Monthly Archives: October 2015

Politics : Entry 1 : The Left

So I am going to publish a series of entries on what the policies of the political factions are and the different worldviews within the political factions. I was going to combine both left and right in one entry but then I realised it would be too big to read. So what I will do is to cut it into 2 entries and then make a third entry on my views and my analysis on each perspective.

Left wing

The left wing started out as a classification during the French revolution which happened around about 1789. It was divided between the French monarchy and the French republicans.

In the 19th century nationalism, socialism, democracy and anti-clericalism were adopted as leftist positions.

Marxism then came into existence during this period and rivalled republicanism and utopian socialism which asserted that all human history is the history of class struggle. They predicted that a proletarian (labour workers that does not own the means of production) revolution would eventually overthrow bourgeois (the class that owns the means of production) capitalism and create a classless, stateless society.

The American left adopted the Thomas Paine’s idea of asset based egalitarianism which is the political hypothesis of that, equality is possible by a redistribution of resources, usually in the form of a capital grant provided when reaching adulthood legally.

Afterwards in America, The Left adopted policies which were pro trade unions, for the African American civil right movement and for the anti-war movement.

Due to general confusion between classifications thanks to the Americans, the left has been synonymous for liberalism and the right for conservativism which I consider to be incorrectly used.

Policies

Economics

There is a big scope on Economics on the left and I will point out what they are.

One part of it is the economical approach based on John Maynard Keynes which is in the short run, especially during the recession, economic output which is defined as the quantity of goods or services produced in a given time period, by a firm, industry, or country, is strongly influenced by aggregate demand, which is the total demand for final goods and services in an economy at a given time. So the argument is that the loss of output by the private sector as a result of a systemic shock (for example the market crash) ought to be filled by government spending. Because of this, the Keynesian economists advocate a mixed economy, which is the private ownership of the means of production, the dominance of markets for economic coordination, with profit-seeking enterprise and the accumulation of capital remaining the fundamental driving force behind economic activity. But unlike a free-market economy, the government would wield indirect influence over the economy through fiscal and monetary policies designed to counteract economic downturns and capitalism’s tendency toward financial crises and unemployment, along with playing a role in interventions that promote social welfare. Some people on the Right also advocate this policy.

Another part of the left economic approach is the welfare state which is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. This is a component of the mixed economy.

Another would be Industrial democracy, which is an arrangement which involves workers making decisions, sharing responsibility and authority in the workplace. While in participative management organizational designs workers are listened to and take part in the decision-making process, in organizations employing industrial democracy they also have the final decisive power (they decide about organizational design and hierarchy as well).

Then you have social market economies which is a social and economic system combining free market capitalism which supports private enterprise, alongside social policies which establish both fair competition within the market and a welfare state

And Nationalisation which is the process of taking a private industry or private assets into public ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being transferred to be the state.

You also have planned economy, which is the economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a public body such as a government agency.

You also have Marxian economics which are based on the economic theories of Karl Marx. Since it is a political approach rather than an actual policy guideline, it would take too long to explain this worldview and will perhaps be done in a separate entry.

Then you have the libertarian socialism and anarchism economic policy which is a decentralized economy run by trade unions; workers’ councils; cooperatives; municipalities; and communes, and oppose both government and private control of the economy, preferring local control, in which a nation of decentralized regions are united in a confederation.

Environment

The environment issues only really became relevant to the Left after the 1970s.

Before the 1970s you had Karl Marx and William Morris who had concerns about the environment. Karl Marx apparently said

“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together … are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations.”[[“Marx and ecology|”. Socialist Worker. 8 December 2007. Retrieved 13 May 2010.]

Whereas Mao Zedong rejected environmentalist issues since he believed that, based on the laws of historical materialism, all of nature must be put into the service of revolution.

After 1970s, however social movements and some unions campaigned over environmental issues. For example, the left-wing Builders Labourers Federation in Australia, led by the communist Jack Mundy, united with environmentalists to place Green Bans (which is a form of strike action, usually taken by a trade union or other organised labour group, which is conducted for environmentalist purposes) on environmentally destructive development projects. Some segments of the socialist and Marxist left consciously merged environmentalism and anti-capitalism into an eco-socialist ideology

In the 21st Century, questions about the environment have become increasingly politicized, with the Left generally accepting the findings of environmental scientists about global warming, and many on the Right disputing or rejecting those findings. The left is however divided over how to effectively and equitably reduce carbon emissions; the centre-left often advocates a reliance on market measures such as emissions trading or a carbon tax, while those further to the left tend to support direct government regulation and intervention either alongside or instead of market mechanisms

Nationalism

The question of nationality and nationalism has been a central feature of political debates on the Left. During the French Revolution, nationalism was a policy of the Republican Left. They specifically endorsed civic nationalism which is a kind of nationalism identified by political philosophers, who believe in a non-xenophobic form of nationalism compatible with values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights.

One alternative to this is the Marxist theory of proletarian internationalism which is a socialist form of internationalism, based on the view that capitalism is a global system, and therefore the working class must act as a global class if it is to defeat it in class conflict. Workers thus should struggle in solidarity with their fellow workers in other countries on the basis of a common class interest, to avoid continued subjugation via divide and rule

Another alternative is Anarchism which has developed a critique of nationalism that focuses on nationalism’s role in justifying and consolidating state power and domination. Their argument is through its unifying goal, nationalism strives for centralization, both in specific territories and in a ruling elite of individuals, while it prepares a population for capitalist exploitation.

