The article below is an interesting critique of the alleged failures of the Alternative Right from Eugene Montsalvat, who holds to an “anti-capitalist nationalist” perspective. I agree with some of this critique, and disagree with other parts, though I generally share Eugene’s view that the the alt right’s trajectory from the European New Right to Galtonite eugenicism to Howard Stern-like racial/sexual humor to Trumpism has been a negative one, though perhaps one that is inevitable.
A few years ago, I speculated that the Alt Right would have to “dumb it down” a bit in order to reach a larger audience, and suggested that an Alt Right intelligentsia that constituted the intellectual elites of a kind of Alex Jones-like right-wing populism might be the means by which the alt right could break into the mainstream, and that seems to have partially occurred with the Trump movement, although Trumpism is much more than either the Alt Right or the populist right. Instead, Trumpism has become, at least on the cosmetic level, a kind of left-right-center hybrid of the kind that I always thought would have to develop if the neoconservative/neoliberal hybrid were to ever be challenged in any meaningful way. However, the claim that Trumpism represents a “meaningful challenge” present ruling class and power elite is at least debatable, and more likely highly dubious. The alt right’s attachment to Trump seems to be a mirror image repeat of the religious right’s attachment to Reagan, i.e. the case of an insurgent, somewhat reactionary, populist movement being taken for a ride by a thoroughly pro-ruling class centrist politician motivated primarily by personal ambition.
From a personal perspective, I find it interesting that I’m now apparently considered a leader of the alt right, by its friends and foes alike, even though I’m for all practical purposes a far-left Stirnerite postmodern anarchist and Third World nationalist who happens to agree with the alt right on totalitarian humanism and American imperialism.
I became interested in the European New Right in the early 2000s for three main reasons. First, geopolitics. I liked Benoist’s idea of forming a Paris-Berlin-Mosow axis against the Anglo-American-Zionist-Wahhabist axis, and solidarity between continental Europe and the Third World against the AAZW. I also thought their “ethnopluralism” was largely a rightist version of the far left’s postmodern cultural relativism, and a viable alternative (self-determination for all) to the Left’s persistent promotion of demographic conflict. Also, given my interest in decentralist or anti-state movements generally, I found the ENR idea of federal populism to be interesting.
This is not to say that the Alt Right, even in a Trumpized, vulgarized form is of no value. Far from it. The Alt Right has emerged as a very necessary counterpart to the ever more extreme excesses of the SJWs, and that alone merits a salute. The Alt Right’s identification with Trumpism is certainly understandable, and Trumpism itself has largely succeeded in achieving the admirable purpose of knocking the neoconservatives, GOP country clubbers, and their “movement conservative” stooges to the sidelines. And Trumpism has ironically managed to push the mainstream dialogue leftward on some of the most important issues such as the consequences of neoliberal economics, neoconservative foreign policy ideas, and on the need for a more conciliatory U.S.-Russia relations.
When the Alt Right was getting started in the US, I saw it as a means of importing these ideas into the United States, a way of building a right-wing force that could subvert neocon-led mainstream conservatism, a source of cultivating allies against totalitarian humanism, a possible source of constituents for secession movements, plus there was a shared intellectual interest in thinkers like Nietzsche, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Junger. All of these things are still true, of course, even if I am concerned that the Alt Right might end up being useful idiots for Trumpism just as the religious right, traditional conservatives and libertarians have been useful idiots for Reaganism, the neocons, and the GOP in the past.
The Alternative Right-An Autopsy
In the worst case, the biological conception of race leads to a reiteration of liberal Enlightenment prejudices. It assumes, just as the New Atheists represented by the likes of Richard Dawkins do, that all issues can be reduced to mere scientific, rational explanations. This can lead to what is generally termed “cognitive elitism.” It assumes that IQ is the final arbiter of human value. This is absolutely disastrous for any political ideology that seeks to affirm the unique and free identity of peoples. If a certain people has a higher IQ, why should we view it as immoral if they conquer the less intelligent? If that is the case, then Hong Kong should rule the world, and no other nation should assert itself. Rather than affirming differences, cognitive elitism affirms the domination of one people to the detriment of others. Instead of asserting the right of all peoples to pursue their own ethnic identity and culture as the ideology of ethnopluralism advocated by the European New Right does, it devolves into a sort of White triumphalism where the fact that Whites have higher IQs than some peoples means that they are superior, and are thus justified in destroying other cultures. It is essentially akin to the Victorian Social Darwinism that was used to justify the rule of the British Empire. While some may look at this era as the high point of European civilization, it should be seen for what it is: a period of exploitation, both of the colonized peoples and the poor and working classes of the colonial nations themselves, which led to the globalization of society and the emergence of international capitalism as the dominant economic paradigm, issues that continue to plague us today. This sort of Victorian reasoning still finds a resonance in the American alternative Right’s economic views.
