New York magazine reports: When did the right wing get so bizarre? Consider: For a brief and confusing moment earlier this year, milk somehow became a charged symbol of both white supremacy and support for Donald Trump. The details are postmodern, absurdist, and ominous — not unlike the forces that brought them about. In January, the actor Shia LaBeouf mounted an art installation designed to protest the president. The next month, neo-Nazis who organized on the message board 4chan crashed the show, where they started chugging from milk jugs — because northern Europeans digest milk well, or because milk is … white. In other words, an innocent dairy beverage as old as time had been conscripted as a Donald Trump surrogate on the internet. It was yet another message-board in-joke — freighted with political meaning — suddenly in the news.
But weirdness, perhaps, is what happens when a movement grows very quickly and without any strong ideological direction — from a disciplined party, from traditional institutions like churches and chambers of Congress, from anything more organized than the insurrectionist internet.
Here in America, in trying to describe our brand of the reactionary wave currently tsunami-ing the entire developed world, we’ve leaned on the term alt-right, which had been coined by white supremacists. Richard Spencer, the most press-hungry of that group, takes credit for it. For much of last year, the term was often used as shorthand for “racists, but … young?” Which is helpful, as far as it goes, but the full reality is much more complicated. The alt-right — or the new right, if you prefer to sound more like Tom Wolfe than Kurt Cobain, or the radical right, to properly acknowledge its break from mainstream conservatism — is a coalition comprised of movements like neo-reaction, certain strands of libertarianism, tech triumphalism, and even the extreme-populist wing of the Republican Party. All share with Spencer’s white-ethno-nativism the ideals of isolationism, protectionism, and nationalism: a closed nation-state. Along the way, the coalition swept up “men’s rights” advocates and anti-Semites and cruel angry teenagers and conspiracy theorists and a few fiendishly clever far-right websites and harassing hashtags and even a U.S. congressman or two. Not to mention the White House. [Continue reading…]