The Global History of the Alt-Right

Marine Le Pen Geert Wilders
French and Dutch nationalist party leaders Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders in The Hague, November 13, 2013 (AP/Peter Dejong)

When I was a teenager, I had to drive my older brother to downtown Phoenix. He couldn’t drive himself; he’d made a series of poor life choices, so it fell to me, the relatively responsible one, to ferry him about.

As we drove, he ranted to me about blacks, Mexicans and Jews, using all the tried and true tropes of the traditional white-supremacist right — tossing in, for my “education,” that the Bible had given blacks over to whites as slave-animals. When we pulled up to our destination, a Mexican guy was hanging out on the Phoenix equivalent of a stoop; my brother would have to pass by the guy. I asked him, in that teenaged point-blank manner, what he thought of the man.

“Oh no,” my brother replied. “He’s one of the good ones.” Switching off from racist extraordinaire, he proceeded to carry out his errand and have a light, polite chat with the very man whose race he’d spent much of our journey together trashing.

It was my first encounter with the doublethink that would swirl to become the alt-right. Read more “The Global History of the Alt-Right”

There Are Reason to Be Cautious About Breaking Up Bosnia

Central Intelligence Agency map of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Dayton Agreement, published November 24, 1995
Central Intelligence Agency map of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Dayton Agreement, published November 24, 1995 (Library of Congress)

Daniel Berman, who occasionally writes for the Atlantic Sentinel, poses an interesting question at his blog, The Restless Realist: Why not break up Bosnia?

The current situation seems untenable. Bosnia is divided in two: an autonomous Republika Srpska for the (mostly Orthodox Christian) ethnic Serbs and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the (Muslim) Bosniaks and (Catholic) Bosnian Croats.

The federation is itself divided into ten autonomous cantons, five of which are Bosniak-ruled, three Croat and two mixed. Read more “There Are Reason to Be Cautious About Breaking Up Bosnia”

Trump Announces American Retreat from the World

American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, bid farewell to Barack and Michelle Obama in Washington DC, January 20
American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, bid farewell to Barack and Michelle Obama in Washington DC, January 20 (DoD/Marianique Santos)

Donald Trump has given the world a chilling preview of his foreign policy.

In his inaugural address as president, the businessman promised to break with decades of international trade policy and “put America first”.

Trump said he would protect the United States “from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”

“Protection,” he maintained, “will lead to great prosperity and strength.”

That is not what the last century has taught us. Read more “Trump Announces American Retreat from the World”

Trump’s European Admirers Are Deluding Themselves

United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015
United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, April 29, 2015 (European Parliament)

Donald Trump’s unexpected presidential election in the United States has delighted his ideological counterparts in Europe. Brexiteers in the United Kingdom think he will give them a better deal than Hillary Clinton. Populists in France and the Netherlands have responded to Trump’s victory with glee. So have ultraconservatives in Central Europe.

They should think again. Trump may be a kindred spirit. His triumph is a setback for the liberal consensus that nationalists in Europe and North America are trying to tear down. But he is no friend of European nations. Read more “Trump’s European Admirers Are Deluding Themselves”

What Just Happened in America?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29 (Gage Skidmore)

The blog originally began with a simple vision: complicated foreign policy analysis stuffed with swears to soften the otherwise indigestible material. As the years have worn on, I’ve largely dropped that approach.

But I feel we deserve the old way today.

So let’s start to dig through the rubble and figure out what the fuck just happened in America. Read more “What Just Happened in America?”

Dutch Support Clinton, Hear Echoes of Own Populist in Trump

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte meets with American president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, November 29, 2011
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte meets with American president Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, November 29, 2011 (White House/Pete Souza)

If they had a vote, the Dutch would certainly pick Hillary Clinton to succeed Barack Obama as president.

Partly this is because many are socially liberal and find the reactionary views of America’s Republicans on everything from abortion to gay marriage abhorrent.

