The alt-right, an abbreviation of alternative right, is a loosely connected white supremacist and white nationalist movement. A largely online phenomenon, the alt-right originated in the United States during the late 2000s before increasing in popularity during the mid-2010s and establishing a presence in other countries, and then declining since 2017. The term is ill-defined, having been used in different ways by alt-right members, media commentators, journalists, and academics. A far-right movement, it rejects mainstream political ideologies such as conservatism and liberalism.
In 2010, the American white nationalist Richard B. Spencer launched The Alternative Right webzine. His "alternative right" was influenced by earlier forms of American white nationalism, as well as paleoconservatism, the Dark Enlightenment, and the Nouvelle Droite. His term was shortened to "alt-right", and popularised by far-right participants of /pol/, the politics board of web forum 4chan. It came to be associated with other white nationalist websites and groups, including Andrew Anglin's Daily Stormer, Brad Griffin's Occidental Dissent, and Matthew Heimbach's Traditionalist Worker Party. Following the 2014 Gamergate controversy, the alt-right made increasing use of trolling and online harassment to raise its profile. In 2015, it attracted broader attention—particularly through coverage on Steve Bannon's Breitbart News—due to alt-right support for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Upon being elected, Trump disavowed the movement. Attempting to move from a web-based to a street-based movement, Spencer and other alt-rightists organized the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which led to violent clashes with counter-demonstrators. The fallout from the rally resulted in a decline of the alt-right.
The alt-right movement espouses the pseudo-scientific idea of biological racism and promotes a form of identity politics in favor of European Americans and white people internationally. Anti-egalitarian, it rejects the liberal democratic basis of U.S. governance, and opposes both the conservative and liberal wings of the country's political mainstream. Many of its members seek to replace the U.S. with a white separatist ethno-state. Some alt-rightists seek to make white nationalism socially respectable, while others, known as the "1488" scene, adopt openly white supremacist and neo-Nazi stances to shock and provoke. Some alt-rightists are antisemitic, promoting a conspiracy theory that there is a Jewish plot to bring about white genocide, although other alt-rightists view most Jews as members of the white race. The alt-right is anti-feminist and intersects with the online manosphere. The alt-right also opposes Islam. The movement distinguished itself from earlier forms of white nationalism through its largely online presence and its heavy use of irony and humor, particularly through the promotion of Internet memes like Pepe the Frog. Individuals aligned with many of the alt-right's ideas, but not its white nationalism, have been termed "alt-lite".
The alt-right's membership is overwhelmingly white and male, attracted to the movement by deteriorating living standards and prospects, anxieties about the social role of white masculinity, and anger at left-wing and non-white forms of identity politics, such as feminism, and Black Lives Matter. Alt-right material has contributed to the radicalization of men responsible for various murders and terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 2014. Critics charge that the term "alt-right" is merely a rebranding of white supremacism.