In 2018, Costin Alamariu disappeared.
There was a flurry of activity in October, when Alamariu, a Romanian-American writer with a Ph.D. from Yale, published an article: “Jair Bolsonaro And The Populist Crisis in Brazil” in Palladium Magazine, an online journal that was associated with the anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian “neo-reaction” movement. Alamariu announced on Twitter he was restarting his account — though it’s unclear when or if he posted on the account previously, as no earlier posts are visible — and tagged far-right figures like Steve Sailer and Ann Coulter. “hi Steve I closed my account before but reopened to post some new articles. Hope you follow back! You might be interested in this one about Brazil,” he wrote to Sailer.
But on Oct. 30, he suddenly stopped tweeting. He hasn’t posted since then from that account. He hasn’t published any work since then, nor has he held a job with any public profile. As far as the general public is concerned, Alamariu no longer exists.
But as Alamariu was disappearing, another figure looking to make a name in conservative circles was on the rise. Twenty-eighteen was also the year that Bronze Age Pervert, BAP for short, became a household name in far-right spaces. That June, BAP, who had already built a small but loyal following online, tweeting from his account featuring a profile picture of a shirtless, well-built man photographed from behind, self-published his book Bronze Age Mindset, a curious mix of philosophical analysis, polemic and lifestyle advice all in the service of the argument that embracing one’s authentic masculine virtue is the only way to conquer “lower types of mankind” and root out the worst parts of democracy. (A sampling: “It goes without saying that you must lift weights”; women’s liberation infected society with a “terminal disease”; readers should prepare for impending — and in BAP’s view, desirable — military rule in Western countries.)
The book did surprisingly well for a self-published work and reached as high as No. 3 on the Ancient Greek History chart on Amazon. It was a word-of-mouth phenomenon, slowly gaining more and more fans, including, reportedly, a number of Donald Trump staffers. Their number is hard to gauge, though BAP today boasts more than 100,000 followers on Twitter.
BAP has become a key figure in the world of conservative masculinity influencers, which includes figures ranging from YouTube guru Jordan Peterson to TikTok personality and accused rapist and human trafficker Andrew Tate. Over the past several years, this universe has gained followers and proven itself to be a reliable channel to conservative ideas and Republican politicians for young men in particular. It has also been a breeding ground for reactionary political ideas.
Of all such figures on the scene today, including clearly BAP-influenced anonymous accounts with names like Delicious Tacos, Raw Egg Nationalist and Zero HP Lovecraft, BAP stands out as one of the most influential — and the one associated with the most clearly articulated and far-reaching political and cultural vision. Further, that vision is an extreme one, built around a rejection of equality, democracy and other promises of modern liberalism — and it’s being taken seriously by prominent conservatives and Republicans.
BAP counts Michael Anton, former White House national security spokesperson, Darren Beattie, a former Trump White House aide who was fired for speaking at a white nationalist conference, and a number of young former Trump staffers among his readers. A review by Anton for the conservative think tank the Claremont Institute said the book speaks directly to a “youthful dissatisfaction (especially among white males) with equality as propagandized and imposed in our day.” In the years since the book came out, BAP has only grown in popularity, even despite being banned from Twitter for a period until late last year. In a speech earlier this year, Peter Thiel said that while he found BAP’s solutions to modern problems “tempting,” he disagreed with his “distortions to the Judeo-Christian tradition.” Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance follows BAP on Twitter.
According to several outlets, the person behind the online persona is none other than Alamariu. Alamariu has never confirmed this. He hasn’t responded to messages and letters sent to his various physical and digital addresses — those of both BAP and Alamariu. But there is little doubt about the connection. Nor is there much doubt about the value that anonymity has given to his rise in the noisy and increasingly influential arena of masculine identity politics, allowing him freedom to express controversial ideas without having to answer for them. Because how can you hold a disembodied Twitter profile accountable?
“When you’re on the internet, a way of getting internet fame by having extreme views is doing so consistently, authentically and playing a role,” Danielle Lee Tomson, a writer and researcher who wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on conservative influencers. She compared the way BAP operates to “performance art” and to kayfabe, the concept in professional wrestling of acting out stories and characters to heighten the drama of staged fights.
BAP, Tomson said, resembles folkloric “tricksters” who “are willing to push the boundaries of polite discourse by creating a mythic character of their own, [which] you can’t do as a normal human being.”
