Preserve the Past to Protect the Future

Uncle Rukmer

The current row over the sanitization of the works of Roald Dahl is playing out as you’d expect. The Daily Mail, The New York Post, Piers Morgan and all the others are churning out content. The Cathedral are playing their usual game of covering the coverage and wasting gallons of ink and pixels on properly “contextualizing” the controversy so that their audience knows what to think. And of course on YouTube the outrage grifters are picking it up. It’s all so very predictable. 

So what should we, the earnest folks of the Dissident Right, take away from all this? In my mind, there is one key lesson that we need to ingrain in our minds: only we can preserve our culture. 

When institutions are functioning we can rely on publishing houses, libraries, museums, and foundations dedicated to preserving an artist’s work to be steadfast in ensuring our access to the great works of the past. But institutions are not functioning and every organization that should be looking out for our culture is instead oriented towards its destruction. The long march through the institutions is basically over. 

We’ve seen this coming for a while. Disney is vaulting their old films, creating “modern” reimaginings, and pushing those out instead. Dr. Seuss was targeted for having “problematic imagery”. And the corpse of Christopher Tolkein wasn’t even cold before the vultures at Amazon started desecrating the legacy of Lord of the Rings. Not even the dictionary is safe. Roald Dahl is the next target, but will hardly be the last. 

Our job therefore is to curate and preserve the past before the forces of “progress” can destroy them forever. We need to identify, collect, store, and maintain those works that we can identify and access that serve as the vessels of our culture. The works that form both the ancient and modern “canon” of our civilization. Obviously our movement doesn’t have the means to access all great and important works, but where possible we should gather what is important. Physical media is to be preferred because digital copies can degrade and anything stored in the cloud is not safe. 

This is not a project for just a few of us. Sure, collectively we can come up with a list of what the collection should hold, but execution must take place locally. Every basket weaving group must strive to maintain their own local collection of the works we identify to share and enrich their community. But not every community will have the same access and resources to find these items. So we must be charitable. Look around your local used book stores. If you find an extra copy of an important work, buy it and share it with a community that needs it. If you have in your collection an item that is difficult to come by, be willing to make it available for others in the community. Make copies and share them if you have to. 

Vigilance will be required because media degrades. Especially visual media like disks and tapes. Learn how to store vulnerable media correctly. Learn how to make duplicates in case something gets ruined. We are fighting against entropy, both in the figurative and literal sense. Anyone who has delved into retro game collecting knows what a pain preservation can be, but we can also learn from these communities so we’re not starting from scratch. There are great tutorials out there on how to capture and preserve video, set up local storage servers, deal with obsolete video formats, and so forth. Sites like the Internet Archive can also be useful in building up local collections, but we can’t expect it’ll be around forever. 
We also can’t delay. As our desired media gets more scarce the price to acquire it will rise beyond our means. Think about how difficult it is to get a copy of the original 1977 edition of Star Wars. George Lucas worked tirelessly to make sure you couldn’t have it. And scalpers always know when something is about to become rare and will corner stock to exploit the imminent need. We should start today. We must become Guy Montag. Not only our children, but our children’s children will thank us for it.