The alt-right is more traditionally conservative than it is neoconservative or Thatcherite.
The ‘alt-right’ and Steven K Bannon
ilary Clinton says that Donald Trump’s post-election statements and cabinet appointments are ‘provoking racial resentment’ and that his views ‘align with the so-called alternative right movement’. You don’t have to be a Donald Trump supporter to be a member of the alt-right, but the chances are that if you are a hard-core Trumpist, you identify with a lot of their principles. The alt-right are a new strand of the right-wing and generally sit further right than the likes of the Conservative Party in the UK and on the right side of the Republican Party in the US. The alt-right is more traditionally conservative than it is neo-conservative or Thatcherite. Value is placed on retaining cultural cohesion in an age of multiculturalism. There is also however an element of cultural libertarianism in their attacking of political correctness. There is a large emphasis on western values and nationalism and a strong instinct against establishment media and political entities. Their presence is large online, and this is demonstrated by the growth and size of the online news provider Breitbart News, which is seen as the mouthpiece of the alt-right. Breitbart News is the fourth largest website in the world in comments, and its executive chairman, Steve Bannon, has been appointed Donald Trump’s chief strategist. He has also been given the role of Counsellor to the President, a role
which is outside of the Cabinet, but is still a high-ranking position considered to be senior inside the Executive Office of the President. A Former Goldman Sachs banker, Bannon has also been a media director, making right-of-centre documentaries and he helped to publish the book Clinton Cash as executive chair of the Government Accountability Institute. In 2015, Bannon took 19th place on Mediaite’s list of the “25 Most Influential in Political News Media 2015”. Bannon took over Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in August, and his reputation as a an extremely competent operator and spin doctor was confirmed when the campaign was won despite some large-scale challenges in the final weeks – such as the infamous Trump tapes, which knocked his momentum for at least a fortnight. If Trumpism is ever to be a remembered as an ideological concept, Steven Bannon will be the man expected to and able to design and communicate it, and you can bank on that ideology strongly resembling the alt-right when it takes shape over the coming years. Though many progressives are suspicious of Bannon, particularly because of some of Breitbart News’ output, many of Trump’s winning policies fit perfectly into the alt-right ideological mould. The stance on immigration, the rejection of political correctness, the desire to protect gun rights. These are alt-right values as well as
Trump’s values, and Bannon will find it easy to mobilise Breitbart readers and other like minds, despite giving up his position as executive chair of the news provider in order to focus on his new job in the White House. It’s why Donald Trump always referred to ‘our movement’ when talking about his campaign. His support was not merely white Christian America voting, and indeed Trump did receive more minority votes than the previous 2 Republican candidates Romney and McCain, but
it was also this new surge of discontent taking the chance to be politically represented. The alternative right. Those voters who helped to make Florida and Ohio turn red were those who hadn’t voted before or hadn’t voted for years because of political disillusionment with establishment politicians like Hilary Clinton, and if Steve Bannon and Trump can deliver more alt-right policy positions, they’ll undoubtedly keep that demographic turning up to the polls for them.
Pictured: Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in Arizona (photographer: Gage Skidmore)
Sarkozy crashes out in French primary election Rhys Thomas
Whoever wins the run-off vote will probably become the President of France
n the smouldering aftermath of Brexit and the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the White House, France is widely seen as the next domino that could fall in the worldwide populist uprising. In the battle of liberalism v populism, the value of France as a country and beacon of democracy means that even more focus will be on this contest than usual. The longer election cycle kicked off with the conservative Les Républicains holding their primary this month. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy had been plotting his way back to the Élysée Palace ever since his 2012 defeat, but was knocked out of contention by Alain Juppé and surprise first place finisher François Fillon. Sarkozy has endorsed Fillon, who served as his Prime Minister for the whole of his 2007-2012 term. Whoever wins the run-off vote will probably become the President of France next May. There are a range of crucial differences between the two men. Frontrunner Fillon is an avowed Thatcherite who is anti-trade unions. He’s hostile to immigration and is a big defender of Russia and Putin’s military excursions in Ukraine and Syria. He also voted against gay marriage and wants to ban adoption for gay couples. On the plus side, he’s married to a Welshwoman. The former favourite and his opponent in the run-off will be Alain Juppé, the current Mayor of Bordeaux. Widely considered France’s
most popular politician at the age of seventy-one and an overall more centrist character, he served as Prime Minister under Jacques Chirac in the 1990’s. During this period he was intensely unpopular, and a few years later was convicted of a party funding scam - but was widely exonerated as taking the hit for the mismanagement of others. He has called for an increase in the retirement age and cuts to public spending. He has also extolled the virtues of immigration, favours moving the UK border from Calais to Kent, and supports adoption for same-sex couples. Hanging over all of this is the spectre of Marine Le Pen and her fascist Front National party. Immigration and radical Islam have become huge issues in France, even more so than in other countries. The mix of native French and post-colonial immigrant communities combined with European free movement has created a tinderbox and resentment on both sides, with politicians like Le Pen well placed to take advantage of the cultural divides. She tops most of the polls, an unprecedented situation for a far-right leader. However, the electoral system for the French Presidential election is a barrier to her success. The first stage of the election sees a variety of candidates from across the political spectrum running to be President in 2012 there were ten candidates. If none of these candidates reaches fif-
Pictured: The Élysée Palace (Source: EX13)
ty-percent of the vote, then the election proceeds to a run-off between the top two candidates. Le Pen is likely to proceed to the run off - however, when pitted against a moderate candidate in the run off all the voters spanning Socialists, Republicans and others are likely to band together to defeat the far-right as they did in 2002 when conservative incumbent
Jacques Chirac trounced Jean-Marie Le Pen (father of Marine) in the biggest landslide in French history. The Presidential election will take place next April and May, and the world will hold its breath yet again. Will the populists continue their march, or will the liberals fight back? The next few months will give us the answer.