It originated as either anyone that wasn't mainstream right, or mostly as a slur and not a label that most self-identify with. In shorthand it is the equivalent of calling someone a libtard, tea-bagger, or faux-news-watcher, most that did it weren't the adults in the room. There was:
- Non Paleo's - those that failed the establishment right (paleoconservative) litmus tests that got called alternative-right.
- the Trolls and Blasphemers - those that were tired of being accused of things they weren't by the SJW's/Progressives, so they parodied the other side, what the other side accused them of, and mocked them back.
- The Establishment Alt-Right (if you can create an establishment that's anti-establishment) -- this is the Spencer faction and what most today think the alt-right is
- And the Proxy Alt-Right - which is anyone that's not hostile to everyone else that's to the right Karl Marx (alt-right or not)
Paul Gottfried started using the term in 2008 in "The decline and rise of the alternative-right" basically contrasting his paleoconservatism (tradition, religion, limited government, Western identity), with those that failed the paleo's litmus tests are the alernative right. That was the origins of the term -- equivalent to saying blue dog or moderate democrat, it wasn't meant with love and respect.
But that's still the broad brush usage of the term. The neocons, and social conservatives fit under the paleo umbrella -- the younger, pure fiscal conservatives (but socially liberal) little-L libertarians, log cabin and secular republicans, were still in this broader definition of alt-right (or alternative-right), along with the other factions. However, over time people started noticing more factions within these alt-right faction, and the term seems to have evolved away from that broader usage. Just like the Tea Party initially had lots of seculars and even blue dog democrats (the Dems that could do math or economics), but over time, they either moved out, or the term moved on.
Trolls and Blasphemers
These were often younger, vocal, anti-globalists (nationalist) libertarian leaning and terribly anti-establishment: not devout followers of anyone or anything. Basically the blaspheming trolls or the Alex P. Keaton's of online. Those that would question the politically correct SJW's (Social Justice Warriors) playing forum nazi to every discussion area and telling people what they could and couldn't say and how. So the "free thinkers" would break all the rules (and ask the hard questions), "if racial discrimination is bad, what makes affirmative action OK?" If they questioned the orthodoxy on their favorite triggers: quotas, immigration/multiculturalism, islamic terrorism, feminism, gay-activism, and safe-spaces or speech codes, it resulted in accusations of being called racists, islamaphobe, misogynist, homophobe or just bigot respectively but not respectfully.... and finally, that got hate-labelled as "Alt-Right". Which was a caricature of what the words and terms actually meant.
NOTE: When you can’t argue on the merits of what’s being said, then you attack with distractions: who said it, how, or just cry-wolf: tar one with racism, then use that one to tar the rest. All while ignoring your own side’s worse behavior. And that’s what’s happened here. There are certainly a few real bigots in the alt-right. But 95% of the complaints of "racism" are fake cries against anti-globalism. Tout the superiority of Western-European Judeo-Christian values over say the Islamization of the west, or multiculturalism causing friction by mixing, and you'll be called a racist. But that's quite a bit more nuanced than hood-wearing xenophobes that all are painted as. But the far-left hears dog-whistles in everything and everyone they don't like, and lying (exaggerating) against anyone that's not one of them, is the norm.
Since they were already getting called names, the younger (non-mainstream conservatives) mocked the other side even harder, and went tipping sacred cows and calling out the hypocrisy of SJW’s (tolerance by force, diversity thru segregation, eliminating racism via identity politics, and so on). Which results in more accusations, and so on. So the alt-right would push every button that could trigger the snowflakes for the pure glee of being dicks back to tyrannical authoritarians trying to tell them what to do, and how to do it.
Milo Yiannopoulos wrote an article (Guide to the alt-right) summarize their motives. To paraphrase that article: "if you spend 75 years building a pseudo-religion around anything (an ethnic group, a political belief system, a plaster saint, global warming, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc), don’t be surprised when clever 19-year-olds discover that insulting it is now the funniest fucking thing in the world. Because it is.” In other words, they’re conservative kids with a mischievous urge to blaspheme those taking themselves too seriously, break all the rules, and say the unsayable. And since the politically correct SJW's have 10,000 rules, and have built a religious cult around every one of them, they’re the most fun to fuck with.
Youth rebellion is natural. Counter-cultures backlash against the pop-culture. And the far left went from being counter-culture to being mainstream pop-culture somewhere in the 90's (it requires no thought, just conformity). The 60's kids with flowers in their hair talking about free love, and challenged the tight assed authoritarians to question themselves. Now it is the tight-assed politically-correct SJW's trying to force everyone else to march and think in unison (playing online Spanish Inquisitors), while the anti-establishment kids trolling them have taken on the role of asshatted Galileo's, rebelling by mocking anything the left holds dear. And the flame throwing is indiscriminate: they’ll flame conservatives for being sell outs (“cucks” or “cuckservatives” — for cuckolded-conservatives), just as quickly as they’ll attack a lefty. As you can imagine, this does not exactly endear them to the establishment - which has written many bad things about these little button-pushing shits.
