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Important essay from Tom G Palmer at CATO

The essay by Mr Palmer is entitled “A New, Old Challenge: Global Anti-Libertarianism”.

The article examines three broad threats, which are serious, to classical liberalism: radical Islamism, the post-Gramsci Far Left, and what is called the “Alt Right”:

Unfortunately, the best argument that the defenders of civil society typically offer in response to those challenges is that the complex of personal liberty, the rule of law, and free markets creates more prosperity and a more commodious life than the alternatives. That’s true, but it’s not enough to deflect the damaging blows of the illiberal triumvirate of identity politics, authoritarian populism, and radical Islamism. The moral goodness of liberty needs to be upheld, not only in head-to-head encounters with adversaries, but as a means of stiffening the resistance of classical liberals, lest they continue retreating. Freedom is not an illusion, but a great and noble goal. A life of freedom is better in every respect than a life of submission to others. Violence and antagonism are not the foundation of culture, but their negation. Now is the time to defend the liberty that makes possible a global civilization that enables friendship, family, cooperation, trade, mutual benefit, science, wisdom — in a word, life — and to challenge the modern anti-libertarian triumvirate and reveal the emptiness at its heart.

70 comments to Important essay from Tom G Palmer at CATO

  • Alt-Right… I wonder if a term that includes both mundane MAGA Trump supporters and Stormfront paleo-fascists is a term that means hardly anything. Perhaps it is a word like “austerity”, a term used to confuse and conflate more than enlighten and describe.

    But that said, the essay is not wrong.

  • QET

    Violence and antagonism are not the foundation of culture, but their negation.

    I don’t believe this is historically true. Ancient Greek and Roman cultures were at their high points during times of incessant warfare. Renaissance Italian culture was at its height during a period of incessant war and conflict among the independent republics. 17th century France? Thirty Years War. Franco-Dutch War. War of the Grand Alliance. Etc Etc.

    The truth is that the human spirit thrives on conflict. This is why William James in an almost despairing tone wished for a “moral equivalent of war.” Remember Juvenal: “Now the ravages of a long peace, luxury more savage than arms. . . ‘

  • Bod

    From my manor, it’s a stretch to include MAGA supporters in the Alt-Right.

    I know I’ve bleated on about this before but it still seems to me that the two primary spheres of the Alt-Right are the “Cultural/SkinColor/Genetic” supremacy (nativist) guys, and the “Anti-SJW/Anti-PC” guys.

    To *some* extent, there may be some paleo-Tea Partiers in there too (before that whole movement lost its way and went the way of the Peoples’ Front of Judea) – but I suspect their affinity is closer to the MAGA-people than the “Alt-Right” bogeymen.

    So it’s hard to understand really why the Alt-Right is seen as being much of a threat at all in the long run.

    The Anti-SJW/Anti-PC constituency is already participating in the fight against the post-Gramsci far left, and I predict that some accommodation will shake out when they become somewhat influential in the post-2016 Republican Party. Some of the people I know who fall into this group just want a place at the grown up table influencing the direction of the GOP and the push-back against the left. Public opposition to progressive pieties is growing, so I anticipate that this group will end up being incorporating some of their platform with the GOP in the future. With Rience Priebus’ elevation to the Executive, there will be a new leader of the RNC which might be more of a firebrand, which wouldn’t be a bad thing for the GOP. Bog knows, they need a shakeup and reality check.

    The Supremacists/Nativists are exactly where they’ve been for a while – a bunch of nutters out on the fringe – they’ve been there for decades. They might get some spike in membership, but like their existing membership, 50% of the new members will be FBI agents and informers anyway. It’s hard to articulate just how few active ‘hate group’ members there are in the US. Consensus runs to a few tens of thousands max, and I believe that the primary concern should is lone wolf activists, not the clowns in bed-sheets writing pamphlets and committing wire fraud, or having swastikas tattooed on their butts. Yes, there’s a lot of internet noise from the neo-Nazis, but while they have high visibility, they don’t seem to have much influence, and what influence they have now, doesn’t seem any greater than they had a decade ago. The American body politic really doesn’t have much sympathy for these kinds of views, no matter what Michael Moore and Howard Zinn say.

    The one area within the supremacist/nativist movement that has grown is the Cultural/Genetic strain. If you look at sites such as VDARE, you have some compelling and somewhat persuasive discussions that run the spectrum from the uncontroversial to the implicitly (and in some cases) explicitly eugenic(?). Most of the contributors appear to strive for scientific rigor, but the commentary sometimes gets quite triggering.

    I have no personal animus toward the contributors there. I think that scientific inquiry leads where it leads, but some of it certainly ‘proves’ some of the biases of their readers, no matter how rigorous the original article. From a personal point of view, I think that some of their conclusions lead to some disturbingly dark places that I’d really prefer to see debunked.

    And so, if the “Alt Right” is to be deemed a ‘threat’, it’s this narrow sliver of the supremacist/nativist wing. Distasteful as it is, I have to wonder how/if this is politically accommodated if *some* of the arguments put forward gain traction with the wider electorate.

    I’m sorry this submission is so long, but I did not have time to write a shorter one.

  • The truth is that the human spirit thrives on conflict

    I disagree strongly. The truth is that the human spirit thrives in spite of conflict, not because of it.

  • From my manor, it’s a stretch to include MAGA supporters in the Alt-Right.

    I agree yet journalists do that all the time.

    I know I’ve bleated on about this before but it still seems to me that the two primary spheres of the Alt-Right are the “Cultural/SkinColor/Genetic” supremacy (nativist) guys, and the “Anti-SJW/Anti-PC” guys.

