What is “alt-Right” in this year’s election ?

There is a new theme for the Democrats in this year’s election. Hillary calls it the “Alt-Right.”

The New York Times is alarmed.

As Hillary Clinton assailed Donald J. Trump on Thursday for fanning the flames of racism embraced by the “alt-right,” the community of activists that tends to lurk anonymously in the internet’s dark corners could hardly contain its glee.

Mrs. Clinton’s speech was intended to link Mr. Trump to a fringe ideology of conspiracies and hate, but for the leaders of the alt-right, the attention from the Democratic presidential nominee was a moment in the political spotlight that offered a new level of credibility. It also provided a valuable opportunity for fund-raising and recruiting.

Jared Taylor, editor of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, live-tweeted Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, questioning her praise of establishment Republicans and eagerly anticipating her discussion of his community.

According to Hillary and the Times, Donald Trump is defined by those who say they support him more than by what he says himself.

If Hillary and Bernie Sanders are supported by communists, does that make them communists ? This is an odd year and will get worse.

A better explanation of “alt-Right” is provided by two spokesmen for another view.

A specter is haunting the dinner parties, fundraisers and think-tanks of the Establishment: the specter of the “alternative right.” Young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies, they have become public enemy number one to beltway conservatives — more hated, even, than Democrats or loopy progressives.
The alternative right, more commonly known as the alt-right, is an amorphous movement. Some — mostly Establishment types — insist it’s little more than a vehicle for the worst dregs of human society: anti-Semites, white supremacists, and other members of the Stormfront set. They’re wrong.

I wasn’t even aware of this controversy until Ann Althouse put up a post on the subject after Hillary raised it.

She quotes a man who was ejected from the Hillary speech.

“I call myself alt right because the conservative establishment right in this country does not represent my views, they are just as much to blame for the disaster taking place in America as the left, the alt right to me is fiscal responsibility, secure borders, enforcement of immigration laws, ending the PC culture, and promoting AMERICA FIRST (Not Sharia First)… If you come to this country legally, follow the laws, learn our language, and love the country, you are equal, no matter your color, or religion. Basically alt-right is to separate ourselves from the failing establishment right.

That post led to over 300 comments on her blog. She then posted a survey. The results were interesting.

alt-right poll

I voted for the choice “I’m most of all of what it stands for but I don’t use that term, myself.”

What is going on here? A comment on that post is about where I am.

As a longtime reader of John Derbyshire, I’m familiar with the term. I am in reluctant agreement with the alt-right contention that there is a genetic component to intelligence and other desirable human qualities, and that uncontrolled immigration and welfare handouts induce selective evolutionary pressure against these desirable traits, to the nation’s disadvantage.

This is, of course, shockingly racist by today’s standards. I am tranquil about that. The power-crazed Left is going to accuse white people of racism no matter what they say and do, and their outraged demands for more and more anti-white discrimination will only increase as the last vestiges of white supremacy dwindle. When everyone is “racist”, no one is really racist.

Derbyshire stirred up a hornet’s nest with his article on his advice to his children about race. Derbyshire’s children are Eurasian as his wife is Chinese. As a result of his article, he was fired by National Review, which has also been a hysterical opponent of Donald Trump. I have quit my subscription to NR as a result of that action plus their weak support of Mark Steyn whose writing has disappeared from their pages.

National Review attacked them as bitter members of the white working-class who worship “father-Führer” Donald Trump. Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast attacked Rush Limbaugh for sympathising with the “white supremacist alt-right.” BuzzFeed begrudgingly acknowledged that the movement has a “great feel for how the internet works,” while simultaneously accusing them of targeting “blacks, Jews, women, Latinos and Muslims.”

The amount of column inches generated by the alt-right is a testament to their cultural punch. But so far, no one has really been able to explain the movement’s appeal and reach without desperate caveats and virtue-signalling to readers.

I agree completely.

There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people — which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.

I don’t disagree but there is an element of self congratulation in that and it approaches virtue signaling so common on the left.

What about the racial aspect ? Well those of us who read The Bell Curve 20 years ago know what reality is about race and intelligence.


This is reality. There is a similar distribution with Asians and Hispanics.


Asians have higher mean IQ than whites, who have higher mean IQ than blacks and Hispanics. That does not mean that all blacks are less intelligent or that all Asians are more intelligent. Genetics rules.

