I write and publish this essay to warn my friends of a great ugliness that is spreading throughout our world.
Readers of my essay on “The Rise and Fall of the Pajama-Boy Nietzscheans” will recall that I discussed the ideas and influence of the queerly-named Bronze Age Pervert (BAP), who has developed something of a following with young men on the reactionary Right. The Pervert is the author of the self-published Bronze Age Mindset (BAM), which Michael Anton introduced to the academic world with a semi-empathetic review in the August 2019 issue of the Claremont Review of Books. I’m told that since then, BAM has sold tens of thousands of copies. BAP is also a talker. He hosts a podcast named Caribbean Rhythms that is likewise generating buzz on the internet with the “youf” of the reactionary Right. BAP devotees treat him as prophet just as the natives first treated Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness.
Strangely, Bronze Age Pervert has developed a serious following amongst the most unlikely of groups, namely, graduate students and junior faculty trained in political philosophy, particularly those from the so-called Straussian school of thought. In this essay and in two more to follow, I will examine: 1) the essence of BAP’s ideas; 2) why a generation of highly educated young men has embraced BAP’s dystopian worldview; and 3) how they rationalize their philosophic turn to political Caesarism.
Before we proceed, we should recall that Leo Strauss was one of the greatest and most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. He trained scores of Ph.D.’s in the United States (e.g., Harry V. Jaffa, Allan Bloom, Harvey Mansfield, Thomas Pangle, Michael and Catherine Zuckert, and many others), who in turn have educated tens of thousands of undergraduates and many hundred graduate students.
Strauss was both a deep and profound thinker whose thought cannot be easily summed up in a few lines. If I were to identify Strauss’s two most important contributions to twentieth-century thought, I would name, first, his critique of modern nihilism and its adjunct principles of moral relativism, historicism, and positivism, and, second, his restoration of classical political thought as an inspiration for the present and future. (For a fuller treatment of Strauss’s thought, see the five chapters I dedicate to Strauss in my book, Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea.)
And what of the Bronze Age Pervert? Who is this curiously-named fellow, what does he believe, what is his relationship—if any—to Strauss, what is this movement he claims to lead, and who are his followers?