What happened to the political left and why I bailed out?

political spectrum

I have been maintaining and updating this blog space for over 4 years and until very recently I have been reluctant to voice my opinion and publish articles steeped in political debate, bias and rhetoric. My reluctance to enter into the political sphere is because I don’t find the tug-of war of Politics in and of itself very interesting, factual-based or educative.  It’s speculative at best. However, more recently I have found myself propelled into the political debate for reasons I will explain below:

I was what one might label a progressive-leftist for over 20 years. I would probably call myself more classical liberal today even still a little left leaning in my politics. Why the move?  I got very disenchanted with the left’s endless use of Social Justice Warrior rhetoric and virtue signalling; identity politics and tribal wars; and even their encroachment on free speech by de-platforming speakers and deliberately omitting factual and scientific evidence if it didn’t align with their collectivist aim. I think my disenchantment is best encapsulated publicly by the frustration and frankly ‘fear’ expressed by left leaning (or former leftists) IDW (Intellectual Dark Web) constituents Sam Harris, Eric and Bret Weinstein, Dave Rubin and Jonathan Haidt.

As Eric Weinstein stated about the modern left in the Glitch in the Matrix conversation on Rebel Wisdom.

They are attaching themselves to real conversations and blowing up the conversation so that you can’t actually speak. You don’t want a single person at the table who wants to scuttle the conversation… The modern left is very often focused on scuttling any realistic conversation.

I think why I am no longer a supporter of the left is because it appears to me at least the left ‘today’ is a shadow of its previous self even that of 10 years ago. The left used to be about fighting the big social injustice issues of the world that truly needed fighting. Fortunately, the state of the world today compared to even 70 years ago is nothing short of miraculous and I think the left played a pivotal part in that socioeconomic progress. But something has changed in the last 10 years and even more so recently with their causes which has left a very sour taste in my mouth. Instead of viewing them as the great moral bastions of real inequality and injustice, I now see them playing a conniving collectivist game which is threatening what I consider the foundational core of western liberal democracy: free speech and individual expression. Any major ideology and sociopolitical value structure started out from a position of weakness in which it couldn’t enforce itself. Christianity for example used to be a persecuted religion and subsequently evolved into something that practiced persecution of other religions.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention Post-modernism nor Neo-Marxism until now although I will admit, this particular nihilistic world-view is what concerns me most about the activists stance on the left today. I speak of activists especially because they are the ones who do the leg work and / or speak out for their causes. So they essentially represent what we see of the left. These activists have been so successful in recent years, and as I alluded to already I have noticed a real encroachment on individual freedom of expression and speech. People are downright afraid and have been for quite sometime to speak out against what may be perceived as contravening the leftist collective opinion and narrative. Many have spoken out and paid a high price. I don’t think I need to go into that, but unless you’ve been living in a cocoon in recent times you’ll know that list is very long.

I could continue for hours and write page upon page about my critical observations of the left today, but I don’t have the time right now to pursue it. Except I will say that I can no longer go to the BBC news web page without being inundated with ‘not news’ but pro diversity and minority group articles trying to tell me how I should think because supposedly I have implicit biases and prejudices. As psychologist Dr Jonathan Haidt stated, ‘Implicit associations and attitudes are of course real. We can’t stop ourselves from picking up associations with the world’. But I don’t expect the BBC to push their ideological agenda down my throat by telling me how I should think. Even my beloved Australian go to news site the ABC is pushing out this stuff in bucket loads. I’m running out of places to get ‘actual’ news.

I couldn’t but help admire chartbuster’s following critique about my original post as well as some of the Reddit replies :

You’re encountering some obscurantism fyi.

This may be a third layer of meta-analysis but there is some assumptive bias, point-dodging, and exaggeration going on regarding your post. It’s not as airtight and rigorous as it could be (although it is a good read) for this particular crowd of Anarchist desperados who gravitate towards this ‘bait’ so to speak. I have no doubt certain users will find something wrong with your argument no matter what it says— if they disagree with it for any opaque or concrete reasons they will change your argument. When all else fails and they have little to say, they’ll distort the truth and strawman the living hell out of it.

Their arguments are generally so wispy thin that their only choice is to obfuscate and create pseudo-complex denialist rhetorical gotchas.

They think if they get you semantically it somehow makes the rest of your points invalid.

Related Articles:
1. The Political Compass Test. Where do you sit on the Political Spectrum?
2. Ezra Klein, a rational or irrational lefty?
3. The Righteousness and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way – Valerie Tariko

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in News, politics, Reflections
17 comments on “What happened to the political left and why I bailed out?
  1. Daedalus Lex says:

    Hey Matthew. I’m 100% with you as a long-term progressive-leftist who is no longer in the fold. I think it’s important to note, though (per your header graph), that it’s not a linear left-to-right spread. I have not become more conservative; it’s just that my position (as a 1960s-based leftist) is increasing equidistant from today’s left, middle, and right – it has drifted away from the linear spectrum altogether (or the spectrum has drifted while I have remained the same). Perhaps we need a tripolar or scattergraph model to replace the linear left-to-right one.