    Indeed. The former is the enemy, the latter is, well, us actually 😉 That said, I am rather a cultural chauvinist myself, but that has bugger all to do with skin colour or genetics.

    The Anti-SJW/Anti-PC constituency is already participating in the fight against the post-Gramsci far left, and I predict that some accommodation will shake out when they become somewhat influential in the post-2016 Republican Party. Some of the people I know who fall into this group just want a place at the grown up table influencing the direction of the GOP and the push-back against the left.

    I think that is correct from what I see and hear.

  • QET

    I disagree strongly. The truth is that the human spirit thrives in spite of conflict, not because of it.

    Well, it seems inarguable that cultural development correlates strongly with conflict, anyway. 😎

  • PapayaF

    A life of freedom is better in every respect than a life of submission to others.

    Sure, but unfortunately, I’ve come to believe that there’s a flaw in pure libertarianism. If you believe in “freedom of movement,” there’s no way to prevent the less libertarian (or the outright anti-libertarian) from moving to your more-libertarian (and thus more pleasant and prosperous) country, and making it worse. We see that with Muslim immigration everywhere, and with mass Latin American immigration in the US.

    Rationally, it makes no sense for someone escaping Honduras or Pakistan to want their new country to be more like Honduras or Pakistan, but people are not always rational. And quantity matters: with a few immigrants, the effect is minimal. When it’s millions, it’s not. I think the “authoritarian populists” know this, and too many libertarians refuse to acknowledge it.

  • My thoughts on Perry de Havilland (London), December 8, 2016 at 5:05 pm, and related comments, follow.

    The human spirit thrives on confidence, and that confidence is inevitably ready to resist enemies. I don’t see enemies and conflict as essential, but I do see the willingness to resist them, not cringe to them, as essential. Enemies will arrive from time to time – there will be wars and rumours of war. How a culture responds at such times is the essence, not how often it lives in such times.

  • Bod

    One last thought – the “Alt Right” is in many ways, this election cycle’s “Fascists” and “Racists” ; i.e. “People who I disagree with whose ideas and social capital I want to discredit”, and at some point, I think I’ll research where the term came from. I’ll bet money it was as a pejorative, because “Fascist” and “Racist” have lost their ability to induce shame.

    The various constituencies of the “Alt-Right” made a huge mistake, whether it was coined to shame them, or if they came up with it themselves, because they’ve allowed it to become a label by which they can be attacked, and their disparate ideologies mean that if one section of the movement is discredited, the whole movement can be tarred with the same brush.

    To the extent that this messy aggregation of noncomformists have any shared views, it’s in the area of cultural supremacy (culturalism)/anti-feminism/MGTOW (Men Going Their own Way). This nexus is nebulous and weak, and is the fracture point in the current civil war going on at present within the “Alt Right”.

    We see some of the penumbrae of this at the moment in the quite public (public, because he’s personally screaming it from the rooftops and lecture theaters of US Colleges) comments from Milo Yiannopoulos, who has little interest in MGTOW, but wades neck-deep into cultural supremacy, anti-feminism and free speech. Milo’s an odd flag-bearer for the Alt-Right (indeed, he disavows membership, which I believe is a very astute move) because allegedly, he’s slandered as a ‘gay jewish race traitor’ by one group and ‘too extreme and controversial’ by the other, but he’s currently a valuable bellwether for the movement.

  • Mal Reynolds (Serenity)

    I have heard that the Alt-Right term was coined by people on 4chan (probably /pol/?) as a pretend new term for their group. The idea was that the term would be picked up by critics and others and attacked (or adopted), would deflect criticism and signal to the 4chan guys who actually “got it” and who was just posing. Given how the meanings of words can change, sometimes rather rapidly, I am not sure if that strategy made all that much sense. Just sharing what I’ve heard.

  • Bod

    It’s hard to imagine any of the prominent members of the ‘Alt-Right’ even visiting 4chan 🙂

    … not that I’m disputing your … narrative.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Until the MSM began to shriek and fling feces at it, I was barely aware of the “Alt-Right” except as one possible combination of “Alt” and “Right”. I propose to consider the source and ignore the ‘controversy’. Let’s not play their game.

  • Flubber

    I think one of the issues with the alt-right is that they have shrugged off the power of the “racist” accusation. Some because they are racists and some simply because they’re not and they know it. The challenge is that the latter group don’t respects the lefts “lines in the sand” and will make memes and jokes for the hell of it – see the Harambe stuff for example.

    The reason its “Alt” is because mainstream conservatism in both the UK and the US is full of shit. Every time David Cameron said the words “Nothing to do with Islam” my blood boiled. The same with any moron who comes out with “Diversity is our strength.”

    The racists are a problem. The race realists are not. The dividing line between the two varies on the prejudices of the viewer.

  • Alisa

    Wasn’t it coined by Paul Gottfried?

    BTW, Bod’s summary is the closest I’ve seen to my own impression of the matter.

  • Bod

    Alisa’s right – the term “Alternative Right” has been loosely associated with (and was coined by) palaeocon Paul Gottfried for some years, and it appears he’s a contributor to VDARE and places like Taki’s Mag and LewRockwell.com in addition to his academic work.

  • The racists are a problem. The race realists are not.

    There is a very close to perfect correlation between race realists and racists. It is a bit like anti-Semites and anti-Zionists. In theory they are different things. In theory.

    The fact that one is almost always the other need not be true, but in reality they are. Is that ever not the case? I accept the notion that it is possible, but that has never been my experience, at least regarding racists/race realists. Not even once. Ever.

    In theory it should be possible to discuss race and genetics on the internet without it being hijacked by racists, but in reality that is not the case. If you just assume anyone discussing race and IQ is a racist, the reality is you are extremely unlikely to be wrong. In theory you could be. But you won’t be.

