The Complete Glossary of the Trumpist Alt-right

From dark enlightenment to post-truth: the alt-right's figures and terms, explained.

Vladimir Putin, Trolls, Taylor Swift, New Balance,Pepe the Frog and Steve Bannon.
Alexei Druzhinin / AP, DreamWorks Animation, Carlo Allegri / Reuters, Matt Fiori, Evan Vucci / AP

Alt-right (the alternative right): A term that defines individuals with extreme right-wing ideologies and ideas that have been disseminated in recent years on the internet, mainly in the United States, and which deviate from the ideology of the traditional conservative right. Until recently, the trend received only marginal media attention, but in recent months its proponents have received increasing exposure. They are for the most part white males who propagate ideas of male supremacy and white supremacy, which are considered taboo in the mainstream media. Alt-right activists often use code words to express racist sentiments: for example, “Skypes” is used when referring to Jews, and “Googles” is the preferred euphemism for black people. 

Most alt-right activists write under assumed names, mainly on forums such as 4chan and websites such as dailystormer.com. However, the ideas they espouse are also found on the breitbart.com website, which has been described by its chief executive, Steve Bannon, as “the platform for the alt-right.” During the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton linked Donald Trump to the movement. Recently, there have been complaints that the concept of alt-right is in itself misleading, and conceals a simple racist-fascist ideology.

Alpha male: A popular compliment in alt-right circles for dominant and patriarchal men like Trump; opposite of a beta male, who is effeminate, weak and emasculated.  

Bannon, Steve: Trump’s intended presidential chief strategist, chief executive of Breitbart (although he went on a leave of absence when he took over management of the GOP candidate’s campaign) and sponsor of the alt-right. Some people describe his strategy as Leninist – fostering a revolution led by an avant-garde of highly idealistic professional revolutionaries, who will accelerate far-reaching social processes when power is in their hands (and now it is).

Radio personality Glenn Beck holds a copy of the book Don Quixote, which he claimed belonged to George Washington, before introducing Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, not pictured, during a campaign event at Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa City, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016. In the final week before the Iowa caucuses, Ted Cruz's campaign has quietly shifted its TV attack ads from hitting Donald Trump to hitting Marco Rubio, sparking speculation that he's worried about a late surge by his Florida colleague. Photographer: /
Bloomberg / Patrick Fallon

Beck, Glenn: A conservative, Christian radio broadcaster affiliated with America’s Tea Party movement. Beck is opposed to the alt-right, which he describes as European and anti-American, and to Trump, whom he has compared to Adolf Hitler. Also warns against Alexander Dugin on the New Right. In February, he promised that if Trump came to power, he would move to Israel. Considered by members of the alt-right to be “cuckservative” (see below).

Breitbart.com: An ultranationalist right-wing news website, formerly edited by Steve Bannon, which combines misogyny, opposition to trade agreements, hostility to immigration and to foreigners, and opposition to abortion and gun restrictions. It endorsed Trump’s candidacy, and also supports Brexit, Israel (see below), Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders and the far-right movements of them and other European leaders. Ideologically close to the alt-right, in a more moderate form.

Cuck, cuckservative: A racist-sexist expression of contempt for old-school conservatives who oppose Trump and the ideology of the alt-right. Such conservatives are portrayed as castrated beta males. 

Dark Enlightenment: An ideological movement that serves as an intellectual vehicle for many alt-right writers. Milo Yiannopoulos (see below) claims that “there are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads, but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence. Skinheads, by and large, are low-information, low-IQ thugs driven by the thrill of violence and tribal hatred. The alternative right are a much smarter group of people – which perhaps suggests why the Left hates them so much. They’re dangerously bright.”

The pioneers of Dark Enlightenment are nihilist philosophers such as Englishman Nick Land, libertarians and technological utopians. It is a kind of religion of misogynist geeks who toy with anti-humanist and anti-democratic ideas, whose principal argument is that liberty and democracy cannot coexist, and therefore democracy should be sacrificed. They reject what they call “The Cathedral,” their term for the contemporary gospel of liberalism and political correctness.

In this photo taken on Aug. 11, 2016, Alexander Dugin, the neo-Eurasianist ideologue, sits in his TV studio in central Moscow, Russia.
Francesca Ebel, AP

Dugin, Alexander: A Russian intellectual with close ties to the Kremlin. Promotes imperialist Eurasianism, which aims to destroy the decadent West by means of an anti-democratic, Asian cultural-political model, centered in Russia. He has been influenced by ideas of the “conservative revolution” and by the philosophy of Oswald Spengler, which was popular in Germany in the first half of the 20th century. Opposes the ideas of progress and liberalism in favor of ancient tradition originating in the East, and considers the idea of a democratic Russia as pseudomorphosis (see below). Although he has advocated a confrontation with the democratic Order of Atlantic, centered in the United States, he is often quoted on alt-right websites and encourages Trump-style American isolationism.

Gamergate: A protest movement of misogynist gamers (that is, video-game players), which erupted in August 2014. It flourished on the forum site 8chan, and on Breitbart. The protest was directed against feminists who criticized male dominance in the gaming world. Was seen as a formative event of the new geek right, exemplifying a mix of geeky machoism and chauvinist violence.

