GANGS OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER
By Marian Kester Coombs
Globalization can be described as the dissolution of national identities and sovereignties into a massified, featureless blob – a globaloma (with homage to Clare Boothe Luce’s brilliant coinage “globaloney”). It also can be defined as the triumph of Capital’s eternal drive to pay the lowest possible wage. Where borders once were shields against the excesses of predatory employment practices, if only by sheltering competitive alternatives, populations increasingly stand defenseless as their defining qualities are sucked into the black hole of the New World Order.
The globaloma shrivels not just wages, but social power. What is this scarcest of all commodities? It can be as seemingly trivial and basic as being able to get a decent job, start and support a family, enjoy the respect of wife and children, “get ahead.” It extends all the way up to being able to make decisions that protect, even save, one’s entire people. Social power is the energy of life itself, an elixir compounded of the needs, desires and essential qualities of the flesh-and-blood social being.
In the political economy of power, scarcity always rages; there is never remotely enough of it to go around; and in turn, the group and individual Will to Power is the prime generator of all scarcity in human affairs. J.-P. Sartre claimed that human beings throughout history reproduce scarcity at higher and higher levels, but the scarcity of power is everlasting.
Numerous competing power centers continue to exist in the not-yet-fully-globalized world of nations, semi-autonomous provinces such as Scotland and Quebec, ethnic homelands such as Kurdistan, loosely-administered or informal protectorates such as Taiwan, and a few remaining frontier regions such as the Tribal Areas of Pakistan. These competing power centers help satisfy men’s burning urge to have control over the fates of self and kindred and community; they afford alternatives, second chances, refuge and inspiration as well as cautionary tales to those who have been put in check by their own societies. “Empowerment” is the polite, PC term for the will to power, which cannot be denounced out of existence.
Within any one society, of course, there are dominant and subordinate groups that share the limited available power unequally and more or less uneasily. Often, though not always, such class stratification originates from the conquest of one people by another or successive others. Dominant groups are better situated to recruit their own into the next cohort of power players. The great task of every generation is to sort out which of its sons will win or be granted the status of men – that is, powerful self-determining adults – and which will remain essentially powerless (emasculated). Societies like Ireland under British rule, where, no matter what their qualities, very few Irish Catholic boys could hope to attain manhood in this sense, are as a result fatally unstable (that instability persists in Ulster). The same situation repeats itself around the planet, from the African experience in America to the caste system of India to the Intifada against Israel to the suppressed nationalities of the former Soviet Union; from the Hebrews under Egyptian and Babylonian captivity to the Saxons under the Normans to the Scottish clans under the English crown to the South under Reconstruction to the 19th-century Italian banditti under the nobles.
The phrase “will to power” links this analysis to the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, while the word “status” links it to the theories of C. Wright Mills, Richard Sennett, Paul Fussell and Tom Wolfe (who declared his entire opus to be a commedia of status pursuit). These writers mock the “status panic,” “status anxiety” and “hidden injuries” of the middle class, as though all these amounted to no more than the petty dignity of a Walter Mitty. But Eric Hobsbawm’s classic study Bandits (1969) better judges the real stakes of the struggle.
“The gentry use the pen, we the gun; they are the lords of the land, we of the mountain,” explains one old Italian brigand quoted in Bandits. Hobsbawm defines “social bandits” as
outlaws whom the lord and state regard as criminals,
but who remain within ... society, and are considered
by their people as heroes, as champions, avengers,
fighters for justice, perhaps even leaders of liberation,
and in any case as men to be admired, helped and
The concept of social banditry illuminates folk culture’s enduring celebration of Robin Hood, Jesse James, Pretty Boy Floyd, Geronimo, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa (not to mention Fidel and Che), as well as its obsession with love matches between indomitable commoners and maidens of royal blood in the face of fierce societal and parental opposition.
