Refusal To Name The Enemy: Schmittian Political Reality, Conservatism, & The Alt-Right

The political philosophy of Carl Schmitt can be considerably instructive in understanding the weakness of the Conservative mindset, as well as in coming to important conclusions that should be used to ground the ethnonationalist Alt-Right. For this piece, I will be examining and summarizing Schmitt’s notion of the political and his criterion of the friend/enemy distinction. It is easy to see how modern conservatives are themselves being framed by this criterion, but have refused to engage the enemy on this same level. This, I believe, explains their increasingly hyper-neurotic response to the notion of White identity politics. It also explains why their universalist responses are withering in the light of this Schmittian reality. It is not necessary to accept every aspect of Schmitt’s political theory. However, we may find that his unique perspective and insightful political concepts may serve as one means of analyzing the resurgence in White identity, and in understanding why the conservative movement has failed as a long term oppositional strategy.

I.The Criterion of the Political

In Schmitt’s central work, The Concept of the Political, he offers, according to Julien Freund (a Schmittian philosopher), “a criterion to identify the phenomenon of politics.” [1] This criterion is the seemingly reductionist friend/enemy distinction. As Schmitt himself notes, “The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.” [2] For Schmitt, a “people exists politically if it constitutes an independent political unity and in the name of this unity opposes itself to other kinds of unity.” [3] Essentially, a people can only be said to exist on the level of the political to the extent that it identifies itself by its opposition to some Other, which does not exist within its own circle. No doubt, this seems a simple reiteration of the basic in-group/out-group distinction. Schmitt is built his criterion, partly, on the base biological reality of group competition in an environment that must deal with the reality of resource scarcity.

For Schmitt, the political goes beyond mere competition. The friend/enemy distinction “denotes the utmost degree of intensity of a union or separation, of an association or disassociation.” [4] However, this intensity of divergence is not of a merely moral, economic, or even racial constitution. [5] The enemy is represented by an Other with whom an existential confrontation, “in the extreme case”, is possible. [6] When a moral issue (like abortion) or an economic one (like the Trans-Pacific Partnership) reaches a point of intensity between two (or even more) groups, it has then become a confrontation that goes beyond the mere level of morality or economics, and has ascended to the level of the political. It has reached a level of antagonism in which these divided groups may denote each other as The Enemy, and the issue moves from one of policy to one of existential group struggle.

Only those in this state of possible confrontation “can correctly recognize, understand, and judge the concrete situation and settle the extreme case of conflict.” [7] Schmitt makes the important claim that this cannot be reduced to the level of individuals. If a group confronts another group as an enemy, then the latter (which must also make the decision of the former being the enemy as well) exists only as a group. [8]

Even more paradoxical is the means by which the enemy is confronted. As Alexander Lefebvre makes clear, when one group confronts another group as the enemy, the same group must also derive its own political existence (“political being”) by being marked as the enemy’s enemy. [9] Essentially, a people may only exist as a political entity insofar as it is defined as a group which another group opposes. On the level of the political, groups can only exist as political entities insofar as they oppose and are opposed. This is why the political is collective, and cannot be not individual. An enemy must always be a public enemy “because the decision as to who is the public enemy founds the public/people doing the deciding.” [10] If two people come to a point of intense conflict, this can never reach the level of the political. A private conflict never addresses or puts into jeopardy the collective existence/political existence of a people. Thus, it should be clear that Schmitt firmly sees the political unity, the people, as homogeneous in their “political univocity” – speaking as one in terms of who they oppose and by consequence of this decision, of who they are themselves. [11] An aggregation of loosely bound individuals (for example, bound by individualistic, universal principles) can never truly speak as one thoroughly united group, as they are unable to confront the enemy. To do so would force themselves to view themselves as a homogeneous group and not a random collection of atomistic units with loosely aligned interests. They are unable to rise to the occasion as they are not a true political unity. Across much of the West, the reality of the collective nature of the political is becoming more and more obvious to all astute observers.

