Despite the fact that my beliefs are similar to those of the Alt-Right I have never bothered to look up Richard Spencer to find out what all the fuss is about. So today, having a day off, I thought I would. I didn’t read anything by him – has he actually written anything? – but instead watched some of his talks and interviews on Youtube.
He comes across as personable, relaxed and honest. He talks about ideas being neither true nor good but ‘powerful’. To me he sounds Nietzschean.
The Alt-Right is a predominantly white identitarianism movement and Richard Spencer is perhaps its main proponent. My guess is that the movement formed partly as a reaction to other identitarian groups like Black Lives Matter, La Raza, feminism and the rest. There has always been a double standard regarding white identitarian groups and while no one considers Black Lives Matter a black supremacist group, the Alt-Right is generally described as a movement of white racists, white nationalists and white supremacists. This double standard is probably due to the ‘soft racism of low expectations’: while liberals and black grievance-mongers expect whites to eschew racial tribalism, the same is not expected of darker-skinned people. Standards for them are lower.
I myself don’t seem to have much of a preference for my tribe. If I draw up a mental list of people I consider to be ‘my kind’ I find that it contains plenty of non-Brits and non-whites. As for most people, ‘my kind’ means those who laugh at my jokes and understand me.
Richard Spencer talks about concentric circles of preference and if Genetic Similarity Theory is correct, that is indeed how things should work: family in the inner ring, then relatives, then ethnic group, then race, then species etc. However, in the real world things don’t always scale up like that and they don’t for me when it comes to race. If a preference for those genetically similar to you really is a natural tendency, I suspect it is so weak that it is overshadowed by other considerations. Or maybe it depends on the outgroup. If Earth was attacked by Martians I’m sure all humans would band together to repel them. And if I lived in America where black on white crime is not uncommon and whites are due to become a minority by 2042, I might feel more racial solidarity than I presently do. And it is certainly true that I dislike the idea of native Brits becoming a minority in their own country. And if we Brits were ever to lose our country, I would prefer it be to the French or the Germans rather than to Africans, Asians or Middle Easterners. So maybe I do have a strong preference for my race after all.
Though some people on the left approve of John Lennon’s sickly song Imagine, which envisages a world with no countries, no religions, and presumably no races or sexes either, Spencer couldn’t disapprove more. He feels that to want to be a ‘citizen of the world’ is to be a nobody. I agree.
Only slightly better than Imagine is the idea that belonging to the Manchester United fanclub or the Star Wars Society constitutes an ‘identity’. Even being a patriotic nationalist is not enough of an identity if your country is ‘a land of immigrants’ or merely a ‘proposition nation’. A real sense of identity can however come from the sense that you are connected ancestrally to a group of people and a place.
I can’t quite make up my mind about all this. On the one hand I’m sick to death of the constant moaning and petitioning of identity groups, racial or not. On the other hand, if we are going to have pressure groups for blacks and Hispanic then I’d like one for my own ethnic group, just to even things out.
I don’t think Richard Spencer is just fighting fire with fire. He believes that humans need groups to belong to to ward off the anomie and purposelessness that assails some people in today’s world and he feels race consciousness is an effective way of feeling part of something bigger than yourself.
Spencer is surely right when he claims that people who love diversity should actually be in favour of separate nations. It is a truism of evolutionary theory that for a group to maintain its unique qualities, it must be separated in some way from other similar groups. Put different races or breeds together and over time, with interbreeding, they become ever more alike. This is why different races evolved in the first place: whites and Asians have been separated for about 40,000 years and both group separated from Africans about 60,000 years ago. Mixing these distinct races and ethnic groups with their different cultures leads to sameness, not diversity.
I also think Spencer is right when he says the cult of diversity has gone from wanting more opportunities for minorities to actively discriminating against whites, especially white males. It was mainly white northern European Protestants who built America and made it a country worth emigrating to and I’m not convinced that the descendants of these Europeans are obliged to hand over the country to whoever wants to come. As Spencer points out, there is an arrow that has for quite some time been pointing the way to the future and it is not pointing towards white people. Now some people celebrate when a black man is chosen to play James Bond or is elected President of the USA, or when an Asian is made CEO of a company. But why celebrate if you are white?
White people are often accused of having a uniquely shameful history, what with slavery, colonialism, imperialism and all the rest. Some people try to defend whites by pointing out that the world was a different place then and everybody had different ideas about right and wrong; you can’t project present day morals into the past. Others say you have to weigh the good with the bad and not just cherry pick the bad parts of our history. Still others say that the atrocities other races committed must also be taken into account if you are going to put white history into its proper context and get a sense of proportion.
