Across the contemporary far right, perhaps no sound carries further than the chorus of moaning that emanates from the “Manosphere.”
A catchall euphemism, the term denotes the decentralized network of misogynist writers, speakers and online communities that gather together men who see women and their rights as the vise inside which their own freedoms are crushed.
As Alex DiBranco explains in her article, “Mobilizing Misogyny,” published by Political Research Associates, that network has produced vicious harassment campaigns—like Gamergate—and killers like Elliot Rodger, who in May 2014 murdered six people. Some glorify others like George Sodini, who murdered three women. Both Rodger and Sodini ended their rampages with suicide.
DiBranco argues that the vitriolic moan emanating from that network is proving an impactful call-to-arms across different dimensions of the far right. She opines that misogyny is opening up men (and women) to a plethora of extreme ideas, be they cultural or political, and the movements trafficking them.
One figure DiBranco highlights is Jack Donovan, whose theories of “‘gang masculinity’,” she writes, compel “men to form warrior gangs to escape domestication of women.” Indeed, Donovan is an important figure. Tracking his movements across the far right reveals much about the relationships and ideas propelling it in fresher directions.
The author of numerous books, Donovan, is among the most prolific writers and speakers producing work within the Manosphere. The 42-year-old preaches a gospel of self-mastery. His exhortations carry hallmarks of the survivalist community and its notions of preparedness and self-sufficiency. Donovan blends that awareness with neo-tribalism, a sort defined by intense, even sexual, bonds between men who voluntarily embark on punishing and disciplined explorations of self and community. The result, he argues, is the remaking of one’s self into a noble barbarian capable of defending his tribe’s boundaries.
Of Donovan’s first book, titled Androphilia: Rejecting the Gay Identity, Reclaiming Masculinity, scholar and author Matthew N. Lyon’s writes:
“Donovan advocates ‘androphilia,’ by which he means love or sex between masculine men. He doesn’t call himself gay, rejects gay culture as effeminate, and justifies homophobia as a defense of masculinity rooted in the male gang’s collective survival needs. This might sound like self-hatred, but Donovan isn’t hiding or apologizing for his own sexuality; he’s defining it in a way that’s radically at odds with prevailing LGBT politic.”
Not to mention “radically at odds with” women.
Residing just outside of Portland, Oregon, Donovan finds practice for his theories through the Wolves of Vinland. He leads its Cascadia chapter, which covers Oregon and Washington. The Wolves are a tribe of heathens, who worship a particularly Germanic strain of Wotanism, despise the modern world, and are invested in an anti-equality worldview. The Wolves eschew Christianity for what they recognize as the indigenous religion of those descended from true Europeans; heathenism or paganism. Myriad supremacists claim membership among them.
Donovan is emblematic of DiBranco’s theory that misogyny is a predominant force within the contemporary far-right, one that is uniting leaders of varying movements, opening them up to new audiences and vice versa.
Over the past decade, Donovan has spoken at the gatherings of white nationalist groups in the United States like American Renaissance (AmRen), run by “race realist” Jared Taylor, and the National Policy Institute, Richard Spencer’s essentially one-man-fail-son boiler room of “identity politics for white people.” Some Wolves are also fellow travelers amongst white supremacist circles, appearing on podcasts and even as members of racist black metal bands. Others have been directly involved with white nationalist groups and their efforts, like Devin Saucier and Kevin DeAnna.
More recently, in February, Donovan was invited to Schnellroda, Germany by the Institut für Staatspolitik (IFS), an intellectual think-tank of the European New Right, to speak at its Winter Akademie gathering.
There, he delivered a speech erected from the bones of his self-heralded magnum opus, “Violence is Golden.”
Donovan’s speech demonstrates why he and this faction of the European New Right (ENR) recognize one another as fellow travelers, or chorus members. It also further reveals how the exchange of ideas and influences is helping sustain individuals—nearly all white—within the United States and Europe who see their ethnic ancestors as the heroes and warriors who’ve built the modern world, the true progenitors of superior cultures.
As he has for years, Donovan aimed his desire for dominance at the “Empire of Nothing”: his phrase for the globalized world that through Neo-Liberal market forces and hyper-commercialization eradicate differences and distinctions between people—races, tribes, societies, cultures, and the rituals and symbols that distinguish them. From this, the ability to discriminate between, and against, others is lost.
But one principle alone defines Donovan’s Weltanschauung (or worldview): Violence, that most extreme consequence of misogyny. Jack worships at its altar, dutifully repeating his mantra of “us versus them.”
The ENR, or Nouvelle Droite, has its roots in the counter-enlightenment and is exemplified by the philosophies of Alain de Benoist and others who were working in France during the late 1960s with the think-tank, Groupement de Recherche et d'Etudes pour la Civilisation Européenne (GRECE), at the center of which stood de Benoist. ENR thinkers deride where the hegemonic power of the “West” finds purchase in the Neo-Liberal economic projects of countries that pilot the global economy. Against these market forces, local and regional cultures must be preserved; therefore, all policies of multiculturalism must be opposed.
