White Men's Fear of Women: Anti-Feminism and the Rise of the Alt-Right

by Hanna Bergman

Abstract:

In successfully recruiting a portion of its membership from various online communities of white men who feel threatened and rejected by women, the Alt-Right movement promotes a sense of male entitlement that is easily radicalized and connected to white nationalism and white supremacy. While the Alt-Right proclaims to be able to offer something of value to the men who join them, the movement has never been about helping men cope with low self-esteem, relationship problems, or their personal pain and insecurity. How, then, do we explain its ability to appeal to a certain group of white men? 

Trolling feminism and progressive or liberal thought, the Alt-Right has created a culture of vitriolic defensiveness among young white males, which aims to establish a common belief in white male victimhood. In order to understand its rise, we therefore have to examine how the movement in part came into existence as a rejection of the accomplishments of feminism. By constructing a complex cultural narrative of male vulnerability the Alt-Right has created a uniting collective of men who view the subordination of women as both part of a functional society and a stepping stone to a larger movement: one steeped in fascist ideology and willing to openly champion a politics of hate and violence.

 

Article:

The Radicalization of Aggrieved Entitlement and the Rise of the Alt-Right

The “alt-right” profess to be an identarian activist movement seeking to trigger a cultural shift. Wikipedia describes them as "a loosely-connected and somewhat ill-defined grouping of white supremacists, neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, and other far-right fringe hate groups whose beliefs have been described as isolationist, protectionist, anti-Semitic and white supremacist."[1] By exploiting young men’s rebellion and dislike of “political correctness,” the “alt-right” exploit the anxiety and loneliness of this fringe community to spread white supremacist thought, xenophobia, and misogyny.

Without a legitimate justification for their outdated belief system, the movement is incredibly fearful of the possibility of a future in which white masculinity will not secure for them the same power and privilege their identity once did.

It is unsurprising that the movement has become a focal point of the subsequent culture war marked by fierce polarization over different visions of what America is, what it has been, and what it could be. In today’s world, the “alt-right” are seeing many of their values and beliefs that were once perceived as honourable ridiculed as bigoted, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic and backward.[2] Without a legitimate justification for their outdated belief system, the movement is incredibly fearful of the possibility of a future in which white masculinity will not secure for them the same power and privilege their identity once did.

In his article "Don’t Feed the Trolls" Evan Malmgren argues that it’s less important to pay attention to the “alt-right” in terms of their ideological coherence and more important to focus on understanding how the movement exercises its power. The “alt-right” exists as a subset of extremely online people with fringe beliefs who understand the ways mainstreaming has evolved in the attention economy and are using it as a weapon. I argue that we’re past the age of information and currently exist in a post-information age epitomized by the political, global, populist manipulation of information manipulation wherein Boyd argues that "decentralized networks of people are leveraging the ever-evolving networked tools around them to hack the attention economy."[3]

Internet subcultures like the “alt-right” take full advantage of the current media ecosystem through fake new, bias, misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda, creating an entirely modern "crisis of legitimation."[4] Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis argue that media’s ‘dependence on social media, analytics and metrics, sensationalism, novelty over newsworthiness, and clickbait makes them especially vulnerable to [alt-right] media manipulation’[5] based on "the relentless pursuit of ratings, market share, and advertising money" which "predisposes it in ways that guarantee a debased public discourse into the future."[6]

Never before have hate movements had the outreach to recruit members, spread propaganda, and mobilize their message to incite hatred and harassment. Malmgren defines the movement as "an anonymous army of trolls, a new generation of internet racists who have pushed a nihilistic movement into the public eye with a mix of shock tactics, targeted harassment, outright calls to violence, and a savvy understanding of social media."[7] This movement gained attention for its explicit white supremacy; however, the group’s racial focus has significantly downplayed and distracted from the one foundational aspect of the “alt-right’s” various belief system.

Critically evaluating this movement based on it’s membership, origin and mission, I conclude that the “alt-right” is indeed a hate movement. Illustrating the ease with which the movement channels male insecurity around women’s rights into an ideology of white supremacy, I argue that the paths by which men wander into the “alt-right” movement are deceptive, in that members are less drawn to the movement for it’s racism, but rather they are drawn towards its sexism, aptly described by Vox as “extreme misogyny evolving from male bonding gone haywire.”[8] In building its membership from communities who feel threatened or rejected by women, the “alt-right” champions a sense of deeply entrenched white male entitlement that is all too easily radicalized into fascism.

