Politics forms a sub-heading under philosophy for a reason: where philosophy aims at the unchanging, politics looks at the dynamic of power which shifts frequently. As such, the problem with political terms is that often we target what was relevant yesterday. This proves hardest for groups creating change because they often overshoot their own goals by achieving them.
Take, for instance, the Alt-Right. It gained ground as the Obama years showed us that, with echoes of the 1990s and 1960s, a fundamental transformation by the Left was ruining what was left of Western Civilization. It grew into public view when Hillary Clinton mentioned it as the new Great Satan for all who believe in Holy Equality. Then, it tried to define itself.
At first, the goal for the Alt-Right was to gather together the disparate influences of the postwar Right — hierarchy, nationalism, traditionalism, and metapolitics or a sense that cultural change was needed to kickstart political change — under a banner as an alternative to the somewhat rancid mainstream politics which turned Rightists into RINOs.
Having achieved that, and seen candidates of a similar note be vaulted into office in the United States and Europe, the Alt-Right overshot its own goals. It succeeded, but was there more to it? Where did it go once it crafted its initial aim, which was to awaken cultural consciousness of the need for Western Civilization to save itself through its people and their culture?
Before we go any further, we should realize that the Alt Right still has a large audience of people who agree with it. According to the Los Angeles Times, it seems to have a tight-knit core who follow it online:
The total audience for alt-right political sites is much smaller than the audiences for mainstream left and right sites. The nine alt-right sites combined received nearly 3 million visits and 839,000 unique visitors, compared with 236 million visits and 102 million unique visitors for the mainstream left, and 264 million visits and 111 million unique visitors for the mainstream right.
Others have found that somewhere between ten and forty percent of American whites agree partially or in whole with the Alt-Right and its ideals:
The survey included 3,038 non-Hispanic white respondents. Among these respondents, only a minority expressed high values on any of the above questions: about 28% expressed strong feelings of white identity; about 38% expressed strong feelings of white solidarity; and about 27% felt that whites suffer a meaningful amount of discrimination in American life. A much smaller minority, about 6% of respondents, expressed all three opinions. It is worth noting that a 2017 Washington Post-ABC News poll estimated that about 10% of respondents supported the Alt-Right.
And finally, since money is time is power, a look into the rise in funding for the far Right including the Alt-Right:
In 2016, an AP review of tax records found that the National Policy Institute and three other groups at the forefront of the white nationalist movement had registered as charities and raised more than $7.8 million in tax-deductible donations over the past decade.
The National Policy Institute raised $697,267 in tax-deductible contributions from 2007 through 2015, according to an AP tally. The group used an address in Whitefish, Montana, on its 2015 tax form. More recently, it used a post office box in Arlington, Virginia, to solicit donations by mail.
This brings us to the question: is the Alt-Right a movement, or a set of ideas?
Not all of the people above participate in organize Alt-Right organizations, nor do they attend demonstrations; they merely agree with its ideas. In my view, this is what makes the Alt-Right so dangerous to the mainstream: a few actors get out there on the internet or in the streets, and at home a much larger group are saying, “I’ve been waiting for someone to say this for a long time.”
As with most things conservative — because we do not have a single ideological idea, as does the Left — this audience translates into a big tent. Some agree with generalities and find certain specifics off-putting, and others agree with the totality except for some positions that they find alienating.
If the Alt-Right were able to consolidate itself around a position which avoided trying to tackle specifics until the time came to look at those issues critically, freely discuss them, and then reach a viewpoint on them, it would probably expand even further. It could work outward from the general things most can agree on to later debate and resolve specifics.
Political movements thrive, in the end calculus, less on issues than on directions, meaning that they can get bogged down in details when really what they want is to reach the stage before a choice is made, influencing values and worldview more than exhorting people toward mass compliance on specifics that might be more symbolic than literal.
The essence of the alt-right can be distilled to this catchphrase: All people are not created equal. That’s even more extreme than it may sound. Prominent alt-right thinkers don’t only believe that some are naturally taller, stronger or smarter than others, but also that some groups are more deserving of political status than others. They reject the concept of equality before the law.
Not all alt-right thinkers are so radical in their aims, but they all believe in some form of race-based political inegalitarianism.
