Thursday, 11 May 2017

What the Hell Happened to Samizdat Chronicles?

Q: What the hell happened to Samizdat Chronicles?
A: Samizdat Chronicles is now The Alternative Left on blogger.  

Q: Why?
A: To make it easier to find, to make it among the search results when "alt left" or "alternative left" is entered into a search engine.  Ultimately, so that it's the Alt-Left itself that defines itself, since there's a lot of confusion in the media about exactly what the Alt-Left is.

Q: So what's changed?
A: The appearance.  The layout.

Q: What's stayed the same?
A: The content and the author's towering intellect. <grin>  I'd also like to bring additional writers on board, and eventually turn this blog into a sort of news and opinion forum for people with alt-left points of view.  Hard as this may be to believe, I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Q: You're not?  Who the hell are you, anyway?
A: I get that all the time. <laughs>  My friends know who I am.  It's not hard to figure out.  I came to the Alt-Left in the spring of 2016.  I started the page Alternative Left on Facebook in April of 2016, and launched this blog and its accompanying YouTube channel around the same time.  Plus, I've been in other forums and media that host Alt-Left views.  I blog under the names Agent Commie and Ernest Everhard - if you don't know, he was the main protagonist in Jack London's classic dystopian novel, The Iron Heel.  Think of that book as a Marxist mirror image of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.  Ernest Everhard is to historical materialism what John Galt was to objectivism, just without the huge long author filibuster.  

Q: Is the Alt-Left Marxist?
A: Some Alt-Leftists are.  A good way to think of the Alt-Left is in contrast to the Alt-Right.  If the Alt-Right are race realists, the Alt-Left are class realists.  Meaning that we accept that class differences are real.  

This means that capitalism is a very different system for people who must sell their labor power for a wage in order to survive than it is for people who own capital, meaning productive assets, or shares thereof.  The evidence for this is that since neoliberal globalization triumphed in the 1980s and 90s, incomes and wealth have grown vastly more for high income earners and people with high levels of net worth.  For the middle and working classes, it's been stagnation or decline.  

Most people on the Alt-Left are not full fledged Marxists or communists, though.  The majority favor classic social democracy - a reinvigorated social safety net and regulatory system, modern monetary theory, universal single payer health care, stuff like that.   The Alt-Left was energized quite a bit by Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential bid.  Though he did not win the Democratic Nomination, he showed that there was measurable public support for a candidate running on an economically progressive platform and who even referred to himself as a democratic socialist.  In America.  Imagine that.

Q: This sounds like the Old Left.  Is that what the Alt-Left is?
A: Kind of.  The Alt-Left's ultimate aim is to push back against neoliberal dominance in political, economic and social spheres.  This puts the Alt-Left outside the mainstream of center left politics, which has almost completely capitulated to the right wing in economic philosophy, especially since the collapse of communism and the waning of organized labor in the wake of neoliberal globalization.  Replacing social democratic economics as the centerpiece of center leftism has been postmodern identity politics and cultural issues.  Terms such as "political correctness", "social justice warrior" and "regressive left" describe a world view and its adherents that attributes power and privilege to race and gender rather than class that has become hegemonic in academia and from there has spread into other cultural spheres.  The Alt-Left thinks this has been very harmful.

Q: The Alt-Left claims to be against identity politics.  Do you deny the existence of discrimination against women, people of color and other marginalized groups?
A: No.  This idea gets advanced by regressive leftists and SJWs, and it misconstrues what we mean when we say identity politics.  Think of Martin Luther King Jr's dream that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.  This is the ultimate repudiation of identity politics, because it claims that identity should not matter compared to personal character.  This is what most Alt-Leftists favor.

Identity politics means making identity - one's race, gender, sexual orientation or whatever - a determinist characteristic.  Influenced by postmodernism, post-structuralism in philosophy and textual criticism and so on, classical liberal approaches to the issues faced by minorities was pushed back in favor of a more aggressively nationalistic approach. So concepts like white privilege, male privilege and so on were applied in a very sweeping and reductionist way, asserting that all whites/males were sexist and racist.  It was asserted that women and people of color couldn't be racist or sexist because these things were defined as power plus prejudice.  

Particularly alarming were the assertions that speech that offended so called marginalized peoples needed to be curtailed, as a necessary means of creating more inclusive and equal environments.  Academic authorities and mainstream media capitulated to this line of reasoning almost completely without question. So you're seeing more and more no-platforming on college campuses, so called safe spaces, the gross misuse of trigger warnings.  Trigger warnings were supposed to be for PTSD sufferers, and applied to very specific things.  This is gravely troubling for most Alt-Leftists.  

On the other hand, we're equally troubled by the right wing, which seems to be capitalizing on public resentment against leftist identity politics to advance reactionary agendas.  We already see this with Donald Trump in the White House, the rise of the Alt-Right, and so on.    

Q: So the Alt-Left is strongly supportive of free speech?
A: Oh, very much so.  Most of us, anyway.  It is vitally important that a segment of the left stand up and speak out in favor of free speech, because the left is in very real danger of ceding the entire issue to the right.  A whole lot of people were left in political limbo, because they support free speech but don't trust conservatives and libertarians on a host of other issues, economic issues especially.  This is devastating for everybody.  Having to choose between free speech and free expression on the one hand, and protections against corporate excess and abuses on the other is an awful choice to force people to make.

Q: Another Alt-Left site calls itself 'The Left Wing of the Alt-Right' and entertains ideas of race realism.  Is the Alt-Left race realist?
A: Many of the early Alt-Leftists were race realists.  The term was first used by bloggers who had defected, or were offshoots from the Alt-Right.  They advocate race realism alongside liberal politics and leftist economics.  A tough circle to square, if you ask me.  The idea is not favored by most Alt-Leftists I've had dealings with.  The problem with it stems from the difficulties in serving two masters, so to speak.  How can we be class realists while supporting one of the harshest ways of stratifying a society that history has yet seen? 

Personally, I have no interest in or use for claims of vast differences in IQ, for example, across racial lines.  These claims are almost always advanced in the interests of puffing up white nationalist egos and the so called "science" backing up the claim is a legitimizing facade for this.  This has been my experience, at any rate.   But a growing problem has been that more and more alienated white youth are becoming receptive to Alt-Right claims.  On the surface, it's easy to be dismissive of 4chan culture, the preoccupation with meme warfare and cartoon frogs and so on.  But don't underestimate it.  It's tailored quite nicely to its target audience.  

And the regressive left doesn't help matters.  They ceaselessly lecture the young white male on his privilege, when he probably doesn't have it that good.  It goes back to what I mentioned above about class.  The regressive left is class-blind.  That's why they conflate being white male with privilege.  So they blame being white where they should blame power.  They blame being male where they should blame greed.  The descent of the mainstream left into this anti-western civilization, anti-white, anti-male hate cult ends up legitimizing the narratives of the macho and racist Alt-Right.  The two sides feed off one another.

Q: Well, that's just about it.  You mentioned earlier about turning this blog into a broader Alt-Left forum?
A: I think so.  There's a lot of ideas and enthusiasm among Alt-Leftists.  If other Alt-Left thinkers are interested in publishing articles on this forum, I'd be happy to accept submissions.  Email them to me or else indicate in the comments section either here or on Facebook, and if the submission is at all cohesive and the feedback is good, the author can become a regular contributor.  

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