I generally don't interact with the alt-right, and I seldom directly aim any polemics in that direction. After reading Costin Alamariu's reply to Matthew Rose on the alt-right, I quickly mocked it and left it at that. The boys at Thermidor, however, asked me to write a response.
At first, I was hesitant because as untenable and disingenuous as I found Alamariu to be still promoting the alt-right as a "broad-tent" youth revolt, there is still utility in such misinformation for the purposes of spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt among the men of letters.
(Also, I've been bashing Social Matter articles a lot recently and although my relationship to them has never been particularly cordial, even I'm getting tired of adding more fuel to the fire. The guys at Hestia seem to be doing decent organizing work based on information I've read passed around, and I don't want to take that away from them. And, I will say this: William Fitzgerald's essay debunking some claims of the manosphere is the best thing they've published in ages. Let's hope they keep it up.)
But then I quickly realized that the time for such tactics had passed on. After the Enoch doxxing, after Charlottesville and now after the implosion of TWP, there simply is no fooling anyone. The illusion has been shattered. "Alt-right" is just a pompous synonym for white nationalist, and nothing more. The psychotic mania among the press that for some time drove them nuts about how the next-door neighbor kid drawing cartoon frogs might secretly be a member of an "alt-right" fifth column waiting for the right moment to ethnically cleanse minorities, has since dissipated and mellowed as the specificity of the alt-right has been made clear. Andrew Anglin and weev no longer LARP as neo-Nazis, but as American nationalist MAGAmen, in response to this shift. With no enigma left to it (and it never got to the point of developing any real organizational capacity), the alt-right is now a tabloid media cash cow for the ADL and the SPLC to scare their donors into handing over those sweet shekels.
In we go, then.
The only true statement in Alamariu's essay is the following:
[Matthew Rose] engages Oswald Spengler, Evola, and Benoist, but even were he able to definitively prove them wrong in a couple of pages, it would mean nothing. None of these thinkers—especially not Evola or a nonentity like Benoist—have anything to do with the revolt against liberal authorities in our time.
Indeed. The alt-right has nothing to do with Spengler, Evola, and Benoist, though on occasion people may drop their names for peacocking purposes.
And it pretty much goes downhill from there. The most blatantly false statement is in Alamariu's discussion of Christianity and the alt-right:
Regarding Christianity, most people on the “alt-right” are distinguished from the general population and from the mainstream of American conservatism precisely because they are religious, or rather, traditionalist. Matthew Rose might be acquainted with Twitter accounts like @NoTrueScotist (Tradical). These are not an exception, and are far more representative of the right-wing movement arising now in Western nations than anyone Rose mentions in the article.
Unbeknownst to many, there is a massive renaissance of medieval scholasticism in response to dissatisfaction with political elites, with increasing numbers of Western European and American youths all scrutinizing Aquinas' De regno and Oresme's Livre de Politiques for solutions to the migrant crisis and deindustrialization, sharpening up on their term logic, and writing sophisticated treatises on the problem of individuation. But of course.
I can only assume that the reasoning behind this gem was to make up a bunch of shit in order to scare some mainstream columnist who might come across it.
The alt-right is a movement about race realism. It is probably the most profoundly secular right-wing movement in American history, and no different in Europe. Paleoconservatism had a trad Catholic faction. Such ideas are inconsequential to the alt-right.
There is almost no genuine integralism to speak of that has any influence. There's the kinists -- the odd and very American-specific sect of neo-Dabneyite Calvinists, but that's about it. Even then, the ethnonationalism comes first, with an elaborate Old Testament exegesis emphasizing Israelite tribalism as a lifestyle mandate, and as a substitute for natural law reasoning, which after all has been used by scheming papists for centuries to advocate such awful ideas as papal deposition of secular rulers (see esp. Francisco Suarez and his treatise attacking Anglicanism). In fact, the whole instrumental purpose of HBD in alt-right circles is that it acts as a glue to avoid having to think comprehensively about issues of ethics, statecraft, faith, etc. To borrow terminology from interwar Spain, the alt-right is a thoroughly accidentalist movement, not an integrist/integralist one.
With Alamariu's definition of "alt-right" being deliberately loaded to both be vague and to encompass the outer right half of the bell curve as if they are the average representatives of the movement, he would probably lump actual traditionalists unaffiliated and rejecting the alt-right, such as Charles A. Coulombe, with the label.
