Yesterday, ailing US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton raised the profile of the nebulous ‘AltRight’ simply by devoting a speech to it. Obviously unaware that even giving this much oxygen to the fire would greatly amplify it, Hillary decried the “radical fringe” taking over the Republican Party between dismissing the dangers of black urban zones as well as getting a quick jab in at her opponent’s “largely white audiences”. She made reference to Twitter user ‘WhiteGenocide™’ and supposed “anti-semitic death threats” from supporters of Donald Trump. Everything from the National Enquirer to Alex Jones came under some highly scripted scrutiny from Clinton, but the AltRight was singled out as the defining ideological backing of Trump’s campaign.
Allow me to speculate for a moment that Trump himself is not particularly right wing in any sense, not at the level of deeply held conviction. If so, we cannot attribute the success of the AltRight to him, but rather to something intrinsic to its very modus operandi. Trump has been a vehicle for sure; his general unscripted take-no-prisoners attitude has allowed him to parrot some of the AltRight’s talking points without needing to reflect upon whether it was ‘wise’ in hindsight. Trump is an amplifier, he is a multiplier, but I dare say the primary cause of the AltRight’s current prominence is memetic warfare, that is, the use of a new rhetorical method to penetrate the national discourse, a method which relies on three key ingredients, at least in this instance:
1) Offensive humor
2) Applicability to reality
As many will know, the AltRight has been using memes to harass and humiliate a whole range of targets, from concern trolling Jewish journalists to neoconservatives. The on-air tantrum of Republican strategist Rick Wilson was emblematic of the fact that the AltRight had in fact managed to score a win against mainstream Conservatism in terms of online discourse. In the buzzing meme-production district of 4chan’s /pol/, there is a memetic dismissal for virtually everything.
Here is an example of a successful meme:
‘We Wuz Kangs’ (an ebonic brutalization of ‘We Were Kings’) makes a mockery of the pseudo-historical study of ‘Afrocentrism’, which is where the achievements of civilizations such as Egypt and Rome are attributed to Sub-Saharan Africans. While this doesn’t have any credibility in most university history courses, it is taught in subjects like ‘black studies’ and other such moneysinks, and is propagated by black media sources. The idea of afrocentrism is of course so ridiculous that it is perfectly ripe material for a meme, and ‘We Wuz Kangs’ acts as an effective dismissal of all afrocentric claims. It does not matter what claim is made, it can be refuted simply by using ‘We Wuz Kangs’. It works because it fulfills the three criteria of a successful meme: It is offensive yet humorous, breaking the taboo of criticizing black people, it is applicable to reality in that afrocentrism is a massive lie, and finally it is simple.
‘Le Happy Merchant’ has been around for a while, but is commonly misunderstood by Liberals as simply an anti-semitic image. On the contrary, it illustrates perfectly why Liberals remain confused about AltRight discourse, unsure often if the person is serious, or trolling for the biggest reaction. The caricature of the Jew in this picture is so ridiculously exaggerated that it blurs the line between satire and hatred, which does seem to encapsulate the most common stance on the Jews found in these spheres. They are a rather self-important nuisance, often up to no good, but really they aren’t something we lose sleep over. The ZOG conspiracy, for the most part, is fictional, and instead you have a high preponderance of Jews doing bad things. Of course, they always place themselves at the center of attention and so it is fun to play on the paranoia of zany organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
You may not like this rhetoric. You may perhaps prefer things like afrocentrism either be ignored entirely, or refuted point by point in some kind of ‘devastating critique’. The sad fact is, there is no time for that in our present culture which is increasingly driven by fast-to-order info, and the left still controls the majority share of information delivery.
Memes are not intended to convince intellectuals of anything, nor are they really a debating tactic per se, but rather they are negation propaganda. They communicate ideas contrary to the prevailing narrative in a memorable way. In some senses, Liberals have been using a similar kind of tool when they shut down the opposition using charges of ‘racism’ and ‘sexism’ etc. but contrary to right wing memes, these appeal less to reality, and more to emotional points of contact or the preset bedrocks of Liberalism itself. Once so-called ‘equality’ has been established as a given, appeals to ‘fairness’, while not developed in any intellectual sense, become effective easy-bake information weapons.
