Rod Dreher has written a blog post in which he speculates about what causes an individual to choose the Alt-Right over mainstream conservatism:
“So, with that background, let’s return to the reader comment that inspired all this: the claim that the difference between a “conservative” and a member of the “alt-right” has primarily to do with whether or not one is a rightist who lives in a world (state, county, neighborhood, family) that has not fallen apart, or not.
True? False? Discuss.”
I’ve spent years considering this and my theory is that it boils down to money and status.
If you are motivated by money and status and want to pursue a career in political journalism, the choices you make in life will take you somewhere like mainstream conservatism. On the other hand, if you are motivated by what you perceive to be the truth and attach much less value to money and status, you are more likely to end up on the Alt-Right.
In a sense, I suppose you can say that upbringing matters. If I had been born and raised in a place like Iowa, my racial views would probably be different. At the same time, there are plenty of people who are born and raised in highly diverse cities like Chicago or New York City who turn out to be raging liberals. There are also Alt-Rightists in lily-White Iowa and Utah and respectable mainstream conservatives in the Deep South.
I was born and raised in one of the blackest parts of the United States. It was very easy for me to grasp the existence and significance of racial differences because I was repeatedly exposed to it on a daily basis. I never believed in racial equality, not because of any particular animus that I developed against black people, but because the theory ran so contrary to my own daily observation and experience. It just isn’t true.
Years later, I began to think more about the question. In college, I became more aware that our social order is based on racial equality and the mythology of the Civil Rights Movement, and that being a “racist” is the worst thing you can be in our society. I asked myself: is there any reason a rational person would believe in racial equality? Is there any evidence that all races have exactly the same capabilities and accomplishments? Is there any evidence that there are no racial differences in intelligence and behavior?
I concluded that it must be extremely difficult to be an anti-racist. In order to be an anti-racist, you have to ignore the evidence of your own senses. You have to ignore the relative accomplishments of the various races in science and technology. You have to ignore history. You have to find creative ways to dismiss the results of IQ tests and the persistence of racial differences in test scores in every school district in the country. You have to ignore facts like that being reproduced on an international scale.
First and foremost, you have to convince yourself that the existence or non-existence of racial equality is a moral issue, and that your opinion on the matter makes you a good person or a bad person. You have to believe that pattern recognition is evil and condition yourself to consciously ignore patterns. It is exactly like saying that the impact of the moon’s gravity on tidal forces in the ocean is a moral question and that you are a wicked, immoral person for believing there is any relationship between the two.
At this point, there will be many people who defer to authority. There will be many, many more others who will assess the risk of challenging the dominant racial orthodoxy, navigate around it, and conform to the status quo to get on with their lives. Yet there will still be a small minority of non-materialistic, non-conformists which will never be able to get past the fact that our entire social order is built on a lie.
The gnawing perception of the lie inexorably leads to other questions:
1.) Who maintains this lie?
2.) Why is it necessary to maintain this lie?
3.) How did this lie come about?
In short, that is how you become Alt-Right. It is easy to see why those questions don’t lead to mainstream conservatism which enforces taboos against “racism” and “anti-Semitism” and perpetually recycles outdated versions of liberalism into the “timeless principles” of American conservatism. The fact that mainstream American conservatism represses dissent, enforces conformity, and is a major obstacle to the airing of these issues explains the Alt-Right’s hostility to mainstream conservatism.
Geography might play a role at the outset when an individual begins to develop an interest in racial questions. The primary factor in the course that individual eventually takes and their level of interest and commitment is personality type.