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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

defining lefty extremism « Previous | |Next »
March 6, 2007

I've always been unsure of what lefty means these days for our cultural conservatives over at Quadrant who are part of an authoritarian political movement. I've suspected them of looking back to 1968--living in the past as it were. By this I mean that they see the world through the eyes of 1968, tend to run social liberal and non-liberal left together, and see the contemporary world of nations in terms of their cold war scenario of totalitarianism versus freedom. This is a movement based on unquestioning Manichean certainties, an endless stigmatization of the whole array of Enemies as decadent, depraved and weak, and which views the left as being consumed by envy, resentment and hate.

Here is one explicit account of left extremism. It is an American account given by Joe Klein over at Time. He says that his definition of a left-wing extremist is one who exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes:

--believes the United States is a fundamentally negative force in the world.

--believes that American imperialism is the primary cause of Islamic radicalism.

--believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not an individual case of monumental stupidity, but a consequence of America’s fundamental imperialistic nature.

--tends to blame America for the failures of others—i.e. the failure of our NATO allies to fulfill their responsibilities in Afghanistan.

--doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best liberal idea in human history.

--believes American society is fundamentally unfair (as opposed to having unfair aspects that need improvement).

--believes that eternal problems like crime and poverty are the primarily the fault of society.

--believes that America isn’t really a democracy.

--believes that corporations are fundamentally evil.

--believes in a corporate conspiracy that controls the world.

--is intolerant of good ideas when they come from conservative sources.

--dismissively mocks people of faith, especially those who are opposed to abortion and gay marriage.

--regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack moderates or conservatives.

Swearing? Believes in a corporate conspiracy that controls the world? Lefty extremists would need to include Marxists if it is to have meaning, yet Marxists think in terms of the contradictions of a revolutionary capitalism not corporate conspiracies controlling the world ! Secularism does not have anything to do with being anti-religion. In its standard definition, it refers to the "separation of church/mosque and state."

I reckon Klein is actually gunning for social liberals.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:44 AM | | Comments (4)
Comments

Comments

Yeah, The Lefty's are a bit like the Hare Krishna's were. They used to be fun to watch and were good for a free meal but don't listen too hard to what they are saying.
Occasionally they pack together and have a collective rant and jump about swinging their arms and beating their drums and they really do put on a good show but....if you see them the next day you cross the street coz its just the same old Claptrap rolled out again.

Les,
courtesy of Andrew Sullivan---the new conservatives you so admire in action at the Conservative Political Action Conference (John Edward's isn't even gay).

Last year at the same event, Anne Coulter warned Arab "ragheads" about violence that would be done to them and called for Supreme Court justices to be murdered -- and received standing ovations.Coulter expresses the conservative movement's real impulses and core beliefs.

This new conservative movement incorporates the wingnut scandal-mongering of the Clinton administration, culminating in Kenneth Starr and the Republican loonies trying to impeach a president over a blow job; it's the press beating up on Al Gore in 2000 and a conservative Supreme Court then awarding the disputed election to its favored candidate; it's a series of brazen, multi-trillion dollar tax cuts aimed at the GOP's rich donor class; it's the K Street Project; it's the 30-year stagnation of middle class wages, partly due to an unholy alliance between conservatives and neoliberals on trade and unions; it's a disastrous war in Iraq led by a president who had no clue what he was getting into (and still doesn't) etc etc.

The right-wing's most popular pundits with literally millions of fans -- Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and the rest -- spew out hate-mongering bile and bigotry on virtually a daily basis.

The conservative movement loves Ann Coulter -- and makes her a venerated part of their political events. She provides an outlet, a venting ground, for the twisted psychological impulses and hatefilled political unconscious that drives the entire pro-Bush, right-wing spectacle. I watch them in action on Fox Television when I 'm doing my stints in Canberra --the right wing print noise machine in Australia (Devine, Albrechtson, Bolt and Ackerman etc ) is pretty mild.

Even so, the Australian movement is propelled by, and centrally dependent upon hatred of an Enemy, foreign or domestic -- the Other as the Terrorist, the Immigrant, the Faggot, the Islamofascist, and most of all, the Liberal.

I find the last point re harsh intolerant language rather odd because from my experience the yahoos on the "right" specialise in such language in all forms of media--print,radio,TV,and on the internet.
The language of extreme polarisation and hate. Basically they are implanting "button" words into the "mind" of the mob. We are telling you who is responsible for all of our troubles. And the real trouble is that when (not If) things get really bad those targeted by "button" words had better watch as they will be the first to be either rounded up and shot---the necessary collective scapegoats.
And of course those on the left generally do not have much to do with the USA "culture" of guns so they will be incredibly vulerable.

John,
it is odd. Klein looks backwards to what once was, rather than the now of right wing,faith-based laissez-faire extremists associated with the well-funded conservative echo machine.

Klein doesn't seem to distinguish between different kinds of left --eg., the standard distinction between the anti-totalitarian left and the totalitarian left.