They started playing around in the underground edges of the internet (4chan and 8chan. But the more they were mocked and attacked by the establishment, they more they one-upped each other wit attention-grabbing, juvenile pranks, and trolling the national media for sport. Call them Nazi's, and they'll paint mustache's and do straight-armed salutes to upset the other side. Most of these types are racists like 80's death metal devotees were Satanists. (I'm playing me some Black Sabbath / Ozzy Ozborn while writing this).
Examples: One example of that seems to involve Pepe the frog. This frog meme devolved into some 4Chan inside joke, with a lot of people collecting “rare” Pepe’s (alternative images from the well known 2005 era). But in 2015 it started hitting mainstream (with Niki Minaj and Katy Perry retweeting Pepe’s), which proved popularity ruins otherwise good things. So the alt-right backlashed, and decided to take the meme back from the “normies” (those using it for pop/mainstream), and the way to do that was to turn Pepe into an icon of white nationalism.
Suddenly he became a Neo-Nazi, with Swastikas or Trump hair, but anyone in the media who used or asked about Pepe was inundated with racist versions and accusations of being racist for being associated with it. Pepe became the symbol of racism to mock populism, trolling the media by convincing them racism is everywhere, because Pepe is everywhere! Beware. But if you think Pepe really is racist, and not mocking those who see racism in everything, then you're not in on the joke.Another involved Trash Doves. Similar thing, an artist drew some little purple pigeons (meaning peace and love), and they went viral and were getting picked up everywhere. So 4Chan went and tried to convince everyone that the purple dove was a symbol of the alt-right, producing images of the dove combined with Nazi iconography, to scare the norms into seeing racism everywhere. Of course poor Syd Weiler (the artist) was dragged into this train wreck of practical jokes, through no malicious intent. But again, the joke was on those that fell for it, not that it ever was a symbol of the alt-right or racism. (Though the alt-right used it to mock those that treated everything they touched as tainted). Someday, I'll explain the part I played in this saga, but today is not that day. 
Now once there’s any informal group, you’ll start getting personalities and an establishment. Even anti-authoritarian and anti-establishment primordial movements will become an establishment one. I remember being in a anti-conformist Goth Club as a teen, and getting lectured for not doing my anti-conformity correctly -- and them missing the irony of that. While there were a few burgeoning alt-right writers and the time, the one that became the biggest "voice" was Richard B. Spencer.
Spencer is a Nietzsche-loving "identarian": basically for national identity and a return to traditional western values. To the far left, that's the same as White Supremacist, which they call him, because nuance is heresy. He rejects traditional conservatism, went harder anti-establishment and pro-West European culture, and created an “Alternative-Right" blog in 2010. He rejects the "white supremacist" or "neo-nazi" labels that far-left sources pin on him (like the SPLC or The Atlantic). But on the other he will totally fuck with them when he has the chance (like having his guys straight arm salute him at his NPI conference for the cameras to cause apoplexy amongst the media).
I scanned to see if the hate labels were justified. (Feel free to email me if you find better examples than I have). But the stuff I found was less KKK and more like black lives matters or new black panthers movements for whites: sympathizing with the far-right in Europe (lamented the failures of multiculturalism, denouncing the islamification of the west, selectively anti-immigration, mocking progressive political correctness). These aren't guys I'd want to hang with or defend their behavior, but I didn’t find any broad calls to violence, or forced segregation, or other things one would normally associate with the hood-wearing bigots. Less racially abusive than Obama's pastors, Al Shapton, Louis Farrakhan, or some of the worst things that come out of the black caucus. Mostly.
Spencer was the headline speaker at a 2016 NPI conference held in Washington, D.C., and celebrated the election of Donald Trump as "the first step towards identity politics in the United States", "railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German". Spencer finished his speech by yelling "Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!" as audience members responded by standing up and making the Nazi salute. The left and media lost their nut over that one. But he explained he meant that "ironically" (since they were all accusing them of that). Which leaves the open question: do you think the trolls are sincere, or they're fucking with the media for attention? I think they are trolling/pranking the media like the other alt-righters are -- thus this is more a symbol of his douchebaggery than his white supremacy, but the left's blindness to their own flaws is only exceeded by their oversensitivity to everyone else's. To them this is proof of his racism, and not their gullibility. And they will never understand [Andy Kauffman] punking the establishment by being provocateurs.
