In a recent article on Jezebel, the Eidolon editor Donna Zuckerberg discussed the rise of the notorious hate movement now known as the “alt-right”. On the issue of tackling online abuse, she argued that “[t]he only way to understand the alt-right is to [stop] thinking of it as a single monolithic entity and realize that it is a fragile coalition of hateful ideologies, of deplorable men using the internet to perform white masculinity by playacting as Nazis to feed on our fear”.
The spectre of the alt-right has been the focus of many left-leaning and progressive interventions throughout the past year. It is both everywhere and nowhere at once, permeating all aspects of western culture while also establishing no firm or actual political identity. Zuckerberg writes that one of the problems of the movement is that it can appear formless and “hard to pin down”. At the same time, however, she insists that “its lack of a coherent and stable ideology is also a tremendous weakness, fomenting internal friction within the community, and may lead to it splintering completely”. What does it mean to embody a contradiction of such tremendous scale that it can be both a source of strength as well as the cause of one’s undoing? More importantly, how can we place this paradox in the context of the very real consequences of its normativisation, including racist attacks, policy-making and public discourse?