The thing about the Alt-Right is that it’s more or less leaderless. This is by design not accident. As soon as you have a leader, then all the press has to do to delegitimize it is make the leader look bad, and the movement looks bad by association. You can find a lot more influential voices in the alt-right who say they absolutely are NOT the leader than who act like they aspire to be. They all know exactly what the press has in store for them.
The mainstream press may have a low cunning, but they aren’t really that smart. But making people they disagree with look bad is a kind of vocation for them. They’ll re-splice video, edit quotes, and change your words until you really do seem to be either an idiot, a monster or both. It’s the process they’ve used to keep the old right on its heels for decades. With a very few exceptions, the Alt-Right isn’t interested in that.
The press is only too happy to have someone step up and try thought because it serves their interest. That’s how Richard Spencer ended up “famous” for that Hitler salute nonsense. Getting some positive press would certainly be a great way to build the movement, and the press uses that as the bait. But they’ll NEVER allow an honest discussion of the alt-right’s ideas because those ideas represent such heretical thinking to them. They quite literally "Can't be considered" by the liberal mind.
But back to the intramurals. The two principles in the (main) argument are Richard Spencer (of Hitler Salute fame) and Mike Cernovich (involved at some level in Gamergate), both of whom have up to now been highly visible spokesmen for their individual portions of the alt-right. Both have tried their hand at grabbing media attention for themselves (with expected results) and building their own individual “brand”. The way I think of it is that they each have built up their own organization and fan base, and are now looking to have their organization subsume the rest of the alt-right.
The two guys have disagreements when it comes to ideas too. This will be horribly over-simplifying so both of them might be angry at me for this characterization, but what they look like they’re doing to me is following two separate paths to leadership ideologically. Spencer is more interested in intellectual and philosophical consistency - a kind of ideological purity model, while Cernovich seems to be arguing for more of a least common denominator ideology.
Both have their defensible positions and if you’re that curious you can read their writing yourself. But the weaknesses of their approaches are both pretty visible to me. Spencer’s problem is the more apparent. Since he’s interested in having an ideologically and philosophically consistent position, he’s going to tend to draw supporters from the fringes. The more extreme the supporter the more they’re interested in ideological purity. The Libertarian party has been having this problem for ages.
Cernovich’s position is actually the more politically viable and marketable, since he’s talking less about white nationalism and more about simple nationalism. That’s what he’s identified as the least common political denominator. But he’s come under considerable criticism from the aforementioned fringe, and so far his one really big brush with major media is that he’s the guy who said that the Alt-Right is dead. This makes him popular with the mainstream as leader of a movement who’s eulogy he’s just uttered. And a hostile opponent of it’s most devoted and vocal supporters.
For my part, I think both guys are just a little too early. Thanks to the left’s focus on silencing debate and Trump’s election, there is remarkable momentum in the idea of uttering liberal heresy lately, so I can see how they might have made the mistake. But I think Spencer (apart form the horrible branding problem he has now) doesn’t have the numbers yet, and with the current makeup of the Alt-Right’s supporters, Cernovich misread the tea leaves about where to draw the line.
Both will still be around. Both will see their positions evolve as they try to bridge the gap between the right and the possible. That’s politics.
So what about the movement? Is the Alt-Right really dead? Don’t be silly – you should know better than to believe the press. The only place the Alt-right is finished (or even shrinking) is in the fantasies of NBC executives and Democrat operatives. The movement is growing because it’s based on facts, and facts are inescapable. As they become more widely discussed their truth becomes clear and obvious. And every time someone learns one, the danger of being burned as a witch reduces and someone else goes and learns the facts.
To date, I think the most influential people on the Alt-Right haven’t been the ideologues with aspirations of leading a political party, but the low key writers and video-bloggers behind the scenes who are discussing those facts. They are, in part, the people who I tend to call attention to on this blog. The Derb, Jared Taylor, Peter Brimelow, and a few others. Even people like Mark Steyn, Heather MacDonald and Tucker Carlson, who all say they have nothing to do with the Alt-right, are discussing the same facts so they're actually helping the movement. These are the people that represent the core of the thinking for the Alt-Right.
None are particularly the bomb throwing types. To my knowledge none have far reaching political aspirations beyond maybe a local school board seat or something, and none want to be identified as leaders. And for now I think it should stay that way. The Alt-Right will have to have a leader eventually I think. But until the media’s overwhelming liberal bias is eliminated, I don’t think it’s going to be possible. People can’t support a position that they never learn about, and right now the media will do all it can to prevent those ideas from being discussed.
Some might argue that the alt-right will simply stay online and grow from there. OK. I can’t negate the possibility. But the Alt-Right needs to convert liberal apostates to have the numbers necessary for a peaceful transition to power, and in the end I think that means the media. Youtube might dent it a little, but liberals don’t really like to read.
Trump is not part of the Alt-Right but I think he might prove very helpful to them in that regard. He can begin the process of showing America just how ridiculous and awful their fourth estate really is. Every victory for him over the media is a victory for the American people and I believe eventually, for the Alt-Right. The Alt-Right is supported by science and would love nothing better than a free and open debate of its views. If Trump shatters the media then maybe that will be possible one day.
But that day is not today. And until then it’s an amorphous movement. It’s leaderless and party-less. There are no meetings, no organization and no structure. You want to be part of the alt-right? Go ahead. Declare yourself a member. That’s literally all there is. It might do you well to attend some of the talks held by the intellectual factions like Amren, the NPI or some of the others. There you can meet like minded folk and discuss the direction you’d like to see things go in. But for now it’s a purely intellectual endeavor rather than an explicitly political one.
For a while I attended a monthly private dinner meeting in NYC with a few of the names I’ve mentioned here, run by a conservative Academic who is a friend. I thought of that as an alt-right meeting since the topics discussed were all heretical and consistent with the kind of topics the alt-right focuses on. But it was held in secret and treated as an intellectual endeavor only. Politics were discussed, but no platform was ever presented. Everyone left with their own ideas about where to go.
The writers above occasionally talked and wrote about it of course, and a few of the other public names involved might be mentioned. You'll see Gavin McInnes talking about dinner with the Derb or vice versa. But most of the people were simply business people, and their names were never repeated. The risk to them was too great. They were all people like me who were unafraid of being called a witch in person, and are able to make an influential argument in small groups, but have no interest in notoriety.
And for now, I think the risk still outweigh the benefits overall where the mainstream and neocon press is concerned. The buzz around the infighting tells me I’m probably right. I don’t think it will always be this way but for now, I think the press will have to wait. Let the guys like Tucker Carlson and Trump do the heavy lifting of making the media look bad. And when they have been meaningfully reformed or replaced – when it reaches the point where you can say a ‘hate fact’ on TV and have your opinion actually listened to - then it will be time to seek the spotlight for those inclined to do so.