Malmgren justly defines the “alt-right” as ‘an anonymous army of trolls, a new generation of internet racists who have pushed a nihilistic movement into the public eye with a mix of shock tactics, targeted harassment, outright calls to violence, and a savvy understanding of social media’.[9] Unable to traditionally mainstream their views based on their wild unpopularity, the “alt-right” has used its high media literacy to generate attention by forcing the media to cover their movement. They have done this by making themselves newsworthy by doing things that journalists cannot in good conscious ignore. The more erratic and dangerous a fringe group seems; the more people will want to figure them out. If people want to figure you out, then news sources will have to talk about you. Ian Danskin describes the “alt-right’s” mainstreaming playbook as follows: "If no one is adopting your language, adopt it for them. Create fake accounts, spam terminology, create bots. Make thousands of bots and make sure your real account, your fake account, and your bots use the same language. Spam movements you hate, so they can’t be used. If your language is not being popularized, use other peoples and co-opt its meaning. Insist on doing it ironically, while eroding confidence in people who use the terms originally. Insist that everyone would speak the same as you if there weren’t so much censorship."[10]

Far-right groups develop techniques of “attention hacking” to increase the visibility of their ideas through the strategic use of social media, memes, and bots—as well as by targeting journalists, bloggers, and influencers to help spread content.[11] Boyd notes that ‘the goal [of these hackers] is to feel a sense of power in a world where they felt pretty powerless. The rush was in being able to do something and feel smarter than the so-called powerful.’[12] The “alt-right” are different than most hacking collectives in that rather than targeting security infrastructure, they choose to attack the emergent attention economy. Malmgren is apt to note that "almost every quality that characterizes the culture, structure, and tactics of the “alt-right”—its distaste for authority, its meme fluency, and its love of trouble for trouble’s sake—are part and parcel of the sequestered forums that nurtured its rise."[13] That is to say, the “alt-right” are largely a reactionary movement.

In addition to hacking the attention economy, the “alt-right” employ mix of harassment techniques, such as doxing, swatting, and gaslighting, to intimidate women, immigrants, people of colour, religious minorities, LGBTQ communities, and basically anyone who isn’t straight, white, cis, and male. Doxing is the internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private or personally identifiable information, about an individual or organization.[14] Swatting is the harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency services dispatcher into sending police and emergency service response teams to another person's address.[15] This is triggered by false reporting of a serious law enforcement emergencies such as bomb threats, murder, hostage situations, or serious hoax incidents.

As doxing and swatting have become more commonplace, another type of harassment started to emerge en masse: gaslighting. This term refers to George Cukor's 1944 film Gas Light starring Ingrid Bergman. The film depicts psychological abuse in a domestic violence context, where the victim started to doubt her sanity because of the deceptions of the abuser. Boyd argues that gaslighting is a form of psychological warfare that can work tremendously well in an information ecosystem, especially one where it’s possible to post information in a distributed way to make it very unclear what is legitimate, what is fake, and what is propaganda.[16] Malmgren argues that the “alt-right” "represents one of the only cross-sections of society who could possibly laugh about putting Jews in gas chambers, bringing slavery back to the United States, or reinforcing a rigid hierarchy of the sexes. With nothing personal at stake, they are free to embrace a politics of radical discrimination, incite justified outrage and fear from marginalized groups, and even seek to drive victims to suicide, 'for fun.'"[17] The “alt-right” propagates racial discrimination and anti-feminist messages using easily shared memes (images, video clips, phrases) on their social networks; cultivating a feeling of inclusivity and acceptance. Boyd argues that by engaging in these campaigns, “alt-right” has ‘learned how to shape information within a networked ecosystem. They learned how to design information for it to spread across social media’.[18]

Considering the “alt-right” being bound together in a shared politics of negation, it’s important to define this movement in terms of what it is not. They are not identarian or race-realists. The self-described “alt-right” are not at an alternative to American Conservatism, they are a racist, anti-feminist far-right fringe movement that embraces an ideology of white nationalism. That being said, the “alt-right” themselves are not dangerous. Malmgren notes that "spontaneously coordinated mass mobilization has given them an oversized digital footprint, and an online visibility that far outstrips their raw numbers."[19] They are unquestionably small in number and all they are really capable of doing is coordinated trolling and accomplishing widespread cyber harassment. For the bulk of the “alt-right” base, the embrace of an oppressive and violent politics has just been another way of having fun by aggravating others, as they openly advocate harassment and discrimination, if not worse, of women and minority groups.

