Alt-Left

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bowser, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Bowser Life is Fatal. Valued Senior Member

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    I ran into the term on a video but have yet to find a clear definition. I would think it possible, that every political leaning has it's extreme.
     
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The "alt-right" is not an extreme - it is the current name of the political faction and media operation that dominates the Republican Party (and has more or less since 1980). It or major subcategories of it have in the past been called "Tea Party", "Dittohead", "Conservative", "Neo-con", "Neo-lib", "Family Values", "Silent Majority", "KKK", and recently "Americans" or "The American People".

    There exists no comparable faction of leftwing politicians, or leftwing media operations of any influence. So your video was not referring to anyone or anything that actually exists.

    Recommendation: Stop paying attention to videos from people who have lied to your face repeatedly in the past.
     
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This strikes me as a rather sweeping and doubtful generalisation. I'm no expert on US politics but it seems to me that neocons, to take one example from your list, are a totally different group from what is now called Alt Right. The neocons were, if I'm not mistaken, concerned with projecting American values internationally by military force. They were very pro-Israeli and in fact a lot of them were Jewish. Alt Right, on the other hand, seems to be borderline antisemitic.

    And saying the Klan and neocons are the same political movement is just ridiculous.

    Lazy generalisation by the Left will make thinking people move to the Right.
     
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Neoconservatives, in that militaristic sense, are dualistic; the underlying philosophy inherited from Leo Strauss observes functional merit in the invention of a mythical dualistic evil if one must in order to unify the society.

    Here's an interesting thing about the American pro-Israeli movement: There is a powerful premillennial dispensationalist influence at play. That is to say, if you consider the alt-right to be borderline anti-Semitic, remember Bill Maher's point about American evangelicals backing Israel, well over a decade ago: "And what they really are, are people who do not want to share the Holy Land, because in the Bible, the Jews have the Holy Land, and when Jesus comes back, the Jews have a part to play, which is, of course, to die."

    See also Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism; I always point people to a 2007 presentation she gave in support of the book when she came through Seattle.

    I have an old bit↗ from the transcript:

    QUESTION: In your opening remarks you alluded to the possibility of the events of the Middle East with the fundamentalists; is there a connection, do you see one?

    GOLDBERG: You mean between the war—between support for the war—?

    QUESTION: (unintelligible) —and the decision to go into Iraq?

    GOLDBERG: Well, I would say this. I—my sense is that as far as George Bush is concerned, I think George Bush does believe God speaks to him, I think that he does have a messianic complex. I still think that his decision to go to war with Iraq had much more to do with wanting to win the midterms, call Democrats pussies, and do something his father hadn't done. But in terms of kind of ginning up support for the war, I think it's important to understand this whole eschatology that really dominates this movement .... It goes by this really snappy name, "premillennial dispensationalism". And it basically holds that—it started in the 1850s and now its come to really dominate evangelical Christianity, and this movement in particular. And it basically holds that before Christ can return, Jews need to return to the Biblical land of Israel. And this is the kind of the theological justification for so much of the really fervent Christian Zionism that you see. So Jews need to return to the Biblical land of Israel. At a certain point, true believers will be raptured up to Heaven .... Once true believers are raptured up to Heaven a series of tribulations will begin, kind of wars, plagues, disasters et cetera. At a certain point, there will be a third world war, centered on Israel. Oh, and I actually forgot a step: there will be a charismatic anti-Christ who will rise, who's often pictured as the Secretary General of the United Nations. And in the Left Behind books, which are, you know, the most popular works of fiction in the United States in the last decade, the seat of the anti-Christ is Baghdad. So, anyway, there'll be this third world war centered on the Biblical site of Meggido, which is another word for "Armageddon"; it's in Israel. And only following that, and the kind of annihilation of, you know, the unbelievers, will Jesus return and establish a thousand years of peace on Earth.

    Premillennial dispensationalism is not something that should be overlooked.

    You might be revising his statement a bit too much ("It or major subcategories of it have in the past been called ...."). The thing is that our American conservative heritage has included certain supremacist ideas from the outset, namely white, male, and reformationist Christian―especially Calvinist and post-Calvinist. In terms of the modern Republican Party, consider for the moment, please, that among Donald Trump's voters are those who wanted the supremacism and those who are, at the very least, okay with it.

