Monday, 10 August 2015


As most of our readers know (but some newbies to our virtual pages may not be aware), Alternative Right is far from being the entirety of the modern-day movement (or constellation of movements, or loose confederation of movements) known generally as the "alternative right."

So what, exactly is the alt-right, broadly speaking, and how, and why, and to what end?

A Canadian blogger named J.J. McCullough has taken a stab at answering this admittedly dicey and ambiguous question. His assessment is worth reading, whatever you may think of his mustache, hair, and taste in interior design. McCullough writes:
The "Alternative Right," or more commonly, the "alt right" is a diverse assortment of people, mostly online, who identify as right-wingers but consider themselves either opposed to, or profoundly alienated from mainstream American conservatism — usually because they view it as being too liberal, or preoccupied with the wrong issues.

The "alt right" exists mostly in the form of an archipelago of blogs, podcasts, and social media accounts, many of which center around a single pseudonymous commentator. The ideologies espoused by "alt right" types can vary greatly, but broadly speaking includes certain sorts of extreme libertarians, immigration critics and "race realists" (basically intellectual racists and anti-semites), "neo-reactionaries" (who argue against democracy, human rights, and other manefestations of modernist philosophy), and anti-feminists, including some of the "Men's Rights" crowd. But there is also a more generic or moderate flavor of alt right thought that may not fully embrace any of the above agendas, but still be sympathic to their contrarian messages of skepticism towards prevailing conventional wisdom on matters like race, gender, and electoral politics.

A lot of alt-right commentary tends to be more easily defined in terms of what it opposes than what it supports. Its main subjects of scorn tend to be out-of-touch, left-wing elites in politics, business, academia, and the mainstream media who they believe to be actively ruining society through their aggressive embrace of feminist, multicultural, and post-modernist ideas. I would say the alt right is primarily about cultural issues, and less interested in economic policy or public policy in general. Views on foreign policy tend to be all over the place, and the topic is often engaged with mostly as a prism for understanding (and critiquing) foreign cultures.

The alt right is an interesting, creative, growing intellectual movement within broader American conservatism. It appears to be led, and most enthusiastically supported by young white men, who could rise to become an important force within Republican politics and Republican-aligned media. Already we are seeing some "mainstream" conservative publications and institutions — particularly Brietbart and the American Enterprise Institute — coming under greater sway of the alt right, as a new generation of young, web-savvy conservatives begin to rise to prominance within them. Alt right fans are passionate and energized, and represent an attractive demographic of readers, activists, contributors, consumers, and voters for any savvy conservative leader to harness.

At the same time, much of the alt right is defined primarily by their alienation from mainstream American politics and philosophy, with some corners possessing unapologetically hostile views towards American society and even America itself. And of course, as mentioned, there is a very real faction of the movement that is unapologetically racist, and thrives on cruelty disguised as a rejection of political correctness.

It will be interesting to watch the future of this movement, where it ultimately goes, what it ultimately becomes, and wahich ideas ultimately define it.
As an interested outsider, McCullough seems thoughtful and fair, even generally sympathetic to, if not totally uncritical of, the aura of the alt-right-osphere. Is he on target? Is he missing anything? Do you care? If you wish to indulge in a bit of navel-gazing (a fun and harmless activity to take part in every once in a while, regardless of the condition of the navel in question), then leave your comment below.

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