(Part 1 of interview)
(Part 2 of interview)
(Part 3 of interview)
(Roaming Millennial interviews Richard Spencer)
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I am a fan of Roaming Millenial (Lauren Chen), and one day came across a 2017 interview hosting Alt-Right Leader Richard Spencer. Curiosity prevailed, and I watched the entire thing.
Disclaimer: This is not meant to endorse Richard Spencer’s views on race. Rather it is a review on Spencer’s critique of traditional conservatism. He does raise several valid criticisms of the American right (Republicans), though much of it can also be levelled at the Canadian right.
Much of this levelled can be summed up in one question:
What do “Conservatives” actually conserve?
(1) Conservatives Support Foreign Wars and Invasions
While the Iraq war (March 20, 2003) is named, it is true that the United States has a long history of military interventions. This causes widespread death and destruction, and has done nothing to preserve US security. If anything, it has caused far more problems. Note: Harper and Ignatieff supported it too.
(2) Conservatives Don’t Protect National Borders
Illegal immigration is a serious problem, with estimates ranging from 20-50 million living in the United States. Further, the American public is also unhappy with high levels of “legal” immigration, and Congress hasn’t produced meaningful solutions in decades. Hard to “conserve” when the border — particularly with Mexico — is so porous.
(3) Conservatives Don’t Protect the Environment
Republicans have not put much of an emphasis on this. In fact, George W. Bush had a reputation for not caring at all on this topic. Spencer actually promotes the idea of massively expanding preserved wilderness, and strengthening environmental laws.
(4) Conservatives Support Civic Nationalism
Ethno Nationalism is the idea of unifying people around the similarities of the people: race (though not the most important), religion, culture, language, customs, traditions, way of life, etc…
Civic Nationalism is the idea that people can be unified by abstract concepts: laws, freedom, equality, justice, a constitution, etc…
While civic nationalism is a starting point, Spencer is right that it does nothing to unify the people, and does nothing for social cohesion.
(5) Conservatives Don’t Protect Culture
Related to civic nationalism, is the idea of multiculturalism. This is the belief that groups which have very incompatible cultures can live side by side and that all will be well. While this tolerance sounds great on paper, it has no basis in reality. People will group together based on similar customs. Further, it leads to the watering down of the host culture.
Not only that, but the rise of other issues has exasperated the problem. Spencer lists LGBTQ, but taxpayer funded abortions and modern feminism should also be added.
(6) Conservatives Prioritize Business Over People
This has been demonstrated repeatedly in the U.S. and Canada, with policies that are pro-business, but harmful to the average citizen. Further, the public is on the hook for bailouts, subsidies, and corporate welfare. These aren’t really “Conservatives”, but rather “Corporatists”.
(7) Conservatives Support the College Industry
Spencer accurately states that the college population is still increasing, despite the growing student loan debt and the shrinkage of related work. He proposes (similar to European model), to forgiving student loan debt and drastically shrinking the amount of people going to college. Conservatives, on the other hand, are happy to see the explosive growth in college attendance. Debt be damned.
(8) Conservatives Don’t Conserve Health of People
Spencer points out that the free market health care is a business, and that the “socialization of health insurance” [under Obama] has made things worse. He points out that health care is a business in the U.S., and that it takes away from the human element.
(9) Conservatives are Awful at Governing
One such metric is national debt, where Republicans have no issue with piling up the national debt, which now stands at well over $20 trillion. Conservatives in Canada (Harper, Mulroney) also have driven up debts as well. How does racking up such debt for future generations “conserve” anything?
Where Richard Spencer Goes Off the Rails
Spencer raises many valid criticisms of conservatism. From borders to culture to the environment, Conservatives do nothing to actually “conserve”. Up to this point, his arguments are very reasonable. Far from “right wing”, Spencer sounds very much like a lefty in many of his views. He promotes conservation, from a perspective that is very different than the right wing.
Spencer’s ideas of conserving revolve around the people, culture, and state itself, rather than a business approach to “conservatism”.
Where Spencer is a turn off is his incessant white identity politics. He goes on and on about how race is everything and that the “identitarian movement” is primarily about racial awareness. What starts off as completely legitimate complaints morphs into a push to separate along racial lines and for an ethno-state. In fact, watch any of his videos, and the bulk of it is about race.
Again, this is not to condone or support Spencer’s racial views. It is a review of his criticism of Republicans/Conservatives, and the merit behind them.
In fairness to Spencer, there is one very noticeable difference between Left-Wing identity politics and the Alt-Right. Leftists shut down or refuse to engage anyone who disagrees. The Alt-Right, however, is much more willing to talk to those who are ideologically different.