• What is the pseudo left?

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 • What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2006-07-04 09:29 AM

“The pseudo-Left opposes modernity, development, globalisation, technology and progress.
It embraces obscurantism, relativism, romanticism and even nature worship. At May Day rallies, the pseudo-Left whines about how things aren't what they used to be.”

“How many people rallied around the pseudo-left efforts to defend Iraq's occupation of Kuwait when they were deluding themselves that their mobilization in support of fascist aggression would be the beginning of a new anti- war movement similar to Vietnam in the sixties?”

After it tried so hard to preserve fascism in Iraq, even after Bush Jr had wisely given up on Bush Sr's policy of keeping the Iraqi dictator in power, can anyone deny the pseudo-Left is reactionary?

Revolutionaries are historical optimists who stress the inevitability of progress.
Pseudo-Leftists are reactionaries who merely denounce how bad things are

and actively reinforce the idea that they cannot be changed.

The word 'pseudo left' appears to have been coined no later than September 1993 – it appears in an issue of a pamphlet called “Red Politics” from that date.

That article praises Red Politics for being “refreshing compared with the pap put out from the pseudo-left, but also asks why a Left position had:

“so little support, and why have movements based on it collapsed and turned into their opposites?”

One of the features of the pseudo-left is pointed out:

So far the result of deteriorating economic and social conditions has not been revolutionary rebellion against capitalism but conservatism and reactionary opposition to capitalism (often presented as 'left', merely because it opposes capitalism)..

In a comment on the article 'Red and Green don't mix', we hear about the:

“greeny pseudo left 'who think they are being terribly radical'

but in fact are being 'even more conservative than the conservatives'.”

In the US war against Iraq of 1990-1,

“How many people rallied around the pseudo-left efforts to defend Iraq's occupation of Kuwait when they were deluding themselves that their mobilization in support of fascist aggression would be the beginning of a new anti- war movement similar to Vietnam in the sixties?”


“How many people actually share the pseudo- left's fundamentalist conception of the USA as the 'Great Satan'? (This remark should be taken literally...”

A crucial point is made at this early stage. The point is not to smugly 'name and shame' the pseudo-left, but to build an alternative to them, by first of all reclaiming the name 'left' from them.

“...he fundamental problem is the vacuum in 'red' politics that has allowed reactionary ideas to spread unchallenged for so long. Despite that vacuum the reactionary pseudo-left remains totally isolated and insignificant. Refuting their ideas will not be very difficult, but neither will it be decisive, since they have so little influence anyway.

A genuine 'red' left can avoid isolation and insignificance but we can't start building one without developing a better understanding of what it's all about.”

April 2003 saw this article in The Age say:

Anti-Americanism is the key to understanding the pseudo-Left, which is more akin to a subculture than a political movement: a mish-mash of Third World romanticism, pacifism, environmentalism and suspicion of progress and modernity. In this jumble of prejudices, the anti-war movement gained support from circles that would never have countenanced supporting the Left position during the Vietnam protest period.

On May Day 2003, this article, originally in The Age, said:

“The pseudo-Left opposes modernity, development, globalisation, technology and progress.

It embraces obscurantism, relativism, romanticism and even nature worship. At May Day rallies, the pseudo-Left whines about how things aren't what they used to be.”

The article goes on to assert:

Both Bush and Chomsky know the US cannot be secure from medievalist terrorist
mosquitoes while the Middle East remains a swamp.

But Bush also knows that modernity grows out of the barrel of a gun.

That is a genuinely Left case for a revolutionary war of liberation, such as has occurred in Iraq. The pseudo-Left replies: "That's illegal."

Well, of course revolutionary war is illegal!

Legal systems are created by revolutions, not revolutions by legal systems.

And concludes:

After it tried so hard to preserve fascism in Iraq, even after Bush Jr had wisely given up on Bush Sr's policy of keeping the Iraqi dictator in power, can anyone deny the pseudo-Left is reactionary?

