Dear Butch: Am I a Leftist?

BrightAbyss replied to my Dodging Leftward post. I thought it would be easier to respond on a new post than to put a longish response in the reply. I have responded inline.

“I like that you did your homework.

Couple things:

Just because I support gender equality, revolution, re-engineering society to mitigate climate change, and i’m against the plunder and domination of vulnerable populations by dominant institutions doesn’t mean in “leftist”, at least not how I understand it. Why? Because I don’t see the world through the prism of high school poli-sci heuristics. Those are your labels and lists, and that is the simplistic framework upon which you want to demarcate things and people to create your in-group. Yeah for you. But ‘Left/right’ is meaningless to me, and so I refuse your categories and rhetoric and all the bullshit antagonisms and logics (decisional binary sets) that go with it. Ideology is not my focus and ultimately meaningless to me – although unavoidable in subtle ways.
I’m a pragmatist and an empiricist. So I’m ‘against’ all things damaging to the human (and other) species and ‘for’ all things that might lead to a more health inducing arrangement of populations. Those are my guiding commitments. So I’m not lying I’m just refusing your game. Period.”

Hahaha! Now this is amusing: you are not sure you’re a Leftist!

Personally, I don’t buy it. You’re retweeting articles from Marxists calling each other ‘comrade’ where they emphasize the importance of building a New Left to fight the capitalist crisis. But you’re not a Leftist? Come now. Let’s drop the pretenses.

You claim to be an empiricist. Are you telling me that you have never done an empirical analysis of your own beliefs? Let’s say you did a cladistic analysis of this idea of ‘plunder and domination of vulnerable populations by dominant institutions’. That means you would try to figure out where that idea originated, because you are definitely not the originator. That sounds identical to the Marxist idea that ‘the bourgeoisie (owning class) dominate the proletariat (working class) by controlling capital (the means of production)’. And you are an anti-Capitalist. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what you are against is what Marx was against. Again, I’m not buying this bullshit.

You can refuse my labels and lists, call it simplistic and refuse my categories. The truth is you don’t like the labels. You don’t want to be labeled a Leftist. You’re fine with thinking and acting like a Leftist, just so long as you’re not labeled as such. That’s your entire point. Sorry. Words have meanings. If you walk like a Leftist, and you talk like a Leftist, then you are a Leftist, whether or not you like that label. That’s why your bullshit is so petty. You understand clearly that we have norms of language, and that by flouting those norms, by refusing to use the words and their actual meanings, that you degrade our commons. When you refuse to label something that clearly deserves that label, because the application of that label would make you uncomfortable, then that is the same as lying. I’m sure cigarette manufacturers don’t like the labels either.

“I’m against the Koch bros because they put profit over ecosystems and do some in illegal and brutal ways. I’m against Marxism because it puts bureaucracy and ideology over people. I’m for reorganizing the economy to decrease carbon emission in order to mitigate global warming. I’m against involuntary taxes (socialism) because it consolidates money in the hands of wayward institutions. I’m for small government. I’m against financial oligarchy. I’m for valuing the family and individual responsibility. I’m against identity politics and the culture of blame. I’m for collectivising modes of production (for efficiency). I’m against fundamentalism.”

Collectivising modes of production? Probably you were thinking ‘means of production’. Collectivism, as in socialism, communism, fascism… consolidating the means of production into the hands of the state. Got it. But you’re against involuntary taxes because it consolidates money in the hands of wayward institutions. As though consolidating the means of production into the hands of government institutions is not exactly the same as consolidating money into the hands of wayward institutions. The lack of logical consistency and awareness of what you are saying is astounding. Amazingly empirical.

Also, you’re not against fundamentalism, you’re against Christianity. Please stop with that bullshit. Remember: I’ve read your Twitter feed.

And I draw from a lot of sources – left and right, but mostly empirical studies. Doesn’t mean I am committed to every organization or theoretical stance I re-tweet or draw from. Life is messy and so is one’s intellectual growth. SO where do these commitments put me on your color by number chart? Left-right? 

Where does that put you on my chart? Let me see.
[Beep boop beep bop… ping!].
Yep. As I suspected. You’re a Leftist.

Look, I suppose it’s possible (in the same way that a coin landing on its edge is possible) that you are so immersed in Leftism that you think you understand the sum of all things that might lead to a more health inducing arrangement of populations, but you don’t know that the aggregation of all those things has a name, and that name is Leftism. You just think it is common sense. Of course, you would be wrong in that assessment.

