My ultimate goal in writing this is to make people aware of the Alt Right as more than just the White Nationalists. There are many such individuals, but what I want is for common knowledge to exist about them so that the rest of us can parse the Alt Right, find common ground with the parts that most of us can agree with, reintegrate those factions back into mainstream political discussions, and eventually isolate out the White Nationalist factions, leaving them to wither on the vine absent a future source to recruit members and support from. I’m not Alt Right, but what I see in them is a very large and diverse group with some factions having valid arguments, and a very small group with radically terrible ideas. I’m concerned the overgeneralization of them, however, is playing into the hands of their worst elements in an effort to fundamentalize the entire movement. This is an identical process that I have communicated before with such radicalizing groups, and I see the trend as dangerous and damaging to the future of our country if we don’t make the right choices now in defeating it. Part of that process is information. For that reason, this answer will primarily be about communicating the views of the different factions within the Alt Right as best I can decipher. Parts will be uncomfortable to read, but know that they were equally difficult to research and write, in fact more so.
Let’s begin by examining the following image, because it pretty much explains everything you need to know about the Alt Right. It’s messy, it’s confusing, it’s convoluted, it’s weird, and there are parts that scare us into thinking everything else in it is terrible. But the lines within it are important. This is the best way I could break up the competing ideologies in the Alt Right, not to be representative of the relative sizes of each ideology, but of the ideologies that make them up.
General Commonalities — Disestablishmentarianism and Populism
The only thing I’ve found that seems common to all of the Alt Right is evident in the name. First, while they have a general resentment of the Left and its specific policies, the alternative Right was formed in response to what it viewed as “establishment” Right’s inability to act in what many of the Alt Right believed to be their interests or act in accordance with their stated principles. Which principles take priority differs from one group to another, but in general, they view the establishment as compromising too many of their principles in regard to either placating the Left or to big business interests as a requirement of playing the game.
Many were driven to the Alt Right as a result of the Presidency of George W. Bush, as they believed that the Neoconservative agenda was one that sought too many accommodations with the Democrats and shifted the country Leftward, while also entangling the world in what they viewed as unnecessary wars without focusing on the needs of the American culture. The Presidency of Barack Obama also saw numerous social changes that many in the Alt Right felt were direct attacks on their culture or their way of life.
For this reason, while still vehemently disagreeing with the Left, they disagreed with the way in which the Right represented itself, thereby in their mind necessitating a break from the “old” Right or Establishment Right. Seeing little chance to see real reforms done by the establishment Right, they joined the alternative one. In this thinking, they share a major vein with many who view the modern establishment Republicans, as well as Establishment Democrats, to be unable to practice the values of their constituencies, but instead have sold out to corporatist mentalities and a desire to appease uncompromising political enemies.
The general lack of confidence in the cultural cliques of government is a sentiment many are finding agreement with. It’s known historically as “Disestablishmentarianism” and has become a trend common in both the Right and Left, giving rise to the popular movements of today. Donald Trump was viewed as a completely foreign element to “the Establishment”, and in fact, the complete resentment he received from them, was an element he capitalized on in his bid for the Presidency, and continues to do so. Many people gravitate to his populist message in the belief that he will somehow be able to break-up the culture of government in Washington and “return power to the people.” They believe that by “Draining the Swamp” they will restore the Right to some ideal it has lost, and thereby dealing a major defeat against the Left.
The resentment of both Left leaning ideology and the “Established” Right, seem to be the only thing I see most of the Alt Right having in common. Beyond that they break up in many different ideologic sets, many competing ideologies, and a few that are mutually inconsistent with each other and which will be unable to exist together for long.