Why I’m Not Alt-Right (Despite the temptation)

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Editor’s Note – This essay was submitted and the person that did so made it clear they did NOT write it. They are not sure who the Author is as they came across it randomly online. If you are the author or know the author please reach out via the contact form we would love to give credit, where credit is due. Thank you for this piece. Oh it’s a long one, settle in.


I am not Alt-Right, though I can’t deny a constant temptation. Before unpacking all that, though, I should define my terms. Alt-right has become a term tossed about with reckless abandon and a certain creativity. Consequently, its definition is a slippery signifier. Indeed, no doubt, a great deal is perceived from many corners to be at stake in how one defines that term. This letter though is not an effort to sort out that linguistic and semiotic morass. My purpose is to explain why I am not something, despite the temptations it offers, and I’m calling that something the alt-right. If my definition doesn’t suit you for any reason, that’s fine, but what I’m writing about is the alt-right as I define it. You’re welcomed to call my alt-right whatever you like. But criticizing my position based on your definition would be rather missing the point.

So, by alt-right I am referring to a growing movement of white (mostly masculine) ethnonationalism. Though there’s a range of views, here, some notion of voluntary racial assortment, giving rise to racially separate countries, is generally implied. For those who do not fuss about nuanced definitions, that is not the same thing as white supremacy. Ethnonationalists need not think they’re racially superior to prefer a white homeland. Neither can the alt-right simply be dismissed as Nazism. I have no doubt that those who identify with the latter two dispositions would like to influence the alt-right in their direction. And, indeed, there likely are crypto-Nazis and white supremacists who participate in alt-right events and groups toward the end of exercising such influence. Allowing them to define the alt-right, though, would be like saying that your local Trotskyist cell is a branch of the metropolitan police force because the former has been infiltrated by undercover officers. Or, for that matter, it’s like saying that all Muslims are terrorists.

So, then, who are this alt-right and what do they want? And why do they tempt me? To answer the former question, by way of the latter: they neither hate me nor blame me for all their problems. And that’s kind of a good start to a fruitful relationship. When others hate you, or blame you for all their problems, the relationship isn’t likely to go well. It seems to me that the main sentiment driving the alt-right is a frustration and resentment with continually being demonized by every other ethnic group – or at least the prominent self-anointed spokespersons of those groups (not quite, of course, the same thing). The fact that through the conceptual magic of intersectionality a lot of feminists ride that same bandwagon leads perhaps to the masculine tone of the alt-right.

As a matter of fact, the alt-right is right about rejecting the guilt they’re expected to bear for everyone else’s problems. I won’t rehearse all the points of relevance, here. But to cite just a few: whites did not invent slavery, but they were the first people in history to end it and make it illegal. White men did not invent second class citizenship for women, but they were the first to expunge it from their legal institutions. White people were primarily responsible for legally establishing the Western traditions of equality before the law, separation of church and state, private property rights, the dignity of the individual, freedom of speech, assembly and association that enabled the success of those and subsequent equal rights movements.

The ingenuity of white people is overwhelmingly responsible for the industrial and technological innovations that have made everyone’s life safer, cleaner and more enriching: from antibiotics to electricity, from iron to silicon chips. So, whatever grievance you believe your group to have, don’t come complaining to me: white men have built the safest, freest, most prosperous society in human history. No, it’s not perfect, but your life would be considerably more miserable without it. Read about the life of the average person as recently as the mid-19th century if you need an illustration.

The hard truth is that there is a major, structural inequality in our society, but it has nothing to do with race or sex (and don’t even get me started on “gender.”) It is the unequal distribution of intelligence. Intelligence is the best predictor of educational achievement, job performance and income, lifetime health and longevity. And, unfortunately, intelligence is not equally distributed across the races and sexes. Furthermore, there appears to be very little that can be done to improve intelligence: improved nutrition and sheltering from pathogens and toxins seem to be the only sure benefit. These interventions, though, while raising individual intelligence, do not eliminate the disparate average distributions. And most difficult of all, intelligence is overwhelmingly heritable. How intelligent you are will be largely determined by how intelligent your parents are.

Some people just can’t hear this. You can call it junk science, pseudo-science, even scientific racism if you want, but that puts you in the same camp as the Catholic Church trying to suppress Galileo. Or, even more ironically, it makes you like the religious right you like to mock for denying evolution. There are 1000s of scientific papers, over a hundred years, in the top peer reviewed journals of their fields, documenting these intelligence differences and establishing the empirical fact of general intelligence.

So, wallow in denial all you want, but the empirical evidence is scientifically robust.

White men are not responsible for the distribution of intelligence across different human phenotypes. Indeed, they didn’t even get the highest intelligence. North East Asians have an even higher average intelligence. And some on the alt-right don’t count Jews as whites, but Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average intelligence of any ethnic group. So, if you’re going to tell me, because I’m white (and/or a man) I’m responsible for your problems, don’t be surprised if I’m not only a little incredulous, but eventually pissed off at your continual demonization.

