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Old January 20th, 2010, 08:47 AM   #1
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What is the left? (spin-off thread)

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the Democrat left.
There aren't enough leftists in the Democratic Party to have any influence on policy/legislation.

Last edited by myp; January 20th, 2010 at 07:01 PM. Reason: spin-off of http://www.politicalfray.com/showthread.php?t=1090
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Old January 20th, 2010, 09:34 AM   #2
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There aren't enough leftists in the Democratic Party to have any influence on policy/legislation.
Indeed. How a party filled with open Nazis can be considered leftist is beyond me.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #3
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The terms left and right are open to interpretation and most people would not consider anarchism to be on the left, so while you guys may see it as such, most people in today's world don't. You know what I mean though- the left within America, if that sounds better.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 04:41 PM   #4
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most people would not consider anarchism to be on the left,
Really? I find that difficult to believe.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 05:49 PM   #5
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Really? I find that difficult to believe.
While anarchism can be leftist, it can also be rightist. Anyway, my point is that here (or even there in Germany) most people do not think anarchist when they think extreme left. I think that is because the anarchist ideology does not mean leftism, although it potentially can.

And to return on topic here, I am talking about what most people consider the American left here.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 05:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myp View Post
While anarchism can be leftist, it can also be rightist. Anyway, my point is that here (or even there in Germany) most people do not think anarchist when they think extreme left. I think that is because the anarchist ideology does not mean leftism, although it potentially can.

And to return on topic here, I am talking about what most people consider the American left here.
You act like the real Left doesn't exist in America. I think I, the Socialist Party and the entirety of the '60s disproves that.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 06:22 PM   #7
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You act like the real Left doesn't exist in America. I think I, the Socialist Party and the entirety of the '60s disproves that.
We can start another topic on this if you would like to, but you can not honestly tell me that the majority of people in today's world will think anarchist socialism when they here left. Anarchism has been made a fringe ideology and the establishment has effectively dissociated ties between it and the left or right. For the sake of clarity, I mean Obama and company when I say left in terms of modern American politics.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 06:32 PM   #8
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We can start another topic on this if you would like to, but you can not honestly tell me that the majority of people in today's world will think anarchist socialism when they here left. Anarchism has been made a fringe ideology and the establishment has effectively dissociated ties between it and the left or right. For the sake of clarity, I mean Obama and company when I say left in terms of modern American politics.
I agree with you point, just not with the whole 'American definition'. Left is left, not my problem if a bunch of ignorant Americans never bothered to read a dictionary.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 06:34 PM   #9
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I agree with you point, just not with the whole 'American definition'. Left is left, not my problem if a bunch of ignorant Americans never bothered to read a dictionary.
This really ties into this: http://www.politicalfray.com/showthread.php?t=978

There is no set definition for left and right so you can't call people ignorant for calling Obama a leftist because in reality, there is not one, but many definitions for "left."
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Old January 20th, 2010, 06:53 PM   #10
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While anarchism can be leftist, it can also be rightist.
I wouldn't say that's correct. I mean, there are "anarchists without adjectives", but anarcho-capitalists - if that's who you mean - don't arise from libertarian* roots, and anarchism is always a working class movement. I know that no anarchist considers them anarchists.

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Anyway, my point is that here (or even there in Germany) most people do not think anarchist when they think extreme left.
No, i'd agree with that.

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I think that is because the anarchist ideology does not mean leftism, although it potentially can.
Here i disagree. Obviously, i don't know about in America, but "anarchist" in Europe, unless specifically called "anarcho-capitalism", is almost always associated with the left - except with "anarchists without objectives", whom nobody knows or cares much about anyway.

I'd agree with your previous statement, because other socialist groups are far more prominent. In Germany, obviously the libertarians* make up a relatively minor part of Die Linke, the main voice for leftism and socialism. In Britain, too, there's the SWP and SP and Trotskyists all over the place, so again, libertarians* or anarchists find ourselves in a considerable minority.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 07:45 PM   #11
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I wouldn't say that's correct. I mean, there are "anarchists without adjectives", but anarcho-capitalists - if that's who you mean - don't arise from libertarian* roots, and anarchism is always a working class movement. I know that no anarchist considers them anarchists.
I would disagree with you here. The working class movement is a creation of the past couple hundred years, with a notable figure in Marx. Before that, there was no established working class movement- sure some believed in a government-less world where all people have an equal right to property, but that movement was not focused around the working class.

In fact, it was decades before Marx that we first saw the free market movement with the likes of Adam Smith and J.S. Mill. Within that movement, there were also anarchists, but what you would call anarcho-capitalists.

In reality both the working class movement and the anarcho-capitalist movement are fairly new and not at the roots of anarchism. They are both merely evolved forms of one idea. That being said, I don't think you can claim your idea about anarchism is "true anarchism" or "true libertarianism" because clearly the working class movement formed roughly the same time and if you look at just Marx then even after the anarcho-capitalist movement.

