The Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance has pinged twice on my radar over the past few days. The first was in connection to the loss of reviews on Amazon by some rightwing authors (see here) and the second was the release of their nominees for their “Book of the Year Award 2018“. The ten nominees are mainly the usual set of names (e.g. JCW, Lamplighter, JDA, Paolinelli) and in a departure from previous years a non-fiction book, Moria Greyland’s The Last Closet.
I’m mindful that the announcement of the CLFA’s nominees was very close but just before the Hugo nomination date but I don’t think their list was intended to be a stealth slate and I doubt it could function that way. Still, both events made me realise that the CLFA has been a grouping I haven’t discussed much when looking at the righthand side of science fiction writing.
While the CLFA has a website (https://conservativelibertarianfictionalliance.com/ ) it functions primarily as a closed Facebook group. Not exclusively SFF, the previous nominees for their awards have been mainly either SFF books or non-SFF by SFF authors (e.g. Sad Pup/Mad Genius/Castalia House author Peter Grant’s Western novel won in 2017).
So, in some ways, the CLFA just looks like the same groups of people we keep encountering. However, in other ways, it has operated differently. Here’s a chart of how the group has grown over time:
Unlike some of the other similar charts I made looking at growth trends, this looks like steady, sustainable growth. Now, it’s a closed group so I’ve no either whether it is particularly active or a ghost town but it does keep attracting members and doesn’t seem to be losing them. Possibly this is because of (rather than in spite of) it’s low profile overall. While many of its members are famed for outrage marketing, the group itself has tended not to assert itself as a thing. Consequently, its membership includes people across the many factions in right-leaning SFF.
While I was on the topic of closed Facebook groups, I thought I would see how the loudly announced “Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Guild” was getting on. Their main website doesn’t seem to have been updated since mid-February (https://sffcguild.com/blog/ ) but they’ve gained an interim President – Doug Irvin, who occasionally guest posts at Sarah Hoyt’s blog. Their main action has been another closed Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/726470947555061/ ) At 160+ members it has a long way to go before it reaches the same scale as the CLFA (1750+ members).
Of the members of SFFCG, about 65% are also members of the CLFA (reversing that, only about 6% of the CLFA are also members of the SFFCG).
The growth seems to have reached a plateau for the time being. Most of the growth was in late January after the fumbled announcement of the group.
Anyway…that’s it. No punchline just some numbers 🙂
I haven’t written about the alt-right’s vanity version of Wikipedia for awhile, indeed it’s been over a year. Observant readers will have noticed that it has not replaced or eclipsed Wikipedia in that time. Vox Day’s own promotional blog for Voxopedia ( https://infogalactic.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/dynamic-forking-manual-edition.html ) did have a post in January 2017 but has been quiet ever since.
The encyclopedia itself still has active editors but no more than when I last looked
Despite the “dynamic forking” Voxopedia pages tend to be out of date. For example, take Barnaby Joyce (please!) until recently the deputy prime minister of Australia.
The Voxopedia article is just a snapshot of the Wikipedia page from 2016. Consequently it misses the citizenship crisis that overwhelmed Australia politics, the surprise revelation that Joyce was technically also a New Zealand citizen, the high court case that forced him to resign, the subsequent by-election which saw him returned to office, the news that he had left his wife to live with a former staffer who was having his baby, a major expenses scandal around a donor paying for his flat, a serious allegation of sexual harassment, and his resignation from cabinet and as leader of the National Party. Yes, on a global scale it is minor stuff but an encyclopedia is for looking up the stuff you didn’t already know.
Actor Robert Guillaume is alive and well on Voxopedia despite dying in October 2017 in Wikipedia: https://infogalactic.com/info/Robert_Guillaume as is (for all you Swap Shop fans out there) Keith Chegwin https://infogalactic.com/info/Keith_Chegwin who on Wikipedia died in December 2017. More famous people are more likely to have their deaths recorded but it is hit and miss.
