Hey, lefties, we finally found your racists for you.
For as long as I can remember, people like me—by which I mean advocates of capitalism and free markets and freedom of speech—have been accused by the left of being secret racists who pine for the gold old days of the antebellum South. Tiresome stuff like this. Then along comes a group of actual, declared racists who really do pine for the antebellum South, and who is one of the main targets of their invective? People like me.
Kind of ironic, eh?
I’m talking about the so-called “alt-right,” which stands for “alternative right,” though I can’t find anything particularly “right-wing” about them—not in the American sense, which has traditionally meant advocacy of free markets, individual rights, and the ideals of our Founding Fathers.
Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing that we even have to debate this, but by launching his campaign on a “Mexican immigrants are rapists” platform, Donald Trump brought the alt-right out of the woodwork. And that has led to a couple of efforts recently to run interference for the alt-right, describing them in sympathetic terms.
That’s not going to fly, for five reasons.
1. “White identity politics” is racism.
Apologies for the alt-right depend on a distinction between “real” racists of the hard-core neo-Nazi variety and mere “tribalists” and advocates of “white identity politics.” But that’s a distinction without much of a difference. The “identitarians” are just white supremacists with delusions of being intellectual.
If you think people are fundamentally defined by the color of their skin and by their ethnic and genetic background, then you are a racist, because that’s what “racism” means. If you think that your most important cultural and political priority is to defend the supposed interests of white people in opposition to the interests of other racial groups, then you are a white supremacist, because that’s what “supremacy” means. Dress it up however you like, but that’s what you stand for.
And yes, of course the left does it, too. They have their own racist theories dressed up under the heading of “identity politics.” So what? Your mom told you the answer to this when you were five: two wrongs don’t make a right.
2. The alt-right agenda is to ban miscegenation.
The primary political program of the alt-right is not opposition to immigration, though that is clearly important to them. The main reason they oppose immigration is because letting in brown-skinned people might lead to white people marrying them a.d producing non-white babies. Their real central demand is an end to miscegenation, the mixing of the races.
Analyze everything they say, and it all boils down to that. When they talk about “white genocide,” that’s what they mean: not that people of European descent are going to be stuffed into ovens, but that whites will be wiped out of existence by interbreeding with dark-skinned people. It’s summed up in lovely little arguments like this one.
— Alt Right (@_AltRight_) January 13, 2016
That’s also why “cuckservative” is their go-to insult for those of us who are actually on the right. It refers to the idea that non-racists want to be cuckolded by letting their women sleep with black men.
So the alt-right agenda is a throwback, at best, to the Jim Crow South.
3. The alt-right are hard-core collectivists.
This “alt-right” agenda is not really part of the “right” because it is thoroughly collectivist in a vile and personal way. It says that your most personal, individual, deeply meaningful decisions—such as whom you marry and have children with—should be determined by some larger social program based on group identity.
That’s why they are openly opposed to free markets in favor of economic nationalism: this is an anti-freedom, anti-individualist movement. And it’s a big reason why the distinction between “identitarians” and white supremacists is a false one. Both are joined by the premise, “Du bist nichts; dein Volk ist alles.” You are nothing, your race is everything.
4. Tribalism is not “pro-Western.”
The big fig leaf of the alt-right is that they want to protect Western Civilization—by throwing out its distinctive ideas and achievements.
The central theme of the Western intellectual tradition is about rising above tribalism to arrive at universal values. That’s a common theme that connects both secular and Christian traditions in the West. It was the whole distinctive idea behind the Ancient Greek revolution in thought. Philosophers like Socrates launched the Western tradition by asking probing questions that were meant to sort out which ideas and practices are based merely on historical accident and social convention, versus those that are based on universal laws of human nature.
Tribalism, by contrast, is the default state of every culture and can be found among every people in every corner of the world. There is nothing distinctively Western about it, and it runs against the whole grain of the Western intellectual tradition.
So by reverting to tribalism, the alt-right is saying that they had to destroy Western Civilization in order to save it.
The fact that much of the alt-right is ignorant of the Western tradition was made clear to me by those who insist that Hispanic immigrants are culturally “non-Western” and “non-European.” They are apparently unaware that “Hispanic” refers to the linguistic and cultural influence of Spain, which is in—anyone? anyone?—Western Europe. So much for caring about the cultural legacy of the West.
5. The alt-right are dancing to the left’s tune.
The alt-right originated by looking at the left’s caricature of the right as racists and pro-white tribalists and saying, in effect: sure, we’ll be that.
For example, a recent apologia for the alt-right makes a big deal of quoting liberal social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s condescending description of Republican voters as authoritarians motivated by “in-group loyalty,” who are therefore suspicious of the people in other groups. This is an old smear. Democrats desperately need Republicans to be small-minded racists, because that’s how the party of slavery and segregation has managed to slough off its own disreputable history and push the stigma of it onto their political opponents.
The alt-right is enabling this fraud. They accept the left’s intellectual framework and eagerly take on the role of the villain that the left assigned to us. Then they have the effrontery to present themselves as big rebels against the left. What a joke.
You could argue that the alt-right is a consequence of the left’s abuse of the stigma against racism. By reflexively denouncing as a racist everyone who disagrees with them about economics, and by making every detail of ordinary life into a minefield of hidden racial transgressions, they have burned up their own credibility. In the process, they have weakened the culture’s immune system against racism and made it possible for a young cohort of racists to repackage their odious creed as resistance to Political Correctness.
As tempting as it is to point this out, we still have to take responsibility for dealing with the problem. If the left has destroyed the credibility of its own resistance to racism, then it is up to us to take up the slack and do the job right. It’s up to the right to take the lead in fighting the ancient scourge of tribal hatred and to diligently purge these new racists who are trying to attach themselves to our movement.
The alt-right isn’t part of the intellectual traditions of the American right, nor is it an alternative to anything. It’s just the same old white-sheet set, repackaged with red “Make America Great Again” golf caps. They’re serving as ignorant tools of the left, and they should be exposed as such.