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Member since: Sat Sep 15, 2012, 01:49 PM
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Why there is no alt-left

Trump used the term to refer to protesters against racism. There is nothing "alt" about standing up to racism. That is something decent human beings do, and the protesters in Charlottesville put their safety on the line to take a stand against White Supremacy. Heather Heyer lost her life for it, and many others were injured. There is no equivalency between that and the alt-right--who are in fact Nazis and should be referred to as such.

I find it interesting how many people around the internet are simultaneously offended by the term and eager to apply it to themselves. They didn't protest in Charlottesville and haven't tended to identify racism or the rise of fascism as points of concern. Quite the contrary.

I support the call to stop using the term alt-left, largely because it is wildly inaccurate.
Where I disagree with Giordano is in the use of the term "left." People who denounce civil rights activism as centrism and Third Way have lost all rights to call themselves the left.

Trump's comments aside, what commonly has been referred to as "alt-left" or the "dirtbag left" is not left at all. Leftist ideologies, whether oriented toward Marxism or Anarchism, center around the principle of equality, on collective responsibility. The dirtbag left revolves around power and dominance of a privileged minority, who demand Democrats "bend the knee" in submission to them. It eschews class solidarity in favor of political factionalism and demands for power. Nothing about that is leftist. In fact much of what they hold up as "leftist" demands are in fact nationalist.

So why such eagerness to assume the term "alt-left" applies to them? They haven't spent the last several months denouncing the rise of fascism. They've focused their anger toward the Democratic Party. Some make endless excuses for Donald Trump, even now insisting what we are witnessing is nothing new. "Racists are people too," they proclaim. Clinton threatened war toward North Korea too, they insist, equating Trump's bellicose remarks about North Korean were no different from Clinton's statements:
When North Korea conducted a nuclear test in September 2016, she released a statement, if not quite promising “fire and fury,” that did declare: “North Korea’s decision to conduct another nuclear test is outrageous and unacceptable. … This constitutes a direct threat to the United States, and we cannot and will never accept this.”

Exactly the same, for people seeking to normalize the fascist in the White House. They malign Robert Mueller, talk about how the "deep state" is out to get Trump, all in defense of the Nazi in the White House. What about that says leftist?

They call themselves left, I think, because they were once Democrats and they've convinced themselves their contempt for the Democratic Party is because it has moved to the right, even as they go out of their way to legitimize fascism. I submit it is they, and not the party, who have moved to the right. Yet like many who use terms like left and right, I am a child of the Cold War. We, however, are in an entirely different era now, with new political actors, alliances, and issues.

French commentator Yasha Monk has talked about how left vs. right are increasingly obsolete in describing contemporary politics. Divisions, he observes, break down according to nationalism vs. liberal globalism. http://www.npr.org/2017/04/24/525441567/french-presidential-election-serves-as-test-of-liberal-democracy. The linked discussion is in the context of the French election, but is every bit as relevant to our current political standoff.

This is not to say all nationalists are racists or fascists. Of course that isn't the case. But we are increasingly seeing a muddying of left-vs. right, and that may be because those terms are no longer adequate to describe the current state of American political culture.

Demanding uncritical fealty to a media personality

or any other person of wealth and power, even when that person has been revealed to make mistakes on key issues of fact or articulate arguments on behalf of the Kremlin, the GOP, or white nationalists, is not consistent with progressive or democratic values.

No one is infallible. We all make mistakes. That includes your favorite media personalities. That includes people who otherwise make accurate or thoughtful arguments.

It is unlikely that someone can work for a Kremlin propaganda outfit, depend on them for their livelihood, and not be influenced by the organization they work for. Hartman's statements justifying Russian interference in elections in the West demonstrate as much. Remember that Dennis Kucinch was once well regarded among reform-minded Democrats until he became inculcated by Fox News. We have seen great attention to how political representatives are influenced by money. Why should it be different for media personalities, whose careers and wealth depend on the organization that pays their salary?

No one who respects democracy, independent thought, or citizens seeks to cover for factual errors by insisting criticism of said personality is anti-progressive or a sign of disloyalty toward a politician. There is no democratic value that insists the public must relinquish critical thought to the media, any media. Authoritarianism, on the other hand, depends on acquiescence to power. Authoritarian interests entail ensuring the public doesn't think for itself and turns on those who do. Conformity of thought is essential to attacks on the sovereignty of the people.

