For several months now, I've been a big fan of a YouTube vlogger that I haven't mentioned on this blog. The reason is that this vlogger is a self-declared member of the Alt Right and a racialist, to the extent that he cares about preserving Western societies as white societies. I do not agree with his racialist views. I'm not just saying that for public consumption-- I really don't. I don't care about skin colour. I do care about preserving national identity and national character, but skin colour doesn't come into it for me. He also has anti-democratic and other views which I don't share. In one video, he even muses whether it would be possible to make recipients of a basic income accept compulsory contraception as a condition for receiving it. He doesn't actually propose this, but airs the possibility. So there are many things he says with which I strongly disagree.
However, this man is (in my view) extremely deep, thoughtful, imaginative, self-questioning, and open-minded. He has a very insightful critique of our contemporary spiritual and cultural malaise. He is the prime example of why I don't just dismiss the Alt Right; why, indeed, I think they are "onto something", in many instances. I've probably been a bit of a coward not linking to him until now.
He's Scottish, his channel is called Millennial Woes, and the video I'm going to link here is called The Look of Goodness. In this short video, he takes a photograph that he saw in an obituary, a photograph of an actress that was taken some time in the twenties, and wonders why the simple goodness on her face is so different from anything we are likely to see today, especially from a celebrity. I have often wondered similar things. Much of my attraction towards Catholic Ireland is based on simple things like the facial expressions in old photographs. I don't think we should be afraid to be so subjective.
On this blog, I've sometimes mentioned the contemporary penchant for having interview subjects (or other people) stare at the camera moodily, with their arms folded. This, to me, is part and parcel of the phenomenon he's lamenting here.
But the video which spoke to me the most was his description of "the abyss", an experience of spiritual desolation and nihilism which he has confronted several times. I've had a similar experience-- at the height (or depth) of a spiritual crisis I suffered several years ago, which drove me to begin my earnest search for God, which in turn resulted in my embracing Catholicism. Although Millennial Woes is an atheist, he is pro-religion and even came to the conclusion that only the divine could be an answer to "the abyss". I agree. He says that he hopes he finds God one day, but he's wary of simply deluding himself. I suffered from the exact same fear, and I know how crushing it is. It's very, very difficult for any religious arguments, no matter how strong, to get past that intellectual autoimmune response. I pray this man does find God, and indeed Christ.
This video spoke to me so much I watched it several times. I recommended it to a friend, who posted it on a Catholic forum, and the person who runs the forum was extremely moved by it.
I feel considerable trepidation linking to this vlogger. I can anticipate the question: "Why would you give publicity to a racialist, even if you emphasize that you don't agree with his racialism, and even if that's not your interest in him?"
Here's my response: the whole idea that you can kill particular attitudes by shutting them up is misguided, and I think the phenomenon of the Alt Right only proves that. For decades now, we've all been told that any kind of tribal identity is taboo, except for the case of minorities. We've also been told that society is fundamentally racist and that white people should be ashamed of themselves. This worked quite well as long as the mass media were television, newspapers, and radio. In the age of the internet, when elites can't control discussion so easily, the "return of the repressed" is happening with a vengeance. In many cases, it is taking rather ugly or at least regrettable forms. But it was somewhat inevitable; there will always be a reaction when people are pushed in any particular direction.
I think it's time for us to have a calm and open discussion about matters such as ethnicity, race, gender, tribalism, identity, and so forth. If we don't, if they are continually suppressed, then they are going to explode-- and it will be very nasty. So, while I don't agree with Millennial Woes about race, and about several other matters, I think it's important that such voices are not silenced, or ignored, or even disparaged.
I can anticipate another objection, which might go something like this: "You say we shouldn't disparage the Alt Right, but you are constantly disparaging the politically correct left, and even the Catholic left. Isn't this inconsistent?"
No, it's not. I've never denied that the liberal left has some reasonable points to make. I don't deny that feminists have same reasonable points to make. I don't even deny that secularists have some reasonable points to make. If these were silenced, suppressed and stigmatized points of view I would feel a certain chivalry towards them, while still strongly disagreeing with them.
But they're not. They're dragons grown gargantuan, dragons who are darkening the sky, dragons who have to be fought with all our might. If the Alt Right were in the same position, I would be declaring war on them, too. As it is, I think that much of what they have to say is a very necessary contribution to public debate, and should be listened to.