To that we can add a sense of why white identity politics arose in the form they have with the Alt-Right:
Other segments of the white supremacist movement — like neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, Christian Identity and white supremacist prison gangs — have different histories, subcultures, demographics and emphases, but they generally share the core ideological conviction that motivates all segments of the white supremacist movement: that the white race is doomed to extinction unless white supremacists take action to prevent it.
And from the study above, a bit more on Alt-Right nationalism:
Although the racist right can be ideologically diverse and make many different arguments, there are three key sentiments that are widely shared across these movements: 1) a strong sense of white identity, 2) a belief in the importance of white solidarity, and 3) a sense of white victimization. Although someone who rates high on all of these views may not necessarily identify with the Alt-Right or a similar movement, we can anticipate all or nearly all individuals who are involved in white identity politics to share these attitudes.
Some have also suggested that changing social norms, especially as they relate to marriage and sexuality, may be fueling the resentments that lead people into the extreme right.
Some insight comes from American Greatness, which tried for an even-handed article analyzing the origins of the Alt-Right:
The reason that alternative was needed, in retrospect, is a story that begins at least with the second Bush Administration. One could argue that Conservatism, Inc.’s failures were logically inescapable from the start (and perhaps they were), or that the elder George Bush actually introduced the corruption by moving sharply away from Ronald Reagan’s legacy. But official conservative organizations at least recognized that Bush 41 was a pretender after he broke his “no new taxes” pledge, and they did not much mourn his loss in 1992, even as they dreaded the election of that Arkansan triangulator, Bill Clinton.
Forgive me this, but an essential part of the Alt-Right includes this outlier, who pointed out that Leftist self-pity politics form a type of mental enslavement:
In tweets the day after, Kanye said, “we have freedom of speech but not freedom of thought,” and followed up with “self victimization is a disease.”
As with all conservative thought, this gives us a handful of principles instead of a single Big Idea as occurs with Leftist-derived belief systems including classical liberalism, currently called “libertarianism.” Nonetheless, it borrows extensively from other movements including libertarianism, the Old Right, deep ecology, human biodiversity, and the European New Right.
Where the Alt-Right, like all conservative “big tent” approaches, runs into trouble is that these different elements then war it out to see which one takes the top heading and which are sub-headings. This happened eventually with the white nationalist element, per American Greatness:
In the time after Trump’s election, however, the white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis, fearing dilution of “their” movement, mounted a concerted effort to reclaim the word solely for themselves, and that effort succeeded with the willing help of anti-Trump forces on both the Left and the Right.
This created a problem. White nationalism both focuses on the details and does not address enough of them. Instead of adhering to a general principle of organicism as expressed in regular old-fashioned nationalism, white nationalism attempts to be an ideology, but since it is a mishmash of National Socialism, white supremacy, fascist, and other modern movements, it does not have the scope to be an ideology or even a plan. What is its economic system? Its social order? How does it protect culture? At most, it is a political system or at least an orientation toward one, combined of equal parts race-patriotism and allegiance to strong leadership.
If the Alt-Right stumbled, it was in this conflict, which showed the groups that were already organized seeming to take over what was otherwise a heterogeneous cultural wave of change in worldview:
…And, in fact, in 2016, many Alt-Right leaders did make a tentative (and, I now believe, thoroughly disingenuous) effort to clean up their act and try to become at least a bit more mainstream…In contacting me, they were quick to make it known that they agreed that the neo-Nazis and Klansmen of the world needed to be purged from their movement and that it needed to get its house in order and compete with the dying “mainstream Right.” Jared Taylor himself solicited my opinion at one point on ethnic outreach. Richard Spencer told me, personally, that he wanted to do to the neo-Nazis what Buckley did to the Birchers.
White nationalism has existed, with a small but committed membership, for at least seventy years in the West. Before that, groups like the Ku Klux Klan and other nativists argued for something similar. However, white nationalism took the form of a Leftist-style movement, with political organizations acting through demonstrations.
When the Alt-Right came along, the bulk of its membership were not aligned with such groups, but when public demonstrations took place, guess who was already mobilized and experienced at doing so? For this reason, the white nationalist contingent was over-represented in public, despite most on the Alt-Right having no such alignment.
We are now seeing the consequences of that. The Alt-Right, because it overlapped with white nationalism and anti-democratic groups, was almost assimilated by those groups; however, the majority of the Alt-Right want no part in any such organized ideology and prefer general principles, such as inequality and hierarchy instead of equality.
