Editor’s Note: The Economist has published a breathless hit piece on the Alt-Right. I think it is actually pretty funny. The keepers of the flame of neo-liberal globalism are baring their fangs here like a wounded beast! I’ve included the entirety of our correspondence below for any readers of The Economist who want to learn more about the Alt-Right.
The Economist: Dear Occidental Dissent
Hello from The Economist magazine. I’m working on–you guessed it–a piece about the Alt-Right–and I’m hoping to ask you a few questions. Could I perhaps email them? Or we could talk on the phone if you’d rather. The contact name I have is Brad Griffin but please say if you think someone else is more appropriate.
Thanks and best
What do you want to know? Send me your questions. And yes, I am Brad Griffin.
The Economist: Many thanks for your reply. My questions are below. Best, Andrew
The Economist: — It seems to me that there are two widespread impressionss of the Alt-Right: one is that it is really a collection of transgressive (but vacuous) online pranksters; the other is that it is just a reincarnation of old-style white supremacism. I imagine that you think it is neither–why are these misapprehensions?
BG: There is an element of truth to both of those impressions.
The term “Alternative Right” was coined in 2008 to describe of number of disparate elements – libertarianism, paleoconservatism, White Nationalism, Neoreaction, men’s rights activism, etc. – that existed outside of mainstream American conservatism. Richard Spencer founded the website “Alternative Right” in 2009 which he hoped would become a gathering point for these heretical ideologies. It was understood at the time by everyone that “alt-right” was an umbrella term.
Anyway, these ideas later spread to some of the more unregulated corners of the internet – 4chan, 8chan, comment sections, Twitter – which is where it found a receptive audience among trolls. The memes, trolling, Pepe the Frog stuff is a later development and innovation of a younger audience of converts.
Very few people who identify with the alt-right think of themselves as “white supremacists.” The vast majority of these people believe racial differences exist and have a biological basis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Whites are superior. They are also separatists who have little desire to lord it over non-Whites. It is believing that young black males are more likely to engage in robbery while Whites are more likely to engage in drunk driving. American Indians are more likely to be alcoholics.
The Economist: Who would you say were the Alt-Right movement’s chief ideologues?
BG: Jared Taylor, Richard Spencer, Kevin MacDonald, and Peter Brimelow.
The Economist: — What is it an alternative to?
BG: The alt-right sees itself as the alternative to mainstream American conservatism and the liberal order in general. In the US, liberalism, conservatism, and libertarianism are all branches of the liberal family tree. The alt-right has reactionary roots.
The Economist — For your part, do you see a link with neo-Confederate/secessionist nationalism?
BG: Yes, I do.
In the 1850s, there was a similar intellectual movement – the Southern reactionary enlightenment – that generated the Confederacy. The Founding Fathers of the Confederacy were influenced by Sir Walter Scott, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Carlyle among others. Vice President Alexander Stephens, for example, said in his famous Cornerstone Speech that the Confederacy was based on cutting edge developments in natural science which had blown away the ideas of previous generations.
The Economist — I am struck by the internationalism of the movement. Do you think that its American incarnation is inspired by European examples?
BG: Of course.
It’s the same movement. It stems from the same causes. It has always been very international in outlook. To the alt-right, modern day Zimbabwe or South Africa is the dystopia which we wish to avoid.
The Economist — Many Alt-Right activists evidently have affection for Russia and Vladimir Putin. Is that because it values authoritarianism, even monarchism?
BG: The alt-right has drawn some lessons from the 20th century. Foremost among those is that conflict between Europeans is something we wish to avoid because it provides openings for revolutionary leftist movements. We simply see no reason for conflict with Russia and take a harsh view of the Clintons for their war against Serbia. We side with Putin against the likes of George Soros.
The Economist — To date, has Alt-Right made an impact in the non-virtual world? For example, do you consider WhiteLivesMatter protests to be part of the movement?
BG: The alt-right is heavily repressed even here in the “Land of the Free.” In some countries, you can be thrown in prison for voicing these sentiments. Because of the social and economic penalties of embracing our perspective, there has been very little in the way of real world activism. And yes, White Lives Matter is clearly part of the movement.
The Economist — Does it trouble you that some Alt-Right tropes and jokes, for example concerning ovens and other aspects of the Holocaust, are bound to be upsetting to some people?
It’s not something that I engage in. I’m not surprised that it is so upsetting to some people, but I understand why people are doing it. If they weren’t doing it, they would be ignored. I had discounted the efficacy of online trolling as a tactic.
The Economist — How would you characterise the movement’s relationship with Breitbart? Is it really “the platform of the alt-right”, as its former boss said?
