Defining the Alt Right

Am I of the alt right?

Last spring, I thought the answer was ‘yes”. I figured it was the new name for the “Dark Enlightenment” or neo-reaction.  I’m barely right of center, having travelled that long road from barely left of center over the past fifteen years, so my membership is more of an adoption than a joining. But others would (and have) put me there.

The ensuing discussion has  left me pretty sure the answer is “no”. I don’t read Breitbart or Ann Coulter, much less Stormfront, 4chan, Richard Spencer, or Jared Taylor of American Renaissance. “Cuckservative” and “mudshark” are not in my vocabulary, much less my ideological framework.  I didn’t even know who Milo was until a few months ago, when I read his treatise. I only use one parenthesis on each side, solely to denote a diversion or clarification on the sentence’s main point. I don’t tweet out pictures of gas ovens or frogs.

Notice that I exclude myself based on behaviors. Because everyone is clear on what the alt-right does. Journalists and political writers don’t like the behavior one bit. They want it to stop.

What the alt-right believes, what opinions they hold, is a different matter, where no clear agreement is found. I’ve only seen three pieces, two of them recent, that are well-reported, well-sourced, and  make a sincere effort to accurately represent the alt-right.

Dave Weigel’s otherwise solid analysis  linked Steve Sailer and Jared Taylor as “alt right” or “race realists”, which made me very nervous. Yes,  Steve is an influential writer at Taki and VDare, and I thought he was well-represented in that piece. But Steve is a writer whose primary sin is that of noticing, as he often says. He’s snarky and sarcastic and occasionally brutal, but if he’s a racial separatist, the sentiments don’t make their way into his writing. Jared Taylor is a political activist with explicit goals of giving individuals and businesses the legal right to self-segregate. If these two are in the same region, it should be a very large one. Weigel makes it sound small.

A December piece by Rosie Gray  that I reread after listening to her on NPR does the best job of capturing “alt-right” beliefs. Jared Taylor, who I heard for the first time on that same NPR show, strongly approved of Gray’s work and didn’t mention anything about  the reassuring (to me) fact that Gray omits Steve Sailer. She gives  plenty of space to some major players in what is clearly a fringe movement, capturing both the beliefs and the behavior, while allowing conservative pro-Trump folks like Coulter and Limbaugh a chance to clarify whether or not they were part of the alt-right, rather than just assuming it.    I learned a few things–that The Cathedral , as Moldbug calls it, is  their Synagogue,  and how “echo” links to the multiple parentheses.  Gray even explains the frog.

Up last is my favorite of the three alt-right descriptions by TA Frank,  How the Alt Right Became the Party of Hate. While Gray reports from the inside, Frank examines the movement’s path from unknown to mainstream, spotting this Evan Osnos piece as the initial piece connecting Trump to the alt-right, and  pointing out that Breitbart is “nowhere near” the alt-right, linked to them only through its “biggest provocateur, Milo”. Frank’s piece often delights, for example: He was not reading Carl Schmitt. Neither is Bannon. And neither is the 70-year-old billionaire for whom Bannon is now working. (Trump’s staffers would be lucky to get their boss to read his own policy papers.)

But more importantly, from my admittedly self-absorbed perspective, Frank likewise portrays the “alt-right issue” as one of different regions. The alt-right–white-nationalist, anti-Semitic, democracy doubting– is fringe, a tiny country with rocky terrain and few  friendly neighbors. Another region, according to Franks, is white resentment and tension as more whites struggle economically, while  thanks to continuing progressive disparagement makes them feel under attack. In my geography the men’s rights movement, neoreaction, the Dark Enlightenment proper, all live here. This region is, I believe, consistent with what Breitbart writer Milo considers the alt-right–and, possibly, accounts for the behavior problems mentioned above, primarily from young, often well-educated white men in their 20s.

The third region contains the people who notice and describe the denial ferociously practiced by those responsible for our nation’s social policies. In this world lives Ron Unz, hbdchick, Razib Khan, Jason Richwine, JayMan, Greg Cochrane, VDare magazine (I think), John Derbyshire, Steve Sailer, and, yeah, me. People in this space have either suffered professionally for their opinions and writings, or are anonymous because  they fear repercussions. But it’s their opinions, not their political objectives or behaviors, that are at issue.

The three regions don’t overlap much. The first two read the third, but the reverse is less common. The first two are safely described as alt-right. The third is the one that is cause for disagreement.

What binds the three regions, why they think of themselves as related in some way, is not anti-Semitism, not racism, (or “race realism”),  not men’s rights, not separatism, not political objectives. I can’t stress this enough.

The common factor is utter disdain for the aforementioned  Cathedral, the fortress-like canon controlling the dogma of the neighboring region called The Mainstream.

Few literally think of the elite Cathedral as a religion, but the paradigm is the most effective metaphor to describe its impact. Frank calls it “a rebellion against political correctness” but  that term seems a tad mild to describe the rigidity of the canon that excludes, or seeks to exclude, all contrary thoughts.  Jon Chait, for example, complains about political correctness, but he’s a paid up member of the Cathedral.

