Quotulatiousness

March 20, 2017

Towards a taxonomy of the tribes of the Alt-Right

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

A guest post at Catallaxy Files tries to identify the various sub-groups of the larger Alt-Right movement:

The Alt-Right may be described as the group of people who have been cast out of polite, progressive society. It is not a particularly intellectual movement, but this is a characteristic of the mechanism of its formation: Intellectuals as a group largely have the capacity and inclination to avoid being kicked out of polite society. This is not to suggest that the typical member of the Alt-Right is brutish; far from it. One of the characteristics of the progressive movement is its tendency to attack the people for their privilege: the people who choose to become Alt-Right are both able and independently minded. These are people who get things done.

[…]

Who are they and what do they believe? Again, there isn’t exactly a formal list. Moreover, many loudly deny being part of the Alt-Right, while quietly indicating that they are somewhat aligned. There are some identifiable groupings. Among them there are degrees of acceptance of the truths that are colloquially called ‘red pills’ (as per the Matrix). To this end, Vox Day, one of the more intellectually capable individuals who is openly part of the Alt-Right, set out 16 points on which there is general agreement. A new person in the movement – either intellectually curious or recently cast out – may only agree with 3 or 4 of these points. These people are considered ‘Alt-Lite’. Anyone who agrees with the vast bulk of these points is ‘Alt-Right’. Those on the spectrum from White Nationalism to White Supremacy are a subgroup referred to as the ‘Alt-White’; those with a broader view that has scope for all nationalities and peoples as the ‘Alt-West’. Finally, there are a group of generally aligned intellectual strands which are referred to collectively as the Dark Enlightenment.

The Alt-White holds an interesting position within the Alt-Right. From one perspective, they have been cast out the longest, and were also the originators of the term ‘Alt-Right’, which lends them a touch of primacy. At the same time, they are inclined to a degree of overextension and the their intellectual output is targeted at a broader but less educated base than some other groups. There is a degree of tension, especially where white nationalism gives way to white supremacy. […]

The Alt-West seems to be where a lot of those who were cast out from a more liberal or libertarian position seem to end up. These people may have come to the Alt-Right out of Gamergate, out of the computing/technology industry, out of science fiction community, or a number of other incidents. […] Gamergate is a story in itself, starting with a personal feud on a gaming site and morphing into an acrimonious ideological confrontation between an “alt-right” group and the feral left.

The Alt-Lite is really about getting your toes wet. Its transitional. As such it described people in process more than a set community. That said, places like this expose people to a metered dose of this red-pill.

There is another faction that is roughly ‘men’s groups’, men trying to navigate a world that is hostile to them and to family formation. There is some deep stuff in there if you are looking into social interaction, but it’s largely not suitable for ‘polite company’. A number of the men who started that grouping have broadened out from that starting base. See this site or this one for something less given in to the hedonism and base tendencies of the age.

March 8, 2017

QotD: Canadian attitudes to America

Filed under: Cancon, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Canadians’ views on American politics are generally fairly predictable. Being Canadian means a degree of smugness blended with a drop or two of envy and a fairly constant need to assert moral superiority. In a very polite, but persistent way.

The candidacy, nomination and election of Donald Trump gave the better class of Canadian plenty of opportunity to show each other just how intelligent and enlighted they were. The Coynes and Kinsellas competed with each other in the political snobbery sweepstakes. Trump was Hitler, the Republicans the Nazi Party, Steve Bannon was a badly dressed Göring or, more likely, Satan himself. Breitbart News was Der Stürmer, the alt-right was universally the SS, the Trump regime overnight transformed America – save for the brave “Resistance” – into an anti-semitic, racist, fascist, misogynistic state in which freedom of the press and human rights in general were crushed under the jackbooted heels of Trump’s evil to a man (and pretend woman) Cabinet.

It has been tons of fun to watch ostensibly rational, intelligent, people reach immediately for the white supremacist smear tool kit in the face of the unthinkable occurring in our neighbour to the South. The fact that, one month into the Trump Presidency, the worst he seems to have done is be rude to CNN and the New York Times doesn’t deter our good and decent Canadians one bit. They just know that Trump is an evilton and, at any moment, will open the concentration camps and start rounding up Mexicans, Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Women, Queers, NYT reporters and anyone else the human Cheeto and his henchmen find objectionable.

