Huston: The Charlottesville Rally

August 15, 2017

For the use of the membership only.

WHERE HAVE ALL the political scientists gone? Why should it be a surprise that when the Democratic Party has embraced intersectional identity politics (as recently declared by its vice-chair) that a corresponding white identity politics should develop on the Right (in its current form independent of the Republican Party)?

More relevant yet, who are these people? They are not the old skin heads of the 1960’s American Nazi Party or even the middle-aged working-class voters who rallied for George Wallace. If you viewed any of the videos you should have noticed that most of these marchers were young people in the 20-to-40-year-old range with short hair and conventional attire. Of course, the overt Nazis and Klansmen conformed to stereotype but they are as irrelevant politically today as they were 40 years ago.

These marching young people are the sons (few women are involved in this movement) of Boomers. Many are from middle-class broken homes, high school educated with poor prospects of realizing the social and economic benefits enjoyed by their parents. They rely on social media for information and organization. They operate largely below the radar of mainstream observers and are caricatured by the professional hit men at watchdog groups such as SPLC and the ADL

Observers have largely ignored the significance of the Charlottesville rally as perceived by its organizers. The objective was reflected in the name adopted for the event: “Unite the Right.” There are tremendous differences of philosophy and tactics among the various groups that participated. Southern Nationalists are distinguishable from White Nationalists and both groups from the neo-Nazis. Southern Heritage groups have little in common with the others except opposition to removal of Confederate monuments and memorials. They all share a sense of white identity although not all of them can reasonably be said to be white supremacists if the word supremacist has any finite meaning.

For a time during the 1930s the Communists pushed the United Front line that “there are no enemies to the Left.” What the Communists hoped to achieve by this line is what the Alt-Right leaders seek to achieve through their public alignment of groups outside the Conservative mainstream who have common enemies and thus common interests.

It is easy to denounce these groups and to argue that they should be isolated and ignored. That was a policy that we followed on the Goldwater Right in the early 1960s. The problem is that if there are enough of them and they are loud enough, you may be able for a time to isolate them but you can’t forever ignore them. The European centrist parties tried that for 20 years with the anti-immigration parties of the so-called “Far Right” with the result they deluded themselves as to the state of public opinion in their countries (which gave rise to Brexit, the National Front, and the Eastern European resistance to the EU bureaucracy).

Frankly, I don’t know how to cope with the growth of white identity politics in a period when every other politically distinguishable group is engaged in a politics of identity. The problem is compounded by the perilous state of the white working class. When the disillusioned cease to be disengaged you have a political problem. Identifying and understanding political problems is what political scientists are supposed to do. I wish they would get about their job.

— Tom Charles Huston


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