As far as I can tell, OD was the first in the blogosphere to diagnose the existence of the Alt-Lite. In “The Case for Trump: Communication,” I called it “Nationalism Lite” and Fash The Nation followed up with the term Alt-Lite.
I had been mulling this topic over for years. Specifically, it stemmed from my observation of how black crime went from being a taboo subject covered by the Council of Conservative Citizens to a widely discussed topic all over the rightwing internet. It has become increasingly redundant to write about black crime because these stories were suddenly all over WorldNetDaily, The Daily Caller and UK Daily Mail. In the last year or so, you may have noticed that Infowars is covering black crime.
I’ve been reading conservative websites for 16 years now and there has been a noticeable change in how race was being covered. It started around the time of the Trayvon Martin case and escalated through Michael Brown in Ferguson. Suddenly, Drudge Report was covering flash mobs and polar bear hunting and Breitbart and The Daily Caller were writing about anti-White rhetoric. UK Daily Mail, which isn’t even a conservative site, has probably had the biggest impact because it has pushed black crime stories that once languished on the fringes harder than any other site that comes to mind.
The case of Infowars reveals the true nature of the Alt-Lite because it was so late to the game. Many of these other sites had starting more about black crime while Infowars was still condemning “the militarization of the police” in Ferguson. If you go on Twitter now though, you will find that Paul Joseph Watson is suddenly all over Islamic terrorism and black crime whether it was the torture of the White kid in Chicago or the shooting at the airport in Fort Lauderdale this morning.
I’ve been crystal clear since September that the Alt-Lite is an economy:
“Personally, I think it was a kind of California Gold Rush of clicks that caused it. These conservative websites discovered that we had steadily built up a huge online audience with an insatiable appetite for racial news. They figured out that they could go full tabloid, throw out the red meat, and monetize it. In the end, it was their pursuit of those sweet lucrative clicks which led these conservatives to erode the taboos around “racism.”
Imagine for a moment what it looks like from our perspective: you write for a pro-White website like the Council of Conservative Citizens, Amren, or VDARE, you have been labeled and stigmatized as a “extremist,” “notorious racist” and a “member of a hate group,” and when you wake up in the morning and look for the subject to write about, say, a refugee rapist, you realize that it is semi-pointless because UK Daily Mail or WorldNetDaily has already covered it. What is there left to do but link to the Breitbart story?
I mean … in a sense, I think it is great. From our perspective, it has been a poison pill for Conservatism, Inc. They’ve been throwing out those hunks of red meat for the base to generate those sweet clicks. They have fed the appetite of the “conservative base” by broadcasting our narrative. It has mutated as a result. It is not as interested in hearing about freedom and tax cuts as it used to be. Just look at the discussions you see on Free Republic these days. What exactly is objectionable about VDARE now?
All of this has led to the emergence and popularization of the “Alt-Lite.” It shouldn’t be confused with the Alt-Right because its origins are different. Whereas the Alt-Right evolved out of White Nationalism, the Alt-Lite is the spawn of the conservative clickbait websites like Breitbart and Daily Caller. These sites have been very selective in what they have picked up and placed in their cart at the Alt-Right shopping mall.
You will find themes like black crime, multiculturalism, terrorism, refugee resettlement, political correctness, illegal immigration, populism, nationalism, and protectionism. You won’t find explicit Neo-Nazism, Jewish Question awareness, race realism, ethnostates, eugenics, Neoreaction, Identitarianism, and so on. …”
When the White kid was tortured in Chicago, the Alt-Right and White Nationalists were viscerally outraged. They identified with the victim on racial grounds. You could probably say the same about your average White conservative.
The Alt-Lite brands, however, saw the torture of the White kid in Chicago through the prism of clicks, retweets, shares, engagement, impressions and pageviews. They’re making money off the story. In the words of Cernovich, “what’s my prize?” There’s a lot of money to be made in pushing viral stories on social media and even false angles on those stories because at the end of the day all clicks are created equal.
Greg Johnson is trying to give the Alt-Lite a philosophical foundation:
“The Alt Light is defined by civic nationalism as opposed to racial nationalism. Whereas White Nationalists believe that true nationhood is defined by race and ethnicity, civic nationalists believe that a nation can be multiracial and multicultural but unified on the basis of common laws and values. It is, in short, a version of the “proposition nation.”