    No, that's actually an excuse by people who need to posture their supremacism as some manner of reaction to victimization. What we saw during the Gay Fray was a bloc of Americans who tried to sit, straddle, and tightrope the fence. One version went, approximately: Civil rights, sure, but you're moving too fast. You need to wait to have your civil rights until the people who hate you feel better about you having civil rights. Another went: That person calling himself a Christian said something that you rejected and that means you hate all Christians so now I must absolutely oppose you because you believe all Christians oppose you.

    That latter a lot of conservatives do. One way to explain it is that an accurate reply is still agitating, like the bit about the swamp of crazy↱: Yes, we might tell the boot outlet employee, calling all people from Texas "swamp crazy" is kind of dumb, so why do you do it? That's the thing: She's offended at something she made up in order to be offended.

    Somebody said something stupid; somebody else called it crazy; yet someone else decided that meant all _____ are crazy, and took offense. Oh, poor her, she just must oppose such offense as she just invented.

    No, really, it's an American conservative tradition. And very much important to Donald Trump's election.

    Meanwhile, here's the conundrum: It's not just Trump voters. For decades, Republicans have been pushing the legendary Southern Strategy, and their voters are either on board, or at the very least okay with it: It's not that I'm racist or sexist, they might have said in the eighties, but those black single mother welfare queens shouldn't be allowed to get away with it like that. Like what? They never actually existed.

    I'm telling you: The crack cocaine numbers from the nineties could never be inverted as a matter of black and white; nor could a disaster like the Tulia atrocity have happened to white people at the hands of an uncorroborated black sheriff's deputy with a history of corruption. And that is what conservatives were fine with when voting for "tough on crime" policies.

    And think of it this way: We've got this weird question of identity politics threatening to devour pretty much anyone who touches it, and one of the phrases to watch for is "white working class". Because the thing is that even among working class in general, you don't get right to work laws in Indiana without white working class voters, and you don't get the hardline criminal justice approach to drug addiction thorughout the states without white working class voters. The trade deals everyone hates could not have gone through strictly on bourgeois and petit-bourgeois support; pressure for NAFTA came over union objections with the support of enough white working class voters. That is to say, virtually every factor that plagues white working class voters right now, they or their white working class predecessors voted for. And a lot of it, like criminal justice and anti-union policies, rode a tremendous amount of supremacism.

    And by the nineties, when white working class voters were complaining about opulent benefit packages for public employees, what they were lamenting was real wages keeping up with the times because those workers had a union watching out for them. Meanwhile, real wages stayed flat, and white working class voters backed the politicians and policies over and over again.

    It's not "lazy generalisation" that drives certain people rightward, but, rather, basic ego defense.

    I mean, sure, there are certain equivalent elements on the left, but they aren't exactly empowered. They never are. The Bernie Sanders candidacy is the best showing they've put on in a while, and as plenty of advocates would have reminded during the campaign, he wasn't really all that far out to the left.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Joseph, Alli. "Deep in the heart of TrumpLand — even Texans want our national nightmare to be over". Salon. 30 October 2016. Salon.com. 27 December 2016. http://bit.ly/2fuQcyo

    KUOW. "Michelle Goldberg: The Rise of Christian Nationalism". Speakers' Forum. 18 October 2007. KUOW.org. 27 December 2016. http://bit.ly/1GO3Luv
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    All I mean is that thinking people will not embrace political creeds that cannot justify the claims they make. If the Left fails on this score, people will move somewhere else in their political affiliation, i.e. rightwards, towards - maybe even past - the centre. There is no reason why the "ego" of the individual need come into this.
     
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  9. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    I think that's an over simplification and misunderstanding of human nature. Many people don't need a rational fact based justification. I think you are misreading human nature. Humans aren't always rational. They are often irrational, e.g. Donald Trump. So to pretend humans are rational is a mistake, especially on a macro scale. As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational, we aren't. We are still primarily driven by primal emotions: some more than others.

    The "Alt-Left" is the right wing response to the term "Alt-Right". It implies an equivalence. It's a false equivalence. It attempts to mislead people. It's an all too typical right wing response. It's the old, "but they do it too" justification that never, ever, worked with my mother. But it seems to work for the Alt-Right.

