Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump

Category: Sociology
Author: David Neiwert
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by hhas01   2020-11-22

Really, dude. The Republican party shucked off all moral rights to Lincoln’s name after 1965, when it chose to sell out its principles in exchange for naked power. There’s nothing left now but a cancerous soup of proto fascists, theocrats, oligarch bootboys, and full-time professional liars, lying to the millions of Americans who want to be lied to. Which I’m not, so you can cram your GOP beer goggles where the sun don’t shine, because you’re just not that good at it.

by wpietri   2018-11-06
I guess they'll have to return to sharing their desire to kill black people the old fashioned way, in person.

Something you aren't grappling with here is the way the Internet has enabled previously-scattered terrible people to connect and self-radicalize. David Neiwart, who tracked various "patriot", white supremacist, and other fringe groups since the 90s, wrote a very readable book about how things have changed since then:

I definitely appreciate the early ethos of the Internet. It's a good founding myth, and I would like to work to keep things open by default. But if the worse 0.1% of humankind ends up not being able to host anything because otherwise they will work together to murder people, I am 100% ok with bending my "anything goes" bias a bit.

by wpietri   2018-07-19
I don't think the people who created Usenet were entirely unaware of human social dynamics. And the people who created things like Twitter certainly weren't unaware that Usenet, mailing lists, and web forums existed.

But at best, they had an incredibly rosy view of what was going on. E.g., looking back, a Twitter founder claims that in 2006 everyone "was cool":

As Neiwart documents, though, many of the terrible people online today are intellectual descendants of the terrible people who were doing their social networking in person and via the mail:

by wpietri   2018-03-14
For those interested in the history and process of radicalization, I strongly recommend David Neiwart's book "Alt America". [1] He's a journalist who spent decades covering the "Patriot" fringe in the US, which often had elements of white supremacy, conspiracy thinking, anti-government paranoia, and other nuttery. It gives him unique depth on how the Internet, for all its benefits, also made it much easier for political extremists to connect and organize.