Why Should We Care About the Alt-Right?

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, the ‘Alt-Right’ are talked about everywhere. No one seems able to agree on who exactly they are. Are they teenage trolls spewing bile from their parents’ basement? Are they fascists? Are they the white male working-class, unhappy with their lot? Are they intellectuals, perhaps? Are they just racists?

Some of these definitions may be true, and some are not. The link with Donald Trump is even a tenuous one: the movement expresses positivity towards him, although Trump hasn’t ever acknowledged them specifically. Nonetheless, their jubilation at his victory seems to have drawn attention, and suddenly the group, once relegated to the corners of the internet, is in the media spotlight.

 

An Alt-Righter Explains (with “Ethnic Separatist”)

 

Inching Forwards: What are the central tenets of the Alt-Right that make it what it is?

Ethnic Separatist: Personally, I’m a white nationalist. There are some moderate, center-right conservatives and libertarians who like to identify as Alt-Right, and I wouldn’t want to start an argument with them over which is the “real” Alt-Right. We have some fundamental disagreements on many issues, but if they want to identify as Alt-Right, I don’t have a problem with it. For the purposes of this interview, I’ll use Alt-Right interchangeably with white nationalism. My influences are people like Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor, not Milo Yiannopoulos. So with that disclaimer in mind, the central tenets of the Alt-Right are that race is real, race matters, and race is the foundation of identity. There are all kinds of different opinions within the Alt-Right, but all of us are vehemently opposed to multiculturalism, and all of us (to varying degrees) recognise a link between culture and race.

IF: Would you say that the movement is ‘masculinist’?
ESNo. I would say we value the traditional ideal of what a family is: a father and a mother. If a woman wants to work instead of having kids, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t think we should put up institutional barriers to prevent her from working. What we don’t want is for extra-marital sex to be normalised as a recreational activity. It’s unfulfilling, it’s unsafe, and it’s just making everyone very unhappy. Instead, we would encourage people to get married young and have kids, even though we acknowledge that’s an extremely difficult thing to do these days. We are not a men’s rights group. What we want is to dramatically reshape societal expectations, both for men and women. Others will have different ideas on how exactly that should be done, but generally, we don’t see traditional gender roles as oppressive. We see them as healthy and natural, especially when it comes to raising a family.
IF: Is it anti-woman?

ESThere are some MGTOWs (Men Going Their Own Way) who seem to be “leaking in” to the Alt-Right, and they tend to have negative views towards women, but they’re just disruptors. They’re not entirely wrong in some cases, because raising a family is, like I said, extremely difficult, but we want to completely reform society so that it becomes easier to do, and a lot of these MGTOW guys are way too pessimistic to be considered part of the Alt-Right. The Alt-Right isn’t anti-woman. We’re pro-white, pro-family, and women are an important part of that. As a man, it would be easy for me to just not have kids, play video games, travel, and spend all of my income on myself. For a woman, it seems especially sad that she wouldn’t start a family. But that’s just my impression; I don’t know how most women would feel about not having children. We just want to make life easier for the ones who do want kids. And again, we want to change societal expectations for both men and women. Men have largely abandoned their traditional role as men, and we want to hold them accountable for that. This isn’t about a competition between men and women.

IF: Are the Alt-Right white nationalist/supremacist/aiming to preserve white culture specifically?

ESYes and no. We tend to focus on white culture for two reasons. First, we believe that whites are facing an existential threat. Second, most of us are white, and we love our culture and our people. We put their interests first. Having said that, we are a movement based on ideas, and there’s no reason non-whites can’t agree with us. We believe that racial diversity is a source of conflict, that true equality is separation, total separation by nation, not segregation within one country, or forced integration. That idea exists independently of race. Malcolm X said basically the same thing. Lee Kuan Yew formed Singapore’s government with that idea in mind. It’s something that is found throughout the world. In fact, oftentimes non-whites are more likely to agree with us than white people. Many of them come from a cultural tradition of ethno-nationalism, and they understand why we believe the things that we do, and they don’t always see it as something hateful. Whites tend to be the most hostile towards us. It really forces us to take a hard look at our ideology, when our own group is the most resistant to it. But our goal isn’t to live around people that agree with us. We want to live around our people, and enjoy our own traditions, food, music, culture, and way of life. We have to find a way to win over other white people. We’re not supremacists. We wouldn’t want Japan to become 40% percent white. We believe that would be a disaster. I’m a huge supporter of Taiwanese independence from China, and there’s probably a wide variety of separatist movements that I would support. The only reason we focus on white nationalism is because we’re white ourselves. It’s a Western movement.

