I know what you’re thinking, but no, I don’t mean “Tea Party” in the sense of the happy meal conservative movement that emerged in the early part of the Obama administration. Nor am I referring to anything relating to the Boston Tea Party or the American revolution.
I’m talking about the AltLeft and how for me it has come to resemble the tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972 version of course!) This film was always on HBO in the mid 1980s, even though it came out in the early 70s. I believe the reason they began to re-air it in the 80s was because the star, Fiona Fullerton, had grown up and re-emerged as a Bond girl in “A View to a Kill,” which came out in 1985.
Anyway, when I first got involved with the AltLeft about a year and a half ago, in my mind it was always meant to augment the AltRight, not outright oppose it. It was a way to view and examine the affects of multiculturalism and political correctness from a cultural and economically left lens as well as from a secular and futurist perspective rather than the radical traditionalist, socially conservative one that dominates right wing circles. In other words, recognizing the implicit whiteness that underpins the identities of progressive cities like Seattle or Portland, and asserting that it must become explicit to some degree in order for those places to maintain their culture, aesthetic and quality of life. It was to put forth the idea that someone can be pro-white without the albatross of traditionally conservative culture, pre-modern aesthetics, capitalist economics, or widely accepted republican historical dogma (“the 60s were bad,” “Vietnam draft dodgers were traitors,” “McCarthy was right,” “I hate modern architecture” etc.) If you hang around right wing groups for any period of time, you’ll find they have an assumed historical narrative that informs many of their beliefs. I say “assumed,” because they just take it for granted that everyone who agrees with them one issue such as race also accepts their historical framing of a wide range of other issues, such as economic systems, religious beliefs or aesthetic preferences (just as someone on the “left” might assume that anyone who supports trans rights and raising the minimum wage automatically accepts the idea that racial diversity is always a good thing.) Not everyone buys the package deal.
Unfortunately, the AltLeft has instead attracted a wide range of bizarre characters, each with their own zany ideas about what the AltLeft should represent. Many of them never read any of the original manifestos that I or Robert Lindsay or anyone else wrote or bothered to do any research. They just started using the term like they’d started a new band without checking to see if some other band was already using the name. That would be understandable if this were the pre-internet days, but it seriously only takes like two seconds to Google. Others actually did thoroughly read this site and somehow managed to come to the conclusion their peculiar ideology was compatible with mine, despite it being a complete mystery to me what exactly was the point of agreement. The AltLeft has come to attract all kinds of eccentric personalities, each one adhering to their own pet belief system. Worse than that, many have joined the AltLeft for the purpose of militantly opposing the AltRight, which is something I never intended to do (hence the reason I still use the tagline “the left wing of the AltRight.”) Though I disagree with him on a few ideological points…I happen to support Richard Spencer and I have defended him numerous times when certain squeamish (and often prudish) factions as well as a few prominent figures of the AltRight unsuccessfully tried to throw him under the bus.
So when I interact with other people in the incoherent “movement” known as the AltLeft, it feels a lot like the sitting down at the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. It’s a group of outlandish castouts, contrarians and vagabonds that have little in creatural commonality other than their politically idiosyncratic tendencies and behavioral eccentricities. Part of me finds this demoralizing, wondering why I ever bothered going down this rabbit hole and whether I can just climb out and forget the whole adventure. Yet the other part of me just embraces the gathering of this zany cast of characters for the sheer chaos that it is unleashed, as we bounce off the wall ideas past each other and revel at the sight confounded normies that stumble into our world.