Orion's picture

    Right about the Alt Right

    I had quite a few adventures with Dagblog. My most personal moments were shared here - my drug withdrawal, the loss of my wife and my warning, which was very much validated, about the rise of the Alternative Right.

    I first started here, nearly six years ago, warning about the Alt Right - a movement of well dressed, charismatic and angry white men - ranging from Alex Jones to Richard Spencer to Augustus Invictus (a Senate candidate in Florida). I have fortunately never met the former and I have spoken to the latter, the most latter of which called me "a piece of shit."

    I postulated their rise after working for conservatives in Washington D.C. and encountering casual racist comments that shocked and surprised me (remember 2009 and 2010 were a more innocent time). This was before Black Lives Matter, police shootings, mass shootings or the decline of the American empire in full display. I responded to these comments by researching white supremacy and finding, to my disappointment, a growing and energized movement of white reactionaries fueled with all of the old hatreds - anti-black racism, xenophobia and, of course, anti-Semitism.

    There's never really been a full blown political movement of reactionaries in the United States - even the most racist cretons of the Deep South, like George Wallace or Theodore Bilbo, were too small minded to really associate or seek out the vast world of European reaction, a world in which such prejudices are far more intellectually developed than here in the US.

    That seems to be changing - these guys are the real deal and the horrible political and social climate in this country is a rich soil for hate if there ever was one. It was surreal to hear Richard Spencer's name in Glenn Beck's response to Hillary Clinton's speech tying Donald Trump to the alternative right - I remember Spencer posting comments here at Dagblog and getting in heated debate with readers.

    Beck, to his credit, has gone deep in to trying to attempt at least to see what is going on here. He said that Clinton sounded "brilliant" in taking down Trump's very real ties to white supremacists and, in appearances on shows like MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, cited Russian neo-fascists like Alexander Dugin, who said that Hitler didn't go far enough. Whatever you think of Beck or his general politics, his sense that a new form of totalitarianism is on the horizon continues to be validated. 

    That the alternative right seems to have found a vessel in a candidate like Donald Trump, who has gotten this far, should invalidate the myths of America that I believe most of us, who grew up here, took at face value. When we look at the founding fathers without rose colored glasses, there seemed to be more than a few flavors of the Alt Right amongst them. Thomas Jefferson, long before eugenics became a thing, wrote in Notes on Virginia that black people were cognitively inferior, all while maintaining a long spanning relationship with a female slave, Sally Hemmings. Like most fascist movements, the removal of a huge minority class (in the case of America, Native Americans, in the case of Nazi Germany, Jews) was a huge component of the founding and growth of the United States. It would be too far to say that fascism was all that the American founding was - it was many things at once - but the fact that the ideas that the Alternative Right offer us aren't alien to the American experience is something we should accept.

    The most optimistic case would be that this would be a sick, short lived episode, much like the different flavors of extremism that rose in the US in the 1960s and 1970s. However, given the current state of the world, the danger of authoritarianism like what took hold of Europe in the 1930s and 40s should not be diminished. This country is weird and bizarre and it may show its real colors.


    You were prescient. I was thinking about you when news about Spencer and the alt-right started coming out in connection Trump this year.

    I have much darker predictions. Let's pray I'm not right about those but the climate in this country certainly doesn't make me feel like I'm not.

    Good read, Orion.  Do you think that this alt right will continue to grow, or that it will blow up?  If you think it will continue, do you expect it to join with Tea Partiers?  Do you think the Republican Party will just give up and let them have their party?  I can't see either of those scenarios because the goals of the TP are more financial than those of the racial purity of the alt right.  The GOP still has enough people invested in it that if they would simply be brave enough to repudiate both the TP'ers and the alt right, maybe in 10 years they can get their party back. But I'd like to know your thoughts.

    Also, if you think it will blow up, how do you envision that coming to pass?

    Thank you for asking.

