(For a long spell, since turning my politics rightward about a decade ago, I have been a bit perplexed by my aversion to some elements of traditional conservatism.
(This column clears it up for me. It was written by two young men, Milo Yiannopoulos, the self-described “dangerous faggot,” and Allum Bokhari, a Breitbart correspondent who lives in London. Yiannopoulos is also British-born.
(You may have heard of the Alt-Right, the alternative right. There are two versions of the Alt-Right, the extreme and the moderate. The latter makes sense to me. The former does not. Fortunately, the moderate wing is far more populated.
(I am pleased to come out as a “natural conservative” and, it appears, a moderate Alt-Righter.)
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NATURAL CONSERVATIVES are mostly white, mostly male, middle-American radicals, who are unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic.
In their politics, these new conservatives are only following their natural instincts — the same instincts that motivate conservatives across the globe.
Noted social psychologist Jonathan Haidt described the conservative instinct in his 2012 book The Righteous Mind.
The conservative instinct, as described by Haidt, includes a preference for homogeneity over diversity, for stability over change, and for hierarchy and order over radical egalitarianism.
Their instinctive wariness of the foreign and the unfamiliar is an instinct that we all share – an evolutionary safeguard against excessive, potentially perilous curiosity – but natural conservatives feel it with more intensity.
They instinctively prefer familiar societies, familiar norms, and familiar institutions.
An establishment Republican, with their overriding belief in the glory of the free market, might be moved to tear down a cathedral and replace it with a strip mall if it made economic sense. Such an act would horrify a natural conservative.
Immigration policy follows a similar pattern: by the numbers, cheap foreign workers on H1B visas make perfect economic sense. But natural conservatives have other concerns: chiefly, the preservation of their own tribe and its culture.
For natural conservatives, culture, not economic efficiency, is the paramount value. More specifically, they value the greatest cultural expressions of their tribe.
Their perfect society does not necessarily produce a soaring GDP, but it does produce symphonies, basilicas and Old Masters. The natural conservative tendency within the Alt-Right points to these apotheoses of western European culture and declares them valuable and worth preserving and protecting.
Needless to say, natural conservatives’ concern with the flourishing of their own culture comes up against an intractable nemesis in the regressive left, which is currently intent on tearing down statues of Cecil Rhodes and Queen Victoria in the UK, and erasing the name of Woodrow Wilson from Princeton in the United States.
These attempts to scrub Western history of its great figures are particularly galling to the Alt-Right, who in addition to the preservation of Western culture, care deeply about heroes and heroic virtues.
This follows decades in which left-wingers on campus sought to remove the study of “dead white males” from the focus of Western history and literature curricula.
An establishment conservative might be mildly irked by such behavior as they switch between the State of the Union and the business channels, but to a natural conservative, such cultural vandalism may just be their highest priority.
In fairness, many establishment conservatives aren’t keen on this stuff either — but the Alt-Right would argue that they’re too afraid of being called “racist” to seriously fight against it. Which is why they haven’t.
Certainly, the rise of Donald Trump, perhaps the first truly cultural candidate for president since Buchanan, suggests grassroots appetite for more robust protection of the Western European and American way of life.
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The rise of Donald Trump suggests grassroots appetite for more robust protection of the Western European and American way of life.
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Alt-Righters describe establishment conservatives who care more about the free market than preserving Western culture, and who are happy to endanger the latter with mass immigration where it serves the purposes of big business, as “cuckservatives.”
Halting, or drastically slowing, immigration is a major priority for the Alt-Right. While eschewing bigotry on a personal level, the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration.
The Alt-Right do not hold a Utopian view of the human condition: just as they are inclined to prioritize the interests of their tribe, they recognize that other groups – Mexicans, African-Americans or Muslims – do the same.
As communities become comprised of different peoples, the culture and politics of those communities become an expression of their constituent peoples.
You’ll often encounter doomsday rhetoric in Alt-Right online communities: that’s because many instinctively feel that once large enough and ethnically distinct enough groups are brought together, they will inevitably come to blows.
In short, they doubt that full “integration” is ever possible. If it is, it won’t be successful in the “Kumbaya” sense. Border walls are a much safer option.
The Alt-Right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race.
The Alt-Right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.
A Mosque next to an English street full of houses bearing the flag of St. George, according to Alt-Righters, is neither an English street nor a Muslim street — separation is necessary for distinctiveness.
Some Alt-Righters make a more subtle argument.
They say that when different groups are brought together, the common culture starts to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Instead of mosques or English houses, you get atheism and stucco.
Ironically, it’s a position that has much in common with leftist opposition to so-called “cultural appropriation,” a similarity openly acknowledged by the Alt-Right.
It’s arguable that natural conservatives haven’t had real political representation for decades.
Since the 1980s, establishment Republicans have obsessed over economics and foreign policy, fiercely defending the Reagan-Thatcher economic consensus at home and neoconservative interventionism abroad.
In matters of culture and morality, the issues that natural conservatives really care about, all territory has been ceded to the Left, which now controls the academy, the entertainment industry and the press.
For those who believe in the late Andrew Breitbart’s dictum that politics is downstream from culture, the number of writers, political candidates and media personalities who actually believe that culture is the most important battleground can be dispiriting.
Natural liberals, who instinctively enjoy diversity and are happy with radical social change – so long as it’s in an egalitarian direction – are now represented by both sides of the political establishment.
Natural conservatives, meanwhile, have been slowly abandoned by Republicans — and other conservative parties in other countries. Having lost faith in their former representatives, they now turn to new ones — Donald Trump and the alternative right.
There are principled objections to the tribal concerns of the Alt-Right, but Establishment conservatives have tended not to express them, instead turning nasty in the course of their panicked backlash.
National Review writer Kevin Williamson, in a recent article attacking the sort of voters who back Trump, said that white working-class communities “deserve to die.”
Although the Alt-Right consists mostly of college-educated men, it sympathizes with the white working classes and, based on our interviews, feels a sense of noblesse oblige. National Review has been just as directly unpleasant about the Alt-Right as it has, on occasion, been about white Americans in general.
In response to concerns from white voters that they’re going to go extinct, the response of the Establishment — the conservative Establishment — has been to openly welcome that extinction.
It’s true that Donald Trump would not be possible without the oppressive hectoring of the progressive Left, but the entire media is to blame for the environment in which this new movement has emerged.
For decades, the concerns of those who cherish Western culture have been openly ridiculed and dismissed as racist.
The Alt-Right is the inevitable result.
No matter how silly, irrational, tribal or even hateful the Establishment may think the Alt-Right’s concerns are, they can’t be ignored, because they aren’t going anywhere.
As Haidt reminds us, their politics is a reflection of their natural inclinations.
In other words, the Left can’t language-police and name-call them away, which have for the last twenty years been the only progressive responses to dissent, and the Right can’t snobbishly dissociate itself from them and hope they go away either.