There is also the “Warrior Gene,” which is slightly more common in blacks.

In humans, there is a 30-base repeat sequence repeated in one of several different numbers of times in the promoter region of the gene coding for MAO-A. There are 2R (two repeats), 3R, 3.5R, 4R, and 5R variants of the repeat sequence, with the 3R and 4R variants most common in Caucasians. The 3.5R and 4R variants have been found to be more highly active than 3R or 5R, in a study which did not examine the 2R variant.[20] An association between the 2R allele of the VNTR region of the gene and an increase in the likelihood of committing serious crime or violence has been found.

What’s racial about that ?

Studies have found differences in the frequency distribution of variants of the MAOA gene between ethnic groups: of the participants, 59% of Black men, 54% of Chinese men, 56% of Maori men, and 34% of Caucasian men carried the 3R allele, while 5.5% of Black men, 0.1% of Caucasian men, and 0.00067% of Asian men carried the 2R allele.

The absence of fathers in the lives of black boys is probably a stronger determinant of adult behavior but there is a small genetic role.

What else is significant about alt-right people besides supporting Donald Trump?

Jonathan Haidt, a Professor of Psychology, has a theory.

In The Political Brain, Drew Westen points out that the Republicans have become the party of the sacred, appropriating not just the issues of God, faith, and religion, but also the sacred symbols of the nation such as the Flag and the military. The Democrats, in the process, have become the party of the profane—of secular life and material interests. Democrats often seem to think of voters as consumers; they rely on polls to choose a set of policy positions that will convince 51% of the electorate to buy. Most Democrats don’t understand that politics is more like religion than it is like shopping.

This is an interesting insight and goes along well with recent work by Thomas Frank, who got a lot of attention with his earlier book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” which alleged that poor voters were supporting causes that were not their own. His new book takes another look at the question.

Drawing on years of research and first-hand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming.

With his trademark sardonic wit and lacerating logic, Frank’s Listen, Liberal lays bare the essence of the Democratic Party’s philosophy and how it has changed over the years. A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party’s old working-class commitment, he finds.

Haidt has similar theories.

The conservative instinct, as described by Haidt, includes a preference for homogeneity over diversity, for stability over change, and for hierarchy and order over radical egalitarianism. Their instinctive wariness of the foreign and the unfamiliar is an instinct that we all share – an evolutionary safeguard against excessive, potentially perilous curiosity – but natural conservatives feel it with more intensity. They instinctively prefer familiar societies, familiar norms, and familiar institutions.

He has also studied the field of Social Psychology itself, and found a monolithic leftist orthodoxy.

But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: (1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years. (2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike. (3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority’s thinking. (4) The underrepresentation of non-liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self-selection, hostile climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.

What has this to do with alt-right ?

For natural conservatives, culture, not economic efficiency, is the paramount value. More specifically, they value the greatest cultural expressions of their tribe. Their perfect society does not necessarily produce a soaring GDP, but it does produce symphonies, basilicas and Old Masters. The natural conservative tendency within the alt-right points to these apotheoses of western European culture and declares them valuable and worth preserving and protecting.

Needless to say, natural conservatives’ concern with the flourishing of their own culture comes up against an intractable nemesis in the regressive left, which is currently intent on tearing down statues of Cecil Rhodes and Queen Victoria in the UK, and erasing the name of Woodrow Wilson from Princeton in the U.S. These attempts to scrub western history of its great figures are particularly galling to the alt-right, who in addition to the preservation of western culture, care deeply about heroes and heroic virtues.

This follows decades in which left-wingers on campus sought to remove the study of “dead white males” from the focus of western history and literature curricula.

Immigration is a major concern of this group. Why ?

Certainly, the rise of Donald Trump, perhaps the first truly cultural candidate for President since Buchanan, suggests grassroots appetite for more robust protection of the western European and American way of life.

Alt-righters describe establishment conservatives who care more about the free market than preserving western culture, and who are happy to endanger the latter with mass immigration where it serves the purposes of big business, as “cuckservatives.”

Halting, or drastically slowing, immigration is a major priority for the alt-right. While eschewing bigotry on a personal level, the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration.

Trump is the candidate chiefly because of immigration, both illegal Hispanic and Muslim. The success of BREXIT is probably another example of the power of immigration as an issue to “Natural Conservatives” which are not the same as American “Cultural Conservatives,” which are mostly about religion, not culture.

