Thursday, November 3, 2016

What Donald Trump and Uncle Bernie Apparently Have in Common

Michael Lumish

"Because something is happening here. But you don't know what it is. Do you, Mister Jones?" - Bob Dylan

Michael Totten has an exceedingly interesting article (Hat Tip to Sar Shalom) published at City Journal entitled, Children of the Revolution: the Rise of the alt-Left.

The alt-Left?

It was only about a quarter past last Tuesday that I started hearing about some great new enemy-of-all-humanity called the "alt-Right."

Now we also have the "alt-Left"?

The alt-Right

My initial assumption was that the so-called alt-Right fills the same political role as Emmanuel Goldstein in George Orwell's classic 1984. That is, my assumption was that the Hillary campaign, along with the Democratic Party, blew life into the image of a dying enemy for political reasons. 

By stitching together various largely irrelevant and fading hard-right tendencies into a single menacing whole, Hillary and her supporters could point the trembling finger of blame at Trump (for racism, sexism, and homophobia) in order to rally the troops around a common enemy.

There is nothing particularly abnormal in this. It's just politics, as usual, but I did not think that the so-called alt-Right had much reality to it. There are, of course, individual racists, sexists, and homophobes in the US, but compared to much of the rest of the world, the United States is a regular civil rights Shangri-la. 

Totten's argument, however, is that if something called the "alt-Right" gathered around the Trump campaign, so something called the "alt-Left" gathered around the Sanders campaign. He describes the alt-Right as a "ragtag crew of white nationalists, xenophobes, anti-Semites, Muslim-haters, neo-Confederates and “birthers.”"

Now, that is definitely a Mötley Crüe of haters to hate upon. He left out homophobes and misogynists. I am sure, nonetheless, that Totten would include them in the ugly crowd.

I am not certain what he would do with anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, anti-Zoroastrian, anti-everything-non-Muslim, Jihadi Bigots. I guess they would have to get docketed onto the alt-Left, though.

The alt-Left and Hillary

Among the alt-Left, Totten finds "assorted Marxists, 'safe-space' activists, cop-haters, anti-Zionists, anti-vaxxers, and blame-America-firsters." (What is an "anti-vaxxer," you may ask? Well, you're just going to have to look it up, as I did.) In any case, while the semi-mythical alt-Left does not seem quite as devoted to sheer hatred as does the semi-mythical alt-Right, it nonetheless has more than its fair share of hate mongers. The anti-Zionists, after all, are veiled anti-Semites and the alt-Left despises white people... for being racist. They are so opposed to racism that students at UCAL, Berkeley, refused to even allow white people through the main gates of the university just a few days ago.

They even dislike some black people for not being "authentically black," whatever that means, exactly.

Thus, "Sanders and Trump are flip sides of the same populist coin." According to Totten:
Both promised to kick over the garbage cans in Washington. Both railed against money in politics. Both claimed that immigration depresses working-class wages. Isolationists in economics and in war, they bucked mainstream Republicanism and Clintonism. And, as Troy Campbell put it in Politico earlier this year, they are both “enabling dissenters” who have “legitimized for discussion ‘fringe beliefs’ that millions of Americans beforehand had been unsure of or too shy to fully embrace, but nonetheless felt strongly about.”" 
But where does Hillary fit in with all this?

Totten argues - and who would disagree? - that Hillary represents the status quo. It must be understood, however, that this "status quo" is trending Left, not Right.

Since 2008, the political status quo in the United States has moved toward Brussels and Angela Merkel, not toward Main Street and Pat Buchanan. It is moving toward what some are calling a "global elitist" perspective characterized by open borders, non-democratic centralized authority in foreign capitals, and mass Muslim immigration from North Africa and the Middle East into the West, particularly Europe.

This, I would argue, is very much a political trend that comes out of the western-left and that incorporates Totten's "alt-Left" within it.

Whatever else the alt-Left might be, it definitely has its share of young people.

Totten tells us:
According to an exhaustive report by political scientists Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk in the Journal of Democracy, young people today are considerably more authoritarian and antidemocratic by attitude and temperament than any other generational cohort, especially baby boomers. Only 30 percent think that it’s “essential” to live in a country with a democratic system of government, and a terrifying 24 percent actually think that a democratic system of government is a bad thing. Only 32 percent of millennials think that it’s “absolutely essential” that “civil rights protect people’s liberty.” According to a Pew Research Center report, 40 percent of millennials want the government to ban “offensive” speech.
If this is true, it means that young college activists are not committed to the ideals of social justice and universal human rights that animated their radical-activist forebears.
Their contempt for free speech is a stunning reversal of the Free Speech Movement on university campuses in the 1960s led by young boomers who fought hard to topple institutional censorship. Many of today’s young adults, by contrast, want to impose institutional censorship—not just on college campuses but across the nation.
And what could possibly be more "progressive" than that?