And, to make the entire thing even more ominous, there seems to be a belief that Trump was put into position by none other than Prince of Darkness, Vladimir Putin and that Trump is simply following orders. Or something.

Jay Currie, “Trump and the Canadians”, Jay Currie, 2017-02-25.

December 10, 2016

ESR spelunks the alt-right

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

ESR has been busy with absorbing technical projects, so he’s not blogging as frequently as he used to. Here’s his take on the alt-right phenomenon:

First, while I’m not entirely sure of everything the alt-right is (it’s a rather amorphous phenomenon) it is not the KKK and neo-Nazis. The most that can truthfully be said is that ‘alt-right’ serves as a recent flag of convenience to which some old-fashioned white supremacists are busily trying to attach themselves.

Also, the alt-right is not Donald Trump and his Trumpkins, either. He’s an equally old-fashioned populist continuous with William Jennings Bryan and Huey Long. If you tossed a bunch of alt-right memes at him, I doubt he’d even understand them, let alone agree.

The defining characteristic of the alt-right is, really, corrosive snarkiness. To the extent an origin can be identified, it was as as a series of message-board pranks on 4chan. There’s no actual ideological core to it – it’s a kind of oppositional attitude-copping without a program, mordantly nasty but unserious.

There’s also some weird occultism attached – the half-serious cult of KEK, aka Pepe, who may or may not be an ancient Egyptian frog-god who speaks to his followers via numerological coincidences. (Donald Trump really wouldn’t get that part.)

Some elements of the alt-right are in fact racist (and misogynist, and homophobic, and other bad words) a la KKK/Nazi, but that’s not a defining characteristic and it’s anyway difficult to tell the genuine haters from those for whom posing as haters is a form of what 4chan types call “griefing”. That’s social disruption for the hell of it.

It is worth noting that another part of what is going on here is a visceral rejection of politically-correct leftism, one which deliberately inverts its premises. The griefers pose as racists and misogynists because they think it’s the most oppositional stance they can take to bullies and rage-mobbers who position themselves as anti-racists and feminists.

My sense is that the true haters are a tiny minority compared to the griefers and anti-PC rejectionists, but the griefers are entertained by others’ confusion on this score and don’t intend to clear it up.

As has been pointed out many times, the habit of all too many on the left to describe anyone to the the right of them politically as being racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, etc., has reduced the effectiveness and even encouraged otherwise sensible people to start describing themselves in those terms. In the same way that the epithet “fascist” no longer has any meaning beyond “something or someone I don’t like”, these other terms have also lost much of their power through massive over-use.

December 9, 2016

Global anti-libertarianism

Filed under: Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Tom G. Palmer on the rising tide of anti-libertarian parties, organizations, and groups around the world:

A spectre is haunting the world: the spectre of radical anti-libertarian movements, each grappling with the others like scorpions in a bottle and all competing to see which can dismantle the institutions of liberty the fastest. Some are ensconced in the universities and other elite centers, and some draw their strength from populist anger. The leftist and the rightist versions of the common anti-libertarian cause are, moreover, interconnected, with each fueling the other. All explicitly reject individual liberty, the rule of law, limited government, and freedom of exchange, and they promote instead radical, albeit aggressively opposed, forms of identity politics and authoritarianism. They are dangerous and should not be underestimated.

In various guises, such movements are challenging libertarian values and principles across the globe, especially in Europe, in America, and in parts of Asia, but their influence is felt everywhere. They share a radical rejection of the ideas of reason, liberty, and the rule of law that animated the American Founding and are, indeed, the foundations of modernity. Those who prefer constitutionalism to dictatorship, free markets to cronyist or socialist statism, free trade to autarchy, toleration to oppression, and social harmony to irreconcilable antagonism need to wake up, because our cause and the prosperity and peace it engenders are in grave danger.

THREE THREATS

At least three symbiotic threats to liberty can be seen on the horizon: a) identity politics and the zero-sum political economy of conflict and aggression they engender; b) populism and the yearning for strongman rule that invariably accompanies it; and c) radical political Islamism. They share certain common intellectual fountainheads and form an interlocking network, energizing each other at the expense of the classical liberal consensus.