    These are not idle theories, they are empirical observations from running this blog since 2001. And given how it poisons everything it touches, I have kick/banned more people for discussing the subject obsessively than for any other reason (by a margin of about 5:1 for other causes). I have a greater-than-zero tolerance for the subject, but only ever so slightly. And that is simply born out of experience.

  • Alisa

    The racists are a problem. The race realists are not.

    To me personally neither are a problem, as everyone should be entitled to their own brand of stupidity and ignorance, as long as they don’t have the power to force it on the rest of us.

    I have kick/banned more people for discussing the subject obsessively than for any other reason

    Yep, and the way I see it, it’s the obsessiveness that is the problem, not so much the stupid opinions themselves. I think that these people would have not been nearly as obsessive about this subject were their views simply ignored, rather than constantly attacked by…everyone, really. But unfortunately as things stand, they really are too much of a nuisance.

  • Flubber

    We here loosely on the right may want to forget about about race, but the other side are the obsessives:

    http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/06/buzzfeed-white-people-are-a-plague-to-the-planet/

  • We here loosely on the right may want to forget about about race, but the other side are the obsessives

    Indeed. But every time they scream “misogynist” and “racists” at people who are neither, they make themselves increasingly irrelevant whilst they radicalise their enemies.

  • Paul Marks

    The “Alt Right” has become such a mess of a term that I will leave it to others – the “white nationalists” are one thing and people such as “Milo” at least claim to be quite another. So I will leave then to their Civil War.

    Although I will point out that anyone who thinks people should be morally judged on the colour of their skin is, to use a technical term, a scumbag.

    The quotation from G. Palmer is quite correct – saying freedom produces more stuff is not going to win the argument with the collectivists (of any sort), it is not a Moral Vision that people will die for. Yes the “Economic Nationalists” (whether Fichte in Germany or Henry Clay in America) were and are talking nonsense in relation to Protectionism and government “infrastructure” spending – but this debate goes way beyond such things.

    The Hume-Hayek position that human freedom (indeed the human “I” – the being in “human being”) is just an “illusion” and that our decisions are “really” predetermined, means the war (the war with the collectivists) is lost before it even starts. Not that this bothered David “Euthanasia of the Constitution” Hume – but it should bother people who are actually in this fight.

    One does not have to be an “Old Whig” like me to see that – a Tory such as Dr Johnson could see it to (which is why he would have nothing to do with David Hume – Samuel Johnson could see that under the gentle honeyed words there was lethal poison). The sort of people who became pilots of the Battle of Britain in 1940 (at least those aware of popular Oxford philosophy of the time – which many were) were more in tune with people who said that freedom was REAL (not an “illusion” – why die for an illusion?). Writers such as Professor Harold Prichard and Professor Sir William David Ross (Major Ross) as well as later “children’s writers” such as Professor Tolkien and Professor C.S. Lewis (“The Abolition of Man”).

    Hayek himself wrote “The Road To Serfdom” which is full of terms (freedom, liberty, rights, justice….) that in his more “intellectual” works he explains (no not explains – IMPLIES, just assumes) are beside-the-point (the point being determinism and so on). But someone such as Alfred Roberts (the father of Margaret Thatcher) was not using “metaphors” or “terms the common person would understand” – he actually MEANT it when he made gave talks in the 1930s defending freedom (the ability of people to choose to do other than we do) and attacking “totalitarianism” (he used the term long before the Road to Serfdom) – of both the Black Flag (Fascist and National Socialist) and the Red Flag (Marxist) varieties.

    Really if someone does not actually mean-it (actually believe that freedom is real – not an “illusion” or what-not) then the struggle is not worth anything – and no is going to die for it (after all they would be “suckers” to risk their lives for something that does-not-even-exist).

    Mr Palmer is correct – if we are not offering a moral vision (a real one – not a play we put on for the “suckers” whilst holding in our “intellectual” discourse that freedom does not really exist) we are wasting our time – and the time of everyone else. As we will not defeat the totalitarians – because we will not DESERVE to defeat them.

  • Snorri Godhi

    From one of Bod’s comments:

    the “Alt Right” is in many ways, this election cycle’s “Fascists” and “Racists” ; i.e. “People who I disagree with whose ideas and social capital I want to discredit”, and at some point, I think I’ll research where the term came from. I’ll bet money it was as a pejorative, because “Fascist” and “Racist” have lost their ability to induce shame.

    In this connection, i am surprised that nobody has yet mentioned “neo-conservatism” and “neo-liberalism”: both neo-logisms were created by the enemies of these supposed movements. (Indeed, when i hear the word “neo-liberal”, i become pretty sure that i am listening to a charlatan.)

    In the case of “neo-conservative”, the original targets of this label/libel embraced it — but then, people started using it to mean simply “extreme conservative” or indeed “people I disagree with, whose ideas and social capital I want to discredit”. Something similar is going on with “alt-right”, even though in this case the label was self-imposed from the beginning.

    My own understanding is that the 3 distinctive political principles of the Alt-Right are race realism/White nationalism, anti-feminism, and neo-monarchism: the anti-PC element is also important, but not distinctive, because it is shared, inter alia, by Samizdata.

    See also Vox Day’s 16-point manifesto of the Alt-Right; though i do not see anything neo-monarchist or anti-feminist in it. (Vox Day is of course opposed to feminism.)

  • PapayaF

    While there are neo-monarchists among the alt-right, I don’t think that is a defining characteristic at all. It’s a small sliver of the movement.

    Even “race realism/White nationalism” is not quite right, though nationalism certainly is.

