There is a lot of confusion about the relationship of White Nationalism, the Alt Right, and the so-called Alt Light.
The “Alt Right” is a vague category that encompasses different tendencies of thought united by their rejection of mainstream conservatism. White Nationalism is one such tendency, and the Alt Light is another.
The Alt Light is defined by civic nationalism as opposed to racial nationalism. Whereas White Nationalists believe that true nationhood is defined by race and ethnicity, civic nationalists believe that a nation can be multiracial and multicultural but unified on the basis of common laws and values. It is, in short, a version of the “proposition nation.”
The Alt Light differs from the mainstream of proposition nation conservatives by opposing economic globalization and open borders in favor of nationalism, upholding the superiority of “Western” culture and values, and opposing feminism and political correctness.
It is easy to understand why the various Alt Light figures adopt these positions. Gavin McInnes, for example, is married to an American Indian woman, so obviously he cannot embrace White Nationalism. Milo Yiannopolous is partly Jewish, so clearly he can’t get behind White Nationalism. Mike Cernovich has both affirmed and denied being Jewish, and he is married to a Persian woman, so he is not a good fit for White Nationalism, either. Paul Joseph Watson is allegedly married to an Asian woman; Stefan Molyneux is part Jewish; and so on. (Vox Day is of mixed race, but he has no problem with racial nationalism.)
So instead of arguing for White Nationalism, these figures argue against economic globalization, open borders, feminism, and political correctness, and for Trumpian populist ideas. I agree with all these positions, and I am glad to have allies supporting them. They are not in full agreement with me, of course, but the Alt Light is really as close as these people can come to White Nationalism while remaining authentic to who they are. Of course, the Alt Light decries identity politics, but for these figures, it is at bottom no different from any other kind of multiculturalism, i.e.: it is just the identity politics of diaspora Jews and white miscegenators.
The vast bulk of the Alt Light audience, however, consists of whites without such entanglements, and I look upon them as potential converts to White Nationalism. Indeed, some of them already are White Nationalists, but they have chosen to stake out a position closer to the mainstream because they hope to better influence public discourse and the political process.
So how should White Nationalists relate to the Alt Light? Naturally, there’s a right way and a wrong way. I’ll deal with the right way first.
I regard the Alt Light, and the broader Alt Right, as an opportunity, not as a threat. Our movement can only grow by converting people who do not already agree with us. That requires that we talk to people who do not already agree with us. And those conversations require a safe space. The Alt Right provided that safe space.
This is why the Alt Right brand was so valuable to White Nationalists. It brought together people who rejected the conservative mainstream without requiring that they avow any specific ideology, especially those that might be outside their comfort zone, including White Nationalism and most especially National Socialism. Indeed, the original Alternative Right Webzine was created as a tool of White Nationalist entryism and conversion, and the Alt Right continued to function that way long after it became simply a generic term for edgy alternatives to conservatism.
I think all of us can remember a time when we had to screw up our courage just to read dissident websites in the privacy of our own homes. Our movement is growing rapidly, which means that more people than ever before are in that very spot. Which means that spaces like the Alt Right have never been more important.
That includes Alt Light spaces as well. Thus we should welcome their growth. Let a thousand Deploraballs, Webzines, YouTube channels, self-help books, and supplement lines bloom. Let them set up their tents, gather their crowds, and hawk their wares. A world in which there are fewer mainstream conservatives and more civic nationalists fighting against globalization, open borders, feminism, and political correctness, and upholding the superiority of Western civilization, is definitely moving in the right direction. Not all of these people will be White Nationalist material, but most will be, and if we can’t convince them to come the rest of the way with this sort of setup, we are doing something wrong.
Does this mean that I don’t believe in criticizing the Alt Light and other non-White Nationalist currents in the Alt Right? Of course not. The “Don’t criticize Milo, because he’s a gateway drug” argument makes zero sense. The only way to make the Alt Right work for us is if we criticize other positions. For instance, we have to argue that racial and ethnic nationalism is better than civic nationalism if we are going to convert people to our way of thinking. And our criticisms should not just be on points of political philosophy. If Alt Right figures engage in stupid, dishonest, or dishonorable behavior, we should criticize them as well.
Offering better arguments and upholding high standards of behavior is how we win the metapolitical struggle. We should not be restrained by silly taboos about not “punching Right.” Instead, our only taboos should be against bad arguments, bad faith, and bad behavior.
If White Nationalists cultivate a collegial relationship with the Alt Light, in which we affirm what we have in common, agree to differ in a civil manner, and keep open lines of communication, what is the worst that can happen? As far as I can see, the chief threat is that we will be deluged with more potential converts than we can assimilate and presented with more opportunities for cultural and political advancement than we can take advantage of. But those are good problems to have.
There’s a lot of fearful talk about the Alt Light “co-opting” or “subverting” the Alt Right, or preventing people from becoming further radicalized. Frankly, though, this would happen only if we fail at our mission. But we already know that failure is a theoretical possibility. The rewards, however, far outweigh the risks. So the solution is simply not to fail.
If this is the right way to relate to the Alt Light, what is the wrong way? I would argue that the following behaviors are perverse and self-defeating:
- Trying to drive away people who are not fully on board with White Nationalist ideas. We should be in the business of attracting rather than repelling converts. I have to ask the people who think that the movement will grow by repelling people: was there ever a time when you didn’t hold your present positions? Was there ever a time when you held Alt Lightish views? If so, were you converted by encountering better ideas or by obnoxious trolling and bullying? If the former, then why are you not trying to bring new people along in the same way? If the latter, you probably have half-baked ideas and a weak character, and I doubt you are an asset to our cause.
- Trying to assert that the Alt Right is “nothing but” White Nationalism or National Socialism. The only sense in which the Alt Right is “really” or “essentially” White Nationalist is that it was created as a tool of White Nationalist entryism and conversion. But it can perform that function only if it includes people who are not already White Nationalists. Indeed, they have to find it to be a safe and welcoming space, not a madhouse of trolling, bullying, and doxing.
Both of these self-defeating behaviors are versions of the failed Linderite strategy of “polarization,” which seeks to destroy any positions between mainstream cuckservatism and White Nationalism by basically being an asshole, on the dubious assumption that if forced to choose between mainstream conservatism and Nazi assholes, people of quality will flock to the assholes. In fact, only weak people are attracted by bullying, and by creating a gulf between us and the mainstream, we only ensure our isolation and irrelevance. Besides, as the Alt Light has proved, a third option is possible: namely, to build their own spaces.
Sadly, a productive relationship between White Nationalists and the Alt Light may no longer be possible. A separate Alt Light designation was necessary because civic nationalists felt they were being pushed out of the Alt Right camp by White Nationalists. And in the aftermath of Heilgate, many people have abandoned the Alt Right brand altogether. The Alt Light is creating a cordon sanitaire to prevent Heilgate fiascos at events like the Deploraball.
So this article may be too little too late. But the principles here don’t just apply to the Alt Light. They are true of all relations between vanguardists like us and more mainstream groups. Even if the Alt Right is dead and White Nationalists and the Alt Light are irreconcilably polarized, the forces that fuel both tendencies of thought are very much alive, so as new personalities and platforms emerge and others fall by the way, we will have an opportunity to get things right the next time.