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The Alt-Right Emperor Has No Clothes, In Ireland Or Anywhere Else

In recent days I have been somewhat dismayed by a number of left-leaning individuals who I respect and admire demanding an outright ban on representatives of the so-called alternative right – a millennial off-shoot of the far right – appearing in the mainstream media, or indeed on social media. One of the arguments being put forward for the ban is the claim that the alt-right cannot and must not be reasoned with. That there can be no discussion with its proponents, no challenging of their tenets. They must be silenced, voluntarily or otherwise, and ejected from any and all areas of public discourse. However, refusing to debate with crypto-fascists and closet racists does not not make one brave or principled. Rather, it simply means that you lack the courage of your own convictions. Turning your back on a war for hearts and minds among the citizenry allows the juvenile thinkers of the ultra-right to fashion an illusory image where their ideas are so strong, and the left’s so weak, that the latter dare not challenge the former. Far from exposing the ugliness beneath, the alternative right becomes more attractive to the curious and the ignorant, the rebellious and the malcontent.

Seeking out the debate rather than disdaining it does not mean that alt-right sympathisers should be given editorial carte blanche to publish tone-deaf and ethically dubious articles in national newspapers or to post offensive, hate-disseminating memes online. In the press such individuals should be subject to rigorous questioning by professional journalists, their beliefs exposed for the moral and factual vacuity that lies at their centre. While on social media the mechanisms for reporting and disciplining those engaged in abusive behaviour or criminal incitement should be strengthened and strictly enforced.

Airing far right or militantly conservative views did not lead to the anti-EU Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom or the presidential election of Donald Trump in the United States. A greater contributor to the “Leave” victory on June 23rd 2016 was Britain’s Victorian two-and-a-half party electoral system rather than the supposed xenophobia of a majority of those who voted. The repeated failure of first-past-the-post elections to accurately represent the spectrum of opinion among the British electorate made the Brexit plebiscite more a scream of frustration than an act of consideration. If the House of Commons had truly reflected the swathe of politics in the country, from UKIP to the Green Party, the build up of nationalistic steam would have found an adequate – and democratic – release. The fringe and the extreme would have been mainstreamed, eventually drawn to the moderating centre-ground of politics, and the UK might well still be a future and content – if never exactly happy – member of the European Union.

Likewise one can point to similar democratic deficits in the US as a contributory cause to the rise of Trump. Or indeed, the Tea Party movement before him, the placard-waving John the Baptist to his bouffant Jesus. Another antiquated system of first-past-the-post or winner-takes-all elections favouring a permanent two party legislature coupled with big money lobbyists, gerrymandering, corruption and so forth has resulted in frustrated American voters choosing to burn the village to save the village. Added to that has been the unique stupidity of the endless presidential electoral process, from Super Tuesdays to electoral colleges, the latter originating as an internecine-avoiding sop to slave-holding states in the south (it didn’t work then, it doesn’t work now).

Brexiting and Trumpism are symptoms of greater, more fundamental problems in two separate nation-states, some of which are shared, some of which are unique. It is the task of people of good will and vision to tackle these issues, while others must do the same in other countries around the world where systemic or institutional failings may encourage equally pernicious ideologies to rise up. Extremism – from fascism to racism – flourishes if left unchallenged. Denying its existence does not mean that it ceases to exist. Becoming that which you oppose, by espousing draconian laws and rules that your opponents would use against you if they could, is not just hypocritical but also dangerous.

Irish republicans, perhaps more acutely than any other holders of partisan belief, are well aware of the cyclical nature of history. We have seen it all before, and survived it all before. We know the value of a good fight and we know that friends and allies can be found in the most unexpected of places. It is why we struggle, why we seek to resist that which we oppose, while seeking to win others to our cause. And we are not afraid to pursue the enemy down into the dark. The fascists of today may sport manicured beards instead of shaved heads, runners instead of boots, but they are the same misguided or irredeemable acolytes of the same naked emperor that articulate democrats exposed decades ago. And who we must forcefully expose again.


20 comments on “The Alt-Right Emperor Has No Clothes, In Ireland Or Anywhere Else

  1. Hi ASF. I’m Lord of Mirkwood under a new name, which may be more to your liking 😉

    Looking at Ireland from 3,000 miles away and from a place where the alt-right is about to take power in government, I wonder: how much does Ireland (the Twenty-Six Counties at least) have to fear from it? Identity Ireland exists but has just about zero support. I read recently that more than 80% of Irish people support staying in the EU. There doesn’t seem to be much danger of an “Irexit” or an Irish Trump taking power. After all, Irish people have been on the receiving end of what we call “stop-and-frisk”, as well as unjust imprisonment and labeling as terrorists based on their nationality (think Gerry Conlon), in both the North of Ireland and Britain. This is within the lifetime of most Irish people. Right now, I think that if Ireland faces a menace from the alt-right, it has to do with the imposition of Brexit (and the attendant border controls) on the North. What are your thoughts?

