In this post I will expand on why the dissident/alt-right crashed so hard, especially since 2020, and was unable to get back up, and likely never will. Social movements come and go in waves. Richard Spencer for example used to be a major thought leader; not so much anymore. Same for a bunch of other names like Milo and Loomer. What is popular today may not be popular 5 years from now. There are several key developments since 2020/2021 that explain why the alt-right has fallen, some of those being:
The biggest or most obvious reason is de-platforming due to Covid and Jan 6, which built on the first wave of de-platforming post-Charlottesville. It’s hard to sustain a movement when its members keep being arrested or booted off every major platform. However, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and re-platforming controversial or dissident accounts will not breathe new life into the alt-right. The problem is deeper than that.
Second, is the post-2020 woke vs. un-woke paradigm/dichotomy. From 2015-2018 or so was a period of indecisiveness and uncertainty. The Obama era was closing, and then Trump against all odds won, but no one knew what was next. There was an opportunity for fringe movements like the alt-right to fill this gap. But by early 2021 with the inauguration of Biden, it became clear where the lines were drawn: the woke vs. anti-woke, but the alt-right does not readily fit into this categorization or paradigm, so it became less relevant. The alt-right cares more about reshaping society or subverting it, not ‘bread and butter’/culture war issues like inflation, trans indoctrination, half-baked conspiracy theories, exposing left-wing hypocrisy, etc.
Third, crowding-out and the rise of short-form viral app content. Babylon Bee and ‘Libs of TikTok’ rode post-Covid anti-woke wave to great success. There was no equivalent of either of those in 2015-2018. Hardly anyone knew or cared about Telegram or TikTok, and Babylon Bee was just a niche parody site, not the culture war superpower it is today. At the time, pre-2021, YouTube dominated, which is the perfect format for long-form political commentary and analysis, not bite-sized ‘lib ownage’. The pre-2021 YouTube/Reddit-to-4chan pineline had been disrupted by apps, such as Telegram, as well as the growing popularity of Twitter, which has a generally older or more mainstream audience compared to 4chan, YouTube, or Reddit.
Fourth, Covid divided the alt-right. There are major competing camps: Covid is a total hoax, Covid is real but overblown, Covid originated from China, or Covid is a serious threat that necessitates intervention. Same for the issue of vaccines, which is similarly divided. Steve Sailer, Richard Spencer, and Greg Johnson took the opinion that Covid is serious, whereas Vox Day, Anglin and others were of the opinion that it was a hoax or overblown. The trendy centrist-right middle ground was to support vaccines or downplay vaccine risks but still oppose how Covid was otherwise being handled, such as lockdowns and quarantines.
Fifth, the post-2020 rise of the Christian/trad-right, in contrast to the more secular alt-right. I think the alt-right has been replaced by the ethno/trad right, especially on Twitter starting in 2021. It’s composed of popular or more mainstream people like Cernovich and Posobiec, who evaded the de-platforming that plagued alt-right, and puts much more emphasis on self-improvement and mainstream conservative politics (generally a ‘white pill’ message) compared to the alt-right, which is more nihilistic and eschews mainstream or participatory politics. I think the alt-right became associated with ‘doomerism’ and ‘larping’, which made it low status.
Related to above, the final explanation is socially-optimized behavior. I will expound on this in future post, but it helps to explain how and why far-politics that dominated from 2015-2018 online came to be seen as low status.