I have been asked by multiple people what exactly the ideology of the alt-right is? The short answer is pragmatic nationalism. The alt-right does not really hold a set of conservative or liberal views on any one subject. The primary concern is that the policies chosen benefit America first. This means that on some issues we can side with the left and on others with the right.
This is actually a lot more complex than it sounds. There are some groups who believe more free trade is the solution to everything so no matter what the problem they go with that even if it no longer works. There are some groups that believe a more aggressive foreign policy is the answer even if it is not a good idea for that particular case. There are some groups who believe that welcome every culture to the United States is the answer despite Islam proving to be incompatible with the west. Pragmatic Nationalism cannot just pick a default answer. It has to look at the circumstances surrounding each decision and pick the best course. I will give some examples to show how the alt-right position can change depending on circumstances.
There was a point in time where World War 2 just ended. Europe being one of the major battlegrounds of the war lost much of its industrial capacity. Japan and China had the same problem as China was a battleground and under occupation for much of the war and Japan, while not invaded, had most of its factories bombed or nuked. Africa and the Middle east were chugging along hopelessly as usual. In that situation free trade was great! Who wouldn’t want unlimited access to all the market places in the world with no competition? We could produce as much as we wanted and everything would have to be made in America and sold elsewhere as there was nowhere else to produce it.
Fast forward to modern times. Almost every country has the capability to produce basic products. Only a few very specialized things can only be manufactured in America. Other countries can and have taken business from the US by attracting companies with lower wages and low to no taxes. At this point with so much more competition, free trade becomes less desirable and protectionist measures should be put in place.
The statue of liberty says that you should throw anyone you don’t want in your country to the US and we will take them. It may sound strange but there was a point in time where we would have supported this approach. The US has just conquered half a continent from the Indians and the Mexicans. We had a lot of empty land in our hands and not enough people. to fill it. Using the subjugated populations for the areas would just have been asking for rebellions and in any case there was not enough Indians left alive to effectively do this. Making babies would have taken to long as we would have to wait a couple of generations before we could integrate the fallow lands into our economy. Economically each immigrant did not have a safety net surrounding them. No healthcare, food stamps, or any other benefits so there was little additional cost to welcoming them.
We have to compare that to our situation today. According to the latest statistics we have around 40% of the population not working. We have a housing crisis in several cities where the lower economic classes who run the service sector unable to afford to live in the cities they work in. We have advances in tactics and weaponry which means that one single terrorist is more dangerous than a regiment of troops when our immigration policies were different. We also have different social services in place where a single person costs more to maintain. Simply put we just do not have the same need for the same amount of people than we did when we asked to be the worlds dumping ground.
I hope these two examples show how pragmatic nationalism works and how an idea which may have worked in one generation may not work in another.