• What is the pseudo left?

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 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by byork at 2006-10-31 11:08 AM

The latest edition of 'Eureka Street' has an article by Clive Hamilton of the "Leftwing" or "Left-leaning" Australia Institute. The article, titled "Churches could hold key to salvation for the Left", is a fine example of the essential conservatism of the pseudo-left and, keza, it could be worth addressing some of your article to that piece. The Australia Institute, with its moral ravings against pretty much everything, epitomizes conservatism yet it is always described as 'left' by the media and I suspect that most people would regard it as being of the left.

 

It's always good to have a punchy opening paragraph. Somewhere on the site, long ago, someone posted an article by an English socialist (from memory) who described socialism as the breathing-space that comes from stopping the world spinning. This could be a good opener - an example of what the leftwing outlook isn't - and Marx's "All that is solid" notion could be juxtaposed against it. (Does anyone remember more about the article by the English guy?).

 

One other point: I think the article needs to exude the rebellious spirit that it will no doubt be advocating. 'South Park' could be brought into it in this regard. It is right to offend!  

 

In haste,

 

Barry

PS - I will reply to bpors latest, about oil and Saddam, in due course.

 

 

 

 

lightning Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by byork at 2006-10-31 11:35 AM

Too early in the morning. Here's the link to Eureka Street article: http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=1925 

Barry

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-26 05:38 PM

I seem to have been reprimanded by Comrade Youngmarxist on my use , or misuse,  of the term, pseudo left. Just to be clear:  the refix 'pseudo' implies a pretence. In other words the pseudo left are just pretending to be left when they really aren't.

Let's take your own (the LS) definition:

“The pseudo-Left opposes modernity, development, globalisation, technology and progress.
It embraces obscurantism, relativism, romanticism and even nature worship.

The first question that I would ask is : is it necessary to be all of these things? Or, maybe just one or two is enough?

Comrade Youngmarxist assures me that the LS don't use the term, willy-nilly,  as an insult against anyone they disagree with. However, it seems to be used agaisnt anyone who is: anti the Iraq war, at least the American led coalition's invlvement,  takes the threat of glabal warming seriously, or disagrees with the terms that are imposed by the globalisation club. There are probably others, but let's just take these for now.

Iraq War. The overwhelming majority left opinion is: that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. It was an Imperialist misadventure which will do much more harm than good. Saddam Hussein was the Americans henchman who stepped out of line, and that given the American's track record of supporting democracy, eg  in South America, it is just naive in the extreme to believe it was anything to do with the establishment of democracy. There is nothing in your definition about democracy, but I would add it to the list. Let's give LS the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are naive about the Americans' democratic intentions. If they aren't naive, and really know the score,  then their position would certainly be pseudo-left.

Globalisation. The left has has a long history of fostering internationalism. We've no problem with the concept of fair international trade. However , we recognise the difference between this and so- called "globalisation". For a start, for any country to qualify for the globalisation club, the IMF can and often does impose unfair conditions which may include the privatisation of nationalised industries, the reduction of public services such as free education, and the forced reduction of corporation taxes.  Any country following a Marxist line will be disqualified. The only reasonable conclusion is that the promotion of any pro-globalisation line,  is itself pseudo-left.

Global Warming. I guess that this is a very modern issue. The defining feature of modern man is a belief in science. Everything around us that is modern, the PC that you are using right now, the internet etc etc, is a result of scientific development. Science is very conservative, not politically, but in the best possible sense. So, if the overwhelming scientific opinion is that we have a big, problem with CO2 emissions then why would anyone who had an interest in modernity, development, technology and progress, seek to deny or minimise the problem? How much progress is there likely to be if the world has to cope with the scientifically predicted consequences of doing nothing? The only reasonable conclusion is that the promotion of any climate change denial line, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary,  is itself pseudo-left.

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2007-05-27 06:45 AM
Cyberman asserts:

 However, it seems to be used against anyone who is: anti the Iraq war, at least the American led coalition's invlvement,takes the threat of glabal warming seriously, or disagrees with the terms that are imposed by the globalisation club. There are probably others,but let's just take these for now.

Your evidence for this is? Who have we labelled 'pseudo-left', and when did we do it (links please)? In particular, what is your evidence for using the word 'anyone' - that is, claiming we use the phrase 'pseudo-left' against every single person who holds one of these positions?