The “alt-right’s” anonymous structure makes it difficult to gauge its exact makeup, but 4chan’s advertising demographics, 4chan being an anonymous English-language imageboard website split into various boards, can serve as an “alt-right” proxy group: 70 percent male, primarily aged 18 to 34, the majority of whom attended or are currently enrolled in college.[20] This secure and privileged male population exists at an entirely unique societal intersection so removed from the reality of historical influence. What’s so striking about this movement, is that its not attracting the illiterate redneck racists one would expect, but rather it predominantly recruits its membership from young, disgruntled, semi-educated, men who feel they have been wronged by society.

Malmgren argues that the “alt-right”represents one of the only cross-sections of society who could possibly laugh about putting  Jews in gas chambers, bringing slavery back to the United States, or reinforcing a rigid hierarchy of the sexes. With nothing personal at stake, they are free to embrace a politics of radical discrimination, incite justified outrage and fear from marginalized groups, and even seek to drive victims to suicide, “for fun.”[21]

"Non-synchronism,"[22] a helpful concept in this context, is philosopher Ernst Bloch’s theory that time affects everyone in different ways despite their common physical existence in the same “now.” This theory explains how youth can still want to “return to the good old days,” without having ever experienced that time in their history. The “alt-right” is angry that society has come to normalize all that the movement stands against: liberalism; egalitarianism; multiculturalism; “political correctness”; and, most tellingly, feminism.

In addition to being bound together by their love of memes, the “alt-right” are united in what is often referred to as the “manosphere.” Within the manosphere exists the “men’s rights” movement, pickup artist culture or PUAs (a community of men that basically makes a game of the art of bedding women), “incels” (men who are “involuntarily celibate” because they feel women reject them)[23]. This realm is superficially endearing in that the lifestyle PUAs emphasizes includes self-esteem and confidence building along with physical health, while the “incel” community allows men to bond over their struggle to achieve all of the above in spite of their bad luck with women.

Geeks and gamers also exists within the manosphere as Alexander argues that ‘the oppressive, power-crazed politics of the right, and the sexist, privileged world of entertainment technology go hand in hand.[24] These men exist in a space where they feel valued, a stark difference from their real lives in which, they have relatively low social and economic value. However, it’s important to note that any good that can come of this online community is immediately negated by the tendency to “instil in their members a new-found articulation of fundamental anxiety over their position as men in a society where women are actively seeking empowerment.”[25] 

The “men’s rights” movement started as a way to boost individual male autonomy through cyber-socialization. Many men who were drawn to the “alt-right” community because they felt solidarity in a community of misfits trying to gain-self-confidence and subsequently trying to get laid, as a sort of support group for “friend-zoned” who lament and vilify the women uninterested in them. They incessantly whine about how girls just don’t like nice guys without ever stopping for a second to consider that actions like anonymously invading women’s safe spaces to harass and spam them with threats of rape and violence do not constitute being a nice guy.

Indoctrinated to believe that they were at risk of extinction, these young white men started out looking for like-minded friends online only to be hurriedly radicalized into the “alt-right.”

The sexual frustration of this online gamer community was easily radicalized into bigotry. To quote Siyanda Mohutsiwa’s powerful post-election twitter thread, “these online groups found young white men at their most vulnerable and convinced them liberals were colluding to destroy white Western manhood.”[26] Indoctrinated to believe that they were at risk of extinction, these young white men started out looking for like-minded friends online only to be hurriedly radicalized into the “alt-right.”

The “alt-right” are particularly interesting as they don’t see themselves as sexist, rather they are fighting against their own emasculation and sexual repression at the hands of strident feminists. Reddit’s r/TheRedPill paints this ideology as a religious conversion: an “awakening,” or “taking the red pill” (a reference borrowed from The Matrix [27] referring to a scene in which the protagonist is offered the choice of a red pill, representing truth and self-knowledge, or a blue pill representing a return to blissful ignorance) which conclusively leads one to understand how feminism has ruined modern society.

