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The Alt Lite & the Spectrum Axis

1,775 words

It is a very simple idea.

Remember that in the film Moneyball, the new Assistant General Manager, Peter Brand, said that “it’s all about getting things down to one number.” Like Spearman’s g, but for baseball. A single number which could establish a player’s objective worth. As the film showed, such a number becomes extremely useful for anyone with a limited budget attempting to build a championship ball club.

Distilling a multitude of secondary and tertiary concepts down to primary ones has similar utility in politics and political theory. If we can sift through the jumble of passions and ideologies of particular political movements and produce a single concept which differentiates them, that would be useful. For one, it would form a common ground upon which people of differing political stripes could agree to disagree. Secondly, it could be a starting point for discussion, forcing people to either bolster or challenge their own positions.

In the current American political climate, I estimate that there are four major concepts which act as the driving forces behind all relevant political movements: equality, freedom, tradition, and race. A political movement can be placed along a unified axis based on its regard for any two of these four concepts. Here is a visualization:

Note that tradition and equality never meet. They are opposites, and therefore a political movement which claims to adhere strongly and equally to both is either being dishonest or won’t last very long. The same goes for freedom and race. A political movement can gravitate towards one of these, but not both. This is not to say that all race realists or ethnonationalists wish to do away with individual freedoms or that traditional societies never uphold equality in the eyes of the law. A political movement can pay homage to all four of these concepts at once. It’s just that, according to the Spectrum Axis, it must somehow combine two of these as its raison d’être, and it doesn’t really matter which of the remaining two concepts come in third and fourth place.

I’m sure there is much to quibble about here. For example, some might say that the Alt Lite has more in common with libertarians than conservatives, or that Marxism really isn’t about equality at all. Also, where does eco-activism or the manosphere fit on this Spectrum Axis? All are interesting topics, but far beyond the scope of this essay. My main point is to systematize a vocabulary which can illustrate the political divisions which cause the greatest consternation on the Right these days in fundamental terms – that is, where conservatism ends and the Alt Lite begins, and where the Alt Lite ends and the Alt Right begins.

According to the Spectrum Axis, conservatism is a blend of freedom and tradition which cares less about race, whereas the Alt Right blends race and tradition and cares less about freedom. The Alt Lite, on the other hand, seems to want to get the best of both worlds by blending freedom, tradition, and race into one coherent ideology. Perhaps this is why the Alt Lite appears so silly from an Alt Right perspective. Sure, it is populated by a lot of smart, passionate, likeable guys. But essentially, what it proposes is unworkable because it stretches too far along the Spectrum Axis.

Observe: on the whole, the Alt Lite respects conservative, traditional values, with two examples being the acceptance of man’s inveterate imperfectability as well as pre-feminist notions of sex differences. They also recognize race realism and the role race has played in forming the modern world. So far so good. But by being unwilling to relinquish the idea of freedom which is blended into the mix of traditional conservatism, they lack a mechanism to enforce the real-world implementation of their ideas.

I can think of two examples of this, one recent and one less so. The recent example I mentioned in my article, “On Gavin McInnes and the Alt Lite,” in which I discussed McInnes’ palpable distaste with the idea of rejecting an intelligent, honorable non-white into a white ethnostate. Such a rejection would violate the non-white’s freedom, you see, and is therefore bad. The other example is one I remember from years ago (sorry, can’t find the link), in which conservative pessimist and race realist John Derbyshire announced that he could think of no solution at all to the race question in America. In other words, he’d rather remain confined in the box of freedom than break out of it to find an answer.

So what good is accepting race realism or sticking up for the accomplishments of white people when our current hands-off, libertarian model of government disallows doing anything about it? If current trends continue, white people will become minorities in their own countries. What will we do when that happens? Hope that the non-whites who take charge will look beyond race and respect the freedom at the center of the Spectrum Axis (like they have almost never done before)? Hope that only the intelligent and honorable ones that Gavin McInnes would so generously allow into white nations will end up being the ones calling the shots?

This is what we call a rope of sand.

By trying to keep its white fingers in so many different pies, the Alt Lite is living in a dreamland, albeit an intellectually consistent and morally commendable dreamland. Furthermore, people on the Alt Lite don’t realize that they can afford to do this only as long as there is a white majority to protect them. As soon as that evaporates (and it looks like in thirty or forty years, it will) most on the Alt Lite will realize – too late, perhaps – that you can’t have equally large quantities of freedom and race in the same pot without spoiling the soup.

