Alt-Right versus Hard Left — Forcing a Return to the Enlightenment?

Alt-Right philosopher Jason Reza Jorjani is taken on by hard-left philosophers at Jacobin magazine. My commentary article begins this way:

Is a seismic change rumbling through Left-wing circles? In the hard-Left Jacobin magazine, two young philosophers bemoan their discovery that postmodern strategies have now been captured by the hateful and hated Alt-Right — and so in reaction they propose that socialists embrace the philosophy of the Enlightenment.

President Donald Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon are a politically disruptive force, but could their fellow-travelers among the Alt-Right — provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and philosopher Jason Reza Jorjani among them — disrupt the intellectual world?

Read the whole article here.

3 thoughts on “Alt-Right versus Hard Left — Forcing a Return to the Enlightenment?

  • March 16, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I’ve noticed this same trend. What confuses me is why no one expected it. The Liberals I talk to honestly seem absolutely astonished that Conservatives would use the tools they spent 8 years (more like 24, with Bush hardly being a Conservative in any meaningful sense) handing to the presidency.

    I think a lot of it is because many Liberals honestly don’t believe Conservatives exist. When you explain the Conservative side they react with variations of “Oh, no one thinks that way!” When you ask how they respond to Conservative statements, Liberals don’t respond–they merely wave them away as unimportant, or smear them as racist/sexist/Islamophobic/homophobic. They treat Conservatives in the same way they treat elves or pixies: something in stories, something someone made up, with no importance to the real world.

    I have been arguing for years now that we need to accept, as a basic premise of discussion, that the other side gets to state their views. What I mean is, if I’m a Liberal and you’re a Conservative, I do not get to tell you what you believe, nor do I get to act as though you believe what I say you do. YOU, the Conservative, get to say what Conservatives believe, and I must respond to what you say. This sounds simple, but it’s something that almost no one does. It’s so bad that even saying “You should read the thing you’re responding to” is considered an offensive statement these days!

    As for a return to Enlightenment values, it’s a good sign but I think it’s very surficial. Far too many Liberals believe that the solution to any social problem is government intervention. They honestly cannot comprehend the concept of achieving social or society change without government involvement. Take conservation: they insist that the only way to preserve a wilderness area (or historic building, or….well, anything) is to have the government control it. The idea of purchasing this wilderness and preserving it themselves is not something they’re even willing to consider–even after such examples as the preservation of the Hollywood sign show that it’s entirely plausible! Even if the Liberals accept limited government in theory, this desire for state intervention will inevitably poison any progress the Left makes towards a true liberal concept of government.

  • March 17, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Great article. To me the Alt-Right has always been a response to what Leftism has dished out over the past 50 years. Unfortunately, I do not share your hope that leftists will mend their ways and return to rationality. They have laid the foundation for the irrational and the subjective for so long, I don’t think they could move to respecting the rational mind.

  • March 18, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Vitalism and irrationalism are hardly new to “right-wing” (in a relative sense) thought themselves. They were well-represented in fin-de-siecle philosophy. Georges Sorel took Henri Bergson’s epistemology and influenced a wide range of national socialist (lower-case) tendencies.

    The alt-right’s particular brand of post-Enlightenment is just as influenced by meme culture as any serious philosophical examination.

    Yet let us not forget that both alt-right and hard left brands of postmodernism are worlds apart from classical Counter-Enlightenment like Maistre, Bonald, Saint-Bonnet and Ballanche.

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