June 2003 saw a discussion of Hegel and the Pseudo-Left, where the 'mish-mash' comment from April, above, was referred to:

I think these words captured something very important about the pseudo-left – in particular its atheoretical and ahistorical nature. Pseudo-left ideology lends itself well to bulleted lists of things to oppose and things to support. At the same time, events in the world are classified according to surface appearance rather than in terms of what underlies them. The pseudo-left may talk of the "underlying reasons" for something like the war in Iraq but this talk is always of "hidden agendas", "secret motives" and is quite different from studying such events in light of the underlying flow of history....

...it seems to me that theirpolitical outlook is characterized by a denial/ignorance of both necessity and rationality (and therefore of reality). Opposition to US imperialism turns out to be an unchallengeable, immutable, stand-alone principle of some sort....

It’s easy to appear as very revolutionary and militant if your stance does not include any appreciation of current reality and necessity. And the opposite is also true – it’s easy to attack those who are being (correctly) radical and militant. Basically you don’t have to feel responsible for anything that happens because such a stance does not involve actually trying to change the world.


The ruling ideas, those that dominate education, culture etc, are thoroughly pessimistic and stress the hopelessness of any struggle for change. That is especially the case for state sponsored education ("post-modern" university departments of doom and gloom) and culture (national broadcasters such as the British BBC and Australian ABC bringing daily sermons that everything is going from bad to worse).

The pseudo-Left has been let off the hook because it has been challenged only by the complacent right, which accepts the pseudos self-image as something "radical", "militant" etc (by denouncing them on that basis, in support of the status quo).

Instead the pseudo-Left must be exposed as a direct reflection of ruling class ideology delivering exactly the official line - that nothing positive can be done to challenge the ruling class since even though they are obviously hopeless, no better alternative is possible.

In November 2003, a discussion at both Harry's Place and Last Superpower came to a call for:

some sort of "campaign" for the term "pseudo-left" instead of "left" or "hard left" etc to be widely adopted among people who feel queasy about "what happened to the left, how come they are so conservative/reactionary/apologetic for fascists etc etc".

“If this was successful it could hopefully spread among liberal pro-war blogs and perhaps also some of the right-wing pro-war bloggers that interact with them. If it started being used by liberal and other opinion and analysis writers in the mainstream media that could be strategically important.

As kesa points out: "At the moment a genuine left position isn't one of theirmultiple choice options."

Accurately naming and precisely defining the (various) tendencies that are currently substituting for and blocking the emergence of a genuine left alternative
is an essential step (among many) for left positions to emerge from hibernation.”

and also said

“..."the field has been left free" for the pseudo-left. But lets be clear. The fact that any sort of genuine left (however defined) is currently absent is what makes it possible for people with fundamentally reactionary politics to be mistaken for "leftists" merely by using a thin veneer of "left language". But that absence is not the cause of the reactionary politics nor is the pseudo-left the reason for the absence of a genuine left.”

In February 2005, this discussion at Harry's Place maintained:

"we should be arguing that Iraq's liberation is justified on strategic, revolutionary grounds (because of the impact this will have on destabilising the region and hence the grip on power of local tyrants, developments which will push forward the development of democracy in the region), rather than confining them to humanitarian grounds"


“The main theme of pseudos is not that the problems of capitalism can be resolved within the confines of its own framework but that there is no point trying to change anything because capitalism is all powerful and unchangeable. The "anti-capitalist" and "anti-imperialist" rhetoric is all that distinguishes them from a classic conservative/reactionary world view.”

and made a specific suggestion for revolutionaries and social democrats to unite on, against the pseudo-left.

Would it not be possible to agree on pushing for democratic revolution in Saudi Arabia and Egypt?

(from this discusssion at Harry's place)

March 2006 saw this definition of the tactics of the pseudo-left:

“While Trevor was fighting for his life in the hours after the ambush, Vancouver’s “anti-war” crowd was already parading its troops-out banners in front of Vancouver city hall, and Canada’s Globe and Mail was offering its readers a disgraceful exercise in the most bleak sort of cynicism, all tarted up in the language of anti-imperialism...”

In June 2006, commments on Last Superpower about this article said:

I see no value in the term "conservative left" to describe what has always been adequately described as "militant reformism". Such militant reformism that is often on the strategic defensive is not necessarily "conservative".