For the ENR, cultural projects rooted in the preservation of the regional and local should be established. Their undertaking is meant to impact political spheres of power from the outside. The insides are too corrupted. Such projects are efforts in “metapolitics” meant, ultimately, to result in societies or communities that promote difference and discrimination. The ENR calls this idea “ethno-pluralism.”
“Ethno-pluralism” is a doctrine of ethnic separatism and even ethnic nationalism; all communities are ostensibly entitled to preserving their cultures and defending their boundaries, however defined. ENR thinkers argue that cultural identities must never be mixed and can only be preserved through separatism.
Such arguments have produced inspiration for all manner of bigots across the “West,” like Donovan.
Heavily influenced by the 1968-generation of leftist thinkers in France, the ENR attempted to reterritorialize some of the left’s political philosophies for fodder, inspiring movements to come. For example, it is a forerunner of the Identitarian movement in Europe.
Born in the early 2000s in France, the Identitarian movement is a largely youth-based phenomenon. It’s Eurocentric, often ultranationalist groups cast amalgamations of (usually white) identity politics, anti-immigrant fervor, and Islamophobia into propaganda and protest efforts. Some of those efforts are co-optings of the efforts of leftist movements over recent decades.
Their attempts to reterritorialize those efforts and doctrines like identity politics have more recently in this country inspired the white nationalist matrix of the so-called “alt-right,” as led by Richard Spencer and others.
Spencer and his ilk owe a deep, obvious debt to the ENR, as evidenced by their online journals and the topics discussed at their conferences, with the Identitarians being mentioned specifically by Spencer. Their influence is evidenced by a disciple of Spencer’s, Nathan Damigo, and his small college campus-focused group, Identity Europa, and by groups like Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott’s Traditional Youth Network and Traditionalist Worker’s Party.
On the “Start Here” portion of his personal website, Donovan underscores white nationalists and their movement as fellow travelers. He begins his 2011 essay, “Mighty White,” by writing, “I started rubbing elbows with White Nationalists a few years ago. I call ‘em ‘The Mighty Whites.’”
He continues, “I support White Nationalists. They are not all equally right about everything, but I am sympathetic to many of their general aims.”
Some “Mighty Whites” have reciprocated. For example, video of Donovan’s speech—“White Tribalism Disrupts Their Regularly Scheduled Programming”—before the 2014 American Renaissance gathering evidences these fellow travelers in unabashed full-flow.
After addressing “our side,” a Q&A commenced. Matthew Heimbach, the white nationalist’s movement most earnest gadfly, stepped forward.
“Mr. Donovan, I really enjoyed your speech. The question regards [sic] to tribe.”
Heimbach continued, explaining that, unlike white Europeans, white Americans have no real claim to “blood and soil” (long a slogan of fascists) and are therefore locked in quandary:
“[G]iven that all of us want the same thing – to be able to see our culture revive and thrive – how can we go about forming a new identity in [sic] the North American continent specifically because to adopt the American Identity, the rallying cry of “Take Back America,” is actually antithetical to our survival because it is repeating something that already failed … So to be an American patriot is to literally be insane if you want to save the white race.”
Donovan responded, “Well, I agree with pretty much everything you said there.”
After chuckling, he described how the size of the United States is a natural barrier to unassailable formations of identity.
He continued, “That’s why I’m a big fan of tribalism in all different kinds of ways, whether it be, like, religious tribalism or racial tribalism or whatever. I think, if we break into smaller groups, I think that’s how you define culture, you know, that’s how you can [set] the boundaries.”
That manner of boundary setting—racial, tribal, or cultural separatism, “or whatever”—bares important resemblance to the ENR and its dogma of “ethno-pluralism.”
While delivering “Violence of Golden,” Donovan lambasted “violent terrorists, especially non-whites” and “white anti-racist terrorists” as the soulless agents of the “Empire of Nothing,” “who are more concerned with social justice than actual justice.” They are aligned in a circuitry conspiring against those who cherish identity. His bemoaning of so-called “social justice warriors” as reactionary boogeymen (read: snowflakes) who rely on state violence for existence and power is but another far-right trope these fellow travelers mutually indulge (and have co-opted from the left).
Yet the sharing of tropes is but a facet of why Donovan’s appearance in Schnellroda is noteworthy.
His voyage to the Institut für Staatspolitik’s gathering teaches us much about how far trafficking in misogyny can carry one across the far-right. Like Islamophobia, misogyny is proving a potent rallying cry, one that is renewing energies for other dangerous dogmas, returning them gradually from fringes.
Among the chorus, Donovan rails against the globalized world. But, spread across the “West,” leaders of movements rooted in the preservation of identity—of ethnocentrism, of white nationalism, of ultranationalism, of masculinity—are drawing each other ever-closer together.
And, as Donovan and the ENR have argued elsewhere, proximity is everything.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Jack Donovan spoke before the HL Mencken Club. He didn’t. We regret the error.