A former paleoconservative explains how the alt-right turns you into a racist asshole.
I was originally going to try to write this “In the style of Milo Yiannopoulos,” but it turns out I’m not quite as witty as he is.
But I’ll still curse where appropriate.
Milo’s recent attempted hit job on me — “Jack Hunter: Anatomy of a Cuckening” at Breitbart — was a response to what he considered my attempted “takedown” of him at The Daily Beast with my piece, “Meet Milo Yiannopoulos, the Appealing Face of the Racist Alt-Right.”
I really wasn’t trying to demean Milo. I still think how he takes on the extreme left is great and hilarious. “Social Justice Warriors” are a plague on campuses across the country.
But I did want to warn young libertarians about the true nature of the alt-right.
I did want them to know that being alt-right also meant becoming something really nasty.
It turns you into an asshole.
That’s actually the entire point.
It’s a movement that is perpetually somewhere between race-obsessed and explicitly racist — with pride.
I explained how the alt-right’s characteristic tribalism inevitably leads to racial collectivist thinking (the mirror image of social justice warriors’ left identity politics) and was the polar opposite of libertarianism, which emphasizes individual freedom and dignity.
Milo never addressed the philosophical part. Makes sense.
Stick to what you’re good at.
He did call me faggy.
He did contend that the alt-right wasn’t really racist, that I was just making excuses for my paleoconservative past to suck up the politically correct Republican “establishment” (because we all know how much the GOP establishment just adores my former bosses Ron and Rand Paul).
But also, strangely, still admits the alt-right is kind of racist and that he thinks that’s cool.
Anyone who doesn’t think it’s cool is a “cuck.”
Alt-righters claim using “cuck” isn’t racist, but just harmless fun.
Here are some funsters:
Milo went into my past, repeating most of what I’d already explained in-depth in a lengthy story at Politico Magazine three years ago, “Confessions of a right-wing shock jock.” That piece came about as a response to me leaving Rand Paul’s staff after the neoconservative Free Beacon used my past writings and radio antics to attack the senator.
Yiannopoulos said I was a wimp for not defending those views.
Why would I double down on things I no longer believed or subscribed to?
Since Milo is so deeply interested in my history — and imagines it explains something (he’s right) — maybe he’d like to hear the real one.
When Barack Obama was elected president, I wrote a piece for the paleoconservative Taki’s Magazine called “Obama and Black Pride.” I wrote in January 2009, “The joy I see in my black neighbors and friends, seems to be a sense that a new level of respect, perhaps the greatest respect, has now been paid to them by their nation.”
All Americans should be happy for black Americans with the election of the first black president, despite any political disagreements, I said.
I was told that one of the leading paleoconservatives who contributed to Taki’s Magazine was mad about my piece.
Because I was being sympathetic to black Americans.
This well-respected paleocon was basically calling me a “cuck” before it was a thing.
I thought he was being a complete ass.
But it wasn’t like I was unaware of these kinds of attitudes within paleoconservative circles. I was in my 30s and had been reading many of these writers since I was 19.
Today, I still agree with some of what paleoconservatives believed, particularly tempering individual liberty with a legitimate need for some collective goods. I actually think some libertarians are too extreme and a good dose of traditionalist conservatism (which the best parts of the paleoconservative movement embraced) is often needed for balance.
Paleoconservatism reached its high point in the 1990s due primarily to the success of Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign, with its emphasis on opposing mindless foreign intervention and illegal immigration. Paleocons, as opposed to many in the more conventional conservative movement and certainly unlike neoconservatives, saw America as a concrete place, populated by a particular people (based on many factors besides just ethnicity).
Paleos tended to emphasize America’s cultural, religious, and constitutional heritage — but also its Southern, Northern and Midwestern diversity. Someone that many of us considered a pre-paleo of sorts was conservative icon Russell Kirk. His groundbreaking The Conservative Mind, published in 1953, even broke up American conservatism into not only different political and literary traditions, but regional ones as well.
Paleocons usually stressed culture first, which by definition is a collectivist dynamic — family, community and country.
Eventually, some paleocons began to take this collectivist thinking to the extreme end of race.
Most have dead-ended today in what’s become the alt-right.
