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The Alt-Right’s Moment Has Come and Gone

This piece is adapted from The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know, by George Hawley, December 2019, Oxford University Press, 264 pages.

The Alt-Right will continue to be the subject of books and articles for the foreseeable future. As the most effective recent manifestation of white nationalism in the United States, it warrants serious and sober analysis. It may, however, be time to start discussing the Alt-Right in the past tense. To be clear, the extreme right continues to exist, and racist and anti-Semitic violence remains a horrific threat. I fear we will see more violence from people radicalized in the near future. Nevertheless, the Alt-Right movement (to the degree it ever was a movement) is no longer gaining ground. At this point, it is worth assessing where the Alt-Right fits in the history of the openly racist right, and how it differed from its ideological predecessors.

As the Alt-Right was growing, people in the movement often discussed what they derisively called “White Nationalism 1.0.” The term refers to those white nationalist groups and individuals that were active in the late 20th century and the first years of the 21st century.

The Alt-Right used that term mockingly because those groups were ineffective to the point of hurting their own cause. They had a deserved reputation for violence and had little to offer well-adjusted white Americans. Those groups were known for their constant infighting, and their leaders attempted to attract cult-like followings. In some cases, those white nationalists formed literal religious cults.

In its early days, when it was still almost entirely online, the Alt-Right mostly sought to create distance between itself and groups like the American Nazi Party and its successors—although there were differences of opinion on this subject within the Alt-Right. The Alt-Right briefly succeeded in creating a brand that appealed to some people not on the margins of society. By the end of 2016, however, the more radical elements of the Alt-Right seemed to have gained the upper hand, and it became less conspicuously different from earlier white nationalist movements.

When I first examined the Alt-Right, I viewed it as a new phenomenon, one representing a break from its extreme right ancestors despite promoting a similar ideology. In hindsight, the distinctiveness of the Alt-Right becomes less obvious. Most commentators note that the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly, was the moment the Alt-Right became viewed as just another Ku Klux Klan or National Alliance.

In this regard, the Alt-Right has followed a similar trajectory as its antecedents. For the extreme right, a reputation for violence is usually self-defeating. After the Oklahoma City bombing, the militia movement stopped making gains. When members of racist groups engaged in violence in the 1980s and 1990s, their organizations were sued to the point of oblivion. Lawsuits, even when unsuccessful, are one of the more effective tactics against the extreme right, as they sap the resources of groups already operating on shoestring budgets. The Alt-Right has discovered this over the last year.

But even in its salad days, when the Alt-Right was mostly a trollish Internet subculture, it was already mimicking many of its predecessors’ methods, perhaps inadvertently.

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In its online discourse, the Alt-Right often presented its racism in an ironic manner, raising questions about its sincerity. It was not always clear if an Alt-Right supporter spreading a racist or anti-Semitic message was being genuine or just saying outrageous things for shock value. Many of the young men posting images of Swastikas and gas chambers online appeared more interested in breaking society’s ultimate taboos than in making genuine threats.

At times, elements of the Alt-Right presented themselves as edgy right-wing court jesters, rather than serious ideologues. This provided an element of plausible deniability about the movement’s radicalism. Such sensibilities allowed the Alt-Right to make inroads among young people who despised so-called political correctness, but who were otherwise not especially ideological.

This was not the case with many previous white nationalist figures like Ben Klassen of the Church of the Creator, William Pierce of the National Alliance, or Richard Butler of Aryan Nations; no reasonable person could question whether they meant every word they said. When Klassen called for a “racial holy war,” there was no question he was serious. Pierce wore his genocidal intentions on his sleeve.

We should nevertheless not overstate the originality of the Alt-Right’s strategies when it comes to tone and messaging. Far right groups have engaged in similar behavior, even in the distant past. There was even a farcical aspect to the Reconstruction-era KKK.

Most people assume that Klan costumes were intended to intimidate others and hide the identities of individual members. However, there was another reason for the Klan’s performative elements. According to historian Elaine Frantz Parsons [1], the absurd nature of the Klan’s costumes and titles served another purpose: “Klansmen had everything to gain by encouraging northerners to read their attacks as theatrical, rather than political or military.” Although the KKK’s white robes are well remembered, Klansmen sometimes dressed in women’s clothes while persecuting former slaves. Parsons also noted that the original KKK was “intimately entwined with, and completely dependent on, contemporary popular cultural forms and institutions.”

Some 20th century white nationalist groups also embraced shocking humor and theatricality. George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party was the son of a vaudeville comedian, and he promoted a variety of racial hatred so extreme that people could question whether he was serious. Rockwell drove his small entourage of men in brown shirts in a Volkswagen van with the words “Hate Bus” written conspicuously on the outside, and he created a small record label called “Hatenanny Records.” Rockwell’s ostentatious extremism, grandiose statements (he expressed total confidence that he would soon be elected president of the United States), and use of absurd imagery and slogans brought his tiny movement more attention that it would have otherwise earned.