    Neoconservatism used to have a fairly distinct meaning: it applied to many former leftists who became conservatives, e.g. Irving Kristol, Sidney Hook. They were a somewhat distinct subgroup from the traditional(ist) conservatives, e.g. William F. Buckley, and the term was not disparaging.

    I agree that “neo-liberal” seems to be used only as an epithet.

  • PapayaSF

    I just realized that I managed to typo my own handle… SIGH… it’s been that sort of week….

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry:

    If you just assume anyone discussing race and IQ is a racist, the reality is you are extremely unlikely to be wrong.

    If you mean: discussing on this site, then you know much better than i do, and i won’t argue. I note, however, that i have read an essay by Charles Murray, and watched online a lecture by Steven Pinker, both on the subject of Jewish IQ; and neither of them exceeded the bounds of rational debate.

  • PapayaSF

    Although I will point out that anyone who thinks people should be morally judged on the color of their skin is, to use a technical term, a scumbag.

    OK, but I don’t think that’s what “race realists” (or most of the alt-right) are doing. I think they are saying that there really are differences in racial/ethnic groups that go beyond culture, and they have a lot of science on their side. It’s not the ignorant, old-fashioned racism of “All members of my race are inherently superior to all members of that race.” It’s more a matter of averages, of overlapping bell curves of ability.

    I find the discussion of IQ differences to be interesting and sometimes funny: the left is reduced to arguing that it’s “white racism” and “white supremacism” for researchers (largely white) point out that the smartest ethnic groups (on average!) are Ashkenazic Jews and East Asians. “We’re number three!” is a strange rallying cry for “supremacists.”

  • (Indeed, when i hear the word “neo-liberal”, i become pretty sure that i am listening to a charlatan.)

    I had dinner with a couple UN diplomats a few months ago, and one started using the term “neo-liberal”, whereupon the other simply cut him off and stated “neo-liberal just means someone who embraces the markets that you really don’t understand. The term is junk-language.” I was impressed. And it was rather brave as the other man was his boss 😉 And no, I will not name names.

    VoxDay is an utter dickhead. That said, being a dickhead does not preclude someone from being a political ally. But the reason he is the enemy as well as being a dickhead is not his vile personality, but rather that he is really no different to the identity politics pushing SJWs he opposes: he just pushes a different identity to them, but he is every bit as shrill and collectivist and intolerant. If you want a self-described Alt-Right person who fits the definition of the threat to liberty in the target article, VoxDay and his fellow travellers are it. Fuck ’em, and not in a good way.

  • I note, however, that i have read an essay by Charles Murray, and watched online a lecture by Steven Pinker, both on the subject of Jewish IQ; and neither of them exceeded the bounds of rational debate.

    Oh I totally believe that. What I meant is a rational discussion is not possible via any interactive means on the internet, such as in the comment section of a blog or a forum. Lectures and essays are an entirely different matter.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Papaya:

    While there are neo-monarchists among the alt-right, I don’t think that is a defining characteristic at all. It’s a small sliver of the movement.

    You are probably right … ehm, correct. What i meant is that all neo-monarchists are in the alt-Right; even though only a minority of alt-rightists are neo-monarchists. (It’s the other way around with anti-PC, which is much broader than the alt-Right.)

    I might add that i hold neo-monarchism to be the most authentically Right-wing of all political movements. I also hold it to be historically illiterate, even though some of its advocates, such as Mencius Moldbug and our very own Shlomo Maistre, are more historically literate than i am: i resolve this paradox by assuming that they are in deep denial.

  • PapayaSF

    To me, it’s one thing to point out the flaws of democracy, or even of constitutional representative republics, but it’s quite another to think monarchy is the answer. (Although I am enough of a traditionalist that have no problem with the English monarchy of today, and would not want to see it abolished.)

  • I am pretty much with Papaya on that

  • Snorri Godhi

    About Vox Day, the first thing to say is what Glenn Reynolds said about J.J. Ray (another race realist):

    Remind me never to pick a fight with this guy.

    (Quoting from memory.)

    The reasons why i would not pick a fight against Vox Day are best described as stick+carrot.

    The stick: he seems to write in the most provocative way possible, only to be able to say to anybody who jumps to conclusions, that that is not what he wrote. I think this is actually an effective way to fight against SJWs. I also think that it is not to be confused with advocating an unethical position, and then weaseling out.

    The carrot: he very much seems capable of engaging in rational debate with people who argue against him cogently. I find some of his positions outrageous, but i don’t dare to argue about them without reading what he wrote about those views, and life is too short.

  • Flubber

    Hmmm:

    Black law editor: Acquit anyone charged with murdering, raping whites.

    https://twitter.com/FalseNobody/status/806879403720445952

  • bobby b

    The vast majority of the people amongst my own rural acquaintances who claim some connection to “alt-R” hold no real view concerning racial differences, racial superiority, bell curves, cultural limitations or flaws, or any of the other race-centric themes that are cited here.

    Here’s their take:

    Every racial group and subgroup demands that society treat it better, transfer more resources to it, value it higher, give it more respect and money and power.

    Every group except for whites. Whites are not allowed to do this, because it is racist to do so.

    The most common defining thread I’ve seen among the self-labeled alt-R’s I know is a pushback on this limitation.

    They’re tired of being everyone’s whipping boy, tired of being the only group not allowed to self-promote.

    Imagine a White Lives Matter rally. Imagine the hysterical reaction this would trigger.

    If everyone else in the world can look to their racial classification as their credential for entitlement, without fear of being called racist, then the alt-R’s are going to stop being intimidated by that same label, and start acting in the interests of their own team.

