The Alt Right in Decline

Reclaiming White Settler Colonialism

The defining ideas of the “alt-right” came from what is known as the European New Right (ENR). Founded by French philosopher Alain de Benoist and established through the Research and Study Group for European Civilization (GRECE) and associated journals, they wanted to use the popular New Left politics of the 1960s to reinvigorate a far-right racist, nationalist vision for Europe. Using the argumentation found in anti-imperialist and “third-worldist” circles of the time, they argued for an “Ethno-pluralist” politic that saw a “nationalism for all peoples” as the solution to the degenerating effects of globalized commodity capitalism. Instead of the internationalist and egalitarian vision of the New Left politics they appropriated, they wanted to see a deep relativism, to have cultures kept separate from cosmopolitan influence with the understanding that different peoples were too different in skills and temperament to abide by each other’s rules and customs. The founding principle here was an opposition to egalitarianism, primarily on the belief that human beings were not equal, either as individuals or as groups. The primary segment of this was racial, and by using the decolonization rhetoric, they could argue that white Europeans were facing colonization by globalism and had to join up with other liberation movements that they could reframe through ethnic nationalism.

Genocide

One of the key arguments made by the “alt-right” for years was that it was completely and totally against racial conflict; rather, they said, it was modern multicultural society that made conflict inevitable. Instead, the “alt-right” took the old-fashioned segregationist motto of “stop the hate, separate” and argued that racial separatism would be healthy for all people. Nationalism, they argued, was for all people, often coined as “Ethno-pluralism.” They tried to pretend a great deal of sympathy for First Nations people, arguing that we needed to avoid this type of racial colonialism. While that rhetoric is still formally used in many of their publications and public arguments, it is quickly disappearing from the dominant public “alt-right” discourse.

Street Action

The next move for the “alt-right” was to go from the world of internet chatter and private conferences into street activism. The “alt-right’s” ideas were not developed through active struggle; they were instead built through echo chamber dialogue. This has made their organizations generally unskilled in activism. Instead of trying to organize and agitate on issues, using public clashes as opportunities for radicalization, they do what they have discussed in their conferences: They simply want to get at white populations to shift their consciousness towards racist “in group” and “out group” thinking.

Dual Power

The primary avenue that the “alt-right” utilized was, until recently, web 2.0 platforms, where they had equal footing with major media and political figures. Anyone could post on 4Chan, and an internet celebrity could eclipse a sitting US senator in Twitter followers. Podcasts, web hosting, social media and video broadcasting had been heavily democratized, and the “alt-right” was, in a sense, the price that was paid. In that world, they were able to amplify a white nationalist message far beyond what they were capable of in times restricted to basement-printed newspapers and Xeroxed flyers.

Fascism in the Age of Dinosaurs

The “alt-right” was, in and of itself, an attempt to save white nationalism from the dregs of history, where it had been placed through years of vacant terrorist acts, buffoonish behavior and the mass resistance from anti-fascist organizations. The European New Right, from which it received its earliest inspiration, was an effort to bring the right back into the culture, to avoid the failures of French nationalism seen during the waning years of Algerian colonialism, and to save fascist philosophy from its disrepute. The “alt-right’s” expansion was due to its quality of quick adaptation to new technology, political climates and social mores.

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