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I'm a proud, apoplectic, left wing, radical!

There are a lot of ostensible Leftists here on Kos. Enough to disprove the idea that the Left is some sort of monolith. There's a wide spread and variety of opinion. So any criticism of "the Left" is by definition going to be partial rather than general. There's no "party line", contrary to what both some Leftist and their opponents would prefer to think.

What you have is a number of trends in thought and opinion, some of which are in conflict with each other. Not all leftists think that Noam Chomsky hung the moon. Not all Leftists treat Marx as gospel. Not all Leftists view Liberalism as a greater threat than the RW. Likewise, there are Leftists who do. The Left, such as it is, is a mixed and unruly bag.

Such a hodgepodge requires the use of critical analytical skills to make one's way through the thickets of competing views and opinions.

Not everyone is comfortable with this. Some seem to think that the Left should be exempt from critical self examination. This is a mindset that refuses to recognize error or account for its failures. A mindset that explains every loss in terms of forces beyond its control. That implicitly denies its ability to influence or shape events. That, consequently, produces an exaggerated siege mentality that treats any suggestion of critical self examination as an attack. Such attitudes are getting a lot of play in the current NSA debates.

For some of us this has a very familiar and dismal aspect. Self ghettoization and the resultant insularity and sectarian blindness have been a perennial plague on the Left. It has contributed substantially to the marginalization and consequent political irrelevance of the Left in the US.

Apparently, some political fundamentals need to be re-emphasized.

The first among these is that a refusal to consider criticism, whether constructive or hostile, is a sign of political and ideological bankruptcy. It amounts to a refusal to learn from mistakes. Indeed, a refusal to admit the possibility of error. This is true regardless of the bias of the critic. If you want to learn where the weaknesses of your own arguments and analysis are located, the best place to look is in the critiques of your political enemies. Particularly so when they've been cleaning your clock for several decades.

This would seem obvious but you would never know it from the way that some react. For far too many the substance of a criticism takes a back seat to political bias. Far too many seem to believe that the presumed or actual political bias of a critic some how invalidates the factual substance of a criticism. For some this canard has taken on the status of a theoretical absolute, despite its being the textbook definition of the ad hominem fallacy. Equally destructive is the correlative belief that any dissent from the supposedly "orthodox" Left position identifies the critic as a political enemy.

Again, this is nothing new. Nor is this sort of ersatz religiousity unique to the Left. However, it's no concern of mine if the RW and other reactionary movements engage in this kind of ultimately self defeating behavior. In fact I would encourage them to do so. Nothing would suit me better than to see them sideline themselves in the same way that the Left has repeatedly done over the last 40 years.

What does concern me is the need for a healthy, militant and effective Left in the US. If either the US as a democracy or the planet as a whole are to survive, this is the immediate and overriding necessity. The stakes do not allow for indulging in this sort of ritualism. A quasi theological intolerance for differences of opinion isn't something we can afford. A movement more interested in creating enemies rather than creating allies is an irrelevance in the making.

 

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 03:21:02 PM PDT

  •  I think the problem arises when (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves, commonmass

    The same old shit gets repeated ad nauseum. It starts to look like talking points. People start to associate those repeating said talking points with a particular side of a debate.

    Those on that side of the debate start getting their motives questioned when, after so many iterations of talking point regurgitation, nothing new of value is offered.




    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 03:48:25 PM PDT

    •  Who gets to decide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass

      what's a talking point? What's the difference between that and an argument you don't accept but the other person does?

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 04:02:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No centralized "decider" needs to be identified (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WB Reeves

        As to your other point, the difference is seems self-evident: the other person accepts what I consider a canned answer as sufficiently explanatory.

        The difference in perspective seems insurmountable, after a certain point, in a debate where the same participants are engaging.




        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
        ~ Jerry Garcia

        by DeadHead on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 04:34:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm.. (0+ / 0-)
          the difference is seems self-evident: the other person accepts what I consider a canned answer as sufficiently explanatory.  (emphasis added)
          It seems clear that the actual decider is yourself. Since your standard is frankly subjective and idiosyncratic I'd tend to agree that differences of opinion with others would appear insurmountable.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 04:47:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I assumed an answer of 'me' (0+ / 0-)

            was sort of a given, seeing as I'm not made of IC's, capacitors, and resistors.

            You can consider everything I say a talking point, if you so choose, though it matters little what we call them.

            I'd like to think my repetition comes more in the form of posing the same questions, than it does in repeating the same answers, but that's not something I'm able see objectively, obviously.




            Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
            ~ Jerry Garcia

            by DeadHead on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 05:07:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why would I treat anything you said as a (0+ / 0-)

              talking point? Assuming it was a talking point, why would I treat it any differently than any other argument presented?

              What I was trying to get at was your criteria for labeling something as a talking point. Your response was essentially that you know it when you see it. That pretty much excludes the possibility of agreement with anyone who wont adopt your subjective take. You can't have a productive debate on that basis.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 06:23:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  My critieria is the same shit over and over again (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                WB Reeves

                Thread after thread. I know what you're driving at, I really do.

                Do you expect to have a productive debate with a Republican who offers Reince Priebus's talking points about ObamaCare?




                Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
                ~ Jerry Garcia

                by DeadHead on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 06:36:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I Think it Arises (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves, DeadHead, quill

    When people want everybody to STFU or you'll hamstring Cuomo 2016.

    •  The perpetual (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves, quill, xulon

      Now isn't a good time to talk about this.

      Except there's never a good time when the discussion is about an issue that might reflect poorly on one's own party.




      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 04:38:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The debate gets vicious quickly around here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight

    And some of the front pagers are the worst offenders.

  •  Terrific diary, WB. Good stuff! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." -- Willie Stargell

    by Yasuragi on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 11:38:16 AM PDT

    •  Thanks Yas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yasuragi

      Priceman just got finished telling me that no one is talking to me or is interested in what i have to say (sniff :( ), so it's pleasant to see that he's not as all-knowing as he imagines.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 02:28:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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