Understanding the alt-right: from ideology to movement to rebranding.

On November 19, at the annual conference of the National Policy Institute (NPI) held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C., Richard B. Spencer in his speech made spine chilling mentions that reeked of Nazi sympathies. Amongst others, he spoke about making America, ‘a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,’ and called for ‘peaceful ethnic cleansing’.
Not shy to hold back his anti-semetic views, Spencer also described the mainstream media as the ‘Lügenpresse’ – a term used by the Nazis to attack the free press. He eventually ended the address with a “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” chant, much to the cheering of his supporters.
Spencer is an important character in the context of the Alt-Right. Amongst others, he is credited with having coined the term ‘alt -right’ in the mainstream press. His white nationalist think tank the National Policy Institute primarily works for the cause of making America white again. And he has not been someone to mince his words when it comes to the issue.
But for all said and done, is the Alt-Right a movement? Is it an ideology? Or is it simply rebranding ‘white supremacy’ with a milder name whilst retaining the same thoughts that drive it?
If Spencer’s speech, with its ‘Hail Trump’ salutes, are a cause of concern then the primary demands of the Alt-Right should galvanise those who hoped for an all-inclusive America into action against it. The Alt-Right grew in ideology and strength when they backed Donald Trump during the Presidential elections (even though they have been around since 2008). And given that Trump is now the POTUS-elect, they will expect him to act on his promises.
Jared Taylor, who is the editor of the white nationalist website ‘American Renaissance’, explains that the ‘Alt-Right’ is very much in favour of Trump implementing his policies. Primary amongst them is the deportation of the undocumented 11 million immigrants as well as banning the immigration of Muslims. Slashing immigration rates and also banning (defunding) groups that work towards advocating the rights of immigrants are amongst their other pro-white, pro-America demands. Taylor has given a clearer insight into the thought process of the Alt-Right in his 2015 article ‘Is Trump our last chance?’ He argues about the merits of electing Trump to the White House.
But that is essentially straying away from what the Alt-Right is all about. I had mentioned right in the beginning that it is more of a mix of ideologies that range from Anti-Semitism, banning immigrants from terror prone (read:Muslim) nations, deporting immigrants, isolating the American liberal population from the world and more importantly, making America ‘an ethno-state for whites’. In his online journal ‘Radix’, Spencer has written “The ideal I advocate is the creation of a White Ethno-State on the North American continent. Our task is to capture the imaginations of our people (or the best of our people) and shock them out of their current assumption of what they think is possible.”
The reason why I still maintain the ‘Alt Right’ is a mix of ideologies is because, despite having all these grand plans, they still do not know how to implement them. Most of the pro-Trump Alt-Right hardliners are not in favour of creating a physical wall. However they are hopeful that Trump will keep his promises regarding immigration and decreasing the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the USA.
Another important aspect of the Alt-Right ideology is the concept of ‘racial consciousness.’ Taylor says that the idea was born out of the thought that “white Americans, as whites, have collective interests that are legitimate.” As scary as it is, it is a stark reminder of the policies advocated by Hitler, of the supreme Aryan race and the systematic deposition of the Jews. The ideology of the Alt-Right is similar on many such counts.
These ideologies, which up until the recent past were segmented and separated, have found a collective head as a movement during the Presidential election race. In fact, now as the days go by, slowly but surely it is gaining momentum as a well-oiled machine. I recently read that Texas A&M will be hosting Spencer on campus and he will be speaking at the behest of an invitation extended by a former student, Preston Wiginton. While petitions have been signed against this, the university itself will allow the event to take place under the protection of the freedom of speech laws. As repugnant as the idea sounds, in many ways it is important to hear what people like Spencer have to say. The Alt-Right is not a person but an ideology. And one can only defeat an ideology after one has fully understood what it is capable of doing to the masses.
An interesting way of tackling the Alt-Right was recently found in the form of a Google Chrome extension made available on the Google chrome store. Launched on November 17th by a New Yorker who goes by the name of George Zola, the extension already has 1747 users and replaces the words ‘Alt-Right’ to ‘White Supremacy’ on the Chrome browser. His website ‘Stop normalising the Alt-Right’ also gives a link to download a ‘Neo Nazi’ edition which replaces the ‘Alt-Right’ with ‘Neo Nazi’.
There really is no conclusion to this piece. Because like the case of the many headed demon Hydra, the Alt-Right keeps sprouting a new ideology every other day. For now, those who are tired of seeing ‘Alt-Right’ pop up on their screens could do with the Google Chrome extension. If nothing else, it helps to call a spade a spade.