The Best Online-Only Publications According to Socialists

We’ve got 108 responses to our survey of online-only left-wing publications, and the results are intriguing!

This is the 2nd of a series of surveys by LeftTimes to help improve our news feed; the 3rd will cover left podcasts and the 1st covered left magazines. But stay tuned for an update! The left-magazine survey has another 200+ respondents since our blog post and the results have changed quite a bit!

Thank you to all our respondents. We hope you are having fun!

First, a few qualifiers:

  • Please note this survey is not random. It was distributed to our target audience, and respondents were self selecting. 78% identified as socialist and 76% identified as Marxist (with about 80% overlap between the two).
  • This survey included 66 online-only publications. It did not include online publications with print magazines as those were covered in our previous left-magazine survey.
  • 19 of the publications in this survey didn’t receive more than 15 ratings so we aren’t including them in the results. We are leaving all the surveys open so we can publish updates later.
  • Even with that 15-rating cutoff, interpreting the results is tricky due to some publications getting more ratings than others. In general, the less known a publication is, the more overly-positive the average rating appears to be.

Who’s “winning”? – Labor Notes & The Intercept

There were 6 publications that clearly were a cut above the rest, ranging from 4.2 to 3.8 stars on average. In order, they were:

  1. Labor Notes
  2. The Intercept
  3. People’s Policy Project
  4. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
  5. ProPublica
  6. It’s Going Down

This is a similar ballpark that our top 10 from the magazine survey came in. Rounding out the top 10 in the 3.6-3.7 star rating range, we have:

Other Noteworthy Performers

Coming in around 3.35 to 3.55 stars:

Who’s “losing”? – Daily Kos

The 8 lowest-rated publications, ending with the lowest, were:

  1. Canary
  2. Slate
  3. Salon
  4. Buzzfeed
  5. Huffpost
  6. Quillette
  7. Everyday Feminism
  8. Daily Kos

These ranged from 1.6 stars to 2.2 stars, which is particularly low given that the lowest in the magazine survey range from 2.1 to 2.5 stars (they’ve dropped half a star since we published that post… more about this in the next update).

Daily Kos received a scathing 1.62 stars from 79 respondents. This can be interpreted in two ways: both in terms of the low quality of work produced by DailyKos, as well as, socialists not taking kindly to the positions Daily Kos took on the 2016 primaries.

Anarchist Anomalies

In the first blog post, we discussed the Marxism divide among socialists and the variance in ratings that appeared to be producing. Here, we noticed some interesting patterns with people who self-identified as anarchists.

Overall, anarchists rated a publications much lower than everybody else. There were only two publications where anarchists rated them higher than others, and those were the two anarchist publications: It’s Going Down and CrimethInc. The noteworthy differences:

Publication

Anarchist Rating

Non-Anarchist Rating

It’s Going Down

4.08

3.49

CrimethInc

3.48

2.94

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

3.75

4.11

People’s Policy Project

3.73

4.19

Atlas Obscura

3.33

3.94

Aeon

3.33

3.81

Real News Network

3.24

3.59

Economic Policy Institute

3.08

3.76

Outline

2.92

3.43

Truthdig

2.62

3.12

Institute for New Economic Thinking

2.73

3.46

Ideologies and their Identity Politics

Anarchists in this survey really made a statement in this survey with 89% identifying as anti-racist.

This surprised us so much that we went back to our first survey to see what happened there (especially with all the new responses we received). It turns out that anarchists (and progressives!) have been a bit more likely to identify as anti-racist:

Ideological affiliation

% also picked anti-racism

Anarchism

76%

Progressivism

76%

Communism

70%

Marxism

67%

Liberalism

65%

Socialism

65%

And while ideological affiliations that have to do with racial, gender, and sexual identities show more solidarity for each other, notice the disparity in reciprocity.

Ideological affiliation

% also picked anti-racism

% also picked feminism

% also picked pro-LGBTQ+

Anti-racism

59%

65%

Feminism

84%

71%

Pro-LGBTQ+

83%

69%

For context, of all survey respondents, 61% identified as anti-racist, 46% as feminist, 47% as pro-LGBTQ+. Be careful reading into this though, because the ideological affiliations were listed alphabetically and anti-racism appeared 3rd.