The final point I would like to briefly highlight the issue of who decides the existence of the enemy. Schmitt does defer this to the province of the sovereign, which relates to his Decisionist theory and notion of the state of the exception. I will return to these concepts in a later article, but suffice it to say the sovereign can be seen as the expression of a collective, political unity which has come to identify itself as such a unity. Regarding who decides the existence of the enemy, Schmitt makes an important observation (emphasis mine):

“If a people is afraid of the trials and risks implied by existing in the sphere of politics, then another people will appear which will assume these trials by protecting it against foreign enemies and thereby taking over political rule. The protector then decides who the enemy is…” [12]

The important inference from this argument of Schmitt’s is that if a people cannot rise to the level of the political and identify the enemy, then they cannot be said to really exist. They are merely a collection of loosely aligned individuals who lack sovereignty, and who are unable to safeguard the interests of their way of life (insofar as you can label such an empty modality that exists below the level of the political as a “way of life”). One could argue such a sorry lot are unable to conserve anything, as they cannot even exist on a level by which they have an identifiable way of life and group identity to preserve. One can also infer from this that if a group is unable to become politically conscious in a Schmittian sense, then they will face one of two ends. Either they are absorbed by another people who have risen to the level of the political (with whom they are comparable), or they displaced by the enemy. This is the role that the Alt-Right is assuming. We, being more willing to identify the Other as an enemy on the level of the political, are usurping the role of the “conservative” elite as the protector of “the group”.

This reminds me of another quote which is sure to leave the average conservative feeling disconcerted:

“If the war is lost, the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no necessity to take into consideration the basis which the people will need to continue even a most primitive existence. On the contrary, it will be better to destroy these things ourselves, because this nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger…nation. Besides, those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.” [13]

Those who refuse to act on the level of the political and acknowledge the enemy will never rise to the necessary level of agency by which they may preserve their way of life and identity. They are dependent on either another group saving them or they will be left to the violence of the conscious enemy. Either way, this original group will be lost in the coming conflict, as they were not worth preserving because they refused to meet the selective pressures of a new political paradigm.

II. The Conservative Response to the Alt-Right

In recent months, we’ve seen the rise of the Alt-Right insofar as it is known and understood by the mainstream public. As can be expected, the Conservative “intellectual” elite have responded by pearl-clutching and pretending that they still maintain control of access over the means of intellectual production by talking about the need to “purge” us. I’m not sure how many posts have been authored regarding White identity politics from this particular class of writers, but I’d wager it’s more than the Right has ever written on identity politics as a whole in the last two years. This is because the conservative movement has rejected the arena of the political (constantly ceding to the Left’s societal framing) and is now in the midst of observing the ascendance of a group which does act on the level of the political, and is poised to replace them for good.

I’ve picked a few recent articles written by this neurotic coterie of intellectuals to point out why conservatives lose and why this reduces to a disavowal of the political. One can immediately detect a poorly veiled sense of fear in such titles as “The Folly of White Identity Politics,” “Identity Politics Are Ripping Us Apart,” and “Why is Pride Creepy When Black Pride Isn’t?” The titles alone immediately signal an automatic and knee jerk rejection of the political when coming from the White perspective (but note the implicit approval of the formation of the political when it stems from non-White forms of racial collectivization). These principled conservatives have made clear that they will not perceive themselves as a collective which is being organized against by enemy collective, despite this process making them a de facto collective by an extrapolation of the law of excluded middle. Or, to put it a better way, they see the latter (an “enemy” collectively forming), but they reject the necessitation of the former.

As was shown earlier, among possible points of contention, race is not the only issue with the ability to rise to the level of the political. However, it is clear that group divisions based on race & ethnicity in the West is reaching a level of intensity that exceeds other moral & economic debates, and thus is reaching the level of the political. F. Roger Devlin of  Counter Currents stated that “Race is everything to our enemies, and it is the angle from which they have chosen to attack our entire civilization.” [14] One need only spend a few hours at VDARE, The Right Stuff, Radix, American Renaissance, or even Breitbart to see the racial awareness and animus of those who form the “enemy” collective. Even more so, try watching any mainstream news outlet or recent political speech from the Left and see if you can remember a single one which didn’t:

  1. Attack Whiteness or symbols of Whiteness (police, flag, borders & rule of law, etc.)
  2. Pander to non-Whites as a homogeneous bloc and tacitly or openly accept this activity
  3. Decry White consciousness

Even conservative authors admit to this reality. In “Identity Politics Are Ripping Us Apart,” David French admits that the toxic notion of White privilege is an attack on Whites. [15] In “The Folly of White Identity Politics,” Jonah Goldberg openly admits that the Left has no interest in promoting “Western values” or in assimilating into white culture. [16] But these commentators quickly follow this realization with the predictable cowardice that they use to masquerade as principled strength.

