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What is the Alternative Right? Part 2

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Czech version here

Part 2 of 4; Part 1 here

Author’s Note:

This is the second installment of the opening essay of a forthcoming anthology called The Alternative Right.    

3. Brand Wars & Polarization

From the summer of 2015 to the fall of 2016, the Alt Right was winning debates and changing minds. Even more significantly, it was also changing the parameters of political debate. It was increasingly capable of driving the news cycle and forcing the political establishment to respond to it. It was also funny, creative, and cool. Naturally, people wanted to join the movement and embrace the brand.

But that presented some problems.

First of all, the Alt Right was a decentralized, largely anonymous, largely online network of individuals, webzines, and small organizations. Because of its online nature, there were no barriers to the movement’s viral growth—but by the same token, there were no barriers to entry either.

Second, the Alt Right brand was effective because of its vagueness. But the flip side of that vagueness was that nobody could control how it was used. Anyone who dissented from the Republican establishment could call himself Alt Right, and as the Trump campaign gained momentum, increasing numbers of young Trumpian populists and civic nationalists wanted to use the term. However, many of these newcomers were ideologically naïve and half-baked.

The main bone of contention was race. The core and vanguard of the Alt Right were White Nationalists. They believed that whiteness is a necessary condition for being a member of any European or European-derived society like the United States. Many newcomers rejected this idea. They were ignorant of the problems of multiracial, multicultural societies. They believed the widespread dogma that being an American is a matter of a civic creed, to which people of any race can adhere. Many of them greeted White Nationalist ideas with indifference or downright hostility.

The utility of the Alt Right brand was as a tool of reaching out to people who were closer to the political mainstream, the “normies.” The normies were now coming in droves, and some of them wanted to define the Alt Right in more comfortable civic nationalist terms. This led to a crisis in the Alt Right.

For years, people in our movement had complained about only “preaching to the choir.” But now that White Nationalists had a vast audience of people who didn’t already agree with them, they did not feel elated; they felt threatened. Many people were worried that their movement was going to be “coopted” by “entryists” and started thinking in terms of how to repulse newcomers.

I thought this was self-defeating. I urged people to see the situation as an opportunity to convert a vastly expanded audience to White Nationalism. The reason we had come so far is that we had the best arguments and propaganda. We just needed to have faith in ourselves and our message, then we needed to get back in the battle and continue winning new converts.

We also needed to be realistic about the limits of our ability to control a decentralized, grass-roots, online social movement with anything less than the best memes. It is empty to talk of entryism and purges when one is dealing with an online movement with fuzzy boundaries. We cannot prevent people from going online, nor can we throw them off the internet. Finally, we needed to develop an ethos that would allow us to collaborate productively with people closer to the center, whose links to the mainstream were channels for our ideas and influence.

These arguments, however, were rendered moot on November 21, 2016, when Hailgate allowed the mainstream media to forever tie the Alt Right to neo-Nazism. At this point, many civic nationalists rejected the Alt Right brand entirely. This was the birth of the so-called “Alt Lite.” It was “lite” only in one sense: it had tossed White Nationalists overboard. The Alt Lite remained a potent force, while the Alt Right became significantly weaker. The Alt Lite commanded a large audience, which White Nationalists could no longer reach. The Alt Lite retained an enormous social network, from which we were now cut off. White Nationalists could accomplish less, because a lot of highly competent and creative people on the Alt Lite would no longer cooperate with us.

Perhaps the worst loss, however, was in the ideological realm. The most important intellectual battle White Nationalists face is to destroy the taboo against white identity politics. After Hailgate, the Alt Lite  differentiated itself from White Nationalism by drawing a firm line against white identity politics and digging in behind it, strengthening the taboo among the very people who were most receptive to questioning it.

