Oh boy, this is a topic that is a potential can of worms. But, let’s about about the so called alt-right.
The alt-right, which came into mainstream prominence after Hillary mentioned them at a speech last year, is a very divisive entity in and of itself. Go anywhere online and you will find threads upon threads of the dankest of memes (and pepe) in support of some alt-right cause. Or, you will see mainstream progressives rail against how evil and racist the alt-right is; making it the new political boogeyman in this current internet age. When one thinks about it, it doesn’t seem too far off. Sites like the Daily Stormer and people like Richard Spencer, both of which express nationalist (white or otherwise) views, either claim to be alt-right or are attributed to being a part of the alt-right. Milo Yiannopoulos, who has been seen by some as a face of the alt-right for about the past year-ish or so, is a person of immense controversy. Usually he is just protested, but about a week ago a riot broke out at UC Berkeley, courtesy of everyone’s favorite “anti-fascists” ANTIFA. Anytime anything remotely resembling western nationalism rises its head, it’s almost a necessity that the alt-right will be brought up and be a source of scorn and vitriol.
However, what if I told you that the alt-right isn’t a real thing?
What did Pepe do to deserve this, mang?
Okay, it’s “real” in that there are people who identify as alt-right, but unlike virtually any other political entity in the US, there is no structure, no consistent political platform, and no real organization. The term “alt-right” was coined by a guy named Paul Gottfried (not Richard Spencer) who in 2008, called for an alternative right as an antithesis to what he saw as a neo-conservative stronghold on the American right.
That, quite literally, is it. At its core, all the alt-right is, is someone (or something) that is vaguely right wing and doesn’t identify with the mainstream American right. Aka, neo-conservatives and the majority of the Republican party.
With such a vague base, and no actual core organization, this can apply to literally anyone that isn’t a NeoCon Republican. This can apply to many people and ideologies, including but not limited to: Fascists, National Socialists, Libertarians. Anarcho-Capitalists, Paleo-Conservatives, Monarchists, Theocrats, Neo-Reactionaries, Classical Conservatives, right leaning Populists, Far-right militarists, and your run of the mill center-right independents.
What about the nationalism that is so often equated with the alt-right? Even that isn’t unified or necessarily shared by all, but I will concede that it is probably the one thing in common that many people who identify as alt-right share. Vague as it may be. At best, it may be a mild form of western or American nationalism were everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality are a part of it. At worst, it is full blown white supremacy. With no real ideological unity, it’s a free for all with who is a “real” alt-righter.
Although I don’t carry the title of “alt-right”, I technically could be considered one. I’m fairly conservative minded, I absolutely hate the neo-conservative mentality and foreign policy that has been core to American conservatism in the past few decades, I’m pro-western values, pro-western education, and I believe that all people regardless of their race, nationality, religion, gender, or sexuality can be accepted as “western” so long as they accept such values. Yet, I am against racism, white nationalism, and recognize that most people (on the internet at least) who identify as alt-right are provocateurs, meme-tastic college students, or reactionaries. There is no real power in what they do, say, or promote. There is no organization, no real platform, no core connection. All they have are perceived numbers and, despite what the mainstream will tell you, they aren’t a real threat. At all.
In a way, this is a shame because in all honesty, there should be a legitimate alternative right in the United States. As well as an alternative left. Both mainstream political parties are just husks of their former selves and are truly not that different from one another. Both are out of touch with the common person and both are bedfellows with corporations and their own self-interests. People are sick of being jerked around my these two entities and want another way. Yet, the continuous cycle of these two parties is something that people just can’t seem to break. I truly believe that if viable alternatives came around, real change could begin it’s initial stages.
Maybe one day this will happen. I just don’t think it’ll happen with the likes of Richard Spencer being paraded around or with badly drawn, post-ironic memes. As funny and dank as they are.