Key events

Whilst the ideological roots of the Alternative Right stretch back decades, we can trace the germination of the broad movement to 2008. In less than ten years the Alternative Right has developed from a collection of ideas, to a handful of tiny websites, to a visible online movement, to organising offline, to worldwide infamy, violence and internal splits.

Take a look at the key moments in the rise of the Alternative Right.

2008

Paul Gottfried and Richard Spencer coin the term "alternative right"

Paleoconservative thinker Paul Gottfried delivered a speech at the first annual conference of his H.L. Mencken Club in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Without using the term directly during the speech, Gottfried describes the sentiment that would later define the emerging Alternative Right.

During his speech Gottfried addressed "well-educated young professionals, who consider themselves to be on the right, but not of the current conservative movement". He foreshadowed the alt-right's preoccupation with racial politics, complaining of a perceived lack of interest in the "hereditary preconditions for intellectual and cultural achievements".

Bemoaning the success of the Left in suppressing "any serious challenge from the right" from public view, Gottfried hoped that this anti-establishment right "will acquire the resources" to present such a challenge and "will know how to deploy them", touching on the alternative media which the alt-light would come to corner especially.

This speech was uploaded by Richard Spencer to the webzine Taki's Magazine with the title The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right, the first known use of the term.

2010

Daniel Friberg founds Arktos Media

Launched by CEO Daniel Friberg, Arktos Media has become the most important purveyor of European New Right and alt-right literature in the world.

According to Friberg, the idea for Arktos originated from his European New Right think-tank Motpol in late 2009. Soon after he merged his Swedish Nordic Publishing house with the European New Right publisher Integral Tradition Publishing (ITP), which was then steered by future Arktos editor John Morgan.

While Arktos claims not to “propagate any specific ideology, system of beliefs or viewpoint”, former editor Jason Reza Jorjani has described Arktos publishing works based on “relevance to the Identitarian metapolitical struggle”.

Arktos has since published books in 14 different languages and plans to reach 180 unique titles before the end of 2017.

2010

Richard Spencer founds AlternativeRight.com

Richard Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com in 2010 to be “an online magazine of radical traditionalism” that aimed “to forge a new intellectual right-wing that is independent and outside the ‘conservative’ establishment”. 

The site was pivotal in the germination of early alt-right ideas, with its first regular blogs covering many themes that would go on to be central to the movement. These included Jack Donovan's "Virtus" blog dedicated to "Men's Studies" and a blog dedicated to a strand of racialist pseudoscience theory known as "Human Biodiversity". 

The site's initial staff included executive editor Richard Spencer, assistant editor Patrick Ford, and senior contributing editors Peter Brimelow of racist anti-immigration site VDare and paleoconservative thinker Paul Gottfried. Early contributing editors included manosphere blogger Jack Donovan and European New Right thinker Alex Kurtagic.

In the earliest archived post on the site, Why an Alternative Right Is Necessary, contributing editor Richard Hoste bemoans the state of conservatism before declaring that "The Alternative Right takes it for granted that equality of opportunity means inequality of results for various classes, races, and the two sexes"

He concludes by claiming "People to a large extent act as if they agree with us. And they'll be healthier socially and as individuals when they'll be able to say so openly. Consider this webzine a first step in that direction."

2011

4chan launches the message board /pol/

4chan is a popular image board that, since its launch in 2003, has been integral to the development of the broad Alternative Right. 

In particular, 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” board (abbreviated to /pol/) is the source of much of the loose movement’s antagonistic energy as well as many of its most recognisable symbols, although /pol/ is not officially aligned to the Alternative Right.

The /pol/ board was created in 2011 after 4chan's news discussion board, /new/, was deleted after becoming inundated with racist content. /pol/ quickly entered similar territory and is now awash with racism and antisemitism. 

/pol/, alongside copycat site 8chan, has been central to attempts to fool the liberal media that certain mundane symbols - such as milk or the "OK" hand gesture - are actually white supremacist symbols. Successful attempts to fool the media are then gleefully picked up by alt-light figures such as Paul Joseph Watson.

2012

Stephen Bannon becomes head of Breitbart News Network

Former Goldman-Sachs banker and right-wing documentarian Stephen Bannon took the reins of the far-right news site Breitbart News Network upon the death of founder Andrew Breitbart in 2012.

