I share many concerns with the self-styled “alt-right,” writing for years about the dangers of a superficial “diversity project” and an academically enforced “multiculturalism” that at its core is authoritarianism dressed in sanctimony. I foresaw a rekindled racial divide in this country in President Obama’s rise to national power.
I’ve openly criticized the breakdown of our immigration system and the risible claims that importing low-skilled labor into a country where leftists control entitlement programs — largely because establishment Republicans are content not to act, or will act on behalf of those who most benefit from cheap labor — would be anything other than a vote-buying scheme.
Our system was designed for assimilation and naturalization. The complete corruption of that system and the usurpation of its intent by those who redefine it in the terms of transnational progressivism are largely responsible for the resurgence of the white nationalism at the heart of the alt-right’s identitarian “philosophy.”
Concerns over a loss of sovereignty or the overdetermined influence granted preferred minority groups are legitimate, despite the putative conservatives who pretend they are not, or parrot an establishment apologia that waxes poetic about “inclusivity” and “economic growth” while Americans are increasingly self-segregating and an entire generation of young people will struggle to find a way into the workforce. I can read crime statistics, and have watched states turn blue as the result not of good Democratic Party governance but entitlement promises and the logistical changes that inevitably follow. Libertarian economist Milton Friedman knew well that you can’t have an open borders-type immigration system tied to a welfare state. That’s precisely what we now have.
Still, there are fixes to our national maladies that reside in the constitutional system of government we each inherited as our birthright as American citizens. American exceptionalism, which neither Barack Obama nor Donald Trump understand or can articulate, was born of our founding. This exceptionalism is found not in its genetic makeup (after all, we fought other white Europeans for our independence) but in a collage of Enlightenment ideas our Founders pulled together to create what became our national portrait.
To reclaim our birthright, we need only reclaim the Constitution. We need to re-embrace American exceptionalism and reject the kind of toxic identitarianism the Left uses to divide us, manage us, and place us into needy voter blocs they then collect to win elections, and through which an institutionalized progressive cancer spreads to eat away its bones.
Identity Politics On the Right
But we need recognize this cancer is not necessarily isolated within a given political party. It is opportunistic: in the ’60s, it infiltrated the “bourgeois” Democratic Party the cultural Marxists despised to become the New Left that today controls many of our institutions. As it did so, this long march created a counter-trend we now see bubbling up through cracks in our national foundation.
This counter-trend, make no mistake, is every bit as identitarian as anything Edward Said ever wrote, and just as toxic. Said enormously influenced Western academics. His Orientalism laid out the case for identity politics, declaring who controls particular group narratives and how, and who and what comes to count as “authentic” and thus permitted to represent a given identity group and its (collectivist) narrative. Identity politics necessarily brackets and minimizes individualism. As with much the Left does, it remains policed by a kind of mob shaming and an enforced intellectual correctness that is linguistically incoherent.
Unfortunately, this same set of core beliefs is now ascendant on a vocal part of the self-described “Right.” In his “What the Alt Right is,” Vox Day, one of the leaders of the alt-right “movement,” details what he calls “a core Alt Right philosophy upon which others can build,” then provides a list of 16 items one can imagine he sees himself virtually nailing to the doors of Benetton stores like a modern-day Martin Luther.
The list begins predictably enough by declaring immediate segregation. Vox Day writes: “The Alt Right is of the political right in both the American and the European sense of the term. Socialists are not Alt Right. Progressives are not Alt Right. Liberals are not Alt Right. Communists, Marxists, Marxians, cultural Marxists, and neocons are not Alt Right.” The only problem with this formulation is that it is entirely wrong.
Declaring that the alt-right is on the Right in “both the American and European sense of the term” is utter rubbish, and you can no more declare that you are “on the right” than you can declare that your gender is fluid and not expect people to raise an eyebrow. You are on the Right because of what you believe, how you act, and what impulses and ideas undergird your philosophy.
