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The Occidental Quarterly Vol 6 No 4

Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America's Culture War
Peter Gemma, editor

Reviewed by Michael W. Masters

"War is the continuation of politics by other means." —Karl Von Clausewitz

"Politics is activity in relation to power."—Francis Parker Yockey, Imperium

The late Dr. Samuel Francis, the award winning paleoconservative columnist and political commentator who dealt with realpolitik in the large, would surely have appreciated a certain oft-repeated observation by reenactors of the War for Southern Independence.1 The men who take the field speak reverently of the emotional impact of the recreation of a major battle such as Shiloh, Sharpsburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, or others comparable: At least once in your life, they say, you should come out and "see the elephant." By this, they mean that the spectacle of a reenactment of a major engagement—let alone the real thing—is so enormous, so powerful, so evocative of momentous events that changed the course of history that only the metaphor of the mighty elephant can do it justice. Such events can draw ten thousand or more uniformed participants as well as a legion of camp followers, sutlers, and support personnel and a large number of observers.

Most who attend reenactments come away with a renewed appreciation for the struggles and sacrifices of our ancestors—together with a vague sense of relief that, for them and on that day, it was just a show and not real at all. Real war, of course, is infinitely more terrible and fraught with profound consequences than the games men play while dressed in blue and gray. For reenactors, there is no blood and no death, and when the weekend is over everyone goes home none the worse for wear.

Unfortunately, once they resume their normal lives most participants and spectators—and indeed most Americans of all stripes—remain fatefully unaware that they are in fact immersed in a nonshooting war with consequences every bit as momentous and fi nal as the struggle of the Confederacy to free itself from the yoke of a president and a Union intent on imposing on them an early version of multiculturalism. Many observers, among them Dr. Francis, have called it a culture war—a war between confl icting ideals and competing visions of the future. It is a conflict, fought with weapons other than shot and shell, to decide who controls what America becomes—and indeed who is to be considered an American at all.

The culture war is a covert attack on Western civilization and its founding people, prosecuted by means of politics and propaganda at the public level and character assassination and economic reprisal at a personal level—a war against the mind rather than the body. Dr. Francis saw this far sooner and much more clearly than most. When it came to politics and the culture war, Sam "saw the elephant." Dr. Francis engaged the elephant in combat so effectively that he personally became a target of the conflict’s ugliest adversaries, with quarter neither asked nor given. He entered the struggle long before most people thought to wonder why rights their ancestors fought and died to secure were slowly being strangled and their homeland turned into a Third World country.

Perhaps it is most appropriate and fitting that, in keeping with the warfare analogy, the present collection of Dr. Francis’s best and most insightful columns, essays, and speeches, edited by Peter Gemma, be titled Shots Fired; Sam Francis knew who the enemy was, and he fought them every step of the way by every honorable means until his body could continue no longer. In this review, we forego summarization of the content of each essay in favor of presenting what we believe to be overarching issues Dr. Francis meant to raise: that the West is under attack from within; that the attack is psychological in nature, to wit, demonization of Western peoples and values resulting in debilitating guilt and surrender without resistance; that the West has an inherent right to exist, defend, and perpetuate itself; and that the consequence of failing to counter this attack will be the eventual dispossession of Western peoples and their replacement by others.

As a Ph.D. trained in history and political theory, Dr. Francis knew the value of defining terms precisely. The term "culture" is ambiguous and potentially misleading. To some, it merely connotes what kind of food one eats, what kind of music one listens to, which poets one reads. At this level, culture borders on the trivial—not that cuisine, art, and literature are unimportant aspects of human life, but rather that these facets of culture have little impact on the health and survival of a nation or its people.

Whereas, the aspects of culture over which the culture war is being fought have profound ramifi cations with respect to both—especially for the West, if it should lose. Culture, Dr. Francis wrote,

refers to the whole set of norms by which a people live, by which they define and govern themselves. Such norms include not only moral and legal rules but also the proper way to do things: how to cook food; whether you eat food with knives and forks, fingers, or chopsticks; how to dress; how to conduct yourself in public; what kind of language to use to certain people or on certain occasions.

