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Wednesday 09 November 2016

Blunder on the Right?

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 12th October 2016

Watching the saga of Donald Trump's perhaps irretrievable US presidential campaign, one is left wondering about the role of the 'alt right' in this shipwreck and how applicable it is to our own situation. And if so, how relevant is it to New Zealand LGBT communities?

According to a recent Economist article, the "alt right" is a youth movement, whose subcultural jargon is derived from video games, pornography and message boards. However, as I read the article in question, I was struck by other attributes of the movement. One of them is 'vanguardism,' the conceit that this strand of technologically adept right-wing extremism somehow constitutes a 'superior' or 'elite' movement insofar as 'establishment' pragmatic centre-rightists are concerned. Some of its antics are frankly distasteful and juvenile, such as trying to intimidate 'establishment conservatives' and liberal opponents alike with Nazi Germany concentration camp imagery and entitling one of its blogs The Daily Shoah (a reference to the Nazi Holocaust). Far right organisations associated with the alt right movement include the neo-fascist "American Renaissance," National Policy Institute and Occidental Dissent. Some alt rightists are anti-democratic advocates of oligarchy, others are techno-futurists, but almost all of them have odious ideas about feminism, multiculturalism, immigration, US foreign policy isolationism and economic protectionism against free trade. There seems to be some input from the Tea Party Republican right, with other elements incorporated from formerly fringe neo-fascist organisations, legitimised by Trump's conspiracy and political indulgence, using the aforementioned media outlets as a right-wing alternative to "mainstream media."

It's not a particular surprise to see religious esotericism on the playcard either. Unfortunately, neo-paganism and the 'alternative health' movement aren't necessarily progressive in orientation. Norse neo-paganism has had an "Odinist" white supremacist branch over the last three decades, and alternative health products are regularly hawked on far right websites and within their publications. The only difference between the "alt right" and traditional white supremacists is the former's besuited clothes, professional occupations and higher educational qualifications. They look more respectable, but their veneer belies antiquated and marginalised white supremacist and neofascist philosophies. One commentator has argued that its adherents are actually "paleoconservatives" who have reverted to pre-World War II anti-statism, protectionist trade rhetoric and isolationist foreign policy and that they have nothing but contempt for the "New Right" and Christian Right that arose in the United States after the seventies.

Well,someof them look respectable. Not so Milo Yiannopoulis, Breitbart's Tech editor and self-styled gay Trump disciple. Rather like LGBT and feminist artists in the eighties and nineties within the US National Endowment for the Arts, Yiannopoulis decided to participate in a 'transgressive' (sic) art show in Chelsea New York to fundraise for his hero. It involved him bathing in pigs blood, except none of it was supposed to adhere to him or flood the gallery floor where this inexplicable spectacle was taking place- which it did. Apparently, it was supposed to be about New York citizens murdered by 'illegal aliens,' but the message was lost to most of the audience. Other exhibition items involved customised playing cards centred on images of movement heroes, paintings of the aforementioned alt right staples, a video of Trump and Ivana visiting another exhibition, shackled and headdress-bearing white males, which all ended about an hour before it was supposed to do. It all seemed rather kitsch and pointless more than anything else.

So, what does this have to do with us here in New Zealand? I wondered that myself. After all, the National Front is a tiny flea on the New Zealand body politic, with intermittent existence and public nuisance its greatest 'achievements.' The Front is no substitute for the more insidious New Zealand League of Rights of yesteryear, an Australian-based neo-fascist organisation that espoused Holocaust denial and neo-fascism and opposed liberal immigration policies as well as Maori claims under the Treaty of Waitangi. For that matter, there is a large, resilient, analytical and articulate Maori public sphere/mediascape that can mobilise its constituency against any perceived threats to their collective welfare. Refugee and asylum seeker inflow are not issues within the New Zealand context, nor is Muslim immigration, given that Islam is New Zealand's fourth largest religious community behind Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism and that New Zealand Muslims tend to belong to the Barelvi quietist tradition of religious expression and commitment. Alleged East Asian property speculation is the subject of a current moral panic by New Zealand First, and Don Brash and sundry other nostalgic elderly monoculturalist relics have risen from the grave to carp at Treaty negotiations and Maori land and economic resource claims under the rubric "Hobson's Pledge." Undeniably, Winston Peters is making populist mileage on housing and immigration at present, but unfortunately for him, populist political spasms emerge, continue onward and then subside as the conditions that led to them disintegrate. Fortunately, Labour and the Greens seem to be deriving similar benefit.

Back to the National Front. It is aware of the alt right movement and the US Trump insurgency, Brexit and New Zealand First, but it regards them all as 'traitors to the cause.' Trump isn't committed to alt right anti-multiculturalism and was a social liberal when it came to LGBT rights until recently. For that matter, the New Zealand National Front is non-commital about the Christian Right, indicating that it doesn't see them as a kindred source of support for its objectives, unlike the situation with the League of Rights and New Zealand Christian Right in the eighties. Nor does it seem particularly interested in opposing LGBT legislative reform in New Zealand, noting the passage of marriage equality almost without a whisper. This tiny political blemish is unlikely to cause significant problems unless one is unfortunate enough to encounter one of its denizens in a darkened Christchurch alleyway.


Sanjiv Bhattacharya: "Call me a racist, but don't call me a Buddhist': Meet America's Alt Right"Observer:09.10.2016:https://www. oct/09/call-me-a-racist-but- dont-say-im-a-buddhist-meet- the-alt-right

Gaby Del Valle: "Bathing in Pigs Blood: Inside the Alt-Right's Pro-Trump 'Art Show" Gothamist: 10.10.2016: 10/pro_trump_art_show.php #photo-1

Paul Rosenberg: "From the Old Right to the Alt Right: How the conservative ideology of FDR's day fuelled the rise of Trump" Salon: 09.10.2016: com/2016/10/08/from-the-old- right-to-the-alt-right-how- the-conservative-ideology-of- fdrs-day-fueled-the-rise-of- trump/

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New Zealand National Front: nz

Craig Young - 12th October 2016

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