    Also, I am more comfortable than you with the “collectivist” (i.e. European model) pull and the “neo-Marxist” emphasis, which brings all races and genders together to address class inequalities rather than drawing battle lines between races and genders, as the postmodern identity politics crowd would have it. So you and I share the negative view of postmodernism (tribal truth over universal truths and rational standards) and identity politics “progressivism” (which pits us against each other on demographic grounds), but I find the collectivism strand in line with the pre-woke progressive left you identify with, and I find neo-Marxist thought is an ally in the fight against the perversity of identity politics. (If my comment is too long, I blame you for giving such a pithy stimulus 😊 )

    • Daedalus Lex says:

      Clarification: “I find neo-Marxist thought (at least the element I mentioned) as an ally in the fight against a conservative Establishment on the one hand and the perversity of identity politics on the other.

    • The scattergraph 4 cuadrant model like the ‘Political compass map’ which I have discussed in my blog is more pliable and relevant than the traditional left to right model. I find discussion of political labelling in general tiresome and believe each issue and individual should be treated on its own merits. The collectivist modern left has its own political agenda and if a certain individual holds a position which doesn’t align with their ideological narrative they are outcast and perceived as alt-right. I would say on the majority of political issues my moderate leftist stance hasn’t changed except I now value the autonomy (rights and responsibilities) of the individual as opposed to the group more highly than in the past. For that reason I would suggest I’m probably more classical liberal today. I believe in equal opportunity for all but not opportunity of outcome (creation of an artifical playing field). I do not see Marxist thought (or at least the application of Marxist thought in history) as an ally in the fight against the perversity of identity politics and postmodernism. On the contrary I see them as sitting hand in hand. I’m all ears how you view neo marxist thought being that which opposes postmodernism and identity politics. I was also meaning to ask you how your position as a 1960s leftist has moved equidistant away from the spectrum all together. I didn’t quite follow that.
      Hey, I just want to say thanks for commenting on my post. It’s not everyday I get to have these illuminating conversations.

      • Daedalus Lex says:

        Hi Matthew. Note that when the identity theory departments emerged in the 1990s, they were very hostile to the academic Marxists, specifically because the Marxists had a class-based model wherein all those “identities” were secondary, as people across those lines would join together to address class inequality. I don’t know if they ever buried the hatchet, but today’s most public Marxist philosophers (e.g., Slavoj Zizek) are outspoken in their rejection of identity politics. Per the other side of postmodernism, Marxist thought has always valued rational standards and scientific truth rather over and against postmodernisms rejection of those things. So that’s the basis of my comments there.

        Per your other question, as a (lingering) 60s radical, I am a terrible fit for the conservative Establishment but almost as bad a fit for today’s woke progressives. We (if I may so place myself) were for chaotic free speech, the New Left is for policing dissent; we were radical integrationists, they prefer walls between races to guard one’s turf; we were for tackling problems from the point of view of our shared humanness, they place skin color/gender in the foreground; we were for universal rights and truths, they are for tribal (“you can’t know my truth because you don’t look like me”) rights and truths; we wanted to obliterate the cultural police, they want to BE the cultural police. So I am certainly not conservative, certainly not moderate in my views, but certainly not aligned with woke progressives. That’s what I mean by equidistant from today’s left, right, and middle (and that’s why the linear left-to-right model fails.) Thanks. Enjoying the discussion. Gary

      • Thank you very much for your comprehensive breakdown of the splintering of the far left specifically between the Marxists and Identity theorists (modern left) as well as the distinction between Marxism and Postmodernism. It has been educational indeed. I can empathise with your position and understand perfectly why you consider yourself equidistant from today’s left, right and middle. It is concerning whenever free speech is restricted by cultural policing. I think this form of the modern left is causing many to move right or to feel they are not even included in the debate. It is difficult to foresee the Democrats posing any real threat to Trump’s re-election unless they can sort this mess out. I don’t how much of Bernie’s candidacy is thwarted by this identity politics plague or if he more aligns with your 60’s radical perspective.

      • Daedalus Lex says:

        Thanks, Matthew. You and I think similarly but it’s nice to push ideas back and forth. For 30 years of more, Bernie has been my favorite — the one rep who most aligned with me ideologically. Given the outsized role of woke activists in the party, he has been sucked into the vortex somewhat, but not completely — e.g., when Black Lives Matter stole his mic at the 2016 rally, he gave it up too easily and seemed intimidated into silence. But when other candidates last month were going all in on reparations (a losing position in the general election), Bernie said something like, “Well what do you mean by ‘reparations’? If you mean free money, that’s a political non-starter. If you mean programs to help African-Americans get up to the same starting line as their white counterparts, that’s something we can work up and get support for.” I’m paraphrasing, but he was exactly right while others were really just playing a gimmick. Anyway, I believe that deep down Bernie aligns with me almost exactly, but we will see how much he has to sway to vie for a Dem nomination. For now, I’m cautiously with him.

