Left and Right

The Rise of the Authoritarian Left

I am seeing more and more articles like this from leftists who are starting to get it. This is an interesting and entirely accurate statement from the comments thread that follows this article on Medium:

“As I’ve said before, this is the first time I’ve encountered authoritarians as self-identified anarchists. Absolutely nuts. They’re Maoists and the worst thing about them being Maoists is that they don’t know they are Maoists. Actually, it’s a kind of weird amalgamation of hyper-individualised neoliberalism and authoritarian Maoism. How it’s taken such hold when the whole thing is a self-contradictory house of cards completely baffles me. (I too, am in that nice, green bottom left quadrant of the political compass. In today’s climate, that means I have no political home.)”

By Harvey Jeni


The Political Compass is a model of two axes, one running horizontally from left to right, the other vertically down through the middle. One represents a spectrum of ideas concerning economic organisation: the far left of tightly controlled state economics running across to the deregulation and free markets of the right; the other of social control: a hard, top line of extreme authoritarianism sliding down into anarchy.

It is useful, this compass, in that it highlights well our preoccupation with left and right, to the extent that we tend not only to lose sight of the equally important vertical axis, but also to confuse the two; leading, among other things, to the often lazy conflation of the socially liberal with the left. It was in this way that a neo-liberal free marketeer such as Emmanuel Macron, was able in the French presidential election to be presented as somehow a candidate of the left, when in fact it was his libertarian, not leftist, values that held him in such stark contrast to Le Pen’s hateful authoritarianism.

Recent times have witnessed a frightening rise in political violence and intimidation, particularly towards women, and as one whose compass point sticks squarely in the centre of the libertarian left, I have become increasingly alarmed by what I view as a sharp spike in authoritarianism amongst those who would claim to be my kin. In what now seems a constant state of political panic, the rhetoric and hyperbole continually escalate, carrying with it a new breed of leftists whose ideas seep already deep into the mainstream, influencing policy and steering social change.


Categories: Left and Right

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