IF: Are there some members of the movement who you would consider too extreme, and if so what are their views?

ESNo. I want us to be respectable. I want us to become the establishment and start acting like it, and I absolutely oppose any kind of violence or harassment. But I’m not going to say “so-and-so needs to tone down their rhetoric,” because we’re not the ones causing the problem. From my perspective, John Oliver is the extremist.

IF: What has the alt-right done, practically? (Aside from having a hand in electing Trump).

ESWe haven’t started yet. I think we still need more people. That’s why it’s so important that we get our message out, and that people like Richard Spencer are allowed to have a platform to express their opinions. We’re offering an alternative to the entire system, and I truly believe that we can alter the course of history as long as we’re allowed to express ourselves freely. The media, the schools, the government, art, we want to reform all of it. How we do business, how we love, how we work and learn and develop as human beings. It’s all going to change. I have no doubts about that. People are ready for something different.

IF: Do you/other members hold socially conservative values eg. anti-LGBT?

ES: We’re generally socially conservative. But I see things like gay marriage and recreational drug use as post-ethnostate issues. It’s secondary to our main objectives.

IF: Who do you think the movement benefits? Does it hurt anyone?

ES: It benefits almost everyone. I would say to non-whites that we want to help their countries improve as well. We can give them reparations or territory (I think foreign aid is often harmful, but anything is up for negotiation), and we can still have trade relations and tourism. It would also be good for non-whites to take responsibility for the situation in their own countries. People in the Middle East who hold secular values, for instance, should stay in the Middle East and reform their own governments, not move to the West. These countries can’t make progress if all their best people leave. The only people it hurts are the people profiting off the system that we live in now, journalists, professors, Hollywood producers, politicians. Most of them need to be replaced.

IF: How useful are the trolls/memers…are they ‘serious’ alt-righters?

ES: I can’t talk about memes; I wouldn’t want to give too much away. But I will say that many, if not all, of our messaging strategies are borrowed from the Left. While there’s certainly a time and place for good faith arguments, we don’t expect humans to act rationally. So we construct larger narratives that go beyond the scope of a single debate.

IF: Do you know about the 1488rs, and what are your views on them? (Or are you one, even?)

ES: We all agree on 14 (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” ). The 88 (“Heil Hitler”) part is more controversial, but almost no one is deeply offended by it. We’re not skinheads. We’ve sort of appropriated a lot of Neo-Nazi symbolism, but overall, the Alt-Right is a new kind of white nationalism. Many of us are coming from conservatism and libertarianism. We had an interest in politics, and adapted our beliefs to changing circumstances. You can hear that in our music, our entertainment. We want to become mainstream, and I think skinheads’ style of music and their whole culture in general was counterproductive to that goal. We want to be appealing. That can mean a lot of things. It doesn’t mean self-censorship or disingenuous moderation. Some do unironically support Hitler and National Socialism. I like the edginess of it, so I don’t see it as a bad thing, but I’m not familiar with the intricacies of Nazi Germany’s history. I’m an American. I’m more interested in the America of the early 20th century than Nazi Germany, but I do think that the influence of Zionists on America’s media and politics has been overwhelmingly negative.

IF: Why did you decide to identify as a member of the alt-right?
ES: I lost faith in democracy. I liked politics, and there were certain policies I wanted the government to enact, mostly conservative and libertarian policies. After 2012 I came to realize that the Republican Party was useless, that we weren’t competing on a fair playing field. The government is essentially bypassing the will of the people, bypassing the democratic process by importing voters. So that’s what first got me interested in the Alt-Right, the fact that non-whites were consistently voting against everything I believe in, and that my vote doesn’t matter, because the government will just bring in other people to vote against me. For me, it started out as an economic idea. Prevent non-whites from coming in, and that way we can pass libertarian economic policies. But later it on, I started to care less about economics and more about the safety and security of white people. It wasn’t until the start of 2016 that I started identifying as a white nationalist.

IF: Do you think, in general, that white men are victimised by the media and society?

