Die Ästhetik der Alt-Right

Ich hatte am vergangenen Wochenende in meinen RechtsLinks zwei Texte, die ich nochmal einzeln hervorheben will, da sie mir zur Entschlüsselung dieses politischen Clusterfucks ziemlich essenziell erscheinen (und um sie in nachfolgenden Texten besser referenzieren zu können). Der zweite davon ist dieses Paper von M. Ambedkar über die Ästhetik der Alt-Right. (Den ersten Text hatte ich hier verlinkt: 4chan – Ein Schlüssel für den Aufstieg Trumps)

Ambedkar hat mit dem Teil die bislang ausführlichste Dokumentation des Online-Ausdrucks der Neuen Rechten vorgelegt, ich hab' den Text immer noch nicht ganz durch, weil der schlichtweg dermaßen umfassend ist und auch einiges an Vorwissen erfordert (und ich bin bezüglich der Alt-Right und Memes nun nicht grade ahnungslos).

Sehr hilfreich zum Einstieg fand ich seine Aufschlüsselung der Rechten in diesem Graph, deutsche Auswüchse lassen sich hier ebenfalls leicht einordnen (AfD circa bei National Front, Tichy ebenso, Reichsbürger irgendwo bei den Eso-Nazis und vk-kontakte zum „Meme Team“ in die Mitte usw. Vielleicht kann ja jemand, der sich mit den deutschen/europäischen Rechten besser auskennt als ich, die auf einem solchen Graphen einordnen.)

Hier ein Auszug über Memetik, „Esoteric Kekism“ und die Nutzung von Anime-Bildsprache, der relativ kurze Ausschnitt hier sollte klarmachen, wie deep und völlig irre dieses ganze scheiß Rabbit-Hole tatsächlich ist:

This image (fig. r) is from an article entitled Esoteric Kekism, or Kek as a Bodhisattva of Racial Enlightenment on the alt-right blog Atlantic Centurion. Atlantic Centurion is the blog of Lawrence Murray. In jargon-filled posts with eclectic titles including Proverbs of a Xenoskeptic Ethno-Nationalist, Murray blends political philosophy, a didactic narrative of the present, new media theory, and religious mythology into a bizarre brand of cultural criticism. In this article, Murray takes the alt-right’s favorite activity of rapidly accumulating political memes and drafts an understanding of that activity as a sort of religious ritual that can be concretized in images and text. Referring to the already notorious Pepe the Frog meme, Murray asserts that the alt-right has a central deity god, Kek, whose name is derived from a bastardized type-input error of the term “lol”; the letters l and o are next to k and i on the keyboard; the mistyped kik becomes kek through an assimilation of the phonetic form of the typo. Kek is a chaos god whose magical abilities, referred to as meme magic, can be invoked through distributing memes. Through Kek, whatever desire is expressed in the meme—for Trump to be elected, for the UK to vote leave, for WikiLeaks to release more emails, etc.—becomes reality. The alt-right meme warrior praises his/her god with the ubiquitous phrase “Praise Kek”. A number of theorists have written about Kek, with the most effective piece being Tara Isabella Burton’s essay Apocalypse Whatever, in which Burton remarks “it doesn’t matter whether Kek is ‘really’ a chaos god. He might as well be. Likewise, meme magic, to the extent that that it serves as a record of cultural engagement, is real too.”25 Thus, debating whether or not esoteric kekism should be regarded as a legitimate religion is beside the point; in my aesthetic analysis, I am more interested in why Murray invokes Buddhism as the model for his creative endeavor.

In fig. r, we see the repeated motif of Pepe the Frog operating as monks in a Nazi/Buddhist temple. An undead or cyborg-esque SS general is seen in the seated lotus position, in front of three different Buddhist figures, who are in turn all situated in front of a giant shrine to Hitler. The image is notably devoid of color in order to aid the assimilation of the Eastern imagery with its white supremacist implications; color constitutes difference, the desaturation operates as a visual reflection of Murray’s opening assertion that the Buddha was, in fact, white. This kind of historical re-reading is not a new invention; Murray’s whitewashing of Buddhism has historical parallels in the Nazi occultist Maximine Portaz (pseudonymously known as Savitri Devi) who sought to synthesize Nazism with Hinduism (Murray also begins his essay with a reference to Portaz) and in Evola’s fascism which drew heavily from Hindu scripture. Ultimately, the whitewashing and appropriation of Buddhist imagery allows the alt-right to reconcile cultural accomplishments by racial Others with its own ethno-nationalist conviction. It also gives the alt-right a transgressive, exhilarating quality—something that, as Milo Yiannopoulos wrote in his Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right, the alt-right prides itself on.

Of course, on a more rudimentary level, East Asian aesthetics appeal to the tastes of the demography of the alt-right—internet culture and its large constituency of young white male millennials have been fascinated with anime and cyberpunk long before the alt-right existed in its contemporaneous form. In the previous image also pulled from Atlantic Centurion, we see an image of a younger Trump flanked by light-skinned anime girls wearing Make America Great Again caps. Here [pic above], just as rereading the Buddha as an Aryan religious icon became a rhetorical strategy to contextualise reblogging and reposting memes as a religious activity, a sign that lay audiences might associate with Asian (in this case, Japanese) culture actually functions as an endorsement of white supremacy. One attribute of the girls in this image that might not strike the viewer as unorthodox is the figures’ large eyes, which are obviously cartoonishly exaggerated and frankly made to look more European. This is not how anime eyes always looked, as explained in media theorist Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s text Control and Freedom. Chun cites Mary Grigsby, who recounts how “before the Japanese came into contact with Westerners they drew themselves with Asian features. After contact with the West, particularly after World War II and the subsequent reconstruction of Japan under the domination of the United States, they began to depict characteristics that are supposed to be Japanese with Western idealized physical characteristics: round eyes, blonde, red or brown hair, long legs and thin bodies.”27 Thus, we see something that should be contradictory—the representation of a non-European art form should be regarded as degenerate by the alt-right, but it actually becomes a Eurocentric statement; the Westernization of the anime girl is appealing to the alt-right viewer because it represents the perceived successes of Imperial domination, to the extent that a foreign adversary ends up taking care of the whitewashing itself.