The majority of pages remain as out-of-date Wikipedia pages from 2016 and the basic issue with Voxopedia remains the same: not enough editors and the editors it does have are mainly working on fringe projects. These are supplemented by one-off vanity pages (e.g. https://infogalactic.com/info/Richard_Paolinelli )
Of those fringe projects one editor* stands out as a self-declared ‘truther’, pushing various kinds of conspiracy theories and maintaining Voxopedia’s obsession with ‘Pizzagate’ style conspiracy theories about paedophiles. It is areas like this where the overall bufoonishness of Voxopedia takes a sinister turn. For example, this case https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/19/claims-of-satanic-cult-and-child-sacrifices-in-london-are-baseless-judge-rules is treated as if the allegations were legitimate and ignores the psychological abuse that the people who made the allegations subjected children to.
In better news, Voxopedia finally decided in February this year that Stephen Hawking didn’t die in the 1980s (and replaced by an actor) https://infogalactic.com/w/index.php?title=Objections_to_the_Big_Bang&oldid=725460699 And, as of this post being written, Voxopedia even has him still being alive. The wheels of Voxopedia grind slowly but they also grind erratically.
The site is also extraordinarily slow and clunky at times. Just doing this post resulted in multiple “504 Gateway Time-out The server didn’t respond in time” errors. It’s frustrating to try and follow even a couple of links deep as pages can take an age to load or simply not load at all. I’ve looked at this page before https://infogalactic.com/info/Shadow_Party but I can’t comment on its current state of wacky political-paranoia because I had to give up trying to get it to load.
The question is how long it will continue to stumble on in this way. Arguably, if what it does is divert money and resources from worse alt-right projects then it’s continued existence is a net good.
*[I’m not going to name Voxopedia editors – it unnecessarily puts the focus on individuals]
[Thanks to Doris Sutherland and Space Oddity for some aspects of this post]
Here’s a thing which is in turns wrong, absurd, despicable and then absurd again.
The Daily Beast in late February carried an article on three Instagram ‘stars’ – the sisters have an apparently innocuous enough degree of celebrity from their lifestyle posts on Instagram. What the Daily Beast went on to reveal was that these young women are the daughters or far-right anti-Muslim figure Pamela Geller.
I’m not going to link to the post. I think it is simply shitty journalism. There’s no obvious news there. There’s no indication that any of the women are somehow sneaking in their mother’s views into lifestyle posts. The connection is simply that they are the children of somebody appalling. It’s at best gossip and at worst a way of harassing somebody’s family because of their views. I’ve zero sympathies for Geller but that doesn’t mean such tactics are smart of acceptable because aside from anything else it makes everybody’s lives shittier.
Enter well-known internet-troll Milo Yianopoulos – he is claiming this a plot by The Daily Beast to send ISIS against Geller’s daughters. Which is hyperbole – The Beast’s actions were careless and unethical IMHO but not some ISIS plot. Bloviating science-fiction author John C Wright has got all agitated as a consequence:
Milo asks, and with considerable justice, why there is not a million man march on the offices of the Daily Beast, in strength and numbers and determination needed strike the fear of God into their hearts. http://www.scifiwright.com/2018/03/sell-your-cloak-buy-a-sword-2/
And later in the comments:
That is why we need a mob to storm the offices of the Daily Beast, and, without technically breaking the law, paralyze their daily operation.
Gosh. No sign as yet that JCW has attempted to storm the offices of The Daily Beast. As far as I can tell from his tone, he wants other people to go and do it form him. For a legal scholar, he doesn’t seem to have thought through either how he could ‘storm’ an office and ‘paralyze their daily operation’ without legal consequence. It just sounds good to him and in reality, we know JCW isn’t going to do anything. But some far-right extremist might and JCW here is showing the kind of behaviour he is condemning above – pointing out targets to an audience whose fringes contains people willing to use deadly violence.
