Sick Sad World

Inside the Leftypol Community

11 May 2017


I first heard about leftypol (a ‘portmanteau’ of left & politics) a couple of years ago from a staunchly anarchist housemate.  Since then, although I’d known it was there, I’d never bothered to venture forth into that part of the internet. Part of this hesitancy stemmed from the fact that it is hosted on 8chan – a website created because its owners found 4chan too restricting. And, from a glance, that’s technically correct. 4chan, for all its woes, at least doesn’t have a forum dedicated to zoophilia. And while 4chan draws a firm line at child pornography, for the owners of 8chan, child pornography is an inevitability of freedom of expression – a freedom, to them, that is either absolute or not. The website also has boards that spawned the alt-right, as well as the gamergate movement. However, associations being what they are, I cannot blame leftypol for this any more than I can blame the internet for facilitating hate speech (technically you can though as denizens of /leftypol/ provide advertising revenue for the website’s owner but, hey, that’d ruin this analogy).

“At this point, I was sure I had stumbled onto some sort of official messaging board for the Socialist Alternative.”

Fortunately for me, leftypol, despite existing in a particularly wild part of the internet, was not home to any of this patently ‘not-safe-for-work’ content. Instead, I found heady and somewhat arcane discussions concerning, amongst other things, Soviet cybernetic computerised planning, the Kurd-controlled Rojava region in northern Syria and leading green-anarchist Murray Bookchin. And then, of course, discussion and dissection of Trump and the Republicans’ policy agenda, criticism of ‘social justice warriors’ and such movements and arguments with members of the alt-right. Most of these descended into petty squabbles that Russia, China or Venezuela ‘wasn’t real socialism’.

Unlike their counterpart, /pol/, which bore the alt-right, there is a plethora of different groups with competing views on leftypol; Marxist-Leninist ‘tankies’ (apologists for the deaths of civilians by communist governments), anarchists, anarcho-communists, socialists, left communists, anarcho-capitalists, antifascists, Maoists and the People’s Front of Judea.

Unlike the broader left-wing of politics, however, there are few feminists, or LGBTI or ethnocultural activists. Leftypol eschews identity politics (or, as they refer to it, ‘idpol’) as it is incompatible with a class struggle, the source of such inequality stems from capitalism and those who espouse identity politics tend to be seen as economically liberal. At this point, I was sure I had stumbled onto some sort of official messaging board for the Socialist Alternative.

It is clear that leftypol does not represent the mainstream left, and they seem aware on that fact that they are an ‘alt-left’. Few on the forum support gun control and even fewer support the Democrats (in fact, supporting the Democrats is a bannable offence). These few points, in addition to their hatred for ‘social justice warriors’ and idpol, are about the only similarities the alt-left draws to the alt-right – they both pride themselves on being politically incorrect.

At this point I could bring up the horseshoe theory , a concept that the far left and far right closely resemble each other, though I am not going to rely on such a baseless theory because these tend to be the exceptions to the rule (plus, I’m not a hack).

In fact, due to the proximity of leftypol to pol, the high frequency of arguments has lead to leftypol users developing their own lexicon for denigrating the alt-right, or, as they refer to them, the ‘aut-right’ (‘aut’ standing in for ‘autistic’). When I enquired about this term I was met with excuses – that ‘it’s just banter’, plus, as ‘there is nothing wrong with being autistic’, as if I was the one being ableist. Silly me.

They referred to members of pol as polyps, perhaps a more apt description. They also frequently spoke of  ‘bourgies’, which is short for bourgeoisie. ‘Porkies’ were discussed with an associated image of a pig in a top-hat to refer to the bourgeoisie or bourgeois ideology. ‘Classcuck’ is used to describe one who betrays their own class due to lack of awareness. ‘Anarkiddies’ is a portmanteau of anarchist and kid that points to a perceived lack of experience and over-idealism of anarchists, and ‘spooks’ – a term coined by German philosopher Max Stirner – refers to concepts such as property rights and borders, ideas that have no basis in nature yet are fundamental and underlie much of political and economic philosophy.

And then there’s Žižek. If you’ve seen, or subscribed to, any number of Facebook pages dedicated to the Slovenian, Marxist professor, you have leftypol to thank.

For the most part the alt-left simply resembles a left of yesteryear – radical, Marxist and slightly homophobic – a left that time forgot. And, despite the near constant arguments between the various factions, the discussions are, for the most part, level and reasonable. There is certainly a sense of disappointment and anger – at both centre-left parties such as the Democrats and UK Labour, and the resurgence of right-wing parties such as UKIP, Marine Le Pen’s Front National and the Republicans. However, as is constantly pointed out, they’ll always have Rojava.

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