Any time “the left” is criticized for being soft on the police state or the war machine we hear howls that the moderate Democrats are not the “real left”. The millions of Democrats that support President Obama are not the “real left” I hear over and over. I heard a joke by a libertarian speaker that there were only 37 “real leftists” left in America. Perhaps. But what is the “left”? What is a real leftist?
According to common usage of modern terms it looks like conservatism loves the military and police state while leftism loves the leviathan in all its glory. This ultimately means both camps accept the modern nation-State as the center of our lives and that explains why so many find no difference in the two major political parties in the US.
It has been asserted that:
“people who resist authority, who defend the rights of the individual, who try in a period of increasing totalitarianism and centralization to reclaim these rights – this is the true left in the United States. Whether they are anarcho-communists, anarcho-syndicalists, or libertarians who believe in free enterprise, I regard theirs as the real legacy of the left … ” ~ Murray Bookchin
I can certainly agree with Bookchin on his definition and I can agree with Karl Hess who wrote:
“the far right […] we find monarchy, absolute dicatorships, and other forms of absolutely authoritarian rule,” while the Left “opposes the concentration of power and wealth and, instead, advocates and works toward the distribution of power into the maximum number of hands.” Just as the farthest Right you can go is absolute dictatorship, Hess argued, so “[t]he farthest left you can go, historically at any rate, is anarchism – the total opposition to any institutionalized powetary social organization […].”
But modern usage no longer defines left and right simply by the attitude towards the concentration of power in the ruling government. The terms have been corrupted to the point that defining a ‘real’ leftist or conservative is not objectively possible any more.
Brian Patrick Mitchell wrote a book called 8 Ways to Run the Country: A New and Revealing Look at Left and Right where he tries to explain the various positions on the political spectrum. That book is worth a look if you find the time.
It is obvious that the radical leftists in the USA support using the state for all ends he deems appropriate in the same manner that the men on the right do. Both leftist and right-winger are eager to have the power of the state do their bidding and foil their enemies. Since president Obama was elected we have seen the return of the progressive left. Modern progressives are the worst element of those who call themselves “leftists”. Certainly the progressives are the worst element in modern society. Progressives distrust all social authority but happily ally themselves with any social authority when it advances the power and scope of the State. The progressives destroyed liberalism in America by advancing the power of the state to intervene in all aspects of domestic life while also advancing the empire overseas to intervene in the lives of peoples all across the globe. All this in the name of egalitarianism. Progressives have always been enemies of individual freedom and of peace. Progressives claim to love people but they sure do hate the individual.
If you oppose war, crony-capitalism (corporatism or fascism), monopoly privilege, central planning, and the police state then you might think of yourself as a liberal of the old sort. If so you might call yourself a “classical liberal” but give up calling yourself a leftist. The term “leftist” today pretty much means “progressive” with all its extreme worship of the State.
Of course, if you recognize that the free market is the only economic system compatible with human rights, non-intervention, peace, freedom, liberty and mass prosperity then you just might want to call yourself a libertarian. (then take a look at anarchy)