There was a logic to Rockwell’s behavior. Before he put on the Swastika armband, he was just a racist former naval officer. When he put it on, he was a magnet for reporters. He was national news, and the media largely did his work for him—despite denouncing him in every article. His unhinged persona earned him a national platform. Rockwell eventually planned to ditch the outrageous clothes and slogans, put on a tie, and use his new fame to enter the national discussion on race. The first step, however, was to manipulate the media into making him a household name.

Whether Rockwell’s plan could have succeeded in the end is impossible to know. He was murdered in Arlington, Virginia, by a disgruntled former supporter in 1967. As many other white nationalist groups subsequently discovered, these kinds of organizations tend to attract dangerous and unstable people.

Today’s Alt-Right’s relationship with the media mirrors Rockwell’s. By being outrageous to the point of absurdity, it earned a deluge of coverage from mainstream venues. Although this coverage was almost universally negative, it did bring the movement a massive amount of attention that it could not have earned on its own. Like Rockwell, however, the Alt-Right never figured out how to translate media attention into real mass support, and it was hamstrung by its most dysfunctional supporters.

Despite these similarities, it would be a mistake to say that the contemporary Alt-Right is a mere continuation of the older white nationalist movement in the United States. Many of the most prominent Alt-Right figures were clearly aware of white nationalism’s history, but this was not true of many of the movement’s adherents. As a mostly young movement, the typical Alt-Right supporter had no memory of David Duke’s serious political campaigns, nor did he remember the days when Aryan Nations, the National Alliance, or the Church of the Creator were viewed as serious threats.

The Alt-Right has differed from its predecessors in another obvious way: their preferred candidate was elected president of the United States. There are reasons to question the significance of this, however. As much as the Alt-Right wanted to claim that they were responsible for President Trump’s victory, I have seen no compelling evidence that this is true. Further, the Alt-Right has been mostly disappointed in the Trump presidency. In terms of policy, the Trump Administration has mostly promoted generic conservatism, and Trump’s breaks from tradition were more rhetorical than substantive. As of this writing, most people who still wear the label of Alt-Right express frustration, if not contempt, for President Trump.

Eventually, the Alt-Right will probably be viewed as just another brief flare-up of the extreme right, momentarily capturing the public’s attention. As was the case for its predecessors, a well-organized opposition and a series of its own mistakes brought down the Alt-Right’s fledgling organizations. It is worth studying because its more effective methods will undoubtedly be used again. The extreme right will probably always exist, and it remains to be seen what shape it will take in the future. Perhaps its next iteration will be more successful, but the Alt-Right’s moment has come and gone.

George Hawley is assistant professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama. He is also the author of five scholarly books, including, The Alt-Right: What Everyone Needs to Know and Making Sense of the Alt-Right. Hawley’s work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Daily News, and Foreign Affairs.

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47 Comments To "The Alt-Right’s Moment Has Come and Gone"

#1 Comment By Kirt Higdon On December 5, 2018 @ 7:00 pm

The alt-right was an obscure internet cult until Hillary Clinton gave it national publicity. At that point, led by Richard Spencer, it began to believe its own bad publicity that it was about to take power. After the Charlottesville debacle, it fell apart and even Spencer has now apparently gone in a different direction. But the alt-right label remains as a handy smear for liberals and the left to apply to any critic of the deep state or of American foreign or domestic policy in general. I’ve been called alt-right myself and I’m nowhere close to that.

#2 Comment By Ricardo On December 5, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

I disagree totally. The Alt-Right is an ambiguous movement with no leadership or centralized organization. It arose organically in Europe and the U.S. as a response to massive immigration, the loss of cultural unity and national identity, and fear regarding imminent minority takeover. These causes have not disappeared, nor will they, therefore, the natural response of white nationalism will logically intensify and grow. Furthermore, Hawley seems to misconstrue the Alt-Right as a bunch of racists. That is simplistic and erroneous. The secularization, nihilism, and materialism of modernity has resulted in the destruction of religion, tradition, community, and a sense of nation pride and unity. This, coupled with the browning of Europe and America, has provoked a yearning for a now cherished past that extends deep into the zeitgeist, far beyond Richard Spencer, Identity Europa, and Charlottesville.

#3 Comment By Jeremy Buxton On December 5, 2018 @ 7:37 pm

It is to President Trump’s credit that these evil degenerates are disappointed in him. This vile movement along with its predecessors belongs in the trash can of history.