Bannon has been credited with radically increasing the confrontational tone of the publication, leading Breitbart to caustically attack liberals and established Republican figures alike. Under Bannon the site also upped its relentless association of immigrants and Islam with social decline.

Such content, alongside Breitbart’s later association with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, helped transform the platform into a popular hub for the broad Alternative Right. Bannon was later to refer to the outlet as "the platform for the alt-right."

2014

The Gamergate scandal explodes

The first rallying point of the broad Alternative Right was Gamergate, ostensibly an effort to protect the male safe space of gaming from the perceived encroachment of feminist values.

Triggered in August 2014 after a spurned boyfriend posted an incoherent rant alleging that his ex-girlfriend - a female game developer - had been unfaithful, denizens of the anti-feminst manosphere and the message boards 4chan and 8chan (which have long harboured far right elements) unleashed a barrage of abuse, including rape and death threats, against female game developers and critics. 

For many, Gamergate became symbolic of a broader fightback against "political correctness" and the left more generally. By reporting favourably on the movement, figures like Yiannopoulos were able to greatly increase their own profiles in the ensuing scandal. The experience of engaging in coordinated online campaigning against their supposed antagonists encouraged the emerging Alternative Right as a whole.

June 2015

Donald Trump launches his presidential campaign

The Presidential campaign of Donald Trump was to provide the momentum that held the disparate strands of the broad Alternative Right together. 

Trump had outsider status, a haphazard approach, extreme immigration stances and – most importantly - was wildly politically incorrect. Moreover he was running against Hillary Clinton, who was viewed to embody the liberal, "feminist" establishment. 

All of this made Trump a magnet for both the alt-light and alt-right, both of which saw him as a means of disrupting the Republican establishment and liberal consensus. 

Trump's failure to adequately disown the such elements was vaunted by many in the broad Alternative Right as a tacit endorsement of both their views and behaviour.

October 2015

Trump posts a picture of himself as Pepe the Frog

Pepe the Frog - a meme of an anthropomorphised cartoon frog - became the most ubiquitous symbol of the broad Alternative Right. 

First popularised on 4chan in 2008, the meme gained an association with the Alternative Right due to increasing variations using far right imagery.

Trump’s posting on Twitter of a picture of himself characterised as Pepe the Frog was seen as a signal to the Alternative Right by the loose movement's followers.

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December 2015

Trump appears on Alex Jones' InfoWars

Alex Jones is a veteran American conspiracy theorist, best known for spreading bogus theories such as the Columbine, Sandy Hook and Boston Marathon killings being "false flag" events and that 9/11 was an "inside job" carried out by the government. 

Despite this, during his appearance on his show Trump praised Jones' reputation as "amazing" and promised Jones "I will not let you down".

Media watchdog Media Matters have traced a number of Trump's campaign points back to InfoWars, such as the "Hillary for Prison" catchphrase.

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March 2016

Milo Yiannopoulos’ "An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right" is published on Breitbart

Breitbart News Network, known for its vitriolic attacks on liberal groups, immigrants, and mainstream conservatives alike, became the engine room for far-right pro-Trump propaganda.

During the Trump campaign Breitbart figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos helped to popularise the term "alt-right" to refer to a broader online, new, anti-establishment right wing, without acknowledging the term's roots in white nationalism. 

The article, written by Yiannopoulos and Allum Bokhari, disavowed the openly nazi elements of the alt-right but also denied or downplayed much of the movement's racism as mere trolling in pursuit of "fun". 

The oft-repeated philosophy "don't punch right" - i.e. do not attack more extreme elements with whom you share a common purpose - gave the white nationalist alt-right cover, and the use of the term by the likes of Yiannopoulos extended the reach of the white nationalists.

August 2016

Hillary Clinton denounces the alt-right in a Presidential campaign speech

In a campaign speech in Reno, Nevada, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton condemned Trump and his campaign, stating: 

"These are race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-women - all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the 'Alt-Right'. [...] the de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for the 'Alt-Right'. A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party". 

Clinton's speech gave the broad Alternative Right unprecedented publicity, and was widely celebrated by the loose movement. The denunciation of the Pepe the Frog meme on Clinton's campaign website as a "symbol associated with white supremacy" was also celebrated by the Alternative Right as the height of their trolling achievement.

