Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Alt-Right and its Failings, Part 1

You will note that some of the blogs in my sidebar are "alt-right" blogs. The alt-right is essentially an "underground" that sprang up in opposition to the cultural left's domination of mainstream discourse. Alt-righters reject political correctness of all stripes, and tend to strongly reject egalitarianism. They also tend to be highly skeptical of mainstream medical science, especially in the realm of nutrition.

Their opposition to the current orthodoxy is driven by the perceived failure of it to fix the problems that plague modernity. It is indeed true that many societal organs are in serious trouble, and headed in an unsustainable direction. Everywhere one cares to look, there are bloated systems that cannot possibly continue in their current state. The health care system is one. The military is another. The education system is yet another. All of these systems are in need of serious reform, or they threaten to topple the country.

The alt-right viewpoint is that this rot is the result of egalitarianism, excessively large government, and ethnic nepotism. For instance, they believe that the obscene cost of college is the result of both student loan subsidy and the banning of IQ tests as a legally valid measure of competence. Their prescription is to end student loan subsidy, essentially "starving the beast," which will supposedly bring education costs down. They also want to reinstate employer IQ tests.

The problem with these prescriptions is inherent in the reactionary viewpoint of those advocating them. People in the alt-right, much like those in the mainstream right, want to claw back to a time when certain "things" were not "foisted" on them. If only we went back to the way things were, they say, all of these major problems we now suffer will be solved.

It does not take much thought to see where such ideas are problematic. Generally speaking, people like education, and enjoy the broadened opportunity that comes with it. I have been around poor families, and one their greatest joys is to see their child with a college degree that they were not able to obtain themselves. Going back to some sort of IQ-based system seems horribly backward and inadequate given how technologically advanced the world is becoming. Engineers don't train themselves, and most employers will jump ship if they have to train their workers from step zero.

Of course, the reactionaries don't seem to grasp this. They see college as an institution of the cultural left that needs to be starved as much as possible. But one reason why college tuition is increasing so much is because state governments are continuously being drained of tax revenue. It's not hard to see how this hampers competitiveness, and why businesses are clamoring for skilled immigrants.

Compare our college attendance rates to, say, Europe. They're abysmal, and this directly due to the anti-education attitude in the country. I know people left and right who are more than smart enough for college, but can't get in because they can't afford it. This is horrible and needs to be reformed. And the direction it needs to go in is the direct opposite of what the alt-righters (and right-wing people in general) propose.

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