A popular topic among the members of the alt-right is the red pill moment. This is the event or experience that opened the person’s eyes to some reality. In the case of the alt-right, it’s more often the JQ they have in mind, but it can be race or even just politics. I’ve talked to many people flying the alt-right flag, who came from libertarianism. The campaign of Ron Paul seems to have turned many people into dissidents. My bet is the biggest source of recruits into the Dissident Right is libertarianism, followed by Buckley Conservatism.
Something I’ve noticed about the world of dissident politics is it is increasingly cut-off from mainstream conservatism and maybe politics in general. I know in my own case, I stopped watching Sunday chat shows twenty years ago and stopped watching cable chat shows in the Bush years. About five years ago, when I started blogging, I stopped reading mainstream conservative sites. I still check in on National Review or the Weekly Standard once in a while, but I can’t remember the last time I found anything relevant.
It’s not that people on our side of the great divide are ghettoized, there is some of that, but that conventional politics no longer seems relevant. Progressive assaults on speech get a lot of discussion, but this barely registers in the mainstream political chatter. The far left media doxxing people gets some attention, but again, that never gets discussed in mainstream circles. Otherwise, the old time fights between “conservatives” and “liberals” that used to define politics seem to have lost all relevance to our side.
It’s hard to know about these things. In my daily life, I meet some people who think like me and mostly people on the far left. Friends will mention Tucker Carlson on occasion, but I can’t remember the last time someone mentioned Hannity to me or Rush Limbaugh. Yet, the former is the top cable talker and the latter remains the top radio talker. In other words, my perspective on these things could be warped by the fact that I spend my time reading dissident right web sites and following hate-thinkers on social media. I could be the weirdo.
That said, I can’t remember the last time a liberal friend or acquaintance mentioned someone on the conventional right. It’s all Trump and his secret allegiance with Putin for them. To a lesser degree they obsess over people like me and our plans to bring back slavery, roll back women’s rights and turn America into a medieval fortress. As a rule, the American Left has always obsessed over that which it sees as a genuine threat or that which is a mirror held up to them, forcing them to examine their own beliefs.
Anyway, this is a long wide up to something I was sent the other day. This piece by Michael Anton in the Claremont Review of Books is a long response to something in The Federalist. Apparently, the two writers are having a dispute about the social contract and how it is defined in America. The best I can tell, the Federalist guy is a NeverTrump loon still angry at Anton over his “Flight 93” article. Robert Tracinski appears to be a Rip Van Winkle sort of guy, struggling to come to terms with modern America.
There was a time, maybe, when a debate over social contract theory and its relevance to American politics, would have been interesting to me. Today, it seems about as relevant as a debate over the proper way to saddle a unicorn so Sasquatch can ride it without falling off. Like the state of nature model, popular with Enlightenment philosophers, we know without a doubt that there is no such thing as a social contract. The current American conception of it is most certainly nonsense. America is not an idea.
That’s a point I often write about here and others take up in other places. It’s not the conclusions of liberal democracy that are the problem. it is the premise of it. When you start from the social contract and the state of nature, the conclusion is inevitable. That’s the problem with liberal democracy. It can only lead to one end and that is the obliteration of culture, which is what defines a people. Once the culture dies, the people soon follow, which explains the falling fertility rates, marriage rates and the migrant invasions.
Now, the point of this post, if there is one, is not to argue for or against any particular conception of the social contract. It’s just an example of the growing divide between those in dissident politics and those who remain trapped in conventional politics. The project on our side is to ask how it is we have arrived at this point and to then question the premises upon which is built the old order. For example, if the natural order is not a voluntary agreement among men, then what is it and what would a modern version of it resemble?
The great divide may not simply be a dispute about the nature of man. That’s certainly a big part of what separates a reader here and a reader at Reason, National Review or The Nation. The one side embraces the diversity of man, while the other embraces the blank slate The difference also extends to topics that have long been considered axiomatic. As we seem to be heading into a denouement of the long Calvin – Rousseau dynamic, many of us are questioning the foundations of the liberal order and the Enlightenment itself.