“Youth gangs” based on ethnicity are today’s social bandits, celebrated in fashion and music video. In 1961, only 23 large American cities reported serious gang problems; now half of all towns with populations of 25,000 or less report gang activity. As male initiation rites wither away along with the social power they once conferred, the peer group becomes all, and the peer group in extremis is the gang. As Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox analyze it in The Imperial Animal,
In post-adolescent males, the genetic message is one of sinister
and often undirected rebelliousness; this threatening information
is received by older males, whose steadier hormonal systems go
into reaction and insist on containment.
But what happens when the old rites of passage lead nowhere, when containment never gives way to coronation – “The King is dead, long live the Little Prince”?
To shift perspective somewhat, immigrants into a nation are the equivalent of an entire new cohort of youth in terms of their “message” to the established power structure. They create an automatic power vacuum as they push their frequently unwelcome way into pre-established bastions of power. Usually these immigrants have come from societies already suffering crises of power scarcity. It has been well documented how gangsterism is the natural response of newly-arrived groups shut out of mainstream power relationships. Virtually every ethnic group that has come to America, including the Germans but with the possible exception of the Finns, Swedes and Norwegians (who often became diehard Reds instead), goes through a gangster phase on its way to making it.
Gangs create alternative institutions in a subterranean world with its own rules, values and rewards. At the lowly street gang level, where one is less than a man, forced to remain a boy, one’s women are revealingly called “mamas.” The IRA depends on such women just as Hell’s Angels do. Since the “legit” economy is all sewn up – or at least does not offer a quick enough payoff to the young man on the make – gangs develop their own underground or “black” economy of smuggled, stolen and forbidden goods and services – “vice” of all kinds – tax-free. Thus do they amass the fortunes that buy them respect, that nectar and ambrosia of social power, first in their world and finally in the broader society.
Gangs may be “just a phase” for most groups, but in some cases they outlive their initial purpose. Irish-dominated political machines survive in big cities and in the Northeast. La Cosa Nostra staggers onward, despite the great success of Italians in American life, still offering pilfered power to its “made men” even as Don Corleone’s dream for his son Michael in “The Godfather” – legitimacy – has long been realized; the gang makes men (“men of respect”) when mainstream society refuses to.
Assimilation of immigrants, then, is in large part the process of gradually incorporating their men into the existing structures of power in the host society. With the massive immigration flows of modern times, however, that absorption process is breaking down. In some cases, as in the U.K., U.S. and Canada, quotas and affirmative action arbitrarily allow some immigrants to cut in line ahead even of more qualified native-born minorities, creating further political, economic and social chaos. But for ambitious immigrants who are not winners of the power lottery, gangs more vicious than ever remain the time-honored way to go.
The U.S. now harbors dozens of violent, ethnic-based gangs with hundreds of thousands of members. As our nation’s sovereign power base is sapped by the globaloma, such gangs will become permanent features of a bleak landscape. It is an already notorious phenomenon that second-generation immigrants may be more prone to gangsterism than were their parents. A gang of the latest pattern, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), with its name so redolent of the Virgin and salvation, is headed by illegal aliens from El Salvador who joined in Los Angeles, were deported, regrouped in San Salvador, and have now reentered the country to prey on our fellow citizens.
These citizens will be glad to learn that gun control meshes well with Mara Salvatrucha’s style: Many of its murders are done by machete. Naturally such a gang targets police officers. Cops to them are just rival gunmen in the pay of the gang in power. MS-13’s 20,000 members nationwide now include Mexicans, Ecuadorans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans as well as Salvadorans. MS-13 is also reputed to have met with “a top al Qaeda lieutenant” in Tegucigalpa ... But not to worry: Authorities periodically announce they have arrested and are planning to deport hundreds of MS-13 leaders. (Again.)
As this al Qaeda involvement suggests, the scarcity of power, authority and manhood has been internationalized. Even Europe has reacted to America’s ueber-hegemon status by unionizing. Unfortunately, the European Union seeks to counterbalance American power by wresting centuries’ worth of power off its national foundations – a process akin to tossing priceless Greek statuary into the street to serve as barricades.
