Politics is not an easy phenomena to define, and political ideologies are particularly slippery. Most students of politics will tell you that political ideologies exist on a spectrum, which is probably true, but that isn’t the fundamental problem. It is much easier to define more specific political ideologies, like say, White Nationalism, or Libertarianism, or socialism. It is harder, much harder—perhaps near impossible—to actually define the very broad sub-divisions of political thought we generally denote by the terms “right” and “left”, or their sometimes-synonyms “conservative” and “liberal”. In different places and at different times these sets of terms have embraced radically different political positions. That is even true today, with a “conservative” in Britain hardly expected to be the policy equal of a “conservative” in the United States, for instance. And it gets worse, since it isn’t even true that within any given country, there will be equivalence on policy positions between people who label themselves or are labeled either “right” or “left”.
Never the less, knowing one’s enemy is critically important so we must have a unified sense of what makes someone a “leftist” or “liberal”. A rising right asks the inevitable and critically important question: who are the leftists? And two main answers are coming back.
The old answer of the establishment right that is now fading into oblivion, has been that the leftists are people who want big government to stand in the way of big business. But since the rise of Trump has made amply clear that, if nothing else, the conservative voting base is no longer inspired by such shallow consumerist battle lines, I don’t think that is really worth bothering with here. At this point, very few on the right are really fighting the left to protect capitalism, even if (like me) they generally support it. We just don’t care about economics.
The Trump coalition, in some way, shape, or form is the conservatism of the future. And the Trump coalition is currently split into two warring camps about this question. These two camps roughly correspond to the White identity focused alt-right, and to the individualism focused alt-light, respectively.
The Alt-Right Answer:
On the alt-right, we have a very firm answer to that question, that our years of research and observation of politics has brought us to: the leftists are people who support notions of universal equality, and who deny the existence of fundamental differences between the races and sexes, among other things. They want, in particular, social equality—that is, they don’t want anybody to ever behave as if racial or sexual identities matter. In other words, the leftists are people who deny that racial identity should be important in an ideal world.
Although they often argue for the identities of non-Whites (and we are right to call this hypocrisy), in their minds this is justified because the world is not in fact color-blind yet (and as we recognize and celebrate, will never be). It is like saying, a person shouldn’t have to worry about sending their child out to play alone, because people shouldn’t harm children, but given that people do harm children, it is permissible to take precautions against someone harming your child. That is how the left views non-White racial identities, the sexual identities of women, and sexual orientation identities of homosexuals and misegenists. They view them as defensible only because they perceive other identities to exist. But ideally, they don’t want any identities to exist, and they are working to eradicate them all. This is why every leftist argument for non-White identities is premised on the notion that identities are bad: if only White people didn’t have identities, they argue, non-Whites wouldn’t have to either. And they are vocal about how they are trying to get rid of identities as a whole.
Additionally, leftists don’t believe other identities exist because they are based in reality, but rather because they have been culturally constructed. In other words, the left believes identity is a myth. However, despite their belief that it is a myth, they at least have the astuteness to understand that people by and large, take it seriously, and so as a reaction to the fact that people take it seriously, and actually have identities socially and philosophically (even if, as the leftist believes, such identities are not objectively real) the left is willing to grant adopting a myth of one’s own identity for the sake “defense.”
Some even think that playing up non-White identities now will lead to the collapse of all identities later. The argument seems to be that by using markers of identity to get people with different identities into contact with each other, all will realize that there is no difference between them, and the “myth” of identity will collapse (this is of course nonsense, but they can believe as they like).
Although of course, much of this is hogwash, a great deal of it is premised on reality: identities do exist (although we know that race and sex at least, are real identities and not myths), and when one competing group recognizes its identity others will have to follow suit or face the destruction of their identity. This identity arms race scenario is in fact true.
The Alt-Light Answer:
The alt-light has a different answer to this question. The alt-light says: the leftists are the people who like identity and want to use it to divide society. They are trying to create a world where identity matters, so that they can practice a divide and conquer strategy of non-identity based policy schemes (like economic policy, etc.). By playing up identity they create voter bases that then support their policies on other issues.
While one could probably find individual politicians in history who have cynically used identity for this purpose, it is simply and utterly fallacious to present this as the reason for the leftist support of some identities, either in theory or in practical reality. If one honestly studies the leftist thinker, one will come to the firm conviction that he actually plays up certain identities for reasons which he views as either necessary evils or as strategic means on the path to his ideal world: a world where identities are not important. Anyone who studies the thought of the left honestly will come to the same conclusion: the left has an ideal world where identities don’t matter.
The Source of Alt-Right and Alt-Light Antagonism:
In a previous post here, I spelled out what I thought were the major differences between the alt-right and alt-light. But in light of the question “what is a leftist?” I think it is worth revisiting it. While White Nationalists like myself have long viewed the alt-light as essentially leftists, they also seem to view us as leftists. How can that be? How could both sides of this divide come to see each other as leftists?
The reason is very simple: it is a question of ends and means.
The alt-light, focused on individualism, and on opposition to identity, has an ideal world where identity doesn’t matter. Therefore, the alt-light’s ideal world looks identical to the ideal world of the leftist. The alt-light supporter simply disagrees about the methods used to get there. Thus the alt-light does not disagree with the left in regard to ends, but only in regard to means. They therefore, don’t differ from the left on substance, but only on method.
They say to the left: “you don’t make identities unimportant in society by playing them up in society. Your means are stupid.” The alt-right would agree. However, the alt-right would also say to the left “your ends are stupid, too.”
That is because the alt-right has a very different ideal world than the alt-light. We believe that Natural identities, particularly race, are beautiful , important, and fulfilling. Our ideal world is a place where racial differences are freely acknowledged, celebrated, and used as the basis for social interactions. Our ideal world is one where racial distinctions are recognized intellectually and socially. We differ from the left on substance, but because we have an ideal world that is opposite to their ideal world, (and because they are realistic about the need for identities when others have them), our means end up looking a lot like theirs. Hence, we share means (to some extent) with the left, but not ends. While the alt-light shares ends but not means.
This reciprocal but not identical similarity means that when alt-right and alt-light look across the aisle at each other, they both see similarity with the enemy, and cry “you’re like them!”
Of course, this is a little too simplistic on either side. However, I happen to think that substance is more important than method, and ends more important than means, in defining someone politically. On those measures, the real leftists are the alt-light, not the alt-right.