Monday, May 15, 2017

Internet, let's be consistent: I'm in the alt-left; neoliberals are the faux-left, "sjws" are the ctrl-left

The problem with terms chosen for their cleverness is their definitions slide like watermelons in the back of a pickup truck and the results can be just as messy. Now that Jacobin's Bhaskar Sundara has spoken (in Why the 'alt-left' will succeed where centrists fail), let's go with his acceptance of a loose grouping:
Commentators like Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott try to break down the movement’s main currents: a handful of randos on Twitter, Glenn Greenwald, Susan Sarandon, Tulsi Gabbard and Cornel West.

Not bad company, if I do say so myself. For Walcott, what we all share is a soft spot for Russia, a kind of “Trumpian” rhetoric that attacks cultural liberalism and a shocking opposition to the “CIA/FBI/NSA alphabet-soup national-security matrix” he so trusts.
Bhaskar's whole piece is worth reading and no longer than a typical Guardian opinion piece, but I'll quote another bit for the lazy:
Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon all have wide bases, built through campaigns around a social-democratic program in favor of worker protections, a social safety net, and more popular engagement in the decisions that affect ordinary people’s lives. That’s not extreme politics; it isn’t demagogic politics. It’s politics that can win over tens of millions who feel like politics hasn’t been working for them and might otherwise be won over to the populist right.

Nor is it blind to issues of identity: for good reason, struggling minority communities consistently support increased federal funding for social welfare and public education. Winning over voters takes organization and outreach, but it is a liberal fantasy to think that black and brown workers don’t care about that “white bro class stuff” like jobs, healthcare and housing.
So who is the alt-left alt to? Bhaskar covers that, too: Effectively, no one. The Democrats have been controlled by neoliberals for decades and we don't have a labor party. I'd say the answer is the alt-left is alt to the faux left, the people who prop up Wall Street while claiming to be "progressive" as the wealth gap grows between the rich and the rest of us.

And then there's that angry group that gets called "sjws" who are defined by their identitarianism but whose politics range from neoliberalism to a very fuzzy socialism. Call them the ctrl-left. Their anger and their authoritarianism makes them the natural counterparts of the alt-right.

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