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June 01, 2015

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MatGB

Apart from all this, lauding the failed Suffragettes and diminishing the successful campaigns of the Suggragists might be useful, I do think the way radical action is lauded instead of acknowledged as alienating to the middle ground is a major problem within any campaign with fairly radical objectives. It was Fawcett's peaceful campaigners and lobbyists that made the difference, not the Pankhursts and their broken windows.

Matt Moore

So, what can lefties do instead?

You left out the most important thing you ever did to make me re-evaluate socialism - that it doesn't have to mean Big Government.

Jim

"the transition to a better society might occur not (just) by protesting or waiting for a big bang revolution, but as a result of countless small individual actions, which might have echoes throughout society"

Its almost as if you want to embrace the collective free choices of millions of individuals over enforced collective action, but are afraid of admitting what that means............................

From Arse To Elbow

The simple answer to your opening question is: because they are frustrated. There is a lot of anger around at the moment, and some of this will inevitably erupt in "thickness". Though these incidents may appear regrettable in isolation, it is also worth considering them in aggregate, and in that context, social change comes about through struggle not by polite requests. It would be an unhealthy sign for the left in this country if no one was angry right now.

I haven't seen the Carswell footage, but that's because I don't need to. I already have a "worst image" in my mind, planted there by years of media exposure, that would merely be "reinforced". If the left is activist, it will be characterised as violent, undemocratic and strident by the right. Even the soft-left will accuse it of "tactical naivety" (cf 1984). It it sits on its hands, it will be derided as weak and ineffective.

@MatGB, most historians consider the combination of the 'gettes and the 'gists to have been crucial in securing female suffrage. The one did not undermine the other. That said, historians also consider the key to extending the vote was actually the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1918 - i.e. women rode in on a tide of sentiment that was driven more by male sacrifice than women's war work.

It's worth noting that states that introduced universal male suffrage well before WW1 were among the latest to grant equality to women (e.g. France). If the Chartists had succeeded, British women might not have got the vote before WW2.

Deviation From The Mean

To pick our language carefully is of course to play the political game of lying or hiding ones hidden feelings. You would think people would like honesty but the sad fact appears to be the opposite. Therefore the slimy, tanned car salesmen clones become the prime ministers. People like to be flattered.

It is hard to not think Tory scum when you look at some of the policy proposals of the Tories and it doesn't seem to matter that immigrants can be called all the names under the sun.

So to add to your call for the left to be dishonest you also want to re-enforce the old one rule for the right and another for the left, where the right can be as obnoxious as they like and get away with it but the left have to choose their words carefully.

There is probably some truth in this article but I stopped taking it seriously when you brought up Nick Cohen, someone who would lay waste to entire nations who followed paths he did not approve of. Now the left may be slightly intolerant of others views but we are pussycats when compared to Nick Cohen and the right. But we are back to one rule for them and another for us.

gastro george

Agree with FATE and DFTM. I'm rather shocked that there hasn't been more protest, especially from students. Double standards on conduct abound. Here we have a Tory government surfing on a tide of mendacity and cynicism that underpinned their campaign, and yet whenever protest starts you get another cycle of media whatabouteries in order to isolate the protesters from their political "support".

chairman

"Why are many lefties so thick?"

The left seems particularly attractive to upper-middle class adolescents who want to play revolutionary and feel smug by picking up the right trendy opinions.

For example that Goldsmiths fiasco you included a link related to. It is one thing to want to organize an event specifically for a certain group of people who would feel comfortable in a meeting only among people like them in that particular way -- the desire for that can be explained in a way that most people can probably understand and sympathize with. What turned this into a fiasco was all her associated "kill all white men, male tears lol!!" childish dreck and her boilerplate "I can't be racist, I'm an ethnic woman!" response. And this from a person who is supposed to be an actual professional "diversity officer," presumably paid by the university. The fact that this sort of thing really is the "face" of leftism for a lot of people gets to the root of the problem, it makes the left look like a bunch of spoiled children who just want to be edgy with their trendy opinions that are very alienating especially for working class whites. You can blame the media for focusing on stories like this and crafting this as the "image" of leftism but you can't just blame the media for how enthusiastically many leftist organizations of all types have embraced this kind of ethos.

