The strange phenomenon of the alt-right is now well fixed in the public consciousness. As a complex confluence of different groups clustered together online, it is hard to codify a coherent ideology. Key elements include a deeply critical attitude towards multiculturalism and globalisation. This is tied up with sinister views on race. Yet leaders of alt-right groups swear (unconvincingly) that they consider no race as superior to any other, simply that each race should defend its own interests and have a territory in which it is dominant (an “ethno-state”).
At Charlottesville in August, the alt-right made a conscious effort to move offline and into the open. This revealed just how extreme they were, with Nazi imagery aplenty, a torchlight procession mimicking 1930s Brownshirts marches, complete with chants of “Jews will not replace us”.
Nazism itself is a colossal inflation of human racial difference. Hitler linked an assumed German cultural superiority with a distinct “Aryan” racial identity. This race was presented as so different to supposedly lesser races as to render the latter sub-human. The alt-right share this basic commitment, rooting the profound cultural differences that undoubtedly exist between different peoples in race and speaking of a need to defend a supposed “white culture”.
The period in which the alt-right grew like a fungus in the dark corners of the internet also featured lots of angst over multiculturalism and globalisation from respectable quarters. In recent years society has had to grapple afresh with a perennial human challenge: navigating the deep differences between different peoples and identities, while celebrating and fostering our shared human nature: respecting the dignity of all, while not undermining our respective distinctness.
Read more at Catholic Herald.