By all accounts, the alt-right is at a crossroads. The movement that started as an internet phenomenon and blossomed into a full-blown political force in the 2016 election, has stumbled in the past year. Most people peg the start of the trouble at the Charlottesville riots, which were used to paint the alt-right as a bunch of torch wielding Nazis. Others put the blame on the personalities and their endless bickering. Of course, the troubles are exaggerated, but there’s no doubt that the movement is in a difficult patch.
In order for the alt-right to get out of the ditch and become an effective political voice, the leaders of the various groups within the alt-right have to stop screwing up. The number of unforced errors over the last year, by big names in the alt-right, leave people with the impression the movement is not serious. Leaders need to be something more than gags on-line. They have to be a respectable face to a skeptical public. That means being careful and prudent in their public actions. That’s not what has happened over the last year.
The first thing the alt-right needs to do is figure out how it got tangled up with people who turned out to be unstable or unreliable. Starting with Charlottesville, that has been the thread running through all of the stumbles. There’s always a wacko involved. Whether it was a “crying Nazi” at Charlottesville or a tubby cuckold at Michigan, the source of trouble has been people who should never have been given a place at the table. You cannot make up with enthusiasm what you lack in prudence, maturity and intelligence.
Fringe politics can be a lonely place, so it is tempting to welcome everyone, but this is why the Libertarian Party is full of goofballs. The trick is to avoid the temptation to embrace all comers and be skeptical of converts. Some are sincere and full of enthusiasm. These are the foot soldiers that add energy to a movement. Some are attention whores, looking for a cheap stage. Others are unstable loudmouths who like turmoil. A little skepticism about the new converts allows the movement leaders to avoid getting mixed up with nutjobs.
Another way of not inviting the troubles of others into your movement is to not get too close to the other movements. Quiet alliances can be quietly dissolved when they become inconvenient. The alt-right, which largely appeals to college educated suburban males, had no business locking shields with groups like the Traditional Workers Party at public events. Their thing is not your thing and the best way to avoid conflict is to keep a healthy distance. That way, you don’t pay for their mistakes, as has been the case with the TWP.
That’s the other thing that has to be front and center. The groups that have been operating on the fringe for generations have been on the fringe because they are either doing something wrong or they like the fringe. It’s always wise to be cautious of the older groups trying to hitch their wagon to your star. Charlottesville was not about “uniting the right”. It was crabs in the bucket pulling you back down into the bucket with them. A successful mass movement, in this age, will be one that is free of those of the prior age.
Dissident politics, like revolutionary politics, depends upon reliable communication and operational security. In all ages, especially this age, these can come into conflict. Making yourself available to speak to the people, make you vulnerable, and not just physically vulnerable. It makes your message vulnerable to corruption by others beyond your control. Effective communications means controlling the message, which is why the people in charge invest so heavily in monopolizing the media platforms.
Building your own media and supporting the media that supports you is the key. Here is a lesson that can be learned from the New Left. They avoided the mainstream press and instead relied on independent media. They would charge reporters for access to their events. In our age, it means never going on mainstream shows unless they are live, and never agreeing to print interviews. It also means not getting into fights with people on social media. You are the message. Your movement will judged by how you are judged.
This has the added benefit of not inviting attacks from the Left. The last year, from the perspective of an outsider, has looked like the alt-right picking a fight with the people in charge, only to be squashed like a bug. That’s bad optics. When you can’t even hold a luncheon for your people, without being harassed by the Left, it’s time to accept reality and become less public. The alt-right needs to be like an iceberg with a small public face above the water line and large rank and file underneath the water line.
Another thing the alt-right needs to understand is this is not 1920’s Germany or 1960’s America. The people in charge are not weak like the Weimar Republic and they are not complacent like the post-war American ruling class. The Nazis filled the vacuum left from the collapse of German ruling class after the war. The New Left was able to roll to victory because the people in charge at the time, were largely sympathetic and even a bit envious. Today, the people in charge are not weak and they are not sympathetic.
Those movements are not good models for today’s fight. Brawling with state sponsored goons like Antifa is a fool’s errand. Antifa has the backing of the Left and all the money from the billionaires they need. Similarly, demanding to go on campus, on free speech grounds, hoping to shame the Left with their hypocrisy, does nothing but display a fundamental misunderstanding of the opponent. The people running the college campus know that game backward and forward. There’s no beating them at a game they designed.
A better model is something like Irish nationalism. Ultimately, they were effective when they combined a guerrilla movement that operated in the shadows and a political movement that kept its distance from the fighters. We’re not in a world of car bombings and targeted assassinations, but we are in an age when an energetic social media troll can wreak havoc on the prevailing narrative. A guy putting up “It’s OK To Be White” signs around a Progressive hive is the modern version of the car bomb. It does real damage.
That gets to the heart of why the alt-right has stumbled of late. The alt-right had momentum when one wing stuck to making sensible arguments about the demographic reality of our age and what it means for the future. Meanwhile, the other wing took these ideas and used them in the meme war and comment sections of web sites. The reason the people in charge are dumping comment sections and purging social media of anyone with a whiff of heresy is they fear this more than anything. The alt-right needs to get back to what works.
This is a big subject that requires a lot more debate, but effective activism focuses on the effective, not on helping e-celebs get mentioned by Lefty. For dissidents, effective activism makes the strong side look weak and makes the dissidents look smart. If the organizers at Charlottesville had stopped at the Friday night event, and backed out of the rally on Saturday citing safety concerns, the ensuing riot would have been blamed on the other side. You would have effectively used their size against them by being clever.
Of course, the alt-right could only have pulled off such a move at Charlottesville if it was better organized. The overall lack of organization is killing the alt-right. There has to be small local groups of people who trust one another and will cooperate with other local groups, as long as leadership trusts them. This is a basic organizing technique. There should be alt-right clubs all over the country. They should be social clubs that focus on the politics of our age. The alt-right leaders need to focus on this rather than making noise.
Effective organizing means not airing your laundry on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. One reason competent people are not going to want to help the cause is the ridiculous habit of drama queens from the alt-right making grand announcements on social media. When Evan McLaren wants to move on to other things, he should tender his resignation in private like a man, not post it on Twitter like he is Milo promoting some new media scheme. High quality people do not want any part of this. It has to stop.
Finally, the leaders of the alt-right need to understand that in an information war, the message has to be effective against the target. When Mike Enoch says, “no one has a right to be around white people,” that is highly effective, because it states a simple truth in a way that gets the target audience to think of themselves as white. It speaks to people at a personal level.The whole point of the alt-right, allegedly, is to get white people to think of themselves as white. Anything that distracts from that must be avoided.
Way back in the olden thymes, Buckley Conservatism got going because it spoke to the masses of people revolted by what they saw going on with the Left. Bill Buckley never would have amounted to anything if there was not a willing audience, waiting for someone to provide intellectual leadership. Whatever that brand of conservatism became in the long run, it started as a group of smart guys, who took their task seriously. Most important, they exploited an eager market looking for an alternative to what was emerging on the Left.
The alt-right is in a very similar position. There are millions of white people looking around at what is happening in America, wondering why they are doing this to us. Fundamentally, and most importantly, the message of the alt-right is sound. It offers whites a reason to fight for their interests and cheer for their team. What must come next is a class of respectable spokesman and leaders who add weight to this message and organize people as a political force. It’s time for the alt-right leaders to take the next step or step aside.