    There are ultra liberals, but they are not in anyway comparable to the Alt-Right. They are smaller, poorly financed, disorganized, and not mainstream. That's not the case with the Alt-Right. The Alt-Right is well organized, well financed, and mainstream. It is on the nation's airwaves, cable channels, and internet. It's ubiquitous. Their play book is Saul Alinsky's, "Rules for Radicals", and they are nothing if not radical. They play to ignorance and our basest emotions, and it works. It worked for Hitler, and it's working for now.

    So for people who aren't brainwashed members of the Alt-Right, we need to recognize what we are dealing with and how the playing field is organized and how the battles are fought, and we too will need to use some of the same tools out of the same toolbox, because those tools work. That's why the Alt-Right uses them. We cannot pretend that we aren't human, because we are. But we have the advantage because we aren't reliant upon dishonesty and deceptions as is the Alt-Right.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    You, er, seem to be saying people are not always rational. And not only that, they are not always rational.

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    I do appreciate that and am by no means claiming otherwise. However if you read the discussion what I am criticising is an implausible lumping together of disparate rightwing movements over time. This is off-putting to those of us (there are actually some) who try to remain rational, rather than tribal, in our political choices.

    I should say I speak as a floating voter who has voted for all three main UK parties at various times and finds himself cut adrift from the UK Conservatives by their current outbreak of narrow-minded Little Englanderism, while the Labour party is run by an absurd throwback to the 1970s.
     
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  11. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Isn't alt short for alternative, rather than ultra? In that usage, it wouldn't be a matter of degree but of direction, of platform content or methodology.
    It doesn't exist in either sense: any political left has been seriously undermined in America since the very beginning: it's an aggressively capitalist nation that grew from cluster of colonies, of which the majority were militantly capitalist and elitist. When the base of the economy is slavery, indentured servitude, land grabs and privateering, the politics won't allow much leeway for the labour force to assert its rights and dues. That single vaunted clause in the preamble needed two hundred years and twenty-odd amendments to mean anything at all. That doesn't sound awfully left-friendly.
     
  12. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    It's a little different in the US. In the US the 70s liberal has gone the way of the Dodo Bird. I think in modern times the US has always been far more conservative than our European brothers and sisters.
     
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Sure I realise that. To us, Obama was a classic centrist, like Blair. But, to stick to my original point, I think it does the Left no favours to lump the Klan in with neocons* and "family values conservatives" and claim they are all manifestations of the same thing as what is now called Alt Right.
    That seems quite preposterous. One is thuggish racism dating from myths propagated at the time of slavery, the second is about muscular enforcement of American exceptionalism in international affairs, and the third is simply small-town religious conservatism. These are plainly quite distinct things.

    * By the way I see the website for the Project for the New American Century has at last been taken down. I used to monitor it from around the time of the Iraq invasion. It froze a few years later, when the stupidity of that exercise had become incontestable, but the site was still live until a couple of years ago. I suppose they did not want to take it down while people might still care enough to notice it and point out the defeat implicit in the act of removing it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  14. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I'd apply the term 'alt-left' to those on the left who are alienated from the leadership of the Democratic party and from the positions on various issues that leadership takes. Bernie Sanders and his supporters represent one variety of that tendency, the remaining campus Marxists and the 'occupy' and 'black lives matter' rioters another.

    Hillary was the ultimate insider, very much the representative of the Democratic party establishment, the antithesis of the 'alt-left'. With her defeat, I expect the 'alt-left' to make a move to take over the party, much as the Corbyn-ites did with the Labour party in Britain.
     
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  15. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    There is no left wing equivalent of the "Alt Right". There are extreme leftists, but that doesn't make them "Alt Left".

    "The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loose group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in the United States. White supremacist Richard Spencer coined the term in 2010 to define a movement centered on white nationalism, and has been accused of doing so to whitewash the negative American connotations against overt racism, white supremacy, and neo-Nazism.[1][2][3][4][5] Spencer has repeatedly quoted from Nazi propaganda and spoken critically of the Jewish people,[5][6] although he has denied being a neo-Nazi; alt-right beliefs have been described as white supremacist,[7][8][9] frequently overlapping with antisemitism and Neo-Nazism,[10][11][12] nativism and Islamophobia,[13][14][15][16][17] antifeminism and homophobia,[10][18][19][20][21]white nationalist, right-wing populism,[22][23] and the neoreactionary movement.[7][24] The concept has further been associated with multiple groups from American nationalists, neo-monarchists, men's rights advocates, and the 2016 campaign of Donald Trump.[13][17][21][23][24][25]

