If there were comrades: a political critique of the Left

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Our political convictions have endured because we have seen the same oppressive dynamics played out over and over and over again. Every gain we have ever made has been based on strategies developed from the  predictability of repression. Defending those gains would be impossible if we were surprised by each new form of the same, historic, relentless attack. We don’t have to figure out and agree on what to do each time. We have learned to anticipate, predict, and sometimes even prevent such attacks.
That is how the true Left tradition developed, and why certain standards prevail.

We do not have to like or even know someone to understand that when he is attacked in specific ways, in  specific political contexts, we must immediately respond as if we are all being attacked – because we are. Any one of us could be next.

 

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If we have privilege, we are obliged to use it to protect those who do not, even if this means we risk, and then lose it – because we know we aren’t supposed to have it in the first place.
The first responsibility we have when such a person is  isolated and attacked as an individual is to reject the focus on her personal flaws as irrelevant and divisive. But when that focus  draws upon the power of a widespread social bias, such as that which so burdens those with race, ethnic, class, gender, and  disability labels, our condemnation of it should be particularly sharp and immediate.
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The standard is simple:  if a pattern of treatment deviating from the documented norm is established, then usually discrimination is established. Supporters and their social milieu wind up as enablers and even facilitators of this discrimination if they hold the targeted person to a higher standard of proof,  remain doubtful in the face of evidence that would otherwise persuade them,  hesitate to respond to critical developments and incidents that would otherwise alert them to action,  and reject the person’s  analysis of the case in the face of a proven expertise to which they would otherwise have bowed.
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Not taking the targeted person seriously, deciding that the treatment  received must have been warranted by their own behavior, and accepting for them results that “comrades” would not for a moment accept for themselves or for most others – this is the second class citizenship produced by true discrimination. No matter how unjust it would be for people like themselves, it’s to be expected for those whose reach for full human rights exceeds what the world is willing to grant them.
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There cannot and will not be any viable resistence to the approaching whirlwind of global aggression if the present version of the western Left does not once and for all commit itself wholeheartedly to rooting out the oppressive dynamics it has appropriated for its own  indefensible gains.
That’s what the elite wants us to do. Keep it up and you, too will learn what it is to be picked off like fish in a proverbial barrel.
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 Good luck with that.

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14 thoughts on “If there were comrades: a political critique of the Left

  1. Excellent opinion piece. I totally agree. To the best of my reckoning, the US left abandoned the working class nearly fifty years ago. During my 20 years as a grassroots activist in Seattle, all the leftist groups I got involved with were dominated by academics and professionals who consistently patronized and humiliated any genuine workers who happened to turn up at their meetings.

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  2. In the book The Narcissism Epidemic it becomes clear that the root of the Left’s inability to mount an effective resistance has much to do with our culture’s intense focus on the self. While the authors avoid commenting on the political implications, it’s obvious this has been another tool used by the capitalist system to keep us all divided.
    Here in Canada despite a party and Prime Minister that threatens to destroy everything Canadians have stood for in a progressive way in the past 50 years, the Liberal and NDP parties still refuse to form a coalition. Cooperation (coalition) is branded as “neo-socialist” and self-serving political ambition (to be the party to form the next government) is rewarded by the mainstream media.
    So what hope is there really for us?

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    1. I really appreciate you writing, Sean. I’ve read large chunks of your beautiful book with a warm heart. Congratulations!

      Hmm, hope.
      Well, it seems that it’s hitting home to Canadians that what felt like a cultural shift was actually a cold-blooded economic/political class attack. And that the focus on individualism might actually be a lonely bill of goods that, as you say, doesn’t reflect your true cultural experience and collective memory.
      It’s become clear to me that after a certain point, hope comes from those who have nothing left to lose, who are already being destroyed. History has really shown this. Look at how the youth of Ferguson set off an international explosion that had been beyond the combined efforts of the most respected, national civil rights veterans for 30 years.
      __________________________
      More than anything, I have learned how essential hierarchy is to social control generally. It keeps everyone in line, not just those on the bottom, and prevents any risk not taken with a crowd. And the Left uses it as often as anyone else -it just knows enough to lie about that. The refusal of political bloggers (who’d committed their support of me) to verify what a US Supreme Court reporter had personally witnessed shook something very basic in me: so easy to prove me wrong! But also incredibly simple to prove me right: That a choice was made to deny me that chance lends a cartoonish quality to the most informed and passionate of those blogs: just one such admission from MSM would quickly reveal truly significant media corruption – at a time when Americans can least afford it.

