My own take on the Alt Right

The “Alternative Right” came out around 2010 and few took them seriously because it seemed more keyboard warriors than anything else.  Now that Donald Trump has given them concrete existence, people are paying attention.

I’m not part of the Alt Right, whatever it is.  As Dugin says, we shouldn’t be “Right-wing” or “left-wing” or “Alt-Right,” but simply “Heideggerian.”

It’s hard to find a good analysis of them.  Milo did a decent job, but given Milo’s own eccentricities, few took him seriously. National Review does a piece on them every few weeks, but it seems like “They are racists.  It’s 2016” and little of substance.  In other words, it’s basically any usual NR piece.

I’ll offer a different sort of thesis:  if you aren’t familiar with the intellectual background, then any thesis you have will be little more than a variant of “you are a racist.”  Okay, fair enough: some alt-right guys are racist.  But let’s get to the more substantial issues.  If you want to understand where these guys are coming from, you need to be familiar with the following thinkers and ideas.

Robert E. Howard.  The Conan guy?  Yes, hear me out.  Howard represented an era where barbarian honor was more important than quantified civilization.  In other words, men revert to who they really are at the pre-theoretical level, which means they probably aren’t interested in global markets.

Julius Evola.  Evola is a pagan and so quite wrong on many levels.  His criticism of democracy is not easily dismissed, however.   The forms exist.  Do rights and binding law flow from the flux of the demos or from a transcendent realm? If all is flux and Platonic forms do not exist, then what exactly grounds liberal idols like “democracy” and “rights?”  Nothing.

F. Nietzsche.  As in Evola, if rights and morality derive from the realm of flux and time, then they are arbitrary and all we have left is power.  That probably explains why attempts to spread neo-liberal markets overseas are always bloody.

H. P. Lovecraft.  Okay, he is a racist.  And to be honest I don’t think his stories are that scary.  But you can sort of see him as a Freud in action.  Men aren’t cold, neutrally rational beings. There are dark, simmering forces underneath each one of us.  In fact, that sounds kind of like Augustine.

Martin Heidegger. Ignoring the Nazi stuff, Heidegger created modern philosophy.  More pertinently, Heidegger attacks rationalist compartmentalization.  We are “thrown” into a world of facticity. The borders are porous.  Even more, his essay “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” is a frontal attack on Globalism.

Alexander Dugin.  Unlike Dugin’s critics, I’ve read Dugin.  He isn’t saying “Nuke America.”  He is saying that the neo-liberal is a product of a very specific set of cultural presuppositions that cannot be made universal. Any attempt to make them universal is racist.  Liberals, obviously, are the most racist people in the world. In other words, neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism are wrong.

Ironically, Dugin isn’t what the Left calls a “nationalist,” since he sees that as an Enlightenment abstraction.  Dugin is more pro-EU than most right-wing critics.  If you actually read his stuff, he is the most humble and gentle of thinkers.


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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4 Responses to My own take on the Alt Right

  1. cal says:

    How is this not a similar, perhaps more American, form of National Socialism? The misanthropy of Lovecraft, the tragic conservative nihilism of Howard, the brutal will to power of Nietzsche and the openly pagan openness to martialness of Evola forms the same contours of the Nazis, if not a replica. History produces no replicas, but themes.

    Would you include Carl Schmitt on this list, especially his notion of ‘Nomos’?

    Though, as far as fiction goes, I have to admit an affinity for Howard. Its a dark beauty of fighting barbarians at the gate even if the cycle of history washes away the nobility of the city. It’s kind of like Norse visions of Ragnarok.


    • cal says:

      I’m not equating any one thinker, or them all together, as proto-Nazis. Especially, I don’t think Nietzsche is a proto-Nazi even if his philosophy formed part of the ethos of fascism.


    • I haven’t seen them address a specific economics, so I don’t know if they would align with National Socialism.

      Some aspects of Alt Right are Nietzschean. That is certainly true.

      They might hold to Schmitt. I haven’t read him so I didn’t include him.


      • I have huge metaphysical problems with Nietzsche (though he is certainly fun to read). I don’t think he is a proto-Nazi simply because he praised the Jews throughout his corpus.


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