    I think you’ll find this motivation far more popular than that of the Vox Day/Stormfront contingent, and probably at the center of what the Milos believe. Nothing actually racist – but certainly race-driven. There’s a difference.

  • Snorri Godhi

    A remark on Papaya’s first comment, at 5:24 pm:
    I have stated a few times in this forum that i am opposed to mass immigration, and that my position has hardly anything to do with the moral qualities of immigrants and (pretty much) everything to do with the incentives of the ruling class. Having committed myself to that position, i feel an obligation to object to what Papaya wrote:

    Rationally, it makes no sense for someone escaping Honduras or Pakistan to want their new country to be more like Honduras or Pakistan, but people are not always rational.

    I strongly agree that it makes no sense to want your host country to be more the country you come from. (And btw i feel sorry for immigrants who feel the need, however understandable, to sing the praise of their country of origin.)

    Having said that, i don’t know of any evidence that any immigrants, except MAYBE for SOME Muslim immigrants, want their host country to be more like their country of origin. Sure, Mexican immigrants to the US vote Democrat (especially if they are not voting legally) but is that because they want the US to be more like Mexico, or is it because the Democrats offer them free stuff?

    And quantity matters: with a few immigrants, the effect is minimal. When it’s millions, it’s not.

    No argument here.

  • The reasons why i would not pick a fight against Vox Day are best described as stick+carrot.

    Meh. It would be hard to overstate how not afraid of Vox Day I am. The only reason I am not ‘looking for a fight’ at this particular juncture is there are far more important people to take on than him (and frankly we also share quite a few enemies. But that does not make him my friend. I am happy to pet the sad puppies, but I’d rather shoot the rabid ones (figuratively at this stage)). His particular brand of identity politics is low on the target list, and we will have made huge progress if we are at the stage his target number ever comes up. Not worth wasting a lot of time on right now.

  • I think you’ll find this motivation far more popular than that of the Vox Day/Stormfront contingent, and probably at the center of what the Milos believe. Nothing actually racist – but certainly race-driven. There’s a difference.

    I think there is much to be said for that.

  • bobby b

    “I strongly agree that it makes no sense to want your host country to be more the country you come from.”

    I know quite a few Somalis and Mexicans and Hondurans and Costa Ricans and Australians living here in the US who very strongly wish that the US could be more like their home country.

    They yearn for their old lands and culture and foods and friends and climate and religious life and pastimes and homes and . . . everything.

    But their home countries have been made uninhabitable by wars and poverty and famine and by the rich dispossessing the poor and, in the case of the Aussies, by smug yuppie liberals taking over the cities.

    Many would actually go back if the wars and droughts and unemployment ended. They’d feel like they were home again.

  • Bod

    Can’t something be done to head off the dangers of shitty Australian beach cuisine and flip-flops (thongs)?

  • PapayaSF

    Snorri: I am not saying that an immigrant would necessarily consciously think: “I will vote to make my new country like my old one.” As bobby b says, some might, but many will simply carry their old cultural habits with them, which en masse, will have that effect.

    In the old days, it was not so much like that. Immigrants were often explicitly opposed to their old culture, and embraced the new. They did things like anglicizing their names, give their kids names than fit with their new country, and sometimes insisted on “English only” in the home. The advance of multiculturalism has pretty much ended that sort of thing.

    Re racism, I just thought of this, which I think might make a good dividing line. If Thomas Sowell moved next door, a racist (e.g. David Duke) would object. A race realist (e.g. John Derbyshire) would not.

  • Flubber

    “Nothing actually racist – but certainly race-driven. There’s a difference.”

    We all know that the BBC has recently started recruiting for jobs and explicitly excluding white people. This is, we are told, to make the BBC “more representative”

    Therefore, could we make some Jews at the BBC redundant? There are far more Jews at the BBC than their tiny proportion of the UK population. Of course not. You’d be screamed down as a racist and a anti-semite. But you can happily discriminate against white people.

    The motto of the Alt-Right could well be Diversity simply means anti-white.

  • newrouter

    VoxDay is an utter dickhead.

    You don’t like Infogalactic where he gives some competition to sjw Wikipedia? Seems he wants to fight. You?

  • Eric

    If everyone else in the world can look to their racial classification as their credential for entitlement, without fear of being called racist, then the alt-R’s are going to stop being intimidated by that same label, and start acting in the interests of their own team.

    This is true. People are waking up the fact that advocating for the whole while other people are advancing the interests of their own racial or ethnic factions is a mug’s game. In that sense the alt-right is a natural and predictable evolution of identity politics.

  • newrouter

    Mr. Trump is over here:

    Kate Bush – Cloudbusting – Official Music Video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pllRW9wETzw

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The truth is that the human spirit thrives on conflict.

    Yes. So true.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    What i meant is that all neo-monarchists are in the alt-Right

    Alt right is not neoreaction. The former cares about politics, supports trump often with embarrassing emotion and is low IQ stupidity with no spiritual or historical understanding of political philosophy. The latter regards politics with scorn, as on does a crass circus and regards trump as an inevitable consequence of democracy and an unfortunate symptom of societal decay.

    But I can define a chair as a table, too!

    I might add that i hold neo-monarchism to be the most authentically Right-wing of all political movements.

    Well, I consider myself a reactionary. But I’d like to thank you because I consider the political right to be inherently good by definition and you appear to think of me as rather extremely good in this way. Superb.

    I don’t subscribe to a political movement so maybe in a strange way we agree. Reactionaries operate outside crass political movements, which dirty our polished leather shoes and white gloves.

    I also hold it to be historically illiterate, even though some of its advocates, such as Mencius Moldbug and our very own Shlomo Maistre, are more historically literate than i am: i resolve this paradox by assuming that they are in deep denial.