Yes, today’s conservatives may seem like dunderheads compared to the Alt Lite for ignoring race, but at least they have a historical precedent to fall back on. When the Alt-anything brings up the importance of race with a conservative, the conservative can always resort (with some justice) to what I would call the “But-but-but Reagan!” defense. Ronald Reagan didn’t make race an issue, and yet look at all the prosperity he brought in. Why make race so important when America has always been a multi-racial nation of immigrants who just can’t wait to dissolve into that old melting pot? A good example of this kind of thinking can be found in the later writing of Robert Putnam whenever he tries to explain away the inconvenient findings of his classic 2000 study, Bowling Alone. In 2017, America indeed remains the planet’s top superpower and can still boast of having the highest standard of living in the world despite being six parts white, two parts Hispanic, one part black, and one part Asian (or whatever it is these days). So why spoil the soup by adding race to the mix?

Of course, the conservatives are wrong, but at least they are understandably wrong, unlike the well-meaning intellectuals of the Alt Lite.

The Alt Right, on the other hand, is (mostly) willing to part with a good deal of freedom in order to establish and maintain the only possible solution to our current troubles: a white ethnostate. There is no other way, and to suggest another way is to be either profoundly ignorant of history and human nature or, frankly, not serious. And if the Alt Right is anything, it is serious.

Here is my stab at how a functioning white American ethnostate might have to restrict the freedoms provided in the US Constitution in order to avert the troubles we’re facing today and still resemble, as much as possible, what the Founding Fathers envisioned for our country. We would have to add strict and swiftly enforceable laws which would prohibit:

  1. all policies and practices which discriminate against white people
  2. all welfare and government services provided to non-whites
  3. equal political rights between whites and non-whites
  4. all immigration except by white individuals
  5. all illegal immigration, and the hiring or aiding and abetting of illegal immigrants
  6. white vs. non-white miscegenation
  7. all militant and subversive cults such as Islam

And this is just for starters. Couple such restrictions with mass deportations of the non-white criminal class and creating an environment hostile enough to encourage most other non-whites under a certain age to self-deport, and freedom, shall we say, is going to take a hit.

I understand that this is scary for many people. It’s scary for me. Once we start talking about bulking up government power and stripping freedoms away from citizens, we’re suddenly gazing down that nice, steep, slippery slope to tyranny. Sure, a white ethnostate wouldn’t necessarily force us to take the plunge (and I am willing to bet that it won’t). But it would nudge us closer to the precipice and would remove the handrail and the little sign telling us to watch our step. In other words, in a white ethnostate, our leadership’s room for error would be drastically reduced. All it would take is one power-mad strongman crossing the Rubicon, and suddenly we’re not a democratic republic anymore. And if we look at history, we know very well that white people can be horribly oppressive to other whites when their political systems offer few safeguards against governmental power and abuse. This is the reason why the Founding Fathers declared war on England to begin with.

This must be said. It shows that we are not being flippant when we decide to cast our lot in with the Alt Right. It shows that we know the risks which are in store if we adopt any radical solutions to the troubles facing us today.

But you know what’s even riskier? Not taking these measures, and instead thinking we can continue to cling to our precious freedoms as our world becomes more black and brown by the week. This is what conservatives do, and sadly, this is also what the Alt Lite does as it stretches itself too thin along the Spectrum Axis.

So I am going to put it in a way that nobody could possibly misinterpret. If current immigration and demographic trends in predominantly white countries continue, then the twenty-first century will mark the greatest loss of freedom for the white race in our history. This loss of freedom is coming whether we want it to or not. The choice of siding with the Alt Right ultimately boils down to whether or not we want to lose this freedom on our own terms or on the terms of our invaders.

For all the danger facing us, the choice couldn’t be clearer.


  1. thefinn
    Posted May 3, 2017 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Look I read as far as your statement about why the Alt-Right things the Alt-Light is silly. It’s not that it spreads itself “too far” along the axis, it’s that most of the people in the Alt-Light do not want to accept race realism and do not want to talk about the Jewish Question AT ALL.

    They will not, can not and have not done so with possibly the notable exception of people like Stefan Molyneux.

