The Alt Right
One of a myriad of burgeoning niche ideological subcultures, the Alternative Right (colloquially called the ‘Alt Right’) was sparked by the disillusionment of many with political correctness, identity politics, and virtue signalling, with those who subscribe to the movement devoting themselves to the vilification of the Regressive Left. It is the angst-ridden and rebellious younger brother of the Right family – fittingly so, as it continues to gather a predominant following of millennial aged boys and men. The epitome of alternative politics, you would be forgiven for having never even heard of it until now. But that is rapidly changing as both its advocates and critics alike swiftly bring the movement to the ideological forefront.
What sets it apart from other modern ideological subcultures is that its only ‘real’ link to the Right is freedom of speech. Skimming through a handful of tweets from Alt Right supporters, one unfamiliar might mistake it for an anarchist movement. It instead places prominent focus on culture – expressly, the preservation of Western culture, European heritage and the ‘American Way’.
Thus Donald Trump’s pledge to ‘Make America Great Again’ (#MAGA) has exalted him as a demagogue to the Alt Right. Moreover, Trump epitomizes what the Alt Right’s supporters want for their society (nationalism), as well as what they aspire to personally (wealth, power and success). With his bombastic straight talk, independent funding of his own campaign, and pride in affirming that he is “not a politician”, in their eyes, he is the Robin Hood of US politics. His journey from TV personality/business tycoon/comic relief to Republican nominee and potential POTUS has offended everyone from POWs to Sadiq Khan, yet to the ears of the triumphant Alt Right, it sounds an awful lot like the Star Spangled Banner.
Despite its novelty, division has already manifested. First there are the ‘natural conservatives’, then the ‘intellectuals’ who distance themselves from the ‘Meme Team’. The latter’s main objective is simply to p**s off as many groups as possible. The most notorious faction, they are equal opportunity trolls and their insults do not appear to be correlated with their individual beliefs. You may have come across them last week if you happened upon people insisting that black comedienne Leslie Jones’ nude photos had actually been leaked several months ago. They then proceeded to link these to pictures of Harambe the gorilla. On the surface, the Alt Right appears to be a trivial pest, really just out to bring humour back into politics – something the hypersensitivity of professional victimhood and PC has rendered difficult.
But then you dig a little deeper and encounter factions like the 1488 – or 1488ers. The name alone is a nod to neo-Nazism:
“1488 is a combination of two popular white supremacist numeric symbols. The first symbol is 14, which is shorthand for the “14 Words” slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The second is 88, which stands for “Heil Hitler” (H being the 8th letter of the alphabet).” – the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Their endgame? ‘White purity’: the return to an all-white USA (which never existed), by means of mass deportation, ethnic segregation, the denunciation of interracial relationships and even permanent border closure. It believes that only those of a certain race have the innate qualities and values needed to assimilate and contribute to Western society, and alleges to have scientific evidence that black people inherently have the lowest IQs of any race. That Judaism is ‘a cancer on the world’. That Jews, whose names are punctuated in dialogue with three parentheses to stress their apparent ‘otherness’ – e.g. (((Ben))) – are history’s greatest criminals. Within the movement, members suspected of not being ‘white enough’ are pressured by others to take genetic tests to prove their validity. Many former non-white members confess to having either left or been run out of the movement, targeted by their own former so-called allies. White members are equally turned against and shunned once ‘caught’ having non-white partners, condemned as apologists for ‘white genocide’.
The solace one can take is that our society has, arguably since halfway through 20th century, been vigilant with regard to right-wing extremism. The ideological values it embodies are fundamentally incompatible with those of neoliberalism and socialism, and so the Alt Right is highly unlikely to gain influence on a mainstream level.
In addition, there is an undeniable contradiction which, once noted, permanently exposes the faultlines within the Alt Right’s front. It’s funny that the Alt Right routinely snubs the emotional arguments of supposed progressives, tersely responding with what seems to be its de facto tagline: “F**k your Feelings”, yet their very being is an emotional outburst in itself. In the process of trying to fight Social Justice Warriors and the demonization of the White Straight Cisgender Male, the Alt Right ironically mirrors exactly the same tactics also employed by its arch nemesis, the Regressive Left. Those who do not wholly agree with SJWs are summarily branded ‘bigots’. The Alt-Right, ‘cucks’ (curious? I suggest you look up the meaning) attempt to push back against identity politics reserved for minority groups by polarizing it, in creating a new set of identity politics reserved for white people. The ‘enemy’ is really just on the other side of the coin.
Whilst the Alt Right hasn’t reached our shores yet, if it were to cross the pond, the likely patrons of its British equivalent would be the remnants of the BNP, the English Defence League (EDL) and perhaps some UKIP supporters, many of whom still feel disenfranchised by the severely disproportionate outcome of last year’s general election.
The Alt Right is united by what it disdains but its demands are hardly feasible, incompatible with Western liberal culture and barely even built on internal consensus. This is mostly because, within the movement, perceptions of a desirable ‘endgame’ range from the dismissal of political correctness to outright fascism. If the movement were even given an inch to find shared ideals, it would be only a matter of time before the pressure placed on these faults would cause them to split. There is something to be said about a movement consisting of as many members who champion the kind of nationalism upheld in the Declaration of Independence as that detailed in Mein Kampf. And that is: there is an evident, vast and unmissable difference between unapologetically taking pride in the values of the West and, frankly, being an a**hole.