Leftism Quotes


Where there is power, there is resistance.

I had become too accustomed to the pseudo-Left new style, whereby if your opponent thought he had identified your lowest possible motive, he was quite certain that he had isolated the only real one. This vulgar method, which is now the norm and the standard in much non-Left journalism as well, is designed to have the effect of making any noisy moron into a master analyst.

Long before it was known to me as a place where my ancestry was even remotely involved, the idea of a state for Jews (or a Jewish state; not quite the same thing, as I failed at first to see) had been 'sold' to me as an essentially secular and democratic one. The idea was a haven for the persecuted and the survivors, a democracy in a region where the idea was poorly understood, and a place where—as Philip Roth had put it in a one-handed novel that I read when I was about nineteen—even the traffic cops and soldiers were Jews. This, like the other emphases of that novel, I could grasp. Indeed, my first visit was sponsored by a group in London called the Friends of Israel. They offered to pay my expenses, that is, if on my return I would come and speak to one of their meetings.
I still haven't submitted that expenses claim. The misgivings I had were of two types, both of them ineradicable. The first and the simplest was the encounter with everyday injustice: by all means the traffic cops were Jews but so, it turned out, were the colonists and ethnic cleansers and even the torturers. It was Jewish leftist friends who insisted that I go and see towns and villages under occupation, and sit down with Palestinian Arabs who were living under house arrest—if they were lucky—or who were squatting in the ruins of their demolished homes if they were less fortunate. In Ramallah I spent the day with the beguiling Raimonda Tawil, confined to her home for committing no known crime save that of expressing her opinions. (For some reason, what I most remember is a sudden exclamation from her very restrained and respectable husband, a manager of the local bank: 'I would prefer living under a Bedouin
muktar
to another day of Israeli rule!' He had obviously spent some time thinking about the most revolting possible Arab alternative.) In Jerusalem I visited the Tutungi family, who could produce title deeds going back generations but who were being evicted from their apartment in the old city to make way for an expansion of the Jewish quarter. Jerusalem: that place of blood since remote antiquity. Jerusalem, over which the British and French and Russians had fought a foul war in the Crimea,
and in the mid-nineteenth century
, on the matter of which Christian Church could command the keys to some 'holy sepulcher.' Jerusalem, where the anti-Semite Balfour had tried to bribe the Jews with the territory of another people in order to seduce them from Bolshevism and continue the diplomacy of the Great War. Jerusalem: that pest-house in whose environs all zealots hope that an even greater and final war can be provoked. It certainly made a warped appeal to my sense of history.

In Venezuela Chavez has made the co-ops a top political priority, giving them first refusal on government contracts and offering them economic incentives to trade with one another. By 2006, there were roughly 100,000 co-operatives in the country, employing more than 700,000 workers. Many are pieces of state infrastructure – toll booths, highway maintenance, health clinics – handed over to the communities to run. It’s a reverse of the logic of government outsourcing – rather than auctioning off pieces of the state to large corporations and losing democratic control, the people who use the resources are given the power to manage them, creating, at least in theory, both jobs and more responsive public services. Chavez’s many critics have derided these initiatives as handouts and unfair subsidies, of course. Yet in an era when Halliburton treats the U.S. government as its personal ATM for six years, withdraws upward of $20 billion in Iraq contracts alone, refuses to hire local workers either on the Gulf coast or in Iraq, then expresses its gratitude to U.S. taxpayers by moving its corporate headquarters to Dubai (with all the attendant tax and legal benefits), Chavez’s direct subsidies to regular people look significantly less radical.

Chávez    Leftism    Political    Subsidies    Taxes    Usa    Venezuela

I am not too happy with terms like the left, to be honest. And I don’t use it much….if by the left you mean people who are committed to peace and justice and freedom and so on, there can’t be elements of the left opposed to workers’ movement, at least under that definition.

It is obvious that [leftists] are not cool-headed logicians systematically analyzing the foundations of knowledge. They are deeply involved emotionally in their attack on truth and reality.

Left    Leftism    Leftists    Liberals    Logic

This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated in times of crisis. In order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated rather than capitalism.