Although all those movements are shot through with fallacies, especially economic fallacies, they are not driven merely by lack of understanding of economic principles, as so many statist interventions are. While most support for the minimum wage, trade restrictions, or prohibition of narcotics rests on factual misapprehensions of their consequences, 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. They believe that the ideas of equality before the law, of rule-based legal and political systems, of toleration and freedom of thought and speech, of voluntary trade — especially among strangers — for mutual benefit, and of imprescriptible and equal individual rights are phony, self-interested camouflage for exploitation promoted by evil elites, and that those who uphold them are either evil themselves or hopelessly naïve.

H/T to Johnathan Pearce for the link.

November 30, 2016

Swept along in the wake of Trump’s election victory

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Kathy Shaidle didn’t make any friends among the alt-Right with her most recent column:

Weeks later, Trump’s triumph still seems slightly unreal; I permitted myself to purchase Time magazine’s special commemorative issue — can you imagine how much it pained them to put that out? — to serve as cerebral smelling salts and snap me out of those sporadic “Holy shit, he’s the president!” flashes.

But that lapse aside, I put not my trust in princes.

Of course, not everyone shares my horror of personality cults, or the man never would have won. Twitter’s upstart counterpart Gab, for example, is overrun by Trump cheerleaders, for whom fun memes like that “Deplorables” Photoshop or “Donald Crossing the Delaware” aren’t just a split second’s amusement, but the bunting of a burgeoning civic religion.

[…]

Whatever the benefits of a Republican presidency, one of the unavoidable side effects is an emboldening of our side’s flakier elements, who weave two most unsavory obsessions — the occult and “pedophile rings” — into singularly elaborate and ultimately groundless conspiracy theories.

Sure enough, right on cue: Type “Pizzagate” into YouTube’s search engine and soak in the overblown paranoid hysteria.

These kooks and simpletons were harmlessly wrong about Harry Potter turning your kids into witches, and tragically mistaken about the “Satanic panic.” At the very least, they’re a colossal embarrassment, but they also undermine serious business undertaken by serious people.

A big difference this time around is that the president himself won’t be immune to the lure of such twisted, empty-calorie distractions. Trump used to be Birther-in-Chief, remember? And he’s on Twitter.

November 10, 2016

Tracking the rise of Il Donalduce

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

I was curious enough to go back to when I created a “DonaldTrump” tag for posts here on the blog and see how much has changed since he entered the race:

