Joakim Andersen: Robert Stark and the Radical Center
Reposted with the permission of the author. Originally published on Motpol in Swedish and re-published on Euro-Synergies in French.
“The alt-right is probably well known to most people, the burgeoning alt-left was crushed in its infancy when Trump disparagingly but incorrectly associated the term with the AFA. Less well known is the phenomenon that in the Anglophonic world has been given the names " alt-center " and " radical centrism ", in Swedish perhaps best translated as " the radical center " (despite the " alt-center's " obvious merits). An in many ways interesting representative of the phenomenon is the thinker and writer Robert Stark, active in California. Stark's lyrics can be found on his Substack and often offer refreshing perspectives and information. He has written intelligently about everything from citizen pay and enclavism to anti-white xenophobia and California independence policy.
Stark has described the radical center in texts such as A Proposal for a New Alt-Center: Philosophy & Policy , The Alt-Center Revisited and Alt-Center Lexicon . Rather than populist, it is described as " counter-elitism as a path to power ", rather than a mish-mash of ideas from the right and left, emphasizing the importance of these being rooted in " core principles not to get lost ". These core values largely overlap with those of the right, including a “ rightwing / realist view of human nature that is tribal and hierarchical, not egalitarian. "Strong note that"one can embrace certain leftwing policies but only if they reject the philosophical framework of the left, including egalitarianism and radical individual autonomy. He brings to mind Burnham and the Machiavellian tradition of anti-liberal insights in the style of " Alt-Centrists, like the far left and far right, understand these power dialectics and must work on ways to better manage them to prevent abuses of power " and Tribalism is needed to protect civil liberties, as radical individual autonomy leaves one vulnerable to those who understand power dynamics. “A fairly simplified description of the radical center could be that it is based on a worldview that overlaps with the right, but that it has a greater openness to solutions that overlap with the left.
A strong contributing factor to the fact that radical central politics is of interest, despite limited numbers at present, has to do with class and caste politics. The conflict between "ordinary people" on the one hand and "elites" and certain middle classes on the other cuts especially through the European-born groups. The former gravitate towards different kinds of populism, the latter have stuck to the ideas that are today called "woke". The conflict is infected and locked, not least it is difficult to get elites and middle classes to adopt positions associated with ordinary people. The Neo-reactionaries were at one time an attempt to attract elite strata, according to their terminology "Brahmins", to a more constructive worldview and an alliance with ordinary people. The "alt center" may have the potential to contribute to something similar. An interesting example of this, Rightwing Multiculturalism , " multiculturalism from the right ". The idea is easier to apply to California than to the indigenous peoples of Europe, Stark argues no matter what, because " Rightwing Multiculturalism is the only framework that can reconcile the differences between the pro-diversity left and the identitarian right ". He also notes that the "left" multiculturalism is false, " unlike the left which is selective about which groups should have more rights, Rightwing Multiculturalism respects the legitimacy of all groups having equal rights to lobby for their group interests." It is quite possible that white liberals in the long run, out of pure self-preservation drive, will move in the direction of the position Stark outlines, no matter what they will then call it.
Stark's analysis of the housing issue is also interesting . It is in focus for thinkers like Kotkin and Guilluy, as well as for the debate on gentrification, but Stark's approach is innovative. He describes two positions in the issue of increased housing construction, these he calls NIMBY and YIMBY. NIMBY, "not in my back-yard", is associated with opposition to apartment construction, often based on care for green areas, architecture and immigration criticism. It may therefore appear to be a sympathetic attitude. Strong point is that many NIMBYs are white liberals, which gives the whole thing an aspect of double standards. They are for "open borders" but they do not want poor neighbors. The consequences for younger whites, often their own children and grandchildren, are severe. They have a choice between staying at home, leaving the big city or becoming childless hipsters. Regardless of what one thinks about the issue, not least about the future of the suburbs, the interesting reasoning is strong. He clearly links it to generational politics, in an article entitled White Millennials: America's Sacrificial Lamb , he mentions that millennials own only 4.2% of the United States' wealth. Here, too, he hopes for opportunities for new alliances " between the pro-diversity and inclusion woke left and the anti-great replacement identarian right against the existing establishment in California ".
Really innovative is also Stark's reasoning about the thought experiment he calls " the Great Class Swap ", where he seeks to counteract both increasing inequality and dysgenic tendencies. He describes it as " a scenario where wealth is redistributed from the top down to the masses while the genetic makeup of the upper bracket is also redistributed downwards ", with elements of both socialism and eugenics (friends of de Jouvenel can here of course object to redistribution and socialism are two different things).
All in all, we thus find that Stark represents a small but interesting phenomenon. The future will show whether this latest attempt to go beyond the right and left will lead to something concrete, it will not least depend on whether some white middle classes feel that they are losing out on today's hegemonic practice and have something to gain from the ideas Stark and others for forward. Something that is not entirely improbable, Stark talks about a part of the alt-center as “ a niche based SWPL demographic, groups from more cosmopolitan backgrounds in contrast to the traditional demographics of populism, that has been attracted to dissident views as a reaction to elite overproduction and the excesses of woke politics”. A positive development, not only because it splits the opposing team and adds competence and resources to our side. There are shortcomings and limitations in alt-centrism, not least given its American origins, but the phenomenon may prove to be historically positive.”
Very neat substack and I'll be sure to reply to some of the very interesting topics you wrote about soon.
Nevertheless, please be careful with terms. Much as something might sound nice to you, you should first make sure that it *affords* the same meaning to your audience.
For example, whenever I hear "center" thrown around, the first thing that comes to mind are upper-class NIMBYs with the "status quo isn't that bad" mentality who basically want to go back to the 80s just without giving people the cushion that were built in the 50s-70s. It was that buffer that actually got them through the tax revolt era without immediate collapse.
I could be wrong, but I hope that you ask others for their opinions on it.