We are all so vain.
We all believe that everyone else thinks just like we do. The establishment right believes the left is just like them - open to rational discussion, persuaded by evidence, and willing to change their mind when facts indicate otherwise - so those are the tools they use to argue. The left believes the right is just like them - motivated primarily by their emotions of hate and fear, dogmatic in their opinions, and persuaded by consensus - so those are the tools they use to argue.
We all do and say the things that we ourselves find persuasive, but in reality we’re just talking past each other. The left holds massive rallies with nonsensically emotional rhyming phrases that don’t have much meaning or any specific goal at all except to express anger. And the right crafts long carefully reasoned diatribes citing statistics and recalling statements of the great thinkers of the past, but the left can’t be bothered to get past the first sentence without falling back on it's standby accusation of 'hate'.
Since neither group responds to the other’s arguments, the right thinks liberals are stupid, which is the left tail of our primary political bell curve, and liberals think the right is evil, which is the left tail of theirs. None of this is true. There are smart liberals and generous hearted conservatives. It’s all just a problem with communication.
You cannot reason with the irrational. We on the right believe that irrationality is a temporary condition because it always is for us. But on the left it can be a permanent state. They don’t face up to and conquer their fears the way we do. Instead, they rationalize around them and pursue elaborate exercises in self deception.
If you step back from it this is obvious because it’s what they are constantly accusing us of doing. As an example, the left believes we’re lying about our evil motives for supporting someone like Trump and deluding ourselves about our ‘inherent racism’. This is their way of accusing us of doing exactly as they would, when they ignore facts which they find emotionally uncomfortable. They believe the fact we're ignoring, is our own 'real' motivation. To them, that hidden motive is just another 'fact' and it's evidence is manifest in our disagreement with them. This is what happens when two groups use the same words, but one is talking politics, and the other is talking morality and culture. The words all match, but the frame of the argument does not.
In my mind, the best communicators are those who make themselves fully understood by their audience, not that express themselves artfully. If I want art, I’ll read poetry. Give me a guy who can speak to the person whose mind he needs to change. Those are the most important voices in a political discussion, and the ones that affect the largest audience.
Right now, both the left and the establishment right are absolutely losing their minds in an effort to delegitimize the alt-right. CNN has gone so far as to lend its megaphone to Glenn Beck – not exactly a well respected voice in their world. And they do so with good reason since his emotional arguments speak directly to their thought processes. But Beck’s deeply irrational ramblings notwithstanding, I would expect something better than that from the establishment right.
Richard Spencer is no bomb thrower. Neither is Peter Brimelow, Steve Sailer, or my friend John Derbyshire. Those four frighten the wits out of Glenn Beck, because if Beck ever had an original thought it would die of loneliness. As intellectual leaders of the Alt-right, they think and communicate well outside Beck’s very small box, and their words ‘frighten and confuse him’. But they shouldn’t scare the right’s actual thinkers. Not one of those three dreams of ‘camps and ovens’ as the alt-right is often described by the establishment.
I’d say that the 4chan guys, who operate at the other end of the intellectual spectrum and who do give the impression that they dream of "camps and ovens", shouldn’t scare anyone either. But that would be missing the point. It would be better to say that they shouldn't scare anyone who is thinking rationally.
What those guys have actually done is found a way to communicate with the left in terms they understand. They are speaking to their fear, and their hatred. They are offering an argument filled with emotion, and lacking entirely in information. They are telling the left that there is an emotional resistance to their cultural bulldozer. A bulldozer that the establishment right with it's carefully reasoned logical arguments, has been unable or unwilling to push back against.
The fact that they also scare some members of the establishment right, should tell the establishment thinkers something about themselves as well. It’s all just words after all; protected political speech. Something the rational right claims it holds in higher regard than the emotional left. Yes, much of it is offensive, but the offense is the point. It’s designed to crack the egg of the emotional left and get at the soft parts underneath. And if you establishment right guys really believe what you say, and aren’t just another flavor of leftism, then maybe you should step back from your own emotions, and think about it a bit more rationally.
The establishment right has sounded exactly like the left in its opposition to Trump, and there was a reason for that. Many of the establishment right's arguments against him bought into the left's cultural arguments about racism, misogyny and anti-semitism to one degree or another. And that’s why they’ve been included in the emotional diatribes of the 4chan crowd.
But now that Trump has gotten 50 million votes, the establishment right has demonstrated a willingness to admit to itself that it might have missed the mark. It's my sincere hope that they can step back from their own fears about the alt-right, and begin to see it for what it really is as well.
This is America - a nation founded on a set of ideas. And the 4chan guys believe in those ideas. There will be no pogroms, or camps. Any effort to turn those feelings into policy by the infinitesimally tiny minority of people in America who really do feel that way, will be crushed by the millions of good hearted and rational people who do not. WWII isn't so far down the memory hole for the 4chan crowd, that they have unlearned it's lessons. Their only real point is that to fear American 'camps and ovens' is to be as irrational as any member of the left.
The 4chan guys aren't really arguing for anything else. They are just the Alt-right, slapping the face of the left in an effort to snap them out of their stupor, and frighten them into using their reason again. It’s an argument about culture, not politics. And if they really do frighten you, maybe there's still a component of the argument you’re missing too.