Next up: Podcasts

If you enjoyed this blog post, then please take our next survey on left podcasts, or, add your voice to the left magazine and online-only publication surveys. We’ll be publishing updates to all of these surveys.  

We have already updated the LeftTimes algorithms as well, adding several new publications as a result of this survey. But don’t worry: we won’t let these dictate everything, but we want to know what our readers are thinking!

And if you haven’t yet checked us out, bookmark LeftTimes, or download our iOS or Android app.

Special thanks to William Dawley for helping with this survey and analysis.

Breaking Into The Two-Party System

The United States, thanks to its winner takes all election system, is forever doomed to be in a two-party system. It’s basic game theory. For a 3rd party to become relevant at the national stage, it would have to oust and replace either the Democratic party or the Republican party.

This is no easy feat. The last time a major party was displaced in the American 2-party system was 160 years ago.

The US was first born with the Federalist party and the Republican-Democratic Party. Both parties only lasted about 35 years when they were replaced by the Democratic Party and the National Republican Party (which then merged into the Whig Party after 8 years). The Whig Party only lasted about 20 years until the 1850’s when it fell apart and was replaced by the Republican Party.

The Democrat and Republican parties have dominated the US two-party system ever since.

elephant_donkey_donkeyhoteyIMAGE CREDIT DONKEYHOTEY / FLICKR / CREATIVE COMMONS

But we may have the conditions today where it is possible for a 3rd party to enter the political system and displace one of the big two.

Anti-establishment sentiment is at a peak. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have been losing members in droves for 10 straight years. 43%45% of Americans identify as independents – and those numbers came before the primaries started. Today, we likely have more independents than Democrats and Republicans combined.

The approval rating of Congress has been under 30% for 10 years and is currently at 11%.

We’ve now seen 3 anti-establishment movements in the United States in the past 8 years: the Tea Party, then Occupy, and then Black Lives Matter.

In this presidential election season, averaged across the two parties, anti-establishment/outsider candidates (Trump, Cruz and Sanders) received roughly 65% of all pledged delegates.

The Republican Party was just hijacked by Trump and roughly 40% of the party is refusing to rally around him. On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Party only barely just defeated the Sanders insurgency, with roughly 33% of Sanders voters currently refusing to ultimately vote for Hillary Clinton.

This is not too different from 1848 when abolitionists abandoned both the Whig and Democratic Parties parties and formed the Republican Party.

The conditions are here today for a 3rd party to emerge.

If it is to be successful, it must be a coalition of disaffected voters from across the political spectrum and run competitive candidates in every district nationwide.

It must bring together the Libertarians and Progressives, as well as, the Tea Party, Black Lives Matter and Occupy movements.

At first glance this may sound like a match made in hell, but actually, all these groups can agree on who their real enemies are: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the mega-rich that control both parties.

So what might this new party’s platform look like?

It would have to have the following 3 core pillars: ending corruption, ending big brother government, and ending the 2-party system. These are all causes that poll extremely well amongst Tea Partiers, Berners, Greens, BLMers, Occupiers, and Libertarians.

More specifically, what this means is ending corporate welfare, the off-shoring of wealth, and tax loopholes for the rich. It means overturning Citizens United and never using Super PACs. It means de-militarizing police forces, ending the drug war, and shutting down government programs used to spy on Americans.

There’s also one more little known cause that should be added to this hypothetical party’s list: proportional party representation.

Each of the sub-groups I’ve named as part of this coalition has an interest in pushing proportional party representation so that it can actually become its own viable political party – electing its own representatives rather than the lesser of two evils.

This wouldn’t have to be a long term alliance. Once they implemented proportional party representation, the party could dissolve, and the various factions could go their separate ways, form their own political parties and actually all gain representatives in a multi-party system. Imagine what Congress might look life if we implemented proportional party representation.

The key is just that people across the political spectrum recognize their shared desires/interests in defeating the Democratic and Republican Parties, destroying corruption, and dismantling big brother government.

So how about it? Are you down take the best of red, white and blue, mix it all up, and #gopurple?

The Rules of Politics Have Changed

The only thing keeping Hillary alive right now is the large faction of Democrats who prefer Bernie’s platform but think Hillary is more electable.

