Thursday 22 September 2016

Why all the Alt-Right excitement? Because people are sniffing the chance of a lucrative sell-out; and selling-out is what the secular Right intellectuals *always* do (given the chance)...

The (online) excitement among the Alt-Right since they were mentioned in a speech by Hillary Clinton - and since it becomes clear that Donald Trump is (de facto) running unopposed - is palpable.

And it is natural; since the secular Right always sells-out, and opportunities for the secular Right intellectuals to be bought-off, co-opted and in general sell-out (for power, status, cash, sexual opportunity etc.) are looking very good, just at present.

No wonder the leading Alt-Right bloggers are so cheerful!

Of course, if one is hoping for some positive change in direction of The West, and the chance to step-off the down-escalator to mass damnation and cultural suicide... well, then all this is utterly irrelevant; since Trump and the Alt-Right are merely a part of the Leftist Media Establishment Fake Reality (they are on the same side, controlled by the same forces, as the Clinton/ Democrat Left and SJWs) - all of which we must see-through and repent before any positive change is possible.

NOTE: It might be wondered why I am attacking the sincerity, strength and value of the Secular/ Alt-Right yet again (and I have been doing so since 2010 when this blog started, including in Thought Prison which was written from this blog -
The reason is that I believe (on mostly intuitive, rather than evidential, grounds) we are now in a time when there is a chance of genuine, existential change in The West - which would require us to dump secularism and take a path which is initially spiritual and eventually religious. Triumphalism over yet another pseudo-Right movement - based on the identical utilitarian and this-worldly bottom line as the mainstream Left - makes such a genuine change less likely. This is why I wish to point out the motivational feebleness and covertly self-seeking nature of the Alt-Right (etc) movement.


Jack said...

Of course it could also be true that the excitement is due to hope that the most insane and lethal policies of the leftist elite can be blocked--mass third world immigration, anti-white laws and incitement, etc. You don't have to be some kind of leftisy or utilitarian or atheist to hope for that.

Your wholly dismissive attitude toward the alt right seems unreasonable. Nothing wrong with intuition, but when there is massive evidence to the contrary it becomes unreasonable to just sweep it aside without argument--claiming to 'just know'. Here the evidence includesn the appatently sincere reflective statements of many in the alt right regarding their motivations. Are you really so sure we are all dishonest or self deluded, and in fact motivated only by selfish this-wordly drives? This is too much like the Marxist or Freudian who claims to 'unmask' religion. Alt right as opiate of the masses. Perhaps some are motivated partly or even wholly as you say. Surely some really are motivated partly or even wholly as we say.

Brexit was not explicitly framed as a referendum on spiritual things; still you were happy to interpret it as an expression of true western resistance to the global system with a spiritual meaning. Why can't the Trump movement or the alt right likewise be a vehicle for true resistance? Or if not why not apply your pessismistic reasoning to Brexit? After all, Farage and his movement are also 'part of the system' and products of mass media just as Trump and the alt right.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jack - There is eight years and a few hundred thousand words of argument on this blog and in the books referenced on the Left toolbar if you want the background.

My argument is at the most fundamental, metaphysical level - about what are the bottom line assumptions of all forms of secular politics.

Experience shows that people say is not a guide to what they will do; what they believe about themselves is a poor guide as well. Just lo0ok at all those sincere young libertarians and what ALWAYS happens when they get a whiff of power or things get tough...

As GK Chesterton once remarked, one needs to know what is a person's philosophy to predict how they will behave when under stress or temptation.

Jack said...

I have been reading the blog for years and I'm familiar with the arguments you're appealing to. I don't see that they address the points I'm raising here. You seem to be claiming again, now on other grounds, to 'just know' without engaging my comment directly. Sure, our statements and self-understanding is fallible (like yours, and your 'intuitive' method of discernment). But there is no evidence that all or even most on the alt right are excited for the reason you claim rather than, as I claim is at least possible, being motivated by rational and moral concerns--as would be only natural when faced by insane lethal policies, regardless of one's spiritual attitudes.

You are saying the alt right is _just_ leftism, just fake opposition, etc. What is the behavior of all or most in the alt right that verifies this extreme reductionist claim? Please don't just allude to unstated arguments but actually state your grounds.

