The ‘Alt Right’ in the United States
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
The Alt-Right began as an obscure subculture on the Internet. From 2015 onwards it started to become part of national politics in the US. At first it was a small group with youthful energy, spouting very confused sexist rhetoric and openly challenging the establishment. But soon it spread to the world of the media and politics on a scale that cannot be ignored.
Leftists call the Alt-Right racist, while the conservative press has also contributed to the rejection of these restless youths. The National Review attacked them, claiming they were just resentful white working class people who worshipped the Father-Führer, Donald Trump. Other sectors of the media labeled them “white supremacists” and others accused them of having the condemnation of blacks, Jews, Latinos and Muslims as their sole purpose.
But so far, no one has been able to explain the power of seduction and the penetrative capacity of this social movement, apart from the condemnations and pseudo-ethical warnings of the traditional mass media. Perhaps what’s most appealing about the alt-right is its great propensity towards provocation coming from the most subversive, most covert and most youthful margins of the Internet, with 4chan and 8chan standing out as the most important hubs for activism. For several years the members of this political forum had been having fun with all manner of provocative trash-talk. And before the Alt-Right there were the 4chan activists who had turned social media trolling into the formula for group identity.
Although at first some confused the Alt-Right with the skinhead movement, there’s an element that clearly separates them from those thugs – and that is intelligence. The alternative right is a much better prepared group of people and some of them are very bright. They include thinkers such as Oswald Spengler, H.L. Mencken, Julius Evola, Sam Francis, the paleoconservative movement that played a part in the presidential campaigns of Pat Buchanan and the French New Right.
The media kingdom of the ‘alternative right’ was built around Richard Spencer when he was editor of Taki’s Magazine. In 2010 he founded AlternativeRight.com which would become the bastion of Alt-Right thinking. There were also other groups such as the Steve Sailer blog, VDare, American Renaissance and AlternativeRight.com that became the rallying point of a bunch of renegades who fought against established political consensus.
In this they were joined by the so-called ‘manosphere,’ a reaction against leftist feminism led by gay male author Jack Donovan who also published articles on gender. In his 2012 book The Way of Men he reflects on the loss of manhood that is part and parcel of modern globalized societies. Donovan said it was logical to think that heroic man was destined to become homo economicus and that the men of old would be reduced to rampant creatures making their way around the world competing for money, wasting their nights dreaming of new ways of ripping off each other, which is the path we’re on right now.
Then also along came the isolationists, the pro-Russians and former supporters of Ron Paul who were attracted to the Alt-Right’s rejection of previous military involvement. The neo-reactionaries also appeared in the LessWrong.com discussion, a blog created in Silicon Valley by the artificial intelligence researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky, which explores the ways in which the latest research in the cognitive sciences could be applied to overcome prejudice and apriorisms, including those of a political and philosophical nature.
LessWrong encouraged its members to think like machines and so the participants were encouraged to free themselves from concern with social status, from other people’s feelings and from other impediments to rational thought. Out of this came a group of ruthless and heretical thinkers with a rational outlook that is the opposite of their feelings and the mentality prevailing among contemporary journalists and academic writers.
Led by philosopher Nick Land and computer scientist Curtis Yarvin, this group demolished the old prejudices of Western political discourse on liberalism, democracy, and egalitarianism. They said that historically liberal democracy has not been any more stable than monarchy, while egalitarianism has been completely shattered by research on hereditary intelligence, because requiring people to see each other as individuals and not as members of a demographic group is to ignore all the advances of tribal psychology. These were the first attempts to generate a neoconservative ideology that many had already been hoping for.
A final note about the ‘Alt-Right’ has to do with the reference to ‘natural conservatives’ who were the public for whom the above mentioned intellectuals wrote. These are mostly white middle-class American males who unashamedly prioritize the interests of their own demographic group. In their political positions the natural conservatives are determined to follow the same instincts that motivate all conservatives on the planet.
According to acclaimed social and political scientist Jonathan Haidt in his book The Righteous Mind (2012), the motivations of conservatives are the expression of an instinct acutely felt by a large part of the world’s population. Such an instinct includes a preference for homogeneity over diversity, stability over change, hierarchy and order over radical egalitarianism. It also includes instinctive rejection of the strange and unfamiliar and natural conservatives feel that instinct with greater intensity and always prefer communities, rules and familiar institutions.
For decades, the concerns of those who identify with Western culture have been labeled racist and the Alt-Right has been the inevitable result. Regardless of how irrational, hateful or tribal the concerns of the Alt-Right may be, the truth is that they cannot be ignored because they are not going to disappear.
Addendum: At the end of the day, the Alt-Right, with all its virtues and defects, has come to stay and to initiate, to the benefit or detriment of human beings, great changes in the shaky world order of the present time.