This is a very important article, the first review of the Alt Left ever written by an actual expert on politics, in this case a Political Science professor. The only problem is that he lives in Poland and he wrote this article in Polish! He seems to support the Alt Left. He discusses both me and Rabbit, but most of the focus is on me. And why not? I am the one who started this whole mess after all.
Here it is translated in the best translation I could do.
Dr Hab. Jarosław Tomasiewicz
For a decade I have criticized the Polish Left for intellectual impotence expressed in the mindless import of foreign designs. CTRL + C, CRTL + V. It is such a vicious circle: the peculiar combination of geopolitical, historical, socioeconomic and cultural factors has left the Left in Poland (aside from some historical exceptions) a lone minority.
The feeling of isolation meant that the Left waited for outside help (“Moscow yesterday, today Brussels”); elevating “brotherly international solidarity” instead of concentrating on the workers at home deepened the alienation of the Left. Where, a hundred years ago, the Left flourished intellectually (Brzozowski, Abramowski, Luxembourg, Kelles-Krauz, Machajski, Hempel – and many, many others), nowadays, after decades of importing foreign ideas and attempting to implant them in Polish culture, the Polish Left has become intellectually sterile. Bringing the Polish Left to the role of translator of external trends, I see not only me – a “very strange figure” as one of the leftwing editors once called me – but also the Left-leaning generals.
But there is no need to repeat myself as my position on this is well-known. On the contrary – I will criticize the Native Left of the Vistula Backwater for remaining unaware of the latest cutting edge Left political programs from our brethren born in the homeland of the World Creative Class, that is, America.
This latest development followed this pattern:
In recent years, the Hipster Left, now pretending to be a Radical Left, has sunk in the warm sun of a Liberal Mainstream now dominated by the geopolitical system. It was safe to fight for progress behind the back of the liberal state – obviously not to seek any pure utopia ostensibly criticized for “errors and distortions”, but it was still considered less evil than the menace of populism.
The Left was kept in check by the “enlightened absolutism” of the European Union and America reasserting itself as as the keystone of the global order under the leadership of the benign Uncle Barack. In this way, a phenomenon characteristic of the final days of empires emerged.
First, the Imperialist Left who finance social reforms in the metropolis of the First World profited from the Developed World’s hegemonic oppression of the periphery – the people in the Third World – and therefore was interested in maintaining the existing oppressive geopolitical order This situation was described well by Bernard Semmel.
Next, the toothless Mainstream Right, centered on maximizing corporate profits, could still attempt to launch a Cultural War but was instead generally pushed into a deeply defensive position due to the increasing domination of culture by the Cultural Left.
Finally, the Far Right was more interested in their hysterical, sensationalist, and conspiratorial media than in the real world .
Until one day a Demon returned from the the past.
An “Alt Right” appeared on the scene. “The Alternative Right”: alternative to the Mainstream Right. The phenomenon is otherwise uneven. This is not a reactionary neoliberal/neoconservative New Right whose last expression was the Tea Party. Alt Right is the rebirth of the hard-core “Old Right” – ethnopolitical, traditionalist, populist – in new postmodernist forms. A unique return to the roots. And it was the Alt Rightists who managed to beat the mainstream left in its own field: to win the support of the workers using non-cultural terms (Thomas Frank was a bit outdated) and economics. Workers from the Core Belt backed protectionism against globalism.
For the Left, who has already forgotten the anti-imperialism that once characterized it, this is a geopolitical earthquake like a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic poles. Suddenly there was no point of support, no reference point. The Left must find himself given the reality of this new situation. We need self-criticism, reorientation, and re-evaluation. Answer the question: What is to be done? The most popular answer is: What we have always done, only moreso. Purge the ranks, dig in their positions.
This is a bourgeois reaction frightened by the status quo. The bureaucracies of the safe zones become the universities and the liberal self-governments of the big cities. Rolling Stone Magazine describes the formation of the anti-Trump coalition . There will be pro-immigrant groups, environmentalists, feminists, sexual minorities, gun control advocates, and interestingly, “true conservatives” (the neoconservatives) who are reluctant to support Trump. Did I miss anyone? Did you notice? One group I failed to mention is the unions. It seems that the Left has insulted the workers. Instead of Democrats meeting with union leaders, Trump meets with them.