    Hah.

    Mere facts of history are far less integral to understanding reality than is commonly believed. Wisdom, judgement, taste, prejudice – these are the attributes that one primarily employs in the art of deductive reasoning in order to deduce truths regarding human nature, society, how it is that social order emerges, the nature of sovereignty, etc.

    American conservatives have been said to be standing athwart history yelling stop, then we Reactionaries were doing that at time “t – (infinity – 1)) except instead of yelling stop we were laughing and murmuring to ourselves “if only they knew, they’d regret this”. I deny that Liberty is anything other than newfangled Protestant whining. I deny that democracy is good or moral or sustainable. I deny that feminism is beneficial to women, men, children, or the long term welfare of the nation. I deny that the Sith are wrong. I deny that the American Revolution was justifiable or beneficial to any party long-term.

    I deny that the is-ought gap is bridged in any way in this dreary mortal realm of ours save by human action.

    Yes, I’m in deep, deep denial. You know not the half of it.

  • You don’t like Infogalactic where he gives some competition to sjw Wikipedia? Seems he wants to fight. You?

    Soviet Union was up for the fight against Nazi Germany too. But eventually they also needed to be confronted.

    We share some enemies with people like Vox Day but the identity politics pushing part of the “alt-right” will also need to be confronted in the future, just not yet, because we are in a target rich environment.

  • I deny that the Sith are wrong.

    So there is at least one thing Shlomo is actually right about 😆

  • bobby b

    Well, I consider myself a reactionary.”

    In the US today, aren’t the angry progressives the real reactionaries? After eight years of Obama, and the apparent ascension of Hilary, the Trump surprise has left them yearning for the ante.

    I suppose “reactionary” only has meaning when an anchor point is defined.

  • Alisa

    I suppose “reactionary” only has meaning when an anchor point is defined.

    Either that, or as a general leave-me-alone attitude and world view. In that sense, Progressives are never reactionary (and yes, there are plenty of Progressives on the “right” and among the “conservatives”).

  • Cristina

    […] (and yes, there are plenty of Progressives on the “right” and among the “conservatives”)

    All of them are progressist, as it happens. See the elitist Shlomo Maistre above. 🙂

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Here is a long, biographical account of Paul Gottfried, who is credited with coining the term alt-right. He appears at events such as the annual conference in Turkey organised by “paleo-libertarian” Hans-Herman Hoppe, who seems to like blending anarcho-capitalist theorising with rubbing shoulders with IQ/race “realist” types pushing a sort of genetic determinism (which seems at odds with the liberal notion of man as a being with free will, as Paul Marks of this parish would attest).

    The “alt right” infection seems to catch some odd people. For example, Sense of Life Objectivists, a group run by a New Zealand-based fellow called Lindsay Perigo, seems to have taken a turn for the dark side to some extent, going beyond legitimate worries about Islamism (which I share to the max) to encourage all manner of stuff, including indulging commentators who seem to have problems with Jews and women, among other things. Consider this item by Peter Cresswell, who is concerned about a platform that appears to have taken a very unpleasant turn. For example, I would be a millionaire if paid a few quid every time I read a criticism of Ayn Rand for the supposed sin of assuming Man was a “blank slate” and ignoring supposed innate qualities. She understood humans have a nature, but what the critics overlook is that she identified the crucial part of it: that thinking requires an effort, and is not automatic.

  • Alisa

    Just for some background, Tabletmag is focused on topics Jewish and of interest to Jews – so it is no wonder they chose to take a closer look at Gottfried. However, their agenda is clearly Progressive (as is Reform Judaism in general).

    That aside, Gottfried is indeed an odd fellow in an odd movement, during some very odd times.

  • PeterT

    but I’d rather shoot the rabid ones

    You and Heseltine eh? Is this what posh boys do for fun?

  • Watchman

    PeterT,

    Not sure about posh boys, but farmers always shoot the rabid ones. It is necessary to stop them savaging everyone else.

  • Is this what posh boys do for fun?

    Well yes, I must admit it is 😉

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Not sure about posh boys, but farmers always shoot the rabid ones.

    So did Atticus Finch, because Heck Tate thought Atticus was the better shot. 😀

  • Laird

    Well, this thread has taken a lot of entertaining detours and frolics, but no one here seems interested in discussing the Palmer essay which spawned it. Curious.

  • It is a good essay but not sure what more to say other than “beware the term alt-right” and “I agree this essay pretty much sets out who the threats are” 😉

  • Bod

    Well, in the spirit of getting back on-thread, I don’t disagree with *much* of Palmer’s essay except to the extent that I think that isolating and naming three specific groups is itself a bit misleading.

    In the earlier postings on this thread, I think we’re all in moderate agreement that the term “Alt Right” is rather an imprecise designation for the disparate group he sees as a threat, but I’d also argue that these groups aren’t “anti-libertarian”, they’re simply manifestations of people acting as people.

    I know CATO’s raison d’etre is to cultivate libertarian policies and promulgate classically liberal thought, but really, I don’t see a coherent, targetted “anti-libertarian” movement out there – let alone three of them.

    It’s just the polis being the polis, expressing shitty opinions and voting emotionally that encourage self-serving demogogues who – given the opportunity – deliver authoritarian solutions.

    When was the last time we read an interview where the subject said anything like

    “You know, the thing we just gotta avoid, is this ‘libertarian moment’ people keep hoping for. Libertarians are wicked people and need to be crushed like bugs.”

    You hear that when one set of authoritarians need another schismatic sect of authoritarians to become their Emmanuel Goldstein.

    The most damning critique of libertarians I’ve heard in a long time is the one from Yiannopoulis himself, saying that all libertarians were interested in hacking, bitcoin and weed.

