The commentariat, despite their near infinite wisdom, has still yet to be able to grasp exactly what the Alt-Right is. Are they Libertarians? Anarcho-Capitalists? Neo-Nazis? Fascists? Nationalists? Reactionaries? Neoreactionaries? Conservatives?
The answer to their question is “yes”. The Alt-Right is all of those things, and simultaneously none of those things. The key to understanding this phenomenon is to understand the concept of intersectionality.
What is Intersectionality?
Intersectionality emerged as a concept in the mid-1970’s out of the radical feminist movement by black women. It was primarily a reaction to feeling excluded from the mainstream radical feminist movement, which was, at the time, asserting that gender was the singular, core issue inherent to women’s identity. Those who dissented from this position claimed that such a position was extremely reductive, and ultimately dismissive of the myriad influences that informs a person’s unique identity and worldview. Intersectionality theory stated that singular influences could not explain the totality of an individual’s perspectives; that the interaction between an individual’s varying influences create a perspective that cannot be understood by taking them independently, but instead requires an integration of all such influences to synthesize the whole from the parts. Intersectionality, with its initial focus on “systems of inequality and oppression”, quickly became a useful tool for Marxist theorists in academia, and was rapidly incorporated into the lens through which they examined claims of oppression.
In modern usage, many Leftists incorporate the concept of intersectionality when they utilize concepts such as the progressive stack. This is the idea that those who are the most “marginalized and oppressed” should receive preference over those who are considered to have more “privilege”, with privilege being a vaguely defined term roughly equivalent to “perceived as having an advantage within a particular social context”. This has particularly taken hold in those who were involved with the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements, as it provides them justification to attempt to seize within their own circles the actual privilege that they perceive others, particularly White men, to hold. As we can see, intersectionality and its use in concepts like the progressive stack has an obvious utility to those who perceive themselves as oppressed and marginalized.
Thus, to sum up the explanation of the concept of intersectionality, one can think of it as meaning “the overlapping nature of interests between varying sources of influence on an entity.”
The Alt-Right as a form of Intersectionality
This is exactly what the Alt-Right is: a big-tent movement of varying ideologies that have all coalesced around accepting the idea of biological realism & the implications that flow from it. It can perhaps most effectively be visualized as the overlapping regions of many circles in an ideological Venn diagram.
It emerged almost as a Schelling point of sorts, with many people independently approaching the same views from different directions. Thus, when people refer to themselves as being “Alt-Right”, they are signalling that while they hold right-wing political views, they ultimately believe that demographics are a more important, unifying issue than the typical ideological questions of political structures and/or economic quibbles.
This explains why those on the Left, the Center, and the Establishment Right can’t seem to accurately understand exactly what the Alt-Right is about, or even what we are. To an outsider who has no real interest in our topics and viewpoints, the complexity they encounter when digging into our online spheres prevents them from coming to truly understand the topology of the Alt-Right movement.
Their inability to successful penetrate our social spheres seems to primarily stem from:
- Intellectual laziness
- Insufficient context to understand our lingo, memes, and ideas
To the first point, humans are notoriously lazy. We will nearly always take the easy route, and label association is one way we can do that. For many, as soon as they see a few people who either identify as a particular label or discussing a particular subject, they’ll simply mentally associate that label with the term. For most, the faster they can categorize something and dismissively move on, the better. We can see this in the case of a character like Hugh Hewitt, who claimed that it was essentially a re-branding of Nationalism:
While the Alt-Right certainly contains a large number of Nationalists, that simply isn’t a good definition, nor is it very representative of what it is in actuality.
The second point is a particularly interesting one that I’ve only recently noticed. When I visit Leftist discussion boards, I notice that threads and topics on the Alt-Right consists of people completely perplexed at what we are even discussing. Because of the chan culture that many of us grew up in, we’ve grown accustomed to naturally using obscure references, prolific use of memes, and through the years we have even began to speak esoterically at times, to the point where we have to have lexicon and compendiums for those entering our sphere to even make sense of what we are saying. In my own experience of listening to Alt-Right podcasts with “normies”, I find myself having to stop the podcast about every 10-20 minutes to explain what a particular term or phrase means and the context from which it came. Thus, our lingo has a depth that many who are only marginally interested never come to understand.
In conjunction, these two factors form a particularly effective filter for keeping the lazy and the unintelligent out of the movement altogether, or at least relegating them to the fringes of our spheres, which is why the commentariat has had such a hard time understanding what we actually are.
So, to answer the question that the pundit class has not yet been able to successfully answer (“What is the Alt-Right?”), I would say that it is ultimately a manifestation of right-wing intersectionality, with adherents of multiple ideologies coalescing around the truth of biological realism & the importance of the complex societal implications that flow from it.