Republicans Need New Intellectuals

Comments to Steve Sailer:

* Part of the problem is that the nationalist, isolationist & race realist ideas are too close to common sense to signal elite intellectualism.

If the regular folk are saying X, the intelligentsia must distinguish themselves from the uneducated rabble by saying Y. Even — maybe even especially — if reality is closer to X.

* But the Internet has changed things, with popular sites like Breitbart and Drudge being practically friendly to white nationalism and making National Review and the Weekly Standard completely irrelevant.

2016 may be an electoral disaster for the right, but it’s the start of something greater.

* But when I go down the list of people on the right hand side of the page here, for example, I get maybe four people under 50. Over 75 you don’t want to know. And that’s not including dead people who make terrible new intellectuals.

* I think conservatives just don’t do the intellectual thing very well on average, the same way liberals don’t do the business thing very well (except for Hollywood) or the family thing very well. People who are willing to give up money to think about ideas all the time tend to lean to the left. The left-wing control of the universities doesn’t help matters either.

* We **DO** have intellectuals, but they are not “respectable.” They don’t have pedigrees, fancy university stamps, and lots of social connnections. But Heartiste/Roissy, La Griffe du Lion, Lion of the Blogosphere/Half Sigma, Jayman, Peter Frost, Mencius Moldbug, HBD Chick, and of course yourself have publicly thought about the challenges of the West and where we are going, and how to avoid utter disaster.

I would rather Trump and the Republican Party spend say, $100,000 annually on each one of you to publicly explore and think about policy from both a short term and long term perspective than any money be spent on public intellectuals.

I have the following reasons –

Firstly the comments sections will keep you all honest. If you have faulty data, or more likely flawed/faulty assumptions, the breadth of internet knowledge will soon set you right. This is impossible in a public policy institution because of the slow, leisurely pace and insular setting.

Secondly, policy proposals that are sound are quick to be adopted, because they will be disseminated quickly and openly, far more so than an AEI talk by Charles Murray. Who has done good work but has not the temperament or ability to rapidly develop policies and modify them which the demands of the time require. I am talking tempo here — an “Open Source Agile Policy” recommendation system would allow incremental, constantly improving development rather than a “waterfall” of complex, sure to fail policies raining down. And importantly, it will be done in the open, with contributions by all even those on the opposite partisan ends, making the policy more able to withstand criticism of those whose rice bowls are upset. That is, the grafters having an end to their graft.

Thirdly I like the idea of being open because more smart and pressed SWPL will come away at least half convinced than something raining down from a new institute. Because they will have seen it develop, and be more comfortable with it, and perhaps even see their own advantages in the policy. Look at Neal Gabler who can’t make ends meet — he’s already halfway there to seeing a need for a big policy change.

* Trump has, of course, been derided as a shallow, unthinking ignoramus with no coherent views.

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more it seems to me that the positions he has staked out are, in fact, far more coherent and sensible than the traditional views on either the right or the left. I don’t mean to imply that Trump put together his views after careful contemplation of theory and history. Mostly, he’s just followed his nose (and noticing) to his views, and doing so created a fairly consistent and compelling position (though with some obvious glitches).

At the base of his positions seems to be a hard commitment to “citizenism”. From this, combined with his secular orientation, pretty much all else follows. His basic idea is that we, as Americans, need to stick up for and support our fellow Americans, and to abandon the quest to accommodate, win over, conquer, or meddle in the affairs of others. We defend our borders, we defeat any enemies who attack us, and we make sure that immigration is restricted to suit the purposes of current citizens. We defend our workers against avoidable losses of jobs and incomes due to too much immigration or outsourcing of jobs. We forge trade deals entirely in this light and for that purpose.

But his citizenism has another set of consequences that generally render Trump anathema to most on the right. That is his apparently quite sincere commitment to the importance of entitlements, including, obviously, Social Security and Medicare. In fact, Trump has even spoken positively of the possibility of something akin to Medicare for All. This may seem like a contradiction to many conservatives, but it isn’t, working from Trump’s basic principles. For Trump, it’s all about doing well by American citizens — supporting them and providing for them and allowing them to look forward to stable lives in which the government can smooth over the vicissitudes of the economy and their circumstances. And, frankly, it’s hard not to see the good in this. Germany seems to be a good example of a country that has managed to create a very prosperous and stable environments for its workers. They enjoy good incomes, steady jobs, and vacations that put us to shame.