That a work of the imagination has to be really about some problem is, again, an heir of Socialist Realism. To write a story for the sake of storytelling is frivolous, not to say reactionary.
The demand that stories must be about something is from Communist thinking and, further back, from religious thinking, with its desire for self-improvement books as simple-minded as the messages on samplers.
The phrase political correctness was born as Communism was collapsing. I do not think this was chance. I am not suggesting that the torch of Communism has been handed on to the political correctors. I am suggesting that habits of mind have been absorbed, often without knowing it.
There is obviously something very attractive about telling other people what to do: I am putting it in this nursery way rather than in more intellectual language because I see it as nursery behavior. Art — the arts generally — are always unpredictable, maverick, and tend to be, at their best, uncomfortable. Literature, in particular, has always inspired the House committees, the Zhdanovs, the fits of moralizing, but, at worst, persecution. It troubles me that political correctness does not seem to know what its exemplars and predecessors are; it troubles me more that it may know and does not care.
Does political correctness have a good side? Yes, it does, for it makes us re-examine attitudes, and that is always useful. The trouble is that, with all popular movements, the lunatic fringe so quickly ceases to be a fringe; the tail begins to wag the dog. For every woman or man who is quietly and sensibly using the idea to examine our assumptions, there are 20 rabble-rousers whose real motive is desire for power over others, no less rabble-rousers because they see themselves as anti-racists or feminists or whatever.

I find that I have more allies on the left than on the right, and that is because the left is, by and large, filled with people who are challenging the present paradigm and power structure. I’m interested in totally transforming the structure that exists now, because it is not sustainable.

That war [Bosnian war] in the early 1990s changed a lot for me. I never thought I would see, in Europe, a full-dress reprise of internment camps, the mass murder of civilians, the reinstiutution of torture and rape as acts of policy. And I didn't expect so many of my comrades to be indifferent - or even take the side of the fascists. It was a time when many people on the left were saying 'Don't intervene, we'll only make things worse' or, 'Don't intervene, it might destabilise the region. And I thought - destabilisation of fascist regimes is a good thing. Why should the left care about the stability of undemocratic regimes? Wasn't it a good thing to destabilise the regime of General Franco? It was a time when the left was mostly taking the conservative, status quo position - leave the Balkans alone, leave Milosevic alone, do nothing. And that kind of conservatism can easily mutate into actual support for the aggressors. Weimar-style conservatism can easily mutate into National Socialism. So you had people like Noam Chomsky's co-author Ed Herman go from saying 'Do nothing in the Balkans', to actually supporting Milosevic, the most reactionary force in the region. That's when I began to first find myself on the same side as the neocons. I was signing petitions in favour of action in Bosnia, and I would look down the list of names and I kept finding, there's Richard Perle. There's Paul Wolfowitz. That seemed interesting to me. These people were saying that we had to act. Before, I had avoided them like the plague, especially because of what they said about General Sharon and about Nicaragua. But nobody could say they were interested in oil in the Balkans, or in strategic needs, and the people who tried to say that - like Chomsky - looked ridiculous. So now I was interested.

The leftist is anti-individualistic... He is not the sort of person who has an inner sense of confidence in his own ability to solve his own problems and satisfy his own needs.

One of the greatest difficulties the left faces in reaching out to masses of people in America is its profound disrespect of spirituality and religious life…people on the left need to acknowledge – we need to grapple with – the question of religion.

If the counsel of the peaceniks had been followed, Kuwait would today be the nineteenth province of Iraq. Bosnia would be a trampled and cleansed province of Greater Serbia, Kosovo would have been emptied of most of its inhabitants, and the Taliban would still be in power in Afghanistan. Yet nothing seems to disturb the contented air of moral superiority of those that intone the "peace movement".

George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as 'evil.' Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism. What the president should have done, in the unlikely event that he wanted the support of America's peace-mongers, was to describe a confrontation with Saddam as the 'lesser evil.' This is a term the Left can appreciate. Indeed, 'lesser evil' is part of the essential tactical rhetoric of today's Left, and has been deployed to excuse or overlook the sins of liberal Democrats, from President Clinton's bombing of Sudan to Madeleine Albright's veto of an international rescue for Rwanda when she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Among those longing for nuance, moral relativism—the willingness to use the term evil, when combined with a willingness to make accommodations with it—is the smart thing: so much more sophisticated than 'cowboy' language.

Anti-Americanism may indeed have grown fiercer than it was during the cold war. It is a common phenomenon that when the angels fail to deliver, the demons become more fearsome.

There is a tendency on the left, to think if someone in any way disagrees with the left it must be for the lowest possible reason and if you found the lowest possible motive you have found the right one. Theres this whole culture of no one would leave us or quarrel with us if they weren't a sellout. It is actually a very sick mentality and very widespread.

When I talk to anyone or read the writings of anyone who has any axe to grind, I feel that intellectual honesty and balanced judgement have simply disappeared from the face of the earth. Everyone’s thought is forensic, everyone is simply putting a case with deliberate suppression of his opponent’s point of view, and, what is more, with complete insensitiveness to any sufferings except those of himself and his friends.