Far-right extremist in the US have killed more people in the US than ISIS. A fact that people like JCW won’t engage with.
Meanwhile, perhaps JCW needs to talk to some of his fellow puppies – they explained to us all a few weeks ago how connecting online identities with real people isn’t actually doxxing and supposedly quite reasonable behaviour and not at all irresponsible even if those people have upset extermists with openly violent views. Hmmmm.
I’ll start with the only place this post can start – which is where it needs to finish also:
How much does the right of Science Fiction & Fantasy hate this movie and this song in particular? A *lot*, more than perhaps you may have noticed. Sure, the new Star Wars movies have received more high profile attacks, and modern superhero comics have had there own troll-fest ‘gate’ but ‘Frozen’? Frozen has worked its way like a tiny shard of ice under the skin.
“As I’ve told my children, Let It Go is an expression of pure Crowleyian evil “http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/11/let-it-go-to-hell.html
“Do you remember hearing how Disney loved the song “Let It Go” so much that they created an entire movie to go around it? Did you ever ask yourself what it was they loved so much about it?…Disney is run by literal satanists preaching Alastair Crowley’s “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” to children.” http://voxday.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/the-devil-that-is-disney.html
” Women and girls learning how to throw off all rules and inhibition is core to our new morality. The song isn’t loved as a guilty pleasure; it is loved as a bold moral declaration. Stop trying to be a good girl and learn to worship yourself is a moral exhortation. ” https://dalrock.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/children-understand/
“The gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into Disney’s movie Frozen not just as an underlying message – it is the movie.” http://wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/movie-frozen-gay-homosexual-agenda.html
“So when it comes to Frozen: Elsa telling Anna that she couldn’t marry a man she just met is a funny observation of a trope that is kind of silly if you think about it.Having that man turn out to be a sociopath that tries to kill Elsa and steal the throne, because that trope was always secretly ‘problematic,’ is subversion and spits on Disney.” http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/02/15/enchanted-parody-frozen-subversion/
“I am puzzled why the writers of Frozen wanted Hans to be the villain, for as best I can tell, they already had someone who would make the perfect villain… Elsa.” http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/01/22/frozens-fatal-flaw-or-the-unplotted-plot-twist/
“So how are things fixed? Does Elsa admit he’s right and strive to do better in the future? Does she vow never to cut loose like that again and learn to control herself?
No. She Loves Her Sister. And that’s it. Now she can control her powers. She never says that letting it go was a mistake.” http://www.superversivesf.com/2018/01/26/no-elsa-not-learn-lesson/
Note that THREE of that sample were from 2018 – this isn’t a short-lived attempt to gain attention by a cynical attack on something popular. No, indeed the Superversive articles, in particular, are by people heavily engaged with the plot of the film who seem to be trying to wrestle with what is wrong with it.
Crowley? Normalizing homosexuality? Wrong villains? Fatal plot flaws? This all from people who often claim that popularity and commercial success are the true marks of artistic quality. By that measure Frozen is high art – a Disney musical powerhouse at a time when Disney musicals were long past their peak. A film that launched a thousand lunch boxes.
The issue is not hard to diagnose. Frozen is mainly conventional Disney – in some ways even less than that. The plot is slight compared to other classic Disney films (e.g. the Lion King) and the songs (bar one) are unmemorable. Yet it does a few things and those things are interesting:
- ‘Let It Go’ is a genuinely really good song, but it is also really well integrated into the story both emotionally, in its lyrics and in the character development of Elsa.
- The story rejects romantic love as its central message and instead centres on the familial love of two sisters.
This being Disney, there really is zero implications about Elsa’s sexuality EXCEPT that at no point does she act out of desire for a romantic relationship with anybody of any gender. And with that we get to part of the multiple issues the right continue to have with the film.
