New article on Quartz - "Linguistic data analysis of 3 billion Reddit comments shows the alt-right is getting stronger"
Continuing on in the vein of alt-right research I've been mining recently, I've got a piece up on Quartz. It's a linguistic taxonomy of the alt-right, using the data I produced at the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam from The_Donald and other subreddits to produce a window into the different kinds of language used by various groups within the alt-right.
The alt-right is coalescing into one movement
In the piece, I propose that the alt-right doesn't really have a coherent identity, but that it's beginning to show signs of creating one. It's an argument that I think is backed quite nicely by the most recent literature in the area, particularly Joshua Green's Devil's Bargain. Hillary Clinton's speech in which she indicted the alt-right as a group of racists was meant to collect together a bunch of disparate groups and push them all outside of the political mainstream by calling them all racists (and thereby rendering them unacceptable in polite company). Whilst the alt-right existed as a term before this (in the words of Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon, among others), I would posit that Clinton effected a version of the Streisand Effect, creating a new wave of popularity simply by mentioning the alt-right, even if it was to condemn them.
In the months that have followed, I think that The_Donald, as well as a few other spaces, has acted as a fermenting vat for groups that were previously unconnected or tangentially related. The alt-right is forming a coherent identity. It can be seen in the spread of words like "cuck" and "pede". There might be little that can be done to stop it. I think that banning The_Donald would be a step in the right direction, as it would drive supporters from Reddit towards less popular sites and thereby deny them some of the oxygen of publicity.
Take Back Our Future - Neo-Nazi Chillwave Propaganda
In other news, I came across a disturbing video recently on Facebook. It's since been removed from there (good job, Zuckerberg), but it can still be found on YouTube (CN: gay bashing, neo-nazis, anti-Semitism). It's what can only really be described as white nationalist, neo-Nazi recruitment propaganda, in the form of an ironically homoerotic depiction of jacked Aryan men doing Aryan things, set to chillwave music. It's honestly bizarre, but I think it provides an interesting window into the direction the more extreme elements of the alt-right are moving. There's a traditionalist conservative bent to it: an appeal to family values, traditional gender roles, a prohibition on masturbation and platonic associations with women, a strong role for Christianity, and so on. It sounds bizarre, and the video itself doesn't just border on the self-parodic but leaps merrily over into the land of Poe's Law. I hate to recommend watching Nazi propaganda, but it's honestly the sort of thing that can only be believed if you've seen it, and I think knowing your enemy is probably important.
Finally, I should note that I'm not sure about the headline on the piece, which suggests that the alt-right is getting stronger. I don't think my data necessarily shows that, though I do think it shows that it's becoming a more coherent movement.