It is not politicians who protect democracy but the electorate. The best intentioned people in power (whether political or media power) are only as democratic as the public they represent. When a public defers critical thought to media personalities or politicians, they forsake democracy. They abandon the Independence of thought and critical relationship to power that is all that stands between them and authoritarianism.

Who is the genius

That decided a majority of Democratic women are going to turn out to vote for our own reduction to second-class citizenship, greatly increased poverty, and sharp increases in our own death rates?

They can't have forgotten that women are the majority of voters in the Democratic Party, that not one Democrat from dog catcher to Senator holds a seat without our votes. Why would anyone assume they own our votes, that our own lives matter so little to us that we would sit back while they engineer our subjugation?

Pretending any of this is about winning is the most transparent ruse possible. Excuses that a majority of the counties are red and anti-choice might convince someone with a lobotomy, but not many women or our male allies. The majority of districts have been red since the mid-60s, and Democrats controlled congress most of that time. The land mass game is as weak as it gets.

I don't believe for a second that this has a thing to do with winning. Democrats have had anti-choice candidates since Roe, and they had them during the recent electoral losses too. So why the push now? Interesting how people who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Clinton in the GE because she wasn't "progressive" enough have suddenly decided undermining the equal tights of the majority is a winning tactic.

This amateur shit doesn't cut it. The anti-equality crowd is going to have to up its game. And when they are coming up with their next scheme, they should remember that they are up against a segment of the population that doesn't need to exclude the majority from full citizenship to feel adequate.

Never based on substance

Or policy positions, but as is all too common these days, hurling names like corporatist and establishment at at people for the crime of failing to been the knee. And ALL of their targets are women and people of color: Clinton, Harris, Perez, Jaime Harrison, Pelosi, Jim Clyburn and John Lewis.

Notice the uniformity of the script: the same insults; the same arguments; and the exact same language. https://mic.com/articles/183105/democratic-rising-star-kamala-harris-has-a-bernie-sanders-problem#.N9UkCI4yB That she dares to consider a presidential run leads them to make blatantly false claims about her being "anointed." That term arises time and time again. The point is to smear, to engage in character assassination, not based on policy or issues but because she isn't one of them.

It doesn't stop at public figures either. We see entire races of people, the poorest and most marginalized voters, insulted as corporatist or establishment in order to engineer the economic and political dominance of a small, privileged demographic. We see the most cynical evocation of terms like "poverty and economic equality," while they actively argue against positions that seek to address both, only to insist the priority should be on proposals that benefit them and their class. They wont listen to what the poor and marginalized care about. They won't respect their votes. They use them as rhetorical pawns in a quest for power and even greater privilege.

Two examples: Jaime Harrison and Tom Perez. Harrison, head of the S Carolina Dem Party, ran for DNC chair. When he saw was unable to attract enough support to win, he dropped out. They sought his endorsement for their candidate Ellison (a good man who didn't deserve any of this). When Harrison endorsed Perez instead, he was suddenly maligned as a "corporatist." http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/sanders-revolution-resists-dnc-loss-235404 Nothing about him changed from one day to the next, except for his endorsement of Perez. That demonstrated in no uncertain terms that those labels were hurled for purposes that have nothing to do with the influence of capital.

Example two: Tom Perez, whom the OP himself insulted as a corporatist. Imagine, a man born into a poor immigrant family, who worked as a janitor to pay his way through law school and then went to work as a civil rights attorney is a "corporatist." A man who transformed the Civil Rights division of DOJ, who has devoted his entire life to fighting injustice through the law. He was a corporatist? Why? For one reason only. He didn't facilitate one faction's quest for power.

I've had it with the false rhetoric, the craven opportunism, and politics of white male entitlement obfuscated through lingusric exploitation of the lives of the poor and marginalized.

House passes sweeping bank deregulation bill, but where's the outrage?


This was five days ago. We've heard a lot of discussion about Wall Street in those five days, yet none of it has focused on legislative action currently being taken to dismantle existing regulations.

