The populist rebellion against the establishment presently comes in two main flavors, the alt-right and the alt-left.
Of these the alt-right has met with much greater real world success so far for it is heir to years of internet dissident thought, which while considered right wing cares little for conventional political parties. The alt-right discourse has tapped into the anger of the working classes while guided by a priesthood of savvy students of human nature. Alt-lite civic nationalists market a less threatening entry-level brand to normie republican voters who then are given tacit permission to radicalize until some of them progress to the alt-right where the ideas are formed and taken to their logical conclusions.
The alt-left is still being formed from increasingly disillusioned white middle class progressives who have typically affiliated with the democrat party or third parties. Some of this cohort freak out and go off the deep end into nutty socialist utopianism and impotent activism as a coping mechanism but others realize there’s something incomplete in how they understand the world. They begin by reading a bit about the dark arts and soon find themselves falling as Lucifer fell. One day it hits them: the nepotistic minority groups who pushed them out of their own party are a major reason why we can’t have nice things.
As things stand, the alt-lite and alt-right often see themselves as rivals and the to the extent they know about an alt-left, they’re just more enemies in the direction they’re told to always punch.
I’ve observed, though, since I was watching Bernie Sanders’ efforts in the primaries last year that populists on both sides of an obsolete political spectrum possess pieces of the puzzle.
For all their sudden and dizzying victories, the alt-right has little idea what to do next. By decoding the obfuscation of political correctness, they established a superior understanding of the political situation, applied their knowledge, and spent long years gnawing on the roots of the world tree, Ygdrasil.
The weakness of the alt-right is it lacks any compelling or coherent vision, or even any motivation to establish a functional society. They indulge in warmed over libertarian theories every bit as fanciful as progressive dreams of US universal socialism, telling themselves they’re going Galt any day now. Attitudes of personal responsibility, taking initiative, and every-man-for-himself served them well in the days when they just wanted to get laid more but now the question is how to have a society that doesn’t suck to begin with.
To be fair, there are those who grapple with these problems and their prevailing impulse is to try to go back in time to a more traditional society. We see pickup artists getting grey hair, losing their youthful horniness, and suddenly wondering what to do with the rest of their lives. They end up advocating for traditional family and marriage they never had any interest in—making them eerie parallels to feminist relationship and marriage advice columnists who always seem to be divorced and single in their 30s.
Bizarrely, they look to a historically backward Russia with deep social problems, low fertility rates, and millions of Muslims and Central Asians as an example of the ideal white nation. There are indeed good reasons to admire Putin’s strong leadership and the staunchly nationalist direction he is taking his country, but mayor of a city-on-a-hill he is not.
The alt-right types including red pillers and neo-reactionaries are undisputed masters of understanding the darker corners of human nature but so far they have failed to apply their cynical worldly wisdom to create a viable new culture. This is where they can benefit from fallen progressives.
The alt-leftists started out believing in all the feelgood ideas about human nature taught by school and well-meaning boomer parents but they went down a path to heresy as the world view they were taught was torn apart by cold and pitiless reality. As they absorb some of the hard lessons of race, sex, and general human scumminess it dawns on them they’ll never have a nice society until they are selective and give the smart, responsible people most of the power and resources.
The fallen leftists understood even under egalitarian tutelage that hostile elites exert great control by rigging the economic system itself and especially the financial system. They tried to make sense of their situation, like the alt-right did, by studying history. I have actually come to think of Graeber’s Debt: The First 5000 Years as one of their founding works. For many middle class progressive kids their first big red pill was graduating from college and finding there weren’t any jobs and everything the schools and their parents had told them was a lie. So as manospherians studied Ancient Rome to gain insights into feminist cultural decay, unemployed hipsters who took out big loans to get useless degrees read about debt forgiveness in Ancient Mesopotamia.
The key insight the alt-left arrived at was that people need actual incentives to care about society whether we’re looking at hunter gatherers or the inhabitants of the first cities. An endless war between the butcher and the baker isn’t the basis of the social contract, mutual obligation is. There was no primitive system of barter engaged in by atomized Smithian savages—instead, credit predates coinage by tens of thousands of years.
Thus, these inquiries led alt-leftists to challenge a core assumption of Marxism—that the market is the central concern of human affairs and religion, tradition, and aesthetics mere distractions compared.
Alt-rightists, including the dark enlightenment, actually double down on flawed enlightenment theories of human motivation when they advocate for ultra individualism and atomization where everyone has to prove themselves from scratch and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps in the market economy.
The way successful human groups really work is by helping each other out, giving the most help to the best but always remembering no one can get far alone.
The alt-rightists though, can teach the fallen leftists the underclasses are the way they are for a reason and most resources given them disappear without a trace. The most you can accomplish is prevent riots caused by empty stomachs. Their unapologetic Randian ubermensch self-interest is unsuitable for a society, but it is just the medicine ex-leftists need to get past sentimental egalitarian attitudes, take responsibility, and be willing accept harsh truths. With some tough lessons, the alt-left can acquire the will-to-power and pragmatism they need to rise above wishful thinking.
When we combine a matter-of-fact understanding of the harsh competitiveness of cruel nature with the principle that societies are made successful by reciprocity and shared purpose we end up with a new synthesis. We have arrived at the alt-center.