Why the ‘alt-left’ will succeed where centrists fail | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian

The “alt-left” label is simply meant as a slur, a way to associate America’s most consistent foes of oppression and exploitation with those who mean to shred whatever social and civil rights we still have. But it does connote a real style and temperament – a willingness to speak to an anti-establishment mood, to break with “politics as usual” in a far more fundamental way than Trump did.

Of course, in a time of rising authoritarianism, it’s understandable that liberal commentators would be wary of certain forms of anti-establishment populism. The collapse of an unjust order doesn’t mean that something better will take its place. But the political figures often brought up in conjunction with the “alt-left” are far from vengeful internet trolls.

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.

From: Why the ‘alt-left’ will succeed where centrists fail | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian

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54 thoughts on “Why the ‘alt-left’ will succeed where centrists fail | Bhaskar Sunkara | Opinion | The Guardian

  1. The problem with centrism is that it isn’t an actual position, much less an ideology. It’s just an accommodation. You can’t really count on a centrist to do any more than just go along to get along.

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    • That is complete BS* that is grounded wholly on a false dichotomy.
      Once you reject the dichotomy, you see there is no “center.”
      In fact, there is no “Right” and no “Left.”

      Those signposts were conjured to describe events that happen, but events that happen are in no way constrained by them.

      ____________________________

      * Of course, I mean “That is complete BS” in the nicest possible way.

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      • I get it.
        It’s not like I haven’t heard it before.
        My problem with this line of reasoning is that it inherently implies that there are exclusively two ways of doing things.
        Not to mention the concepts of fluidity and context.

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        • Well, as someone who’s an political outsider, there does seem to be two broad camps encompassing the “left” and “right”. Those who prefer a different path don’t seem to get much traction.

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          • What you’re talking about there is called “hedging.”
            It’s where the money goes.
            The choice is essentially that of Camels vs. Marlboros.
            It’s a matter of branding.
            Some people even say that Budweiser is their favorite beer. Or Miller.

            Even with flipping a coin, there are three possibilities: Heads, tails, or the edge.
            With something as complex as proposing modifications to social programs, there are bound to be a plethora of options.

            Operatively, within the binary, everything which is not Hivemind is Nonhive.
            To be a Democrat means to hold the same position on a number of issues, the same as all Democrats, while to be a Republican means to be anything other than having the same opinion as everybody else.

            Again, that is descriptive, and in no way limits thoughtlines possible, which are numerous, if not endless, rather than binary.

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            • No, I’m not hedging.

              I’m talking about two political camps, who think the same way, and use similar methods to achieve their goals. One camp just has different goals than the other camp. Then there are individuals/groups who do neither of the above.

              Yes, within each camps the hive-mind exists and all the associated in fighting. Being a republican does NOT mean ” to be anything other than having the same opinion as everybody else” It just means the repub hive-mind operates differently and wants different goals.. If you’d said anarchist or libertarian such, I’d agree.

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  2. This seems to be lumping together three different politicians in three very different environments, none of whom have (yet) actually managed to win a national election, and said that together, somehow, they’re the future.

    It’s not very convincing, no matter the extensive flaws of “centrism”.

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  3. *snorts* Alt-left? It’s not alt-anything, it’s the actual left. And thank agnostic god for it: if anything good comes out of this giant mess the West has gotten itself into with the rise of the neo-fascists, it would the rise of enduring leftism to strike it back down.

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      • Only in your little fantasy world. Real-life fascists have made it very clear where they stand, and it’s on your side the fence, bucko. You can’t pretend your way out of the fact that modern fascists are a creature of the right’s nurturing, any more than I could pretend that the left didn’t produce communism. Own your monsters.

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        • The only real-life fascists are in Venezuela – and Berkeley and Seattle.

          They are closely related to Marxist revisionists and anarcho-syndicalists. To find anarcho-syndicalists, go check IndyMedia. It’s chock full of them.

          Right-wing fascism wouldn’t even make sense. “You! Yes you! I demand that you let me make you have more personal freedom and economic independence, and do whatever the heck you want, or I’ll, I’ll, I’ll.”

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          • “Right-wing fascism wouldn’t even make sense. “You! Yes you! I demand that you let me make you have more personal freedom and economic independence, and do whatever the heck you want, or I’ll, I’ll, I’ll.””

            This sounds like the low y-axis right. The high y-axis authoritarian levels of the right have little problem denying personal freedom and practice authoritarian measures that do not have the interests of economic independence of the individual weighing into account.

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            • But who is in that quadrant. The other day I was watching a documentary on North Korea, and one of the analysts said North Korea was best described as a right-wing fascist state. Really? So Marx is on the right now?

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              • Juche ideology is more a fusion of Japanese Emperor worship and the totalitarian bits of Stalinism. Marx figures very little into it, even more so after the patronage system for communism dried up when the wall fell.

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                • The only took down the giant portraits of Marx and Lenin last year. I can also guarantee that they didn’t add any bit of Japanese emperor worship. They revere and worship their leader, Kim Il Sung, who claimed he led the first big fight against the Japanese (According to Japanese war records, he lied about that).