Richard Spencer does none of this. His response seems to be, ‘Yeah, isn’t it great? Don’t you want to belong to a race that had the gumption to sail out into the world, that had the curiosity and mental wherewithal to investigate, through science, how things really work rather than rely on religious dogma? Aren’t you proud you belong to a race that invented practically the whole of the modern world, that possessed the outward urge, like Captain Kirk, to boldly go where no man had gone before? Admittedly we occasionally rode roughshod over the rights of natives, but did anyone really have rights until we invented them? And isn’t it better to belong to a race of pioneers than to a load of whining losers who live like parasites off what whites have created?
I might be putting words into Richard’s Spencer’s mouth but I think that’s the gist of his position. By ‘owning’ the accusations of alleged white exploitation Spencer doesn’t get thrown onto the defensive or cower and cringe like others tend to do. This is all in keeping with his Nietzschean outlook.
In this Youtube video at 8 mins 45 secs, during the Q&A session at Texas A&M, a rotund professor wearing a ‘BTHO hate’ T shirt steps up to ask Spencer a question. Before he can open his mouth Spencer asks him what his T shirt means. ‘Beat the hell out of hate’, apparently. Richard Spencer then lets loose. I paraphrase:
So why don’t you come up here and beat the hell out of me? You wear a ‘Beat the hell out of hate’ T shirt but you’re not willing to do anything about it. You can’t even be bothered to go to the gym. Look how fat you are! I have nothing but contempt for losers like you.
Like wow! as people who aren’t me sometimes say. When I first watched this exchange I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. Shouldn’t Spencer have listened to the man’s question rather than insulting him? Yet after thinking about it I could see a consistency in what he did. He believes that most modern people, especially intellectuals, live in a world of words that have become uncoupled from reality. This, I think, was why he insulted Professor Porky. With his aggressive T shirt the professor wanted to talk the talk but was unwilling and unable to walk the walk. It was the same with this female SJW who claimed on social media she was going to ‘bring back 100 Nazi scalps’ from a march in Berkeley that she and her antifa friends were bent on disrupting. During the ‘Battle of Berkeley’ this 20-year-old, 5′ 1″, 95-pound girl got punched in the face while ‘scalp taking’. Presumably the chasm between her fighting words and her fighting ability are now clear to her. Or maybe not since some people never learn. Similarly, there was a mismatch between the professor’s words and what he was really capable of. Spencer, through his rudeness, brought this mismatch helpfully into focus.
When the professor finally got to ask his question it was, ‘How can you tell who is white? Would you make DNA testing compulsory?’ In most cases who is white is quite clear. However, in multi-racial countries like America and Europe there has inevitably been some miscegenation. For example, it was recently in the news that Ross Barkley, an English footballer who most people had always thought of as white, had a great-grandfather who was Nigerian. Would Richard Spencer consider him white? How about if Barkley’s father or grandfather had been black? These strike me as reasonable questions. Somewhere else I heard Spencer answer the question in a roundabout way, saying that for him whiteness isn’t solely about DNA. Though someone from Mali can’t simply claim to be white, someone from, say, southern Italy who is quite dark-skinned but whose family has lived in Europe for a long time and who shares a European outlook is white as far as Spencer is concerned. Fair enough. Not all questions have simple, clear-cut answers. When does red turn to orange on its way to yellow? There is no absolute answer to this yet this doesn’t mean that red, orange and yellow don’t exist. They are just ‘fuzzy’ concepts.
One black man asked Spencer at 3 mins 55 secs in the video previously linked to: As a young black man in this country, I was born here, how to you intend to make me leave?’ to which Spencer replied, ‘I’m not making you leave. You’re a citizen. You’re here’. The young black man was justifiably confused and asked Spencer what then the whole conversation was about. Weren’t there any real world consequences to his ideas? Spencer just said something about wanting to bring about a different era of politics, helping white people form a new identity, which I must confess sounded a bit mealy-mouthed to me.
I might have this wrong but I think a more honest answer to the man’s question would look like this. If we just stop all the talk of white privilege and the guilt-tripping of white Americans then maybe they can regain their confidence and start to feel pride in themselves and in what their forefathers created. They might then lose all taste for giving up the country their ancestors built to all-comers. Then they would stop these ridiculous levels of immigration that America neither wants nor needs. After all, Americans are quite capable of making their own damn beds and picking their own vegetables. After a time the Latinos in America might voluntarily start to drift back to their own countries. You never know, if Africa can just get its act together maybe even some American blacks will go there. Another possibility is that the USA will divide into different states as the USSR did after the end of the Cold War. Then people would probably segregate into their own ethnic groups, among whom they feel most at home. The people who love diversity could form a multicultural state of their own while Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor and various others could form their own all-white communities. They would no longer be bothered by claims for more welfare for blacks, more Affirmative Action, more funds to close the achievement gap, more accusations of white privilege and institutionalised racism, nor would whites any longer need be victims of rampant black-on-white crime that the media refuses to report. This reply, I suspect, would have been a more accurate answer to the man’s question.