#4 Comment By Brendan Hall On December 5, 2018 @ 7:41 pm

Censorship and financial persecution, along with the DOJ’s use of Antifa as paramilitary group to shut down meetings and rallies with violence, right out of Hitler’s playbook. Left: We’re not Nazis when we do it! Also, the malicious prosecution by the DOJ of citizens exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and to assemble and even to defend themselves from Antifa violence. Sad and sick multicultural dystopia.

#5 Comment By James P. McCampbell On December 5, 2018 @ 8:11 pm

The “Alt-Right” is the “New Coke” of the same old white supremacy movement. It will renew itself yet again under a different moniker in the very near future.

But the end result will be the same, horrid violence and efforts to achieve full fledge genocide of non-white people and the “race traitors” of course.

More dead innocents, more delayed counter measures and more shameful equivocation from the people in power who should know better.

[2]

But don’t let the flowery language of Richard Spencer fool you. Given enough time a person like Richard Spencer will look and act alot like David Duke of the 90’s. There are still significant votes to be had by politicos like him (ex: Steve King).

The main problem I have with a number conservative personalities on this issue is that they constantly claim to have no relationship to these disgusting political deviants… and yet one always seem to find these “outcasts” have wormed their way into the establishment or the base of the Republican Party.

Coexisting for an extended periods of time without notice or rebuke. I don’t buy into the notion know one ever knows about them till it was too late.

And I never will.

My Mississippi heritage (and the exodus of many of my relatives from that state) demands eternal skepticism on that front.

#6 Comment By Left Fail On December 5, 2018 @ 10:16 pm

The”alt right” are just a bunch of big gooberment collectivists. There’s nothing “right wing” about them.

#7 Comment By robert orians On December 5, 2018 @ 10:28 pm

This reminds me of Mark Twain / Samuel Clemons who upon reading his own obituary remarked that “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated “.

#8 Comment By Sisera On December 6, 2018 @ 1:04 am

The alt right’s rise and now demise is mainly attributable to Trump ‘cultism’.

In 2015-2016 its ranks swelled with more partisan Republican types who can’t stand critcism of the Dear Leader even when he reneges on his already limited prMoises to the alt right….so naturally the inability to do anything but cheer trump on has led to ideolgical incoherence.

Listening to Red Ice Radio it is evident longtime/hardcore White Nationalists have completely emotionally divorced themselves from the traumatic trump presidency.

White Identarianism will rise but it probably won’t be under the alt right label….

#9 Comment By polistra On December 6, 2018 @ 2:07 am

This is silly. The alt-right, like all “radical” “movements” that gain meaningful size, is organized and funded by FBI. You can’t attribute its growth to spontaneous or natural tendencies.

#10 Comment By JimDandy On December 6, 2018 @ 2:56 am

This is a well-written, fairly perceptive article, but the fallacious nature of this string of sentences must be addressed:

“Most commentators note that the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly, was the moment the Alt-Right became viewed as just another Ku Klux Klan or National Alliance.

In this regard, the Alt-Right has followed a similar trajectory as its antecedents. For the extreme right, a reputation for violence is usually self-defeating. After the Oklahoma City bombing, the militia movement stopped making gains. When members of racist groups engaged in violence in the 1980s and 1990s, their organizations were sued to the point of oblivion.”

Hawley starts out by analyzing perceptions of the alt-right, and then conflates dramatically different situations to essentially help perpetuate the erroneous perception that the event(s) at Charlotesville were in the same category as the deliberate, premeditated conspiracy that resulted in the Oklahoma City Bombing. What exactly happened at Charlotesville? Even though the driver of the car is currently on trial to determine what, if anything, he is guilty of, he has already been found guilty of being a murderer by everyone from the MSM to The American Conservative to President Trump.

All we really know is that a woman died after a car hit her. What was the exact cause of her death? Her mother said she died of a heart attack? Why did this one mentally ill young man who identified with the alt-right drive his car wildly into a crowd of people shortly after making lunch plans with some newfound kindred spirits he met at the rally? Was his behavior in any way inspired by the fact that “Antifa professor” Dwayne Dixon waved an assault rifle at him threateningly, as he brags to his students about doing in the video below?

The American Conservative responded to the events at Charlotesville with immediate, uniformed emotionalism that helped reinforce the simplistic narrative being pushed by the Mainstream Media about what happened there. The fact is, a wide spectrum of anti-Progressives went to Charlotesville to exercise their First Amendment rights, whereas the Antifa-types went there intent on violently stifling constitutionally protected free speech–and they succeeded. To date, the most intelligent, nuanced high-profile reaction to these events (aside from his premature condemnations of the car’s driver) was Donald Trump’s. For speaking the truth, Trump was hysterically vilified–not just by the usual suspects, but by The American Conservative, which should know better. Trump’s words were thoughtful and brave and his refusal to yield to the hysteria of that childish mob of journalists was one of his finest moments. But judge for yourselves, in full context:

TRUMP: Well, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he is talking about, but when you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead. Define it for me, come on, let’s go.

