On New York Magazine’s “Beyond Alt”

So this is a long read, but should probably be required reading for those wanting an analysis of the alt-right from their enemies. Very long, but worthwhile.

Beyond Alt

A medley of thoughts

This is definitely written by those who despise the Alt-right. The closest piece that comes to having some emotional sympathy is Andrew Sullivan who undercuts himself by the end with some “but we all know their crazy, so we can sleep soundly in our liberal-ness” line. Because of that, you can see a bunch of cracks in the way they want to take this seriously, but simply don’t have the kind of intellectual framework to do so.

Most of the Alt-right’s major shibboleths are dogmatically “to be shunned” by our current mandarins. Thus they are constitutionally incapable of actually addressing and even arguing against their points. This is terrifying, especially as the old watchwords for shaming (the -ists and -phobics) are now becoming badges of honor. If you can’t actually engage these folks beyond talking about how alarming they are, how dark they are, how horrifying they are, then you’ll do nothing more than feed into the counter-culture narrative.

Do people remember the kind of language used by old-school cultural conservatives against the sexual revolution and that generation’s counterculture? It was dismissive and appealed to what they thought was the majority consensus. It just threw fuel on the fire. It’s fine to act apoplectic and dismissive around the watercooler or at friendly dinner parties. It’s politically suicidal on the public stage.

It’s also probably hurtful to dismiss the meme-team for using tactics like snark by employing, well, snark. The meme-team is loving it and you do nothing but double down their lols.

What the articles do get right is the huge variety that falls under the alt-right umbrella. It covers all sorts, from the Transhumanists, the monarchists, the radical libertarians, the neopagans, the manosphere. This point should really speak to the movements strengths. Some may see this as chaos and contradiction. Truth be told, this is where the interesting conversations are happening. Some of the most ideologically opposed people are mixing up here and trying to hash out philosophies, worldviews, and programs.

Their failure to highlight the anti-feminist rhetoric beyond “look at how crazy these jerks are” is rather disappointing, especially in light of their fascinated but appalled look at the gay alt-righters like Jack Donovan – who is worthy of all appalled fascination, see his Violence is Golden.

One point about the racism, which will probably get me tarred as racist.

This is a post-enlightenment movement and the enlightenment jettisoned a lot of the Christian tenants that help to both explain differing levels of culture and civilization among peoples while being committed to a sense of equality among peoples. Specifically sin, which influences all in unique and varying fashions, and the universal grace of God, which seeks the salvation (and civilizational uplifting) of all. Denying sin, one had to explain varying levels of civilization with recourse to racial theories. And denying grace, one was basically left with the impetus to make those “inferiors” like us – it was not God and His grace which civilized, but rather man himself.

Upshot: the racism we experience today, even in its religiously defended forms, is basically a fallout of secularism. It’s the most ideologically secular of the Alt-Right that are the most racist – and don’t let outward religion fool you. Quite a few atheists are pro-religion among the alt-right because of its structuring utility. Their secularists in religious clothing.

A civilization with the Christian creed, including its missionary universalism (versus static universalism), would have far less a problem incorporating a variety of races. See the racial and cultural integration of Europe in the early first millennium. And yes, Europe was, and is, incredibly racially and culturally diverse – German pagans and Roman Christians took a lot of work to integrate and are arguably still in tension today.

I’d like to see more “pro-west” Christians recognize the missionary impetus of the creed. Paul’s statement that “God wills all men to be saved” is not just a statement about who God is, but also about what we are called to do (Background assumptions to 1 Tim. 2:4).


About Tomas

Catholic. Texan. Philistine. Teacher.
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