Among the major failures of the American alternative Right has been its failure to critique the capitalist system. It is seen as a just system, its flaws and errors either ignored or blamed on some other racial group. They will cite, in a Darwinian fashion, that high IQ people earn more, and that nations with a high average IQ are wealthier, thus the wealthy deserve all that they have, and any attempt to redistribute wealth is “dysgenic,” even though the vast majority of average, hard-working, patriotic people would benefit from a return even to the mild welfare state of Eisenhower’s America, a period they ironically look upon with nostalgia due to its wholesome social values. Yet, the period of White European domination by capitalism is seen as a mark of European pride and the zenith of European civilization. They consider the suffering of the vast majority of Whites under capitalism before the emergence of the welfare state in the twentieth century, as chronicled by classic authors like Charles Dickens, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, or Louis-Ferdinand Céline, as something either deserved or unimportant, if they consider it at all.
Moreover, this combination of IQ fetishism with market ideology leads to a convoluted and contradictory defense of national borders. American alternative Rightists recognize that immigrant communities from low-IQ nations tend to vote in favor of the welfare state; therefore we must control our borders in order to save capitalism. This analysis fails on many levels. First and foremost, it is American capitalists who bring in immigrants, legally or illegally, to undercut the wages of native born American workers. The strongest opposition to proposals to close the border or limit immigration comes from the American capitalist class itself. The leadership of well-known companies such as eBay, Google, PayPal, and Yahoo spearheaded efforts to convince Congress to pass laws increasing immigration. The alternative Right fails to understand that opposition to interference in the flow of labor and capital between countries has been a fundamental facet of capitalism since the time of Adam Smith and Bastiat, who opposed mercantilist protectionism. As the seminal European New Right thinker, Alain de Benoist, stated in his classic essay, “Immigration: The Reserve Army of Capital,”: “Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.” Capitalism and mass immigration are two sides of the same coin. They fail to understand that capitalism accepts no boundaries, either physically or mentally, when it comes to the pursuit of profit. If the nation-state, the traditional family, or religion get in the way, they should be dismissed. To quote Alain de Benoist again, from “This Right that Doesn’t Care for Its People”:
They still do not understand that capitalism is intrinsically globalist, because it requires the abolition of borders (‘laissez faire, laisser passer!’). By reason of its propensity for boundlessness, it cannot exist without constantly revolutionising social relations, or seeing national identities as so many obstacles to the expansion of the globalised market. The anthropological model that it bears, which is that of an individual who is always seeking the maximisation of his own self-interest, is as much at work in economic liberalism as it is in societal liberalism, and the axioms of interest and the machinery of profit are pillars of the dictatorship of mercantile values.
It was under capitalism, not socialism, that feminism, multiculturalism, gender theory, and sexual liberation found their most potent expressions. Yet, instead of the recognizing this fact, the alternative Right resorts to the theory of “Cultural Marxism.”
“Cultural Marxism” can mean many things. In one extreme interpretation, it is a highly conspiratorial view positing that the Soviets infiltrated various government, academic, and corporate organs in the United States with the goal of weakening the moral values of society in order to make it suitable for a Soviet-guided Communist revolution. In another, it can mean the influence of the thinkers of the Frankfurt School on society. We can quickly dismiss the first, considering that things like homosexuality were punished severely in the Soviet Union, and that, after an initial phase of sexual liberation, Stalin clamped down on such moral laxity, restricting divorce and abortion. In the Eastern Bloc, the “hippie movement,” where it existed, was viewed with suspicion and subjected to repression due to its American roots. The origins of this conspiracy theory tend to go back to the testimony of Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov, who became a popular figure in American anti-Communist circles, where he frequently collected speaking fees to repeat what they already believed. Curiously, the alternative Right takes the statements of an immigrant filling a niche role in the American marketplace at face value. In contrast to such statements, it was not the KGB, but rather the CIA that supported modern art as a challenge to classically-inspired “socialist realism” within the USSR, and hired American radical Gloria Steinem as an asset toward this aim. Indeed, the CIA welcomed many anti-Stalin Communists into its “Congress for Cultural Freedom,” which was established in 1950 to entice Leftists into an anti-Soviet stance. Furthermore, we should note that many of the Frankfurt School figures blamed for “Cultural Marxism” in less conspiratorial iterations found a refuge from Nazism, not in the USSR, but in the United States.
