The Alt-Right Has More in Common With Economic Leftism Than Salon Wants You to Think

Journalist Donna Minkowitz of The Nation was brave enough to venture into an alt-right conference hosted by prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer a couple of months ago. Some of what she found was to be expected, such as how the individuals there were fueled by racism and hatred. Yet, when the conference’s attendees began to speak about economic issues, they started to sound a lot like leftists. Though some on the left have moved quickly to dismiss this as a cynical attempt to pick up recruits from the left, there is more to the commonality between the economic views of the left and the alt-right. Rather, the alt-right’s economic views jell so smoothly with those of the left because the ideological underpinning is so similar.

A few days after Minkowitz’s article came out, writer Conor Lynch wrote in Salon characterizing the alt-right’s economic leftism as “anti-Semitism wrapped up in an economic veil.” The alt-right, Lynch claims, is simply jumping on the anti-capitalist bandwagon to try to appeal to the left. Yet Lynch ignores the very real illiberal impulses at work behind anti-capitalism of all stripes.

To be clear, I do not mean to compare the left’s social views to those of the alt-right. However, in terms of economics, there is little to separate the underlying philosophy of the left from that of the alt-right. In fact, the alt-right’s economic philosophy looks a lot like leftism repackaged specifically for white males.

Once stripped of racial rhetoric, the underlying economic logic is hard to distinguish from leftist thought.

Take the thoughts of prominent alt-right thinkers on welfare. Spencer, alt-right media personality Mike Cernovich and others have expressed strong support for a universal basic income and single-payer healthcare system. Mike Enoch, host of the alt-right and virulently anti-Semitic podcast The Daily Shoah once said at a rally that “Jewish brainwashing” was encouraging Americans to be “useful idiots for the systems of international finance, capitalism and war.” In Europe, members of the far-right such as National Front party leader Marine Le Pen have embraced a generous social safety net --- albeit paired with restrictions on immigration. Once stripped of racial rhetoric, the underlying economic logic is hard to distinguish from leftist thought.

The alt-right is also strongly opposed to free trade. Steve Bannon, former head of alt-right “news” website Breitbart, has advocated for a trade war with China. This is just one portion of his agenda of “economic nationalism,” or scaling back of trade in order to protect domestic jobs. Uneconomic as these views may be, Bannon’s comments also expose a lack of belief in economic freedom. By wishing to restrict trade, Bannon argues for preventing Americans from buying cheaper or better-valued goods simply because of their origin.

Even Spencer’s critique of the Republican tax reform plan looks like it could have been lifted off of a Bernie Sanders Twitter screed. Spencer calls it “stupid...Reaganite nostalgia” and mocks it for benefiting large corporations (ignoring benefits to small businesses and individuals in the process). Substitute in “Jewish interests” for “the one percent,” and voila: easy-bake economic philosophy.

Fundamentally, the alt-right does not believe in the importance of the individual in economic relationships.

Fundamentally, the alt-right does not believe in the importance of the individual in economic relationships. Minkowitz writes how Spencer argues that “We need to be willing to take care of people and not simply think of ourselves as individuals who can acquire as much wealth as possible.” The most important form of economic organization to the alt-right is race, just as class is the most important form for the left. To those who defend economic freedom, it is the individual.

Proponents of economic freedom argue that the protection of the rights of the individual should be the foundation of a society. Individuals, unrestricted by excessive taxes or rules preventing them from engaging in mutually beneficial trade relationships, are best able to create economic prosperity. This fundamental principle is antithetical to alt-right beliefs.

Instead, the alt-right would find far more in common with the left’s view that a society should aim to maintain liberal thinker John Rawls’s goal of “distributive justice,” or just allocation of goods throughout society. A great deal of the anger and hatred that fuels the alt-right is the belief that goods are unjustly stolen from whites by an “other” --- be it immigrants or Jews. As Joe Carter of the Acton Institute points out, it’s not a coincidence that the term “alt-right” came into use in 2008 --- the phrase became more widespread as the alt-right attracted economically disaffected white males in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

The alt-right is yet another unfortunate incarnation of socialist economic thinking.

Those on the left would do well to give the overlap between their economic views and those of the alt-right more consideration than Lynch does in Salon. It is not a simple matter of the alt-right cynically targeting lost and sometimes left people, there is genuine commonality between their economic views. This, in itself, does not repudiate leftist economic beliefs, but it illustrates how the alt-right is yet another unfortunate incarnation of socialist economic thinking. May it never reach the heights of Stalinism, Maoism or Chavismo.