I don’t advertise their names because they don’t deserve the publicity.
That’s what Milo does.
It’s one thing to say you’re not afraid of political correctness and are willing to discuss racial issues. It’s another thing to embrace racial hatred in the name of being politically incorrect.
The alt-right doesn’t seem to know the difference.
The same was true of some of yesterday’s paleocons.
This was even a battle within the paleoconservative movement, with Chronicles Magazine (the leading paleocon publication) editor Thomas Fleming kicking the race extremists out (or at least out of his magazine), similar to what Bill Buckley did to the John Birch Society in the early 1960s with National Review.
Wrote Fleming in 1997:
Race is the American religion, which is why no one can talk about it truthfully. I do not mean that no one speaks his mind on the subject. Well-indoctrinated liberals can talk all day on why race does not matter, why the whole concept means nothing; and racialists can talk even longer on why it means everything, why loyalty to race transcends patriotism and friendship. For racists and antiracists alike, faith dictates facts, and atheists as well as believers take a pious pride in being fools.
The “racists and antiracists alike” Fleming criticized in 1997 aren’t unlike today’s alt-right and social justice warriors — mirror images of the same thing. They are two collectivist extremes that view the world almost exclusively through a racial lens.
Fleming would add, “A man will fight and die for a nation… but for a race, the most he will do is to subscribe to a newsletter that makes him feel less like a loser.”
That line has always stuck with me, from the first time I read it at 23.
And it still makes me laugh.
Because the overwhelming majority of the alt-right are definitely losers.
Today’s “newsletters” would be blogs and Twitter accounts, where alt-righters try to feel better about themselves at the expense of some of the most historically powerless people in our society, racial minorities.
It’s amusing today how many of these alt-right Twitter accounts feature Nordic gods, Donald Trump, and other imagined muscle men they fancy as “alpha males.”
Real alpha males talk to women and probably even date them. I’m not sure this applies to most alt-righters.
It’s gonna be hard populating that “white homeland.”
Not every, and indeed not most, of the paleoconservatives of the last 20 years could fairly be called racist, but some did legitimately become that eventually. There’s so much baggage associated with “paleoconservatism” as a term and movement that I simply don’t want anything to do with it anymore.
Take and learn from the good (and there’s plenty of that too). Leave behind the bad.
Any of the writers and activists around my age who were reading or writing for paleoconservative publications in the 1990s and 2000s (a number of which have gone on to be important voices in today’s mainstream right), were certainly aware that these racist tendencies existed within the movement.
For that reason and perhaps a few others, I don’t know of many who refer to themselves as “paleoconservative” today.
Most of us rejected the explicit racism back then. A few didn’t, which is a shame, because many were otherwise talented people.
And now we’re seeing it bubble back up as a movement that fancies itself as hip, new and somehow a much needed revolutionary force.
All the snark in the world doesn’t make that true.
An alternative right?
I wrote at Taki’s a few times that combining Ron Paul followers with Pat Buchanan conservatives could constitute what some were beginning to call an “alternative right” — an ideological group that operated outside the mainstream of conservatism.
The same things Ron Paul was opposing when he ran for president in 2008.
I wrote in 2009 (emphasis added): “While the GOP keeps scratching its head wondering how to attract more minorities and young people, ironically the only Republican who has attracted both is (Ron) Paul, and his anti-statist message is feasibly more acceptable to the wider, mostly white, tea partying GOP base, primarily because it is anti-state, not anti-minority.” I would also write later about how a potential Mark Sanford presidential candidacy would be good for the “alternative right” of Ron Paul libertarians and conservatives, who legitimately were a separate movement from much the conservative mainstream and largely still are to this day.
The real and most impactful alternative to the conventional right for most of the last decade has been the liberty movement, not this “cuck”-cluck Klan.
The first time I heard about an actual website called “alternative right” I was told it wasn’t much different from a neo-Nazi page.
I wondered what in God’s name that had to do with Ron Paul libertarianism.
It had nothing to do with it.
It certainly had nothing to do with me.
It’s extremely insulting and dismissive to put someone’s present in your past. The question for the reader is whether you grew or “cucked” out.
It serves Milo and the alt-right’s purposes to assume the latter.