The Frankfurt School is regarded as one the major bases for the development of Freudo-Marxist ideology, particularly its noted member, Herbert Marcuse. Another is the German-Jewish thinker Wilhelm Reich, who also found refuge in the United States following Nazi persecution. In Marcuse’s book, Eros and Civilization, sexual liberation is mixed with ideas about liberation from economic alienation as well. However, Marcuse modifies the fundamental basis of Marxism. History is no longer explained by class struggle, but as a struggle against repression, with modern capitalism being the most repressive type of society among them all. This deviation from classical Marxist theory shows why the work of the Frankfurt School was not welcomed in the USSR. Instead of demanding a socialism where individual desires were subjected to the aims of central planning for the benefit of the nation, he advocates a full liberation of human desires. This critique proved popular on American college campuses and influenced the radicals of the 1960s, who advocated revolution by “rock ‘n’ roll, dope, and fucking in the streets,” in the notable phrase of John Sinclair. However, the ideology of total sensory gratification was completely assimilated by capitalism. Lewdness in music, movies, and television fed into the coffers of major media corporations, not the mention the simultaneous rise of the pornography industry. In fact, this ideology fits perfectly with capitalism: the customer is always right, and hedonistic desires become yet more consumer choices to be satisfied by the market. Certainly the ideology of untrammeled sensory gratification created vast new fields of exploitation for capitalism.
Moreover, this radical New Left ideology demonstrated a malign effect on the mainstream center Left, which, while certainly not Marxist, worked in the classical domain of class-based politics, fighting for a larger welfare state and the rights of the working class (one should note the immense irony of some elements of the alternative Right hearkening back to the “good old days” of pre-1968 America, where the welfare state and the power of labor was at its zenith.) Abandoning concerns dear to the hearts of the average worker, the mainstream Left gradually adopted ideologies like feminism, pro-immigrationism, and homosexual liberation. While the working class increasingly struggles, and traditional values are erased, capitalism is as strong as ever. Yet, the alternative Right remains tightly wedded to capitalism, despite criticism of many facets of capitalism, such as usury, from a traditional European perspective going all the way back to Aristotle and the ancient Greeks, the Church Fathers, and Thomas Aquinas. Indeed, the history of conservative anti-capitalism is much longer and deeper, even in the United States when we look at figures such as Ezra Pound and Father Coughlin, than is the history of conservative cheerleading for capitalism. This apparent contradiction has failed to dawn on the alternative Right.
This unwillingness to move outside the American capitalist perspective has brought about certain geopolitical consequences for the alternative Right. While it occasionally displays a less hawkish stance than mainstream American conservatism, often tending towards paleoconservative non-interventionism, it still displays a certain Cold War paranoia regarding socialism. On a positive note, the toxic attitude toward Russia has been somewhat moderated, albeit for reasons of Putin’s apparent machismo rather resulting from serious consideration of his foreign policy. And yet by no means has Russophobia disappeared. There are many in the milieu who have been fooled by the propaganda of Banderism into aligning with the EU and NATO against Novorossiya. Moreover, the attitude of the alternative Right toward socialism in South America is still one of brazen hostility and neocolonialism. Figures such as Hugo Chávez and Juan Perón are demonized, and the ideology of socialism, rather than American neocolonial capitalism, is blamed for the sufferings of Latin America. They lionize that tool of the CIA, Augusto Pinochet, while fantasizing about tossing “Communists” off of helicopters to save capitalism. It is grossly hypocritical for a movement that claims to be nationalist to heap praise upon a man who overthrew the government of his own country with foreign support and who then turned nationalized assets over to multinational corporations that had loyalty to no nation.
Moreover, while rejecting the most egregious attempts of neoconservative nation-building and American neocolonialism in the Middle East, they mostly subscribe to the theses offered by Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations, which reduce problems in the Middle East to a clash of civilizations between Europe and Islam. This completely ignores the roles European colonialism, and later Zionist and American neocolonialism, have played in destabilizing the region. Most Muslims are not immigrating to Europe for the purposes of jihad, but because they have been uprooted by capitalism, colonialism, and warfare imported from the West, and are welcomed as a useful labor supply by Western capitalists. This in turn leads the alternative Right to embrace figures like Geert Wilders or movements like the English Defense League, who attack Islam without uttering a word about Zionism or capitalism. They perversely relish lurid reports of rape or murder by immigrants. They confuse the symptoms of the issue, mainly immigration, with its root causes:American and Zionist interference in the Middle East. Some, though certainly not all, on the alternative Right have gone as far as stating that Israel is a model ethnic nationalist state and a bastion of Western civilization against Islam. However, they have not even considered for a moment what Western civilization means today. They would align themselves with feminists, homosexuals, liberals, and Zionists against Islam merely because Islam condemns these features that have been allowed to take root in the West. In this case, I would recommend they consult the radical Italian thinker Giorgio Freda, who said to those nationalists intent on defending “European civilization”:
We have spoken in terms of “European civilization,” without even scratching the surface of this expression and without verifying it, going to the depths of the problem: if there exists, in reality, a homogeneous European civilization, and what are the authentic coefficients of its meaning in light of a global historical situation in which the Latin American guerrilla adheres much more closely to our vision of the world than the Spaniard vassal to priests and the USA; where the warrior people of North Vietnam, with a Spartan, sober, heroic style are far closer to our conception of existence than the Italian digestive tract, or the French or German of the West; where the Palestinian terrorist is far closer to our dreams of vengeance than the Jewish or Judaized Englishman (European? I doubt it).