“We’re better than this.”
“That’s just not who we are.”
“That’s not what America is about.”
“Can’t we all just embrace individualism?”

This effete whining is then predictably accompanied by spending time claiming that Whites who do begin to raise themselves to the level of the political (where the racial question has been or on the path to being firmly rooted) is gross or inappropriate. Goldberg claims that Whiteness is “an ideological construct about racial superiority” and that America is a post-European country which rejects traditional tribalism (the “blood and soil” aspect of nationalism). [17] French decries the notion of racial politics as it compresses “the extraordinarily rich and complex histories of nations, continents, and cultures” to the single factor of skin color. [18] I won’t waste time here explaining how this is a clearly biologically illiterate understanding of Race, as this has been written about in-depth elsewhere (links provided below at this footnote). [19]

The final aspect of the conservative response to ethnonationalism is the substitution of group consciousness with “universal values”. Let’s first ignore the contradiction of labeling Western values as universal if their existence was conditional on specific peoples bringing them into existence. Goldberg champions classical liberalism, “in which the individual is sovereign” and the tribe & collective is irrelevant. [20] In “Why is Pride Creepy When Black Pride Isn’t?” Rachel Lu [21] claims, “the greatness of the Western tradition doesn’t lie in its whiteness and maleness. It lies in its breadth, adaptability, and universality.” [22] It should be noted as somewhat amusing that she makes this claim after listing great contributors to Western culture, all of whom are White. Lu goes further and declares, “the Western ethos at its best is profoundly un-tribal. To claim this rich tradition specifically for whites is to muddy it and betray its core tenets.” [23] In fact, Lu demands we transcend appeals to “xenophobic ethnonationalism.” [24] This is a mentality that Greg Johnson of Counter Currents has previous discussed:

“Whites are allowed to think of ourselves only as human beings with generic human interests that by definition cannot conflict with those of other human beings. We can benefit as a group only by benefiting all humanity. This is the basis of the desperate conservative attempt to convert blacks and browns to the virtues of constitutional government and free enterprise, as if these are a race-neutral, universal ideology rather than specifically European cultural practices, which cannot be transplanted everywhere on the globe and cannot be sustained in our own homelands once we are replaced. [25]

Johnson perfectly captures this grand proclamation as nothing more than a refusal “to play the race card” because conservatives “think that their ideals of liberty and limited government are universal rather than tribal anyway.” [26] This is a common cognitive defense tactic among conservatives which allows them to partially escape the pressures of the racial reality of group political dynamics in the West, which allows them to justify rejecting the logic of the political.

This is a common refrain from the Conservative intellectual class. Yes, Western culture and societies were built by Europeans, but don’t you dare make inferences! These same commentators often speak in morally self-aggrandizing terms of transcendence and overcoming. But once we return to Schmitt, it becomes clear that these conservatives aren’t transcending anything so much as they are purposefully retreating from the spectre of the political. If Western values were universal then we wouldn’t need to assimilate a single immigrant, as they’d already be abiding by those universal values when they walked across the border.[27] What this really amounts to is an almost complete rejection of the true criterion of the political and the current point of intensity (or at least on its way to becoming a center of intensity) in the form of racial group interests. Many conservatives create this narrative of universal values as a way of ignoring information that undermines their long held, blank slate egalitarianism. Even more troubling for the basic Conservative is the notion that their entire set of belief are not the product of a strong right-wing intellectual tradition, but are the bastard fruits of being subsumed by the Left. The views of a modern day Conservative intellectual would, in many aspects, be regarded as radical by a hard leftist from 1900. For those who believe in linear history, this is great news! For those who reject the notion of “Progress” as it is generally referred to, this is greatly disheartening. The conservative fears the truth of the political because it would eventually force them to confront the fact that they have conserved almost nothing. Because the sphere of political activity is now increasingly a proxy for group interests, the perceptive and honest conservative comes to see that the  promotion of universalism was always largely irrelevant . He has to fight this truth tooth and nail, lest he see his own political conception as a joke.

