14

Recently Clinton gave a speech that the majority of Trump supporters were young tech-savvy enthusiastic radically right-wing individuals who have taken over the Republican party from mainstream conservatism. What is the alt-right? What is the cause of their rise into mainstream political thought in the United States?

  • 8
    That's a 45 minute video. Can you please create a link with timecode? You can do that on Youtube in the right-click menu. It would also be very nice to your readers when you would transcribe the exact quote. – Philipp Aug 26 '16 at 13:30
  • 4
    From what perspective? Even with those that self identify as "alt-right," there is significant variation in their definitions. There are important distinctions between what Hillary Clinton is trying to point at as the "alt-right," what people on the right point to as the "alt-right," and the self descriptions of the alt-right. – Drunk Cynic Aug 26 '16 at 13:47
  • 3
    If all perspectives are welcome, the scope of this question is too broad. A quality answer would require addressing every viewpoint of the Alt-right, internal and external, exceeding the character limit. – Drunk Cynic Aug 26 '16 at 15:17
  • 2
    @DrunkCynic One could say that about every question and every answer in this entire stack exchange. Politics is not about the concrete but about the perspective. Tell me what you think best fits Drunk Cynic. – easymoden00b Aug 26 '16 at 15:24
  • 2
    "What is the cause of their rise into mainstream political thought in the United States?" Are they part of mainstream political thought in the US? If so, were they before Hillary Clinton started treating them as such? – Brythan Aug 27 '16 at 3:58
28

The answer is complicated by the fact this isn't a hierarchical movement with a founder or official text. It is typical of internet movements, being amorphous and somewhat sinister. The answer also changes depending on who you ask.

Unashamedly right wing Breitbart does something to play down their weirder and more extreme elements; arguing them to be mostly "natural conservatives" who are dissatisfied with a political mainstream which has drifted too far left. Vox did an exposé which tries to explain the weirder side of things. Both linked articles are well worth reading.

Though a big tent movement, they do have their own intellectuals who attempt to create and justify ideological principles. This, Breitbart argues, is evidence of their legitimacy compared to the likes of racist skinheads.

The Alt Right are defined primarily by their hostility to globalisation and liberal democracy. They understand society in racial terms; that an advanced society is a white society, because race and culture are the same. They believe the mainstream right wing has sold out; both economically in terms of globalisation, and socially in terms of multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism is bad because culture and race are inseparable. Feminism is bad because men are better than women. Democracy is bad because it runs contrary to social Darwinism, and is incompatible with freedom (meaning the supremacy of white males). Equality is bad, conceptually and practically, because it empowers inferior groups, and attempting to enforce this causes chaos and degeneration.

According to them monarchy or dictatorship would be better, because it'd empower those strongest and most able to do the job of governance. Based on a preference for strong men rather than elites. Elon Musk is used as an example of someone who should be given free reign. Overall it seems that they want to rebel against everything that's happened for the last fifty years, perhaps more. All of this has been described as "neo-reactionary", and apparently there's a related meme doing the rounds involving a uniform wearing cat.

  • 1
    @JamesPoulson edited answer to try and address these questions. – inappropriateCode Aug 28 '16 at 12:21
  • 2
    Thank you. As I suspected the definition of "Darwinian" does not correspond with theories of Darwin but a distortion of them according to Herbert Spencer's "survival of the fittest" which is AKA "social darwnism". A flawed concept seemingly justifying the superman view as survival does not depend on a tight subjective criteria decided by man according to what is "fit" but on multiple strategies and forms of life. – James P. Aug 28 '16 at 13:07
  • 3
    Ironically, the "survival of the fittest" may go against survival due to a group being too homogeneous. Say everyone is a strong man as in the the movie 300 and is tall. Well, all of these strong men would be wiped out in the hypothetical case that they get a fatal disease that does not affect fat people as much and they'd all succumb in a jungle filled with traps designed to kill tall people while smaller people might have a chance. – James P. Aug 28 '16 at 13:24
  • 6
    While I don't doubt there are people who subscribe to these views, is there any sort of .. i donno... reference to prove that there's a coherent mass of people subscribing to the points you listed? (and that those are all the same people? – user4012 Aug 28 '16 at 23:19
  • 3
    "an advanced society is a white society"- This is not correct at all. The alt-right would consider Japan or Israel advanced nonwhite ethnostates that should be emulated. And the primary opposition to Feminism is that it lowers white birthrates. The alt-right is obsessed with racial demographics. – MadMaardigan Nov 21 '16 at 10:50
8

Red Pill philosophy + GamerGate pugnaciousness => alt-right political movement

One alt-right blogger posted a list of "What the Alt Right is" (also known as the "16 Points"). This list has been translated into many languages. Some excerpts:

  • The Alt Right is an ALTERNATIVE to the mainstream conservative movement in the USA that […] has devolved towards progressivism. It is also an alternative to libertarianism.
  • The Alt Right is not a defensive attitude and rejects the concept of noble and principled defeat. It is a forward-thinking philosophy of offense, in every sense of that term. The Alt Right believes in victory through persistence and remaining in harmony with science, reality, cultural tradition, and the lessons of history.
  • The Alt Right believes Western civilization is the pinnacle of human achievement and supports its three foundational pillars: Christianity, the European nations, and the Græco-Roman legacy.
  • The Alt Right is openly and avowedly nationalist.
  • The Alt Right understands that diversity + proximity = war.
  • The Alt Right doesn't care what you think of it.
  • The Alt Right believes we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children.
  • The Alt Right does not believe in the general supremacy of any race [or ethnic group].
  • 4
    Is it appropriate to ascribe the posted positions of one individual to every one that says they are alt right? – Drunk Cynic Jun 2 '17 at 19:08
  • 4
    To the meme: yes, it is demonstrative of my continued annoyance with banner movements. Far too much room for unscrupulous folks to hide amongst your fellows. There are so many facets to gamergate: can't highlight the collusion in the market without being accused of being a horrible sexist. – Drunk Cynic Jun 2 '17 at 19:30
  • 4
    From my limited understanding of them, I don't see how the listed points relate to either "Red Pill" or "GamerGate". Care to elaborate? – immibis Jun 3 '17 at 10:50
  • 1
    @jasper: I just looked at this guys mini-manifesto, and he does go on about science quite a bit: "the alt-right is scientodific. It presumptively accepts the current conclusions of the scientific method (scientody) ... the so-called scientific consensus is not based on scientody, but on democracy, and is therefore intrinsically unscientific". – Mozibur Ullah Aug 20 '17 at 6:15
  • 1
    What is this 'scientody'? It's not typo as he's used in several places, is he confusing it with the practise of science? And he goes on about 'human sub-species' - man, I thought we'd left that language behind with phrenology, mesmerism and other nutty pseudo-sciences masquerading as science. – Mozibur Ullah Aug 20 '17 at 6:21
3

I believe alt-right is related to neo-reactionary (NRx) and dark-enlightenment. Some primary sources are:

http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/ (Mencius Moldbug)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_Yarvin (real name of Moldbug)

https://www.reddit.com/r/DarkEnlightenment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Enlightenment

The Dark Enlightenment, or the neoreactionary movement (also simply neoreaction; abbreviated NRx by proponents), is an anti-democratic and reactionary movement that broadly rejects egalitarianism and Whig historiography.[1][2] The movement favors a return to older societal constructs and forms of government, including support for monarchism and traditional gender roles, coupled with a libertarian or otherwise conservative approach to economics.[3] Some critics have labeled the movement as "neo-fascist".[2][4]

Occasionally you will find alt-right posts in http://www.reddit.com/r/anarcho_capitalism too, not because that represents anarcho-capitalism views, but because they are so anti-authoritarian they refuse to ban any posts.

I have no idea why it rose in political thought and can only speculate.

  • 1
    It's a big tent. Some parts of the alt-right ARE ancap. – Brilliand Sep 6 '17 at 21:42
  • Incorrect. Alt-right is antithetical to anarcho-capitalism. Alt-right believes in a government and government borders, while anarcho-capitalism doesn't believe monopoly governments are legitimate and believes borders are imaginary lines on a map. – Chloe Sep 7 '17 at 20:49
  • Anarcho-capitalism seems to be a reasonably pinned-down philosophy. Alt-right is not - alt-right is a bunch of people. You could, for instance, have someone who believes in ancap philosophy an an ideal, but opts to react against the left by joining in alt-right political activities for the short-term. This starts to make a fair amount of sense when you see certain recent events as an unnatural immigrant flood created by a shadow government as a means to consolidate power. – Brilliand Sep 7 '17 at 22:17
3

The alt-right is somewhat hard to pin down, in part because it's so new. But if I had to define it, I would say "the alt-right is a European-style alternative to mainstream American conservatism". (I discuss the ideology of mainstream American conservatism in my philosophy.SE answer here.) As a recognizable movement the alt-right is only a couple years old, but it originated from the following pre-existing strands:

  1. Paleoconservatism - the movement that Pat Buchanan was associated with. It rejects the interventionist foreign policy of modern conservatives, whom it characterizes as "neocons". It's characterized by nationalism, protectionism, isolationism, immigration restrictions, white identity politics, and social conservatism.

  2. Neoreaction - a fairly recent movement that rejects outright many of the presuppositions of enlightenment liberalism, like freedom, democracy, equality, etc. This blog post and this blog post by Scott Alexander do a good job of summarizing the neoreactionary ideology.

  3. Gamergate - an Internet-based movement, born from a harassment campaign against liberal video game developers, but which turned into a backlash against cultural critiques of video gaming by "social justice warriors", i.e. feminists and other social liberals. Defenses of video gaming culture from liberal critiques soon evolved into a movement whose explicit goal is to oppose "political correctness" and the social-justice Left in general.

  4. Men's Rights - A movement dedicated to either undoing feminism or doing for men what feminism does for women, depending on who you talk to. It's closely affiliated with the so-called Pickup Artist community, which critics argue serves to objectify women. In some ways it's similar to mainstream conservative critiques of feminism, except without the chivalry component that characterizes social conservatism.