Instead, we are told that the Democratic Party stands in the way of doing something about Wall Street.

Yet the Democratic Party isn't controlling the legislative agenda. There is a current, direct effort to deregulate Wall Street that very likely will succeed. Yet we see absolutely no focus on that, no effort to mobilize progressives or leftists to stop that deregulation? Why?

We see the same dynamic reflected on DU, in which posters express angst over Wall Street and the Democratic Party but can't even bring themselves to respond to a point about the current banking deregulation going on in congress.

I find all of this odd. It would seem to be that if people were concerned about the role of Wall Street in American politics, they would be doing everything they could to stop the GOP's efforts. Yet we hear nothing.

Vanity Fair joins in the effort to silence the Democratic base

by telling Hillary Clinton to go away. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/06/can-hillary-clinton-please-go-quietly-into-the-night

I don't know who the this reporter is, but he doesn't represent me. His determination that issues relating to equal rights are no longer relevant is perfectly fitting in the modern political landscape in which the white bourgeoisie has recast its relative affluence and privilege as "working class." We see an effort to reorient the party away from the single women, people of color, and the working and non-working poor toward the more affluent voters earning over $100k a year that backed Donald Trump.

Clinton's voters by and large lack the privilege and wealth of the sanctimonious reporter. He talks about "feeding the poor out of compassion." Clinton's voters are the poor, the people who need to be fed. Her greatest margin was among voters earning less than $30k, while she also won voters with household incomes under $75k. The demographic that voted for her in the highest numbers were African American women, the base of the Democratic party.

But we know live in a political culture where whiteness and maleness is the prize. Women must slink away, stay silent. African American women, whose incomes are far below the national median, are maligned as the "establishment," the source of oppression for those angry that those women dare to vote in their own interests rather than recognizing that the lives and concerns of the $100k plus a year white male voters matter more.

The author maligns "Onward Together" because he doesn't share the organization's goal of strengthening the Democratic Party. He criticizes Clinton's statements about moving the country forward rather than turning the clock back as vague, ignoring the fact that she had very specific proposals for doing just that when she ran for president but that she is now seeking to support others running for office at all levels. Frank of course ignores all of that and instead tethers to Hillary policies from the Bill Clinton administration, voted into law by politicians who fault a woman who was First Lady at the time rather than accepting responsibility for their own votes. Hillary's policies from her own campaign don't merit a mention because like all women, her sole function is to serve as a vehicle for male power and privilege.

Clearly failure to champion turning the clock back a half century is what makes Clinton the enemy. We live in a world where the goal of making America like the fifties again cuts across the political spectrum. Moving the clock back is precisely what men like TA Frank want because it is the party's failure to elevate their privilege above the rights and lives of the majority that they find so unacceptable.

The effort to silence Clinton, to force her from public space, is an effort to silence the Democratic base, the single women, people of color, and working poor who voted for her. Many of us recognize in the treatment of Hillary what we have experienced in our own lives, which is why many of us took so personally her defeat in November. Trump's victory has emboldened the TA Franks of America, and they now seek to imbue the Democratic party with the values of the Trump era. Hillary's involvement in the public sphere complicates that mission, just as the continued engagement--and votes--of the Democratic base confounds efforts to center the party around the exclusive interests of the already privileged.

Why right vs. left may be relics of the past

I've been struck in recent years by what I see as reactionary views championed as leftist. What constitutes left vs. right is increasingly contested. Some insist the Democratic Party has moved to the right since the 1990s (not in the 1990s but since). I have even seen some who claim to be on the left insist that Trump champions progressive causes. I have to wonder if disagreements about what constitutes Democratic values or left vs. right point to fundamental changes in politics and ideology.

An NPR interview with French academic Yascha Mounk offers some insights.

SHAPIRO: You write in Slate today that the battles of the future will not be fought between leftists and rightists or liberals and conservatives. Rather, you say they will pit the advocates of an open society against the partisans of a closed society and nationalists. Explain what that re-alignment looks like.

