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Folkishness, In Brief

Folkishness, In Brief
Photo by Christian Buehner / Unsplash
An Old Idea for a New Time

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It happens almost weekly now that Imperium Press gets a similar email. I always love getting them, it gives me strength and purpose. The email runs something like this (not an actual email):

Moving away from liberalism feels natural and good, but there are a lot of pieces that don’t fit. Since I’ve discovered folkishness, only now do the pieces finally fit with reality and with each other. Not only that, but what you’re developing is a massive whitepill. It offers a realistic and actionable way forward, not just “save the West”.

I’m gratified that this thing is catching on. But a lot of what we’re doing here is so far out of the box for newcomers that it can be hard to get a handle on it. So this article is a survey of some of the key ideas of folkishness as we’ve developed it. We will link to articles that flesh out the different ideas.

First, what is folkishness? It’s nothing more than a return to sanity. It’s just how we’ve always lived until the day before yesterday. This involves having an ethnically homogeneous society, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

Isn’t this just identitarianism? Not quite. First, identitarianism is just about the homogeneous society. Folkishness is about that too, but also other things—we’ll get to those in a moment. Second, identitarians tend to be about “a homeland for all”. Folkishness is not against that, but is unconcerned with it. Folkishness is about taking our own side, not establishing an abstract set of morals for everyone. Identitarianism is universalist; folkishness is particularist. Other peoples don’t enter into it.

Isn’t this just racialism? Folkishness is both more and less than racialism. It’s less than racialism in that it’s much narrower. The white race is a real thing that matters, but not more than your folk. The English are a folk.1 Japanese are a folk. Kurds are a folk. Folkishness is the stuff out of which racialism is built. Folkishness is also more than racialism in that it has a broader notion of identity. A key element of folkishness is a deep respect for the past, an obedience to the commands passed down from your forefathers. Racialism is sometimes indifferent to that, sometimes even hostile.

This is just how people have always lived. They did what their forefathers did. They lived around people of shared blood. They worshipped the same gods. They spoke the same language. So, what in this is new? Why does it have a claim on our attention?

Sanity always has a claim on our attention. But what makes folkishness—at least as we’re developing it—worth your attention is that these older societies took their assumptions for granted and never really made them explicit or set them on solid foundations. We are doing just that.

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Folkish Concepts:

None of the concepts of folkishness are actually new, but because they’ve been taken for granted for so long, they often don’t have a name, and so they’re invisible. We give them names and make them visible. Having this set of concepts is like having the most useful toolkit imaginable, and this is why people are flocking to folkishness for answers. Here are some tools of the trade:


The only real objection anyone ever makes to old folkways is that they’re dumb and irrational. This itself is profoundly dumb. To reason at all, you have to start somewhere, from assumptions. Where do you get those assumptions? You get them from tradition. How do you question assumptions? By squaring them with other assumptions. Where do those come from? Again, tradition. There’s a kind of conservation law at work—you can only question tradition by invoking tradition.

Something is always already in place in order to reason at all: a brute fact—hence factualism. It can’t be reduced to other facts. It’s primordial. What put it there? Authority. Your ancestors.

Reason does not come first. To reason at all is already to presuppose a set of assumptions given and beyond question, assumptions without which no questioning is even possible. At the foundation of all things, rooted in the depths of the world, strong as Precambrian rock and older yet, is not reason—it is authority. The absolute bedrock of all epistemology is authority.

Reason has a governor—it’s governed by the custom of the ancestors, which is to say that reason is subordinate to folkishness, the particularity of a people.

How does this tool help us against liberalism? The liberal believes himself to be the ultimate judge of what’s moral for himself. He can’t be his own authority, because his whole epistemic apparatus is already in place before he even starts reasoning. His whole worldview is self-defeating.

Imperative Ethics:

Arguing with the liberal is exhausting, because we start from different moral assumptions. This is a lot harder than starting from different knowledge assumptions. To illustrate, what’s a more serious disagreement between the following two?

