At about this time last year I started reading Matt Yglesias’s blog and responding to his posts in the comments section. Austin Bramwell in the American Conservative had rendered an interesting opinion of this eminently credentialed elite opinion shaper, saying he “has the most depth” among a good sampling of younger bloggers. I began reading his blog out of curiosity.
Yglesias is less philosophically minded than I had expected. Philosophy was his major at Harvard, but Yglesias seems to mostly find philosophy irrelevant. I suppose Harvard’s analytic bent makes philosophy seem irrelevant to public policy wonks. He doesn’t discuss first principles and only reveals his values obliquely. He makes utilitarian arguments from a perspective colored with liberal platitudes.
His writing is dry and his sense of humor is odd and he is a fan of gangster rap. I don’t know what a hipster is exactly but I feel like the term suits him well—hipsters are like porn in that way, we all know it when we see it. He compensates for a lack of style in his writing with snark. Mencken, who said the Jews were “the most unpleasant race ever heard of,” would have probably called Yglesias an all-too-typical member of his tribe.
Engaging some of the other commentators on his blog was the first time I had sparred with liberals on a written level. What struck me was how ignorant well over half of them were. They were ignorant about basic rules of logic and matters of knowledge. None seemed to understand simple facts. All denied the consensus that statistical differences between racial groups are a) mostly intractable at this point because b) there are biological limits represented by various “averages.”
I stopped participating after a couple of the regulars realized the power of the implications of what I was saying and declared me persona non grata. One of them said something moronic like “the admission ticket into the conversation is not bringing racist opinions into the theater,” or some similarly tortured metaphor. I didn’t want to stick around any longer anyways.
Communicating with those kind of wonk-minded liberals is tiresome when it is possible. Once I understood their arrested state of intellectual maturity the rest was just excruciatingly boring. Facts be damned, hate speech is not allowed. Trying to explain anything to such people is a crime against time.
I don’t read the comments sections of any mainstream conservative or mainstream liberal blogs or websites anymore. The number of idiots is legion. The internet is a revolutionary innovation; but it belongs to the masses, the insufferable masses.
Alternative Right is not part of the mainstream. It does not belong to the masses. And this is reflected in the quality of the conversation we are having, The quality of the conversation taking place on Alternative Right, between the contributors and between the commentators and between the contributors and the commentators, is well-informed, interesting, and far-above, say, David Brooks and Gail Collins colloquies.
I don’t know why anyone with half a brain comments on most mainstream blogs. The comments section of most mainstream blogs consists of several hundred anonymous strangers throwing their two cents into a well of cyber ink. What is the point?
The difference between the maturity of our conversation and theirs is that every once in a while one of their commentators will say something intelligent and every once in a while one of ours will say something bizarre. The weirdos are a small price to pay for discussing ideas with able minds from around the world.
Our comments are more than cathartic pronouncements—though we have those as well. Our comments are a public conversation, a written dialogue, a spontaneous debate. Smart message board conversations represent an advance in the form of a return. We are a community connected to each other by ideas through a dialogue; online dialectics like ours are making intellectual minds return to a form of something Ancient, the carrying out of philosophy in the context of a public conversation.
I write in the comments section as much as any of the contributors, and I think some of the discussions deduced from posted essays and articles are worth discussing as essays and articles. Essays and articles should sometimes be published just for the purpose of moving the discussion in the comments section progressively in a specific direction. The essays could be an occasion to sum up a debate from the comments section and weigh the merits of the possible winners.
The perspective I have been arguing from is definitely a sort of separatism. I think we need a separation not as a retreat but for the purpose of recuperating. The argument that there is something artificial about such a movement is not really an argument so much as a bad attitude. That there is no historical precedent for what I am advancing means nothing if the historic moment is now. What we simply need is more confidence in our own abilities, a point I will be pounding on until we see the sense in it.
Much of what I have to say in my essays is drawn from the direction a discussion in the comments section moved my mind in. Advancing our conversation by referring to the arguments spawned in the comments section could be an occasion to crystallize the structure of our community. Authors more often addressing points made and issues raised in comments will bring us together as a community and precipitate our evolution into an ideological tribe. Indeed, I think this is the only way to become a real community and a concrete tribe.
That is what I would very briefly like to do in this essay regarding a debate in the comments section of Richard’s post, "AmRen Whiteout".
The issue that was raised in the "Amren Whiteout" discussion was the matter of classifying our perspective with a good term. There is a felt sense I think that we need a single term, we need to lay claim to a single term and stick to it, agree on its denotation and begin infusing the relevant connotations into it.
Those connotations should include terms that have themselves become radioactive and so must be incorporated implicitly. I think we all agree that we need to move beyond White Nationalism—which Richard Spencer did well by inventing Radical Traditionalism—but that we are in some loose sense White Nationalists. I like Tribal Localism, but that lacks I think a necessary cultural connotation.
I submitted Archaicism and Aaron submitted Communitarianism. I’ll leave it up to the conversationalists to submit others and weight the merits of them all.
The goal is not to win an argument but to reach an agreement. We should be having more a conversational discussion than a polemical debate. And the point in spelling it out like this is really only to make explicit what was tacit, to lend official gravity to CS discussions, hopefully making our minds more deliberate.The idea is to sophisticate our conversation. We should want to create a regulated forum of discussion, where we interact according to rules, and exclude cathartic expressions from the equation.
Most of the cultural capital needed to make this work is already present in the form of unarticulated knowledge and invisible social contracts among the serious readers of this website. Very few commentators recklessly throw out insults or maledictions. And those who do that only are generally ignored.
Now is as good a time as any to start a conversation in search of a single word with which to sum up our perspective.