What is the Alt-Right and should we worry about it?
The Alt-Right; or “alternative right,” has become the latest boogie man of the American Left. Unfortunately the media has done a very poor job of covering this phenomenon or explaining it.
The best way to think of the Alt-Right is as the radical wing of the paleo-conservative movement. The Paleo-Cons are conservatives whose beliefs are closer to those of pre-1950s conservatives; like U.S. Senator Robert Taft (R-Ohio) or Russell Kirk, than the modern conservative movement.
Meet the Paleo-Cons
For example most Paleo-Cons are isolationists; opposed to most international entanglements, and skeptical of free-trade, immigration and big business. Their major goal is the protection of what they see as traditional American culture; and values, in a hostile world.
Paleo-cons; like Pat Buchanan and his colleagues at The American Conservative, have been around for some time. Their views are legitimate; if rather old fashioned, but they are not racists, nor are they radical nationalists.
Many of the Paleo-Cons are actually very conservative Christians; such as Rod Dreher, who are skeptical of the political system and all of modern American culture. Unlike most evangelicals they view the Republican Party: and most of American culture including the churches, as corrupt and hostile to their values.
Alt-Right vs. Paleo-Cons
The major difference between the Alt-Right and Paleo-Cons is that the Alt-Right is obsessed with race, while the Paleo-Cons are obsessed with culture.
The major belief of the Alt-Right is that white Americans are a separate people with a distinctive racial and cultural identity. Alt-Righters believe that racial and cultural identity is under attack by outside forces; including nonwhite people, the media, big business and Marxists.
Unlike the paleo-cons most of the Alt-Righters are not Christians. Instead they seem to believe in the kind of scientific racism that was fashionable in the United States before World War II. Back in those years, white racial superiority was widely embraced by most American intellectuals.
The Paleo-cons generally ignore race and dismiss racism as an unchristian heresy. The Alt-Righters; like Black Nationalists and the White Power movement, are obsessed with race and accept racism as a valid scientific theory.
As I’ve pointed out earlier the Alt-Right’s views, like those of the “White Power” movement of the 1980s and 1990s are similar to the beliefs of Black Nationalist or Black Separatist movement. The major difference is that the Alt-Right does not seem to have clear cut goals or strategies like White Power and Black Nationalists do.
The Alt-Right and Cultural Marxists
The big difference between the Alt-Right and White Power; is that the Alt-Right is a movement of middle and upper class intellectuals. White Power is a movement of frustrated working-class types dedicated to violent revolution.
Unlike White Power the Alt-Right’s goal is not to seize political power or wage race war, but to legitimize its’ philosophy. This makes the Alt-Right similar to the New Left of the 1970s, which tried to legitimize Cultural Marxism. Like the New Left, the Alt-Right rejects violence and tries to worm its way into existing institutions. Also like the New Left, the Alt-Right is obsessed with getting control of the media and changing its message.
White Power can be compared to the American Communists of the 20th Century who wanted to destroy capitalism and democracy; and replace them with a totalitarian dictatorship. The Alt-Right is much like the New Left; which espouses radical beliefs but does not actually practice them.
The Alt-Right has been more successful than White Power; because it has found a mainstream audience, through websites like The Drudge Report and Breitbart News. It has also successfully entered the political arena through the Donald Trump campaign.
Why the Alt-Right is Harmless
Despite that the Alt-Right will probably fail because it is a movement of intellectual dilettantes playing radical. Like the intellectuals of the New Left, the Alt-Righters, see ideology as more of a game.
They are no more capable of violence than Marxist hypocrites like Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is the radical Marxist philosopher who has a large stock portfolio; and draws a handsome pension from MIT – part of the military industrial complex.
The best way to think of Alt-Right leaders; like Breitbart boss Steve Bannon, is as the right-wing equivalents of Chomsky. Their views are certainly loathsome, but they are more interested in working the system for the fast buck than fermenting revolution.
Bannon’s major interest is in increasing Breitbart’s page views, just as Chomsky’s main goal in life is driving more book sales. At the end of the day these so-called radicals are more interested in their bank accounts than ideology. In their hands ideology is little more than a business.
Ideology for Profit
That means a good way to view intellectuals like Chomsky and Bannon is as ideological entrepreneurs, rather than dangerous radicals. The message is simply a product they are peddling to an audience. That is why Donald Trump is interested in the Alt-Right; he is an entrepreneur looking for new sources of revenue, and new markets for his products.
All this makes the Alt-Right harmless, because its leaders have no reason to overturn the system they profit from. Just as Chomsky would never do anything to undermine capitalism, the Alt-Right will do nothing to overturn the media elite. Instead they will work with it in a parasitic relationship, much as the New Left already does.
Beyond that the Alt-Right’s views; like Chomsky’s Marxism, are simply too far out and radical to gain popular appeal. One reason for this, is that like Chomsky; they have little interest in economic issues which are American voters’ principal concern.
My prediction is that the Alt-Right will become a noisy but obnoxious minority that will offend many, but do little harm. Eventually it will occupy some profitable niche in the media landscape; but achieve little beyond putting extra money in some intellectuals’ bank accounts.