One of the main problems with using political labels is that they are rarely followed by a precise definition. Case and point, Charlottesville. The attendees at the Unite The Right rally have been described as everything from simply “Alt-Right” to White Nationalists, White Supremacists, Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates. Yesterday I watched a livestream from the debacle that unfolded. It is clear that is is grossly unfair and inaccurate to comb all the groups that were there with the same brush. I was greatly disappointed when I saw some “generic” Alt-Righters not being bothered in the least by the presence of full-out Neo-Nazis waving swastika flags. The numbers of people from these different groups doesn’t fundamentally matter, a handful or a massive throng of people isn’t captured in headlines in the media.
The media casually sweeps all these groups under the same label. The presence of some unsavory elements taints the “less offensive” more generic Alt-Right people attending. This is clear from the media’s shock and outrage at Trump’s comments condemning violence on all sides. That is a perfectly reasonable and justified response. There was indeed violence on both the Alt-Right side and the leftist counter protester Antifa side. Who threw the first punch? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Where do we draw the distinction? On who attacked first overall, who initiated combat locally in different parts of Charlottesville, what role did the police have?
The Alt-Right has a self-image as defenders of the cultural heritage of whites and as the most important force bringing attention to, and opposing demographic changes that are detrimental to white people. The question becomes whether to include the other elements on the far-right spectrum into the label. The left-wing media obviously gloms on to the most unsavory elements and elevates them to the front. The imagery of the Neo-Nazis is effectively superimposed on all of the New Right spectrum by the media.
It isn’t necessary to have one all-encompassing label to cover all groups. We already have the term “Alt-Lite” to cover those beyond traditional weak-willed and ineffectual conservatism, but still falling-short of the focus on ethnicity that is core to the Alt-Right proper. Both want to move society in the same general direction. It isn’t necessary to have a unified label in order to be effective. After seeing the events of yesterday, I believe a “balkanization” of labelling would be useful in furtherance of New Right politics. If clear demarcations could be drawn between the Alt-Right White Nationalists and the Supremacist side including Neo-Nazis and their ilk, it would be harder for the media and others to lump them all together. They would still do it, but countering this narrative would be easier. This would though require that members of the Alt-Right not associate with the overt supremacists. Fraternizing as seen yesterday is extremely harmful to the efficacy of New Right politics.
Going from here, it is of paramount importance that everyone on the New Right understand political optics. The open flirting with “fashwave” and Third Reich iconography is extremely toxic, simply saying that you have a right to use it, or that you’re doing it “ironically” simply reveals the child-like understanding many people have of modern politics. They are of course perfectly within their rights to don such garb, but why do it when it is the clearest thing in the world that it is torpedoing any semblance of effectiveness? Clear separation and demarcation lines are necessary going forward. The Alt-Lite and non-supremacist wing of the Alt-Right can and should cooperate, but the full tilt boogie Neo-Nazis need to be relegated to the ash heap of history.