The belief in Hillary’s electability is based in a set of theories about the American electorate that held true from roughly 1968-2006, but have since lost their explanatory power.

The conventional political wisdom says that Americans will always believe themselves to be capitalists waging a Cold War with communism. It says that Reagan ushered in a permanent conservative political era, and that leftist candidates are forever doomed to lose McGovern style. It says that to win the presidency, politicians must appeal to the “center” and get the financial backing of the corrupt, corporate establishment.

This is no longer true. The times have changed.

In the past 15 years, we’ve had the failed Iraq war, the crash of 2008, and the blossoming of the internet; climate change has become an undeniable fact and gay rights and marijuana legalization have become mainstream. These factors, and many more, have contributed to a total re-shaping of the American political landscape.

2016-02-16-1455592127-9074752-PP20140612polarization101.png

The American ideological distribution has polarized. Centrists are rapidly evaporating. And this is in spite of the fact that there are now almost as many independents as Republicans and Democrats combined.

In the past 8 years, we’ve seen 5 massive political movements: Obama in ’08, the Tea Party in ’09, Occupy Wall Street in ’11, Black Lives Matter in ’15, and now Bernie’s movement in ’16. We haven’t seen political movements like this since the 60’s.

What this all points to is a widespread and deep dissatisfaction with centrist, establishment politics. The success of Sanders, Trump and Cruz is evidence of this fact. They offer the two competing explanations for why establishment politics and economics have failed.

The explanation on the right is that Bush, Bush Sr., Reagan and Nixon all weren’t conservative enough. They believe it is all these immigrants, gays, PC-liberals, Muslims, blacks and Mexicans that are destroying America. They believe we need to make America great again by returning to the “good ‘ol days” (aka white-man America). Needless to say, the right is wrong.

The explanation on the left is that the past 40 years have proven the failure of neo-liberal economics and hawkish foreign policies. The belief is that we need to return to European/Roosevelt style economics and diplomacy based foreign policy. Needless to say, the left is right.

Millenials are the first generation to accept this fact. We are Bernie’s internet army. We are the reason Bernie has continued winning, even as the entire mainstream media has only ignored and mocked him.

2016-02-15-1455575430-1862644-19197967404_6a07b018d1_o.jpg
Creative commons courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Millenials are really good at collectively spreading Bernie’s message and destroying counter-narratives. Consider that in just 9 months we have succeeded in making democratic socialism a permanent fixture of American politics. We got the DNC to reverse their decision overnight on locking Bernie’s campaign out of the voter databases. And it took us about a week to squash the narrative that Hillary is the choice feminist candidate.

We are currently in the process of dismantling the narrative of Hillary’s African-American firewall. The signs are there: Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cornell West, Erica Garner, and Shaun King have all recently spoken out in favor of Bernie.

Politics is now real time. As media narratives arise, the internet responds to them – and very effectively. The establishment may control TV and newspapers, but millenials control the internet – and that’s why we are winning. We control the comment sections. We have thousands of prominent pro-Bernie social media pages that are generating millions and millions of views every single day.

Howard Dean was heralded in 2004 for revolutionizing politics by using the internet. Obama was similarly hailed as a digital innovator in 2008. Bernie has now broken Obama’s fundraising records. He raised $3M in the 24 hours after Iowa and then $6.4M in the 24 hours after NH. He received more votes in the NH primary than any politician in history.

So let’s be clear, it never was Dean, Obama or Bernie that broke those records and revolutionized politics; it is the internet-left that has repeatedly started these movements. We are the ones changing the rules of politics.

Conventional political wisdom said that Obama, a black man with Hussein as a middle name, couldn’t become president. It said Trump couldn’t win Republican primaries while insulting veterans, making sexist comments about Fox News anchors, and saying racist things about blacks and Mexicans. It said that a Jewish democratic-socialist could never be more than an obscure fringe candidate.

Conventional political wisdom is dead.

In the new political world, Hillary is no longer the safe bet; she is the liability that embodies the failed political past.

It’s one thing to fight against Bernie’s revolution because you don’t believe in the cause. It’s another thing to believe in the cause, but to fight it because you believe in an outdated set of theories about the American electorate.

The rules of politics have changed.

It is time to stop asking “how can Bernie succeed?” and start asking: “how can I help Bernie succeed?”