- Both Elsa and Anna reject a story line (and hence a role) of a princess finding the love of a prince. This element is strongest with Anna rather than Elsa. Anna does fall in love with a prince and while that helps drive the plot, this does not lead to the normal resolution because…
- ..the prince is actually a shit bag. I’m surprised there are fewer rightwingers complaining that the film is ‘anti-man’. I guess because it is a reasonable point that at least some men are shitbags and it is a sibling’s duty to point that out.
- Elsa overtly and very musically rejects not so much romantic love etc but ALL societal expectations of her and goes off and does her own thing. Now, the film’s ‘message’ is really quite reactionary in so far as it shows the CONSEQUENCE of this as throwing the whole kingdom into eternal winter but…
- …instead of rejecting her descion to be independent, Elsa treats the whole eternal winter more as a technical problem to be solved.
Are the lyrics to ‘Let It Go’ amoral? Sure – the right ALMOST has a point there. Elsa, in frustration, rejects all of society so that she can act in anyway she likes. I mean, that does sound familiar – not so much ‘Crowley’ but the whole strain of ‘positive thinking’ self-help radical individualism that is peddled by multiple strands of the Alt-Right. The lyrics could *almost* be an anthem for some sections of the Alt-Right, except…
…except that it is a woman singing them and a woman rejecting not people expecting a basic level of decency & compassion but rather a mass of expectations that are literally crushing her ability to do what she is good at. And Elsa does ‘learn her lesson’ in this regard by realising that she SHOULD be allowed to be herself and make bridges and mountain top ice palaces but not at the expense of cutting herself off from her society and family.
Put another way – I think maybe ‘Let It Go’ struck a chord with these guys a bit. It caused a tiny twinge of recognition of their own feelings in a quite different character, to the extent that years later they still can’t (ahem) let it go. Yet, at the same time, the SAME message expressed their deepest fear – women following their own dreams for their own motives independent of societal expectations for the role of women.
To finish, here’s that song again but a version where Disney cut together all the multiple language versions:
*[I’ve had some concerned people on the right express concern for the sweeping headline. Not All Rightists hate Elsa and some find her quite charming 🙂 ]
So my Sunday morning was taken up with behaviour that neatly mirrored my last blog post title. I’m not going to name names because there is literally an innocent party involved.
Certain parties on the internet decided that I’d been too outspoken or what not and decided that I needed doxxing. Now, personally, I think doxxing is something that can be easily classified as moral bad except in certain circumstances. Put another way you need a very good reason that outweighs the ethical wrong when revealing somebody else’s identity or personal information. The ethics of doxxing known harassers, bullies or people who make threats is where the question would lie. Doxxing because somebody has challenged your party line is straightforwardly wrong.
Put that aside for a moment. Imagine if you had convinced yourself that revealing somebody’s identity online is the right thing to do. Well, you still have a deep responsibility to GET IT RIGHT.
So, some ethically challenged idiot decided to announce to assorted others that they knew for a fact that I’m some person and got it completely wrong. OK, they got the continent right. Aside from that – nope. They targetted some poor soul who I don’t know and who I have never met and who (as far as I know) I’ve never interacted with.
Honestly, it would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that some other person is now likely to be the target of Sad Puppy harassment. Should we be surprised that supposed champions of free-speech try to silence people in this way? Nope, but I’ll try to be disappointed.
Micael Gustavsson asked a good question in the previous post and my reply got so long that I thought it should be a post instead. [A caveat – I’m not an expert on Medieval philosophy or Ockham but I have been to Surrey. Any philosophy professors or expert on the theology of the middle ages feel free to correct my errors – or anybody really 🙂 ]
//Why would it have been impossible to reach todaylevel technology based on the philosphical thinking of thinking of Thomas? Or is that maybe to big a question?//
Mainly because it doesn’t work – so assuming technological and scientific thought proceeded anyway then over time then Thomism would increasingly be in conflict with advances in knowledge. It’s not so much that William O had to invent nominalism for science to happen, just that the kind of reasoning & conceptual framework that will come about in response to engaging scientifically with the world won’t match Thomism.