The same kind of norms also govern moral relationships: what we consider good or bad, strong or weak, beautiful or ugly, healthy or sick. And there is also a political culture, the set of norms by which a people regulates the proper use of power and how to get it.

The political left fully understands that culture has a broader and more fundamental meaning—and works assiduously to insure that ordinary European-descended Americans, the real targets of the culture war, never achieve that same understanding. After all, if one is not aware that a war is in progress one is unlikely to engage effectively in the struggle—leaving those who are aware all the more in control of the outcome. Nor is the fight likely to be pleasant for those involved. In one essay, Dr. Francis quotes über-liberal Mario Cuomo on the culture war: "What do you mean by ‘culture’? That’s a word they used in Nazi Germany." As is usual for liberals in American politics, when in a tight spot smear those you wish to destroy with the odium of Hitler and the Nazis, no matter how absurd the association.

Like his cultural-Marxist adversaries (we believe "cultural Marxism" is a more accurate portrayal of the political philosophy of the left than the altogether bland descriptor, "political correctness"), Dr. Francis was acutely aware of the importance of culture at this level. He frequently attributed the successes of the left to its adherence to the doctrine of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, an early advocate of waging war against the West in terms of culture rather than by means of class warfare. Despite the success of their bloody coup d’état, aristocide, and genocide in Russia, communists repeatedly failed to create the precursor conditions needed for a similar violent overthrow of the West.

Thwarted by the spiritual and cultural strength of Christendom, which shared not only a nominal religiosity but also a thousand-year history of ever-increasing commitment to applying laws equitably to all members of a national community, Gramsci saw that the West could not be rendered vulnerable until communists found a way to negate the culture in which the West was immersed and which immunized it against the bloody excesses of egalitarian bolshevism—until those such as himself and other Marxist elites had achieved "cultural hegemony" over the West. In Dr. Francis’s words, Gramsci believed that

...elites rule through their dominance of culture more than through their control of the means of production and that revolutionaries who seek to overthrow an elite must fi rst make a long march through the institutions of culture before trying to wield political or economic power.

Those who control the culture—and especially those who control the means by which culture is presented and interpreted to the people, i.e., the media, art, entertainment, academia, arbiters of political discourse, church authority figures, and others—are powerful indeed. For it is they who control the boundaries of what is permissible to discuss, let alone agree, or disagree with. As Dr. Francis observed: "By defining some activities as ‘normative’ and others as violating cultural norms" the cultural elites are able to "confer or deny legitimacy to certain kinds of behavior, language, and thought as they please."

Mirroring the words of Francis Parker Yockey, who said that politics is activity in relation to power, Dr. Francis observed that culture, too, "necessarily concerns power." He adds, "The issue is simple: Who gets to define the norms by which the American people will live?" Or as English writer John Harington put it,

Treason doth never prosper; what's the reason?
For if it prospers, none dare call it treason

The cultural elites have committed treason against the people within whose body politic they dwell, and, having succeeded in doing so, they now suppress discussion of the consequences of their betrayal, except within carefully controlled limits. Thus, it is simply not legitimate to discuss certain subjects. Race and racial differences are foremost among these. Indeed, the current fashion among cultural Marxists—to deny that race even exists—is a transparent attempt to prevent discussion of race in meaningful and realistic terms. If it does not exist then there can be no valid purpose in discussing it, and any attempt at discussion instantly brings forth a shrieking harpies' coven of cultural Marxists to smear the discussant as a bigot and a racist.

Dr. Francis rarely wrote specifically about race differences, although he certainly exhibited the courage to do so when the need and opportunity arose—indeed it was his speeches on race at American Renaissance conferences that cost him employment at the Washington Times. Very few of his syndicated columns and magazine essays were devoted to black IQ deficits, crime rates, out-of-wedlock births, etc. Not that these reflections of reality are unimportant or that they should not be put before the public in the most forceful manner possible. But the fact is that others have done so with a rigor and scientific basis that is definitive, among them Arthur Jensen, Linda Gottfredson, Philippe Rushton, Richard Lynn, Seymour Itzkoff, Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, and many others.