      I have discovered that it is the very essence of oppression to have one’s lived experience rendered invisible by a narrative based on social bias.
      So if there really is any hope for us, I think we will find it amongst the despised. To stand with them until no human being is despised – and then be the last men out.

      Sending peace North,

      Claire

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  3. Canada will see an election this year. I would like to work for the party closest to my (our) objectives, but we have three main parties and only one vote in this stupid first-past-the-post system that we still have. In my riding, to work for or vote for the party of my choice would split the vote of those who oppose the current party in power. I thus may have to hold my nose and vote for the party most likely to defeat them here. We badly need Proportional Representation. Our “democracy” is held hostage to the current system, which resulted in 2010 in a majority (absolute power) for an unscrupulous wannabe tyrant whose party earned only 33% of the overall vote. The Left really has to mobilize. Our social democratic party (NDP) promises to bring in Proportional Representation and increase funding for our Public Broadcaster, the CBC. I’m tempted to work for the NDP in a potential short term lost cause, but one more four-year term for Harper will probably result in the sale of our precious CBC. See what I mean by a “hostage democracy?” Thanks for your inspiration, Claire.

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    1. I didn’t realize there were that many structural differences between our political systems. Reminds me of the way we drag around our Electoral College.
      It sounds like elections still mean something in Canada. I hope you’re able to give your tyrant the boot. It’s hard for me to think in terms of individual nations anymore – the more American exceptionalism is stressed, the more I see everything in terms of interest /influence blocs. Will the US be able to command Canadian interests as its own and does that increase or decrease the rate/level of US agression globally? If you refuse that role, we may not be able to re-colonize Latin America as planned.
      I don’t have the impression of a Canadian Left as I use the term, that is, an internationalist tradition imported via European industrial workers at the turn of the 2oth century. It expressed itself as recently as Nicaragua’s civil war and certainly dominates academia. But you know, I think it’s truly gone – nothing more deadly for socialism than theory alone.
      You guys, on the other hand, don’t look at nationalized health care as the hand of the devil!
      Thanks for writing, Turk Man

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      1. A PM with a majority in the house is much more powerful than a President. The only checks on that are the senate (the PM appoints new senators, and this one has built a majority there, too – so scratch the sleepy senate) and Queen Elizabeth via her Governor General, appointed by the PM. Sound like a democracy to you with 33% of the popular vote? Thanks, Claire. Mutual admiration!

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      2. This is a perfect example of my jarring blend of broad knowledge and perfect ignorance. It’s also such an American thing: I’d bet my car title that you’d have trouble finding anyone on a downtown corner of a major American city with the basic info above. Yet of course every 4th grader in India, Belguim, Japan, Greece and Nigeria does. This is the kind of thing the entire world puts up with, and we remain oblivious to it.
        In our public schools, Canada disappears from history right after the War of 1812. It’s really indefensible – I truly never saw a Canadian history class in an undergraduate course catalog: and I attended three universities on my leisurely stroll to a degree in – history! (American, is there another kind?) I’ve never seen a major in Canadian Studies. I’m sure plenty of Canadian scholars have studied the US however.
        There really should be laws against this.
        I am astonished to learn that England still has any role in Canadian politics. Too bad it has become America’s lap dog. Consider a united Europe massing it’s combined presence along that long… long Canadian/Us border. Heh heh.
        Seriously, I shall be checking your elections online. Throwing the bums out will be a service to the hemisphere as well as to Canada.

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      3. Here’s more bad news: the UK has the same Parliamentary system. We copied them. Don’t think Australia is much different. NZ has PropRep. Shhh, the Aussies think Kiwis are backward; let’s not burst their bubble 😉

        Harper has taken cynical, corrupt Parliamentary manipulation to an art form. We are sleepily unique in that respect. Americans would at least see through this simple ruse.

        What chance have we got when the ultimate arbiter of a corrupt system is the kept monarch of another cap-in-hand-to-neocon-Washington system.

        Expletives of your choice go here: : (#%^*+=]}\|#!!!

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      1. Some days, I have that thought every second minute, but then I realise we don’t abandon the lighthouse because we can’t see any approaching ships. So from one lighthouse-keeper to another, keep that fire burning! The amount of times I have failed to comment on remarkable posts because I am overwhelmed by the action of those words on my perceptions… Perhaps allow for the possibility that when you say something particularly powerful, people can be speechless.

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