Among the greatest dangers of the current populist moment, manifested in the rise of strong male politicians with little respect for the rule of law, is the emergence of far-right political movements emphasising a militant masculinity dedicated to the restoration of a perceived loss of men's rights and place in society.
At its most extreme, this men's movement is motivating new forms of far-right violence that steer dangerously close to the politically motivated violence we call terrorism.
This past week, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes announced he had resigned from the far-right group after the FBI reportedly categorized it as "an extremist group with ties to white nationalism".
Such dissociation might aid McInnes in his aim to tour Australia, as membership of an extremist group would be a clear reason to deny him a visa.
Anger, anomie, anxiety and alienation
Ideological masculinity seeks to promote a return to a perceived period of male supremacy, now "lost" to women's rights and self-effacing men.
The "new economy", defined by precarious labour and individualised conceptions of the workforce, has left many men effectively stranded. Male manual workers with little education are most likely to lose their jobs through de-industrialisation, while the female-dominated service occupations are growing.
At the same time, women have entered the professions en masse and, with a suite of hard-won protections related to childbirth and child care, are able to reach and hold high level jobs that used to be the birthright of men.
As Guy Standing has noted in The Precariat, anger, anomie, anxiety and alienation have replaced traditional working-class notions of masculinity bound up in self-reliance, strength and the ability to provide for one's family.
The breakdown of traditional work also removed traditional support mechanisms — economic, solidaristic, familial and communal — creating a vacuum that has been filled by identity politics and the politics of victimisation.
Social media is an accelerant, bringing together disparate, often isolated, figures to feed off one another in forums such as Gab, 4Chan and Reddit, the birthplace of movements such as neo-masculinity and the incels.
These groups not only celebrate the forms of bodily masculine disposition traditionally embodied in working-class men, they provide a reason for their marginalisation grounded in "ideological masculinity".
Chillingly reminiscent of Fascist Blackshirts
The greatest threat of the far right however, and their ultimate aim, is the normalisation of the political discourse and rhetoric they employ into the political mainstream.
Groups such as the Proud Boys and English Defence League have a clear paramilitary vision for their organisation, seeking to be accepted by the mainstream political right, thereby legitimising their violence. Most recently, McInnes begged the Republican Party and mainstream political right to "let us scum in".
This is chillingly reminiscent of the National Socialist Brownshirts and Italian Fascist Blackshirts, both of which developed from outlaws to an official arm of law enforcement.
Masculinity is central to the sense of disempowerment driving populism. Any attempt to address the emergence of the new far right must look to the deeper-seated alienation, anxiety and anger motivating many men towards hate and violence.