The 5 Best Primers on the Alt-Right


With the election of Donald Trump, I’ve seen a lot of questions flying around about the “alt-right.” These are the five best articles I’ve read describing the group or its development. If you have any others, please feel free to share.

  1. A good explainer from Vox: Dylan Matthews, The alt-right is more than warmed-over white supremacy. It’s that, but way way weirder, Aug. 25, 2016. 
  2. Buzzfeed News published a more conventional story on the history of the alt-right late in 2015: Rosie Gray, How 2015 Fueled The Rise Of The Freewheeling, White Nationalist Alt Right Movement, Dec. 27, 2015. 
  3. Media Matters put out a good description of the key symbols, with links to primary source materials: Oliver Willis, What Is The “Alt-Right”? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media, Aug. 25, 2016.
  4. The New Yorker’s short take: Benjamin Wallace-Wells, Is the Alt-Right for Real?, May 5, 2016. 
  5. A piece from The Awl describing the Neo-Reactionary movement, one of the referents/related strains of thought: Park MacDougald, The Darkness Before the Righi, Sept. 28, 2015. 

As an aside, I’ve also seen a lot of people insisting that we ought to refer to them as “white supremacists,” or at least “white nationalists,” in place of “alt-right.” I don’t have a serious disagreement with that, but the semiotics of naming in politics is too complex for me to wade into, and because the articles above use the phrase “alt-right,” I’m using it here.