    The term drew considerable media attention and controversy during the 2016 presidential election, particularly after Trump appointed Breitbart News chair Steve Bannon, who has called Breitbart "the platform for the alt-right," CEO of the Trump campaign in August.[26][27] Media attention grew further after the election, particularly when Spencer cried out "Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!" at a post-election celebratory conference near the White House. In response, a number of Spencer's supporters gave the Nazi salute similar to the Sieg Heil chant used at the Nazis' mass rallies. Spencer, who used several Nazi propaganda terms during the meeting, defended the conduct, stating that the Nazi salute was given in a spirit of "irony and exuberance".[28] [29] Following the episode, the style guide of the Associated Press warned the "so-called 'alt-right' movement" is a label "currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists ... It is not well known and the term may exist primarily as a public-relations device to make its supporters' actual beliefs less clear and more acceptable to a broader audience. In the past we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist."[1]" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt-right

    There is no left wing equivalent to the "alt-right". It really is that simple. The "alt-left" is a, "but they did it too" style creation and deception of the American right. Tune into right wing radio on any given day and see what they are saying about the alt-left. They created it; they promulgate it every day. It's just one of the many fictions they peddle every hour of every day.
     
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  16. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    That is interesting. I will watch what happens.

    I read an interesting commentary from Francis Fukayama in which he observed that the US left might have got too preoccupied with what he called identity politics - in effect exhorting the electorate to sympathise with a range of minorities and groups other than themselves.

    If one is a left-inclined member of the intelligentsia, as most successful left of centre politicians are, one can forget that, while for them the causes they espouse are always (rather nobly) about groups other than themselves, in the end the mass of the electorate needs to see that there is something in it for them. To put it crudely, ballocking on about transgender bathrooms is not going to cut it with the average Joe in Detroit, or wherever. I have the feeling that a lot of Democrats will understand that, now. But who knows?

    Our own left in the UK seems preoccupied with the fantasy they go though at intervals that if only the party could be sufficiently leftwing it would succeed at the polls. We badly need a decent Opposition but we won't get one until there is a General Election and Labour fails dismally. That is the only thing that will wake them up to the reality of what voters actually want, I'm afraid. Clem Attlee used to say: "The People's flag is palest pink." They have forgotten that.
     
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  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Make a list of {the people in Trump's administration - look at the names in both lists already, and increasingly so as Trump consolidates his position. (Flynn, Bolton, Bannon, etc) } (edit)

    If you want to make sense of American politics, you have to learn to set claimed ideological or moral stances on the part of post-Reagan Republicans aside. That Party has been taken over by American fascism. Fascists have no moral or ethical principles, and no real use for consistency in political stance.
    No, it isn't. You are treating an aspect of the intellectual wing and a major fraction of the voting base of a dominant political movement as unconnected entities - that is ridiculous.
    Define "thinking people". What you just described is routine behavior among the punditry and media representatives of the Republican Party in the US.
    That's just the regular old Democratic base - not even particularly "left". Nothing new there, nothing extreme - you are talking about centrist Democratic Party political positions familiar in, say, 1965.
    Bernie is a middle of the road Democrat from the middle of the twentieth century. The Occupy and BLM folks are not even all "left" - although some are. But the main difference between all those folks and the "alt right" is that those folks have principles and ideologies and so forth based on history and political analysis, a base in reality to which they are accountable. The "alt-right" has nothing of the kind.

    That is: In your attempt to draw this false equivalence, you must pretend that the "alt-right" is a new and ideologically consistent or coherent group somehow at odds with a supposed Republican establishment. No such situation exists. The "alt right" has no ideology in particular, it is the dominant political faction of the Republican Party in power now, it is just another name for the same pile of ugly we were all supposed to call the "Tea Party a couple of years ago, and it is - as Matt Taibbi and so many others so well established via actual journalism - completely full of shit.
     
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  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Fukuyama's worth reading, but:
    The Republicans have been running on identity politics, almost to the exclusion of anything else, for decades now. The Democrats have been paying too little attention to identity politics, and getting beat accordingly.

    Meanwhile, the canard that the Dems rely too much on "identity politics" is current wingnut code for the Dems pandering to uppity black people who want handouts, supporting affirmative action that discriminates against white men, etc.

