November 30, 2016


The Alt-Right's Jewish Godfather : How Paul Gottfried--willing or reluctant--became the mentor of Richard Spencer and a philosophical lodestone for white nationalists (Jacob Siegel, November 29, 2016, The Tablet)

Gottfried doesn't resolve the alt-right's contradictions so much as he embodies them. He's a sniffy traditionalist, a self-described "Robert Taft Republican," with a classical liberal bent, and a Nietzschean American nationalist who goes out of his way to exaggerate his European affect. He opposes both the Civil Rights Act and white nationalism. He's a bone-deep elitist and the oracle of what's billed as a populist revolt. "If someone were to ask me what distinguishes the right from the left," Gottfried wrote in 2008, "the difference that comes to mind most readily centers on equality. The left favors that principle, while the right regards it as an unhealthy obsession."

Inequality is the alt-right's foundational belief. In this view, there are inherent, irreducible differences not only between individuals but between groups of people--races, genders, religions, nations; all of the above. These groups each have their own distinctive characteristics and competitive advantages; accordingly, inequality is natural and good, while equality is unnatural and therefore bad and can only be imposed by force. In practice, it is typically a belief in white supremacy and a rejection of universalism.

To the ancient idea that the world is ordered by natural hierarchies the alt-right adds new wrinkles. It shows a nerdish enthusiasm for data-driven attempts to classify group cognitive abilities, an update on the social Darwinist "race science" popular before WWII that often resolves into a genes-are-destiny outlook. It also embraces concepts from the controversial field of evolutionary psychology, which attempts to explain the behavior of groups in terms of Darwinian natural selection.

Americans, on the other hand, are anti-intellectual and, therefore, never fell prey to Darwinism.

Posted by at November 30, 2016 4:21 PM