Well within mainstream regional boundaries are the Breitbart reporters other than Milo, Ann Coulter, Mickey Kaus, and Mark Krikorian.  Most agree that just being a Trump supporter isn’t sufficient to qualify, so they go here as well.

Thus, agreement on what the alt-right does, and what the alt-right isn’t, and the three articles above should give people a decent start on figuring out what alt-right is.

Who is in and out of the alt-right becomes less a matter of academic inquiry when the GOP starts calling to exclude them from the party. Jonah Goldberg–a writer I’ve liked and read for nearly two decades–wants to “John Birch” the alt-right, defined thusly:JGaltright

So Goldberg wants to purge the tiniest of these regions, the people who want to segregate by race, the “white supremacists”.

But hang on a sec. Didn’t the GOP say “no” to white supremacists a long time ago?

(Pause. Note that Democrat and Republican answers to this question…..vary.)

Any attempt by the GOP to purge itself is probably doomed to fail. Some day soon, an earnest mainstream media folk is going to ask Jonah Goldberg why he’s friendly with Charles Murray. Jonah will protest in outrage, arguing that Charles Murray isn’t a racist. I absolutely agree.  Murray is also brilliant, and someone I find personally generous with feedback and helpful data despite my lamentable support for Trump, a candidate he  ferociously rejected from the escalator on.

But that’s besides the point. “Murray the racist” is an article of faith  held by far too much of the mainstream academia and media. The Southern Poverty Law Center, commonly (and, in my opinion, ludicrously) cited by major outlets as an objective think tank on racist organizations,  says that Charles Murray is a white nationalist. Murray is  more than just a member of my ideological region, he’s the patron saint of many within the land, one of the people who attracted us to the cause, as it were, and much beloved (until his Trump heresy) of the neighbors Taylor, Spencer, and heartiste.  Jonah Goldberg calling for a purge of white nationalists leads right to Murray.

And so it will go, forever. The media, academia, the Dems, and even portions of the GOP media, will seek to define the alt-right as anyone in violation of the Cathedral, growing the region larger and larger,  enveloping Coulter, Kaus, Krikorian and anyone else who can be discredited and shut down. The distinct regions I carefully described above matter to me and many others but certainly not everyone. If both parties with access to the megaphones start purging, I don’t think Jonah Goldberg will like where it ends up.

Defining the alt-right isn’t just “a” problem. It’s the problem, because, as Mark Leibovich said just recently, no one agrees on “the curve”. We, as a country, disagree on what constitutes bigotry, intolerance, and the big R. The public–and I mean the public, not white folks–is dramatically out of synch with the media on this issue, but the media and other elites have vehement internal disagreements on this point as well.

I suggest we reframe it as an opportunity, and in this I’m joined by TA Frank:


Am I of the alt-right? As a practical matter, using the definition most agree to,  no. I hold to the Voldemort View and the wisdom of Philip K. Dick. I’m an immigration restrictionist and Trump supporter. I’m a nationalist, not a white nationalist. I’ve lived in more racial diversity my entire life than the vast majority of elites preaching its value can even conceive of.  I don’t live in the same ideological region as Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer, or heartiste and men’s rights advocates. That’s a difference that won’t matter to the media, which is why I’m anonymous.

At the heart of this semantic debate, of course, lies more than words and ideas themselves, but our visions for the country. Jared Taylor said in the interview above that he doesn’t want America to be an experiment. Too bad. The United States has been an experiment since its founding.  But a successful experiment requires parameters, careful hypotheses, and data showing results. It requires open inquiry, skepticism, challenges.

Instead, our society’s elites  are refusing to stop and take stock, evaluate the conditions. They refuse to consider control groups.  They go further and simply reject results they don’t like, and then shut down any attempts to challenge their findings.1

Defining the alt-right requires acknowledging that many among us view the recent years of the American experiment with skepticism, some with outright rejection. Such an effort would, I think, serve as an important balance to the excesses that it’s safe to laugh about now but might just be added to the list of behaviors our high priests check for (gender pronoun usage, kneeling for the anthem).  Certainly many would learn that many unacceptable beliefs (IQ differences in racial groups, gender biology) are routinely accepted as fact by the quieter, science-based members of academia. Or, as  Steven Pinker’s famous smackdown goes: What Malcolm Gladwell calls a “lonely ice floe” is what psychologists call “the mainstream.”

The media is filled with people bewailing this miserable election. I’m excited, regardless of outcome. Our leaders, policymakers, and journalists have been forced to face how little their opinion matters to the people who have little say but their votes. That realization can lead to many valuable and, with luck, productive conversations.

Best of all, their ability to stop the conversations is diminishing, day by day.

(added later: I’ve gotten enough comments to know my regular readers understand this piece. But Jonah Goldberg‘s response made me go wait, what?