Hipster right: Breitbart’s term for the young European identity movement, exemplified by educated and with-it young people who oppose German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy and protest against the “self-hatred” of multiculturalism. Influenced by ideas of Frenchman Alain De Benouit’s New Right.

Human biodiversity: A racist expression commonly used in alt-right forums to describe the  phenomenon of significant genetic differences among the various human “tribes.” It assumes that the “white tribe” can and must maintain itself and its lands, and prevent intermingling with other tribes such as black or Jews. This is the basis for hostility toward multiculturalism and immigration, which its purveyors perceive as “white genocide.”

Israel: A country in the Middle East that is described as “Judeo-democratic.” Many members of the alt-right support Israel because it is a frontline position in the war against Islam. 

Neoreaction, NRx: An ideological movement that more or less overlaps Dark Enlightenment. To be distinguished from the old neoconservativism that flourished in the days of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, which the alt-right dubs “cuckservative.”

New Balance: A popular brand of sports shoes that was recently declared by the alt-right as the “official shoe of white people” This happened after the company’s spokesman expressed enthusiasm about Trump’s election, due to the opposition of the president-elect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Pepe the Frog: A cartoon character that has become a popular meme, and in the past year has been identified with white ultranationalism and with Donald Trump. The Anti-Defamation League officially designated it a “hate symbol”; Clinton’s campaign also attacked the frog, provoking derision from Trump supporters. Pepe illustrates the clownish nature of the new far right. As Israeli intellectual and Trump supporter Elad Pressman, editor of the website conspil.com, explained, “If the discourse of Hillary’s campaign is as strict as the Church regarding purity of language and preaching Christian morality, Trump’s campaign is seen as more emotional, dynamic and amorphous, and in effect is lighter, laughs more and is not as heavy.”

Pseudomorphosis: A term coined by German philosopher Oswald Spengler, author of “The Decline of the West,” published in 1918. It signifies a cultural disease that causes a young and vital culture to adopt the thinking modes of a foreign and dying one, thereby leading to pretense and hypocrisy. Popular with Dugin and neoreactionary philosophers, who claim that millennials have to free themselves from the liberal culture of the declining Baby Boomer generation.

Post-truth: A characteristic of the political culture of the Trump era, in which facts are of no importance in the shaping of public opinion. Several alt-right spokesmen, including Yiannopoulos, advocate such politics. The term was chosen by the Oxford Dictionaries as the word of the year for 2016.

Putin, Vladimir: President of Russia. Very popular among spokesmen of the extreme right in the West, as “the great godfather of extreme nationalism” in our time. Those who believe in white supremacy claim that the United States must hold off from waging the cold war against Russia that began during the term of President Barack Obama, and to ally itself with the “great white power” headed by Putin.

Excerpts from Richard Spencer's speech, as published by The Atlantic. The Atlantic, YouTube

Spencer, Richard: One of the prominent spokespeople of the alt-right, editor of the alternative-right.blogspot.com website. Promotes identity politics, white supremacy, and anti-bourgeois and anti-liberal “heroism.” He claims he is not interested in restoring slavery, but rather in establishing an “ethnic state” for whites only. He claims that women are attracted to alt-right men out of an evolutionary admiration for the genes of alpha males. Does not oppose the activity of Jews, or gays, on the periphery of the movement – as long as they identify with “white European culture.” However, he stresses that “Jews aren’t white.” He and his wife, who uses the pen-name Nina Byzantina, distribute English translations of the works of Alexander Dugin. With Trump’s victory, he sees the alt-right as the leaders of public opinion in the new America. At a convention of the movement this week he gave the Nazi salute and shouted “Hail Trump! Hail victory!”

Strauss, Botho: A German writer and playwright. Began his career as an avant-garde playwright in Berlin, but since the 1990s has expressed conservative opinions considered taboo among the German public. One of the popular figures in the “identity right.” A year ago, he claimed that the wave of immigration signifies “the end of the history of the German spirit,” and declared that he prefers to see German society die out than for it to become intermingled with foreign peoples. However, he says that if the Germans become a minority they will rediscover their authentic identity.

Swift, Taylor: An American singer who was involuntarily named the poster girl of the alt-right, mainly thanks to her “Aryan appearance” (blond hair and blue eyes). Appears in innumerable, half-joking memes, accompanied by anti-Semitic and Nazi statements.

Trolls: A common term for users of social networks, discussion groups and websites who deliberately provoke anger and arouse antagonism. Many members of the alt-right act as trolls – that is, their strategy is not to commit to being serious, and to present every provocative claim as though it was designed to arouse debate and embody freedom of expression.

Milo Yiannopoulos.
Richard Saker, REX/Shutterstock

Yiannopoulos, Milo: A British journalist and editor at Breitbart, one of the more eccentric spokesmen of the alt-right, identified with the right-wing gay movement Twinks 4 Trump. Describes himself as a violent homosexual and as a fundamentalist of freedom of expression; expresses anti-feminist and anti-Islamist views. Voices provocative ideas in lectures and speeches with deeply macabre and disturbing undertones. For example, he has hinted at a sexual attraction for Trump, whom he calls Daddy. Although he claims to be of partly Jewish descent, he also says that anti-Semitic caricatures are legitimate if used jokingly by free-spirited young people, which is meant to shock the adults, similar to “long hair and rock ‘n’ roll” in previous eras.