A Critique of Richard Spencer’s Alt-Right and Kevin MacDonald’s Views (Part I)

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Kevin MacDonald

…by Jonas E. Alexis

 

Any serious observer who has read Professor Kevin MacDonald’s work will almost certainly concur that he has something to say. I too had a lot of rethinking to do when I read The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements back in 2011. Much of what he says in that particular book is based on factual analysis.

Using the historical account, MacDonald does present highly sophisticated arguments against “Jewish involvement in intellectual and political movements.” Those arguments cannot easily be dismissed by distractors like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Steven Pinker of Harvard.

MacDonald’s assessments on Freudian psychology, the Frankfurt School, the Neoconservative movement, and even the Bolshevik Revolution are rigorous and justified by numerous independent sources. No serious scholar can accuse him of tampering with his sources. Even historian Albert S. Lindemann of the University of California had this to say when he was asked about MacDonald’s work:

“Yes, I am familiar with Kevin Macdonald’s writings (and he has favorably quoted my work in the past). I would hesitate to summarize my own reactions to his work in a brief e-mail, but in very general terms (and in terms I have conveyed to him directly) I have reservations about his theoretical approach (as I and many other historians have reservations about a great many social-scientific forays into history).

On the other hand, I am impressed with his intelligence, with the breadth of his reading and the extent to which he asks some provocative questions. Even when I disagree with his conclusions, I find some of what he writes valuable. I know that some have accused him of misusing his sources, but I do not make that complaint about his use of my books, nor have I encountered any flagrant misuse of sources with which I am familiar.”

MacDonald was obviously cognizant of the fact that writing about Jewish intellectual movements is a thorny enterprise, therefore he knew that everything has to be scholarly documented. On this issue, MacDonald does not disappoint. He has single-handedly shut down thought police like Deborah Lipstadt by asking fundamental questions and answering those questions historically.

Inside Higher Education produced a lengthy article on MacDonald in 2008,[1] but it didn’t even remotely deal with the fundamental issues which are central to MacDonald’s work. Lipstadt, who has been a thought police for decades,[2] was obviously not happy because MacDonald couldn’t get fired from California State University, Long Beach.

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I do have a number of issues with MacDonald’s project, but I will essentially focus on some of them in the second part of this enterprise. I will argue that MacDonald’s fundamental critique of “Jewish intellectual and political movements” is logically inconsistent with Darwinism, a worldview which is foundational to MacDonald’s entire project. The reason is pretty straightforward: Darwin himself argued that political and even ethnic conflicts are great things that will eventually get the “favoured races” ahead.

Keep in mind that Darwin specifically chose “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” for his book The Origin of Species.[3] It is therefore pretty silly to say that “Darwinism does not favor or justify any one group or desired outcome,”[4] as Richard Spencer has said in the forward of Madison Grant’s The Conquest a Continent. Certainly Spencer and others are not taking Darwin seriously, for Darwin himself propounded in The Descent of Man:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

Spencer continued to demonstrate his lack of understanding of Darwin by saying that “natural selection does not even favor what one might call the strongest, most beautiful, and most intelligent.”[5] His evidence for this claim? A “2005 science fiction comedy” called “Idiocrasy.[6]

As a person who puts a heavy emphasis on the sciences, Spencer couldn’t go to historical sciences and justify his claim. He rather clung to a science fiction comedy show. Natural selection is not necessarily a bad thing, but Spencer again is not reading Darwin properly.

As Darwin made clear in the Origin of Species, natural selection is in the business of “rejecting those [things] that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.”

This is again not to say that Darwin is wrong about natural selection here, but it is Spencer who is actually misrepresenting what natural selection actually is. If natural selection rejects things that are bad, then it invariably favors things that are good. And when you apply this to human beings, as the social Darwinists did, the political equation gets very interesting.