  5. White nationalism - this is a movement that encompasses a spectrum of views. It ranges from white identity politics analogous to what the NAACP does for black people, to so-called "racial realism" involving IQ and other supposed differences between the races, to calling for a Rhodesia-style national homeland for the white race, to outright Hitler-style white supremacy. This movement is also characterized by antisemitism.

These strands coalesced into a recognizable "alt-right" movement in the past couple years, in response to the rise of far-right parties in Europe, inspiring some to launch a similar movement in the United States. The alt-rate rose to prominence through the candidacy of Donald Trump, whose policy differences with Republican orthodoxy and politically incorrect style mirrored many of the criticisms the alt-right has leveled against mainstream conservatism. This has led the alt-right to fervently support Trump, and conversely as Trump succeeded in becoming the Republican nominee the alt-right has acquired more mainstream acceptability in the Republican Party and the American Right. This article on the right-wing site Breitbart highlights this well:

Now, Hannity is defining his place in the new Republican Party, where the Drudge Report, Breitbart News, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh were placed on Conservative Movement blacklists during the darkest days of the Great Trump-Cruz War. Since Cleveland, where Trump supporters overthrew the corrupting forces of globalist special interests, the #NeverTrump operatives have been in retreat. Trump humiliated Cruz in Cleveland, prompting black merchants on Cleveland’s Fourth Avenue to start hawking “Ted Cruz Sucks…Hillary Swallows” T-shirts. The new Republican style has been called “populism through vulgarity.” Maybe that’s fitting in some cases, like the term “cucking,” which is now used casually and publicly by the likes of Edward Snowden over in Russia. But the vulgarity, while fun, masks the deeper importance of this stage of the GOP Civil War.

Some like Bill Kristol are hoping for a Hillary win so that those globalist special interests can come back and re-corrupt the party after November. Bill, son of Irving, was caught leaning up against a wall at the Cleveland Ritz-Carlton pretending to talk on his cell phone so he could spy on Matthew Boyle, Patrick Howley, and Milo Yiannopoulos at our convention. Hannity is making it known that he stands with the Populist Nationalist Champions of the New and Better Republican Party Borne in Cleveland That Will Reign Supreme For Years To Come.

In any case, here are some of the attributes that characterize the alt-right, in no particular order:

  • Nationalism
  • Economic populism
  • White identity politics
  • "Racial realism"
  • Opposition to political correctness
  • Antisemitism
  • Opposition to multiculturalism
  • Immigration restrictions
  • Protectionist trade policy
  • Isolationist foreign policy
  • Antifeminism
  • Authoritarianism

For more information on the alt-right, see this article on Vox and this article on Breitbart.

-5

In a nutshell, the "alt-right" is a Distraction.

Notice how no one in this thread could produce a clear definition for it?

One way to look at the alt-right, whatever it's actually supposed to mean, is as people that:

  • May still think Trump is some kind of saviour
  • May say some sensible things about "feminism". Yeah, that one is hard to define too, what with the "kill all men" thing and other seeming insanity going on.
  • May think Breitbart is a good source of information.
  • May oppose something they see as "leftist" or whatever.

But all in all, it's just one of all the misguided groups of people bickering against each other, and in that sense, it's a distraction (just like the others).

You won't see progressives/liberals/alt-righties/feminists/SJWs/BLMs or whatevers addressing questions like:

Why would 2% be a good rate of inflation, when inflation means a loss of purchasing power? Why would I want my income and savings to become less useful to me?

or

How would anyone even know the 'correct' rate for inflation? The idea of a good rate for something bad to be happening makes no sense anyway.

That's just a random example, but the point is that none of those people are talking about things that actually matter in the real world, or they just have no clue what they're talking about..

.. Or, last but certainly not least, they're intentionally misleading people.

  • issues of equal rights certainly affect a lot of people. It's disingenuous to say they aren't talking about anything important. They talk about plenty of things that have direct impacts on many people. Just this week, for example, issues of immigration (DACA) – user1530 Sep 7 '17 at 18:03
  • Key word: "or". – Peter Lindstrom Sep 7 '17 at 18:05
  • 4
    The term "alt-right" was coined by the movement itself, and is how many people self-describe their views, similar to how people self-describe their views as "conservative", "liberal", etc. It's a perfectly legit term. This answer is frankly just wrong on that account. – Martin Tournoij Sep 7 '17 at 18:13
  • 4
    -1 A distraction by whom? And for what reason? Your answer is very unclear, and could use some sources. You also seem to have a very narrow definition of "things that actually matter in the real world". – tim Sep 7 '17 at 18:17
  • 1
    In addition, there is a lot of opinionated stuff in this answer. Not saying any of that is "wrong", but please remember that this site is not a discussion forum! It's to provide reasonably neutral expertise-based information about politics, and this answer falls a bit short of that I'm afraid. This is a general pattern with your answers, and explains why so many of them have been downvoted and even deleted. Your answers would be better received if you would be a bit less opinionated :-) – Martin Tournoij Sep 7 '17 at 18:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.