Terrorist groups are political gangs that operate like international guerrillas, snatching at whatever shreds of power they can reach. Sometimes entire countries, “rogue states” in revolt against the stifling dominion of the hegemons, are relegated to gang status by the “legitimate” international community. Referring to the Muslim world in Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History, neoconservative author Lee Harris threatens, “If a nation contains gangs who have acted with conspicuous ruthlessness, then it is not entitled to be considered a sovereign state.”
Such a threat is the problem, not the solution. Islam in fact is rapidly becoming the official creed of the world’s disenfranchised, disempowered men, radiating outward from its Arab base to embrace millions in the “developing” (i.e., subordinated) nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The hegemons all have nukes; their poor relations want nukes, too. No one who calls himself a man suffers another man to get the drop on him. To be forced to disarm is to be castrated. The situation is quite literally intolerable.
There is so little room for powerful men in the emerging globaloma that the very subject of manhood is greeted with outright hostility. Between nations and within nations, manhood is now vigorously discouraged. An aggressive program of cultural neutering to complement the political neutering is underway. The new behavior models for males – image after image of fat, sluggish dolts alternating with howling party animals – reinforce the message “Men are dogs.” So relentless a reprogramming must be deliberate, as though man-hating viragos had seized power in Washington and Hollywood and Madison Avenue, Davos and Whitehall and Brussels and The Hague. (But of course these “viragos” are themselves overwhelmingly male – men dedicated to the dispossession and disempowerment of their very own “fellow men.”) It also explains why public education is so stupefying and border control such a joke: Countless men who would have had a shot at social power in a sovereign America must now be reprogrammed as submissive proles.
“Women have needs, too,” some will point out. Women too want power over their lives, to separate from their mothers, to not be dependent on “the kindness of strangers,” to feel significant, to become successful adults; but the drive of girls to attain adult womanhood is not the driving force of history. Women continue overwhelmingly to choose men for their power potential and to then share in that status. Where women’s will to power most powerfully manifests itself is in mothers’ ruthless promotion of their own children’s interests over those of other bitches’ brats. Meanwhile their daughters more or less mercilessly whittle away at the stock of rivals competing for the most potent males: “mean girls” in a war of attrition, culling the herd of “superfluous” females.
Yet Steve Sailer is insightful to argue that men have started investing a great deal more in their daughters now that most families are down to one or two children. Half the one-child families will have a daughter only, while two-thirds of the two-child families will have either one or two daughters; in the absence of any son, many fathers treat a daughter like a son.
Also factored into this transformation must be the campaign against manhood, however: fathers realize their daughters must develop masculine characteristics in the absence of men able to protect or support them in future. Lionel Tiger for his part argues that women are surging ahead of men in degree of education because they now expect to have to support both themselves and their children, while men expect to support themselves alone.
As for gangs “as heroes, as champions, avengers, fighters for justice, perhaps even leaders of liberation,” in Hobsbawm’s words, most if not all revolutionary movements do begin as gang-like “cells” – Freemasons, Committees of Correspondence, Minutemen, the League of the Just – that array themselves against the powers that be. The language of our Declaration of Independence clearly voices the resentment felt by subjugated men toward their haughty masters:
The History of the present King of Great-Britain is
a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all
having in direct Object the Establishment of an
absolute Tyranny over these States. ... He has
dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for
opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on
the Rights of the People. ... He has combined
with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign
to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by
our Laws ...
The American revolutionary experience, thankfully, led to greater social empowerment, greater freedom, greater self-determination; but the rise of gangs to challenge and replace anciens régimes is not always a liberating development. The Jacobins and Bolsheviks spring to mind. The Nazis are a particularly complex example, a hybrid of street thugs, parvenus and other marginal types with established major players in German industry and the military. The Freikorps bands, reorganized as the SA and then replaced by the Waffen-SS, contested the Wehrmacht for its monopoly on the use of force. In a mere dozen years Nazi gang culture transformed the face of Germany. The entire nation adopted the gang signs, songs, symbols, insignia, acronyms and colors of the NSDAP. The nation itself in effect became a gang, desperately battling hegemonic Britain for its stolen “place in the sun.”