The alt-right is a European-style right-wing movement that is at odds with the classical liberalism upon which our country was built, and which the Left has redefined as “Right.” That is to say, the European “Right” is mapped onto a political spectrum different than our own. Our “right” — conservatism or classical liberalism —is dead-center on our spectrum, no matter how persistently the Left tries to claim otherwise. It is constitutionalism, which incorporates federalism, republicanism, legal equity, and a separation of powers.
Claiming a Label Doesn’t Make It Accurate
It helps to envision our political spectrum not as a line but as a circle. At one point in that circle, the alt-right and the progressive left meet and become of a piece. Alt-righters may disclaim this fact, but it is clear to anyone willing to sift through the rhetoric to uncover the kernel assumptions beneath.
Both progressivism and the alt-right’s populism are identity movements that share many of the same assumptions. Here’s the difference: the Left wants to dismantle rugged individualism to create a transnational progressive utopia with a global ruling elite at the levers of power, while the alt-right wants its individual utopias localized to individual sovereign nation states. (Although, to be fair, they’d probably settle for Idaho.)
Vox Day claims “The Alt Right is an ALTERNATIVE to the mainstream conservative movement in the USA.” In this he lumps together all who have described themselves as conservatives and writes them off as only nominally so. Elsewhere you’ll see alt-righters refer to “Conservative Inc.,” which is shorthand for this claim. But this, too, is nonsense. Again, one is “conservative” or not based on what he believes and how he governs — and, importantly, based on the way the label is currently understood.
Simply adopting the label as it suits you doesn’t make you something you aren’t, much like calling your hamburger a carrot doesn’t make you a vegetarian. It is about a set of principles that, once they’ve become too commingled with self-serving pragmatism or “realism,” devolve into a mash of weak progressivism. This is why for years I’ve fought against RINO squishes and moderates who coopt the label “conservative” during election season, always presenting themselves as something the entirety of their records rejects.
Alt-righters — like the RINOs who leech off the conservative label — want to redefine conservatism to suit their own political purposes. What they are actually promoting is white “nationalism.” To do this, they must first try to delegitimize the classical liberalism that in the United States is today mapped to conservatism and constitutionalism. They do this by conflating, for example, Ted Cruz with his nemesis Mitch McConnell, while pointing to the Mondale Democrat Donald Trump as a new kind of political “thinker” sympathetic to their movement.
In their formulation, Trump is an alt-right American/European “conservative” — forget that he backs price controls, race-based affirmative action, a wealth tax, tariffs, socialized medicine, and a federal minimum wage increase — while Cruz and other constitutionalists and free-market capitalists are cast as nefarious “globalists” of foreign birth who are secretly controlled by Jewish interests.
Old-School Democrat Politics Aren’t Conservative, Either
In essence, to believe the alt-right is to believe that the “right-wing” alternative to Conservative Inc., can be found in adopting trade policy to the left of Jimmy Carter; social policy befitting George Wallace, Orval Faubus, William Fulbright, and Robert Byrd; and a foreign policy that is entirely McGovernesque. That is, their “right-wing” alternative to constitutionalism is a 1950s- and 1960s-style Bull Connor-Democratic platform with an R after it.
According to Vox Day, “The Alt Right believes in victory through persistence and remaining in harmony with science, reality, cultural tradition, and the lessons of history.” Yet that same alt-right simultaneously misunderstands history, embraces tribalism, eschews American exceptionalism, and relies on the legitimate science of population genetics to draw pseudo-scientific racialist conclusions that glut the burgeoning field of white nationalist sociology.
Similarly, it speaks of a “cultural tradition” it can’t possibly define. Cultures are amalgams. To distill them down to that mythical moment of original purity is to pick a particular point in time to declare the culture the culture. It is an act of will, and a self-serving one at that. Making Vox Day’s support of a nationalism “homogeneous and unadulterated by foreign invasion and immigration” just another instance of rank tribalism — one that forgets this country was born out of clashes within the very homogeneous and unadulterated tribe he pines for.
