Posts Tagged ‘left wing’

So says this article.

We live in a world where corporate capitalism has always completely depended on state power, and the basic practical thrust of left statism has always been annexation of the economy.

I still naturally think of myself as being on the left, and tend to find more common ground with lefty ideas and positions than with self-identified right-wing thought, but it’s a fuzzy and nebulous excuse for an axis, and there are much more fruitful ways available of summing up what I consider politically important. I’m an anti-authoritarian more strongly than I’m, say, a socialist – and in fact much of my feeling on the latter flows from my vehemence on the former.

Rather than “libertarian socialist” or other similar labels I’ve found helpful in the past to sum myself up, I think I’m going to start saying that my political views can be best represented in the form of the Konami code. It conveys no useful or meaningful political information, but it’s kinda funny the first time you hear it, and feels like it could be referring to something deep and profound, and establishes that I probably enjoy being irritatingly contrarian.

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This is an interesting thing about the differences among libertarian views on corporate power.

I tend to find right-wing libertarianism very tedious, and often largely self-defeating, given how authoritarian can be the ultimate results of its basic tenets about capitalist property rights. I came to the libertarian socialism with which I now hesitantly identify through a fairly mainstream liberalism.

The line of thinking that got me there is typified by the kind of argument suggested by the above article, in response to the classical liberal claim that more government intervention is what’s needed to keep corporate power in check:

I agree with you that corporate power exists, and share your concern with its evil effects, but I believe you’re mistaken about its causes and remedy. The evil effects of corporate power result, not from government’s failure to restrain big business, but from government propping it up in the first place: this government support includes subsidies to the operating costs of big business, and protection of big business from market competition through market entry barriers, regulatory cartels, and special privileges like so-called “intellectual property.”

The fact that capitalist power can even be amassed in the first place, into such concentrations that it supposedly needs to be “reined in” by the government, relies on numerous such forms of tacit government support which don’t often get seriously questioned. Maybe taking some of that support away, instead of trying to add more safeguards for corporations to find ways around, will actually achieve at least some of what many liberals are really aiming for.

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a fair bit of time feeling disillusioned about politics.

It’s fairly standard, really, for people to despair of the system as a whole if they pay attention for long enough to see what happens when someone they voted for actually gets into power. Politicians are easy to despise, particularly when they do publicly stupid things, which they commonly take advantage of their numerous opportunities to do. They might even be worse than estate agents.

A recent Gallup poll in America put Congress’s job approval rating among the public at 10%. That means that one person in ten thinks their body of elected rulers are doing well at what they’ve been put in that position of authority for. This was the least optimistic of various polls, and it has crawled pitifully upwards a little since then, but either way, it’s not hard to draw a few reasonable conclusions about the esteem in which politicians across the pond are generally held.

People are more likely to feel positively about the guy they voted for, or any individual who represents their team – Democrats, Republicans, whatever – but it makes little difference whether they’re closing the tribal ranks and blaming “the other side” for everything that’s going wrong. It’s a fantastically low score.

The political landscape often seems like a dismal place, and it’s easy to get discouraged about the whole thing.

Except, you can’t just not take an interest in politics. It’s not like it’s got any less important because the people who are supposed to be doing it seem to be really bad at it. It’s not like people’s disillusionment necessarily means they stop caring about taxes, or foreign policy, or military intervention overseas, or global economics, or the criminal justice system, or same-sex marriage rights, or how often the council come and collect the bins. These things still matter, and I still feel quite strongly about some of them.

And, on reflecting further on exactly what I strongly felt about all these things, I decided I wasn’t actually disillusioned with politics at all.

What I’m disillusioned with is authoritarianism and capitalism.

The reason this wasn’t obvious in the first place is that those two things basically are politics in much of the modern world. President Obama is from the purportedly left-wing party of his country’s political system; I’ve touched before on the ways in which his administration continues to resemble a right-wing dictatorship, despite the fevered, hallucinatory accusations of socialism from the even-further-right. And don’t even get me started on David Cameron.

Genuine socialism barely gets a look-in in the current discourse. The closest we usually get is reminders of how bad Stalin was, by people who – assuming they think what they’re saying makes any sense – have apparently never wondered whether the whole notion of government and capitalism shouldn’t similarly be debunked by Hitler. Libertarianism has a more noticeable and waxing presence, but also seems to be dominated by the right-wing.

The point is, there are alternative ways of thinking and acting available. You’re allowed to have such different politics from all the major political parties that you don’t want to join any of them. It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to play politics, any more than not being a hipster means you’re banned from Tumblr. You might feel a little isolated and out of place, but it’s your internet – and, indeed, your world – too.

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In modern American politics, what’s “left-wing” and “right-wing” – or even what’s a Democratic policy and what’s a Republican one – is so malleable and changeable as to render the concepts all but pointless.

