From forthcoming Who Are You? What is Your Faith? America’s 21st Century Alt-Right and Catholic Social Doctrine
All are brothers and all are children of God (Pope Francis).
The American alt-right has been defined as a broad group of people or movement who tend to ascribe to far-right ideologies that include “preserving and protecting the White race . . . in addition to, or over, other traditional conservative positions such as limited government, low taxes, and strict law-and-order” (Daniszewski, 2016). The movement has been considered to be “an offshoot of conservatism” (ibid.) that is characterized by the confluence of racism, White nationalism, and populism (SPLC, 2016b). It has also been critical of “multiculturalism, and more rights for non-Whites, women, Jews, Muslims, gays, immigrants, and other minorities” (Daniszewski, 2016).
Several individuals who ascribe to the mentality of the alt-right, whether declared or undeclared, tend to reject, in either an explicit or an implicit manner, the fundamental right that all human persons are equal under the law irrespective of creed, ethnicity, gender, or race. The core belief held in the alt-right mentality is that “’White identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice,’ to undermine White people and their civilization” (SPLC, 2016b).
The original alt-right. The term alt-right was first coined in 2008 by Richard B. Spencer, the now 39-year-old president of The National Policy Institute (NPI; ibid.; Wallace-Wells, 2016). The NPI is a far-right think tank in Arlington, Virginia, that is involved with the ideologies of White nationalism and the preservation of Western civilization. The motto of NPI (2017) is “For our people, our culture, our future.”
White nationalism has been defined as “the belief that national identity should be built around White ethnicity, and that White people should maintain both a demographic majority and dominance of the nation’s culture and public life . . . [thus] maintaining political and economic dominance, not just a numerical majority or cultural hegemony” (Kaufmann, in Taub, 2016). Meanwhile, Western civilization has been defined as “a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe” (Wikipedia, 2017a). Populism has been defined as a Manichean-based “thin-centered ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’” (Mudde, 2004; Mudde & Kaltwasser, 2013). The goal of populism is to unite the “uncorrupt and unsophisticated ‘little man’ against the corrupt and dominant elites (usually the established politicians) and their camp of followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals;” Wikipedia, 2017b).
According to Spencer, the alt-right was defined by:
“A break with establishment conservatism that favors experimentation with the ideas of the French New Right; libertarian thought as exemplified by former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul; anarcho-capitalism, which advocates individual sovereignty and open markets in place of an organized state; Catholic traditionalism, which seeks a return to Roman Catholicism before the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council; and other ideologies” (SPLC, 2016b).
Two revealing examples of alt-right thought are shown below:
- “Immigration is a kind of proxy war – and maybe a last stand – for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile”;
- “This is our home and our kith and kin. Borders matter, identity matters, blood matters. Libertarians and their capitalism can move to Somalia if they want to live without rules. In the West, we must have standards and enforce them. The ‘freedom’ for other races to move freely into White nations is nonexistent. Stay in your own nations, we don’t want you here”.
The alt-right and establishment conservatives. The alt-right movement has to date been, for the most part, considered in public discourse by establishment conservatives to be made up of individuals “young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies . . . [with] a youthful energy and jarring, taboo-defying rhetoric . . . born out of the youthful, subversive, underground edges of the internet . . . [with the fora] 4chan and 8chan [being] hubs of alt-right activity” (Bokhari & Yiannopoulos, 2016). As such, it has been reported that many conservative politicians and the conservative press had no qualms about often throwing “these young readers and voters to the wolves” (ibid.) given their, at times, more-than-outrageous behavior, to avoid charges of bigotry from both establishment liberals and the alt-left.
A new definition of alt-right and its population. Insofar as the term alt-right, however, has been more narrowly defined as an offshoot of conservatism that is characterized by the confluence of the prime factors of racism, White nationalism, and populism (the three criteria; Daniszewski, 2016; SPLC, 2016b), it can herewith be contended that the American alt-right has become de facto comprised of several establishment conservatives themselves, regardless of whether they (1) admit this or not to themselves and others; (2) consent to the definition or not; (3) are politicians, readers, or voters; (4) are young or not-so-young; (5) are either White, self-identify as White, or identify in full with White culture. This contention holds irrespective of whether the said conservatives (6) are active on the internet or not; (7) ascribe in a declared or undeclared manner to the entirety of the afore-referenced ideologies as long as they fulfill the three criteria in a confluential way; and regardless of whether they are (8) White Christians or non-Christians, White Catholics or non-Catholics.
It should be noted that the narrow definition of alt-right referenced above has arisen from the independent, but converging, work of the multinational nonprofit mainstream media – considered by many to be the ‘fourth branch of government’ in the American system of checks and balances – and various nonprofit civil rights and public interest legal advocacy organizations. It should furthermore be noted that the new de facto shift in, and definition of, the population comprising the alt-right in and of itself annuls the very break that had characterized it as an offshoot of conservatism in the first instance, thus moving the alt-right into what can now be considered the new 21st century conservative mainstream based on the confluence of racism, White nationalism, and populism. In other words, the alt-right in the US is no longer ‘alt,’ but the new norm.
 Alternative right.