Oh boy, this could attract the wrong kind of attention – in fact, anything covering chan culture outside of chans attracts attention (and justly so) – but I’m going ahead with this anyway due to the simple reason that I think there has been a slight misunderstanding among quite a number of individuals. That misunderstanding isn’t a logical miss-hap or display of ignorance as such, but often what I observe as exaggeration and/or a simple lack of perspective. We, firstly, must achieve an understanding of two things; two distinct entities: the alternative Right, and the culture of internet imageboards.
To begin with, one needs to understand what the alternative Right is. It’s an umbrella-term, used to group together a mass of politically (and philosophically) “Right-wing” spheres (Right-wing meaning anti-liberal; anti-egalitarian and anti-inclusive as an ultimate outlook). These spheres all differ greatly and include think-tanks, small communities, interconnected blogs and websites, street movements, groups within colleges or universities, et cetera. The alternative Right is a culmination of intellectual-types emerging from all stripes of life in joined dissatisfaction with contemporary Western civilization. Different spheres within the alternative Right have existed for varied amounts of time; the Manosphere and MGTOW movements have only existed – in articulated, self-aware form – for a few years, where something like straight-out nationalism/patriotism has existed for centuries. Various once-separate entities have now, in this modern era, found themselves a common enemy. This enemy is modern progressive liberalism (what I term “the forces in motion,” what neoreactionaries term “the Cathedral,” and so on). What’s key is that the alternative Right – or at least parts of it – pre-existed the internet and information age, and are an outgrowth of largely academic sensibilities at home in journals, universities and governments.
Now… “chan culture.” Emerging almost as soon as the internet became a public phenomenon wherein there was a free market of entertainment, and instant communication between like-minded but far-apart people, the internet became the site of its own unique culture. People using the internet would, on the internet alone, develop a seperate grammar/moral code/way of conducting oneself than that which existed in physical face-to-face interaction. Anonymity was a huge part of developing this alternative behaviour, which in turn created an alternative culture which could only subsist on the internet. A culture free from the social restraints of the physical world, where a new social code could be developed; the internet provided a clean slate where social norms which existed outside of it could be easily disregarded. And that’s exactly what’s happened, not only with various imageboards/textboards/chans, but generally, more “internet experienced” sites like Ebaumsworld, Newgrounds, SomethingAwful, and a plethora of forums, online videogames and chatrooms (most of which have drastically abandoned their older selves by now).
What I keep seeing people refer to as “chan” is in reference to – mostly, but not wholly – the imageboard created in 2003 by Christopher “moot” Poole, 4chan. To be specific, the /pol/ board on 4chan, titled “Politically Incorrect” (previously /new/ for “News”), where there exists (or rather, did exist) a style drawing from the old-internet culture of anonymity and the escape of social norms, and the directing of that into the realm of politics. Of course, the most politically incorrect politicking involves sentiments of an antiliberal, antidemocratic, anti-egalitarian, antimasses bent. One needn’t venture far or for long on such a corner of the net before you’re bombarded with neo-Nazism, antisemitism, various ‘phobias, and other assorted fun and games. That is not to say a place like 4chan’s /pol/ is utterly contrarian for its own sake, but it is free from the taboos and social expectations which would stifle such opinions and expressions in the physical world. Again; the internet has its own culture – which may be confusing for those non-techsavvy weirdos out there – that is distinct from the physical world. Whether or not that is a good thing is irrelevant; it simply is the case and has been for years.
The actual make-up of /pol/, as far as opinions are concerned, is synthetic. There is a body of national socialists, a body of fascists, nationalists, libertarians, communists, anarchists, reactionaries, conservatives, et cetera. There are posters of nearly every stripe – which might confuse those who haven’t spent a massive(ly unhealthy) amount of time on /pol/ – but the only group which is not present (at least not noticeably) is that of a kindly liberal, socially progressive persuasion. The overarching culture is a kind of tongue-in-cheek Hitlarianism which rants as much as it delicately articulates, and, furthermore, professes unending hatred and malice, and at the same time, a huge capacity for loving concern and a nearly obsessive craving for justice and the righting of wrongs. There is, to such a passionate style, a kind of sensible schizophrenia; massive amounts of energy swirling in every direction, every channel and for every purpose; even if two directions are counter-propositional. You’ll find threads endorsing the legalization of pedophilia or prostitution, and at the same time you’ll notice threads calling others to convert to Christianity or get in healthy physical and mental shape, or threads on how to find a good wife, et cetera. You can find, on /pol/, threads decrying the Holocaust and Nazi terror outright, and simultaneously find threads of a much more tempered nature on the same topic.