Calling themselves anti-globalist, the alt-right defines itself against free-market capitalism. As Vox Day puts it, “The Alt Right rejects international free trade and the free movement of peoples that free trade requires. The benefits of intranational free trade is not evidence for the benefits of international free trade.” He does so shortly after declaring that the alt-right is “scientodific” — it “presumptively accepts the current conclusions of the scientific method (scientody).” Yet it rejects any evidence free trade has been a net positive for the United States in terms of living standards for citizens, wealth accumulation, and so on.
For Vox Day and his anti-free trade contingent, the movement of labor that comes with free trade creates a kind of cultural contamination, while individual debt Americans have accumulated in the post-Nixon free-trade era negates any growth in real wages and leaves us each poorer. This argument confuses growing access to credit and the choice of Americans to use it with an historical trend that is the result of free trade per se.
Moreover, the kind of trade protectionism the alt-right promotes gives more power to politicians to collect taxes and to choose from whom to collect them. It is a recipe for increasing the kind of cronyism that too often tries to pass for free trade. We have more than 12,000 tariffs already. Increasing tariffs only further insinuates government into our lives and choices — a hallmark of all big-government movements. In this sense, the alt-right, like the Left it pretends to eschew, declares itself believers in science, yet it brackets inconvenient data and relies on government intervention to “nudge” choice in much the same way as do green freaks.
Focusing on Race Means Erasing the Declaration
“The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children,” he writes — presumably in a way that separates white people from those of other “races” in a homogeneous homeland. It seems this must be done because, left to their own devices, white people are easily overtaken by foreign invaders. They have little willpower to resist the siren call of jazz or professional basketball; they can’t quit sushi.
So to preserve white people — and secure the future for white children — they must be saved from themselves. Individual choice, therefore, must be constrained to only a pre-approved list of choices. Are you a white man attracted to an Asian woman? Beat off to Google images of such exotic creatures from afar.
Now, leave aside for the moment the capricious nature by which “white” must of necessity be defined (a return of the one-drop rule? Mandatory DNA tests? Pomade and hair-straightening to hide the n***** in the family woodshed?). Instead, concentrate on how demeaning is this depiction of hapless whites overrun by their own inabilities to properly police themselves. To mitigate this requires the requisite boogeymen. As history has taught us, that’s bound to be the Jews, who infiltrate white culture thanks in large part to their white skin — and voila! An enemy is defined and a scapegoat created. To those who are actually historically inclined, this is hardly surprising.
Thus Vox Day concludes his alt-right manifesto by declaring: “The great line of demarcation in modern politics is now a division between men and women who believe that they are ultimately defined by their momentary opinions and those who believe they are ultimately defined by their genetic heritage. The Alt Right understands that the former will always lose to the latter in the end, because the former is subject to change.”
But what exactly is “genetic heritage”? Simple: it’s essentialism. It’s a blood thing. It’s racialism. At its core, it rejects the very ideas that animate the Declaration of Independence and that were later fully encapsulated in the Constitution with ratification of the fourteenth and nineteenth amendments.
By adopting this stance, the alt-right is inherently anti-American, and its “nationalism” is but a fig leaf for racial separatism. It is unclear from reading this to what point in time the alt-right wishes to transport us. But make no mistake, it wants “us” to be an “us” and not a you or me.
It is an identity movement on par with Black Lives Matter, La Raza, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and other tribal products of the kernel assumptions that inform cultural Marxism. That it pretends to throw off some of those trappings — it enforces an anti-PC ethos in a way that creates yet another tenor of the same PC, this time attached to white nationalism instead of multiculturalism — is but camouflage.
There is nothing new about the alt-right. It is the same anti-individualist, identitarian collectivism we’ve always seen, only with a label change. “The Alt Right believes identity > culture > politics,” Vox Day tells us. In informing us of this, he pronounces that individualism must first occur within the confines of a pre-determined collective, that “genetic heritage” creates culture, and that politics then governs that culture and protects both the culture and the identity.
It’s a push for a kind of incestual family writ large. But I guess the world could always do with more banjos.