Dutch media also have a pro-Democratic bias. There was little favorable coverage of Mitt Romney four years ago and Donald Trump can count on even less sympathy from journalists. Read more “Dutch Support Clinton, Hear Echoes of Own Populist in Trump”

Open or Closed? The Question That Divides Us

London England
The sun rises over London, England (Uncoated)

The Economist reports about the same phenomenon I — per Andrew Sullivan — have been calling Europe’s “blue-red culture war”. They argue that the divide in Europe and North America is between people who want to pull the drawbridge up and those who want to throw it down.

From Warsaw to Washington, the political divide that matters is less and less between left and right and more and more between open and closed. Debates between tax-cutting conservatives and free-spending social democrats have not gone away. But issues that cross traditional party lines have grown more potent. Welcome immigrants or keep them out? Open up to foreign trade or protect domestic industries? Embrace cultural change or resist it?

In Poland, for example, the nominally conservative Law and Justice party is actually less laissez-faire than the centrist Civic Platform.

Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands are economic nationalists as well.

Donald Trump is transforming America’s Republican Party in a similar way. His appeal is that he promises to shelter workers from foreign trade and defend entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security from budget-cutting conservatives in Washington. Read more “Open or Closed? The Question That Divides Us”

Don’t Push Ordinary People Over the Edge

Americans
Visitors at the de Young museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, October 16, 2005 (Thomas Hawk)

Regular readers of this site will be familiar with what Andrew Sullivan has called the West’s ; I agree that the political conflict in Europe and North America is now between “blue” cosmopolitans and internationalists, who tend to be liberal, well-educated and mobile, and “red” nationalists and nativists, who are often socially conservative, less educated and stuck in one place.

I’m decidedly “blue” and so Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last month and the rise of Donald Trump in the United States hasn’t filled me with hope.

Long term, I know the “reds” are fighting yesterday’s battles — and I suspect they know it too. But in the short term, red victories can do a lot of damage.

What’s to be done? Read more “Don’t Push Ordinary People Over the Edge”

British EU Exit: An Expression of Counter-Cosmopolitanism

London mayor Boris Johnson poses for a photo, November 24, 2011
London mayor Boris Johnson poses for a photo, November 24, 2011 (i-Images/Andrew Parsons)

A smart right-wing take on Britain’s vote to leave the European Union comes from Yuval Levin in America’s National Review.

Levin writes that an assertive cosmopolitan elite has conspired with a weakening of traditional communities in Europe to create “an intense desire for a reassertion of control and authority from the bottom up.”

This resurgent national yearning is in one way or another growing in most Western societies. Many things could be said about it, good and bad, but one is surely that it strongly suggests that globalism is not the future and nationalism is not the past.

This goes to the we’ve been writing about at the Atlantic Sentinel. Read more “British EU Exit: An Expression of Counter-Cosmopolitanism”

What Liberals Can Learn from Donald Trump

Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015 (Joshua M. Hoover)

Some Republicans in the United States have tried to make the case that Donald Trump, their party’s likely presidential nominee, is somehow the left’s fault.

Bobby Jindal, the former Louisiana governor and a failed presidential candidate, blamed Trump’s popularity on Barack Obama in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. After eight years of the Democrat’s cool and nuance, it was little wonder, Jindal argued, that voters longed for bluntness and “strength”.

That was followed by an article in The Daily Beast that said “political correctness” had created Trump. Britain’s The Spectator published something similar. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum rejecting this thesis, but recognized it was not entirely without merit.

Before blaming others, conservatives should take a long, hard look in the mirror. There is more right- than left-wing complicity in Trump’s rise. I argued back in December that mainstream Republicans had for too long ignored or tried to co-opt the crazies among them. Conor Friedersdorf has made a similar argument in The Atlantic. Jonathan Bernstein argued much the same at Bloomberg View not long after Trump launched his presidential bid.

Even so, we can see that Trump is a reaction to liberal pressures in several ways. That’s not to say the left is to blame. But liberals can learn from this. Read more “What Liberals Can Learn from Donald Trump”