Monday, July 11, 2005

What are those righties talking about when they say "far left"?

Left-baiting the democrats...I don't understand it at all. That's what Ken Mehlman just did in his response to Howard Dean's response to the outing of Rove as the outer of Plame. He said:
"It's disappointing that once again, so many Democrat leaders are taking their political cues from the far left. ... The bottom line is the Democrats are engaged in blatant partisan political attacks."
Does anyone out there actually believe this stuff? Just who is the far-left that Mehlman is talking about here anyway? Does he mean Howard Dean? Surely that business-friendly gov. is not "far left," or MOVEon? - again, not far-left by any stretch of the imagination.
When I think "far left" on a spectrum of politics, I'm thinking of revolutionary communists, Anarchists, and (some) Black nationalists. On the slightly less far left would be parliamentarian socialists, on the middle-left would be social democrats, who believe in the preservation of the welfare state and other new deal reforms and would seek to do something about the insane power of corporations (let's put Kucinich, Ehrenreich, and Nader in that group)Groups on the left would generally oppose throwing US military might around at the behest of corporate interests. Once you start advocating US intervention and talking about the wonders of welfare-reform and private enterprse, you're in the middle, no matter what you say about taxes.
Democrats like Howard Dean, who want to support some aspects of the welfare state, but only so long as its friendly to business, and who oppose particularly inexpert imperialist wars, but not imperialism in general, and Republicans like John McCain who'd like to see some environmental preservation - are centrists, the "goldilocks school of mixing regulation and private entreprise. Some of you may disagree with this spectrum. But we're not supposed to be talking about MY definitions anyway...
I was curious about what this "far left" label means to the Republicans and the falange of right-wing evangelical activists, so I did a little googling on 'far left" and Americans. One group that got noticed by the right-wing site "Little Green Footballs" was "Axis of Logic," which was criticized by the righties as committing treason because of an article that argued in support of the Iraqi resistance against the US forces. Axis would qualify as "far left" in my book too. It regularly links to articles from the International Action Center and various Marxist-Leninist papers, and seems unconcerned with pleasing the center with mild-mannered discourse. Interestingly, its primary honcho, Les Blaugh, is a graduate of Bob Jones theological seminary. I don't think Howard Dean has been taking cues from the IAC lately, in fact, unlike the republican party, which has courted the extreme wing of the right, the Democratic party has done everything possible to distance itself from the far left.
Then there's this article how far left can the left really go?" which compares the Democratic party's top-ten reasons to oppose Bush to the CPUSA's top ten reasons to oppose Bush. It's too bad for that blogger, whose ignorance, if you read his entire post, is staggering, that he doesn't know that the CPUSA has supported the Democratic party in elections often since 1936. Guess what, the fact that the mostly social-democratic CPUSA supports the Democratic party doesn't turn the Dems into Communists.
The CATO institute defines democrats such as Hilary Clinton as "far left," and cries "bias" at the media coverage of the two conventions for referring to Republicans as "far right" while not using the "far left" label to describe democrats. The world-wide christian web also refers to the Democrats, and Kerry in particular as as far left mainly it seems, because they were critical of Bush.
What I learned from these blogs,(not all of which I linked to) was not so surprising in many cases. First of all, these groups have no idea what communism and liberalism are. They have no notion of difference and disagreements among people arrayed from center to left. According to the right-wing blogs I read ..."far left" is
1. support for gay rights, whether that means marriage or domestic partner benefits (or appointing gay people to office, as one christian webslinger accused Bush of doing, and thus too "far left" to earn her vote)
2. support for legal abortion
3. progressive taxation (a slippery slope to socialism)
4. criticism of the current leadership of the Republican party, ie "hating Bush"
5. criticism of US foreign policy (=hating America)
6. environmental regulation
7. affirmative action /or any civil rights activism
8. holding the US government accountable to the law
9. support for things like unemployment insurance, medicare, public libraries, and health care
10. secular values, the separation of church and state

You got it, "you're with us, or you're against us." Anyone who doesn't agree with absolute free-markets while supporting prayer in school (Christian, natch) is a friggin' commie revolutionary who's partying with Ward Churchill and secretly trying to bring down the US. Any party that functions as an opposition group to the majority party represents the "far left" and is un-American.
So, none of this is really new news...we all knew that Joe McCarthy was being rehabilitated by the neocons, we've seen Bill O'Reilly and his bizarre fantasy world. The thing that I find so interesting about this list is that from the perspective of these millenialist and practically Christian-Identity believing right-wingers, America really is dominated by the far left.

According to gallup, in 2004 52% of Americans support abortion on demand and say it's a completely private issue (this is down from 77% in 1982)
According to a poll about taxes and public spending, 80% of Americans believe its worth paying taxes to receive the public benefits of education, etc.
Now, it's true that polls are often wrong or misleading, but when it comes to creating a poll, I trust the methods of Gallup over those of the Christian coalition any day. The myth of liberal media bias which these folks believe is even more preposterous when you realize how much ground the anti-abortion activists and anti-taxers have gained since the 1980s.
However, despite the prevailing centrist attitudes, the elected officials are close to the far right, which, for the record means:

seeking to impose a religiously based moral system on others by changing the laws dramatically, abolishing social welfare policies in place since the 1930s, pulling out of long-standing international agreements on the basis of "America answers to no one but herself" and generally advocating a punitive law-and-order approach to law enforcement, limiting individual rights (especially privacy) in the name of safety/order.
But how long will the White House stand by Karl Rove?


Some Guy said...

Nice run-down, I have often wondered about that as well and your summary sounds correct to me.

I am continually irritated or moved to laughter by ignorant labeling of "fringe" left politics, when in fact they are referring to really ordinary progressive positions that have been ingested and absorbed by tens of millions of Americans.

It is just crass misrepresentation and politics of distortion in many cases, but a lot of the time it seems genuine ignorance. Many conservative commentators who seem to think because they have perused some liberal blogs know the heart and soul of millions of left -leaning people.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea behind this is to move the political spectrum to the right by defining the middle as the left, thus marginalizing anyone to the left of the middle.
You've seen the debate shows, mostly it's a centrist at best representing the left.
I used to tell people I worked with a revolutionary anarchist newspaper and sometimes I would get responses like "oh, how is the New York Times?"

d said...

When you run across a blog — as I did tonight — that describes David Fucking Brooks as a "Stalinist" because he described as "childish" the Bush administration's fantasy for Iraq in 2003. . . Well, I don't know how to finish that thought. It's just fucking incomprehensible.

reb said...

the link for the Stalinist David Brooks article is

I like how the blogger asks for comments if you see him/her do "something stupid."