The worst I ever found as proof of his racism (besides 10,000 gas lighting articles by the far-left, all calling him the same thing without any offering proof beyond what others of them say without proof), was he once let an article run in his blog by Collin Liddel that made the left freak out. The media likes to refer to it, but few link to it, and fewer offer context to leave it in the dark grey area that it dwells in.
Context: there were some articles written about the Boer genocide in South Africa (where something like 70,000 whites were attacked or driven out of their homes), that were titled and or asking if, "White-Genocide was right?” (in retaliation to past occupation, etc). So Liddel retaliated by writing a hyper-provocative reflection with an article, "Is Black Genocide Right?”
It's definitely racist sounding, and I wouldn't write it or publish it. But if you read the two articles (or other articles Liddel refers to), side-by-side it turns out that in context, it was most likely a parody of the others showing how absurd their positions were, by reflecting their terms and tone, just changing the color of the victims. But that nuance either flies over the heads of those who refer to this article, or they get it and are intentionally misleading their readers. While Spencer/Liddel retracted the article, the news reports pillorying them live on.
That exchange gives an idea of what they were about: mocking the other side, by reflecting their racism back at them (and asking completely racist questions in response), and occasionally the lines between parody and sincerity were too blurry and they get caught in the splatter. This doesn’t make them innocent, they ARE advocates of the cultural separation (by choice, not force), and they’re sincerely being jerks about it. But whether they're likable or not, those claiming they're something they aren't, or omitting context in how they talk about them, are liars (frauds). And I don't like my media to be full of Brian Williams's. The media is doing the same thing to the Alt-Right that they did to the Tea-Party: exaggerating the worst thing said, hatched job editing, and trying to broad brush it to anyone in the organization. While pointing out that not ALL BLM or Occupy supporters are murderers, even if more of them murdered people than alt-righters have.
Since the alt-right is hate-label, it’s also an ideological contagion: if you get near it, you have it. It's kind of a litmus test: you either agree with everything in far-left politically-correct orthodoxy, or you're a blasphemer too:
- Milo Yiannopoulos posted an article explaining what the alt-right was, and bing, he's their spokesman.
- Steve Bannon allowed Milo to publish on Breitbart.com and bam, he caught it and now he's their leader…
- and since Bannon was the Chairmen of Breitbart -- then Brietbart is their publication
- Trump hired Bannon to run his campaign, and thud, now Trump is alt-right too (despite him having many left of center views).
- For writing this, without absolutely disavowing everything to do with the right (mainstream or alternative), I'm probably a carrier.
- Heck, you are too, if you don’t immediately call me names publicly (in the name of tolerance), take a scalding hot shower, and delete your browser history of having ever read this.
While that's slightly overstated for effect, and some of those guys named above do sympathize or support a few of the alt-right causes (in degrees, and aren't mainstream right), the truth is the left is culturally challenged by nuance. If we judged by the Democrats by the same standards, then everyone to the left of Lyndon LaRouche or Pat Robertson is automatically a Fascist or Marxist -- but if you say that, they get testy and claim you're using offensive hyperbole and hate-labels, unlike what they are doing when they say “alt-right".
The point is that most people the media calls alt-right, aren't alt-right. In that they don't associate themselves with the alt-right, and the alt-right probably wouldn't associate them with the movement, just with being slightly less hostile to them or the truth, than the general media.
You can read more on these guys (or me through this entire site) and decide for yourself whether they're alt-right or not. But I feel like the media is once again failing my litmus tests for intellectual curiosity, truth and accuracy.
Clinton and the rise of the Alt-Right
About August 2016 this new phenom had started, where if you mentioned or criticized anything that triggered the left (or far left), or brought up any of Hillary Clinton's checkered past (or present), suddenly trolls would cry in unison, "you're one of those alt-right nut jobs”. I was thinking, "what is that?" Despite the movement being a few years old in dark corners, I'd never heard of it. And I asked around and none of my libertarian, conservative or republican friends really knew much about it either. (We'd casually heard the slur in passing, but it was suddenly mainstream).
So I did my usual: I started researching. And it gets a little confusing because like many terms, “alt-right” is overloaded (it means more than one thing) and there are a few starting points in the history, no overarching philosophy or rules, and many factions/personalities. The timing of all the progressive sources crying out in unison, hinted strongly at a coordinated attack, coincidentally aligned by the Clinton campaigns assault on Steve Bannon's appointment as Trump's Campaign Chair.