Alamariu’s transformation from a contrarian academic to transgressive internet sensation and idol of the new right is a story of the special allure that a provocative pseudonym holds, and how it can help launch a modern media celebrity — and spread extreme ideas further than they would otherwise go.
The Trump campaign and the early years of his administration triggered widespread condemnation of the president and his supporters by liberals and anti-Trump conservatives alike. Many conservatives, especially those who were extremely online, saw in this new atmosphere an overly censorious culture that too quickly canceled those who disagreed with the dominant liberal line; many of them felt an irresistible temptation to trigger shock, or, as they might call it, own the libs. “I literally just hate liberals. I don’t have any other politics,” went one viral 2020 post on 4chan, the freewheeling online forum that has played an important role in the spread of far-right ideology in recent years. BAP, a far-right, totally fringe, completely based “anon,” with a “shitposter” flair, met the moment perfectly.
Written in his signature slang (“wat means?” “ghey” instead of gay, “gril” for girl), Bronze Age Mindset was BAP’s salvo against contemporary society and liberal pieties. BAP joined a chorus of “trad” voices — short for traditional — gaining traction online who deplored modern society’s emptiness and the replacement of traditional values with progressive ones.
Where BAP differs from many trads is in his veneration of values that have nothing to do with Christian concepts of family or morality. In the book, BAP argues that modern society should take after Ancient Greece, when beauty, strength and courage were prized above all else. In particular, BAP prizes the classical conception of masculinity and wants modern men to emulate it. The key relationship that gave a society its strength in civilizations like Ancient Greece, BAP argues, was not that between men and women, or within families, but between young men who perform great deeds together. In BAP’s ideal world, these male friendships should be a young man’s focus. In his telling, modern society wants to weaken these masculine bonds because of their threat to the established order; “every great thing in the past was done through friendships between two men, or brotherhoods of men, and this includes all great political things, all acts of political freedom and power,” he writes in Bronze Age Mindset.
For BAP, the elevation of this vision of masculinity in society comports with his ideal social order, where the strongest rule — and there are no curbs on their dominance, no efforts to protect those who have less power and certainly no attempt to equalize groups. BAP believes in natural differences between humans along racial, ethnic and gender lines, and compares non-Western societies to “yeast” mindlessly perpetuating themselves. BAP argues that equality itself, even democracy, is a dead end, and he believes in eugenic breeding to preserve what he views as superior stock. “I believe in Fascism or ‘something worse’ and I can say so unambiguously because, unlike others, I have given up long ago all hope of being part of the respectable world or winning a respectable audience,” BAP wrote in a 2021 essay. “I have said for a long time that I believe in rule by a military caste of men who would be able to guide society toward a morality of eugenics.”
Anton received the book as a gift from the writer Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug, an influential neo-monarchist blogger well-connected in “national conservative” and tech libertarian circles. Anton’s review of the book in the Claremont Review of Books, about a year after it was released, was mixed but respectful, and portrayed BAP as an important new alternative to mainstream conservatism, which had lost credibility with a younger generation. Around the time of the review, POLITICO reported that the book was getting passed around by young Trump staffers.
On the surface, Bronze Age Mindset doesn’t appear to have much to do with the project of mainstream conservatism. And BAP’s goals are pretty niche; most people wouldn’t want bands of pirates in charge, which is what he proposes as an ideal form of government.
But BAP’s critique of society aligns with an increasingly prevalent view on the right. Conservatives have become more and more preoccupied with liberals’ emphasis on diversity and equity. Big-name politicians campaign against “wokeness.” On the lowbrow side, this translates to Fox News culture war bait via sources like Libs of TikTok, a Twitter account that mocks liberal and LGBTQ social media users; on the highbrow end, intellectuals argue that society has become warped and decadent because it has been rebuilt around the desires, particularly of women and minorities, for equality.
And BAP’s ideas about masculinity, though expressed in an esoteric and eccentric way, reflect modern conservative handwringing about the role of men. Illustrating how BAP’s and other masculinity gurus’ ideas prefigured and seeped into flagship conservative thinking was Tucker Carlson’s 2022 documentary “The End of Men,” which argued American males have been physically and politically emasculated in a world that has become hostile to masculinity and need to recover their own inner strongmen.
