From Taki Twilight of the God Emperor, by David Cole.
Notice how no one talks about the “alt-right” anymore. Wasn’t it only two years ago that everyone, friend and foe alike, was speaking of this new “force” on the right? Well, that tiger turned out to be more paper-thin than an elderly Jap’s origami sculpture.
The NYTs and other left-wing media outlets still mention the alt-right when they need a convenient boogyman to blame the public’s rejection of left-narratives, even if that means lumping the likes of Sam Harris and Dave Rubin with, say, Richard Spacner or even Andrew Anglin.
I disagree with the author that trolling and “internecine squabbles” are to blame, but rather the alt-right stopped being as relevant for several reasons:
By early to mid 2018 it became increasingly apparent that Trump was unwilling/unable to deliver on much, if any, of the stuff he campaigned on, save for tax cuts. Too much capitulating, dithering, caving-in, delaying, etc. There was all this enthusiasm by the alt-right between 2016-2017 that Trump would drain the swamp, but, as the article mentions, rather Trump has developed a knack for appointing and deferring to status quo and anti-Trumper republicans. Same for the hope that that he would do something drastic to overhaul or abate immigration, but rather Trump has fallen short of even the most pessimistic of expectations, even being eclipsed by Obama in terms of number of deportations. And of course, no wall. What good is far-right politics if it cannot actually do anything, unlike in Europe, where far-right political activism has proven somewhat more successful.
The Charlottesville Unite the Right fiasco set off a wave of social media purges and suspensions that are still ongoing. It’s hard to maintain morale and coordinate stuff when all your platforms and funding sources keep getting shutdown.
Scandals, grifters, and defection, such as the unmasking of Lauren Southern and former alt-right members going to the media to disavow and besmirch the movement.
And I think most importantly, the rise of the alt-center/middle/lite which subsumed and overshadowed the the already weakened alt-right. After Trump won, for some reason and unexpectedly, centrists and moderates saw a huge upsurge in influence and status online, so much so that an acronym was conceived to describe it, the so-called IDW, which has been enshrined in the contemporary lexicon after being mentioned up by the NYTs and other mainstream publications. Members of the IDW such as Joe Rogan, Scott Adams, Jordan Peterson, and Tim Pool gained huge followings since 2016 by rejecting ideology and identity politics. Suddenly, being alt-right (or too ideologically biased, either to ‘left’ or the ‘right’) became low status and is perceived as too tribal and not worldly or introspective enough. Arguing both sides of an issue as Scott Adams does and anticipating objections while not taking one’s politics too serious, conveys intellect, which is valued more than ever online nowadays.
This line of thinking has even made its way up the ladder to top-level talking heads like Tucker Carlson. Indeed, the normally nimble Carlson recently struck out while trying to cozy up to a far-left socialist who flummoxed the host to the point where Carlson used an expletive and called off the interview. Why? Because the socialist had a consistent worldview, whereas Carlson, in trying to be kinda capitalist and kinda anti-capitalist, had birthed a thalidomide baby of an ideology, a malformed mess that couldn’t live outside the womb.
No, it ended because the guest persisted in attacking Tucker’s employer, Fox News, than engaging in any sort of productive debate.
The pro-Trump socialist sympathizers have arrived at their position because they’ve taken Trump’s incessant (and not wholly unwarranted) swipes against “globalists” as a call to “soak the rich!” “The globalists are the enemy! Let’s tax them into oblivion.” This myopic view of economics misses a key point, which is that it’s never about who you’re soaking, but where the fucking money is going. Stop looking at who’s losing, and start looking at who’s gaining. All the money “soaked” from the rich will go to the things the Trump base supposedly hates—foreign wars, the welfare state, and a larger and more powerful federal bureaucracy.
If the author spent any time on /r/the_Donald, he would see that Trump supporters overwhelmingly oppose socialism. Maybe he is referring to the certain fringe faction of the 4-Chan/doomer-right, who seek socialist policy to accelerate America’s demise, but this is very few people relative to the overall online community of Trump supporters.
Moreover, you cannot be in favor of the wall and be in favor of any measure of socialism. The core belief of socialism is that every societal ill can be cured by throwing money at it. That’s the heart of socialism. Failing schools crammed with low-IQ kids who lack the attention span to learn the alphabet? Throw money at it! A permanent U.S. underclass plagued by single-parent homes, absentee fathers, welfare dependency, and neighborhoods run by street criminals? Throw money at it! Regardless of whether the problem is nature- or nurture-caused, money will solve it!
Those things are true, but the problem is not necessarily socialism, but specifically, the blank slate. Like the left, many on the mainstream-right also believe in their own versions of blank slate mythology, such as the ability to pull one’s self out of poverty by will and effort alone, when factors such as IQ and family wealth are arguably more important but ignored. Also, socialism is notoriously hard to define, and as Hitler, Franco, and Mussolini demonstrated, is not exclusively of the ‘left.’
Shitposting, which includes memes and trolling, for some people makes politics and social decay more tolerable and bearable, and is effective at subverting politically correct narratives, but also ‘pilling’ people who are not otherwise inclined to explore alternative viewpoints, through the use of pictures and jokes, which instead of having someone read a 300-page book or a 3000-word article, are ideal for today’s short attention spans. Establishment conservatism, which takes itself seriously, failed the dissident-right and even many mainstream conservatives voters. Same for paleoconservatism, which hasn’t succeeded at changing anything despite half a century of prolific, high-minded output from the likes of Burnham, Hoppe, Samuel Francis, Buchanan, etc. Maybe another approach is needed.