What is the “Alt” Left?

What is the “Alt” Left? by Victor David Hanson.

An “Alternative Left” is no longer an “alternate” wing of the Democratic Party or traditional liberalism. It now drives the Democratic Party trajectory.

What are its tenets other than the obvious of addressing man-caused climate change by radically restructuring the American economy, favoring a lead-from-behind stature abroad, and seeing “you didn’t build that” capitalism as parasitic rather than nourishing of American democracy?

Its overarching ideology seems to be a filtered version of campus postmodernism. Therefore the “truth” is simply a pastiche of “stories” or “narratives.” They can gain credence if those with power and influence “privilege” them, in efforts to enhance their own status and clout. “My story” is just as viable as “the truth,” a construct that does not exist in the abstract. …

The Obama victory of 2008 had a profound effect on the Democratic Party, suggesting that the “power” of getting elected twice gave “truth” to Obama’s polarizing brand of organizing groups based on ethnic and racially based grievances, in concert against a supposedly fading and bigoted establishment. …

The Alt-Left largely dismisses the old liberal idea of 1960s Civil Rights. Liberals once promoted integration and the goal of an American melting pot empowered by the time-honored traditions of racially blind integration, assimilation, and intermarriage. The liberal goal once was a common American culture and experience where race became subsidiary. Yet we hear little from liberals any more about non-discrimination and integration. Instead, preference, diversity, and segregated safe spaces become the new discriminatory and reparatory agendas.

The Alt-Left also believes that racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious identity is essential not incidental to character …

Blatant appeals to racial chauvinism such as those of La Raza (“The Race,” a phraseology popularized in Franco’s Spain in imitation of Hitler’s Volk) or “Black Lives Matter” (that went to great lengths to reject counter ecumenical arguments that “All Lives Matter”) are not just tolerated as useful political props, but institutionalized by the Alt Left to the degree that the Obama Justice Department used fines collected from financial institutions to redistribute to such Alt-Left radical identity political groups.

Another tenet is the age-old left wing idea that the noble ends of “fairness” — equality of result, and government mandated redistribution — justify almost any means in obtaining them. At Obama rallies in 2008 and 2016, no conservative goons stormed the assemblies and sprayed mace at the audience; at current Trump gatherings protesters in masks try to incite violence, in order to suggest that mayhem is innate to Trump’s appeal. There were no Inauguration Day obscenity-ridden protests on January 20, 2009. To have adopted such tactics to disrupt an Obama rally would have been “racist.” …

The Alt-Left also does not really believe in free speech, at least as it was calibrated by the New Left of the 1960s that mandated “free speech” zones on campus, wrote academic handbooks outlining the need for protected expression, such as the Yale University’s highly regarded Woodward Report, or, in hippie fashion, equated free speech with advocacy for obscenity and pornography. Reading Mark Twain is hurtful and should be banned, screaming “F—k you to a Yale professor’s face is free speech and to be encouraged. …

A final tenet of the Alt-Left is its ease with Big Money—in rejection of the 1960s leftist notion that small is beautiful, simplicity is revolutionary, and lucre is proof of exploitation and criminality. Today, an inverted orthodoxy is that billionaire grandees from Wall Street to Silicon Valley to Hollywood have been flipped from robber barons to social justice mavens (read they are so wealthy that they are personally exempt from the deleterious ramifications of their own ideology that falls on the poorer and less influential). There is nothing odd about an Alt Left activist consulting his ample stock portfolio, insisting on granite and marble in his kitchen, or preferring Mercedes to Lexus; the old left wing idea that life emulates ideology is passé. …

For now, the Alt Left has crushed its Democratic opposition. Bill and Hillary Clinton have mostly renounced their political positions of the 1990s—from opposition to gay marriage, work requirements for welfare, closed borders and enforcement of existing immigration law to support for more police, tough sentencing, and drug enforcement.

That’s a lot of the change from old left to new left, summed up right there. Another aspect of the same is that the left switched from championing the lower and lower middle classes, to championing identity politics,  importing third world immigrants, and chasing the votes of fringe groups by offering them extra privileges. All to get into power.

The left leadership came from the lower and lower middle classes a century ago, but climbed out thanks to universal education and a meritocracy. By 1990 they despised their roots (“deplorable”) and sought a new route to power.