A Helpful Guide to NEOTR

Evaluating Haywood’s Culture War Rules of Engagement

In the Culture Wars, as with all wars, it is essential to know who the allies are, who the enemies are and who the co-belligerents are. There has been a significant amount of confusion regarding the relatively new concept of “No Enemies to the Right” or “No Enemies on the Right.” This concept is not really a new one, but it is reemerging in importance because a coalition is starting to form on the political and social Right out of necessity due to the relative success and viciousness of the loosely allied political and social Left.

NETTR (or NEOTR) has been brought back into discussion among the online Right largely through the work of Charles Haywood and his blog and podcast, The Worthy House. Haywood is an Eastern Orthodox former Mergers and Acquisitions attorney who built a highly successful business in shampoo products. He is now semi-retired and reviews books, ponders the future, hobby farms and makes the rounds as a guest on all the cool podcasts

Among Haywood’s most impactful contributions to the current discourse is his manifesto of Foundationalism and an off-handed comment to a Twitter dispute that read simply: “Who cares? No enemies to the right!” This comment disturbed a number of big personalities on Twitter and has gone on to be discussed and debated repeatedly, including by Haywood himself, until it has entered into the consciousness of the current culture warrior class. But, many still seem to be unclear about what NETTR is and what it is not.

The purpose of this article is not to convince you to buy into NETTR but to clarify the definition of NETTR so that we are all on the same page about what we are debating. Rule #1 of logical discourse is to define the terms clearly. Haywood has done this, but perhaps another voice articulating it slightly differently will help clarify for a few more people on the margins of the discourse.

The Friend-Enemy Distinction

In order to understand NETTR, there are foundational concepts that should be understood, if not altogether agreed upon. One of these definitions is the definition of “Enemy.” Haywood prefers to use the definition of enemy that is articulated by Carl Schmitt. Schmitt is often cited when the discussion turns to the idea of the “Friend-Enemy Distinction.” Categorical thinking is potentially challenging for some so a clear definition that Schmitt uses is simply this one, paraphrasing: An enemy is someone who wants to destroy or damage your way of life. Anyone who does not want to destroy your way of life is not an enemy, though they may not necessarily be a friend. 

The NETTR concept is meant to help people understand who they are to be prioritizing their resources to resist. Classifying who are enemies, who are friends and who are neutrals is needed in order to determine this. Keep in mind that these categories are not necessarily fixed permanently as people and institutions change over time and could move from one category into another. Biblically, we know that the Lord wants certain treatment of enemies. We should pray for them, for their repentance. We should pray for the destruction and ruin of any wicked plans they have. We should call them to faith in the Lord. We should resist them whenever they set out to do evil deeds.

If we accept this definition of what an enemy is, how do we plug this into the NETTR idea? To move forward we need another definition and that is who is the “Right” and who isn’t? Haywood defines the Left as people and institutions that embrace the Enlightenment philosophy consummated in the French Revolution and marked by two primary motivators:

  1. Enforced egalitarianism
  2. Unlimited Liberty, or Freedom from all unchosen bonds

The Left is marked by a hatred of excellence and resents any form of inequality. They have a desire to bring all people to an equal state of mediocrity and crush anyone who seeks to distinguish themselves by merit of any sort. This includes any kind of high performer in business, anyone physically attractive, anyone with a particular talent or giftedness, anyone with wealth and in general anyone with something they don’t have (Never mind that the Left has a clear Elite that in many cases possess multiple of these).

The Left’s version of unlimited liberty means freedom from any obligatory bonds that they do not progressively choose to remain loyal to. This is the reason why the Left is comfortable with destroying so much. They have no obligation to family, nation, religion, ancestors, their birth sex, their spouse, their children, their peers or any other group. They are their own gods and they are the final judge for what is right and wrong in their lives. This is why the Left can change their gender, become homosexual, abort their babies, ignore the rule of law, use violence against their own communities, fornicate and use pornography, abuse drugs, censor, threaten, bully, doxx and otherwise harass those not currently considered their allies. Some on the Right have done some of these things, but only one side of the spectrum is advocating for the enshrining of many of these into law and policy as a part of the overt agenda.

Haywood’s articulation of this concept also states that this is a provisional and not a perennial approach. This means that it is appropriate for our current era, but needs to be evaluated continuously to ensure that using NETTR/NEOTR to decide who to oppose and who to ignore is still the best way to think about engaging in culture wars.

