The alt-right has a crush on Russia. We admire their political unity, their social normalcy, their stoic stand against Modernist degeneracy. Donald Trump has also expressed attitudes that are less than rabidly russophobic. The alt-right wagers that his administration would pursue detente with Moscow. A welcome change from the reflexive antagonism of Hillary Clinton and her neocon supporters.
But having a positive attitude toward Russia, and especially President Vladimir Putin, is a political liability in the West. Clinton knows this, which is why she tried to tie Trump and the alt-right to Putin in her August 25th speech.
The accusation is part of a larger pattern. Clinton and her backers in the media and political establishment have made a habit of trying to tar Trump and the alt-right as Russian stooges. The Clinton Campaign has (without presenting evidence) blamed Russia for hacking the DNCâ€™s email servers, and insinuated that Trump was responsible, somehow. Trump was also accused of treason for suggesting that Russia could provide Hillaryâ€™s 30,000 lost emails to the public. Trumpâ€™s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was sidelined by the allegation that he had corrupt dealings when he was a businessman in Ukraine before the â€œEuromaidanâ€ revolution. (See our latest podcast, detailing the Ukrainian situation).
As usual, this is mostly just posturing from Clinton and her allies in the Neocon establishment. To the Neocons, this is evidence of right-wing treachery. In their minds, Western and Russian interests are always opposed, and therefore anyone who would cooperate with Russia must be a traitor. Â But the Neocons are flaunting their habitual black-and-white sophistry. They have no real arguments, so they screech â€œguilt by association.â€ Clinton pulled out this logical fallacy in her August 25 speech, quoting a Mexican proverb: “Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.â€
The rhetoric is nevertheless damaging to Trump, and the alt-right needs to be careful. The liberals and neocons are running out of rhetorical ammunition. Incessant accusations of racism seem to be losing their potency. So they have turned to Russia bashing. What better way to cast your opponent as weak than by posturing as the anti-Russia hard-liner? The tactic is a classic in American politics.
But it is not just rhetoric. There is something to liberal and neocon allegations. For the moment, the alt-rightâ€™s interests align with those of Russia. The alt-right would prefer for the US to adopt a less confrontational foreign policy. We see no reason to risk WWIII over the Donbas or Crimea. The alt-right also agrees with the vast majority of Russians in favoring tradition and the socially conservative policies that support it.
Whatâ€™s more, Russia has every reason to support the alt-right, including the nationalists of Western Europe. (Indeed, Franceâ€™s Front National has taken loans from Russian banks. Other far-right parties are often accused of accepting Russian money. The accusations have the ring of truth, as the European far-right is generally well disposed to Russia.) The more the alt-rightâ€™s influence grows, the better for Russiaâ€™s foreign interests. The rising right is also a boon to Russia domestically. Unlike the neocons, Trump and the alt-right have no reason to antagonize Russia over its social policies.
But if Russia supports the alt-right, why does RT, Moscowâ€™s main media outlet in the West, not take a hard-right editorial line? RTâ€™s programing often promotes leftist and libertarian views. It is broadly critical of corporatism and neoconservatism. ItÂ is certainly not alt-right. Similar attitudes prevail at Sputnik, another Russian media outlet aimed at an international audience.
Russiaâ€™s strategy is double-edged. Like any great power, it seeks to mold the political climate of its rivals. While Russia would prefer nationalists to hold power in the West, it is prepared for other outcomes. A right-wing West would be more amenable to Moscow. As it is, the ever leftward trend in Western society suits Russia just fine. A strong partner would be great, but Moscow will settle for a weak competitor.
As the Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov explained: the key to political propaganda is not resisting your rivalsâ€™ ideological punches, but side-stepping them. Even better, one should pull the punch through, to let your opponentâ€™s momentum put him in a compromising position. This is why Russian news does not take an anti-liberal line. In an ideological fight, it is best to encourage your rival to indulge his own worst inclinations. If the West continues to follow liberalism and equalism to their reductiones ad absurdum, it is doomed.
The alt-right is on the correct path. Just because some of our interests happen to align with Russiaâ€™s, does not mean we must abandon them. Reflexive russophobia, like that of the neocons, reflects our interests just as poorly as a slavishly pro-Russia attitude would. We can agree with Russia without being traitors. The alt-right–and Trump–speak for the vast majority of Americans when they advocate traditional values at home a more restrained policy abroad.
Some commentators suspect Russia will pull out all the stops to get Trump elected. There is even speculation that Russia will unleash an â€œOctober surprise.â€ I doubt it. Even if Moscow has damaging information on Clinton, why blow it before the election? Better to hold on to it to use as leverage if she wins. Moscow would prefer a President Trump, but they are prepared to deal with a Hillary victory.
So while Trump and the alt-right offer a fresh and reasonable position on Russia, we must remember a few things. Russia is a powerful, robust culture that sees itself in exceptional terms. As much as we admire and respect the Russians–they are our racial kin after all–they are rivals of Euro-American civilization. We wish them the best, but not at our expense.