The base of Trump’s intellectual support comes from the alternative right, or alt-right. Many people do not understand this ideology, including those other groups on the right and leftist critics. Conservatives should understand this movement, where their ideology overlap, and where there is significant disagreement so that we have an informed dialogue and debate.
The alt-right is a populist, radical paleoconservatism that opposes cultural Marxism, multiculturalism, and political correctness. They also eschew liberal democracy, free market capitalism, and American global hegemony in favor of quasi-authoritarianism, collectivism, and a reduced military presence in the world. The movement is based almost entirely on the internet, where they troll and produce memes in order to stir controversy and conversations. Their primary focus has been to oppose feminism, Islamic culture, limitations of free speech and thought by the left, and illegal immigration/refusal to assimilate as these are all threats to Western civilization and its values. They also want to enjoy a culturally libertarian approach to life where little to nothing is censored and one can just have fun.
What are they trying to do? Bring down the establishment (left and right) by taking on complete irreverence, where there is no longer any sacred topic beyond mockery. As famous alt-righter Milo Yiannopoulos says, “The proper response to the outrage culture is to be outrageous.” Alt-righters arose because of what they call “cuckservatives,” conservatives who refuse to defend Western and American values and enjoy/don’t mind watching the country being attacked and destroyed. Cuckservatives, as such, refuse to defend Western and American values because they don’t want to offend leftist sensibilities and be seen as racist and bigoted.
In many ways, conservatives should celebrate the alt-right’s successful attacks on cultural Marxism and political correctness as these ideologies attempt to suppress freedom of speech and thought. This is the “fainting couch feminism” (as Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers calls it) and social justice warriors that ban costumes at Halloween and falls apart when confronted with different opinions. Conservatives should also celebrate the defense of Western civilization and American values, stiffening the backs of those center-right intelligentsia and politicians that refuse to protect our fundamental beliefs, and the support of working class life and culture.
Where does conservatism differ from the alt-right, and when should we oppose them? Conservatism has a stronger and more robust understanding of Western civilization that comes from Greco-Roman philosophy and law, Judeo-Christian theology, and the British Enlightenment. In addition, conservatism actually supports free market capitalism of the Adam Smith, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Milton Friedman, and Friedrich Hayek variety. Lastly, conservatism supports a vigorous American presence in the world because we understand that free trade must be protected and a stable world requires America as a hegemonic balancer.
We should therefore oppose the alt-right’s protectionist, collectivist, and neo-isolationist policies whenever they arise. Finally, and possibly most importantly, the alt-right has in certain circumstances merged with white nationalism and actual racism, although this isn’t the entirety or even majority. Conservatives must always speak out and go after racism when it really exists.
If conservatives are going to take a principled stand during the coming Trump administration, then we need to understand our ideology and his. And we need to stand for our core beliefs and ideals.