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Andrew Wilford is a Young Voices advocate and policy analyst residing in Maryland. He writes primarily on economic issues such as regulation, trade and tax policy. Follow him on Twitter @PolicyWilford. Opinions presented here belong solely to the author.

Apparel company The North Face recently stated that it would no longer make jackets for oil and gas companies because it doesn't want to be associated with the fossil fuel industry. In response, Colorado-based oil and gas company Liberty Oilfield Services rented full billboard ads to remind The North Face of the truth: "Globally, 60% of all clothing fibers are made out of oil and gas. For North Face, it is likely 90% or more."

Liberty CEO Chris Wright joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday to discuss just how much of our economy — beyond outdoor apparel and energy — wouldn't exist in a world without fossil fuels. And he warns that many companies are now deeming this truth to be "controversial."

"I have been for years, trying to get a real, honest dialogue about energy going," Chris told Glenn. "So we took this opportunity to point out that North Face jackets are ... almost completely made out of oil and gas. How can you choose not to associate with the essential material your equipment [is] made out of? So we put a billboard up ... the billboard says, 'That North Face puffer looks good on you. And it was made from fossil fuels.'"

"Most billboard companies did not want to run that billboard. They thought it was controversial," he added. "And Facebook put a hold on our brief video just saying the jacket looks good, this is what it's made out of. In today's world, that is controversial."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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During a lecture at the Yale School of Medicine's Child Study Center, a New York City-based psychiatrist told students and faculty that she fantasizes about "unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way," among several other shockingly race-hating statements.

In April, Dr. Aruna Khilanani — a New York-based forensic psychiatrist and psychoanalyst — delivered the talk called "The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind" virtually as part of the Yale School of Medicine's "Child Study Center Grand Rounds," a lecture program for "trainees in child psychiatry, psychology, and social work, faculty, clinicians, and scientists."

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck shared several quotes from an audio recording of the lecture provided by Bari Weiss, a former opinion writer and editor for the New York Times.

Here are a few of Khilanani's statements from the audio:

  • "This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil."
  • "I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a f***ing favor."
  • "White people are out of their minds. And they have been for a long time."
  • "White people feel that we are bullying them when we bring up race. They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath."
  • "We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain't gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It's like banging your head against a brick wall. It's just like sort of not a good idea."

"We must take a stand. We must speak out, because this is evil," Glenn said in response to Khilanani's shocking lecture. "I don't care who you voted for, you know this is evil."

Watch the video below for more details:

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The prices of our houses and food are already rising fast, but they will skyrocket to record highs if we don't fix the problem soon. So what's causing the inflation?

On the radio program this week, Glenn Beck said he doesn't believe it's the fault of our loggers, farmers, or truckers — many of them are really struggling. But the big corporations that control these industries are making record profits, all while the Biden administration is making some very odd decisions that could make the crises even worse.

Watch the video below for more details:

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The crisis at the border continues to worsen, with the U.S. Border Patrol recently releasing some shocking statistics that illuminate just how bad the situation has become. But Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) is doing everything he can to prevent any additional unlawful crossings into the Lone Star State.

Abbott joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to describe recent action he has taken to ensure that those who do cross into Texas illegally know they came to the "wrong state."

After noting that both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris "have completely abandoned post as it concerns the Texas border," Abbott explained how "Texas is stepping up" to combat the flood of dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers and drugs he says are pouring into border communities.

"Beginning in March, I deployed a thousand Texas Department of Public Safety officers to the border. I deployed the National Guard to the border. And they made well over a thousand arrests of some of these criminals we talked about. They've apprehended more than 33,000 illegal immigrants coming across the border." Abbott said. "But because of the way the Biden administration has abandoned the border, we are now elevating our game. What I did yesterday, in response to more than a dozen counties along the border ... I granted their request for a disaster declaration," he added.

Abbott went on to describe how his disaster declaration gives Texas the authority to toughen penalties for lawbreakers, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.

"We're going to begin arresting everybody coming across the border and charging them with criminal trespass and putting them in jail. They are coming in here, thinking they'll get the Biden free-ride, and go wherever they want to go. Not in the state of Texas. We'll start arresting them right and left, and putting them behind bars, and saying they came in to the wrong state."

Asked by Glenn if he is prepared for the inevitable "media onslaught", Abbott simply answered, "We're prepared to see a reduction in the number of people coming across the border — because Texas is enforcing the law, period."

Watch the video clip below for more:


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