However, not all American Leftists are carnal cult members, confident that the repetition of certain rituals will provide them with prosperity. Some believe that the challenge of Alt-Right requires a symmetrical response: to create an alternative to the Left mainstream harkening back to the forgotten foundations of the left. Opponents see the emergence of the Alt-Left phenomenon as a new embodiment of the alliance of extremes, “the place where Pat Buchanan meets Ralph Nader, ” although Alt-Leftists reject any form of cooperation with actual fascists, hardcore racists, and obsessive and conspiratorial anti-Semites. Proponents argue that this is a de facto return to the tradition of the Old Left – “the Left as it was from the Second World War to the counter-culture of the 1960’s.”
This implies first and foremost, the primacy of economics over culture, the primordial basis of superstructure, and a return to the Marxian thesis that “being forms consciousness.” Contempt for the poor and losers in capitalist society is condemned as one of the worst sins of all.
“We will be Left on economic matters [but] more Centrist on culture,” wrote Robert Lindsay, a leading Alt Left thinker.
This approach puts the Alt Left in opposition to both technocratic social democrats that have long since taken up neoliberalism while abandoning the working class on the Right and the “Cultural Left” on the other side of the political spectrum. The Alt-Left sees the Right as simply “traitors to the working class – our class enemies,” according to Lindsay. But it is towards the second group, which the Alt-Left sees as “rootless cosmopolitans,” that the Alt-Left devotes most of its polemical fervor.
Alt Left tolerates the Cultural Left as long as they are relatively quiet about their antagonizing views. The Cultural Left is criticized not for the legitimacy or direction of cultural change but rather for its extremism.
Gay Rights – yes! Gay politics – no! Support and tolerance for biological homosexuals to live their lives as they wish in freedom and happiness. On the other hand, homosexuality should not be exalted or promoted […].
Women’s rights – yes! Women’s politics – no! The Alternative Left supports equity feminism while rejecting the gender feminism of radical feminists who hate men.
According to Alt-Leftists, the “Identity Politics” promoted by the Cultural Left led to the replacement of class struggle with racial and/or sexual conflict. In this view, White people were evil…and anyone who was not White was automatically a saint. This meant not only that all Whites were part of a racist class but that they also all shared collective responsibility and guilt. Let us note that while class membership can be changed relatively easily, race or gender cannot, which makes any antagonism engendered by race or gender insurmountable.
Another aspect of the Alternative Left is internationalism, but here it is understood as anti-imperialism instead of cosmopolitanism. Lindsay emphasizes that the desire of people to have a national, ethnic or religious identity should be seen as a right that can not be interfered with. The result is an acceptance of the multiculturalism of immigrants in the first generation but the promotion of assimilation in the next. On the one hand, extreme patriotism and Western imperialism are also criticized – the Alt Left even singles out Bernie Sanders, as as a “Cold War liberal”. On the other hand, the view that “the West is pure evil” is rejected. The Alt Left detaches itself from both anti-Semitism and Radical Zionism, accepting anti-Zionists but also moderate Zionists.
The American Alt Left has been around for only little over one year (the site Altleft.com appeared in November 2015), and is a small movement made up of a number of different strands or wings.
One of Lindsay’s followers wrote:
Unfortunately, Alt Left attracts a wide variety of weird people, and each one has their own clichéd ideas for what Alt Left should be.
Well, beginnings are always difficult.
Should Poles mimic the Alt Left? No. It is enough to return to our native traditions, a matter-of-fact, homegrown analysis of reality – simply common sense. Swallows can be seen.
Dr Hab. Jarosław Tomasiewicz,.born in 1962, is a political scientist and researcher at the Institute of History of the University of Silesia, a journalist, and an author of a number of books in recent years, Terrorism against Political Violence: An Encyclopedic Outline (2000), Between Fascism and Anarchism: New Ideas for a New Era (2000), New National Democratic Party Groups in the Third Republic (2003), Evil in the Name of Good: The Phenomenon of Political Violence (2009) and National Revolution: The Nationalist Ideas of Social Revolution in the Second Republic (2012), as well as many magazine, newspaper and journal articles. He is a regular contributor to The New Citizen.
New Citizen 13
Publisher: Association of Citizens