Something everyone outside of conventional politics agrees upon is that the establishment conservatives are no longer useful or relevant. Whatever you want to call the super set of groups making a claim to right-wing politics, but outside of conventional politics, the one thing that ties them together is an antipathy to Conservative Inc. The criticisms vary in tone and specificity, but everyone agrees that the starting place for a new opposition to the Left is replacing the current Right with something new.
In fact, it is the failure of so-called conservatives that has fueled the rise of populism, neo-nationalism and various dissident movements. If you look around at the various tribes milling around the right-wing fringe, all of them are a response to some failure of conventional conservatism. The alt-right grew out of libertarianism, for example. The identitarians and race realist passed through paleo-conservatism. The paleocons, of course, have been around since their purging decades ago.
The absolute failure of conservatism needs to be more than a rallying point for a loose coalition of the dispossessed. This is not an age calling for a longer list of people purged by Conservative Inc. What is required is a replacement for so-called conservatism that will provide a true alternative to what is offered by the Left. This is something many among the dispossessed have suggested. Paul Gottfried, who gets credit for coining the term alternative Right, has been arguing this for years.
While more and more people are flowing into outsider politics, looking for an alternative to conventional conservatism, there is no agreement as what should come next. The paleocons have gone further than anyone, but their imagined replacement is mostly just a reset to the time before the neocons outmaneuvered them in the 70’s and 80’s. It is a conservatism of yore that is free of the baggage train of failure and perfidy that has come to define modern conservatism. It’s what conservatism should have been.
Other groups are far less sober minded. The alt-right never got around to thinking up a new metaphysics. They spent their time recreating an aesthetic from a bygone age that was intended to shock, rather than celebrate a new ideological movement. The closest they came to imagining an alternative Right was borrowing the idea of an ethnostate from fringe Russian thinkers. Otherwise, the alt-right was just a collection of complaints decorated with some racist and fascist language and imagery.
Other groups among the dispossessed are even less coherent in what they want than the alt-right. The neo-reactionaries want to return to the age of kings, but with the modern material items produced by liberalism. The neo-nationalists and populists, like the paleocons, mostly want to return to a convenient starting point in the past. Theirs is not a critique of liberal democracy, but of its constant companion radicalism. Like Marxists, they argue that real liberal democracy has not been tried yet.
The truth is, none of these approaches can get very far, because at their core they accept the base assumptions of liberal democracy. That means they embrace the core principles of the Left. Those being egalitarianism and the blank slate. They may place some qualifiers on these, but ultimately, they start with the assumption that there is a universally preferable form of human organization. That form of human organization assumes people are all the same with the same human potential.
In this regard, this age is not calling for an alternative Right. There’s no need to rally the guerrilla forces, aged and withered, having hidden out in the ideological and political jungles for generations, in order to reclaim the high ground of liberal democracy. Even if they were able to fight, that fight has been long over. The reason the Left holds the high ground, controls the institutions, is they won the moral argument. They now get to control the moral paradigm, altering it in order to win each fight.
When thinking about what replaces conventional conservatism, the starting point must be this dynamic. The Left controls the moral framework. This allows them to alter every political battlefield by manipulating the shared reality that is the public space. Since democracy is about persuasion, rather than truth, they can easily tilt the battle field to make their job easy. They win because the Right keeps charging up the hill to attack the institutions controlled by the Left, who always enjoy the moral high ground.
For there to be an alternative to conservatism, it must therefore be a genuine alternative to the Left. In other words, what is needed is not so much an alternative Right, but an alternative Left. What’s needed is a new radicalism that starts first with the understanding that we are entering a new age. The ideologies and moralities of the past age, the Industrial Age, are not relevant to the technological age and they are impotent and impractical for the demographic age.
The reactionary and violent multiculturalism on the Left is, in part, a response to this looming reality. The prevailing orthodoxy of today, is the result of the radicalism in later-stage liberal democracy that reached its peak in the last century. Peak liberal democracy, was also peak industrial society. The so-called radicals of today, are just the established order, kitted out in the outfits of yesteryear’s avant-garde. There is nothing radical about the modern Left. They are all reactionaries now.
The anger expressed by the Left toward various challenges, real and imagined, is like a child throwing a tantrum, frustrated at a toy. Their anger starts from the secret sense that their moral framework is no longer relevant. They are unable to quantify or even comprehend it. They just sense it, like an ill wind. Like primitives confronted with some natural mystery, the men and women defending the established order are in a defensive panic at the shadow of change falling on the West.
The new alternative must start where all radicals start, as a rejection of the founding principles of the prevailing order. There is no universally preferable form of human organization, morally, ethically or practically. Human beings are not all the same, born with the same stock of natural talent. Further, humans are not infinitely malleable, able to be shaped into whatever society designs. These values may have had utility in the prior age, but in this age, they are a liability that must be abandoned.
Whether one chooses to call what comes next an alternative Right or something else, it must be a genuine alternative. The main reason conventional conservatism failed in its opposition to the Left is that it was not an alternative to liberalism. It was a slightly different implementation of it. What replaces conservatism cannot start from the same error, but must be a radical departure from both Left and Right, as commonly understood. It must be a radical alternative to the prevailing morality.
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