Know thy enemy. For any prepared comrade, we understand that this maxim is a key element in planning political action. Ctrl-Alt-Delete: An Antifascist Report on the Alternative Right is a must read to arm ourselves in this growing political climate, where white supremacy is openly claiming legitimacy and the left is scrambling to fight against the rising tide of fascism. The book gives shape to the pool of people that flow from the internet to the White House: the Alternative Right, a movement loosely tethered together through the ideological forces of fascism and white supremacy. The book is comprised of four essays that deftly tackle the alt-right, where it came from, how it intervenes and shapes our current political climate, and what it means for the state of the world as we know it.
The first and titular essay, by Matthew N. Lyons, charts the rise of the alt-right, its major ideological currents, and their relationship to Donald Trump. As definitions of the alt-right are often vaporous and difficult to pin down, Lyons’ essay does an excellent job of concretizing what is often relegated to Internet subculture. Exploring the alt-right’s roots in the Paleoconservative and the European New Right (ENR) movements, Lyons illustrates a tangible history of the alt-right, the fascist movement that often eludes clear identification. Lyons, and other essays throughout the book, note the nebulous identity of the alt-right, a “big-tent culture” where various ideological currents flow in and out. While the alt-right does not hold the organizational capacity to enact mass violence, they can enact what Lyons identifies as a “metapolitical” shift in mass culture, that is, the tolerance and even approval of individualized violence in the name of white supremacy and the growing acceptance of fascism.
The second essay, “The Rich Kids of Fascism: Why the Alt-Right Didn’t Start With Trump, and Won’t End With Him Either” by comrades from the website It’s Going Down, picks up where Lyons leaves off––the question of cultural shift amidst a rising tide of fascism. This essay explores the elitism of the alt-right movement, how they lead a movement of fascist respectability. As the It’s Going Down comrades note, “the media loves the alt-right because it plays by the rules.” As they perceptively note, the alt-right has no political organization in the streets, they don’t have the capacity nor the ideological unity, but the alt-right, and in particular its elitist leaders, are excellent at drawing the media’s attention. As the comrades of It’s Going Down conclude, this media attention is also what we can use as a tool to fight them: drag the elitist scum into the mud and keep them there.
The final two essays serve as capstones and contextualizations on the alt-right. Extending the conversation on the alt-right and its ideological currents of white supremacy in the first two essays, the third essay, “Black Genocide and the Alt-Right” by K. Kersplebedeb, reminds us that “there is no such thing as ‘white racial purity’ or ‘white nationalism’ without anti-black racism and genocide.” The fourth essay, “Notes on Trump” by Bromma, extends a view that, as we witness the clamour for ethno-states desired by the alt-right, we also see a reflection that the cosmopolitan dream of liberals, and of globalization itself, is in decline. Engaging with the discourse of how we shouldn’t “normalize” Trump, Bromma brilliantly articulates that white supremacy has been the norm in the United States since its settler-colonial beginnings, and that such language serves to normalize Obama, a president who served monopoly capitalism to his fullest.
While a relatively short book at 108 pages, Ctrl-Alt-Delete serves as an important articulation of what the alt-right is and offers some recommendations on how to organize moving forward. As the alt-right hides in the veil of the internet and memes, Ctrl-Alt-Delete lifts the veil and exposes the movement for ideology, organizational capacity, and current impact on our political climate. With the rise of fascism in North America, it’s a must read to arm ourselves for the fights to come.