Natural liberals, who instinctively enjoy diversity and are happy with radical social change – so long as it’s in an egalitarian direction – are now represented by both sides of the political establishment. Natural conservatives, meanwhile, have been slowly abandoned by Republicans — and other conservative parties in other countries. Having lost faith in their former representatives, they now turn to new ones — Donald Trump and the alternative right.

I am certainly not a member of the youth group that the authors say they represent but I am right with them in my sympathy.

34 thoughts on “What is “alt-Right” in this year’s election ?”

  1. The core points of the alt-right have the ring of reality to them – historical and contemporary. I see it as a coming movement because it is aligned with human nature and the facts in the ground. Modern progressivism exploits our innate altruism, an emotion really, but does not deliver the goods, all at great cost to “the hidden man.”

    Unfortunately,the comment sections of alt-right sites are plagued by trolls who seem paid agent provocateurs rather than just normal crazies. Much honest and insightful discussion goes on but the trash talk can be very off-putting.

    In historical retrospect, I see old fashioned segregationists as faced with real challenges but responding with ham-fisted and frankly stupid policies and attitudes. The long process of uplifting and integrating a sub-population dehumanized by slavery and stripped of any native culture is not yet finished. Progressive policies have even caused a backward slippage for many black Americans.

    Martin Luther King had it right “Judge a man by the content of his character.” But the bell curve reflects populations, not individuals.

  2. “But the bell curve reflects populations, not individuals.”

    Absolutely. Most, if not all, the black doctors I know are children of black doctors.

    There are a few like Ben Carson and Charles Payne the guy on Fox News who I used to listen to on the radio not realizing he was black. He had an investment show on Saturdays on radio.

    I fear that the new “acting white” theme of blacks in school will be another barrier.

    I was just unaware of the alt-right thing until now.

  3. I’ve been aware of it for awhile now, not sure how long, but the outrages of the post-2008 era here and abroad are driving it like wildfire. Hard to discern if the progressives are knowingly deliberate in egging the movement along, example, the mass importation of “refugees” so as to create an aggressive nationalist movement, that can then be crushed by the police/state, thereby eliminating or isolating a majority of the native population…or it’s just a by-product of years of cultural marxism just catching up with the abuse and neglect.

    Having a revered civil rights leader who has been dead for nearly fifty years with a classified FBI file certainly helps stoke the coals.

  4. Ditto NR re: Steyn and Verb.

    Eric Flint’s next novel in the 1632 alt-history series has samples out. A character makes the point that a conservative is not actually advancing, defending, or working toward any desired goal. It’s “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or “better the devil you know” or more formally ” all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

    And so federal conservatives wind up fixing rather than privatizing social security; reforming national education standards instead of assigning duties, constitutionally, back to states; and now promising to ‘mend not end’ Obamacare. Even if the status quo is worse than status quo ante, the conservative is inclined to compromise with a progressive for a new experiment in politically theoretically correct idealism rather than admit mistake, revert to last workable version of the process, and suffer the emotional sting of being labeled a ‘reactionary’.

    It’s frustrating that Republicans ignore their own history. The conservative Whig party died trying to conserve compromises over slavery. Radical Republicans were born insisting that the nation MUST revert to the self evident truth that all men were created equal. Not a new idea, but the prior one. Not a compromise, but a declaration of war. Not the status quo, but a new birth of freedom. In particular, Radicals rejected the Supreme Court Dred Scott ruling imposing one, at least arguable if not clearly evil, standard upon every state and territory of the Union. Who in our time so completely rejects Roe v. Wade; or NFIB v. Sebelius? If Republicans follow the Whigs into forgotten impotence it is only just wages due lazy and incompetent job performance.

  5. If I were American I’d completely reject Roe v. Wade, not because I’m anti-abortion but because it represented a judicial putsch again your Constitution. Abortion is, constitutionally, a matter for the States or the people, not for the Union.

  6. “a matter for the States or the people, not for the Union.”

    Abortion was legal in California in 1969, years before Roe v Wade. I am prochoice and have even done a couple of abortions when I was a resident in surgery.