REPORTER: Senator McCain defined them as the same group.

TRUMP: Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible] – excuse me – what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?

REPORTERS YELL INDISTINCTLY

TRUMP: What about this? What about the fact that they came charging – they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.

REPORTERS YELL INDISTINCTLY

TRUMP: As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute, I’m not finished. I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.

REPORTERS YELL INDISTINCTLY

TRUMP: I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it. And you had, you had a group on one side that was bad. And you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group – you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.

REPORTER: Do you think what you call the alt left is the same as neo-Nazis?

TRUMP: Those people – all of those people, excuse me – I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups, but not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.

REPORTER: Well, white nationalists –

TRUMP: Those people were also there, because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue Robert E. Lee. So – excuse me – and you take a look at some of the groups and you see, and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not. Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee, I noticed that Stonewall Jackson’s coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

REPORTERS YELL INDISTINCTLY

TRUMP: But, they were there to protest – excuse me – you take a look the night before, they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. Infrastructure question. Go ahead.

REPORTER: Does the statue of Robert E. Lee stay up?

TRUMP: I would say that’s up to a local town, community or the federal government, depending on where it is located.

REPORTER: Are you against the Confederacy?

REPORTER: On race relations in America, do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office with regard to race relationships?

TRUMP: I think they’ve gotten better or the same – look – they have been frayed for a long time, and you can ask President Obama about that, because he’d make speeches about it. I believe that the fact that I brought in, it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our country. I think that’s going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations. We have companies coming back into our country. We have two car companies that just announced. We have Foxconn in Wisconsin just announced. We have many companies, I’d say, pouring back into the country. I think that’s going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It is jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race relations will be. And I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities – we are fixing the inner cities – we are doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities. It is a priority for me, and it’s very important.

REPORTER: Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

TRUMP: I am not putting anybody on a moral plane, what I’m saying is this: you had a group on one side and a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

REPORTER: You said there was hatred and violence on both sides?

TRUMP: I do think there is blame – yes, I think there is blame on both sides. You look at, you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either. And, and, and, and if you reported it accurately, you would say.

REPORTER: The neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group – excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

REPORTER: George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same.

TRUMP: Oh no, George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down – excuse me. Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him? Okay, good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? You know what? It’s fine, you’re changing history, you’re changing culture, and you had people – and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally – but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats – you had a lot of bad people in the other group too.

REPORTER: I just didn’t understand what you were saying. You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?

TRUMP: No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call ‘em. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know, I don’t know if you know, but they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.

#11 Comment By James P. McCampbell On December 6, 2018 @ 8:15 am

A followup on the legacy of the alt-right horror show that occurred in Virginia in 2017…

James Alex Fields Jr., who was responsible for the maiming of several counter protesters and the death of Heather Heyer

“A different Fields — one who seemed far less sympathetic of victims and their families — emerged months later.”

“In a jail call to his mother on Dec. 7, 2017, he disparaged Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, and accused her of slandering him publicly.”
“She’s a communist,” Fields can be heard saying.”

“You need to stop talking,” his mother told him.”

“She is a communist, Mother. . . . She is the enemy,” he said.”

He murders her child viciously and he is worried about slander?

I wonder how many conservatives (or those in the mainstream American Right) would speak in suck blanket terms about who the “enemy”?

#12 Comment By Elsa On December 6, 2018 @ 8:37 am

And yet, racism and white nationalism are now core to the Trump-led GOP. Everyday, Fox News and most conservative news operations pump a steady stream of fear mongering against immigrants of color. Election fraud targeted against African-Americans in North Carolina gets no attention. Voter suppression against people of color has taken hold in many states.

So yeah, this thing we call the “Alt-Right” might be going away but the violent hatred and systemic racism is alive and well. Let’s not kid ourselves that the GOP hasn’t spent 50 years using racism to win votes and has no plans to stop doing so.

#13 Comment By balconesfault On December 6, 2018 @ 9:27 am

I don’t know – Steven King got re-elected to Congress besides increasingly let his alt-right flag fly, and in many other heavily gerrymandered R districts around the country there were plenty candidates elected to state and federal legislature spots who would be more comfortable at an alt-right rally than sitting in a townhall filled with centrist traditional Republicans.

#14 Comment By Sid Finster On December 6, 2018 @ 10:00 am

I wish that you were right.

