Lefties: I Don’t Think We Should Work With the Alt-Right.
So there’s this idea going around that leftists should join with the alt right in advancing news and media that contradicts the mainstream media narratives in order to more efficiently undermine their credibility. That we should not be averse to sharing said media just because it comes from an alt-right source, such as Infowars or Breitbart. (Broken clocks and all that.) That the truth is the truth, whatever the source, and we shouldn’t be so tribal about it.
If you are Caitlin Johnstone, or someone who subscribes to the strategy she has put forward, or someone who is considering it, I would like to address the following directly to you:
This is a terrible idea, and it can only lead to ruin.
Hear me out, please. I’m reaching out not to slap, but to embrace. You’re lefties. The movement needs you. I will not misrepresent your position or cast any aspersions on your character. In fact, I’m going to begin by conceding some points from your supporting arguments:
I concede that it is important to talk across ideological lines. I am all for bringing folks over to our end of the spectrum. It can be, and has been done on an individual level and It’s awesome. I will not advocate for bubbles or echo chambers.
I concede that empathy and compassion are central to any leftist movement, and that it would be detrimental to lose sight of that. Calling someone a Nazi just because they voted for 45 is reductionist and uncool. I will not advocate for broad brush misrepresentations of other human beings in service of any political agenda.
I further concede that, as a tactic, this idea could be effective in its stated goal of damaging msm credibility in the eyes of the masses. The suggestion of a flanking attack is valid in this context. Moreover, I am very strongly in favor of disempowering corporate propaganda. I will not advocate for the status quo.
Lastly, I concede that the truth is, in fact, the truth, regardless of the source. Truthseeking and truthtelling are both noble endeavors which I support unequivocally. I will not advocate for lies or disinformation.
I now present the “However:”
We Will Lose After We Win
My concerns about this revolve around what happens when the stated goal is accomplished. It is my view that the Breitbarts and the Infowars and the Drudge Reports will be much better positioned than we are to fill that vacuum and seize the megaphone. Not only does the left lack media outlets with that level of reach and funding and backup from near-monopolized talk radio, but we will have further strengthened the right wing proporags by the time we get to the point that the giants are falling. Without robust, well funded, popular, and credible left media outlets to counter the alt-right narratives, we have little chance of winning the battle to replace the corporate media, even should we win the battle to impeach it in the eyes of the majority.
Consider the grocery store tabloid. Inside, you will find true, verifiable stories. Of course, the fact that they are in the National Enquirer doesn’t make them false, but these articles do lend credibility to the made up nonsense for which tabloids are known. This is intentional. Simply by their proximity, the factual stories in the margins make it easier to believe the fictional headlines.
Much like the Enquirer, the right wing propaganda outlets operate on a stopped watch principle, wherein they have a handful of verifiable reports they can point to, asserting journalistic integrity. In signal boosting these, although we may be conveying the unvarnished truth regardless of source, we are also fortifying the credibility of the publication as a whole.
This is very dangerous, because while Breitbart and Infowars may be correct twice a day, they still primarily traffic in neofascist, white nationalist, and redpill/mra propaganda. There’s nothing that helps us strategically about lending credibility to that. Even if there was, it could never justify the suffering it would cause our own brothers and sisters who aren’t heterosexual cisgender white males. That alone is a dealbreaker for the vast majority of the left. (including myself.) On top of that, we would be damaging our own credibility with the implicit claim that these outlets are garbage except when they agree with us.
Centrists Hate Leftists More Than Fascists
Another cog in the machinery of the doom I see down this path is Neoliberals. As you’re aware, the left is being constantly and falsely maligned in a variety of ways by the milquetoast center, even as establishment democrats break bread with republicans. They always want to look bipartisan, don’t they? Even when they criticize the right, they’re insufferably congenial about it. When they go after the far right, it tends to be concurrent with pushing their silly horseshoe theory. “Look! They’re all Nazis! Also, the left is just like them! Vote for us!” Hence their branding us Alt-left as soon as some decaf nazis started branding themselves Alt-right.
I believe this is because the center sees the left as a legitimate electoral threat going forward, while they see the right as a useful foil to excuse them from ever doing anything useful. What neoliberals want is not to eliminate fascists, their stated enemies, but to marginalize and discredit the left. They seek to position themselves as the only ones who can stave off autocracy. Based on the narratives they are putting forward, this seems to be their entire electoral strategy.