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Here i disagree. Obviously, i don't know about in America, but "anarchist" in Europe, unless specifically called "anarcho-capitalism", is almost always associated with the left - except with "anarchists without objectives", whom nobody knows or cares much about anyway.
Would you agree (or at least be open to the possibility) that the reason Europeans tend to automatically tie anarchism with left-anarchism instead of anarcho-capitalism is simply because most Europeans are to the left anyway- (at least relative to capitalism or America)?

Different peoples will have different interpretations based on how they were raised to think. It does not mean the Europeans definition or the American definition of anarchism is correct. It just means that the people have different backgrounds and different viewpoints.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 10:44 PM   #12
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I would disagree with you here. The working class movement is a creation of the past couple hundred years, with a notable figure in Marx. Before that, there was no established working class movement- sure some believed in a government-less world where all people have an equal right to property, but that movement was not focused around the working class.

In fact, it was decades before Marx that we first saw the free market movement with the likes of Adam Smith and J.S. Mill. Within that movement, there were also anarchists, but what you would call anarcho-capitalists.

In reality both the working class movement and the anarcho-capitalist movement are fairly new and not at the roots of anarchism. They are both merely evolved forms of one idea. That being said, I don't think you can claim your idea about anarchism is "true anarchism" or "true libertarianism" because clearly the working class movement formed roughly the same time and if you look at just Marx then even after the anarcho-capitalist movement.
I almost entirely disagree. The working class movement was formed well before Marx. The Left has a tendency to give Marx a lot more than his deserved credit. What Marx actually did was create an ideology with roots in the working class movement. If you want to trace the working class movement, you could go at least as far back as 1381 - the Peasant Revolt.

As for libertarianism* and anarchism, the two can be seen to have existed well before Marx. Perhaps the first sign of it - the first flirtation with the working class movement by a progressivist, incidentally, was just after the English revolution. In 1649, a group of men and women, who called themselves the "true levellers", because they were a group of working people wrote a "manifesto", if you will, that recognised class division, espoused equality and supported democracy, rejected the state and was a proponent for early atheism and early socialism.

Skip forward to the French Revolution. Of course, many of the enlightenment writers held generally leftist views (certainly for the time), but they were made up of intellectuals, so i can't claim this as a victory for the working class movement. Afterward, however, there was a great multitude of new and radical ideas. Among these was anarchism. To skip around the taboo, anarchists would call themselves "libertarians" - for example Pierre Joseph Proudhon, who wrote a book - the title of which is nowadays a popular anarchist slogan, Property Is Theft.

Now we come to Marx. He simply worked on the concepts of "socialism" and fed on the working class movement to create his own ideology called Marxism. Ironically, although Marx's own views had a generally libertarian trend, it was just about only authoritarian movements that grew out of this. Marx drew on already-present ideas of socialism and hegelianism (which already had then a leftist and rightist interpretation).

Oh, and remember, Marx rejected the Paris Commune, certainly inspired by the working class movement with the famous phrase "if they are Marxists, then I am not a Marxist".

In fact it is Mikhail Bakunin that is credited with providing the basis for modern anarchism. Bakunin became the de facto leader of the libertarian wing of the International. (I've just been writing about this funnily enough). He was the primary opposition to Marx.

From Marx, the Bolshevik and Maoist movements were conceived. Maoism was basically dismantled with Deng Xiaoping's reforms, but fragments still exist in asylums around the world. Leninism itself was abandoned before it was implemented. The "democratic republic" never arose. Stalinism wasn't so much related to Marxism as it was to fascism. Trotskyism, however, grew from Marxism and Leninism. It's now the dominant socialist theory in both America and Europe.

Libertarianism/Anarchism however, flourished much more widely.

In Russia, it flourished and preceeded the Bolshevik (and as an offshoot Menshevik) movement. During the October revolution, the Black Guards fought the Bolsheviks. After the revolution had succeeded, Lenin thoroughly detsroyed the unions, because they were an organising point of the working class anarchist movement.

Back again a good few decades and the anarchist movement formed the IWA and IWW well before the commies got themselves properly organised.

Let's hit a bit closer to home. East Coast America, late 19th century and early 20th. The time of independent newspapers and the Haymarket Martyrs. The development of the radical movement there was mainly due to anarchist immigrants from Europe, such as Emma Goldman, who came frm Russia. The labour - or working class movement in the US has certainly had its ups and downs. The US actually has a pretty violent labour history. The "factory girls" as well were straight out of the traditional socialist handbook.

In Poland, the libertarians created a trade union called Solidarity.

In France, the anarchist movement became prominent (again) in the 20s and 30s when anti-fascist groups fought right-wing fascist, nationalist and racist groups.