Much of what BAP has to say is too rich for the blood of most conservatives who aspire to mainstream respectability. But BAP’s basic diagnosis of the problem isn’t so far off from what conservatives have been hearing for years from more mainstream sources, including powerful figures on the right like Thiel, who said in 2009, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
As influential as BAP is, there has long been an air of mystery about who he really is. The real person behind the persona has been identified as Alamariu — a fact that has long been known in far-right circles. He has also been identified multiple times in articles and podcasts and was the subject of a “dox” (outing) three years ago that caused a great deal of infighting in online right spaces. BAP has never denied being Alamariu, nor has he confirmed it, though he implicitly acknowledged the dox on Twitter by boasting about women who were calling him attractive based on a photo of Alamariu that was going around. It’s unclear where exactly Alamariu lives, or how he makes money, though he charges five dollars a month for subscriptions to his podcast “Caribbean Rhythms.” Alamariu didn’t respond to multiple requests for interviews.
But from the details that can be gleaned, it’s possible to understand more about how he was formed.
Alamariu was born in Romania in 1980. At age 10, according to a bio on one of his author pages, he immigrated to the United States with his family. His father was a research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Alamariu attended Newton South High School in the well-heeled Boston suburb of Newton. He was in the class of 1998, one year behind his classmates B.J. Novak and John Krasinski, future stars of “The Office.” UFC color commentator and podcaster Joe Rogan graduated from the same high school in 1985.
The 1998 Regulus, the school’s yearbook, lists Alamariu as the yearbook’s managing editor as well as class president. In his senior photo, he’s wearing a professorial jacket and tie and staring off-camera, hands clasped behind his back. Alamariu went to MIT for undergrad, where he majored in mathematics and won a prize in his junior year for a short story titled “On Tyranny.”
After graduating, he did a master’s in philosophy at Columbia. In the Columbia Daily Spectator, Alamariu weighed in on a controversy over Israel-Palestine that erupted on Columbia’s campus in 2005. The piece shows an early disillusionment with academic politics that presages today’s “anti-woke” talking points. Referring to the Middle Eastern studies department that was the focus of the controversy, Alamariu wrote, “This department, like nearly all others of its kind at other universities and like other departments within Columbia itself, has long replaced disinterested scholarship with political activism.” “Academic multiculturalism,” he wrote, “is not a scholarly school of exegesis; it is a political movement, founded with the intent of forwarding a narrative of Western and capitalist oppression and third-world victimization.”
By the following year, Alamariu had entered the political science department at Yale to work on a Ph.D. It didn’t take him long to write a letter to the editor to the Yale Daily News, excoriating the paper for left-leaning op-eds it published, including one about how Yale handled sexual assault cases on campus and another on the topic of women Yale graduates’ work-life balance. “I congratulate your paper on having advanced from incipient sexual Leninism to full-scale Maoism,” he wrote.
Alamariu was mentored closely by his thesis adviser, the scholar Steven Smith, who is known as an expert on the German-Jewish-American philosopher Leo Strauss, whose midcentury works on political philosophy have been an important influence on conservative intellectuals. Alamariu’s passion was for classical political theory. He had a good command of ancient Greek. “He was a very gifted student, although [it was] clear from the beginning, eccentric in some respects, and definitely sort of followed his own drummer,” Smith told me. Smith described Alamariu as an “international man of mystery,” who “knew people, but he was not close with anyone particularly. He was a contrarian, which I liked.”
“He enjoyed making a bit of a myth of himself,” said a Yale classmate of Alamariu’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of professional repercussions. “And he plays up his accent a little bit.” The former classmate described learning about Alamariu’s podcast as Bronze Age Pervert through another Yale connection and being surprised to hear that Alamariu was “exaggerating [his accent] considerably.” “And I just found it so ludicrous and over the top and just bizarre and surreal to listen to him basically doing a [Slavoj] Zizek impression that I just couldn’t keep up with it.” Another surprise was BAP’s evangelism for weightlifting, since the classmate remembered him as “skinny, pale. You know, at some point, … somebody mentioned him having an apartment, [and] I asked, if it was like an abandoned elevator shaft that he hung upside down in.”
Alamariu’s interest in aristocracy “was definitely there,” this person said. The classmate said that Alamariu already showed an interest in hierarchy and displayed sexism and a..