The Vacuous Millennial Right Rebellion

03 March 2017
With the recent, inevitable downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos - self proclaimed “dangerous faggot” who, after the doxxing, baiting racist online attacks, sexism, and (self-hating) homophobia finally had the brakes put on the hate train after comments he made implying that he condones sex between older men and young boys, leading to the loss of his book deal with Simon and Schuster, the rescinding of the invitation for him to speak at CPAC, and his apparent jump-before-you’re-pushed resignation from the platform that brought him prominence, Breitbart - are we seeing the merciful beginning of the end of the self proclaimed Millennial alt right?

 Milo was the consummate poster boy for this puddle of spit-up parading itself as a political movement. He was the attractive-on-the-surface face of an ugly reality; that the alt right is all style and no substance. They place themselves as the new rebels, the new cool; conservative is the new black. But what are they rebelling against? They haven't got much. They've a Freudian fixation with "free speech", which as they see it is the right to be racist, sexist, homophobic. Apart from that, they really don't care about the politics. It's hard to imagine a less inspiring rebellion than for the right to call people Muzzies and Trannies.

But those involved in this movement are desperately trying to convince us and themselves that their club is titillating, punk even. Millennial writer Daisy Cousens recently published a piece presenting conservatism as the new punk, describing her particular brand of politics as being the Millennial Right; whilst huge supporters of Trump, they could care less about his policies. It’s all about the message, the anti-establishment candidate coming in to shake things up. They don't seem to care what he does once he gets there - including surrounding himself with the same sorts of corporate and political insiders that so exercised them in the first place - doesn't matter. The point is they and their movement are triumphant now; the loathed left now vanquished.

Cousens describes with particular relish the crowning moment of her embrace of the alt right, buying a Make America Great Again hat from eBay. Okay, I'm not a Millennial and have no idea what "cool" (do kids even still say cool?) is these days. For all I know On Fleek topped the Hottest 100 this year and Kylie Jenner is head of an ethnographic study to document dying Southern European languages. But as far as punk goes, I do know that the original punks were rebelling against a stagnant economy, rigid class system and hopeless future by creating a legacy of music, art and fashion that resonates to this day, not protesting what they see as the tyranny of political correctness by sitting at home in comfort giggling to themselves about how naughty they were for buying a hat representing a six-month-old Billionaire's triumph. (Although Ms Cousens's purchase did have a genuine whiff of the illicit. But if you're that much of a fan of Trump and his movement, surely you'd shell out for a genuine Make America Great Again hat, available only on Trump's website for $USD25, not an eBay knock off. Or is buying counterfeit goods part of the rebellion?). 

There's nothing "conservative" about the alt right, however. Milo, when asked which of Trump's policies he favoured, replied he didn't care; he was all about burning everything down. Ms Cousens described the alt right as "socially libertarian, and unlike the Left, we’re not obsessed with what people do in their bedrooms, or who they marry". Well, that's admirable, but what values and principles are they actually conserving here? If we look at the conservative principles of Russell Kirk - the father of modern conservative thought - we find little that would be espoused by the millennial alt right.

In the end, their movement seems to be little more than a hatred of the left - their warped and distorted vision of the left, whose values they misunderstand and power they overestimate. The central principles of the left are social justice and equality - and if we’re the ones in power, it’s hard to understand why economic inequality continues to worsen. Likewise, there’s far more to Conservatism than loathing political correctness, and it certainly does care what people get up to in their bedrooms; the alt right may feel empowered by their apparent ascent, but they must realise they couldn’t have gotten there without an underpinning of very conservative Christians. And right wing women may see no use for feminism, but that doesn’t mean there’s no need for it; conservative writer Miranda Devine has written extensively against feminism, but seeing men as allies not the enemy did not stop her being the subject of vile sexist abuse when she came into a recent on air disagreement with fellow conservative Andrew Bolt. 

The point is that the left stands for things - and so does traditional conservatism, unlike this new alt right. It seems very odd to have as your core belief “words don’t matter”, then form a political movement with the core goal of thumbing your nose at the people who called you names. Can a movement based on a flimsy premise of spite persevere? It's a little hard to foresee. No matter how staunchly some still defend him, their figurehead has lost his power, and it is obvious to all but the most die hard fans the Trump administration is already in grave trouble. 

Things are in an even more perilous state here in Australia, with no Donald Trump style figure to take the message of nihilism all the way. Pauline Hanson sure isn't it - her twenty years of desperate attempts to get back into politics finally paid off at last year’s Federal election, but she is hardly likely to swell adoration in the hearts of millennials, at least not the pseudo-intellectuals who fancy themselves as the heart of the millennial right. There’s Senator Cory Bernardi’s new Conservative movement, but Bernardi’s religious ties don’t exactly mesh with the live it up ethos of the alt right. We may yet see some Pied Piper/Naked Emperor mash up swoop in, enchanting the young, but I doubt it; Australians are largely too pragmatic to fall for such a cult of personality. Besides, no movement as vacuous and shallow as the alt right can last. I'd advise its adherents to enjoy their Make America Great Again caps for as long as the counterfeit stitching lasts; they won't be cool for long.   


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