III. Why Conservatives Will Lose

Because the conservative implicitly rejects the Schmittian concept of the political and the friend/enemy distinction, the conservative will always lose. He clings to abstract, universal values, and is unable to perceive the implicit collectivism of non-WEIRD peoples. It should be noted that the conservative perspective is not completely without merit. For example, North-Western Europeans and their scion show higher levels of empathy as well as a higher preference for traits such as individualism and limited innate clannishness. [28] But, this does not excuse the conservative for observing that the non-WEIRD peoples are clearly collectively consciousness, and are engaging on the level of political while the Right prattles on with their constitution fetishization. Regardless of “why?”, racial minorities & Leftist Whites have identified the remaining White collective as a cohesive, political unity. They have identified them as the Enemy, and as such have bounded them together. There is no middle, abstaining position for us to take; we are, in Schmitt’s terms, already in the moment of the decision of whether to reciprocate.

One can argue that this issue has not yet reached the “Weimerica” levels of intensity needed to be deemed on the level of the political. Either way, the issue of race has steadily risen above other categories (morality, economics, religion, etc) on the hierarchical ladder of concerns. The attack on “Whiteness” signals a conscious view of Whiteness as something to be opposed by these other cohesive groups. The fact remains that Whites have been targeted and named as an enemy group, and our hegemony within our own nations is becoming existentially challenged. A quick glance at the demographic projections for the U.S. and Europe make clear that this threat is wholly unavoidable, and one can thus treat it is an already latent truth that has yet to reach the full apex of intensity. One may claim that group identity has not yet reached a level of intensity to where collective groups are formed and enemies are explicitly named. Supposing this to be true, the inevitable process of demographic displacement will likely force this end. As Whites demographically decline, they will very likely revert to a more tribal, group-oriented political identity. As a natural response, non-White groups will only further entrench themselves as response. This would suggest that a positive feedback loopbetween White and non-Whites (currently approximated by the political “Right” and “Left”, respectively), forced by the vagaries of demographic change and geographic proximity, will lead us to naming one another “the enemy” as our various groups compete for resources & sociopolitical hegemony. While the conservative shows an awareness of the racial animus being directed toward Whites as a group, he never seeks to employ the criterion of the enemy as a means to protect their own interests. The conservative literally refuses to engage in embracing the identity necessary to be a member of this newly forming political entity. Thus, he finds himself in the unenviable position of being broken by the Left or replaced by the Alt-Right.

It is the quasi-acknowledgment of the political that explains the conservative sphere’s unbounded levels of neurosis manifesting in ever more bizarre public displays of anti-racial consciousness. For example, think of Rick Wilson or Charlie Sykes flogging themselves on MSNBC to demonstrate how far they will go to flee the political and the intensiveness of race. I’m not sure how Schmitt would even describe a segment of a homogeneous group which seeks to escape the political by appealing to its self-identified enemies for mercy. The conservative is aware that he has been named an enemy or at least marked as an enemy in the long run (if we assume race has not reached the adequate intensity to be truly political. He is also steadfast in refusing to play his role as the counter-enemy, as this undermines his entire sense of self.

Enter the Alt-Right.

The Alt-Right is intuitively perceptive of the rationale of the political and acknowledges the growing importance of race as the battleground for a group’s survival. The emergence and growth of the Alt-Right (helped along by the Trump candidacy and MSM exposure) is not an accident that will go away. The conservative movement has always been an implicitly White movement, protecting White interests and values. But conservatives have traded Schmitt for Locke, and have thus never fully embraced this truth. As a result, they’ve both been castrated by the Left and have slowly lost touch with the White base that they depend upon for political relevancy. The Alt-Right is an inherently Schmittian movement. We have not bought into the premises of the Left on most issues, and we are keenly aware of how important group interests are as the representation for our distinct way of life. As a result, we fight far more skillfully and with far greater passion. Why? Because we understand the zero-sum nature of the coming identity confrontation, and we choose to legitimize ourselves on the level of the political by recognizing that those who name us as the enemy are also our enemy. We choose to affirm our identity as a political unity built around our shared heritage. We are aware that our “enemies” see us collectively in this manner, and thus we cannot ignore our political reality through to appeals to universal values.

