It’s just been recommended to me that it’s a good time to read Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. I agree, but unfortunately I’ve already read it, probably at a time that wasn’t as good as now, but I haven’t got the time to reread it as I’m currently reading another book that I’ve also been told ‘it’s a good time to read,’ Sinclair Lewis’ It Could Never Happen Here. I’m reading It Could Never Happen Here after having just finished Camus’ The Plague, it also having been recommended to me on the basis of ‘it’s a good time to read.’ Other literary titles that seem to be being recommended as apropos are the unimaginative dystopian trio of 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451. Frankly if you’re over the age of 21 and haven’t already read these then I guess you’ve probably been too busy watching America’s Got Talent while masturbating into a sock. Recently I’ve also been recommended, and purchased, Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron James, A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and a rather more upbeat title, Utopia for Realists: Why Making the World a Better Place Isn’t a Fantasy and How We Can Do It, by Rutger Bregman. I suspect that by the time I get round to finish reading these it will no longer be ‘a good time’ to read them, as Chelsea Clinton will have just become the president having edged out Kim Kardashian in an election that was so close it had to be resolved in the most democratic means available to a celebrity worshiping society, a naked mud wrestling splashdown, broadcast on pay per view, in high definition, surround sound. It’s either this or that sun dried fart of a president, Donald Trump, will have reduced our species to a pile of radioactive dust. I’ve also heard that Amazon has seen a surge in people wanting to read Mein Kampf, maybe because ‘it’s a good time.’
I just finished reading Camus’ The Plague, not as famous as The Stranger, but certainly no less skillfully written. Camus’ The Plague is a stifling, suffocating tale of a small Algerian town placed under quarantine after an outbreak of bubonic plague. It has been suggested that the story is an allegory of how Nazi ideology spread throughout Germany in the years leading up to World War 2, and the seemingly futile efforts of the French Resistance as they tried to find ways of overcoming the Nazi occupation.
While reading The Plague, it didn’t require any great leap of imagination to liken the spread of a highly contagious disease to the rapid spread of the alt right ideology. (An absolutely shameless and poor attempt to segue into what it is that I’m trying to say. I could have actually put in my opening paragraph; if I hadn’t become side tracked by dystopian literature, and the equally dystopian level of nudity that I predict will be required to decide our governments of the future.)
Despite having a name that sounds like a keyboard short cut it should be no surprise that the alt right has gained the majority of its following through the internet. The internet has proven to be an ideal breeding ground to facilitate the pervasive spreading of an ideology that only a couple of years ago would never have been discussed in public. The anonymity afforded by the internet has enabled people to voice radical opinions and meet up with others holding similar views. Over a relatively short period of time the numbers of people that have banded together sharing concerns over immigration, Islamic terrorism, feminism, and the preservation of the right to the freedom of expression, have increased at an alarming rate. To help put this into context I refer to the arbiter of public consciousness, Google. Type the terms ‘alt right’ into Google and you’ll get a choice of just over a quarter of a billion results to look at. Search ‘Democratic Party’ and you get a measly 64 million hits, search ‘US Constitution’ and you have what appears like an anemic choice of just over 10 million sources to look at. If the internet is the new battleground then it’s obvious that the alt right are winning the war. Mind if you do a search for ‘evil cat’, that’ll get you 43 million responses. So whether or not we should be fearing an alt right, evil cat coalition, or that the internet is really nothing more than a digital rubbish tip of mankind’s deranged sensibilities, I’ll leave you to decide.
The alt right has used the right to the freedom of expression as a foothold to gain itself a tenuous amount of legitimacy. They promote themselves as being the only political ideology that truly upholds this right, the self proclaimed guardians of the first amendment. It’s most likely that they’ve been able to achieve this as they’ve held opinions that were unutterable in civilized gatherings for the past twenty years. This logic is however flawed as any morally bankrupt ideology would be able to lay claim having had their freedom of expression limited by societal norms and values. For instance, and much to my own chagrin, people are very reluctant to engage in conversation that are open to considering the benefits of necrophilia. The truth is that the freedom of speech for those with repugnant ideas is no less than anybody else’s, what has to also be considered is the right that a large number of people have to react to those that espouse hate filled ideologies.
