YouTube is a left-wing platform

See YouTube with your left eye

There he sits in front of the camera, with a white tie, in a kind of latex shirt next to a globe - and explains the world. For example, what is "queer" all about and how good it is that times have changed since the 90s, when, as the influencer explains, homosexual women have been denounced as frigid bookworms ("a librarian - that needed a good f ... "). Politically incorrect? Only at first sight. Shocking? At most for pinched contemporaries.

Oliver Thorn is the name of the man in the latex shirt. With his YouTube channel "Philosophy Tube" he is one of a generation of new influencers who are turning to left-wing issues. In an entertaining way, with partly elaborately produced videos.


In a fur coat with bubbly

The fact that YouTuber Natalie Wynn, according to her own account, deals with “sex, drugs, and social justice” with her channel “ContraPoints” can be understood not only as an allusion to the wild times of the Rolling Stones, but also as an educational claim. Would you like a taste?

"I like stuff, and I like shiny things", whistles the self-chosen luxury chick. In the video "What's wrong with capitalism (Part 2)", the Wynn, whose followers appreciate her biting humor, slams herself in front of her camera in a fur coat and says: "I like this, and I like this, and I like this". That and that and that are: a luxury handbag, painted fingernails and a bottle - sorry, advertising - Moet champagne. Drunk a glass on ex, a little ladylike burp - and even then it could be clear to the viewer what is going wrong in capitalism. "I'm just a fool who likes shiny things," adds the fictional character.

It is not known whether the digital experts from the left-wing Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin laughed uproariously or nodded their heads in agreement. In any case, the influencer is very familiar to them because she is one of the leading representatives of a new YouTube scene opposing the new right. The foundation has compiled a report on which web videos are available from "left political influencers". The overview can give courage to those who could sometimes despair over right-wing extremist conspiracy theories and hate speech.

Anyone who lies eight times a day ...

"The public discussion often points to the dangers of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-feminist and conspiracy-theoretical content on YouTube," says Henning Obens, summarizing the popular image. "This is a place where you can quickly get caught up in the maelstrom of conspiracy theories," says Obens, advisor for digital communication at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. According to him, the left political scene has recognized that it has to take countermeasures, "in the sense of left-wing political enlightenment and the truth to which we feel obliged. If a Donald Trump lies on the Internet eight times a day, it does not take away his following bad. If a leftist does that, he will no longer be taken seriously in the left spectrum. " Trump, who doesn't use terms like "fake news" or "witch hunt" on Twitter sparingly.


In the study - authors are the scientists Marius Liedtke and Daniel Marwecki - the foundation found out that a number of left and radical left YouTubers have established themselves in the USA and Great Britain. They can be found bundled on the Internet under the search terms "LeftTube" or "BreadTube" (the name was based on the book "Die Eroberung des Bread" by the Russian anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin from 1892). "BreadTube" is also known as "youtube, but good". Even here, the makers want to make it clear that they are "the good guys".

The study entitled "Learning from influencers - YouTube & Co. as playing fields for left-wing politics and educational work" also makes it clear how important such channels are for a young target group. According to the study, 96 percent of 18 to 24-year-old US Internet users use YouTube.

Further training for YouTubers

Accepting this scene was not a matter of course for left-wing protagonists. "The political left is understandably skeptical about the use of social media," writes Obens in the study. Internet companies earn billions there, and information is systematically processed there via bot networks. But since the study was published, "I've got a lot of positive feedback from members of the Bundestag, for example," says Obens. The interest in the scene goes so far that the foundation will soon also be offering further training for YouTubers, for example to enable networks. "A left that wants to be taken seriously in ten years' time must also move on these platforms," ​​emphasizes Obens.

Which brings us to the German-speaking area. And it doesn't look quite as developed there. "Such a rich landscape of left activists on YouTube as in English-speaking countries does not exist in German-speaking countries," the study says. Background: Only a few established leftists such as parties, foundations and the media have "even rudimentarily transferred their social weight to the web video sector," according to the study. Among the left-wing political influencers, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung noticed Rayk Anders’s channel (see above). There the spectrum of topics extends explicitly "from Merkel to Erdogan, from religion to football." And you can see at first glance that politicians are constantly having their say or being quoted. The study knows: Otherwise, "right-wing agitation is often the target". He then often refers to "specific videos by right-wing YouTubers like Martin Sellner and counters the agitation that is brought against him from these spheres". As a reward for his work, Rayk Anders received the German Reporter Award in 2018.