In particular, it is quite possible for someone to oppose the Iraq war on liberal grounds ('national sovereignty') and even reactionary grounds ('stability'). Neither of those positions is pseudo-left because neither of them even attempts to claim the language of leftist revolution.

What is pseudo-left is to talk revolution while supporting the fascists in the Iraqi 'resistance'.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-27 04:09 PM

OK. I did mean 'everyone on the left' rather than just everyone.

Your use of the word 'fascist' isn't correct. Fascism is a 20th century ideology whereas the ideology of the Iraqi resistance is quite different, and several centuries older.

Their ideology is hostile in equal measure to both capitalism and Marxism. One of the arguments put forward for opposing the US invasion in the first place was because it was quite apparent, even before the event, that the US would fail. I remember using the phrase "it'll be like Northern Ireland only ten times worse". Far from draining any swamps the US has created newer and bigger ones.

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2007-05-27 05:30 PM
Cyberman, you've dodged the request for evidence that we have done what you say we have done.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-27 07:21 PM

Well I don't want to dodge anything. I guess I could trawl through all the old posts to find examples.

You yourself made the following point in the Dave Hill thread:

I've deliberately avoided the term pseudo-left, because
a) not 100% sure of the exact meaning
b) Its used as a swear-word - it means the same as 'stopper' in many circles, without making a serious try at analysing the political views of the person being described."

Maybe I've got this wrong - 'Pseudo left' is your term which I don't fully understand either!

Maybe you could clarify this a bit by giving some examples of non pseudo-left arguments:

1) Against US imperialism in Iraq

2) Against the unfair terms and conditions imposed by the Gloabalisation club.

3) In favour of taking the scientific evidence of global warming seriously.

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2007-05-27 10:07 PM
Cyberman dodges the request to provide evidence again, this time saying "Well I don't want to dodge anything".

If you look at the date of the Dave Hill thread, you'll see that the comment of mine that you quote was on June 11 2006. Then look at this thread, and you will see I started it on July 4th 2006 - 3 weeks after the Dave Hill thread.

You'll also note that there was a discussion on the Dave Hil thread about the meaning of pseudo-left. This thread arose out of my desire to understand the phrase properly.

It's dishonest to imply that my old understanding of the phrase 'psuedo-left' is the same as my current understanding - and it is getting less and less surprising to see that you have once again cherry-picked tiny parts out of arguments without bothering to absorb the rest of the discussion.

So, do you have any links to demonstrate that we in fact said what you said we did?

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-28 01:01 AM

I am having a few problems with the website at the moment. Its very slow,  I can't get the search box to work properly, and its just about impossible for me to dig out the previous postings I remember and give you the links, you've asked for.

Somehow, I've got it into my head, that what you are saying , in your terminolgy, is:

The 'genuine' left support the US intervention in Iraq. The "pseudo"-left oppose it

The 'genuine' left know that red and green politics don't mix. ( you get the colour of 'poo' if you do?) The 'pseudo'-left are very gullible and believe all this IPCC sponsored nonsense about the dangers of climate change etc

 The guenuine left are all for more globalisation while the "pseudo -left" whinge and whine about unfair terms and conditions etc.

If you are telling me that I've got it all wrong - then good on you! For a while there , I was woried that we might have been in a bit of a disagreement.

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2007-05-28 10:49 AM
In response to Cyberman's 3 requests for examples of non-pseudo left arguments (ie arguments we might reject but would accept as coming from a mistaken perspective in the long tradition of people with a genuine leftist outlook advocating bad policies as a result of a faulty grasp of reality rather than people with an explicitly conservative or reactionary outlook using pseudo-leftist phraseology):

1. Many people claimed the US invasion of Iraq would simply establish another "moderate Arab ally" ie a pro-US autocracy like Jordan or Egypt or perhaps even another military or Baathist dictatorship with a more compliant dictator than Sadaam. This was stunningly stupid and has been refuted by history. But it is the sort of stunning stupidity you can get from people who genuinely oppose the imperialist policies the US followed in the region and do so from a leftist anti-imperialist position. It is very different from the pro-imperialist right wing tripe served up as "anti-imperialist" by the vast majority of the pseudo-leftist opposition who bitterly denounce the US for having held free elections that allowed the Iraqi people to choose their own government instead of maintaining "stability".

