Angela Nagle's book Kill All Normies: From 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, published this summer by Zero Books, traces the rise of the online chatroom culture and neofascist figureheads that make up the alt-right. But after last weekend's events in Charlottesville, Virginia—which have shined a bright light on a subculture that thrived on anonymity—Nagle argues that the alt-right has been irrevocably fractured and weakened. Check out an excerpt from Nagle's piece below, or the full text on the Baffler website.
But I believe now that Charlottesville marks the end of a significant phase of the alt-right. Their seemingly rapid growth was fueled—or at least bulked up—by an online culture of shared hatred for the cultural left. This collective reflex acquired an ironic, countercultural edge among a growing corps of transgressive shitposters and anti-PC trolls—and was duly amplified by a media infatuation with everything subcultural and extremely-online...
At the risk of putting my own work out of date, I believe that chapter of the alt-right story that my book was about—the anonymous online trolling culture, the constant evasions and ironic styles, the hodge-podge of disparate groups united by the “anti-PC” crusade—is over and a new one has begun. The alt-right in the strict sense will now become more isolated, more focused and unambiguous—and perhaps more militant.
But the part of the movement that is willing to go all the way is still very small. The most popular figure in U.S. politics right now is Bernie Sanders—a Jewish socialist—while Trump’s popularity is at an all-time low. A purely oppositional politics to the far right will be a game of eternal whack-a-mole if the only vision of the future to be found in the aimless desert of meaning created by the political establishment is the nightmarish Silicon Valley model of modernity. The creation of a politics that offers something meaningful, beautiful, hopeful, new, and utopian is the project for which there is no shortcut. To take the bigger picture from this sorry story, it should be the job of our generation to create it.
Image via NBC News.