I also suppose you think you are some rational atheist. You should read RadishMag’s Reign of Reason article. Or maybe Free Speech, you know, so you can do an empirical cladistic analysis of your ideas to find out from whence they originate.

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Leftism vs Liberalism

I’ve been trying to tease apart Leftism and Liberalism, and I think I’ve found a formulation that is a pretty good predictor of Leftist positions: the Leftist drive is to destroy all hierarchy, which is the natural shape of human organization. Leftism is rebellion against Gnon.

This is in contrast to the Rightist or Reactionary position as illustrated in Nick B. Steves’ Reactionary Consensus, item 1:

Hierarchy

Reactionaries affirm that hierarchy is not only natural, but almost purely beneficial to group success. Hierarchy is not merely not evil, but an enabling trait of civilization. Since hierarchy is adaptively advantageous, it is easy to see why reactionaries believe it to be part of the law of nature or nature’s god or both. Public policies that ignore hierarchy as fundamental to human nature, or worse attempt to subvert it by artificial means of social leveling are foolish at best and likely to be catastrophic for human flourishing.

Liberals are those who advocate for Liberty. Capitalism is primarily a liberal system, because a fundamental aspect of it is the ‘spontaneous order’ of the market: for spontaneous order (self-order) to occur, then that presupposes that external order is not being forced upon it. Freedom of speech is a liberal value, as are freedom of association and gun ownership. Because America has always been a liberal project, Leftists have used the tactic of exploiting Liberal values that advance Leftist ideology.

Leftists want to attack, dismantle and destroy established orders; to ‘free’ the masses from hierarchical order imposed on them from the upper classes; to flatten hierarchies. To them, order and hierarchy is oppression, and it is… when viewed from the perspective of the Left. Civilization is the systematic suppression of animal drives, barring behaviors which have negative effects on group fitness. Capitalism is the suppression of involuntary transfers of property (parasitism/theft). Even in a liberal order, such as a Capitalist society, hierarchy does emerge because humans are fundamentally un-equal and will self-sort into hierarchies. In a liberal order, given a choice, most people will fall into that order willingly, understanding that the hierarchies that are formed are to their benefit. Leftists want to destroy these orders and impose anti-Liberal (totalitarian) economic and social policies.

To be fair, neither the Left or the Right holds ‘civil liberties’ in very high regard, though the Rightist drive to succeed and prosper makes the Right tend align with Liberal ideologies such as Capitalism, which appears to function better with open communications or free speech and meritocracy. Although a productive Capitalist implementation does not require a completely Liberal order. Capitalism succeeded demonstrably under Kings, see ‘The British Empire’. The Left doesn’t care about real world outcomes and will destroy the goose that lays the golden egg happily as a sacrifice to Moloch.

I see the Left as rebellion against Gnon, and the Right as submission to Gnon. This is the basic Left/Right spectrum on the X-axis. Then Liberty/Authority is mapped as a spectrum onto the Y-axis. It can be very difficult to discern if a particular position held within the Left-Liberal quadrant of the map is driven there by a Leftist or Liberal vector. I think it is important to do so, because Liberal drives, which allow enough freedom for spontaneous orders to emerge are important in creating flexible, adaptable and dominant social orders. Gnon demands fruitfulness. But Leftist drives, which lead to death and infertility, must at a minimum be ostracized.

One can think of the Leftist project as the destruction of hierarchy (forcible implementation of a flat order) and the Liberal project as the formation of self-ordering hierarchies. It can be difficult to tease apart a Leftist from a Liberal position, because Leftists cheat and pretend to be Liberals when it suits them. Here are a couple of key quotes lifted from the brilliant RadishMag’s Free Speech issue which display that Leftists are not Liberals, that they do not hold Liberal values such as free speech in any high regard, but merely pretend to do so in order to gain power:

Roger Nash Baldwin, director and co-founder of the ACLU (1934):

“I believe in non-violent methods of struggle as most effective in the long run for building up successful working class power. Where they cannot be followed or where they are not even permitted by the ruling class, obviously only violent tactics remain. I champion civil liberty as the best of the non-violent means of building the power on which workers’ rule must be based. If I aid the reactionaries to get free speech now and then, if I go outside the class struggle to fight against censorship, it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties. The class struggle is the central conflict of the world; all others are incidental.