Cassie Jaye’s “The Red Pill” documentary features “skeptical feminist” Jaye as she investigates the “Men’s Rights” movement after stumbling across a ‘Voice For Men’ while researching rape culture. A Voice For Men is a website that claims to ‘provide education and encouragement to men and boys; to lift them above the din of misandry, to reject the unhealthy demands of gynocentrism in all its forms, and to promote their mental, physical and financial well-being without compromise or apology.’[28] The film does not at any point discuss rape culture. Jaye fails to address the main phenomenon she set out to investigate, despite many interviews with a Voice for Men’s founder Paul Elman. Elman is widely labelled as a "rape apologist" for stating in his online publication that if he should ever be called to sit on the jury for a rape trial, he'd automatically vote not guilty, “even if the evidence of the accused's guilt was overwhelming.”[29]

The film, often critiqued for being funded by its subject, discusses issues facing men and boys such as male suicide rates, workplace fatalities and high-risk jobs, military conscription, lack of services for male victims of domestic violence and rape, higher rates of violent victimization, issues concerning divorce and child custody, disparity in criminal sentencing, disproportionate funding and research on men's health issues, educational inequality, societal tolerance of misandry, circumcision, and men's lack of reproductive rights.[30]

I echo the sentiments of Los Angeles Times critic Katie Walsh in arguing that the documentary ‘lacks a coherent argument’ because it "is built on a fundamental misunderstanding’ of key terms. Walsh asserts that the terms could have been better defined ‘to comprehend the ways in which patriarchal systems control resources to exploit both women and men."[31] She recognized that "there are many dire and urgent troubles men face that should be addressed", but concluded about the documentary that "[it] only exacerbates that divide with its uncritical, lopsided presentation and inability to craft a compelling argument regarding a topic this controversial."[32]

I do not dispute that men and boys have their own issues separate from those of women and girls. It is the case that women have an equal potential for violence and manipulation. It is true that the legal system is flawed in many more ways than merely maintaining a precedent for gender preference in custodial and family law. It is also true that we value women’s lives more than those of men based on women’s reproductive capacity. This is not a point of a misandry, but rather a natural consequence of evolution. The “alt-right” are more concerned with critiques of feminism which argue that women are being given an advantageous position over men in society, when, women are finally getting an even playing field.

“Alt-right” activism is not concerned about acting for men’s collective issues like Fathers Rights, infant genital mutilation, or equal prison sentencing, but rather their activism seems to only be about discussing men’s rights exclusively in reference to feminism. In other words, the “alt-right” don’t act for men, they act against women. For those wishing to actively advocate for the issues facing men and boys today, your activism is welcome within intersectional feminism which fights for the trans men, men of colour, gay men that are otherwise unincluded within the “alt-right.

The “alt-right” blames their shortcomings on others and sees attempts at creating racial and gender equality as an attack on their identity.

The “alt-right” movement is strongly misandrist, deeply resenting the way that feminism appears to be blaming men for almost everything wrong in the world. “Alt-right” groups like a ‘Voice for Men’ claim they aim to "provide education and encouragement to men and boys; to lift them above the din of misandry, to reject the unhealthy demands of gynocentrism in all its forms, and to promote their mental, physical and financial well-being without compromise or apology."[33] This is not dissimilar from the mission of a similar group, "Return of Kings," which aims "to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed."[34] The ideas and beliefs of the red-pilled “alt-right” are based on neo-masculinity. "Return of Kings" lists a few of its principal tenets[35]:

1.    Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt.

2.    Men will opt out of monogamy and reproduction if there are no incentives to engage in them.

3.    Past traditions and rituals that evolved alongside humanity served a net benefit to the family unit.

4.    Testosterone is the biological cause for masculinity. Environmental changes that reduce the hormone’s concentration in men will cause them to be weaker and more feminine.

5.     A woman’s value significantly depends on her fertility and beauty. A man’s value significantly depends on his resources, intellect, and character.

6.    Elimination of traditional sex roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation.

7.    Socialism, feminism, cultural Marxism, and social justice warriorism aim to destroy the family unit, decrease the fertility rate, and impoverish the state through large welfare entitlements.