It was a disaster. But it did get high marks from Andrew Anglin, who had been at the forefront of the effort to identify the Alt Right with Nazism: “Basically, Richard Spencer did something at NPI that was needed exactly right now in the post-victory period: he separated the Alt-Right from the Alt-Cuck and the Alt-Kike. We are better off without these people.”[1] We were better off only if one’s goal was to assert control over a marginal, subcultural political movement. We were significantly worse off if one’s goal was to interface with the cultural and political mainstream and move it in our direction.

Some figures on the Alt Lite have speculated that Spencer engineered Hailgate precisely to drive off civic nationalists by identifying the Alt Right with racial nationalism in its most stigmatized and toxic form. For what it is worth, I ran this theory by someone who socialized and worked closely with Spencer over the years, and he rejected it as “giving him too much credit” for Machiavellian strategizing. Instead, he chalked Hailgate up to a mix of impulsiveness, drunkenness, and unfathomable bad judgment.

Whether Hailgate was intentional or not, however, it became the pattern for what came next: a drive to centralize the Alt Right under the leadership of Richard Spencer, which led to further division and dysfunction.


[1] Andrew Anglin, “Jared Taylor Throws Richard Spencer Under the Bus,” Daily Stormer, November 27, 2016,


  1. Francis
    Posted October 18, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    This is the best commentary I have heard about the “alt-right” scene, in a historical point of view and what really happened. I forgot exactly what happened in 2015 and 2016. This puts everything in perspective.

    I’m happy something like this is recorded in history that we finally know who was writing history and who was being attracted by it.

  2. Mark
    Posted October 18, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    In one of his YouTube interviews this past spring Spencer said that the Alt Right had to remain “junior partners” with the Breitbart crowd until election day. This was in response to a question about Hailgate. He also made no attempt to conceal his anger at Cernovich et al. when they disavowed him. My guess is RS knew what he was doing but badly miscalculated how much damage he would do to our image and how many people he would repel.

    In the 5+ years I have followed him, Spencer has made it a point to never take the easy way out of a situation. On the contrary, it seems like he often takes hardest road open to him. His insistence that America is “over”, his fetishizing of power and empire, and his apparent inability to control himself around women–Julia Ioffe wrote that he clumsily hit on her on election night–are just the most salient examples. I don’t know why Richard behaves this way, but a few explanations are obvious.

    I think if Richard scales down his ambitions and focuses on what he is good at he can be one of the best advocates we have, but I fear his self-obsession and need to prove himself will undermine him and us yet again.

  3. Posted October 18, 2018 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Wise, sir.

    Wisdom is the native virtue of the right; hubris finds its natural home on the left along with unbridled desire & the vulgar longing for the unconstrained.

    “The main bone of contention was race”. Yes, more to the point– boners of contention. Leading lites (boneheads?) of the enlitenment like Gavin McGinnis, Mike Cernovich have non-white wives. (cf. Milo and his thing for dindu ding-a-ling).

    OF course these men are going to defend their own. First do no harm. The problem is that when they attack you have to attack back. This can be done wisely by remembering that we want to save all that are salvageable. Secret weapon remains that so many on the dissident right migrated from the left. Need to get the Conversion Narratives going (cf. #walkaway). Speak directly to felt need. Many white Americans are ready for a positive identity NOW. Burn no bridges or pharmacies dispensing gateway drugs.

    Bright spot: It was very encouraging recently to see the liberal Devon Tracey positively engage with Jared Taylor:

  4. Requiem for a ribbit
    Posted October 18, 2018 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Again, this chronological, factually acute yet philosophical history of the Alternative Right/alt-right comes as welcome relief, because the inherent decentralization addressed above leaves borders undefended to subversive accounts by enemies big and “smol.”

    “Hailgate” is when Richard Spencer appeared to me like a rash. But I credit Charlottesville as the irreversible, premature loss in the Optics Battle, and for overall morale, however digitally porous. Charlotteville seemed telegraphed from an anachronistic made-for-cable reality that jarred with the alt-right’s nimble memetic savvy; its bizarre legacy is that racial rally is more effective behind a screen than in front of a camera. Meanwhile MAGA rallies serve as constant soft-power displays.