I am not advocating an embrace of the alt-right. I am observing strategic and semantic problems with trying to purge them. By all means, give it a try. I’m happy to be wrong. But my primary point is, literally, to define who is and is not the alt-right and to join with TA Frank in calling for a more open discourse. If you think “open discourse” means “talk to Nazis” then you aren’t clear on how much debate and information is forbidden at risk of economic or career disaster. So for now, just accept that I do not advocate giving the mic to Nazis, people who tweet images of gas ovens, or those use the term “mudshark”–never mind those who advocate ending democracy or using violence.  And for now, accept that many are concerned about legitimate discourse being shut down. If this translates to you as “embrace Nazis or racists” then accept you have an experience gap beyond the scope of this essay.)


1And not just on the right–see Fredrik deBoer for a look at what the alt left thinks is wrong with the country (sadly, he shut down his blog a month ago, but his essays are still there).

2Note to my followers on Twitter and my readers here: I realize that many of you are not Trump supporters, not “of the alt right”, and very often not GOP.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time to engage with my ideas  and am glad that online–as in real life–I’m able to maintain my connections to people of a wide range of political and social beliefs.

About educationrealist

88 responses to “Defining the Alt Right

  • davidgriswoldhh

    This was a very interesting read, and despite being one of the disagreeing readers of your postscript appreciate your perspectives. Keep them coming.

  • Jim

    The statement “X is racist” is an evaluative sentence not a sentence having any propositional content. So such a sentence has no truth value. However it may or may not be applicable in a given society at a given time depending on how people in general in that society feel about X. Many people in contemporary America, probably most, have very negative feelings about things that Charles Murray has said and “Charles Murray is a racist” expresses their low valuation of him and of some of the things he has said.

    So given contemporary values the statement “Charles Murray is a racist” is more or less valid in expressing the evaluations of Charles Murray by a large segment of the population.

    One thing that Charles Murray has said is that the IQ of US blacks is about one standard deviation below that of US whites. That statement would clearly be labeled racist by the vast majority of contemporary Americans. . Of course it is supported by a massive amount of psychometric data and there is no rational reason to doubt it,

  • Zanon

    I think what united the old, conservative GOP and the left (broadly construed) was the notion that hierarchy is inherently bad. Ideas of heirarchy as being supportive and positive, as exist in other cultures, are anathema to the left. This is why Carlyse called economics the “dismal science” and why libertarianism (GOP–kind of) and Leftism are fundamentally the same side of the coin.

    The other side, the alt-Right, is not anti-heirarchy. I would not say they are necessarily pro-heirarchy but they are not categorically opposed to it. Sailer notices things, which is not anti-heirarchy, and you do too, so you are both alt-Right, along with the out and out racists and anti-Semites. An ugly place to be.

    • educationrealist

      I don’t think hierarchy is good. And noticing things is definitely not anti-hierarchy.

      • zanon

        I know. But asserting (or observing if you prefer) that “Mean differences in group IQs are the most likely explanation for the academic achievement gap in racial and SES groups” is acknowledging a hierarchy even though you explicitly say you don’t mention race or genetics (but you do rule out poverty, racism, government spending, parental education, & test anxiety.)

        And the mainstream view on this stuff you assert (mainstream from a Charles Murray perspective, not mainstream from an NYTimes perspective) puts you firmly in alt-right territory as well, as I think you raise as a possibility in your own article.

        I think you are a very centrist guy, and I can see how your experience with kids from all works of life mean you are very practical and also very compassionate about realistic about these things. However, in the political climate, this position is at heart a right wing one.

        If you stopped noticing that “poverty, racism, government spending, parental education, & test anxiety” should be ruled out for why “mean differences in group IQs are the most likely explanation for the academic achievement gap in racial and SES groups” then you would be OK, but as it stands, and as well you know, your observations put a big target on your back.

      • educationrealist

        ” is acknowledging a hierarchy even though you explicitly say you don’t mention race or genetics ”

        Wrong. It’s really pretty offensive to say one’s IQ creates a hierarchy.

        ” then you would be OK, but as it stands, and as well you know, your observations put a big target on your back.”


  • anonymousskimmer

    Hey ER, off-topic but thought this might interest you:

    This study underlines the importance of cinnamon, a commonly used natural spice and flavoring material, and its metabolite sodium benzoate (NaB) in converting poor learning mice to good learning ones.

  • splively

    I’m surprised more people aren’t connecting the dots between the Alt-Right and the “South Park Republican” phenomenon that began to capture some late blooming Gen Xers and Millennials at the turn of the century.

    I’d wager the rise of the Alt-Right on the internet owes a much greater debt to Parker and Stone than any of the nationalist (WN or citizenist) intellectuals getting introduced to the media by Hillary.

    South Park was the first mainstream product to take the kid gloves off. The Simpsons pretended to first and Family Guy pretended to after, but South Park was the only generational show to land legitimate punches on the most sacred cows and get away with it.

    Cartman especially paved the way for the giddily offensive internet provocateur. People have compared him to Archie Bunker, but that undersells Cartman – he gets the funniest lines, the best story lines and he almost always wins, primarily because he’s the only one of the leads who will match or exceed the insane extremes of the various leftist caricatures in the show. The stand ins for the sorta-centrist creators are generally stuck as the lame straight men who get steamrolled by both extremes.