According Spencer, “Darwinism offers a compelling and rational justification” for people like himself “to act on behalf of their ancestors and progeny and feel a shared since [sic] of destiny with their extended kin group.”[7] But as staunch Darwinist Daniel C. Dennett himself points out in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life:

“Darwin explains a world of final causes and teleological law with a principle that is, to be sure, mechanistic but—more fundamentally—utterly independent of ‘meaning’ or ‘purpose.’ It assumes a world that is absurd in the existentialist’s sense of the term: not ludicrous but pointless, and this assumption is a necessary condition of any non-question-begging account of purpose.”[8]

In a similar vein, Richard Dawkins declared that “life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA.”[9] Since life has no ultimate purpose, then the killing of the weak and what Darwin would have called “the imbeciles” directly follows. As Dennett puts it, “Which is worse, taking ‘heroic’ measures to keep alive a severely deformed infant, or taking the equally ‘heroic’ (if unsung) step of seeing to it that such an infant dies as quickly and painlessly as possible?”[10] Dennett answers his own question:

“I do suggest that Darwinian thinking helps us see why the traditional hope of solving these problems (finding a moral algorithm) is forlorn. We must cast off the myths that make these old-fashioned solutions seem inevitable. We need to grow up, in other words.”[11]

So, where is Spencer leading his followers when he says that Darwinism offers a “compelling and rational justification” for their survival? To a meaningless and purposeless life? Spencer wants his movement and people to thrive, flourish and have a meaning and purpose, but he is theoretically imbibing an ideology which essentially cuts off any metaphysical meaning and purpose!

Spencer is obviously trapped in a topsy-turvy world, and this world represents the intellectual and philosophical death of the Alt-Right. Either Spencer has not thought through the fundamental implications of Darwinism seriously, which would be quite shocking, or he is intellectually not prepared to follow Darwinism’s bitter conclusions. As James Rachels pointed out more than two decades ago, many who embrace Darwinism are not willing to follow or admit its moral implications, which Rachels says are “morally pernicious.”[12]

Sadly, Darwin’s intellectual children place themselves in a contradictory and “morally pernicious” weltanschauung which had a disastrous effect on Darwin’s intellectual project. Alt-Right advocates like Spencer need to ponder upon these fundamental issues and answer them logically and morally. If they cannot, then it is safe to say that the Alt-Right movement is morally and philosophically tasteless and worthless.

The movement is intellectually failing, not because it was unable to produce people who understand the political climate, but rather because its metaphysical principle is built on irreconcilable contradictions. Spencer and others find themselves in a Darwinian universe which tells them that ultimate purpose and meaning is a lie, but Spencer wants his followers to have ultimate purpose and meaning. This is a blatant contradiction.

Consider a similar example. Suppose you walk the streets of Manhattan and come across a person who is constantly talking to himself although nobody is around. So you approach him and ask, “What’s going on? Why are you talking to yourself?” He answers, “I am angry with my wife.” Further into the conversation, however, you realize that the man never had a wife.

You then ask, “How can you be angry with an imaginary wife?” If he responded with, “Life doesn’t seem fair,” would you be satisfied with such an answer? You would immediately think that the guy is at least out of touch with reality, if not psychologically disturbed.

Jean-Paul Sartre recounts a similar story in his book Nausea of a man who was trying to find the meaning of life and existence, with no success. But one day, as the young man was sitting in a park, he suddenly had a vision:

“It left me breathless. Never, until these last few days, had I understood the meaning of ‘existence.’ I was like the others, like the ones walking along the seashore, all dressed in their spring finery. I said, like them, ‘the ocean is green; that white speck up there is a seagull,’ but I didn’t feel that it existed or that the seagull was an ‘existing segue’; usually existence hides itself…Even when I looked at things, I was miles from dreaming that they existed: they looked like scenery to me.

“I picked them up in my hands, served me as tools, I foresaw their resistance. But that all happened on the surface. If anyone had asked me what existence was, I would have answered, in good faith, that it was nothing, simply an empty form which was added to external things without changing anything in their nature.

