Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative

LSK
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Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative

Postby LSK » Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:53 pm

I think it's because, increasingly, leftist political dialogue is framed—or at least predominantly concerned with—identity politics, and I think identity politics are distinctly illiberal. My impression of identity politics as illiberal is bolstered by the fact that, also increasingly, anyone who dissents from the developing consensus about an identity politics issue is not just an intellectual critic but an existential enemy. For example, someone who—in a wide-ranging discussion about rape, criminal justice, and civil society—cautions against the potential erosion of due process isn't just offering an intellectual critique; he is a "promoter of rape culture." (You may object that this example seems ludicrous, and I agree—but it describes a real event; real life is often ludicrous).

The Left seems to be morphing into the "cultural Left."

And there are things to like about cultural leftism, so long as it isn't the only kind of leftist thought of interest. I don't identify as a feminist, much less a "radical" one, but I strongly suspect that if a checklist of "desired feminist goals" were produced and I were asked to signal my agreement or disagreement with them, there'd be a lot more check marks than empty boxes. I think the same would be true of LGBT and race-related issues as well.

But, as it turns out, the broad goals—the visions of civil society—that these movements have don't automatically lend themselves to an obviously agreeable or shared way to talk about them... or to pursue them. (I think this fact is ignored by or lost on many people who strongly self-identify with these movements, which leads them to unwittingly adopt the same kind of moral dogmatism that they rightly decry as characteristic of the previous conservative moral order).

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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #1

Postby Gendo » Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:27 pm

You're a smart man.

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Cassius Clay
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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #2

Postby Cassius Clay » Sun Jan 18, 2015 5:48 pm

I'm intuitively suspicious of the term "identity politics" based on who/where I've heard that term used(the generally dismissive context). Seems patronizing to me.

But, I guess you imply that identity politics have legitimacy, just that they tend to be hypocritically dogmatic(a dissenter being an "existential enemy" and all that). But since a lot of "identity politics" is not just politics to the people involved(their very humanity, safety, and lives are under siege by the power)..it should be no surprise that people react negatively to those they see as supporting/defending that power...it's not merely a "debate" for them. The stakes are much higher for one "side" of the "debate" than the other...coupled with certain power dynamics...such as the "oppressed side" historically being silenced/not heard, etc. So, disagreement will often turn ugly...especially when coupled with other things like intentional misrepresentation, dismissiveness, etc...there just tends to be a lot more to it than mere disagreement(from what I've witnessed and experienced). The stakes and the power dynamics will and should always be relevant in such conversations.

Can you elaborate on the example you gave on being called a "promoter of rape culture" for merely stressing the importance of due process?
Last edited by Cassius Clay on Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #3

Postby Ptolemy_Banana » Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:36 pm

LSK wrote:I think it's because, increasingly, leftist political dialogue is framed—or at least predominantly concerned with—identity politics, and I think identity politics are distinctly illiberal. My impression of identity politics as illiberal is bolstered by the fact that, also increasingly, anyone who dissents from the developing consensus about an identity politics issue is not just an intellectual critic but an existential enemy. For example, someone who—in a wide-ranging discussion about rape, criminal justice, and civil society—cautions against the potential erosion of due process isn't just offering an intellectual critique; he is a "promoter of rape culture." (You may object that this example seems ludicrous, and I agree—but it describes a real event; real life is often ludicrous).

The Left seems to be morphing into the "cultural Left."

And there are things to like about cultural leftism, so long as it isn't the only kind of leftist thought of interest. I don't identify as a feminist, much less a "radical" one, but I strongly suspect that if a checklist of "desired feminist goals" were produced and I were asked to signal my agreement or disagreement with them, there'd be a lot more check marks than empty boxes. I think the same would be true of LGBT and race-related issues as well.

But, as it turns out, the broad goals—the visions of civil society—that these movements have don't automatically lend themselves to an obviously agreeable or shared way to talk about them... or to pursue them. (I think this fact is ignored by or lost on many people who strongly self-identify with these movements, which leads them to unwittingly adopt the same kind of moral dogmatism that they rightly decry as characteristic of the previous conservative moral order).


An inability to compromise has always been one of the characteristic flaws of leftist politics. I have acquaintances involved involved in various socialist, marxist and anarchist groups and the way they and their fellow travelers snipe at each other constantly over minute issues of political dogma is laughable. They are the living embodiment of the Judean People's Front et al from the Life of Brian.

The liberalism you speak of has always been a characteristic of more centrist left-wing politics. I largely share your opinion of the dogmatism which is an aspect of these movements. I tend to believe though that as these ideas mature the rough edges become worn away.

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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #4

Postby OpiateOfTheMasses » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:25 am

It sounds like you're getting older! I'm reminded of the Churchill quote:
Anyone who isn’t a liberal by age twenty has no heart. Anyone who isn’t a conservative by age forty has no brain.
You can't make everyone happy. You are not pizza.

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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #5

Postby CashRules » Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:32 pm

Churchill never said that. [none]
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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #6

Postby phe_de » Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:26 am

Anyone who isn’t a liberal by age twenty has no heart. Anyone who isn’t a conservative by age forty has no brain.

Cash is right. Churchill never said that. In fact, Churchill was conservative before becoming liberal.

But if we modify the quote to say:
Anyone who isn’t an idealist by age twenty has no heart. Anyone who isn’t a pragmatist by age forty has no brain
then I agree with it.

The problem with the type of "identity politics" is not a problem of "The Left" in my opinion. In fact, using labels like "The Left" or "The Right" is some sort of identity politics. In Germany, we can see political parties endorsing or rejecting positions not based on the position, but on whether the political adversary endorses them.

What I'd like to see is direct democracy (referendums). It would be a way to bridge ideological gaps.

EDIT to clarify: Identity politics can be useful to analyze existing oppressions. But when they come too ideologically invested in an "us vs. them" mentality, or even demand special rights, then they become oppressive. In my opinion, the goal of any identity-politics driven social movement should be to make itself obsolete.
Common sense is another word for prejudice.

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Re: Problems with "the Left," or I'm concerned that I'm becoming more conservative   Reply #7

Postby Dr_Liszt » Mon Feb 02, 2015 9:14 pm

As of lately I am questioning my socialist stands in many things, mainly because of the governmental control it requires and how the government in 100% of the cases is used to violate human rights. So lately I've been wondering, how do you equalize while also not overstepping other people's freedoms? And also, can the left exist without violating other people's freedoms?

I know Jordan will never read this. Whatever. [roll]


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