RealPolitik and the Left

  • RealPolitik and the Left

  • Duncan Hill

    March 1, 2021 at 13:35

    I can only really speak from a UK perspective here and to some degree US as well as I understand the politics there, but one thing that I feel is that the left is, on the whole, rubbish when it comes to realpolitik. The right – the Tories and the Republicans seem far more at ease with taking a position as close to the( or their nation’s) centre as they can manage that gets some of what they want, but not necessarily all, and then dragging the Overton window in the direction they desire. The left on the other hand tend to contain far more purists who, while I tend to agree with them more, decry any centrist position as pandering to the right and prefer to sit on an ideological basis that is just rubbish when it comes to winning power. I wonder why that is and if it is even real, or just a result of the bias of my observations? Is it the result of elections that rely on First-Past-The-Post perhaps? The result of too much politics of personality? Comparisons against any of your own national politics would be interesting to me too (I follow German a bit as I lived there for some years doing my PhD)

  • R McDonald

    March 1, 2021 at 14:42

    I think you’re pretty much spot-on with this as it is now.

    It shows just how much I despise the whole idea of “realpolitik” as it prizes winning and short-term self-interest over collaboration and the long term, which is a massive evolutionary flaw that can and will end up hitting us hard if not addressed.

  • Doctor Anna

    March 1, 2021 at 15:26

    I agree with you.

    I have defined myself as a leftist most of my life, but I now find myself in a situation where I am not so sure anymore. This dichotomous thinking of either “you are with us or against us” is kind of draining and leads to nothing good, nor to any positive sustainable change.

    I still believe in a strong public sector, especially for healthcare. So, per definition, I am politically left. However, I feel that it is very hard criticizing the own ranks without immediately getting a stamp as “racist”, if I would like to discuss the miserable way Sweden received immigrants, or a “Putin supporter” just because I would like to discuss what Lukashenko actually stands for and what he would mean for Russia if he would cease power.

    Also, let’s not even begin talking about the patronizing stance the left sometimes take “oh, the poor Africans, they don’t know better”. FFS! Or the famous “that nationalism is bad, but this type of nationalism is lovely because it is exotic and fits with my arrogant patronizing worldview”.

    Now, even expressing this criticism would immediately get the social media response “but, the right does the same thing and will call us snowflakes”. Yeah, sure, but this doesn’t mean it is right to do it yourself.

    I am criticizing the left wholeheartedly because it is important to me. The moment I stop caring at all and never utter a word of criticism is when it gets dangerous.

    I am a person with leftist views, yes. But I also hold liberal views, and even conservative views. I would like to be able to discuss all of them instead of having to sign off my opinions to a two-party system where there are only right & wrong. I find this intellectually lazy and a terrible road for society to take.

    *steps down from soapbox*

  • Commander Octopus

    March 1, 2021 at 15:51

    I started picking on the Swedish left after they rhetorically slaughtered themselves with platitudes and indirectly gave the Sweden Democrats momentum. I grew up in a leftist, almost Communist, home, being left was a huge part of my identity.

    The fault of the Swedish left starts, in my opinion, with the idea that being left from the very beginning harbours one from being able to hold evil thoughts. That means that once ones political party has decided on a method, it can’t be wrong. Instead of looking at the actual result of policies, the Swedish left look at how method corresponds to their moral conviction.

    Even if more people die as a result, or more people are left in poverty and misery, it is more important to maintain a moral high ground than to adopt policies that are shared by the center-right.

    I am being tendentious, but I do think that a more self critical, less morally dogmatic approach would earn the left more credibility. Questioning basic tenets of Swedish leftist world views often leads to heatened discussions and insulted egos.

    The true working class of Sweden seems to have abandoned the left on the whole. Some of the most outspoken leftist profiles are instead middle class academics with high cultural capital. They propagate against a world that they uphold themselves, not in rhetorics but in deeds…

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