Alt-right correct in assumptions

By Joseph Dillier, Columnist

The alt-right is known for its virulent white nationalism, radical traditionalism, ethno-identitarianism and whatever other new horrible -ism it has created. These terrible terms, according to this group, are apparently solutions to problems of modernity. The guiding belief is if America could go back to an ethnically homogenous, Judeo-Christian past, these problems would go away.

The issue is the ideal past is mostly imagined, and the prognosis is wrong. The alt-right would tell you #MeToo has ruined sex, diversity drives us apart, lack of job opportunities is because of immigrants and the opioid epidemic was brought by bad hombres smuggling drugs.

There is plenty of data to support the idea that things are awry. Young people are having less sex than their parents. Americans today have less friends and are more likely to kill themselves than before. We are facing rising inequality, and the American Dream is in question. Since deindustrialization, the level of education necessary to sustain a middle class life is financially out of reach for millions of Americans. On top of all of that, we are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident.

The alt-right’s take on neoliberalism provides a more in-depth understanding of how the problem unfolds, ultimately turning to petty racism. Neoliberalism, in short, is the return of laissez-faire economics but in our modern globalized markets. The alt-right hates neoliberalism because, for them, it is the same thing as globalization — which has uprooted our culture from traditional values and brings in immigrants.

An alt-right analysis for the opioid crisis would go something like this: Reagan gave amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants, Clinton signed NAFTA and policy makers are too eager to grant citizenship to immigrants. This was all done under the guise of economic improvement by importing cheap labor and creating open borders. Instead, this created an opportunity for the cartels to bring in drugs.

They have correctly identified problems with our economic policies, but it has a lot more to do with us, since most drugs enter legally. Prescribing addictive pain pills was not standard medical practice in the 1980s. Due to aggressive lobbying, campaign contributions and new laws allowing direct advertisement, Big Pharma was allowed to prescribe opioids to patients with less serious conditions.

A town of 2,900 people in West Virginia, for example, received almost 21 million opioid pills over the last 10 years. Congress recently asked the drug suppliers why this did not raise a red flag despite soaring overdoses. The manufacturers themselves became so confident they began bribing doctors to prescribe addictive drugs for problems like simple back pain. In recent years, many of these titans of industry have gone to jail for fraud, racketeering and bribery.  

The National Review, a staple of the conservative establishment, has produced multiple articles calling for the rural poor to find their self control and middle class values. It refuses to see the way deindustrialization and poverty cause moral decay, instead positing their lack of discipline has created poverty. They put the horse well ahead of the cart to help their political narrative.

The alt-right isn’t the only group talking about the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche correctly predicted the end of Judeo-Christian values would lead to meaninglessness and existential angst. This is why Richard Spencer, an avowed atheist who does a whole podcast on Nietzsche, wants to bring religion back into the public life in order to give people meaning.

They ignore the best part about Nietzsche, where he provides an alternative: embrace meaninglessness, do not believe in religion disingenuously — like Spencer — and find your own meaning in self improvement.

Nietzsche is now more relevant than ever. He prophesied the rise of rationalist ideologies, such as communism and fascism, in place of old values and offers a solution. Yet his ideas have been turned into a tool for far-right beliefs.

The problem with all of this is many young people, mostly white men, who are rightly disillusioned turn to the alt-right because it is the only political movement articulating that something has gone wrong. In doing so, they ignore materialist explanations of our problems and opt to blame “social justice warriors” for all of America’s problems. These people deserve no sympathy, but their existence means somewhere along the course of history we took a wrong turn. The idea that modernity is actually bad is something many refuse to believe.

This is the biggest conundrum of our political age. If mainstream Democrats and Republicans dethrone Donald Trump and the alt-right, they will likely revert to the same policymaking that made people angry and miserable in the first place. Things will not go back to normal after Trump.

Joseph is a junior in LAS.

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