    Feel the burn!

  • bobby b

    Personally, I think Palmer misreads the character of populism. (Of course, I think most people misread it, so I may simply be full of it.)

    The populace that is the natural body for populism is composed of the bulk of the people who mostly want to get along with their lives in peace and freedom. This is, in my mind, the natural pool from which libertarianism is drawn. Libertarianism is really boiled down to, live and let live, and this is the goal of most of the everyday, middle-of-the-bell-curve people.

    But this desire is opposed by another group of people – a smaller, but louder group – that wants to run things. This group spends a good deal of their time and energy trying to gain the power to run things.

    The populace looking to live and let live doesn’t expend a lot of energy trying to lead or organize or proselytize or influence – they just want to be left alone. But, the way things work, passivity means the smaller, louder group is always able to empower itself. When your entire goal is to not centralize or amass power, you tend to lose to those who want to amass power.

    So, out of frustration – NOT out of a desire to take over – the populace tends to hook up with individuals who can help them do what they cannot naturally do – i.e., impose their will (to not impose their will on others) on others. (Yes, I typed that the way I meant it – not a typo.) The libertarian-leaning population needs some strength and authority simply to resist the loudmouths’ efforts to take over.

    Libertarians are always at the mercy of those who oppose liberty. It’s easier to amass and exercise power when your philosophy likes the exercise of power than when your philosophy opposes it. So, the liberty-desiring populace, out of frustration that their desire to be left alone is always quashed and ignored, ends up allowing some strong figure to speak for it.

    Sadly, it’s human nature that strongmen almost never slip off quietly once they’ve accomplished something. They stick around, giving populism a bad name. But the driving force behind the original impulse of the populace was libertarian.

    Palmer makes it out as though the strongman is an integral part of populism, and thus the prime evil of populism. I think he’s wrong – it’s just a trap that would-be libertarians fall into.

  • bobby b

    (P.S. “Alt-R” now means “any non-progressive person whose name is not Boehner or Goldberg.”)

  • nweismuller

    Out of curiousity, Perry: why are the Sith not wrong? Not to say that the Jedi precisely cover themselves in glory in the movies either.

  • Paul Marks

    It is worth pointing out that if people inevitably vote as racial blocks (as the “White Nationalists” claim) then America is utterly doomed.

    Appealing to the “white vote” may work now – but even if a magic force field prevents any more hispanics entering the United States, the hispanics who are already in the United States are having children, and “white” Americans are not (not to keep up, let alone, expand their numbers), so America is going to become and more hispanic. If the “Racial Realists” are correct and people are BIOLOGICALLY DETERMINED or CULTURALLY DETERMINED. Then the situation is determined.

    Only if the Free Will (libertarian) view is correct, that individual human beings (of whatever “race” or “cultural ethnic group”) are capable of making moral choices (choosing to do other than we do) is there any hope at all.

    The biological or cultural determinist (or “compatiblist” position – that “squalid deception” leading to a “quagmire of evasion”) means there is no hope at all.

    Although, if the determinist (or “compatiblist”) view of humans is correct it would not matter than their is no hope – as humans would not be human beings (moral agents), they would just be flesh robots of no moral importance.

  • Laird

    Bob, I think you misunderstood Palmer’s point. I don’t think he ever claimed that there is “a coherent, targeted ‘anti-libertarian’ movement out there”. What he said was the three groups he identified (“scorpions in a bottle is an apt metaphor!) collectively squeeze out libertarian ideas. Sort of like a camera iris closing, as I envision it.

    Although there certainly are anti-libertarians out there. Bill O’Reilly is a populist blowhard who never passes up an opportunity to denigrate libertarians and libertarian philosophy.

  • lucklucky

    He forgot the establishment “globalism”, it is also anti-libertarian.

  • Erik

    Some good points, but also a lot of boilerplate and bunkum. It reminds me of a pacifist not only condemning both the Allies and Axis in WW2, but trying to lump the two together as though “pacifist” and “not pacifist” were the fundamental categories of the world, and differences between Allies and Axis only sought to drive both further into non-pacifism by mutual reinforcement.

    It appeals to the American Founding, but Spooner pointed out a big hole in this over a century ago:

    whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.

    The outgrowths of the Founding have only been worse since then. Which more-founding-like America would you return to? That of Spooner, 1869? Earlier, with slavery? Later, with Civil Rights Privileges Acts one after the other? Prohibition? The New Deal? Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus? The exceptions swallow the rule, and it is nonsense to speak of the animating ideals of the American Founding as though they were so very distinct from the illiberalism of the American Present.

    Palmer seemingly can’t distinguish between voluntary association and “collectivism”, or at least is grossly uncharitable. “I prefer the culture of Europe and I prefer to be around white people” – has he no better/worse remark he can dig up for a target? Why not let Jared Taylor be around those other white people who prefer to be around him, and Palmer can be around whoever Palmer wishes? If I were to be as uncharitable in turn, I could easily condemn Palmer’s totalitarianism/authoritarianism of wishing to dictate the association policies of the rest of the world. I take it this isn’t what he means, but he’s picked a spectacularly poor example to pick on.

    Then there’s this view:

    Social harmony and “live and let live” philosophies for such thinkers are just so much self-delusion; for them what is real is the struggle for dominance. Indeed, in a very deep sense, the flesh-and-blood individuated person does not even exist for such thinkers, for what truly exists are social forces or identities; indeed, the “individual” is nothing but the instantiation of forces or collective identities that are inherently antagonistic to each other.

