Reviewed by Gilbert Cavanaugh
A few weeks ago, I was reading Sam Francis’s Essential Writings on Race at work, and a co-worker I knew to be an anarchist gave the book a queer look and asked about it. As you might imagine, our conversation did not proceed pleasantly. At one point I asked him what he made of the blood-and-soil movements left-wingers seem sympathetic to, such as the Zapatistas in Central America or the Basques in the Iberian Peninsula. He gave a non-answer, and the conversation petered out.
Although experience has taught me to expect exactly the above (or worse) from anarchists I personally encounter, Keith Preston is an unapologetic and admirable exception. As a National Anarchist, he respects the desires of all anti-globalist dissidents, and has now spent several years devoting himself to the thankless task of trying to organize them into a united anti-System front. After spending some time bouncing from one dissident website to another (e.g.. Takimag and LewRockwell), he became a mainstay on Alternative Right, and then founded his own website Attack the System. He is also a regular at the H.L. Mencken Club, has spoken at NPI events, and is all over the Reason Radio Network, both interviewing and being interviewed.
Likely his most famous work (which I cannot recommend too highly) is his essay, “Free Enterprise: The Antidote to Corporate Plutocracy,” which won him the 2008 Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize. Both the above essay, and Mr. Preston’s work in general, possess a unique way of tackling issues in a very thorough and direct manner, always employing facts instead of hearsay and following the logic of arguments to their natural end. His ability to stay level headed likely contributes to his methodological way of deconstructing left-wing perspectives on this or that issue. An impressive author, through and through. But I was not asked to review Keith Preston himself, or his career, but to review his latest book, El Salvador: A War by Proxy.
Admittedly, when I got this book in the mail, I was unimpressed; although I did not judge it by its cover, I judged it by its length, “Not even 150 pages, for a conflict that lasted over a decade!?” I thought to myself. I worried that Mr. Preston had lost his touch, or was perhaps slacking. But the book is as erudite as I had expected it to be, and if anything, “dense” would be a better adjective than “flimsy.” The book deals with the Salvadoran Civil War, particularly its background, first half, and the role the United States played in it.
In short, the book finds the heroes to be the left-wing rebels in El Salvador, and reserves special ire for those directing foreign policy in the United States. The book does not have the flashy and polemical tone that Mr. Preston is capable of doling out, and sticks strictly to the facts. Although this makes for a good book, it makes for a rather difficult review. I will say simply that if you are looking for a good book on the Salvadoran Civil War, you have found it. If you are looking for a book on that topic that is not a Robert Fisk sized tome, better still. If you hold special interest in American foreign policy, but have let President Reagan’s Latin American entanglements slip through the cracks then this book is perfect – it draws from an impressive range of sources: from Samuel Huntington, to William Blum, to Hans-Hermann Hoppe.
However, I fear that all, or at least much, of this is falling on deaf ears. Though Alternative Right started out as a fairly paleo/paleo-libertarian website in which a detailed review of this book would have been exceedingly appropriate, its steady drift into racialism (not a bad thing per se) makes me envision a comments thread filled with, “what should we care about those mestizo fucks for1!?” and the like.
The reason to care is fairly straightforward. Beyond the spectrum of left/right, nationalists of all stripes would do well to stick together. While Ronald Reagan was granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in the United States, he was giving money to the elites in El Salvador so they could more easily slaughter their native enemies. To honestly oppose the cultural destruction our political class has done to us, we must recognize the cultural destruction they do unto others as well. After all, the two things are connected (foreign wars have a habit of producing non-white refugees that suddenly need a new homeland), and no nationalist should be blind to the harm his government has caused fellow nationalists across the globe.
Moreover, we all should be genuinely informed about the plight of others, lest we come to mimic those “Cause-of-the-Month” liberals, always babbling on about this or that without any substance to offer when details are asked. Nationalism (White or otherwise), Traditionalism, and Orthodoxy are no excuse to be ignorant of the world, after all, the likes of C.S. Lewis, G.K Chesterton, Julius Evola, and Rene Guenon were all deeply learned and worldly men. We would do well to be the same.
It is in that spirit that I present to you Mr. Preston’s book, as a thorough look at the plight of another people, from a source you can trust.