Seeing the alt-right more clearly

The alt-right gets talked about from time to time by people who haven’t really spent much time there and don’t really know what they’re talking about. As a result, it gets painted both imprecisely and inaccurately. In this post I will try to clarify things a bit, purely for clarity’s sake.

From about mid 2011 to late 2015, I spent a lot of time in the alt-right and even identified as part of it, so while I no longer associate with any of it and don’t sympathize with most of it either, I think I can do a better job illuminating it than most journalists and Leftists have. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone.

What does the alt-right believe?

I used to think the alt-right was unified by some beliefs that could be called socially conservative, making them an “alternative” to the mainstream Right and their abandonment of social conservatism. But the alt-right’s championing of Trump early in his campaign, and the reasons they gave for this, caused me to realize they were not an alternative to the mainstream Right, and that is when I made my exit. So, what ideology characterizes the alt-right instead?

Although a few alt-right people may reference influential thinkers before them, alt-right ideas generally do not grow from old established ones but as a polemic response against certain postmodern dogmas. Only a few ideas actually unite the alt-right: a reaction against political correctness, social justice, and globalism. And in all three cases the reaction typically manifests, fundamentally at least, as a belief in racial identitarianism.

I would say a large majority of people in the alt-right view race as a zero-sum prisoner’s dilemma game, where each racial group looks out for their own interests at the expense of others. The way the alt-right sees it, whites as a racial group (for various reasons depending who you ask) are losing or will lose the game because the other racial groups are consciously looking out for their own interests and undermining others while whites naively are not. The alt-right’s answer then is for whites to start consciously looking out for their own interests, even directly copying some of the tactics of other racial identitarian groups.

This prison-yard way of looking at the world is repulsive to me, but I also think it is ontologically and strategically flawed. Modelling the dynamic between various racial groups as a prisoner’s dilemma is wrong, because in a prisoner’s dilemma the prisoners cannot communicate for mutual benefit. In reality, there are many people of all races who do not wish to play that game, and prefer to communicate for mutual benefit instead. There are also many people of all races willing to criticize their own group. Political correctness, social justice, and globalism get in the way of this, but so does white identitarianism, which drives other people back to their own race’s identitarianism, causing a vicious cycle.

A better strategy would be to de-escalate the cycle with a focus on enhancing interracial communication and maximizing the already large set of people who wish to communicate. Rejecting the lies of political correctness, social justice, and globalism does not mean one has to live by an equally destructive mirror-image version of it. Correcting for distortions in scale and perspective caused by the internet is a useful starting point.

One thing worth noting is that there are some websites or blogs in the alt-right (at least two in particular I’m thinking of) that do not expressly subscribe to white identitarianism, on rare occasions even condemn it, and prioritize things like nationalism instead. However, they do to engage in a lot of thumb-sucking and juvenile tit-for-tat stuff along racial lines, which is almost equally useless.

How is the alt-right composed?

Structurally I think the alt-right can be described as three slightly overlapping clusters or sections, where each section is a set of websites or blogs and their assenting commenters, and includes the distinct attitudes, beliefs, or goals the people in each one tend to share in common. The sections can be discretely categorized as follows: the Grownups, the Kids, and the Wackos. (Those are my labels.)

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 11.31.34 AM.png

Diagram not to scale; some names might belong in slightly different places in the diagram. Having spent most of my time in the Grownups section, I can less easily recall names and websites from the other sections. Note that some names are just outside the diagram; being relatively mainstream, these are not obviously associated with the alt-right but may share some platforms or friendly connections with it. [EDIT: “r/Pol” should read “/pol/”.]

I don’t know what share of the alt-right each section holds either in popularity or influence, but all three are significant. Because I spent most of my time in the Grownups section, I know various names and websites there best and know comparatively few in the others.

