The Leftism of the Alt-Right

The term “alt-right” no longer refers to dissident conservatism, but rather to the monster Gottfried hates to think he helped stitched together. According to Thomas J. Main’s The Rise of the Alt-Right, which confirms Gottfried’s diagnosis above early on, the alt-right in the United States today stands for: “the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and protectionist trade policies … opposes feminism, diversity, globalism, gun control, and civil rights.” Main refers to one VDARE[4] contributor’s pseudo-manifesto, which clarifies their raison d’être: “The alt-right is … a refusal to accept the frame imposed by those who are hostile to us on issues like morality, politics, and culture.” They regard liberal morality as a tactic to acquire or safeguard power; think of egalitarianism as a bad joke; and assert that racial superiority has been proven by science. Richard Spencer, who appears to be the pagan pontiff of the alt-right, regards conservatism and liberalism as the movement’s political foes along with anyone who disagrees with the proposition that “race is the foundation of identity.” Add America to that list of opponents.

The alt-right rejects the principles delineated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and in the Federalist Papers. They will afford “no quarter for Parchment fetishists.” In an interview, Main ran an idea by Spencer — Hayek’s point in The Constitution of Liberty that people ought to be treated alike in spite of the fact that they are different. Spencer flat-out rejected it. The movement, like Spencer, does not recognize equality as a factual or political reality. Democracy, too, it rejects, leaving the movement open to the imposition of a fascist leader’s arbitrary will. Not only does the alt-right reject America’s core and founding documents, but the self-evident truths they advance with them. “Rights, political equality, the rule of law, electoral democracy, and constitutionalism” are to be discarded along with the rest. According to Jared Taylor, editor of the American Renaissance, the few values the alt-right does seek to uphold are not rooted in ideas, but in people. The success of the United States, therefore, is tied to race — to the European heritage of those who largely inhabit it. It is largely for this reason why the alt-right is at odds with Trump’s brand of nationalism. Though Spencer suggested to Main that Trump and Bannon “deserve credit for asking ‘is this good for us?’ when considering issues of trade, immigration, and foreign policy,” he could not reconcile himself or the movement with Trump’s meaning of “us.” For Trump and Bannon, the United States is a multiracial country with a multiracial future. For the alt-right, this is unacceptable.

What is also regarded as unacceptable to the alt-right, along with religion in general, is Christianity, which they regard as a poison that has weakened its forefathers; a religion that did not bring about social good in the world but one that was brought about by good people: “Europe effectively created Christianity — not the other way around.” Greg Johnson, another proponent of the alt-right, claimed that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.” Spencer invokes Nietzschean critiques of Christianity, not as a means of arriving at a compatible form but to discredit it along with American conservatism. The chieftains of the alt-right are virtually all neo-pagans or militant atheists. They reject deontological ethics and fully embrace race-centered utilitarianism, in line with their scientific materialism and biological determinism, leaving little room for transcendentals or traditional religiosity. Therefore, it is not merely America’s founding documents and its dominant religion they rebuke, but the higher authority and metaphysical reality the majority of country appeals to.

To the extent that the alt-right has a preference for an economic system, it would like to end laissez-faire economics and consumer capitalism, and have the government exercise more influence over the economy and trade, particularly in the form of protectionist policies. The alt-right also appears happy to see a broadening of the welfare state that exclusively promotes and privileges white interests.

The alt-right is ultimately: identitarian, which it evinces both in its veneration for whiteness and European heritage as well as in its revulsion for all other races; atheistic or at the very least anti-religious; collectivist and anti-individualist; anti-capitalist though uncommitted to an alternative; for legal positivism; desirous of rebuilding society from scratch; and convinced it can socially plan that same society using various forms of coercion. This last point — its drive to create and plan a new society — is an expression of a leftist and “nihilistic tendency to recreate and refashion all forms of human experience after a tabula rasa of total revolution.”

Though the alt-right satisfies most of KL’s criteria for the left, it is an outlier in at least one category. For instance, KL reckoned the family under leftism to be horizontal in terms of dynamics. This is certainly at odds with the patriarchal conception of family held by the alt-right, where wife is subordinate to husband and required to produce white children. Spanish Falangism and Italian fascism are arguably also out of place on the KL’s left for their stratification of the domestic sphere. This is the sort of contradiction Sartwell was referring to in reference to the political spectrum. It seems, therefore, that while an extremely helpful guide and an additional tool for arrangement, KL’s binary will rarely if ever produce absolutes. It will, however, produce hybrids whose connections can be better understood. Barring the discrepancy in the “sexes” category, to the extent that the alt-right is a hybrid, it is a predominantly leftist hybrid.

The alt-right has defined itself by what it is not and with appeals to something that never was. Its talk of tradition is a misdirection; a way of blurring the line between itself and the American right, as well as the conservatives its elites despise. So far as tradition is concerned, the alt-right is content to discard it wholesale, unless by tradition what is actually meant is racial or ethnic homogeneity and genetic continuity, in which case they will stake their lives on it. This fanciful notion that there was a time when nations kept to themselves and migration was not a thing is just that: a fantasy held by leftists gripped by a racial myth, all petrified by variety, personality, and freedom, as well as by the exchange of ideas. They belong to the left, and their ideology is contiguous with the worst of the 19th and 20th Century.

[1] Frankel’s fellow Daily Wire writer Michael Knowles made a similar point one year earlier on PragerU’s YouTube channel.

[2] The Old Right of the 1930s-1950s was, according to Sheldon Richman, a movement against Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.

[3] VDARE is Peter Brimelow’s anti-immigration website, which he started in 1999. Despite Brimelow’s contention that VDARE is not a white-nationalist website, it has run articles by numerous anti-Semites, racists, race scientists, and white supremacists.

[4] “Extreme cold and extreme heat, extreme distance and extreme nearness, extreme strength and extreme weakness…none of them ever ‘meet’” (KL1 37).

[5] On the Political Compass, a four-quadrant spectrum, “left” and “right” define the parameters of its x-axis, and “authoritarian” and “libertarian” its y-axis.

[6] Peter Drucker’s sense that, “fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion,” seems more like a small step rather than a giant leap (Hayek-2 80).

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