What is the Alt-right? And should the Left be worried?

The alternative right or Alt-Right, is growing right wing element, centred in the US. The ‘CEO’ of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is Steve Bannon, a prominent Alt-righter. This gives the movement credence and is arguably the de-facto political ideology of Trump.

So what does it stand for? There is a lot of anti’s in the alt-right movement:  anti-state, anti-globalisation, anti-immigration, anti-feminism etc. Its political philosophy is rooted in libertarianism and individualism. It believes the left, specifically ‘social justice warriors’ and cultural Marxists who promote minority interests, are fatally undermining western society. The movement calls for a reawakening of traditional western values, which asserts moral superiority over other cultures.

Not all Alt-righters are Anti-Semitic, the usual tell-tale sign of fascist/right wing ideologies. Some praise Israel for standing up to its Islamic neighbours. The alt-right generally does not differentiate between Islam and radical Islam. Islam is simply an existential threat to western society, which will never adapt to ‘our way of life’. The Alt-right is very active during periods of terror attacks and scares.

You’re probably thinking we’ve been here before with the Tea Party movement. In some respects this is an extension. Alt-righters see themselves as a reforming movement, as traditional republicanism and conservatism have betrayed their roots for globalisation, hence the rise of Trump. There isn’t a single figurehead of the alt-right, rather some of the leading thinkers include: Mike Cernovich, Stefan Molyneux, Paul Joseph Watson and Richard Spencer. They are articulate, using the social media channels YouTube and Twitter, to get their messages across. As mainstream media is shunned, their media outlets include the Drudge report and Breitbart. This makes reasoned debate with alt-righters near impossible, as they will claim your viewpoint is corrupt, based on false premises.

The UK Breitbart editor in chief and chief irritant, Raheem Kassam is a former advisor to Nigel Farage. He is vocal against creping Islamisation in the UK, with particular hatred for London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. During the summer Milo Yiannopoulos, another Breitbart editor, ran a vicious campaign against the reboot of Ghostbusters. Milo’s supporters objected to the ‘politically correct’ remake of the 1980s version, with particular ire reserved for Leslie Jones, the African-American actress. While this might sound like juvenile campaigns, the underlining theme is a concerted effort to be politically incorrect and pull back progress on race and gender issues.

Paul Joseph Watson is currently spearheading a counter-argument against Black Lives Matter. He wants African-Americans to support Trump. The reason: Hilary and the Left promote the social welfare trap, which keeps African Americans down. Corporations play their part, by financing the violent rap and drugs culture. Presumably, only the Alt-right’s white male ideology can break this vicious cycle.

Joking aside, this is not a movement led by skinheads behind PCs. Milo is a homosexual while Raheem is British, of South Asian descent. There is no ‘typical alt-righter’, which makes the movement fluid and hard to ignore.

The left should be worried. The demographics of the alt-right are young, in the 18-40 age range. They are usually college-educated, social media savvy (note their memes of Hilary Clinton) and well-versed in world affairs. They have successfully propelled their image onto Trump’s policies. UK based alt-righters were vocal during the EU referendum, believing their viewpoint altered the Brexit debate. Some of it is hyperbole, however if YouTube and Twitter subscribers can be used as a gauge; the movement is growing. If Donald Trump wins the election, we may see elements of Alt-right philosophy in action and further fragmentation of politics in the US and beyond.

Tarek Hussain is a Young Fabians Member

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