Posted May 03 2017 - 10:10 AM
The recent issue of New York Magazine has an extensive look at The Alt Right, which to me is just another term for Fascist. These Fecks are odious , run deep, and are not going away anytime soon. The magazine is worth a look in it entirety, but here are some shiny highlights...
1. To understand this new right, it helps to see it not as a fringe movement, but a powerful counterculture.
When did the right wing get so bizarre? Consider: For a brief and confusing moment earlier this year, milk somehow became a charged symbol of both white supremacy and support for Donald Trump. The details are postmodern, absurdist, and ominous — not unlike the forces that brought them about. In January, the actor Shia LaBeouf mounted an art installation designed to protest the president. The next month, neo-Nazis who organized on the message board 4chan crashed the show, where they started chugging from milk jugs — because northern Europeans digest milk well, or because milk is … white. In other words, an innocent dairy beverage as old as time had been conscripted as a Donald Trump surrogate on the internet. It was yet another message-board in-joke — freighted with political meaning — suddenly in the news. But weirdness, perhaps, is what happens when a movement grows very quickly and without any strong ideological direction — from a disciplined party, from traditional institutions like churches and chambers of Congress, from anything more organized than the insurrectionist internet.
Here in America, in trying to describe our brand of the reactionary wave currently tsunami-ing the entire developed world, we’ve leaned on the term alt-right, which had been coined by white supremacists. Richard Spencer, the most press-hungry of that group, takes credit for it. For much of last year, the term was often used as shorthand for “racists, but … young?” Which is helpful, as far as it goes, but the full reality is much more complicated. The alt-right — or the new right, if you prefer to sound more like Tom Wolfe than Kurt Cobain, or the radical right, to properly acknowledge its break from mainstream conservatism — is a coalition comprised of movements like neo-reaction, certain strands of libertarianism, tech triumphalism, and even the extreme-populist wing of the Republican Party. All share with Spencer’s white-ethno-nativism the ideals of isolationism, protectionism, and nationalism: a closed nation-state. Along the way, the coalition swept up “men’s rights” advocates and anti-Semites and cruel angry teenagers and conspiracy theorists and a few fiendishly clever far-right websites and harassing hashtags and even a U.S. congressman or two. Not to mention the White House.
But to approach the big messy tent of the new retrograde right — the international brigade of nativist-nationalists, tech-savvy anti-globalists, the porn-loving gender traditionalists — as primarily a political movement is to wildly underestimate its scope. Reactionary energy helped deliver all three branches of government to a Republican Party in the grips of an alt-right-curious anti-PC bomb-thrower the faithful called their “god-emperor” (or at least helped him along with last year’s affirmative action for white people, a.k.a. the Electoral College). But at no point during the campaign, even, could you have mistaken the unruly energy on the right for anything so organized as a party or as purposeful as a protest movement. It was — and is — a counterculture. One formed in the spirit of opposition to everything the existing Establishment stood for: globalist, technocratic liberal elitism. The amazing thing is, in November, for the first time in American electoral history, the counterculture won everything. This didn’t happen out of nowhere; the new reactionary spiderweb is just as much of a referendum on our world as the Obama coalition was. This still-young century’s most potent political movements have been about reckoning with the rapid progress of the last one; in the Obama surge, there was contained the hopeful notion that the changes had been good, that they were not an end in themselves but merely the beginning of something even greater and brighter still to come. And in this far-right movement, there is instead a backlash to those same changes and those same symbols — to a black president, to a woman candidate, but also to the idea that diversity and inclusiveness and the other major social movements of the 20th century even represent progress at all, rather than its inverse. To many on the radicalized right, social progress is a zero-sum game in which minority groups and women have been winning at the expense of the previous kings of the castle. Moreover, other forces are ransacking the castle, too — namely, technology, globalization, and financialization. Yet how they believe one should actually go about addressing those problems can be difficult to parse, especially when the complaints are often filtered through 140 characters of unprintable vitriol and hate.