Dancing to the neo-conservative and Zionist rallying cry of “defending Western values,” the alternative Right has aligned with the most toxic elements within Western civilization, the elements emblematic of the very cultural decay they lambaste. It is absurd that the alternative Right would suddenly turn from attacking these things to defending them when they are attacked by another culture. Instead of attacking the roots of the problem, they merely attack its symptoms, and set the stage for further chaos in the Middle East and Europe.
And to top it all off, all these alternative Right positions are articulated in the most immature and crude ways imaginable. The mass influx of people from Internet message boards, such as 4chan’s /pol/, into the alternative Right milieu has given a sophomoric coloring to its discourse. Instead of well-developed arguments, memes and cheap catchphrases abound, often quite tasteless. They ridicule Blacks using the most base stereotypes, instead of trying to foster a sense of Black nationalism that would aid in the nationalist revolt against liberalism. They refer to politicians they deem insufficiently conservative as “cucks” or “cuckservatives,” referring in a fairly Freudian manner to sexual cuckoldry. The gross sexual terminology continues by referring to Leftists as “dildos” and stating that people who have gone to the liberal side are “pozzed,” referring to the contraction of HIV via anal sex. This of course appeals to rebellious kids, and extends their base of support among them, as reading serious books and developing fully articulated ideas appeals to an increasingly slim portion of the population. However, no serious intellectual can entertain an ideology based on Internet subcultural in-jokes, never mind the vast majority of the general population. How can an unemployed blue-collar worker who had his livelihood destroyed by globalization and mass immigration ever think that the ideology of this Internet clique has anything to offer him? It’s laughable that the alternative Right claims to be the voice of nationalist populism. If anything, when the alternative Right gets mentioned in the mainstream media, it is used as a cudgel by liberals to attack the legitimate concerns of working people, who of course have nothing to do with it, in relation to mass immigration by associating them with such a quixotic subculture. The long-ignored concerns of patriotic, hardworking people deserve far better self-proclaimed spokesmen than puerile teenage capitalists who worry that immigration will threaten neo-liberalism.
The alternative Right has failed to develop new and revolutionary ideas. In the worst-case scenario, it threatens to taint the cause of nationalist populism and become a bogeyman dragged out by liberals merely to de-legitimize concerns about immigration, national identity, and globalization. We must ask ourselves how we can improve the quality of the discourse. On a very basic level in the United States, we can raise awareness of the true national populist heritage, the one that challenged both societal liberalism and economic liberalism. We can refer to the old labor leaders that opposed mass immigration such as Denis Kearney, and the classic American socialist author Jack London. We can look to homegrown figures of the 1930s such as Ezra Pound and Father Charles Coughlin, who opposed usury. Moreover, we can broaden our minds by reading the work of nationalist anti-capitalist figures throughout history across the globe, which can be found among movements such as the Conservative Revolution and the European New Right. Also, we can even dare to make nationalist analyses of movements typically considered Left-wing, developing ideological syntheses and searching for common ground, thus broadening our appeal to Leftists who likewise feel the call of national identity.
Finally, we must start building serious movements and developing think-tanks that produce serious ideas rather than Internet memes. We need to start looking outside the system and outside the confines of simplistic American conservatism and the regurgitation of defunct ideas. We need to see that the restoration of national sovereignty implies the restoration of economic control to the people, not global corporations or big businessmen who can fly off to some tax haven. We need to become truly, intransigently revolutionary. We need to develop the courage to cross artificial ideological barriers imposed by the ruling class, to find the courage to cross the abyss and the willingness to engage with truly radical ideas. Liberating the nation is not an easy task. It is a task that will require immense sacrifice, a Spartan discipline, and a disregard for conventional politics. Certainly, there will be naysayers who will be content to jump on the latest electoral bandwagon in the hopes that they can legislate away our problems. There will be crowds of perplexed ideologues ensnared in the false dichotomies of the system who will react with incoherent rage when ideological lines are blurred. Yet, our grand task is at hand, and we shall not be swayed.
I would like to invite you to take part in a new initiative: the formation of the Institute for National Revolutionary Studies. Across the world, the ideology of national revolution, where a thirst for economic justice and a deep abiding sense of national identity come together, has taken many forms, yet this current remains largely ignored in the English-speaking world. It is now, at this very moment, when the survival of our people is most imperiled, that this struggle must begin. The future will be ours, or we shall have no future.
Eugene Montsalvat is a US-based scholar of National Revolutionary movements and has also been translating Ernst Niekisch and Giorgio Freda into English. He also does translations from the French for Right On.