Neil

You say "safe spaces", I say "echo chambers". I think the PROBLEM with the left is that our public institutions (particularly Universities) are so intent on creating "safe spaces" that kids with left-of-centre views hardly ever interact with anyone who disagrees with them. This has two effects:

1. Exaggeration of the false consensus effect. "All fair minded people agree with me."

2. In-group vs out-group mentality. Tory supporters are not "people like us", they're weirdos, foreigners... scum.

David Friedman

Part of your problem is that improving the society, whether one's vision is left, right, libertarian, Catholic, or whatever, faces the public good problem. If I take actions that are costly for me but very slightly raise the chance of what I believe would be a better society, the net effect on me is negative, so I'm unlikely to do it.

The result is that such movements, in practice, are motivated by other payoffs. People join them to meet other people who share their values, to enjoy the pleasures of partisanship (the same reason they attend football games), to feel superior, for a host of motives, most of which are not motives to actually do a good job of changing the world. Offering moderate, reasonable and persuasive arguments to people who don't agree with you may be a better way of changing society, but it's less fun than boasting to your fellow believers about how much smarter, better educated, and nicer all of you are than those wicked yahoos on the other side.

For one example (in the climate debate) that struck me as fitting the pattern of activities that are counter-productive for the cause but make those doing them feel good, see:

http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-revealing-cartoon.html

David Friedman

On your point about the effect of technological change... .

It seems to me that the changes that gave us the internet and related technologies favor my utopia, not yours. Better communication technologies don't solve the problems with worker managed firms. But they do make more practical an agoric economy, self-employed individuals coordinating through the market rather than through hierarchical firms.

For one striking example, consider the way in which self-publishing in recent years has been replacing the traditional model of the industry with a network of self-publishing authors, free lance editors and artists, online evaluations. Or the way in which blogs have increasingly substituted for newspapers and television networks.

David Friedman

As a non-leftist observer, it strikes me that Deviation's post is a nice example of the problem Neil's post points out. It does not seem to have occurred to Deviation that reasonable people might disagree with him, might support some of the policies that he thinks obviously wicked. It's all a world of black hats/white hats, so what's the point of trying to convince anyone? If they weren't wicked, stupid, and/or ignorant they would already agree with him.

That, at least, is how it comes across to me, after spending too much time reading online climate arguments where almost everyone on both sides has essentially that attitude.

Neil

@David - "white hats vs black hats" sums it up nicely, yes. A Manichean worldview.

I think arrogance plays a role too - "I am morally pure, so my intentions are always good; I am also very clever, so there is no chance that I'm wrong. Therefore, if anyone disagrees with me, they must either be idiots or have bad intentions or both."

And lord knows there's no one so arrogant as a University student, so creating "safe spaces" to exercise that arrogance may not be the way to go.

Deviation From The Mean

"Deviation that reasonable people might disagree with him, might support some of the policies that he thinks obviously wicked. It's all a world of black hats/white hats,"

David Frieman exists in a world where only his sort can recognise that people (reasonable ones of course, the unreasonable ones, whoever they are don't count I presume) may disagree with them, while the rest of us are deluded. I suspect that if you poke Frieman with a big stick he wouldn't be as tolerant as he makes out, but hey, maybe he bucks the trend.

Frieman also lives in a world where people can't make subjective choices, for example I am not allowed to have an opinion on whether something is wicked or not. i.e. we have to respect every other opinion, from lowering taxes to gassing the Jews.

Frieman has also taken a rather huge leap in assuming I regard everyone who disagrees with me as wicked (this building up straw men and making outlandish assumptions seems to be a trait of the right - everyone who disagrees with them are deluded people who can't accept other peoples point of view!). For the record I don't assume everyone who disagrees with me is wicked. I have dearly loved family members who voted UKIP!

But there are a couple of examples of Tory policies that I will argue are wicked (I am now back from planet Frieman and down to planet Earth where everyone, and I mean everyone, has a view on what other people think). They are the proposal to send migrants back to where they came from, this after they have made a death defying trip to escape that place and second the proposal to take the wages off people who have done a hard days work. This is cruel and visvous and wicked by any standards.

Now opinions may not exist in Friemans world, in his world people may never judge the actions of others, but I, as a citizen of planet Earth, claim the right to do what everyone else on planet Earth does.

And if Fireman doesn't like it, he can sod off to whichever planet he comes from.

Jim

"But there are a couple of examples of Tory policies that I will argue are wicked (I am now back from planet Frieman and down to planet Earth where everyone, and I mean everyone, has a view on what other people think). They are the proposal to send migrants back to where they came from, this after they have made a death defying trip to escape that place and second the proposal to take the wages off people who have done a hard days work. This is cruel and visvous and wicked by any standards. "

A more right wing denunciation of the evils of taxation would hard to make......

Pension60

Preaching to the unconverted is not necessary.