So what follows here is an attempt to really reckon with the alt-right and its fellow travelers: to organize and catalogue influences, philosopher-kings, and shit-posting foot soldiers; to track the movement’s history, its future, and the story of how the modern internet made it possible; to study its grievances, its media savvy, its symbols, its heroes and villains, its president and its critics of the president, its billionaire supporters and the underemployed message-board-dwelling “advocates” who serve as its creative engine. The movement is not a monolith — though it would also never be mistaken for a rainbow coalition — and part of what we’ve focused on is just how the various wings work together in concert. How does Steve Bannon relate to Russia Today, and what do conspiracy theorists have in common with pickup artists and Nazi Furries? How do memes like milk become weaponized, and just when did 4chan get political? How do its beliefs get amplified into the larger culture?
For all its theoretical anti-modernity, the alt-right is a uniquely modern movement, after all, enabled in reach by the connective tools of the social internet and by the clever use of the sort of irony that every young American raised on TV and memes recognizes as our pop-culture lingua franca. It’s an irony they’ve used as armor, too: If you take them seriously, they’ll claim you missed the joke. But of course, by treating them as a joke, you can miss their importance — as so many of us who planned our November 9, 2016, around a certain Hillary Clinton win did.
In some ways, it’s easy to define the movement by what it doesn’t care about. Not just the pieties of the left, but those of the Establishment Right as well: corporatism, taxes, cultural inclusiveness at a rhetorical level at least. Much as the tea party (a small group punching above its weight class through lunatic obstinacy and support from the Koch network) hijacked the Republican Party from inside by appealing to its sense of purity, the alt-right (a small group punching above its weight class through sheer lunatic web-savvy) swerved the party off its plotted course by an obsessive focus on some of the uglier, and often unofficial, aspects of the GOP platform that had been used for decades to appeal to the ever-poorer and less-educated base of the party.
You can also see the movement as a response, more than 15 years later, to 9/11, modernity’s starkest testing point to date. The alt-right’s fixation on the dangers of radical Islam has a kind of poetic irony to it: Like ISIS, it is fringe extremist, punkish, and digital in its pursuit of medievally brutal goals, more focused on blowing up the existing system than creating a new one. It, too, is tribal and nihilistic. But the alt-right’s rise is also a response to America’s post-9/11 landscape. You can see it in the fierce anti-interventionism of the movement and in the sharp, angry, often conspiratorial distrust of elites, who have often seemed to be the only ones prospering since then.
And, just maybe, the alt-right reflects the shift in America’s definition of itself after that catastrophic terror attack. Jingoistic nationalism bubbled up, sure, but there was also that slow erosion of liberties in the name of security, a seeping illiberalism that seems to have taught the rising generation that democratic norms are malleable. The young left, too, not only despises the previous generation’s deal-making Establishment but has a taste for autocratic control, in its (far less harmful) focus on PC language-monitoring and its belief that sometimes people you disagree with shouldn’t be allowed to speak their piece. It’s a funhouse-mirror version of the alt-right, which uses the cloak of free speech to spit out hate-speech and turns the accusations of fascism right back on its lefty enemies who cry foul. The alt-right is itself still small; 54 percent of Americans hadn’t heard of it even after the election of Donald Trump. But the new reaction of which it is a part is quite large — in fact, truly global. Which means that the movement’s grip on the White House — which seems to wax and wane, now with Gary Cohn looking like he’s taken Steve Bannon’s seat in Trump’s game of musical chairs — is not its strongest claim on the future. Whatever happens in Trump’s Washington — and, who knows, we may soon be seeing more of Ted Nugent and Kid Rock than cronies from ExxonMobil and Goldman Sachs — there are still heroes abroad for them (Marine Le Pen, until her runoff at least, along with Nigel Farage and his pro-Brexit pals, and more sure to come). As with any counterculture, though, the politicians will come and go. The more lasting battle is outside politics, in the culture and especially on the internet. Where, you might remember, we all live now. —Noreen Malone
Like the evangelical right or the new left, the new right is its own social universe … with strange totems …
In January, Shia LaBeouf mounted an art installation in Queens designed to protest Donald Trump. In February, neo-Nazis crashed it and started chugging from milk jugs. A couple theories about why: One, birthed on 4chan, is that white Europeans digest milk well. Another is that milk’s color is white.
