Alt-right embraces alternative healing

Holistic health and alternative medicine are finding a following among the far right, even if the ethnic and religious origins of these remedies may seem worlds apart from their agenda, according to Holly Folk of Western Washington University. Folk, who presented a paper at the mid-August meeting of the Association for the Sociology of Religion in Montreal attended by RW, finds an “elective affinity” between right wing groups and alternative medicine. In a content analysis of far right organizations and websites, she found that the amount of content devoted to health has increased greatly. Such Internet personalities and groups as Alex Jones and his Infowars site, Mike Adams, and the Edwards Group regularly mix chiropractic and Ayurvedic treatments with conspiracy theories about the government and discussion about UFOs. Other beacons of the “alt-right,” such as the magazine American Renaissance, have so far resisted the turn to alternative health.

The far right’s anti-authoritarian stance also translates into opposition to the medical establishment. Unlike the cultural left’s embrace of holistic health, these sites have a distinct take on alternative health—they reject Chinese remedies while embracing Ayurvedic medicine because of its “Aryan” origins. But there is an unexpected tolerance of diversity, with respectful treatment of such alternative techniques as yoga and reiki. On sites such as Natural News and Fitness Forum there is also an emphasis on masculine vitality and “vitalism,” as seen in the body building treatments. Among women, advice on home birth, child rearing, and anti-vaccination is popular. But even with these differences, both left and right uphold a “spiritual religion though self care…that is not likely to stop anytime soon,” Folk concludes.