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Student Claims To Discover "Fake Book" With Alt-Right Materials In Columbia University Library

The university is investigating reports that a student found a hollowed-out book containing materials associated with the anti-democratic "Dark Enlightenment" movement in the school library.

Posted on December 14, 2016, at 1:20 p.m. ET

Columbia University, in New York City, is investigating a report of a "fake book" found in a campus library that appears to be associated with the neoreactionary or "Dark Enlightenment" movement.

A student worker at the university's Butler Library claimed to find the fake book in one of the shelves that appeared to contain symbols and forms associated with the Dark Enlightenment movement, which rejects democracy and egalitarianism and "focuses on the fundamentally flawed tenets of modern western culture," according to a subreddit dedicated to the movement.

The discovery of the book was first published on Monday night by BWOG, Columbia's student-run campus news site.

The current white nationalist alt right movement — which grew in prominence largely due to Donald Trump's campaign and his victory — draws from some of the ideas espoused by proponents of the Dark Enlightenment movement, including the English philosopher Nick Land and the the American computer programmer Curtis Yarvin (aka “Mencius Moldbug”), BuzzFeed News has previously reported.

The Dark Enlightenment movement is "less a single ideology than a loose constellation of far-right thought, clustered around three pillars: religious traditionalism, white nationalism, and techno-commercialism," according to a 2015 Awl article.

Following the BWOG report, several student groups, including Columbia Against Trump, wrote an oped in the Columbia Spectator calling for the administration to "take every possible step to address the source of this racist material and to further investigate whether a white supremacist group has a presence on our campus, and if so, take bold and immediate action to eradicate it."

"The so-called 'Dark Enlightenment' — a movement propagating ideas of fascism, white supremacy, and ethnic cleansing—is only one of many small but vocal forces supporting Trump’s hateful agenda across the country that must be stopped," the student groups wrote in the oped.

The student told BuzzFeed News, "I don't know if this is ultimately a hoax."

The university said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News: "We are aware of the student blog report about a hollowed-out book discovered in Butler Library containing disturbing materials,"adding, "We are investigating the matter, but at this point cannot confirm the published account."

The student who claimed to have discovered the book told BuzzFeed News that he was stacking shelves at Butler Library on Friday when he "noticed this book that didn't quite look like a book."

The student, who works at the library, did not wish to be identified because he felt "it was potentially dangerous" for people associated with the book and the movement to know his name. He also said he didn't want to invite "death threats" from Reddit and 4Chan, where the Dark Enlightenment movement appears to have a presence.

The book's title claimed it was the novel, Tess of The D'Urbervilles, and the student said it was in the section with books such as The Dark Side of Nation States and The World Revolution of Westernization.

The student said that when he opened the hollowed-out book, he found about five manila envelopes containing forms with an eagle design on the front that resembled Germany's coat of arms, or the "Federal Eagle."

While the eagle appears to be the modern version of the German coat of arms, variations of the design were adopted as symbols during the Nazi era.

The forms in the manila envelopes asked users to list their availability, choose objectives such as "spread messaging" and "brotherhood," and list their interested topics from options including "post-democracy, nationalism, Alternative Right, Cultural Marxism" and Dark Enlightenment terms such as "HBD" and "The Cathedral."

For followers of the Dark Enlightenment movement, human biodiversity or HBD, is the belief that social hierarchies are determined "not by culture or opportunity" but by DNA, Vocativ reported in its detailed article on the movement. HBD adherents believe that racial inequality, differences in IQs and academic achievements can be attributed to genetic factors.

"The Cathedral is a complex ideology network built atop the university system, the media (run and operated by graduates of the former) and employees of the bureaucracy, all of whom grow ever more dependent on the perpetuation of the Cathedral," Nick Land, one of the Dark Enlightenment's proponents, told Vocativ.

The student said that all except one of the manila envelopes had the forms in it.

He said that he did not report the book to university officials because it wasn't a hate crime or vandalism. "It's not a hate crime right off the bat," the student said. "But it's kind of weird and disturbing, these terms are not good things."

The back of the form read "DarkEn," short for Dark Enlightenment.

There were also reports of DarkEn recruitment posters found in Butler's male bathrooms in September, BWOG reported. These posters encouraged people to join the movement using SureSpot, an encrypted messenger app.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.