The hostile and anti-outsider zeitgeist chans tend to envelop themselves with is a survival mechanism so that the site maintains a stable foundational identity. Newcomers are discouraged from posting, from using names, or from essentially breaking the specific unwritten rules which preceded their arrival. You submit, and become another nameless ideologue where the only things which matter are facts, humour and brotherhood-in-anonymity. Occasionally, posters (typically someone answering questions) will use a name and differentiate themselves from the mass. Such a thing is looked down upon when it is abused, and used as a tool to attract attention and form an ego. The distaste for “namefagging” as it’s called is not that the individual is different, but that the individual is basing their differentiation upon an arbitrary label instead of their mental healthiness. I have occasionally used initials (AW) when posting on /pol/, and it can be a helpful tool for people, like myself, who have a presence elsewhere, to maintain that presence in another place so they are then recognized. Most of the time, I do not post under my initials (and I’ve only done it recently after experiencing a streak of success on YouTube), and I would not encourage others to do so unless it is for an explicit purpose besides egotism.
Imageboards such as 4chan and (the superior) 8chan are unique within internet culture due to the popularity of their political spaces. The only other paces on the net where politics is really an energetic force are Reddit, Tumblr and YouTube. The former two are liberal, and due to the ego-centric essences of each site (“Like” systems, for example) they maintain an acceptable, as far as “real life” standards are concerned, standard. They are liberal hubs, and Tumblr itself is notorious for its far-Left mobbiness. YouTube is an interesting beast as on the surface it might appear “normal” (liberal), there is actually a noticeable presence of illiberal comments, channels and personalities. That individuals involved in the Reactosphere can maintain an income off of such a site says enough about its friendliness to out-of-the-box thinking. But, nevertheless, YouTube will never be totally antinormal in the way in which 8chan is, for example. The energy, the swirling vortex of creativity, which exists on 8chan (and other chans) is not capable of being realized anywhere else due to both the make-up of the site in its membership, as well as how the website is organized; constructed. There are, as already mentioned, no “Like” functions; unlike Reddit, posts are by default ordered chronologically instead of by popularity; forming a distinct ego is looked down upon to the point where namefagging can cause other users to filter your posts so anything sent by your I.P. is not seen; and threads are not normally saved or archived before they are pruned (deleted), which forces users to both repeat/reaffirm themselves as well as – and this is of utmost importance – re-evaluate themselves and their views constantly; daily; hourly; by the minute (hence /pol/ is always right).
Hopefully I’ve given the many alternative Right-ers who aren’t familiar with the culture of imageboards a somewhat good picture of the scenario. The brief analysis above really isn’t enough, and the only way to actually see what I’m babbling about is to actually experience it. Be warned, however, simply because there is a good deal of overlap between /pol/ and the alternative Right does not guarantee safe-passage between the two for everyone. The alternative Right is borne out of academia, where /pol/ is borne out of an entirely fresh slate where intellect is important, but humour and a sense of belonging are more so. Of course, the overlap between the two areas is rather prominent. The emergence of The Right Stuff, which was originally formulated on 4chan’s /pol/ (I was present in the first threads), has introduced into the blogosphere the humour of imageboards. We owe terms such as “dindu,” “LARPing,” “cuckservative,” and many more to this neat little website and its influence. The fact that these two areas have overlapped and merged, to a certain degree, shouldn’t be surprising. Where there is academic space, there is room for humour, and where there is humour, there is room for academic sensibility. The key feature of imageboard culture is energy; raw energy which only needs directing, The intellectual structure of the alternative Right has provided a directing framework for the more playful energies existent within individuals in the sphere, who haven’t previously been introduced to imageboard culture, where the emergence, the rearing of the head, of imageboard culture has ignited the spark. It’s a circle.
There are dangers with such a scenario, however. It’s fair to point out that much of the energy existing within the /pol/ substratum of imageboard culture exists as a reaction against the insanity of progressive liberalism and the likes (and rightly so), where the alternative Right has its bedrock in various pre-existent ideologies and traditions such as Traditionalism and Nationalism. Where the alternative Right would critique liberalism from a fixed reference point, for example Evolian Traditionalism, /pol/ simply deconstructs it and declares “It doesn’t work, so let’s try something else.” That “something else” could, depending on who you ask on /pol/ be Fascism, National Socialism, et cetera. But who do you ask? Everyone is Anonymous! Hence there cannot be total overlap between the two; any overlap thus far has existed dialectically, synthetically, a la NRx threads on /pol/ or jokes about “muh six million” in alternative Right-wing podcasts.
Thus, it’s erroneous to say that this is a “chan generation” which is involved in the alternative Right, or that the Reactosphere is full of people who visit 4chan or 8chan (otherwise an excellent article and video). There are of course those who are involved simultaneously in the two – there is overlap, as already said – but these people (myself included) are not the bedrock or the defining spirits of either space. There are distinctions which must be drawn, and the importance of both spaces must be understood. The alternative Right is immensely threatening towards its victims, even if the victims are thus far unaware of the threat approaching them, as it presents (or exposes, brings back to us) doctrines which are logically, spiritually, emotionally and perfectly opposed to the present epoch in complete intellectual, academic serenity. The culture of imageboards, “chan culture,” is a massive threat to its potential victims as it is purely anarchistic in a frighteningly antilogical and sadistic way – or at least the potential exists for it to be so.
The two daggers, one of hard logic, the other of hard energy, are drawn to the throat of the forces in motion, and the latter has no real defence. It’s an amusing game to witness, and I predict that in the future, things will get even more intelligent, more sadistic, more sassy, more humourous and more smart.