    I think Eric Cartman is the true founder of the Alt-Right.

  • Retired Man

    Good piece. I’m in the third group with a toehold in the 2nd. Due to my frustration with the Useful Idiots who live like Presbyterians and vote like Hispanics. H/t Podh. And who blame white men for their problems.

  • malcolmthecynic

    The most direct and straightforward answer you’ll ever see from a self-described and extremely outspoken member of the movement.

  • zanon

    “Wrong. It’s really pretty offensive to say one’s IQ creates a hierarchy.”

    And that sense of offensiveness is the problem. It should be OK for those who are strong, smarter, whatever-er to feel a sense of responsibility towards those who are weaker, less-intelligent, and less-whatever-er.

    Japan is not a Hobbesian nightmare of the strong taking advantage of the weak, and they are entirely comfortable with setting up a hierarchy and then having a diverse set of obligations and responsibilites amongst the pecking order for the good of the group.

    But unless you can recognize the diversity of means within the group, you cannot assign different roles, responsibilities, and obligations, and ironically end up with a more Hobbesian all-against-all.

    Unless those with high IQs see themselves in the same boat, with obligations towards and responsibility, those with low IQs, we all end up as elementary particles (pace Houellebecq). In that world open borders is OK because I have tenure at Georgetown. If hierarchy cannot generate responsibility, then what binds the elites with their masses, whose interests are so divergent otherwise?

    btw. you inferred that low IQ is in some ways lesser than high IQ. It’s not something I believe, and I know it’s not something you believe. However, we both believe that IQ exists, that it measures something real and important, and that someone with an IQ of 70 is going to be different from someone with an IQ of 130 AND they are both equal of respect and dignity under the eyes of the Creator. It’s the gag reflex that blocks any kind of responsible discussion, which is why we cannot have a responsible discussion around immigration — the open borders crowd morally gags and goes straight to poetry and (disgustingly) truly abhorrent places.

    • educationrealist

      “It should be OK for those who are strong, smarter, whatever-er to feel a sense of responsibility towards those who are weaker, less-intelligent, and less-whatever-er.”

      Totally disagree with this. But I see from your subsequent stuff that you don’t mean IQ denotes inferiority. Given that, no hierarchy.

    • anonymousskimmer

      It should be okay for EVERYONE to feel a sense of responsibility toward EVERYONE else. This is the very basic purpose of citizenship in a republic.

      I have learned from someone at least 3 SDs below my IQ. And not a “feel good” lesson, but how to actually operate a piece of machinery. I have learned other lessons from plenty of people of average intelligence.

      Thank you to them for feeling a sense of responsibility to me despite being of lower intelligence than I am. I wouldn’t be where I am without their interest.

      Hierarchy is not necessary for this sense of responsibility. It really isn’t. Just an immediate recognition that you might have something to contribute to the other person, and ideally a willingness to recognize that they may not actually need your contribution.

      • anonymousskimmer

        Hierarchy is one of the sickest manifestations of the social impulse, along with provincialism. There are plenty of non-sick instances of the social impulse.

        And the social impulse is not the only way to interact with or feel a sense of duty to one’s fellows.

      • educationrealist

        Yeah, I agree. I don’t care about others because they are lesser, but because they are human.

  • Jim

    anonymousskimmer – All primate societies have status hierarchies and in all primate societies a great deal of effort is expended by nearly all members in attempting to raise their position in the status hierarchy. Humans are no exceptions. Very few humans are actually indifferent to their ranking in the status hierarchy.

    • anonymousskimmer

      I do wonder how much of that is presumption of the researchers.

      How do we know status is so important to some of the ‘betas’? Perhaps they are ‘betas’ because they don’t care? Perhaps status isn’t that important to some of the ‘alphas’? Perhaps they are treated as ‘alphas’ not because they wanted high status but because others liked them and didn’t particularly care about the particular ‘leadership’ role?

      For all we know these primates don’t see the roles as status hierarchy, but as functional roles with equal status, and those with the best ability to function in a particular role are those who tend to go into that particular role. And any fighting or friendliness amongst them, is to demonstrate that they are suited for a particular role.

      I know I’m wiseacreing a bit here, but I also know that humans (and even primates) are complex enough that to assume a particular orientation is shared by “nearly all members” is probably crap.

      I don’t need hierarchical status. I’m pretty sure ER doesn’t either. What I *need* is to be respected (in a basic sense) for my humanity and for the contributions I bring to my fellows, and to argue against those I think are heading us the wrong way. Though I’m sure some external researcher would read my postings here and attribute hierarchical status-based motives to it. They’d be wrong. As I’m sure they’re wrong about a lot of people.

      When the only system you’re given is a hierarchical system, you’re going to try to see your needs met through that hierarchical system even if you personally find hierarchy offensive. But this says less about you than it says about the situation you’ve been handed.

