They hate the police and the government. Put no trust in the mainstream media or the financial system. They’re in favor of limiting freedom of speech, outlawing what's “dangerous” or “offensive.” They condone political violence (though they call it “protecting the community” or “direct action”).
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On foreign policy, they are fans of Vladimir Putin, Assad’s regime and Iran. Generally, they’re fine with most dictators. They oppose free trade agreements, abhor NATO and if they’re European, the European Union as well. If they’re American, they didn’t vote for “corrupt” and “warmongering” Hillary Clinton.
Oh, and they don’t like most Jews (for whom they usually use labels like “Zionists,” “globalists,” “Soros financiers” and “Rothschild bankers” instead), and will accuse them of overusing the Holocaust for their own interests.
All of the above applies to those on the far, or "alt-right," American white supremacists and European neo-fascists. All of it applies equally to those in the West's far, or radical, left – even though it describes itself as anti-fascist.
On Saturday U.S. President Donald Trump shamefully refused to single out for condemnation the violent supremacists who wreaked havoc and murdered a counter-protester in Charlottesville, blaming instead “many sides.” But the justified criticism of Trump shouldn’t obscure the fact that the racists on the right are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from their ostensible rivals on the opposite end of the spectrum.
The far left’s presumption to be the only true opponents of the far right covers up the fact that it shares the same methods and attitudes to the media and democracy, believes in the same conspiracy theories. Both sides dismiss the accumulating evidence against Trump and his collusion with the Kremlin as lies fabricated by the “deep state” and trumpeted by the fake-news MSM.
For those following British politics, Trump’s condemnation Saturday of “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides” was eerily reminiscent of an interview a week earlier with Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, in which he refused to denounce the violent crackdown on democracy in Venezuela. Corbyn would say only that “what I condemn is the violence that has been done by any side, by all sides.”
A life-long admirer of left-wing Latin American dictatorships who has called for Britain to adopt Chavez-style socialism, Corbyn couldn’t bring himself to criticize Chavez’s successor for cancelling democracy in Venezuela any more than Trump could single out his "alt-right" supporters for mowing down protesters in Charlottesville. The two men may be very different in their personalities and beliefs, but their political mindsets are all too similar.
The far left rushed to dismiss the “horseshoe” theory, which holds that it is much closer to the far right than to the center, when it came into vogue in the early 21st century. The fact that both reject neo-liberal globalization was only a superficial similarity, they claimed. But when actually put to the test, the far left consistently refuses to cooperate with centrists against the far right.
That was the case last year in the United States, when figures such as Green Party candidate Jill Stein described Hillary Clinton's policies as “much scarier than Donald Trump’s, who does not want to go to war with Russia.” And it is the case now in Britain where Corbyn is joining the xenophobic far right in support of a “hard Brexit,” in which Britain will not only leave the EU but also the European common market entirely.
And it was the case earlier this year in the second round of the French presidential elections, forced to choose between the centrist Emmanuel Macron and neo-fascist Marine Le Pen, the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon refused to call upon his supporters to vote for Macron. Melenchon and Le Pen share a surprising amount of domestic and foreign policy positions. Last month, he even echoed her stance on the Holocaust, criticizing President Macron for accepting the French Republic’s responsibility for the deportation of Jews to death camps during the German occupation.
This is not so surprising, considering that the far left, once a bastion of Jewish activists, is now similar in its anti-Semitism to those it claims to fight. Both the extreme right and the extreme left view the Jewish people today as a shadowy network of lobbies and cabals, working to dispossess those who don’t belong to the chosen people.
On both sides, the hatred toward Jews has been modified somewhat. On the far right, there are a few "acceptable" Jews, who subscribe to ultra-nationalist and anti-Muslim Breitbart-style nativism and serve as links to the far right in Israel, giving them a warped legitimacy. On the ultra left, anti-Israel Jews who have renounced their privilege to the Palestinians’ land are okay. Like anti-State of Israel Neturei Karta rabbis at the Al-Quds Day rallies organized and funded by Iran.
Anyway, racism isn’t what it used to be. Neo-Nazi leaders like David Duke and Nick Griffin, the former leader of the British National Party, hate Muslims when they arrive in the West, but are happy to travel to Muslim countries like Iran and Syria, where they are feted by local leaders. The same hypocrisy is prevalent on the far left, which practices an unrelenting version of human rights ultra-orthodoxy at home but are happy to overlook homophobia, misogyny and racism in any dictatorship abroad, as long as the dictator is “anti-imperialist.”
The far right is more reprehensible as their motives are bigotry and racism and their violence is directed against minorities and their places of worship.
The far left sticks up for some of those minorities, at least when they are victims, or perceived to be victims of Western white hegemony. Its “direct action” violence is aimed at the police and symbols of capitalism, capable of defending themselves. But all too often, the far left emerges as an enabler of the far right, as happened last year when it helped elect Trump and made common cause for Brexit.
Those on the far left won’t be the ones to beat Trump and the "alt-right" in America or the neo-fascists in Europe. They can’t help themselves: they have too much in common.