      • I saw Bernie on the Joe Rogan podcast a few days ago. I’m not American but he was my favorite candidate in the last election. It was too bad the key Dems got on the Hillary bandwagon. I admire him for his fight against the big pharmaceuticals and to implement a better health care system. I still think with the Socialist dogma surrounding some of his policies and outlook he will have a tough time finding sufficient electoral support. As you say I hope he doesn’t have to sway too much for the Dems nomination although I also fancy Tulsi Gabbard. She was so impressive on Rogan’s program, but to be honest I am not familiar with her policy initiatives.

      • Daedalus Lex says:

        That Rogan podcast got a lot of media buzz. I’ll have to check it out.

      • I was going to ask if you if you didn’t mind me posting a link to your last two articles (Left ceding moral round and Purposiveness and Imagination) on my Monday news space. This page contains news, articles, and videos that caught my attention in the week.

      • Daedalus Lex says:

        Sure, post away 🙂 I’ll look for your Monday news space.

      • Thanks. It’s a new concept I developed my blog. It’s nothing to write home about, but I figured if I’m viewing interesting and informative content, why not post about it.

  2. Daedalus Lex says:

    Oh, per your other note on Dems’ 2020 chances, I think you are right. It’s the Dem talent for self-sabotage. Trump was not a strong candidate in 2016 – even many Repubs were loathe to vote for him – but Hillary was ho-hum (she would have made a fine president but was not an inspiring campaigner). And Trump is equally vulnerable today. An Obama would trounce him. But the Dem party (as the 2nd round of debates showed) is no longer the party of Obama. Obama made people feel like he was on their side, regardless of race, gender, etc. He made people feel good about themselves and each other. (Plus, unlike Trump, he actually had knowledge and skills relevant to the position.) But post-2016 Dems have gone all-in on divisiveness. You can’t win a general election by telling people how bad they should feel about themselves or how suspicious they should be of those who “don’t look like me” and are therefore out to get me. “You’re a bunch or white supremacist sexists who need your unearned privileges taken away, now vote for me” is not going to sell well in the 48 states that are not California or NY. Their only hope is that Trump is a weak candidate (and, whether they want to hear it or not, that the media is generally on their side).

    • I agree with your sentiments surrounding Obama. I do not agree that Hillary would have made a good president, but I’m speculating as we all are. As an outsider I personally do not see how the Dems can win the next election. They still haven’t learnt why people voted for Trump, in fact they have doubled down on all the reasons why people turned against Hillary. The white privilege and social justice warrior rhetoric has further eroded support which they might have got if they righted the ship after the last election. It’s going to need someone as you say Obamesque to inspire swinging and silent voters. It’s almost Trump’s election to lose given the prevailing sentiment towards ‘wokeness’ on the left. It’s ugly as hell and I’m on the left regarding social and economic issues.

      • Daedalus Lex says:

        We’re on the same page except for that mild and purely speculative disagreement on Hillary (who I think had the skills and knowledge and experience on the track to be a good president, albeit not a great campaigner, which calls for an entirely different skill set than president — this is one one of our problems today — the skill set it takes to win a campaign is unrelated to the skill set required to be a good president.)

      • Yes they entail two different skillsets, but it’s also subjective what entails a good president.

      • Daedalus Lex says:

        True … but if you’ll allow me to get a little polemical on my Trumpkin friends, I think it’s safe to say that “maniacal self-promotion” is an excellent skill set for reality TV ratings, and a pretty good skill set for today’s presidential campaigns, but a quite insufficient skill set for president 🙂

      • Trump isn’t ‘presidential material’ and I think most of his supporters would be in agreement. But I hardly think they care if he fits the mold, on the contrary I think they admire him for being unpresidential. They probably find it refreshing. He’s not my President so I am probably less critical of his abhorrent behavior as I may otherwise be as a US citizen. Having said that as a non partisan observer if you were to forget it’s him running the place and just look at the economics and foreign affairs, I don’t think his results are too shabby. As they say in Australian politics, ‘It’s the economy stupid’. Everything else is fluff and I agree with that to some extent. You can have the best president in the world, but if the economy is screwed it is hardly relevant. Nothing else matters as it were. Having said that I just read the US went into growth decline for the first time in years. Is this the result of Brexit and China’s fixing? Probably. I’m not an expert on the economy, so I’ll leave that to them to tell us what’s happening.

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