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Civilised Debate - Left Vs. Right

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First, let me say, this is not about anyone on HPC. One of the things I like about this forum is that, even when arguments get really personal, I don't think I've ever seen anyone threaten violence of any sort (other than humourously).

So, here's the question: why are people on the mainstream political left so much more likely to threaten violence to their opponents than the right? I'm not talking about the far left (SWP etc.) or the far right (BNP, EDL etc.) here, they're just as nasty as each other. I'm talking about people who can be presumed to be Labour, SNP, Green etc. supporters who seem quite happy to refer to their opponents as scum and make comments such as 'I wonder how far Gove would bounce if you threw him off the top of Westminster Abbey' as I just read on the Guardian website.

Whatever your opinions about Tories, Liberal Democrats and UKIPers, this is just not something that they engage in anything like as much as people on the left.

Why is that?

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First, let me say, this is not about anyone on HPC. One of the things I like about this forum is that, even when arguments get really personal, I don't think I've ever seen anyone threaten violence of any sort (other than humourously).

So, here's the question: why are people on the mainstream political left so much more likely to threaten violence to their opponents than the right? I'm not talking about the far left (SWP etc.) or the far right (BNP, EDL etc.) here, they're just as nasty as each other. I'm talking about people who can be presumed to be Labour, SNP, Green etc. supporters who seem quite happy to refer to their opponents as scum and make comments such as 'I wonder how far Gove would bounce if you threw him off the top of Westminster Abbey' as I just read on the Guardian website.

Whatever your opinions about Tories, Liberal Democrats and UKIPers, this is just not something that they engage in anything like as much as people on the left.

Why is that?

Perhaps it is because the left only have bland personalities at the moment that don't invoke any passion, or perhaps it is because supporters of the left feel more frustrated.

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Perhaps it is because the left only have bland personalities at the moment that don't invoke any passion, or perhaps it is because supporters of the left feel more frustrated.

By that standard your average Tory voter would have been firebombing the local Labour club by the end of 2009!

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I think the problem is that the leftists define themselves as "good" people and want nice things such as fairness, equality, first rate public services etc even if the reality of their policies usually results in the exact opposite. By extension anyone who opposes them must be against fairness/equality etc and therefore an evil capitalist scumbag.

Really it's a basic lack of intelligence on the leftists part, the inability to see that there's more than one way to skin a cat, that their way of doing things might not be the best, that there isn't an infinite supply of money and that if you want good public services you need a successful economy to pay for them.

They're a bit thick really.

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My experience of Labour people (activists) is that they are of a hive mind; have a sense of righteousness. Can be particularly nasty opponents and will gang up on people. Don't tolerate being different very well and are easily led; distinct lack of being able to think for themselves.

One of the first comment I had from a Labour activist post the 'shock defeat' of the Labour MP in a key marginal was to blame people for voting UKIP. UKIP weren't the problem.

Edited by tinker

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I think the problem is that the leftists ....

They're a bit thick really.

+1

They think they are 'so right' they don't even have to have an argument. Thus, if you oppose 'so right' then you are obviously 'so wrong' and must deserve some level of violence to be forced upon you, because you are bad. ie 'you' made them be violent towards you.... it's your fault!

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Leftist believe anyone on the right is not only wrong but evil. Leftists are willing to do all sorts of unspeakable things because their ideals are good and the ends justify the means.

People on the right view leftists as misguided fools. It's difficult to hate a fool.

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There are plenty of thickos on both sides of the political spectrum. The hard-of-thinking naturally gravitate towards easy answers to difficult questions, saves them having to do any of that painful reading-and-thinking-about-things business.

For every Guardian reader blaming Thatcher for everything there's a Daily Mail reader blaming immigrants for everything.

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I think its collectivism vs individualism. And this is one of the core reasons why I would regard the Nazi's as a thouroughly' left wing movement.

Those on the right tend not to protest, to riot, to march, to 'demonstrate'. As individualists, its not in their nature. Their social interactions are based on trade, greed, voluntarism - essentially selfishness. Which is a good thing, not bad. As spending a day marching or rioting doesnt enrich the participants monetarily, they tend not to march and riot.

The left however tend to group together, its in their DNA. They want to be part of something larger. To be part of a gang, a mob. Whether its a fascist or so called 'anti-fascist' march is frankly irrelevant.

I'm reminded of bullies at school. I once had to do a dentention with one of the top bullies in the school. We were the only two in there for a while, as the teacher was called out for something. As individuals...only two of us in that room, we got on just fine. Like friends. You have to, if its only two of you in there. Of course, afterwards, he went back to being an arsehole with his gang behind him.

Someone posted this on HPC a while back...I think it sums up my view well.

