The Flute: Gotta love ‘im. But this time, I have to disagree with him.
I’d be the first – well, maybe the third or the fourth– to agree with part of his thesis: Teh Left has to build its cred. You know the kind of thing; you go on the rally against the IR regulations, or any other worthwhile riot-type gathering, and you’ll be sure to see a minority bunch of Trots with manufactured signs, sometimes unrelated to the purpose of the riot in question. Because some of us are idiots, Teh Left often get dismissed as a bunch of ideologically rigid loonies, and that’s unfair, as they can’t compete with wingnuts for sheer lunacy.
I’m careful to put on a nice suit jacket when I’m rioting, so if I get picked up by any TV cameras, the folks at home won’t be saying “look, Mavis, the unwashed dreadlocked Marxist radical!” Confounding stereotypes is the go.
But really, the Unwashed Dreadlocked Lefty ™ are straw-lefties. There aren’t enough of them to make them a representative group of the left, and it only appears so because right-wing pundits enjoy imagining that they are. So we shouldn’t give them a free kick by worrying inordinately about a few peoples’ fashion choices. (There’s also a small subset of activists who are dreadlocked and dirty by virtue of the fact that they’re genuinely doing a hard, dirty and dangerous job without access to the comforts of home and a shower – and for that I’m very, very grateful to them.)
I am as economically lefty as they come, and pretty bloody libertarian to boot. I care about people. I don’t give a shit about:
Nuclear power if it’s economically feasible
(But, but, it’s not just an economic issue!)
Global warming if there is no catastrophe
(If there is no catastrophe: Hmmm. Not quite the level of risk analysis I’d like.)
I do care about:
Equity of rights and opportunities regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, any other label you can emboss on a strip of plastic that is bound to slice under your thumbnail when you peel the backing off…
Er, OK. Look, I can see where he’s coming from; I wouldn’t argue with the last sentence one bit. It’s the fact that he wants to focus on certain macro issues and he sees the others as diversions which offends some people- the problem is that many people see nuclear power, global warming and our hubristic attitudes as macro issues, too. And the prescribing by certain lefties what other lefties should focus their efforts on has a bit of recent history, too. Some US Democrats decided to abandon same-sex marriage and the defence of Roe v. Wade because they thought it was a bit too lefty-feral and they’d garner more votes from the middle if they did that. Good luck to them, because they certainly seem to have pissed off a lot of their own (former) constituency.
And as for policing the appearance and utterances of your own mob, well, the reality can be kind of creepy.
It’s certainly made me think about my priorities, but my preferred type of government would be intelligent and forward-thinking enough to at least try to address energy, environmental, ethical and social justice issues. Like scratching your head and chewing gum at the same time. I know, I’m just a hopeless leftie idealist.