Nikos Sotirakopoulos, a lecturer in sociology at York St John University, has penned a poignant article, “The alt-right: identity politics on steroids”, Spiked, (1 May 2020) that shows why “[t]oday’s white nationalists draw inspiration not from the Nazis, but from the identitarian left.”
According to the alt-right identitarian worldview, identity, in terms of one’s race, culture and heritage, defines who one is. This would mean that there is a white culture, a white history and, therefore, a white worldview; in short, a white mind. This is race tribalism at its purest. According to this view, individuals see themselves, others and the world around them through the prism of the group – in this case, the racial group. Using such a worldview, other groups are viewed with suspicion, or even hostility, and communication with them is difficult. After all, they have their own distinct worldviews and minds.
Do these themes sound familiar, and have we heard them elsewhere?
In the above paragraph simply substitute “black”, “indian”, etc. and you will have the answer.
The alt-right, like the cultural “progressives” of the left, hold one’s race to be the primary determinant of one’s identity. The difference is not one of principle, but merely in the details.
Writes Professor Sotirakopoulos,
In academia, for example, racial thinking has also experienced a powerful revival in recent decades. But it has come back wearing a progressive face. Critical-race studies, and similar disciplines, tell us that colour-blindness is problematic, and that ‘whiteness’ is an inescapable predicament for white people. Indeed, critical-race theorists present whiteness as something close to a modern form of original sin.
The alt-right has seized on this revamped concept of race, and appropriated it for its own ends. In its hands, whiteness becomes something that must be defended. As Jared Taylor, a sixtysomething ‘race realist’ intellectual, who is popular in the alt-right movement, puts it:
‘What do you call a black person who prefers to be around other black people, and likes black music and culture? A black person. What do you call a white person who listens to classical music, likes European culture, and prefers to be around white people? A Nazi. All non-whites are expected to have a strong racial identity; only whites must not.’ (2)
Whiteness, here, has first been turned into an identity, and then into a source of pride, equivalent to blackness in mainstream identity politics. This shows how the promotion of identity politics by the progressive left has fuelled, and paved the intellectual ground for, the adoption of identity politics on the right.
And like their progressive intellectual brothers, they also stand in opposition to the Enlightenment, individualistic views of capitalism:
Being philosophically opposed to individual agency and autonomy, most alt-rightists even have a disdain for capitalism, insofar as it manifests a form of individual freedom. As Spencer said in a video now removed from YouTube (as most of the material related to the alt-right tends to be), ‘a nation based on freedom is just another place to go shopping’. Despite some of its prominent members flirting with libertarianism in the early days of the alt-right, its politics are small n-and-s national socialist, and they apply in one state: the white ethno-state.
Though the alt-right in its present form has been discredited, the tribalistic, anti-individualism principles it espouses remain. Thankfully there is a solution.
Until the tribalism and anti-humanism, so prevalent in mainstream culture, are properly challenged, a more sophisticated version of the alt-right could still have a wide appeal. This is why we need to challenge identitarian ideology as a whole. We need to challenge the idea that people are mere members of groups, and start seeing people as individuals again. Too often, someone starts a sentence by saying ‘as a person of…’ x race, or of y gender, or of z sexual orientation, ‘I think…’. We need to reply that we don’t think with our skin colour or our gender, but with our minds – minds that are universally capable of reason and sympathy.
Nikos Sotirakopoulos’ article “The alt-right: identity politics on steroids” is a must read.