Sci-fi writer and polemicist Theodore Beale recently tried to enumerate the principles of a newish online movement calling itself the “Alt Right,” on his personal blog:
What the #Altright is, by @voxday https://t.co/mhFMx7ozhp
— Klein Verzet (@kleinverzet) August 24, 2016
Over at AllThink, the inimitable Cathy Young is taking on the challenge of understanding and critiquing his ideas, while bringing out the worst in the commentariat:
.@CathyYoung63 did a wonderful job bringing the lunatics out in to the light (comments section) https://t.co/5Cn3ELkof7 via @allthinkcom
— Chas Stewart (@BirdTerrifier) August 29, 2016
I commend her article to your reading, but I’m not going to let her have all the fun to herself.
Here are Beale’s sixteen points, followed by some critical commentary.
1. 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.
Fair enough, but it adds rather little value to say that the right is not the left. Moreover, it remains unclear which particular aspects of neo-conservatism are considered incompatible with alt-right ideology, and why.
2. The Alt Right is an ALTERNATIVE to the mainstream conservative movement in the USA that is nominally encapsulated by Russel Kirk’s 10 Conservative Principles, but in reality has devolved towards progressivism. It is also an alternative to libertarianism.
Fair enough, but it remains unclear which particular aspects of mainstream conservatism are incompatible with alt-right ideology, and why. Can we safely assume that the principles enumerated below are not also held dear by ordinary conservatives?
3. The Alt Right is not a defensive attitude and rejects the concept of noble and principled defeat. It is a forward-thinking philosophy of offense, in every sense of that term. The Alt Right believes in victory through persistence and remaining in harmony with science, reality, cultural tradition, and the lessons of history.
If you did not want to come off as having a defensive attitude, then it was not the best rhetorical move to lead off by defining your ideology in contrast with socialism, progressivism, liberalism, communism, etc. Ironically enough, though, one could replace “Alt Right” with any of those competing ideologies in that last sentence, without any loss of fidelity. It is not remotely unusual for any given ideology to make claims of eventual victory while invoking the successes of science and the virtues of tradition. This entire section is superfluous to needs.
4. The Alt Right believes Western civilization is the pinnacle of human achievement and supports its three foundational pillars: Christianity, the European nations, and the Rule of Law.
Except for that last part about rule of law—a genuinely useful innovation—this is dangerous foolishness.
The success of the west has been adequately explained in terms of core innovations such as international competition, market capitalism, property rights, and the scientific method. Unlike European national identity, these ideas are eminently exportable, and we may fully expect the most populous Asian nations to follow the lead of the western powers in adopting them.
5. The Alt Right is openly and avowedly nationalist. It supports all nationalisms and the right of all nations to exist, homogeneous and unadulterated by foreign invasion and immigration.
One would be rather hard pressed to point to any particular ethnic group that doesn’t have a fair bit of “foreign invasion and immigration” as part of its ethnogenesis, and this is doubly true of nations arising from the disintegration of a great multinational empire, such as those of Rome, Constantinople, and London.
Moreover, it is entirely unclear what it would mean for the United States to exist as a homogenous nation unadulterated by foreign immigration. We have never been anything other than an amalgam of various nationalities, from across North America and Europe at first, and eventually the entire world.
6. The Alt Right is anti-globalist. It opposes all groups who work for globalist ideals or globalist objectives.
Collective action problems regarding global public goods cannot be solved without worldwide cooperation and coordination.
7. The Alt Right is anti-equalitarian. It rejects the idea of equality for the same reason it rejects the ideas of unicorns and leprechauns, noting that human equality does not exist in any observable scientific, legal, material, intellectual, sexual, or spiritual form.
The form of equality spoken of in aspirational phrases such as “equal rights” and “equality before the law” is about treating people fairly regardless of their circumstances of birth or social status.
8. The Alt Right is scientodific. It presumptively accepts the current conclusions of the scientific method (scientody), while understanding a) these conclusions are liable to future revision, b) that scientistry is susceptible to corruption, and c) that the so-called scientific consensus is not based on scientody, but democracy, and is therefore intrinsically unscientific.
Scientific consensus relies upon domain expertise and reproducible results, whereas democracy requires neither of these.
Also, stop trying to make scientody happen, Vox.
9. The Alt Right believes identity > culture > politics.
Social justice warriors and their alt-right opposition can at least agree on the primacy of identity, as opposed to individuality. This may be the fundamental point of departure between them and the more reasonable forms of conservatism, where people are often willing to focus on the rights of individuals rather than groups.
10. The Alt Right is opposed to the rule or domination of any native ethnic group by another, particularly in the sovereign homelands of the dominated peoples. The Alt Right is opposed to any non-native ethnic group obtaining excessive influence in any society through nepotism, tribalism, or any other means.
Are we still talking about the United States? Fairly surprised to see the Alt Right taking up the cause of Native Americans at this juncture.
11. The Alt Right understands that diversity + proximity = war.
On the contrary, the world has become more peaceful and increasingly diverse for quite some time now.
12. The Alt Right doesn’t care what you think of it.
People don’t generally bother writing down their ideas if they are not trying to influence other minds.
13. 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.
There are strong empirical, economic, and ethical cases to be made for free movement of both labor and goods across national borders.
Alt right devotees may believe there are some mysterious forces which prevent the known economic efficiencies of free trade from crossing national borders, but to date no evidence has been produced in support of this hypothesis. From a macroeconomic perspective, the mathematics are essentially the same.
14. The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children.
Humanists believe we must secure the existence of all people and a future for all children, without regard to the color of their skin.
15. The Alt Right does not believe in the general supremacy of any race, nation, people, or sub-species. Every race, nation, people, and human sub-species has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and possesses the sovereign right to dwell unmolested in the native culture it prefers.
Back at point 14, the author showed particular solicitude for one specific “race” among all those peopling the planet, which makes one wonder whether he might be significantly more concerned with those of European stock than anyone else.
16. The Alt Right is a philosophy that values peace among the various nations of the world and opposes wars to impose the values of one nation upon another as well as efforts to exterminate individual nations through war, genocide, immigration, or genetic assimilation.
We can all agree that wars of extermination and genocide must be consigned to the past. Immigration, on the other hand, is how the United States came into being as the world’s leading multiethnic society, which makes it a rather poor tool for use in “efforts to exterminate individual nations” at least in North America. As to “genetic assimilation,” isn’t that just newspeak for the venerable idea of race-mixing? Makes one wonder what sort of laws and policies the alt right would try to put in place, if ever given the chance to wield actual political power.