The Alt Light differs from the mainstream of proposition nation conservatives by opposing economic globalization and open borders in favor of nationalism, upholding the superiority of “Western” culture and values, and opposing feminism and political correctness. …”
Here’s how I would characterize the Alt-Lite:
Gorilla ? Mind, my experimental nootropic stack, is regrowing neurons in my mind. I can feel them growing as I drift off to sleep. Amazing.
— Mike Cernovich ?? (@Cernovich) December 23, 2016
Infowars funds itself by selling nutritional products. Big deal. Should we accept cash from Gulf dictatorships instead like CNN does?
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) January 7, 2017
First and foremost, the Alt-Lite are marketers who are driven by the economics of viral clickbait media. The brands aren’t particularly philosophical about what they do. We’re the ones who think in terms of ideas. Case in point, we’re the ones who coined the term “Alt-Lite” in order to distinguish them from other conservatives. We’re the ones who call them “civic nationalists.” They still don’t even know what they believe.
If the Alt-Lite brands are civic nationalists, why is their hallmark the business of trafficking in polarizing racial clickbait on social media? What are they even doing in our neighborhood of the internet? Blacks and Muslims should be our fellow Americans because the country doesn’t have any ethnic, cultural, racial or religious foundation. Cernovich is a brand, Gorilla Mindset, so he casually dispenses with *tolerance* (whether of women, different religions, different races) in order to create engagement.
It’s funny to watch the Alt-Lite throw around terms like “Western civilization” or “populism” which quite obviously mean completely different things to them. When they say “Western civilization,” they mean liberalism like other mainstream conservatives. When they say “populism,” they think that means “supporting Trump” or like Bill Mitchell being vaguely against the Republican establishment.
These people are not great thinkers. What kind of populist demands $10,000 as a “prize” to debate someone? What kind of populist talks about purging gammas? What kind of populist talks about losers who are “too poor for my time?” What kind of populist talks about himself as a brand? The #Deploraball controversy, which has devolved into the question of who’s in and who’s out, has already exposed the faux populism of the Alt-Lite.
If it was really about celebrating the victory of a popular movement, then it wouldn’t be disavowing the Alt-Right which was at the forefront of the “meme war” through the entire campaign. If MILO was really a populist, he wouldn’t care whether or not he is “the star” of the event. It wouldn’t be an issue in the first place because “populism” is about empowering the people, not catering to elite sensibilities.
What does the Alt-Lite believe? They are critical of Muslims, but adamant that Jews shall not be criticized. They dislike Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists who are fringe characters. Like mainstream conservatives, they are critical of SJWs and political correctness and feminism. They believe we should accept people of all races, religions and backgrounds. This isn’t really that different from what we are accustomed to calling mainstream conservatism. What’s different here is that the Alt-Lite brands, unlike other conservatives who share the same worldview, aren’t particularly good at being civic nationalists.
Thaudi Arabianth paying trollth to hate on me.pic.twitter.com/Gd4JQCf4IT
— mike thernobich (@mikethernobich) January 6, 2017
When I look at these people, a few things stand out to me: they’re more conspiratorial, they’re more commercially motivated, they’re more accepting of homosexuality and there is definitely a streak of avant garde cultural libertarianism to them. The Alt-Lite brands enjoy being edgy, but they don’t want to be too edgy. If they veer too far from the mainstream, there could be an unacceptable social, political and economic cost.
Economically, the Alt-Lite brands are primarily retailers of viral clickbait on social media. Psychologically, they are both conservative and libertarian in that they are attracted to attention whoring and controversy, but they simultaneously don’t want to be seen as too controversial by the media. Ideologically, they tend to hold standard conservative and libertarian beliefs, but this aspect of them is a distant third because it isn’t what is really driving them and can be seen in how they aren’t particularly knowledgeable about anything outside of their specialization in marketing.
The Alt-Lite brands are conservative and libertarians, but they noticeably lack the ideological rigidity of the #TruCons and the Randroids. Their addiction to sweet clicks and engagement is why they are throwing out the hunks of racial red meat to their audience. From our perspective, that makes them very useful and it is why they aren’t going anywhere even after all of this fighting. It’s also why in the end they are destined to lose control of their followers as the brands are already finding out.
When White racial consciousness is sufficiently aroused, it isn’t going to care about brands anymore. The people who are developing an appetite for racial material will go searching for stronger stuff and a more coherent worldview.
Update: More on the origins of the term “Alt-Lite” which had been circulating around for longer than I thought:
— Charles Hammer (@DawningOwl) January 8, 2017