GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

April 8, 2016

What is Happening

Filed under: GA — adam @ 3:54 am

First, a bit of a review of the alt-right, not in terms of beliefs, ideas or opinions, but as a product of the political field generated by the rise of the victimary. Victimary activists discovered a very neat trick: since we have all agreed that human equality is the fundamental presupposition of a modern political order, pretty much anything actually existing can be denounced as a reactionary violation of fundamental political principles. Income inequality—the rich are stealing from the poor, with the help of bribed politicians. Racial differences in academic success and crime rates—educational institutions incapable of recognizing any forms of intelligence or accomplishment other than familiar, “white” ones; suspicious white citizens and racist police inclined to see blacks as criminals (whether higher rates of black crime are fraudulent rationalizations of racism or products of it is a secondary question). Women are more vulnerable physically and more likely to suffer consequences from sexual carelessness—a patriarchal system bent on exploiting women. Etc. Since reality will always generate these and other differences, these denunciations can go on forever (that’s what makes it such a neat trick).

Now, if you as, broadly speaking, a “conservative,” wish to defend the institutions generating (and “legitimating”) these unequal results, you can respond in a few different ways. You can insist that the institutions themselves are neutral, and will, over time, include more and more of the excluded, thereby smoothing out, gradually, the inequalities. In this case, you accept the premises of the victimary, along with its ultimate goal, and even make sure to define worthwhile institutions in terms of their promotion of fairness. But, of course, your projections might be wrong. Or, you can denounce the same inequalities, but blame the victimary movement itself, for “entitling” and thereby disabling women, blacks, and others from participating in modern institutions. This argument, to the extent that it is sincere, and not opportunistically seized upon for its polemical advantages relative to the first approach, asks the victimary subject to abandon the political representation that addresses its demands in visible ways for a vague faith that genuine fairness can replace privileged treatment and, even more importantly, that one will be just as likely to succeed under a “fair” order. These are the approaches, respectively, of the “mainstream” and the more “militant” conservative (National Review on the one hand, and Breitbart and Frontpage on the other—although Breitbart has been more than dipping its toe in the alt-right stream lately).

The alt-right has emerged as a result of the realization that there is another possible response. This response is that, however necessary formal equality is for certain purposes, substantive claims of equality are, at the very least, unproven, and observable differences are more likely than not real. There is room for debate here: one might be certain about the relevant differences across groups or one might consider it an open question pending much more research; one might consider those differences biological or cultural and historical. Either way, one’s response to the left can now be based, not on a different wrinkle in the modern ideology of non-discrimination, but in an unrestrained immersion in the busting of lies and the fearless exploration and publication of the truth. From this perspective, the left can be treated, not as overly idealistic, or even as a racket, but as at war with knowledge, reason, truth and the civilizational discipline required to promote all of the above. Their complaints are nothing more than pleadings on behalf of those who find more advantage in parasitizing upon civilization than competing within and contributing to it. No concessions need be made here—indeed, what would be concessions granted by the other approach here become weapons in the counter-attack (isn’t suggesting that such and such a group acts as it does out of mistrust and fear due to historical oppression tantamount to disqualifying members of that group as rational citizens capable of engaging in the search for truth and agreement?) The liberatory effect of adopting these premises is palpable: if one makes a claim regarding differences between men and women, blacks and whites, gentiles and Jews, first world and third world, one can respond to the rote charge of “sexism,” “racism,” “anti-semitism,” and “ethnocentrism” with a request that one’s claim, instead, be disproven, if possible. Needless to say, this very civil response to virulent denunciation (why not consider the possibility of human biodiversity?) has its own deeply polemical and polarizing consequences, simply because of the shape of the field it is entering. But it is fundamentally civil, asking for shared discursive terms rather than reactive denunciations of “hate speech.”

Now, where does this all lead: what happens if speaking openly about human differences (how fascinating it is that the alt-right simply realizes the slogan—difference!—that was all the rage in the leftist academy in the 1980s), along with the freedom to act on the conclusions (always provisionally) drawn regarding them becomes the norm. My previous post, “Playing the Odds,” was an attempt to begin speculating along these lines. A decisive alt-right victory would require an essentially revolutionary overthrow of today’s global elites (what Walter Russell Mead has called the “Davoisie”), and that’s difficult to get a complete picture of, but we can think in terms of the ascendancy of alt-right tendencies. The alt-right would act on probabilities, which is normal (by definition) but radical in a social order dedicated to denying them and denouncing those who mention them. This tendency would manifest itself in various forms of secession, which only needs to overcome taboos dating back to the Civil War to become legitimate. Already, states have tried to take control of immigration policy (Arizona on one side, “sanctuary cities” on the other), and have and are essentially boycotting states that try to defend themselves against the latest from of cultural warfare (Minnesota, New York and Connecticut banning state funded travel to states with “religious freedom” or, more bizarrely, sex-specific bathroom laws). Such outbursts should be encouraged, as they habituate us to the notion that we are really different countries, and perhaps should start exploring ways to arrange for an amicable separation. What we will see more of, whenever and to the extent that it becomes possible (which is to say, to the extent that one doesn’t find oneself in the cross-hairs of one or another federal agency), is people building neighborhoods and founding schools that prefer one type of person over others. To draw upon a very interesting discussion from Nick Land’s monumental “Dark Enlightenment” essay (which I, astonishingly, only came across very recently), this would be an extension of and fight for the right to “white flight.” (A right the Obama administration, through HUD, the Justice Department and Department of Education, is currently seeking to abrogate.)

