Alt-right

Prominent alt-rightists were instrumental in organising the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. Here, rally participants carry Confederate battle flags, Gadsden flags and a Nazi flag.
An alt-right Donald Trump supporter at the March 4 Trump in Saint Paul, Minnesota. (Image digitally altered[notes 1])

The alt-right, an abbreviation of alternative right, is a loosely connected far-right, white nationalist movement based largely in the United States. A largely online phenomenon, the alt-right originated in the U.S. during the 2010s although has since established a presence in various other countries. The term is ill-defined, having been used in different ways by various self-described "alt-rightists", media commentators, and academics.

In 2010, the American white nationalist Richard B. Spencer launched The Alternative Right webzine to disseminate his ideas. Spencer's "alternative right" was influenced by earlier forms of American white nationalism, as well as paleoconservatism, the Dark Enlightenment, and the Nouvelle Droite. His term was shortened to "alt-right" and popularised by far-right participants of /pol/, the politics board of web forum 4chan. It came to be associated with other white nationalist websites and groups, including Andrew Anglin's Daily Stormer, Brad Griffin's Occidental Dissent, and Matthew Heimbach's Traditionalist Worker Party. Following the 2013 Gamergate controversy, the alt-right made increasing use of trolling and online harassment as a tactic to raise its profile. In 2015 it attracted broader public attention—particularly through coverage on Steve Bannon's Breitbart News—due to alt-right support for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. On being elected, Trump disavowed the movement. Attempting to move from an online-based to a street-based movement, Spencer and other alt-rightists organised the 2017 Unite the Right rally, which faced significant anti-fascist opposition. After this, the movement began to decline.

The alt-right is a white nationalist, racist movement. Part of its membership supports anti-immigrationist policies to ensure a continued white majority in the United States. Others call for the breakup of the country to form a white separatist ethno-state in North America. Some alt-rightists seek to make white nationalism socially respectable in the U.S., while others—known as the "1488" scene—adopt openly white supremacist and neo-Nazi stances. Some alt-rightists are anti-semitic, promoting a conspiracy theory that there is a Jewish plot to bring about white genocide; other alt-rightists view most Jews as members of the white race. The alt-right is anti-feminist, advocates for a more patriarchal society, and intersects with the men's rights movement and other sectors of the online manosphere. Alt-rightists generally support anti-interventionist and isolationist foreign policies alongside economic protectionism and thus criticise mainstream U.S. conservatism. Attitudes to social issues like homosexuality and abortion vary within the movement. Individuals aligned with many of the alt-right's ideas but not its white nationalism have been termed "alt-lite".

The alt-right distinguished itself from earlier forms of white nationalism through its largely online presence and its heavy use of irony and humor, particularly through the promotion of Internet memes like Pepe the Frog. Membership was overwhelmingly white and male, with academic and anti-fascist observers linking its growth to deteriorating living standards and prospects, anxieties about the place of white masculinity, and anger at increasingly visible left-wing forms of identity politics like the Black Lives Matter movement. Constituent groups using the "alt-right" label have been characterised as hate groups,[1][2] while alt-right material has been a contributing factor in the radicalization of young white men responsible for a range of far-right murders and terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 2014.[3][4][5] Opposition to the alt-right has come from many areas of the political spectrum including socialists, liberals and conservatives.

Etymology and scope

The term "alt-right" is a neologism first used in November 2008 by self-described paleoconservative philosopher Paul Gottfried, addressing the H. L. Mencken Club about what he called "the alternative right".[6] This talk was published in December under the title "The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right"[7] in the conservative Taki's Magazine, becoming the earliest published usage of the phrase in its current context according to Slate. In 2009, two more posts at Taki's Magazine (one by Patrick J. Ford and the other by Jack Hunter) further discussed the alternative right.[8] Since 2016, the term has been commonly attributed to Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute and founder of Alternative Right.[9][10][11] A white supremacist,[12][13][14][15] Spencer coined the term in 2010 in reference to a movement centered on white nationalism and has been accused by some media publications of doing so to excuse overt racism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism.[16][17][18][19][20]

Definitions

The term "alt-right" is sometimes ill-defined.[21][22] This has been complicated by the various contradictory ways in which self-described "alt-rightists" have defined the movement and by the tendency among some of its political opponents to apply the term "alt-right" liberally to a broad range of right-wing groups and viewpoints.[23] For instance, the conservative writer Ben Shapiro claims that the American Left has attempted "to lump in the Right with the alt-right by accepting a broader, false definition of the alt-right that could include traditional conservatism".[24]

The 'alt-right' or 'alternative right' is a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States in addition to, or over, other traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low taxes and strict law-and-order. The movement has been described as a mix of racism, white nationalism and populism ... criticizes 'multiculturalism' and more rights for non-whites, women, Jews, Muslims, gays, immigrants and other minorities. Its members reject the American democratic ideal that all should have equality under the law regardless of creed, gender, ethnic origin or race.

—The Associated Press[16][25]

The anti-fascist researcher Matthew N. Lyons defined the alt-right as "a loosely organized far-right movement that shares a contempt for both liberal multiculturalism and mainstream conservatism; a belief that some people are inherently superior to others; a strong Internet presence and embrace of specific elements of online culture; and a self-presentation as being new, hip, and irreverent."[26] The academic Tom Pollard referred to the alt-right as a "socio/political movement" comprising "a loose amalgam of rightist groups and causes" who "shun egalitarianism, socialism, feminism, miscegenation, multiculturalism, free trade, globalization, and all forms of gun control".[27] The journalist Mike Wendling termed it "an incredibly loose set of ideologies held together by what they oppose: feminism, Islam, the Black Lives Matter movement, political correctness, a fuzzy idea they call 'globalism,' and establishment politics of both the left and the right."[21]

The Southern Poverty Law Center defined the alt-right as "a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that 'white identity' is under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization."[28] The Anti-Defamation League states that "alt-right" is a "vague term actually encompass[ing] a range of people on the extreme right who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of forms of conservatism that embrace implicit or explicit racism or white supremacy".[29]

In 2016, the Associated Press described the "alt-right" label as "currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists" that "may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters' actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience". The Associated Press said that it has previously called such beliefs "racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist".[16] Because the term was coined and used by white nationalists themselves rather than being applied to them by academic observers or by their opponents, the journalist Shaya Tayefe Mohajer urged their colleagues not to use the term "alt-right".[30] George Hawley, a political scientist specialising in the U.S. far-right, disagreed with this approach, noting that using terms like "white supremacist" in place of "alt-right" conceals "the ways the Alt-Right differs from other manifestations of the racial right."[31]

According to a 2016 description in the Columbia Journalism Review, the alt-right is not formally organized and may not be an actual movement:[32] "Because of the nebulous nature of anonymous online communities, nobody's entirely sure who the alt-righters are and what motivates them. It's also unclear which among them are true believers and which are smart-ass troublemakers trying to ruffle feathers".[33] Many of its own proponents often claim they are joking or seeking to provoke an outraged response.[9] Andrew Marantz of The New Yorker describes it as "a label, like 'snob' or 'hipster,' that is often disavowed by people who exemplify it".[34]

Other Languages
Deutsch: Alt-Right
Esperanto: Alt-right
français: Alt-right
한국어: 대안우파
Bahasa Indonesia: Alt-right
italiano: Alt-right
Nederlands: Alt-right
norsk: Alt-right
polski: Alt-right
română: Alt-right
Simple English: Alt-right
suomi: Alt-right
svenska: Alt-right
Tiếng Việt: Alt-right
吴语: 另類右派
中文: 另类右派