October 2016

"Pizzagate" conspiracy theory develops online

The "Pizzagate" conspiracy claimed that the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign manager John Podesta revealed a child-sex ring run out of a Washington DC pizza restaurant.

The bogus theory developed in online echo chamber sites such as 4chan and Gab.ai and was spread by alt-light figures such as Jack Posobiec and Brittany Pettibone. 

This dangerous conspiracy was later to have serious consequences offline.

November 2016

Donald Trump wins the 2016 Presidential election

Trump's election as the 45th President of the United States of America was met with widespread jubilation by the Alternative Right. 

Here was a candidate who had mocked the disabled, demonised Latinos, repeatedly spread untruths and appeared to encourage political violence at his rallies; and, against all expectations, he had ascended to the most powerful position in the world. 

Worryingly, many on the alt-light celebrated because they held a genuine belief that Trump's anti-immigration, anti-Muslim policies closely aligned with their own. 

Even more worryingly, however, the alt-right regarded his success as a step towards shifting the "Overton Window" (boundaries of acceptable debate) far to the right with the ultimate goal of normalising white nationalism.

November 2016

Donald Trump appoints Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist

Shortly after Trump's election, Stephen Bannon was hired in the newly-created position of White House Chief Strategist.

Now holding the ear of perhaps the most politically inexperienced President in history, Bannon became one of the most powerful people in America.

Bannon's appointment was celebrated by both the alt-light and hardline racists such as Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, who now believed they had a representative in the White House.

November 2016

The "Hailgate" NPI conference

The 21 November 2016 NPI conference featured Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald and Peter Brimelow - the "elder statesmen" of the racist alt-right - as speakers. 

Footage was released by The Atlantic showing Spencer delivering a speech laden with antisemitism and ending histrionically with the words "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!", leading several members of the audience to throw Nazi salutes. 

This attracted worldwide negative press attention, turned Spencer into a celebrity and prompted more moderate alt-light figures such as Mike Cernovich and Paul Joseph Watson to distance themselves from the "alt-right" label they had previously embraced.

December 2016

"Pizzagate"-related shooting occurs in Washington D.C.

Edgar Welch entered the Comet Ping Pong restaurant at the heart of the bogus "Pizzagate" conspiracy and fired three shorts from an AR-15 rifle, claiming he was attempting to rescue the children he believed were being held in the restaurant as part of a paedophile ring.

The actions of Welch, who was subsequently sentenced to four years imprisonment, demonstrated in stark terms the real world consequences of bogus theories being promulgated online by Alternative Right figures.

January 2017

Alt-light DeploraBall inauguration party is thrown in Washington DC

The DeploraBall party, held in Washington DC on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration, was sponsored by the now defunct pro-Trump network MAGA3X and was to become a key moment in exacerbating divisions between the alt-right and alt-light.

Alt-light figures such as Jack Posobiec, Gavin McInnes, Lucian Wintrich, Jim Hoft and Mike Cernovich gave speeches at the event. However, Richard Spencer was barred from attending, as was MAGA3X's Tim Gionet (aka Baked Alaska) after a series of antisemitic tweets and a public tiff with Cernovich. 

The event also banned Nazi salutes and images of Pepe the Frog. The event sparked violent protests outside the venue.

January 2017

Richard Spencer is punched on Trump’s Inauguration Day

Spencer was punched in the face in broad daylight by an Inauguration Day protester during an on-camera interview.

The video of Spencer's assault - which occurred as he explained his badge of Pepe the Frog to the interviewer - went viral. 

Spencer subsequently called for public protection. Several alt-right organisers have spoken of the event as a key moment in escalating offline violence between the alt-right and counter-protestors.

January 2017

The founders of The Right Stuff website are exposed

TheRightStuff.biz (TRS), a central alt-right hub hosting articles, forums and podcasts including The Daily Shoah and Fash the Nation, suffered a major setback when the identities of key TRS figures were revealed by antifascists.

Figures exposed included podcast mainstay Jesse Dunston (aka Seventh Son) and site founder Mike Peinovich (aka Mike Enoch), who was revealed to be a New York City-based web developer with a Jewish wife. 

TRS took down its password-protected forums, Fash the Nation took a prolonged hiatus and Southern Confederalist podcast Rebel Yell broke from the site. 

