Updated: Dec 27, 2020
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Caller on May 16, 2018.
By: Joe MacKinnon
“The whole curse of the last century has been what is called the Swing of the Pendulum; that is, the idea that Man must go alternately from one extreme to the other. It is a shameful and even shocking fancy; it is the denial of the whole dignity of Mankind. When Man is alive he stands still. It is only when he is dead that he swings.” — G.K. Chesterton
In the United States, the left and the right are tugging ever harder in opposite directions, severing whatever tenuous connections still hold them together, and abandoning whatever moderation may have first made their views palatable to the common American. While both sides have drawn millions to their ranks, offering differing and equally fraudulent brands of belonging and purpose, neither has come out victorious. Instead, they are both losing. The projected victor? (I can guarantee you Nate Silver and the mainstream media will get this wrong too.) The common American is the projected victor. He has dug in his heels at the political center because there’s no future for him or for his country with the extremes, and if there is one thing the common American has in spades, it’s common sense.
Over the past several years, devotees of the American cult of “progressive” politics and cultural Marxism (i.e. authoritarian leftists) have evidenced and even doubled down on their antipathy for free speech, ideological diversity, historical context, Western religious institutions, and laissez faire liberalism. Everyone or anyone who rebuffs their ideological claims or assumptions is branded a fascist, a Nazi, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, etc. These terms ought to be reserved for those whose actions and intentions properly illustrate their meaning, as in the case of Richard Spencer or the like; not for the Rust Belt mechanic who could not in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton or the rapper who realized that maybe, with black unemployment at a record low, the current administration may not be trenchantly anti-black after all. Nevertheless, anyone perceived by the alt left to have strayed from that bloody path leading to the Frankfurt School’s exclusionist utopia — regardless of the details surrounding the offending party’s words, costume, pigmentation, or action — will be defamed, ostracized, beaten, or worse.
Owing to their hatred for present-day America (as progressive ideology is naturally always focused on the future), the alt left is keen to burn it to the ground. They fetishize the poor and rely upon minority groups for support, but these they hurt the most with calls for uncontrolled immigration, the dissolution of the nuclear family, the overthrow of capitalism, the embrace of anti-Western cultures, the prioritization of feeling over fact, and the inversion of natural hierarchies. They want a hard reset. If the 100 million lives sacrificed in a similar experiment in the 20th century was any indication, their long-game will be ruinous.
Alternatively, the alt right is loosely constituted by fractious groups and persons deserving of some — and sometimes all — of the labels listed above. Whatever you think of VICE co-founder and right-leaning provocateur Gavin McInnes, reserve judgment long enough to watch his piece on the distinction between the alt-light, the alt-right and then a third unnamed category containing the most reprehensible of active ideologues further down the line. In the video, he situates politically-active personalities along a spectrum of extremity, from Baked Alaska and Milo Yiannopoulos all the way to Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.
Responding to the left’s identity politics with a brand all their own (i.e. identitarianism) and embracing fringe authenticity rubrics for who can or should be called a citizen (with frequent appeals to pseudoscientific arguments for race-based proclivities to social decay as well as to phrenology), the alt right appears to dam two streams. The first feeder is comprised of individuals who are especially fearful or resentful of Islam, feminism, censorship and the cultural Marxists’ perversion of and attack on western civilization. While anyone with a newspaper subscription may have concerns that overlap theirs, this stream of the alt eight is contaminated by the second, which consists of bigots obsessed with racial superiority and purity. Whereas the alt left strives to replace God with the state, the alt right seems to replace God with man — specifically a white man; the ubermensch.
The alt left and the alt right alike appear obsessed with the politics of race, sex, gender and ethnicity. Those in the center, unless motivated to assimilate or neuter the extremes, are poised to be collateral, as the terms of this bipolar conflict tacitly agreed to are ultimately exclusion, segregation, exile, and genocide. Both look to purge America and then turn it into incubators for their bad ideas, all of which are at odds with Western culture — itself intrinsically Judeo-Christian, tempered by Enlightenment rationalism, and fit for all. A free, meritocratic, multiracial and democratic West is shored up by the center.
And the center will hold.