MOUNK: You know, whether you're a Democrat or you're a Republican, whether you in France are for the Parti Socialiste or the UMP or Les Republicains would have been decided by your stance on straightforward economic issues. If you want a slightly bigger welfare state, a little bit more redistribution, then you're on the center-left. If you want, you know, more free enterprise and a smaller welfare state, lower taxes, then you're on the center-right.

Now I think there's really coming to be this quite fundamental clash which is nicely encapsulated by Emmanuel Macron on the one side and Marine Le Pen on the other side, between people who believe that globalization is an opportunity but we need international cooperation in order to solve problems like climate change, that we should be open to the world. And people say no, the most important thing is the nation, and that stands in competition with international organizations. It has to close itself off against the world in order to have real power. It has to embrace an ethnic, cultural majority against others. And so this is what you're seeing now.

I'm a little torn about this because if a main political cleavage is between essentially defenders of liberal democracy in the current world order and ones who really want to dismantle it radically, then eventually they will sometimes win elections, and we will get real moments of turmoil like we're seeing now in the United States.

Mounk sees that political shift as extending beyond French politics. It is demonstrated in Brexit, in differences between Trump on one hand and Obama and Hillary Clinton on the other.

I think we may be seeing elements of that divide within the Democratic party, which may explain how what constitutes right or left is now so contested. Those terms may simply not be relevant to what we are currently experiencing. Perhaps we are witnessing conflicts within the party over nationalism vs. liberal globalism? Could the recent calls for understanding of and alliances with Republican voters that some consider to be the working class be part of that phenomenon? Could we be seeing an implicit understanding that left vs. right matters less than opposition to globalism?

The antipathy toward global economic relations is overt, unapologetic. Yet can a nationalist populist impulse succeed without the corresponding nativism that has undergrid its electoral successes in France, the UK, and with Trump in the US? While we don't see the racism and explicit nativism in the current Democratic party that is evident in the National Front and the movement around Trump, we do see a hierarchy of priorities. The horrifying immigration enforcement by the Trump administration has received limited attention in comparison to some other issues. I'm sure that those who think of themselves as on the other side of the party from me could come up with a host of examples of globalist tendencies they find concerning--TPP, etc. The argument following the election that Clinton lost because of inadequate opposition to TPP may also be part of the political see change that Mounk identified.

Perhaps the Democratic party will never resolve the dispute about left vs. right because the current political fissures relate to something different: nationalism vs. globalism, and closed vs. open societies?

Why the sudden urge to move the party right?

Why so anxious to throw the Democratic base under the bus to placate the precious white male Trump voters? Why are so many people running around insisting women need to stop being hysterical and become unified around an anti-choice agenda? That we need to acquiesce to power and privilege under the pretense of "unity" rather than fight for economic and social justice?

Why ignore voter disenfranchisement and continually deny the role of racism in the election--when polling data shows conclusively that race was the most important motivator of Trump voters? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/04/17/racism-motivated-trump-voters-more-than-authoritarianism-or-income-inequality/?utm_term=.771243eec175
Why do we see so many efforts to elevate whiteness, maleness and privilege over equality and economic justice for all? Can't people see there is no economic justice without equal rights? What is complicated about that?

There is no political expediency to promoting anti-choice candidates over those with solid Democratic, liberal voting records. There is no such thing as a progressive opponent of abortion rights, just as there is no such thing as a progressive segregationist.

Americans, even large numbers of Republican voters, overwhelmingly support a woman's right to choose. No amount of slogans about corporate this and that can conceal the fact that working to normalize an agenda that relegates more than half the population to second-class citizenship is reactionary, right-wing, and immoral. No economic justice can be achieved by forcing women and children into greater poverty by abandoning a commitment to reproductive rights. Economic growth for the privileged at the expense of the many isn't justice. It's greater inequality. How can people who claim to be on the left not understand that?

It's one thing to cast a vote in a red state because you have few options. It's another to elevate those conservatives above liberal Democrats.

We have heard for months about how important it is to empathize with and listen to Trump voters, yet those same people refuse to listen to Democrats who raise concerns about equality and justice, or anything else. Why the determination to embrace white male conservatives and the contempt for the Democratic base?