It was like Obama and the birther movement, while the concepts might have existed before in the primordial ooze of obscure conspiracies, it took the Clinton slander-machine (and their water-carriers in the MSM) to popularize and mainstream it. The term exploded from obscurity to pop-culture after multiple simultaneous hit pieces in all the George Soros funded propaganda sites and Hillary Campaign fronts (ThinkProgress, the Atlantic, MediaMatters, HuffPo). Steve Bannon guy at Breitbart was their leader, and Bannon was Trump's Carl Rove, thus, Trump and supporters were all alt-right: you're alt-right, he's alt-right, everyone is alt-right. And white “alt-right” just meant, "not mainstream right” to the right wing, it meant "Neo-Nazi's and sympathizers" to the left. Next thing you know, they'll be calling everyone communists, like they did back in the 1930's with their blacklists.
Nobody heard of it before her campaign popularized it, but mention that to any lefty and they'll call you an idiot conspiracy theorist: just because she and her staff spoon fed it to the media for 6 months (and that's when it became popular vernacular) doesn't mean she had anything to do with it.
So when the mainstream right uses "alt-right", it’s used as a litmus test for being straight-laced conservative, and the alt-right is failing and behaving like caustic popular lefties like Sarah Silverman, Bill Maher, Amy Schumer, Janeane Garofalo, Jon Steward, Lena Dunham, Rosie O’Donnell, Al Franken, Rosanne Barr, Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, or the cast of Hamilton and so on. Who all get a pass for being as abrasive by hiding behind the skirt of “fame” or “it’s just comedy”.
When Alt-Right is used by the left/Press as a hate label, it means “not one of us”. (Which is the most vile thing in hard-core leftist collectivism). Since you disagree with them, you must be evil and everything they detest: racist, bigot, misogynist, gay-hating, mansplaining poopie-breath. Never mind that there’s scant evidence for most of that (insensitive isn’t racist, etc), and usually there’s as much or more evidence of worse behavior from their side. They just can’t fathom that the other side might disagree with them, and NOT be haters.
I'm still not sure if even the worst offenders in the alt-right are racists, or just mocking the other side playing them. But I do know if we're objectively comparing racists by party, the Dems still have the Repubs beat, even if we considered the Alt-Right part of the Republicans. You just have to scan the forums or Facebook pages of groups like BLM/Black Lives Matter, New Black Panthers, Occupy Everything, La Raza, anti-Christians, BDS, and so on. Which isn't trying to defend the Republicans, or diminish their uncommon bigots. It's just to point out that if that really matters to the left, they could do a lot more good by scrubbing their own ranks than just pointing fingers at the other side. But the left/media is nose-blind to their own flaws: and they don’t get the irony.
So you can almost tell more about the person using the term “alt-right", than the person the term is used on. They’re often left or mainstream multiculturalists, with a penchant for the politically correct and changing the status quo in only ways accepted by the rules as defined by the left. Because of the alt-right provocative nature, many question whether the alt-right is even a serious movement at all -- rather than just an alternative way to express traditionally conservative beliefs (using the left’s techniques against it, or just mocking them and the media). It’s almost a mean-girls clique of conservative bomb throwers pissing off liberals.
When Ronald Reagan won in a landslide, the far left media had a hissy fit second guessing every appointment, and did everything they could to sensationalize him as the return of the KKK (which was made up entirely of Democrats, BTW), and how awful all his choices were, and tried to tar and feather and associate him with everything bad. Trump, and anyone close to him, are getting the same treatment.
❝ "I am scared that if Ronald Reagan gets in office, we are going to see more of the Ku Klux Klan and a resurgence of the Nazi Party." ❞
If you want to see how stupid MSNBC and the media can be, MSNBC did a serious special report on the topic of Kek, to explain why everyone should fear Kek (and Kekistan) for their alt-left viewers. (This is equivalent to the Pope getting upset about the FSM). They don't seem to understand, or are completely unable to articulate, that the alt-right exists to mock the SJW and Snowflakes (that are not dogwhistles for blacks and Jews -- but is straight-talk for those who are overly politically correct and need to hide in their safe spaces).
The left has their Flying Spaghetti Monster, to symbolize mocking religion. And the alt-right has Kek and Pepe to mock the left's religion of political correctness. Hence green instead of Red, on the background of something that looks like the inverse Nazi flag, and so on. (The symbolism is "we're the opposite of what you are", "and what you claim we are"). They're trolling the media, and the most gullible is buying in and misinforming their viewers. And that's just fueling the hippies against the man... er, I mean the Kekistani's against the Normies.
That's not to excuse the trolls. They're like Sinead O'conner, or Bill Maher trashing the pope/religion. Or more like Stephen Colbert trolling the other side, by being them in caricature. Whatever. But have some perspective on what it's about and don't miseducate your base more than they are. When the establishment is running around creating safe spaces in schools and creating racism to stop racism (like BLM) -- the anti-establishment is going to mock everything they hold dear. They hate Trump, well then, they're going to wear MAGA hats. It isn't rocket surgery.