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This is the first election that I've noticed this. I've become quite shocked how angry and bitter many on the left are and this bizzarre left = good, right = bad narrative does thm no favours. As a floating voter I've bcome really concerned about this development, as most people on both sides generally try and do the right thing. Perhaps the Left i struging to find more mature leaders and message these days?

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I'm not sure that I believe the premiss, but let's accept it for the sake of argument. How about this? Left-wing politics is concerned with eliminating inequality and privilege, and in the past it's often been the case that the only way to achieve that has been by means of violent revolution. The history of politics itself tells you that violence is essential to upset the status quo.

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Well as a Trade Union Office Secretary married to a Conservative local councillor I get to see both sides of the political spectrum.

In my experience Conservative party members almost never discuss political issues when together. They spend more time in actual social events than Labour members but they are lousy tippers which suggests some inherent meaness of spirit where money is concerned.

The Labour left is influenced, even if only obliquely by Marxism which preaches proletarian revolution so inevitably some feel it their moral duty to at least talk about hanging the supporters of capitalism from the nearest lamp post. Most in my experience are either completely harmless bores or more or less amiable drunks who spend the majority of their time jousting with each other over who has the purer socialist principles than worrying about the Tories.

BTW as a very moderate Trade Unionist of some 30 years standing I came across the odd bit of circumstantial evidence in the Cold War era to suggest that at least one or two supposedly arch left wing firebrands I encountered might actually have been in the pay of the security services. Every time you see a left wing demo such as the one conveniently staged in Whitehall recently you do need to wonder who some of those turning up are really working for (in the old pre computer printing days I would have looked for unusually professionally produced placards and nice shoes as a give away). On the very far left you do wonder how some groups have managed to produce newspapers and afforded the time and money to travel to all those protests over the years, particularly as they are supposed to be potless after the fall of the USSR. I suppose the same now goes for those posting on social media particularly on MSM sites. Surprisingly people are not aways what they appear to be.

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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Agree with all of these comments.

The standpoint that I tend to see what I watch programmes about people who have lived a life on benefits is that of self-pity. Life can never be better than this. Life is made possible by hand-outs. This can and does seem to become generational.

There are of course genuinely sad cases. For example, failed marriages, where a couple had children in full expectation of a long relationship and that turned sour despite best efforts and one of the couple (usually blamed on the man) has absconded and doesn't pay up.

The TV programmes however tend to typify those who have been able to make certain life choices on the basis of expectation of hand-outs.

Thatcher: "There is no such thing as entitlement until you have first met an obligation" or similar.

The hand-outs come from the magic money tree in the garden of 10 Downing Street (actually, it's ironic really - as that magic money tree could be called 'Quantitative Easing' so it's not an entirely invalid point). Though I believe it is possible to debate that and the benefits system separately. Leftists tend to conflate them in a "them and us" way.

The situation is never 'externalised' - nobody is actually paying for those hand-outs, so only a wicked person would put a stop to them. Wicked people should be vilified.

When I read articles in The Guardian about "taking money from poor people" e.g. the so-called 'bedroom tax' - firstly, I reject the term 'poor people' as significant or useful, because it abstracts the issue from the cause (I don't see a homogenous 'club' of 'poor people' in the way that those on the Left appear to), and secondly, with regard to that 'tax', that the people are provided with subsidised (by others) housing in the first place doesn't even figure or get any thanks.

Whenever I've engaged in these sorts of debates in the main forum in the past, I ask those who expound Left wing views: "For how long should someone be able to collect benefits? Three months? Three years? Thirty years?"

And not once have I got an answer to that.

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The left weren't out demonstrating and causing trouble the other day. Those were just people that were pissed off that their right wing party didn't win.

Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, they are all right wing to various degrees. The only left wing parties in the UK are the greens, plaid cymru and the SNP (although the SNP are only slightly left wing). There are a few other smaller parties that are left wing too.

I seriously doubt that the majority of the people causing trouble are members or supporters of left wing parties.

I put it to the OP that the whole premise of this thread is incorrect.

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Because of the presence and until very recently, and maybe still, ever-growing presence of the Welfare State, I'd have said all the parties are very left wing/socialist. That there are no right-wing/small State parties.

For some reason I tend to conflate "right wing" with "small State" - I suppose with a hypothesis in mind that the former "ought to" lead to the latter.

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Well as a Trade Union Office Secretary married to a Conservative local councillor I get to see both sides of the political spectrum.

In my experience Conservative party members almost never discuss political issues when together. They spend more time in actual social events than Labour members but they are lousy tippers which suggests some inherent meaness of spirit where money is concerned.

