7 Differences Between the Alt Right and Libertarian Beliefs.
For a term that was first coined less than a decade ago, the ‘Alt Right’ has certainly made its mark in contemporary society. You will be hard-pressed to make it through a day’s media without finding it mentioned, from family barbeques and smoke-outs to everywhere else, either in association with President Trump or in opposition to some libertarian figure or value. But are the two causes so different?
Here are 7 of the major difference between libertarian thought and the Alt Right, for better or worse.
1. Western civilization above all else
The Alt Right isn’t shy about what it means by this. In Vox Day’s ’16 Points of the Alt Right’, he specifically outlines his belief that ‘Western civilization is the pinnacle of human achievement’ (Day, 2016). He then goes on to say that the Alt Right also supports the West’s ‘three foundational pillars: Christianity, the European nations and the Graeco-Roman legacy’. Now, while you may find Christian libertarians or libertarians who would agree that Western civilization is an incredible achievement, you won’t (or shouldn’t) find it in their political philosophy. It’s one thing to have a favorite color or sports team (even a favorite civilization, sure), but to state it within one’s political philosophy is something else. Actions naturally follow.
2. Whites above that still
Day goes on to say that ‘The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children’. Now, read out of context this statement will do a little more than raise some eyebrows. But even within the context of the Alt Right claim that ‘identity>culture>politics’, it is still rather alarming to read in the 21st century. Why not ‘we must secure the existence of ALL people’ (a vague claim, in itself, too), unless there was the intention to exclude and divide? Furthermore, it very quickly outlines the rules for membership in this alternative right club. Libertarian principles, by contrast, necessarily apply to all; not just white libertarians.
3. Individuals versus the collective
While libertarians may disagree on how best to achieve it, they are all interested in individual liberty. Freedom for the individual is of principal importance, and the protection of such liberties are fought for with the most zeal. For members of the Alt-Right, there is a different order. Already quoted above, the Alt Right places a strong emphasis upon one’s identity through identifying factors such as race and gender. It encourages tribalism and group identity, and while the Alt Right might suggest that it is ‘a philosophy that values peace among the various nations of the world’, adding in further sub-divisions within nations and continents might just make this proposed peace-task more difficult. When I start to believe that I am no longer simply a citizen, but a white, male citizen—and that this is an important, defining distinction to be made in my political thought—then what hope is left for any egalitarian system? Something which libertarians have always valued highly.
4. Nationalism versus globalism
Alongside matters of tribalism and group identity, we find in the Alt Right wing an open and avowed expression of nationalism. Day says that the Alt Right supports, ‘all nationalisms and the right of all nations to exist… unadulterated by foreign invasions and migration’. And while there was a time when classic liberals could and would readily salute the flag, patriotism is hardly a libertarian value. Where libertarians would like to see a global community, the alternative right would prefer nations to keep to themselves.
Which leads us to perhaps the largest point of difference; on one of the largest issues in contemporary society. What to do with borders and their regulation. Alt Right members, at least, have the advantage of knowing exactly what they want, here. They want to restrict the free movement of people, with strict border controls. It was perhaps one of the most decisive issues in the success of the Trump campaign, with his repeated talk of border control and the infamous wall. Libertarians, on the other hand, are troubled by the fact that immigration is an increasingly complex issue. How best do you allow individual liberties to flourish within your own borders while still encouraging egalitarian principles in a global society? Libertarian solutions to this problem aren’t as simplistic as those from the Alt Right (often giving libertarians themselves cause to reflect upon their own libertarian values), but the difference can perhaps be surmised as such: The Alt Right already has its answer to questions of immigration, while libertarians are committed to still finding the best possible solution.
6. Free trade
‘The Alt Right rejects international free trade and the free movement of peoples that free trade requires’ (Day, 2016). This ties back into both points about globalism and immigration, but the abolishment of international free trade is something which the Alt Right believes in strongly. They would rather see that a nation survives and enjoys the fruits of its own labors, without international trading; despite the broad consensus amongst economists that ‘free trade and the reduction of trade barriers has a positive effect on economic growth’ (Source IGM Chicago Survey). Yes: Libertarians are generally in favor of free trade.
7. Traditional Identity
The worst thing in the eyes of the Alt Right is the loss of identity. Identity, as explored above, refers to factors such as race and gender: ‘Race is real, race matters and race is the foundation of identity’ (Source: Mother Jones, Sept 2016). This fascination with genetic and cultural identity goes even beyond what you will find in classical conservatives. And while there is a lot to be said for a strong sense of identity and respect for tradition, libertarians tend to favor values of freedom, justice and equality over those of traditional identity. A move in the direction of progress, at the sacrifice of an outdated tradition, is something the Alt Right are not willing to consider.
The key is to educate yourself. Vox Day states as his penultimate point that, ‘The Alt Right does not believe in the supremacy of any race, nation, people or sub-species’, but does this square up with his claims about the superiority of Western civilization and his specific request to promote the continued existence of the white race?
Engage in critical discussion with friends, family, and acquaintances of all political stance, then make up your mind for yourself.