“And then all of a sudden, there it was, clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself. It had lost the harmless look of an abstract category: it was the very paste of things, this root was kneaded into existence. Or rather the root, the park gates, the bench, the sparse grass, all that had vanished: the diversity of things, their individuality, were only an appearance, a veneer.”[13]

This is problematic. To assert that the statement the world of meaning and value is an illusion is a meaningful statement in and of itself is to make the sentence self-destructive. Claiming that everything in the world is an illusion makes such a claim worthless in itself, for both the words and the person who spoke them are merely illusion as well.

Sartre understood this very well, and this is one reason why he said quite plainly that if Logos and morality do not exist, then “all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with” with them. Sartre writes:

“There can no longer be an a priori Good since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. Nowhere is it written that the Good exists, that we must be honest, that we must not lie; because the fact is we are on a plane where there are only men. Dostoyevski said, ‘If God didn’t exist, everything would be possible.’

“That is the very starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to. He can’t start making excuses for himself.”[14]

Since man has to take responsibility for abandoning morality, Sartre thought it was consequential to assert that human beings are “useless passion.”[15] Sartre, Camus, and even Nietzsche understood that if there is no objective morality, if there is no ultimate meaning and purpose, then it is futile to look for meaning and purpose in the universe. Many Darwinists do not have the intellectual courage to draw that conclusion, even though their philosophy demands it. We will address some of these issues in the next article, particularly when we discuss the problem with Kevin MacDonald’s views.


[1] Scott Jaschik, “Hate in Their Midst,” Insider Higher Education, February 14, 2008.

[2] See E. Michael Jones, “Holocaust Denial and Thought Control: Deborah Lipstadt at Notre Dame University,” Culture Wars, May 2009.

[3] By the way, Darwin never addressed “the origin of species” in his ambitious work The Origin of Species.

[4] Madison Grant, The Conquest of a Continent or the Expansion of Races in America (Abergele: Wermod & Wermod Publishing Group, 2013), xxxix.

[5] Grant, The Conquest of a Continent, xxxix.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 153; emphasis in original.

[9] Richard Dawkins, “God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November 1995.

[10] Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 514.

[11] Ibid; emphasis added.

[12] James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 4.

[13] Jean Paul Sartre, Nausea (New York: New Directions Books, 1964), 171.

[14] Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotion (New York: Kensington Publishing, 1985), 21.

[15] Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956), 615.

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Jonas E. Alexis

Jonas E. Alexis graduated from Avon Park High School, studied mathematics and philosophy as an undergraduate at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and has a master's degree in education from Grand Canyon University.

Some of his main interests include the history of Christianity, U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book ,Christianity & Rabbinic Judaism: A History of Conflict Between Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism from the first Century to the Twenty-first Century.

He is currently teaching mathematics in South Korea. He plays soccer and basketball in his spare time. He is also a cyclist. He is currently writing a book tentatively titled Zionism and the West.

Alexis welcomes comments, letters, and queries in order to advance, explain, and expound rational and logical discussion on issues such as the Israel/Palestine conflict, the history of Christianity, and the history of ideas.

In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, Alexis asks that all queries be appropriately respectful and maintain a level of civility. As the saying goes, “iron sharpens iron,” and the best way to sharpen one’s mind is through constructive criticism, good and bad.

However, Alexis has no patience with name-calling and ad hominem attack. He has deliberately ignored many queries and irrational individuals in the past for this specific reason—and he will continue to abide by this policy.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I commented on Part 2 because I hadn’t read Part 1–and this article is more interesting, easier to read than Part 2–Most of us (including myself) are not deep thinkers or readers and we don’t question the what, who, why of our existence, we just know that we’re here. I believe we are as intellectual as a baby when we try to make sense of it all. Hoping for some enlightenment…someday, either in this life or the next.

