Alt-Right: A Reply to Jakub Jankowski
I confess that I find the Alt-Right ideas, put forward by Jakub Jankowski in his essay at https://thelibertarianalliance.com/2016/08/29/the-rise-of-the-radical-right-the-alt-right-neoreaction-and-the-trump-campaign/, neither convincing nor positive.
Clearly, in some ways the Alt-Right are enemies of my enemies. Those currently in power in almost all Western societies – I’ll dub them the Ctrl-Left – are hostile to me and to everything I care about. Yet the Alt-Right aren’t much closer to my views and values. If I could pick a keystroke combination to represent my preferred way forward, it would be Shift+Up.
Now, there are some areas in which I can agree, at least in outline, with the Alt-Right view. To take a few from the introductory quotation: “Equality is bullshit.” Correct – if what is meant is equality of outcome. “The races are different.” Partly correct; there are cultural and genetic differences between races. But that shouldn’t affect the treatment of individuals of different races. “The sexes are different.” Correct. But again, that shouldn’t affect the treatment of individuals. “Morality matters.” Correct; some actions are right and some are wrong, and which is which is the same for everyone. “Degeneracy is real.” Correct; those with state power today do, and get away with, many things that are not only morally wrong, but also inhuman. “Civilization is precious.” Correct.
And I can agree with the Alt-Right’s rejection of feminism, and with the idea that democracy is doomed to fail. But I prefer James Bovard’s (or was it Ben Franklin’s?) two wolves and a sheep to Korwin-Mikke’s bum and intellectual.
Furthermore, I can agree that Trump is less evil than Clinton. If only because, as far as I’m aware, Trump doesn’t yet have the blood of thousands of innocents on his hands. And I enjoyed the description of our mutual enemies as “the Cathedral.”
All that said, on the evidence of this essay, I have serious reservations about Alt-Right. Most of all, that – assuming I’ve understood Jankowski correctly – the “new right,” of which it is a part, rejects Enlightenment principles.
What are “Enlightenment principles?” As it happens, I essayed a list of them in an article I published here about 18 months ago . Here it is:
”Reason and the pursuit of science. Toleration, particularly in religion. The idea that society exists for the individual, not the individual for society. The idea that human beings are naturally good. Freedom of thought and action. Natural rights and human dignity. Government for the benefit of the governed. Formal equality and the rule of law. A desire for progress, and a rational optimism for the future.”
No-one complained about my list at the time. Certainly no-one from Alt-Right, or its forebears, came in to tell me that I was wrong, and why.
So, do the Alt-Right denigrate the use of reason? Do they oppose the use of the scientific method? Are they intolerant, religiously or otherwise? Do they put something they call “society” above the individual? Do they think human beings are naturally bad? Do they want to constrain or destroy our freedoms? Do they respect the rights and dignity, which are natural to us? Do they think government should be for the benefit of the governed, or of the rulers? Do they think people should be morally equal, or otherwise said, equal before the law? That is, what is right for one to do, is right for another to do in similar circumstances, and vice versa? Do they want us human beings to move forward and upward?
Some of these questions, I can’t answer on the bare evidence of Jankowski’s essay. But others, I think I can. And the answers I reach are not good for Alt-Right.
“Man is a fallen creature,” says the introductory quotation. This reflects the religious idea of “original sin.” In other words, it says that humans are naturally bad. But I don’t accept this idea. What I say in reply is, if you think you’re “fallen,” take up thy bed and bloody well walk!
“Hierarchy is essential,” also says that quotation. I interpret this as a rejection of the ideas of moral equality and equality before the law. In that view, some – those in power, the hierarchy – should have moral privileges over others. They should be allowed to do things others aren’t allowed to do.
As to religious tolerance, Jankowski’s article promotes a traditional form of Catholicism. Do the Alt-Right want to impose their particular form of religion on others? I would remind American readers, at least, of the following words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
And the Alt-Right, despite its passing nod to Austrian economics, wants to destroy industrial society. It would amuse me, if it wasn’t so sad, that those that intone that we humans have “dominion over all the earth” (Genesis 1:28) also want to stop us putting our dominion into practice, and making the world a better place for ourselves.
Furthermore, it’s been clear to me, for years, that there isn’t much difference between the political right and left. Both want to enjoy power and riches they haven’t earned. But in the past, the right – the best of them, at least – have been content with that. The left, on the other hand, actively want to screw those they don’t like. That’s why the right have been, traditionally, less evil than the left.
But, according to Jankowski, the Alt-Right want to “return to more authoritarian forms of government.” That’s a red flag to me. And who will be the new oligarchy? Who, indeed? You’ve guessed it; the Alt-Right. And what, pray, would prevent them crossing over into Stalinist territory, so becoming the Alt-Left?
Their rejection of what they call “the belief in universal human rights” is also rather chilling. For human rights – like life, liberty, property, privacy – are for human beings. That is, for those who behave as human beings, by respecting others’ equal rights. And these rights are for all those who behave as human beings.
Finally, the Alt-Right tell us we should glorify white civilization; that is to say, European civilization. And correctly so. For the major legacies of white civilization are the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution which followed it.
Yes, it’s true that the Ctrl-Left have perverted our civilization into something all but unrecognizable. But the Alt-Right are almost as bad. They are setting out their stall to destroy our civilization, along with our way of life and all its benefits.
Morons. Will they ever learn any lessons?