ES: I wouldn’t phrase it in that way. White men and women are both victims. In the United States, if you say you oppose non-white immigration solely because you want to maintain a white majority, society counts that as bigoted and racist. You could lose your job, or lose friends. In many places throughout Europe, you could be jailed for something like that. The very fact that this desire, which is perfectly normal and acceptable outside of the West, is so taboo among Europeans, that in itself puts as at risk as a people. To some extent it’s our own fault, but we’ll change. And society will have to change too. They won’t be able to censor all of us. Our expectation is that many people already hold these premises, just not explicitly, and they’ll come around once they’re given the freedom and the moral permission to examine them.

IF: What is the one thing that you want the left to understand about the alt-right?

ES:  I want them to understand that the questions we’re asking deserve answers. They’re not so extreme that they should be outside the realm of acceptable public discourse. It’s much more complex than “deport all non-whites.” Essentially, we’re a revival of the values shared by most Westerners prior to the hippy movement. We want to take everything that the Left has normalized since the 1960’s and put it back up for debate. That includes social norms, but the main focus is on anti-colonialism. We’re going to ask both liberals and conservatives directly, where do you draw the line? If whites become a minority in a country that has historically been majority white, do you see that as good, bad, or neutral? Is it morally wrong to say it’s a bad thing? If so, why? And don’t just tell us. Tell it to the general public. Let’s get this out in the open and discuss whether or not this population should be replaced, and why or why not, and allow whites to decide the answer for themselves. Let their future be determined by their own votes, not the votes of people the government allowed in without their express permission. I’d tell progressives that I don’t want to hear ‘wow’, or ‘wtf’, or ‘this is not okay’, or ‘you’re literally a Nazi’. I want a clear explanation of the Left’s positions on these issues. What is the role of government if not to serve the interests of the majority? How do they define what a nation is? Do they view the very existence of a white ethnostate, even if won peacefully, as problematic? I’m genuinely curious, and they’re the ones who have the most to lose by not answering these questions. They’re being overconfident if they think they can ignore our ideas. We might remain on the fringe, just like radical feminists are on the fringe. That doesn’t mean we can’t have influence.


A View From the Left

Opposition to multiculturalism, an active desire to enforce racial segregation by nation and divide the world into separate ‘ethnostates’ and no particular aversion to Nazism. It’s a potent cocktail, and little wonder that many on the Left do see fit to dismiss the Alt-Right as extremists. However, I think there is a little more to this group. Although they present themselves as white nationalists – and obviously this is a key part of the movement – I think the core of this new, young, online group is social conservatism, presented afresh. This is why it’s vital to engage with them.

 

Anti-multiculturalism

Racial equality is very important to most of us on the Left, and to suggest that different races and cultures should be separated sends alarm bells ringing. Nonetheless, there is logic behind the belief in this case, and to engage is far more productive that to outright dismiss.

It is important to note that Ethnic Separatist never once cited POC inferiority as a reason for racial separation. This does not make him right, but it is important to understand, because this movement is not intentionally racist. Calling them racist without solid reasoning will do nothing besides deepen their belief in a stifling Left.

Their mistake, then, lies in their logic.

The Left does not necessarily require a nation to be multicultural. If an area is completely white or black or Asian, for example, the Left would not require people of different ethnicities to come and live with that community. The Alt-Right, however, do ideologically require multi-cultural and multi-ethnic communities to live separately, as they believe diversity causes conflict.

If, arguably, the Alt-Right got their way, millions of people who might quite possibly disagree with the ideology, would be required to move. Communities and friendships would be fractured. People would lose the right to live and work where they pleased, and perhaps worse, to love whomever they want, irregardless of nationality or colour. For all the talk of freedom of speech, people would lose more freedom than they would gain.

This is why the concept of separate ethnostates is harmful. It’s restrictive. If, theoretically, the world decided it wanted to divide itself perfectly into racial groups, fine. But it won’t happen. The idea may not be intentionally racist, but its goals would enshrine racism in global law, because your race would dictate where you could live.

 

Social Conservatism

Ethnic Separatist names white nationalism or anti-multiculturalism as the core belief of the movement, but others also well-versed in the intricacies of the Alt-Right disagree. A unifying factor largely dismissed by Ethnic Separatist, but mentioned prominently by news sources both sympathetic and not, seems to be a revolt against a conservative mainstream which has betrayed traditional conservative values. Although Ethnic Separatist claims that social conservatism is a secondary concern, I can’t help but think that his white nationalism is just a solution to the loss of a socially conservative society. He speaks of how the government is ‘importing voters’ – that is, non-whites – to vote against his beliefs and prevent them from ever gaining political traction. From our conversation, those beliefs appear to be fairly socially conservative. Accurate or not, it sounds like he believes that the removal of non-whites from the U.S. would allow for a greater expression of such views in mainstream politics. If we take Ethnic Separatist as representative of the movement, then, are Alt-Righters really just social conservatives who have allowed their ‘solution’ to eclipse their initial goal?