The important thing about Respect is that it is "pseudo-left". Its militant reformism is part of the (radical, not conservative) left rhetoric which distinguishes it from ordinary conservative or reactionary ideas by using the language of militant reformists who are part of the left.


Seems to be a classic illustration of the sort of "mass organizations", "rank and file groups" etc that are setup from templates to provide the "militant reformist" camouflage for an essentially reactionary tendency.

In the sixties they were just an oddball fringe, widely despised among the left (though sucking some people in). Sadly after so many decades unchallenged people actually believe that such groups represent the "hard left".

I was fascinated by a recent article in the Australian right-wing journal Quadrant by Keith Windschuttle complaining about vicious attacks on him from "the left" as represented by Robert Manne. Windschuttle was involved in the periphery of the left in the sixties Vietnam movement and Robert Manne was and is a notorious right-wing anti-communist ideologue but I detected no signs of insincerity in Windschuttle's outrage at the "left" attacks on him.

This phenomena is why I think the most important contribution we can make is in really clarifying and widely propagating the concept of a "pseudo-left".

And in July 2006, this discussion provoked the post you are reading now.

Notes: The point of this post is for it to be used as a reference for our definition of pseudo-left. Each time we use the phrase pseudo-left in a comment in a blog, we can link to this post.

Of course, wherever the article needs to be challenged, that can be done right here, so as the definition develops through debate, people who follow the links to this post can follow that debate. A better idea than a sterile attempt to reach the bland consensus warned against in the comments.

Rejection of the term psuedo-left, while showing some of the signs of pseudo-leftism, including a reliance on 'law' by Phil Cleary, a well-known footballer in Melbourne who was also a Federal MP.

This list of links to places on the Internet that have used the word 'pseudo left' shows that the word is used in many different ways to the definitions suggested in this post. However, most serious extended discussion of the term is along the lines quoted in this site. There is a fair prospect that this definition can become the leading one

Various forms of the word, and a common mis-spelling that many people will type into Google, include:

pseudoleft pseudo left pseudo-left psuedoleft psuedo left pseudo-left

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2006-07-04 09:43 AM
This discussion 'Academics keep left' at Online Opinion was posted on Monday and has 36 comments already. Would be a good place to start saying of the academic straw-men that the right-wing article sets up: 'No, they are the pseudo left' and linking here. Will post there when I have time to do it properly.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2006-07-04 11:45 AM

Thanks for the very useful survey. Hope people do take this up in the way you proposed. I've already had my say in some of the quotes so I won't add much except to reinforce that its way past time for the "campaign" to popularize and deepen this concept that you are launching.

On a historical note, the earliest appearance of the term in mainstream mass media that I know of is from The Age, (Melbourne Australia), Friday 24 December 1993 under the title The revolution lives on long after Mao. A copy is here under the title It is right to rebel

Recommend reading that carefully (and including the historical footnote in any wikipedia article) as the explanations there were written for a mainstream audience rather than for "lefties" and show the continuity with both the more recent usage you survey and hard left attitudes from the 1960s. Also the specific highlighting of pseudo-leftist attitudes towards both the (earlier) Gulf War and greenie nature worship is noteworthy.

If anyone knows of earlier mainstream appearances hopefully this topic could result in them being unearthed.

 • RSS feed for my part of the pseudo-left campaign

Posted by youngmarxist at 2006-07-04 04:24 PM
This RSS feed will track any comments I make online promoting the use of the phrase 'pseudo left'.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2006-07-06 08:51 AM
Posted this as a response to this article.

Posting here as backup, as it is a direct rejection of the views of the original site, so could well be removed. Brief probes like this can be useful to

a) briefly "fly the flag", if post not removed.
b) see who is prepared to debate opposing views, or at least let them remain.

First of all, it's not surprising that there are grave differences between the pro-war social democrats at Harry's Place, and the pro-war self-proclamed Drink Soaked Trots.

The general line of each site is different, while having some issues in common, like supporting Bush's armed democratic revolution in Iraq (and for some, beyond there).

I would have liked a good deal less agressive behaviour from Will (whose broad points I often agreed with in the recent controversy). But even so, that does not mean an alliance on important issues can't be formed against the pseudo left. (links here)It just means we need to chill.