However, as the American middle class shrinks, as its remaining members find it harder and harder to get by, as it becomes more and more obvious that the government is run by and for the benefit of the elites and wealthy, for Goldman Sachs and Lockheed Martin, radicalization on the left and right will only continue to increase.

#15 Comment By Dakarian On December 6, 2018 @ 10:34 am

Interesting article.

From what I’ve seen, a big issue hits the Alt-Right’s long-term viability.

As stated, the current Alt-right tended to mark the more racist aspects as a form of mockery or ‘trolling’ rather than being serious. This allowed it to be more open in society, especially in internet culture which tends to appreciate dark humor and pushing the envelope.

The idea of using such a path to be accepted by society is a viable option. One could argue that the acceptance of LGBT started first with the mocking and insulting stereotypes of gay people in comedies, which led to mocking, but harmless versions of them, which led to media that subverted the trope, leading to characters that seemed to mock but were appealing (i.e. the flashy, but insightful gay best friend), to flashy but otherwise normal people to..well, just gay people.

But this is the work of decades of slow, peaceful, steps. It’s how you can get a person used to spiders by letting them slowly come close to them in positive ways until they are petting a spider without any fear. That’s WHY comedic media is such a useful tool as it brings positive interactions to even the darkest of topics.

In short, the Alt-Right needed to have shows that have that “Funny bigoted best friend.”

To be less ‘comedic’, the Alt-Right needs ways to move from mockery to ways to show their message in a positive and non-threatening light and find ways to integrate themselves into the general culture. LGBT had to wait decades to host gay rights parades. Imagine if cries for gay marriage happened in 1980 and came with marches that result in a gay man killing a strait Christian or lesbians bombing white schools.

However you feel about how the battle between LGBT and Christianity is today, you did not see hostile non-binaries in the 80s. You DID see hostile Christians at that time. Which is funny given that Christianity was able to grow very well when it was the non-hostile force against the stronger hostile counter force.

White nationalism will need to be a positive, non-hostile force that is capable of integrating into society as a whole, different but compatible. The issue is that the internet trollish method has already been burned thanks to overreach. It’ll have to start from scratch and probably will have to wait a few years for tempers to die down.

Then you’ll have to figure out how to fund and market a white nationalist version of “Queer Eye for the Strait Guy.” I’ll let you figure out the title.

#16 Comment By Ready for the Apocalypse On December 6, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

Ricardo: “The secularization, nihilism, and materialism of modernity has resulted in the destruction of religion, tradition, community, and a sense of nation pride and unity”

Yes, and there will be an ongoing reaction against these trends, regardless of whether the “alt-right” is part of it or not.

Hawley doesn’t mention here the role of various reactionary intellectuals – such as Lawrence Auster, Jared Taylor, Curtis “Moldbug” Yarvin, and TAC’s own contributor Paul Gottfried – in establishing a theoretical foundation for reactionaries. Let us recall that the “Alt-Right” was preceded by the “Dark Enlightenment,” which lasted for several years before Trump came on the scene.

This reactionary critique of Western society could serve as the foundation for a number of movements of varying intensity – like Marxism serving as a basis for both Bolshevism and social democracy. Already we have such trends as the “Alt-Lite” and the “Alt-West,” which have things in common with the Alt-Right but are less “hardcore” in nature. Their greater moderation could make them more attractive to ordinary citizens.

#17 Comment By Dr Mr Ogger On December 6, 2018 @ 12:38 pm

Maybe. But I think it’ll mutate into something else. The Alt-Right may be dead, but white identity certainly is not dead nor will it go away as whites lose majority status and head to plurality then minority.

#18 Comment By M. Orban On December 6, 2018 @ 1:14 pm

@Dakarian
“White nationalism will need to be a positive, non-hostile force…”

And therein lays your problem. You see I am an older white guy, but about a fifth of my neighbors and about 40% of my coworkers are off non European descent.
So why should I give you the light of day if your aim is to inflict harm on those whom I spent half of my life with?
I hope you are trying to be sarcastic.

#19 Comment By PrairieDog On December 6, 2018 @ 1:44 pm

Eh. Both the “Alt Right” and their leftist opponents (Ctrl Left?)have a vested interest in over-stating the actual number of people actually affiliated with the alt right “movement”.

#20 Comment By CLW On December 6, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

The notion expressed by several commentators here that Trump’s response to events in Charlottesville was somehow “nuanced,” “thoughtful,” or “brave” illustrates just how ignorant and delusional our society has become about the very real threat posed by white nationalism.

#21 Comment By JohnInCA On December 6, 2018 @ 2:28 pm

Read the first paragraph, stopped right there.

