The alt-right is all the rage at the moment. We know this because for years the movement has spread almost entirely on the internet and now even a hopeless luddite like Hillary Clinton has given a speech condemning it. The left jealously suspects this movement of having helped Donald Trump win a four year stay at the White House. In the weeks after Trump’s election, the news media has been frantically searching for a leader to step forth and proclaim his authority over the alt-right because, of course, they want a hapless head to feed their guillotine. In truth, they need someone’s head to roll to salvage some of their soiled reputation. Much to the media’s dismay, no one of importance has stepped out of the shadows. They found Richard Spencer, of course, only to realize that they had found a very soft-spoken Fuhrer with not too many followers. It seems as if their beheading was severely mis-scheduled. They sought a leader while the movement was still a vague sentiment, more of a disgruntled scowl rather than a starkly defined philosophy with an “Il Duce” in polished boots to spur it forward. If the media had waited a year, it might have found a worthy neck to sever. As it stands, they will have to settle for Richard Spencer.
And without a strongman to guide the movement, it has become quite a challenge to pinpoint what the alt-right actually believes. To the left, it represents a resurgence of strong-jawed, black-capped fascism, because to the left any political position to the right of Lenin is fascism by default. And much to the left’s chagrin, accusations of fascism no longer scare off the meek and mild right-wingers like some dreaded bugaboo in the night. The left’s trusty totem has fallen into the fire. The alt-right is fine with fascism. The word will not leave them quivering with fear. And those alt-righters who are not fine with fascism are sensible enough not to let the left’s accusations of fascism rattle them. In this respect, the alt-right has become the first genuine threat to the left in half a century, mainly because it is the first right wing group to remain on the field of battle once the spears and arrows start to fly.
When we examine the alt-right from within the right, most of us look at the movement with fondness and quiet expectation; much like a sapling that will someday grow into a tall and stately oak. Or maybe it will grow up to be a yew. Or maybe a beech tree. Or a fir. In truth, no one knows what species of tree the alt-right is, we know only that it is a tree and that we all like it. But is it a tree? What if it were more like swamp gas or a shooting star that blazes brightest before sputtering out? We will return to the alt-right later in this piece.
Now let us examine the beloved tenants of our own credo, the Neo-reactionary creed. Our particular brand of reactionary politics was born from the scribblings of a man who wrote under the name Mencius Moldbug. His philosophy claimed some allegiance to the High Tory tradition of British politics, which was a worldview that emphasized monarchial sovereignty and scorn for the many tentacled monster of democracy. Men such as Carlyle, Johnson, and Burke were Moldbug’s intellectual forefathers. A strong monarch like Frederick II of Prussia or an autocrat like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew are the ideal statesmen of a reactionary state.
To the reactionary, democracy is like a clanging drum beat by a mob of baboons. This view once marked the reactionary as a grumbler and a sourpuss but sensible people these days uniformly find, much to their surprise, they themselves are becoming a bunch of grumblers and sourpusses. Each year that number grows steadily larger. Politics in a democratic state is all bluster and bumble, dithering and fluster, with generous helpings of blather; and for all this sound and fury absolutely nothing is signified. The reactionary has no patience for this charade.
The state, as envisioned by a reactionary, is one wherein politics has been mercifully expunged. It requires some measure of insight to recognize that politics is an elaborate way for politicians to flap their gums and do nothing. It is a profession for wastrels and deadbeats. Politics, then, is one of the foremost symptoms of a diseased state. Once Hannibal and his army have crossed the Alps, once his men are feasting on Roman grain and cracking open caskets of Tuscan wine, what pearly words will drive out that army? Cicero himself could deliver a sweeping oration that would ultimately contribute not one bit to sweeping Hannibal back over the Alps. Action is what is necessary. A healthy state demands action because action is efficiency.
If we were to examine the bureaucratic machinery that exists in every national capital of the world to keep politicians flapping their gums and twiddling their thumbs, citizens everywhere would long for the rule of a Frederick or an Augustus. They would yearn for a man who will cut through the red tape. This is not to imply that all political debate and discussion should be suppressed — words are required so that a government can be sure to select the right course of action. Ministers should be consulted, generals must be given their say, and the people, too, must be given a just cause. But once a course is chosen, the deed must be done, and that is the hardest part for the politician. The only thing a politician does promptly are the things that benefit his own pocketbook.
Now let us return to the alt-right and analyze it alongside the neo-reactionary movement. On many philosophical points, the two movements agree with one another. Or it might be more accurate to say, that the two movements overlap, each being a subspecies of a broader right-wing genus.
Firstly, on many racial issues, the two movements agree nearly point for point. The alt-right forms its views from a visceral dissatisfaction with multiculturalism while reaction forms its views from the standpoint of tradition, but both agree — the West is for whites. We agree that the West was founded for white people, by white people, of white people so that European values may not perish from this earth. Flooding the West with outsiders who have little cultural or racial loyalty to our own native people only multiplies our problems.
