Alt-Right Is Simply Wrong
True believers are delusionally sure that everyone would agree with their idealism
There is nothing more dangerous to a civilized, progressive society than political/religious extremism, and there is a nasty version of this in what is now referred to as the alt-right. Think of it as a sort of “cultural libertarianism.” Traditional libertarianism is basically described with simple (and simplistic) phrases, such as minimum government and maximum freedom, or fiscally conservative and socially liberal. The reality is that libertarians are a weird conglomeration of odd idealists who have the luxury of getting to rant about too much government and too little freedom without having to live in the kind of society they claim to want. Cultural libertarianism is different.
Idealism is, of course, by definition about unrealistic expectations, and the libertarian obsession regarding freedom is both misguided and oblivious to the very important reality that peaceful coexistence in any society is only possible when freedom is modulated to accommodate the cooperation, consideration and politeness central to quality of life in crowded cities and suburbs. Cultural libertarians are quite conservative and exist within an ideological bubble they have created. Their central focus is to root out political correctness by using the most abusive ad hominem verbal and written (including social media) attacks on women, minorities and those of non-conforming gender identity. They seem to not know — or perhaps not care — that assertions about freedom-crushing political correctness has been used for decades to justify bigotry, intolerance and hate.
These cultural libertarians (a term coined by a particularly obnoxious fringe conservative) are really fighting to preserve white male privilege (they are mostly male) from the invasion of increased fairness and status for anyone not just like them. The term alt-right refers to an alternative very conservative push back against cultural change, asserting that gender and racial demands for representation and equality undermine true freedom by advocating affirmative action. Thus, there is no conspiracy theory, no form of verbal/written abuse, no insult not justified in this fight for real freedom.
Now, I’ve noted many times that true believers are delusionally sure that everyone would agree with their idealism if it wasn’t for the “liberal” media keeping others from hearing/reading their message. So, imagine their joy when the intellectually vacuous, pathologically dishonest narcissist who is the Republican nominee in this presidential election embraced — while claiming to know nothing — the alt-right and mimicked their ad hominem attacks on those who represent mainstream and liberal opinion. Like them, he is abusive in what he says, defying societal expectations of responsible discourse, and is therefore strongly supported by those who believe that abuse and the freedom to abuse others is fighting for liberty…their version of it, of course.
They are using each other for different reasons. These cultural libertarians want to push back against a level playing field upon which they would have to compete with those who have had far less privilege in their society. They use the censorship inherent in political correctness as a front to reverse what they perceive as their loss of exclusive privilege. In turn, the candidate has gained their enthusiastic support by emulating them, but at a price he (predictably) wasn’t smart enough to foresee because of his self-obsessed egoism. Many undecided voters and even some former supporters have chosen to support his opponent because they cannot accept such angry, nasty, disrespectful abuse in a presidential candidate.
This is, if you will, a demonstration of pragmatism on the part of these citizens, who recognize that the qualities of presidential leadership do not include such behavior…or condoning it in others. It’s even worse that this candidate claims to not know or know about those he allows to publicly support him. This isn’t intellectual dishonesty. It’s pathologic lying without conscience or guilt. There is simply no pragmatic justification at any level for behavior we wouldn’t expect or accept from those around us. A crushing defeat on election day would send a strong message to alt-right zealots.
Much has been written and said about all the anger in response to all that is “wrong” in our society. But anger is only a symptom, not a solution, and it can become its own problem if left unchecked. Societal, cultural, socio-economic change presents a variety of challenges, but there’s one issue in particular that needs the most attention — the idea that all of this can be stopped and even pushed back…reversed. That can’t and won’t happen. So reality has to be dealt with as it is, and we can insist that certain ground rules be recognized and respected by all.
Free speech, including politically correct speech and politically incorrect speech, is a fundamental principle we depend on as a society. But, both excessive political correctness and extreme resistance are antithetical to the value of free speech, which requires respect and reasonableness. What has been fundamental for so long has been the recognition that it’s not disagreement but how it’s conducted that makes our society work. Idealism doesn’t work. It’s always an abject failure because idealism is only a fabricated concept, not a functional reality. Knowing the difference and living with it is the first step in working on what’s wrong as best we can in the real world. To be pragmatic is to create opportunities for success. Alt-right is simply wrong.