We already know that it’s going to be a long four years ahead, but the leaders of the alt-right aim to make their revolution last much longer. In a long piece for Politico, Ben Schreckenger updates us on the state of the alt-right as its biggest voices prepare for Donald Trump’s inauguration.
While some distance themselves from Richard Spencer, who helped coin the term “alt-right” and also led that famous post-election Nazi salute, he’s moved on to engineering the replacement of libertarian and conservative institutions with new organizations that can promote his views on “scientific racism.”
“Maybe Cato will go under,” he said, one of many digs at the old free market institutions of the Republican Party. “Maybe we’ll take over that facility.”
According to Schreckenger, Spencer’s peers at the top of the movement have similar ideas (emphasis mine):
Disdaining the traditional Washington think tanks as passé, they’re taking aim straight at America’s sense of its own identity, with plans for “culture tanks” to produce movies that make anti-immigrant conservatism look cool, and advocacy arms that resemble BuzzFeed more than The Heritage Foundation. They talk elliptically about internet memes replacing white papers as the currency of the policy realm, pushed out by “social media strike forces” trained in the ways of fourth-generation, insurgency-style warfare. There’s the idea of taking over the Republican Party with a wave of Tea Party-style primary challenges in 2018 that will rely on novel campaign tactics like flash mobs and 24/7 streaming video of candidates’ lives. There’s even a new right-wing hipster fraternal organization started by Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys (motto: “The West Is the Best”), which promises to serve as an amateur security force at political events, including the Inauguration.
“Fourth Generation Warfare” is a distinctly-racial theory of civilizational conflict that seems to have deeply influenced Donald Trump. Casual usage of such phraseology underlines the danger of dismissing the alt-right or trying to reduce them to “racists” or “Nazis.” The alt-right is bigger and more diverse than this caricature, a culture war phenomenon of internet culture.
Schreckenger (I think correctly) calls them “the new right,” for they have a vision much longer than one election cycle, or even one president. In making no secret of their disdain for the old right, they acknowledge their intentions to model their movement’s infrastructure on the successful results of the Powell Memo, the Koch empire, and other conservative influence organizations.
So it doesn’t even matter whether Donald Trump gets impeached this Saturday, or (fate forbid) dies suddenly on Sunday, or leaves office in disgrace on Monday. The alt-right isn’t going away.
Whatever happens after the oath of office on Friday, disgusting troll Charles Johnson will still be connected to the centers of power in Washington from thenceforth. So will Breitbart, and its virtual lynch mob leader Milo Yiannopoulos, by way of former CEO Steve Bannon. Conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovitch will orbit a bit further out, but his influence will still be felt in national politics more than it did on Thursday.
Because they are young, the leaders of the alt-right will last a long time, rehabilitating hate speech — and mainstreaming acceptance thereof — all the while. They would coarsen and alter the American political landscape to make room for their retrograde politics. We will be fighting them for a long time.