His site, Return of Kings, was at first dedicated to crude misogyny and pick-up advice.

But by 2015, he was ranging further afield in his search for the source of male woe, writing pieces like “The Damaging Effects of Jewish Intellectualism and Activism on Western Culture,” a positive review of an anti-Semitic conspiracy text popular among the alt-right.

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The young people sharing strange, coded frog memes and declaring their commitment to white identity politics on obscure websites remained in the realm of the unserious—or at least the unknowable and weird. ” he shouted, and in response, audience members saluted in unmistakably Nazi style.

Then, last November, The Atlantic published footage of a prominent alt-right provocateur, Richard Spencer, raising a glass to Donald Trump’s election at a conference in Washington, D. The incident made waves—here were young men behaving, in public, like fascists.

But Spencer laughed it off, claiming that the gestures were “ironic.” The methods and meaning of the alt-right were as yet elusive.

It wasn’t until the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that the alt-right took on a form that most Americans could finally grasp as a real, and unambiguous, political movement.

Could it be that these “ironic” young men had meant what they were saying all along?

To answer this question—and to comprehend the powerful and unexpected effect Charlottesville is having on the alt-right itself—we need to understand what the movement is, and what it is not.

Initially, at least, taking the red pill was more closely associated with antifeminist and men’s-rights forums like Reddit’s /r/The Red Pill, which launched in 2012, than with the nativist or racist corners of the online right.