Victor Davis Hanson nails down some important points. I add a bit of commentary in blue.
But first a question. Do we really need the designator 'Alt-Left'? Isn't the referent of this term pretty much indistinguishable from the contemporary Left? Granted, we need to distinguish between the contemporary Left and old-time liberalism. There is not much, or anything, that is paleo-liberal about the contemporary Left, as will emerge below. We also need to distinguish between the Right and the Alt-Right. Let me make it clear that I am not now, and never have been, Alt-Right. My brand of conservatism takes on board key elements of paleo-liberalism. It is also far from anything that could be called white nationalism, although it does espouse what I call an enlightened nationalism. (See here and here.) But I am having a hard time seeing any need to distinguish between the (contemporary) Left and the Alt-Left.
My impression is that 'Alt-Left' is a knee-jerk coinage brought onto the field by commentators such as Sean Hannity to counter the false notion that Trumpism is an Alt-Right movement. Be that as it may. Now a few excerpts from Hamson's piece.
Its overarching ideology seems to be a filtered version of campus postmodernism. Therefore the “truth” is simply a pastiche of “stories” or “narratives.” They can gain credence if those with power and influence “privilege” them, in efforts to enhance their own status and clout. “My story” is just as viable as “the truth,” a construct that does not exist in the abstract.
BV: Correct. For the Alt-Left there is no such thing as truth. There are only power and narratives. A narrative is a story, and we all know that a story need not be true to influence people and inspire them to action. The influence of Nietzsche is unmistakable here. For Nietzsche there are no facts, only interpretations. (Cf. W. Kaufmann, The Portable Nietzsche, p. 458) A narrative is an interpretation that subserves the interests of some individuals or groups that either have power or seek to gain power.
Interpretations and perspectives are ideological reflections of power. Their function is to legitimate the power of those in power. The question of truth cannot arise since there is no truth, only competing perspectives of competing power centers. There is no truth because the world is devoid of intrinsic intelligibility. All intelligibility is partial and perspectival and projected by the stories we tell in support of our interests and power prerogatives. Intelligibility is relative to us and our narratives. We make the world intelligible and in many different ways since we are many and competing. Why is there no way things are, no nature of things, no intrinsic intelligibility? Because, at bottom, the world is the will to power. This is Nietzsche's central ontological claim. Die Welt ist der Wille zur Macht und nichts anders. (Nietzsche, Der Wille zur Macht) This ontological claim underpins his central epistemological thesis, perspectivism. Both the ontology and the epistemology are consequences of the death of God, as N. himself clearly sees. No God, no truth. No God, no unitary source of all things but a blind seething will to power at odds with itself. See my Nietzsche category for more on this.
I would say that Nietzsche is as important as Marx for understanding the Alt-Left. Nietzsche is part of what makes cultural Marxism cultural.
For the Alt-Left, there are not really inanimate [immutable?] laws of human nature or language. Instead political mobilization can construct powerful narratives of change: Opposition to gay marriage can be endorsed by both Obama and Clinton in 2008 and then be reconstructed as proof of right wing bigotry by 2012.
BV: Thus for the Left truth doesn't matter. The narrative or party line shifts with political needs. It's about power and control. If power can be achieved by reversing the narrative, then the narrative is reversed. Nothing new here: it is right out of the commie playbook.
Zones of neo-Confederate federal nullification to stop the deportation of illegal alien criminals can be rebranded as “sanctuary cities” to protect the innocent “migrants” from arbitrary and racist immigration laws. “La Raza” does not really mean “The Race.” Instead Raza simply denotes the “people” in reference to oppressed communities.
BV: As I have said a hundred times, leftists regularly engage in self-serving linguistic distortions and innovations even unto the Orwellian. The Orwellian template: X, which is not Y, is Y. War is peace. Slavery is freedom. Less liberty is more liberty. La Raza is not La Raza. Illegal aliens are neither illegal nor alien.
Leftists also refuse to make obvious distinctions such as that between legal and illegal immigrants. Not because they are stupid, but because their power agenda swamps every other consideration. Power rushes to fill the vacuum left when truth absents itself in the wake of the death of God.
The Alt-Left also believes that racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious identity is essential not incidental to character—as evidenced from the profound by the recent racialist statements of would-be candidates to head the DNC, to the ridiculous, as the careerist-driven and invented identities of a Sen. Elizabeth Warren or Ward Churchill or former white/black activists such as Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King attest.
BV: The Alt-Left shares this anti-personalism with the Alt-Right. Both are race-based and identity-political. The reactionary stance of the Alt-Right ties it to its opponent with which it shares the repugnant, anti-Christian, and anti-paleoliberal notion that one's very identity as a person is racially determined. The issue of personalism is crucial. I will explore it in future posts.
Perhaps the battle between the Alt-Left and the Alt-Right comes down to the struggle between two forms of atheism, a febrile socially constructivist anti-realism and a biologically determinist naturalism.
Please read the whole of Hanson's outstanding article.