In the United States, we have always had some measure of racial diversity. A few blacks here and there, fossils from our slaving past, hardly made much of a difference in the governing of our nation for 150 years. There was not much need to worry about them. Even if we examine the bleakest chapter in the history of the Union, the American civil war, we find after close scrutiny that it was not fought by blacks against whites but mostly by whites against whites, over an issue concerned not so much with slavery but self-determination. And it must be noted that until the 1960s, the United States carried on with business as usual without black-based identity politics tearing it apart. It is doubtful that Hamilton or Jefferson would object to having a black minority, provided that the minority never became the majority and provided that we shut off all immigration from African nations. The powdered wigs of our founding fathers would have popped straight off of their heads, however, if they had known how many mestizos, Muslims, and murderers we permit into our country today. To restate the obvious, flooding the West with outsiders who have little cultural or racial loyalty to our own native people only multiplies our problems. And on this point both the alt-right and reaction agree. We agree that it is time to end the slow, dwindling pulse of our people by waking them up with a dash of cold water to their faces.
Another point on which we agree, and it is closely related to the first point, is on the issue of globalism. Not all nations gathered around the watering hole of life are on friendly terms with us. As we sip we have to peer over our shoulders for the jackals and leopards that are eyeing us hungrily from the bushes. The moment we appear too soft, or a little too careless, they will pounce. Islamic nations in particular would love to see the West hoisting crescent banners and stoning infidels.
We must accept that people are, by nature, tribal creatures. Their first loyalty will be to their families and their tribe because only in the muddleheaded West have we forgotten this truth and only here have we actively tried to uproot our tribal loyalties for some kind of amorphous, unfeeling internationalism. If my neighbor and I have no standing disputes about the property boundary between us, we can probably grow to respect each other. At the very least, we could tolerate each other’s presence. I cannot respect an imam in the dusty mountains of Persia nor would I expect him to have much respect for me. We have never shook hands, never talked about the weather, never broke bread together, and our most fundamental convictions are about as compatible as dynamite and fire. Globalism does not work. It runs too strongly against the grain of human psychology.
Nationalism, on the other hand, is much more effective at working with man’s innermost nature. We are not speaking of nationalism as a political dictate, or as a rabble-rouser’s bullet point in a speech, but nationalism as it is felt intuitively in a people’s soul. It is the modern world’s method of reconstructing the tribe, and in this way, it provides a sense of belonging and security to its members. It provides a higher ideal for the feckless, a social safety net for the elderly, a protector class for the weak, a body of law for the innocent, and most importantly, a reason for being in every man’s heart.
In this sense, nationalism is quietly playing dress up in the white and gold robes of religion — and we need not fear this fact. To the everyday man and woman, to the man laying pipes for a living and a woman working in retail, God is very far away, and definitive claims about God are even farther still; but their families, their neighborhood, their nation — these are all very near at hand for these people. It may be wise for us to leave the far away things to God, and the near at hand things to the nation. Whether it be among the tribes of Israel or the pagan clans of Iceland, religion has always melded with the local culture to forge an enduring identity. The throne and the altar live hand in hand.
Both the alt-right and reactionary movements respect the supreme sovereignty of the nation-state. It exists to ensure that the roots of law, life, and tradition remain well watered so that all the buds of civilization may sprout. British and Roman law sustained thousands of square miles in commendable stability. Medici largess gave rise to Renaissance art. The nation-state is not perfect, but it does provide. What has globalism done except to facilitate internal rot and decay and decadent sterility?
Now that I have outlined the similarities between the alt-right and reaction, it is important to highlight some of the very critical differences. In general, just as we found two points of agreement between the two movements, there are likewise two notable points of divergence.
The first difference is not so much a point of departure between the two views, but rather a heavy cloud of confusion that seems to linger over both. The alt-right and reaction are equally undecided on their economic views. Neither has a spirited economic paradigm that drives its political movement. Both movements seem to have a vague hostility to capitalism, but the alt-right has elements that are unafraid to refer to themselves as socialists, whereas reaction vehemently resists any temptation of outright socialism. Reactionaries against capitalism will support some form of Catholic distributism but you would be hard pressed to find one with much sympathy for socialism.
The primary difference is the age-old division between tradition and progressivism. Many in the alt-right, specifically among the white nationalist movement are progressives who traded their red caps for black ones. They do not seem to want men to be the masters of their own soul. They want a state that has a band-aid for every injury and a fair policy for every ill. It is a utopian vision where all whites will be provided for and protected by the big mother state. This is not the way of a Neo-reactionary. Reaction longs for a powerful, vigorous state, but its idea of a strong state is not a hug and an open hand, but rather the even hand of justice; the reactionary does not want a nanny, he wants a patriarch.