We can talk about the alt-right in the past-tense when it belongs in the past-tense. This kind of “it’s not over yet, but let’s pretend it is” nonsense is just trying to whitewash that it still very much is around, and is still very much a threat.

Or to put it in more classical words: don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

#22 Comment By Connecticut Farmer On December 6, 2018 @ 2:34 pm

The author fails to define the term “Alt-Right” anywhere in the article so the title begs the question and no discussion as to whys and wherefores of this movement. Lots of space is devoted to rounding up the usual suspects (KKK, neo-Nazis etc.). And who qualifies as “Alt-Right” anyway? Pat Buchanan? Anne Coulter? Tucker Carlson? Steve Sailer? Laura Ingraham? All have, more or less, embraced the same world-view which has evolved over the decades as a reaction to (as contributor Ricardo wrote) the increased “secularization, nihilism and materialism” of modern society. These are well educated, very intelligent men and women who, like the canary in the coal mine, have caught the scent of something lethal. They are hardly drooling, wild-eyed neo-Nazi types, so if they qualify as “Alt-Right” then more power to them!

#23 Comment By fabian On December 6, 2018 @ 3:33 pm

It’s come and gone and will come back. It’s gone because there is enough money floating around for the moment to keep everybody busy and there is enough space in this country to diffuse tensions. When that changes and there is competition for jobs and money, I bet you that racial violence is going to explode because no matter what they say and try, the divide is still here.

#24 Comment By Josep On December 6, 2018 @ 4:12 pm

Sorry if this is off-topic, but one thing I’ve noticed among a certain number of Trump supporters is that they’ve adopted Hillary’s slur “Deplorable” as some badge of honor. Last time I checked, the root word “deplore” means to condemn or show strong disapproval of. How did this stick among the voters? And by a similar token, if you were called some bad name by someone else, would you stick with it?

Another thing I find surprising if not disturbing is how a certain part of the alt-Right seem to enjoy offending certain people they don’t agree with. I don’t know about you, but I doubt that the intentional bullying of others, jocular or otherwise, is something Jesus would tolerate, let alone encourage. And from a secular perspective, last time I checked, two wrongs don’t make a right.

It seems as if, in both cases, God-ordained moral values are thrown out the window in favor of some man-made ideology. What doesn’t help is how a certain faction of the alt-right even show disdain towards Christianity and favor Social Darwinism.

#25 Comment By Ready for the Apocalypse On December 6, 2018 @ 4:52 pm

Josep: “if you were called some bad name by someone else, would you stick with it?”

It’s called “owning the insult.” Similar to what happened to the word “queer,” for instance.

Alt-Right activists have also embraced the term “sh1tlord,” which I think was invented by leftists as an insult.

#26 Comment By Josep On December 6, 2018 @ 5:10 pm

Ricardo brought up how the alt-right “arose organically in Europe and the U.S. as a response to massive immigration, the loss of cultural unity and national identity, and fear regarding imminent minority takeover.” Canada and Australia also have seen the following occur too, so I’d include those.
While I don’t doubt there are some self-avowed alt-rightists in Japan and Russia (e.g. Anatoly Karlin?), I don’t see Japan accepting immigrants in the same manner as the US or Western Europe, so I don’t know if the alt-right has as much traction there as in the US or Europe.
I recall reading that unlike the Western European powers, pre-Revolutionary Russia did not fully embrace the notion of racial supremacy and saw the conquered Eastern peoples to be just as capable as the Russian conquerors. This relative lack of racism could possibly explain the lack of white guilt among Russians.
Feel free to either confirm or dispute what I wrote.

#27 Comment By Josep On December 6, 2018 @ 5:15 pm

Okay, correction: I’ve had Hector_St_Clare say that Anatoly Karlin is center-left, so it was wrong of me to say he’s “alt-right”. My apologies, I stand corrected.

#28 Comment By Deserttrek On December 6, 2018 @ 6:56 pm

the mainstream left is far more dangerous than a fictional political movement

#29 Comment By Mitchell Young On December 6, 2018 @ 8:23 pm

The Alt Right believes nothing, on the domestic front, that the average American soldier in WWII didn’t believe.

#30 Comment By DCMCM On December 6, 2018 @ 9:44 pm

As a non American I find it somewhat amusing, if understandable, that all views are oriented to the USA.
Just this morning I read an article on Uganda, a time I remember well, where Amin kicked out a race that was not Ugandan but was thriving in Uganda. This met with the approval of the average Ugandan but soon deteriorated to one of the worst human rights abuse’s in African history. I also remember well the Coups in Fiji. Fijians are a relaxed society and over time Indians who were brought in to do the manual work Fijians couldn’t be bothered to do also thrived and gained a political foothold. This led to not one but two Military Coups so “native” Fijians could retain control and it remains that way to this day.
No doubt there are many similar examples in other non white countries but Americans persist in seeing nationalism as a white supremacy thing.

