The alt-right meme

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:

I had literally not heard of the “alt-right” until yesterday. And now I see there are several articles about its influence on politics in the USA. I suppose this is a case of a particular movement hitting some new level of power and so everyone needs a label for it?

For instance, Hillary Clinton is complaining about the alt-right:

In her most direct critique yet connecting the Trump campaign to white nationalists and the conservative fringe, Mrs. Clinton is framing Mr. Trump’s run as unprecedented in modern politics.

“He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party,” she said.

Asserting that a racially-charged and “paranoid fringe” had always existed in politics, she said, “it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”

And Vox says “The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It’s that, but way way weirder.

That’s a striking level of prominence for a movement that until recently was extremely obscure. A movement lurking in Reddit and 4chan threads and in community blogs and forums, a movement of right-wingers who openly argue that democracy is a joke. That it’s weak, it’s corrupt, and it caters to the whims of a fickle electorate rather than the needs of the citizenry. That Congress and the president must be replaced with a CEO-like figure to run the country as it truly should be, without the confused input of the masses.

For some in the movement, Donald Trump really is that figure. For the hardcore, even the most authoritarian-styled presidential candidate in decades isn’t good enough.

…Thus, within the world of neoreaction, Trump’s seemingly authoritarian impulses are a feature, not a bug. The only real problem is he may not go far enough. NRxer Michael Perilloux, for example, complained that Trump wouldn’t pull off the kind of power grab that many of his critics fear him capable of:

Is Trump likely to cancel the constitution, declare martial law, declare himself emperor to be succeeded by his children, nationalize the banks and media, hang some of the worst criminal bankers, send the Israelis back to Israel, call the National Guard to roll tanks into Harvard Yard, place all communists and other anti-American elements under house arrest, retire all government employees, replace the USG with the Trump Organization, and begin actually rebuilding America and western civilization?

Short of that, he is simply another phenomenon within the arcane workings of the system, as worthy of support as the ebb and flow of the tides. Surely, the unprecedented nature of his campaign warrants excited interest as a historical case-study and promising fore-shock of a true restoration, but he is not the king, and we have a ways to go yet.

…The purpose of government, in the view of neoreactionaries, isn’t to represent the will of the people. It’s to govern well, full stop. “From the perspective of its subjects, what counts is not who runs the government but what the government does,” Moldbug explains. “Good government is effective, lawful government. Bad government is ineffective, lawless government. How anyone reasonable could disagree with these statements is quite beyond me. And yet clearly almost everyone does.”

…But win or lose, Trump has shown that overt contempt for racial equality, naked tribalistic appeals to white racial solidarity, and vaguely authoritarian rhetoric can add up to a very successful campaign, at least within the Republican Party. That gives the alt-right new relevance, and helps convince its members that America might be ready for their ideas.

It also opens the door for a more sophisticated future candidate, one reared on alt-right arguments rather than stumbling into them the way Trump has. Such a candidate could effectively whip up an alt-right base of support, but potentially use it more intelligently and effectively than Trump. If this sounds fantastical, it’s worth remembering that open white supremacists like Strom Thurmond and James Eastland were serving in the US Senate 40, 30, even 20 years ago. Our current period without avowed white nationalists in power, backed by an organized constituency of the same, is the exception, not the norm.

And the article Breitbart, explained: the conservative media giant that wants Trump to burn down the GOP is important since the folks from Breitbart are now taking over as managers of the Trump campaign. It is a bit of a shock to realize how extreme these people are, and how much they are now part of the mainstream:

In addition to his live-hard lifestyle, he differed from normal conservatives in another respect: He never really cared that much about policy. While other conservative writers defined themselves by issues like fighting abortion or the Iraq War or battling health care reform, Breitbart saw the important battles as taking place outside of Washington.

“It’s like when people are like, ‘What do you think we should do on health care?’ I don’t fucking have a clue. It’s too complicated for me,” he told Slate’s Christopher Beam in 2010. “I’m trying to shift the focus of conservative movement from the narrow — the policy — to a much higher elevation, granting them a greater perspective.”

…After Breitbart’s death, the network of sites bearing his name did not collapse. Instead, in mid-2012, the Big sites relaunched, all consolidated under the banner of

The man behind the relaunch was Steve Bannon, a former naval officer, Goldman Sachs banker, and Hollywood investor who gets royalties from Seinfeld. Bannon had met Breitbart at a movie premiere in 2005 and was intoxicated by his vision of politics as a fight to save American culture.

He became a trusted Breitbart adviser and a key fundraiser for the Breitbart News venture. Breitbart called him the “Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement,” an oddly positive reference to Nazi Germany’s most famous filmmaker.

“One of the things I admired about him was that the dirtiest word for him was ‘punditry,’ ” Bannon told Bloomberg’s Joshua Green. “Our vision — Andrew’s vision — was always to build a global, center-right, populist, anti-establishment news site.”

After Breitbart’s death, Bannon became chair of the company. His vision for would end up defining Breitbart News’s ethos. “Steve ran the site and controlled the content as a dictator,” former Breitbart spokesperson Kurt Bardella writes in the Hill.

Bannon believes the left wasn’t Team Breitbart’s only enemy. Corrupt conservatives — mainstream sellouts — aided and abetted the cultural Marxists in their destruction of America. Bannon hated the conservative embrace of “crony capitalism,” collusion between conservative elites and big business to make the elite rich at the expense of the little guy.

…Breitbart stories frequently hype reports about crime involving immigrants, with headlines that sound like they came from tabloids (representative example: “One Sex Offender Illegal Alien Caught After Another Alleged Offender Legalized”). They viciously attack Republicans they believe are betraying true conservatism, blasting Paul Ryan (for example) as a supporter of “radical amnesty-and-open-borders.”

Breitbart essentially functioned as an anti-immigration pressure group, signaling to Republican leaders that any deviation on immigration would earn them the wrath of the base.