Shoes for white people.
After the election, the company’s PR guy lauded Donald Trump for his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership; New Balance manufactures some of its shoes in America. Outraged, some liberals burned their sneakers. Meanwhile, Daily Stormer editor Andrew Anglin declared it the “official shoe” of the white race. It’s unclear if the idea caught on, because New Balance was already the official shoe of the white race.
Anglin associates the 19th-century novelist with sexual purity and Taylor Swift. “She is the anti-Miley,” he has said of Swift. “While Miley is out having gang-bangs with colored gentlemen, she is at home with her cat reading Jane Austen.” Milo Yiannopoulos has suggested there is an anti-feminist current to Austen’s work. (He also misidentified her as a Victorian.) Still others see her novels as a blueprint for white, genteel utopia.
People who dress up in furry-animal suits call themselves “Furries” and attend conventions with names like Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017. Lately, a specter has haunted the community: Nazi Furries, led by one notorious Furry called Foxler, who dresses in a black short-sleeved shirt, a red tie, and a red armband. Foxler denies being a neo-Nazi, despite reportedly making comments like “I stand by Hitler.” In anticipation of Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017, he attempted his first coup, booking 30 hotel rooms for his “Furry Raiders.” Organizers feared violence, and in April the convention was canceled.
Sweden is the Western European capital of the alt-right, boasting a host of racist media personalities, including Lana Lokteff, a striking blonde of Russian-American descent. Lokteff’s video commentaries frequently tackle — in addition to the “laziness” of “incoming invaders” — the superiority of beautiful people over ugly people. “The alt-right [is] a very attractive, very sexy bunch … Matches are being made left and right of beautiful, intelligent couples. It’s a eugenic process.”
The movement has a real problem with women.
Possibly because its members tend to be rejected by them.
First came the pickup artists, men who thought of women as conquests and shared tips on how to bed as many of them as possible, culminating in Neil Strauss’s official PUA manual, The Game. Eventually, as the PUA community drifted onto Reddit, members began to spend less time sharing seduction techniques and more time lodging bilious grievances against women. PUAs advocated a practiced machismo that would teach beleaguered males to combat a “feminized” society that sought to neuter them. When Donald Trump won the presidency, manosphere blogger Roosh V, who advocates the repeal of women’s suffrage, wrote, “I’m in a state of exuberance that we now have a President who rates women on a 1–10 scale in the same way we do.” Some #MGTOW (men going their own way) have decided to abstain from female company altogether. Instead, MGTOW enjoy sharing “pictures of hitting the wall” — before and after photos of women aging.
The manosphere thinks the world is a lot like The Matrix.
In that film, the main character, Neo, is offered a choice: Ingest a blue pill and live in a bland fantasy land, or ingest a red pill and see the world as it really is. The Red Pill is a popular sub-Reddit premised on the idea that women, by claiming to be victims, are given free rein to espouse misandry and generally run the world with impunity. Meanwhile, men are demonized. (Red pill — the manosphere version of being woke — has also been adopted to describe the broader alt-right worldview.)
And there are at least a few women who agree.
The Honey Badger Brigade is an all-female men’s-rights podcast started by three video-game enthusiasts — Karen Straughan, Hannah Wallen, and Alison Tieman — who championed the abusive anti-feminism of the Gamergate movement. One of their favorite topics is false rape accusations, and their chief concern is the scourge of “male disposability.”
If you hate women hard enough, it might even launch your career.
Mike Cernovich used to be married to a high-powered Silicon Valley lawyer, until their union was “ruined by feminist indoctrination.” After his divorce, he created a PUA website with a philosophy that boiled down to “misogyny gets you laid.” He rose to prominence when he volunteered his legal services (unlike his successful ex-wife, he took nine years to pass the bar) to the guy whose blog post about an ex-girlfriend launched the insane harassment onslaught of Gamergate. The publication of Cernovich’s first book, Gorilla Mindset: Timeless Strategies to Unleash the Animal Within You, coincided with Donald Trump’s presidential run. He used his growing online presence to attack Hillary Clinton, comparing her face to “melting candle wax” and speculating about invented medical ailments. Now, with 250,000 Twitter followers, he has declared himself a journalist, and the White House feeds him anonymous scoops.