Let's quickly scan some examples from major alt-right publications.
In general, the attitude to Christianity ranges from polite indifference to hostility and unequivocal rejection. I was looking up an alt-right blog aggregator called The Shitlord Hub recently, and behold I stumble upon a National Socialist blog publishing a series on "why Europeans must reject Christianity." The writer declares that "Christianity and racialism are incompatible doctrines," ruling in favor of the latter. To say that these opinions are rare in such circles is nonsense.
First thing's first: the VDARE/Amren wing of conservadad identitarians do tend to lean on the "polite indifference" side of the question. Christianity is relevant only when it's a proxy for whiteness, but otherwise, it's don't-ask-don't-tell. American Renaissance famously (or infamously?) has the same position on the Jewish Question, which has made them a perennial target of the hardcore antisemites.
Sam Francis, being his bastard Trotskyist self -- something he inherited from James Burnham, once wrote that the religious orientation of the Christian Right served as a false consciousness inaccurately codifying the class interests of Middle Americans. Most identitarians would agree.
On the other hand, American Renaissance has no issue with bashing other European ethnicities, but there you go. That's simply the nature of the HBD nerd: their loyalty isn't to a people, but to an IQ test. Case in point: John Derbyshire.
The Spencer-Johnson wing of the alt-right -- Radix, AltRight.com, Counter-Currents, etc. -- ranges from indifference at best to weird Nietzschean and neopagan attacks on Christianity. I actually found an old column from Adolf Skywalker when he still wrote for Takimag, where he speaks of how "the heroic, life-affirming, and ethno-centric aspects of Germanized Christianity deemed unacceptable in our feminized, therapeutic, technocratic, and democratic culture of Oprah, strip malls, and the megachurches, Christianity's universal, and in many ways egalitarian, inner kernel has reasserted itself." Skywalker hasn't changed much since.
The Occidental Observer is a fascinating case.
Professor Kevin MacDonald, being an evolutionary psychologist, is systematically incapable of modeling humans as anything other than sexually reproducing bags of flesh. He agrees that Christianity is a problem that contributes to white dispossession, but says it isn't the problem, since that would be Jewish ethnic nepotism. He judges Christianity in consequentialist terms as a set of purely accidental ideas that may/may not serve ethnic genetic interests.
Andrew Joyce, one of their staple writers, is an agnostic who writes that he generally doesn't talk about religion with his Christian wife "for the sake of domestic harmony." He credits Christianity and the various evangelical churches as agents of pathological altruism and race suicide. Toward the end of his essay, Joyce quite unambiguously declares:
Rather than encourage ethnocentrism like Judaism does, Christianity achieves the opposite. Other than an extremely radical departure in interpretation there are simply no grounds for believing that Christianity will be of any assistance in helping us to develop survival strategies as we enter terminal demographic decline. In fact, we are currently faced with the problem of trying to overcome Christian influence and its heavy contribution to White pathological behaviors and traits.
This is actually a common theme in the MacDonald brand of anti-Judaism. I've previously called it "crypto-philo-Semitism" because it's a form of supposed anti-Semitism that examined more closely actually laments the inability of white Europeans to be more like Jews, i.e. in adopting their group evolutionary strategies. It's a viewpoint that is all the more hilarious for a hereditarian to hold because now one is stuck advocating the same Leninist vanguard tactics for "consciousness-raising" that in other contexts the same person would consider a form of blank-slatism in ignoring the inherent genetic and neurochemical influences of behavior.
More recently, Tom Sunic positively reviewed some bizarre book by a philosopher and member of the International Plato Society, noting that "of special interest is the author’s description of the link between Christianity and the genealogy of White penitence, a factor often neglected by many sociobiologists, who all too often focus on statistical measurements of cognitive skills of different races while neglecting the power of sentiments, the importance of political myths, and the role of religious beliefs that shape the behavior of different races and peoples."
Overall, a very strange Christian revival.
I’d say Schmitt is far more of an “influence” on the movement he talks about than Spengler is.
And what a dreadful influence, too. The source of constant braindead cliches about the "state of exception" and the "friend-enemy distinction."