One of the most important pieces of research on our socio-political environment in the last 50 years is that of Robert Putnam, who found that social harmony was negatively correlated to diversity. On the right, this has been taken as a sign that we must minimize the amount of diversity if we want to have a country with minimal discord. That’s a fair enough conclusion. But they seem quite reluctant to acknowledge the obverse: if we minimize diversity, focus on American citizens, strengthen harmony and bonds among American citizens, the psychologically inevitable — and, I think, reasonable — consequence is more commitment to social safety nets, to the fate of “the common man”, to organizations and laws protecting workers. Such a socio-political setting is indeed found in Germany and other European welfare states — though no doubt it’s now being undermined by their own problems with diversity. The real challenge, in both Europe and America, is to maintain the trust and bonds inherent in our societies while not extending the compassionate attitudes lying behind such feelings to every human being everywhere–which is ultimately self-defeating. (And perhaps western societies must go through the experience of excessive diversity in order to oppose it. It’s a societal level game of Tit-for-Tat. Trump both understands — and embodies a play in — this game. (Trump would be, I suppose, Tit.))

This seems to be the position and solution that Trump is, in effect, pointing toward. Rather than being the mindless, incoherent set of beliefs everybody has been characterizing Trump as putting forth, his stand — though it appears radical — is driven by a vision that is quite consistent, sensible, and even scientifically validated and evolutionarily sound.

Is there indeed a better or deeper vision?

I’m not sure what it might be.

* Pat, I get what you’re saying in your desire for an intellectual standard bearer to take National Discourse to the next level, and shift the Overton in a more refined, methodical (yet vigorous) way than, say, presumptive nominee Trump. This takes a bit of showbiz combined with intellect. Steve is a smart, self-aware man who knows his own strengths. He works on spec, on his own schedule, which gives him time to distill what the internet/media panopticon sends him. He Notices, and he nudges by way of analogy.

Steve relentlessly skewers hypocrisy, but his observations are also leavened by a sense of the absurd. This is appealing to those of us who spend time here. He is a civil, hat-tipping calm Cassandra, a barometer that is read by smart ‘lurkers.’ Commenter “anonguy” once alluded to this blog’s “long tail” of influence. There has likely been a ripple effect on other, more mainstream, thinkfluencers. (Does Matt Groening still do those Forbidden Words lists?)

Now here’s the bad news: What you are talking about (“be Editor in Chief of a website”) is fields of text in clearing houses for ‘ideas’ like the old National Review, that the Candy Crushing, Vice City playing masses aren’t reading. How many read anything on Unz, etc., let alone know what is on the front page of the New York Times?

Now, I’ve never personally met Steve (s’up bro!) but judging from this interview, Steve, while having an earnest, decent sounding voice and appearance, doesn’t have the (commanding? entertaining?) presence to directly take his ideas to the general public. His blinking, searching expressions are distracting. He could get professional training, I suppose, but that’s assuming that at this stage in life he would even want to become a tv/video ‘personality’. It’s certainly not for everyone, and yet that is what is required to take influence to the next level.

The best the “alt-right” could do to go mainstream and have universal ‘household’ impact amongst Millenials and younger would be to have a youngish (late 20s to 30s) commentator with his (or her) channel on YouTube that gets so popular it would be hard to “shut it down!” This person would have to be an erudite, attractive, entertaining shitlord (in Heartiste parlance) and not just talk to the camera, but make use of satirical acting, comical/shocking cutaways, asides, etc. Maybe someone like a Tosh.O minus the fey delivery, and with deadly serious content…

Like that old malediction may you live in interesting times: Many “core Americans,” “the middle,” whatever you want to call them, are Noticing by way of their own Lying Eyes. Where I live, a once ‘lily white’ region is being steadily Diversified. I mean you now see straight up off-the-boat Africans (and others) walking around. These are not polished, professional, right-side-of-the-bell-curve kids gets accepted to all the Ivies types.

