The “Alternative Right,” or more commonly, the “alt right” – which has arguably always existed on the fingertips of the Republican party – is a diverse assortment of people, mostly online, who identify as right-wingers but consider themselves either opposed to, or profoundly alienated, from mainstream American conservatism, usually because they view it as being too liberal, or preoccupied with the wrong issues.
It exists mostly in the form of blogs, podcasts, and social media accounts, many of which are found on websites such as 4chan, Reddit, and Twitter. In fact, the alt-right grew out of internet culture, which explains the “meme-ification” of their political ideals.
The ideologies upheld by the alt-right can vary greatly, but broadly speaking include certain sorts of extreme libertarians, “race realists” (basically racists and anti-semites), “neo-reactionaries” (who argue against democracy, human rights, and other manifestations of modernist philosophy), anti-feminists, including “meninists”, and white nationalists. One notices from endeavours on platforms like Reddit, however, that there is also a more generic flavor of alt-right thought that may not fully embrace any of the above agendas, but still be sympathetic to their contrarian messages of skepticism towards prevailing conventional wisdom on matters like race, gender, and U.S. party politics.
One thing the alt-right’s adherents unite over is their opposition to political correctness, although it seems alt-right commentators are using euphemisms or code words to make accusations of racism tougher. They use terms such as ‘culture’ instead or race, and ‘Western Civilization’ to replace white identity. The rejection of multiculturalism, and strong critiques of the safe-space and microaggressions culture are also prominent within the alt-right.
Breitbart, the website affiliated with the alt-right views and formerly run by Donald Trump’s White House strategist Steve Bannon has a page explaining the alt-right from its perspective. Alt-Righters deny they are racist: “The alt-right is a movement born out of the youthful, subversive, underground edges of the internet.”
What happened in Charlottesville, VA, over the weekend was the group’s assertion that they do not just exist on the internet, posting memes anonymously, but are willing not only to mobilize in physical space without concealing their identity, but also to physically intimidate, assault, and murder any and all of those who protest their hateful ideology.