Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Metaphor For the Left

In a lot of discussions in school, there're a lot of questions which basically have the theme of "Why can't the Left unite the way the Right has?" There're plenty of answers, from my outsider's perspective: the Right groups unite because they're willing to put aside certain concerns, while the Left values these concerns. The Right doesn't care about people being thrown under the bus; the Left is comprised of a large base of people who keep getting thrown under the bus.

The most infuriating answer I see is the one that places blame on identity politics and the divisiveness that comes about as a result of disagreement of tactics and the like. There's this Kumbaya "why can't we just get along" hand-wringing nonsense. So I've been having some severe disagreements with classmates. But after that we can get along just fine.

Here's my metaphor: we live in different houses. Each house has its own rules and household culture. Maybe I like my house neat and you don't mind sloppiness. This doesn't mean we have to fight over our respective ways of handling our houses. It's perfectly okay for us to live in our own houses. We shouldn't be fighting over this, because there're people who are trying to tear down our houses. And when we argue about how to handle our own houses, we're just making their job easier.

The thing is that we're dealing with people who aren't just living in bigger houses, but can hire people to take care of those houses while they're busy sabotaging our houses. They live in gated communities which are safer because they have the means to do so.

So, it's perfectly fine to critique one another's style of running our houses because maybe the dialog will be useful. But we need to learn how to trust each other in running our own houses, and work together in preventing our houses from being torn down. We don't need to be living under the same roof to get stuff done together. We're not all the same. Stop yelling at me about how it's not important for me to spend my time cleaning my house and there are better things I could be doing. 

This metaphor is a work in progress.

3 comments:

  1. "There's this Kumbaya 'why can't we just get along' hand-wringing nonsense."

    This would be a cool way to look at those who actually do argue that the Left needs to unifiy, Slavoj Žižek and his cronies: all tuned to come along as the really radical guys, all vanguard and gritty - but yes, in the end it comes down to hand-wringing and whining.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I dunno, I think structural issues of power have a large role to play in explaining the supposed unity of the Right vs the Left.

    First, I think that, if we talk about Democrats and Republicans, both parties are conservative, mostly, though varying in degree, and therefore both parties are 'Right.' Both parties function as enablers of the super-wealthy and of corporations.

    In addition to this, power is historically 'Right' - newspaper companies, the FBI, the federal government, media companies, these institutions exercise their power, for the most part, to enforce the status quo. The 'Left' is weaker.

    I'm a bit of a Chomskyite.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sorry - I missed this part of your post the first time 'round. Didn't mean to be redundant. Continuing the house metaphor, I guess I'd say the answer is exactly that - the other house is bigger and they can afford housekeepers, bodyguards, and to buy off the cops.

    "The thing is that we're dealing with people who aren't just living in bigger houses, but can hire people to take care of those houses while they're busy sabotaging our houses. They live in gated communities which are safer because they have the means to do so."

    ReplyDelete