I’m probably sounding pretty alt-right at this point, huh? And that’s not even the end of it. Even if none of what I’ve discussed above were true, I’d still be sympathetic to the alt-right purely on grounds of fairness. Why is it that it’s fair game for every other possible grievance group to organize around a chosen identity, including ethnicity or race, but if whites do so they’re racists and Nazis? Why is it that every non-white country in the world can have restrictive immigration policies, which they explicitly defend in terms of preserving their cultural and ethnic identity, but if some whites in the white majority countries – which have been allowing, even promoting, mass immigration into their own countries for decades – start expressing reservations about potential threats to their cultural and ethnic identity, they’re racists and Nazis? If the critics are claiming the whole world is racist and Nazi, fine. Though, really, what’s the point, then? Otherwise, the double standard of those who throw around such epithets is as blatant as it is hypocritical. So, on the simple grounds of decency and fairness I would defend the alt-right’s right to exist and participate in the market place of ideas. Indeed, I would welcome it.

And, yet, for all that, I am not alt-right and, furthermore, I believe the alt-right is fundamentally wrong in its solutions and strategies. I hope it’s obvious to any intelligent reader that I can sympathize with the alt-right’s grievances without sharing their goals or endorsing their methods.

So, then, why am I not alt-right? Perhaps ironically the foundation of my disagreement with the alt-right lies in one more agreement with them. Members of the alt-right often talk about defending the West or the Western tradition. I too am determined to defend Western civilization, by which I mean those qualities traditions and institutions I listed and extolled above: equality before the law, separation of church and state, private property rights, the dignity of the individual, freedom of speech, assembly and association. However, I consider the identitarian collectivism of the alt-right to be precisely an abandonment of that Western tradition that I want to preserve.

I have heard alt-righters defend the idea of an ethnonational state on the grounds that ethnic homogeneity promotes social capital and that the lower IQ of some other ethnicities is closely related to higher crime and reduced prosperity. There is good scientific evidence to support these claims. As solutions, though, the first though comes at too high a price and the second hardly recommends an ethnonational white state. Taking each of these in turn I’ll be able to get to the heart of why I think the alt-right is a wrong turn, leading on to a dead end.

Another little bit of science – not as robustly replicated, but still pretty explanatory – which the alt-right might not be as keen on is parasite-stress theory. The gist of this theory is that a combination of an evolved human behavioral immune system, combined with local conditions, give rise to phenotypes sensitive to the degree of parasites and pathogens in the environment. In the evolutionary environment which gave rise to human psychology exposure to strangers increased the likelihood of exposure to potentially harmful parasites and pathogens. Consequently, today, where the risk of exposure is high, people tend to be suspicious of strangers, promoting in-group collectivism and conservative sensibilities. Where exposure to risk is low, suspicion of strangers is low, facilitating greater openness to the exchange of ideas from and about others, promoting individualist and liberal sensibilities.

Generally, in warmer climates, there is more danger of exposure to parasites and pathogens, which is why people living there tend to be more conservative and collectivist, while those living in cooler climates tend to be more liberal and individualist. This model has been mapped onto the states of the U.S. and countries all around the world. It is not a perfect fit and there are individual differences: e.g., individuals with a high tolerance for parasite and pathogen risk may still be liberal while living in warmer climates; those with lower tolerance for such risk may still be conservative in cooler climates.

These though are the outliers.

Again, while not as robust as the intelligence scholarship, this research goes a long way in explaining so many of our political differences. In doing so, it dovetails with Jonathan Haidt’s famous moral psychology, emphasizing the formative role of disgust sensitivity in conservatives and openness in liberals. Take note, though, race or sex play no role in any of this. This behavioral immune system seems to be a pretty universal human evolved disposition. The research of those, like Robert Putnam, though, that have drawn attention to the higher social capital and trust in more homogenous communities has been conducted at local levels. This is perfectly understandable, as people live their daily lives at the local level, but in geographically large countries, not even necessarily as big as the U.S., the homogeneity to be expected from producing such an ethnonationalist state would be only skin deep.

If the nation crossed such climatic zones, the fiercest differences in values and morality would continue to tear at the fabric of the country. There might be an argument here for ethnocommunities, but not ethnonations – not in the modern sense of the nation state. It’s quite plausible social capital and trust could be built up to greater effect in such ethnocommunities, but unless the alt-right vision is the fragmentation of current nation states, along the lines envisioned by Leopold Koher, enthnonationalism would seem to be missing the mark.