To explain this more fully, if we examine the family in detail, we see that the patriarch is the stabilizing force of a family; he is not the nurturer. His symbol is the scale, the thing that dispassionately weighs truth in its balance. Reaction understands that the state’s role is not to provide bread and butter but law and order. Much like the father who pushes his children to chop their own wood and mow their own lawns, and who ultimately has his children’s best interest at heart, so too does the reactionary state want to maintain the kind of stability that allows people to thrive naturally on their own. Charity, goodwill, and fairness are for mothers and starry-eyed socialists. The patriarch understands that societies are built by justice, property, and vigorous self-sufficiency.
It is telling that Moldbug was himself a disenchanted libertarian. In his writings, we see a man who has unapologetically come to reject the merry hand-holding, all-people-are-invariably-rational brand of mishmash from his youth. He had read far too much Carlyle for that. He had come to see politics as a cosmic dance between the traditional and the progressive, where the names and personalities change, but the philosophies remain, at their core, unchanged. He agreed with Dr. Johnson’s assertion that the devil was the first Whig. Progressivism is man’s primordial cancer. To this end, a state that cannot preserve its traditions, a state that cannot perpetually rekindle a belief in itself, is a state destined for the dustbin. The spirits of Babylon and Byzantium can tell you of the dangers of doubting oneself.
Although Moldbug rejects the means of libertarianism, that is to say he rejects firmly the notion that men would be better off without the state, we find that he still embraces its overall ideals. He wants a patriarchal government but he wants it to ensure the grand old notions of private property, free enterprise, and self-sufficiency. Moldbug said it best when he said in his Open Letter to Ron Paul, “I agree that limited government is desirable. I see no reason at all to believe that it is implementable.”
With this in mind, the reactionary can have no sympathetic feelings for socialism, not even the form of national socialism that is very much in vogue at the moment. Socialism wants to bore a hole into every facet of a man’s soul; it is a philosophy that allows for no free will and desperately seeks to stamp out its flame wherever it burns. It is progressivist utopianism that has oozed out of its petri dish into the vulnerable economy of the nation. With socialism, a man can hardly tie his shoelaces without some commission or committee lazily deliberating the issue. Nothing could be more inefficient. Socialism invariably makes for one very overbearing government, and unfortunately, too many people mistake this overbearing nanny state for a strong, vigorous one. The truly powerful state is one that rarely has to act at all, but when it must act, it is able to do so swiftly, effectively, and decisively. To this end, the reactionary must scorn any faction of the alt-right that advocates socialism.
The second point of divergence between the alt-right and reaction is by far the most controversial one. It dwells on the question that, like an abscess tooth, has dogged and bothered European peoples for centuries: what do we do with the Jews?
To be fair, most of us can admit that the Jews are a remarkable race. They have weathered every storm that history has thrown at them and somehow, in the process, managed to turn a profit from it. This requires incredible guile and craft. The problem, however, is the corrosion that seeps into a society from those Jews who refuse to integrate and continue to think of their fellow countrymen as outsiders because their Jewish ethnic loyalty must invariably come first. Not all Jews behave this way, in fact, I will soon list a famous few who did not; but an uncomfortably large number of Jews, especially in the media and banking industries, do behave this way. This Jewish conundrum is one of the oldest in the Western world, and it has hounded us like a jackal nipping at our heels. How do we deal with a nearly indispensable people who are very capable and clever and also very subversive?
The alt-right has no single answer to this question, but most factions considered to be among the alt-right, hold a very bleak opinion of the Jews. The alt-right has mostly come to the conclusion that the differences between Jews and Gentiles are so great that there cannot be a reconciliation. Jews are Jews, outsiders are outsiders, and never the twain shall meet. To this end, alt-right groups advocate a wide variety of solutions, some of which involve ideas as tame as providing mild disincentives to Jewish immigration, while other groups push for policy that makes Mein Kampf look reasonable. Whatever its solutions, whatever its means, the alt-right is mostly in agreement on this point: the Jews have got to go.
When it comes to the Jewish question, once compared with the rest of the alt-right, reactionaries seem to maintain a more nuanced perspective. Jews are distrusted, but not despised. They are scrutinized, analyzed, and positioned delicately under a political microscope, but despite all of this, the reactionary can never condemn the Jews as a whole.
The first reason for this is that Mencius Moldbug, our movement’s spiritual father and guiding hand, is himself a Jew. By reading his essays, we realize that he is a dissenting, self-critical, and secularized Jew, but at the end of the day and by all estimations, he is nonetheless a Jew. To universally condemn all Jews would be to knock down the pillars of our own palace. Whatever the failings of the sons and daughters of Israel, whatever their schemes and subversions, we will always be indebted to one Jew in particular, who sculpted the framework of our own beloved movement. This idea may ruffle the feathers of a few reactionaries, but it must be remembered that our movement is an intellectual one, not a racial one. Tradition is tied to race, but race is not the sole and exclusive factor that determines tradition.
