What is the Alt-Right?

As there was with NRx a while back, there is now some struggle over control of the alt-right label. The fight seems to be going on between the WN’s and everybody else, with the centrepoint on Roosh. The WN’s claim that alt-right is rightfully theirs and non-WN’s are entryists. I don’t particular agree with everybody shooting allies, so I’ll weigh in.

Depending on how you use the term, the alt-right label is somewhat valuable as per Google Trends. ‘Alt right’ dwarfs ‘neoreaction’ (and, to a lesser degree, Moldbug). Although, ‘Alt-right’ is itself dwarfed by ‘neoreaction’ (and ‘Moldbug’), while ‘altright’ is similar to neoreaction. ‘Alternative right’ springs up even before ‘alt right’ and is even bigger than alt-right.

The lefties at RationalWiki (one of the top hits for alt-right) think the alt-right is part neoreaction, but, as with almost everything, they are wrong. Alternative right started getting searches in 2005, a couple years before Moldbug started writing and well before the NRx boom.

The WN’s do have a decent claim to the name. Richard Spencer, WN and creator of Alternative Right has a claim at owning the label as he created was created in 2010 and his the first hit for the label and is one of the earliest uses I can find, but according to Google Trends, ‘alt right’ sprung into existence in 2007, while ‘alternative right’ came a couple years before that. So Spencer was using a label already in existence.

The alt-right has been hitting mainstream presses in the last few months, which makes searching for it’s origins difficult as their flooding the results. The mainstream articles seem to use neoreactionary, alt-right, and white supremacy interchangeably. So, in practice, to the greater world, we’re all the same, probably to the chagrin of everybody on each side. Although, this Quora post is the second-highest ranked on Google for the term and notices the distinction, so its not completely overlooked.

Despite the search troubles, I found some early stuff. The earliest use of alternative right’ I found was in the name of an address by paleoconservative Paul Gottfried to the HL Mencken Club in 2008. He doesn’t use the term in the speech, but the speech is named “The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right”. In the speech he uses it describe post-paleo conservatives who are opposed to/outside of neoconservatism, libertarianism, and movement conservatism. The post-paleos he describes go beyond a single organization or ideology and he specifically includes vDare and Taki’s. He also used it again in 2009, where he uses it to refer to non-authorized dissident rightests. The second use I found was from Taki’s in 2009, in an article by Kevin DeAnna (founder of Youth for Western Civilization) which uses the term as a right-wing movement concerned with identity, virtue, and culture as opposed to the economic movement of mainstream conservatism. He also links it to the Ron Paul movement. DeAnna himself spoke at the HL Mencken Club (as has Spencer).

So, near as I can tell, ‘alternative right’ and therefore ‘alt-right’ most rightly belong to the group creating the HL Mencken Club. Their list of presenters is all over the non-mainstream right, including Buchanan, Derbyshire, and Sailer. The Mencken Club began in 2008, so there’s about a a bit of time prior to the Club that it was in use, but I can not find any earlier usages. I’m not sure what caused the one-off spike in 2005, or the surge in 2006.

By the best evidence I can find, ‘alt-right’ originally referred to rightests who grew out of the paleoconservative tradition and are dissidents against the neoconservative mainstream. The alt-right is inherently a catch-all term for those on the right who are outside mainstream conservatism and are attacking it from the right.

So, while the WN’s are part of the alt-right, do not own the alt-right and being alt-right does not mean being a WN. As well, both the DE and neoreaction are part of the alt-right, but the alt-right is neither.

19 comments

  1. Alternative Right is another way of saying Third Position or White Nationalist, even though there are a lot of lower class people that use White Nationalist as a term for themselves while not particularly caring if the races are separated by official borders or other ways.

    Dark Enlightenment is the one where the non-racial manosphere and Roman Catholic traditionalists go. Sometimes R.C.C.ers sneak into Neo-Reaction, but it never works out because they’re generally pure theonomists in the end…

    All of the ways that pro-whites describe themselves, like in the first line of this comment, are the approaches to pro-white strategy, but they can often overlook a simple and pro-white message meaning they can get unnecessarily convoluted. At the end of it, it’s still worthwhile trying out different branding.

    A.J.P.