In reality, the most famous divergence came with Galileo’s conflict with the Catholic church but that just highlights one spot where a central authority tried to hold onto one aspect of a broader model and picked a very silly spot to make their stand.
I don’t think Ockham set these changes in Western thought in motion – I think he was an astute thinker who spotted a whole set of flaws in the Thomist consensus. The only way for these flaws to STAY overlooked would have been for the Catholic Church to somehow prevent intellectual development in Western Europe at both a philosophical and practical level.
Put a different way: the neo-Thomist right really want things (i.e. everything) to exist to serve an underlying purpose and for categories of things to reflect that purpose and deviations of things FROM those categories & purposes are therefore immoral.
A current example is the right and its reaction to transgender people. Now let me be clear the basic issue of the right is simply bigotry and ignorant prejudice but the styles of rationalisations that the right applies neatly illustrates how the view on categories works as an epistemology and a view on ethics.
So an anti-transgender rights conservative (which isn’t all of them) might claim that:
- there are only two sexes/gender
- that God created those two sexes for distinct purposes
- that when a person acts in a way contrary to the purposes of their sex that is sinful (because it is ‘unnatural’/against God’s purpose)
- that therefore they should not be encouraged or enabled to do so
These ideas are really just bigotry but if you were casting around for a reputable philosophical scheme to rationalise them then a set of ideas that join Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas look attractive. This is the idea that the reason things are similar (and hence can be lumped together in categories) even though they are different (so we can tell them apart) is because the truer, deeper, more essential reality IS the category. All women are alike (in this idea) because womaness is the underlying truth. As a way of thinking it makes sense if you are classifying quadrilaterals (all square-like things are instances of the underlying deeper truth of the Platonic ideal of a square).
Now there is a whole bunch of stuff there: a metaphysics, a theory of science, a view of God and theological truth (i.e. we can reason about categories and discover ethical truths). Why do John C Wright and Vox Day like syllogisms? Because they were a medieval/classic way of reasoning about CATEGORIES.
Now Ockham called bullshit on aspects of this. Specifically he moved (reluctantly at times) towards a position called nominalism – essentially that categories are primarily convenient ways of thinking about stuff. Things are essentially different but humans can identify similarities and lump similar things together. But that lumping together isn’t the truer deeper reality. Nominalism has its problems also obviously. However, when we look at things scientifically what do we see:
- There are not only two human biological sexes. It is not a biological fact that humans divide neatly into two simple groupings by sex. It’s not true physically and it isn’t true genetically.
Now, the existance of inter-sex people is NOT the cornerstone of transgender rights – those rights exist regardless but I’ll get back to that. I’m highlighting it because it illustrates how the neo-Thomist scheme falls apart on a contemporary issue once we engage with the actual facts of the world. Even quite strong natural/empirical categories that we encounter empirically (such as biological genetic sex in humans) that has fairly well-understood causal (in the modern sense) basis does not form categories with zero fuzziness in the boundary. If God set up this scheme then God set up a scheme in which categorical boundaries have a tendency to get fractal.
And that’s JUST sex! Gender brings in questions or societal roles, behaviour, attitudes, dress, personality etc shows no respect for neat natural categories. Of course, the empirical evidence for this is in the ‘softer’ sciences of psychology and sociology and hence easier for the right to dismiss but essentially we have a similar issue. The neo-Thomist is claiming that the categories are a TRUTH about the universe i.e. A QUESTION OF FACT and that from those facts THEOLOGICAL truths can be established (God’s intent) and from that an ETHICAL truth can be inferred (being transgender is supposedly against God’s purpose) – and they are plain wrong.
I doubt William of Ockham had and views or perspective on the issue of transgender rights and there isn’t a coherent way of saying what he would think if he was alive today because he’d be a different person BUT! Bill-O (as I feel I should call him now) was already pulling apart most of the pieces of that argument.
