“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Responding to the Alt-Right

After replying to an alt-right tweet this morning, I somehow fell through an interdimensional hyperlink and found myself reading Atlantic Centurion’s blog. Here’s his post explaining the 7 pillars of the alt-right. He elaborates on each of the seven here.

I felt like offering a few reactions to each of them, which I’ll write in blue below (I’ll paste AC’s pillars in red).

  1. Understanding human difference, e.g. race, sex, ethnicity, intelligence, abilities, genetics, moral foundations, etc. As someone who often finds himself defending both ontological and political pluralism, I can’t help but agree here that human difference, like all difference, is real and must be acknowledged as such. This acknowledgement has social, cultural, and political consequences.  The point is that we must attend to one another’s differences in a just and responsible way. But our difference doesn’t mean we aren’t all still human, and even more foundationally, that we aren’t all still earthlings. The evolutionary history of this planet is a geostory of relationship and symbiogenesis, not a war of each against all. Difference is inescapable, but individual and clade differences always arise in concert with one another as part of a single earthbound (earthbound but not impermeable to astronomical intrusion) evolutionary process. In other words, organisms always evolve ecologically. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it: “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All [people] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the inter-related structure of reality.” Or, as Whitehead puts it, “We find ourselves in a buzzing world, amid a democracy of fellow creatures.”  So while I agree even a free and just society cannot promise equal outcomes to everyone, I must add that, to qualify as a freedom and justice loving society, it must at least strive to provide equal opportunity to all. Otherwise it is a tyranny or a state of war, not a society.
  2. Recognizing the reality of tribe, that there is no universal man but a world of rooted identities.
    That humans have tribal tendencies cannot be denied. But I for one am not willing to artificially delimit the possible breadth and depth of a human being’s cosmic and moral identity. We are not simply selfishly driven skin-encapsulated egos. Yes, we are born to parents in particular locations and enculturated in unique ways. We are rooted, but behind our merely human identities, we are also rooted in the Earth, an expression of its multibillion year symbiogenetic geostorical adventure. Unless humans begin to take our earthbound nature seriously very soon, we will drive ourselves into extinction. The task of forming a planetary identity so that we can act to address our collective ecological problems has never been more urgent. This needn’t mean annihilating our personal, familial, and more local identities. It’s a both/and thing.Human history itself at least appears to display something like an evolutionary trajectory, even if it is not a simple progression. Spiral Dynamics captures this well enough (though things get knotted up once you reach the “integral” stage, imo).  sprialdynamics-aqal-large7
    Tribalism is a simpler, primal form of human organization, a form long since advanced upon. When the civil order decays, there is always a chance humans will slide back into tribalism. But thankfully, tribalism is not the only social reality humans are capable of constructing. 
  3. Rejecting anti-Whiteness, the belief that Whites are exceptionally wrong and should not be allowed to have collective interests as a people.
    If we are to compose a society together based on the values of freedom and justice (and this willingness to compose a common world together cannot be assumed in advance, though the only alternative I know of on this crowded planet is war), then we must do so on the basis of a shared identity deeper than the shade of our skin. This doesn’t mean we pretend our differences don’t exist, or that we ignore racism by pretending we are colorblind; it means that for the purposes of democratic politics, we play our proper part as citizens of the cosmos, not as parochial bigots. White identity politics leads nowhere. Human evolution is convergent. 
  4. Gender roles matter, men and women are similar in many ways but complementary rather than “equal.”
    Sure they matter. But who says gender—and sex, for that matter—haven’t always been transforming over the course of natural and cultural evolution? Nature is composed of relational processes, not static essences. Nature is way queerer than the alt-right imagines. Gender, in our and most species, is a fluid spectrum. Sexual desire can never be fully domesticated by cultural norms. Get over it. 
  5. Responsibility over freedom, unchecked freedom and individualism lead to social harms.
    This is why the role of childcare and education is so important in democratic societies. The values of freedom and justice have to be cultivated collectively via rituals of mutual recognition. We are not simply born free individuals. Individuality is in large part a gift from the communities that raise us. Only if we are cared for in this way by our society will we grow up to express and realize our freedom responsibly, passing these values on to the next generation through social reproduction.
  6. Limited franchise, not everyone is qualified to decide the fate of nations by pulling a lever, sorry.
    Oh, I see AC is not interested in a democratic society. Perhaps this is a waste of time…
  7. The Jewish Question, recognizing that elite overseas Israelis promote policies which are in the net harmful to their White hosts.
    Yep, hopeless. 