Instead, Dr. Francis' strength was his early recognition and articulate exposition of the fact that the constant bleating by cultural Marxists about the joys of diversity was simply a con job hiding a deeper and more sinister purpose. The demonization of white race consciousness and in-group loyalty—exemplified by that epithet from hell, "racism"—as a means of attacking the European-descended population of the West is perhaps the left's most brilliant and successful stratagem. Whites are everywhere castigated for putting the interests of their own kin before the interests of other races—while at the same time other races are urged to retain their own culture, traditions, and loyalties. Indeed, attempts to deprive nonwhites of their characteristic identity are sometimes described as genocide. We are left to speculate as to why reciprocity does not apply in the case of whites.

This is, as Dr. Francis repeatedly hammered home in his writings, hypocrisy of a high order. But then, consistency isn't the goal of cultural Marxism, and neither is interracial brotherhood. The real reason for demonizing white people is that it is an effective means with which to bring about the destruction of the one group with sufficient ability to thwart the aspirations of the globalist oligarchy that seeks to rule not only the West but the entire world as well.2 Writes Dr. Francis,

"Pluralism" and "diversity" are standard code words for those who wage war on American, Western and "Eurocentric" culture. They invoke terms like "pluralism" and "diversity" because they know that leaders like Mr. [Rich] Bond3 and his compadres in the GOP don't know how to argue against that language...Yet for the loudest proponents of "pluralism," diversity is the last thing they really want. What they want is to delegitimize American, Western and "Eurocentric" traditions and to boost their own anti-Western and anti-American dogmas into the pilot seat.

There is an aphorism that exposes this approach for what it is: "Tolerance for me but not for thee." Dr. Francis echoes this thought precisely when he says, "To the self-proclaimed enemies of Western cultural dominance, they mean: You have to tolerate us so we can destroy you."

Pluralism is, of course, founded on the presumption that, deep down, all peoples around the planet—all six billion of them—are pretty much equivalent in all relevant characteristics and can therefore ( must therefore) coexist harmoniously in a common body politic. The equality myth has served the enemies of the West well. If the commissars of cultural Marxism can, through coercion or deception, establish equality as a standard where there so self-evidently is none then they can pretty much impose any other standards they wish—including the establishment of their role as arbiters of what is acceptable and what is not. In the words of one of Dr. Francis's favorite sources of insight, Vilfredo Pareto, equality "is related to the direct interests of individuals who are bent on escaping certain inequalities not in their favor, and setting up new inequalities that will be in their favor..."

In The Lessons of History, Will and Ariel Durant's postscript to their epic work, The Story of Civilization, the authors observed that "freedom and equality are sworn enemies, and where one prospers the other dies." The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, China's Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian genocide, and others introduced the world to the mass murdering, civilization-wrecking power of the ideology of equality. The late Garrett Hardin, one of the most brilliant writers of the twentieth century on the science of ecology and the implications of mass immigration for national survival, phrased it this way: "[S]uch verbal devices as "principles," "liberty," and "fairness" can be used as competitive weapons." In the words of Dr. Francis, use of equality as a preemptive political principle represents "the strategic deployment of a weapon for the seizure of power." He adds:

In the twentieth century, egalitarianism has been used principally as the political formula or ideological rationalization by which one, emerging elite has sought to displace from political, economic, and cultural power another elite, and in not only rationalizing but also disguising the dominance of the new elite.

In his trademark essay, "The Revolution Was," on the impact of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal on the American form of government, Garet Garrett, the hard-line libertarian Saturday Evening Post columnist of the 1930s, wrote, "There are those who still think they are holding the pass against a revolution that may be coming up the road. But they are gazing in the wrong direction. The revolution is behind them. It went by in the Night of Depression, singing songs to freedom."