The offensive meme is the right wing response to this. In seeing the AltRight’s meme culture as something that is caustic to the established ideals, we must be careful not to set up a false conflict between the ‘chaos’ of right wing memes vs. the ‘logos’ of left wing memes. There is nothing particularly logical about contemporary Liberal discourse, it is almost entirely emotive. What we have found however, is that the logos of good argumentation is not a winning tactic against the emotive culture that the left has developed over successive decades if not centuries. The AltRight has, sensibly in my view, adopted a chaotic form of information war that has allowed it to blow apart the rotting edifice of American Conservatism/Constitutionalism, and its momentum has now carried it through to torment the Cathedral’s ‘inner party’.
The AltRight itself is of course notoriously difficult to define, but the media and Hillary are most assuredly using it in its most nebulous sense, since they include the tame outlet Breitbart News alongside Millennial Woes under its umbrella. I have said that if you wanted to define the AltRight, you might simply want to say, “a loose collection of very pissed-off people”, with the caveat that whatever they find disagreeable or unsatisfying about the Modern World, they have entertained at least some semblance of a right wing solution. Of course, critics are correct when they point to such and such a figure on the AltRight and declare that they are in fact Liberal on a given issue. There can be no argument on this point. The AltRight, not being an organized body, covers a huge range of people who disagree on a great many fundamental things. However, it should also be acknowledged that a significant portion of what is at present being kvetched about in mainstream news, is in fact Reactionary, and the Reactosphere as a subgrouping has reaped net benefit from the success of the AltRight as a whole. Not because of Trump’s potential presidency (which I have given my own reasons for supporting), nor because of some populist desire to convert the masses into firebreathing Reactionaries, but instead to detonate the leftist discourse. In short, the virtue of the nebulous AltRight which when taken as a whole lacks real discernible properties, is its destructive rather than constructive element.
Using memetic warfare, the AltRight is breaking down a dialectic which has been dominant for generations. They are not replacing it with anything workable, after all, man cannot live on memes alone, but this is where we come in. This is what these long tracts of metapolitics and applied theology are for. While some see a conflict between the two: the low culture of 4chan memery, and the high culture of Maistre acolytes, this conflict is a category error. The two are in a form of symbiosis at present. While one destroys, the other builds a parallel replacement fit for those refugees from the void left by what memes help to expose. Whether its ‘CurrentYear™’ dispatching Liberal belief in the end of history, ‘Muhh Feels’ lampooning emotional excuses for policy, ‘*Tips Fedora*’ sending up smug pop atheism, ‘Wojak’ communicating the disillusionment of a generation without purpose, or the omnipresent ‘Pepe the Frog’ who is now an all-purpose vehicle for any message one can imagine, memes are changing popular discourse. Someone in Hillary’s audience even shouted ‘Pepe!’ when she mentioned the AltRight.
Clearly we are in some kind of political renaissance in far right thought, and because of this it is a vast ship which sails on this tumultuous sea. We’re all on it. Of course, it is compartmentalized. There is a first class section where the champagne gets drunk, and the greasy engine room where coarser language is bellowed. There are passengers you might not want to even come within a five cabin radius of, there are some you will be right to make every effort to throw over the side into the freezing water. In such a diffuse ‘movement’, this is pretty much par for the course and people really shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape about it
I don’t meme excessively. that isn’t my job, but to have an outright aversion to the use of memes (especially considering how effective they are) is a disarmament, often (though not always) motivated by some unfortunate sympathy with the enemy, some desire not to be too offensive, not to stamp on the special snowflake too hard. I couldn’t care less about Liberals and their precious feels, that much I hope has been made clear long before now.
Some will use memes, some will not, but memes are a part of the rightist discourse at this point and the hysteria they have generated is evidence of their impact. It is becoming harder and harder, at least on certain mediums like Twitter and image boards, for the Liberal emotive rhetoric to take root in the way it used to because memes are making a mockery of them, triggering their sensibilities, and according to Hillary Clinton, causing parents across the United States to fear that their children might be eaten by racist frogs.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned on prior occasions one of my favorite Chinese sayings, “may you live in interesting times”, meaning “may chaos and uncertainty come upon you”, which applies well to Liberals. Who wouldn’t want what is driving them up the wall to continue? Meme on you crazy diamonds.