2) Many people oppose the hypocrisy of imperialist "globalizers" maintaining closed borders against the free movement of labour, propping up corrupt kleptocracies, imposing "intellectual property" regimes against the interest of developing countries, etc. That can be in line with a leftist world outlook. It is very different from the sickening hypocrisy we get from advocates of "fair trade" who want to raise protective barriers against developing countries, treating their workers as "competition" and claiming to be doing so in the interests of the working class of the imperialist countries. That pseudo-left hostility to globalization is the traditional position of supporters of the imperialist aristrocracy of labour.

3) If a leftist believed that we face an impending catastrophe unless we shift rapidly from the use of carbon based fuels for electricity and transportation then they would, like anybody else serious about science and politics propose that there should be a massive diversion of resources to deal with the problem so that we can continue economic growth and development. A natural "leftist" approach would be to advocate huge budgets for accelerated R&D to introduce replacement fuels more rapidly than would otherwise be necessary or to develop new technology for removing carbon based emissions or their consequences. This would be very different from pseudo-leftists advocating that we should restrict economic growth and development so as to adapt to what the planet can afford. Rightists might be more inclined towards diverting resources into mitigation or adaptation.

Incidentally there is nothing specifically "leftist" about that either. Both leftists and rightists would advocate spending whatever it takes to avoid catastrophe rather than taking the opportunity to advocate restraining economic development.

A dead give away about the "scientific evidence" is that instead of advocating such measures (whether R&D on fuel replacement, or dealing with the consequences of continuing to use carbon based fuel or mitigation) they advocate measures that are designed to slow economic growth and make people feel guilty about wanting a higher material standard of living. This is characteristic of people who are opposed to economic development as such, rather than having a belief that there is some concrete problem that really needs to be dealt with.

My answer to 3) differs from 1) and 2) in that whereas I am aware of the existence of such "leftist" rather than "pseudo-leftist" arguments on the first two, I am not aware of anyone who actually supports the traditional leftist position of being enthusiastic about developing the productive forces and regarding capitalism as a fetter obstructing that, who does take the "scientific evidence" for catastrophe seriously. It seems to be completely wrapped together with the traditional reactionary world outlook that capitalism should be opposed because it is developing too fast and "where will it all end".

PS Please note that accepting the scientific evidence for the existence of human induced climate change relating to carbon emissions and accepting the claims about impending catastrophe or the measures proposed to deal with that are two very different matters.


 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by dalek at 2007-05-28 05:59 PM

Arthur,  you say; " PS Please note that accepting the scientific evidence for the existence of human induced climate change relating to carbon emissions and accepting the claims about impending catastrophe or the measures proposed to deal with that are two very different matters." Where exactly do you stand on the question of  human induced climate change ? I detect a certain hedging here. 

 

I have to say that no-one that I know who is involved in actual work to provide solutions to climate change related problems is in any way a catastrophist. There is a group of people who do this but they are just the usual suspects (green gurus etc) and they have nothing to offer in terms of real solutions, except as you point out to send us back into some imagined pre-industrial utopia.

 

For your information, far from "advocating measures that are designed to slow economic growth" there is a huge global industry (trillions of dollars) that is devoted to introducing new technologies that are specifically designed to improve the efficiency of energy consumption and to reduce the production of CO2. The measues range from improving the efficiency and power factor of computer power supplies through to electronic motor drives through to PhotoVoltaics and Wind turbines. Most of this invention and development is driven by economic considerations (profits).

 

Global warming has been seriously discussed in research, industry and academic forums for at least 10 years. There is a growing realisation even among the "consume more is better" economists that driving a 160 hp vehicle 40km to work every morning with just one person is totally stupid. (for example). This does not mean that the people who realise this want to return us to pre-industrial times, huge reasearch effort is being devoted to solving this problem - within the bounds of social acceptability - as it stands at the moment.  

 

All the people who use the term "catastrophe" have one thing in common, they all believe that the world was created for them. They may come at it from a religious belief or they may come at it from a vulgar "Darwinian" perspective ie  "man is the pinnacle of evolution". Evolution does not speak of "man" if  a "catastrophe" happens tomorrow and humans dissapear from the globe; evolution will continue.