- His nominalism points to categories as being empirical observational things that will have exceptions, complications, and non-neat boundaries. We live in a world in which there is a platypus and birds are tiny singing dinosaurs.
- His fiedism separated theological truths from logical and empirical ones. I.e. if God exists then God transcends logic (God is more powerful than logic and isn’t constrained by it) but therefore you can’t logic God.
Now, as I said I don’t want to overstate the fact that biological sex is not a neat category as a reason for transgender rights being important. That isn’t the actual positive reasoning. Rather, it is the fact that biological sex is not a neat category that demonstrates that the neo-Thomist argument CANNOT be correct. It is a metaphysical scheme that falls apart when brought into contact with OBSERVATION – which is what happened repeatedly since Plato first came up with the idea. Ironically it was Aristotle (who Thomas Aquinas venerated) who began chipping away at the scheme. It wasn’t a bad idea as such and Platonism had a good run in mathematics until at least the 19th century.
To move away from biology and sociology, you can see how this divergence works in chemistry. Neat categories of four elements gives way to a plethora of elements. The periodic table itself isn’t a fatal wound because there are lots of natural groupings but the inherent fuzziness (e.g. elements that are nearly but not quite metals) pushes against it. Atomic theory kills it dead – the commonalities between elements arise not from them all being in the same category but rather similarities at an atomic level lead to common properties. Having the quality of a metal becomes something that can be described without recourse to the quality of being a metal.
Anyway, this article on William of Ockham is a good read: http://www.iep.utm.edu/ockham/
Also Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, which is a great read regardless is very much tied up in the times and ideas of William of Ockham as prototype for modern rationalism. The protagonist, William of Baskerville, shares the same first name with the addition of the allusion to Sherlock Holmes but is also an English Fransciscan and contemporary of William of Ockham. The background to the story involves a political dispute between the Pope and the real life Michael of Cesena head of the Franciscans in which William of Ockham was involved.
Via Pharyngula here is Steven Pinker failing to apply his own critical thinking:
He presents a theory of the alt-right (or at least some on the alt-right) as being highly literate intelligent people who, when exposed to true ideas about the world that run counter to what they might be exposed to at university become discombobulated and because they lack the intellectual defence mechanisms to deal with the more genuinely bad ideas fall victim to believing nonsense.
The best I can say about this is the story Pinker presents is coherent and that it could be treated as an initial hypothesis. The problem with it is that it seems to have almost no bearing on the facts. PZ Myers does a good job of debunking the supposed ‘facts’ that Pinker believes precipitates the intellectual crisis model and which supposedly don’t get discussed at universities. https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/01/09/if-you-ever-doubted-that-steven-pinkers-sympathies-lie-with-the-alt-right/
However, even if Pinker were correct on that part of his hypothesis, his story of people turning to the alt-right in response to an intellectual crisis really doesn’t reflect what we see in real life with alt-right radicalisation.
It isn’t hard to become an anthropologist of the alt-right – the process of seeing alt-right radicalisation is one that is hard to avoid. It has played out multiple times in different arenas quite publically. If you watched Gamergate do its toxic stuff or watched the Puppy Kerfuffle in science fiction or watched Trumpism in action in the Republican Party, you’ve seen the process in action and probably have seen people shift from broadly libertarian conservatism to quasi-fascist alt-rightism in real time. It doesn’t look much like Pinker’s story.
I’ve seen three major processes and one lesser one in action:
- A right-leaning, left-sceptical* person percieves an injustice or unfairness or hypocrisy amongst the centre, liberal or left establishment. This is couple with concerns about some previously marginalised group asserting its rights. Joining in the conflict they pick sides and move rightwards as part of the group identity. During this process they buy into a variety of bad ideas primarily as tokens of belonging to their new group.
