In the past month I have been chastised repeatedly for using the term “alt-left” to describe a faction of the liberal/progressive ideology that (to me, anyway) is not in line with what I consider “mainstream” Democrats. They may not be a majority, but there are quite a few of them around my neck of the woods.

I devised this crude test so you can see for yourself whether you are out on the fringes of the left, or perhaps we will learn that the alt-left is isn’t so far from the mainstream after all.

First, we’ll explore the fascination with communism.  When I was growing up in the sixties there were many Marxist apologists and outright supporters on the campuses and in the city streets. Maybe it was a natural backlash brought on by the harsh treatment of leftists during the McCarthy years.  There was definitely a generational rebellion against the notion that we boomers were expected to blindly salute the flag and march into a steaming jungle to fight people who had never done us any harm, no matter what they called themselves.

Because of the wide spectrum of humanity exposed by social media, I’ve been seeing a lot more sympathy and outright support for the sickle and hammer. Today’s Marxist believes that modern communism will be a benign force for equality and freedom, kind of like Star Trek.  There are some who believe Stalin and Mao were victims of fake news, a belief that was so popular in the late forties that it inspired Orwell to write Animal Farm to debunk such notions.

Next, the science test. The alt-left believes that climate change is settled science, but when it comes to vaccinations, chem-trails and microwaves, the establishment is the perpetrator of outright lies, funded by corporate interests. There are certainly enough real cases of corporate cover ups and malfeasance to warrant a healthy skepticism of big business and shadow governments. It’s poisoned the well for many, which is a shame. The progress made by corporate research and independent innovation in the last century has improved the lives of millions worldwide.

There is growing support among the left for limiting free speech, especially in light of the resurgence of white supremacists and fascism. It’s difficult to support any rights for these scumbags, but once again one has to look back to the excesses of the McCarthy era to see that censorship of unpopular speech can go both ways, and always for the worse. As Salman Rushdie noted: “Freedom of expression. Without the ability to offend, it ceases to exist.”

The urge to meet fascism with fists and clubs is already covered by the Antifa, or anti-fascists, another leftist sub-sect. Most Democrats are desperately trying to distance themselves from this anarchist wing of the movement, so as not to be seen as embracing violent revolution, a real downer when you’re trying to win elections.

Another no-no is the sin of “borrowing” from other cultures. If you are inspired to lift anything from a recipe to an art style to fashion, you are guilty of  profiting from the  traditions and creativity of the developing world. I’m not saying a person should not acknowledge their inspiration and sources, or that one should directly steal from others, but in the global melting pot we all profit from shared ideas. Otherwise, in the name of fairness, third worlders should stop wearing Levis and eating hot dogs.

Finally, there are the purists who will never give an inch in their cultural revolution. In that, they are as stubborn as the staunchest Trump voter. It’s all or nothing and it is their duty to drown out those voices of moderation. Winning is the only option. The opposition must be crushed. Period.

So there you have it. Is there an alt-left, and if there is, how ingrained is it with liberal ideology? Is it becoming acceptable enough to win elections? In some cases it already has, but only in deep blue districts.

For me, it’s just more evidence of the psychosis infecting both parties. If I’m to be vilified for having the rational thought that there is room for compromise in a real democracy, I welcome it. Us moderates can be stubborn too.




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39 Responses to Alt-Reality

  1. Steve Frisch says:

    Right on!

  2. Judith Lowry says:

    I dunno Bob,
    But, I do know that folks can accomplish amazing things when they work together.

  3. Barry Pruett says:

    Nicely done Bob.

  4. Cathy C says:

    Well said, Bob.

  5. Chris Peterson says:

    “And there you have it.” I beg to differ.

    Your depiction of the weight of arguments is askew. For instance; on the one side of the scale you place a belief in climate change, and on the other, in an effort to balance it out, you lump together vaccinations, chem trails, and microwaves. The simple fact is that, with over 95% of scientists, and nearly 3/4 of the American, and world, population buying into the theory, climate change is in a whole ‘nother classification than the minuscule numbers who support theories of the latter three mentioned, combined.

