Alt Right vs. Alt Wrong: Notes on the Milo Question
My writing often takes a confessional turn. I have a whole book called Confessions of a Reluctant Hater, for instance. I have also confessed to being a “transphobic.” In fact, I am such a huge transphobic that I had to confess twice.
Today, I want to confess that there are some people in the broad “Alternative Right” that I wish would just go away. Usually it is political. Sometimes it is personal. Sometimes it is both. To be quite specific, I really wish Milo Yiannopoulos would just go away, as I made clear on last week’s episode of Fash the Nation.
Of course, wanting to be rid of people on the Alt Right is hardly unusual. In fact, it is pretty much the norm. For instance, Ramzpaul and Colin Liddell wish the 1488ers would go away, and the 1488ers more than reciprocate. I don’t think this attitude is very constructive, however, which is why I feel guilty for sharing it from time to time.
The question, though, is how, exactly, can the Alt Right “get rid of” or “stop” anyone? After all, the Alt Right is almost entirely a virtual movement, consisting of images and words, both written and spoken. It only occasionally takes the form of organizations with members. And it only occasionally materializes and occupies spaces in the 3-d world, and then only fleetingly, in restaurants and conference centers.
A membership organization needs to worry about “entryism” and can conduct “purges.” But a virtual movement with no clear boundaries between “inside” and “outside” can neither guard itself against entryists nor purge dissenters. All of that is empty talk in a movement in which anyone can become a “member” simply by setting up a forum account, and in which one can become a “leader” simply by starting a website, podcast, or YouTube channel and attracting an audience by steadily producing content.
Sure, you can bar people from membership organizations and meetings. But you can’t bar them from the internet, which is where most of the movement is at. Sure, you can ban accounts. But that is a far cry from a “purge.” Trotsky couldn’t come back with a sock account.
In a movement that consists mostly of ideas, how can we “stop” anyone? Basically, there are three things we can do:
- Offer better ideas
- Troll them
- Ignore them
Offering better ideas is my preferred route. If someone is putting forward bad ideas — false pictures of who we are, false accounts of our plight, false accounts of our enemies, ineffective solutions, etc. — that is definitely a problem. But since we can’t just press a button and drop them into a piranha pool, we have to turn this threat into an opportunity to put forward better ideas in a more persuasive manner. The core of this approach is offering arguments and facts, not mere rhetoric.
In a primarily memetic movement, the question is not one of who is “in” or “out.” It is a question of truth and falsehood, of Alt Right vs. Alt Wrong.
Related to offering better ideas is offering better spokesmen for ideas. If you don’t think x is a good spokesman for White Nationalism, the best solution is to find a better one. Right now, there are very few people who are willing to put their faces out there as spokesmen for our cause, and most of those are over 60. But ask yourself: given the rate of the movement’s growth, will that be the case in 5 years, 2 years, even 1 year from now?
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