Behind this abbreviation, which sounds like a keyboard shortcut or a punk subgenre, many see merely a euphemism for an old demon well known to the United States: white supremacy. Others see rather a mutant fringe of the extreme right, born and bred in the United States. Here in France, this “alternative right” originates in the French New Right and the hidden Islamophobic Europeans, as well as online discussion forums on this topic.
Under the cover of being against political correctness, the alt-right movement has turned the attention of legions of frustrated young white people to racial theorizing and old-fashioned antifeminism. Whether it is over a reactionary Frankenstein or a media explosion, political commentators have taken a strong interest in this word following the arrival of a plague of frogs (their mascot) on social media, further amplified by Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. The movement came out of the shadows when the billionaire selected Steve Bannon as his campaign director, a man who prides himself on making his network, Breitbart, “the platform for the alt-right.” He was from then on the first strategist of the president-elect. In six months, the alt-right has moved from the depths of the web to the White House.
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Launched in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre and a group of like-minded left-wing intellectuals, Liberation was aimed at the “1968 generation” – those who felt frustrated by the slow pace of social change in France and wanted a paper with an alternative outlook. What started off as a radical chic publication moved closer to the mainstream from the 1980s onwards, and by January 2005, when the banker Edouard de Rothschild became the main shareholder and invested 20m euros (£13m) in the title, the process of counter-revolution seemed complete. A restructuring plan proposed by Rothschild gave rise to protracted and acrimonious battles with staff, and many of Liberation’s most respected journalists left the paper.