It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed ... The government of the revolution is liberty's despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime

Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don't seem to see this.

My quarrel with Chomsky goes back to the Balkan wars of the 1990s, where he more or less openly represented the "Serbian Socialist Party" (actually the national-socialist and expansionist dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic) as the victim. Many of us are proud of having helped organize to prevent the slaughter and deportation of Europe's oldest and largest and most tolerant Muslim minority, in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Kosovo. But at that time, when they were real, Chomsky wasn't apparently interested in Muslim grievances. He only became a voice for that when the Taliban and Al Qaeda needed to be represented in their turn as the victims of a "silent genocide" in Afghanistan. Let me put it like this, if a supposed scholar takes the Christian-Orthodox side when it is the aggressor, and then switches to taking the "Muslim" side when Muslims commit mass murder, I think that there is something very nasty going on. And yes, I don't think it is exaggerated to describe that nastiness as "anti-American" when the power that stops and punishes both aggressions is the United States.

As to the 'Left' I'll say briefly why this was the finish for me. Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than it has yet been able to treat us. The vaunted CIA and FBI are asleep, at best. The working-class heroes move, without orders and at risk to their lives, to fill the moral and political vacuum. The moral idiots, meanwhile, like Falwell and Robertson and Rabbi Lapin, announce that this clerical aggression is a punishment for our secularism. And the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, hitherto considered allies on our 'national security' calculus, prove to be the most friendly to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead, the near-majority of 'Left' intellectuals started sounding like Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush's legitimacy. So I don't even muster a hollow laugh when this pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the forces of reaction.

This is not hyperbole. It is possible for the average professor to have been taught by leftists, grown up in a left-leaning city, read only left-leaning books, entertained by leftists in pop culture and became a professor without holding a job outside academia. How can we expect these professors to adequately explain what people who oppose them believe?

London is one of the world's centres of Arab journalism and political activism. The failure of left and right, the establishment and its opposition, to mount principled arguments against clerical reaction has had global ramifications. Ideas minted in Britain – the notion that it is bigoted to oppose bigotry; 'Islamophobic' to oppose clerics whose first desire is to oppress Muslims – swirl out through the press and the net to lands where they can do real harm.

There is a noticeable element of the pathological in some current leftist critiques, which I tend to attribute to feelings of guilt allied to feelings of impotence. Not an attractive combination, because it results in self-hatred.

Art forms that appeal to [leftists] tend to focus on ... defeat and despair ... as if there were no hope of accomplishing anything through rational calculation.

Art    Despair    Left    Leftism    Leftists    Reason

Two ideas are opposed — not concepts or abstractions, but Ideas which were in the blood of men before they were formulated by the minds of men. The Resurgence of Authority stands opposed to the Rule of Money; Order to Social Chaos, Hierarchy to Equality, socio-economico-political Stability to constant Flux; glad assumption of Duties to whining for Rights; Socialism to Capitalism, ethically, economically, politically; the Rebirth of Religion to Materialism; Fertility to Sterility; the spirit of Heroism to the spirit of Trade; the principle of Responsibility to Parliamentarism; the idea of Polarity of Man and Woman to Feminism; the idea of the individual task to the ideal of ‘happiness’; Discipline to Propaganda-compulsion; the higher unities of family, society, State to social atomism; Marriage to the Communistic ideal of free love; economic self-sufficiency to senseless trade as an end in itself; the inner imperative to Rationalism.

Antifeminism    Authority    Culture    Duty    Economics    Equality    Far right    Feminism    God    Heroism    Hierarchy    Humanity    Individualism    Leftism    Materialism    Natural law    Nature    Order    Rationalism    Reality    Religion    Rightism    The west    Truth    Universe    Woman

Question: Which Mediterranean government shares all of Ronald Reagan's views on international terrorism, the present danger of Soviet advance, the hypocrisy of the United Nations, the unreliability of Europe, the perfidy of the Third World and the need for nuclear defense policy? Question: Which Mediterranean government is Ronald Reagan trying, with the help of George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, to replace with a government led by a party which professes socialism and which contains extreme leftists?
If you answered 'the government of Israel' to both of the above, you know more about political and international irony than the President does.