There are plenty of people in the pro-war Left, such as Last Superpower, who think the Euston Manifesto is too right-wing. Of course we don't expect self-proclaimed Blairites and social democrats to act like revolutionaries.

Why would they? That doesn't stop us uniting against the  pseudo left's attempts to sabotage a free Iraq by allying with murderous priests and fascists.

Found this article by searching 'pseudo left' (must use the quote marks) on technorati.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2006-07-06 11:39 AM
The original article on  Peculiarities of the pro-war left  is worth a careful read despite the unpromising sneering start. (note that youngmarxist's post above refers to a later article  on the same site 'Traitor',  'Splitter' on the death throes of the pro-war left)

Basically I'm comfortable with being on the same side as neocons, Republicans, Blairites, pro-imperialist Kautskyites, liberals et al against fascists and pseudos. Its interesting that this pseudo explicitly identifies with narodnism and writes at a comparatively high theoretical level. What isn't "comfortable" is the continuing absence of a significant marxist-leninist trend.

Narodniks like the rest lost the theoretical debate long ago. Nevertheless their views are still vastly more popular than scientific socialist views. That is partly because they are the "official" views promulgated by the ruling class for consumption by the ruled and very heavily subsidized as official "radicalism" through universities, BBC, etc and partly because of the collapse of marxist-leninists.

The real "pseudo" content of the narodnism at the end is highlighted by the sneering at the start. If he was correct that imposing bourgeois democracy by force in Iraq has failed that would hardly be a victory for the narodnik ideas of direct progress of pre-capitalist society to socialism without passing through capitalism. The sneering of the pseudos is directly tied to the hope they share with all other reactionaries for the defeat of progress. Their fate is firmly tied to that of the enemy in Iraq in exactly the same way that he correctly claims that the fate of the pro-war left (including us as well as the Blairite, liberal, Kautskyite swamp) is directly tied to that of the Coalition and the Iraqi government.

He is perfectly correct in arguing that the current weakness is due to perceived "catastrophe" in Iraq. However the underlying reasons for it being an unlosable war remain. The anti-war movement remains stuck on the fact that while they are objectively defeatist they cannot win the masses to that program so the war will continue until victory. If we lost the narodniks would lose too. When we win both the liberal imperialists and revolutionaries will win and narodniks will still lose. The sneering is that of a loser whose only perspective for the future is of different ways to lose.

 • What is obscurantism?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2006-07-11 05:40 AM
This article, "Obscurantism", seems like a good place to start.

It's by by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.

and it looks like the work of a liberal believer :

Some of the best and most eloquent praises of science ever written came from the pens of Muslim scientists who considered their work to be acts of worship (ibaadah).  The same motives led to the establishment of Al-Azhar (800 CE), the first university in the world (l).  There is nothing in the teachings of Islam that contends against learning, against science, and against technology...

What is the reason that the Muslims have fallen from a position of top of the civilization to the bottom of civilization? One of the reasons or a major reason is OBSCURANTISM. What is obscurantism?  Obscurantism is the act of obscuring, or striving to prevent enlightenment, scientific advancement, modernity or to hinder the progress of knowledge and wisdom...

The article surveys some examples of obscurantism in major religions.

 • Re: What is obscurantism?

Posted by arthur at 2006-07-12 10:17 PM

Syed's article actually seems to be more about esotericism than obscurantism

BTW that wikipedia article on obscurantism which references Syed also links to a hilarious definition of sesquipedalian obscurantism however I think that should really be called sesquipedalian obfuscation

I got a bit distracted from philosophical studies a while back into exploring the connection between pseudo-leftist obscurantism and the parallel phenomena of enthusiasm for conspiracy theories and the occult etc.

But then I got further distracted by a major explosion which is still ongoing.

Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.

This post is just a bit of free associating, but it's also an affirmation of Barry's point about putting the discussion of pseudo-leftism into a positive context.

We are against obscurantism because we support free thought

A common theme of embracing obscurantism, relativism, romanticism and nature worship is that they all have the actual effect of reinforcing authority and tradition by restricting scientific logical reasoning (including obscurantism upholding of "consensus science" to substitute the authority and tradition of official science for the actual radical and critical world outlook of science).