70 per cent of the population are within the poor pensioners, working poor, disabled, chronic sick, and unemployed suffering workfare that destroys the chances of the working poor, which is them looking for work.

The poor being socially cleansed out of social housing, of unaffordable rents with housing benefit reductions.

These are more than sufficient millions of non-voters to have brought about a whole different party in England and Wales, with a majority far greater than the Tories 'enjoy' today of just under a dozen MPs.

More like 345 MPs when the minimum threshold is 323-326 MPs to form a UK parliament.

The word 'socialism' has gone viral to mean communism, and no-one would vote communist, which such MP candidates losing their deposits in this last election.

But you can be socialist but just call it another name. A neat political ploy, because the public do not vote by reading policy, but entirely just about basic survival money. As Gandhi observed, People's Politics are Their Daily Bread.

The public are sound bites, with the concentration of a goldfish.

As an old USA saying was, Get them the spherical objects, and their hearts and minds will follow.

Sorry but it is that basic.

I could not care less about preaching to the unconverted, who believe I must die for them to live. That I am a burden upon them, committing criminal fraud if I get benefit, and an unsistainable person living too long on the state pension, believed to be a benefit.

But even the Tory wives will lose the state pension under the moral lie that the flat rate pension is more, when it is the greatest excuse to wipe out the state pension for over half and growing of those retiring from next year.
Look at the end of my petition, in my WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT section, at:
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

Spread this petition widely, to show up the Tories as betrayers even of their own Tory voters. Those are the only unconverted you will reach.

If you want something, only you can bring the Swans new party into reality. See more at:

www.theswansnewparty.org.uk

Aromatic Fanny Adams

As Marx says social conditions create consciousness. The modern 'left' is thick, because UK govts perpetually try to managerialize all problem for everyone.

But what happens when the balance-of-payments crisis hits the UK? Govt spending will shrink and the left and right will have to get more intelligent in order to survive.

rogerh

The villeins have things done to them, they don't make things happen. The old Labour party worked for a short period when the villeins did have some power, that has declined. The old aristocratic landowners lost out to a merchantile class of money persons. That trend has continued and been extended by globalisation. In plain terms those who make things happen have little use for villeins in a high cost minor democracy. Blair's New Labour attempted to recognise this reality but was sunk by Bush's mad schemes aided by Blair's character flaws.

The difficulty to my mind is that the UK has a choice, to become a fairer more pleasant place on social democratic lines - like Denmark/Sweden etc or to attempt to become a miniature USA but without the freedom. I fear we are doing the latter and the result will be more Chicago than LA. The old imperialist ambitions still smoulder in the souls of those close to power.

pablopatito

You all seem to be saying that the actions of the far left are indicative, and damning of, the general left. That's like saying that people defiling Jewish graves or harassing Muslims shows a general problem with right wingers.

Re-write this article but replace left with right and link to EDL marches and the result is the same. All you are really saying is that you get idiots at the far end of political spectrums, whether that be to the right or to the left. Rather than divide people into left or right, it would be better to divide people into liberal or non-liberal. There are right-wing and left-wing liberals, neither of which believe in violence, harassing people or defacing things.

Larry T

Because many people are thick and many people are leftists, so it would be very surprising if there wasn't a sizeable overlap. There certainly is on the Right, but somehow mainstream rightists are spared continual demands to denounce and distance themselves from their crackpots. But as soon as some idiot defaces a tomb, the whole left has to hang it's head in shame. Nick Cohen and his pals have been peddling this line for decades now. It's old, it's boring, and it's bollocks.

Matthew Maloney

We see only the most inisidious aspects of the left presented in the media. We never see the charity workers, social workers, nurses, teachers, and community organisers at the trenches everyday trying to keep the fabric of society together.

For sure similar instances happen from the right, but never gets reported. The old media was taken over long ago by established money. So glad to see old media ossify and die. The new generation has better quality information.

fledermaus

With all the current political and economic problems, I think the people who get their knickers in a bunch over a defaced monument at the expense of everything else are probably not interested in finding solutions to those other problems.

But oh, doesn't feel good up there on that high horse?

Metatone

As someone who has done more work on how cultures change than most, I have to point out that MatGB is flying in the face of the evidence. As someone else notes, the times when reasonable people are successful are mostly ones where radicals have extended the Overton Window at the same time...

(And given how old the Overton Window is as a concept, we really should understand this by now...)

The sad reality of course is that the "reasonable" left has next to no media influence and so are basically powerless. Until the "reasonable left" builds up enough critical mass of influence it is going nowhere.

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