So, as I often do, I was lurking on Twitter and saw a user post this thread from 4chan
At first I just dismissed this as a /pol/ meme, as they’re rather notorious for being a bit odd, but then it struck me that there might well be a grain of truth in this post.
For those that need context, the reply refers to the now (in?)famous GamerGate consumer revolt, which depending on who you ask, was about anything from ethics in games journalism to a targeted harassment campaign. I won’t make a judgement on that here, because no matter what it was, the outcome was the same.
In my opinion, Gamergate was one of the catalysts behind the new right-wing front of young internet users. Whether you refer to this front as the “alt-right”, the “new right” or whatever doesn’t matter for now, that distinction didn’t really happen until later.
Through exposing an entirely different demographic to activism and a cause they believed in, an array of disparate groups galvanised into one, organised force.
And they won.
Gamergate was a resounding victory for this new coalition, wherein nearly all of their goals were achieved.
Once they’d won, some members dispersed back into the constituent sub-groups, but others remained, having tasted victory. It was only natural that they turned to politics once their hobby had been secured.
Through Gamergate, they’d grown to massively dislike the modus operandi of those that opposed them - this M.O could widely be characterised as anything but attacking ideas themselves, but rather those that espoused them. For those interested in reading a bit more about this M.O, I’d highly recommend googling a bit about “Identity Politics”.
With this victory under their belt, the coalition’s golden opportunity came along. An outsider to the US presidential election, Donald J Trump, was being hit with exactly the same tactics that were used in Gamergate, calling him “Racist” and “Sexist” rather than actually attacking ideas themselves. Trump didn’t bow down to this, which I believe to be the key to understanding why this new right affiliated themselves with his campaign as they did. He was doing as they had. And they’d stand with him to defeat their old enemy.
And, no matter how you want to evaluate the electoral campaign, it cannot be denied that the social capital of the internet-savvy coalition got noticed. Even Hillary Clinton herself gave a speech on them. Now, normally being denounced by a long-term secretary of state and senator would destroy public support for a movement, but in this case, calling them a “Racist … Paranoid fringe” (source) only strengthened their cause. She played exactly the same cards as all who’d tried to destroy this movement before her. Except now there was absolutely no impact. After being called a “Misogynist racist bigot” day in, day out, I can’t imagine it’d have any effect at all, and would at best come across as crying wolf.
So, what I first viewed as a throwaway post on /pol/, I now believe to be a decent insight into what makes the (alt/new) right so powerful - the political left is throwing the same ball at them again and again, and forgetting that people do eventually learn to dodge.