Facing the world as it is means accepting that there is no fate and the future is what we make it. That's both against the interests of the ruling class and hence of the ruling ideology and really scary.

Its also really liberating and exciting.

The pseudo-left is part of a broader phenomena of the ruling class, which has every reason to be really scared, spreading a world outlook that keeps people scared rather than excited.

The various forms of obscurantism are to keep people away from "dangerous ideas" that could get them excited.

 • green conservatism

Posted by keza at 2006-07-15 01:00 AM

Nice debate between Brendan O'Neill  (Spiked) and  Caroline Lucas (the Green member for the European Parliament) on the question of cheap airline flights.  The Greens oppose cheap flights because more people will fly and this will increase  greenhous emissions.

O'Neill  argues that we will find solutions to climate change and that to argue that we should restrict mobility in order to combat climate change is conservative and in fact "an apology to capitalism..." at point which Lucas interrupts by saying "Extraordinary!!" followed by O'Neill continuing with "...these limits are fundamentally the limits of the society we live in".  Lucas then responds with "They are limits of the planet".

O'Neill sums up the difference between them:

The difference between you and me Caroline is that you're a conservative, because you want things to remain the same and to be reined in, you want less development, and I am a radical - I want things to move forward and transform and I think we can do that if we put our minds to it.


....they are social and economic limits, given the gloss of environmentalism. And when Caroline says we have to limit flying, one question that springs to mind is what does that mean for people who live in the West, working-class people or upper working-class people or whomever, who will simply be forced to travel less. But more importantly, what does it mean for people in the developing world, in countries like China and India, many of whom will want to travel in the future, will want to fly, will want to go around the world. Are we saying, I'm sorry, we've used up all the flights the world can handle and you're not going to be able to do it? This is really restrictive, it's really about dressing up the limits thrown up by our society in politically correct green terms. We should expose these limits and try to push beyond them, rather than apologise for them and justify them.

 • the AL Gore documentary

Posted by keza at 2006-09-24 06:22 AM

Spiked Review of AL Gore documentary

Global warming: time for a heated debate:

Al Gore's dogmatic documentary An Inconvenient Truth embodies the worst possible response to climate change.

Daniel Ben-Ami

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore presents himself as prophet rather than politician. The former American vice-president uses the documentary to preach what he believes is the only legitimate view on climate change. He implies that anyone who deviates from The Truth According to Gore is – literally – corrupt, insane or possibly hates their children.

read the whole article here

alos note the reference to another excellent article:

Bring back the weathermen

There's also a  lastsuperpower forum thread that is worth reading.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by quiksilverhg at 2006-09-25 07:59 PM
Well as long as we are on the subject of global warming...

Let me just go ahead and say, I don't believe in it.

I went to college and graduated as a chemical engineer.  So-called "climatologists" are some of the least scientific most ideology driven pseudo-intellectuals that have ever attempted to make an argument.  I might even go so far as to say that the comparison between "climatologists" and real scientists is similar to the comparison between your "pseudo-left" and what you think the left should be.

A few quick points on the matter...

These scientists say it is hotter now than it has been in 500 years...
so obviously it HAS been hotter before....did anything catastrophic happen then?

A few decades ago (I believe the '70s) scientists were claiming that there was actually Global Cooling occurring and that we had to guard against that.

The biggest problem is that these "scientists" ignore vast amounts of variables as far as what could actually be causing the change in the earth's climate.
Ask a "climatologist" what they think about the possibility of there being an increases period of activity from the sun that is causing the earth to warm.  They will have absolutely no idea what to do, most of them have not even considered that.
There's other evidence of this being a natural part of earth's cycles too, but you won't hear them even considering such a thing.

There's a lot more I could say on the issue, but I don't want to get carried away...
another thing on Gore btw...that slideshow he keeps showing that says the earth is going to end in 10 years if we don't do something.  He once said he made that slideshow over ten years ago...