      • Jim

        High status individuals in primate societies generally out reproduce lower status individuals and their offspring have higher survival probablities. There has obviously been strong selection among primates for status striving.

        Your desire to be “respected” is an indication that you are yourself disposed to some degree of status striving. Someone like Gregori Perelman might truly be an example of a person who apparently doesn’t give a shit what his ranking in the status hierarchy is. But such individuals are rare. Perelman is not known to have any offspring and is probably unlikely to reproduce at a high rate in the future. His genotype is not subject to positive selection.

      • anonymousskimmer

        “Your desire to be “respected” is an indication that you are yourself disposed to some degree of status striving.”

        I care about relational status, not hierarchical status. Please pay attention to what I am arguing against.

        Will read more and comment more later.

    • anonymousskimmer

      A really good look at how a non-hierarchical society could look is in the Isaac Asimov short story “No Connection”, which follows an ursine society millions of years hence. But even it is put together such that an outside observer could easily project hierarchy on it.

      • Roger Sweeny

        “No Connection” was originally published in early 1948, soon after the end of WW II. Wikipedia gives this plot summary:

        “In the Earth of the far distant future, humans have died out and have been replaced, at least in the Americas, by a race descended from bears. Known to themselves as Gurrow sapiens, they live peaceably in communal groupings, trading with each other and sharing communal property, monetary units and duties. Their science has advanced almost to that of pre-atomic age humans. Little is known of other lands on the planet.

        “Raph, a Gurrow archaeologist, learns of the arrival on the continent’s eastern seaboard of an unknown race, apparently descended from chimpanzees, who resemble ‘Primate Primeval’, the extinct race whose existence he has been trying to prove. Their science is more advanced and they are more war-like.

        “It is suspected that the arrivals may try to invade and colonise the lands occupied by Gurrows.”

        For what it’s worth, I found the description of how Gurrow society works more than a little silly.

        You can find the story by googling its first line, “Raph was a typical American of his times.”

  • Darth Dharmakīrti

    Re: “hierarchy”

    The unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
    The heavens themselves, the planets and this centre
    Observe degree, priority and place,
    Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
    Office and custom, in all line of order;
    And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
    In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
    Amidst the other; whose medicinable eye
    Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
    And posts, like the commandment of a king,
    Sans cheque to good and bad: but when the planets
    In evil mixture to disorder wander,
    What plagues and what portents! what mutiny!
    What raging of the sea! shaking of earth!
    Commotion in the winds! frights, changes, horrors,
    Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
    The unity and married calm of states
    Quite from their fixure! O, when degree is shaked,
    Which is the ladder to all high designs,
    Then enterprise is sick! How could communities,
    Degrees in schools and brotherhoods in cities,
    Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
    The primogenitive and due of birth,
    Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
    But by degree, stand in authentic place?
    Take but degree away, untune that string,
    And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
    In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
    Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
    And make a sop of all this solid globe:
    Strength should be lord of imbecility,
    And the rude son should strike his father dead:
    Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
    Between whose endless jar justice resides,
    Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
    Then every thing includes itself in power,
    Power into will, will into appetite;
    And appetite, an universal wolf,
    So doubly seconded with will and power,
    Must make perforce an universal prey,
    And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,
    This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
    Follows the choking.

    * * *

    Also, your aversion to hierarchy is inherently secularist.

      • Darth Dharmakīrti

        Orthodox Christianity (and, I might add, Buddhism) recognize as essential precisely the kind of hierarchy that you seem to find so repugnant. The kind that Shakespeare praises, above.

        Opposition to hierarchy, on those terms, requires a prior commitment to an inherently secular ideology of human equality. This is not to say that Buddhism and Christianity do not have equality principles, expressed as e.g. the desire of sentient beings to be free from suffering or the dignity of beings made in the image and likeness of God; but this kind of equality simply does not translate into any real or theoretical absence of spiritual–or temporal–hierarchy.

        IQ is not a substitute for virtue or spiritual accomplishment, but resistance to hierarchy per se does not follow from this fact.

      • Roger Sweeny

        He’s quoting a speech by Ulysses in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, which is about the Trojan War. To quote Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare:

        Ulysses points out that the trouble with the Greek force rests in its divisions, the existence within it of factions that neutralize its efforts. This lack of central authority, he maintains, is against nature itself, for inanimate nature shows the beneficial effects of order even in the heavens, where the planets move through the sky in strict accordance with certain rules:

        And therefore is the glorious planet Sol [the sun]
        In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
        Amidst the other; whose med’cinable eye
        Corrects the influence of evil planets,

        … Ulysses goes on to point out the harmful effects of disorder in the heavens:

        But when the planets
        In evil mixture to disorder wander,
        What plagues, and what portents, and what mutiny,

        … Having established (most eloquently) the general principle that only in centralized authority accepted by all, only in an established hierarchy of mastery, is order and efficiency to be found, Ulysses descends to specifics [in a passage after the posted one].

      • educationrealist

        You have shamed an English major.

