The ascendancy of Donald Trump has dragged the amorphous “alt-right” from the shadows of internet obscurity to coalesce as a legitimate political force. What is the alt-right? That depends upon whom you ask. The one consistent characteristic seems to be a politics defined by white racial identity. YouTuber “ramzpaul” explains:
The people at that Trump rally weren’t there because Trump was promising lower taxes. They were there literally to try to maintain their survival, their survival as a people, as Americans, because Trump was the first one to say that – yeah – he would build a wall to keep out illegal Mexicans. I don’t know if that’s enough to help, but at least it’d be something, because people are so desperate to maintain their way of life, to maintain their families, the America they knew. It doesn’t mean they hate Mexicans, but they don’t want this country to turn into Mexico. That’s how they see it. That’s why they were there at that rally.
So for [conservatives] to talk about economic tax plans — these people are trying to fight for their survival. And that’s really the alt right. That’s what really binds us together… It’s not taxes that they’re concerned about. They’re concerned about who they are.
Who they are is white people. That’s how they define themselves, by racial identity.
When called racist, the alt-right deflects by pointing to social justice warriors. Look at all these groups openly antagonistic to white people, they exhort. Look at the attacks on so-called “white privilege” and white men and white culture. How is it racist to push back against that?
They have a point, to an extent. Logically, it cannot be racist to oppose racism. To the extent social justice warriors are racist, and they are, they should be vehemently opposed. The problem with the alt-right is that they do not fundamentally oppose racial identity politics. They merely substitute one brand of it for another.
It matters not whether the beneficiaries — or victims — of your collectivist authoritarianism are white. What matters is whether you are a collectivist authoritarian and therefore categorically evil. That is why #NeverTrump conservatives remain indignant toward the Republican presumptive nominee for president, because he personifies a fundamentally un-American and immoral paradigm that is in essence no different than the regressive left.
It has become necessary to parse out interwoven concepts in the immigration debate. When the alt-right talks about maintaining the American way of life, maintaining “who we are,” it could be taken to reference a legitimate concern. There does exist a distinctly American way of life which properly ought to be preserved. But it is not defined by race.
The American way of life is defined by philosophy. To be American in the spiritual sense is to affirm “that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” There is nothing racial in that conviction. Anyone, from any background, can adopt it. The proper concern in immigration then is not whether immigrants share a white national origin, but whether they are American in their spiritual destination.
We should note that the whitest and most native member of the alt-right, through their embrace of collectivist authoritarianism, proves less American by merit than the most recent Mexican immigrant who embraces individual liberty. The American nation emerged unique, defined not by its shared ethnic or racial or religious identity, but by its shared allegiance to liberty.
National sovereignty derives its moral authority from individual sovereignty. That is why, for instance, the allies were morally justified in their invasions of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The mere claim to sovereignty does not hold unless backed by respect for the sovereignty of others, whether other free nations or the residents within a nation’s own borders. That’s what the nationalists too often miss. They tend to think that a nation exists for its own sake, or worse, that individuals exist for the nation’s sake.
Collectivism is evil. That is why racism should be opposed, not because it offends, but because it denies the nature of human beings as individuals and places a group above them. Collectivism comes in many forms, with beneficiaries defined on different terms. But whether it’s the nation, the race, the faith, the tribe, or any other overriding entity, no group has the right to subordinate individuals, ever, under any circumstances. That is the American way of life. Far from preserving it, the alt right stands poised to crush it. The alt right acts as a hammer to the anvil of the regressive left. In the crossfire between the two, what remains of personal liberty will die.