As the alt-right matures it can now be divided into working class and middle class wings. Most of the arguments about strategy, methods, and optics since Charlottesville have at their root been different parts of society talking past each other. The alt-right likes to talk about race, but too many of them seem to neglect class, which in some circumstances is even more important than race in a highly stratified America.
The pre-existing White Nationalism 1.0 was a working class movement by its nature. They were notorious for being abrasive purity-spirallers who don’t work well with others but those who made the transition to 2.0 have brought with them established organizational structures and are willing to show up in the real world.
At this point, when people are taking huge risks just stepping out into public, just showing up is the decisive factor, not wardrobe choice. As a mercantile culture, we are still grappling with the new reality that action, revealed preference, and loyalty means more than words, presentation, or “brands.”
From what I have seen, the most aggressively anti-social purity spirallers are already getting pushed out. Over time I am seeing progressively fewer Nazi costumes. As far as I can tell from pictures of Shelbyville, a few last people wearing nazi helmets are all that remains to be dealt with. Counter-intuitively, complaints from the middle class wing of the alt-right actually grew louder after this event. They were just as upset by a procession of people who looked like bikers and hunters dressed in black. The reality is that working class groups won’t look nice and fuzzy, especially since the people who will actually show up tend to be the most angry and disaffected. People who look determined and intimidating are not necessarily a bad thing.
The white polo shirt strategy has proven to be a stroke of genius that has created an image of the alt-right in the public consciousness. More specifically, this has become the uniform of the middle class and SWPL alt-rightists. They are trying to reach an audience where it pays best to be approachable, clean-cut, and well spoken. While the black-clad bikers are gathering in rural white America, the polo preppy alt-right are targeting universities and urban areas.
Rather than one conquering the other, these factions will end up pursuing their strategies in parallel.
I have seen a lot of criticism over the people showing up being “defective” but I think a lot of the armchair generals forget these are bands of dissidents. The people who are comfortable and happy with their lives stay home, have other stuff to do, and have way too much to lose.
The critics expect that the leaders of these groups can micromanage everyone like they are playing a real time strategy game and freak out about every negative thing the press seizes on. In real life, these leaders are pirate captains elected into their roles by a motley crew of mutineers.
It takes a lot of guts and a disagreeable nature for anyone to actively go against what the rest of society is telling them to do, to reject false received wisdom, and seek out truth. When you get a bunch of people like this in a room, you can’t expect any organization they form to run like a corporate department. It’s only natural that it’s a bumpy ride and knees will get scraped.
There has been a lot of public arguments between the leaders of these groups as they jockey for position and influence. These are not crises but part of the natural process through which every organization is formed. The clash of personalities has been a positive thing as the most able rise to the top and the worst narcissists, anti-social types, and the outright insane get weeded out.
Every time there is a setback, loyalty gets tested and those who counter-signal too hard in the wrong way or against the wrong people fall by the wayside. In these struggles, the class divide has been especially obvious.
One leader screams at another about being a nazi larper only to be derided as an effete metrosexual in return. One thing I have noticed though is over time certain rules of engagement have solidified and there are lines the leaders left standing no longer cross. Now, even when disagreeing on tactics, there is almost always a disclaimer, of “I am glad this guy’s on our side but…”
With pirate brawls now staying within this etiquette, the hierarchy steadily figures itself out. Since the alt-right is the executive wing of the dissident sphere, those who come out on top will be those who can most effectively lead people to accomplish strategic goals in the field.
One of the biggest misunderstandings I see about the alt-right is from those who want it to become a mainstream political movement. For some time yet, the niche of the alt-right is to be a minority of radicals who push the envelope and goad their enemies into over-extending. By challenging the boundaries a few hundred alt-rightists can clear cultural space for millions more to drift slightly further towards them.
The alt-right is succeeding not by persuading everyone at once to their views but by changing the collective mood enough that alt-lite marketers are being forced to adapt or perish.
Barely a year ago, a group with mostly gay men and women rose to become the alt-lite because their diversity points helped them get away with pushing ideas that no white straight guy could have presented to a large audience. Someone like Milo was necessary and even his presence was enough to trigger a riot at Berkeley that was a huge turning point in exposing the establishment’s willingness to shut down free speech with violent thugs.
This excess lead directly to Antifa defeats at the battles of Huntington Beach and Berkeley forcing them to change their tactics ever since. Few seem to reflect on the strategic significance of the fact that antifa has never again been able to attack independently, relying completely on sympathetic authorities to take their side.
Now, it’s no longer necessary to be flamingly gay to popularize edgy political ideas. Alt-lite figures like Milo are failing to make the transition and ex campus conservative types like James Allsup and Nick Fuentes are taking their place with far more discussion of ideas and less mindless sensationalism. As the alt-right continues to keep on the pressure, it will change the culture—and the conventional politics lies downstream of culture.