Over the last year or so, corresponding with the rise of Donald Trump to the nomination of the Republican Party, there has been a lot of talk about what is the alt-right and what it means. This also corresponds with the term itself, alt-right, being transformed from the narrow white nationalism stuff of Richard Spencer, to a catch-all term for the growing number of people criticizing the orthodoxy from the Right. In fact, this thing they call the alt-right is no longer much about race and much more about culture, Western Culture.
Another way to think of it is to imagine a town with two social clubs, organized for the same purpose, but they disagree over the goals and how to go about it. Over time, one club has fallen into quarreling and regularly kicked out its best members. Many just quit out of frustration. The result is there are more that agree about what is wrong with the clubs than are in still the clubs. The reason the dissenters have a name is the people still doing the old social club racket gave the dissenters a name they thought was insulting.
Steve Sailer has a fun way of looking at it in his Taki column, comparing the alt-right to punk rock. That’s a good way of looking at, but within that column he quotes himself from the olden thymes, where he pointed out that jazz lost its audience because it became elitist and esoteric. That’s a good way of thinking about what is happening to Official Conservatism™ today. The people scribbling and thinking for the orthodoxy have become elitist and detached, consumed by esoteric hair splitting and purity tests.
A good example of this can be seen in this piece on National Review regarding Ann Coulter’s appearance on a Comedy Central roast of actor Rob Lowe. According to the news reports, it was a setup so the beta male comics could feel butch by calling Coulter a “cunt” over and over. A normal man would wonder why such a thing was permitted to happen, but not Christian Schneider. He is only concerned about the image of Official Conservatism™ as he thinks Coulter being pilloried makes his weird little identity cult look bad.
That’s Official Conservatism™. It is a bunch of men standing aside as men from the Left assault whomever happens to be to their Right. It is a movement that never moves. It remains relatively stationary, fixed to a spot just to the Right of the Progressives. When they are not refining the narrow differences they have with the Left, they are expanding the list of people to their Right that are no longer welcome in the club. Official Conservatism™ holds its audience in contempt, preferring to focus on itself and its peculiar aesthetic.
Sailer’s jazz reference works at another level. In the first half of the 20th century, jazz was the most popular form of music because it was fun and functioned as the soundtrack for the young and rebellious. By the time rock and roll came along, jazz was no longer fun. The kids looked at it as the music of their parent’s generation. That’s what’s happening with Official Conservatism™ now that the internet has opened the field to all sorts of new voices and ideas. Much of it may be crap or crazy, but it’s fun and rebellious.
There’s more to it, of course, but being new and fun is the energy that is making the alt-right work right now. The bigger issue is the fact that Buckley Conservatism has nothing to offer. An ideology that leads men to stand aside while thugs from the Left assault the institutions of society is not much use to people, who would like to preserve their culture. It’s hard to be inspired my a movement that thinks it is OK for men to call a woman a “cunt” on TV, just as long as it does not reflect poorly on their movement. Why would anyone sign up for that?
It’s why the threats from the geezers about purging the alt-right from Official Conservatism™ are met with roars of laughter and funny memes on twitter. If you are a young guy that thinks Progressivism is a cancer, what has Jonah Goldberg ever done for you? What has Hugh Hewitt ever done, beside collect a paycheck and lecture you to be quiet? The answer is nothing. When the bully boys of the Left come to put a beating on you, these two will be penning articles about how you tarnished the brand.
Skepticism, about attempts to define the alt-right, is wise as the people doing it have an agenda. Some are hoping to elevate their status as media personalities, while others are just hoping to tar members of the establishment, by associating them with something scary. The reality is it is just a new label for what Nick Land called the Dark Enlightenment. I’ve always found this map to be useful in understanding the wild and crazy world of alternative media on the internet. As you can see, there is a lot of overlap, but a great diversity in starting points.
The Right has always been a perspective from a number of starting points rooted in the human condition, biological reality. It has never been a fixed ideology and that is why Official Conservatism™ is dying off now. It was a long attempt to build a fence around the free range of thinking, to set borders and apply rules within it. It is why the Buckleyites look increasing like the Progressives they claim to oppose. In the end, ideologues all come to agree on the same thing – control.
Eric Hoffer said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Official Conservatism™ is well into the racket stage. The adherents, if they even believe in anything other than personal enrichment, defend the cause solely because it is where the money is at the movement. They are ideological Willie Suttons. They are “conservatives” because right now that’s where they can make money. When the time comes, they will move on to something else.