For some time, leaders of the Alt-Right cultural wave tried to fit within the white nationalist model by holding public demonstrations, but they rapidly saw the problem with this: demonstrations reward those who seize the attention of the media, and this prioritizes unhinged radicals over sensible normal people.
As a result, the Alt-Right is regrouping and abandoning the demonstration-based model, since that will only lead to its capture by media as happens with any group that becomes dependent on media coverage to advance its membership and solicit donations.
Instead, we are seeing the Alt-Right go back into its most comfortable milieu, the cultural critic and science fiction style creator of alternative possible futures. It does not want to become a political movement, but stay a cultural and intellectual one, and wants to find a very general set of principles instead of political specifics.
It can agree on some general points and for now, this is enough; specifics become clearer as their prerequisites are realized. In that light, it makes sense to issue a general position statement for the Alt-Right:
When in the course of human events, an idea reveals itself to be in conflict with the underlying reality of our world, those who believe in life and care for the future owe it to themselves to reject it and find a better alternative in its place.
We affirm the following general principles:
- Equality does not exist except in human minds. People are different in abilities and moral character from one another, and these traits are innate and cannot be correct by education. This applies to individuals, races, social classes, ethnic groups, and families. Anyone who advocates egalitarianism is pursuing a lie.
- Genetics is upstream of culture. Laws, values, customs, rules, and practices are specific to a culture; there is no universal truth, language, or system of standards that applies to all human groups or even all human individuals. The genetic differences between groups define who they are, and they then enshrine those abilities and preferences in culture. None of what they create can be transmitted to another group, because that group will simply interpret it in such a way that it becomes the genetically-determined preference set of that group. By the same token, individual humans vary in ability to interpret culture, and some know better than others.
- Civilization is the goal of human life. We do not exist in a vacuum, and we cannot work as atomized independent agents seeking their own satisfaction and still have a society. People need to exist in cooperative groups, and we know from history which methods of this work best for human existential thriving. A good civilization makes people feel their time is used well and that life is a joy; a bad one makes people see life in solely material terms.
- Hierarchy is essential to human organization. Mob rule and dictatorships do not work for the same reason: they empower humans to control their environment, either as a mass mobilization or as a single person manipulating others. People need instead to have a pyramid-like structure where each person has the authority they need over what they are competent to control, and together this group works as unequal partners toward a shared goal.
These translate into these attributes of the blueprint for civilization:
- Tradition. For a thriving civilization, people need to choose an inner will toward good instead of fighting “problems.” This positive direction requires an intuitive understanding of what their civilization is and their roles within it, and is maintained through a lifestyle based on an order larger than the individual, in which people see themselves as fulfilling roles instead of living for their own desires.
- Positive reward systems. Control does not work; negative rewards do not work; granting more power and wealth to those who do well at fulfilling the goal of a civilization, after the fact of their achievement, works by encouraging people to move upward in self-discipline and mental clarity. Any system that rewards people before performance, or takes from some to give to another group, is destructive and must be avoided.
- Strong power. Systems like democracy and constitutions serve to divide power, but this only results in perpetual internal conflict by special interest groups. Instead, there can be only one seat of power, and it must be totally accountable. This should consist of a hereditary group who serve for life in a role they are raised to fulfill, selected from among our most intelligent and morally alert people.
- Rule by culture. When everyone knows what to do in any situation, society moves smoothly; to this end, every society must consist of only one ethnic group, and that group must have the freedom to apply its own cultural standards without oversight or criticism by other groups. Diversity does not work, and any attempt to select it must be viewed as an assault on civilization.
Our goal consists of one item, to restore Western Civilization and nurture it so that it exceeds all past greatness. We can do this by applying the pattern of civilization above which corresponds to the springtime of a society instead of its dying days, as democracy does, and then using these methods to improve the quality of our people until we rise above all who have come before.
With this statement, the Alt-Right can redirect itself from a loose coalition of related political ideas to those who have a positive vision for society moving forward, and through that, we can each find a place in this civilization where we can give according to our abilities and receive according to our role.
We can leave behind all of the political drama brought about by the capture of the Alt-Right by white nationalism, since white nationalism offers nothing as comprehensive or general as the list above. Our goal is not to create rules, but to plant the seed of greatness and then enjoy the challenge and process of discovery in making it come to pass.