In the recent film “Der Untergang” (“Downfall”), a burning-eyed Goebbels is shown more than once slipping away to stare into a mirror; you get the sense that he has done this many times, veering off to gaze at his image in its dramatic uniform as though to pinch himself – “It is really I, who was nothing and am now a god of the Third Reich.” Goebbels preferred his children to die rather than be “slaves” in the postwar order.
In sum, history is a great Bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story of the struggle of men to ensure that their own sons become the men of the next generation – real autonomous manhood being the scarcest of all forms of social power. Globalization thwarts and aborts this process for untold millions by gutting and abstracting older forms of power and authority – just as the One Ring does in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasia on this very process, The Lord of the Rings. And ceaseless emigration and immigration destroy the alchemy of assimilation that historically gave newcomers entrée to social power.
Further, globalization’s surreal concentration of authority into fewer and fewer hands strangles not only the power built up over centuries by hundreds of dominant national groups, but also the possibility of any meaningful meritocracy of individuals. The latter phenomenon was an upside feature of the expansive, revolutionary phase of European and American industrialization; there is no way within the globaloma that this miracle could ever come to pass again. There will arise instead a vanishingly small coterie of the legitimate, already prefigured in the phenomenon of political dynasties. The Bushes and Cheneys, Kennedys and Clintons will take care that their own never sink into peonage; the rest of us will be the equivalent of bastards, dependent, powerless and “lumpenized.”
Yet history is also the story of irresistible resistance to tyranny. People’s response to power shortages in the past has been to form alternative institutions to keep alive their identity and aspirations: trade unions, workingmen’s associations, Friendly Societies offering benefits “such as unemployment, superannuation, sickness, accident and death allowances” (from G.D.H. Cole and Raymond Postgate, The Common People 1746-1946), co-operative workshops and factories, “Co-Op” stores (which introduced the masses to healthy foods), credit unions, strike funds, underground schools that taught forbidden languages like Basque and Irish, samizdat, boycotts, organized Luddism and sabotage, vigilantism, “subversive” forms of religious belief, not to mention the vibrant cultures of pub and music hall. These institutions helped heal the ravages of raw industrial capitalism; they long predate the imitations that the State was forced to come up with to deter revolution.
The rising global elites now are quietly, swiftly shifting to their own new institutions like the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol, the Law of the Sea Treaty and the imposition of a global tax under the cover of U.N. “reform.” They seem to be trying as rapidly as possible to lay waste traditional institutions – religion, marriage, citizenship, private property, the separation of powers, equality before the law – as they abandon them. The Supreme Court has begun citing international conventions, not the Constitution. Free traders in Congress behave as though favoring American workers were an act of the most hideous racism.
The more centralized and totalized the government, the less benefit to the governed. Healing the ravages of globalization will require salvaging and rebuilding alternative power centers of our own. Home schooling and the charter school movement are immensely important enterprises in this cause. The Minuteman Project’s direct action on America’s southern border, “just doing” the job that the official border-controllers refuse to, is another great precedent. Even blogging, while a very mixed bag, serves notice that “official” sources of information are no longer allowed to do their usual lousy job of framing the news, and demonstrates that there are far more voices out there demanding to be heard than can possibly be accommodated by the so-called MSM.
On September 11, 2001, the only hijacked plane that did not find its mark was brought down by a gang of passengers armed only with the heroism of despair. When the state goes off its rocker, as it periodically does, it is the “little platoons” of civil society that set our lives in vital order once again.
NOTE, August 2018: I wrote this essay more than 10 years ago, but it didn’t seem to need much updating.
---- Marian Kester Coombs