Labels are important in social discourse, as they are shorthand for a collection of ideas, arguments and images. It’s why the Left always makes its first assault on something by corrupting its labels. If they can anathematize the label, then they effectively discredit the people and ideas associated with it. It is a form of the aphorism often mistakenly credited to Stalin, “No man, no problem.” Similarly, social movements often first try to establish their name and symbols, before fully explaining what it is they are championing.
One reason the alt-right was easily smashed by the Progressive establishment is that they chose symbols that had already been anathematized by the Left and their team name had no intrinsic meaning. They would have been better off dressing as circus clowns, rather than prep school Nazis. They thought they could break the taboos against fascism by irreverently breaking the taboo, but instead they simply ended up playing a well-known role in the Left’s morality play. From there it became easy to demonize the name “alt-right.”
That said, if the term alt-right had a better definition, one that was both positive and intrinsically respectable, there efforts to break the fascist taboo by irreverently mocking it could have worked. The reason is the public would have identified them with a label having an established meaning that was separate from the cartoon version of fascism the Left has promoted for generations. Instead, alt-right had no obvious meaning, other than an association with Richard Spencer, who was quickly turned into the bogeyman.
It is why “dissident right” has a better chance as a label for an authentic alternative to the Progressive orthodoxy. The word “dissident” has both a literal meaning and an historic meaning. In fact, the idea of the dissident has emotional resonance in the West, as it is associated with resistance to authoritarianism. While “alt” is that key on your keyboard you use when things go wrong, a dissident is a heroic figure, stoically refusing to buckle to the authoritarian. It’s a word the Left cannot demonize without revealing themselves.
The trouble is, the label does not have a literal definition that is known to most people who use it for themselves or the larger movement. You see that in this post over at Counter-Currents by someone using the name Eordred. He runs through the various tribes that continue to operate outside of mainstream public discourse, but he struggles to arrive at a definition. It is only at the end that he makes a passing reference to the actual source of the term, coined by John Derbyshire a couple of decades ago.
The dissident right is, to some degree, a reaction to the shift on the Right, among the Buckleyites mostly, to embrace the blank slate and egalitarianism. This was mostly due to the infestation of neoconservatives and libertarians. The neocons brought with them that old Marxist belief that society can be willed into any shape you like, regardless of the people in it. Libertarians, like Marxist, simply refuse to accept the reality of the human condition. As a result, the mainstream Right implicitly embraced the blank slate.
The dissidents were those who first dissented from the prevailing orthodoxy on human nature and human organization. Drawing on science, rather than tradition or religion, the dissidents made the correct point that human diversity is real. People, as we see them today, are not the result of historical forces, but the result of evolutionary forces. It turns out, and the evidence continues to pour in support of this, that human evolution is local, copious and recent. The observable differences are rooted in biology, not culture.
While the dissident right is, to some degree, a reaction to the drift into blank slate mysticism by the establishment Right, it is not reactionary. To be a reactionary is to be entirely controlled by the Left, which is why reaction has never been able to sustain itself as an authentic organizing philosophy. It is the cleanup crew after a spasm of radicalism has made a mess of things. The dissident right is not a reaction to radicalism. It is a promotion of biological reality. It offers an alternative foundation for political philosophy.
As far as being on the Right, it is because biological realism reaches the most of the same conclusions of the traditional Right, with regards to human nature and the human organization. The difference is that the traditional Right assumes those traditions, customs and institutions are the result of accumulated wisdom. The dissident right, in contrast, thinks of traditions, customs and institutions as evolved solutions to human organization that are peculiar to a people, because of their peculiar evolutionary arc.
In other words, go into any high school cafeteria and you will see the students self-segregating along academic class, social class, sex and race. This is not the result of accumulated wisdom in the form of custom or the result of tradition. It is not the result of mystical forces like white privilege or social constructs. It is the nature of humans to attract to those with whom they share fundamental connections, which are rooted in biology. Their hierarchical relationships are similarly rooted in their biology.
This difference in starting premise is what distinguishes the dissident right from the traditional Right and puts it at odds with some elements on the Right. Instead of defending tradition on philosophical grounds, it challenges the status quo on empirical grounds. It is why the Left is so frightened of what is coming from the human sciences. Their effort to anathematize these ideas by calling them “scientific racism” inevitably makes them look like vinegar drinking scolds, condemning Galileo in defense of superstition.
That said, this radical starting point could very well be why it cannot coexist with the traditional Right. There is a noticeable gap in perspective between those with an empirical world view versus those steeped in tradition and philosophy. When your starting point is an English biologist, rather than a German philosopher, the cultural differences are quite noticeable to both parties. The rationality of the dissident right may make it unsuited for political conflict, which is not about the right answer, but the right weapon.