On the question of values, I want people in my society who stand up for those Western traditions. I want people who condemn the promotion of identity politics. I want people who value the dignity of the individual. The race of such a person is entirely indifferent to me on this point. And there are plenty enough white people who are antithetical to those values. White ethnonationalism is no instant recipe for preserving Western civilization. It would exclude those who might support and advance those values in favour of people who are antithetical to them on the basis of race. That, as I say, is too high a price for whatever comfort comes from racially homogeneous communities.
Then there’s the tough question of intelligence. Yes, I happily admit it. I’d rather live in a society with higher intelligence than lower. The greater prosperity and lesser crime that corresponds to higher intelligence makes for a better life among those living in such a society. That fact though hardly recommends excluding all the non-white people. Indeed, it is wise to remember that, by definition, half the white people in America are below average white American intelligence. And millions of whites are way below that average. I’m not saying they should be expunged from the body politic, but it hardly follows that they are a uniquely sturdy racial stock upon which to build a thriving, prosperous and law-abiding nation.

Herrnstein and Murray’s classic book, The Bell Curve, often gets cited along the way in these discussions. One detail from their book that is rarely mentioned by either its detractors or extollers though is that at the time, the mid-1990s, they estimated that in America there was something in the range of 100,000 blacks with an IQ of 125 or more. That’s more intelligent than the vast majority of white people. Are they to be excluded from our society? One of them could be the lawyer that keeps you out of jail, the researcher who cures cancer, or the surgeon that saves your child’s life. So, they’re to be excluded from the nation because of the pigment of their skin? As long as they are committed to Western values, I want those people in my society – making it safer and more prosperous.

This is the complication regarding average group intelligence that is often missed (sometimes, one suspects, willfully) in such discussions. As we’ve just seen, the fact that the average intelligence of blacks in America is a full standard deviation below the average intelligence of American whites is irrelevant in the matter of any individual black. Any particular black person you meet could be more intelligent than the vast majority of whites and could contribute far more to society’s security and prosperity than them. This is why the Western tradition, with its emphasis upon the dignity and merit of the individual, despite what we’ve learned about average intelligence, remains the only sensible and fruitful approach to dealing with individual human beings. The enthnonationalism of the alt-right points in exactly the opposite direction of the Western tradition on this vitally important point.

Plus, since we are talking about me and my preferences, here. I’m one of those cooler region, high openness types. I like the diversity of culture that some immigration creates. However, I’ve learned enough from the alt-right that I’d no longer (as I once would have) take a laissez faire attitude to immigration. I want immigration to be limited; I want it limited to those with high intelligence and skills, and preferably with a demonstrable commitment to Western values; and I reject any suggestion that a country can have both a generous immigration policy and a generous welfare state.

Or, at least, it can’t have a welfare state that is generous to new immigrants within the context of a generous immigration policy. That would be nothing short of a social suicide pact. Those who mock and deride such concerns, without engaging the arguments and evidence, and simply deride those expressing such concerns as racists and Nazis, are doing the recruitment work of the alt-right.
Now that we understand the nature of intelligence, we can better understand that we have a serious challenge in our society. For the greater part, those who are well off are not so because of some moral virtue, conscientiousness or resolve, but because they won the genetic lottery. Yet, the risk posed by those with low intelligence to civic life also cannot be ignored. The implications of this knowledge are massive and as a society we need to start facing them. Solutions won’t be easy; difficult, even painful, discussions lie ahead about what all this means. However, racial identitarian movements miss the point. They are not the solution. On the contrary, they are a distraction from what needs to be addressed.

To the opponents of the alt-right, I’d say, the ill-formed (and in some cases probably malicious) shaming of white people must stop. Aside of the fact that it’s egregiously ill-informed, it is the first step to de-escalating the drift toward racialized civil war. Nothing is surer than such a de-escalation to take the wind out of the sails of alt-right recruitment. To those on the alt-right, I’d say, your impulse to save Western civilization is the right one and your rejection of your constantly being racially demonized is fully justified. Your strategy though is misguided. Perhaps nationalism is more important than I’d previously conceded. Seen in the big picture, though, the ethnonation solves few of the problems that concern you. Most of them will simply be replicated amid the diversity of values and intelligence which constitutes the white race.

By my lights, our only hope out of the current quagmire is a commitment to the Western tradition, social civility and a willingness to honestly address the challenges of intelligence disparity. It is because the alt-right not only fails to do this, but distracts us from the most pressing social mission of our time (following, ironically, precisely in the footprints of the progressives they so despise) that I am not alt-right (nor progressive).

I am writing the first draft of this letter on the day of the Charlottesville riots. Whether history will remember this day, as we remember the first shots fired at Fort Sumter, I can’t know. Maybe, years from now, readers will have no idea of the reference. For many of us, today, though, it feels like the threshold of civil chaos. Zealots on both sides spout bravado and rattle their metaphorical sabers. History shows us though that civil chaos is too often brought to heal by authoritarian strong men. That prospect does not bode well for the values of freedom that underpin Western civilization. Though the hour is late, I’ve written this letter in the hope that we might yet draw back from the brink and return to civil discussion.

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