    I would also submit that there are two different realities at work here; one being the media spectrum of politics, the other the social spectrum. In the media view, all things are “alt”, that’s what sells copy, (and in government, that’s what sells war). In the social spectrum, other than the occasional sighting of a pickup with a rebel flag waving, things are pretty low key. The whole left/right, us/them thing is more of an outside perspective than a grass roots one. In person, we usually don’t communicate that way; only when we use media forms does the stark polarity become an issue. Lack of personal contact, and an infused narrative, are the mainstays of our divide.

    Then again, it could just be that I am out of touch. You once again site the supposed squabble over cultural recipe “borrowing” in this post; an issue that I had never heard of before seeing in an earlier post of yours’. Not to mention that I’d never heard of Antifa before the reemergence of the white superiority faction, which not only brings to mind which came first, but a solid belief that when the forces of evil rear their ugly heads, I’m not the least bit alarmed that an equally active counter-movement arises. May there always be an equal and counter reaction to asinine behavior. For me, being moderate doesn’t mean I can’t be adamantly opposed to some things, or conversely, adamantly supportive of others.

    And finally, I get the feeling that I’m reading one side of an ongoing argument with, shall we say, a large personage of a small faction, who, from what I’ve seen, represents very little of the core values I would associate with being “on the left”, much less the everyday perspective of the average American, (whatever that is). My apologies if I’m off on that account.

    • rl crabb says:

      You’ll have to forgive my fascination with this sub-culture. I remain amazed that so many on the left are blind to it. It was just a few years back that an activist (or activists) covered all the meters in downtown NC during the film festival. A few months later, one of the Sacramento news stations carried a segment featuring another local individual wearing a tinfoil cloak.
      City Council member Senum posted an obviously doctored video of Vice Prez Biden making lewd comments to a thirteen year old girl on Facebook, which didn’t raise a single eyebrow. On another local political candidate’s page, I read a long diatribe from a distressed person who saw the embrace of communism as the only remedy to the world’s problems. When I remarked “good luck with that” my comment was removed.
      I don’t know how anyone could miss the ongoing free speech controversy raging in colleges and universities across the country. Or the need for safe spaces to protect your feelings. If I have to provide links for every instance, I give up. You must be reading news from some other dimension and nothing I say will make any difference.
      I’ve lost count of how many posts and comments I’ve read from folks on the left who still maintain that they would not have voted for a Clinton even knowing that Trump would win.
      So shoot me if I bring these uncomfortable realities to light. I thought there might be some reason to examine the schism that the Democrats are facing, but if the prevailing wisdom is to just put your head down and hope for the best in the next round of elections, so be it. Good luck with that.

  6. Judith Lowry says:

    So, the bickering continues unabated even after I show you something beautiful and artistic.
    No comments to the positive, I totally get it with this crowd.
    And they call this an, “Arts and Cultural” district?
    More like a political boar’s nest.

  7. Steve Frisch says:

    Talk about “safe space,” when did “I beg to differ” and “You will have to forgive my fascination with….” become a bickering political boar’s nest?

    Do boars nest? I thought the lived in sounders, slept in thickets and wallowed in mud 🙂

  8. Judith Lowry says:

    You’re right.
    It’s more like a cesspool.

  9. Judith Lowry says:

    Taken from the ERC website:
    Do you believe in this mission statement Steve?
    Could any amount of money cause your organization to violate these ethical standards?

    “Sierra Business Council believes that non-profits have an ethical and legal obligation to their constituents and the public to conduct their activities with accountability and transparency. Non-profits should regularly and openly convey information to the public about their mission, activities, finances, accomplishments and decision-making processes. We are happy to share some of our key governing documents and financial information here.”

    • Steve Frisch says:

      Dear Judith: I am not sure how this connects to the ERC? We are doing some work with them providing technical assistance to local businesses on business planning, financial planning and other small business needs, which is really just an extension of the work we do as the regional Small Business Development center. We are proud to be partnering with the the ERC. We believe in the ERC’s mission statement, if that is what you are referring to.

