Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Why now for the alt-right?

Jerry Stratton, June 29, 2016

I was reading in the June Commentary about a faction in American politics called the alt-right that appears to have some heavily establishment politics: policy decisions by a technocratic elite, a disdain for the democratic process, and a preference for dealing with strongmen rather than engaging with and convincing voters.

They also appear to go in for bullying those who disagree with them, and many have aligned themselves with Donald Trump.

I can’t say whether James Kirchick paints an accurate picture of the movement. I honestly haven’t seen much of it except some comments in blogs, mainly the Ace of Spades HQ1.

But one thing missing from the article was any discussion of why now?2 There will always be angry factions ready to lash out, on every side. Usually, however, such factions remain tiny and ineffectual. To paraphrase Chauncey Gardiner, such movements will not take root unless the soil is prepared. In other words, why do they grow? Why now?

And the answer to that is, they grow when their tactics work, and their tactics clearly work now. Trump’s alt-right wasn’t first the first to use fascist tactics like these, nor are they the most common and blatant users of it. The tactics that Kirchick describes are no different from the left’s finger nannies who storm the phone lines and social media and even physical barricades to get people like Brendan Eich fired, or to get people fired from colleges.

And it works. CEO Brendan Eich resigned from the Mozilla Foundation. President Tim Wolfe resigned from the University of Missouri. Lecturer Erika Christakis resigned from Yale. Sir Tim Hunt resigned from the Royal Society. And Wayne State University is replacing math with grievance studies.

It’s long been a joke that the news media will start treating Christians with respect once Lutherans start gunning down political cartoonists. But it’s not really a joke, because those tactics by Muslim extremists do in fact work to cow the media into submission.

All of these successes can’t have been lost on other fringe groups who would like to be treated with the same reserve.

Movements like this grow when people who would not otherwise join the movement see that their tactics work in other movements that the media and the establishment support.

When the media and the rest of the establishment gives in to bullying, bullies notice. It’s not exactly a new observation that when the rule of law fades, extremism takes its place. The solution, restore the rule of law and stop rewarding bullies, is unfortunately rarely offered by an establishment that likes taking advantage of grievance movements and crises in general.

In response to Election 2016: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.

  1. Ace, it should be noted, rants against the movement and generally blocks them from commenting.

  2. Which is slightly odd, because the subtitle includes “The Politics of Grievance” as a topic, but grievance politics isn’t mentioned by name and isn’t even really discussed, as I read it. Doing a search in the online version of the article, the word “grievance” doesn’t seem to appear anywhere in the body of the article.

  1. <- Sentences best unfinished
  2. Democrat membership scam ->