    The problem is that the Court did NOT solve the problem but made it far worse. Sort of a modern Dredd Scott decision,

  7. My main disagreement is that there is not a “small genetic role” in violence, there is a large one; the absence of fathers (or, if you prefer, measuring it as two-parent families) is a signifier not a cause, of the genes for impulsivity, lack of empathy for others, and increased violence. Black violence in American and the other anglospheric countries is 8x. 8x is a very big number. Positing that all 3000 counties in the US are somehow equally racist no matter their education, region, or demographic/religious/income status difficult to imagine. Intriguingly, there are black groups in Africa and the Caribbean which do not show this, which certainly bears looking into.

    Otherwise this post covers a lot of important ground in a short space and I have bookmarked it.

    Liberals need for their opponents to be racist, mean, and selfish. If this seems unfairly insulting and judgemental of people who are kind to others in their everyday interactions and seem to mean well, I offer the following short exercise: keep a tally for one week how many of their political comments depend entirely on the evil of their opponents. Not their wrongness, or nescience, or insensitivity, but their flawed moral character. We are nice people and they are not. Take that away and little remains.

    I didn’t ask you to imagine whether that’s true – such things always depend on initial assumptions. I said take up a notepad and keep a tally.

  8. But so far, no one has really been able to explain the movement’s appeal and reach without desperate caveats and virtue-signalling to readers.

    In the Soviet Union no one dared criticize communism for fear of the repercussions, so those who were opposed to communism thought that they were holding fringe beliefs. Once some trailblazers spoke their minds and survived, there was a preference cascade, people realized that what they thought were their own fringe views were actually very widely held, and then the whole communist system collapsed.

    The very existence of anti-discrimination laws, housing regulations, school busing, affirmative action, hiring quotas tell us that force is necessary in order for the liberal system to work and absent force people would construct their world according to their own preferences.

    If diversity was really beneficial then parents would be flocking to schools with 60% Black and 30% Hispanic student bodies so that their kids could benefit from being exposed to that diversity. When White parents beggar themselves to live in neighborhoods with very low levels of diversity, their revealed preferences speak much louder than their expressed preferences.

    The alt-right’s appeal is that it does away with bogus expressed preferences and aligns its expressed preferences with people’s revealed preferences. There was NEVER anything close to majority support in the white community to launch the US on a white cultural genocide project – this was, essentially, a silent coup d’etat engineered by liberals and elites. Why wouldn’t people support political movements which give voice to their revealed preferences?

  9. skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred.

    I was alt-right back in 2000. I’ve been blogging on HBD for a long time. I was even chastised on this blog a decade ago for stating some truth which was un-PC. Long ago I came to two conclusions about skinheads.

    1.) One can’t pick one’s allies, and sometimes those who share your position are doing more damage to your position than that inflicted by your opponents.

    2.) It is going to be galling to the sophisticates in society to come to terms with the realization that the racists were correct all along, but for the wrong reasons, that is, the way they arrived at their conclusion on many racial issues was wrong and faulty, but the conclusions were actually sound and supported by reason, evidence, science, and theory.

  10. The very existence of anti-discrimination laws, housing regulations, school busing, affirmative action, hiring quotas tell us that force is necessary in order for the liberal system to work and absent force people would construct their world according to their own preferences.

    A very interesting set of graphs which explain a lot of why workers did not share in productivity gains.

    This graphic shows the same distinct historic periods, and the same sharp break around 1975. Each colored line represents the growth in family income, relative to 1975, for different income percentiles. Pre-1975, families at all levels of income benefited proportionately. Post-1975, The top 5% did well, and we know the top 1% did very well. Gains from productivity were redistributed upward to the top income percentiles.

    This de-coupling of wages from productivity has drawn a trillion dollars out of the labor share of GDP.

    Economics does not explain what happened in the mid-70s.

    It was not the oil shock. Not interest rates. Not the Fed, or monetary policy. Not robots, or the decline of the Soviet Union, or globalization, or the internet.

    The sharp break in the mid-70’s marks a shift in our country’s values. Our moral, social, political and economic values changed in the mid-70’s.

    I think his argument is pretty close to the truth.

  11. An interview by Hugh Hewitt of the “Clinton Cash” author and the events of last week.

    Gilbert Chagoury in the 1990s dabbled a little bit in his relationship with the Clintons. But after the pardon of Marc Rich, the relationship really took off. Bill Clinton was paid to give speeches by Gilbert Chagoury. Gilbert Chagoury started donating to the Clinton Foundation between $1 and 5 million dollars, made a pledge of one billion dollars, with the letter B.