 

There is happy co-incidence going on; the "global warming" or the alternative weasel worded "human induced climate change"  debate has arrived at a period in history where energy supply is critical. The global electricity supply system is in deep trouble. Why is it in deep trouble? Because the distribution infrastructure is about 60 years old and can no longer cope with the increased loads. This problem will not be solved by building nukes or bigger  transmission systems. A massive investment is required in poles and wires. The road transport system is in crisis, the more "freeways" we build the worse the problem gets; the price of fuel will go on rising, even if the oil companies get Iraq oil for zip. The fact that about 80-100% of the embodied energy in every-thing we buy comes from fossil fuels is beginning to create real difficulties for "globalisation" and Capitalism in general.

 

In essence the free ride that Capitalism has had for the past 120 years from dirt cheap fossil fuels is coming to an end, if there is a "catastrophe" coming it is a "catastrophe" for Capitalism. It is the dim realisation of this that drives the Global warming deniers, they are terrified of the future, a future where one of the basic underpinnings of Capitalism (low cost energy) is under threat. You guys have to choose whose side you are on.

Dalek

 

 

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by patrickm at 2007-05-28 10:36 PM

Cyberman says: Just to be clear:  the prefix 'pseudo' implies a pretence. In other words the pseudo left are just pretending to be left when they really aren't.


That is your first mistake.  Deception has nothing to do with it.  Policies, as they are compared to some accepted left-wing goals is what’s at issue; thus I would define a left position to start with and then compare the policy position taken by people to that.  If the position falls to the right while presented with left terms and general sentiment then despite the presentation it is not left at all; the position is left in form but right in essence.  Some of us have thought that this older expression is able to be usefully shortened to pseudo-left.


So let’s try it out in practical examples. 

Arthur has expressed this definition that’s IMV useful for the current period:


‘…for purposes of this discussion I’m treating anything that bases itself on both solidarity with the oppressed and promotion of progress as being (very vaguely) “left”. That is not as empty as it sounds - it excludes for example most of the “alternative globalization” people who usually base themselves on solidarity with the oppressed (even though their actual policies might be harmful to people they think they are supporting) but are hostile to progress. Likewise it excludes that section of the libertarian right which is enthusiastic about progress but has no solidarity with the oppressed.’

Cyberman you say:


Let's take your own (the LS) definition:  “The pseudo-Left opposes modernity, development, globalisation, technology and progress.  It embraces obscurantism, relativism, romanticism and even nature worship.


The first question that I would ask is: is it necessary to be all of these things? Or, maybe just one or two is enough?


The answer to that is by degree (and naturally we all suffer from shortcomings).


One often sees this more clearly with young people who are strong on one issue while yet ill-informed and one-sided on others.  That’s how the world works.  If older comrades work with them they can progress quickly.  One can quite easily forget (or never have known) what the left position has been (and why it has been).  One has to keep on one’s toes and keep studying.


For example, one might be taken in over say the issue of Global Warming, like I think you appear to have been and yet still fit the definition of leftist as described above.  It’s a percentage evaluation.  If one is 70% correct then that’s more useful than someone 30% correct and 70% in error.  


Most people that turned out to the big Iraq war marches were leftists following a pseudo-left analysis.  Chanting the ridiculous slogan no-blood-for-oil was the absolute pits for intelligent left analysis.  As if in this century the U.S. could be launching a war to nick the bloody oil! 


IMV it can’t be any clearer than with the refusal to face that impossible reason for the war that one is dealing with a pseudo leftist.  Refusing to reason an issue through and / or in spite of having lost an argument sticking to a stance is not what the left is all about.  Yet dogmatism is widely believed to be rampant amongst leftists.  It’s rather the case that the dogmatists are not leftists at all.


Even after the free and fair elections in Iraq (and they were) demonstrated that puppets would not be installed by the U.S. led Coalition, large numbers of ‘anti-war’ leadership people still did not re-think their position and face up to their errors.  There is a need to describe this reality.  They demonstrated profound dogmatism.