    Spencer was a bespoke ego-cancer on the inside, just as Ben Shapiro was (and is) the bespoke controlled opposition, an Israeli-funded parasite that tempers potential converts and siphons young energy. Spencer’s damage spread as Shapiro’s influence grew, and from this pathetic vacuum we got Shapiro’s Zio-friendly “Intellectual Deep Web” movement, coined by the NYT, which leeches and surveils Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson’s robust white post-cable audience (Shapiro also now hosts on Fox News, joining Mark Levin to reassimilate the aughts’ neocon Israel First agenda).

    But I’d like to emphasize the importance, post-election, that the Syria scuffles of 2017 and 2018 had in temporarily re-energizing the alt-right’s pro-white, JQ roots. In hindsight, Trump was teasing/testing his ziocon support network, but the 2017 strike in particular, few may remember this, was a startling late-inning example of the alt-right’s organization, influence and fury. #FireKushner was trending worldwide, charges of dual loyalty were being lobbed semi-publicly by Gen Z, and Ivanka lost all trustworthiness and credibility with pro-white influencers. (Unfortunately, Alex Jones’s hardline commendable criticism of the “Syria scuffles” likely explain how he was so easily memoryholed this year; Jones was an indisputable gateway to the alt-right magnitudes beyond Spencer’s dandiest fantasies.)

    Excuse the lengthy comment. But I think the 2017-8 Syria blowback indicates the alt-right is now in eccentric slumber, not destroyed, just as Jared Kushner has become less public.

    The alt-right will be reborn when Kushner makes another inevitable pro-Israel powerplay. I believe the alt-right’s future and Kushner’s grandiose ambitions are entwined like a dogfight. Kushner’s fortunes flourished in the Great Recession, the alt-right’s floundered. He bought a newspaper and that tony 666 HQ, the alt-right published on 4chan via mommy’s basement. Of course, Kushner fathered Trump’s grandchildren so the alt-right’s faith in Trump is unprecedented, but we also have Trump Jr. as a redpilled ally. And it’s here, in the oncoming conflict, the designs and destinies of Kushner vs Trump Jr where a matured alt-right’s fire will again soar…and I expect the enemy extrapolates this and preventive measures are being considered.

  5. Greg Johnson
    Posted October 19, 2018 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    I disagree. Sure things were creaky before Hailgate. But Hailgate was when and why the wheels went off.

    Spencer was problematic long before the punch, which was not that serious. He did not lose consciousness. He walked away from it.

  6. Requiem for a ribbit
    Posted October 19, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    >>”I wonder if some of Spencer’s erratic behavior might be connected with his recent head injury at the hands of anti-fa.”

    …the origin story of a real life, sartorial Batman villain. Let’s hope Spencer isn’t stocking up on Halloween greasepaint.

  7. Podcast Listener
    Posted October 19, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I agree with Greg about Richard Spencer exercising poor judgement prior to Heilgate scandal. I first noticed something wrong about Spencer in one of his podcasts that he participated in with Andy Nowicki and Colin Liddell. I’d listen to the podcasts while doing my daily exercise. The interplay between the WASPy Richard, faithful Catholic Andy, and irreverent Colin was really enjoyable. It was a well-done talk show.

    One day however, Colin made a joke typical to his style and Spencer snapped at him. The snap was on the edge of being mean – right on the line. It was the sort of comment which I’d seen when one business partner of a start up I was working for make many times just before he made a play to capture the entire client base by nuking the company and setting out on his own. It was a test-the-waters comment, a sort of probe of the defenses before the attack. Several months later Richard Spencer nuked his alt right website.

    To really be successful one needs to be surrounded by good people and Spencer lost Colin and Andy when he destroyed the alt right website. It seems that he has replaced the two with an ever descending level of talent. One of Richard’s minions exaggerated his military valor which caused embarrassment. Additionally, the feud with Greg Johnson was a self-imposed blunder. The key thing I noticed during that affair was that Daniel Friberg put in quotes words Greg didn’t say. It was sloppy dishonest and I stopped reading Spencer after that.

