Notes on Adjustment Day

Notes on Revolution in Chuck Palahniuk’s Adjustment Day


Chuck Palahniuk’s Adjustment Day is a highly imaginative and entertaining novel that reflects a long and deep immersion in the online world of White Nationalism, from the best of it to the worst and all shades in between.

I don’t have much to add to the reviews of Adjustment Day by Jef Costello and James O’Meara, so I wish to focus here on some of Palahniuk’s thoughts about how an ethnonationalist revolution might occur, and how it might go wrong. 

1. Can an Ethnonationalist Revolution be Made by a Multi-Racial Coalition?

In Adjustment Day, the ethnonationalist revolution is created by a coalition of “ethnic” groups — whites, blacks, and gays — that wish to create separate homelands for themselves after the revolution and then go their separate ways. Jews, Asians, race-mixers, and mestizos don’t take part in the revolution and have no ethnostate in the end. Instead, they are forced to flee.

It is a perennial debate in White Nationalist circles whether we should seek alliances with non-white ethnonationalist groups. The trouble with these discussions is that they ignore the nature of alliances, which are generally temporary and made possible by emergencies, i.e., interruptions in the normal order of things. If circumstances arose in which White Nationalists and, say, the Nation of Islam have common concrete interests and can ally to achieve them, I have little doubt that such an alliance could take place. The same is true of any other non-white ethnic group, including Jews. But once the specific circumstances of the alliance have passed, the two groups would go back to normal, i.e., they would return to distrusting and despising one another.

2. The Revolution Could Not Have Happened without Elite Sponsorship.

Walter Baines is a pathetic white drug addict who decides to start his life over by kidnapping an oligarch and forcing him to be his “new old man” — i.e., a mentor and father figure. So he drives to New York City and kidnaps Talbott Reynolds.

Reynolds tells Walter that he has a hidden transmitter beneath his skin, which precipitates a long and gruesome scene in which the junkie practically flays Talbott alive. Such an ordeal would cause the strongest of minds to break. It causes Talbott to create a revolution. Duck-taped to a chair and covered with blood, Talbott dictates the handbook of the revolution, Adjustment Day, to Walter and instructs him on how to publish it, disseminate it, and gather together the leaders of the revolution.

But the revolution needs a crisis to coalesce around, so Talbott calls Senator Holbrook Daniels and orders him to create the National War Resolution, which will start a war in the Middle East to cull millions of restive Millennial males, giving these men a reason to put down their game sticks and pick up rifles. Obviously Talbott must be a very powerful person to give orders like that. Question: Could Talbott Reynolds be the mysteriously vanished President of the United States?

3. No Revolutionary Doctrine or Practice is Better than the Weakest Vessel by Which it is Transmitted.

The fact that Walter Baines, the midwife of the revolution, is a drug-addled loser with an over-heated fantasy life, means that he is not a reliable scribe or organizer. For instance, we learn that the title of Talbott’s book is supposed to be A Judgment Day, but Walter mis-heard it. One wonders how many other mistakes the book contains. Could these mistakes be the cause of the absurd idea of a gay “ethnostate” or the dystopian elements of Caucasia, the white ethnostate?

4. Sharia is Not White.

Palahniuk’s vision of Caucasia is meant to be taken as a satire of White Nationalism by Leftist gatekeepers in publishing and the media. But it is really just a satire of a particular type of White Nationalism, namely the unnuanced anti-intellectual, anti-cultural, anti-urban, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-egalitarian tendency that basically reduces White Nationalism to raising white birthrates and the Renaissance-Fair LARPing that arises from fetishizing “Tradition” (as if all traditions are good fits for white people) and “hierarchy” (as if all hierarchies are just). Pretty much all these tendencies cluster around the “White Sharia” meme, so that is how I will designate it.

Talbott’s case for ethnonationalism is based on the desire for community. But the form of society he creates is essentially anti-communitarian and feudal, because money is created and distributed through the “lineages” of the revolutionary organizers, who form a new aristocracy, while the rest of the population is reduced to peons begging for work on plantations. To survive, people must flatter the new lords into giving them livings. Agriculture and birthing babies become the focus of society. Science, technology, and culture are deemphasized. Objective merit and expertise are deemphasized, replaced by quacks who are practiced at flattering powerful morons. Polygamy arises, which raises the question: What happens to community among men when some have hundreds of wives and hundreds have none? (Perhaps these single men will need to be culled in a war.)

Although Caucasia is decked out in Medieval European garb, the presence of polygamy and the absence of a non-reproductive culture-creating priestly caste actually makes it closer to Islam, hence “White Sharia.” But Islam is not a good fit for white people. It is a profoundly backward and inferior civilization that suffocates the human spirit. Although it is unmatched in its ability to pump out inbred orclets. In Adjustment Day, Caucasia is inferior even to Blacktopia. Question: How can a white ethnostate survive in a hostile world if it turns its back on science and technology?

If white community really is important, then certain egalitarian-populist measures are called for. First, marriage should be monogamous. Second, the freedom of all citizens to speak their own minds and pursue their own destinies should be safeguarded by the broad distribution of private property. Third, instead of letting jumped-up potentates spend newly-created money first, which warps all of society around them, if every adult citizen received a universal basic income, there would be much greater freedom. (Furthermore, broadly distributed freedom from scarcity would create the conditions for the flourishing of science, technology, and the arts.) Fourth, the gross excesses of the powerful could be curbed or eliminated by giving the populace some sort of political power.

In short, virtually all of the dystopian elements of Caucasia could be eliminated simply by replacing its feudal model of government with a classical republican model, which treats widely distributed private property and the enfranchisement of the people as a bulwark against tyranny. What could be more “trad” than Aristotle’s Politics?

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