After years of complaints of how establishment Democrats are GOP lite, why do we see this effort to become like the GOP? To cater to white resentment, opposition to equal rights for women, and support for genocidal gun proliferation? Why do we see such disregard for voter disenfranchisement? Why is there so little concern for basic decency, for what it has meant to be a Democrat since the Dixiecrats left? Why the effort to abandon any concern about the rights of the majority in pursuit of the increased wealth of those who already earn substantially more than the rest of Americans? How can anyone claim promotion of bourgeois wealth while disregarding the poor and policies that create poverty is anything but immoral?

Why turn the clock back? Why not work to unite around economic justice for all rather than the accumulation of capital for those who already have more? Why is it that the actual working class has been abandoned for conservative men whose incomes average 2-7x the median wage? I don't understand any of it. Does compassion and principle not matter at all anymore?

I've been told my equal rights just aren't pragmatic

that they have to be abandoned because fighting for them is too "divisive." The GOP controls congress, so we must support politicians who share GOP views on state-control over women's bodies, on relegating us to second-class citizenship. Prioritizing the rights of over half the population just isn't practical.

Never mind the fact that a great majority of the population supports a woman's rights to chose. Never mind the fact that that women, particularly single women with children, already earn significantly less than men. Never mind the fact that without access to reproductive services, women fall into even greater poverty. The MY rights and my life must be sacrificed in pursuit of a version of economic "justice" that excludes the majority of the population.

What really matters is the "white working class," not the people who actually preform the overwhelming share of the low- and middle-wage labor, but white men who already average 2 times the median income and 7 times the median income of African Americans. Their pocket book issues are legitimate. The rest of us just too divisive, impractical.

You want division, follow that path. You want a fissure in the party where one side promotes white privilege and patriarchy while the other fights for economic and social justice for the subaltern, keep it up. Because my rights and those of other historically marginalized groups are not negotiable for me precisely because I believe in equality--not just in terms of rhetoric but in practice, in the lives of women, people of color AND white men. That is not possible without vigorous, unyielding defense of equal rights.

How can one claim to be progressive while being pro-life?

Why would a progressive campaign for someone who is pro-life and sponsored a bill to compel women seeking abortions to view ultrasounds of their fetuses? Why would progressive supporters ignore advocacy for pro-lifers, as though the equal rights of half the population weren't worth their attention?

There was already a long thread on this but many respondents avoided the key issue that concerns me: women's equal rights. Bernie is choosing to spend his time campaigning for a pro-life candidate over and above other Democrats seeking election.

“If you run as a Democrat, you’re a Democrat,” Sanders said. “Some Democrats are progressive, and some Democrats are not.” . . .

Perhaps the strangest thing about this is that Sanders isn't vouching for Ossoff's progressivism even as he's doing so for another Democrat of pretty questionable credentials. That would be Omaha mayoral candidate and former state senator Heath Mello, whom Sanders will campaign with Thursday.

As the Wall Street Journal's Reid J. Epstein and Natalie Andrews note, Mello in 2009 sponsored a bill that would require a woman to look at ultrasound images of her fetus before undergoing an abortion (he still opposes abortion rights). Indeed, it's tough to think of something that progressives would hate more.

Why would progressives ignore ignore that


This is not Bernie derangement syndrome. This is about concern for my equal rights and those of just over half the population of America.

Abortion rights are not a wedge issue. They are fundamental civil rights. They also are directly related to poverty. Women already earn less than men. Single mothers already experience higher rates of poverty. As access to reproductive rights diminish, their poverty increases and with them the children who make up the largest portion of the American poor.

It is not possible to advocate for economic equality without supporting equal rights for women. To do so is to advocate for increased male prosperity at the expense of legal and economic equality for women.

If you truly care about economic equality, if you truly want to move the country forward rather than backward, then you must tell Bernie his support for pro-life candidates, whether Mello or Marcy Capture, is not acceptable. It is not progressive. You might agree with Bernie on every other issue he champions. You might admire him greatly, but he is wrong on this, and as citizens and his supporters you have the obligation to tell him so. Unless . . . you don't actually support women's reproductive rights or consider them of insufficient importance to even voice concern. If that's the case, you should be honest on the subject so that we can know that contemporary progressivism is defined in terms of male prosperity, with women excluded.
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