  2. “Claiming that everything in the world is an illusion makes such a claim worthless in itself…”

    Most philosophies that deal with illusion are pragmatic and don’t peddle in absolutes, not what the self-undermining sentence above exemplifies. Setting aside absolutes, much of human life is spent in illusion. Someone with paranoia lives with the illusory conviction that someone is after them. This remains an illusion even if someone is actually after them, because they are not informed by the objective reality but the illusion of paranoia. Gamblers gamble their wealth away under the illusion that if only they got lucky… Substance abusers labour under the illusion that they can get to happiness without effort through a short-cut. Would be easy to elaborate. Even when we are healthy, there are huge deceptions going on in the world, and these too are the package of illusions we have to deal with and see through. It is far from a worthless claim!

    • Here is an illusion for you. We know matter, let us say steel, is made of atoms and these atoms have building blocks that are spaced so far appart, if scaled to the scale of outer space, they would be as far appart as planets and stars. But because they move so fast, they “appear” ?to be no where and every where. That is, if your hand was faster you could push it in and out of a block of steel or in an out of water without catching a drop. This whole existance is an illusion compared to the to the only Reality.

    • Yes, that’s a good example from the physics realm about how solidity is not exactly what we might think. It is a good illustration even though I don’t subscribe 100% to the traditional particle model, I’m more of an Electric Universe guy. Your last sentence I totally agree with. I think William Blake said “Until we purify the doors of perception we don’t see the universe as it is – eternal!”

    • “Most philosophies that deal with illusion are pragmatic and don’t peddle in absolutes, not what the self-undermining sentence above exemplifies.” Is this a true statement or not? If it is true, then you are implicitly peddling in absolutes. But if it isn’t, why should we pay attention to it?

    • Illusions arise from mental conditions, from sense organs, inconsistent logic and from deliberate deceptions. Illusion implies a reality that is not illusory. Dealing with one’s illusions is a pragmatic matter, a kind of medicine to cure illusion which is a kind of sickness. Invariably it is the illusions that make us do stupid, harmful and illogical things and behave in an inconsistent manner. Not everything is illusion. That is why the statement that “everything in the world is an illusion…” is quite inane and indeed “makes such a claim worthless in itself…” It is just that making such a statement is too absolute to be meaningful. I’m not aware of any traditional teaching that actually propagates such a view. However some diabolical ideologies may use such statements to confuse people.

    • Cosmodrome,

      You still didn’t get the point. Even if we grant you the point you are trying to raise here, that implicitly means that you are correct and I am wrong, which is another way of saying that you are working with the premise that absolute exists. If it doesn’t, then your point makes no sense whatsoever.

  3. Do you really think our technology and our ever shifting downward ethics will save mankind? Stop and think again for technology will not only make us nw embreyos but nothing less than an artificial god that will decide which one gets the embryo. The following from an article in Wired: …Maverick Christians embrace former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski’s idea to create a god based on artificial intelligence to make human society better.
    Ahh! The wonderous idiots who play with the majik of science without the guadrails of Logus.
    Are you hearing this Ian? There will proof God exists. He will exist on a server in Google Inc. as a few lines of code. There is your scientific proof.

    • Mankind worshiped what he carved. It does not matter if it is wood, stone or code, the finally is always the same.

    • Correction: Mankind worshiped what it carved. It does not matter if it is wood, stone or code, the finale is always the same.

  4. In the age of technology Darwinism no longer applies!
    Chinese clinics are pioneering new methods for embryo testing.
    Fertility centers are making a massive push to increase preimplantation genetic diagnosis in a bid to eradicate certain diseases.
    Technology can now allow infants to live that would have always died in the past.
    Was Darwinism really about survival of the fittest?

    The technological singularity is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization. As we move to the singularity is Darwinism even relevant?

  5. “… in the Origin of Species, natural selection is in the business of “rejecting those [things] that are bad, preserving and adding up all that are good; …” What is good? And what is bad? Knowledge; Compassion and Love? Or Despotism, Deception and Exploitation.
    Was Darwin a Zionist?

  6. Every time I read an article like this I am moved to revisit G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” or Simone Weil’s “Waiting for God”. After all, there is a difference between logical consistency and the Truth!

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