  • zanon

    Families have hierarchy, where parents are not equal to children, but the family works together as a whole. Classrooms have hierarchy as well, where the teacher is not equal to the children but the class works together as a whole. Companies have hierarchy, where the executive staff are not equal to the rank and file, but if they are well run, they look out for each other, have some loyalty to one another, and the company works together as a whole.

    Rejection of heirarchy has resulted in elites disposing of any sense of responsibility, and not giving a damn about the common man, because why should they? Newcomers work for less, and make better food. Open the border, we are all equal.

    What began as a way to lift the common man up has just become a way to let him drop 12 inches and swing in the breeze.

    • anonymousskimmer

      Hierarchy in this discussion was originally used to discuss “social hierarchies”, and is hopefully being read as such by all participants. Or else I and you are tilting at windmills.

      Families aren’t a social unit. They’re an intimate unit. Ok, perhaps *some* families are social units, but that doesn’t mean all, or even most, of them are.

      Classrooms and companies are all unnatural constructs. I don’t know why they were organized as such, but those sorts of organizations tended to occur after a “strong man” and his kin first intimidated others into forming a social hierarchy called a nation-state. And the most common organization of classrooms and companies is not the only sort of organization of such that exist in our great land. Their are non-hierarchical ones of each.

      In regards to your second paragraph: That isn’t rejection of hierarchy, that’s rejection of responsibility. Responsibility, in itself, does exist outside of hierarchy. It exists in relationships, such as relationships to one’s kin, or relationship to the space one inhabits. One can also have a relationship to one’s claimed people, which is a far better manifestation of the social instinct than hierarchy is (IMNSHO).

      • Melchizidek

        Cmon. This is obviously just special pleading. The family is obviously a social unit. Who are you kidding. You’re just post hoc making up some term ‘intimate unit’. Why are we to believe these terms are mutually exclusive?

        The fact that companies and classrooms tend to be organized in such a manner should clue you in that it might be a durable, innate feature of humanity. I.e., a preference even necessity for degree, rank, hierarchy etc.

        Is the military also an “unnatural” unit? Looks pretty hierarchical to me.

      • Jim

        anonymousskimmer – It’s pretty difficult to draw a useful distinction between kinship and social affiliation and behavior among primates. The modern nuclear or “intimate” family is a very recent development unknown in most of human evolutionary history. Most human societies have been composed of very closely related individuals. So throughout most of our evolutionary history a distinction between kinship affiliation and social affiliation wouldn’t have made any sense.

        By the way, “nation-states” are also very recent appearing in European history only within the last few centuries. Most of the so-called “nation-states” today are fictitious.

        The “Democratic Republic of the Congo” is no more a “nation-state” than it is either “democratic” or a “Republic”.

        I don’t think that classrooms and companies are at all “unnatural” for human beings. Humans are highly disposed to form organizations of this type. Clubs, secret societies, associations etc. are found in all human societies.

  • Sean Fielding

    ER, if there’s one hate-fact I could pass on to red-pillable teachers, and I’m sure you’re already familiar with it, it would be this:

    The ‘education gap’ between America and countries like Finland and Switzerland essentially disappears when one controls for race. (So does the violence gap.)

    IOW, the real world underlying the notional world of states, wealth-distribution systems, education systems and so on does not reflect governments, ideologies and bureaucracies so much. It reflects race.

    I hope this helps to wed you full on to the Alt Right.

  • IA

    First time here. Thanks for your article. But I think you are forgetting that Trump was called a racist and Hitler long before anyone knew about Alt-Right. So by voting for Trump you are defacto a racist regardless of how you try to distance yourself from the bigot, hater, etc. Alt-Right, according to Establishment elites of either party.

    “Because everyone is clear on what the alt-right does.” I’m not and I’ve been reading Alt-Right blogs for years. To me it seems they do nothing because they have no power. However, Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute is hosting a presser at the National Press Club in DC tomorrow, Friday, Sep. 9, 1-3pm, to try to answer questions such as yours.

  • anonymousskimmer

    Re the Gurrow comment:
    Apologies in advance for the sheer number of “I”/”my” sentences.

    I have also found many of Isaac Asimov’s social descriptions silly. I’m not proposing that humanity adopts it as our society. That’s not my point (or the point of SciFi). My point is that it is a conception of an non-hierarchical society. It recognizes that sentient beings can have alternate motivations and ways of working together, ways that can approximately look similar to other ways caused by other motivations. But the hierarchicalists seem fixated on projecting hierarchy onto every human(/primate), regardless of their motivation, and on creating hierarchical structures to force us into. Alternative are available, but they are few and far between, thanks to the top-down formation of most hierarchies, very importantly including our government.

    There are very real consequences to this imposition of hierarchy, and even to the mere presumption that others have a hierarchical mindset. Those consequences include a lessening of the human fellow-feeling and an **artificial constraint on ability**. Hierarchy assumes too much about people.

    The weakest part of hierarchy is that fundamentally limited humans are on top of them. I sincerely doubt that anyone has ever been capable of truly effectively managing or leading more than about 20 people, and certainly not of appropriately delegating resources between them. And human variability is too great even for that for most managers and leaders. Hierarchy is non-pluralistic. There are limits to coexistance and pluralism, but hierarchy trends way too much the other way.