The left has always gone out to win the political, economic and theoretical struggles not run in terror from them.  When you get it wrong you own up and accept the lesson.  Pseudo-leftists are not honest about self criticism.  Thus many that marched have left this dogmatic leadership to themselves again and have accepted the challenge of dealing with the next stage in Iraq.  The masses are more inclined to think it reasonable to fight beside the Iraqi government than run away from the new war that started with the formation of that Iraqi government than the dogmatists who trail behind.


People of the left (just like people on the right) pride themselves in working out what is really going on.  The current people who the masses perceive as leftists, pride themselves on the purity of their principles, but run and hide from the debate when their principles collide.


If you ask the dogmatists ‘why was this war fought in the first instance’ and ‘why is it being fought now’ they make no coherent class analysis and do not comprehend how the bourgeois revolution in the Middle East is now required by the U.S. and western interests generally.


Try it sit down with one of the people I am describing and note their points and at the end of the discussion try to make sense of why the U.S. ruling elite launched the war and why despite everything continue with it.


Describing people of the ilk of David Suzuki or George Monbiot, or Tim Flannery as leftist is ludicrous, nevertheless they themselves do so and they are widely considered to be advancing a leftist position.  Likewise the leadership of the ‘stop the war’, or ‘anti-war’ movement are generally perceived by the masses as leftists.


Yet the actual support for the preservation of Baathism through policies that would have left Saddam in place (no war) and current policies (troops out) that would result in spreading the war and hindering the revolutionary transformation of the region is anything but left. 


This situation must be described if people are to make any sense of the current world.  Hence the specific term, pseudo-left.  Like every useful and specific term, it sometimes gets slung about as a form of insult and thus devalued.  But that misuse is just part of the price you pay for defining anything.    


In this post I say nothing as to whether Global Warming is happening or not, and even then if it’s anthropomorphic but taking any issue ‘seriously’ requires people not in the field prioritizing against other issues.  No matter what the real importance to them and their class it’s a part-time activity for us non-experts.


IMV what’s being taken seriously by you and the people that you say are of the left is the conclusion for the future drawn from the current weather and proposals for political action.  If nobody was proposing to impose cuts to my class’ standard-of -living I couldn’t care less how seriously they were taking their study of the climate and their rather bog standard discussions about the weather.  


However I am affronted by the likes of Flannery and Suzuki who chase the dollar for their petty bourgeois selves and then recommend that working people have their standard-of-living cut.


Global Warming as presented is not just an interesting area of research but is flogged to death by the ruling class media, as was all the litany as described by Lomborg and even better by the straight forward right-wing economist Julian Simon.  But what policies ought leftists be on about, right now, as millions are still dying from malaria and all the other basic issues to do with living in non-industrialized societies?  Where is the demand for rapid industrialization?  Where is the internationalist connection to Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?


Ought ‘leftists’, be raving about the dangers of DDT to the egg shell of eagles?  Some think they ought to be.  Yet that was always the preserve of the right.  Ought leftists be demanding that a price be put on carbon?  That means doing something now before the planet ‘revolts and harms us in some way’, and results in increased prices for all of air-fares, petrol, electricity thus lowering the standard-of-living for those on what can be called a fixed income. 


Ought leftists, advocate harming the direct interests of the masses (for their own good) first?  Or ought leftists, rely on the ever expanding creativity of people?  Is our faith in the masses to solve problems just blind faith?  I don’t think so.  As Mao put it if we don’t have faith in the masses we will achieve nothing.  Is this dogmatism?


The history of the opposition to all those issues is right-wing.  Presenting that position in left sounding ways can’t hide that reality.  Left in form right in essence is the reality behind the less chinglish expression, pseudo-left.


Iraq War. The overwhelming majority left opinion is: that the invasion of Iraq was illegal. It was an Imperialist misadventure which will do much more harm than good. Saddam Hussein was the Americans henchman who stepped out of line, and that given the American's track record of supporting democracy, eg  in South America, it is just naive in the extreme to believe it was anything to do with the establishment of democracy. There is nothing in your definition about democracy, but I would add it to the list. Let's give LS the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are naive about the Americans' democratic intentions. If they aren't naive, and really know the score, then their position would certainly be pseudo-left.


Comrade Cyberman, I take it that you have accepted the basic analysis of LS over the U.S. intent to kick start the stalled bourgeois revolution for the Middle East, but that you want to think of those still opposed to this revolution, and or western military assistance to it as mistaken leftists and reserve the term pseudo-left for those who clearly aren't naive, and really know the score, because then their position would certainly be pseudo-left.