    The big secret about the United States is that no one is particularly doing well here. I'm in Berkeley now and have stayed at a hostel, next to the supposed top public university in the country, that is close to third world. Enough white (and other privileged groups) may be doing badly enough but remember privilege long enough in their recent memory that the Alt Right could maintain momentum. Fascism takes off when capitalism is in decay and those who feel privileged feel their privilege being taken away, from the American Revolution (which had fascist elements) to Nazi Germany.

    When I first researched these guys over half a decade ago, I was struck by how committed they were and how polished their message was compared to the KKK or the other white supremacists we are used to. Most the candidates who criticized Trump still do - Gary Johnson and Jeb Bush are not fans - but the GOP essentially gave up to him. There is a rise in these groups in Europe and interests in Russia seem to support them as well, if for no other reason than simply to circumvent the US.

    The investment that the outside has in the US is why, like it usually does, fascism will be quelled or usurped. Nonetheless it will be ugly. This country is bizarre. You can feel it in the air. This country is too deranged and chaotic to pull off something like the Nazis did, which in the end failed. An ethnic blowup would probably look a bit more like Yugoslavia in the 1990s, complete with outside powers coming in to keep the peace.

    Alot of those outside interests also are doing a lot better in this country, mostly because unlike here, most countries invest in their people. While American citizens beg for bus money, Chinese, Latin American and Asian students have grants from their state. They could get caught in the mess of hate and resentment. It's bad. Even if it's not a majority of people or a plurality, there clearly are enough people to really cause something bad.

    Whoa whoa whoa - covering a lot of ground a bit too quickly.

    The American Revolution had "fascist elements"? I suppose everything must a bit, perhaps.... but what? Which founding father was promoting anything close to fascism? And how were the colonies of 1776 "capitalism in decay"? It was more about land concessions and successful capitalism that no longer felt obligated to pay a high percent to a faraway power when the the settlers were largely the ones who won the cross-Appalachian war with the French, etc.

    In Germany, the dark days of hyperinflation were 10 years old when Hitler assumed power as Chancellor in 1933. Germany only suffered 2 bad years in the depression - much more benign than the US - and the big infrastructure projects Hitler implemented were a big success for Germany capitalism from 1933-1936 as can be seen from the GDP graph there. How a prosperous revived economy led to the worsening of fascism (including the break of Kristallnacht) after 1936 would contradict your thesis.

    The Russian system has been oligarchic and mafia-like since the breakup of the Soviet Union and before, with strong nationalism/nostalgia for Soviet & Mother Russia such as from Zhurinovsky and of course Putin is well-entrenched, pre-dates any significant capitalist effort, and was always fueled by the disgruntlement of old people who were cared for very poorly but predictably under the Communist system.

    EU nationalism has 4 major roots - those who see it as usurping their own national identity, those who obsess over immigration, those who've been continually bombarded with typically fallacious or misleading info about how bad the EU performs vs. typically corrupt and bloated local governments, and those people who've gotten left behind in the changing economy - often unrelated to or even ameliorated by EU actions, somewhat related to the effects of globalization and the way intra-country economies tend to agglomerate to the detriment of rural and marginalized regions. Pim Fortuyn was playing the "I want my money" anti-EU card a generation ago, though part of that was the Dutch government's ignoring some basics of gross inconvenience of its decisions on people who would be normally be tolerant and left-leaning (such as messing up traffic into Utrecht for 2-3 years). The Le Pens have been around forever working on a typical smaller percent of conservative discontents. The Greek situation was due to the inherent corruption of the society, reliance on only 2 industries, and how it tried to game EU membership over 30 years. The Nordics are relatively homogenous countries dealing with a bit more Muslim influence that's thrown off white assumptions. Italy is just dealing with the issues of its various Berlusconi, mafia and other corruption in slowly trying to adhere to EU norms. Other countries like Portugal, Spain and Ireland did get caught up in some short-term economic downturns that affected their planning and overall assumptions. Eastern European countries continue to struggle with their pre-wall crony corruption vs. the more transparent EU norms that have trouble sticking. None of this intuits a huge problem with capitalism, only some specific growing pains with various national situations. The EU's meddling in Syria, with subsequent refugee crisis and Merkel's humanitarian stance has brought immigration paranoia to a head, but even that's subsiding, and Erdogan's heavy-handed tactics of the last 2 months have ended any concern that Turkey might be a heavily compromised anchor member of the EU anytime before 2100 - ironically a good thing under the circumstance, but far from what I'd hoped for for Turkey 10 years ago.

