The “Alt-Right” is a petulant and perverted ideology that incorporates its own despicable brand of identity politics. For that reason, it will fail, and true conservatism will flourish in its place.
One of things conservatives criticize most about the Left is its infatuation with race and identity. Through the rhetorical promulgation of ideas such as “white male privilege,” “cultural appropriation, and “the patriarchy,” the Left has created the ugly beast known as “identity politics.” The identity-politics-laden Left determines the value of one’s opinion based on his or her immutable characteristics; and any challenge to that opinion is not merely a challenge but an act of aggression against that person’s actual identity. Identity politics is the blight of the Left that the Right prides itself on lacking.
The fringe brand of conservatism known as the “alt-right,” however, exhibits a similar preoccupation with race and identity, specifically the white European identity.
The essential dogma of the alt-right dictates that, because the United States was founded by white Europeans alone, it therefore serves as the their legacy. These individuals fear that the rapidly changing demographics of the country indicate a fast-approaching future where white people are no longer the majority, and thus, lack a legacy. Alt-right figureheads such as Richard Spencer have proposed extreme measures to combat this so-called “browning of America,” including a 50-year immigration moratorium. Spencer specifically idealizes the formation of a white ethno-state on the North American continent in order to preserve the white European identity. Another prominent name on the alt-right is Jared Taylor. Taylor is the editor of American Renaissance, a magazine entrenched in the optics of race and chock-full of pieces outlining supposed biological differences between races as well as with the threats to the white population from minorities. These overtly white ethnocentric tenets paint a picture of an America plagued by an ongoing, systematic “white genocide” perpetrated by Jews, minorities, and immigrants.
Despite receiving an inordinate amount of media attention during the 2016 election cycle and after the violence that erupted in Charlottesville in August, the alt-right is not in any way large or strong. This is largely because, instead of being a concretely defined and registrable political affiliation, “alt-right” is a label that followers of the movement often ascribe to themselves. This is also why there are no official alt-right membership numbers. Political activism is rare if not non-existent in the alt-right because their ideas don’t have any traction with the public. What is an apparent priority for the alt-right, however, is the creation and distribution of internet memes aimed at “trolling” their opponents. If the members of the alt-right had any actual ideas of merit, they would be better off trying to promote them through campaigning. Yet, the alt-right’s reliance on infantile internet memes to spread their message demonstrates both a profound lack of pride and confidence in their abhorrent ideals and in turn a glaring debility in their overall movement.
Based on the precepts of the movement’s leaders and the immaturity and cowardice of its followers, the alt-right can best be described as a botched attempt at identity politics by young, rightward-leaning individuals who solely reject the Left’s mantra of political correctness. In fact, some argue that a focus on preserving the “white European identity” by the alt-right is an inevitable consequence of the Left’s fascination with intersectionality, a cooperative ideology of identity politics that dictates the value of one’s opinion based on his or her level of perceived discrimination. While being critical of the politically correctness and identity politics is the only area of common ground that they find with the alt-right, conservatives are wise not to fall privy to the Left’s tactics of identity politics themselves.
Despite the name, the alt-right could not be ideologically further from the traditional Right. The alt-right is a fierce rejection of mainstream conservatism. Indeed, Richard Spencer has advocated for big-government ideals such as nationalized health care, and even praised socialism as an effective system if “done correctly.” Moreover, the alt-right abandons the notion that American citizens of all backgrounds can live and work together, basking in the privileges of freedom and individualism. Instead, they pursue a twisted,unoriginal campaign of self-victimization, which is absolutely antithetical to conservatism.
The continual promotion of an agenda driven by racial identity will be the downfall of the alt-right. The movement has no real support from the general public, nor politicians, and lacks the unity required to thrive. The reality that the alt-right refuses to accept is that the generation after millennials will be the last generation comprised of a white majority; but that is not something any true American need worry about, because the privileges of being a United States citizen are not confined to any race. That being said, young conservatives on college campuses must actively condemn the alt-right and continue to promote the ideals of freedom and individualism. In doing so, they will set an example for others who have yet to solidify their own values–because the dictates of conservatism, not the alt-right, are worth heeding.
Connor Foarde is the Campus News Editor for The Arch Conservative