Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels used the term lügenpresse to discredit foreign press warnings about the rising Nazi threat. The term (“fake news”) was used to dupe the German public while Hitler plotted the murder of millions. Coined by author Reinhold Anton in Die Lügenpresse (1914) to denote “the lying press” during WW1, it had a brief renaissance in 2014 among the anti-Islam far-right ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident’ (PEGIDA) movement, whose German founder Lutz Bachmann liked to dress up as Adolph Hitler.
Panicky pro-Trump demonstrators revived the term in 2016 as he trailed Clinton by 10-odd points in the polls, and history records that “lying press” would become “fake news”, a term the Thief in Chief claimed as his own invention. “I don’t even use fake anymore,” he said. “I call the fake news now corrupt news because fake isn’t tough enough. And I’m the one that came up with the term—I’m very proud of it, but I think I’m gonna switch it to corrupt news.”
By about 2015, the alt-right had morphed from a bunch of pranksters jerking off to anime into a real political force. Juvenile transgression of Establishment norms for mere lulz ended (for some) when they realised they not only had reach, they had numbers. Because society itself was swinging to the Left (gender politics, BLM, political correctness) these hellraisers swung hard to the Right. A generation with no experience of poverty, racism or war mined the lived horrors of generations past for meme-fodder, shitposting for maximum reaction.
In this light, the alt-right were about as revolutionary as the 1960’s loser who read Kerouac, grew his hair long and moved to San Fancisco. Civil Rights and the Vietnam War gave him something to moan about, but by 1980 he’d had sold out and was working for Big Pharma. Just ask alt-right poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos what it feels like to be irrelevant: “BURN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO THE FUCKING GROUND … Trump’s SCOTUS appointments were pointless. We defended a selfish clown for nothing. I lost everything helping to put Trump in office. My life and career were completely destroyed. Was it worth it? No. I feel utterly betrayed.”
If infantile oppositional defiance was the crucible in which the alt-right was calcinated, then the hard scum left at the bottom of the dish were those we saw storming the Capitol. Lacking the meagre intellect of Yiannopoulos and his ilk, these “1488ers” were just role-playing their wet dream of a Fourth Reich. To see their god-king flee to safety on the Day of the Rope must have been a galling reality-check, but that’s Trump for ya, kids — unworts and all. Maybe it’s time the alt-right woke up to themselves. As Milo knows, he who laughs last laughs loudest.