notes on the Rightism, Leftism, Liberalism

I continue to be annoyed that “Left”, like “Liberal”, is used so loosely. It means next to nothing.

Nationalism and celebration of national power is a Right Wing, fascistic constant, as is promotion of race hierarchy; the celebration of pure consumption in front of an audience of poverty; the exploitation of the weak or disadvantaged; the creation of “solutions” to supposed and unprecedented “problems”; and the pointed identification of and focus on “weird” or “dirty” people as the source of societal problems.

I think these have always been the goal and method of Right Wing thought. What differs from one year to the next is the quantity: the degree to which this happens, how many actions such Conservatively-minded people get away with while yet unopposed, the amount of material damage done to public institutions. Such Conservative ways of interacting in societies, such profiting, dominating, and aggregating of power, never changes qualitatively.

In contrast, “Leftism” isn’t a single static position, like Right Wing, which largely never changes. It is not the yin to a yang or a mirror-image political philosophy. It is, in fact, characterized by opposition, first, (so I guess I can see the misunderstanding) and self-defined according to the degree of effective opposition to resident power structures and against the perpetual “Right” status quo. But, many fronts of opposition exist, so many Leftisms.

All these Leftisms differ from monolithic “Liberalism”, which is a moral response to ––and attempt to live within–– Right Wing conditions. If a mirror image to Conservatism exists, it is Liberalsim, not Leftism.

Unfortunately, many of the self-identified “Left” in America seems concerned with issues of doctrinal consistencies, of Right Wing celebrations and displays of greed, of shows of power by the powerful, and inordinately focused on the many hypocrisies that always exist in Conservatism. This misidentified “Left” is, I would argue, nothing more than a mirrored response to the desire to live with fascism. It is Liberalism. To the degree that an otherwise morally- and liberally-minded person can perceive of harm caused by participation in power structures, to the degree to which this person can be convinced to oppose those structures, the archetypal “Liberal” might yet follow along in the footsteps where a now incoherent Left begins to demonstrate something like coherency.

Ultimately, I’m talking about power. The Left (so-called) has no power and, I argue, even if it did, even if the people involved in all of the various and separate movements could even begin to unite into a kind of coalition (a party?), they don’t now seem particularly likely to exert any force of power on certain individuals and organizations. Buildings will need to be permanently occupied. Individuals who’ve openly exploited entire nations full of people will have to be cut off from any access to their inordinate wealth and thus from the power that comes by possessing that wealth.

At the end of a particularly divisive election in the United States, and now, beginning 2017, the label persists, but a growing number of people recognize that so-called “Leftism” is a near complete mess having no relevance or effective response to growing fascism.

Active supporters of fascism, not unsurprisingly, continue to hold up the image of the Leftist as but one of several poisons in society. These scapegoated targets, per the typical methods of fascism, are held up as the many causes for their own manufactured, exaggerated, or mischaracterized problems and toward the further dominance and solidification of power.

The many and separate, private, weak Leftisms will need to unite toward making the cause of opposition not a mere moral force, but a material force.

clean slates are cheap


A Short Observation on Ideology and Politics

When one hears or participates in talk of this thing called “ideology” (or one of its cousins, “ideological” or “ideologue”) there is often an accompanying and confounding mix of language which makes it difficult to separate out the overt from the covert.

Alex Gabriel responds indirectly to the symbol of something perceived to drive irrational behaviour. To speak of “pride”, per se, with regards to something is to contrast your position with those who are (or should be?) ashamed. He does say that “ideology” is a dirty word, and indeed, it is. Ideology, in the common parlance, represents all that metaphorically “came down with the Berlin Wall”, the fearful methods underpinning the world of Orwell’s 1984. That is the “ideology” of embarrassment, of politics, of propaganda, of goals and abstractions. And, it is a caricature.

I am not convinced that ideology, the ideology, that is, which affects every aspect of our conscious lives, is such a coherent and connected “set of principles that inform how you think”. It certainly is not politics. I think it’s true that ideology is, in fact, related to “a way of understanding” and, yes, it does frame one’s politics and thoughts. But I doubt it really informs anyone (literally or metaphorically), much less one’s own self.

Ideology, instead, drives how you choose to inform yourself. It is something that determines how you perceive that illusion of choice I mean. Also true is that ideology is not a bad thing. It isn’t good either. Ideology works behind the scenes, sequestered from the explicit and bullet-pointed sort of “ideology” folks tend mean when using the word: I think they mean “propaganda” or “doctrine” or, more frequently, “dogma”.

This is less a criticism than it is a point of clarification. He equates his proud stance with “ideology” and he takes an overtly partisan and principled position, clearly — on something I completely agree with, incidentally! I get that he is digging into the empty-headed partisanship and label-making that turns a responsive attitude of skepticism, with regard to claims, into group signifying Skeptic(-ism) of ambiguous practical meaning. That sort of self-identified “Skeptic”, it seems, is less interested in method and more interested in group labels and unwittingly provides an unflattering critical opening on so-called “New Atheism”. Well, “New Atheism” is, it turns out, entirely composed of such partisans and in-group types. Meanwhile, garden-variety atheists are busy working, reading, participating in culture, questioning the legitimacy of religious cult, and so forth. Interestingly enough, the public acquisition and reflexive use of the term New Atheist one is likely to encounter in news-like media is absolutely ideological.

The proper response to ideology is less about being political (or not) than it is about understanding your own opinions. Every person has a political position, even when he doesn’t say he’s political. Especially when he claims not to be political, I’d say! By contrast, someone who takes an overtly political stance may not fully understand that he speaks and thinks a fully received content, simply thinking and repeating what was heard. It’s as true for me as it is for everyone. That particular quality of inadvertence is the most terrible and fearsome aspect of ideology; inadvertence is the primary social function of ideology.

notes: which ‘atheism’?

I can think of at least three different uses of the word atheist: one of which is from antiquity and is a pure accusation; one which is absurdly specific, so practically meaningless; and one which is nearly synonymous with a contemporary use of the word “Humanism”.

Atheism as a concept or body of ideas has a paradoxical aspect in that it only grows when religious hegemony intensifies. There are as many kinds of atheism as hegemonies from which people try to extract themselves. That is to say there is a Catholic atheism which is distinct from Islamic atheism which is distinct from Mormon atheism. Each shares a fundamental doubt of a cult’s claims, but that cult’s particular arrogation creates, in turn, a particular kind of seizing back of personal authority.