The majority of world opinion is against the war!  Describing the war as illegal is the give-away.  Saddam was the lawful tyrant and of course the war was illegal, as has been said numerous times on this site. ‘Revolutions make laws; laws do not make revolutions.’  The U.S. opened this Pandora’s box not for oil thieving imperialist reasons but to correct failed imperialist policies which led to the disaster that the Middle East actually is.


A war to fix the Middle East was always coming, better that national liberation movements and democrats have the west on their side as opposed to it standing in the way with ‘their man being the likes of Saddam’.  The left always said that former U.S. policies were wrong and that democracy needed to be supported not lied about as with the Henry Kissinger’s of this world.


Most Australians think of the arch conservative Bob Brown as a leftist and if they continue to think that then the openly right-wing parties will continue to be seen as making more sense.  Obviously Bob Brown is described in the above definition.
He is a nasty authoritarian, nature-worshipping anti-leftist who having been shown up as wrong never revisits the old position to face why he got it so wrong.


Take the nonsense he sprouted of global doom and gloom from the oil fires if Kuwait were liberated from the Baathist invaders.  People took his poisonous devil-take-the-hind- most position as representing a left position.  Obviously that is an unacceptable situation for leftists who hold views on collective security.  It is necessary to expose why the left developed collective security positions and how the right was always defeated by that position.  It is just as important to point out that there have always been the Trotskyite types who have sounded left-wing while collaborating with fascists.  The current ‘anti-war movement’ is a classical display of just such behavior.


Now it’s no surprise that the ideas of the ruling class are the dominant ideas so that we get these desperate ALP / ABC types spreading all this doom and gloom because they are doomed.  But to confuse this ruling class rubbish as something of the left has to require a new nomenclature.  The term pseudo-left needs to be more widely understood.


That’s enough to go on with.

Patrick

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-29 07:01 AM

I haven't time at the moment to address all the issues in Patrick M 's posting but I must just say that I was careful and did check the meaning of the prefix "pseudo" in the dictionary.  I'm quite sure that my use of the term  was not a mistake.

I'll just quote the wiki definition:

" In common parlance, the word pseudo is used to mark something as false, fraudulent, or pretending to be something it is not, as in pseudoscience or pseudophilosophy. "

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by patrickm at 2007-05-29 07:39 AM
Yes it is false.  But it does not have to also be fraudulent or pretending.  The pseudo left is just the false left as a rule.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-29 07:02 PM

Ok For the first time, I have seen some comments, from both Comrades Arthur and Patrick that I, and perhaps others on the traditional left,  might agree with, at least to some extent.

Globalisation:
Yes. The genuine left reasons that you give for being sceptical about globalisation are very much my reasons. It's very much a matter of terms and conditions. I'd say that these reasons are more widely shared than you give credit for. Even though the working classes of the world, have sometimes sided with the protectionists, for understandable reasons , when jobs are at stake, the left has always had a good tradition of internationalism. The best way forward for the  countries of African and South America is by genuine trade. There have been problems, and still are , in the manufacturing industries of western economies caused by the rise of Chinese industry in recent years. Any extra problems, by opening up markets to manufactured goods from African and South American countries, are going to be very minor by comparison. The major opposition will be from the agricultural sectors of Europe and North America. You seem pretty scathing about the concept "fair-trade" . I agree that, in the main, they are economically and politically naive, but  they do at least highlight the flaws of globalisation, such as how coffee producers in the third world get screwed by the multinationals.

Iraq.

It not sure if it was so so stupid to expect the Americans to remove Saddam Hussein and  relace him by a more compliant henchman. They've done that sort of thing before. They only had one real chance , and they blew it. They should have left the Iraqi army intact and done a deal. Sounds cynical I know, but if they had their time again, that's exactly what they'd do. The democratic system that they've imposed is a house of cards. Democracy is fine for many countries but is very difficult, if not impossible,  when the population vote exclusively along ethnic or religious lines. The countries of the Middle East were defined quite  arbitrarily by the victors of the first world war with little or no regard to the wishes of the local inhabitants.  Most of Africa has the same problem. Even in in the richer economies of Europe its the same story.  Just  look at the experiences of Ireland and Yugoslavia .  So we can debate left, pseudo-left or right reasons for opposition to US intervention but the most compelling reason is purely pragmatic and is none of these. The current situation was easily predictable by left and right alike. In a different country, where the internal political fault line might have been a division between a tyranical regime and an oppressed but emerging capitalist class the US strategy could have worked. But, that wasn't Iraq in the year 2003.
 