                  Kim Il Sung is the eternal leader of the Workers Party in a communist state, and Juche is based on socialist Korean self-reliance. Being authoritarian and militaristic doesn’t move him over to the right on the economic axis.

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                  • The Kim dynasty built their ideology back in the 50s with the human resources they had availible to them in Korea. The intellectuals/propogandists they had on to conscript to the task were the left overs of the Japanese regime and they naturally built the ideological justifications for the new regime in the style they’d been accustomed to work. Hence the national greviance ideology of the poor nation victimized by foriegn powers, protected and led by a leader with divine standing.

                    Throw in the Stalinist social structure and that’s the bizarre world of Juche. There’s very little in it that Marx would recognize.

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                    • Probably because their was never much in the world that Marx recognized. He never held a real job and just sat in his basement crafting an elaborate conspiracy theory about what having a job must be like.

                      Also, the Kim’s aren’t a dynasty. Kim Sung Il was the leader because he was the most dynamic, wise, brave, and selfless person in Korea. His son was selected to succeed him because his son, gifted with incredible genetics and raised with his father’s wisdom, was likewise the wisest, surest, and most able person in all of Korea. And now Korea is lead by the grandson, an excellent horseman and warrior who also carries the genes that make him the smartest and most steadfast person in all of Korea.

                      Each was an invincible general totally dedicated to protecting the Korean people from harm. Each was completely selfless and honorable. Each would have been chosen as leader even if there were no family ties.

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          • Do you realize how deranged this sounds? The original Fascists of the 1930s openly described themselves as being on the Right rather than the Left. It was rightest opponents of the New Deal and other forms of liberal social and economic programs. Their post-World War II descendants see themselves as part of the Right and spend a lot of time arguing against Communists and other Marxists as leftist scum.

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            • Mussolini was on the right because his former colleagues in the Italian Socialist Party (who stiffed him out of their leadership position) sat on the left in the Italian Parliament. Mussolini wanted to sit as far away from them as possible.

              Fascism is only on the right on some completely different metric, such as whether socialism should be nationalist or internationalist. Mussolini had been a staunch internationalist socialist until the outbreak of WW-I, and then he had a series of epiphanies that the horror of the war, pursued for nationalist ends, could bring about the proletarian revolution he longed for.

              So he recast the Marxist vision of class struggle as a struggle between exploitive capitalist nations and exploited working class nations, and said the goal wasn’t to overthrow the owner class but to get all classes to unite as one, like a bundle of sticks that are stronger together, to make a strong Italy.

              The workers, owners, managers, and government would work together for common goals. Liberals and progressives poured accolades on him for the next sixteen or so years.

              Then he joined in a pact with German National Socialists to displace the old capitalist order, along with correcting the horrible mistakes of the Bolsheviks. But they lost, bigly. Mussolini was betrayed and fled to northern Italy, where he set up the Italian Socialist Republic. Then he got shot by partisans.

              The rest of the Italian Fascist leaders rebranded themselves and stayed in politics, forming various coalitions over the years.

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        • Facism typically finds its leaders from the right, but not always. There are a few from the left that rise out of the collective. Their degree authoritarian put them even well beyond the national socialist rabble. At the top on the y-axis and far to the left on the x-axis.

          True dominate authoritarian socialists. They make a killing machine of the collective. This is where folks like Stalin are typically found.

          The natural opposition of a leftist facist is a right wing anarchist. People like me really have a strong dislike for those characters.

          How are you liking Trump? Ha, Trump is in the general area of right wing facism. The strange part of his rise and power was that in the right there are authoritarians. Conservatives have a relative large mass of national socialism, makes you wonder why they are on the right eh? Well most of them probably aren’t.

          Trump, being mostly a right wing facist, with a following of a quasi right wing collective is the natural opposition to left wing anarchists. Notice I didn’t include syndacalists which would be higher on the y-axis.

          If I remember correctly you Zac plotted pretty low on the y-axis and to the left, so from that I can probably predict Trump and the collective that lend him authority really disgust you on a ideological level.

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  4. Wow, I couldn’t even get past the first paragraph of that stinker.

    Control Left is a better description. As there is nothing they don’t want to control, from what you read to what you eat, they “know” better than you…

    (Also, a good counter to the Alt Right, at least dialog wise.)

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  5. Will the Guardian stop printing Corbyn fanfic after Labour loses by 20, or is this a thing we’re going to have to live with for a while? At least Melenchon and Sanders beat expectations, even if they couldn’t beat their actual opponents.

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  6. more popular engagement in the decisions that affect ordinary people’s lives.

    This is one of my pet peeves about the ‘we need less capitalism we need more democracy’ gang.

    First of all, we can’t get people to show up for lower level governance elections, where the decisions that actually affect ordinary people’s lives are made.

    Then, when there is a popular engagement process, half the time is taking up by cranks with hobbyhorses.

    And finally, popular engagement leaves you stuff like an 89 page report on whether or not to light a middle school ball field, and no conclusions after 4 years of effort.

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  7. Ah the clowns arrive in force on the lefter fringes. On the plus side they haven’t taken over the left of center parties in most of the world* (yet- god[dess?] forfend) and perhaps this means that the good ol fashioned term liberal can be rehabbed and put back into proper usage.

    *With the dishonorable exception of England.

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