    I have less of a problem with hierarchy in mathematics, Maslowe’s needs (though the food pyramid is dietarily wrong), or even in fully voluntary groups (assuming, eg. in a family or a cult, that things don’t get so bad that others are forced to intervene). I also have less of a problem with non-hierarchical groupings, even when these are involuntary, though even these need to be evaluated for objectivity. They tend to be smaller scale than a hierarchy, and more equal in treatment.


    P.S. Personally I am highly sympathetic to the Gurrow way of mind. I would work well in such a culture. That’s just me. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m also sure there are additional non-hierarchical motivations moving other people. This story of Asimov’s was one of the *least* silly in terms of culture, from my point of view. The Gurrow culture seems to lean anarcho-communistic, which admittedly won’t speak to the most of the right, alt or not.

    I’m genial but asocial. This task is hopeless (arguing against the psychological defaults of others rarely wins outside of a therapeutic setting) and I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the number of comments, whether or not they’re addressed to hierarchy. I think I learned as a child that it’s useless to argue, and unfortunately that lesson has stuck to the extent that I have no staying power unless rage continues to drive it. I don’t hate anyone here to generate such rage. I won’t be responding again, so am putting all the anti-hierarchy feelings I can think of here.

    Be well, and don’t screw over other people.

    • Roger Sweeny

      I don’t think hierarchies are inherently good things. Lots of bad can come from hierarchies. I hate abuse of authority and unjustified “I’m better than you.”

      The anthropology literature is full of non-hierarchical hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies. Many of them have a “big man” but he can’t just order people around and loses his position if he “gets too big for his britches.”

      My negative reaction to Asimov’s story was that the Gurrow are industrial, something like early 20th century America. You just can’t have a high level of industrial production with the kind of social arrangement Asimov describes.

      That’s the intellectual reason I reacted like I did–lots of time in and out of school studying “formal organizations” and how societies are organized. But there is a much more emotional reason. The story reminded me of Marx’s famous quote, “… in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.”

      This absurdly romantic, non-hierarchical vision led to some of the most hierarchical and oppressive societies on earth: the Soviet Union, P.R. China, Kampuchea, and today’s Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, ruled with an iron fist by the odious third generation dictator, Kim Jong Un.

      There can be very bad consequences from trying to do the impossible, so I think it is important to point out when something is impossible.

  • J Oliver

    You know, white south Africans as are doing quite well are whites in Bermuda and the cayman islands (not to mention blacks in Barbados.) You can be a race realist and be pro-immigration,like Bryan Caplan.
    If fact I think that whole bloging crew of George Mason economists (Garrett Jones, Arnold Kling, Tyler Cowen,Alex Tabarrok) are at least open to the idea that average IQ of races vary. Yet they are mostly pro immigration.

    People over estimate the crime burden of blacks on whites. The great majority are committed against blacks (only about 13% against whites

    As far as Hispanics they commit crimes at about the rate of whites (

    On the other side of the ledger blacks may not be great at academics but black Americans invented the most popular music in the world (Gospel, Blues, Rock, Jazz, rap, soul.) They have added a level of grace and athleticism to sports that makes it much more entertaining to watch. They have also provided soldiers. And are much more likely to help in an emergency ( And they give us some protection against the Milgram experiment effect (Mexicans also, Italians often ignored commands to persecute the Jews). Mexicans have given us a very popular style of food and I am sure will contribute more in the future. Certainly the contribution of Jews go without saying and Japanese and Chinese Americans make great citizens, better perhaps that WASPs.

  • Ryan

    The religion angle is the correct angle. “Alt-Right” just means Pagan. Obviously you are not a believer in the faith, so you are a Pagan. It’s really just that simple.

  • Beliavsky

    “I don’t live in the same ideological region as Jared Taylor and Richard Spencer”

    Because you want to throw all immigrant children out of the public schools, I think you do.

    • educationrealist

      Don’t be silly. They are calling for racial and ethnic separatism. And many countries don’t even let immigrants in easily, much less guarantee them full access to all the entitlements that American students have.

    • Roger Sweeny

      Did you type “all immigrant children” when you meant “children of illegal immigrants”? Because I’m pretty sure Ed does not “want to throw all immigrant children out of the public schools.”

      • educationrealist

        I don’t want to “throw everyone out”, as in if you’re going to public school now I’d want you to finish. But no, I reviewed Plyler and pointed out that the best way to deal with illegal immigrants in public schools was to restrict K-12 to citizens only. It’s ed policy #4, here:

        My thought is that forcing employers to pay for private schools would do four things: 1) deal with the SC’s requirements in Plyler, 2) force employers to pay the real costs of importing employees, thus making locals more competitive, 3) force the federal government to pay for the costs of its illegal immigration laxness. 4) it would create an actual competitive market for teachers, rather than over 90% of them being state employees.