When Milo Yiannopoulos discussed his opinion that relationships between middle aged men and teen boys can be ‘life affirming.’ Mr. Yiannopoulos had the freedom, and made the choice, to express this opinion. His publishers Simon & Schuster, who were due to publish Yiannopoulos’ book, then exercised their right to react to Yiannopoulos’ statement by withdrawing their support and cancelling the book deal.
When a person promotes racist values that another person finds to be offensive, that person has just exercised their right to express their opinion. Anyone who listens to an opinion that they might disagree with, or find offensive, then has the right to disassociate themselves from such persons, who express such opinions. Simply put, we all have the right to say whatever it is we want, but we should also realize that there might be consequences to what we choose to say, in the form of how others might choose to respond to it.
And this is where I believe that we find ourselves today. A sizable group of people have, through the internet, suddenly found themselves empowered to express an extremely polemic point of view, leaving us with a society that is essentially in shock. The alt right is shocked that they have been able to voice opinions after they’ve had to bite their tongues for so long. The liberals meanwhile, are shocked there are so many people with such horrible ideas, and not enough people are thinking about the children.
Researching the ideology of the alternative right feels like driving to the dentists during the rush hour, because it’s an ideology that’s driven by fear, promotes intolerance and ultimately arrives at its final destination of self-loathing. Essentially what underpins the political philosophy of the alt right – I say political philosophy even though it has a set of opinions that are about as diverse as a satnav system stuck going round a roundabout – is nihilism. The alt right essentially rejects any reality that is in conflict with its own. It simply ignores the fact that culturally, racially, and economically our societies have become complex. Diversity has been the result of technology being able to transport people and goods, more quickly and cheaper than ever before. This doesn’t appeal to the mindset of the alternative right.
Steve Bannon, doyen of the alt right and Donald Trump’s chief strategist, promotes what he calls economic nationalism. According to Bannon, economic nationalism is the antithesis of globalization. Economic nationalism puts the American worker first, particularly when that worker is a white male. Bannon’s idea of economic nationalism provides us with an almost tangible glimpse into what an alt right Utopia would look like. It hearkens back to the days of 1950’s America. An America that rewarded hard working men, provided they came in the right shade of white. America before the civil rights movement. As a baby boomer this was the America that Steve Bannon grew up in, which makes me wonder if economic nationalism is nothing more than Bannon’s fantasy to relive his youth; so he can murder his father and have sex with his mother in order to fulfill an Oedipal complex that has laid dormant in him for the best part of half a century. I tried to make that last bit sound funny, but I can’t. It’s difficult to make a joke about a man who has admitted in public that he respects the power of Satan and who might also, in my opinion probably does, harbor sexual fantasies for his own mother.
Bannon’s economic nationalism has been criticized as populist in its appeal. As being an ideology that over simplifies economic issues, reducing them to the sort of sound bites that appeal to a stigmatized group, which in this case happens to be the working class white male of the American Rust Belt. Perhaps the most fundamental premise at the foundation of the alt right ideology is a belief that western culture has been destroyed by years of liberal economic
policy. The sorts of policies that have made it easier for the free movement of goods and people have been blamed for causing the economic downturn that has caused the rust belt. Being opposed to economic policies that promote globalization is a perfectly valid opinion for a person to have, but this opinion starts to become a concern when it’s hijacked by a group of people that espouse populist rhetoric in order to appeal to a group of people and get them believing that they have been the targets of economic policies that have seen other ethnic groups taking their jobs. Such rhetoric is extremely effective at spreading fear and hatred of the groups that appeared to have not fared as poorly. This type of rhetoric can cause alarm as it echoes that of Hitler identifying the Jews as the cause of Weimar Germany’s economic disaster.
But if I’m honest then I have to admit that I’m utterly bored, even contemptuous towards the economy. Whilst all of us have grown up to unquestioningly believe that economics and politics are ingredients fundamental to the running of a developed society, politics and economics have been the exclusive domain of intellectuals and economists. On the one hand we are made to feel that the health of the economy we live in is so vital that it closely mirrors our own well being. If the economy was a game that truly affects us all then I’d refuse to play as I have very little understanding of the rules. In fact the only people who do know the rules seem to be the sort of people I read about after they’ve drained all the money out of a pension fund.
Banking, as far as I can tell, seems to be almost as precise a science as using a slot machine. You either blindly hope for the best, delude yourself into thinking you’ve worked out a system, or open it up when no one’s looking and rig the settings so it’ll pay out illegally.
