Opinions abound about the nature of the “alt-right,” often written across a yawning chasm of cultural misunderstanding. This post presents two potentially novel angles.
I. The Alt-Right as an Aesthetic Movement
The Alt-Right is perhaps best understood as an aesthetic movement, not a political one. That is, the Alt-Right’s trademark politics arose as a consequence of its aesthetics. Breathless writers have spilled much ink about the Alt-Right’s meme-based iconography; but focussing on the cartoon frogs is a mistake. Unlike previous aesthetic movements, which were concerned with art, architecture, or industrial design, the Alt-Right chooses women’s bodies as its aesthetic object.
It is a movement rooted in the slow realization that feminism and related leftist-themed ideologies do not produce slender, beautiful, long-haired, well-behaved, demure females. Instead, those ideologies produce Lena Dunham. Ms. Dunham and her ilk are an aesthetic and behavioral anathema to any man with an ounce of self respect, equipped as they are with tattoos, short hair, high bodyfat, and unpleasant attitudes.
This strong revulsion galvanized male opposition to whatever ideology produced the Dunhamite women. The Alt-Right could only have emerged in a world of ascendant Feminism (and sibling ideologies), in which Dunham and her admiring imitators were abundantly present and observable. The movement’s key premise is that female aesthetics covary with the political zeitgeist — it’s no cooincidence that American women have been getting fatter and less feminine precisely as Leftist ideologies have taken hold. Therefore, the Alt-Right seeks to rehabilitate the West’s political zeitgeist in order to return to a world with abundant supplies of sexy, slender, well-behaved women.
It’s no cooincidence that the Alt-Right grew from, and is at least partially related to, the “pickup artist” phenomenon, in which men attempt to bed women, and become in the process keenly attuned to the many permutations of the female form. Many canonical Alt-Right sites were originally pickup-oriented, and only later refocussed to political matters.
This is also why the Alt-Right includes so many young White men — their natural mates are young White women, which is precisely the demographic where the Leftist ideological effects are strongest, and where the disfigured aesthetics are most noticeable.
II. The Alt-Right as an Anticolonial Insurgency
Let’s also examine the Alt-Right as a classical anticolonial insurgency. Consider the parallels between a classic anticolonial insurgency — take South Africa as a convenient example — and the current situation in Western Europe or North America. Each case involves a foreign people, imported into a host country in large numbers, and changing that host country’s ethnic balance and cultural norms.
Historically, the invaders were White Europeans, since their societies were the only ones with sufficient technological and social advancement to project power overseas. But now the White Man’s elites have sold him out, and are importing a new occupying band of settlers to fuel their population-growth-dependent economies. The new settlers in White Europe are dark skinned and often Muslim; in North America they come in a thousand varieties. But unlike the White man’s Colonialism, the new settlers’ homelands have never indigenously developed a high-trust society with a middle class.
So the colonizers have become the colonized, and the Alt-Right is both borrowing old tricks (distinctive visual propaganda style, public demonstration and protest) from historical anticolonial movements, and also inventing some of its own (faux-hokey propaganda tone, internet-enabled decentralization).
Perhaps the best analogue is the native Xhosa resistance and backlash against the Xhosa elites as they made land deals with the British. The difference, of course, is that the British brought modern indoor living and high-trust societies with a middle class to Africa. Symmetrically, when Africa comes to Britain, precisely the reverse will occur.