Breitbart, a website seen by many to be at the helm of the movement, bears out this idea in an article examining in detail the members and ideas of the Alt-Right. It sees the ‘natural conservatives’ – those who value social conservatism over economic conservatism and feel most comfortable following tradition and familiarity – as the most numerous members of the Alt-Right. Natural conservatism does lend itself to white nationalism, as it values the flourishing of a person’s own ‘tribe’ above other concerns, and in that sense this aspect is more than just a solution. However, I do wonder if the Alt-Right might be less interested in race if the nation as a whole were more socially conservative in other ways. Non-whites do seem to be being used somewhat as scapegoats to a different perceived problem.

 

Anarchist Vibes

The same article notes that the Alt-Right also centres around provocation and the breaking of taboos, born as it was in online forums such as 4chan. In this sense, it’s about being anti-authority, and is linked closely to a desire for unadulterated free speech. Such ideas are hardly necessarily right-wing, but alongside the ideological tenets discussed above, its a rebranding. Stodgy conservatism for the young and edgy.

Gender Roles & Male Suicide

In supporting traditional gender roles, Ethnic Separatist made no particular claims about the benefits of reclaiming them: he merely states his belief that they are good and natural. Breitbart, on the other hand, seems to claim that teaching society to value men again – particularly masculine men – will curb the high levels of male suicide.

The trouble with this theory, and indeed the trouble with supporting traditional gender roles for all at all, is that scientific studies generally conclude that unrealistic expectations of masculinity are what cause such high levels of suicide in men in the first place. Men feel unable to meet certain standards of masculinity – for example, being employed and providing for a family – and this perceived ‘failure’ then can negatively affect their sense of masculine identity, and increase their risk of suicide.

Ethnic Separatist does state that the Alt-Right wants to reform everything, and this reform, theoretically, might make it easier for a man to fulfil this traditional role as breadwinner. However, as the study states, in the world as it is the workplace is feminising, and manual work is becoming increasingly automated. Even if social reforms are achieved, it seems unlikely that technology will be reversed, or that the movement would wish it to be. This would leave two obvious options: to remove women from the workplace (limiting their freedoms) or accept that this aspect of traditional masculinity has to be altered for the times in which we live.

In championing traditional gender roles, then, the Alt-Right might end up killing men further.

 

Why Should We Care?

The Alt-Right have the potential to be dangerous, and to undo a lot of positive steps that have been taken towards equality.

Firstly, the movement is essentially social conservatism for a younger audience. Social conservatism is not such a fringe concept, which means that the movement has the potential for wide appeal. For social progressives, this could be bad news, particularly as it is often assumed that young people hold more liberal views – and the Alt-Right could change that.

Secondly, this is a movement that is, ultimately, wanting to enforce global segregation in order that white Americans might be able to vote in the conservative government they supposedly want. This is also movement not unduly offended by Nazism. These people are certainly ambitious, bold thinkers, and in that sense cannot be swept under the carpet with spineless arguments born of a society that they reject.

Finally, this is not a particularly self-critical group. Ethnic Separatist explicitly stated that he would not criticise fellow members. The Alt-Right is not going to collapse from in-fighting. And this lack of self-critique is evident in their white nationalism too: what happens to those who are mixed race? What if a person of colour has assimilated white culture completely, or vice-versa? Would, in theory, white Americans leave the country altogether and return to Europe, leaving the U.S. to Native Americans?

The combination of (comparatively) moderate core values, radical solutions and bullish confidence is a potent, potentially very appealing mix. With the left tainted by mocking titles: the ‘liberal elites’, the ‘social justice warriors’ and accused of creating a ‘PC culture’, this seems like an altogether cooler politics. It can be anarchist and offensive, and it wants to reinstate a more familiar, traditional world. It could be very easy to overlook the bigotry and racism, because this movement seems to be built on discomfort, not hate.

The Alt-Right are out in the open. Ignoring them will no longer do.

 


Special thanks to Ethnic Separatist

 

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