  1. My assumption is that anti-vaxxers are those "science embracing" progressives (I know a few) that believe, contra all the scientific studies, that vaccines are bad for you.
    I think there is some difference between main street and Pat Buchanan.
    Amazing how one generation and another generation can be so at odds and yet in their own minds think they are carrying on a tradition.

    1. the anti-vaxxers are similar to the transgender ideology believers; it fits The Agenda.

  2. Any POI fans out there? (Person of Interest) There's a great scene with Carl Elias (gangster) and officer Simmons (another gangster); Simmons finally caught and injured in a hospital bed. Elias sitting in a dark corner of the room

    Carl Elias: But you and I are outliers; we're not really a part of civilization. We're something... older. Which means, of course, that we can do the things that civilized people can't. I offered to kill you for Detective Carter many times, and she always said no. She was civilized to the very end. I don't think she liked me. But I liked her very much. You killed her. So now I consider it my responsibility to fix the particular problem that is you, Officer Simmons.
    Officer Patrick Simmons: You really think you're gonna be the one to kill me?
    Carl Elias: [laughing] No. No, my friend is going to kill you. I'm just gonna watch.
    [Elias leans back in his chair as his right-hand man Scarface approaches Simmons with a garrote and proceeds to strangle him to death]

    I think that's what Hillary is, a pre political relic from the Renaissance. I think the alt-anything is an attempt to put upper and lower limits on that. Some way to put rational civilized boundaries on that which is fundamentally uncivilized. When we start talking about fringes that are 'sort of' acceptable or 'partially' not insane we've reached a point of pre or post politics where the standards we think we understand no longer apply.

    I peel away at supporters, rabid supporters for either of these candidates and what I find is something ruthless and tribal, chaotic. I have yet to find a Hillary supporter who would not vote for Hillary no matter what. There's no lower bound. One went so far, an uncle in law, an old Jew, who said he'd vote for Hitler before he voted for Trump. And visa versa with other people I know.

    Ok, fair enough. It's only about winning at all costs, ESPECIALLY all costs. Scorched earth, burn down the village, kill the men, rape the women, enslave the children. Mass movements are like that.

    I've seen enough of that in my life to recognize it. I've seen enough child soldiers to know how a crazed mob behaves.

    All I can say is that when the world burns, I'm bringing the s'mores

    1. This puts me to mind a bit of Fritz Perls, the famous gestalt psychologist from the 1960s. He spent a few years living and teaching at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur and during the late 60s he started telling people how he saw the kernels of fascism in the peace and love crowd.

      I think that I am getting almost as cranky as he was!

      I recently told a friend of mine at a party to avoid any political organization with the words "peace" or "justice" in the title because almost always they end up being the most vicious, two-faced political types out there.

  3. Win at all costs? Today they pulled out all the stops. Obama said at a campaign stop that Trump is endorsed by the official newspaper of the KKK. Then he strongly implied that Trump accepted such support. In 2012 the Obama campaign portrayed Mitt Romney as having no redeeming qualities at all and yet I don't remember Romney ever making the point that Obama was supported by the Nation of Islam, a racist and antisemitic hate group. However tenuous Obama's connection to Farrakhan and the boys is, it is stronger than Trump's connection to David Duke. I'm sure David Duke was never celebrated by any church Trump has ever attended. And this is what really upsets me about the left these days, i.e., they are willing to charge anyone and everyone that is a threat to them and their cultural hegemony with racism, and this goes for even those people whom they know in fact are not racists. This relating and reducing of everything in our politics to a question of putative racism shows just how far we have sunk in a country, which, as Mike quite correctly points out is a civil rights shangri-la compared to most countries. We have been heading for stupidville for quite some time and I think we have arrived. Even the President of the United States stooped to a level of indecency and hypocrisy today that is just mind blowing (Sir, have you no decency?). And this is true even if George Will votes for Hillary. What we're getting is a liberalism that is short on liberal, but all stocked up to the sky on ism.

    1. The great irony - among both western-left minority leadership and the Palestinian-Arab leadership - is that if they would simply stop fighting white people and Jews they would open enormous space for the advancement of their own people.

      Any black kid or Latino kid with half a brain can make it in the US if they aren't trained from an early age to despise white authority figures. That is to say, any kid who is culturally free to study in high school, and gets the grades, can go to college despite economic background.

      I'll tell you one thing, man, if I have learned anything in recent years it is a greater appreciation of the US then I ever would have had were it not for the reassertion of political Islam.

      I owe those old Jihadis a debt of gratitude!