The Gender Politics of the Alt-Right
Exhibit A: “Pictures of women hitting the wall,” from a manosphere website.
Exhibit B: “The fact is, when you give women rights, they destroy absolutely everything around them, no matter what other variable is involved … Even if you become the ultimate alpha male, some stupid bitch will still ruin your life.” —Andrew Anglin, the Daily Stormer
A nativist is in charge of the police state.
Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
The radical right’s most powerful government asset — besides the president, when it has his attention — is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose right-wing populism is as bald as any elder statesman of the GOP’s. Over the course of his two decades as senator, his defiantly racialist politics had come to look increasingly anachronistic. He helped kill every “amnesty” bill that attempted to resolve immigration policy, as well as the recent bipartisan push for criminal-justice reform, while simultaneously waging a lonely war to reduce legal immigration, all in the name of protecting our “nation-state” against “soulless globalism.” He stood athwart “compassionate conservatism” yelling “Stop.”
But this protester figure in George W. Bush’s party turned out to be the godfather of Donald Trump’s. Sessions’s former aides Stephen Miller and Rick Dearborn helped shape the policies and personnel of the Trump White House; the blitzkrieg of executive orders that lit up the presidency’s early days came at Sessions’s recommendation. And since being confirmed by the Senate, Sessions has come the closest of any member of the administration to enact the policies of the alt-right, starting to roll back the Justice Department’s oversight of police departments that routinely violate the civil rights of their black constituents, refusing to challenge racially discriminatory voting laws, threatening to deport undocumented immigrants brought here as children, expressing no interest in “prosecuting federal diversity and fair housing” (as an approving Richard Spencer put it), pledging to punish sanctuary cities, and denigrating judges who rule against the racialist policies he supports.
Trump’s agenda may continue to stall in Congress and the courts. But so long as Sessions remains attorney general, the alt-right, broadly defined, will control American law enforcement. —Eric Levitz
25.Support from the rich fringe shows no signs of drying up.
Rebekah and Robert Mercer. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image
Robert and Rebekah Mercer
The new Koch brothers.
Breitbart investors; eccentric billionaires. Robert, a hedge-fund titan, owns a $2.7 million model-train set. Rebekah, his daughter, homeschools her children according to the teachings of a sheep farmer and climate denier. In 2016, they funded a pro–Ted Cruz super-PAC run by Kellyanne Conway, then, after Cruz flamed out, switched their allegiances to Trump. Postelection, Rebekah landed on the campaign’s transition team and recommended since-deposed Michael Flynn as national-security adviser. The Mercers are said to be chiefly motivated by a disdain for elites and a desire to incinerate the American political Establishment.
Palmer Luckey. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile/Web Summit/Getty Images
A shy 24-year-old who created Oculus Rift, the virtual-reality headset bought by Facebook for $2 billion. In 2016, he began funding Nimble America, a 501©(4) devoted to making anti–Hillary Clinton memes, later telling the Daily Beast he was responsible for messages posted under the pseudonym “NimbleRichMan” on Reddit page The_Donald (“We know Hillary Clinton is corrupt, a warmonger, a freedom-stripper. Not the kind you see dancing in bikinis on Independence Day”). In March, he resigned from Facebook’s board — and that was before news broke that Luckey had donated $100,000 to Trump’s inauguration committee.
Peter Thiel. Photo: Andrew White/The New York Times/Redux
Dreaming of the Übermensch.
Thiel, a major Trump backer, has been preaching #MAGA for years. He argues that sweet, unfettered capitalism hasn’t existed in America since 1920, and also that the tech industry hasn’t done much to improve the lives of everyday Americans since the 1970s. Fearing a looming societal collapse, he has placed his hope in a handful of moon-shot ideas, including immortality.
And On and On This MaRCH OF PIGs...