That’s what I’m taking away from this article, which looks at the changing attitudes of leading political individuals and parties over the last few decades. But while the policies listed here are surely just a small sample of those which have swung back and forth between being identified as a “right” and “left” idea, the author notes:

I don’t particularly mind flip-flops. Consistency is an overrated virtue. But honesty isn’t. In many of these cases, the parties changed policy when it was politically convenient to do so, not when conditions changed and new information came to light.

It’s not simply the fact that people change their mind about what they believe that’s the problem. It’s that they’re not doing it because they’ve encountered some new information and a rational assessment has led them to conclude they were mistaken in the past. They’re doing it because they’re on one side, and their political opponents are on the other, and they’re strongly compelled to believe whatever seems to be the message from their team at the moment, because they’re the good guys and they’re supposed to win.

Here’s one particular example of how people on both sides have significantly changed their opinions about something, based only on their own position in the political system, and what is politically expedient for them in the immediate future:

Favoring an expansive view of executive authority between 2001 and 2008 put you on the right. Doing so since 2009 has, in most cases, put you on the left.

Now, I wonder, what major political event occurred around 2008-2009, which might have radically shifted Democrats’ and Republicans ideas on executive authority? Oh, right.

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You know Glenn Beck? Turns out we’ve got one of those on this side of the ocean, too.

Earlier today, Tabloid Watch alerted me to a series of reviews (beginning here, and continuing here, here, and here) of a novel written by Richard Littlejohn.

Yes, it’s probably worth whatever reaction of dread you just gave it. If you’re not familiar with why his name should be making you want to vomit in someone else’s mouth, here’s a quick primer. Everything in that article is completely accurate. Except the parts they’ve toned down to go easy on him.

The book isn’t a new release, as I mistakenly thought at first, actually having been published in 2001. But the comparisons with Beck and his own novel are striking. The giddy paranoia, the delusional hysteria over some completely imagined nightmare, the non-existent evils supposed to be driving a country to its doom unless the day can be saved by the fanatically right-wing protagonist… Having just read that review on Cracked a couple of days ago, it all sounded eerily familiar.

I’m not going to retread the ground too much, because the Five Chinese Crackers blog really has done an excellent job of summing up everything wrong with To Hell In A Handcart – and it’s a long list. Perhaps most noticeable is how transparent a diatribe it is. There are countless extracts quoted in this breakdown which don’t belong to any well-rounded fictional character or engaging narrative prose; it’s just Littlejohn banging on about how awful it is having to live on the same planet as gays and foreigners, exactly like he does in his column, but with the words “said Mickey” following it every few sentences or so.

One character directly channels Littlejohn’s own prejudices as he laments that you only have to “raise the question” – the exact question isn’t specified, but it’s something about whether all immigrants aren’t thieving scum – to be “shouted down as some kind of racist”.

Do some background reading on Richard Littlejohn. Look at the way gypsies, Romanians, “spades” (apparently a slur on black people), and even “swarthy, olive-skinned” people are portrayed in the book he wrote. And you’ll see he’s right. It’s really incredible.

All you have to do is stereotype all members of a race as deplorable criminals, perpetuate bullshit about liberal lefties falling over themselves to serve up every privilege imaginable to those dirty foreigners on a platter, and try and dodge accusations of prejudice by pulling one of the most pathetic “some of my best friends are ethnic” routines I’ve ever seen… and somehow people will get the idea that you’re a horrible, horrible racist.

It’s clear, too, that whatever hardship and discrimination non-whites have had to face throughout the years is far less important than the indignity we Aryan folk have had to suffer by occasionally having racism pointed out to us. In one scene of the book, one of the lefty liberal strawmen in charge of anti-racism in the police force apparently has a room full of people repeatedly chanting “I AM A RACIST!” – because in Littlejohn’s mind, this is an insightful satire that cleverly undermines everything those liberal softies are trying to do. With all their “sensitivity” and “awareness” bullshit.

Apparently he genuinely sees no difference between learning to be watchful for any unconscious expressions of privilege that might occasionally leak out into your actions or words, and mindlessly shouting “I AM A RACIST I AM A RACIST”. Is Richard Littlejohn actually that stupid? I submit that yes, he is, and he also just doesn’t give a shit.

So if you couldn’t already think of enough reasons off the top of your head to really, thoroughly dislike Richard Littlejohn – and even if you could – the series of posts up at Five Chinese Crackers dissecting this dreadful, dreadful book are well worth a read. I’m not going to get started on the whole blogs vs. newspapers debate anytime soon, but if those posts don’t count as journalism but this bullshit does just because its distribution involved ink, then the word “journalism” has long since stopped being of any use in its current state.

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