The RedPill documentary, in addition to most red pill ideology spouted by these “men’s rights” activist groups, fundamentally misunderstands feminism. A lot of the issues discussed in the documentary are a consequence of dictatorial gender roles. The very idea that hegemonic gender roles are restrictive and oppressive to both men and women is, in fact, a feminist idea. Moreover, men have always been involved in feminism, helping to flesh out ideas and fighting alongside feminists to create new masculinities. As Barton aptly points out, the “alt-right” counterfeit “male liberation” as if it were their idea. Then again, men taking credit for women’s labour and innovation isn’t exactly a novel concept.[36]

However, feminism does not blame men for everything, they blame the patriarchy. It’s not surprising that many “men’s rights” activists will admittedly oppose a movement that they cannot be bothered to do even the most basic level of research into. In wanting to dissemble patriarchal structures and society, feminists are simply saying “hey this is how it is, its not necessarily your fault, but let’s work together to dismantle it because it negatively effects us all.”

The problem is that both sides are being told that their struggles are insignificant comparable to the other's. Men and women both have different lived experiences. Talking about one gender’s issues isn’t neglecting the others, as the “alt-right” so desperately claim. Moreover, trying to quantify and compare the different ways each suffer from sexism is not helping either side. The idea that oppression has turned into some kind of twisted competition is an obstacle to open and honest discussions about sexism and other kinds of social violence. This oppression dialectic needs to go if the “alt-right” does indeed care at all about men’s issues.

Perhaps the most important point raised by the MRAs of the “alt-right” is the acknowledgement that men are becoming increasingly aggrieved and resentful. As men’s complaints about the rise in rates of depression, anger, and suicide rates are being proliferated across public discourse, it is also the case that across classes, and races, we are seeing a wholesale revision of what female life might entail. An article in New York Magazine quotes Traister’s research: ‘We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood as a norm, not an aberration, and the creation of an entirely new population: adult women who are no longer economically, socially, sexually, or reproductively dependent on or defined by the men they marry’.[37]

As women become more independent and self-sufficient they are no longer willing to settle for a marriage where their needs are not met. They would rather get their social and emotional support from work associates, friends, and family, whereas men don’t seek to replenish their lost relationships and are fully dependent on women for the kind of support they now seek out in the “alt-right” community. Diamond notes that as men feel unable to meet women’s needs for economic, emotional, and social support, they feel more inadequate and distance themselves even more, often escaping into pornography, increased alcohol consumption, and compulsive work habits.[38]

Let’s make one thing clear: the fact that men feel unable to meet an independent women’s needs corelates with feminism, it is not the cause. There is no reason that men cannot elevate their behaviour to match women’s raised standards. It’s not feminisms fault that women don’t like you. MRAs often argue that empowered women automatically disempower men, if that indeed is the case, then it’s time for men to find ways to empower themselves. As one Tumblr user suggests:

Go to therapy, make better friends, stop being rapists, develop interests other than porn, learn better social skills, work on curating empathy, gain knowledge on how to actually give women an orgasm, repair broken family relations, read a book on social skills, take a class on social skills, stop having sexual tourettes, develop a life that a woman might actually say yes to if you were to propose.[39]

It’s difficult to be sympathetic when most men will not move an inch to change their lives for the better based on their unfounded sense of entitlement. For example, The National Coalition for Men urges the world to “FREE MEN:

  • From the notion which a) ignores the rigid definition of their roles and b) insists they are culturally favored.
  • From the tendency to evaluate themselves and each other by the degree to which they meet an impossible ideal.
  • From conditioned competitiveness and the fear of sharing failures, anxieties and disappointments with one another.
  • From a mistrust of their feelings and instincts and an over reliance on logical thought processes.
  • From the notion that violent action confirms and enhances their manliness.
  • From a relative ignorance of their bodily functions and disdain for their body’s warning signals.
  • From their conditioning to pacify and protect women, thereby inhibiting them from expressing their true feelings.
  • From the pressure to be what they are not in preparation for their success role.
  • From an over reliance on their jobs for a sense of identity.
  • From conflict between their polygamous sexual conditioning as youths, and society’s expectation that they will overcome that conditioning after marriage.
  • From preoccupation with sexual technique and from imperatives to concentrate on satisfying their partners sexually, seemingly at the expense of their own sexual pleasure.
  • From the social barriers and pressures which stand in the way of their establishing close emotional friendships with other men.
  • From the inclination to turn their wives into permission giving mother figures.
  • From the need to prove their worthiness as protectors and providers.
  • From feelings of inadequacy in matters of child care and child rearing.
  • From feelings which inhibit them from developing a closer more emotional relationship with their children.
  • From the notion that as a class they oppress women any more than women as a class oppress them, or than society in general oppresses both sexes through stereotyping."[40]

