Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

The US Left’s Antipathy to Organization

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 22, 2012

One of the things that most bothers me about the American left is its resistance to being organized. Unlike the members of the right wing, who eagerly organize and get heavily involved in electoral politics to achieve their goals, the farther left one gets, the more likely a person is to be averse to organization of any sort, an effect I suspect of the belief held by many American far-lefties that participating on politics gives undeserved validation to capitalism.

Turns out that I’m not the only person who’s noticed this.

Back in February 2011, Richard Wolff was one of several prominent leftists interviewed on KPFA for the Pacifica series “Building a Powerful Left”. During his interview, which starts at 26:01 into the program, Professor Wolff talks about the US left’s “anarchistic antipathy to organization”, an antipathy that hinders its effectiveness.

And the guy’s a hardcore Marxist, to boot.


3 Responses to “The US Left’s Antipathy to Organization”

  1. Charles II said

    I don’t think it’s a surprise that a Marxist is in favor of organization. The reason that communists are so hated/feared by the oligarchy is that they are very, very good organizers. At least, when they’re not convulsed in schism.

    I think the phenomenon you’re describing is alienation. People who don’t feel part of whatever is going on in the center of things seek validation in alternative groups. The more alienated they are, the smaller those groups tend to be. If we were living in Sicily, we’d probably be alienated from the Mafia, and if we were living in China, we’d probably be alienated from the Communist Party. Alienation on its own isn’t bad.

    Alienation is both a personal and a political phenomenon. Some people are natural joiners, while others are natural loners. But one’s beliefs also affect whether one is an insider or not. It’s very hard for a liberal to be part of many business associations, for example, because most business associations have been subverted into Republican political action committees to the point that they actually undermine the interests of business.

    In the US, a healthy Left has been destroyed. Part of this is that the Christian Left has been purged. The triumph of science, the toxicity of right-wing Christianity, and the corruption of structures of the Church have all demoralized and weakened the authority of anything associated with Christianity. But Christianity, whatever one’s beliefs are, is a language that speaks across political lines. it de-alienates people. It also leavens the amorality of purely political movements, which can otherwise turn totalitarian and thereby gives change endurance.

    The Christian Left has always been an essential element of organizing. I predict there will not be a resurgence of the Left as a whole until it adopts, at a minimum, moral language that speaks to everyone. Even the very, very wealthy.

    • Your views align with those of Mark from Ireland, a frequent commenter at FDL and a member of Gorilla’s Guides. He has said that trying to operate on a purely secular basis is and likely always will be impossible in this world, so the atheists might as well start adjusting to that fact instead of going full-on PZ Myers.

      • Charles II said

        PZ Myers is the mirror image of fundamentalists who say that atheists are why God is angry at America. Smart guy, worth reading, but unlikely to found a successful movement.

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