Later on, we learn that these young alt-right upstarts also have an in-depth interest in Lockeanism, of all things (maybe it's their ex-libertarianism?):
But they also read and quote Locke, Hume, and others who are claimed as forefathers by liberals. It’s just that, if one were to consult these thinkers on their opinions about the differences between peoples, the sexes, and yes, races, one would have to classify them all as “alt-right.” The tradition of American political thought from Lincoln to Truman is also “alt-right” when it comes to the question of race and nationality.
Someone on Twitter quoted Locke and Hume => The rebellious alt-right youth are all going through the Enlightenment from A to Z. They'll be getting to d'Holbach any moment now.
Actually, Alamariu is probably quite right about American political thought from Lincoln to Truman being "alt-right" by today's standards. This should be an argument for the glaring insufficiency of the alt-right. When neo-Confederate snowflakes proudly write about "the progressive forebearers of the alt-right," you just know someone is starved of healthy social interaction. This also brings to mind that old essay published in Radix Journal which refers to the rejection of liberalism as being "the original sin" of the right, that ethnonationalism "flows from a logical, idealistic, abstract ideology of individual happiness—particularism," and also describing ethnonationalism as "profoundly egalitarian in that it attempts to provide a far more intimate happiness to the individual, and it is far more liberating in that it allows far more space for individual expression to actually make itself felt."
Perhaps the alt-right is indeed infested by crypto-Lockeans, then. I don't know.
I was also quite befuddled by Alamariu's treatment of the alt-right in France:
Take France as an example. The “alt-right” uprising in France precedes that in the United States, and began in 2013 with protests against the recently passed gay marriage law, and against mass immigration. Roughly 2% of France still believes in the monarchy—not a symbolic or constitutional monarchy, but the King in Versailles with the Church ruling France together with the army. A much larger percentage wouldn’t go so far but comes close. They reject the French Revolution, and they reject a Catholic Church that betrayed the monarchy and itself—not to speak of what they think about Vatican II. But these are devout Catholics, many of who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X. Many come from France’s oldest families, including those who founded the French presence in the Antilles and other colonies. Many of these youth form the backbone of organizations like Génération Identitaire in France, a group Matthew Rose would no doubt label “alt-right.” Their families have long-standing connections with Action Française, and more recently with Philippe de Villiers’ Mouvement Pour la France. It is an act of arrogance or of ignorance to claim that such people are less devout because they don’t embrace Catholicism in the same way Rose does.
This paragraph sounds like it was written with insider knowledge and tips. I will, therefore, say that I was unable to find a connection between Génération Identitare and Action Française. The former appears to be thoroughly secular and not even all that illiberal, as is typical of "counter-jihadist" groups in general.
The number that Alamariu gives out for French support of a pre-revolutionary monarchical government seems to be taken from the results of a 2007 BVA poll, taken again in 2016 with similar results. Different sources report between 2-3% answering "completely favorable" and an overall "favorable subtotal" of 17%. Now, the problem here is that the question the respondents were asked was something to the effect of "Are you favourable or opposed so that the function of Head of State, as in other European countries, is assumed one day by a King?". That is to say, the question being asked quite explicitly does not refer to the ancien regime monarchy. Head of state, not head of government. There is also nothing said about the Church or the military. Hence, most royalist feeling seems to be of the constitutional variety, and in any event of little significance. Besides, even if a fifth column of Gallican legitimists was out there, what are they supposed to do? At what point do numbers translate to action?
I'd love for this to be true, but it sounds more like Brown Scare (or perhaps White Scare as the case may be) propaganda than genuine restorationist fervor.
Next up we have to deal with the subject of race and the way Alamariu frames it:
But the claim that race is a recent invention and therefore can be looked down on by a Gentleman of Tradition is false. It’s a cop-out by weak conservatives who seek merely a kind of status in distinguishing themselves from “vulgar” racists. It’s a pose and affectation largely for display in front of the Left. In his Politics, Aristotle very clearly says that difference of race is a cause of faction in states, and one of the surest causes of their destruction; the fact that he believed even the different Greek lineages were bound to hate and fight each other does not support the claim, as Rose and other “traditionalists” imply, that they would have gotten along just fine with a Saxon, a Yoruba, or a Mapuche.
