The Left Doesn’t Need to Be More Open-Minded with the Right (pt.2)

This is part 2 of an ongoing series, to see the previous post click here.

The simplicity and strength of kindness isn’t autmatically outgunned by the simplicity and strength of rugged individualism.

The core of the Left is non-violent and co-operative, in a way that the Right is disgusted by.

In right-wing idealism, there is still conflict and control. If people all accepted and agreed on one right-wing way of thinking – whether that’s religion, money, or power, this would be to enable competitiveness among individuals. The Right is based on competition. To be the best, someone else has to be worse.

It’s easy to get stuck in arguments about whether it’s better to compete and fail, or be forbidden to compete at all. This isn’t what’s truly at stake. What’s at stake is diversity of realities. When human populations are naturally diverse, they don’t and can’t all share the same values. Everyone is in their own personal contest.

When we view all people as competing, we’ll assume failure when apathy is more accurate. Not everyone is fighting for the same thing.

If the Left aren’t hurting anyone, why are the Right so hurt?

The Right view themselves as hurt by people who are different than them, whereas the Left generally view difference as something to embrace.

The Left still gets accused of disliking those who are different from them, but this is a carefully framed deception. Typically, it’s the Right who are “disliked for being different from the Left”, and who claim this is unfair.

By contrast, human rights and marginalised communities are generally understood to be represented by the Left, whether that’s empowering or not.

Note: The hypocrisy here is obvious – the Right have disdain for the Left based on lack of acceptance, yet overwhelmingly it’s the Left who are in favour of acceptance. This is a great example of how the Right uses bad faith arguments. If they truly valued acceptance, they themselves would be accepting, and not weaponising it against their political rivals.

If someone is not allied to you, the opportunities to love their differences are undercut by their desire to defeat you.

Between political opponents, ideologically opposed to each other – neither side can make peace to the other without conceding their entire purpose.

The Right are hurt by the arguments of the Left because the ideological divide is their enemy. By contrast, the Left thrives on differences of opinion, except this one.

So much for the tolerant Left

If we cannot love our enemies, because they are busy trying to take us down, does that make us worse at being Left? It’s complicated.

We mustn’t forget that most people are trying to squeeze their political identities between the real demands of work, home, and other responsibilities. We don’t all have time to philosophise and agonise over the perfect way to action our beliefs.

If we see someone being harmful, it makes intuitive sense to correct them as much as we can. Some of us because to convince, others to show balance, but people from every side of the political equation get caught up.

However, this backfires on the Left more than the Right.

It makes sense for a right-winger to call you out and denounce you, but when the Left does it, we get hit with those insidious “Free Speech” claims, and it feels like you can’t win.

We all know genuine free speech isn’t about freedom from consequences, or the ability to demand an audience and a platform, yet this accusation makes us pause for thought.

The Left wants free speech, yet opposes speech that directly undermines the realities of others. Is this gap reconcilable, and does it damage the Left-wing cause?

Hate the Hate not the Hater

The true answer here is radical. It’s more radical than most of us have time for. It’s more radical than newspapers on either side would have you believe. It’s so radical it looks simple.

We need to win the people, not the argument.

The Right can argue til the cows come home. They can make up arguments from what looks like thin air. Each person’s ability to win matters more than the content of the argument. The argument can be manufactured if needed, because for the Right, arguments are features not bugs.

Note: This isn’t the same as the peril of increasingly complex leftist spaces – the cacophony of increasing diversity and accidental conflicts. That noise is a bug, not a feature, and peace is the ultimate goal, even when it is tricky to reach.

However, we often don’t recognise this trick from the Right.

Constant bad-faith arguments bring us to our knees trying to reconcile two opposing view points, whilst our opponent aims to go on forever or wear us out, giving no ground. If it feels like you’re arguing against a pedantic and tricksy brick wall, it’s because you are.

The key is understanding human emotions. This step has tripped me up for a long time, because it’s not immediately intuitive. There’s a couple of layers here, and we shouldn’t confuse why people start fights with how those fights continue. People start fights to be heard, but fights escalate from lack of listening.

Listening doesn’t need to mean tolerating or accepting harmful views, it means looking for peace instead of fighting. Remember: endless arguments and fights of strength belong to the Right, which means by default the Left alternative is peace.

How can we collaborate with the Right?

First, we need to draw an important clarification between people and their politics.

Politics can be abstracted, logical, internally rational. People on the other hand all come with emotions, irrationalities, quirks and problems.

To win someone over, you change their politics. You do not have to defeat the entire political stance they are holding.

There is no objectively right answer between whether ring-wing individualist politics or left-wing collaborative politics is genuinely correct – it’s all a matter of opinion. Politics doesn’t exist outside of human society.

Individualistic politics is instinctive, especially if you’re already close to the status quo, or want to be.

Being argued with can entrench that belief – you’re an individual, people are against you, and you need to fight for your individuality.

By contrast, being accepted as a unique part of a greater whole undermines that fight. If you’re allowed to be an individual whilst also being part of a wider group, what is there left to fight against? You can fight against the general idea of being part of a wider group, however human beings naturally yearn to fit in and belong.

Some people are still drawn to the abrasive competition of right-wing. It might be easier to relate to politics on this level than on vague ideals about diversity and equality. Arguably, this personal difference will always be there.

At our core, we all want to be listened to, we just disagree about how. Some of us think we need to be louder, others think we need to listen more.

You can’t beat someone at their own Game

If you’re drawn into someone else’s favoured style of conflict-ridden dialogue, they are already winning.

The only way to genuinely fight this fight is to use our core values.

If the Left finds itself shouting to be heard, it’s a sign we’re going the wrong way. Hostility and punishment go directly against our core values. We know that underneath the ring-wing smokescreen and window dressing, there are people with real life concerns.

The hostility is just a tool they are using to get what they want. Adding your own hostility is playing into their argument.

To offer an alternative, we have to be an example. What’s genuinely bothering someone?

  • Is it really conspiracy theories, or are they stressed out because of unemployment and mental health problems?
  • Is it really the alt-right, or are they lonely and bored?
  • Are they genuinely hateful, or just looking for a fight?
  • Do they dislike free speech from people who are different, or do they feel threatened and defensive?

Facts don’t care about your feelings

We don’t have to accept foul views, but we can acknowledge the difference between them and the people who are holding them.

We can’t keep being fooled into playing the game of enemies that we so fundamentally oppose. The Left cannot succeed by using the Right’s divisive and hostile tactics, because it goes against what we stand for.

Yet hostility discourse still dominates, with much of our time being taken up with finding the line between right and wrong, instead of between people and peace.

To change this discourse, we need to find a radical way to change the game without giving up our values.

Photo by Og Mpango on

If you enjoyed this, please tune in next week, where I’ll be discussing how to deepen our values, and embrace the real conflict instead of right-wing drama. You can subscribe by email in the links below, or follow on Facebook.

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