During the 2016 election, a new term entered the mainstream American political lexicon: "alt-right," short for "alternative right." Despite the innocuous name, the alt-right is a white-nationalist movement. Yet it differs from earlier racist groups: it is youthful and tech savvy, obsessed with provocation and trolling, amorphous, predominantly online, and mostly anonymous. And it was energized by Donald Trump's presidential campaign. In Making Sense of the Alt-Right, George Hawley provides an accessible introduction and gives vital perspective on the emergence of a group whose overt racism has confounded expectations for a more tolerant America. Hawley explains the movement's origins, evolution, methods, and core belief in white-identity politics. The book explores how the alt-right differs from traditional white nationalism, libertarianism, and other online illiberal ideologies such as neoreaction, as well as from mainstream Republicans and even Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. The alt-right's use of offensive humor and its trolling-driven approach, based in animosity to so-called political correctness, can make it difficult to determine true motivations. Yet through exclusive interviews and a careful study of the alt-right's influential texts, Hawley is able to paint a full picture of a movement that not only disagrees with liberalism but also fundamentally rejects most of the tenets of American conservatism. Hawley points to the alt-right's growing influence and makes a case for coming to a precise understanding of its beliefs without sensationalism or downplaying the movement's radicalism.
Discussions of race are inevitably fraught with tension, both in opinion and positioning. Too frequently, debates are framed as clear points of opposition--us versus them. And when considering white racial identity, a split between progressive movements and a neoconservative backlash is all too frequently assumed. Taken at face value, it would seem that whites are splintering into antagonistic groups, with differing worldviews, values, and ideological stances. White Bound investigates these dividing lines, questioning the very notion of a fracturing whiteness, and in so doing offers a unique view of white racial identity. Matthew Hughey spent over a year attending the meetings, reading the literature, and interviewing members of two white organizations--a white nationalist group and a white antiracist group. Though he found immediate political differences, he observed surprising similarities. Both groups make meaning of whiteness through a reliance on similar racist and reactionary stories and worldviews. On the whole, this book puts abstract beliefs and theoretical projection about the supposed fracturing of whiteness into relief against the realities of two groups never before directly compared with this much breadth and depth. By examining the similarities and differences between seemingly antithetical white groups, we see not just the many ways of being white, but how these actors make meaning of whiteness in ways that collectively reproduce both white identity and, ultimately, white supremacy.