Alt-right is a euphemism for Nazism, Fascism, nationalist extremism, and White Supremacism. But it is proving to be a successful sleight of hand. Beyond this re-branding, the extreme right are re-booting their nativistic and socialistic approach for a more liberalistic and therefore more acceptable method. This will now be explained.
Traditional far-right politics makes an appeal to blood and soil, either to race or national territory. In an era like the 1930s, this had purchase. Few people travelled outside their home country. A journey to a far-off land meant emigration. And save for concentrations of Jewish people in large cities, there would have been little contact with minorities. The outside world was known via letters from emigrants (who would have generally lived in their own immigrant ‘bubble,’ eyeing other immigrants suspiciously), Hollywood stereotypes, and even more stereotyped depictions of foreigners via news outlets.
We now live in a globalized world, however. Even the most remote villager in the Western world will have encountered people from a vastly different culture. And who hasn’t travelled to a far-flung land? Information on other cultures is obviously more informed than it once was, although it still falls prey to bland stereotypes. Furthermore, non-white figures like Gandhi, Mandela, and Muhammad Ali inspire many Westerners.
‘Blood and soil’ loses its lustre in such a world. How are the far-right to gain political power in this pluralist environment? The solutions of the extremists are three-fold and based on liberal premises. They say they are a colour of diversity, secondly, that they are concerned with ‘health and safety,’ and lastly, they use economic arguments.
The first pluralist component of their re-booting is to draw equivalence between themselves and their rivals. David Duke, the ex-grand wizard of the KKK, began this fightback in the 1980s by claiming that whites want to celebrate their culture like blacks. White power is the same as black power. Another tactic is to use terms like ‘alt-left’ or ‘liberal fascism.’
Secondly, the health and safety arguments (probably their strongest card). Often when immigrants arrive somewhere, they find it hard to integrate and be accepted. They are usually met with hatred. Look at the experiences of the Irish, Italians, and Jews in the US a hundred years ago. So, it’s inevitable that some turn to crime. Then, the contributions of the many are downplayed, while the criminal actions of the few are magnified. The far-right emphasizes more and more its protectionist policies; they are only trying to guard us from the wolves at the door (never mentioning the crimes of their own kind).
Then, there is the economics. This is a weak argument on paper. Study after study shows that immigration has net benefits economically. Notwithstanding this, Brexit has shown that economic good housekeeping can get buried because many want to believe immigrants take jobs, scrounge off welfare, and generally get treated with kid-gloves. People often lose their jobs, fall on hard times, or face pressure financially. Immigrants and non-whites are then scapegoated.
This is how the far-right is now operating. T
hose wanting to pull down the monuments of blood and soil have to zero in on the essentially racist and tribalistic tactics of the far-right. The far-right don’t care if people are killed in a rampage. They don’t care if women are assaulted. And they don’t care about non-progressive attitudes. They only care what skin-colour the assailants have or whether those with non-progressive attitudes are from their culture or not. The fresh lick of paint must be scraped from the re-branded Fascist livery so their true colours are revealed.