People are Noticing, and they don’t like it. Trump is a sign of that. The record-breaking volume of gun buying is a sign of that. The progress curve of postwar mass immigration to the West has been described by the aphorism “gradually, then suddenly.” The same can describe the likely upcoming (violent) backlash. When the temple comes tumbling down, and all the ‘best people’ are wailing to the heavens, at least Steve can say: You were warned.

* Some of Trump’s nationalistic policies have streams in the camps of Buchanan and Samuel Francis. Buckley purged Buchanan from Conservatism back in the day, he seldom ever made mention of Sam Francis, which would suggest either: He never heard of Sam Francis, or, he couldn’t stomach such a person (after all, Francis was from “The South”. Not in Buckley’s conception of the South but the south a la Jesse Helms. While born in LA, Buckley was most at home in NYC and more or less identified as a Northeasterner, though he’d play up his southern roots when it was convenient to do so. Much the way GWB and W have done).

Or rather, what did Buckley ever think of Donald Trump personally before passing in ’08? Also, what does his son Christopher think of Donald Trump’s candidacy? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Anyone know what Christopher Buckley thinks of Donald Trump?

If anything, it’s probably a snobbish class thing. To the Buckley’s of the US, Trump, Buchanan, and Francis are the proles, the bumpkins, the “wrong sort” of folks to emulate, to aspire to, and are best ignored or dismissed altogether.

Another conservative intellectual, though admittedly a bit risky, would be Jared Taylor, who, in the ideal world would be a counterpart of Buckley’s in the Conservative Movement at large.

* And dammit Steve Sailer, why haven’t you cured cancer, settled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, deposed Kim-Jong Un, cleansed our air, purified our water, and sent the Starship Enterprise beyond the speed of light to explore new galaxies and go where no man has gone before! Steve, you slacker!

From the SPLC:

Since its founding in 2007, Breitbart News Network has grown to become one of the most popular news outlets on the right.

Over the past year however, the outlet has undergone a noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant ideas –– all key tenants making up an emerging racist ideology known as the “Alt-Right.”

The Alt-Right is a loose set of far-right ideologies at the core of which is a belief that “white identity” is under attack through policies prioritizing multiculturalism, political correctness and social justice and must be preserved, usually through white-identified online communities and physical ethno-states.

The Alt-Right has received a lot of mainstream media attention over the past six months or so with media outlets such as the Washington Post and the National Review covering the subject.

Breitbart recently published a lengthy defense of the Alt-Right, claiming the white nationalists such as Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor who created the ideology “have been accused of racism,” choosing to ignore the well-documented openly-racist views.

But Breitbart’s open defense of the Alt-Right didn’t appear out of thin air.

Over the past year the media outlet has been openly promoting the core issues of the Alt-Right, introducing these racist ideas to its readership – much to the delight of many in the white nationalist world who could never dream of reaching such a vast number of people.

Breitbart has always given a platform to parts of the radical right, most notably elements of the organized anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant movements. Breitbart has also organized conferences featuring nativist speakers and published op-eds and interviews with movement leaders. But since 2015, Breitbart began publishing more overtly racist diatribes about Muslims and immigrants.

In May 2015, Breitbart published an article defending Pamela Geller for hosting a “Draw Mohammed Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas, a tactic viewed by many as act to incite and anger American Muslims. Two armed men with links to ISIS targeted the event and killed by police as they attempted to storm the venue.

A Breitbart article, written six days after the contest, was titled, “6 Reasons Pamela Geller’s Cartoon Contest is No Different from Selma.” The article came complete with a picture of Geller alongside a photo of the late Martin Luther King Jr., as if to liken the notorious Muslim-basher with the great civil rights leader.

Earlier this year, in February, Breibart produced a short anti-Muslim video about South Carolina introducing an anti-Shariah law bill. The 51-second video pieced together video of stoning executions and harsh punishments to warn that Shariah law would undercut American justice. The claim echoed similar statements made by Anti-Muslim activists who fear that “creeping Shariah” will soon preempt the Constitution.

“Shariah Law [sic] relegates women and non-Muslims to a lesser status,” text in the video claimed, before adding that Shariah “permits primate punishments including honor-killings.”

