A New Counterculture?

Paleo Retiree writes:

I’ve been arguing for a while (with friends and on Facebook) what John Derbyshire is implicitly semi-arguing in his provocative new piece at Taki’s Magazine — that the alt-Right is today’s counterculture. In the way it quarrels with and tries to subvert the mainstream — and in the way that it has built a world of its own from the ground up with no encouragement (to put it mildly) from our mandarin class — it’s like the Beat movement of the 1950s. The big difference, of course, is that the ’50s mainstream was square. Today’s mainstream is liberal, and pro-diversity and anti-racist above all other things. But if you can overlook that little difference …

The alt-Right seems to me to have some of the vitality, daring and the zip of the Beat movement too. Will the work of its liveliest writers, thinkers and provocateurs ever receive the kind of recognition that the Beats now enjoy?

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog 2Blowhards.com. Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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29 Responses to A New Counterculture?

  1. Will S. says:

    No. Because it’ll be a helluva long time before, if ever, we on the alt-Right become mainstream; the Left was able to move easily into cultural dominance after the ’60s because they’d already had their ‘long march through the institutions’; we’d have to do that first, capture the institutions, before we could ever hope to have the kind of influence the Left enjoys today. Plus we don’t have a message that will appeal to most people, that most people would want to embrace, so we face an even greater difficulty, trying to sell our POV to the unwilling masses…


  2. Glynn Marshes says:

    Plus we don’t have a message that will appeal to most people, that most people would want to embrace

    Unless reality delivers a big enough wake-up call . . . ?


    • Will S. says:

      Agreed, but that may take a while.


      • John says:

        As long as (most) whites can live at a safe distance from diversity, they won’t upset the apple cart or their still comfortable lives. If, however, there were to be a catastrophic economic downturn, thing’ll get tribal really quickly. That’s about the only thing that will shake whites enough to be realistic about race, and perhaps become tribal as we were up until the 60s. The past 50 years have been an anomaly in terms of how whites think about matters racial, but oh, what a devastating anomaly for the West.


  3. Callowman says:

    The alt-right is certainly a delightful way to épater le bourgeoisie. There’s a psychosexual dimension to being truly hip, though. Can the alt-right pull hip, attractive young people you’d want to have sex with? That is the question. One hint that maybe it could is declining male enrolment in colleges and MGTOW. Leftism’s educational wing is looking a little weak on the male side. When the dynamic men abandon an institution, its heyday is past. Maybe such men and the women they attract could be open to something new. It’s early days, though, and I’m not betting on it.


  4. Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

    True in a lot of ways, I think. But I also think that, in order for it to be christened as “the counterculture,” it would have to be anointed by some authority, typically the media. And since the media is directly opposed to everything the alt right stands for, that’s gonna be tough. Probably just as likely that it’ll sink into oblivion and be seen as this vaguely awful thing, like the America First movement.

    Unless, of course, the entire system collapses and the alt right people get the chance to anoint themselves. Or maybe someone far off in the future will look at this stuff and recognize it as interesting. That is, if people are still reading by that point.


    • Yeah. I don’t now if anyone in the future is going to be spending a lot of time sifting and sorting thru the past, arranging and ranking things, the way we’ve done. Come to think of it, it *is* a weird way to spend one’s culture-time, isn ‘t it? What has that been about? When you don’t have computers and the internet you gotta fill up your time with something, I guess.

      As for the alt-Right being recognized as a present-day counterculture … Will it happen? All it’d take is one fairly-respectable name to make the case, then everyone else would feel free pile on, pro and con. But would any mainstream person dare be the first one to say it? And does mainstream recognition really matter much anyway these days?


  5. Fabrizio, it’s interesting to see the Jewish or Christian echoes in your comment: you say “anointed” and I hear Messiah. Alt-right seems to me as much of an idol as the “new left” was. The real counterculture doesn’t line up along ideological ley lines; it’s distinguished by its adherence to what C.S. Lewis called the Tao, as opposed to the teachings of the Men Without Chests, a species of intellectual that, to their credit, the alt-right people seem to recognize and despise.


