The “alt-left” label is simply meant as a slur, a way to associate America’s most consistent foes of oppression and exploitation with those who mean to shred whatever social and civil rights we still have. But it does connote a real style and temperament – a willingness to speak to an anti-establishment mood, to break with “politics as usual” in a far more fundamental way than Trump did.
Of course, in a time of rising authoritarianism, it’s understandable that liberal commentators would be wary of certain forms of anti-establishment populism. The collapse of an unjust order doesn’t mean that something better will take its place. But the political figures often brought up in conjunction with the “alt-left” are far from vengeful internet trolls.
Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon all have wide bases, built through campaigns around a social-democratic program in favor of worker protections, a social safety net, and more popular engagement in the decisions that affect ordinary people’s lives. That’s not extreme politics; it isn’t demagogic politics. It’s politics that can win over tens of millions who feel like politics hasn’t been working for them and might otherwise be won over to the populist right.
Daily Archive: May 18, 2017
Trump and Keith are a natural fit, to the extent that Keith performed at the inauguration concert in January despite not having supported Trump’s candidacy. “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry...
“Dear Paul Berman,
“Like you, I enjoyed our conversation of the other night but I thought it ended uncompleted.” He explained that I should write a self-denunciation in the style of Augustine or Alexander Hamilton.
“Since you already have a column in Tablet, that would be a great place for it to appear.
“It would also be a good career move. Right now, you are best known to the world for having pimped for George Bush’s disastrous war.”
But this sin was going to seem as nothing, compared to the erotic correspondence.
“My guess is that you will end up being known for this anyway, so it would be best for you to put your own self-interested, spin on this….”
He compared me to Norman Podhoretz, the retired editor of Commentary. “I’m sure you know that you already have a lot in common with Podhoretz, who also pimped for right-wing Republican presidents and foolish, destructive wars, and also shared with you a roguish reputation with the ladies. So there’s a useful precedent.
“To be sure, since you raised the issue, I am not threatening you with anything. I just think that the truth has a way of coming out given how interesting people find gossip relating to”—and here he pointed to the frisk in the frisky correspondence. “There’s a whole industry that makes its living off of it, after all.”
This last point seemed to me all too accurate.
A week later came another letter:
“looking forward to your public confession in Tablet. My guess is that this will work out best [he meant “better”] for you than any imaginable alternative.”
Back from Maui with a fresh set.