    Fukuyama is not on the street. His roots are in the PNAC, years ago, and he still doesn't understand just where he went wrong when he signed on with that crowd. He thinks they were well-intentioned liberals who made ideological or policy errors of thought.

    So he should always be carefully checked against physical reality, and never trusted on matters of practical politics and actual policy. He's a profound thinker, but he has proven to be gullible in his assessments of actual human beings and how they behave.
     
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  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Your political views make little sense to me. I don't see much point in continuing this: it will take ages to bottom out and I'm not sufficiently interested. See you on another thread........
     
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  20. C C "eCCe femina!" --Paunch's pilot Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, the most popular functions which both "alt-right" and "alt-left" seem to be hand-waving at currently is as references to the extremists, eccentrics, ideological contrarians and nonconformists as respectively discriminated on both ends of the spectrum. The proximity of extremist factions (at least) could be spatially represented by the horseshoe. But the lesser ones could also share common properties under generic slots like "oddball", "going against the grain" (of party establishment or mainstream), etc, when the polarizing specifics are stripped away.

    Just as in the case of future handles like "empiricists" and "rationalists" having been pasted onto philosophers of earlier eras, in politics you can retroactively do same. Apply a new expression like "alt-right" to make it sound like "these guys have always been around forever under this term": "The alt-right movement has been around for years but has never been more noticed — or criticized — than it is now..." http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/...tionalist-clinton-breitbart-spencer/94273282/

    Adopting the same underlying template for "alt-left", you can assert groups exist which its usage would likewise lasso both now and retroactively:

    "This got me thinking: is there such thing as an alt left? What would an alt left look like? The simple answer is that there are many alternative left wing perspectives that differ from mainstream liberalism and social democracy. We have anarchists (both of the socialist and primativist varieties), Maoists, Trotskyites, New-Age spiritualism, post-leftism, and God knows what else. An alternative left has existed for decades. Spend a week engrossed in radical politics in any metropolitan area and you would be astounded by the litany of organizations and ideological perspectives you encounter. Last weekend, my daughter and I attended the Anarchist Book Fair in Oakland. Shockingly, those of the anarchist persuasion are inclined towards fragmentation and ideological delineation. If anarchism alone can produce such philosophical variation, one can comfortably say there are many homes for those looking for an alternative to the left wing mainstream." http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2016/05/09/is-there-an-alt-left/

    Before all the reciprocal hubbub of this year, "alt-left" might have been roguishly construed at times as tagging those who follow, dispense, and produce alternative news. Chris Faraone ("And Now a Word From the Alt-Left"): "That makes alternative types like me look good, since we’ve been saying that forever, but it also makes rank-and-file reporters look fraudulent — especially as they now attempt to resume business as usual." http://billmoyers.com/story/now-word-alt-left/

    Any oddballs and radical recusants in that landscape could of course still qualify for membership in presently trending meanings of alt-left, too. List of alternative media (U.S. political left)

    What can be gleaned from all this is that sometimes ambiguous categories and labels are tossed out into the arena before there is even any consensus about what they actually subsume or mean. "Build the roof first and we'll decide which house to put under it later."
     
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  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    My political views are not much in evidence in that post - that Fukuyama is a disenchanted neo-con who joined the PNAC years ago before falling out with their actual behavior is not a view, but an historical fact, for example.

    Compare Fukuyama's ivory tower musings with, say, this:
    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/rural-america-understanding-isnt-problem
     
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    That's not the function of either term.

    The term "alt right" is for deflecting blame. The term "alt left" is for assigning it.

    The term "alt-right" was invented by, and is currently being self-adopted by, the faction involved, as a self re-branding and renaming by an American political faction that more or less has to rename itself every few years, to avoid having its past behavior associated with its current operations. Far from being "contrarian", "eccentric", "extreme", etc, representatives of this faction currently hold major official establishment jobs and enjoy large - almost controlling - influence in the US Federal government (as they did from 2001 - 2009).

    The term "alt left" is being assigned by non-members to some flexibly describable and essentially mythical "group" of people required to exist by the bothsides meme. The bothsides meme is the marketing/propaganda approach currently most favored by the Republican-associated media operations that dominate the major news media in the US.
     
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  23. C C "eCCe femina!" --Paunch's pilot Valued Senior Member

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    [These predictable claims can get in line with all the other ranting, raving political sects proclaiming exclusive rights to a feral _X_ that still has one leg in an urban mythos.
     

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