Finally, if the issue is fundamental metaphysical assumptions, how does that indicate a relevant difference between alt right and brexit? What justifies your belief that the brexit phenomenon is based on fundamental assumptions different from those at work in the alt right? I find this seeming double standard mystifying. And I'm sure that many brexit voters would be (or are) supporters of Trump and the alt right, and for similar reasons. Do you doubt this? Or do you think their fundamental assumptions are good when they support brexit but not when they support the alt right?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jack - I'm sorry but you are misreading and misrepresenting me here - I can only advise you to go back and read again with more care. But really I think that you simply disagree with me.

You see I:

1. Do not believe that the secular right actually will do the things they say they will do - because they never have done in the past decades; and

2. Even if they did - it would nonetheless make things-in-general worse overall - as happened with Margaret Thatcher - she successfully reversed decades of economic decline and achieved economic growth in the UK; but at the cost of massively weakening many vital national systems and centralising power. She left Britain in an even worse spiritual state overall than how she found it.

From where we are now - spiritual revival is absolutely necessary and without it then nothing constructive can be achieved - therefore it must be the first and central priority.

ONLY the development and growth of religion will provide:

1. The proper perceptive on Life and

2. The motivation actually to DO it.

Secular politics - even if it calls itself, imagines itself to be on 'the right' - has neither the correct perspective and priorities, nor the ability to motivate itself and enough other people actually to make the very tough decisions, and suffer the deleterious short/ medium term consequences, of rolling-back generations of Leftism.

Jack said...

Bruce, with all due respect (and no sarcasm), I think it is you who are misunderstanding the course of this discussion. In your post you are (a) claiming to discern the real motivations and orientation of the alt right, or at least many of its online leadership, and (b) claiming that in reality the alt right is 'on the same side' as the Left, the Establishment, the SJWs, and (c) therefore the alt right cannot represent any kind of real or effective resistance.

Against (a) I am pointing out the possibility that some or many in the alt right are not motivated in the way that you claim to discern. The evidence for this possibility includes our apparently sincere reflective statements, together with the fact that something like the alt right would be an entirely natural response to obviously lethal insanity--any normal healthy human being who wants to live and wants a viable society for his children would eventually respond in this way, whether he's a Christian or an atheist or a Hindu or an Aztec. My point was that your sweepingly dismissive claims about alt right motives are not reasonable. To say that the 'excitement' in the alt right is due simply to people 'sniffing the chance of a lucrative sell-out', without qualifying this statement in any way, is an extreme and unreasonable claim.

In response to your latest comments: You might be right that religion or at least a spiritual rebirth is a necessary condition for any kind of constructive achievement. However this seems to have no bearing on the issues under discussion. The alt right is 'secular' in the weak sense that a spiritual orientation isn't necessary for being a part of it. It's not secular in the strong sense that such an orientation is sufficient for _not_ being part of it. So its weak secularism doesn't entail that the emergence of the alt right will prevent the spiritual revival. It could well be that the first step in spiritual revival in any western nation is to reject the lies of the Left regarding race, sex, nation, culture, tradition, etc. Maybe the alt right begins by demolishing these lies, and initiates a turn in the direction of religious Truth once they've been demolished. Unless its impossible for something non-spiritual to initiate something spiritual, your argument is mistaken.

I also doubt (b). The alt right is largely defined by the negation of the whole system of propaganda we've been fed for decades. They sure do not seem like allies of the Left or SJWs. Are they 'on the same side' just because they don't all explicitly _affirm_ religion or spirituality? Or because they haven't yet produced a spiritual revival? I simply don't understand the logic here. If someone opposes Communism for 'secular' reasons, that doesn't mean he's on the same side as the Communists, and not on the side of those who (also) oppose it for religious reasons.

I would like to know your response to my comparison between Brexit and Trump/Alt Right. Is there some principled distinction here? Or do you think we should be just as dismissive and pessimistic about the Brexit vote?

knifecatcher said...

Trump is a transition figure. His job is to take away their money, which he knows how to do since he was one of them.
The analogy with Thatcher is flawed. The better analogy is Gorbachev.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jack - You simply aren't reading what I have written! I shall draw the line here.