    Most of these people have families and use their platforms as income. A few have wives who are not white, and so also cannot really move beyond civic nationalism. This is why the Alt-Right and Alt-Lite are at odds.

  2. Posted May 4, 2017 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Mr. Quinn, your critique of various political positions is of value, quite independently of your proposed spectrum axis. So far as that axis goes—it appears to be an attempt to supplement the deficiencies of the old “left-right” spectrum, and to some extent it succeeds. I think, however, that the very idea of a two-dimensional spectrum upon which we may orient all contemporary political positions does a disservice both to our movement, and to political phenomena as such.

    Any spectrum presupposes a quality common to its various elements. One can draw a spectrum between two opposite colors; one cannot draw a spectrum between any given color and any given unit of weight. One can usefully place the traditional American left and the traditional American right on a spectrum because their differences are differences of degree and not kind; but to plot radical theocracy on that same spectrum would result in confusion and artificiality even in our understanding of the traditional American left and right, because radical theocracy stems from fundamental presuppositions which are incommensurable with traditional American political thought.

    Let me indicate just a single concrete example of the problem. Your spectrum suggests a wide distance between liberalism and conservatism, insofar as the one favors equality while the other favors tradition. You yourself have inferred from your spectrum that tradition and equality are “opposites.” Yet it is clear that conservatism is in our present day bound up in some way with the idea of equality, if only equality before the law. Conservatism wishes to conserve the tradition; but our present-day tradition derives directly from classic liberalism, the attempt to unify the apparently contrary concepts of liberty and equality. Therefore one cannot today speak of “conservatism” or “tradition” without addressing the issues of “equality” and “liberalism.” In order to preserve a single axis, your spectrum tacitly imposes artificial political divisions and relationships, which in fact obscure or elide real and pressing political problems.

    You have called such points “quibbling” and have suggested that they lie beyond the purview of your essay. Given the radical nature of our movement, I would suggest that these quibbles are in fact of the essence of the matter: the very existence of the Alt Right demands political thought which transcends our standard two-dimensional political thinking. I understand that you are seeking clarity, and that is commendable; but we must beware that such clarity does not come at the cost of right comprehension.

    • Spencer Quinn
      Posted May 11, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      John Bruce Leonard,

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I am sorry it took so long for me to respond. Let me respond point by point:

      I agree that my one-dimensional spectrum can be improved by including additional Y and perhaps Z axes. Furthermore, I admit right away its limitations. The Spectrum Axis is more a beginning than an end with regards to the political movements it includes and does nothing to incorporate political movements it does not include. Furthermore, I would have to invest in some more sophisticated graphics software if I wish to effect such a change.

      “but to plot radical theocracy on that same spectrum would result in confusion…” Not sure where I did this. If you want to, can you explain?

      “Your spectrum suggests a wide distance between liberalism and conservatism, insofar as the one favors equality while the other favors tradition….Yet it is clear that conservatism is in our present day bound up in some way with the idea of equality, if only equality before the law.” I think I made the point that just because equality and tradition are opposites on the Spectrum Axis, that doesn’t mean that these two cannot have value in a single movement. It’s just that any single meaningful movement can’t have these in equal parts as one of their top priorities. Sure liberal movements respect traditional marriage. Sure, conservative view people as equal in the eyes of the law. But liberals want equality of outcome and wish by varying degrees to legislate or enforce this equalty. This is much more intense than the equality conservatives propose. On the other hand, conservatives tend to want to legislate or enforce traditional values, such as with gay marriage bans. This is much more intense than the tradition that liberals propose. Hence Equality and Tradition have a wide divide on the Spectrum Axis.

      By “quibbling” I just meant that pointing out the admitted limitations of the spectrum would not be useful to the current topic, sort of like pointing out that you can’t easily drill a hole in a wall with an electric mixer. Similar in function, but not what it was designed to do. Your comments, on the other hand, were totally apropos.

      “Given the radical nature of our movement, I would suggest that these quibbles are in fact of the essence of the matter: the very existence of the Alt Right demands political thought which transcends our standard two-dimensional political thinking.” I completely agree. My only (ahem) quibble here is that the Spectrum Axis works only on one, not two, dimensions.

      Again, THANKS.