      But as far as organizational transparency is concerned SBC is amongst the most transparent non profit orgainizations you would every run across. We publish our Articles of Incorporation, our IRS determination letters, and our IRS 990 tax forms annually. We have the highest rating possible from the third party non profit ratings agency Guidestar.

      We regularly do outreach in the region to get feedback from constituents through public forums and listening sessions. We do a survey of network members issues and concerns about the region. We participate in an annual Sierra Nevada small business survey.

      Our finanical information can be found here:

      In addition we have internal fair pay practices that are amongst the best in the industry and provide all of our employees with health insurance and maternity benefits.

      I am not quite sure exactly what you are implying but I would put us up against almost any other non-profit in the region for both fair employment practices and transparency.

      But to answer your question directly, no, no amount of money could entice us to violate those standards. We have turned work down on a regular basis that does not meet them.

      I usually don’t like mixing business and pleasure, which is what reading Crabb’s blog is, but we are proud of the work we do and we take pride in increasing the resources available to Sierra businesses, civic groups and local jurisdictions.

      • Judith Lowry says:


        There was no direct accusation toward the ERC in my comment.
        I ask because I would assume that all non-profits in our county operate in such an ethical way, but not all do, and they do harm.
        Looking the other way isn’t a crime, but is sucks.
        Go in peace Steve.

  10. Chris Peterson says:

    One person’s bickering is another’s debate, Judith. To me, the difference between the two is healthy slathering of civility. Bob’s natural talent for art and imagination is what draws many to his site, and his ability, honed over the years, to fuse his often prescient observances into that form is worthy of great respect. I can count on two fingers the people I have met who can do it well, and but one that I grew up with.

    Having said that, it has never, thankfully, been our relationship that, although we agree with probably over 90% of what we think of the political world, we are not allowed to disagree. And I may be wrong, but I see this blog as a sounding board for those differences; not merely a depository for accolades to his accomplishments, of which there are many.

    I like the fact that, on this site, there is very little of, “I see what you lack the capacity to see” or “We both see the same thing, but you’re an idiot for interpreting it your way.” And even less of, “I’m a patriot, and you’re an assbag.” As long as that’s the norm, I’ll continue to visit the site.

    So, viva la difference; without it, life would be a boring bucket of drool.

  11. Judith A Lowry says:


    I have a painting in this current exhibit.
    It’s what I do.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      That’s fantastic.

      Me? I’m just a run of the mill white guy that grew up in GV and NC, and who married a Quechan around 35 years ago and couldn’t be happier.

      Glad to make your acquaintance, Judith.

  12. Judith Lowry says:

    Yes, it’s a serious question.
    How much do you know about CHIRP or the NCR and my work?
    Believe me, it is as important as what the ERC and the SBC do.
    Looking over the ERC site they list a lot of organizations, and the chambers, but I can’t find anything more specific that relates to its successes.
    For instance, its blurb about the arts, my interest, is pretty breezy and general and does not truly reflect the nature or the needs of the arts culture here.
    I should know.
    Something’s missing.
    In other words, exactly how does the ERC help with the arts culture here, in what way does it connect with that part of the community?

    Anyway, the ERC and the SBC might just as well take a rest and kick back for awhile, because the towns are absolutely crawling with our annual influx of trimmer “tourists”.
    They will be the PR team representing our towns for the next few weeks.

  13. Steve Frisch says:

    I think that Michael was asking the question, “seriously?” about you mixing up the ERC and SBC. Frankly, if one asks the original question you did, the way you did, confusing our two organizations, something is amiss. I mean clearly you went to the SBC webiste to ask your orginal question because the language is taken directly from there.

    I don’t mind being asked the question, “Could any amount of money cause your organization to violate these ethical standards?” because the answer is no, but even if I wavered, the institution would exercise its values.

