Anyone remember that one-liner about the now outdated hairstyle: the mullet?
Business in the front, party in the back.
When one analyzes the phenomenon of the AltRight, this is perhaps very pertinent to an account of what success it has had. By this I mean that there were two layers to the AltRight as a label. The largest of these was the amorphous background noise, swelling with figures as diverse as Davis Aurini and Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and RamZPaul, obscured further by a sea of anonymous internet trolls which the Twitter censor bureau spent the entire election season playing whack-a-mole with. This vast basket of ‘deplorables’ was impossible for the mainstream media to effectively define without resorting to the laundry list of ineffective adjectives used by Hillary in her tired speech on the subject. The media could not tackle this layer because it was a zeitgeist rather than an organization, a layer they themselves had given such broad membership so as to be meaningless.
Then you had the second layer. What did the curious find when they went looking for more information on the AltRight, beyond the media which has no credibility with the vast majority of the general public? They found the clean-shaven Richard Spencer and his non-threateningly named ‘National Policy Institute‘, videos perhaps of conferences that were as far as one could imagine from Klan rallies or whatever other unsavory spectacle leftists hoped for. Ask yourself, with this group consistently defining itself as the locus of the AltRight (and indeed Spencer virtually coined the term), why did the media not slap up videos of the heinous NPI conferences all over MSNBC and CNN to warn the public about the dangers of the AltRight?
Because it would have been boring. This isn’t to knock Spencer or his conference, quite to the contrary. It was the lack of the expected mania of right wing gatherings that made NPI so far from newsworthy that the opponents of the broader group of right wing thinkers and activists found it impossible to use this as a dummy target for that amorphous blob they so desperately wanted to tie to Donald Trump. When you scream “NAZIS!“, the people expect to see Hitler, and throwing up the kindly, grandfatherly figure of Jared Taylor calmly discussing crime rates isn’t going to cut it.
to this day, the distinguished h’white man’s finest hour
Richard Spencer had little control over the broad AltRight. It was an organism in and of itself, without master, without borders. But what Spencer could control was his own organization, his centrality to the brand as its founder, and a small network of affiliated groups and close friends, such as those of American Renaissance. By all accounts, Spencer is a gifted organizer. I’ve had my disagreements with some things he has said, and with content he has had published on his web journal Radix, but one cannot fault Spencer’s determination and gumption, as well as apparently very good people skills. If the AltRight played a notable part in Donald Trump’s success, then Richard Spencer can be credited as having played a notable part in the AltRight’s success. It is then a cruel twist of fate that the very same person carries some responsibility for its first blunder post-Trump.
On November 19th, NPI held a conference in Washington DC, in part to commemorate what it saw as its victory (Trump’s unexpected win). For the most part, the conference was measured as always in its tone and rhetoric, which was especially important as Spencer had invited the entire press corps to the event. This had huge significance as clearly the intention was to make NPI mainstream, in keeping with its very mainstream name. Spencer has an ambition to make his National Policy Institute as influential a voice in Washington as groups like the Heritage Foundation are, and this was the organization’s time to show what it was capable of, the intellect it had at its disposal, and the conduct it could maintain. The media of course were just looking for a story, begging for something outrageous to happen, something that would allow them to finally put Spencer into news headlines across the country as the Lex Luthor he has to be. Alas, they got their wish.
At the end of the conference, Spencer finished his speech with cries of “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!”, clearly a moment of theatrical indulgence, but one he probably should have foreseen would be misquoted as “Heil Trump” by most major outlets. At the sound of this clarion call, members of the audience raised their arms in Roman salutes, harking back to the Third Reich. I fully believe the explanation Spencer gave for this: “exuberance”.
when given by Tila Tequila and Jay Sekulow
the Hitler salute is probably a joke
Spencer has addressed the intense press outrage over this (backed up by various Holocaust charities, as well as an extracted denunciation from President-Elect Trump himself) with a kind of bemusement. He doesn’t see what the big deal is, because this is an in-joke we all get. This is the ‘party in the back’ that we all understand. The problem is, now the party has spilled into the business up front and has stalled the AltRight’s momentum completely. First and foremost it has given figures who orbit right wing radicalism at the distance of Pluto the perfect excuse to either declare that they were never
AltRight, or bizarrely try to make out that Spencer has hijacked their
movement. Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, and others who have huge megaphones compared to NPI and were willing to entertain an ambiguous relationship during the heat of the election, have now pulled the plug and are punching right
like there is no tomorrow. While these people can correctly be criticized as panderers and fair-weather opportunists, the fact is that they helped form an intake substructure for radicalization, particularly of young white males. What’s more, the media which had already been planning to drop the term
‘AltRight’ and use the blatantly propagandistic ‘white supremacist’ instead were given a perfect excuse for this decision. And on a more serious note, someone I’d consider a friend, prolific vlogger Millennial Woes who was in attendance at the conference during his US tour, has now had his face plastered over national newspapers
in the UK branded in the most ugly and toxic terms with solicitations for a lynch mob to identify him and hunt him down.
The general public do not understand “exuberance” in the same way that people who browse /pol/ do. Their idea of exuberance is playing Buckaroo with the lights turned off, not photoshopping journalists into ovens. For the same reason Hillary sounded mentally ill talking about Pepe the Frog, NPI conference-goers look like neo-nazis by the simple images of arms raised. Most people don’t get memes.
When the term ‘AltRight’ was just starting to gain popularity, its core ideologues took measures to ensure dissociation from the ‘1488 crowd‘, a collection of misfits, convicts, and mentally ill paranoiacs who had bogged the American identitarian cause down for decades. I want to remind people of this because I anticipate some will say “we don’t care about image! they’ll just call us nazis anyway!”. If that was true, then why were such distinctions drawn? Because they are real and they are important, both in substance and in presentation. The impression left by this one small incident at the conference in DC was as destructive as if Spencer had invited Sinead McCarthy to do a one-hour lecture on the ‘pale Jew dot‘ conspiracy, and how Heebs invented lying.
And yes, I am well aware that Spencer did not participate in the saluting, but he does bear some responsibility for the behavior of those in attendance, because not only does it reflect on him, but also others who have put their trust in his capabilities, people like Millennial Woes.
RamZPaul declared the term ‘AltRight’ to be dead
due to this blunder and subsequent circular firing squads emerging all over social media. I think this is overly blackpilled. Even I who predicted the AltRight will fade with time
, do not think this is the mortal wound that some do. What it has done is stalled the success of the AltRight’s message and destroyed a lot of good will that had been rather carefully built up uniting figures of rather disparate political persuasions.
Some time ago I wrote an article on memes, describing them as a kind of ‘chaos magic
‘, and the dangerous thing about chaos is that it can burn you as much as those you intend to aim it at. The fuhrerific memesters attending NPI damaged its image at what would have been a crucial time. Imagine if this had not happened. Rather than make stuff up, I actually predict the media would have tried to just bury the event, but nevertheless it would have occurred, would have been well attended, and would still be tied in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge way to the Trump wave. As it stands now, the AltRight is somewhat adrift, suffering not only from the inertia of having no such clear opponent as Hillary Clinton, but also now from a public relations crisis that threatens its surprisingly lucrative brand.
My advice to Spencer going forward (and I hope that behind the bemusement he does realize what a blunder this was), is to ditch his trademark ‘fashy’ haircut, and grow a mullet, so he is always reminded: business in the front, party in the back.