I hesitate to write a preface to this article, as it stands on its own. It should also be clear that AltRight has no “party line” and, indeed, is at its best when it acts a forum for ideas to be tested. That said, I am not persuaded by Johnson Miller's conclusion that a scientific understanding of race should have no place—or, at most, a greatly reduced one—within traditionalist circles. I even quibble with a few of his factual assertions. That said, this piece makes an important point, and, furthermore, I recognize that there is a real divide within the non-aligned Right between “traditionalists” and “modernists.” “Archeo-Futurism,” a future-oriented movement within tradition, associated mostly with Guillaume Faye, is a project I support; however, I won't deny that there is a tension, and sometimes antagonism, between its two components. ~Richard Spencer
Human Biological Diversity (HBD), as a concept, is inimical to the radical traditionalism identified as the core orientation of Alternative Right. The use of HBD does stand as a challenge to the egalitarianism of Liberalism and, more generally, of modernity. However, the abstraction, materialism, and quantification upon which HBD is predicated are in fact more characteristic of Liberalism than of anything called traditionalism. We should not give ourselves over to the scientists’ materialist conceptions of man. We need, instead, an organic conception of man that recognizes the transcendent.
It was in the development of eugenics that we gained a clear crystallization of the “nature versus nurture” conflict, as well as the idea of races as statistical populations that is so important for HBD. And it was the Left that gave us eugenics. It was driven by a Progressive desire for an increasingly powerful state that could intervene to manage populations perceived as troublesome in order to promote the improvement of society. Eugenists believed in the perfectibility of man. But, instead of perfecting individuals through education and the creation of free societies, as was the desire of eighteenth-century proponents of the Enlightenment, eugenists sought to rationally manipulate the very materials of inheritance to produce long-term improvements in populations.
Granted, there were great variations in the methods and goals of eugenists, but, most relevant for HBD, was the development of statistical methods to map out human difference. But what concept of the nature of man is embedded in this? To them, man was fundamentally mechanical. He was defined by the material nature of his inheritance. Why did some people and not others commit crimes? Not because they were immoral, enmeshed in sin, or because of any other spiritual or moral quality. They committed crimes because of their biological inheritance. They couldn’t help it. This view of man absolves us of any responsibility, as well as of any free will or spiritual quality. It’s no wonder that eugenics came from the Left and not the Right.
And what of the environmentalists who argued that some people commit crimes because of the environment in which they were raised? It was the same conceptualization of man. Both were equally mechanical. Both were equally modern. And, for both, by what means do we come to know the nature of man? Through reason. It is reason, not faith, revelation, tradition, or individual will that is supreme.
Does the HBD concept not contain the same materialist assumptions about the nature of man? Does it, with its abstract and statistical methods not claim the supremacy of reason? For many readers and contributors to Alternative Right, this is not a problem. Paul Gottfried, for example, looks back to an ideal of nineteenth-century liberalism, an ideal built upon the supremacy of reason and a mechanical view of man and the cosmos. So, should someone like Gottfried have any interest in statistical conceptualizations and rankings of race, it would not conflict with his metaphysical foundations. Might we then identify a split within the “traditionalists” of Alternative Right? Is there a split between paleocons, with their modernism and nineteenth-century liberalism, and, if I may, archaeocons, who are groping towards a rejection of modernity?
So then how are opponents of modernity to understand human difference? Is there a non-modern conceptualization we can apply to modern racial classifications? I don’t think so. Race is entirely modern. Race, which emerged as an idea in the seventeenth century, requires an abstract and universalistic view of man, by which we float above a single thing called man and divide him into categories based on rational analysis. In contrast, traditional views of human difference emerged organically from the concrete and local experience of individuals. No universal system of classification was necessary. An individual in Gaul would have understood difference according to his personal needs and experiences, which may have differed greatly from those of an individual in Carthage or a Pict. Indeed, two individuals of differing stations or regions of Gaul may have conceived of human difference differently. And all of these conceptions could have lived along with one another without any pressure to reconcile them in some universal and abstract manner.
I question, however, whether or not diverse organic and concrete conceptualizations of man are possible today. Human difference, like all else, has been subordinated to industrialization and the modern state. The modern state demands uniformity of definitions, universalism, and abstraction so that it might manage the populations over which it rules. Both the HBD concept and liberal views of man as equal – the same – both fulfill this demand. Both are modern. Neither are traditional.