The uninitiated may question how it is that a revolution accompanied by the singing of "songs to freedom" could be a bad thing. Although Garrett focused on the government powers that FDR usurped during his stay in the White House rather than egalitarianism per se, his meaning could surely be extended to the cultural Marxists’ use of equality as a weapon to bring about "freedom." In Dr. Francis’s estimation, early twentieth century progressives identified "freedom" as release from Rousseau’s famous chains that everywhere bind "free" men:4 "the institutional, intellectual and moral fabric of bourgeois society..." In other words, an institutional absence of equality—and one that therefore, according to the cultural Marxists, necessitates a regime change.

The problem is that people are not, never have been and never will be—and in fact never can be—equal. No amount of sermonizing or pretending can create even the appearance of equality. Only force can do that. Or strong delusions.

What both Garrett and Francis meant, we suspect, is that people who had been on the bottom of the ladder because that is where nature put them were now "equal" because that’s where ideologues and their equality propaganda would raise them—artifi cially, to be sure, and solely for the purpose of securing allies for the elevation of an aspiring elite to power. To the have-nots thus uplifted by the stolen fruits of power, it must have seemed like freedom—and it must have insured their loyalty to those who did the stealing, ostensibly for their benefit but in reality to enable the aspiring elite to sweep away traditional organic institutions and leaders.

No less important is the fact that there are always true believers whose hearts throb at sob stories about the injustices of inequality. These people, misanthropes to their own kind, convey a legitimacy to the equality scam that it could never engender on its own. Lenin is said to have described such people, in his case those who believed Bolshevik propaganda about the wonders of Soviet communism, as "useful idiots"—an apt description, though we question whether the old Bolshevik mass murderer ever deigned to notice such fools.

This unholy union of three groups with shared interest—a hidden oligarchy seeking power, a proletariat that perceives itself benefited by the oligarchy’s equality propaganda (whether it really is benefited or not), and a swarm of gullible bleeding-heart true believers who legitimize the scam—is the essence of communism, Marxism, Bolshevism, modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and many other utopian facades of the past hundred years. Far from being noble and uplifting, the ideology of equality has all too often been used to cover up the appalling genocidal excesses of totalitarian regimes. The new oligarchy has learned well how to harness this insidious and malefic ideological force. With it, they have decimated Western civilization, and even now infl ict slow dispossession and eventual dissolution on its founding peoples by the destruction of traditional freedoms, aided by massive Third World immigration.

As Dr. Francis correctly saw, the real purpose behind attacks on white racial attitudes is the same as the purpose behind attacks on Christianity, Columbus, colonialism, Christmas, America's Founders, the Confederacy, gender roles, marriage, traditional families, heterosexuality, and a host of other Western mores, institutions, and icons: the replacement of Western culture, values, and, ultimately, European-descended peoples themselves, with a homogeneous "universal" proletariat and a "culture-neutral" value system. Which would, after a few generations of intermixing, pretty much wipe out "diversity" in the process—yet another example of how, for cultural Marxists, all principles, even truth itself, are malleable, mere putty to be manipulated and molded at will in the quest for conquest and subjugation. Of this, Dr. Francis observed,

In the New World Order, there will be neither national sovereignty nor national identity, and just as the population of the nation is to be replaced by Third World immigrants, so the culture of the nation is to be replaced by one suitable only for rootless and deracinated people—a people that can be deluded that what it is told to think and believe is really "universal" and "culture-neutral" because it has long since ceased to have any real culture of its own.

By now, the ostensibly competing wings of the American governing oligarchy have merged. Apparent ideological differences (as between America’s two political parties) are little more than turf wars between rival gangs of thieves and cutthroats fighting over who will get the lion’s share of the carcass they intend to eviscerate. Whether wrought by neocon empire builders or Marxist egalitarians, by globalist monopoly capitalists or devout churchmen dripping with unctuous sympathy for the downtrodden, the political outcome is indistinguishable.