When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies, at home and abroad. I dislike it in principle as dangerous to its own objects. But the Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world. […] While I have some reservations about party policy in relation to internal democracy, and some criticisms of the unnecessary persecution of political opponents, the fundamentals of liberty are firmly fixed in the USSR. And they are fixed on the only ground on which liberty really matters — economic. No class to exploit the workers and peasants; wide sharing of control in the economic organizations; and the wealth produced is common property.”

Another quote about the suppression of free speech from Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School, in 1965:

The whole post-fascist period is one of clear and present danger. Consequently, true pacification requires the withdrawal of tolerance before the deed, at the stage of communication in word, print, and picture. Such extreme suspension of the right of free speech and free assembly is indeed justified only if the whole of society is in extreme danger. I maintain that our society is in such an emergency situation, and that it has become the normal state of affairs. Different opinions and ‘philosophies’ can no longer compete peacefully for adherence and persuasion on rational grounds: the ‘marketplace of ideas’ is organized and delimited by those who determine the national and the individual interest. In this society, for which the ideologists have proclaimed the ‘end of ideology,’ the false consciousness has become the general consciousness — from the government down to its last objects. The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don’t have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.”

For example, we now regularly see Leftists calling to limit free speech on the internet. That is an anti-Liberal position. Currently, the Left is in charge in America and in the Democratic party, and the goal is to limit ‘hate speech’ (any speech which offends Leftist sensibilities) so that is a Leftist drive; to further the Leftist ideology at the expense of Liberty. A Liberal will argue for free speech against Leftist impositions.

Here is another Left vs Liberal example using the case of persons who are ‘transgender’.

The Liberal view is that the trannie should be allowed to be openly trans and to talk about being trans and to form alliances with other pro-trans people. This is allowing the basic Liberties or free speech and association to trannies. A Liberal will allow pro-trans and anti-trans schools of thought to both exist. A Liberal will trust that in the ‘open marketplace of ideas’ that the best ideas will win.

A Leftist will claim that the very order imposed by nature, the ‘gender binary’ is an oppression and will demand that gender be removed from all public places and that children should be taught that they can choose their gender and forced to watch pro-transgender propaganda in school. They will fight anyone who takes the anti-trans position, the position that accepts the natural (or God-given) order of ‘gender binary’.

The Liberal and Leftists positions can look very similar, but you can tell the Leftist position because it is the totalitarian one: only the pro-trans position is allowable, which is why currently all other positions are ‘hate’ or ‘hate speech’. When not openly totalitarian, it will be the position in opposition to a natural (gender) or spontaneous (meritocracy) order.

An interesting conundrum is the prevalence of Leftist support for Islam and Muslims, when Islam is obviously an anti-Liberal and anti-Leftist religion. I think that the Baldwin quote above is instructive, especially the line “The class struggle is the central conflict of the world; all others are incidental.” The dominant order of the world is Western civilization, which is White and Christian in origin. Muslims are demonstrably a lower class: an empirical evaluation of their civilization in comparison to Western civilization yields this result. Leftists make this same evaluation, though they would deny it until their dying breath, and come to the conclusion that Muslims are allies in the class struggle to overthrow the dominant White and Christian order. This is also the reason for the alliance between Africans and the Left.

It is similarly interesting to look at the attacks on prominent Atheists Bill Mahr, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, all of whom are devout Liberals, and who have taken reasonable and rational positions against the Islam due to its anti-Liberal nature and in logical parallel to their attacks on Christianity. The Left is hounding all three. You see, attacks on Christianity are not bigoted or racist because the dominant order is Christian. The Left loves when these Atheists attack Christians, but the moment Atheists begin to attack comrades in the class struggle (Muslims), then the Left returns fire. Obviously, none of the three Atheists really understands this, because they don’t grok the difference between Leftism and Liberalism. Their bewilderment is amusing as they sit dumbfounded trying to figure out why they are under attack for being rational and consistent.

Liberals want Liberty. Leftists want to destroy natural orders. Teasing their positions apart can be tricky, but is best exposed by evaluating their positions which are both Leftist and anti-Liberal. To the Left, Atheism is a tool in the class struggle and nothing more. Just as Free Speech is a tool in the class struggle and nothing more. The Left will use anti-Liberal means to squash free speech from Atheists or anyone else who goes outside the class struggle, the central struggle, which is the destruction of hierarchies and spontaneous or natural orders. The Left is rebellion against Gnon.