Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
Dr Marc Tuters (University of Amsterdam) – From Brown to Green Hate: The ‘A. Wyatt Mann’ Pseudonym & the American Alternative Right
Multiple-use pseudonyms have been used as a technique of obfuscation by subaltern social groups from the 18th C anti-capitalist Luddite movement to the 21st C hacker movement Anonymous. By no means, however, do the left have a monopoly on such tactics — as seen with the emergence of the so-called “alt-right” and the seeming reactionary-turn in mid-2010’s anonymous webforum culture. As a lens into this phenomenon, this paper looks at a multiple-use pseudonym that has been embraced by the American alt-right: A. Wyatt Mann. While it is commonly thought to be the pen name of a political cartoonist whose racist images are popular on webforums from the neo-Nazi Stormfront to 4chan’s Politically Incorrect /pol/ board, in actual fact this pseudonym has roots extending back into American white supremacist ‘zine culture.
Based on original empirical research conducted by the University of Amsterdam’s Digital Methods Initiative <https://wiki.digitalmethods.net> and its Open Intelligence Lab <https://oilab.eu>, this paper offers a quantitative analysis of the use of this pseudonym on far-right online encyclopedia sites — focusing particularly on Metapedia <https://en.metapedia.org> and Rightpedia <https://en.rightpedia.info>, where the pseudonym features prominently in articles’ edit histories.
In combination with a brief analysis of its history and use elsewhere on related “vernacular” webforums (in particular on 4chan), the paper offers an analysis of how this pseudonym is used by Anglo-American far-right communities. In showing how this pseudonym has been used for decades, the paper undermines the alt-right’s claims to be a new movement. At the same time, the paper argues that the contemporary use of the A. Wyatt Mann pseudonym in these forums can also be seen alongside that of memes, such as Pepe the Frog.
In contrast to the angry “blood-and-soil” or “brown” rhetoric of an older generation, the tactics analyzed here often seek to infuse the same far-right rhetoric with a newer “edgy” internet style. The hypothesis then is that in this example we can see an instance of how the far-right leverage the style of “the ambivalent internet” in order to leaven their message of hate; an approach which may in turn translate into expanded recruitment and mobilization.