A month earlier, Breitbart published an article resembling a white nationalist screed by longtime anti-immigrant politician Tom Tancredo titled, “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture.” In it, Tancredo warned about an “epidemic” of rape across Europe and concluded with, “The Muslim rape culture is not a ‘dirty little secret — it is widely recognized as integral to Islam as taught in the Koran and the Hadith. Like honor killings and other parts of Sharia, it will not be wished away. And like honor killings, with massive Muslim immigration on the horizon, it could be coming to a town near you all too soon.”

In September 2015, a piece on the Breitbart website attacked Pope Francis for his comments about the United States welcoming more refugees by invoking the racist novel Camp of the Saints – a popular book in Alt-Right circles.

The book depicts an invasion of France and the white Western world by a fleet of starving, dark-skinned refugees, characterized as horrific and uncivilized “monsters” who will stop at nothing to greedily and violently seize what rightfully belongs to the white man. The Breitbart piece lauded the book and quoted white nationalist Pat Buchanan. Just a month after the Breitbart piece was published, white nationalist Derek Turner published a similar piece titled, “The Camp of the Saints: Where Literature and Life Collide” for Radix, one of the most prominent Alt-Right websites, run by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

In January of 2016, Breitbart published a piece imploring its readership to watch an Identitarian video published by a German branch of the movement. The Identitarian strain of the Alt-Right define themselves in opposition to multiculturalism and advocate for ethnically and culturally homogenous regions. The racist video attacks German politicians for Germany’s immigration policies stating, “You preach of the diversity of cultures yet you destroy them” and “you create yourselves a new people and turn us into foreigners.”

The slow, but steady, shift toward more radical ideological content is troubling considering Breitbart’s reach. Breitbart.com is one the top 1,000 most popular websites on the Internet, and just outside the top 200 most popular websites in the United States, according to Alexa. Contrast that with Identitäre Bewegung Deutschland, the group who made the video, whose website ranks outside the top 1.4 million most popular websites worldwide and outside the top 120,000 in Germany, according to Alexa.

Another popular racist conspiracy theory that Breitbart has propagated is the trope that African-Americans are committing crimes against whites at alarming rates.

Following the August 2015 murder of a white journalist and a cameraman live on air by a disgruntled African-American former co-worker, Breitbart published the race-baiting headline, “Race Murder in Virginia: Black Reporter Suspected of Executing White Colleagues – On Live Television!” The headline is remarkably similar to ones seen on the website of the white nationalist group Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which is dedicated to spreading the falsehood to the public about the “epidemic” of black on white crime.

Charleston shooter Dylann Roof credited the CCC website as being his gateway into white nationalism after he stumbled upon it when searching Google for information on black on white crime. Following the murder of the journalist and cameraman, the CCC’s headline was actually more benign than Breitbart’s. The CCC article, published by white nationalist Brad Griffin read, “Black Male Shoots Former White Co-Workers On Live Television.”

Breitbart’s Alt-Right primer, published at the end of March, is possibly its most disturbing piece to date. The piece ignores the racist views of the Alt-Right founders –– white nationalists Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor and others –– instead referring to them as the movement’s “intellectuals.” The piece is a striking example of the direction the network has moved over the past year.

Breitbart’s unabashed support for Donald Trump, a candidate whose campaign has helped to mobilize and mainstream racist tenants has had internal ramifications at Breitbart. In March, a number of journalists and editor, Ben Shaprio, quit after one of its reporters, Michelle Fields, was assaulted by Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski. The former Breitbart employees were disgusted at the company’s lack of support for their journalist after the incident.

But a number of journalists remain, such as Katie McHugh, who support the core tenants of the racist Alt-Right. McHugh, a journalist with Breitbart since 2014, doesn’t shy away from her racist beliefs. As a 2015 Raw Story piece revealed, McHugh’s Twitter page is full of racist rants such as calling for a ban on Muslim immigration and stating, “Indian tribes never bothered to build any kind of civilization. They killed each other and chased bison. Yawn~” McHugh also follows a number of white nationalists on Twitter including RamZPaul, an Alt-Right YouTube sensation, English anti-Muslim activist Stephen Lennon and Andrew Auernheimer, a swastika-tattooed neo-Nazi hacker.

Former Breitbart journalist Jordan Schachtel put it best in his resignation letter following the Michelle Fields incident in March, “The company no longer resembles the ideals that inspired me to start writing for them three years ago.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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