White male victimhood exists in opposition to feminist and anti-racist movements not because those movements actually victimize men, but because those movements ask white men to look critically at their own identities and histories. The “alt-right’s” whiteness is the one thing that can never be taken away from them, yet it is also the one thing that took no effort whatsoever to possess, thus giving them a completely undeserved sense of superiority[41]. I understand the difficulty in admitting white privilege is real when so many have amounted to so very little despite it.

From its inception, feminism has been repeatedly coopted by men who feel entitled to ask, “what can feminism do for me?” The “alt-right” have a problem with feminism, not because of its aims, but because of the fundamental feminist premise that men must recognize the ways that patriarchy has subjugated women and allowed men their conditional but still near absolute social power. The “alt-right” want what feminism can offer them, but they want it only on the condition that they: a.) Keep all of the power and privilege they’ve always had; and, b.) Be absolved of all blame or responsibility.[42] To that point, I agree with Barton’s claim that “men’s rights” movement is not an ideology comparable to feminism, but a solipsistic, reactionary panic against it[43], much like how the “alt-right exists as a solipsistic, reactionary panic against progression.

The “alt-right” victimize themselves so they can be absolved of all responsibility in other people’s suffering. Barton argues that they aim to steal the fire behind other people’s liberation, to commandeer the reigns of other people’s success by employing a desperate, violent defense against the recent gains of social justice by pretending that they are the ones who need justice most of all.[44]

As much as they’d like to think so, the “alt-right” movement has no political clout as they surely lack a cogent political platform. Instead they use their baseless online platform to engage in extremist discourse, using deceptive irony and racially tinged internet memes to spread false and intentionally misleading information.[45] Though trolling is nothing new to the internet, Boyd argues "what has shifted recently is the scale of the operation, the coordination of the attacks, and the strategic agenda of some of the players."[46] Therefore even if the “alt-right” becomes obsolete, its tactics and origins should not be forgotten or underestimated. Malmgren argues that "while its beliefs may seem rooted in contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake, the “alt-right’s” casual embrace of overt racial violence can have real consequences for those who its members target—women, people of color, and others—offline too."[47] The “alt-right” want to be villains.

The “alt-right” are about maintaining a sense of power at all costs over an ever-expanding list of designated targets. They are far more committed to antagonizing than proselytizing. The “alt-right” are dangerous in that they are movement that champions a form of American extremism. Extremism and fascism are the enemy of justice and free society. In recognizing the “alt-right” as a mass movement based in extremism, we must admit to the possibility of totalitarianism. What unites movements is a mood more so than laid-down outlines and platforms. In the "Origins of Totalitarianism" Hannah Arendt argues that movements create alternate realities that offer stability to their adherents and are successful when they offer rootless people a consistent world and create narratives that give meaning to these people’s lives.[48] The “alt-right” accomplishes this by repeating or spamming key ideas and terminology to thus provide a sense of belonging “grounded upon a coherent fiction that is ‘consistent, comprehensible, and predictable”.[49]

The basic experience underlying both totalitarianism and the “alt-right”, is loneliness: an alienation from political, social, and cultural life. Arendt claims that mass movements begin with “atomized, isolated individuals”[50] much like the members of the “alt-right.” Totalitarianism needs to make those living under it feel expendable and this cannot occur without loneliness. Loneliness is necessary to totalitarian regime in that mass movements depend on an extreme kind of total loyalty to the group. “Such loyalty,” Arendt writes, “can be expected only from the completely isolated human being who, without any other social ties to family, friends, comrades, or even mere acquaintances, derives his sense of having a place in the world only from his belonging to a movement”.[51] Totalitarian regimes force those living under them to abandon all relationships, even familial and interest-based ones because they decrease a person’s sense of loneliness and are thus unacceptable. Moreover, Arendt argues that loneliness also increases in relation to the diversity of the community. So as the world becomes more progressive, the “alt-right” continue to feel increasingly isolated and “at risk of extinction.”