If Aristotle were alive today, he'd be an HBD nerd reposting all the correlations he mines from the GSS and from opinion polls. Maybe. On the other hand, two things: a) Pre-modern racial thought can't be linearly connected to modern for a variety of reasons, but a major one is that although a lot of pre-modern racial thought contained the idea of pangenesis, there was seldom anything like August Weismann's germ plasm barrier that ruled out the common-sensical idea of inheritance of acquired characteristics. To be more blunt: the medieval ethnographic concepts of Gerald of Wales, Adam of Bremen, Geoffrey of Monmouth and others have little relevance to today's internet identitarian; b) Ethnocentrism is not the same as racialism, and the fact that people made obvious connections to offspring acquiring characteristics of the social orders birthing them has little to do with the 20th century social movement of eugenics.
If you look at Ancient Greek racial theories, the most developed of which was probably Hippocrates', they actually reek of what a modern HBD nerd might call "environmental determinism." Much is said of heat, cold, winds, droughts, rain, continent, legal customs and the interaction between them, but little in the way of heritable units of information, mutation, selection or drift -- which, again, are essential to modern racial thought and for understanding arguments for eugenics on basis of things like genetic load from reduced selection pressure.
Interestingly, one thing about Ancient Greek racial thought (at least Aristotle's) is that it inverts the North-South polarity that is commonly accepted now. Today the widely repeated thesis, popularized by J. Philippe Rushton and Peter Frost, is that harsh cold climates led to selection for long-term planning, low time preference and ultimately intelligence. Aristotle thought the exact opposite: hot climates select for those things. The Scythians of the north who live in cold climates are "wanting in intelligence and skills" and "have no political organization." "The natives of Asia," he said, "are intelligent and inventive, but they are wanting in spirit, and therefore are always in a state of subjection and slavery." The Hellenic race occupied the golden mean, and was therefore the greatest of all. (Book VII of the Politics.)
This type of discourse actually survived into the High Middle Ages in the Holy Roman Empire at the time of the German-Polish wars and the crusades of the Teutonic Knights. Again, civilization was associated with the South, whereas the North was the land of barbaric pagans: Wends, Pomeranians (Duke Swietopelk receiving the bulk of ire as a "pseudo-Christian"), Lusitanians, Obotrites, Lutici. Every sort of filth.
On eugenics, I'll say this: the three countries that adopted it most enthusiastically were Sweden, the United States, and Germany. Today, these are probably the three most pozzed countries in the world. If the same people who are quite fond of making grand evolutionary narratives of various correlations they uncover honestly try to simply write this off as "coincidence," then I'm the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. Examples of contemporary loony left eugenicism are plentiful: check out Scott Nearing's "The super race: an American problem" (1912); Herbert Brewer's article in the April 1932 edition of the Eugenics Review entitled "Eugenics and socialism: their common ground and how it should be sought"; the English eugenicist Caleb Saleeby and his book Woman and womanhood (1911) where he says that women's suffrage will be eugenic: "I believe in the vote because I believe it will be eugenic, will reform the conditions of marriage and divorce in the eugenic sense, and will serve the cause of what I have elsewhere called "preventive eugenics," which strives to protect healthy stocks from the "racial poisons," such as venereal disease, alcohol, and, in a relatively infinitesimal degree, lead" (p.24). The historical essay collection Eugenics and the Welfare State is also a good second-hand source.
Either way, Aristotle would later go on to be Alexander the Great's tutor. Macedonians themselves a target of inter-Greek ethnocentrism, Alexander was one of the most startling universalist figures of his day. His Oath from 324 BC, as recorded by Eratosthenes and others, reads: "From now on, let all mortals live as one people, in fellowship, for the good of all. See the whole world as your homeland, with laws common to all, where the best will govern regardless of their race. Unlike the narrow minded, I make no distinction between Greeks and Barbarians. The origin of citizens, or the race into which they were born, is of no concern to me. I have only one criterion by which to distinguish their virtue. For me any good foreigner is a Greek and any bad Greek is worse than a barbarian. If disputes ever occur among you, you will not resort to weapons but will solve them in peace. If need be, I shall arbitrate between you."
Plutarch himself notes in De Fortuna Alexandri that "Alexander did not follow Aristotle's advice to treat the Greeks as if he were their leader, and other peoples as if he were their master; to have regard for the Greeks as for friends and kindred, but to conduct himself toward other peoples as though they were plants or animals; for to do so would have been to cumber his leadership with numerous battles and banishments and festering seditions. But, as he believed that he came as a heaven-sent governor to all, and as a mediator for the whole world, those whom he could not persuade to unite with him, he conquered by force of arms, and he brought together into one body all men everywhere, uniting and mixing in one great loving-cup, as it were, men's lives, their characters, their marriages, their very habits of life."
