Left and Right Contrasted: A Reply to Larry Gambone 4

I recently commented on Larry Gambone’s explanation for “conservative support among ordinary people.” See the earlier post which includes a link to Larry’s initial comments. Larry’s critique of the Right provoked a lot of negative comments from our readers, even among those who lean leftward in many ways. I was actually somewhat surprised by that. Larry has since added some follow up comments to his original post, in particular a response to our colleague Quagmire. Read the thread here. Here are some observations of my own in reply to some of Larry’s arguments:

Working people have been under attack from right-wing and right-wing ideology-influenced governments for the past 30 years. Living standards and working conditions have declined because of this.

No disagreement here. Neoliberalism is a class war against the bottom layers.

Right-wingers don’t believe in freedom from the government, they are hypocrites in this regard. State capitalism is fine as long as it serves THEIR interests. The biggest aspect of out of control government spending is the military, but they are not for cutting that. The biggest form of government interference on the populace has to do with the War For Drugs, they are not for abolishing this and ceasing to treat addiction as a crime. The contrary here in Canada, they wish to do away with the previous government’s baby steps toward a rational policy re drugs.

This is certainly true of the mainstream neocon-led, Republican-oriented Right. I’ve written a substantial amount of material over the years attacking all of this. But these criticisms do not necessarily apply to all factions of the Right. There are plenty of dissident rightists-libertarians, palecons, alternative rightists-who oppose some or all of these.

The left does not wish to force people to have an abortion, or to make everyone smoke pot, nor does it try to stuff religion down everyones throat – but the right does.

I’ve encountered plenty of liberals and leftists, at least in the U.S., who support drug prohibition, though I agree such sentiments are more prevalent among “conservatives.” But it’s also true that liberals and leftists have plenty of statist preferences of their own. They may favor legal abortion, but they want to ban private firearms. Many of them wish to ban smoking in pubs and other forms of statist intrusiveness. In areas of the US that are the most leftward leaning, there have been efforts to ban foods not conforming to the therapeutic values of the Left. San Francisco tried to enact a ban on giving away toys with fast food. There are plenty of feminists who wish to censor pornography and criminalize sex workers or their clients. There are plenty of leftists who wish to ban literature or other forms of media deemed racist or sexist. In areas of the US where secularism is the strongest, children can be punished in school for saying a prayer before a meal or possessing a Bible, crucifix or other religious artifacts.

Jemmy Hope said: And they have Fox News and the rest of Murdoch’s propaganda machine to do it. What have we got? Money talks, spouts lies.

Neocon mouthpieces like FOX and talk radio are a minority  among the mainstream US media. The bulk of the American media reflects the standard corporate liberal outlook, e.g. CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc.

Take the economic effects of immigration – they are minimal and if people were really interested in having people stay home rather than immigrate they would be front and centre in helping to overcome the problems that cause the immigration in the first place.

If the economic effects of mass immigration are minimal, why do neoliberal mouthpieces like the Wall Street Journal push open borders so fervently? Mass immigration is about creating a helot class in North America that replaces the traditional working class in the emerging Brasillianized/McDonaldized economy. The Left goes along with this because they see immigrants as prospective political constituents and  allies in the culture/race war.

Where are the right-wingers fighting against NAFTA or the US meddling in the affairs of Mexico and Central America? No, they blame and attack the immigrants instead.

Again, that’s true of the mainstream Right, not necessarily the dissident Right. I’ve been attacking corporate imperialism and US military interventionism for twenty-five years.

As for abortion, the anti-abortion types cry copiously over a match-head size fetus, but 20,000,000 REAL children dying every year of malnutrition and lack of potable water?

That’s true of some pro-lifers, but not all. You find a greater interest in “social justice,” for lack of a better term, among younger pro-lifers and evangelical Christians, for instance.

And it IS sexism to deny a woman’s right to chose. If anti-abortionists were only against abortions for themselves, no one would complain, yet they wish to impose their views on other women. Also the anti-abortionist ideology stems from patriarchal religion, which by its very nature is misogynist.

The problem with this is that there are plenty of women, probably as many as there are men, in the pro-life movement. And conservative religious denominations, at least in the US, typically have more female participants than male ones.

In other words, even though some leftists might be a bit extreme with these claims from time to time, in general the analysis bears up, and thus the left is rational and the right based upon prejudice and fear.

That’s a fairly presumptuous statement. What about the lengthy history of bloody terrorism and repression sponsored by leftist movements and regimes?

The left has been successful in changing the language, but not necessarily the underlying feelings. At one time people were proud to declare themselves racists and spiced their conversation with racial and ethnic slurs. Same goes with women or gays. Few men would declare that women are inferior or that gays are criminal and should be persecuted.

Well, nowadays people can be criminally prosecuted for criticizing Islam or homosexuality. So things have come full circle. In a nation where only 13% of the population is black, a black man was elected head of state. That would have been unthinkable back in the 1950s. The bottom line is that the culture war is over, and the Left has scored a knock out victory.

One attempts to cover ones prejudices with seeming rational or moral claims. Code words are used, such as “crime”, which refers to Blacks. It now becomes the task of the critical thinker to extricate the prejudice from within the mass of polite verbiage and supposed economic and moral reasons.

In some instances, but violent street crime among minority groups is a genuinely serious problem in US society. It’s not just racist whites who are concerned about this. Blacks and other racial minorities are among the primary victims of this kind of crime. For instance, many blacks who wish to live in a white neighborhood will cite fear of crime in black neighborhoods as their motivation.

A standard principle of conflict theory is that former outgroups become just as abusive and oppressive as whatever they replaced upon gaining power. We’re seeing that now with the Left that has gained power since the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

4 comments

  1. A standard principle of conflict theory is that former outgroups become just as abusive and oppressive as whatever they replaced upon gaining power. We’re seeing that now with the Left that has gained power since the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

    Doesn’t that make you pessimistic about the prospects for an anarchist revolution?

  2. Not pessimistic, just realistic. That consideration is the primary reason why I’m such a radical decentralist who rejects rigid ideological formulations.

  3. Great article. I would’ve thought that Gambone’d be less hostile to some expressions of conservatism with the Lasch-like marginal respect for things like families and religion that he expresses in some of his writings.

  4. In the conversation between Quagmire and Larry, Larry said:

    The left has been successful in changing the language, but not necessarily the underlying feelings.

    This is refreshing to hear from a comrade on the Left (and it’s not just feelings that have remained unchanged). This superficial cultural change is the entire reason I oppose the cult of political correctness from the Left. Changing the language is not even close to enough and actually works counter to the task of teasing out systems of oppression by crippling the language we use to talk about it. If we can’t even be honest and speak openly because somebody’s feelings might be hurt, then we cannot really change anything.

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