A final assumption that Haywood adds: Anyone who is not on the Left, is necessarily on the Right.

If we accept these definitions then the battle lines begin to show more clearly through the fog of war. We can more easily see who is working in society to do away with obligations to community, family, nation, religion, race or any other group that they do not progressively opt into. We can see who is working to implement equal status on all members and parts of society by force. Anyone on that side of the line is subject to any and all culture war artillery that the Right can muster. Anyone on this side of the line should be handled differently.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like BAP

There are some idiots on the Right. There are some frauds, grifters, hacks, charlatans, goons, trolls and other various kinds of degenerates on the Right. If we are supposed to have No Enemies to the Right, are we supposed to just mindlessly accept these kinds of people as friends? Notice that the acronym does not stand for “Only Allies to the Right.” To clarify this, let’s consider an example.

Bronze Age Pervert is an influential Twitter anonymous user who has transcended merely being another anon and built a following that is drawn to him by his philosophical musings of surprising depth. BAP is not an idiot, or a grifter, or a fraud. BAP has even written a rather interesting book and it is not a stretch to call him a legitimate philosopher in spite of his persona, which appears unserious at first glance. Let’s go through our list of qualifications to determine how a Christian culture warrior should handle BAP.

BAP is not interested in forced egalitarianism. He instead appeals to a return to previous civilizational greatness believing that certain peoples in history are superior to contemporary societies. He has a Nietzschean outlook and would despise any attempt to force equality as it would prevent the truly excellent from ascending in status due to their superiority. My knowledge of BAP is not encyclopedic but I suspect he would also reject the idea of unlimited liberty believing in a kind of natural law. BAP would espouse that you have obligations to your race and family at the very least, to try to live an excellent life and bring honor to your ancestors. He opposes transgenderism and would support clear gender roles. BAP embraces his own version of what could be called NETTR as well and so he at least maintains loyalty to some kind of group even when they disagree. 

So, BAP is clearly not on the Left. Does Bronze Age Pervert want to destroy my way of life? Is he an enemy? No…not at the moment, anyway. BAP is able to distinguish between what he believes to be faithful religious people and regime-loyal wishy-washy Christians, nevertheless, he believes many religions, including Christianity, are a source of weakness that has corrupted human greatness. This is part of the reason he has settled on the bronze age as his focus since it is pre-Christian. BAP hates Christ the way all unbelievers do. His advice will lead men to Hell. He is influential and he is not going away. So if I apply NETTR to Bronze Age Pervert, what do we do with him?

NETTR does not mean we endorse, embrace, encourage or comfort anyone who is not on the Left. But it does mean that if intramural fighting and argument must take place, it must be done in a way that does not help the Left. Wasting resources fighting against the influence of BAP on a large, public scale is not the most efficient use of the energy and time we have. In conversations with friends, BAP is treated more cautiously and, while he is taken seriously, he is recognized as a potential threat to the souls of individuals. So we counsel our individual friends and anyone we have influence over to avoid following his philosophy, except in the places where it coincidentally agrees with the word of God, if any. Otherwise, BAP should be ignored. To spend time and energy publicly feuding with BAP and trying to win over his following will be mostly fruitless and it will help the Left gain ground; keep in mind that the Left is filled with energetic activists that want to destroy our way of life. BAP is not doing that. I would encourage Bronze Age Pervert to do the same thing. Don’t attack Christianity, because for now at least, we are aiming our cultural weapons at the same enemies.

This is a form of culture war “triage.” Certain threats are more imminent than others and should be dealt with in order of importance. Sometimes on the Right, we have to put up with people who are in gross error. However, sometimes these people are aggressively landing effective blows against the philosophies and activists of the Left, or at least occupying their attention. BAP is a significant source of annoyance to feminism, globalism, transgenderism and many other factions of the Left. He advocates for physical fitness and better nutrition which the Left has decided is now fascist. Allowing this to go on without wasting our time fighting them publicly forces the Left to fight them, spreading their resources thinner and giving them a much harder task in their ongoing efforts to destroy our way of life. If battles can’t be avoided amongst those on the Right, they should be fought in a way that doesn’t help the Left with their goals. That usually means those fights should be behind proverbial closed doors.

BAP is an extreme example because his work is so distasteful and many Christians I know feel a strong urge to continually denounce his philosophies publicly. He, along with those on the right like Andrew Tate, Nick Fuentes and other manosphere and political influencers that Christians can generally denounce as villains should all be mostly ignored while ongoing discussions within our groups should be clarifying to our stakeholders what kinds of dangers their ideas pose. American Reformer exists partly for this purpose. It is a place for intelligent discussions amongst fellow believers about the culture wars. It is a place where wise counsel can be dished out to those seeking it without helping the Left by fighting their enemies for them.

