Muhammad Idrees Ahmad writes: When Donald Trump used the term “alt-left” to deride the anti-fascists in Charlottesville last week, he was adopting a usage that has gained currency among far right ideologues on Fox News. It was Trump’s attempt to draw moral equivalence between the neo-Nazis and the protestors confronting them.
But the protestors in Charlottesville were traditional anti-fascists with a proud history and defined identity – there is nothing “alt” about them. If the label was being misapplied to them, maybe “alt-left” is nothing more than a right-wing media trope to smear progressive activists.
Not quite. Before the right hijacked it, the “alt-left” label was used mainly by progressives to refer to a strain of leftism that sees liberalism rather than fascism as the main enemy. It is distinguished mainly by a reactionary contrarianism, a seething ressentiment, and a conspiracist worldview.
In its preoccupations it is closer to the right: More alarmed by Hillary Clinton winning the primary than by Donald Trump winning the presidency; more concerned with imagined “deep state” conspiracies than with actual Russian subversion of US democracy; eager to prevent a global war no one is contemplating but supportive of a US alliance with Russia for a new “war on terror”.
Like the right it disdains “globalists”, it sees internationalism as liberal frivolity, and its solidarity is confined to repressive regimes overseas.
Though these tendencies have always been a feature of the far left, they were turned into a powerful obstructive force after the last Democratic primary as the “never Hillary” fringe of Bernie Sanders supporters defected to the Green Party (in its worst incarnation under Jill Stein) or chose to sit out the election. Loath to admit mistake, the enablers of Trump now spend their time minimising what he has unleashed. [Continue reading…]