    The US passed its immigration shock 10 years ago, so fear of terrorists is substituted or blended. The EU actually has socialism (though many programs are very business-focused), whereas the right's panic over US socialism is way overblown considering the whittling away of any welfare, the rampant budget cutting of the last 10 years, how the budget has turned its focus to corporate/bank welfare & of course weapons plus homeland security, etc.

    And living next to the microcosm of Berkeley, which has been a strange place for at least 50 years - what specifically does that tell us about what? All major campuses had the PhD student who freaked & became a weird campus fixture for years. Attracts various high and low segments of society.... Is it a bellweather, or simply a mix of almost everything that's happening elsewhere?

    The good news is that this movement seems to be miniscule.  I really didn't believe that Trump would be doing this badly by this point in the election, but is anybody voting for the guy aside from Mencius Moldbug or nonsense people like that?

    I think this is miniscule as you state.

    But damn, I still figure 25% of all American adults believe that slavery was a good thing. hahahahahah

    Some percentage of Americans believe in Noah's Ark as some global phenomina.

    Hell, Alex Jones thinks that lizard brained aliens control the government. hahahah And do not forget one moment that Alex does not have his follows.

    This Stone guy is more down to earth. Stone and his followers would really like to see a new Brown Shirt constituency that would create a new anti-immigrant police force.

    We could put new stars on the Hispanics and on the Muslims that contain GPS locaters?

    Breitbart's old blog was purchase by some fellow who now runs Trump's campaign. hahahah

    ​Breitbart is one hell of a internet phenomena; even more fun than Drudge for chrissakes.

    (When I laugh it helps me not to regurgitate my food.)

    And what....fifty percent of those calling themselves repubs do not believe that Obama could be seen as an American Citizen while Cruz cruised in the primaries with a Cuban daddy and a Canadian birth?

    There is no logic here.

    O'Reilly bugs me more because even though he is an absentee father, he believes that Blacks are having trouble getting jobs because of tatoos on their foreheads?

    (I think that Tyson somehow became permanently fixed in Billo's brain?)

    I do believe that if the repubs are crushed in this next election, if the Dems get back half of the Senate with Timmy Kaine there to break any tie, if we pick up ten? seats in the House....well repubs might start questioning their positions.



    "Thomas Jefferson, long before eugenics became a thing, wrote in Notes on Virginia that black people were cognitively inferior, all while maintaining a long spanning relationship with a female slave, Sally Hemmings."

    He also argued that the Negro was musically inferior and incapable of producing art that could be appreciated by civilized audiences. I don't think he could have been more wrong on those fronts.

    I'm awed by how quickly supremacist groups can turn social behavior into pathological behavior. I can turn the cutest blond haired blue eyed baby into a thug in a few short years. These groups highlight the worst behaviors of the cultural, religious, and racial other while ignoring similar behavior in their own communities.

    I can turn the cutest blond haired blue eyed baby into a thug in a few short years. 

    I believe this was achieved in Germany...

    It is possible that the "Hidden" Trump voters are white voters who will secretly vote against Trump without admitting it to family and friends. Glenn Beck does give them some cover.

    I believe that's pretty likely.  Some people just like to be provocative about politics and saying you're going to vote for Trump is a great way to raise people's ire during summer weekend barbecues.  Then you get into that voting booth and you start feeling all responsible and you wind up voting for Hillary or maybe Gary Johnson, but not actually Trump, though you never tell your sister in law because the look on her face...