So in addition to strengthening the right’s credibility while damaging our own, we make it much easier for the neolibs to further discredit us. “Look at the alt left retweeting Infowars! They’re just like the alt right!” “Look at the Bernie Bros citing Breitbart! This proves they’re all racist manbun scumbags who no one should ever listen to!” The cacophony will be orders of magnitude more deafening than what we’ve experienced up to this point.
They won’t have to prove that all, or half, or even a couple hundred of us are on board with this. They need only make the assertions and show a couple examples to lock in the narrative. “The left is as unhinged as the right. Ignore them and leave the nazi fighting to us.” This dynamic kills us in two ways. First, it blunts the initial attack on mainstream media by summarily discrediting anything from the left, while leaving us in an extremely weak position relative to the right should the attack succeed. Second, we will all have to spend most of our time denying that we’re nazi sympathizers instead of pushing our policy proposals. All we wish to accomplish will be lost in the din.
I Mean, Come On, This is the Alt-Right We’re Talking About
I totally don’t trust them at all. Not even a tiny little bit. I can’t believe for a second that there is any alliance they wouldn’t betray. Their ideology calls for the extermination, subjugation, or at the very least segregation of those they deem inferior, which is pretty much everybody who isn’t them. Even if you believe their assertions that they’re just trolling for lulz, they are still using the language of white supremacy to “trigger the sjw’s,” as they like to say. This is no less harmful because they claim to be just kidding. Personally, I don’t believe that they are.
I realize the suggestion is not a coalition per se, but this still applies. Will they boost Left media as we boost Right media? In equal measure, with equal commitment? I know we’re into speculation territory here, but based on history I really think no. Look at Cernovich: He’s already fucked over Ms Johnstone by tweeting this:
I know (and anyone who read those two articles up top knows) that Caitlin Johnstone didn’t suggest any such alliance. Nevertheless, Cernovich damaged her credibility, particularly with the left, by implying that she did. That was not an accident.
They are very good at this, and they will kneecap you at every turn. They will try to break your current ties so that your only ties will be to them. It will be a macrocosm of an abusive relationship performed en masse by occasionally charming sociopaths who, as the saying goes, wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire.
I Won’t Just Naysay Without Offering Alternatives
Let’s end as we began, on positive ground. I really do appreciate your willingness to have read this far, and I hope you find yourself receptive to my concerns. I’m not here to just tear down an idea. I do agree with the goal of discrediting corporate media, and I further submit that we must, must have a replacement for it ready to go when this happens. So, in support of this goal, I humbly suggest we do the following instead:
Always, early and often, discredit corporate media bullshit with reporting from credible left wing media. Signal boost the shit out of credible left wing media, as much as possible, forever. Verifiable facts, primary sources, and arguments solid in their logic and rationality are what we need to counter the propaganda from the right and the center.
Upon noticing truth in right wing media, my suggestion is that we simply cut them out. An article? Let’s look up the primary sources and write one ourselves. A photo or video that has to be credited and only exists in the sphere of Infowars? Let’s add some shade to the attributions. “Video by Alt-Right Activist Mike Cernovich, which we believe to depict actual events despite it being him who held the camera.” A good link tweeted by a kek from a credible source? Let’s link it ourselves instead of retweeting pepe. We can accomplish all the truthseeking and truthtelling to which we aspire without involving the alt right. This way, we further strengthen the left wing media sphere without adding to the legitimacy of the alt-right.
Concurrently, let’s continue to do everything in our power to delegitimize far right agitprop. Remember, when the monopolized infotainment juggernaut does fall, we need to be the ones that fill that vacuum. Back to my tabloid allegory: let’s not promote the “Dog finds its way home after 2 months,” commenting, “oh look this one’s true.” If we link at all, let’s link to the “Batboy” and the “Aliens Meet With President Whoever” commenting “lol wtf is this?” Even better, let’s use verifiable facts, primary sources, and arguments solid in their logic and rationality to debunk that nonsense.
Instead of helping the alt-right, we ought to be undermining them. If they fall before the MSM does, all the better. We’ll be well placed to supplant the status quo. If the MSM goes under first, then our second fight will be with a weakened foe. Because make no mistake: they are not our friends, and they will not hesitate to destroy us as soon as they get what they want out of the deal.
Please, please do not do this. It can only end in tears.