In a time of rising authoritarianism, it's understandable that New York Magazine contributors 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 their reminder in the last issue that a dangerous "alt-left" is alive and well is misguided.
Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jean-Luch Melenchon, all cited as examples of this force are figures with a real popular base campaigning around a social-democratic program in favor of basic 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 the politics that can win over tens of millions of people who feel like politics hasn't been working for them and might otherwise be won over to the populist right.
Workers across the developed world have been left behind by decades of corporate-led globalization. They've seen their wages stagnate and their work become more precarious. Agree or not with its prescription, socialists propose a clear remedy to this problem: a politics that doesn’t reject diversity and progress, but makes sure that no one is left behind. People are angry. I’m glad the Left is speaking to that anger, but I refuse to be believe that makes us equivalent to those who would use that anger to stoke racism and xenophobia.
The “alt-left,” as defined by New York Magazine, looks increasingly like modernity’s only hope.
Created May 27, 2017 - Listed