Thankfully, there are some pockets on the left who recognise this predicament. I’m in New York to try to understand the thinking behind the ‘dirtbag left’. The phrase was coined by Amber A’Lee Frost, a writer, commentator and activist, to describe a loose constellation of American leftists who reject the civility, piety and PC that has come to characterise much of the left.
Frost is a co-host of the hugely successful Chapo Trap House, which offers a funny, irony-laden and often downright vulgar take on contemporary politics from the left. She also writes a column for the Baffler and is a trade unionist.
Newer on the scene is the acerbic and wickedly funny Anna Khachiyan, art critic turned cultural commentator, who co-hosts the podcast Red Scare. Red Scare saves its most biting criticism for ‘neoliberal’ feminism.
Among the most refreshing things about Frost and Khachiyan is that their politics are resolutely not woke. ‘You can tell people that I’m trans’, says Khachiyan, with characteristic irreverence, as Frost, Khachiyan and myself sit down to talk at Eastwood in the Lower East Side. ‘I’m not trans, but you can say that just for fun.’ Their reasons for rejecting wokeness are both pragmatic and political. ‘The majority of people are not woke’, explains Frost: ‘Why would we dismiss the majority of people as hopelessly reactionary?’
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