1.      A says white people are racist; B says they aren’t. Both agree that racism is wrong.

2.      A says white people are racist; B agrees, but says that racism is good and natural.

The first is a conflict of knowledge; the second is a moral conflict. They’re not the same. Why? Because knowledge (“is”) statements boil down to propositions, and moral (“ought”) statements boil down to commands.

This is why we have trouble moving from “is” statements to “ought” statements—philosophy calls this the is-ought gap. The reason why is that no number of propositions (“this or that is so”) will ever command you to do anything. Sometimes moral statements are phrased as propositions (“you ought to do this or that”), but these statements always conceal a command. This all seems very academic, but it has radical implications.

First, if morality isn’t a kind of knowledge, then moral progress comes into question. Knowledge is progressive—we gain more knowledge over time—but if morality isn’t a kind of knowledge, we can’t say that morality is progressive.

Second, if morality isn’t a kind of knowledge, then moral universalism comes into question. Knowledge is universal—the statement “Paris is the capital of France” is true no matter who utters it. But if moral statements are all ultimately commands then they can’t be evaluated in terms of truth. The statement “clean your room” can’t be true or false, so it’s no longer universal. Commands might be valid, but they’re valid only when uttered by certain people, and to certain people. Your father can tell you to “clean your room” but not vice versa.

Moral universalism destroys folkishness. If your highest priority (your religion) is universal to all peoples, then the difference between peoples must be a lower priority. No folkishness can be based on that. Imperative ethics strikes a major blow for folkishness and against liberalism. It also has major implications for the question of what makes us, us.


The deepest forms of identity aren’t the ones you believe your way into. You’re not white or Kurdish or Jewish because you believe something, you’re white or Kurdish or Jewish because you were born that way.

But there are identities that are based on belief. I might be a geocentrist, or I might be a flat-earther, or a conservative or a Buddhist. We call “Buddhist” a propositional identity, because it’s based on nothing more than holding certain propositions to be true. It’s fine to have beliefs, but the problem comes when you construct your identity around them and place that constructed identity higher up the totem pole than your inherited identities.

Why is this a problem? A few reasons.

First, it’s not much of an identity. If you can be argued out of your core identity, your identity is weak. No argument will ever convince you that your skin isn’t white, or that your brother is someone else.

Second, these identities just end up approximating the inherited identities anyway. If you’ve ever seen the Buddhism of different peoples, you know that Buddhism in Japan is vastly different than Buddhism in Tibet or America or Cambodia. So propositional identity is never really a core identity anyway.

Third, propositional identity dissolves inherited identities. This might seem to contradict the second problem, but it doesn’t. Propositional identities transcend ethnic lines—you can be a conservative no matter your race. If the propositional identity is the highest, this means that not letting people into your community doesn’t make much sense as long as they’re conservatives. Why would you privilege a secondary identity (your race) above the primary identity (your belief)? If these people are good conservatives but brown, and your neighbour is a bad conservative but white, you wouldn’t be much of a conservative unless you prefer to replace him with them. Over time this is exactly the logic that has prevailed under propositionality, and it has led to mixing inherited identities out of existence.

You know propositional nationalism as civic nationalism or magic dirt theory, and people rightly hate it. But there’s confusion around this, because many other forms of propositional nationalism are thought to oppose civic nationalism when they don’t, such as Christian nationalism.

Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have beliefs—of course, we should. It means that belief isn’t a real identity. This pulls the rug out from under liberalism, which is obviously a propositional identity.

Viral vs. Organic Memetics:

If propositional identities (like liberalism) are weak, then how did they come to dominate? If we look at it through an evolutionary lens, things start to make more sense.

Ideas are like anything else—they’re subject to natural selection. The ones adapted to their environment thrive, and the rest die off. “Adapted” doesn’t necessarily mean “good” or even “true”, it just means “able to survive”. One important part of anything’s survival is how it reproduces. Ideas reproduce in one of two ways.

First, ideas can reproduce by making the carrier of the idea fitter, and so making more of the carrier, and thereby making more of the idea. This is the slow strategy, because these ideas don’t usually transfer between carriers. Ethnocentrism is one such idea; the reproductive interests of the carrier and the idea are aligned. We call this organic memetics.