Sometimes Richard Spencer is accused of being a ‘white supremacist’. If that means someone who wants to lord it over other races and treat them like slaves then Spencer is not one. He wants to distance himself from other races and let all of them choose how they want to live: Eskimos, Europeans, Japanese, Bantu and all the rest.
Is he a white supremacist in the sense that he believes whites are ‘better’ than other races? He says not, since you would first have to define what ‘better’ could possibly mean when referring to race, and he personally wouldn’t know how to go about that. Instead he simply says that he prefers the company of people of his own race, as most people do. No one thinks that parents who love their own children more than other children are ‘haters’. Nor do most parents believe their children are superior to other children. For Spencer preferring your own race is no different.
This may be true but having heard Spencer listing some of the things white people can be proud of like their inventions, the exploration of the world, space travel, classical music, literature, architecture, political systems and well-functioning societies that other races flock to, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that he actually does think white people are better than others. Until I watched an online talk by philosopher Michael Levin I would have thought this whole idea daft. Surely saying one race is better than another is like saying that vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream, just because you personally happen to prefer it? Well, having watched Michael Levin I’m no longer so sure. Comparing races might be less like comparing different flavours of ice cream than comparing Real Madrid to Dagenham & Redbridge F.C., or a Ferrari to a Trabant. Watch the video and judge for yourself.
During the Q&A session at Auburn University a student asked Spencer if it was true that he is married to a Russian immigrant. He said he is. The questioner, certain she now had him skewered, asked how he could be against immigration if he himself was married to an immigrant. He said he is not opposed to white people emigrating to the USA and his wife, being Russian, is white. The questioner thought this was cheating but it is actually consistent with everything Spencer has always said. He simply believes that America should be considered a white country, as it always was until a few decades ago. He would probably like to undo the last half century of multiracial immigration that has drastically changed the demographics of America.
This started me thinking. What if his wife hadn’t been Russian but Japanese, Mexican or Congolese? Would he then have had to change his whole philosophy? Surely not. After all, John Derbyshire, a born Englishman with a Chinese wife, has views on immigration similar to those of Richard Spencer. Both John Derbyshire and his wife live in America and both are immigrants. And what about me? I would happily marry someone of a different race and live in Britain. Wouldn’t this lead to Britain slowly becoming less British? Isn’t this all a little hypocritical?
My own point of view is that the gene pool of a race never stays the same and is always changing a little. I also think that an individual settling down in a new country to marry one of the natives is not the same thing as millions of people immigrating for economic reasons. The latter often have problems with integration, the former don’t. Also interracial marriages are unlikely to upset the demographic balance of a country because they are still quite rare, most people preferring to marry someone from their own ethnic group.
Like many people I am not against immigration per se, just mass immigration, the kind that destabilises nations. So an American marrying a Russian neither upsets the demographic balance of America nor causes problems of integration. This isn’t true of the immigration of say, millions of Muslim males into Sweden over a very short space of time.
I once had a Romanian friend who told me that when McDonalds first came to Romania some traditional old restaurants closed down. I thought this was a shame but if Romanians preferred hamburgers to Pomana Porcului, so be it. McDonalds outcompeted these traditional Romanian restaurants in some way and only by keeping them out could you stop this from happening. That’s how I feel about mass immigration of whites into South Africa and Zimbabwe; the Chinese and Indians into Malaysia and to a lesser extent in America; the Jews in central and eastern Europe in previous centuries and now in America. All these invading races, for one reason or another, outcompeted, or are presently outcompeting, the native inhabitants. Blacks seem unable to outcompete anyone, whether in Africa, America, Europe, or anywhere else. Latinos too struggle to compete with the descendants of Europeans and east Asians in their native lands and in the USA, where they generally end up doing menial jobs.
To avoid all the ensuing racial tension and accusations of racism and privilege, Spencer feels we should drop the current experiment in multiculturalism and multiracialism, imposed from above on a generally unwilling public and instead go back to how things were when people lived in settled communities of genetically related individuals. Whether it really is the case, as Spencer believes, that the people of such traditional societies had more ‘meaning’ in their lives due to ethnic homogeneity, I really can’t say. Yet the proposition doesn’t seem outrageous to me.
One thing I will say against the idea of homogeneous nations is that such a nation might be more tempted to go to war than a multicultural one. To paraphrase an Iranian I once read, ‘It would be good if all the Jews were in Israel, then we could kill them in one fell swoop’. Having everybody randomly mixed might make multicultural societies less willing to drop bombs on countries which contain some of their own. The down side of this is that by mixing everyone together social capital goes down and rather than dropping a bomb on a neighbouring country you instead have lots of ‘micro-wars’ on the streets of all your towns, every day, thus gradually wearing the citizenry down.