Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Monday, February 13, 2012

My lefty dilemma #1

I'm still conflicted. Seems I'm doomed to die that way.

What am I on about?

Politics, of course. Or, more specifically, the politics of "the left".

The more I see, hear, and read, the more I drift to "the left". I consider myself to be firmly on the left side of politics. But, paradoxically, the more I examine "the left", the more confused I get.

One major issue for me is Anarchism (the political movement), and its influence on left-wing thought.

I've just finished reading Emma Goldman's autobiography Living My Life. This two-volume set was suggested to me by friends because I had expressed an inability to understand the rationality of anarchism as a political ideal.

Here's my dilemma:

Before reading Goldman, I saw anarchism as a device useful for tearing down corrupt regimes, but I also felt that once the corrupt regime had been torn down, the very same anarchistic principles will create a power vacuum which the next wave of despots will fill because it has no model for cultivating benign leadership.

After reading Goldman, I still see anarchism as a device useful for tearing down corrupt regimes, and her life's story has reinforced my suspicions that once the corrupt regime has been torn down, the very same anarchistic principles will create a power vacuum which the next wave of despots will fill because it provides no model for cultivating benign leadership.

For me the problem with anarchism is its negative attitude to _all_ forms of leadership. This, to me, is a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. It seems to be based on what to me looks like a fallacy of logic which goes something like "bad leadership is bad, therefore all leadership is bad." I just can't buy that.

Don't bother commenting unless you consider yourself to be a genuine "lefty". I'm not giving free kicks to "the right" here.


Blogger Ann O'Dyne said...

genuine lefty here.
agree with your pre-Goldman stance, and of course your post-Goldman stance. that's the intelligent attitude to all politics.

how many times have we read in pollie memoirs
"I entered politics hoping to make a difference ... and then ..."

they all hope and pray that the electorate does not think at the ballot.

February 14, 2012 9:32 PM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

The anarchist system of governance is absurd and infeasible. While Goldman's beloved Makhno seemed to make it work for a scant 3 years in the Ukraine, the reality is that during that time A) the country was constantly at war, so the decisions required of the soviets were straightforward; B) Makhno was busy booting out German and Hungarian farmers and giving their land to the Ukrainian peasants, who were therefore very happy; and C) Makhno wasn't stupid enough to apply anarchist logic to his army - he was the supreme general, he appointed all of the most important subordinates personally, and the remaining ranks were selected on merit.

After 3 years the next wave of despots arrived, being the Bolsheviks, and Makhno spent the rest of his life in exile.

Pragmatism trumps anarchism any day of the week.

February 15, 2012 9:27 AM  
Blogger Marshall Stacks said...

the opposite of anarchy is the Nanny State resulting from a Department For Anything where everybody waits for 'someone' to do something about 'it'.

I like the anarchy of the 19thC US 'Wild West' where the gun ruled.
I would be shooting vandals hoons litterers, and all those the RSPCA wishes it could shoot. Also any CEO getting $30m on leaving a company (that mexican telstra guy comes to mind).
I would be so busy cleaning up all the people who cause us to need cops and courts. Chuck your child off a bridge and I want you dead, not in a cell with aircon and Tv for the rest of your life. Think of the money I could save the country.
Anarchy is economical.

February 15, 2012 9:55 AM  
Blogger AndrewM said...

@Marshall: anarchy and anarchism are totally different things (although your shoot first policy would go down well in either camp). Anarchists want a society with no central government and no lawmakers, but they don't want general lawlessness and mayhem, except perhaps in the beginning. It's the stupidest name ever for a political ideology, although 'Liberal Party' runs it a close second.

February 15, 2012 4:10 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

I just can't get past the idea that anarchism is a seriously flawed concept. This might explain why their communities tend to remain small and have short shelf lives, generally disintegrating when the authoritarian nature of its proponents dawns on the broader membership.

Often the argument is that it can only work as a global system, yet they fail to explain how, if anarchism went global, it would not require a repressive global government to keep it "on track" and to stop other forms of government re-emerging.

When Goldman saw what happened in the Soviet Union she failed to realise that this was a perfect example of why anarchism will always fail and morph into an authoritarian regime.

She seemed to have been unable to join the dots. So fanatical was she about anarchism that she could not see the bleeding obvious.

Either that or there is something bleeding obvious which I cannot yet see. Hence my frustration.

February 16, 2012 7:29 AM  
Blogger John Myste said...

The more I see, hear, and read, the more I drift to "the left".

This phenomenon is known as Confirmation Bias. It happens to all of us.

Very insightful analysis of anarchism.

March 09, 2012 3:05 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

@John Myste: If reading causes "confirmation bias", how can such bias be avoided?

About Anarchism, I'm still waiting for a proponent of anarchism to show me a large-scale population that can function effectively without some form of hierarchial leadership structure. I say this because it appears to work OK at the level of small, local community levles. e.g. Co-ops.

March 09, 2012 7:15 AM  

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