    I have no doubt that your work is important, but I fail to see how ERC or SBC having missions they pursue detracts from your work in any way, or diminishes it.

    Not everyone has the same goals…a vibrant civil society requires multiple entities and individuals pursing multiple missions and goals at the same time…what they can do is have respect for each other. Saying the arts is important to our local economy is not a form of appropriation. We really can eat Taco Bell and appreciate Frida Kahlo at the same time.

    • Judith Lowry says:

      Sorry for mixing up your organizations Steve, toggling between your sites to compare and contrast made my eyes glaze over.
      So, here is what I observe about the ERC and the SBC, both seek donations in order to do their magic for the business world.
      To its credit the SBC asks for “contributions” while the ERC wonders if you are considering a “partnership”.
      I believe that is what is known as “rent seeking behavior”.
      I am not certain how either non-profit has been all that effective in our county.
      Enlighten me?

      • Michael Anderson says:


        Both organizations have been doing good work in Nevada County, as well as in other Sierra Nevada communities, for decades. Their list of accomplishments are too numerous to adequately list here. I’d be happy to meet with you in person to discuss this further. Let me know, thanks.

        Michael A.

      • Steve Frisch says:

        You can take a look at our annual report here:

        Here is the definition of rent seeking according to Investopedia:

        “Rent-seeking is the use of the resources of a company, an organization or an individual to obtain economic gain from others without reciprocating any benefits to society through wealth creation. An example of rent-seeking is when a company lobbies the government for loan subsidies, grants or tariff protection.”

        I would argue that our organization is not a ‘rent seeking’ organization in that: 1) we convey a direct and measurable benefit in economic activity, job creation and investment in the region leveraged, 2) we create a direct and measurable social benefit through capacity developed within the region to address regional issues, 3) we create a direct and measurable environmental benefit through air quality improvments, lands restored to a higher level of ecological function and increasing the resilience of our region to climate change.

        You might also note that almost 75% of our revenue comes from the implementation of direct project work rather than grants or donations.

        Finally, although we do advocate, we advocate on behalf a specific suite of issues that improve the region, at times creating potential revenue for our own organization along with others, due to our non-profit mission, it does not create “profit” in the sense that the revenue goes to a public benefit or purpose.

        • Judith Lowry says:

          Well Steve,
          I would so fire you if you worked for my organization because you waste time and energy on the blogs when you should be burning the midnight oil for those who pay your wages and those who depend upon you to deliver.
          And BTW, I try to keep my comments neat and pithy so there is room for everybody else, but some of yours are practically tomes!
          Have a heart Steve, there are only so many hours in the day.

        • Chris Peterson says:

          That;s putting it kindly, Steve.

  14. Judith Lowry says:

    I get it Steve.
    It’s the same kind of confusion CHIRP has to deal with, when so many people are unable to perceive the Tsi-Akim Corporation and the Nevada City Rancheria as entirely different kinds of entities.
    Therefore they fail to see the big picture.

    As for appropriating the arts, well, I have been here for twenty years, I am an established artist, writer and curator, and committed Nevada City booster, I am an activist for the protection of Nevada County’s monetary interests in its heritage tribe and I have never had any contact with you, or the ERC, or the SBC or any of its reps.

    BTW, I haven’t dined at Taco Bell since they switched from real cheese to whatever it is they are using now.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Having grown up there, and moved away about the time you moved in, I see a whole different perspective; the “big picture”, as you call it.

      It was home grown talent that brought the towns back from near extinction, after the gold rush and the logging had faded away. And I gotta’ say, on my last drive through the area, it seems to be regressing back to it’s condition of malaise, which the locals will remember around the early 60’s.

      This “second coming” of a self-proclaimed center of art and culture appears to be one that is purely viewed on an individual basis, with folks parading around claiming, “I am, I am, I am”. Nevada City, in particular, is no longer seen as a novel entertainment center, as it once was. Back in the day of it’s rejuvenation, it was a place alive with local music, and locally produced goods made in mom and pop shops, by folks who took a chance on the sleepy town and invested their time and money in it’s rise. It wasn’t just a weekend thing.