  6. agnostic says:

    The Alt-Right doesn’t have any distinctive style of dressing, wearing their hair / grooming, using slang (in real life, face-to-face, oral transmission, not mediated via the internet), preferring let alone participating in certain strands of pop culture over others (whether music, movies, lit, etc.), or creating and using tribal-identifying gestures (like the “hang ten” gesture).

    They don’t meet up in real life to share in any kind of activity, not even rather safe and dull stuff like discussing some Alt-Right topic of interest, let alone carve out and stake a claim to their own spaces, their own hang-outs. They have no physical territory.

    …And there doesn’t appear to be any slow, gradual shift toward those group-gluing traits. There’s a profoundly anti-social strain in the Alt-Right, sometimes misanthropic but sometimes simply uncomfortable and awkward. The Beats shunned mainstream society, but they could at least put aside some of their own egos and get along as a group. Alt-Righters couldn’t even manage that, in real life.

    Hipsters are the Millennial-era reincarnation of mid-century Beatniks.


  7. agnostic says:

    Quick addendum: shared traits that distinguish one culture against other cultures cannot simply be things that the in-group shares, and that out-groups do not, or that the in-group members tend to share more so with one another than they do with out-group members. Those are just passive reflections of correlations among individuals — like if surveys showed that Alt-Right people tend to like this type of music, or that type of movie.

    To glue a group together, the traits not only have to be shared, but everyone in the group has to *know* that they’re shared, and know that *the other members know that* they’re shared. Their distinctiveness has to be part of the members’ “common knowledge” in the game theory sense. And they must be willing to display those markers in a group-aware fashion.

    So while I’m sure that correlations on certain traits would *statistically* distinguish Alt-Right people from the mainstream, they still fail to distinguish them *culturally*.


  8. agnostic says:

    They’re more a school of thought than a culture.


    • I don’t think those are bad hunches at all. Certainly one thing the alt-Right could use (so far as becoming attractive to the mainstream media goes, anyway) is some sex appeal. It’s severely lacking in that.


      • If enough of the muy masculine young men become adherents of the Dark Enlightenment, then the sexual appeal will arrive as if on the cue. Indeed, the return of the more formal ways of male dress, which is underway among many red pill men, will hasten this process.

        It should be noted that the Manolo is speaking not of the hipster peacocks (peahens?) in their loud bowties and fedoras, but of the young men who have decided that going about in well-tailored suits and ties sets them apart from their competition in the matters amatory, while moreover giving them the sartorial advantage in matters professional and social.

        Thus there is the significant subset of young men who are adherents of the Dark Enlightenment who are distinguishing themselves as being sexier and more masculine than the chestless men who are their age peers.

        As always, the Manolo’s advice is the same: dress better if you wish to be successful in all things, including the over-throwing of the old regime.


  9. Pingback: Randoms | Foseti

  10. Ian says:

    Much as I love the alt-right, no, we’re not “cool”, “hip”, “swinging”, “rad”, or anything else of that ilk.

    (AmRen Conference, 2013)

    The left carefully polices the general culture, and makes sure that anything hip and fun (Buzzfeed, the Gawker empire, Obama slow jamming the news, the gossip section of HuffPo, Reddit) is their territory and not ours (Rush getting kicked off Monday Night Football, http://frontpagemag.com/2013/andrew-klavan/the-new-york-times-vs-david-mamet/). Well … I guess there’s always racist jpgs on 4chan and /b/ .


  11. Maule Driver says:

    “Hipsters are the Millennial-era reincarnation of mid-century Beatniks.”
    They’re the right age too.

    This Alt-Right thing sounds like another strain of old majority mainstreamers lamenting change and their own aging. A movement only in the sense that any trend within the baby boom bulge is at least demographically significant.

    Good ‘ol American style racism isn’t cool because it’s just old. Equating it with tribalism doesn’t fly far in a flattened interconnected world. None of it registers with millennial youth the same way it does with aging boomers.

    I assume Millennial-Alt is alive and well but I submit that Alt-Right is just nostalgia among boomers.