In many cases, the examples aren’t as extreme as BAP and it is here where NETTR really seems like a useful tool for organizing your thoughts. A few months ago, a group of men affiliated with G3 ministries took it upon themselves to attack a group that they perceived to be the leaders of the nascent “Christian Nationalist” movement on Twitter. Keep in mind that other participants in this spat likely remember it differently and the G3 guys might very well believe the CN memelords were the aggressors. Judge for yourself. The G3 guys had a conviction that the CN movement was an error and they sought to undermine the influence of the philosophies and individuals who were advocating for it in order to do what they believed to be right. To CN or not to CN is also outside the scope of this article, judge that for yourselves too. This was an example of two groups who are clearly on the Right together and much more closely aligned than any Christian would be with someone like Bronze Age Pervert. Whoever could really be blamed for firing the first shot of this conflict is guilty of violating a core tenet of NETTR. We don’t fight our friends in a way that helps the Left win.

This dispute was also a good occasion to consider if NETTR can be applied in a ministry context when dealing with doctrinal disputes. To be fair to G3, I believe that public and unrepentant false teaching warrants public rebuke and public warnings to potential adherents of such false teaching. After pursuing all reasonable means for calling a brother to repent of error and change his ways, it is consistent with the common understanding of church discipline for other believers to judge a false teacher by their fruit and call out heresy publicly. I believe that this kind of intramural dispute only marginally beneficial to the Left, who generally views all Christians the same regardless of where they land on certain doctrinal disputes. There are exceptions to this, such as when evangelical company men signal open allegiance to the current regime in exchange for status like David French and Russell Moore. However, this removes them from the Right and places them in the camp of those who want to destroy our way of life, meaning NETTR no longer applies to them. It would be better if these kinds of doctrinal disputes were solved in private, however, so as not to give the enemy an opportunity to boast about our apparent lack of unity or allow them to collect the scalps of our friends.

The net result of this brief conflict damaged the G3 brand in many eyes, it drove a wedge between many friends and some of the damage has still not been undone. Very little productive was accomplished in the fight as people who hated Christian Nationalism before mostly still do and almost nobody who liked CN before changed their mind and abandoned it. The attention brought to the Christian Nationalism question by G3’s considerable social media reach resulted in a Streisand Effect rather than any clear conclusion on whether CN is a good thing or a bad thing. For what it’s worth, I consider G3 and the CN bros to both be on the Right and relatively closely aligned; I would consider them both to be allies to me. If I were asked, I would still recommend someone attend G3 conferences even though I was finding myself in agreement more with the Christian Nationalists during the meme war. There are clear disagreements between the groups and the two should probably not consider hosting a conference together about the future of American Constitutional government, for instance, but they should not be fighting for the entertainment of the Left on X.

Summary of NETTR/NEOTR

  1. The Left believes in unlimited liberty and forced egalitarianism, anyone who doesn’t buy into these is necessarily on the Right.
  2. The Left wants to destroy your way of life. But they also want to destroy the way of life of everyone else on the Right. By default, you are fighting against them together.
  3. You are not obligated to be buddies with everyone on the Right. Many on the Right are villains, but because they aren’t trying to destroy what you value, they can be ignored for now.
  4. You are obligated to handle unavoidable disputes with discretion among members of the Right and always in a way that does not help the Left, if at all possible.
  5. I would add this, specific to believers: Christians must speak the truth and call out error regardless of if it is Right or Left. The Right and Left need not be handled the same way, though. The Left should be energetically resisted and those on the Right should be corrected in a way that does not further the goals of the Left. Biblically exercised church discipline would seem to fit well here and should trump all other considerations.

Haywood’s concept of NETTR, or NEOTR (the two mean the same thing, Haywood thinks that NEOTR is slightly more precise because it doesn’t beg as many questions about whose right), may be a helpful rule for an age where public discourse is open to nearly anyone who wants to participate. I previously reviewed Raymond Ibrahim’s book Defenders of the West and one of the important lessons I took from the book was that the Ottomans always exploited a lack of unity among the Christians at the time to make gains in their incessant wars of invasion. In many cases, the betrayers would not have qualified for NEOTR, but the metaphor of disunity still works. Unity amongst cobelligerents makes them very hard to overcome. A firm policy of avoiding open conflict with those who are waging important but distinctly separate fronts of the culture war would help prevent a great deal of lost time and energy. Since neither of those is in infinite supply it is wise to select carefully where you will spend it if you choose to engage in the culture wars. It could be that NETTR/NEOTR is worth consideration as a culture war rule of engagement.