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3 responses to “Responding to the Alt-Right”

  1. simonemah Avatar

    Dear Matt,

    As usual I am pleased and inspired by your post. Very interesting, I love the quote by King, which is in a way a description of Batesons ecology, isn`t it ?

    Concerning point 6 – I agree with you de re – concerning the matter – but it seems to me one needs to take the implied arguments of the counter-side more seriously.
    Right after Trump was elected the little video-series of Alain Botton (The School of Life) produced this short video: “Why Socrates hated Democracy”.
    I think some of these arguments one should at least consider, in order to counter them – and, as you also mention, education is central here.
    So, one should really wonder why there is not a huge global outcry and much more political protest regarding the fact that world-wide all nations lower continuously their budget for education (schools, and Universities). Our University in Canada is confronted with a 4 percent cut every year. And no alliance of presidents rises up against that.

    I would love to know your thoughts regarding the link,
    Cheers from Berlin, and I wish you and Becca a wonderful year 2017,


    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Hi Simone,

      That so many American’s voted for Trump (3 million less than Hillary, but still a lot of people) is not a great indication for the promise of democracy, it’s true. I take Plato’s opinion on the matter very seriously, which is why I say education is so important for maintaining free and just democratic societies. Every citizen in a democracy needs to be a philosopher-king. Until we can rule ourselves we cannot self-govern.

      I’ll take a look at the video asap.

  2. Yannick Baele Avatar

    1/ Equal opportunity is the illusion, the fig leaf, ‘third-wayers’ like Clinton and Blair invented when, for electoral benefits, they decided their parties should shift to the right, abandoned blue-collar workers and rallied big finance instead. Equal opportunity has been dominating public discourse for the past twenty years.

    “Now, as a nation, we don’t promise equal outcomes, but we were founded on the idea everybody should have an equal opportunity to succeed. No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, you can make it. That’s an essential promise of America. Where you start should not determine where you end up.”
    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barackobam677271.html

    Equal opportunity is what allowed the W to become president despite snorting cocaine, but what landed Ferrell Scott in prison for life without parole for a few minor pot offenses.

    2/ There’s a difference between refusing tribalism as a horizon for humanity, and denying the here and now. Isn’t (forced) ghettoization a manifestation of tribalism ?


    3/ It goes far deeper than the color of one’s skin : when the Nuremberg tribunal invented the concept of ‘genocide’ to punish the most extreme and barbaric form of racism, did it not confer a legal/racial existence to ‘the Jewish gene’ ?

    4/ Gonads are undifferentiated until the end of the sixth week of the pregnancy, and only by the twelfth week do sexual organs start forming.

    5/ “Social reproduction”, of which rituals are a crucial part (rite : a religious or other solemn ceremony or act – Oxford dictionary, which is to say a mimetic posture that doesn’t necessarily coincide with one’s intimate feelings, and therefore may be hypocritical), is the exact antithesis of what you yourself advocated in your “War Of The Worlds” piece, namely a progressive and open relational construct taking ‘the other’ into account.

    6/ In practice, it’s already the case : http://www.gregpalast.com/ethnic-votes-stolen-crucial-states-help-fix-us-election-trump-reveals-greg-palast/



    7/ There is no Jewish question, and European Jews don’t have to answer to any supposed “host” : they are as much citizens of the countries they live in as any other. There is a right-wing Israel lobby however, and, in France at least, it is indeed promoting policies that are harmful to society as a whole, including Jews : censorship of the BDS movement, unconditional support to Israel’s far-right government, prohibition of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, even during Bloody Protective Edge, constant and hysterical stigmatization of French Muslims, cultural/religious two-weights two-measures policies, etc. Of course, this deleterious lobby would mean nothing without the government’s active support.


    Much like in the US, actually. Hopeless indeed, if actual anti-Semites get a monopoly on these issues…


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