#31 Comment By Ellimist000 On December 6, 2018 @ 10:53 pm

“There was a logic to Rockwell’s behavior. Before he put on the Swastika armband, he was just a racist former naval officer. When he put it on, he was a magnet for reporters. He was national news, and the media largely did his work for him—despite denouncing him in every article. His unhinged persona earned him a national platform. Rockwell eventually planned to ditch the outrageous clothes and slogans, put on a tie, and use his new fame to enter the national discussion on race. The first step, however, was to manipulate the media into making him a household name.”

Donald Trump, is that you? 😉

#32 Comment By Ellimist000 On December 6, 2018 @ 11:04 pm

Brendan Hall,

“Censorship and financial persecution, along with the DOJ’s use of Antifa as paramilitary group to shut down meetings and rallies with violence, right out of Hitler’s playbook.”

Oh, you mean the same DOJ worrying about non-existent “black identity extremists”?

LOL, you Alex Jones conspiracy types are exactly what the man is talking about.

#33 Comment By Ellimist000 On December 6, 2018 @ 11:11 pm

Joseph,

“Sorry if this is off-topic, but one thing I’ve noticed among a certain number of Trump supporters is that they’ve adopted Hillary’s slur “Deplorable” as some badge of honor. Last time I checked, the root word “deplore” means to condemn or show strong disapproval of.”

I agree with the spirit of your comment, but since the people Clinton was “deploring” were the 40-50% of Trump’s core base that had the gonads enough to tell liberal analysts that they thought that black people were inferior to them, I fail to see how that was a slur. Sounds like a fact to me.

#34 Comment By Eric Mader On December 7, 2018 @ 12:38 am

Hawley is a lousy historian who misprises both the meaning and trajectory of the Alt-Right. Here he tendentiouslt ignores the movement’s overlap with the still growing populist movement and lamely exaggerates the violence and hard racism. The Alt-Right had scant connection to 20th c. white radicalism, and its occasion overtly fascist Internet trolling was not nearly as central to its following as pragmatic, indeed sane, anti-SJW politics. Its “leaders”, like Spencer, were actually marginal.

Why is TAC publishing this guy Hawley? Is Newsweek defunct?

#35 Comment By JimDandy On December 7, 2018 @ 3:20 am

Well?

[3]

#36 Comment By Fred Ward On December 7, 2018 @ 7:46 am

The alt-right is a media construct made for the purpose of labelling and bashing conservatives. As the “alt-right” panic ascended in volume, antifa began rioting, beating people, etc and were ignored until the activity was massive. As they bloviate about the right, the left is trying to create anarchy. Now this fool is making money off a book about it. Wonderful.

#37 Comment By PJ Collins On December 7, 2018 @ 8:07 am

“There was a logic to Rockwell’s behavior. Before he put on the Swastika armband, he was just a racist former naval officer.”

Not quite. He ‘put on the armband’ when he was still a commander in the USN. Before that, Commander Rockwell worked in advertising and magazine promotion (American Mercury and National Review), as well as being the founding publisher of U.S. Lady, a glossy magazine aimed at the wives of American military officers.

#38 Comment By JonF On December 7, 2018 @ 8:26 am

So Jeff Sessions at DOJ was using the Antifa to shut down Trump rallies? Who knew?
(Wow, the medicinal pot must be awfully good stuff these days!)

#39 Comment By JimDandy On December 7, 2018 @ 1:56 pm

CLW wrote:
“The notion expressed by several commentators here that Trump’s response to events in Charlottesville was somehow “nuanced,” “thoughtful,” or “brave” illustrates just how ignorant and delusional our society has become about the very real threat posed by white nationalism.”

CLW, you reveal your ignorance of the Charlotesville situation with your reductive and unsupported pearl-clutching over the “very real threat posed by white nationalism.” What really happened there–in full context–doesn’t interest you. The Symbolic Charlotesville is what matters to you, and anyone who dares to utter the actual realities of the situation is a heretic. Trump told the truth about those events and the truth didn’t fit the Progressive narrative, so he was characterized as an outrageously ignorant madman… for speaking the truth. There is no room for any complexity in the Narrative you worship, so you must attack any realties that threaten The Message with weak ad hominem (“ignorant” “delusional”) without offering any fact-based argument. I’m not sure you’re even capable of engaging in an actual debate. It’s as if certain parts of your brain have atrophied after so much time in the echo chambers.

#40 Comment By Alex On December 7, 2018 @ 2:20 pm

JimDandy, you sure use a lot of words to say nothing.

