James Kalb's taxonomy of Alternate Modernities is something which hasn't been given enough attention. What are the actual alternatives out there? Are there any alternatives? I find myself abundantly in agreement with his and Professor Gottfried's pessimistic assessments, though perhaps I am looking at things in a slightly different way.
Addressing Mr. Kalb's idea that liberalism more or less had to end up the way it did, I must disagree. I strongly suspect many of the Alternative Right would be reasonably happy in the world of 1913 or even 1961. There was nothing historically inevitable about the liberal program turning into the preposterous abomination it is today: a demoralizing world in which perversion is mandatory, Europeans persecute themselves and erase their own history, and the idea of tipping your hat to a lady is absurd. Liberalism could have gone in completely different directions; for example, in 1961, one might have guessed that liberalism would have expended its energies improving the pace of scientific progress and human power over nature, rather than trying to convince everyone of absurdities such as the equality of the genders. Perhaps this would have taken us in some horrible new direction, worse than the present situation where we have dildo commercials at Christmas time, or perhaps it would have been better: but it would have been different. Dildo commercials were not an inevitable outcome of a John Stuart Mill essay, nor are they some kind of consequence of a lack of Catholic faith.
We got where we are today because of a quasi-religious movement. It was a deeply moralistic movement, made up largely of societal outcasts and marginal figures, and made possible by the connivance of mainstream American institutions, such as mainline Protestantism. Much of history is made up of such movements. Most present histories of the 1960s are written by the victors rather than objective observers. As such, the events of that era are looked upon as a historical inevitability, just as the Arab Chroniclers looked on their conquests of the Byzantine and Sassanid empires as inevitable outcomes of Allah's favor on the faithful. For us to look at any of the events of the last 50 years as having been inevitable outcomes of modernity is, well, silly. What happened was Western Civilization was overrun by a host of savage quasi religious zealots, before I was born.
The present prevailing orthodoxy has no holy book, though it has its gurus, taboos, demons and saints. The way it functions in our society resembles the Catholic Church in Italy or Austria; or, more properly, communism in Russia in the 1950s, minus the fun and the gulags. Certainly, the prevailing orthodoxy as it exists today could collapse, just as did the Soviet Union—but I don't see Americans as completely exhausted with multicultural liberalism as the Soviets were with communism. The vast majority of people in America actually believe in the nonsense; many people believe in it with considerable fervor, to the point where they would consider me some kind of horrible person worthy of censure or worse for not believing as they do. Beyond that, should the Empire fall, it's worth noting that the successor states to the Soviet system had no subsequent guiding principle. They fell apart into quasi nationalistic regions with various low-level civil and ethnic wars, which are still far from settled.
The leaders of our culture committed suicide from lack of confidence. We will not see Western Civilization again without some sort of quasi-religious modern day Livonian crusade against the people who run our decadent culture. Do you see such a Livonian crusade on the horizon? I certainly don't; at least not in America. There aren't any large groups of people with the right opinions and cultural cohesion to pull it off. The fact of the matter is, you'd be lucky to live in a part of the country where anyone of the Alternative Right had the cultural cohesion to organize something on the level of a church bake sale.There are precious few who can even publicly state their views for fear of being destroyed professionally. The situation is different in Europe. There are forces building in Europe which could make WW-2 look like a pie throwing contest, but in the United States of America at least, the insanity could last for many decades longer. Certainly there are good people remaining in the heartland, and many people instinctually know what is happening, but, Tea Parties not withstanding, they show no real signs of cohering sufficiently to change anything.
While I agree with Mr. Kalb that understanding human nature and how we got to our present state is an agreeable way to pass the time, I don't know that it's going to get us anywhere. Millions of minds will have to be changed before any serious political changes can be contemplated, decades of societal conditioning undone, vast bureaucracies will have to be unmade and hundreds of thousands of minor power-brokers replaced. Who is going to do this? What large group of people with a coherent understanding of the world and human nature will be able to do it? Who will replace our present ruling class?
While Richard and others have rightly pointed out the many failings of military leadership; I see eventual military coup and Caesarism in our future. In the event of total economic collapse, the Army will still be there, and it will run the country. Whatever you think of the present use of the military, and however silly its genuflections to the false gods of liberal multiculturalism, it is the only large group of effective people left in America.Academia is a joke, the legal professions hopelessly corrupt, and the last vestiges of the manufacturing economy are mostly military. We can only hope such a coup would be led by good and decent men who look after the interests of the nation as a nation; an American version of Park Chung Hee or Lee Kuan Yew perhaps.
Mind you, I don't want this to happen: no sane person does, but I think it will happen, because Caesarism is how late societies fall apart. One doesn't need to be a Spenglerian metahistorian to recognize this is the direction in which we are headed, if we aren't already standing at the breach. One need only look at how the youngest generation is being raised: either future criminals surrounded by chaotic non-families; or coddled, drugged numskulls whose every waking moment is directed by their parents. The young today already live in a totalitarian state; I'm certain they wouldn't have it otherwise as adults. The rest of us are so cowed, we don't even notice that we already live in a police state. Modern nations consist of many centers of power. Which one do you think is least incompetent?
We stand between the Scylla of multicultural bureaucratic plutocracy and the Charybdis of Caesarism. Which rock do you wish to avoid foundering on? What is to be done? We are doing what we can now: the political program of Paleoconservatism and the Alternative Right is the correct one: starving the beast is the only thing which will prevent disaster. In the meanwhile, we must build our communities and face the future with what equanimity and good cheer we can muster.