Global Warming

Yes I agree in the main. Both leftists and rightists would advocate spending whatever it takes to avoid catastrophe rather than taking the opportunity to advocate restraining economic development. I suspect that we might have a slight difference of opinion as to what best form of economic development might actually be,though, but let's leave that for now. Do I detect a slight softening of your green and red don't mix line, here?

I didn't like the line about the Trotskyites siding with the Fascists. Class collaboration?  The real problem with them is that they are too full of their own importance as the vanguard of the class struggle whereas it is much more broadly based than they imagine. Its not about finding some magically correct political line but supporting people in their day to day class struggles and building up their level of political confidence.

Its quite hard to get letters published in the press, the capitalist press do censor letters,  and a genuine left website would be very useful alternative. To give you a simple example: There is a continuing debate about the political content of the ABC. Its good that there is but why just the ABC? I've tried unsuccesfully to raise the point that we should be having a similar debate about Channels 7 , 9 and 10 and the SBS as well. Its a very simple point but very challenging to the Packers and Murdochs of this world. There is no way that they'll allow any sort of discussion along these lines.  

And, to be fair to the LS comrades, I've got to thank you for not censoring my postings even though they are probably not exactly what you'd want.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2007-05-29 07:43 PM
Cyberman says:

 The major opposition will be from the agricultural sectors of Europe and North America.
 Not just them. Unionists like this can no doubt be relied on to reject internationalism and oppose globalisation.


 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2007-05-29 09:55 PM
Cyberman writes:

They should have left the Iraqi army intact and done a deal. Sounds cynical I know, but if they had their time again, that's exactly what they'd do. The democratic system that they've imposed is a house of cards. Democracy is fine for many countries but is very difficult, if not impossible,  when the population vote exclusively along ethnic or religious lines.

...
we can debate left, pseudo-left or right reasons for opposition to US intervention but the most compelling reason is purely pragmatic and is none of these
...

These are the views of the overwhelming consensus of "right thinking people" (pun intended) as reflected in the analyses and opinion pieces from the imperialist foreign policy establishment.

They are explicitly hostile to democracy, pretending it is an "imposition" on peoples yearning to live under autocratic rule.

Anyone on the left instinctively knows where such views are coming from and rejects them.

The words I highlighted suggest that Cyberman knows it too.

When people advocate such views and claim to be on the left we say their claim is false, fraudulent and pretending to be something it is not.

They may be kidding themselves and they may be unconscious of the nature of their views and their sharp conflict with left views.

But when it gets to the point of explicitly acknowledging that you are a "cynical" opponent of democracy who advocates that that the US should have kept the fascist armed forces intact to "pragmatically" maintain order by enforcing minority sectarian rule over the large majority and that the US should do a "deal" with the fascists (the same deal the left has always denounced them for doing) it becomes difficult to believe that you are just kidding yourself and are completely oblivious to the fact that your views are classically right wing.

This isn't a matter of scoring points in a debate. Armed fascists are murdering several hundred people of week to destroy a freely elected government. The right, including the pseudo-left advocates letting them win and drawing the lesson that fascist regimes should not be removed from power.

The usual excuse given by conservatives doesn't even work. The simple "practical" reality is that the old order has been abolished and there is no way the Iraqi people will knuckle under to it again. The right wing and pseudo-left advocacy of restoring the fascist armed forces and doing a deal simply isn't "pragmatically" possible. But by continuing to advocate that the right and pseudo-left is helping to drag out the conflict as "punishment" for the dreadful crime of having overturned a "sovereign" dictatorship and allowed the people to choose their own government. The unambiguous aim is to preserve the remaining autocracies in the region for a bit longer.