    • Samson J. says:

      The reason I can’t agree with this is that it seems like all the (non-religious) alt-Right blogs are by 20- and 30-somethings.


      • nydwracu says:

        Most of the alt-righters I know are college students. I suspect bloggers tend to be older than the audience; in a lot of cases, college students just know it’s a bad career move to put anything online that could be traced to their real identity, and can’t be bothered to re-network under total anonymity.


    • Well, Boomer self-centeredness and nostalgia should never be underestimated, that’s for sure. But, practically speaking, I don’t know more than a handful of alt-Righters who are of Boomer age. The fizz and energy seem to be coming from younger generations — from youngsters who grew up with PC, feminism and multiculturalism as their parent-and-teacher-imposed orthodoxy, who are sick of it, and who are doing their best to shake themselves free of it. Good thing? Bad thing? I have no idea, but there it is. They’re rebelling against the authority figures they grew up with, just like the Boomers rebelled against their authority figures. Same youthful irreverence and desire to kick free. Just different authority figures.

      It’s not like the Boomers who dreamed up (and then imposed) PC/feminism/multiculturalism have any right to expect that particular mindset to last, after all. “Civil rights” was the big passion of All Nice People from certain generations — but there’s no reason it should be expected to outlive them.


      • Maule Driver says:

        I have to admit to not having read much of this phenome so I’ll assume the youthful drive is there. Richard Spencer seems to have coined the term or perhaps that is just self-aggrandizing.

        So far my browsing seems to always return to the topic of race, ethnicity, feminism and PCs corrupting influence on society. It feels like a return to some ideas that have been around for awhile. And the people picking these thoughts up and pushing them around still seem to be boomers.

        Please link me to one or two of the youthful fonts of the alt-right movement if time permits.


      • Misophile says:

        This describes me to a T.


  12. Maule — Fun that you’re curious about it. I’ll be eager to hear your thoughts and reactions. I mainly respond to all of this as a heat-seeking culture observer: “Hey, look at this, it’s a lively scene. What’s going on here?” The content less so, though it’s always interesting to watch the wheels of culture turn, and though I do also think that some excellent points sometimes get made.

    Fun, if also melancholy, to be reminded that you and I are now — whether we like it or not — stodgy old farts. I’m an extreme Greenie, for instance. To us, back in the day, environmental extremism was radical, visionary, kickass. But to today’s young people, environmentalism is and always has been a mealy-mouthed load of baloney enforced on them by boring teachers they didn’t like. It’s anything BUT rock ‘n’ roll. To us, feminism and civil rights were new, exciting and daring. To young people today (at least some of them), egalitarianism is a boring lie imposed on them by old farts they wish would just fuck off and die. Life, eh?

    Anyway, the alt-Right 101 … The scene sometimes also gets called the Dark Enlightenment — it’s by and large a rejection of modern liberal assumptions (“liberal” not in the sense of “Democratic Party” but in the sense of of “the modern mindset generally, both left and right”) generally. It’s a loose cluster of different but overlapping energy nodes. There’s the traditionalists and reactionaries — people who think the world went wrong at the time of the Enlightenment. A lot of these are Catholics. There’s the HBDers — “HBD” stands for Human BioDiversity, and it’s basically people with an interest in differences between population groups (as well as, obviously, a conviction that there *are* some differences between population groups). They range from award-winning scientists of prominence (Steven Pinker associates with the group, as do Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending) to weirdo nerds obsessed with IQ. There’s the MRM (men’s rights movement), young guys earnestly rebelling against feminism, similar to but different than the men’s groups of the late ’80s and ’90s. And then there’s the Game world, guys who don’t just rehearse pickup lines, but who spin pickup into an entire metaphysics and worldview.

    There’s a lot of talk among all these crowds about people either being “Red Pill” or “Blue Pill” people — the image comes from “The Matrix,” and it means either you’re still living in the illusion (Blue pill) or you’ve busted free of it and are facing the real facts of life, manning up and dealing with them (Red pill).