Another perspective is the European social-democrats who strongly support Europeanism (which is a term that encapsulates the norms and values that Europeans have in common, and which transcend national or state identity. In addition to helping promote the integration of the European Union, this doctrine also provides the basis for analyses that characterise European politics, economics, and society as reflecting a shared identity.) And supranational integration (which is an advocate of the European Union itself), although there is a minority of nationalists and euro sceptics also in the left.

There is also the Modern day left nationalism which is described as form of nationalism based upon social equality, popular sovereignty (the principle that the authority of a state and its government is created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives, rule by the People, who are the source of all political power.), and national self-determination. It has its origins in the Jacobinism of the French Revolution. Left-wing nationalism typically espouses anti-imperialism. It stands in contrast to right-wing nationalism, and often rejects racist nationalism and fascism, although some forms of left-wing nationalism have included intolerance and racial prejudice

Then you have a small but rising group called Third Worldism which has a tendency to regard the division between First World developed countries and Third World developing countries as being of primary political importance. Third-Worldism supports Third World nations and national liberation movements against Western nations and their proxies.

Religion

The original French left-wing was anti-clerical, opposing the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and supporting the separation of church and state. Today in the Western world, those on the Left usually support secularization and the separation of church and state. Religious beliefs, however, have also been associated with some left-wing movements, such as the African American civil rights movement and the anti-capital punishment movement. Other common leftist concerns such as pacifism, social justice, racial equality, human rights, and the rejection of excessive wealth can be found in the Bible. In the late 19th century, the Social Gospel movement arose (particularly among some Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists in North America and Britain) which attempted to integrate progressive and socialist thought with Christianity in faith-based social activism, promoted by movements such as Christian Socialism. In the 20th century, the theology of liberation and Creation Spirituality was championed by such writers as Gustavo Gutierrez and Matthew Fox.

Other left-wing religious movements include Islamic socialism and Buddhist socialism. There have been alliances between the Left and anti-war Muslims, such as the Respect Party and the Stop the War Coalition in Britain. In France, the Left has been divided over moves to ban the hijab from schools, with some supporting a ban based on separation of church and state, and others opposing the ban based on personal freedom

Social Progressivism

Progressivism is a broad philosophy, which asserts that advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to improve the human condition. Progressivism became highly significant during the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, out of the belief that Europe was demonstrating that societies could progress in civility from barbaric conditions to civilization through strengthening the basis of empirical knowledge as the foundation of society

Social progressivism is another common feature of the modern Left, particularly in the United States, where social progressives played an important role in the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, and multiculturalism. Progressives have both advocated prohibition legislation and worked towards its repeal. Current positions associated with social progressivism in the West include opposition to the death penalty and the War on Drugs, and support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, cognitive liberty, distribution of contraceptives, public funding of embryonic stem-cell research, and the right of women to choose abortion. Public education was a subject of great interest to ground-breaking social progressives such as Lester Frank Ward and John Dewey who believed that a democratic system of government was impossible without a universal and comprehensive system of education.

Many early feminists and advocates of women’s rights were considered left-wing by their contemporaries. Feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft was influenced by the radical thinker Thomas Paine. Many notable leftists have been strong supporters of gender equality, such as: the Marxists Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai, anarchists such as Virginia Bolten, Emma Goldman and Lucía Sánchez Saornil, and the socialists Helen Keller and Annie Besant. Marxists such as Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai however, though supporters of radical social equality for women, opposed feminism on the grounds that it was a bourgeois ideology. Marxists such as Clara Zetkin were responsible for organizing the first International Women’s Day events.

The connection between left-leaning ideologies and LGBT rights struggles has also an important history. Prominent socialists who were involved in early struggles for LGBT rights include Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde, Harry Hay, Bayard Rustin and Daniel Guérin among others.

Variety

The spectrum of left-wing politics ranges from centre-left to far left (or ultra-left). The term centre left describes a position within the political mainstream. The terms far left and ultra-left refer to positions that are more radical. The centre-left includes social democrats, social liberals, progressives and also some democratic socialists and greens (in particular the eco-socialists). Centre-left supporters accept market allocation of resources in a mixed economy with a significant public sector and a thriving private sector. Centre-left policies tend to favour limited state intervention in matters pertaining to the public interest.

In several countries, the terms far left and radical left have been associated with varieties of communism, autonomism and anarchism. They have been used to describe groups that advocate anti-capitalist, identity politics or eco-terrorism. In France, a distinction is made between the left (Socialist Party and Communist Party) and the far left (Trotskyists, Maoists and Anarchists). The US Department of Homeland Security defines left-wing extremism as groups who want “to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes.”

In China, the term Chinese New Left denotes those who oppose the current economic reforms and favour the restoration of more socialist policies. In the Western world, the term New Left refers to cultural politics. In the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the term hard left was applied to supporters of Tony Benn, such as the Campaign Group and those involved in the London Labour Briefing newspaper, as well as Trotskyist groups such as Militant and Socialist Organiser. In the same period, the term soft left was applied to supporters of the British Labour Party who were perceived to be more moderate. Under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the British Labour Party re-branded itself as New Labour in order to promote the notion that it was less left-wing than it had been in the past. One of the first actions of the Labour Party leader who succeeded them, Ed Miliband, was the rejection of the “New Labour” label. However, Labour’s voting record in parliament would indicate that, under Miliband, maintain the same distance from the left as did Blair.

Left-wing post-modernism opposes attempts to supply universal explanatory theories, including Marxism, deriding them as grand narratives. It views culture as a contested space, and via deconstruction seeks to undermine all pretensions to absolute truth. Left-wing critics of post-modernism assert that cultural studies inflates the importance of culture by denying the existence of an independent reality

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