In thinking more about the description of the alt-right that Milo gave on CNBC last week, I was reflecting on the difference between racialism and culturalism. It is really quite important I think, and it also represents a clear split between people on the alt-right, and even within White Nationalism more specifically.
I already talked about how I think it is unfortunate and saddening that Milo felt the need to distance a movement which was born to nurture White identity from White identity. I also pointed out that in so far as he attempted to dismiss the understanding that the alt-right cares about White identity, his description was inaccurate, and damaging. I want to carry on with that theme here, in more detail and address the issue from a different standpoint:
Milo’s description is not necessarily technically false in its claim that many in the alt-right care about preserving what they see as “western” (i.e. White) culture. Where it goes astray is in its attempt to set up an either/or relationship between caring about race and caring about culture. I say this as it pertains to a description of the alt-right at large, and White Nationalism more specifically, not about my own personal views.
In one way, Milo’s description of the movement is in fact very accurate (much to my annoyance sometimes, since I do not share this view): in my experience, it has become clear to me that culture, and the preservation of it, is indeed a central concern to many in the movement. The relationship this has to race is multifaceted, and there are really three separate ways of approaching the issue. People on the alt-right are generally going to fall into one of three categories: racialists (myself), culturalists (maybe Milo?—but think more like Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage, even sorta Donald Trump, etc.), and a combined form I will call the racial culturalist (think National Socialism, most supremacists, etc.).
Racialism is the belief (1) that race is a biological reality, (2) that it is inherently important in our lives, (3) for its own sake.
Before I go on, I should note that this term is often used with only the first two requirements in mind, so understand that that is also a valid way to use the term. When used this way, the term encompasses both pure racialists and racial culturalists, and serves as a way of separating those who care about race for any reason from those that care only about culture. It is in this sense of the term that I can say that all White Nationalists are racialists, whereas not all on the alt-right are racialists. But right now, I want to focus on the third requirement: caring about race for its own sake.
This is where I fall, and I am certainly not the only one. Me and several others on Stormfront years ago started trying to make sure people were aware of this view by noting that even if our race was the most inferior in the world, with the most undesirable culture, we would still support it, and trying to drop that reasoning around repeatedly.
That is a good example of what I mean by valuing it for its own sake: race, as a Natural identity, and biological fact, is valuable merely because it is, and because of its inherent qualities as a Natural identity. People who take this position may approach it from several angles. For instance, some of the reasons I give to back up this view, include that race as a Natural identity is critical to our very functioning both morally and healthily—that it is valuable as it identifies us—and also that each life-form on the planet is valuable as it has a place in the Natural system and contributes to biodiversity, and that like the Panda and the Bengal Tiger, we should attempt to conserve this diversity. I also approach it from an ethical standpoint, that it is a Natural duty and a Natural joy to be loyal to my own kind, with all that that entails. I believe that you should be proud of what you have.
While I am not necessarily against giving culture some value (depends on the culture, I suppose), I simply do not see it as important conceptually—and I don’t give it much value myself. It is not biological and thus it is transmitable across racial/species lines to a degree. This lack of a Natural identity for this concept is the primary reason it just doesn’t have the authority, as I see it, to be important. I don’t much care about culture as a concept to preserve (I do care about creating a Natural culture in society, but for reasons totally and completely divorced from why I think race is important).
While the reasons I just gave for backing up this position are probably the primary ways of approaching a “race is valuable for its own sake” position, I’m sure they are not the only ones. In any case, this view is most readily understood in contrast to the combined form of racial culturalism.
Racial Culturalism adopts the first two requirements of racialism listed above—namely that race is a biological fact, and that it is important to us—but it has a very different view of why race is important. It does not see race as important for its own sake. Rather, it believes that race is important because of what it produces. Specifically, what culture it produces.
Racial culturalists believe that culture and race are impossible to separate; That culture is a racial construct in almost every way, and that cultural transplantation cannot work across racial lines. They support whatever race they support because they believe it has the best culture, and that if that race has power, it will create a culture superior to all others.
I call them racial culturalists and not cultural racialists for a reason: in my view, they are no less enamored of culture than the pure culturalist, and don’t really care about race, except as they believe it must be attended to in order to protect culture (some of them might take issue with this description, but from what I’ve seen it is quite accurate). They simply have a different understanding of how to reach and/or maintain a given set of cultural values than the pure culturalist does. This is what—as a racialist who cares about race for its own sake—often annoyed me so much about the many racial culturalists I frequently ran into on Stormfront and other places: in my view, such people are not really racialists, because at bottom, what they care about is culture not race. They simply believe that race is the only way to protect culture. Race is a means to an end to them, not an end in itself.
In my experience National Socialists and all those who have a more supremacist bent (I am not a racial supremacist myself), tend to be racial culturalists rather than pure racialists. Talk about racial superiority for these people really always boils down to cultural superiority. They believe a race is objectively better because they think its culture is better. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that all racial culturalists are either National Socialists or supremacists. Many are neither.
Regardless, all racial culturalists, despite their focus on culture, at least have compatible views on the reality and importance of race with racialists like myself. And despite their fixation on culture ahead of race, they split very deeply from pure culturalists.
Culturalism by contrast to both pure racialism and racial culturalism does not see race as important. Most of the Neo-conservative “right” is to at least some extent culturalist (some aren’t even that, and are purely concerned with things such as economics, etc.—hence their hatred for Donald Trump, a proud culturalist). Culturalists reject the idea that race and culture are inescapably linked, and believe that cultural values can be transmitted across racial lines. They believe that immigrants of all races can come, but that they must assimilate. They are willing to stop immigration from groups they do not believe will assimilate (i.e. Muslims). Assimilationism is culturalism.
Culturalists are concerned about the preservation of cultural values rather than racial identities. To the extent that certain racial groups disproportionately threaten those cultural values they will oppose them, but they will always insist they are not “racist” and only want to preserve this or that cultural value.
As a final example of the differences between these three camps: all three oppose the leftist scheme called “multi-culturalism”, but they do so for very different reasons.
Racialists like myself oppose it because it is a misnomer: what supporters of multi-culturalism really mean is multi-racialism and that is something we obviously don’t support (for a myriad of reasons); we believe that a society should be racially homogenous.
Racial Culturalists oppose it also, but they oppose it for a mixture of the reasons racialists and culturalists oppose it: they oppose its desire to make societies racially as well as culturally heterogeneous (because they believe that will make the culture they want impossible to obtain), but they also oppose its literal premise: the diluting of the host culture by introduction of other cultures (regardless of the race of their bearers).
Culturalists oppose it also, but they oppose it because it is the opposite of assimilationism, and because it threatens to dilute and even change the host culture to a completely different culture.
All of us would probably agree that it also will bring conflict, regardless of whether (like me) we think that the source of that conflict is inherent racial difference, or rather (like the others) cultural difference, whether driven by race (racial culturalists) or merely an unwillingness to assimilate (culturalists).
Right now, the left is pushing policies that go against all three world-views, and so all three can successfully unite against such policies. But in a world where the left is defeated, we will need to work out these differences because they are deep and important and will not just quietly go away.