The attack against the West takes many forms. For those who would preserve America as it existed for the last 400 years—a nation composed predominantly of a European-descended and nominally Christian people—a competing belief system must be substituted. America, it is said (in contravention to four centuries of actual history), has no racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, or even linguistic identity. America, you see, is a ‘credal’ nation. Dr. Francis cites an example of such attempts to undermine Western identity from John J. Miller, writing in National Review.

The United States can welcome immigrants and transform them into Americans because it is a "proposition country," and the very sense of peoplehood derives not from a common language but from their adherence to a set of core principles about equality, liberty and self-government. These ideas...are universal.

Well, no, they're not. What is universal, among all the distinct and separate peoples on the planet, is devotion to family, hearth, and faith. Nowhere on earth is the brotherhood of all mankind a deeply held conviction of any homogeneous people—in most cases, exactly the opposite is true, and in fact, the idea gains a following at all only in the West, for reasons earlier stated. In the words of Mel Bradford, another of Dr. Francis’ fellow warriors on behalf of Western civilization, a society is "grown, not made," and is "bound by blood, place and history." Bradford added presciently, "No nation can be improved by being destroyed." Equality, writes Dr. Francis in words that mirror Bradford, produces a harmony, all right, but it is "the harmony of the graveyard"—a graveyard in which is to be interred the bones of Western civilization.

This then, at last, is the elephant of modern politics—the West and its founding people are under attack by the most corrupt, malevolent, cunning, and deceitful enemy they have ever faced. The enemy’s weapon of mass destruction is the ideology of equality and universalism—though the motives of those who orchestrate the war from behind the scene are vastly different and far more odiously self-serving—and the outcome is very much in doubt. Dr. Francis saw all this ever so clearly and warned against it with every syndicated column, every essay, every speech he produced in a remarkably prolific career, one that was cut tragically short by his untimely passing due to heart disease.

Nor did Dr. Francis offer quick solutions to a problem that has grown and festered for more than a century until it has very nearly reached a point of no return. He believed that, if the people could be roused, it was still not too late to reverse Western decline. He identified those with the will to resist as "Middle American Radicals" and urged that they seize back the culture, the government, and the nation that have been stolen from them. He promised no shortcut path to instant and easy success—only the same prospect as Winston Churchill: "Blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Those who would rescue their civilization must have the courage and staying power to defy the equality oligarchy, to make their own "long march through the institutions," just as Gramsci advised of his communist fellow travelers well over half a century ago.

Considering the body of writings and speeches Dr. Francis contributed to the struggle for Western survival during his all-too-short lifetime—many of the best of which are contained in Shots Fired—it is difficult to name anyone who has done more in furtherance of that cause. Certainly there are very few who compare from the viewpoint of political theory and observation. Only Patrick Buchanan comes to mind—and it seems no coincidence that Dr. Francis was a frequent advisor to Mr. Buchanan. Many of the themes Dr. Francis wrote about became a part of Mr. Buchanan’s political persona.

When Dr. Francis passed away, the West lost one of its most formidable and articulate champions and defenders. The loss was in many ways immeasurable. But in cases such as these, amid the tumult and "shots fi red" of a political and cultural conflict that represents life or death to the West, there is only one recourse for those who remain—the same recourse that has been taken countless times throughout history by the sons and daughters of the West. When the standard bearer falls, the next combatant must seize the banner, raise it aloft with the cry, "forward the colors," and continue the struggle against the common foe. To do less would be to dishonor the sacrifices Samuel Todd Francis made on behalf of his people.

Michael Masters lives in Virginia and is a long-time writer on immigration, ecology, sociobiology, moral philosophy, Southern heritage, and other political, historical, and cultural topics.


1. No, Virginia, it was not a "civil" war; it was a war of aggression, subjugation, and conquest by one independent nation against another.
2. The effectiveness of this approach seems to result from a trait that lies deeply buried within the intrinsic character of Western peoples: Few other peoples have a more highly developed sense of altruism and reciprocity—a characteristic that leaves whites susceptible to inculcation of guilt by a malicious and devious adversary).
3. Mr. Bond was a Republican Party offi cial in the 1990s.
4. "Men are born free, but are everywhere in chains." Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract.