The messy union of body and soul.
The Health Alliance
Antagonism to Big Health is making unlikely allies of crunchy moms and right-wing trads.
In a secret cavern—beneath the hill on which government agencies, the press, Big Food, and Big Pharma built the Cathedral of Health™—a forbidden alliance is forming. It’s an alliance among right-wing bodybuilders, mommy bloggers, and rural traditionalists which threatens to tear the political spectrum asunder.
These seemingly disparate factions are aligning in silent unison, united by their rejection of institutional narratives that distort and mislead the people when it comes to the health of their bodies. There is the potential here for the most powerful kind of political movement: one with aims and origins beyond politics.
This movement will be rooted in the body, and in its real flourishing irrespective of partisan and economic considerations. To understand the Great Health Realignment, we need to understand the “Political Horseshoe,” according to which supposed antagonists on “opposite sides” of the traditional “spectrum” actually come around to align on matters of health and the body. This emergent alignment will serve as the blueprint for the coming coalition.
The Present Situation
America’s population has a decreasing lifespan. We recently set a new record for obesity: over 70% of our population is considered overweight or obese. In the kitchen and grocery store, we find “foodstuffs” which are nutritionally indistinguishable from industrial dog food—laced with preservatives, xenoestrogens, and engine lubricant wrapped in endocrine-disrupting, leeching plastics. Water supplied by public utilities contains chemicals. Our entire world is coated in plastic and silicone. That all happened gradually, before COVID. We were never asked.
Now, as 80% of those hospitalized for COVID are overweight, the government health apparatus is suspiciously silent on the general health crisis of the American people. While they are happy to infringe on individual liberties regarding masks, right to assemble, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and increasingly freedom to refuse getting an experimental shot, they seem dead-set on gaslighting the American people off a demographic cliff. We are living shorter, more sedentary, less healthy lives. Perhaps most concerningly, we are below population replacement fertility and getting lower every year. Amidst this well-documented crisis, here is what the government, the press, and Big Food (together The Church of Health™) present as gospel:
With top-down COVID vaccine mandates looking increasingly likely and nonsensical meat restriction on the horizon, the Great Health Realignment is imminent.
Folks, if you’re fully vaccinated — you no longer need to wear a mask.
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 13, 2021
The Political Horseshoe
Horseshoe theory asserts that the far-Left and the far-Right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, closely resemble one another. Proponents of the theory point to a number of similarities between the far-left and the far-right, including their propensity to gravitate to authoritarianism or totalitarianism. George Orwell hinted at this trend when he wrote that “the real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.” Thus the Horseshoe metaphor was first used to explain the constituent overlap between early National Socialists and Communists in Weimar Germany.
These days, Horseshoe Theory is regularly misused to take virtue-signaling, “both-sides” cheap shots at the far Left and far Right. But you don’t have to buy into this or that political application of the Theory to recognize the dynamic it describes at play. Underneath the political horseshoe, there is indeed a Horseshoe of Health—an alignment between those on the Left and the Right whose countercultural iconoclasm has turned them into dissident “cranks” when it comes to health and body issues.
At the top of the horseshoe, the two sides that border one another are Beyond Meat/Soylent (Left industrial/processed) and McDonald’s/Big Soda (Right industrial/processed). The Y-axis can thus be read as a spectrum from “processed/industrial” (top) to “non-processed/traditional” (bottom)—or, put differently, as a scale on which Trust in Health™ increases with vertical height. This relationship has been noted elsewhere in simpler terms, e.g., in the rising popularity of “implicit agreement” memes. These include such formats as the Epic Handshake, IQ Bell Curve, and Swords United, all of which highlight the same phenomenon: implicit agreement between unlikely or stereotypically opposed factions.
IQ Bell Curve:
I—a conservative, paleo-eating, bodybuilding anti-PUFA (polyunsaturated fat) fanatic—have more in common today with the militant vegan raw fruitarian I shared an animal ethics class with in college than with a Soylent drinker or McDonald’s regular. Our views on “the problem”—Modern Medicine™, Urbanism, Factory Farming, and Health™—align. We simply offer and embody different solutions to those problems due to different first principles.
The brawls between brownshirts and the Antifascists (Communists) in the streets of Weimar Germany were meetings between groups of people sharing the same implicit life experience—they had the free time, ideological conviction, and dissatisfaction with the status quo to take to the streets in the service of regime change. A street fighter, regardless of affiliation, had more in common with another street fighter than with the tepid German centrists who stayed at home and shuttered their windows.
In relation to the Weimar government, these factions were one and the same: a brawling mass, alike in their opposition to the established order. When the Weimar government fell, it was as a result of these factions combining (to varying degrees, of course). Leaving aside one’s justified distaste for both brownshirts and Antifa, this kind of functional harmony between people of different political persuasions is in itself a powerful tool to be used for good or ill. In the case of American food, health, and the body, the union of unlikely bedfellows is likely to be a force for good. Crunchy Mommy Bloggers, right-wing bodybuilders (RWBBs), and rural traditionalists are up against a common enemy in Big Health™. That enemy needs dismantling, and we will have to join forces to do it.
Mommy Bloggers tend to be educated suburban females with vaguely center-Left politics. Their full-time occupation is attentive birthing and rearing of healthy children, which leads them to spread “awareness” of dangers and best practices through the world wide web to anyone who will listen. The calling simultaneously exhibits the most admirable virtues and paranoid neuroses of the maternal instinct as identity, career, and hobby in one.
Cor0navirus has turned into a weapon to divide the rightful union of RW bodybuilder autists and paranoid mommy bloggers. The masks and sand hanitizer stuff is like crack to moms, and channels their healthy paranoia about health into a deadend trap
— Spring Summits Seeker (Raider Mode) (@_forest_seeker_) December 3, 2020
They fanatically research ways to achieve small advantages for their offspring, which often involves identifying impurities in the environment and the dangers of modernity. They are grounded by real stories in the physical world, leading them to distrust institutional narratives that cut against lived experience. Beyond vaccines, Mommy Bloggers crusade against other dangers of modern industrial society like soy, BPA, and paint thinners in food. Their topic pages bear a vague resemblance to right-wing fitness forums.
Right Wing Bodybuilders
Do a Twitter search for “RWBB” and you will find a vibrant, distributed community of men glorifying raw foods, sun exposure, bodybuilding, martial arts, #FizeekFriday, Yukio Mishima, and Bronze Age Pervert. You will encounter novel phrases like “Anti-Xenoestrogen Activist,” “Nietzschean Bodybuilder,” and “Raw Egg Nationalist,” along with detailed research threads on the evils of industrial agriculture and the dangerous proliferation of toxic seed oils (PUFAs) in the industrial food system.
This subculture of fitness-obsessed, self-titled health “autists” is the natural progression of what one would call “bro science” from fitness forums circa 2005-2015. Fitness forum history is a rabbit hole of esoteric knowledge and lore deserving of its own full-length history. The important point for our purposes is this: the community has shifted its focus in the past decade.
From discussing steroid cycles, creatine water retention, and the best pre-workouts containing banned stimulants, RWBBs now increasingly focus on the dangers of xenoestrogens (on receipt paper and in food), plastics, PUFAs, fluoridated tap water, and mass-produced food. We are known for promoting the health benefits of ancestral diets, adaptogenic herbs, and sunning one’s body (and testicles) for testosterone production.
What we have is a distributed community obsessed with gaining small advantages and performance benefits while avoiding environmental impurities. Sound familiar?
While the Mommy Bloggers and RWBBs follow roughly consistent Left/Right respective political skews, Rural Traditionalists are alike in behavior but completely divergent in political persuasions. The Rural Traditionalist category includes vegan permaculturists, trad homesteaders, commune farmers, and isolationist Christians. The widespread appeal of an avowedly environmentalist author like Wendell Berry among all these groups exemplifies their similarity across political lines.
This category represents anyone who seeks life away from the polluted city to grow their own food and raise their children away from the corruptions of modern society. Though many within it would never type themselves “traditionalists,” the label applies: in 2021, if one avoids the city and takes part in any degree of farming, ranching, and non-system dependent subsistence, they are a traditionalist. While they might teach their children fundamentalist Christianity (Right), neo-Communist agrarianism (Left), or “weed, bro” ski-town apathy (Left), in practice they live very similar lives in relation to Big Health™.
Drive around an island in the Puget Sound and you’ll find a bevy of organic farms whose inhabitants have nearly total subsistence self-sufficiency. On that drive you can see both TRUMP 2020 and Black Lives Matter/”In-This-House-We-Believe…” signs, signaling different explicit ideological tribes despite implicitly harmonious and functionally similar lifestyles. If aliens were to visit the island, they would see a bunch of health-conscious farmers and ranchers living very similarly. People are not what they say, they are what they do.
During my undergraduate years, I met a particularly militant “raw-fruitarian vegan bodybuilder” who for a time was my nemesis. Outside our “Animal Ethics” philosophy class he taught yoga and vlogged as a modest vegan internet celebrity. I ran the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club, practiced bodybuilding, a low-carb “cyclical keto” diet involving a pound of meat a day, and missed classes to elk hunt in the fall. In class, we were intellectual antagonists. At the gym, we were physical competitors.
Despite palpable disdain for one another due to what I saw as diametrically opposed views of health, philosophy, and politics (he a Bernie Bro, I an implicit Trump supporter), in the years since our worldviews have grown toward an unlikely alignment. Currently, he is building a remote vegan fruit farm and yoga retreat center. He’s skeptical of the COVID vaccine, Big Pharma, and industrial food production. He’s written that he supports hunting as a lesser evil in meat consumption and that hunters are more healthy than the apathetic public who eats mass-produced dog food. With frustrating frequency, I agree with him.
We are the two ends of the horseshoe of health, and we have more in common than with the top of the horseshoe. Why? Because despite different solutions, we agree on the problem. So look around and ask yourself: who are your real enemies? And who—though we have been taught to loathe one another—is your ally?