Second, ideas can reproduce just by transferring from carrier to carrier. This is the fast strategy. Feminism is one such idea; the reproductive interests of the carrier and the idea are not aligned. In the case of feminism, they’re misaligned—feminism pushes down birth rates. The idea succeeds at the expense of the carrier. We call this viral memetics.

Viral memetics usually takes the form of proselytism, and organic takes the form of conquest. Ideas don’t propagate in both ways, because if you have conquest, you don’t need proselytism. The idea only needs proselytism if it doesn’t make the carrier fitter, and in fact one carrier sharing his adaptive advantage with others is maladaptive for him. The evolutionary strategy of liberalism, for example, is to spread virally and undermine ethnocentrism’s pro-adaptive impulses.

The viral-organic typology challenges liberalism by decoupling its success with its truth. Illiberalism has won every argument it has ever had with liberalism, but this doesn’t matter because the liberal asks rhetorically, “if you’re right, why did we win?” This framework explains why liberalism can be both wrong and successful.

Folkish Myths:

We’ve presented a few folkish concepts, but concepts aren’t enough. Like propositions, concepts can only describe the world but they can’t tell us what to do. For that, we need myths.

By myths we don’t mean old stories, nor untrue stories, but narratives that point us in a direction, show us where we’re going, and where we need to go. A myth is really a command framed as a story. Folkishness is not only descriptive, but mythical. It doesn’t just say “Englishmen are this or that”, but “this way, Englishman”. This is where folkishness will start to look very different from, and superior to, racialism.

Disgust and the Rebirth of “Fascism”:

Folkishness critiques the right, but only because it’s a purification of the right. Folkishness accepts many right-wing critiques of modernity, especially the critique that liberalism erodes moral standards.

This can be seen in the progressive erosion of taboos. Sex before marriage was once deeply shameful; now it’s normal. Uncanny sexualities were once hidden away; now they’re celebrated. Violence and cruelty were once rare; now a curious child can find a snuff video with a simple Google search. These things used to provoke a strong disgust response, but as taboos have been broken down, our disgust response has been numbed by overuse. Now the bar has been set very high—it takes something truly awful to disgust us.

This has been a double-edged sword for liberalism. Every mythos—liberalism included—depends on that disgust response to maintain it. As our moral sensibility has been deadened, our disgust at alternatives to liberalism has weakened. Whole generations raised on BDSM and animal attack videos are now more or less unfazed by a certain Austrian painter and what he did. To them, it’s all a joke, just more content that they seek out because their taste for extremity has been blunted by overstimulation. The unthinkable is now very much thinkable.

Ironically, liberalism did this to itself. Its own openness and tolerance is to blame. The “paradox of tolerance”, where we have to tolerate everything except what isn’t liberalism, is a pathetic attempt to shut the barn door after the horse has bolted. Liberalism has made its bed, and now it’s going to have to lie in it.

The Mithridates Strategy:

We explained how ideas propagate themselves either virally or organically, where organic propagation is in the interest of the host, and viral propagation is at the expense of the host. Liberalism spreads virally; it’s objectively harmful to any people. But over time, you can kind of learn to live with the virus—you can develop a limited immunity. It will kill you, but slowly.

The West has a bad case of liberalism. We got it first. But for this reason, we’ve also developed the most immunity. Meanwhile, liberalism has gotten stronger and more virulent. It went from “all men created equal” to feminism to celebrating cutting your own genitals off. What happens when liberalism get exported in its concentrated form to people without immunity? The same thing that happened to the new world natives when they got smallpox—they’re copping it.

If you tried to come up with a strategy to genocide all the third world, you would be a completely diabolical psychopath. But even the most diabolical genius could not come up with a strategy this effective. This is something more to it, something downright apocalyptic and—dare we say it?—supernatural.

We have called it the Mithridates Strategy. Mithridates IV, king of Pontus, was an ancient king who gave himself small doses of poison to build up his tolerance, then invited his enemies to a banquet with poisoned food that he himself ate, to relieve their doubts. When they ate it, they would of course cop it. The West is employing the same strategy with liberalism, except not consciously.

