George Hawley


On his book Making Sense of the Alt-Right

Cover Interview of November 06, 2017


I could probably sell more books if I believed and could make the case that the Alt-Right represents an existential threat to our political order, and that I have an infallible plan that will stop the movement in its tracks. Neither of those things are true.

My aspirations for the book are rather limited. I cannot claim to have a ten-point plan that will forever defeat the Alt-Right. Such a plan may not even be necessary; the tremendous infighting within the Alt-Right, which increased substantially after the recent rally in Charlottesville, VA (which ended with dozens of injuries and one death), may actually cause the movement to crack up on its own. My goal is to provide some conceptual clarity to an emotionally charged topic. Everyone is better served by having accurate information. I hope I provided that.

Thinking long term, I hope this book will be useful to future historians who want to make sense of this disconcerting period of American life. Much of the online material I read and people I corresponded with may not be accessible for very much longer. Many of the people I interviewed relied on pseudonyms (even I am unsure of their real identities), and should they abandon the Alt-Right, there will be no way to reach them. Similarly, there has been an aggressive push recently to deny the Alt-Right access to various online platforms. A number of major Alt-Right websites have already been shut down, and I suspect more online de-platforming is on its way. Although the book has only been out a few weeks, many of my citations are to URLs that no longer go anywhere, and can only be accessed via cumbersome online archives. As time goes on, and people look back on this era for lessons for the future, I hope this book provides a useful starting point. Although the Alt-Right itself may not survive as a movement, the ideas that motivate it will remain, and the tactics it honed will be used again. That alone will make this book a useful resource for some time.