Now just so you all know, I am not some kind of earth-hater who doesn't care about the environment I am not.  I consider myself a conservationist...I refuse to call myself an environmentalist because most environmentalists make up environmental regulations as part of their own anti-capitalist ideologies.  As a chemical engineer I certainly know that there are things we HAVE to do to protect the environment.  I definitely believe we should take positive steps to control the release of mercury and other toxic elements and compounds, but carbon dioxide is seriously just about one of the most benign compounds there could be.  To make as big a deal of it as these envrionmentalists do is just plain ignorant.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by youngmarxist at 2006-09-26 07:07 AM
I have to admit I have been emotionally on the side of the global warming sceptics for a long time, even though I know little about the evidence (I am fixing that by reading the links above, and looking for more).

I was discussing this at the Comment Is Free forum (part of the Guardian newspaper group in the UK) after Caroline Lucas MEP (mentioned above) published an article about her efforts to restrict airline flights, to help stop global warming.

One of the pieces of evidence she uses is a report saying that only the rich get any benefit out of cheap flights. I thought that was weird at the start. I used to have to catch long-distance buses if I wanted to go long-haul in Australia (and here, travel between any two large cities is automatically long haul).

But five years ago or so, our air fares started to plummet. Now I can go from Brisbane to Melbourne for $A 100, if I catch the stupidly late or early flights - five years ago, this would have been more like $A 400-500.

And guess what - the people lining up next to me for the late flights are the same people I used to line up with to get on the coach.

This is not evidence, but it made me want to go and look for some. It turns out that the report Lucas was quoting said that the 'top three social classes' take 95% of flights. Which sounds terribly elitist, unless you realise that the 'three top social classes' are the AB, C1 and C2 - that is clerical workers, skilled manual workers and those above them.

Not rich people at all in the C1 and C2!

You can read the argument in more detail by clicking on the link above - no-one so far has tried to refute my assertions about Lucas' facts.

I suppose that rather than just agree that 'environmentalists' are silly, we should dicuss ways to make that ideology less popular?

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by quiksilverhg at 2006-09-29 03:23 PM
More on the same...
This is a short article from 'The Federalist' (now going by 'Patriot Post') on the global warming issue.  For those not familiar with it Patriot Post is the most widely distributed internet based publication.

The cries of many global-warming enthusiasts are based on a graph often referred to as the “hockey stick,” which shows stable temperatures from 1000 A.D. (or earlier) through 1900, followed by a sharp up-tick in the 20th century. The cries then reach a crescendo when talk turns to “human induced warming” due to the energy use of those nasty SUVs. The trouble for such fear-mongers is that the graph is fraudulent. A study by the National Academy of Sciences commissioned by Congress found that, for one thing, the original researchers of the hockey stick graph used proxy data that failed verification tests to reconstruct past temperatures. It also ignores known climate conditions such as the warm period in the Middle Ages and the “Little Ice Age” between 1600 and 1850.

Sen. James Inhofe, in a blistering rebuttal of the eco-doomsayers, addressed the NAS study before Congress on Monday, saying, “Global Warming—just that term evokes many members in this chamber, the media, Hollywood elites and our pop culture to nod their heads and fret about an impending climate disaster...hese fearsjustified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural ‘noise’.” Inhofe proceeded to give an extensive review of not only dubious science, but also downright lies by those with financial or other interests in promoting the scare of global warming. Sounds like the hockey-stick proponents deserve a penalty for hooking, high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by keza at 2006-09-30 08:06 PM
Excellent critique of the pseudo-left  - by a rightwinger but quite spot on in many ways.

The intellectual origins of America bashing

It also raises questions about Marxism,  imperialism and the future of capitalism which we really need to grapple with. It might be worth a new thread if anyone wants to start one.

(If someone not authorized to start a new thread wants to start one, let me know by sending email to:


Also I think further discussion of green issues should be in a new thread rather than in this one - will set one up shortly and probably move the posts on that topic out of his thread to the new one.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2006-10-03 01:38 AM
I'll leave a substantive critique of the points made allegedly against Marxism until there is a separate thread eg on immiserization.

However one point is relevant to this thread on the nature of the pseudo-left. The article simultaneously points out that there is very little in common between ideas popular in the pseudo-left and those of classical Marxism and claims to refute Marxism via the absurdities of its opponents  and by foisting on Marxism some of those absurdities.

The simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of the pseudo-left are openly and virulently anti-Marxist and anti-Communist (including "libertarians" such as Chomsky).