  8. mick
    Posted October 19, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Another important occurrence in this time period was Spencer’s media blitz in November-December 2016. He talked to the media extensively and invited them to the NPI conference. The media’s objective was obvious, to damage Trump by guilt of association. Why risk giving Trump bad publicity in the critical period of the transition and the beginning of his Presidency? That’s when it became clear to me that Spencer obtaining fame and notoriety was way too high a priority for him.

  9. Posted October 20, 2018 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    The white nationalist movement, aka, the Alt Right, has it’s ebbs and flows, it waxes and wanes, but the forces driving it never go away.

    That’s why I don’t get too concerned about missteps by self proclaimed leaders. It’s all forgotten in a few news cycles.

    The worst thing happening is our failure to seize an advantage that is so clearly being dropped in our laps – – namely, the private jet pilot problem of the ruling elites.

    Go on YouTube and search “Joe Rogan Americans too fat for the military.” An army special forces soldier talks about how Green Beret teams are woefully understaffed and all branches of the military can’t find even close to sufficient numbers of qualified young people to join the military. Sure, they recruit foreigners but this has led to terrible losses of military secrets. The US Navy just lost 600 gigabytes of top secret information to Chinese spies, for example.

    White boys playing vidya and shit posting on 4chan are doing the Atlas Shrugged bit, causing a crisis in their absence.

    We can leverage this crisis by having the most radical white nationalists also be the Highly Competent Men – – Green Berets, private jet pilots for hedge funders, aerospace engineers, general officers et cetera. All we have to do is study differential equations 18 hours a day avoid woman’s crazy eye, don’t get addicted to opiates, and do physical conditioning, and we can infiltrate the highest places, like the Nizari Ismaili Muslims from the 11th century.

    While “Assassins” typically refers to the entire sect, only a group of acolytes known as the fida’i actually engaged in conflict. Lacking their own army, the Nizari relied on these warriors to carry out espionage and assassinations of key enemy figures, and over the course of 300 years successfully killed two caliphs, and many viziers, sultans, and Crusader leaders.[6]

  10. Jay
    Posted October 21, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    As someone who has recently been awoken to these issues, especially white dispossession and the JQ, I’m grateful for the memes and the successes the alt-right has had in terms of impacting online culture. Yet I also find myself wondering if certain directions this movement has taken have left it hamstring or even permanently crippled for the foreseeable future.

    To take one example, many of the loudest voices eagerly embrace a kind of militant and authoritarian social conservativism, such as being militantly anti-gay under the guise of fighting “degeneracy,” being hostile to women, and stuff like that. Maybe I’m just projecting my own political inclinations onto this, but I wonder to what extent the success of this movement would have changed without this, or if this was all toned down a bit.

    For example, I myself was practically ready to consider myself alt right, but finding Spencer’s and Andrew Joyce’s ludicrous and toxic series of articles arguing for ruthlessly purging all gay people was one of the main things that made me realize I can never, ever support these people, and I haven’t been able to take the so-called “alt right” seriously after that.

    But setting aside the actual merit or demerit of that one discussion, this seems emblematic of ways in which the alt right has failed to realize that one has to tailor a political strategy to the time and culture we live in and not couple it with dubious goals and principles which will cap its number of followers by sending normies in the other direction. It’s just a shame because you see lots of former and ambivalent liberals and centrists these days turned off by the irrational authoritarianism and anti-white aspects of the far left who might otherwise be reachable.

    In any case, if the alt right in its current form fails to gain enough traction, at least as the main leading vanguard, I just hope the forces propelling it will manage to find grounding in another political movement that has a better chance to reach a critical mass. One strategy might be a more generic version of white identity politics, or maybe even a left-wing version of the alt right (for lack of a better term).

