’Weeping Nazi’ Christopher Cantwell went from Libertarian to Fascist—and He’s Not Alone | Alternet
Sheffield traced the paleo-libertarian movement — which is essentially a merging of free-market fundamentalism and far-right cultural populism — back to the “anarcho-capitalist” economist Murray Rothbard, who is famous for, among other things, advocating child labor and claiming that parents should have the legal right “not to feed [their] child [and] allow it to die.” Rothbard was a co-founder of the Koch-funded think tank Cato Institute, and later the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which “enabled the fledgling [libertarian] movement to establish affinity with the neo-Confederate Lost Cause movement.”
“To solve the problem that few Americans are interested in small government,” Sheffield explained, “Rothbard argued that libertarians needed to align themselves with people they might not like much in order to expand their numbers.” These people included Evangelical Christians and neo-Confederates (i.e., white supremacists) who despised the federal government — especially after it stepped in to defend the civil rights of oppressed African-Americans in the South during the 1960s.
Paleo-libertarianism was, in other words, a thoroughly reactionary ideology that combined the very worst aspects of both libertarianism and right-wing populism. This makes it distinct from the broader libertarian movement, which tends to be more socially liberal or at least socially tolerant. The “alt-right” was an outgrowth of this unholy alliance.
This “survival of the fittest” mentality ended up driving Cantwell into outright fascism and white supremacy as he began espousing a pseudoscientific racialist worldview. Many of the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville no doubt followed a similar path.
It has long been common knowledge that the libertarian movement in America is dominated by young white males. A 2013 survey from Public Religion Research Institute found that, compared to the general population, “libertarians are significantly more likely to be non-Hispanic white, male, and young.” Nearly all libertarians, the researchers write, “are non-Hispanic whites (94%), more than two-thirds (68%) are men, and more than 6-in-10 (62%) are under the age of 50.” It hardly needs to be pointed out that the “alt-right” is also overwhelmingly white, male and young.
What this reveals is that young white males are far more susceptible to reactionary thinking. This is not surprising in itself. The explicit (or implicit) aim of any reactionary movement or ideology is to restore society to some golden age of the past. Needless to say, it is much easier for white men to romanticize history than it is for women, people of color or LGBTQ people.