In Germany, the Freikorps and Nazis were actually fought by the social democrats and communists. It wasn't until reunification that anarchist anti-fascist groups were formed, due to a rise in far-right extremism - a lot of people from the former DDR were pretty racist. Anyway, an anarchist group called Antifa became prominent.

In Britain, anarchists played a part in The Battle of Cable Street in '36 and The Battle of Lewisham in '77. Red Action was anarchist. The AFA was formed in 1985 and fought the Battle of Waterloo in '92. AFA's successor, inspired by the German group, i think, called Antifa, formed (in Britain) in 2001. It has fought against the EDL and SDL in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. Anarchists fought against Thatcher in the 80s. Also in the 80s, a radical socialist party called the "United Kingdom Libertarian Party" was practically bought by rich capitalists.

As for Spain, i think the word Catalonia is enough.

Italy had a very healthy anarchist movements with insurrections occurring. Malatesta was Italian. Berniri was Italian. After Northern Italy was liberated by the rebels, Italians lived (and thrived) successfully in an anarchist society, until the US forced them to be subservient to a state.

Right, enough of Anarchist history (one of my personal loves). The term libertarian was either used first in an anarchist/socialist/working class sense just after the French Revolution or it arose from the pirate legend of Libertalia - an anarchic socialist society formed by pirates. I'm not entirely sure. Before then, anyway, "libertarian" had religious connotations.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 10:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Let's hit a bit closer to home. East Coast America, late 19th century and early 20th. The time of independent newspapers and the Haymarket Martyrs. The development of the radical movement there was mainly due to anarchist immigrants from Europe, such as Emma Goldman, who came frm Russia. The labour - or working class movement in the US has certainly had its ups and downs. The US actually has a pretty violent labour history. The "factory girls" as well were straight out of the traditional socialist handbook.
Ah, the rednecks. Anyone who thinks it's a synonym for rural American rightists has a pathetically bad knowledge of American history. They nearly seized control of the Virginia area until the then-president ordered a massive air strike to disperse them. The Term for these socialist revolutionaries arose from the red bandannas they wore around their necks into battle.

As I understand it the main battlefield sits on top of a major coal vain (not surprising as most rednecks were coal miners). The coal companies want to exploit it so they claim. I think they're counting on America's misunderstanding of rednecks to not notice the destruction of an historical site.
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Old January 21st, 2010, 11:56 PM   #14
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Back to "What is the left?" topic, I have been puzzling over it a lot as well, especially relative to American politics. I sometimes wonder whether "to the left" does not refer to a separate political thinking group, but more a position of any one political group to the left of that political group. They would be the faction in that political group who would be fighting with their own group. Sometimes those disagreements can become so heated that they could easily border on anarchy. Hence when you get Political Movements on the right side of the American political spectrum, that it would be easy to find anarchists on the left side of those political rightist groups. And ditto those who are on the left side of political groups on the left side of the American political spectrum.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 06:42 AM   #15
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Left an right politics I'd argue are inaccurate descriptions. Anarchy vs monarchy are probably better measures. Problem is a "righty" in american politics can holkd some "lefty" positions in opinion or political views. So what is the left? It's tough to answer because this term is centric to American politics, and it's arbitrary to top it off.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 06:50 AM   #16
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Back to "What is the left?" topic, I have been puzzling over it a lot as well, especially relative to American politics. I sometimes wonder whether "to the left" does not refer to a separate political thinking group, but more a position of any one political group to the left of that political group. They would be the faction in that political group who would be fighting with their own group. Sometimes those disagreements can become so heated that they could easily border on anarchy. Hence when you get Political Movements on the right side of the American political spectrum, that it would be easy to find anarchists on the left side of those political rightist groups. And ditto those who are on the left side of political groups on the left side of the American political spectrum.
Seems like at times the left think government is the answer to everything. I am an old guy with no need for governmental parenting. I do not want to live under the thumb of a bunch of arrogant bureaucrats!
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Old January 29th, 2010, 06:56 AM   #17
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Seems like at times the left think government is the answer to everything.
I would hate for you to take offence, my friend, but please shut up.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 06:59 AM   #18
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I would hate for you to take offence, my friend, but please shut up.
Hell, I have been offended for a long time. Every time I watch the news I get re-offended!
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Old January 29th, 2010, 07:11 AM   #19
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Hell, I have been offended for a long time. Every time I watch the news I get re-offended!


What i mean is, while most of the left intends to utilise the state to achieve its aims (remember, Obama is not a leftist), the generalisation is hurtful to those of us on the left that don't.
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Old January 29th, 2010, 07:28 AM   #20
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What i mean is, while most of the left intends to utilise the state to achieve its aims (remember, Obama is not a leftist), the generalisation is hurtful to those of us on the left that don't.
Okay! Sorry about that. I was thinking USA left! They are the ones making my life miserable. European left does not bother me at all. I know the two lefts have different agendas.
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