I have commented on the alt-right before (see, e.g., here, here, and here). It’s a phenomenon I still don’t understand completely, perhaps because so much of its (generalized) platform is indistinguishable from previous sub-conservative movements. Critics of the alt-right movement charge that it is linked to hyper-nationalism, white supremacism, neo-Nazism, and so on and so forth. Proponents of the alt-right claim that it is represents an authentic alternative to mainstream conservatism, particularly mainline Republican Party politics. Maybe. However, calls for stricter immigration controls and isolationism have been with the American conservative movement for a century or so now. If the alt-right differs in any noticeable way from mainline conservatism, it is with respect to certain economic issues such as free trade. Whereas the Republican Party has long championed free-trade accords and other liberal economic policies, the alt-right seems to favor protectionism as the best way forward.
Certain conservative and traditional Catholics (along with right-leaning Protestants and Orthodox) have started embracing the alt-right, either out of fear that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party will sweep the upcoming elections or because they believe a “strong man” such as Donald Trump is the answer to America’s woes (maybe both). As I have pointed out before, the problem with this embrace—at least for Catholics—is that it cuts so clearly against the actual social teachings of the Church. Racism is not Catholic. Excessive anti-immigration policies are not Catholic. Nationalism, to the extent the nation is placed above God and His Church, is not Catholic. I could go on, but I think you get the point. So why are an increasing number of Catholics comfortable setting aside the Church’s teaching to jump on the alt-right bandwagon? Perhaps because American Catholics of all political stripes have been setting aside the Church’s social magisterium in exchange for political relevance for decades.
Make no mistake about it. “Alt-right Catholics” are not doing anything more egregious than “libertarian Catholics” or “socialist Catholics.” All of these various political “brands” of Catholicism have one essential thing in common: an unfettered willingness to replace doctrine with ideology. There is no small amount of irony on hand when various social-media forums explode with fights between “alt-right Catholics” and “socialist Catholics.” Neither are witnessing for the truth, nor upholding the social rights of Christ the King. Rather, they are chucking ideologically charged hand grenades at one another with no hope whatsoever of resolving the issues between them. There is no true appeal to divine or natural law; there is only a race to amplify various bromides in the hopes of drowning out the opposition. And when that doesn’t work? Both sides resort to childish tactics such as name calling and hyperbolic accusations.
When will the situation improve? I can’t say. Part of me believes things will get worse before they get better, though I am endeavoring to check my pessimism whenever possible. For the current election cycle, though, there’s not much hope left that a majority of American Catholics will arouse themselves from their respective ideological stupors in order to confront the hard truth that liberalism has no authentic place for Christ and His Church, and that the Catholic faithful—along with all orthodox Christians—are not welcome under a horizon dominated by relativism, indifferentism, and hedonism. Still, that won’t stop Catholics from trying to “get by,” to be “team players” with some secular ideology or another. There’s an old saying: Pride comes before the fall. Capitulation will come before ours.