#41 Comment By JimDandy On December 7, 2018 @ 4:44 pm

Alex, your laconic style brilliantly communicates the fact that you don’t have a counterargument. Kudos.

#42 Comment By Ken T On December 7, 2018 @ 6:17 pm

JimDandy:
anyone who dares to utter the actual realities of the situation is a heretic

Well, for a bit of “actual reality” the jury just returned a verdict of first-degree murder against James Fields. Not much complexity there.

#43 Comment By Mark O On December 8, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

The idea that maybe just maybe it would be better for citizens of all racial backgrounds if the USA took found a way to remain a non-Hispanic white majority country for as long as possible without infringing on the rights and privileges of non-white citizens…this should not be considered an intrinsically racist idea. Many liberals and non-whites themselves might even agree. But for some reason. It’s considered a racist, white supremacist or “white nationalist” idea. However, it’s an idea that people will naturally start considering a certain tipping point of racial/ethnic recompositoon is reached. And in a country with functioning First Amendment and places like YouTube where heterodox ideas can flourish, it won’t be stopped by elites aggressively committed to the project of turning USA into majority-minority nation.

#44 Comment By George On December 8, 2018 @ 3:13 pm

The problem with this article is the “alt-right” never existed as a real movement in the first place. There were at best a few Internet trolls posting on Twitter which the author admits he isn’t even sure took “white nationalism” all that seriously and may have been simply out to defy the bounds of political correctness. Hillary Clinton and the leftwing media wildly inflated the “alt-right” for political purposes as a way to demonize their opponents and mobilize the left in opposition—an “alt-right” bogeyman. The fact that Jason Kessler or Richard Spencer, two supposed “alt-right” leaders, can get at most a couple of dozen people to rally with them tells you all you need to know.

#45 Comment By JimDandy On December 8, 2018 @ 3:28 pm

Ken T says:

“Well, for a bit of “actual reality” the jury just returned a verdict of first-degree murder against James Fields. Not much complexity there.”

Classic. The sad thing is that I think you might actually believe that. “Welp, a jury brought back the verdict I wanted. Nothing to see here, move along.”

In fact, there is an enormous amount of complexity there. Entire books should (and I’m sure will) be written about this case. I hope they ask the important questions like:

*How could Fields have possibly gotten a fair trial and an unbiased jury after everyone from The President of the United States to the Mainstream Media to The American Conservative used a video clip and some personal details to find him guilty of committing a planned act of Neo-nazi terrorism? What happened to respecting due process?

*Do people like you think an unappealing young white dullard male who dabbles in Nazism trappings even deserve a fair trial? Be honest. Many of our leading Progressive lights have already determined that people like Richard Spencer do not have First Amendment rights, and that it’s thus ok to punch them.

*If the woman’s death was tragic and we should work to prevent similar deaths, why wasn’t Antifa’s complicity here focused on? Why did the MSM play apologist for Antifa?
Why did the MSM fail to shine a spotlight on the “Antifa professor” who bragged about chasing Fields’ car off by threatening him with an assault rifle shortly before he began driving wildly? Why were Field’s attorneys so passive with the Antifa professor? Why were they so passive in general?

*Fields was recorded telling his mother that the dead woman was a communist and thus one of “the enemy”. Is it not totally disingenuous to somehow latch upon this as evidence of premeditation? Again, do people with bad political views not deserve fair trials?

*Why has the local justice system failed to significantly punish any Antifa involved in the mayhem, while overpunishing many from the “Alt Right” including some who were clearly defending themselves

You might sense that I have a bias here. I do. I think that The unanimous Supreme Court decision protecting so called “hate speech” showed how clear-cut First Amendment rights are. I think that Antifa’s determination to violently deprive people of their first amendment rights at Charlottesville is what ultimately caused the woman’s death.
I think the Alt Right’s depictions of Judge Richard E. Moore as a biased “hanging judge” were dead on. Fields did not commit First Degree Murder. The evidence does, in fact, back up his claim that his car was under attack and he flipped out. The jury’s decision was a travesty. Trial By Media Manipulated Public Opinion isn’t justice. It’s a dystopian nightmare.

#46 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 8, 2018 @ 11:22 pm

“And by a similar token, if you were called some bad name by someone else, would you stick with it?”

It would be true but politically incorrect to notice that certain at least formerly oppressed minority folks routinely and easily refer to each other by what was designed by oppressors as a disparaging racial slur.

#47 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 8, 2018 @ 11:26 pm

“And by a similar token, if you were called some bad name by someone else, would you stick with it?”

Closer to home for some, the term “anabaptist” as the denigrating epithet of “rebaptiser” for the Reformers who believed only in adult baptism for Christians, became the term they proudly embraced for themselves, even to the present day.