    Driftglass on right wing, tea party, alt right continual rebranding:

    Ten years ago it was an act of unalloyed heresy and disloyalty bordering on treason to even hint that George W. Bush was not the Greatest Fucking President in Modern History.  Six years ago, it was sheer folly -- whistling into a hurricane -- to suggest that the Tea Party was not, in fact a sudden and spontaneous uprising of otherwise-politically-virginal patriots, but was instead a massive wingnut rebranding scam designed to get millions of bigots and meatheads off the hook for volubly supporting the Worst Fucking President in Modern History...

    May, 2016:

    from The American Conservative:

    Bush Wrecked the GOP Long Before Trump Appeared


    One of the remarkable things about this election is the sheer intensity of hostility to Trump from many of the same movement conservatives who shrugged at Bush’s far more serious betrayals and failures. Many movement conservatives have been much more horrified by Trump’s.... political success ...than they were by the real, costly, staggering failures of governance under the Bush administration over a period of eight years. .....

    The problem that the country has with a possible Trump presidency is that he simply doesn't care.  If the alt-right praises him, he loves them.  If Christian conservatives find him appealing, he's all ears.  If a group of atheists on a street corner shouted his name in glory to potatoes he'd stop for their adulation and smile.  Democrats are his best friends if they're liberal with their tax benefits in New York and elsewhere.

    He's worse than a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semite, nationalist, separationist demagogue.  He's all of the above or none of it - because he has no interest in anything.  Good, bad or in-between, Donald Trump wants nothing more than the attention and glory that he believes comes with power and prestige.  He'll appeal to the devil and march with the angels ... as long as they love him.  He's a child craving candy.

    I still think he's dangerous, but not because of what he believes.  The danger lies in what those who believe in him feel free to fully express ... and act upon ... long after he loses in November.

    Excellent analysis and description which I hadn't heard before.

    He also won't tolerate complaints if things go very bad for the country or the world in a Trump administration.

    Who knows where that would lead with this mob he has backing him, and who they would target to take the blame. It could get very bad,  a government too scared and paralyzed to take action.

    Think of him as a bad comedian with nothing left to lose - all that matters in the end is recognition from the folks in the peanut gallery.

    I second NCD, well-put.

    Josh at TPM adds along the same line today: I continue to think is one of most apt insights I've seen into contemporary American politics: the GOP is a failed state and Donald Trump is its warlord. .... Like warlordization in a state collapse context, Trump's action confirms the breakdown of institutional control but also makes recovery and unity even more difficult to recover... the rightwing media echo-chamber created a framework in which you are immediately discredited if you do not subscribe to a series of demonstrably false claims, non-facts and theories.

    The top GOP claim for decades is government is always the problem.

    What happens if government is required to get the nation through some future catastrophe, in a Trump administration, with GOP control of Congress? 

    It could be a career ending move to even suggest government prevent the plunge off an economic cliff.

    A kind of reverse of an incident related by Alexander Solzenitsyn, at a Communist Party Congress.  After a Stalin address, a standing ovation went on for over 45 minutes, as the fear was the first to sit would not live to see another address.

    In the case of the Trump GOP, the first to stand and suggest government must do something would be a in a similar fix.

    The GOP may be failing on a presidential level but they're winning at every other level of government. They control the house and the senate and most states. While the consensus is that Hillary will win the presidency there's still doubt whether democrats will win the senate and not even the most optimistic democrats are predicting we'll control the house.

    Hillary's election is about control of SCOTUS. Many courts have overturned onerous voter suppression laws. We need justices on the Supreme Court who will uphold these decisions.

    Let's hope they keep failing at the Presidential level. At the state level the damage mostly ends at the state border. At the Presidential level, economically and militarily it can lead to disasters that encompass our entire nation and world, as we experienced under GWB.

    BTW top MSM news is Weiner and Abedin are splitting. Sexting. Maybe as big as where Lohtge peed in Brazil.....

    No need to mention that David Duke is robocalling for Trump.


    ​Edit to add:

    "Pastor" Mark Burns felt today was a good day to post a cartoon of Hillary in blackface 


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