The prevalence of anti-patriotic attitudes among liberal intellectuals led some of them to warn their fellow liberals of the consequences of such attitudes for the future not of America but of American liberalism. Most Americans, as the American public philosopher Richard Rorty has written, take pride in their country, but 'many of the exceptions to this rule are found in colleges and universities, in the academic departments that have become sanctuaries for left-wing political views.' These leftists have done 'a great deal of good for . . . women, African-Americans, gay men and lesbians. . . . But there is a problem with this Left: it is unpatriotic. It repudiates the idea of a national identity and the emotion of national pride.' If the Left is to retain influence, it must recognize that a 'sense of shared national identity . . . is an absolutely essential component of citizenship.' Without patriotism, the Left will be unable to achieve its goals for America. Liberals, in short, must use patriotism as a means to achieve liberal goals

Conservatives and those on the right are usually willing to settle for thinking themselves correct on political issues; those on the left have always needed to feel not so much that they are correct but that they are also good. Disagree with someone on the right and he is likely to think you obtuse, wrong, sentimental, foolish, a dope; disagree with someone one the left and he is more likely to think you selfish, cold-hearted, a sellout, evil-in league with the devil, he might say, if he didn't think religious terminology too coarse for our secular age. To this day one will hear of people who fell for Communism in a big way let off the hook because they were sincere; if one's heart is in the right place, nothing else matters, even if one's naive opinions made it easier for tyrants to murder millions.

The last time that I consciously wrote anything to 'save the honor of the Left', as I rather pompously put it, was my little book on the crookedness and cowardice and corruption (to put it no higher) of Clinton. I used leftist categories to measure him, in other words, and to show how idiotic was the belief that he was a liberal's champion. Again, more leftists than you might think were on my side or in my corner, and the book was published by Verso, which is the publishing arm of the
New Left Review
. However, if a near-majority of leftists and liberals choose to think that Clinton was the target of a witch-hunt and the victim of 'sexual McCarthyism', an Arkansan Alger Hiss in other words, you become weary of debating on their terms and leave them to make the best of it.

The neo-cons, or some of them, decided that they would back Clinton when he belatedly decided for Bosnia and Kosovo against Milosevic, and this even though they loathed Clinton, because the battle against religious and ethnic dictatorship in the Balkans took precedence. This, by the way, was partly a battle to save Muslims from Catholic and Christian Orthodox killers. That impressed me. The neo-cons also took the view, quite early on, that coexistence with Saddam Hussein was impossible as well as undesirable. They were dead right about that. They had furthermore been thinking about the menace of
jihad
ism when most people were half-asleep.
And then I have to say that I was rather struck by the way that the
Weekly Standard
and its associated voices took the decision to get rid of Trent Lott earlier this year, thus removing an embarrassment as well as a disgrace from the political scene. And their arguments were on points of principle, not 'perception.' I liked their ruthlessness here, and their seriousness, at a time when much of the liberal Left is not even seriously wrong, but frivolously wrong, and babbles without any sense of responsibility. (I mean, have you
read
their sub-Brechtian stuff on Halliburton....?) And revolution from above, in some states and cases, is—as I wrote in my book
A Long Short War
—often preferable to the status quo, or to no revolution at all.

...the most important thing you must remember when dealing with a politically biased professor is to be friendly.

The Labour party on the whole has not been a very effective opposition since the election, partly because it spent months and months electing its new leader. I think the Labour party should, for one thing, stress much more that for most people in the past 13 years, the period was not one of collapse into chaos but actually one where the situation improved, and particularly in areas such as schools, hospitals and a variety of other cultural achievements—so the idea that somehow or other it all needs to be taken down and ground into the dust is not valid. I think we need to defend what most people think basically needs defending and that is the provision of some form of welfare from the cradle to the grave.

We have conquered everything, and everything has slipped out of our grasp.

Not long ago, having expressed some disagreements in print with an old comrade of long standing, I was sent a response that he had published in an obscure newspaper. This riposte referred to my opinions as ‘racist.’ I would obviously scorn to deny such an allegation on my own behalf. I would, rather, prefer to repudiate it on behalf of my former friend. He had known me for many years and cooperated with me on numerous projects, and I am quite confident that he would never have as a collaborator anyone he suspected of racial prejudice. But it does remind me, and not for the first time, that quarrels on the left have a tendency to become miniature treason trials, replete with all kinds of denunciation. There's a general tendency—not by any means confined to radicals but in some way specially associated with them—to believe that once the lowest motive for a dissenting position has been found, it must in some way be the real one.

The friends of Galtieri, Saddam Hussein, Mullah Omar and Milosevic make unconvincing defenders of humanitarian values, and it can be seen that their inept and sometimes inane arguments lack either the principles or the seriousness that are required in such debates.

