The clashes in Charlottesville last weekend over the removal of a monument to Confederate military leader General Robert E. Lee have brought the topic of race screaming back to the forefront of the American mindset, with the question of the day being whether "white nationalism" really exists or if it's just a cover for a neo-Nazi resurgence.
The movement's members are many and it's difficult to specifically define what a "white nationalist" actually is, but the closest to an all-encompassing umbrella description is that they're Caucasians who believe that the US government has been aggressively targeting them by deliberately advancing the interests of racial minority groups at their supposedly collective expense. They point to such policies as "affirmative action", illegal immigration, and their subjective perception that minorities are benefiting more — and in their view, oftentimes unfairly — from social welfare programs to make their case, among many other examples.
The reason why they're linked with neo-Nazis and outright racists is that there's a faction of unclear size and popularity within this movement which is openly fascist and proudly advocates hate speech against racial minorities. The lines between "white nationalism" and neo-Nazis are sometimes blurred because the two groups have several overlapping political causes such as the ones that were earlier mentioned, and it seems to many like neo-Nazis are just a more "radical" version of "white nationalists", or put another way, that "white nationalists" are a more "moderate" version of neo-Nazis.
Of course, many self-identifying "white nationalists" would probably dispute this characterization, arguing that their cause is a reaction to the US' neoliberal socio-economic policies and totally unaffiliated with the neo-Nazis, no matter how much the latter may try to piggyback off of their movement for their own benefit. As for the common Confederate link between them, "white nationalists" by and large herald its states' rights legacy but strongly condemn its racist one, while neo-Nazis expectedly emphasize the racist roots of that entity but also support its states' rights cause.
Although this distinction might be important and appear obvious to each of these two parties, individuals not affiliated with either group might be confused and think that there's essentially no difference between them, which is why it's relevant to discuss this topic in trying to get down to the bottom of whether "white nationalists" and neo-Nazis are the same thing or not.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Tim Kirby, host of "Double Agent" show on Russian news/talk network Tsargrad TV, and David Hungerford, Veteran grassroots activist and self-taught Marxist economist.
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