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?
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.
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].
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)
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. 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. Some critics have labeled the movement as "neo-fascist".
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Economic populism
- White identity politics
- "Racial realism"
- Opposition to political correctness
- Opposition to multiculturalism
- Immigration restrictions
- Protectionist trade policy
- Isolationist foreign policy
The alt-right tends to have a bunch of groups but they are generally a group of far-right beliefs "whose core belief is that “white identity” [or the identity of whoever they consider to be the dominant group] is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization." They tend to be related to ethnonationalism and authoritarian ideologies. According to a white supremacist white nationalist group called the National Policy Institute that can be seen as alt-right and lobbies as such:
Martin Luther King Jr., a fraud and degenerate in his life, has become the symbol and cynosure of White Dispossession and the deconstruction of Occidental civilization. We must overcome! - National Policy Institute column, January 2014
Immigration is a kind of proxy war—and maybe a last stand—for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile. - National Policy Institute column, February 2014
“The new left doctrine of racial struggle in favor of non-Whites only, a product of decolonization and the defeat of nationalists by egalitarians after WWII, must be repudiated and Whites must be allowed to take their own side in their affairs. A value system that says Whites are not allowed to have collective interests while literally every other identity group can do so and ought to do so is unacceptable.” —“The Fight for the Alt Right: The Rising Tide of Ideological Autism Against Big-Tent Supremacy,” The Right Stuff, January 2016
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?
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.