The Grownups section includes the likes of Jared Taylor, Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, Richard Spencer, and many in the Neoreaction subset of the Alt-right. These are people who attempt serious, articulate criticisms of the beliefs and culture that dominate within the Overton window. If they and their ideas weren’t taboo, many of these people would likely be regularly taking part in conversations in intellectual spaces like college campuses and the mainstream “intellectual” press. Many of the Grownups’ own publications and organizations are modeled closely on traditional media and thinktank formats.

The Kids section includes the likes of /pol/ at 4Chan, Twitter trolls, etc. This is the group responsible for Pepe the Frog’s association with the alt-right. They are mostly concerned with saying Things You’re Not Allowed To Say, trolling, “shitposting”, and other various online prankster behaviors. This is both a way to instigate conflicts with people outside the alt-right (for the Kids’ amusement) and to have a bit of “naughty fun”, kind of like Pleasure Island in Pinnochio: a place to gleefully smoke, drink, and throw bricks through stained-glass windows, laughing while the “normies” clutch their pearls.

The Wackos section probably predates the alt-right itself, but the alt-right has given the Wackos a focus and a context. This section is based around conspiracies and monomania, often dealing with Jewish dominance but sometimes with other things as well, such as the alleged impotence of Christianity in the face of invasive non-Western social forces. This is the section that would probably be most jarring and alien to a casual reader who happened across it.

When people in the mainstream media mention the alt-right, they tend to refer to — or at least conjure the image of — an amalgamation of the Kids and Wackos sections. There is no recognition of a Grownup section of any kind, so any website or individual who I would think of as belonging to the Grownup section is instead portrayed as a Kid/Wacko.

This isn’t exactly an injustice, since I think the alt-right is undeserving of sympathy, and journalists have no real obligation to discover or tell the truth anyway. But it is an incongruity with a reality I (unlike many others writing about it) have observed up close, and I find that irritating. This blog entry was merely intended to address that irritation.

Clarifying my own position: rejoinders

So far the mainstream strategy of dealing with the alt-right has been to demonize and shun anyone so much as suspected of being associated with them. That will succeed only in making the alt-right more appealing, as should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. People like Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson are correct that actually talking to people in the alt-right is a much better idea.

Peterson himself seems to have swallowed the mainstream depiction of the alt-right (understandable, since he has no compelling reason to go and investigate it), so his proposal that he is bringing people “back” from the alt-right and toward the center, he is really only talking about the Kids and Wackos. “Clean your room” is good advice for someone who sits around trolling on Twitter and shitposting on /pol/ all day, but it does not address someone who is persuaded by the likes of, say, Richard Spencer, who belongs to the Grownups section of the alt-right. You can tell, because Spencer himself is unimpressed by Peterson:

So, to the Grownups section I would say this: white identitarianism is pathetic because it brings you down to the level of those you despise. We are not in a racial prisoner’s dilemma because we can talk to each other, and there are others willing to lower their shield and talk to you if you are willing to lower your shield and talk to them. You and they share a common enemy, one with which you are already familiar: political correctness, social justice, and globalism. You just need to learn how to point to these things in a common language and tone.

If patriarchy and being white are of overwhelming and uncompromising importance to you, and if you are unwilling to dramatically change your ideology or cultural context by converting to either Islam or the Amish church (both places where patriarchy, anti-modernism, and ethnic solidarity are alive and well), then you will be much happier and more successful with my advice than with sitting around bitching about feminism and white genocide on the internet.

My advice is to get married and have lots of kids–as many as your wife can bear. Family life will permanently and palpably provide you with a meaningful hierarchy of authority, and having kids is the most reliable way to instill in others the values you’d like to see more of. (This latter point is true regardless whether you subscribe to the nature or nurture view of human development.)

You will need to display competence and earning potential to attract a wife, and you’ll need a decent job to support your family. This means you’ll need to master a set of in-demand professional and social skills. I suppose that amounts to a kind of “clean up your room” statement as well, but I have also provided a wider goal within which to frame it. Get offline and get to it.

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