Arendt suggests that one of the ways we can work to avoid the return of totalitarianism is through generating a fear of the horrors that may come about. Fear reminds us of what is at stake. Malmgren warns about sensationalizing a fringe group as it “can play directly into its demands for attention, even if that attention is exclusively negative”. Unmasking the flawed logic of “alt-right” ideology won’t stop young, white males stop from joining these communities because their members are not drawn to the movement for of the strength of its arguments. Rather, outrage is exactly what the “alt-right” seek to provoke, and many “alt-right” adherents only commit to their racist and exclusionary ideology insofar as it brings them attention.

Therefore, the solution to the “alt-right” is to simply stop engaging. Any time you try to debate with the reactionary you are gambling with someone else's safety. The “alt-right” is always recruiting and trying to expand its audience. However, there are ways to reach their intended audience without engaging them directly. In dealing with the “alt-right,” it's not only safer, but it's also often more effective to cut out the middleman in speaking past them not directly to them as to avoid getting caught up in argument with someone who does not understand the basic tenants of logic. The “alt-right” are simply not even worth fighting with. As David accurately states, “nobody has the will power to argue with someone who thinks Hillary Clinton is a Jewish cyborg, Obama is a Muslim Lizard, and John Oliver of the Daily Show, is an NWO plant designed to corrupt our puritan white women and brainwash our children into thinking that NOT all Muslims are terrorists.[52]

The most basic way to resist fascism is to simply recognize it as propaganda. The purpose of debating the “alt-right” should not be to change their minds, but to stem the flow of lies and bad rhetoric. This is not to say we are to stop caring, nor become desensitized. Rather, it is an urge to continue reminding the world that their beliefs are by no means normal and should not be accepted. As hard as the “alt-right” may work the shift the overton window[53] by forcing people to consider unthinkable extreme ideas thereby making all less-radical ideas seem more acceptable by comparison, we need too work harder to maintain the window of that which we consider normal and expected, as well as keep reminding ourselves and the world at large that for what we consider normal and expected, “alt-right” ideology falls far outside of.

Arendt warns us against getting caught up in “sophistic-dialectical interpretations of politics which are all based on the superstition that something good might result from evil”.[54] We should not be accepting of the “alt-right” to show our tolerance and commitment to democracy. Their rhetoric is a direct call to commit violence. Incitement is NOT protected speech. Therefore, we need to keep calling it as we see it. I echo Mohajer assertion that we need to have the same reaction to the term “alt-right” as we did to Kellyanne Conway’s insistence on “alternative facts”—"utter disbelief and amusement at the idea that we couldn’t see a lie for a lie."[55] We need to continue to identify “alt-right” beliefs as racist, sexist, and fascist. We need to continue to foster a space in which neo-Nazi’s do not feel safe. This has proven an effective strategy of resistance as Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right”, claims to have quit public speaking due to backlash from progressives[56] after being publicly punched in face.

The crux of calling out the abnormality of the “alt-right” needs to be calling out the movements sexism. Across the many disperse factions of the “alt-right” the basic idea that “women are getting too out of hand” is the patriarchal common denominator. It aligns perfectly with male rage against “social justice” activism, which in turn paves the way for white nationalism and white supremacy to gain a foothold. The “alt-right” primarily targets feminists and progressives as the instigators of cultural demise. Their belief in insidious cultural plots against white patriarchy leads them to overlap and interact with other branches of the “alt-right” — the innumerable online right-wing conspiracy groups that see Jewish, Islamic, and foreign plots in perceived attacks on white patriarchal culture.[57] The movement’s top priority is elevating the status of white men. It does so by creating a culture of vitriolic defensiveness among young white males, which aims to establish a common belief in white male victimhood. By constructing a complex cultural narrative of male vulnerability, the “alt-right” has created a uniting collective of men who view the subordination of women as both part of a functional society and a stepping stone to a larger movement: one steeped in fascist ideology and willing to openly champion a politics of hate and violence.