    In America, I think the best strategy to defeat the alt-right is two-pronged: seriously mobilize nonvoters, who were mostly Democrats, and make an all-out ideological marketing pitch to Trump voters in a way that gender-pronoun-obsessed so-called progressives failed to do. We liberal and progressive Americans have to go and talk to Trump voters and convince them that this man does not care about them, nor does he represent them. We have to show them that everything he stands for is fundamentally against their interests. So, I guess this strategy is actually three-pronged, because Prong #2 won’t work if we don’t have good leftist progressives leading the national party. Prong III, then, is making sure people like Bernie Sanders, rather than Hillary Clinton, lead the Democrats through the coming administration.

    • the Phoenix

      So many points to make. You think Hillary Clinton cares about anyone but herself? You realise millions of non voters voted for Trump right? You realise most Irish republicans oppose the EU and many Irish republicans voted for Brexit? The main reason Identitarians,Pegida have very little presence in Ireland is because Ireland has a small muslim population. Many Irish are naive and gullible about islam and buy into the religion of peace claptrap spouted by the media and politicians. On the continent people are waking up and rising up after the countless muslim fascist outrages.

    • I think the alt-right/far right is a non-starter here. Our politics, in terms of the political-business-media triad, is already pretty right-wing. At least as far as socio-economic matters are concerned. However that is coupled with a strong anti-colonial background. Conservative newspaper columnists and apologists for the alt-right may wish it otherwise but xenophobic-style policies or parties have no traction here.

      Of course, when I say “xenophobic-style policies or parties” I of course mean phobic to everyone but the British. They escape any tarnishing because our wannabe alt-right and far right tendency are themselves wannabe Brits. Or actual Brits.

      • Most Irish are only interested in securing goodies from Dublin so they wouldn’t have time for alt-right or progressive SJW left politics. Parish pump behaviour is going to win out every time.

        • Well that is the political culture bequeathed to us by Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party and Britain’s colonial administration, which Cumann na nGaedheal (later Fine Gael) and Fianna Fáil took up with glee after the revolutionary interruption of 1916-23. CnanG/FG used the old channels to consolidate the Free State in the 1920s and FF used the old channels to take over the Free State in the 1930s.

    • I tried telling all of this to my trump-supporting cousins, to no avail.

  2. ar an sliabh

    One could do with a little less “the sky is falling…” chicken-little sentiment in the States. Give over, already. Totally reminds of all the BS uttered by the right when Obama won. Most people are moderate, regardless of which side of centre they stand. Alienating the majority by labeling them extreme is absolutely detrimental to any conversation and with that, the future of one’s nation. The alts of both sides would like that since they are burning for the conflict regardless how destructive this is for their country. Censorship, inhibiting free speech, violently enforcing adherence to political belief, and broad-brushing everything in an emotional tantrum, have never helped anyone in any way. The problem with the fascists is always the same and you have them both, on the extreme left and the extreme right right. Remember Hitler and Stalin – not so different at all. It is up to those more moderate and sentient not to be caught up in the propaganda machine of either idiocy. Actually listening and communicating with an open mind and objectively analysing viewpoints, independently researching, even re-calculating reported percentages (yes some of those reported have been faulty), has become ever-more important. All of us, regardless of dominant political affiliation, must be doubly careful evaluating what we are “fed” these days, be it from our affiliation or the other. One’s own in-depth research should be applied before adding more emotional tripe to the already muddled pool.

    The left in the U.S. needs to take a slice of Clinton and Biden right now, who have both been reasonable in their response to the current situation. If they want to win next time around, the Democrats need to field a candidate that appeals, as simple as that sounds, and as hard as that may be. Their candidate must be moderate, educated, intelligent, and free of seriously dubious engagements, just like President Obama was. If Trump does not exceed all expectations (a President Obama performance will not be enough), he will lose against such a candidate. I agree with the (albeit somewhat conceited) statement by President Obama, that he would have beat Trump. There was a reason Trump did not run last time. Should they become the “party of no,” however, which is the path many are heading towards, and continue on with their preschool-child like pouting, refusing to negotiate or even to communicate, crying foul at every turn, they will seal Trump’s victory in four years, just like the repubs did for President Obama. They need to be the adults and set themselves apart by dependability and sophistication. That more than anything, will sway the voter, especially in turbulent times.