  • The tag was created on June 18 of last year when I posted a link to P.J. O’Rourke’s notion that Trump was the perfectly “representative” candidate.
  • In August (two months with no Trump sightings? Those were the days…), I linked to Walter Russell Mead taking a swing at defining what it is that Trump offered to the disaffected plurality (majority?) of would-be Republican voters. A few days later, Megan McArdle found herself coming back to the phrase “bag o’ crazy” when she tried to make sense of Donald Trump’s immigration proposals.
  • In September, I linked to Grant McCracken’s explanation for why revelations of faults and gaffes didn’t cost Trump much of his support, while Ace speculated that the Trump kryptonite might be “middle class respectability”.
  • In December, Megan McArdle wrote a piece that an unkind soul might call to her attention now, including the immortal line “I rank the odds of a Trump presidency somewhere below the odds of my winning the lottery”. We also looked at the impact of “The Donald” on “The Overton Window”, and Megan McArdle got uncharacteristically conspiracy theoristic.
  • In January, Scott Adams began earning more attention (and much more vilification) for his “master persuader” posts on the Trump insurgency, and Tucker Carlson explained why the conservative establishment so badly misjudged the folks who vociferously supported The Donald. Colby Cosh also gave props to Adams and discussed the odd state of the state of Iowa in US presidential elections.
  • In March, economist Don Boudreaux speculated on the possible good outcome of a Trump electoral victory, and Colby Cosh wrote “Dear America: We need to talk about Donald“. Scott Adams speculated about Trump’s possible rhetorical tactics against Hillary Clinton in the general election. I also finally settled on the appropriate nickname to use for Il Donalduce, having briefly tried “Mussotrumpi” and “The Donald”.
  • In April, Scott Adams wrote on some of Il Donalduce’s recent political mistakes.
  • In May, Adams discussed Clinton’s use of the literal “Woman Card”, and Megan McArdle bewailed the pointlessness of trying to analyze any given Trump policy. Warren Meyer pointed out that Clinton and Trump are equally bad in terms of crony capitalism. Jim Geraghty imagined that Trump was probably thinking “how hard can it be?” to run a government. Tim Worstall pointed out that, despite incoherency on other policies, Trump was correct on solving California’s water crisis.
  • In June, Megan McArdle refuted the “Trump is a scary autocrat” scenario, Camille Paglia compared and contrasted the Clinton and Trump campaigns, and Scott Adams decides to endorse Clinton for his personal safety. Simon Penner explains why President Trump could not do all the things his hysterical opponents claim he would.
  • In July, Shikha Dalmia criticized the “return to mercantilism” aspects of Trump’s trade policies and Scott Adams considered the possibility of Obama declaring martial law to prevent President-elect Trump from taking office. Jonathan Freedland looked at the alienated GOP establishment and the #NeverTrump-ers.
  • At what appeared to be a low point in Trump’s fortunes in August, David Zincavage wondered what Trump would be doing differently if he was actually aiming to lose. After what many pundits considered a potentially geopolitical destabilizing statement on NATO, Tom Kratman concludes that Trump wouldn’t actually abandon the alliance. Regardless of the election’s outcome, Scott Adams thought he’d identified a silver lining to the 2016 presidential race.
  • In September, Jay Currie suggested a three-part plan to bring about a Trump victory, and Tamara Keel outlined the impossible choice facing American voters in November.
  • October saw Megan McArdle addressing the social media outrage at revelations from Il Donalduce‘s partial tax returns leaked to the media. Also in October, an unusually fair article appeared in the Guardian on who Trump’s supporters really were, and Jay Currie looked at the state of US election polling (which we now know from the differences between predictions and actual results is dire).
  • In early November, Ken Stern peered into the murky depths of the right-wing media bubble (and the matching one on the left), then the totally unexpected landslide occurred, and I blamed it on the media (usually a safe accusation to make).

October 16, 2016

Trump supporters aren’t who you think they are

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

An interesting article in, of all places, the Guardian discusses where Trump support comes from and why the media has difficulty identifying or covering them in a realistic fashion:

Hard numbers complicate, if not roundly dismiss, the oft-regurgitated theory that income or education levels predict Trump support, or that working-class whites support him disproportionately. Last month, results of 87,000 interviews conducted by Gallup showed that those who liked Trump were under no more economic distress or immigration-related anxiety than those who opposed him.

According to the study, his supporters didn’t have lower incomes or higher unemployment levels than other Americans. Income data misses a lot; those with healthy earnings might also have negative wealth or downward mobility. But respondents overall weren’t clinging to jobs perceived to be endangered. “Surprisingly”, a Gallup researcher wrote, “there appears to be no link whatsoever between exposure to trade competition and support for nationalist policies in America, as embodied by the Trump campaign.”

Earlier this year, primary exit polls revealed that Trump voters were, in fact, more affluent than most Americans, with a median household income of $72,000 – higher than that of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders supporters. Forty-four percent of them had college degrees, well above the national average of 33% among whites or 29% overall. In January, political scientist Matthew MacWilliams reported findings that a penchant for authoritarianism – not income, education, gender, age or race –predicted Trump support.

These facts haven’t stopped pundits and journalists from pushing story after story about the white working class’s giddy embrace of a bloviating demagogue.

In seeking to explain Trump’s appeal, proportionate media coverage would require more stories about the racism and misogyny among white Trump supporters in tony suburbs. Or, if we’re examining economically driven bitterness among the working class, stories about the Democratic lawmakers who in recent decades ended welfare as we knew it, hopped in the sack with Wall Street and forgot American labor in their global trade agreements.

But, for national media outlets comprised largely of middle- and upper-class liberals, that would mean looking their own class in the face.

The faces journalists do train the cameras on – hateful ones screaming sexist vitriol next to Confederate flags – must receive coverage but do not speak for the communities I know well. That the media industry ignored my home for so long left a vacuum of understanding in which the first glimpse of an economically downtrodden white is presumed to represent the whole.

H/T to John Donovan who comments “I’m pretty sure I don’t share this Kansan’s policy preferences, but I find her view here refreshing.”

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