Charlottesville: A Clash of False Alternatives

The events in Charlottesville have shaken the nation, and many have rightly condemned the violence at the August 12 protest that resulted in one tragic death and many wounded.

Some were hesitant to make a sweeping condemnation pointing to the violence of the counter-protesters as a factor that must also be considered. Others feared that the public’s perception that the protesters were somehow conservative would be exploited to condemn anyone espousing conservative views.

However, the violent nature and motives of the Charlottesville incident requires that such considerations be put aside and an unequivocal condemnation be made.

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A Clash of False Alternatives
Such unequivocal condemnations should not obscure the real issues involved. In this case, America faces the horns of a dilemma as it is presented with two undesirable alternatives. What happened in Virginia was a clash of two false alternatives around the highly explosive issue of rewriting history by removing historic statues. This revisionist trend represents a dangerous new development in the moral and cultural decay of the nation.

This is no battle between two legitimate sides. Rather, these two clashing sides are nothing more than the two horns of a single anarchical false dilemma.

The positions opposing order, police and rule of law of the Antifa movement, Black Lives Matter movement and other groups are well-known. Also hostile to the remnants of Christian civilization within the rule of law and established political order are the alt-right movement’s Nazi, nationalist, socialist, racist and ultimately anarchical proclivities. Neither horn in this false dilemma represents America’s heritage and must, therefore, be rejected.

Above all, the notion that the alt-right represents a Christian or conservative perspective must be refuted. The alt-right has much more in common with the radical left’s utopian, nightmarish dreams than with Senator Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative.

An Expression of Anarchy
This can be seen in the movement’s literature and the declared views of its leaders. The alt-right is a movement that fundamentally rejects traditional conservativism. It does not share the moral values of religious conservatives since its adherents generally support abortion and the homosexual agenda. Economically, they exhibit a hostility toward the free market economics espoused by fiscal conservatives.

The alt-right notion of being Christian is often expressed by a vague cultural “Christendom,” that is associated much more with a white European cultural or even tribal identity than the worship of a Triune God and the loving and following of the Ten Commandments. That is why Richard Spencer, a key figure in the movement, calls himself both an atheist and “cultural Christian.” Even more disconcerting is the strong neo-pagan influence found in the movement. Neo-pagans see in past, pre-Christian, mythical religions the deep and dark roots of a supposedly glorious Nordic past that they idealized.

Thus, people mistakenly think that the alt-right represents the extreme right end of the political spectrum. However, it might more accurately be said that it merely manifests markedly different expressions of the same anarchical movement that is tearing the nation apart. Charlottesville was a fight among anarchists. It was not a clash between left and right.

It should be remembered that Germany’s Third Reich National Socialists, Nazis for short, were no less socialist than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics against which they violently fought. The Nazis simply manifested their equally atheistic, materialistic, socialist philosophy differently than Russia’s communists.

A Breakdown of the Moral Order
What happened at Charlottesville is a symptom of the breakdown of the moral order in America. When a moral order is rejected, it leads to a proliferation of subcultures. Outside the framework of an order, the imagination is free to create narratives that fragment society into different myths and lifestyles. When order is weak, anarchy is emboldened; resentments are resurrected; and groups feel empowered and entitled to overthrow the status quo.

These fragmented groups tend to use and even welcome violence. They do this not just because it attracts much media attention by its sensationalism, but because it expresses their struggle.

False Alternatives Not Shared by Most Americans
Fanned by the media, a climate of shock and tension has been fabricated around a narrative that does not reflect America, past or present. The fringe groups of anarchists that clashed in Charlottesville do not represent the majority of Americans.

Their class-struggle revisions of history do not correspond to the nation’s social reality. Most Americans long to see at work again the common sense and can-do practical spirit that have united the nation in the past. They want out from this nightmare of false alternatives forced upon America that is streaming on their computer screens and social media.

Charlottesville presented Americans with a false dilemma: two expressions of the same anarchical spirit. Both options lead to ruin.

Charlottesville presented Americans with an indecent choice which must be categorically rejected and unequivocally condemned. Instead, America must embrace the true third option: The return to a moral order founded on the respect and love for God and his law.


  • John Horvat II

    John Horvat II is vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and the author of Return to Order.

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