Is the alt-right…right?

Words by James WF Roberts
Art by Nicholas Manton

Contemporary politics is a quagmire. The slippery slope between the centre-right, centre-life — to far right or alt-right; far left to the fringe. 

There’s no leadership anywhere. Aspirational politics died somewhere in the mid-1980s with Thatcherism and Reaganomics and Neo-Cons. Now we have Brexit and UKIP, Trumpism, Blair Cottrell and his merry men from the United Patriots Front….

So, what’s in a name? What is the alt-right, are they all goose-steppers and Klansmen? Well, that would be taking the easy way out, that would be tarring everyone with not dissimilar beliefs with a very nasty brush.  In an article in 2015, Jacob Siegel wrote for the Daily Beast that, ‘the alt-right is a movement distinct from white supremacism — so call it what it is — he also poses the question, ‘is calling the alt-right by its preferred name capitulation? Maybe. But, we should also recognize that while white supremacist, it’s not quite the same thing as the Neo-Nazis’.

Siegel goes onto say that “until, 2015, the alt-right was virtually unheard of outside its own cloistered internet communities. The group’s early and high-visibility support for Donald Trump changed that. The Trump campaign brought back into the mainstream racism, anti-Semitism, fantasies of an authoritarian force.”

The alt-right in its unveiled form, at its heart, is white-supremacism. But, that does not mean that Trumps or our home grown movements such as Reclaim Australia, United Patriots Front and Fortitude Australia necessarily represent this.

Australia has a unique history when it comes to democracy and self-governance. We didn’t stage a rebellion against Mother England, according to the whitewashing of history, we have all become compliant. The only recognised war ever fought on Australian soil was that of the Emu War, between the Australian Army and hundreds of emus, we lost. We know of the Indigenous massacres, but enjoy the innocence of ignorance.

This article isn’t to label Australia racist, nor attack Trump, the remnants of One Nation or confusing essence of Bob Katter. As tempting as it is to slander Cottrell and the UPF; I want to look at a different parameter, about how and why the alt-right has become so successful in the last few years and needs to be amalgamated within the far-right.

There’s much speculation that the alt-right is just reactionary, countering mainstream left-centrism, the tolerance we have of culture, sex, orientation and identity. A reaction to alienation, old-world views, traditional values being lost in a sea of rainbow flags, same-sex marriage and suburban mosques.          

But, on the political front, not much really needs to be said. Fear mongering to a generally naive, culturally illiterate and isolated assembly of white people has its reasons.

With the ever changing tide of media perspective, with demographics changing towards diversity and inclusion – it was inevitable that a group, much like the alt-right, would feel voiceless. In media theory, the study of the downtrodden is known as muted group theory, basically considering the impacts of certain groups who remain powerless compared to others.

British anthropologist Edwin Ardener developed the concept, finding in his study of gender that the voices of men in society are often accepted one-sidedly, the voices of women and others remain unheard. Ignoring half the population sprung the muted group theory, revealing the powers of the marginalised.

What needs to be done is to understand why people in the alt-right feel so isolated and confused by the current media ecosystem, which fuels the current political climate.

So, every time Charlie Pickering, Stephen Colbert or John Oliver attack Trump, the White House, Brexit, Nigel Farage and conservative heads – all they are doing is perpetuating the narrative that the media are leftist extremists attacking a good portion of the population.

The alt-right did not spring out of a vacuum, it did not just come out of the political ether fully formed — it’s been lurking around for a very long time, and both sides of the political spectrum are fueling it.

Picture it like this; imagine you are a middle age, white, blue-collar worker, jobless from outsourcing, the talking heads on TV are all different colours and reporting on rainbow flags and diversity – you just don’t understand the world anymore. You don’t know where you fit in, you don’t feel like you’re represented.

If the medium is the message, what happened to the world they once knew?

I guess just flick over to Sky News then.


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