The few exceptions like Tariq Ali belong to tendencies such as Trotskyism that claim to be Marxist and Communist but have always been regarded as enemies of Marxism and Communism by actual Marxists and Communists.

So some trots objectively side with the enemy in a war against fascism. What's supposed to be new about that and how does it discredit the left? Saying precisely that about trots is what "stalinists" (ie communists) are somewhat notorious for.

Perhaps the most plausible of the confusions is that between the "Baran-Wallerstein" anti-imperialism and Marxism. There was real confusion about this in the sixties so that this analysis could reasonably be regarded as a major influence on "the left", but certainly an anti-Marxist one, as explained in the review of Bill Warren's Imperialism - pioneer of capitalism.

Lee Harris is entitled to be congratulated for noting that it ( ie the "Baren-Wallestein "view) was a revision of Marxism rather than authentically Marxist. But then he goes on to blame Marxism for it!

Much of the confusion was spread by people like David Horowitz as editor of Ramparts, who claimed it was Marxism then and naturally enough still claims it is Marxism now after having moved to the far right.

Although Baran et al can be blamed for an "anti-imperialism" that naturally opened the way for reactionary positions, even Wallerstein can hardly be accused of spouting the openly reactionary stuff that now comes out of the pseudo-left.

They explicitly denounce capitalism for development rather than for retarding development and are thus reactionaries in every possible sense. They oppose imperialism because they oppose globalization, and they oppose that because they hate modernity and fear the future.

This is diametrically opposite to the position of the Communist Manifesto and everything that was previously understood to be left politics. What sort of "left" could be even less internationalist than the conservatives?

While it might be convenient for neocons to describe total pseudos as "the left", it actually undermines the fight against the current alliance between paleo-conservatives and pseudo-leftists in favor of a dishonest fight against a left that scarcely exists at the moment.

One reason we scarcely exist at present is that people who believe the pseudo-left is the left are naturally not interested in left ideas. That doesn't make them any more inclined towards conservative ideas. It just make them, and conservatives who encourage this, ignorant. In a war against tyranny and obscurantism, obscurantism is not a useful tactic. Surely neocons and the left ought to have a common interest in describing the pseudo-left by that term rather than pretending that they are "Marxists".

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by quiksilverhg at 2006-10-07 01:54 PM
I'd like to dive into the Marxism debate, but I'll wait for a new thread...
here's an example of the enviro-whackos killing millions (not for the first time either)
another example would be when NASA switched from CFC foam to the non-CFC foam for the insulation on the rocket.  Now with the non-CFC foam chunks fall off all the time...leading to the Columbia disaster...thank the EPA again.

Hooray for DDT's life-saving comeback
By John Stossel
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Who says there's never any good news? After more than 30 years and tens of millions dead -- mostly children -- the World Health Organization (WHO) has ended its ban on DDT. DDT is the most effective anti-mosquito, anti-malaria pesticide known. But thanks to the worldwide environmental movement and politically correct bureaucrats in the United States and at the United Nations, the use of this benign chemical has been discouraged in Africa and elsewhere, permitting killer mosquitoes to spread death.

I don't expect any apologies from the people who permitted this to happen. But I am thankful this nightmare is ending.

DDT was banned by President Richard Nixon's Environmental Protection Agency in the early 1970s, after Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring," claimed to show that DDT threatened human health as well as bird populations. But some scientists found no evidence for her claims. Even if there was danger to bird eggs, the problem was the amount of DDT used, not the chemical itself.

Huge amounts of the chemical were sprayed in America. I've watched old videos of people at picnics who just kept eating while trucks sprayed thick white clouds of DDT on top of them. Some people even ran toward the truck -- as if it was an ice-cream truck -- they were so happy to have mosquitoes repelled. Tons of DDT were sprayed on food and people. Despite this overuse, there was no surge in cancer or any other human injury.

Nevertheless, the environmental hysteria led to DDT's suppression in Africa, where its use had been dramatically reducing deaths. American foreign aid could be used to finance ineffective alternative anti-malaria methods, but not DDT. Within a short time, the mosquitoes and malaria reappeared, and deaths skyrocketed. Tens of millions of people have died in that time.