    As for Ireland, we currently have few worries of such political extremism – it couldn’t be more boring (FF and FG are in a coalition – what gives?). We do have plenty of scandals though. The Brits on the other hand, have been fighting that National Front specter for quite some time. As the situation there heats up with their poor treatment of immigrant populations, poor public services, etc… more wind will be fanning those flames. Additionally, there, as in the U.S. and other European countries, the mainstream press failing to report, blatantly lying, and purposefully misrepresenting facts in efforts to control public knowledge, or influence public thought, really plays into the hands of extremists, who now experience unprecedented consumption of their “news.” As for Brexit, it hasn’t actually happened yet, has it now? “Indefinite” was the last word I heard. I think they are realising more and more how seriously they will be impacted by that move.

    • A lot to agree with it that. And I still say, while Bernie Sanders was a 50/50 chance (if still my favoured candidate), Joe Biden would have been a sure-shot. Maybe not comprehensively, but it just takes that +1 vote to win. Clinton was just too toxic. And Biden had a story to sell that she – and her people – could never manage to package together.

      • Joe Biden? Seriously? His opponents would’ve had a field day with his ‘creepy’ going ons that litter you tube not to mentioned his dealings with the mafia in the 80’s.
        I think the problem stems from the fact that the so called liberals have behaved like fascists or indeed right wingers. Fascist Hilary stole Saunders nomination and yet the liberals still cry foul about Trump. If Clinton had have won there would’ve been no outcry about the set up of ‘democracies’ and therein lies the problem.

        • Biden had a great “story” to sell, far better than Clinton and she still won the popular vote. Biden would have taken that popular vote and carried it over the line in the electoral college. Sanders would have been more 50/50, though ideologically I’d be closer to him.

        • Plenty of us libs were outraged at the DNC for working against Sanders to prop up Clinton.

  3. Many are fed up of coming second in their own country, hence the National Party. Thing is, they are not effective.

  4. the Phoenix

    Firstly as i said before,the alt right is a fiction made up by the elites and their mainstream media puppets to slander Trump supporters,people who oppose mass uncontrolled migration and islamofascist massacres,bexiters. Opposing mulim massacres does not make one a bigot,opposing mass migration from the third world by people with few job skills,can’t speak the language to countries with 10 to 20% unemployment does not make one a nazi. You need to lay off the mainstream media fake news brainwashing. It isn’t healthy.
    I will leave you with a paraphrase form a politician. “Mass uncontrolled immigration is destroying the American working class” do you know who said that? Bernie Sanders. Is Bernie Sanders an alt right neo nazi?

    • But I have encountered the alt-right myself, however amorphous it may be. As I stated before, it is more of a “franchise” ideology than an organised movement, propagated from a core group of complimentary – or competing – websites, publications and groupings. There is no one alternative right and there is a fair degree of “lolz” gaming for many of its apolitical adherents. However the true believers do exist.

      Oh, I’m not saying that open borders and “mass” immigration is without its problems. There are many. But one can argue for ways of managing such issues in a sensible, fair and equitable manner without reaching for the lexicon of racism. There are global issues that need addressing, issues of reparation, debt-forgiveness, climate change, etc that would alleviate perceived migration/immigration challenges but the alt-right runs a mile from dealing with such matters. Easier to talk nonsense about white genocide and so on.

  5. the Phoenix

    The left used to be fighters for the common good. They have long since abandoned the causes they believed in and now only tilt at windmills. They have become what they hated. Internet censorship is the book burning of our era and it is done entirely by the progressive politically correct left. The left are too afraid and hypocritical to fight the nazis of our time. Muslims. They are also to cowardly to confront those that disagree with them. They are too busy trying to shut people up. Don’t look for it to happen. It won’t.

    • Well, I certainly disagree with the no-platforming tactic that has become so popular of late, unless the individual or groups are advocating illegal actions or views. The strategy has been gravely abused in recent times (no-platforming Germaine Greer, of all people, for fucks sake).

  6. Woody Allen from the film Manhattan comment on Nazis.
    Isaac: “… Has anybody read that
    nazis are going to march in New Jersey, you know? I
    read this in the newspaper, we should go down there, get
    some guys together, you know, get some bricks and
    baseball bats and really explain things to them.”

    Man: “There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed
    page of the Times. It is devastating.”

    Isaac: “Well, well, a satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but
    bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the

    Woman: “Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical

    Isaac: “No, physical force is always better with nazis. Cos
    it’s hard to satirize a guy with shiny boots.”

    • LOL! Ok, but if Nazis go marching then people should turn up to counter-march. That is democracy in action. And if Nazis advocate illegal or violent actions then arrest them, take them to court and if found guilty imprison them. If people are obnoxious within the law – well that is the price we pay for living within a system of law. If someone had approached me with the article the Irish Times published I wouldn’t have featured it. That’s editorial discretion. That’s not saying I’d never feature an alt-right apologia but there would have to be a damn good reason for doing so. And I’d immediately follow up with a critique. The IT was more concerned with click-bait than debate. And they got it.

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