Populist Right and Alt-Right: A Much Needed Differentiation

It is nothing new to say we are obsessed with categorization, particularly the West. This fixation on terms, labels, politicization, and categories has only expounded over the decades. A few months ago I wrote a survey piece that was an attempt to break down what the Alt-Right was composed of and its relation to the European New Right. As discourse flows, so does the need to reorganize and better differentiate.

With Richard Spencer and NPI in the news, the moral hysteria of the liberal left, the term Alt-Right being inaccurately dubbed an euphemism for White Nationalism, and the sheer lackadaisical (lack of) attempts of the mainstream media to reflect proper nuances, there is a great need for clarification here. As I said in a past article,

“One could conclude that the American Alt Right is a collaboration of European New Right influence, Neoreactionist influence, White Nationalism, and Paleoconservatism. It differs in opinion as to which has been the greater influence.”

This last sentence has rung truer than expected as NPI garnered media attention, the liberal left claiming all Alt-Right are White Nationalists, and White Nationalists gladly obliging them in the sentiment.

Now once again there must be a differentiation acknowledged, and the nuances between what could be called the general ‘populist right’ and the niche ‘Alt-Right’.

The primary difference between these two come down to severity or extremity of the ideological positions. They do share political positions, but the Alt-Right is more likely to take it to a more severe and socially conservative degree.

The ‘Populist Right’, largely supporters of Trump and inclusive of both ethnic minorities and women, may find more resonance with the political positions of Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson rather than Richard Spencer. They are largely in support of border security, stringent immigration and vetting, civic and economic nationalism, ‘America First’ regarding foreign policy, and strongly anti-globalist, anti-cosmopolitanism, anti-establishment, anti-PC culture, and anti-Islamic. They are fine with ‘white racial awareness’, though they are usually not ethnonationalists. Regarding social matters they are moderately conservative, but tend to be fairly lax concerning LGBT issues, drug use, and religion. They are laid back in social issues, but detest the smugness and shaming of ‘social justice’ progressives. One could accurately say they are libertarian concerning social issues and discourse, while being economic/civic/Eurocentric nationalists concerning domestic and foreign policy.

In short, the nation/State is to put American citizens first; above corporate interests, above global interest, above foreign interest, above elitist establishment, and above foreign peoples.

What you are less likely to find in the Populist Right are advocates of race realism, strict ethno-states, strict reactionary conservatism, hard white identity, or White Nationalist sympathy. Though of course this can vary. Also many who would fall into this Populist Right category are indeed non-white, as well as many women and even some LGBT (such as the person writing this). They have nationalist pride and do not have a problem with calling themselves ‘nationalists’ nor displaying national strength, but do not carry it to the extent of actual fascism or White Nationalism. They also may sympathize with figures such as Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage.

By and large the Populist Right has been the majority and primary supporter base for Trump and continues to be his most ardent supporters. Not to be conflated with the much smaller percentage and fringe that is the Alt-Right.

To put it succinctly, the ‘Alt-Right’ contain much of the above ideological positions though taken to far more extreme or hardliner degrees. Whether it be strong white identity and advocacy of ethno-states such as seen at NPI/Spencer or Greg Johnson, or purist Catholic or Orthodox reactionists that are aggressively opposed to liberal social allowances, similar to Nicolás Gómez Dávila and Joseph de Maistre. The Alt-Right term still remains an umbrella term for fringe right wing ideologies that are alternative to the typical mainstream Republicans, though vocal White Identity and Ethno-State advocates do seem to have the loudest voice and receive the most attention. Not all within the Alt-Right are the kind seen at NPI, many dislike Richard Spencer altogether, and a number still find White Nationalist aesthetics to be obnoxious or simply silly.

What differentiates the Alt-Right from the Populist Right is that the Alt-Right is a small niche collective of fringe ideologies, not at all the mainstream nor the general public. And while many of them, not all, do support Trump, they are not at all the majority or even a quarter of Trump’s support.

What also differentiates the Alt-Right from the Populist Right is issues of race realism, heterodoxy, and traditionalism which they take to a severe degree. This is not an accusation, rather they are proud of this severity and I only want to describe them in as neutral terms as possible. They do advocate strict ethno-states, hyper-nationalism, strictly anti-LGBT culture, and can be highly traditionalist regarding the roles of women.

Where the Alt-Right and Populist Right (including Trump) overlap, and this is very important, is that they are anti-globalist, anti-establishment, nationalist, populist, strict on immigration, anti-Islamic, pro-family, Eurocentric, and detest the PC regressive left as well as the mainstream media. It is all a matter of severity and to what degree.

The liberal left media inaccurately and dishonestly paints broadly that all Trump supporters, and Trump himself, are Alt-Right, and furthermore that all Alt-Right are White Nationalists. While race realism and ethnocentrism is prominent in the Alt-Right, one must understand there is a spectrum of ideologies under this umbrella. Both of these depictions are entirely false and intentionally dishonest. This, and much else, has rightfully earned them the derogatory label of being the lugenpresse, the ‘lying press’, and while the origins of this word are infamous, perhaps the mainstream media should behave otherwise if it did not wish to incur such resentment from the people.

In conclusion, I am no expert or authority. I have never claimed to be. I gladly consider myself a part of the ‘populist right’, not the Alt-Right, though I have read material and conversed with those in the Alt-Right and the European New Right. I sympathize with many of their positions and share many as well. This is simply my attempt to categorize, explain, and record to the best of my limited knowledge. I hope it is helpful to any who inquire.

Natasha Black