    HH: What is the source for that? I could not find a source. I’ve read that, but I have not found a source of the pledge of a billion dollars.

    PS: Yeah, so this was involved in an environmental project called Eco Atlantic that Chagoury is involved in, in Nigeria. And it’s basically to create this supposedly environmentally friendly island with a massive sea wall in Nigeria. Bill Clinton actually went to Nigeria and appeared at the announcement of Eco Atlantic. And so the one billion dollars ties into that. By the way, it’s interesting. Some of the emails that have come out show that the State Department was actually negotiating with Gilbert Chagoury’s family to possibly build a consulate or State Department facilities in Eco Atlantic itself, which of course would have benefited Gilbert Chagoury.

    More and more leaking out. Will the slow walk work ? I don’t know.

  12. A very interesting set of graphs which explain a lot of why workers did not share in productivity gains.

    He doesn’t explain it at all, he simply handwaves an explanation by stating that “Our moral, social, political and economic values changed in the mid-70’s.” There is some truth buried in that expansive statement but he’s not uncovering the truth and presenting it as an explanation.

    The labor supply was expanded by women’s liberation and by immigration. I can’t explain why the inflection point occurred in 1975, maybe there was sufficient slack in the system to absorb that labor and keep gains to labor rising in conjunction with gains to productivity when, absent the influx of labor, gains to labor may have outstripped gains to productivity.

    Fundamentally, markets rule. Labor surplus strengthens the hand of Capital. Simply adhering to the “Greed is Good” ethos isn’t enough to allow capital to achieve outsized gains, labor’s bargaining power vis a vis capital had to be diminished. How did that happen? The parsimonious explanation is labor over-supply.

  13. FWIW – “What the Alt-Right is” from Vox Day


    A lot of people will have a problem with point 14 as an initial “gut” reaction. That said, the operative question is whether or not white people have a place as white people, and the right to protect their interests in an objectively increasingly tribal world. A number of BLM-connected activists, and college academics have said no, and that there is something objectively, monolithically wrong with white people. These same people of course think blacks have a place as black people.

    Stefan Molyneux is worth listening to as well. Less alt-right than fellow traveller on a mostly prallel path.

    Not AR, but in search of truth, would be Colin Flaherty, of the book and podcast “White Girl Bleeds a Lot”

    I will state that I WAS a “principle” conservative.

    THAT said, I hold far more credence in the needs of a limited scope of governance in general, and the bill of rights, than I do in the system outlined in the Constitution, no matter how favorably I view it.

    As has been noted here – we’ve been sold out. Over and over again every concern the right has had since Reagan was promised a fence has been vaporware, or compromised. You have no idea how strongly I dislike Lindsey “Grahmnesty”. As to why immigration matters: whether you call it genetic personality predisposition or cultural inertia, it takes several generations before immigrant families truly buy into assumptions of the culture they try to join – assuming they are even trying to assimilate. Bringing in a tide of refugees larger than many armies with a different view of fundamental rights does nothing to protect the culture.

    Also , I’d say it’s an oversimplification to say that we care more about culture than GDP. To a large extent yes. For many of us, “efficiency” is right out, and we favor EFFECTIVENESS, and a long view. It would be fair to say that the creation of great works, both in terms of their quality, sophistication, and beauty, and the spare resources needed, are a good measure of effectiveness.

    Why? Most followers of efficiency require fragile, centrally determinant systems. Those don’t last, suffer from the impossibility of ever knowing enough, and are subject to catastrophic failure when things inevitably go wrong. One major reason aside from ethnicities for nationalism is that too large a group, with too low an internal trust, does not work. Antifragility, and ecosystems demand both pockets of homogeneity, and different approaches, to thrive. Decentralized control is paramount in the long term.

    I’ll leave one other note: Whatever else you think of Vox, take a good hard look at “SJW’s always lie.” And “Cuckservative” – if for no other reason than to get a feeling for why so many feel this way, and an understanding of the attacks liberals have increasingly mounted on anything opposing their narrative.

    There is also a free “SJW Attack Survival Guide” available at a link on his site.

  14. “Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
    The Titanic sails at dawn
    And everybody’s shouting
    “Which Side Are You On?”
    –Bob Dylan

    This brouhaha is reminiscent of the epic battle between the Platitudinists and the Pladitudinarians of a while back.