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Terry Gant

Terry Gant is a Great Books teacher and amateur strength coach at Highland Rim Academy, program administrator for Daniel 1 Academy, co-host of the podcast Script v. Manuscript and the Managing Editor at American Reformer. He lives with his wife and children in the Highland Rim of Tennessee. He is on Twitter/X @scriptmanuscr1

6 thoughts on “A Helpful Guide to NEOTR

  1. Somehow, the world that is portrayed in the above article fits neither the world I live in nor the world of the 1st Century AD. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles talked about responding to the negative view the world had of them in terms of needing to conquer others. Rather, whereas Israel’s well being was a testimony to God because Israel was His people, the Christian’s ability to suffer persecution and oppression while remaining faithful was a testimony to God because it testified to the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. And we should note that unlike America today, there were people in the 1st century who wanted to destroy the life that Christians embraced.

    As for my world, I am a religiously conservative Christian who is politically left. I find no one from the left who is trying to take away my faith or my way of life. My way of life is that I am in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage with married kids and grandchildren. I do what I can for them. Most of the “persecutions” of Christians in America have to do with denying either equal rights or equal access to the market place for a marginalized group, which is similar to what happened during Jim Crow. If insisting on equal rights and equal access to the market place is egalitarianism, count me in. BTW, we should note that respecting another person’s equality and equal rights is what limits our freedoms. And so freedom is never unlimited. And where there is no equality, our freedoms turn into privileges. But how do such egalitarian beliefs deny merit in the business world? If you’re talking about affirmative action, realize that merit is still a factor, just not the only or always overriding one.

    The above article begs the question of conflating religiously conservative Christianity with politically conservative Christianity. Because of its encouragement to fight a culture war, or even without it, it neglects to mention that Christian Nationalism has made itself the enemy of not just those who hold to different religions some of whom might be on the political right, but of those on the political left.

    But it isn’t just those who call themselves Christian Nationalists who have made themselves to be the enemies of others, it is those who believe that the government must enforce the 2nd table of the 10 Commandments. Some of them call themselves Christian Nationalists while others do not. Of the latter, they have reduced democracy to majority rule. They forget the following quote from Thomas Jefferson who found that saying everyone is created equal is easier than living by that statement:

    All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

    Of course Jefferson was not a Puritan, but that would not have stopped him from owning slaves in Virginia. Once we get away from protecting the equal rights of a minority group, we’ve have turned what we might call democracy into an instrument of authoritarian oppression.

    So who is on the left? I ask because I know that there are a minority of leftists who oppose all forms of what they call sex exploitation work. Many more don’t use drugs. All of the people from the LGBT community whom I know just want to coexist in society with us heterosexuals. They simply want to be able to choose a different way of life than we have chosen. What many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians regard as provocative actions by the LGBT community are simply meant to eliminate marginalization from both institutions and society itself. And yes, some of those actions are overreactions.

    So who is trying to destroy our way of life? Is it everyone on the Left or just some radicals? Unless one’s way of life involves believing that one has a right to live in a culture that favors Christianity and embraces its norms, I don’t see the left as an enemy; rather, I see ourselves as our own worst enemy. That is because fighting the current culture war is a unilateral decision which, again, makes the description of the Christian’s enemy a mere projection of oneself.

      1. Ryan,
        Delusional about what? About not having my way of life being threatened by the left? After all, my activism has caused to meet many on the left, and they are not what the article describes the ones I know to be. And so I am going by experience, not unrealistic thinking.

        Can you be specific and describe how the left is trying to destroy your way of life?

          1. Ryan,
            And so are you just doing what you can to silence my voice here?

            Maybe you will realize later the problems that come with your approach. Until then, I am sure that you see yourself as being a loyal defender of what is good. But what is being defined as good here is not supported by the Scriptures, especially by the New Testament. And it is the New Testament that is much more relevant to our political situation than the Old Testament is.

            Realize that how we treat each other can be a bigger reflection on our faith than what we say with words. When we see ourselves as being better than others, we are venturing toward the path taken by the Pharisee from the parable of the two men praying (Luke 18:9-14).

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