The third world is aware of this strategy on some level and is trying desperately to ward it off. Ghana recently made LGBTQP+ illegal; Uganda passed a bill prescribing the death penalty for it. China is aware of the looming threat of liberalization and working actively to firewall itself against it. It’s too little, too late for all of them. Starlink, the satellite internet service, has already launched, and while China is trying to hold it off, this is a pipe dream. Soon all these countries will be flooded with an endless stream of porn, TikTok, and mumble rap. These countries have all been infected by capitalism and soon KFC- and Taco Bell-induced obesity will be the norm globally. The future is going to be wild.

The supreme irony is that liberalism, with its openness, tolerance, and xenophilia, is going to hollow out the third world. This is a human tragedy on an unprecedented scale, and watching it unfold is going to be very uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the West will be the last man standing, because it has already developed pockets of health and resistance to all this—we call them folkishness. The end of the century is going to be scarcely recognizable to us today.

The Archaic Revival:

All history we read today is “whig” history—the linear view of progress from a dark past to enlightened modernity. The only alternative is the same story, but reversed—a decline from a golden age to debased modernity. Both of these are wrong.

The folkish view of history is that we began as fully immanent, seeing divinity in the world. Man was not otherworldly, he was “thrown into the world”, born into a time and place, bound to it, and not separable from it. His identity wasn’t defined by his beliefs, but his beliefs were defined by his identity. His tribe’s morality was not the morality of all peoples; other peoples didn’t matter. That morality wasn’t a system deduced from first principles, but a patchwork of one-off, ad hoc, bespoke taboos. Change was the rule, but not progress; his morality came from his forefathers.

At some point all this was overthrown. Suddenly, divine transcendence was invented.2 Man was detached from his background, a citizen of the world—his identity was now a matter of belief, not birth. He was told he was free to go his own way—the old tribal gods had no claim beyond his personal conscience. Morality was now universal, binding on all men, and rationalized into an abstract system. He was told that “it’s getting better all the time”, that old ways were benighted and new ways enlightened.

This transition sounds like modernity, but it happened in the ancient world, before the advent of recorded history in most places. By the time we get historical records, the revolution was almost accomplished; we only know about this revolution from careful historical analysis using modern techniques.

This revolution led to the collapse of the ancient world everywhere it happened. In Europe, this was the fall of Rome. The so-called “Dark Ages” that followed saw a whiplash return to the beginning, with divine immanence again coming back. Suddenly we were folkish again. But of course, all things must pass. Again man found his deep-rooted tribal ways inadequate, and started looking to the other world. Again transcendence came back, first in the form of scholasticism and the revival of Platonism, which laid the groundwork for the 18th century “enlightenment” where man was again set against nature, deracinated, and abstracted away from his background.

But through all this there was a counter-enlightenment. Man venerated nature in Romanticism, and illiberal movements in the 19th and 20th centuries revived this natural, immanentist worldview. The modern expression of this “nature worship” is in environmentalism, which began as a right wing movement and continues today not as performative LARPing by “Extinction Rebellion”, but as a deep connection to country, soil, and homeland, and the wish to preserve it. Environmentalism has always belonged to the right.

These counter-enlightenment movements also gave us nationalism, identitarianism, and now their perfection in folkishness. The love of folk, of one’s own people, will never die, and despite liberalism’s attempts to stamp it out, it has grown only stronger. It is now the cardinal sin of modernity, and yet is spreading like wildfire.

Environmentalism and nationalism are not modern ideas. Environmentalism is the modern expression of archaic cosmic maintenance, the cultic religious participation in ensuring the continuation of the cosmos. Nationalism is the modern expression of the ancestor cult, the worship of forefathers going back to the high gods. Against all odds, the archaic is being reborn in us, and folkishness is at the vanguard. We are neither left, nor right—we are ahead.

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This article has sketched out some folkish concepts and myths in brief. We’ve listed and categorized most of the Substack articles in this guide, to help you find more about any of these ideas. Many other ideas have not been included in the present article due to space limitations. We encourage you to browse the guide for more, and thanks for subscribing.1

The ethnic English, obviously.2

The causes of this revolution go beyond the scope of this article.

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