  15. I find it odd that some contemporary black leftists are calling for segregation. Funny how the worm turns.

  16. The alt-right are simply the opponents of the globalist left who are willing to fight over the framing of the mental battle space in order to actually win. The so called conservatives couldn’t even conserve the ladies room because they accepted the culturally Marxist frame of the left, then tried to win according to the left’s rules. News flash: you can’t, they left’s rules change to whatever is most convenient for the left. The right has lived in terror of being called racists, or disinvited from all the right cocktail parties if they were establishment. Another news flash: every republican candidate since Eisenhower, no matter how decent, has been ‘literally hitler’ while running, and the stalking horse for the why can’t you be more reasonable, like ‘the last candidate who lost’ after moving on.

    Said another way, ‘conservatives’ followed the Marquis of Queensbury rules, while losing continuously to the left following Alinsky rules. The establishment was willing to play their role as the Washington Generals to the left’s Harlem Globetrotters.

    In the quadrennial political boxing match for the now all mighty executive, the left is used to putting steel bars in and pepper spray on their gloves, and hitting below the belt. The referee has never noticed an infraction by the left, but calls even non-existent fouls on the right. The right has always done the ‘we fought a good fight, but we lost, we’ll get ’em next time’ routine after regaining consciousness. The alt right is going to knock the on-the-take referee out cold, kick Hillary! in the nuts, take out her knee and then monkey stomp her head once she is on the canvas, and when the announcer or bell ringer tries to come in to save her, they’re getting shivved. When the broadcasters decrying the whole thing jump into the ring, they are going to be bludgeoned to death with their own microphones, and we’re taking over the broadcast because you can’t stop the signal. And we’ll do it all to the roar of the crowd, who are finally seeing someone fighting and winning for them.

    Running America for the benefit of Americans shouldn’t be controversial, but it is crimethink nowadays. Say it aloud: America for Americans. If you can[t, ask yourself why.

  17. “I can’t explain why the inflection point occurred in 1975”

    I think his point is that the wave of regulation began around then. The Clean Air Act, the EPA, etc. Probably the cost of labor rose with regulation and, while the GDP rose, the segment that went to labor and the middle class uncoupled.

  18. I don’t understand how one can look at plots of household income over time and only look at the numerator ($$$) and ignore the denominator (households). The fact is that a household today is radically different from what it used to be, and the early to mid 1970s is probably a pretty good point to estimate when the change came.

    Imagine whatever household income distribution you like, but with all family units consisting of married couples. Now imagine they all get divorced. The total national income would be the same (in the immediate term), but now you have twice as many households, so average household income would be cut in half. Of course, the total national income would change in complicated ways–many women who had jobs would take lower paying jobs, many women who didn’t have jobs would start doing things like watching other people’s kids for money where before they watched their own for “free”, etc. But household income stats in 1970 and today is apples and oranges, because households are totally different.

    If you look at those plots, you see a pretty straight line graph for the upper quintile–not exactly straight, probably because of things like regulatory effects, benefits becoming a bigger fraction of compensation, etc.–because upper income households do what everyone used to–get and stay married.

  19. The sudden change in the mid-70’s was not economic. First it was moral, then social, then political, ….. then economic.

    In the mid-70’s, we traded in our post-World War II social contract for a new one, where “greed is good.” In the new moral narrative I can succeed at your expense. I will take a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Our new heroes are billionaires, hedge fund managers, and CEO’s

    I agree it was moral and cultural change but reject the explanation why. The ‘social contract’ actually expanded to engulf and smother our culture. We flipped in the 70s from a nation built on free enterprise and individual initiative to a culture of dependence on government. Most of that recent explosion is Medicaid and food stamps, but over 10 million Americans are now on disability, triple what it was 20 years ago. All those new welfare recipients aren’t genetically inferior minorities, but they are white Americans.

    I don’t agree with Isenberg’s themes because she starts off rejecting the entire notion of Scoth-Irish ethnic heritage which is outrageous, but her viewpoint is instructive. The recent narrative that was reinforced at the Democrat convention is that black slaves built America and its prosperous society. If whites are increasingly falling into poverty, blight, and afflictions then it can be justified as punishment and reparation for their past wrongs.