While Peinovich remains a highly significant figure within the alt-right and TRS continues to foster fascism, the exposure of these figures and others such as alt-right vlogger Colin Robertson (aka Millennial Woes) was a demoralising blow for the alt-right.

February 2017

AltRight Corporation is launched

AltRight Corporation, the merger between Richard Spencer's National Policy Institute, Daniel Friberg's Arktos Media and Henrik Palmgren's Red Ice Creations, was launched as an attempt to create a new centre for the international alt-right. 

The organisation aims to bring together "the best writers and analysts from Alt Right, in North America, Europe and around the world" in order to create "Breitbart for the age to come, not the one that has passed." 

Jason Reza Jorjani, then Editor-in-Chief of Arktos Media, announced the venture at the Identitarian Ideas IX conference in Stockholm, although he has since left the outfit.

February 2017

Protests at University of California, Berkeley over Milo Yiannopoulos’ planned appearance

Yiannopoulos' scheduled speech at the University of California, Berkeley on 1 February was cancelled after thousands of students gathered to protest his appearance. 

In the wake of the talk's cancellation President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw federal funds from Berkeley University, writing on Twitter: "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?" 

The event was to be the first of a series of clashes on and around Berkeley's campus.

February 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos is publicly disgraced

Just as Milo Yiannopoulos seemed at the height of his powers, footage emerged and was widely circulated of him appearing to endorse sexual relationships between "younger boys and older men".

In the ensuing scandal Yiannopoulos was dropped as keynote speaker at the influential CPAC conference, the largest annual gathering of American conservatives, and lost his lucrative book deal with publisher Simon & Schuster. 

Yiannopoulos left Breitbart, reportedly after multiple staff members threatened to quit if he did not leave. Yiannopoulos later apologised for his comments, although his reputation has yet to recover.

April 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) file a lawsuit against the Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer

The SPLC filed a suit in a federal court against Anglin after his "Stormer Troll Army", denizens of his neo-nazi alt-right website Daily Stormer, carried out a torrent of antisemitic abuse and threats directed towards a Jewish woman. 

Anglin has been able to raise almost $160,000 for a legal defence through the website WeSearchr.com, the "information market" founded by internet trolls Charles C. Johnson and Pax Dickinson.

April 2017

The Battle of Berkeley

A pro-Trump "Patriots Day" rally was mired in violent clashes between Alternative Right factions and counter-protestors, leading to multiple arrests and multiple hospitalisations. 

A video of Nathan Damigo, then-leader of the white nationalist Identity Evropa fraternity, viciously punching a female antifascist was widely shared.

May 2017

Several alt-light reporters are granted White House press credentials

Jack Posobiec, the alt-light former Rebel Media reporter, was the last in a long list of alt-light "journalists" to be given White House press credentials. 

Others include alt-light social media personality Mike Cernovich, former Rebel Media contributor Lauren Southern, and The Gateway Pundit reporter Lucian Wintrich, signalling the Trump administration's flirtation with the Alternative Right.

June 2017

Competing alt-right Freedom of Speech Rally and alt-light Rally Against Political Violence are held in Washington D.C.

The split between the alt-right and alt-light was neatly demonstrated when Richard Spencer was booked to speak at a "Freedom of Speech Rally" in Washington D.C.

This caused alt-light-aligned Jack Posobiec to drop out of the event and announce his own, the "Rally Against Political Violence", to be held the same day in the same city. 

Posobiec's rally was to be addressed by alt-lightists such as Lucian Wintrich and Cernovich while the original "Freedom of Speech Rally" took in the hard alt-right, with speakers including Spencer, Nathan Damigo of Identity Evropa, Tim Gionet (aka Baked Alaska) and Mike Peinovich (aka Mike Enoch) of The Right Stuff, who used the stage to denounce the "systematic elimination of white people".

August 2017

Unite The Right demo in Charlottesville ends with the killing of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer

The white nationalist alt-right mobilised for the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee.

The event, however, was marred with extreme violence, with one far-right activist driving a car into a crowd of antifascists, killing protestor Heather Heyer and injuring many more. 

The event made headlines around the world. In the wake of this chaos the more moderate alt-light figures distanced themselves from the events, despite many of them having expressed similar sentiments to those expressed on the demonstration. 

Donald Trump failed to adequately condemn the alt-right and its racist violence in the days following.