 

 

 

[1] Alt-right. (2018, April 15). Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt-right

[2] Hunter, J. D. (2017, September 12). Perspective | How America's culture wars have evolved into a class war. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/09/12/how-americas-culture-wars-have-evolved-into-a-class-war/?utm_term=.913517f04e57

[3] Boyd, D. (2017, January 05). Hacking the Attention Economy – Data & Society: Points. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://points.datasociety.net/hacking-the-attention-economy-9fa1daca7a37

[4] Hunter Ibid

[5] Waller, A. (2017, May 15). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://datasociety.net/output/media-manipulation-and-disinfo-online/

[6] Hunter Ibid

[7] Malmgren, E. (2017). Don’t Feed the Trolls. Dissent, 64(2), 9-12. doi:10.1353/dss.2017.0042

[8] Romano, A. (2016, December 14). How the alt-right's sexism lures men into white supremacy. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/14/13576192/alt-right-sexism-recruitment

[9] Malmgren Ibid

[10] Danskin, I. (2018, April 4). The Alt-Right Playbook: Mainstreaming [Video blog post]. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq0ZHgKT2tc

[11] Waller Ibid

[12] Boyd Ibid

[13] Malmgren Ibid

[14] Alt-right. (2018, April 15). Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt-right

[15] Swatting. (2018, April 12). Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swatting

[16] Boyd Ibid

[17] Malmgren Ibid

[18] Boyd Ibid

[19] Malmgren Ibid

[20] Malmgren ibid

[21] Malmgren Ibid

[22] Bloch, E., & Ritter, M. (1977). Nonsynchronism and the Obligation to Its Dialectics. New German Critique, (11), 22. doi:10.2307/487802

[23] Malmgren Ibid

[24] Alexander, L. (2016, November 29). It's Time For a New Kind of Power Fantasy – How We Get To Next. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://howwegettonext.com/its-time-for-a-new-kind-of-power-fantasy-a5ff23b2237f

[25] Romano Ibid

[26] Romano Ibid

[27] Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (Directors), & Silver, J. (Producer). (1999). Matrix [Motion picture]. United States: Village Roadshow Pictures.

[28] A Voice For Men. (2017, June 16). Mission Statement. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.avoiceformen.com/policies/

[29] A Voice for Men Ibid

[30] Jaye, C. (Director). (2016, October 7). The Red Pill [Video file]. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from theredpillmovie.com

[31] Walsh, K. (2016, October 13). 'The Red Pill' only makes worse the divide between men's and women's rights activists. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-capsule-red-pill-review-20161008-snap-story.html

[32] Walsh Ibid

[33] A Voice For Men Ibid

[34] Valizadeh, R. (n.d.). About ROK. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from http://www.returnofkings.com/about

[35] Valizadeh Ibid

[36] Barton, R. (2017, August 03). Social Commentary: On White Male Victimhood and "Meninism." Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://rmbartonblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/social-commentary-on-white-male-victimhood-and-meninism/

[37] Traister, R. (2018). All the single ladies: Unmarried women and the rise of an independent nation. New York: Simon & Schuster.

[38] Diamond, J. (2016, July 23). Why Women Are Saying “No” to Marriage and Men Are Becoming Angry, Depressed, and Lonely. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from http://menalive.com/why-women-are-saying-no-to-marriage-and-men-are-becoming-angry-depressed-and-lonely/

[39] Tumblr.com

[40] National Coalition For Men. (n.d.). Our Philosophy. Retrieved April 8, 2018, from http://ncfm.org/ncfm-home/philosophy/

[41] David. (2017, February 06). Rise of the 'alt-right' and 'Meninism'. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://viewsfromagrassyknoll.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/rise-of-the-alt-right-and-meninism/

[42] Barton Ibid

[43] Barton Ibid

[44] Barton Ibid

[45] Romano Ibid

[46] Boyd Ibid

[47] Malmgren Ibid

[48] Arendt, H. (1951). The Origins of Totalitarianism. Schocken Books.

[49] Arendt Ibid

[50] Arendt Ibid

[51] Arendt Ibid

[52] David Ibid

[53] STRIKETHROUGH. (2017, December 21). How Trump makes extreme things look normal [Video blog post]. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v-hzc6blGI

[54] Arendt Ibid

[55] Mohajer, S. T. (2017, August 14). It is time to stop using the term 'alt right'. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://www.cjr.org/criticism/alt-right-trump-charlottesville.php

[56] Doctorow, C. (2018, March 17). Richard Spencer says that antifa sucked all the fun out of college appearances, calls it quits. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from https://boingboing.net/2018/03/17/horses-mouth.html

[57] Romano Ibid