    Looking at those economic figures from the 1970s on to today, it’s hard to conclude that this wasn’t the government’s intention.

  20. The division of households from families to individuals began about then and is part of the culture change. The regulatory changes were around the same time. It is no accident that the “Watergate Congress” took office in 1975 and set off the Democrat wave of leftist legislation and culture change.

    This sometimes called an inflection point. Maybe we are at another.

  21. “I agree it was moral and cultural change but reject the explanation why.”

    Not sure why either but reading “The Fate of Empires” by Sir John Glubb gives some insight:


    It’s 24 pages long so can be read fairly quickly.

    One excerpt:

    “The first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one. Money replaces honour and adventure as the objective of the best young men. Moreover, men do not normally seek to make money for their country or their community, but for themselves.”

    I found it to be an interesting read.


  22. “I found it to be an interesting read.:

    I did, too, but the Chinese proverb seems to be more succinct,

    “First generation coolie,

    Second generation merchant,

    Third generation rich man,

    Fourth generation coolie.”

  23. Nicely put Mike.

    The only silver lining I can see is that iteration brings us one step closer to a better world.

    Of course, that doesn’t help when you’re stuck in the fourth generation coolie stage… as the entire Western World seems to be at this point.


  24. What happened in the 1970s?
    1. Environmental regulations began affecting the major wealth creating industries (Farming, mining, oil and gas, logging, fishing, electric power production, manufacturing, commercial building, etc.) Read the story of how the U.S. mobilized for WWII. We couldn’t do it today unless we got rid of thousands and thousands of pages of regulations. (Wealth is only created when humans take resources where there was no utility before and turns them into something useful to others.)

    2. Business schools began teaching management of human resources in which employees were to be treated like replaceable parts. Over zealous and corrupt unions were backed by the government and made efficient operation of many manufacturing plants very difficult. The newly trained managers saw their best opportunity for union busting was to ship jobs off shore when possible.

    3. More women were entering the work force creating a larger supply of workers. The family structure began breaking down and women began to view themselves as “workers for wages/professionals” rather than as future wives and mothers. When labor supply grows, demand falls. And so do wages.

    4. Major corporations began appointing more insiders to company boards of directors. This allowed the CEO to operate the company more or less as a personal fiefdom. Additionally, the concept of the super CEO, who takes a company from mediocre earnings to a growth company, allowed managers to begin awarding themselves larger pay and benefits, with the inside board members rubber stamping them while in turn getting nice increases from their CEOs. Few managers are truly worth the money they are paid today. The employees and the stockholders are the ones who suffer.

    5. The government has continued to grow and take more money out of the economy. Money taken as taxes detracts from the economic ability of the country because it is merely a redistribution of the real wealth created by the wealth creating industries.

    Well, that’s my take on the gradual destruction of the middle class that began about 1975. It’s a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Less government, less regulation of wealth creating industries, more emphasis on family and the one bread winner model, and making it illegal to have insiders on corporate boards might turn the ship around, but it would take a huge change in the national mindset.

  25. “Few managers are truly worth the money they are paid today.”

    I think the problem is analogous to NFL quarterbacks. A really successful top manager is hard to find. A lot of companies try to find one and end up paying a lot of money to a failure.

    The Board packing issue is a way for weak managers to protect themselves.

    Unions like the UAW also refused to go along with quality improvement if it meant altering work rules. The Saturn car concept was sabotaged by the UAW and by GM middle management.

  26. Liberal leftists are just recycling the same old tired attacks that they always hurl at Conservatives. The really interesting salvos come from Libertarians such as these Five Differences Between the Alt-Right and Libertarianism.

    Again, the alt-right mind finds all of this uninspired and uninspiring. Society in their conception is built by the will of great thinkers and great leaders with unconstrained visions of what can be. What we see out there operating in society is a result of someone’s intentional and conscious planning from the top down.

    Tucker is more like a Progressive-Libertarian. He’s got a serious dislike for someone the alt-right apparently likes, Thomas Carlyle.

    I hadn’t even heard of the term alt-right until this election cycle, but I do know Thomas Carlyle. I stumbled onto him while leafing through some old family pictures. My uncle, who served in World War II and came home paralyzed from the waste down after the jeep he was driving was blown up by a mortar, used a quote from Thomas Carlyle in his senior yearbook picture:

    ‘The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.’