This is why conservatives lose. They are aware they cannot fill the void that exists among Whites feeling more and more alienated and dispossessed in their own homelands. At the same time, they refuse to embrace the mantle of “Whiteness”, as to do so would reveal the long ignored death of universalist conservatism as viable option for political opposition. When we begin to see politics the way Schmitt saw it, we understand both who we are as members of the Alt-Right (specifically, why we exist as a political unity) and why conservatism will perish.


[1] Julien Freund, “Schmitt’s Political Thought”, Telos 102 (1995): 15.

[2] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition, trans. George Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 26.

[3] Freund, “Schimitt’s Political Thought,”, 15

[4] Schmitt, The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition, 26

[5] Ibid, 27

[6] Ibid, 27

[7] Ibid, 27

[8] Ibid, 38

[9] Alexandre Lefebvre, “The Political Given: Decisionism in Schmitt’s Concept of the Political,” Telos 132 (2005): 88.

[10] Schmitt, The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition, 89.

[11] Lefebvre, “The Political GivenL Decisionism in Schmitt’s Concept of the Political,”, 90.

[12] Schmitt, The Concept of the Political: Expanded Edition, 52.

[13] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler#The_Testament_of_Adolf_Hitler_.281945.29

[14] F. Roger Devlin, “Why I Write,” Counter Currents, Published: November 10, 2010, Accessed: August 30, 2016, http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/11/why-i-write-2/.

[15] French David French, “Identity Politics Are Ripping Us Apart,”, National Review Online, Published May 18, 2016, Accessed: August 30, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435567/identity-politics-race-ripping-us-apart.

[16] Jonah Goldberg, “The Folly of White Identity Politics,” National Review Online, Published August 18, 2016, Accessed: August 30, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/439150/white-identity-politics-wrong-and-immoral.

[17] Jonah Goldberg, “The Folloy of White Identity Politics.”

[18] David French, “Identity Politics Are Ripping Us Apart.”

[19] For more on race, human biodiversity, evolutionary theory, etc, see:

[20] Jonah Goldberg, “The Folly of White Identity Politics.”

[21] Rachel Lu is married to a man of Asian extraction and has mixed race children. David French has adopted Black children. This is brought to the reader’s attention because it is a common pattern amongst conservatives who often counter-signal White identity the most, and raises questions regarding their own impartiality & reasons for the positions they hold on the topic.

[22] Rachel Lu, “Why Is White Pride Creepy When Black Pride Isn’t?”, The Federalist, Published: August 29, 2016, Accessed: August 30, 2016, http://thefederalist.com/2016/08/29/white-pride-creepy-black-pride-isnt/.

[23] Rachel Lu, “Why Is White Pride Creepy When Black Pride Isn’t?”

[24] Ibid.

[25] Greg Johnson, “Why Conservatives Conserve Nothing,” Counter Currents, Published: February 18, 2016, Accessed August 30, 2016, http://www.counter-currents.com/2016/02/why-conservatives-conserve-nothing/.

[26] Greg Johnson, “The Conscience of a Cuckservative,” Counter Currents, Published: July 29, 2015, Accessed August 30, 2016, http://www.counter-currents.com/2015/07/the-conscience-of-a-cuckservative.

[27] There is a somewhat humorous scenario that plays out in the form of an occasional conservative counter-point to this argument. One could argue that Western values are universal and that everyone can grasp and apply them with the right amount of intellectual inquiry. However, the conservative now must explain why Whites were faster than other groups at this inquiry, as it suggests a notion of White superiority.

[28] http://www.unz.vom/pfrost/we-are-not-equally-empathic/; http://evoandproud.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-universal-is-empathy