This interview was conducted by an academic researcher who is writing a book on the Alt-Right.
1) Although the Alt-Right represents a genuinely new movement, what do you view as its most important antecedents? That is, to what extent does the Alt-Right borrow elements from earlier movements – paleoconservatism, libertarianism, Neo-Reaction, older versions of white nationalism, etc.?
I think there's a slight generation gap on the Alt-Right. You have one wing of more Gen X people who came through right-libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism, and paleoconservatism, but younger Millennials and now even a slice of Gen Z people now are coming straight through /pol/ or directly to Alt-Right outlets without having passed through anything else. (I assume your research has covered /pol/). At this point though there is considerable distance between the Alt-Right's pro-White statism (i.e. White nationalism), and libertarian millieu. The carry-overs are really a distrust of the Washington regime, the Leviathan on the Potomac if you will, and viewing human behavior in terms of responding to incentives. The major innovation relative to the libertarians and ancaps, however is recognizing that human behavior is also tribal, something those left behind simply do not grasp, or worse reject because they fear the intellectually troglodyte charge of racism.
Regarding Neo-Reaction or NRx there is some overlap between the two, and I remember years ago coming across the now mostly inactive but in my opinion very insightful RadishMag, though at the same time I was also reading The Occidental Observer (which is unambiguously about White identity and nationalism). NRx is more into "passivism" than the Alt-Right's emphasis on politics and culture-jamming; for more on that you should look into Social Matter. NRx also tends to be more traditionally religious and interested in monarchism.
With older White nationalism some people like to use the terms WN 1.0 and WN 2.0 to refer to the "pre-Alt-Right" White nationalism movement versus the current year's edition. I myself had never heard of Pierce or Duke for example until becoming involved with the Alt-Right. I think a major distinction is that many younger White people in the United States have never known a White nation-state and for them it is now a dream not unlike 19th century Zionism. With WN 1.0 you had a very Southern-centered movement that in many ways was reacting against racial integration and communism, and which objectively failed. But they remembered a country where White rule was a genuine construct and you had nakedly pro-White policies such as the pre-1965 immigration laws. WN 2.0, or the Alt-Right variety of White nationalism, has emerged in a very different context, and it should come as no surprise that you have people coming out of California and New York now just as much as places like Tennessee and Missouri. The fact of the matter is that the entire country can now experience the conflicts created by diversity, the desire for access to White-majority housing and schooling, affirmative action, massive imported underclasses, etc. I believe this will produce White nationalists organically, since a number of studies show diversity makes people lower trust and also more ethnocentric.
2) What do you view as the Alt-Right’s most important innovation, which sets it apart from other movements?
The Alt-Right's most important distinction is its digital native status and skillful use of memes. Memes in the Richard Dawkins sense are ideas spread from person to person through space and time. They allow us to identify our own ingroup but also enable outsiders to recognize us as well. Consider how the ADL and SPLC make a point of following the Alt-Right's latest symbols and icons so they can label them as hate, e.g. parentheses brackets, Pepe the frog, etc.
I refer to what we're doing as the "meme war," which is a more vernacular way of talking about metapolitics, the battle of ideas. If you control a society's memes you control that society. If people assume we have an obligation to violently topple foreign regimes because someone is suffering under their rule suddenly you can sell them a war (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc.). If people assumed Whites had a right to self-determination you could sell them an ethnostate. And so forth.
3) I am well familiar with the Alt-Right as it was originally conceived; from 2009 until 2012, it seemed to be just Richard Spencer’s project. Then after the original Alternative Right shut down at the end of 2013, I thought the concept was finished (which is one reason I did not even mention the term Alt-Right in previous work). Then in 2015 I saw it increasingly used on social media. The period in between is still rather mysterious to me. Was the term Alt-Right in use at that time? What accounts for the renewed interest in the Alt-Right as a concept?
I can only speak to my own experience on that but if I had to pin it down I would say the Republican primaries really galvanized the need to adopt a label that signaled the movement was opposed to both the mainline left and right, but intellectually proximate to the latter. Alternative right or Alt-Right was already floating around the circles I was most familiar with (The Right Stuff, Counter-Currents, and Radix). I don't think the Alt-Right would have succeeded as a term if not for the viral success of the cuckservative meme (referring to conservatives who are liberal on demographic issues, i.e. failing to conserve their own constituents). Cuckservative was a major branding success for the Alt-Right because the meme had to be traced to somewhere and that somewhere was the Alt-Right, an increasingly focused White identity movement. Skimming my old articles it looks like I picked those terms up around last July.
4) What do you anticipate will be the next phase of the Alt-Right? Will it remain a predominantly online movement?
I want to see two things happen. First, a presence in the universities among the student body. My own experience is such that anti-white educators contributed to my own ideological journey and I think this has the potential to win over many White men if they were aware of outlets available to them. Second, the Rust Belt population and more broadly Whites in flyover country and Appalachia, where people are living through a Soviet-style societal collapse, should be brought into the fold. The surplus deaths, drug epidemics, and pessimism these people experience should not be happening in the most prosperous country in the world and I believe White nationalism is a compelling answer to those problems as conveyed by the Alt-Right.
5) Is there anything else you want to say on these subjects that will be useful for me?
The Alt-Right doesn't feel the need to compromise on self-interests or in-group affinity because we've been shown by the left's client populations that being ethnocentric is completely fine. Blacks and mestizos are told to celebrate their cultures and rent-seek off Whites. The Alt-Right's goal is to turn the tables. The gaslighting about White guilt and privilege is going to sputter out. We don't need a reason to be pro-ourselves or self-respecting. And we don't owe predatory tax farmers a cent. Yet there is an entire moral framework built around convincing us to respect other groups and side with them in conflict while neglecting our own group, if not condemning our own group altogether.
But the Alt-Right has also benefited from the dismantling of majoritarian society. A fellow traveler who is a bit older than I am once put it best when he said "It didn't have to be this way; I have non-white friends from my generation who get everything I'm saying." The weaponization of demographics to achieve leftist political change, beginning in 1965 with the repeal of the United States' Eurocentric immigration policies—in a country that is indeed driven by immigration—all but assured there would be an ethnic struggle, politically or worse, in the future. Nothing like this has ever been done peacefully before—the creation of a new ethnic majority in a lifetime (1965-2040). There is simply too much being asked of us, that not only should we lie down and die out, but damn ourselves while doing it. We could have lived with minorities and we did—most societies in fact do. But you can't steal a country out from under a majority, work to demographically marginalize them, and expect them to not develop an ideology around wanting that country back. The planting of Ulster is a good analogy. The Ascendancy of this country doesn't like us and wants to settle some friendly aliens in our lands so as to secure their rule. The Alt-Right is a response to that.
Also published at Atlantic Centurion.