DDT advocates pointed out that the ban amounted to mass murder. But they could not move the rich white environmental dogmatists who reflexively condemn all kinds of chemicals, and presumably lost no sleep when millions of poor African children died.

But now this has changed. Last month, the WHO announced that it supports indoor spraying of DDT and other insecticides "not only in epidemic areas but also in areas with constant and high malaria transmission, including throughout Africa."

"The scientific and programmatic evidence clearly supports this reassessment," said Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, WHO assistant director-general for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. "DDT presents no health risk when used properly."

WHO now calls DDT the "most effective" pesticide for indoor use. Some environmental groups have also changed their anti-DDT tune, including Greenpeace, Environmental Defense and the Sierra Club. Last year, Greenpeace spokesman Rick Hind told the New York Times, "If there's nothing else and it's going to save lives, we're all for it. Nobody's dogmatic about it."

That's easy to say now. But what about all the people who died when groups like Greenpeace dogmatically refused to budge on the ban? Might an apology be in order?

Junk-science debunker Steven Milloy, an adjunct scholar with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, wonders why the environmentalists took so long to change their minds.

"There are no new facts on DDT -- all the relevant science about DDT safety has been available since the 1960s," Milloy says.

Milloy adds: "It might be easy for some to dismiss the past 43 years of eco-hysteria over DDT with a simple 'never mind,' except for the blood of millions of people dripping from the hands of the WWF, Greenpeace, Rachel Carson, Environmental Defense Fund, and other junk science-fueled opponents of DDT."

Milloy reminds us that the same people who spread DDT hysteria are now pushing the global-warming scare. "If they and others could be so wrong about DDT, why should we trust them now?"

That's a fair question. For now, let's celebrate the coming elimination of malaria in Africa.

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by DavidMc at 2006-10-07 10:44 PM
There needs to be an analysis of how environmentalism is actually part of the existing social order. I get a little tired of listening to smug neo-liberals/conservatives simping disowning the phenomenon.

The EPA is part of the US government, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a UN body comprising government representatives.

Capitalist outfits like Greenpeace and WWF are donation driven empires run by people on high salaries. James P Leape, the Director General of the WWF is also in charge of doling out environment and science funding at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. (The Packard in Hewlett-Packard). So he definitely has his snout in the capitalist trough.

The Duke of Edinburgh was president from 1981 to 1996. He was succeeded by an ex Pakistan finance minister. The current incumbent is a former Commonwealth Secretary General. Queen Noor of Jordon is one of the trustees. In Sweden, the king is the president of the local organization.

It is also important to make the general point that political and business elites feel no great pressing urge to counter a trend that imbues the masses with a sense of hopelessness.

 • Proposed media article about the pseudo left

Posted by keza at 2006-10-29 02:34 AM
I'm currently attempting to write an article on the pseudo-left - hoping to get it publshed in one of the major media outlets.   If anyone wants to make suggestions about the key things to emphasize, please do!

I've been thinking that it's not so hard to expose the vacuity of the pseudo-left world view, indeed that ideology has already been largely torn to shreds by people like Johann Norberg - who I'd define (in the  current situation) as a progressive right winger.

The greater challenge  is to effectively combat the conclusion of people like Norberg  - which is that because capitalism and globalization is steadily reducing poverty, increasing life expectancy, solving environmental problems, stimulating the productive forces**  and so on, it is the ideal system.  He simply attributes the doom and gloom of the pseudos (and the high levels of dissatisfaction among the broader population) to a sort of evolutionarily based cognitive bias which has served us well in the past.

**note: he points out that those parts of the world which are not part of that trend are those which are not being rapidly globalized and have had their development stifled - most notably large parts of Africa and  the Middle East.

(The word limit of 1000 words for media articles makes it quite difficult able to cover these issues in any depth. Hopefully with the help of others,  I  should be able to at least produce a "teaser" which might provoke people to start thinking and perhaps come here to find out more)

 • Re: What is the pseudo left?

Posted by arthur at 2006-10-31 06:40 AM

For 1000 words I would focus entirely on demonstrating the connection between pseudo-left views and traditional conservative views.