  3. Proofreader
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    Spencer Quinn,

    James Burnham’s Suicide of West — a classic work which was reprinted fairly recently by Encounter Books and which you might like to review — has an excellent discussion of orders of values in chapter 9. I think it’s extremely relevant to this article.

    Burnham writes:

    “As a rule it is not the several values (ideals, goals) to which a man adheres that reveal most about his character and conduct, but rather the order of priority in which the values are arranged. It tells us little about John Doe to know that for him life is an important value. So it is for nearly all men; not quite all, but nearly all. But we will have learned much about John if we find out whether life is for him a value more important than any other; or, if not, what other value is more important than life. Better Red than Dead? . . . Liberty or Death? . . . Death before Dishonor? . . . My life, that another may live? . . .

    “Suppose that we use the term ‘Liberty’ to designate national independence and self-government — the meaning that was presumably in Patrick Henry’s mind; ‘Freedom,’ to designate the freedom, or liberties, of the individual; ‘Justice,’ to mean distributive justice of a more or less social welfare sort — that is, a reasonable amount of material well-being for everyone along with an absence of gross exploitation or discrimination; and ‘Peace,’ to signify the absence of large-scale warfare among major powers.

    “Liberty, Freedom and Justice are the three primary social values or goals that have been approved or at least professed by nearly everybody — not quite everybody, but nearly everybody — in Western civilization, whatever the political philosophy or program, since the Renaissance. The fourth — Peace — has moved into the front rank during the present century, especially since the advent of nuclear weapons.

    “Most people want, or think they want, all four of these values; but, the way the world goes, it is not possible to realize the four equally on all occasions. One value must be subordinated or sacrificed to another, or others. Whether we wish to or not, each of us is compelled for practical purposes to arrange the four values in a certain hierarchy — if liberals will permit the word — or order of priority.”

    What do we really want, what are really working towards, and what can we actually get? As our order of values determines what we actually do, we need to ensure that our order of values are appropriate for who we are, what we seek to do, and the world in which we live. We need to accept that, if we value political prudence and efficacy over personal preferences and abstract philosophy, our ability to determine our order of values is highly constrained. Politics is agonistic, dialectical, and existential, and often our enemies and our environment will determine what we must do.

    I don’t know what’s the status of the anthology on the alt right to be published by Counter-Currents, but it might be desirable for it to address the alt right’s order of values — or rather, to reflect its heterogeneity, its orders of values.

  4. Samuel Skinner
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    “Once we start talking about bulking up government power and stripping freedoms away from citizens, we’re suddenly gazing down that nice, steep, slippery slope to tyranny.

    This is the reason why the Founding Fathers declared war on England to begin with.”

    If you insist that democracy is non-negotiable because it is a valued (liberal) tradition, you are on the same boat as the alt-lite. Democracy, a ‘free’ press, religious freedom (leading to domination by insane secular ideologies) is how we got into this mess.

  5. Hayden
    Posted May 5, 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    I would disagree freedom and tradition, equality and race arequality mutually incompatible ideals. For instance, the foremost and oft-invoked distinctive of the Anglo/Nordic people’s has been a tradition of freedom (and even, to a degree, equality), with its roots in the English Common Law, the 1688 Bill of Rights, the Magna Carter, the Anglo-Saxon Folkmoots and the Icelandic Althing, the oldest democratic parliament in the world. This would also somewhat embrace the Germanic peoples, especially the Swiss.

    And as far as race and equality is concerned, the National Socialists (and especially the more revolutionary/Strasserist tendency, before Hitler, curse him, sold out the Revolution to the corporations) advocated for a high degree of intra-racial equality and sought to minimise class stratification.

    Also, the Alt-lite does not seem to me , or be concerned with tradition at all. The Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson types want the freedom to continue their decadent lifestyle, free of state interference or moral censure, and for that reason oppose Islam and mass immigration. They value the “West” solely as a means to an end, i.e., theur own individyal autonomy; they do not value her for her own sake.

    • nineofclubs
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      Completely agree.

      In my mind, the ideal state is one where the Nation, genetically defined, protects its own interests and territory and distributes the ‘means of production’ (to quote Marx) as widely as possible. This state would value – and reward – contribution to the Nation above all else. The market would serve the people, not the other way around.

      If Otto Strasser and Gottfreid Feder had been more influential during the 1930’s, much of the horror that followed might have been avoided.


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