"Pragmatically" that just isn't an option for the very pragmatic, very right-wing US ruling class. They can still comfortably tolerate tyrannies in sub-saharan Africa but continuing to maintain a Middle East so fucked up that it leads to bombings in New York, Madrid, London etc just isn't viable any more. So you really have to be on the far right to advocate it.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-05-29 11:09 PM

Comrade Arthur,

I'm not a cynical opponent of democracy as you put it. In fact I'd like more of it - direct democracy not just the parliamentary type. But I don't approve of the oppression of a minority by the majority which is what happened in Northern Ireland, and why I supported the abolition of the Stormont government. There was as similar fear in Yugoslavia which led to the break up of the country , and its a very similar story in Iraq. 

Maybe you know of examples of democracy, where the voting is almost entirely sectarian, that actually work?

Its worth just reading the history of Iran on Wiki. I'll just quote the following:

 In 1951, a nationalist politician, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh rose to prominence in Iran and was elected Prime Minister. As Prime Minister, Mossadegh became enormously popular in Iran by nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later British Petroleum, BP) which controlled the country's oil reserves. In response, Britain embargoed Iranian oil and began plotting to depose Mossadegh. Members of the British Intelligence Service invited the United States to join them, convincing U.S. President Eisenhower that Mossadegh was reliant on the Tudeh (Communist) Party to stay in power. In 1953, President Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax, and the CIA took the lead in overthrowing Mossadegh and supporting a U.S.-friendly monarch; and for which the U.S. Government apologized in 2000.[38]

Add to that the American backed Iraqi war against Iran in the 80s and its not difficult to see that its going to be a while before the US will have any credibility in the region generally and Iran in particular.

The recent history of the Middle East has been  defined by imperialist interventions. Each one makes the situation worse. If the Middle East was "fucked up before the invasion" , as you put it, its  even worse now. The London and Madrid bombings happened after the invasion rather than before. Of course they could have happened anyway, but the sooner the outside meddling stops, and that includes propping up regimes like  Israel and Saudi Arabia,  the sooner the region will start on the very long road to recovery.

 

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2007-06-01 09:03 AM
Cyberman,

You were challenged about having said, quite explicitly:

They should have left the Iraqi army intact and done a deal. Sounds cynical I know, but if they had their time again, that's exactly what they'd do. The democratic system that they've imposed is a house of cards. Democracy is fine for many countries but is very difficult, if not impossible,  when the population vote exclusively along ethnic or religious lines.

...
we can debate left, pseudo-left or right reasons for opposition to US intervention but the most compelling reason is purely pragmatic and is none of these
...

Your response was to try and obscure the utterly clear right wing politics by loudly shouting about US imperialist behaviour in Iran based on precisely your own outlook back in the 1950s.

That is what I mean by pseudo-left. Claiming to support democracy in the 1950s is supposed to make open opponents of democracy today into anti-imperialist "comrades". Sorry, it simply doesn't.



 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by Cyberman at 2007-06-01 07:01 PM

Comrade David.

I think you might be guilty of somewhat misrepresenting my argument here. It won't surprise you, if I tell you that I was one of the millions who marched against the invasion. I was never in favour of it in the first place.

The invasion itself went remarkarbly smoothly, from the US point of view. But, they should have realised that was the easy part of the exercise, instead they became drunk with their own success and embarked on a course of action that could never succeed.  Their "mission accomplished" slogan has proved to be a bit of an  embarrassment, wouldn't you say?

So, when I say "that they had one chance and they blew it" , it certainly doesn't imply any sort of support for the US position in any way, shape or form. I've often said pretty much the same thing about an opposition football team at the end of the game.

I've just read an opinion poll which gives a figure of 73%, of those polled in the US, who think that the war, the US invasion of Iraq,  has proved to be mistake. It would have to be a very small percentage who would give any reason other the "pragmatic" one  that I've given. They've just taken a little longer to come to the same conclusion -the American strategy was never going to work, is never going to work and will never work.  That just about trumps any other political reason I can think of - left or right.

It very questionable if democracy can be imposed from the outside. If democracy emerges naturally in Iraq then we'll support it like we should have supported Iranian democracy in the 50s. (BTW my own "political outlook back in the 1950s" wasn't  too well developed. I failed to speak out against against the US overthrow of Iranian democracy, but ,then, I only just learning to say anything at all at the time ! )

Have you thought of any examples where democracy works, in countries where the population votes overwhelmingly on ethnic or sectarian lines, yet?