  2. On a literal level, “alt-right” or any variation thereof simply means that which is not part of the mainstream right. Of course, “homophobia” literally means “fear of man,” so literal meanings are not always very useful; in this case, homophobe has become a euphemism. So does alt-right simply become a euphemism for WN? It certainly could, especially if outsiders declare it so often and loudly enough that anyone vaguely familiar with the term automatically associates it with WNs. But the concept of a “non-mainstream-right” seems valuable enough that some term or other ought to stick around to describe it.

  3. I like the formulation “post-paleo” as a blanket description of the alt right. The original paleocons were right about everything and accomplished nothing, and now here we are. Broad alt right themes include:

    – Curbing immigration, defending borders, and preserving national culture & identity
    – Economic populism, rolling back globalism/banksterism, and strengthening the middle class
    – Restoring sane standards of public morality and re-empahsizing traditional mores of community, family, religion, and, you know, sexual dimorphism
    – Non-interventionism abroad

    So, basically the Trump platform.

    As for NRx, it’s finished. MPC cyber-bullied it right off the internet. Most of the bloggers gave up, and the ones who are left abandoned its fundamentals and assimilated into the broader alt right (a good acid test: if you support Trump and intend to vote for him you’re pretty much by definition not NRx) or else faded away into the wallpaper. Some interesting things came out of it but all in all this is probably for the best.

    Part of me is sympathetic to out ‘n’ proud white nationalists, because I understand how intoxicating it is to finally understand that being white is awesome and worth fighting for (I’ll even admit to having read and enjoyed The Brigade), but I think a lot of the rhetoric in that vein becomes self-defeating. Joking around is one thing but people who go full unironic “gas the kikes, race war now, Hitler did nothing wrong” are quick to play the No Enemies To The Right card when anyone objects, while simultaneously sneering that anyone who doesn’t toe their line is “obsessed with respectability”.

    I understand the appeal there, just like I understand in the abstract the appeal libertarianism can have, but NatSoc LARPing is just never, ever, going to go anywhere except a few overheated internet chat rooms. If you want to actually have an impact in the real world, you have to do the work of framing your position in a way that makes sense to normies and appeals to them without throwing too many red flags initially (this is exactly what Trump does, and it’s looking like he’s going to do more for the white race than every WN in the country combined). You have to put in the time, start small, and be very patient; the Left was willing to spend decades taking over, so anyone who demands instant results is not someone you want on your team.

    I’m very optimistic about the future of the alt right. I think it’s a good thing that it’s dispersed and somewhat varied, and I hope it stays that way a long time (no one “owns” it, and if anyone tried to say they did I suspect they’d get mercilessly trolled). It’s great that there’s a lot of younger people involved, and that it has a strong vein of edgy, rebellious humor to contrast to the humorlessness and joylessness of the left. I think this is gonna be a YUGE year packed with rich lulz and oceans of shitlib tears. And of course I hope everyone here is registering to vote in their primaries, cuz we’re gonna Make America White Again, and make anime real!

  4. This definition makes the alt-right the largest threat to the Republican party. If it is WN, then people look at the degenerates that show up at those rallies and shudder. If the excluded rightists show up, then all of those people who are disenchanted with the actions of the Republicans but vote anyway are going to have a voice. That idiot just linked Trump to the enemies of the party establishment, at a time when most Republican voters are most sick of the establishment.

    The Shadowed Knight

  5. This is a good analysis. We brought NRx, PUA/Red Pill writers, and paleocons into the AltRight.

  6. Alt-Right is a huge swath of people on the ‘right’, emergent in new political discourse (so this excludes die-hard National Socialists), who would be anathema to any Conservative grouping around today.

    I include the Manosphere in the Alt-Right.

    The Reactosphere, and subsequently NRx, are the high ivory towers of the Alt-Right. Down at peasant level are /pol/acks etc. Essentially the Alt-Right is the dropbox for all political dissidents of Modernity, and we harvest the high IQ ones. It still pays however, to keep the peasant class tidy and free of too much leftist part-crashers and entryists, or general embarrassments.

  7. I am so NRx autiste that I dislike the Alt-Right because 1) proles should not be politicized; 2) Normies and low-brows are incapable of accurately receiving and acting upon clever ideas which in any way contradict their jungle heuristics, which is to say all of modern society. I think lumpenwhites (and most other races in general) are basically anti-social apetards and need to be excluded/replaced, not managed.

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