The alternative right (alt-right) is an active far-right group operating in America. It is not so much a party since it lacks formal organization. However, it serves as a political medium for those who share far-right beliefs (including but not limited to white-supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, extreme nationalism, Islamophobia, etc.). The closest form of organization is the National Party Institute run by Richard Spencer which serves as far-right think tank/lobbying group promoting the alt-right The alt-right is most active on the internet, which allows several far-right individuals to compound their ideas while maintaining a shroud of anonymity. This makes it difficult to concretely identify this group since the interests of white supremacists, neo-fascists, and other far-right groups alike can conglomerate their thoughts under the alt-right umbrella. 1 The online-targets of the alt-right are the impressionable youth as they are constantly exposed to the internet and subject to far-right radicalization. Seeding the youth with alt-right ideology not only ensures loyal and enduring membership but also facilitates diffusion of their ideas with a generation well versed in online navigation.
The alt-Right has various formats to disseminate their message, including the use of terrorism to further their agenda and spread their ideology. The most famous act of terror from the alt-right is the Unite the Right rally that was held in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11th and 12th in 2016. 2 This event saw the gathering and march of hundreds of alt-right supporters, many of which carried tiki torches. This event started non-violent but quickly turned deadly when an alt-right supporter deliberately ran his car into a crowd of alt-right protesters leaving the rally. 3 This crash left 1 dead and 19 injured and showed the violence that the alt-right was capable of committing against counter-protesters and innocent people. Since this rally, there has been numerous alt-right attacks leaving dozens of people dead. Two of the more prominent attacks of terror from the alt-right are the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting and the El Paso Shooting. While these attacks were committed by a single person, it is still important to realize the influence of the alt-right in the inspiration of these attacks and to count these attackers as a part of the alt-right movement. The first of these attacks, the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, left 11 worshipers dead and was perpetrated by a man who was later connected to an anti-Jewish manifesto. 4 Before committing the shooting, the man tweeted, “HIAS [a Jewish nonprofit] likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in. 5 ” These tweet shows blatant anti-Semitic views and also alludes to other alt-right views like the great replacement and the New World Order. Early the next year, the El Paso Shooting left another 22 innocent people dead after an alt-right supporter attacked a Walmart in El Paso, a city containing around 80% Latino population. 6 The shooter was linked to a screed on an 8chan that ranted about racial mixing and Latino immigration into Texas. It also pointed toward the alt-right theory the Great Replacement and the Christchurch shooting as a motive for the attack. These acts of terror show the true danger of the alt-right as a violent group of individuals who are willing to take out their anger with the world on innocent people.
Whilst the United States has an unprecedented amount of far-right and extreme- right groups, the alt-right is influenced primarily by European far-right movements. The ideology that that their terror comes from stems from is loosely based on that of the Europeans. The alt-right is largely representative of a break from previous American racist movements, such as the Klu Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation. Instead of using this established right as a basis for their movement, they instead look towards the European far-right for their ideas and strategies. In terms of their identity, many in the alt-right claim themselves as Identitarians, which originated in France from the Bloc Identitaire and later the youth section, Generation Identitaire. 7 The groups’ racism and intolerance is justified by their “mission” to preserve the ethnic and cultural origins of their countries. In the case of the alt-right, this is the white European- American culture. The alt-right generally appears to favor the ideas of the French New Right and their inclement towards a break with establishment conservative in favor of anarcho-capitalism. 8 Whilst it’s clear that are somewhat influenced by Hitler’s Nazis, it’s also clear that the alt-right get significant inspiration from the French far-right. Whilst they both attack “baby boomers” for different reasons, they both accuse older conservatives of selling out their respective countries to foreigners. Also, the alt-right was the first to acknowledge the French group ENR and their ideology. The ENR originated in France in the 1960s and were heavily influenced by German conservative revolutionary writers. They favor foregoing overt racism and instead adopted a policy of excluding groups based on a perceived threat to their cohesion and continuity. The ENR rejects American conservatism, capitalism and the perceived American international hegemony around the world, which appealed to the sentiments of the alt-right. As well as being influenced by the ENR’s publications and ideology, the alt-right also uses activism tactics from Europe. After the disaster of the alt-right rally in Charlottesville in
2016, they adopted the European tactic of “flash mobs.” Instead of announcing their
movements and intentions, the alt-right would rapidly assemble, declare their message and disperse before counter-revolutionaries could mobilize in opposition. The alt-right also influenced the European far-right as they adopted the American tactic of online trolling, which works effectively for the alt-right especially. Richard Spencer, the leader of the alt-right, compares his white nationalist movement for a separatist state to that of the Zionist calls for a Jewish state. The alt-right also looks favorably on international leaders such as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad. Spencer believes Putin is the “most powerful white power in the world” and that Assad is a heroic figure due to his stand
against rebel groups in the Syrian Civil War.