    A quote from ‘On Heroes” that Tucker derides as the fascist bible. Amazingly, they used to teach such fascism to schoolchildren, who then inexplicably would somehow disregard the poisonous tutelage and then go fight fascism.

    I’ve read Carlyle and agree that he held racist view in regards to slavery in the British West Indies. It’s hard to find many in the first half of the 1800s who didn’t. He was a man of his time. He best work, Sartor Resartus, was satire, and later in his life he let the worst excesses of satire get the most of him.

    On the other hand, “On Heroes” isn’t fascist. There’s nothing about race or corporatism in it. He didn’t praise the Reign of Terror but did describe revolutions such as occurred in France in terms that an Anarcho-capitalist like Tucker probably doesn’t appreciate:

    We have had many civil wars in England; wars of Red and White Roses, wars of Simon de Montfort; wars enough, which are not very memorable. But that war of the Puritans has a significance which belongs to no one of the others. Trusting to your candor, which will suggest on the other side what I have not room to say, I will call it a section once more of that great universal war which alone makes up the true History of the World,—the war of Belief against Unbelief! The struggle of men intent on the real essence of things, against men intent on the semblances and forms of things. The Puritans, to many, seem mere savage Iconoclasts, fierce destroyers of Forms; but it were more just to call them haters of untrue Forms

    For Carlyle, it was essential to have a moral order behind all the seemingly “spontaneous” rationality that Libertarians believe is the natural trajectory of history, otherwise it’s just empty ritual leading to nowhere. That moral order often coalesced around a symbolic leader

    It is meritorious to insist on forms; Religion and all else naturally clothes itself in forms. Everywhere the formed world is the only habitable one. The naked formlessness of Puritanism is not the thing I praise in the Puritans; it is the thing I pity,—praising only the spirit which had rendered that inevitable! All substances clothe themselves in forms: but there are suitable true forms, and then there are untrue unsuitable. As the briefest definition, one might say, Forms which grow round a substance, if we rightly understand that, will correspond to the real nature and purport of it, will be true, good; forms which are consciously put round a substance, bad. I invite you to reflect on this. It distinguishes true from false in Ceremonial Form, earnest solemnity from empty pageant, in all human things.

    Not exactly the blind faith in brutal, all-powerful state that his detractors insist he stood for. I don’t believe Carlyle would have thought too highly of the Nazi tendency to suppress true forms with their empty pageantry.
    And Hitler would never have given Carlyle the time of day had he known that his secretary and assistant for ‘Frederick the Great’ was Jewish.

  27. I recently read “On Heroes” for the first time.

    I was impressed but certainly didn’t come away with the sense that Carlyle was a proto-Fascist or otherwise endorsed dictators or totalitarianism.

    The book as I saw it made a good case that exceptional individuals can in the right time and place sway the course of human history. He did this through clear historical biographies. When the culture lack self-confidence and direction, one individual can create and spread it and give society direction.

    I find the false dichotomy of “Great Man” vs. determinism theories rather ridiculous. A plan reading of history shows both to be far too narrow constructs yet both provide insights.

  28. Haidt wrote, “In The Political Brain, Drew Westen points out that the Republicans have become the party of the sacred, appropriating not just the issues of God, faith, and religion, but also the sacred symbols of the nation such as the Flag and the military. The Democrats, in the process, have become the party of the profane—of secular life and material interests.”

    Nonsense. Republicans didn’t “appropriate” any of that. Democrats ridiculed it. See Obama about clinging to guns and religion. How much more contempt will we take?

  29. “Republicans didn’t “appropriate” any of that.”

    I think he means that Republicans adopted them as basic principles of citizenship and I agree. It doesn’t mean ownership as there were many Democrats, not just Harry Truman, who agreed. There are no more Democrats who agree today.

    I think there are older Democrat voters who still revere national symbols. Just not their politicians. These may be Trump voters. We’ll see.

  30. Thomas Carlyle is the hero of neoreactionaries not Altrighters. Though they agree on some issues and have the same utter contempt for the failed conservatives they are two different groups. Hillary also claimed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as an Altrighter. He’s not; though if there is money to be made in it he might try to claim it.

  31. This is happening:


    They’re still speaking English, but it’s kind of another world. Apparently that Clinton woman mentioned alt-right in a recent speech. I guess it’s become a thing.

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