It seems like every time we turn on the TV, look on social media, or read a newspaper, we hear about the growth of a “movement” that doesn’t even really exist outside of the internet – the Alt-Right. The media, it would seem, won’t be satisfied until a physical fascist movement on the streets actually does appear. To paraphrase something Hitler said jokingly, democracy often paves the way for fascists to destroy it. But while reporters go gaga over “fashy haircuts,” explain what it means to be ‘red-pilled,’ and roll out the red carpet for meme culture, the real lessons of the Alt-Right are largely being lost on everyone; even those that want an end to the current system of domination and physically oppose its fascist defenders.
As the latest incarnation of the white supremacist movement in the US, the Alt-Right, signals a change in strategy and ideology for American fascists and white nationalists. It signals a turn away from former positions on gender and class, and toward a constituency that is more educated, urban, and upper class. Anarchists and anti-fascists need to take stock of these changes and differences, understand the ideas and strategy that drive the Alt-Right, and organize accordingly.
We need to understand that this divergence from previous generations (and in some cases, current ones) will cause strife and division within the white nationalist movement as a whole. At a time when white nationalists are calling for “unity” in their circles like never before, the Alt-Right is rife with tensions as jealousy, backbiting, name calling, and denunciations of individuals and groups runs rampant. This reality can been seen most clearly in the wake of the recent National Policy Institute’s conference, where several attendees gave the Nazi salute as MC Richard Spencer screamed, “Hail Trump!” The resulting media fallout sent several prominent white nationalists running to the hills, only to quickly disavow themselves of their former comrades in the press, throwing decades of connections and projects under the bus. Ironic, that a subculture so famously built on podcasts laced with the “n word” and gas chamber memes could become so embarrassed with itself for its behavior.
But while white supremacists like Richard Spencer are now given airtime on a variety of programs like stupid pet tricks, many in the media have been keen on the notion that Trump himself has led to the creation of the Alt-Right and that his election has unleashed with it a flood of far-Right mobilization by his existence alone. While it is true that Trump’s electoral win has unleashed a flood of violence, this is a reality that has been playing out for over a year, and is itself a reaction to other forces. Furthermore, such logic follows, that if Trump fades, so will his white nationalist auxiliary forces. This conception is an utter mistake.
The Alt-Right is much more dangerous than a reserve twitter army of angry men posting memes of Pepe the Frog wearing red Trump hats while harassing women and people of color from the safety of their mom’s basement. It was, and is, a growing collection of people, that while currently acting as an auxiliary force for the Trump regime is poised to become, if it continues to evolve, more of a potentially street based and ‘revolutionary’ movement. It’s origins have more to do with the white reactionary push back to the Ferguson Insurrection, feminism, the transgender movement, and Black Lives Matter, than simply just the Trump campaign. If it does continue, which it is sure to do, it will predictably splinter around questions of violence, electoralism, and class. What comes next will predictably be much more horrifying.
We as anti-fascists and revolutionary anarchists need to be confident in our own strengths and not feed into the media generated hype around the Alt-Right. By and large, the Alt-Right hasn’t been able to turn into a physical movement on the streets, yet. They don’t have offices, community centers, bookstores, publications, organizations, and unions like we do, yet. What the Alt-Right has is mainstream media hype, a tiny amount of influence in the Trump regime, and a sea of potential supporters that could also swing in other directions; but not yet a movement.
The hype around the Alt-Right is also speculative, much like our economy. And, just like the housing market, at some point, it’s going to burst. It is much like in 1997 when Spin Magazine argued that techno was going to be the new grunge; and it didn’t take long before everyone soon realized that this wasn’t going to be true. Now, in 2017, we need to remind ourselves of this reality again. The media does not create movements; it creates hype. The Alt-Right is this years’ Y2K, but at the same time we need to suss out reality from the hype while coming to grip with the real challenges we face with this new and strange opponent.
Furthermore, we need to come to terms with the media spotlight put onto the Alt-Right and what it means, as well as understand that due to the nature and makeup of our movement, we will never be given similar treatment. Lastly, we must attack this notion that the Alt-Right is simply a reaction, or a part of, the Trump campaign or phenomenon. Instead, like Trump, the Alt-Right is an elitist reaction to popular movements from below that seek to challenge systems of power and exploitation while molding support for authoritarian populism and fascism among the broader population.
Out of the Safe Space of the Internet
The Alt-Right is a collection of ideological tendencies, groups, websites, podcasts, think-tanks, internet cultures, and talking heads that have created a new breed of white supremacist within the millennial generation. While they disown this term, their ideology is based on the concept that biologically, white people living in America of European origin are different from all others. White people, according to the Alt-Right, are biologically smarter, less prone to crime, and more akin to build ‘great civilizations’ than human beings that are not [emphasis added]. . .