      But today, boomers bring their kids to walk the streets of a time past; not just the gold days, but their own participation in the art of the night life. Rather than an all-out rambunctious party of free expression, it has become more of the kind of trip where our parents took us to see the Brice Canyon; more historical than hands-on.

      And most importantly, it wasn’t the “cultural” scene vying for attention over the commercial scene; it was a somewhat seamless fusion between the two. And you’re not going to get back there by going head to head over who gets how much of the gate proceeds. Come together, or languish in the lap of your present mediocrity.

  15. Judith Lowry says:

    Yes, you cannot contrive an arts culture, it should develop organically.
    Resting on laurels is fatal to a good art career.
    Art culture cleans up derelict neighborhoods, improves them, makes them more interesting and profitable and then get priced out, so they move on.
    SoHo was the hottest art district in the world in the 80’s.
    Now it’s full of pricy hotels, bars and trust fund euro-trash.
    Bo-Ho came after that and now I’m not sure where it is in NYC, if it’s even there at all.
    Third World artists seem to be taking the global stage at the moment.

    Here in Nevada County there is definitely more support for the performing arts than the visual arts and some artists complain about that.
    I remind them that Vincent only sold one painting, to his brother, and died in poverty and madness.
    He never applied for a grant in his life.

  16. Chris Peterson says:

    Well, there you have it; all we need to do is convince people struggling to maintain by their menial labor to contribute more to the arts and all the slums will eventually transposed.
    Then again, that presents a quandary; too much too much to the artists, and they won’t need to move to depressed areas.

  17. Judith Lowry says:

    No Chris,
    The kind of grass roots transformational art works from of the likes of Keith Haring in NYC, or the fashion work of Andrew Kelly in Paris, came from out of the poor artists themselves.
    That’s why I cite painters like Vincent Van Gogh and Chaim Soutine to young artists.
    It may sound trite, but they did suffer for their art, and that’s why the work is so moving.

    Not that suffering must be a right of passage for any artist.
    Sargent painted from a privileged upbringing that had him spending days browsing and sketching from direct and luxurious observation of the masters of the Louvre, while other children sat confined to school desks through most of their days in a uniform learning institution where their true dreams and potentials may never have been addressed.

    At present I can think of no artist that wants to plunder the resources of the working class.
    ASIF, a local art group has a small works exhibit that makes top flight work, by our best local artists, available and affordable.
    They have nice openings too and they are free.
    Cafes like Java John’s and Pine Street Cafe provide low cost to free space for our artists making the work highly affordable for local art lovers.
    Chris, true artists just want people to enjoy their work and buy some of it, so they can live.
    Is that too much to ask?

  18. Judith Lowry says:

    Well, Alrighty then.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      I didn’t mean to imply, in my above statements, that I don’t recognize that there are characters out there on the left who seek to stifle free speech, but I take great umbrage to the writers final thoughts that, ” In my youth, liberals would defend the right of neo-Nazis to march down Main Street. I cannot imagine anyone on the left making that case today.”

      The overwhelming majority on the left, despite the whinings of the radical left’s versions of Milo Yiannopoulis, fully support the grandest of all rights: free speech. The line for most, as it should be, is discerning the difference between warning fellow citizens of the dangers of fire, and yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater. Does a group who parade, unwanted, down a community’s streets advocating for the eradication of blacks, Jews, and all things unwhite, incite violence by their actions? You tell me.

      Those who spread the word of exclusion and hatred are, most naturally, going to be opposed, hopefully not just by Americans, but by all nations. And you’ll have to excuse many of us who, after witnessing the genocide and purging of ethnic and cultural groups around the globe, are a bit sensitive to talk of such things here at home.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that “radical” is not yet the norm here, and I don’t fear it’s happening anytime soon. The outer points of the political spectrum are the same distance from each other that they’ve always been, and putting aside the hype of what sells air time, face time, and print, the majority remain comfortably nestled in the center.

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