Bruce Charlton said...

@k - All mainstream politicians have been transition figures for many, many decades now. Trump is just an ordinary mainstream politician - transitional to more Leftism. Of course, it may be that he is, in some way, inadvertently a catalyst for real change - but that will not be his doing. It will happen only if people recognise that Trump is part of the system and no kind of alternative.

Gorbachev was a weak/ ambivalent/ pragmatic - perhaps compassionate - dictator who made it possible for there to be a peaceful revolution. My analogy with Thatcher is partially accurate insofar as people support Trump because they believe he will make the US successful, strong and self-respecting after a decline in these under Obama: insofar as Trump is an anti-self-willed-decline candidate.

Brexit and Trump would only be analogous if one or several of the US States were voting for secession.

My overall point is that there is no reason to believe politicians, or bloggers, at their own evaluation when their explicit and inferred baseline utilitarian assumptions are such that they will *not* be capable of pricipled behaviour when that becomes inexpedient; and therefore we should assume that they will do what nearly everybody actually does - sell-out.

Nathan Wright said...

Bruce, are there particular waypoints to look for, in order to distinguish between spiritual awakening and mere utilitarian calculation?

I'm also having a hard time seeing a fundamental difference between Brexit and Trump. On the one hand, there is the difference that Trump is merely a major party candidate in a normal election, while Brexit was a one-off fundamental break. On the other hand, they seem analogous. In each case an exceptional politician maneuvered the system into putting a vote before the people. The managerial classes in each case came down fanatically on one side, complete with the usual mass-media propaganda bombardment. And in each case, given the choice, the people rejected or ignored the mass media.

It's hard to know the motivation of the mass of people. From where I stand, the Brexit decision could have come from purely material or utilitarian grounds rather than spiritual. The same goes for the Trump decision. What is clear, in each case, is that the false-reality of the mass media seems to have been dispelled. What people are really choosing in this process remains to be seen.

Bruce Charlton said...


For Brexit see

wrt Trump - He is just a mainstream Republican candidate like many others. While the ultra-elite clearly prefer the Democrats because they movet hings faster in the evil direction, they ensure that both Presidential candidates are people they can work with.

Anonymous said...

At a basic level Brexit and what I have lately seen promoted by some as the "Trump movement" can be compared as attempts at reform of a situation within the formal, legal possibilities - Article 50 Brexit was and is a universally acknowledged option (however much its drafters scorn its actual use!), as the secession of various Southern States of the Union was not a mutually acknowledged Constitutional option.

And, surely, various people support each (Brexit and Mr. Trump) for a variety of reasons - particular people (I would suppose) often for more than one reason (and/or 'motive'). For example, one could be pro-Brexit primarily because one was pro-European and convinced the EU was intolerably counter-productive to the good of a more closely united Europe of the nations. Or, pro-Trump because the Democratic Party had grossly abandoned the formal and practical possibilities of being a 'pro-life Democrat' (like Sargent Shriver).

It is interesting to compare your Alt-Right analysis with George Grant's analysis of 'modernity' in which much (even most) of what is self-consciously 'conservative' does not look back further than 'the Age of Progress'. (When the Samuel Johnson centenary came round, the BBC could not easily find any real Johnsonian 'Tories' - contemporary 'Conservatives' in their distinct variety were yet all basically 'Whigs' of one sort or another. (Similarly with the French 'Revolutionary' Assembly usage of 'Left' and 'Right' - from the 'party' or faction 'seating plan' there, which has somehow gone on to dominate two-and-a-quarter centuries of political discourse - and here my ignorance (or aging memory?) is showing, again: were most of those who went on to defend things in the Vendée represented at all, even on the legislative 'Right' in the Chamber?)

David Llewellyn Dodds

Matias F. said...

To my understanding, the political appeal of Trump and European right-wing populists like Front National is based entirely on Leftism of an earlier generation, i.e. socialism for the native-born working class. Britain was an empire until WW2, but socialists wanted to get rid of the Empire because the government couldn't afford benefits to all 500 million subjects of the Empire. Whatever brand the Alt-Right uses, it is clear that the movement is not about spritual renewal but material benefits for those that feel dispossessed.