I Can Make You Hate Hardcover –
Just spend 5 minutes watching Bloomberg, inevitably you’ll hear two people trading economic jargon in a sort of duel to the death to prove who owns the most absurd lexicon. A man wearing a blue suit with a hair style so impossible that it defies all hitherto understanding of the laws of physics will open with an idea to “cultivate robust e-services,” the other participant in this discussion of virtual economic pugilism, parries this opening salvo and counters with “benchmark web-enabled e-commerce,” this backs the impossible hair into a corner, forcing them to respond with “scale out-of-the-box partnerships,” this for a moment catches his opponent off guard, he seems to stagger, his eyes roll back in his head, before he gathers his senses and unleashes a devastating combination of “brand vertical networks,” quickly followed by “productize clicks-and-mortar e-markets”. There’s an awkward pause as the hair realizes that he’s beaten, defeated in a contest that I failed to understand a single word of, and find hard to imagine that anyone else who’s just watched it has been able to comprehend.
The fact that the economic system is so unintelligible means that it relies on a public suspension of disbelief. A tacit understanding from the working classes that just because it sounds complicated, and that money is important, this imbues it with all the credibility that is necessary. I however am more cynical than that, and suspect that the financial sector has invented a lexicon so impenetrable so as to place itself outside of the realm of common sense, thus enabling those with an understanding of its strange, esoteric language, carte blanche to steal as much money as and when they like. The economy has done its best to marginalize the working class, who have then been told to hate immigrants, or globalization as being the reasons why they have lost their jobs, when in actual fact their frustrations should be focused on the bankers who will remain in their jobs irrespective of whatever government we might have.
If there’s one thing that the election of Donald Trump and Brexit should have taught all of us it’s that the working class, and in particular the white working class, are tired of being framed pejoratively by a media that has for too long looked down its nose at them. And this is an incredibly dangerous thing to have done which again has been seized upon by, the psycho with an unrealized fantasy of sleeping with his mother, Steve Bannon. Discrediting the media strikes a chord with working class people that have good reason to feel that it has failed to represent either them, or their concerns for a very long time. When a government is able to discredit a weak media it removes society’s most effective means of enforcing checks and balances upon that government. Being supported by a group of people that have long since seen it given up on listening to reason, who are now convinced that their government are the only voice of truth, inevitably empowers that government to do essentially whatever it pleases.
Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what I’ve been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media – we, us, I – dying?
Despite trying to consider the Trump government, and the alternative right with an open mind, what I struggle to get beyond it its sense of nihilism. It seems to believe that everything that has been done over the course of the past 20 years has been wrong to such an extreme that everything must be discarded and replaced. It makes me feel that the last 20 years were all just a waste of time, and that we would have all been better off if we’d just stayed at home, watched The X Factor and masturbated into a sock, which is largely what I think most of us were doing. It rejects any idea that mankind is just one race, the human race. Instead it concentrates all of its malevolent energy into focusing on what makes people different. It then takes these differences and tries to convince mostly the white working class males, that these differences mean that diverse societies are incapable of peace or prosperity. The Utopia of the alternative right would seem to be a homogeneous society of people whose shade of white only varies according to how long ago it was they were last on holiday. However, whether these holidays could be taken abroad remains unclear. With the alternative right being so fearful of economic globalization and cultural diversity, holidaying in a country that dares to speak a different language or eat rice will probably not be possible if the fantasy of the alternative right comes to fruition.
I can see how the alternative right is being made to appeal to white, working class males. But I end where I started, with a quote from Camus’ The Plague, which is how I would feel if I found myself supporting the alternative right:
I was with them and yet I was alone. When I spoke of these matters they told me not to be so squeamish; I should remember what great issues were at stake. And they advanced arguments, often quite impressive ones, to make me swallow what none the less I couldn’t bring myself to stomach. The Plague – Albert Camus
Below are some pages that might interest you if you’re looking for more in depth, and frankly better written articles. Not something that sounds like it just leaked out of the mind of a person that was having their soul devoured by a xenophobic, hate filled wraith at four in the morning.
- present. http://www.cjournal.info/2015/08/21/the-plague-of-american-authoritarianism/
- Mind bending and toe curling hatred can be found at: http://www.vdare.com/