Hi! I’m a radical leftist. We come in many flavours, some Anarchists, some Marxists, but personally I prefer to call myself a Socialist. You might have met some of us before, saying some things that seemed pretty “out there” even though they were probably backed up by good research. Perhaps you felt the temptation to try and, um, “talk us down”. Maybe you told us that we didn’t have all the information, or that things aren’t exactly they way we say, possibly followed by a wall of text supposedly explaining things. You could have started bringing up places like North Korea and Communist China that, being totally undemocratic, don’t meet the basic litmus test for liberalism much less leftism. It might have been that comment you made about how people have lives and jobs, as though (for whatever hare-brained reason we can’t wrap our heads around either) we want to destroy all society and start over as hunter-gatherers. Or you could have just told us that we need to be a bit, um, “less angry” and “more rational”. Worst of all, you might have asked where we can get the money to pay for our programs and, when told that since money is a human invention we can print as much as we need, made some reference to Zimbabwe or Weimar Germany as though this somehow ends all discussion (never mind, of course, that we’re not under the heel of a War Guilt Clause or decades of debt from racist dictators being racist dictators).
If you’ve done that, this is for you. If you’ve seen people do that, and didn’t say anything about it, this is also for you. In my experience, people not already identified as radical leftist tend to either do one of the above or stand by and watch people do it, so really this is aimed at all y’all who don’t identify as radical leftists. Because we don’t fucking appreciate it. We radical leftists speak for the invisible. They’re people you don’t see much of and that society tries to make sure you see less of, for the most part. While you hear on the news about polls asking people how they feel about the “balanced budgets” that call for shredding the social safety net, we talk to the people who fall through the holes, who have no phones or computers with which to tell pollsters how they feel about being kicked to the curb and left to die as a matter of course. As you fret about how you’ll be able to afford your home renovations or car payment if your income and property taxes go up, we try to help people live in an age where “the market” artificially inflates food prices even as they lose needed assistance or pay higher sales tax (or both) so you can pay less on that small house and modest car that look as much a dream to them as a mansion with a garage full of Ferraris do to you. While you make rear-guard defenses of abortion rights by opposing bans and targeted restrictions against abortion providers (“TRAAP laws”), we recognize that women’s rights depend not just on the legality and availability, but also on the affordability of abortion and family planning services. In short, we recognize that rights mean nothing if no one can exercise them.
Worse yet, we radical leftists know full well about the radical right, because we put ourselves against them as much as we can. We know how their ideologies — horrible even to you — run rampant and unchecked, constantly pushing the so-called “moderate” right further towards them on everything from welfare to abortion. We can see what they do to get their way, turning political systems and debates into a farce so that their oppressive ideas can appear to hold water; when this fails they use outright repression, threats and physical violence in order to retain their power at all costs. We’ve been watching for the past 33 years (and counting) as the radical right has dragged everyone else with it, to the point where even “progressive” politicos and pundits start budget discussions by saying they’ll “only” cut so much rather than trying to charge in the opposite direction, or go through abortion debates almost without mentioning abortion, or act like a “realistic” situation somehow cannot be cruel, or treat global warming as though it’s somehow still -debatable- whether it actually exists, and worse whether we should try — framed as whether ‘we can afford to’ — doing something about it.
When we see the stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph? We see a big, giant, eraser, the same kind used to erase the very people we speak for, speeding towards us. It’s in your hands, and it carries with it the end of humanity, because it seeks to erase the realities that doom our species, much less any hopes that we can achieve social justice; this makes us angry. Holding it, we can see well-intentioned progressives pining for the fjords of a long-lost Pleasantville rather than doing the hard work necessary to make things right; this makes us sad. And so, while we may try with some passion, we mostly simply lack the energy to deal with all that shit time and again.
As such, I implore you, all of you, well-minded progressives that you are, to respect us and stop. Stop doing the stuff I’ve described. Stop sitting by silently when you see someone else doing it. Stop acting like idly listening to the ‘realistic’ opinions of ‘respectable’ well-off people handed down from the airwaves on high somehow gives you a better picture than talking to the real people who are really affected by the failings of a classist, heterocisnormative, misogynist, white-supremacist, ableist, religionist, colonialist society. Stop acting like those who question the myth of the great powers (Western Europe, Britain, Russia, China and the United States) as paragons of social justice, liberal democracy and decolonization come from the same places as Zeitgeisters and Alex Jones. And, really, fucking seriously, stop trotting out Soviet Russia and North Korea as though they’re in any way examples of anything resembling a socialist society.
Because the only alternative is extinction.
Setar, a genderqueer socialist currently residing on unceded Coast Salish territories, is very very sick of dealing with McCarthy-esque bullshit and dismissiveness that should have died fifty years ago. Xe can generally be found at the Atheism+ forums, well away from condescending classist crap.