The Alt-Left is a recently coined term that describes a collective of far-left groups including Antifa, Communists, Neo-Marxists, Anarchists, and fringe members of "The Resistance." The term originated from President Donald Trump's press conference that took place on August 15th, 2017. The March on Google that was planned in 9 cities across the U.S. was postponed citing threats from the Alt-Left. Some have criticized the term for being a false equivalency to the Alt-right.
Antifa and the Alt-Left
Characteristics of Antifa
Before the August 15th rally in Charlottesville, a large faction of the alt-left, antifa, has been responsible for the violence the takes place at rallies and protests. Antifa's philosophy of rejecting of what they perceive to be fascism and Nazism by any means necessary and use Black bloc tactics such as wearing all black, masks, and sometimes helmets. Actions taking by antifa the destruction of property and shutting down their opponents through any means they see fit.Antifa is mainly composed of anarchists and view the state is complicit in racism and fascism.They prefer to use direct action that is outside common political practice such as pressuring venues to deny white supremacists a place to meet, employers to fire suspected fascists, and landlords to evict suspected fascists. When suspected fascists and white supremacists do hold rallies, antifa usually attempts to break them up by force. Their short term goals are to shut down freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of association. Ultimately, their endgame is to dismantle the capitalist system we have today and replace it with something they deem more equal and fair. [✔]
Antifa views themselves as opponents to rising authoritarianism, but their actions are contradictory to their claims. As Peter Beinart points out:
Antifa believes it is pursuing the opposite of authoritarianism. Many of its activists oppose the very notion of a centralized state. But in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not. That authority rests on no democratic foundation. Unlike the politicians they revile, the men and women of antifa cannot be voted out of office. Generally, they don’t even disclose their names.
Growth of Antifa
Since the election of Donald Trump, antifa has seen explosive growth. NYC Antifa's Twitter account quadrupled in size the first three weeks and as of August of 2017 had over 18,000 followers. The online outlet for antifa, It's Going Down, has claimed to have new sympathy for antifa saying that “anarchists and antifa, who have been demonized and sidelined by the wider Left have been hearing from liberals and Leftists, ‘you’ve been right all along.’ ”
Trump coined the term alt-left at a press conference that took place in Trump Tower. When a reporter pressed Trump about Senator John McCain's comments about the alt-right being behind the violence in Charlottesville, Trump responded by saying "What about the alt-left that came charging at the Alt Right? Do you they have any semblance of guilt?...What about the fact that they came charging with bats and clubs? I think they do." He continued by saying You had a group on one side that was bad (the alt-right) but you had a group on the other side that was very violent (the alt left). You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.
When asked if the people on the alt-left are the same as neo-nazis, Trump answered and said "I have condemned neo-nazis. I have condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-nazis.. not all of those people were white supremacists... Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee."
Actions Prior to Charlottesville
During the Inauguration of Donald Trump, protests were staged in Washington D.C. Although most of the participants, which included anti-racist, anti-war, feminist, LGBT, pro-immigration and marijuana legalization groups, were peaceful, black bloc members of antifa were violent and destroyed property. Some of the vandalism include Larry King's SUV windows smashed and lighting fire a limo owned by a Muslim immigrant businessman. Alt-right leader Richard Spencer was punched in the face during an interview.
Milo Yiannopoulos Speech
On February 1st, alt-left and antifa shut down a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos that was scheduled to take place at the University of California, Berkeley. An attendee of the rally, Kiara Robles, was pepper-sprayed while giving a television interview by the alt-left. The organizer of the protest Yvette Felarca, defended the actions of the alt-left by saying that they acted in "self-defense."
March 4 Trump Rally
March 4 Trump rallies took place across the country, and were aimed to be peaceful events in support of Donald Trump. Yet the March 4 Trump that took place Berkeley, California turned violent. Taking place in Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park, around 3 pm counter-protesters of the alt-left dressed in all black began clashing with rally participants. One man, Jim Templeton was pepper-sprayed in the eyes by the alt-left. A notable meme that came at of the rally was Based Stick Man who grew to fame from fighting off the alt-left with his uniform and a stick. 10 people were arrested from the event, including Based Stick Man. Crowdfunding for his legal fees raised $85,000 in less than 24 hours.
Patriot's Day April 15th Rally
On April 15th, a Patriots Day rally was organized in Berkeley in support of Donald Trump. Prior to the event Anifa posted in indybay.org a post titled "Shut Down the Alt-Right Rally on April 15." On the day of the event clashes ensued between the alt-left, antifa, Identity Evropa, Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers. During the fighting, a video captures Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo punching Louise Rosealma in the face. Alt Left member Eric Clanton was identified after assaulting people at the rally with a bike lock as well as at past rallies will the same weapon.
Criticism of the Term
A New York Times article states that comparing the alt-left with the white nationalists is a false equivalency and that over the last three decades, white nationalists have been more organized and violent than the alt-left. The article fails recent events concerning the alt-left and antifa in 2017.