Let’s talk about Right and Left.
The last decade or so in politics has seen the rise of an almost infinite array of groups, associations, organisations and movements, each with a specific modulation of the core principles of the Right or the Left. We have seen the Alt-Right come to global prominence with the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States, mass support for Leftist movements such as Occupy, and huge increases in the amount of people involved directly with political activism on both sides of the coin.
I’m seeing an increasingly toxic narrative arise from the political Right and the Centre, targeting Leftist ideas and values, progressive social policy, and, if we can call these things what they are for a moment without out ideological blinkers on; attacks on love, community, acceptance and brotherhood, which are the defining characteristics of the political Left in modern first world nations the world over.
From the Right, we are being told that the kind of opinions and beliefs which we have always seen to be racist, xenophobic, sexist, misogynistic, nationalist, fascist and so on, are in fact legitimate forms of thinking and behaving, and that what the Left is doing by opposing these notions is a form of censorship, an authoritarian extremism tantamount to thought control. That those holding these opinions are not ashamed of them simply speaks to their lack of historical awareness of the consequences of their beliefs and actions.
We are told that the Left is an echo-chamber, that those within it are divisive, childish, aggressive. All these statements coming from people who exist in an echo-chamber of their own, where it “just isn’t that bad” if a person doesn’t think a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her own body, that gay marriage is just a token gesture and not really very important, that the current economic system is working just fine as it is. These views themselves are the manifestation of a mind which has ensalved itself to division, infantilism, and aggression, out of the prioritisation of fear and self-protection over love and the service of others.
I’ll now take some examples from the Right-wing and demonstrate their basis in what is effectively a socially accepted form of insanity, and then discuss the Left in relation to this and what we can do moving forward.
“For instance, in a natural state of affairs people would tend to discriminate in various ways. They would and do tend to give various sorts of preference to people like themselves. And conservatives generally understand that. But to Leftists discrimination is an offence deserving of severe punishment. They want to stop people doing what they are normally and naturally inclined to do. The need for change that drives them makes them the enemy of the natural state of affairs.”
from “The Root Causes of Political Leftism”, John J. Ray, (M.A.; Ph.D.)
This typically Right wing argument presupposes that discrimination is the natural state of man, and not one brought about through inadequate social organisation. It ignores the role that the shape and form of our structures of governance, commerce and education have on the behavior of human beings, and leaves little to no room for the possibility of a transformative experience of change in which these limitations are overcome and transcended. Claiming that in-grouping and out-grouping is simply a natural and unchangeable aspect of man, it legitimizes the harm this behavior causes while removing from the individual and the society any responsibility to recognize a deeper nature than mere divisiveness.
“So what is conservatism? Basically it is caution based on a perception that the world is an unpredictable, dangerous and often hostile place.”
– from the same article by John J. Ray
Here the author undermines his own process of thought by demonstrating in no uncertain terms that his worldview is based on fear. The world is indeed an unpredictable, dangerous and often hostile place, and no sane creature will imagine it otherwise. But this does not necessitate a fearful response to the world; rather it calls us to experience our fear fully and then to act having integrated that fear healthily. The conservative impulse seeks instead to project their experience of fear onto the external world, seeing various phenomena as sources of their terror, rather than recognizing that it is a transaction between their nervous systems and the external world in which their nervous systems are doing most of the work. In simpler words, the conservative makes his own fear and paints it onto the world, which is of course dangerous, unpredictable and often hostile, but in and of itself unworthy of fear, and this action in and of itself changes the world.