Prospects for an Alt-Left

Murphy, Elliot
Date Written:  2016-11-29
Publisher:  Counterpunch
Year Published:  2016
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20222

Examining the limitations and issues with prevalent approaches of younger progressives and how a more effective 'alt-left' movement might be formed.



The lessons from this should be clear. If your politics involves associating a group of the electorate with some particular societal evil (e.g. blaming Leave voters for the post-Brexit vote outburst in racist street attacks) then it is unavoidably hollow and directionless, not only because we are all ultimately responsible, but because it results in the exact same sin leftists call out Trump for when he labels Mexicans rapists – it places blame and error on a vulgar stereotype and ignores root causes such as economic injustice. We can either blame working people for the rise of Trump, Farage and other reactionary demagogues, or we can blame the powerful.


In brief, the day that class politics is replaced with privilege-checking is the day left-wing politics lies in its grave. We urgently need an alt-left which reorganises progressive agendas around traditional socialist and anarchist principles and movements but rejects much of the millennial forms of identitarian politics and instead promotes more traditional forms of collective action and direct engagement with existing democratic institutions. I’ve long been an anarchist, but anarchist organisations in Britain have been a total failure and have largely served to divide the left. Indeed, it wasn't until the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader that a substantial part of the British left even considered engaging with traditional parliamentary structures, which many considered too mainstream to be a useful ally in class struggle.

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