I made it clear yesterday that I think the infighting of the left wing is going to do nothing but further right wing agendas. All I have done on this blog so far is explain that the right, as morally supple as many of them are, are happy to sit behind whatever winning ideology they need to to further their agenda by degrees- it’s an unfortunate reality that the one thing the right does well is understand that a crawl, not a run, is a winning strategy in politics.
The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago, and the second best time is now. This is a Chinese proverb I usually use to tell people about fitness. But in this instance, the right planted their tree some time ago, and have nurtured it. It’s fruit isn’t swelled to bursting, but it is hanging from the tree and growing slowly in the sun. Meanwhile the left is too busy arguing over what seed to plant.
Don’t misunderstand me here- I understand why ideological urgency is a key part of leftist belief and this is more philosophy than advice, more musing than discourse- but it’s frightening to watch the right wing agenda crawl further up the slowly blackening veins of society as we on the left continue to argue over which fight is the most vital- they all are, but the issue with ideological purity is that compromise is never a part of it.
Compromise is, lets be frank – rubbish. Nobody ever walks away happy in a true compromise, but they don’t walk away defeated and furious. Compromise is about both sides finding a way forward- and it’s confusing to say both sides when we’re all supposedly on the same one. But at some point nuance, realism and compromise needs to be brought to the forefront of leftist discourse, or we’re doomed to more merry go round political disagreement that never actually progresses any agenda, and pits those on the same side fundamentally against each other.
Rubbish it may be, but compromise is vital here.
Now let’s be clear- some things can’t be compromised on: if you’re too dense and regressive to see the right wing puppet masters behind the trans panic then let the scales fall from your eyes and see rich, middle class white women only one notch below rich middle class white men arguing for a minority to lose rights. Trans people have been able to use the spaces of their gender for over a decade longer than I’ve been alive. Cis men who commit crimes dressed as women aren’t trans. This isn’t a debate, it’s a moral panic as ludicrous as the satanic panic and the pink panic and any and every panic over people of colour for the last 300 years. So if that’s your “compromise” you’re not a left winger, you’re a shill of the far right. Imbibe those words, learn and do better. Let’s also note that LGBT+ issues tend to be a microcosm of a larger societal issue- and here we see the denigration of trans people and the pitting of cis against trans reflected in the denigration of the SoCiaLisTs and the pitting of far left against center left. There’s room for us all.
When it comes to political ideology – unfortunately this is where realism must be employed. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when it’s your ideology that’s deemed too far, and I think that the UK would benefit hugely from socialist policy in regards to public infrastructure- travel, utilities and more. But I also realise that in a country where nearly 50% of the voting population voted for right wing parties, its going to take more than relentlessly disparaging anyone who doesn’t 100% agree with your ideology to win people over. Yes, people should ideally do the research that allows us a different perspective from the status quo- but even the ability to sit and read about different societal models or modes of politics comes usually from privilege as most people are working to earn money to live and pay their bills. The ability not to do so is, at it’s core- privilege.
Instead of immediately assuming those who share differing ideas of socialism or political or prison reform etc are purposely bad people who’ve read what you have and simply choose to believe the bad stuff– ask yourself whether theyre lucky enough to have had the chance to read and understand what you have. Have the discussion about it. If your ideas are the best- surely conversing with people about them civilly is the best way to expand your circle of believers…
Additionally, the never-ending hatred between the so called far left and so called centrists is exhausting. If you’ve more anger towards people who share your fundamental politics than those who are the antithesis of it then perhaps you’ve fixed your sights more on being the best leftist, and less on depowering those who despise your politics.
We’re at a strange crux at the moment. I’ve said it before that Jeremy Corbyn was a victim of a different type of populism than Boris Johnson is: his name is invoked as a dirty swearword and a tarnished messiah alike but he’s just another politician, with good points and bad points alike. Looking at him as a paragon of leftist perfection is revisionist at best. I’m not a Corbyn hater, I did like the man a lot and I thought he would have been a damn good PM and better than Johnson (but I also think anything including and up to a damp shoe would be better than Johnson). But he had his flaws- his neutrality on the hot issue of Brexit showed a finger slipped way off the pulse of what the electorate wanted at the time- which was the surety either of a brexit voted for willingly and with eyes open or a cancellation of a referendum beset with lies and corruption.
I don’t hate Corbyn. But those who sow discord on the left and disparage anyone who doesn’t agree with them, often in his name? Those people, I hate. I’d imagine that he is no big fan of the misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia and more I’ve seen meted out against those who don’t like him.
Starmer is our option for the moment and he’s trying to grow the voting base of labour. Is he losing some of the finer points of what makes labour a great party? Unfortunately sometimes it seems so. I don’t claim to know his plans, sometimes he does things (like yesterday’s “name and shame drug purchasers” promise) that drive me utterly to distraction. But a policy like that can be voted down. People dead due to the corruption and utter theatricality of a banana republic government like Johnson’s cant be resurrected. Ultimately I think Starmer is probably similar in the mindset that we must slowly, slowly erode the hatred towards leftist policy and politics powered by the press and populist pundits like Johnson. Is he doing it right? I don’t know, I’m not an expert in this- but don’t pretend that you are either. We’re all in the dark, hoping for a way forward and even if that way is through a bog, it’s better than being stranded at sea.
If you don’t like Keir Starmer I won’t lose any sleep over it. But actively attacking people who back him out of pragmatism does NOT mean your politics are superior, it does NOT change people’s opinion magically to agree with you- it DOES however push you further away from the realms of someone who can be meaningfully spoken to about how we achieve our goals. Even today I saw Owen Jones who is quite the outspoken critic of Starmer say that he cant endorse other small leftist parties because under the current system, it’s reductive and pointless. Jones does seem to secrete more venom towards Starmer than any tory, and frustrates me with his repeated shrugs and “you think me, a little *journalist with hundreds of thousands of ardent followers and access to a huge platform* can change people’s minds politically?!”. If, Owen, you didn’t believe you could change minds – you probably wouldn’t be a journalist who runs a literal platform based on speaking about alternatives.
In the driver’s seat is a man desperate to sow discord and is the only one who benefits is he- and currently too many of us on the left are too busy backing our own corners to realise that there is a whole middle ground for us to occupy TOGETHER.
I see our slog towards a more leftist nation as a long one. It’s not going to magically change overnight with hoards of red faced vest wearers who think our reductive flag is the best symbol since the cross. It certainly wont change with hoards of hardcore left wingers screaming at anyone outside of their club, acting like their moral superiority is comfort as our life quality degrades due to an unwillingness from them to engage and enact plans to help move their agenda forwards. It certainly isn’t going to change by alienating those on our side who want more radical change- and compromise can be met with less radical points now and the measure of which more radical change we want in the future.
The overarching theme is simply this. If you want to enact change, it’s time to stop making acquaintances enemies and tacitly aiding your enemies by alienating those who would be friends.
Together we stand and divided we’re fated to tory boot stamping. So the next time you type “Centrist Keir lover” or “Stupid Corbynista” perhaps wait and ask where your commonalities lie, instead of your differences.
viemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.