Milo doesn’t seem to allow for the possibility of genuine personal growth.
Is that because he’s never experienced any, or because he’s betting that Trump destroys the world before his sanctification kicks in?
Give me liberty or give me alt-right
Most of my political friends and allies around my age who also once belonged to the paleoconservative movement today look on this alt-right movement with great disdain.
We already know where it can and will lead.
I haven’t had to think about these types of ideological dangers for many years as part of a youthful liberty movement that embraces tolerance as a primary ideological component — that we are all individuals first and foremost and should be judged as such.
You know, cheesy, old-fashioned “love thy neighbor” kind of stuff.
It’s faggy, I know.
I’m convinced the alt-right crowd would have called Paul the Apostle a cuck because he quit persecuting Christians.
They would’ve undoubtedly called Jesus a cuck too.
Some parts of Western civilization they like less than others.
Particularly classical liberalism.
The liberty movement, in my mind, at least, has always had three primary goals: 1. Making government smaller and following the Constitution. 2. Seeking a more restrained foreign policy. 3. Trying to leave behind the tired and ridiculous culture wars that have ultimately hindered conservatives, instead embracing Millennials’ more tolerant attitudes about racial, religious, and sexual minorities.
And yes, it’s good the younger generation is more tolerant. Not that long ago, it wouldn’t have been uncommon for a flamboyantly gay man like Milo to get beat up in the streets without provocation.
Today, our politically correct society lets “dangerous faggots” like him speak on college campuses.
That’s a good thing (or are we going to debate this too?).
Unlike libertarians, the alt-right doesn’t seem to care about the size of government or even the Constitution. They generally agree with the liberty movement on the need for a non-neoconservative foreign policy.
But most troublesome, the alt-right rejects individualism in favor of group loyalty.
They’re more concerned with being Right than right, and being anti-left than whether or not what they stand for is even desirable or morally defensible.
They’re posturing. They constantly just try to be more right-wing-than-thou.
But to what end?
A significant part of the libertarian message has always been taking the best parts of right and left and combining them. It’s why Ron Paul often teamed up with Dennis Kucinich and why Rand Paul sponsors criminal justice reform bills with Cory Booker.
The most significant dividing line in our current politics isn’t between left and right but individualism vs. collectivism.
Conservatives and libertarians have been talking about the genuine dangers of socialism this election as increased interest in the subject has correlated with the popularity of Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
Socialism isn’t bad just because it’s left-wing politics. It’s bad because it’s a dangerous form of collectivism.
The same is absolutely true of alt-right racism.
No matter how bad the left is, not everything about the right is good, and the alt-right seems to take great pride in representing the worst of it. This kind of garbage is what most libertarians have been trying to get away from in the mainstream conservative movement.
No one should want an allegedly new, worse version of it.
The alt-right stems from the sad current state of modern American culture. The same spiritual declension that causes intentionally fragile young students to demand trigger warnings and safe spaces is the very same phenomenon that gave birth to the alt-right, not as an “equal and opposite reaction” (as they are so desperate for you to believe) but as a coequal result of the same phenomenon of resentment.
In the absence of real accomplishments, one must necessarily either face one’s failure like a man (and make the proper adjustments) or take the easy route and outsource one’s fragile sense of self to something greater, whether it be the tribe, nation, race, or Daddy Trump.
Milo writes, “Our Jack is repenting for past sins, in other words, and using me as the vessel.”
I already repented once for saying things I no longer believe in. That was in 2013.
I only broach the subject of alt-right today because I am genuinely worried about the damage it could do.
I am concerned about potential vessels.
Taboo smashing is great. Smash away. But it can be a gateway to worse things.
Like becoming a racist asshole.
I don’t blame Milo for completely avoiding my primary point about the incompatibility of libertarian individualism with alt-right collectivism.
Because they’re not compatible.
In the end, it was the many young Ron Paul libertarians who led me from paleoconservatism, and both the good and bad that came with it, toward libertarianism, more than any other factor. The individualist-liberty view of the world is something more inspiring and healthier than collectivism or tribalism in any form.
Right now, some see an opportunity to pull young rightists back toward the darkness.
And fuck anyone who helps it happen.