- The misogyny/male-privelege arc. A cis-man (sorry guys) who may even have held or asserted left or liberal views (but possibly radical libertarian views) in the past feels threatend by women (usually but sometimes other groups) within a field he is involved in. This may even be linked to question of sex and consent. They begin to define themselves in opposition not just to feminism but to ‘identity politics’ in general and then increasingly adopt alt-right ideas.
- A free-market conservative shift rightwards to authoritarian conservatism. The neo-con becomes a paleo-con or just stop pretending.
- A disenchanted person (possibly already a conservative) looking for better philosophical foundations for their beliefs, adopts some very odd ideas.
Only the last one (which is atypical) is vaguely like Pinker’s story. There are people in or near the alt-right whose approach is primarily intellectual, the nereactionaries fit that description I suppose but the neoreactionaries aren’t the ‘redpill’ alt-right but people who have followed thier own paths to unpleasant places – and probably if we dug we’d see one of the three other stories in play as the actual motivation.
Take our major example of study here, Vox Day. The guy isn’t an idiot. He is of above average intelligence and a significant player in the alt-right. He followed the third of the processes listed above. His dad was a quasi-libertarian paleo-conservative with wacky ideas. Vox started his public political life as a conservative paleo-conservative with overt libertarian rationalisations for his beliefs which were the usual pro-evangelical christian, Republican right. Over time his anti-Semitism, authoritarian and anti-free market views became more overt. The disenchantment wasn’t with mainstream liberal consensus – he’d never accepted that in the first place, he was already in the creationist camp among other things.
A very different example for point 2. Mark Latham – probably not somebody people outside of Australia have heard of. He was leader of the Australian Labor Party 2003-2005 and over the past decade has drifted further and further rightwards primarily just by being jerk to people. A notable example was his use of his column in the Australian Financial Review to make some pointlessly nasty attacks on two women http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-17/mark-latham-resigns-as-columnist-for-australian-financial-review/6703550
More relevantly, while there are people in the wide weird cloud of the al-right focussed on squaring the circle of their incoherent beliefs, these people simply are niether typical of the alt-right nor important to the phenomanon. In reality the alt-right is niether intellectually deep nor novel in its ideas. Most of what you will find if you step into the cess-pit are not the strange edifices of the Meniscus Moldbug but rather crude anti-semitism, misogyny, 1920s racial theories or 19th century nativism but dressed up with more media savvy and trolling.
The alt-right is not a movement of the intellectually curious. Nor is it even particularly well informed or curious about the areas where is seeks intellectual justification. I’ve discussed many times the way the alt-right focuses on IQ as way of pushing racism. This at least vaguely is the ballpark of Pinker’s argument. Yet, they aren’t particulalry well informed on the topic – their engagement even with theories they are espousing is shallow and they tend to only have a superficial understanding of the pseudo-science they are adopting. This shouldn’t be surprising because anti-intellectualism is a commonality between the *old* paleo-conservative US right, the evangelical Christian right, the current alt-right, the late 20th century neo-nazis, current nativist and anti-immigrant European right and, of course, fascism.
So why is Pinker making such a poor argument? Some of it is basically that he has an existing critique of the left in academia and he wants to apply it to the political topic of the day. I suppose some it may arise by superficially seeing people on the alt-right quoting back some of the criticism of the left that Pinker agrees with (e.g. you’ll see mangeled versions Pinker’s ‘blank slate’ critique of the left asserted by the right). Much of it though is simply avoiding the obvious and shifting the blame. The alt-right and Trumpism have gained because of failures of the centre and the centre-right – that’s not even a hypothesis, just ASK the alt-right! Even Vox Day’s own books attacking “Social Justice Warriors” spends most of its energies not attacking the ACTUAL left but moderates who exist in the same spaces as the alt-right (Evangelical Christian churches in particular)**
*[i.e. I mean somebody who is sceptical of the left not somebody who is leftwing and a skeptic]
**[There are, of course, people who are ACTUALLY leftwing who are Christians of all sorts but that’s not who Vox is fuming against – it’s mainly people trying to be nice.]