The second point that stops the reactionary from turning his sword on the Jews is the most damning point of all — although some of history’s most outspoken and destructive progressives have been Jews, some of history’s staunchest reactionaries are also found among the Jews.
Let us examine the curious case of Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Beaconsfield, Britain’s first and only Jewish prime minister. It is no coincidence that the title Earl of Beaconsfield was originally intended to be passed to Edmund Burke (who died before he could receive it) but was instead first given to Disraeli. It is no coincidence because Benjamin Disraeli was the surprising successor to the throne-and-altar traditionalism of Burke. When the long-struggling Tory party split in 1846, and the renegade Tories became openly avowed liberals, Disraeli was one of the few men who remained loyal to the High Tory tradition. The split was so decisive that it took another thirty years for a Tory government to come to power, so despite every advantage to do otherwise, Disraeli, the Jew, stood firm for his Tory convictions. Despite his bouts of political pragmatism, Disraeli never wavered on one fundamental point: Britain and her empire must come first.
As prime minister, he bought out the Suez Canal from French interests so that Britain could have exclusive control over it. He expanded Britain’s colonial holdings in Afghanistan and Africa. He introduced a competitive examination for civil service so that political parties could not fill the arms of state with ideological appointees. At the Congress of Berlin, Disraeli delivered his opening address in English, despite French being the language of diplomacy at that time, and refused to cower before the browbeating and belligerent press that covered the event. He was an Englishman and Englishmen speak English. This was, of course, an era before Somalis, Syrians, and Romanians who speak no English mysteriously became Englishmen, too. The final, and perhaps most telling point, is that Disraeli always acted with the dignity of the British crown in mind; and it was he that did much to propagate the image of Queen Victoria as a loving and dignified matron of the nation.
In the final assessment, it is clear to all but the most obdurate minds that Benjamin Disraeli was no hand-wringing, penny-pinching Jew. He was a man who knew how to put crown and country first. And although Jews of Disraeli’s make and stock are very rare throughout history, and certainly there are none of his political stature, we do find other Jews who appear curiously like him when viewed from the looking glass.
Lev Nussimbaum, as you may have guessed by the name, was a Jew. Oddly enough, however, he renounced Judaism for Islam because he felt that it did a better job of preserving the traditional throne-and-altar values of Old Europe. He was unusual in the sense that he was both an ethnic Jew and an unapologetic monarchist. Nussimbaum wrote frantically in support of a Hohenzollern restoration in Germany and argued the case for Tsarism in Russia. He wrote numerous condemnations of the Bolsheviks who seized power and proceeded to turn Russia into a progressivist playground — despite most of the Bolsheviks being Jewish. It is no coincidence that his writings have been almost totally forgotten today, since Jews who swim against the progressivist tide tend to get drowned under its swells just the same as the Gentiles who do it.
And so, as we can see by example, Jews who defy the dogmas of the progressivist Cathedral get the same stake and fire punishments as the rest of us. Some, such as Disraeli, were celebrated in their time but their legacy was quietly swept under the coffee table in later eras. A Jewish reactionary who had worked his way into the highest echelons of state was too much for the progressives to stomach. Nussimbaum was harangued and harassed even in his own lifetime. Although there is no shortage of Jews within the Cathedral, the ones who spitefully step outside of its jurisdiction are treated with no special privileges for being Jewish. Like you and I, they are branded heretics.
In conclusion, we must admit that the alt-right and reaction have many admirable similarities: if each movement were represented in a Venn diagram the two circles that represent our movements would certainly overlap. The hard question to be asked is just how much would they overlap and how much would dangle off the edges, completely irreconcilable?
The alt-right’s hazy economic philosophy and occasional sympathy with national socialism are points that cannot be reconciled with reaction. This, however, is not a permanent division between our views and theirs. In the years to come, it is perfectly conceivable that as the alt-right fleshes out a more consistent economic stance, it may abandon socialism altogether. We can hope for the best; or rather, we can hope to hope for the best. Socialism has a way of getting stuck in a man’s teeth such that no amount of picking or fingering can dislodge it.
Despite the inherent shortcomings of socialism, the Jewish issue is the most irksome dilemma facing our two movements. The Jew stands like a fork in the road, forcing each man to choose with unalterable consequences one path or the other. It threatens not only to sever reaction from the alt-right, it threatens to crack the alt-right itself straight down the middle as its members are forced to set aside all notions of nuance or tact in order to answer one question: to Jew or not to Jew.
I think we know how Moldbug would answer.