The Alt-Right’s Platformization of Fascism and a New Left’s Digital United Front

  • Tanner Mirrlees

Abstract

Platforms constitute a political communications battlespace in which a plurality of social actors—from Left to Right—struggle for recognition and attention, try to organize consent to their ideologies, and seek to influence how people think and behave. In the spirit of this special issue’s investigation of the tactical political uses of new media to bring about social change, this article demonstrates how contemporary platforms are a space of battle, fought over by the altright’s white nationalist fascists and a new Left’s “digital united front.” Drawing upon numerous examples of fascist and antifascist tactical interventions across the platforms, this article is optimistic that the power of the alt-right to win hearts and minds may be waning due to the growth and widespread support for the Left’s digital united front. To this end, this article’s first section contextualizes the revival of the hard Right’s “authoritarian populism” under the auspices of the US Trump presidency and defines the contemporary “alt-right.” The article’s second section surveys the alt-right’s political uses of platforms, and highlights some of these platforms’ affordances to the alt-right’s reach and ideological influence. The third section conceptualizes the Left’s “digital united front,” and catalogues some of its tactics for countering platform fascists: no-platforming, doxing, video ideology critique, and memes. This article’s overview of the alt-right’s platformization of fascism and the Left’s digital united front is not comprehensive, but aims to highlight some salient instances of “what’s being done” by the altright to platform fascism, and “what’s being done” by the Left to disrupt this threat. By scrutinizing the alt-right’s platformization of fascism and championing the Left’s digital united front, this article aims to contribute to knowledge about the politics of tactical media in the age of platforms, and be a praxiological primer for battling the alt-right. The conclusion critically assesses the notion that the US has become a “fascist” country.

Published
2019-12-12