George Hawley: Making Sense of the Alt-Right 2

A new book by a scholar of the American right-wing examines the Alt-Right. This is the best and most comprehensive work on the Alt-Right that has been published to date. Available from Amazon. A number of reviews are currently available from mainstream as well as libertarian, far right and far left sources. See here, here, here, here,here, here, here, and here. I recently discussed the Alt-Right myself at a talk given to the H.L. Mencken Club a couple of months ago.

I generally think the future of the United States will be somewhere in between the super optimistic predictions of Joel Kotkin and the super pessimistic predictions of Ellison Lodge in his review of Kotkin. The United States will continue to recede as a global hegemon (a good thing), but will continue to be an economically and technologically highly advanced state. The general society will become increasingly more integrated along racial, ethic, cultural, religious, gender and sexual lines at every level, from top to bottom. However, class divisions will continue to widen and increasingly resemble those found in Latin America. A super diverse society with huge disparities of wealth will certainly generate plenty of social and political conflict. The role of the state will be to manage such conflict by playing off different groups against each other, buying the loyalty of some groups, suppressing others, negotiating settlements between others, and forcing settlements in some instances. Many paleoconservative types have long predicted that the USA will look increasingly like Brazil in the future, and I suspect they are correct in the sense that the USA will be a major economic power that is highly diverse culturally, but with a very high level of class stratification and social conflict.

I have long suspected that as white Americans shrink in population size that white nationalism would grow in response, which seems to be happening at present. I have also predicted that white nationalism would look a lot less like the old fashioned kind represented by groups like the KKK, and would have far less attachment to traditional American patriotism or conventional conservatism. That seems to be happening as well. I have also predicted that in the future white nationalism in the USA would look increasingly like ethno-separatist tendencies among minority groups in the sense of combining a rejecting of the civic religion with a range of conventionally extreme and often bizarre or esoteric ideas. That seems to be precisely what the Alt-Right has become, i.e. a white ethno-separatist tendency that rejects the civic religion of democratic multiculturalism completely, and has little use for the historic American narrative as well, such as the conventional deification of the “Founding Fathers” in the manner of conventional conservatives. Instead, the Alt-Right embraces a range of perspectives outside the conventional American paradigm such as romantic medievalism, nostalgia for antiquity, neo-paganism, and European right-wing ideas which reject the liberal republican heritage of the United States.

I do not regard this paradigm as anything that could be the foundation for a mass movement in the future of the United States. It is not as though the Alt-Right is going to somehow replace conventional conservatism or the Republican Party. Increasingly, the Republican Party and “conservatism” generally are the party of middle aged to elderly, rural, white Christians. As this demographic continues to shrink, the Republican Party will have to cultivate a new constituency for itself, or simply be reduced to a status of a regional party, or perhaps disappear altogether like the Whigs. It is possible that the GOP could remain competitive as a civic nationalist party through creating a coalition of traditional Chamber of Commerce types and labor against the techno-oligarchs, neoliberal globalists, environmentalists and the cultural Left. However, such a coalition would have to reach out to right-leaning minorities, socially conservative people of color, blacks who oppose Hispanic immigration, Hispanics who oppose illegal immigration, minorities with conservative foreign policy or economic views, pro-life women, the shrinking conservative Christian population, etc.  Such a coalition would be unstable if not ultimately impossible, and would certainly have little room left over for anti-American pro-Russian foreign policy views, anti-Semites, white nationalists, “national socialists,” full on misogynists, gay masculinists, anti-Christians, neo-pagans, and other groups that comprise the Alt-Right. It is far more likely that the Alt-Right will simply serve as a counterpart to the various elements that currently comprise the far left such as the SJWs, Antifa, neo-Communists, anarcho-leftoids, black separatists, Afro-centrists, and eco-terrorists, in the sense being a collection of marginalized elements that the wider society regards as a freakshow, and which has very little influence on the mainstream political culture.

———————————————–

During the 2016 election, a new term entered the mainstream American political lexicon: “alt-right,” short for “alternative right.” Despite the innocuous name, the alt-right is a white-nationalist movement. Yet it differs from earlier racist groups: it is youthful and tech savvy, obsessed with provocation and trolling, amorphous, predominantly online, and mostly anonymous. And it was energized by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In Making Sense of the Alt-Right, George Hawley provides an accessible introduction and gives vital perspective on the emergence of a group whose overt racism has confounded expectations for a more tolerant America.

Hawley explains the movement’s origins, evolution, methods, and core belief in white-identity politics. The book explores how the alt-right differs from traditional white nationalism, libertarianism, and other online illiberal ideologies such as neoreaction, as well as from mainstream Republicans and even Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. The alt-right’s use of offensive humor and its trolling-driven approach, based in animosity to so-called political correctness, can make it difficult to determine true motivations. Yet through exclusive interviews and a careful study of the alt-right’s influential texts, Hawley is able to paint a full picture of a movement that not only disagrees with liberalism but also fundamentally rejects most of the tenets of American conservatism. Hawley points to the alt-right’s growing influence and makes a case for coming to a precise understanding of its beliefs without sensationalism or downplaying the movement’s radicalism.

2 comments

  1. Do you think the prudish social conservative beliefs of many in the alt-right greatly limits its potential to reach a wider audience? Even now there are, I believe, sizable homophobic elements in the general population who find opposition to LBGTQ attractive but the Alt-Right has gone far beyond attacking the lifestyles of non-heterosexuals and has stupidly attacked sexually promiscuous and unconventional heterosexuals. Attacking heterosexual promiscuity and heterosexual pornography appears to me to be permanently unsalable ideas that violate the sexual instincts of most people (including most whites) at the nervous system level. I have even seen a laughably absurd white nationalist publication that appears to be run by a homosexual who wants to force 1950s style monogamy on straight whites while championing rights and freedom for gays. Isn’t telling White Americans you want to force monogamy on them at gunpoint from the state as politically viable as announcing you want America to be a Leninist dictatorship or you want the US to become a pre-1789 Divine Right autocratic monarchy?
    Do you think that in the future lifestyles such as polygamy and (heterosexual) polyamory, as well as decriminalization (or at least legalization) of prostitution will make headway in the US?

    • I agree there is no repealing the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The right-wing needs to give up on that just like the left-wing needs to give up the anti-gun thing.

      “Isn’t telling White Americans you want to force monogamy on them at gunpoint from the state as politically viable as announcing you want America to be a Leninist dictatorship or you want the US to become a pre-1789 Divine Right autocratic monarchy?”

      It probably comes close.

      “Do you think that in the future lifestyles such as polygamy and (heterosexual) polyamory, as well as decriminalization (or at least legalization) of prostitution will make headway in the US?”

      Yes.

      As I said in the original post, in the future white nationalism will be just another exotic counterculture, like Afro-centrism, neo-paganism, Wicca, Scientology, the Amish, transgenderism, or transvestism. It already is for the most part. There’s a subset of WNs that are violent, but no more so and often less so than street gangs, organized crime, motorcycle clubs, mentally ill public shooter types, plenty of others.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s