    Palmer says “mirror” repeatedly about those he disagrees with. Let’s hold up a mirror to him:
    Indeed, in a very deep sense, the flesh-and-blood zoon politikon does not even exist for libertarian thinkers, for what truly exists are disembodied souls of no relation to one another; indeed, it is a sin for the “individual” to profess filial piety, brotherly love, or any affection beyond agreement with one’s co-blogger. Social ties and upbringing for such thinkers are just so much collectivist bias; for them what is real is the imagined choice of the selfless, nameless man in a state of ideal disengagement from the world.

    Such a man springs out of the void fully formed with no attachments or particularism about as often as a man instantiates a collective identity with no thought for himself, of course.

    Getting back to the pacifism metaphor, Palmer really seems to have a pacifist’s problem: I agree on his end of wanting to live in peace, but his means don’t seem up to the task when Nazi Metaphormany shows up. By all means shoot individual Nazi soldiers, he seems to say, but don’t band together into an army, armies have these horrible involuntary unlibertarian compulsive aspects like long terms of service and punishments for desertion.

    Several of the illiberalisms Palmer complains about are basically metaphorical armies, though. Which brings us back to:

    the intellectual leaders of these illiberal movements are generally not thoughtless people. They often understand libertarian ideas fairly well, and they reject them root and branch.

    But he’s missing a cause: those who observe that these libertarian ideas are not defending their interests and would rather have half a loaf from friendly authoritarian populists than the promise of a loaf from libertarians who seem unlikely to deliver. And Palmer’s essay then winds up arguing “we libertarians must promise a loaf louder and give arguments for why this is preferable to the half a loaf the populists are offering”, without considering credibility.

  • Laird

    I disagree with Erik’s dismissal of the “animating ideals of the American Founding”, although this isn’t the place for that debate. But his point about libertarians not being able to deliver on the promised loaf is a fair one. Still, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be actively arguing for our ideals, or attempting to nudge the populists into delivering three-fourths of a loaf.

    We are never going to live in a libertarian utopia, and as always politics is the art of the possible, but it’s important to recognize the dangers presented by the three broad movements Palmer identifies, and to acknowledge the fundamental illiberality of each. And then either fight back against all simultaneously or consciously ally ourselves with one of them in a “marriage of convenience”. Personally, I choose to throw in my lot with the populists; they seem most disposed to a return to something approaching classical liberal values and open to rational arguments toward that end. But YMMV.

  • Paul Marks

    If I had to point at the most libertarian of the Founding Fathers it would the little known G. Morris – and not because of his adultery (I do mean libertarian not libertine). It was Mr Morris who said, when challenged with defying majority will (the will of people) when it was unjust, said that if this made him favour of “aristocracy” (the charge made against him), then O.K. he was in favour of aristocracy – if that was the only way to oppose the majority when they were being unjust.

    Many of the Founding Fathers would have said the same thing – but only Mr Morris openly mocked the slave owners in the Constitutional Convention. The slave owners demanded representation on the basis of their slaves – even though the slaves could not vote. The slaves were their “property” said the slave owners – Mr Morris replied that he owned property to, houses and horses and silver and so on, could he have extra representation for his State (New York) on the basis of this property?

    If more people had had the courage to stand up to the Slave Owning Interest at the Convention (on such things as the fugitive slave provision – which turned Common Law on its head, by demanding that escaped people who were “held to labour”, it does not even have the guts to say “slaves”, must be returned by States they escape to) American history would have been better.

    I think Mr Palmer would have stood with Mr Morris.

    Of course the core of the argument of Mr Morris is the moral basis of libertarianism.

    For example saying “slavery is an inefficient economic system” would have sounded absurd in South Carolina (and so on) in 1860 – which had never been more prosperous.

    Slavery is WRONG – morally wrong. Naught to do with “economic inefficient” or “cultural evolution”. It as was just as wrong when Saint Patrick denounced it in 5th Century Ireland, as when the rifle sharpshooters came down from Ohio and Indiana and Wisconsin and Michigan and Penn – to fight in the Civil War in the 1860s, they were not fighting for economic efficiency or “cultural evolution”. And their letters and journals reveal it was NOT just for “national union” either. These riflemen sharpshooters (who volunteered for the special regiments) understood that a great MORAL issue was at stake – and they made a choice to fight for it.

    Each baby is born WITHOUT culture – without even language (although we do have a capacity for language).

    Education, both formal and informal (from parents, schools, media and so on), gives us our culture. But each generation starts, as babies, without culture – which is why a single generation can destroy the work of thousands of years.

    And it why talking of “cultural evolution” is very misleading – as it implies there is an entity called “culture” that exists independently of human beings. We have the capacity to make choices to change (to REJECT) what we are taught – but that takes real effort. Which is why education (both formal and informal) of each generation is so important – a single break (a single generation) and the whole line of civilisation can be broken. And it is why the activity of the left in undermining traditional sources of cultural education, such as the family, is so devilish.

    It is incredibly difficult for the human mind to reason out everything from first principles (from scratch) – it can be done, but it is incredibly difficult. It is vastly better for us to have a, basically, good culture to use as our foundation and then to gradually improve some things (starting from where we are). By undermining culture (social institutions and customs – such as the family) the left push degeneracy (see the number of deaths from drug abuse in the modern United States – the criminal law can NOT replace the undermined culture).

    The left do this (undermine traditional culture – the family and so on) quite deliberately (they choose to do it) – they want massive degeneracy, vast numbers of people dying of drug abuse and so on, so they can say “capitalist society has failed” and push their “alternative”. First “capitalism” must be destroyed then a wonderful new society can rise from the ashes – a society based upon collectivism (upon force and fear).

    First they destroy traditional society – then they say it does not work.

    As the old Russian saying has it…… “First they smash your face in – then they say you were always ugly”.