One, fairly obvious and moderate, form of secession or exodus will inspire others. New means of protecting property and assets from oversight and taxation (hiding things on the “dark net”; bitcoin, barter, black markets, etc.); new means of evading governmental regulations (perhaps through open bribery as government systems become more corrupt); new means of protecting local determinations of security protocols from federal (or even state) interference (perhaps by coopting sympathetic members of the official security forces); legal strategies for overwhelming the state with lawsuits and practical strategies for draining the resources of government bureaucracies . A secessionist alt-right is capable of realizing and showing others that the victimary politicization of all that exists can cut both ways: every difference, including differences within the government agencies, can be capitalized upon. In the process there is no need to assume we will see anything nearly as crude and brutal as Jim Crow-style segregation—but no doubt members of readily identifiable groups will be welcomed in varying degrees and subject to varying degrees of scrutiny. At the very least, one can assume such affiliations will be taken as markers of how much loyalty and compatibility can be expected from an aspirant member of some community, albeit in mostly informal, tacit ways. It is important to keep in mind that under the polarized conditions I am assuming, high barriers to entry will be essential to maintaining freedom and openness within these secessionist communities. If you don’t look like you belong, you will have to prove that you do—but I see no reason to assume that individuals won’t be given that opportunity.

I do think that some degree of white racial solidarity will be an intrinsic component of alt-right tendencies, and not only because a natural, nativist response to the virulent and frenzied anti-white hatred of the victimary left is the smoothest path to alt-right sentiments. Even more, as I have described it above, the alt-right trends elitist: it would be an assertion of the rights of the “winners” to not be dragged down by the “losers.” Of course, we can define “winners” broadly: it can comprise 70% of the population: we’re not talking about a few Nietzschean supermen or John Galts, simply people who make it over the hurdles life places before us. But it will have to be made as inclusive as possible: 50%, for example, might not be enough. If the alt-right cannot include the deindustrialized and demoralized white working class so central to the Trump campaign (many of whom, by most objective measures, are “losers”), which is to say, more mainstream, populist alt-rightism, then its struggle will be much more uphill than it already is. Whatever inclusion might result from enhanced economic productivity by a more ruthless alt-right corporatism, at least some of this inclusion (at least some of the definition of “winning”) will have to be on shared racial grounds. Even more, if the new secessionists are going to be able to resist state encroachments upon whatever space they acquire, or even just keep the state as much off its back as possible, it will need to have sympathizers within the states apparatuses of coercion, and the most likely ground of solidarity for the lower-to middle class whites who largely staff those apparatuses will be racial. Non-whites and non-Christians (and certainly non-white non-Christians) will have to consider whether they will be more comfortable or, even more fundamentally, more likely to thrive and even survive, in an openly White/Christian society than in a majority minority one. Of course, if you believe that the advent of a majority minority society will not alter liberal democratic institutions (such as they are) in any significant way, you can defer posing the choice in these terms. If the alt-right is right, you will not be able to defer it for long.

If the alt-right finds coherence by insisting upon a strictly probabilistic reading of reality, i.e., a full acceptance of “human biodiversity,” then it might turn into the incarnation of the fully algorithmic social order that digital civilization points towards. As more and more safety features and feedback mechanisms are automated, the world will come to “read” each of us as a particular aggregate of probabilities, not only when it comes to insurance, health care and policing, but employment, investment decisions, environmental policies, perhaps even the selection of political representatives and judges can be left to finely tuned algorithms—and perhaps, as biotech advances, sophisticated algorithms will enable some form of eugenics. The management of violence will be in much better hands, as violent potentialities will be detected and countered (also in automated ways) well before violent intentions can be brought to fruition. It’s hard to tell what we humans will be doing in this world (which we are already well on the way towards), but one thing many of us will be doing is trying to prove the algorithms wrong in our particular case and thereby revise them. Members of groups marked as relatively dangerous or untrustworthy will have to double their efforts to persuade the algorithm, far more discerning and coldbloodedly neutral than even the most aspergery human—that will be their moral obligation, and the moral obligation of the rest will be question the terms of the algorithm when it contradicts their own sense of a particular individual. Phenotype can resist genotype, exception norm: rule by algorithm might generate more striving, rivalry and psychological complexity than the traditional liberal order. The transition to such an order, for many on the alt-right, will be fairly seamless.

1 Comment »

  1. […] are full of resentment.  This is so because by definition they attribute every instance of différance to some form of teleological evil or patronizing arm chair psychology (why you really do what you […]

    Pingback by Yet Another Reason To Short-Sell Tech Stocks – The Blond Beast — May 4, 2016 @ 10:17 am

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