A widely influential pseudo-Aristotelian treatise in the Middle Ages, the Secretum Secretorum, would actually end up attributing this Alexandrian universalism to Aristotle. One thing must be underlined: that a polis and an empire are two different things, as are most monarchies. The Enlightenment failed to distinguish between liberty of the ancients v. liberty of the moderns (while being openly contemptuous of liberty of the medievals), and many residues thus remain.
Finally, regarding the so-called "youth revolt" thesis that Alamariu's article tries to advance.
The whole "Generation Zyklon" thing (a term Alamariu doesn't use, but was surely thinking about) reminds me of that '80s sitcom Family Ties with Michael J. Fox playing the Reaganite son of hippie boomer parents. All that hype about Gen X'ers and the Reagan Revolution smashing the administrative state and bringing in a restoration of locofocoism. So much for that. However, the Gen X'ers do remain highly entrepreneurial: the majority of startups are attributable to them, IIRC.
Audacious Epigone, Vox Day, Heartiste and others seem to love this hypothesis. A summary of political opinion research on Gen Z at first presents fascinating results: the appearance of a massive jump in religiosity and church attendance, something like a 23% increase from millennials. Yet at the same time there exists conflicting evidence from the Barna Group claiming quite the opposite. To be honest, I'd say that intuitively the latter seems much more plausible. Same-sex "marriage" and transgenderism also appear to earn high levels of support, again intuitively. The evidence is too mixed and early to draw definite conclusions here, especially about some hypothetical rightist revolt of whites in their 20s and younger.
Come to think of it, the "youth revolt" angle is a worn-out cliche. One of the bizarre aspects of modern culture is its lionization of dissent and activism as a positive good. Everyone wants to be a "freethinker" who exposes the lies of authority. No one wants to be a sheep who accepts "orthodoxy." Why, there can be no more repugnant term than "orthodoxy." It conjures up connotations of slavish devotion to conscious deception. The establishment used to be the New Deal coalition, and these were the targets of New Left enmity. The establishment is now much more New Left-ish, and these are the targets of alt-right enmity. It's the countercultural thing to do.
"Freethinkers" and "dissidents" tend to harbor greater numbers of socially maladjusted people for the simple reason that their entire motivation stems from overthrowing the cultural norms of their society. They may have a point about some things, but they're pretty much bound to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Oh yes, they claim to be against "egalitarianism," but what they really mean is that they want to be reassured that they're better than blacks and Hispanics. They claim to be in favor of "hierarchy," but what they mean is "hierarchy for non-whites." They claim to be in favor of authority, but what they mean is "authority for non-whites." For themselves, they can freely reject any authority that doesn't fully obey their criteria.
Another issue is that contrarians being contrarians, what passes for the alt-right is intellectually balkanized into monomaniacal factions, each of them advancing various monocausal diagnoses and zany solutions to social issues, and each of them refusing to work with people who are not as devoted to their pet issue as they are. Such factions include parts of the manosphere for whom all civilizational problems boil down to mating dynamics, the doctrinaire antisemites for whom all civilizational problems boil down to Jewish ethnic nepotism, the whignats for whom all problems boil down to "not enough ethnic homogeneity" and whatever it is they like to call "dysgenic" these days. Trying to combine all these things into one grand unified red pill ends up becoming confused, incoherent and creates social dynamics inherently prone to in-group cannibalization in place of meaningful action.
Indeed, all these factions will actually work to bring down anyone who tries to create any type of a unified front. Witness all the whignat snowflakes and their venom against Trumpists. "They're civic nationalist cucks." "They're pawns of ZOG and the Israel lobby," etc. etc.
"Chateau Heartiste, and similar anonymous blogs, have led more young men, of all races, to rebellion than anyone Rose mentions in the article," says Alamariu. Rebellion is actually an appropriate word, in that much of what is going on here is mere defiance of authority and little else. Rebels with indistinct causes.
There are some promising rightist developments going on; the Visegrad Four is frequently pointed out. The alt-right, on the other hand, mostly butchered itself shortly after birth.
Now then, I'm going back to re-read Locke's Second Treatise.