts anything Putin does to shame … yet nobody in the US ruling class much cares. I think Hanania gets it: “The template of ‘white conservative Christians bad’ is fundamental” to the Western ruling class’s worldview. I remind you that the head of MI6, the CIA of Britain, publicly stated that the most fundamental difference between the West and Putin is over the way we regard LGBT.

I didn’t make that up. You can mock the Russian Orthodox patriarch for saying that this war is about LGBT — and I agree that it was a foolish thing to say in that context, especially as he has had nothing to say about how Russian bombs are falling on Ukrainian civilians — but the top spy in the UK has done the same thing, in terms of framing the war as a moral crusade.

Do you see the double standard here? You are permitted to make this observation without criticism from the ruling class, but only if you frame it in the “correct” way — not on the side of the Patriarch, but on the side of the British spy chief.

Shouldn’t that make you think about what’s being done here? About who benefits from these narratives? The same ruling class that is flooding our children’s schools with gender ideology, to the point of having written policies directing teachers to deceive parents about their children, and the same class that is busy destroying the foundations of American nationhood and constitutional order with their ideological fables about race, and punishing through social shame and other methods those who dissent — these are the same people who are on TV and in the newspapers exhorting Americans to accept their own impoverishment and dispossession to hurt the Great Satan, Putin.

Who benefits here? Why does it appear that our ruling class (including the media) do not seem capable of thinking about second and third-order effects? As Tucker points out, the US traded with Russia when it was ruled by a Communist dictatorship, including the tyrant Stalin, who is personally responsible for the deaths of millions of Ukrainians. Why is Putin even worse than Stalin? Why are we all being commanded now to regard all things Russian as so evil that we cannot even look upon them, listen to them, or have anything at all to do with them?

I understand that Putin is doing the same thing in Russia regarding the West. Of course he is: he is a de facto dictator. But I thought we in the West were different from that. I thought the most important things that separated us from countries like Putin’s Russia is our respect for liberal principles like free speech, open debate, reasoned deliberation, tolerance, and all those things. Well, I was wrong. The most important thing is that we fly the Pride flag, and Putin does not.

This is why I am convinced that what they’re doing to Russia now, they will do to conservative Christians, Deplorables, and Bitter Clingers — and they will justify it as part of the fight against Russia.

And this is how they are going to use this conflict to discredit any right-wing populist criticism of the neoliberal order. Russia’s stupid and cruel invasion of Ukraine was a great gift to these people. They’re thrilled that people on the national conservative right seem to be put on the defensive — as if any of us ever thought Putin was a great leader whom the West should emulate. It feels so good to have moral clarity once again. You watch: anybody who questions the Narrative in any way — like, say, asking out loud what exactly we are accomplishing by making the lives of tens of millions of Americans much harder, just to rub Putin’s nose in the dirt — will be further denounced as an agent of Putin propaganda today, and as a “domestic terrorist” tomorrow. All of this is a great way to silence criticism of the Great Awokening of the US military. Again, it is an important sign that the chief of British intelligence said the most important thing distinguishing the West from the new Evil Empire is the way we all regard homosexuality and transgenderism. So listen here, churches: if you don’t get on board with this message, if you stand by what the Bible says, then you are obviously Putin’s useful idiots, and will be treated as such during this new Cold War.

Yesterday, when I was in the train station here in Budapest, I tried to buy a Coke Zero for the trip, but had to walk away from this one vendor, because she only accepted cash, not cards. That was the first time that has ever happened to me in Budapest, in the half-year I have spent here cumulatively. I realized as I walked to the next convenience store, which did accept cards, that I almost never have cash in my wallet here. I too have been conditioned to live cashless. It would be so easy to cut me off from the economy: just make it impossible to use cash for daily transactions, and you make everybody vulnerable to the Elizabeth Warrens of the world, who would, with the push of a button, make it impossible for you to buy or sell if the ruling class determined that you were a political enemy.

This is coming. This is accelerating. It’s why I say in Live Not By Lies that we are living in a “Kolakovic moment,” a period of preparation in which all of us who are likely to run afoul of the ruling class’s priorities had better busy ourselves preparing networks — economic, religious, and otherwise — within which to live and thrive when the persecution starts. Russia brought this disaster on itself with its unjust invasion of Ukraine, but again and again I say to you: everything that the ruling class of the West is doing to Russia, they will sooner or later do to people like Bryce Mitchell … and people like you and your family. We are all indeed about to be a lot poorer, and the way the ruling class is going to control dissent until they can get the social credit system in place is to demonize people like Bryce Mitchell, Tucker Carlson, Richard Hanania, J.D. Vance, and, well, me, as Putin apologists. Well, if I’m a Putin apologist, I’m a sorry one: I hope Russia loses this war. I don’t think it will, but it deserves to. Yet — and here we go again with the Two Things That Can Be True At The Same Time thing — in no way do I think the American establishment deserves to win, whatever “winning” is when you have a country that has been beaten to hell by two years of Covid, and is now about to be crushed by much higher prices for gas and for everything, even as we continue to be told that we are a bunch of homophobic white supremacist bigots whose children need to be separated from our wickedness.

UPDATE: Sure, lots of people in developing countries will starve, but we’ll sure teach Russia a lesson:

UPDATE.2: But see, people like me who notice what this insane ideology is doing to us and complain about it are the problem:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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