    Another avenue might be to just focus on the Jewish question. This seems to me to be what Ron Unz is working on with the Unz Review and his American Pravda articles. Drastically transforming cultural values is a long and arduous process, after all, and I suspect few whites will readily agree with the more extreme views of the alt right. But no white American, or any ethical human being, will fail to be shocked and redpilled if you can get across to them the extent of Jewish subversion and high crimes and the necessity of immediately confronting this threat.

    • Wanred
      Posted October 22, 2018 at 5:35 am | Permalink

      I have always considered the ‘alt-right’ to be more of an umbrella term for various groups so identifying with this term seemed pointless. Ironically, the openly gay Jack Donovan’s writings brought me here.

      I believe the alt-right it has served its vanguard role and opened certain issues for discussion (mass-immigration for one) and in some circles, even white replacement. It allowed for European parties with anti-immigration agendas to grow tenfold and it also showed to the world that being ‘right-wing’ isn’t about Zionism, censorship and worshipping Capitalism as the left portrays it to be.

    • Jay
      Posted October 22, 2018 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I definitely agree the alt right has it place, and I think we need a “full spectrum dominance” of pro-white opinion.

      I suspect the best chance for a vanguard movement going forward is to just go after the Jewish establishment from all angles by spreading awareness and legal, nonviolent subversion and resistance. This is speculation on my part, but if the jews are taken care of, all else will follow, but with them in power nothing will happen.

      Regarding Spencer, he may have been neutral at first regarding gays, but he endorsed Joyce’s article (published on his own platform) by sending out a tweet that it was the “definitive answer” to the gay question.

      Outside of Counter Currents, Occidental Quarterly, and 4chan/meme culture it’s just so much garbage. It’s good that “alt right”
      young straight white men have a place to stand up for themselves, but these people like Richard Spencer will never get themselves elected as a local dog catcher.

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted October 22, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        After Joyce’s “definitive” series on the Gay Question, it came out that Richard Spencer put a gay furry in charge of his Discord server, despite repeated warnings. This guy would probably still be running Spencer’s Discord if it had not been shut down. When a recording came out of Spencer’s moderator sexually harassing and bullying a 14-year-old boy, I asked Joyce how much he would charge for a definitive four-part series on “The Furry Question in White Nationalism,” but I received no reply.

        There is no limit to the moral squalor of these people.

    • Requiem for a ribbit
      Posted October 22, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      >>”Another avenue for [alt-right longevity] might be to just focus on the Jewish question”

      This was and is, imo, the sole major criterion that ever defined “alt-right.” It’s a very simple term by design, like “alternative rock,” but its well was nevertheless poisoned by Spencer then eagerly quarantined by JQ media: it literally means “alternative right,” and the “right” bloc referenced and being shunned is the Neocon Establishment that lead the GOP party/influence from 2000-2016, via Dubbya’s Jewish MENA warmongers, and Israel Firsters McCain, Graham, Bolton, Haley et al. The “alt-right” was a defensive, non-violent decentralized movemen, not isolationist in foreign policy so much as strictly non-interventionist re: conflicts benefitting Greater Israel and Zionist messianic supremacy, using white lives/tax dollars.

      The irony is that the alt-right, like Trump, was anti-war. But the JQ media and Spencer quickly reframed its entire m.o. as being a movement of actionable offense, thus dragging Nazi analogies. The major damage done was that the JQ was able, after a decade of bloodthirsty MENA genocidal strategy, to switch-hit to the victimized “other.” Now normies hear “alt-right” and picture violent white pugilists. Another irony, which Mr. Johnson acknowledges, was that the “alt-right” was pro-white but defined by digital dialogue/online unification. Whites are famously independent and internecine competitive, so anonymity is a saving grace.

      By being “alternative,” for the first time, a WN movement defined itself by what it was NOT (i.e. not Jewish, not Zio), rather than by what it IS i.e. white. Christianity arguably made a similar break from Judaism, so the JQ deftly used Israel to mainstream the Neocon movement. Lastly, the “alt-right” kept its sense of humor, and as with Trump, more bees with honey.

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