Everyone needs an evil to blame for the woes of life. In Game of Thrones its Littlefinger, for Christians it’s Satan, and for some conservatives it’s George Soros. But for today’s radicals and their media cohorts, it’s the “alt-right.”
For over a year now we’ve been inundated with news reports and articles claiming to describe the “alt-right.” It’s described as white racists, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and more.
None of these are necessarily true.
The term “alt-right” was first coined in 2008, at the annual meeting of the Mencken Club. Displeased members of the Right founded this club to discuss other options for political success, as well as to discuss ideas. Its most prominent members include Hans Herman-Hoppe, the great libertarian, and Paul Gottfried, an intellectual historian. Gottfried was the first one to use the term “alt-right.”
Gottfried identified an “alt-right” rising to replace what he saw as the betrayers of true conservatism. Betrayers found in the Republican Party, National Review and Right-wing think tanks. As he saw it, the old conservatism of Nock, Kirk, and Buchanan was in need of a resurgence, and so an alternative right was needed.
“Alt-right”, as Gottfried saw it, originally meant the following: an adherence to our constitutional republic, a small government, non-interventionism in foreign policy, and free markets. This rejects neo-conservatism, with its love of foreign wars, the imperial presidency which conservatives frequently fail to critique, and the multi-culturalist notion that we can all get along in a Balkanized society. America was strongest when its British heritage was its strongest cultural influence. These are some of the things that older generation Republicans held prior to WWII, and they are things the thinkers of the true “alt-right” want to go back to. This is the true, intellectual, “alt-right”, to which many can be sympathetic.
But there are other people who fall under the now amorphous label of “alt-right.”
Last year, I corresponded with Dr. Gottfried regarding the “alt-right.” I gave the following analysis to him, argiong that the “alt-right” consists of:
- Yourself, and other thinkers who have older Republican beliefs, from Nock to Buchanan, who are concerned with the rise of big government conservatism, the weakness of neo-con foreign policy, and the general adoration of the imperial presidency, among other matters.
- Those who, like Milo Yiannopoulos, mistake public jack-assery with political daring.
- The racial realist “alt-right” of Jared Taylor and Sam Francis.
Dr. Gottfried wrote to me saying, “I totally agree with your discussion of the heterogeneous groups that have been thrown together in the basket of Altright deplorables. This label now pertains to everyone whom the regular Left and the neocons as the “alt-left” consider to be “right wing extremists.””
Gottfried has publicly expressed intellectual respect for some of the racial realists among the “alt-right.” These men draw upon a body of supposedly scientific work demonstrating that different races are different in physical and intellectual gifts, and that they should be separate for the good of all. They deny that men are created, never mind that they are created equal. I find it difficult to be as kind to these men as Gottfried is; nevertheless, they at least conduct themselves like something resembling human persons.
The white nationalist “alt-right” has not usually engage in or call for violence. When their leader Richard Spencer was attacked at a rally, they did not retaliate. When he was expelled from CPAC, no one bombed the convention.
The worst aspects of the racist “alt-right” are the sort of men who drive a car into a rally in Charlottesville, killing one. Pray there will be no more. But these are men who will act criminally based upon an ideology. Ideologically motivated evil is still evil when it comes from the alt-right, the same as it is for the “SJW” left.
The “alt-right” is not a unified movement, nor does it share a general philosophy. Ben Shapiro recently erred in this when he stated in a podcast:
The “alt-righ” is a vile, disgusting, repulsive utterly morally inconceivable movement. The alt right is a horrible movement…. Alt right is anti SJW, but they are not conservatives. In any marked way, in any real way….They are not in favor of individual liberty, they are not in favor of liberty before God.
Shapiro is not alone. The media has long treated the “alt-right” as if it were the Brownshirts reincarnate. Both paint the “alt-right” in their most hideous light, but they’re wrong. “Alt-righters” are not all racial realists, white nationalists or readers of Mein Kampf. Nor are they all refined minds like Dr. Gottfried. The “alt-right” is a melange, a mixture of people linked by nothing in general but a name, a name many never chose. Gottfried and Milo are Jews, but are they white supremacists? Hoppe is a libertarian mind of the first order, do we call him a Nazi?
No, we must exercise caution in how we use words, even if the Left does not. If we allow the Left to claim another victory through language, they will continue to wage their war until a word means nothing but what they say it means.