The Real Right Returns is one of those books I still recommend despite feeling a little mislead by the title.
A political manifesto-cum-how-to guide from Daniel Friberg, a founder of Arktos and Right On (the latter of which I write for regularly), The Real Right Returns serves as an interesting primer on New Right/alt-right politics as well as a good articulation of first principles. However, the book’s brevity combined with its somewhat scattershot layout limit its effectiveness as a complete work.
Part of the problem with current events-focused books like The Real Right Returns is that they have a short shelf life. The news cycle is like HIV: you can treat it with retrovirals, but it never stops. Best-selling political cheerleader books by Ann Coulter or Michael Savage are worth less than toilet paper six months after publication. You’ll often find them piling up in farmhouse bookstores or in the Amazon “used” section for a penny a piece.
Friberg’s book, while not a straight regurgitation of the headlines (complete with patented solutions), is steeped in the currents of the news cycle. The Real Right Returns opens with a dissection of the situation in Sweden (the book is Europe-focused, seeing as Arktos is based in Europe and Friberg himself is Swedish) and an articulation of what separates the New Right from the old right:
This development is ongoing across Europe, even in notoriously ultra-liberal Sweden. Although Swedes have lagged behind in this regard as a result of the Left’s disproportionately strong grip on our opinion-forming institutions, we are beginning to catch up. New political players have appeared and given renewed courage to those disheartened social critics who, after years of ruthless persecution, are now able to voice their opinions in the fresh air of a new political dawn. Overall, this has created optimal conditions for a broader impact of our ideas—something that is mainly visible in Sweden with the rise of the Sweden Democrats, accompanied by a rapid growth of favourable public opinion towards them.
Friberg writes in the simple, direct fashion of an intelligent man for whom English is a second language: lots of erudition but little flash. While nothing about The Real Right Returns will grab you in an emotional way, the book’s straightforward diction conveys Friberg’s points easily.
The Real Right Returns’ brevity (only 117 pages) prevents it from delving too deep on any one of its subjects, which helps keep the book moving at the cost of leaving me wanting more. While I didn’t expect the book to be a New Right Theory of Everything, Friberg would have done well to go into detail on some of the topics he touches on. For example, his essay “Brief Advice on Gender Roles” is one of the book’s standouts:
Learn basic gentlemanly virtues. This is especially important for those of us who live in the decadent postmodern West, for two reasons: firstly, because these virtues are worth preserving and passing on to coming generations; and secondly, because internalising these virtues will give you a massive competitive advantage over other modern men—spoiled and feminised as they are.
Even adding just a little more detail to these sections would have improved the book immensely. It’s no coincidence that the best portion of The Real Right Returns is its longest: the chapter “Metapolitical Dictionary.” It provides a Mediocracy–style list of definitions of concepts frequently discussed in the alt-right, such as “cultural Marxism” and “political correctness,” and also serves to wrap the book up nicely.
Overall, while The Real Right Returns fails to live up to its subtitle—the book’s short length and somewhat unfocused content make it difficult to call it a “handbook”—it’s still an interesting read. Those who are not as well acquainted with the alternative right will get more out of it than seasoned veterans, however.
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