    One of the other terms you’ll see getting flung around a lot is “The Cathedral” — that’d be the academic/media/foundation complex that promotes and enforces the whole body of contemporary pieties: feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism, egalitarianism, open borders, etc. Currently, in the wake of the Boston bombing, The Cathedral is preaching, “Don’t reach any conclusions about Islam! Don’t think the bombings have anything to do with the basic nature of Chechens!” Don’t stereotype, basically. Meanwhile, everyday people are thinking, “Wow, Muslims can really be insane! What’s up with that?” and “Is there something about Chechens that makes some of them prone to crazy violence?” Warning against stereotyping is very Cathedral. Being grateful to know about stereotypes is very non-Cathedral.

    My impression is that what often happens is that young guys stumble into Game, because after all what are young guys more interested in than getting laid? And then it all starts to open up for them. They encounter the — to them — previously taboo thought that maybe men and women are a little different in some ways. That leads to further taboo thoughts — maybe population groups vary a bit in some characteristics too. And, with that, the whole edifice of polite egalitarianism that they were indoctrinated into crashes down, and off they race, feeling free, and feeling like their balls finally are finally starting to clank. Maybe it *isn’t* sensible to import a lot of people from Chechnya or Somalia into this country. Maybe our immigration policies vis a vis Mexico are nutty. Maybe Obama and Wall Street are one and the same thing. Maybe our current marriage-and-divorce laws and understandings are wildly biased against men, not women. Etc etc.

    Makes sense to me that this should be happening. In the ’50s, sex was the big taboo, and the Beats and hippies used sex to up-end the polite mindset of the day. Today, the polite mindset is feminism and anti-racism. The idea that there might be differences between the sexes and/or between population groups is utterly taboo. So the alt-Right crowd seizes on those notions to attack mainstream politeness with the same fervor and ingenuity that the Beats and Hippies seized on sex.

    If you want to explore some sites, you could do worse than start with these:

    For politics: Foseti and Gucci Little Piggy
    For HBD: HBDChick, Randall Parker, Steve Sailer
    For the Men’s Rights movement: A Voice for Men
    For Game: Roosh and Heartiste
    And don’t miss Judgy Bitch, a youngish woman who’s got a lot of anti-feminist spunk

    I’d urge you, if you’ve got the time and stomach, to poke around the comments on a few postings at each place too. The comments-threads are often smart and lively (as well as shocking and obnoxious), and they offer many glimpses into the minds of a lot of different people, some of whom are supersmart, and nearly all of whom aren’t buying what The Cathedral is selling. You’ll find much to be offended by, there’s no question about that. And take a look at the comments in this very comments-thread here from The Manolo. There’s no better culture-trend radar screen than The Manolo. So it’s definitely a phenomenon of some sort, some provocative points are definitely getting made, a lot of previously-repressed energy is definitely getting expressed, and the whole scene might yet become an actual movement of some sort.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you make of it.


  13. nydwracu, who has commented above, is first-class too. Click on his name and give his blog a try too.


  14. chucho says:

    The alt-right is more of a secret society than a counter-culture. Anonymity is the norm, and almost exclusively so with the under-40 crowd. I’m working on a handshake.


  15. Fabrizio del Wrongo turned up this helpful graphic:


  16. unperson102 says:

    Most grown up people realize the need for a social safety net, like food stamps, welfare, and yes, FOR WHITE PEOPLE, TOO.
    Something like 80 pct of all americans want to tax the rich more. A vast majority of americans want true universal healthcare.
    The so called alt right against these things, or at least the alt right websites and columnists and bloggers do. There are however a number of commenters on these sites who DO support these above-mentioned social safety net aspects. Funny, that contrast, eh? Almost like the USA itself regarding immigration.

    This so called alt-right is nothing but an outreach network for the GOP. Do you get $ from them?

    Why is it that out of all the most prominent alt right sites and writers virtually none of them ever says a good word about the social safety net, about taxing the rich.

    That is a statistical anomaly that bears investigation. Strangely enough none of the alt right sites or writers seem to want to look into it.

    Why the contrast between the alt right sites and writers and the commentors?


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