Some readers may have noticed an icy little missive from Noam Chomsky ["Letters," December 3], repudiating the very idea that he and I had disagreed on the "roots" of September 11. I rush to agree. Here is what he told his audience at MIT on October 11:
I'll talk about the situation in Afghanistan.... Looks like what's happening is some sort of silent genocide.... It indicates that whatever, what will happen we don't know, but plans are being made and programs implemented on the assumption that they may lead to the death of several million people in the next—in the next couple of weeks.... very casually with no comment.... we are in the midst of apparently trying to murder three or four million people.
Clever of him to have spotted that (his favorite put-down is the preface 'Turning to the facts...') and brave of him to have taken such a lonely position. As he rightly insists, our disagreements are not really political.

Such impulses have displayed themselves very widely across left and liberal opinion in recent months. Why? For some, because what the US government and its allies do, whatever they do, has to be opposed—and opposed however thuggish and benighted the forces which this threatens to put your anti-war critic into close company with. For some, because of an uncontrollable animus towards George Bush and his administration. For some, because of a one-eyed perspective on international legality and its relation to issues of international justice and morality. Whatever the case or the combination, it has produced a calamitous compromise of the core values of socialism, or liberalism or both, on the part of thousands of people who claim attachment to them. You have to go back to the apologias for, and fellow-travelling with, the crimes of Stalinism to find as shameful a moral failure of liberal and left opinion as in the wrong-headed—and too often, in the circumstances, sickeningly smug—opposition to the freeing of the Iraqi people from one of the foulest regimes on the planet.

The liberal state has no view on whether witchcraft is more valuable than all-in wrestling. Like a tactful publican, it has as few opinions as possible. Many liberals suspect passionate convictions are latently authoritarian. But liberalism should surely be a passionate conviction. Liberals are not necessarily lukewarm. Only the more macho leftist suspects that they have no balls. You can be ardently neutral, and fiercely indifferent.

[W]hat possible purpose does this lashing-out serve? Will activists be shamed into recovering their previous enthusiasm? Will Republicans stop their vicious attacks because Obama is lashing out to his left? It was pure self-indulgence; even if he feels aggrieved, he has to judge his words by their usefulness, not by his desire to vent. This isn't about him.

Al Qaeda's central political objective is the creation of an Islamic republic,
not
the progressive realignment of American foreign policy.

He is in many ways quite a right-wing isolationist. It's because some people are naïve enough to confuse this with anti-imperialism that they think of him as being rather more to the left than he really is.

You might think that the Left could have a regime-change perspective of its own, based on solidarity with its comrades abroad. After all, Saddam's ruling Ba'ath Party consolidated its power by first destroying the Iraqi communist and labor movements, and then turning on the Kurds (whose cause, historically, has been one of the main priorities of the Left in the Middle East). When I first became a socialist, the imperative of international solidarity was the essential if not the defining thing, whether the cause was popular or risky or not. I haven't seen an anti-war meeting all this year at which you could even guess at the existence of the Iraqi and Kurdish opposition to Saddam, an opposition that was fighting for 'regime change' when both Republicans and Democrats were fawning over Baghdad as a profitable client and geopolitical ally. Not only does the 'peace' movement ignore the anti-Saddam civilian opposition, it sends missions to console the Ba'athists in their isolation, and speaks of the invader of Kuwait and Iran and the butcher of Kurdistan as if he were the victim and George W. Bush the aggressor.

There is nothing truthful, wise, humane, or strategic about confusing hostility to injustice and oppression, which is leftist, with hostility to science and rationality, which is nonsense.

Oh, you must be part of the underground no one’s ever heard about.
I don’t belong to any group outside of my friends.
That’s a real bridge builder.
But it was a pretty hollow response. I wasn’t part of any group either, and not just because my wiring was shot and I cried all the time, but because I had never met anyone in any political organization that I liked.

Whenever the communists are under fire, it [the term "red-baiter"] has served to divert attention from the subject matter to futile discussion of personal motives, the critic’s private life and other deliberate tricks of befuddlement.

Remember one thing as South Africa prepares to go to the polls this week and the world grapples with the ascendancy of the African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma: South Africa is not Zimbabwe.
In South Africa, no one doubts that Wednesday's elections will be free and fair. While there is an unacceptable degree of government corruption, there is no evidence of the wholesale kleptocracy of Robert Mugabe's elite. While there has been the abuse of the organs of state by the ruling ANC, there is not the state terror of Mugabe's Zanu-PF. And while there is a clear left bias to Zuma's ANC, there is no suggestion of the kind of voluntarist experimentation that has brought Zimbabwe to its knees.

Being a common laborer all my life at poor and underpaid jobs, I had worked with more black men, known more black men, drank with more black men, fought with more black men than any theoretical liberal with books jammed between the ears.

...han drev, ridde p bicycle og var radikal.

...han drev, ridde på bicycle og var radikal.

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