BG: We think of Breitbart as the Alt-Lite.
As the alt-right has grown and built an audience, it has become profitable for mainstream conservative websites to tap into our audience. They have adopted aspects of our narrative and use it to generate clicks. In the process, their audience has become a sort of hybrid of the alt-right and mainstream conservatism.
The Economist — Ditto Donald Trump. It seems to me that his positions on immigration and Islam chime with your own concerns. And many Alt-Right activists evidently support him. But is he an ally, a soulmate, an inspiration or a beneficiary of the movement?
BG: Donald Trump’s platform happens to coincide with our interests on a number of key issues: political correctness, immigration, trade, campaign finance. He is a bulldozer who is destroying our traditional enemy on the Right.
Is he one of us? There isn’t a single prominent figure in the alt-right who believes Trump is alt-right or a “racist.” He doesn’t have to be to advance our cause.
The Economist — How do you feel about Hillary Clinton’s reference to Alt-Right in her recent speech?
BG: I thought it was great. She positioned us as the real opposition and gave our enemies on the Right the kiss of death with her embrace. It didn’t help her poll numbers though so I doubt she will do it again.
The Economist —How big is the Alt-Right movement?
BG: It is so anonymous and online based that no one really knows. My guess is that there is a core of several hundred thousand and a much wider sphere of sympathizers and fellow travelers.
The Economist: Thank you for your time and for these v useful replies.
The Economist: Dear Brad
May I ask a couple of follow-up questions? Last ones, I promise. They are:
— you mentioned that you are wary of war in Europe because of the opportunity it affords to leftist revolutionaries. But, as I understand it, many on the alt-right hope for something like a revolution–ie a sort of year-zero remaking of America, something like a political apocalypse. Is that right?
1.) If you look at the 19th and early 20th century, ethnonationalists were at each other’s throats. The French hated the Germans. The Poles hated the Russians. The Irish hated the English. And so on down the list.
That sort of petty nationalism ended in the twin catastrophes of World War I and World War II. It had the effect of discrediting racialism and nationalism. As we see it, the pendulum swung to the opposite extreme and now the great evils of our time are extreme globalism, multiculturalism, ethnomasochism, and political correctness.
The conflict of our time isn’t between nations. It is between nationalists and globalists. It is an internal fight within nations, not an external conflict between them. We have no desire, for example, to engage in an international conflict with Russia.
The Economist: — relatedly: do you think of yourself as a democrat (lower-case d), or would you rather dispense with the institutions of democracy in favour of authoritarianism?
BG: I’m skeptical of democracy. I think it works in small, ethnically and culturally homogeneous nations like Iceland or Finland. As nations become more multiracial and multicultural, democracy can become a tool of oppression. No place in the world better symbolizes our fear of democracy than contemporary South Africa.
Our primary concern is the welfare of our people. The form of government we live under is a distant secondary consideration. I would rather live under a dictatorship or a monarchy than the sort of “democracy” that exists in South Africa. They have a “constitution” there, but what use is it?
The Economist: — You mention that you do not practise the sort of aggressively insulting trolling that some avowed alt-righters go in for (ovens, concentration-camp imagery). But do you share their implict of explicit belief in a Jewish conspiracy and that Jews are a problem for America? Do you believe that the Holocuast happened?
BG: I don’t believe there is any conspiracy. It is no secret that the Jewish community is extremely organized and well-financed to the tune of billions of dollars. They aggressively lobby the government to advance what they perceive to be Jewish interests in both domestic and foreign policy.
At the same time, I believe that Jews are the wealthiest ethnic group in America. They are drastically overrepresented in culturally sensitive institutions like the media and universities. Basically, I think they have a massive, negative cumulative impact on our culture, but it is all done openly. There is nothing secretive about it.
As for the Holocaust, I think lots of Jews died in the Second World War. I don’t think we will ever know exactly how many. My grandfather was deployed in Italy in World War 2. He wasn’t fighting to bring about what we have today.
The Economist: — Is it fair for me to infer that you regret the Confederacy’s defeat in the civil war? If so, should I also assume that you think slavery would have died a natural death some time thereafter?
BG: Yes, I do.
I think the North and South are so ethnically and culturally different that we would be better off as two independent nations. That’s still true 150 years after the demise of slavery and the Confederacy. We’re gearing up for the latest round of sectional conflict which will produce gridlock no matter who wins.
Slavery would have died a natural death at the hands of technology. In 2016, only around 3 percent of the population works in agriculture. Aside from Haiti, we’re the only country in the world where slavery ended so violently.
The Economist: — Is Brad Griffin your real name?
BG: Yes, that’s my real name.
The Economist: That’s it. Over & out