        But Beliavsky is saying I’m a racial separatist like Spencer and Taylor. But I would restrict schools to all immigrants no matter color, and would absolutely not want to see selective racial segregation.

      • Beliavsky

        A very high fraction of immigrant children are non-white, as you know, and a politician who pushed your idea would probably be celebrated by Taylor and other alt-right members and denounced by civil rights groups. So you are functionally alt-right until you drop this idea.

        I think it would be horribly unpopular among non-whites, even those whose children would not be directly affected, and even most whites would not support it.

      • Roger Sweeny

        So you are functionally alt-right until you drop this idea.

        That is hateful, bigoted, and logically wrong, like saying in 1967 that anyone who wanted the US to get out of Vietnam was “functionally communist.”

        Would US withdrawal have helped the communists win in Vietnam? Check.

        Would the idea have been celebrated by Communist governments? Check.

        Would it have been opposed by anti-communist organizations? Check.

        Then it must be functionally communist. And, of course, functional communists should be ostracized and no one should listen to them.

        Such a style of argument is political bullying.

  • Con Reeder

    “Purging the white nationalists leads right to Charles Murray”? I was mostly with you until that outrageous overreach. Murray is defamed unjustly by the left, and you let that stand. Shame on you, sir.

    • educationrealist

      Yeah, you can’t read. Or you can read, but your brain has no idea how to handle it.

      • Con Reeder

        I will stipulate my puny 98th percentile IQ is no match for your no doubt genius-level intellect. Did you qualify “Jonah Goldberg calling for a purge of white nationalists leads right to Murray” with something? It doesn’t lead right to Charles Murray unless you grant the defamation of the left. I understand that you claim that such distinctions will be lost on most, but I fail to see how you can defend your position without embracing the white nationalists as your kith and kin. What is the alternative to a purge?

        As a huge fan of Mr. Murray, and likewise of Mr. Goldberg, I share their dismay at the blurring of lines that this defense of the indefensible Trump is creating. I also refuse to grant that future, and better, demarcations won’t be made.

      • Roger Sweeny

        I read Ed as saying that “purging white nationalists” will not lead the NYT et al. to say, “Oh, you’re respectable now.” It will simply lead to, “That’s a good start but you can’t be respectable unless you purge that obvious racist Charles Murray.”

        Ed doesn’t think Murray belongs lumped in with white nationalists. He rejects that “defamation of the left.” He didn’t let it stand.

        Any attempt by the GOP to purge itself is probably doomed to fail. Some day soon, an earnest mainstream media folk is going to ask Jonah Goldberg why he’s friendly with Charles Murray. Jonah will protest in outrage, arguing that Charles Murray isn’t a racist. I absolutely agree. Murray is also brilliant, and someone I find personally generous with feedback and helpful data … “Murray the racist” is an article of faith held by far too much of the mainstream academia and media. The Southern Poverty Law Center, commonly (and, in my opinion, ludicrously) cited by major outlets as an objective think tank on racist organizations, says that Charles Murray is a white nationalist. Murray is more than just a member of my ideological region, he’s the patron saint of many within the land, one of the people who attracted us to the cause, as it were, and much beloved …

  • Con Reeder

    You can respond to “it’s a good start, but…” with a specific statement about Charles Murray, defending that brilliant and genial man. And do you think the NYT will *ever* say “you’re respectable now”? 🙂

  • Con Reeder

    I reject the idea that purging white nationalists runs straight to Charles Murray. I reject the idea that you can’t do the same thing to the anti-semitic, white nationalist alt right that Buckley did with the John Birchers. You may think I am naive and foolish, but have made no compelling points that support your assertion.

    In short, I fail to see this “it” you think you have made so clear. If you can’t explain something in simple terms, I don’t think you truly understand it.

    If I were to guess your point, it seems you think the mainstream media is invulnerable and therefore any effort to change the narrative is doomed to failure. I think you are wrong. I think their power to set the narrative is beginning to fail due to cognitive dissonance. Trust in the media is at an all-time low, and the strident nature of the liberal left and their defense of that is driving that trust lower and lower. Something has to give.

    • educationrealist

      Well, you don’t reject the first idea. You don’t even understand it. As for the second idea, I thought the GOP purged racists back in the 80s. So why is a second purge needed at all? I mean, did these racists just appear? Where were they before? Who were they voting for? Isn’t it an implicit acknowledgement that the GOP has been accepting “racist” votes for decades?

      And you didn’t guess correctly. 0 for 3.

    • Roger Sweeny

      Okay, I’m confused. Fortunately, it happens so often that I have a strategy that often works to clear it up: ask for enlightenment. Con Reeder, you say, “I reject the idea that purging white nationalists runs straight to Charles Murray.” What would it mean to “purge white nationalists”? Who would do what?

  • When You Say Tomato and Your Sister Says Tomahto – spottedtoad

    […] we are excoriating the purpose of different kinds of argument about race versus excoriating making quantitative observations about race in general.  How much of what we want to call racism is a matter of descriptive belief, and how much is a […]

  • David Schearl

    Do you think Steve Sailer is an anti-Semite?

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