If you have involved in the political realm of the internet for more than five minutes, then it is almost inevitable that when you hear the term “alt-right,” your mind will immediately turn to figures such as George Lincoln Rockwell, Richard Spencer and the KKK. White nationalism, racism, and fascists have come to define the alt-right movement due to massive conflation committed by the mainstream media. Despite popular conviction, the alt-right movement is an unorganized umbrella that contains a multitude of ideologies.

From disaffected liberals, paleo-conservatives, and neo-reactionaries, to white supremacists, totalitarian fascists, neo-Nazis, and Christian monarchists, the alt-right can be defined only by one characteristic element that unites the adherents of differing political philosophies: a disaffectedness with the cultural decay of Western civilization that places one outside of the contemporary confines of established conservative parties such as the GOP. According to this definition, even many classical liberals are cryptically associated alt-right insofar that they are united with the mainstream movement as a means to an end. The alt-right, therefore, is distinctively anti-globalist, anti-multiculturalist, crypto-chauvinistic, and racially realistic. Members of the alt-right have dismissed the common leftist narrative that all cultures are equally valid, the deconstructionist method of interpretation as promulgated by Jacques Derrida, and ultimately despise postmodernism in any form.

The issue with conversations dealing with the alt-right arises when the topic or racism gets brought into question. Certainly, many American patriots would have little or no problem agreeing that American values are inherently superior to Pakistani values, and that the culture and historical ethical system of the United States are what has “made America great.” But, not everybody can agree what exactly composes the American identity, because the United States is such a new country experiencing racial relations in a manner unseen by many countries in many eras. Because of this, the promotion of Western civilization as being a preferable cultural and political entity runs into a wall. Some adherents of the alt-right will believe that American culture can be satisfying defined without bringing into question the matter of race; however, there are many in the alt-right who believe that the United States was founded on principles of white nationalism and that loyalty to this root is an essential part of what it means to be “American.”

That being said, the alt-right movement is not racist any more than Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians. While there are certainly strands of racism in each of these parties, racism is not necessarily a defining characteristic, it is an independent structure that often collides with these parties when a racist person adopts their respective ideology. The alt-right is rooted in the ideology of western chauvanism, the preservation of traditional values, and an insistence against postmodernism and neoliberal strands of thought. Those who bring race into the alt-right do so independently; therefore, the alt-right cannot be labeled as definitively racist.

The upcoming generation after millennials, i.e., “Generation Z,” is turning into the most conservative generation since the Baby Boomers. This new generation of young men and women share a common distaste for gay marriage, transgenderism, and drugs that transcend that of most twenty-somethings, and the alt-right is benefiting from this while simultaneously being defined by it. The alt-right is not some shady white supremacist movement leering at the Constitution with glowing red eyes; rather, it is a coalition of conservative individual who are disaffected with the contemporary Republican-Democratic paradigm and choose to align themselves with like-minded individuals.