The Labour left is influenced, even if only obliquely by Marxism which preaches proletarian revolution so inevitably some feel it their moral duty to at least talk about hanging the supporters of capitalism from the nearest lamp post. Most in my experience are either completely harmless bores or more or less amiable drunks who spend the majority of their time jousting with each other over who has the purer socialist principles than worrying about the Tories.

BTW as a very moderate Trade Unionist of some 30 years standing I came across the odd bit of circumstantial evidence in the Cold War era to suggest that at least one or two supposedly arch left wing firebrands I encountered might actually have been in the pay of the security services. Every time you see a left wing demo such as the one conveniently staged in Whitehall recently you do need to wonder who some of those turning up are really working for (in the old pre computer printing days I would have looked for unusually professionally produced placards and nice shoes as a give away). On the very far left you do wonder how some groups have managed to produce newspapers and afforded the time and money to travel to all those protests over the years, particularly as they are supposed to be potless after the fall of the USSR. I suppose the same now goes for those posting on social media particularly on MSM sites. Surprisingly people are not aways what they appear to be.

A few weeks ago I found a copy of Socialist Worker on the bus. I went through the whole thing, wondering whether they get any advertising revenue to pay their costs. The only ad was one asking you to subscribe to Socialist Worker. Can there be enough subscribers to pay for it, I wonder? And if not, who funds it?

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Agree with all of these comments.

The standpoint that I tend to see what I watch programmes about people who have lived a life on benefits is that of self-pity. Life can never be better than this. Life is made possible by hand-outs. This can and does seem to become generational.

There are of course genuinely sad cases. For example, failed marriages, where a couple had children in full expectation of a long relationship and that turned sour despite best efforts and one of the couple (usually blamed on the man) has absconded and doesn't pay up.

The TV programmes however tend to typify those who have been able to make certain life choices on the basis of expectation of hand-outs.

Thatcher: "There is no such thing as entitlement until you have first met an obligation" or similar.

The hand-outs come from the magic money tree in the garden of 10 Downing Street (actually, it's ironic really - as that magic money tree could be called 'Quantitative Easing' so it's not an entirely invalid point). Though I believe it is possible to debate that and the benefits system separately. Leftists tend to conflate them in a "them and us" way.

The situation is never 'externalised' - nobody is actually paying for those hand-outs, so only a wicked person would put a stop to them. Wicked people should be vilified.

When I read articles in The Guardian about "taking money from poor people" e.g. the so-called 'bedroom tax' - firstly, I reject the term 'poor people' as significant or useful, because it abstracts the issue from the cause (I don't see a homogenous 'club' of 'poor people' in the way that those on the Left appear to), and secondly, with regard to that 'tax', that the people are provided with subsidised (by others) housing in the first place doesn't even figure or get any thanks.

Whenever I've engaged in these sorts of debates in the main forum in the past, I ask those who expound Left wing views: "For how long should someone be able to collect benefits? Three months? Three years? Thirty years?"

And not once have I got an answer to that.

While I agree with some of your views on benefits I am not sure what that has to do with true left wing politics. For example, Marxist Leninist states such as the USSR or Maoist China did not have welfare systems in any western sense of the term (nor Trade Unions for that matter) .

If you read the speeches written by people such as ex Communist Jimmy Reid who led the Upper Clyde ship builder sit in years ago they are all about the dignity of labour as in doing a working job no matter how humble not bidding up the value of the Brew.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/still-irresistible-a-workingclass-heros-finest-speech-2051285.html

Ending the humiliation of an existence on means tested benefits and the waste of human lives inherent in a capitalist economy was one of the things that men like Reid railed against all their lives. In fact one of the reasons he left the Labour party to join the SNP in 2005 was because he felt the Labour Party had abandoned that historic struggle in favour of managing unemployment via the welfare system and using the victims of that process as its client vote come elections, He felt that both Conservatives and Labour had essentially settled on the same solution the only difference being the relative harshness of the ways in which those involved were treated (ie the deserving and undeserving poor as per the Elizabethan model). One of the reasons the SNP did so well in the recent election was because they are claiming to offer a different solution albeit one tied to a nationalist stance which easily spills over into xenophobia against the English.

In my view the problem with the left in the UK is not that it is aggressive but that it is pathetically unheroic in its aspirations.

There are no individuals of the status of Keir Hardie , Ben Tillet or Jimmy Reid now.

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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An odd premise if based on anonymous internet postings, but assuming there's truth in it...

Doubt it's about the 'political left', it's that supporters of token centrish parties (Conservatives, Labour, Libdems, UKIP) probably have less to feel angry about. Leaving real socialists, real liberals, real libertarians, real marxists and everyone else rather more peeved.

As a fairly old-school free market adherent (Smith, Locke, Ricardo, George and other classical economists - an underlying dislike of most Statism beyond money and land; stuff that nobody worked to create) I count myself among the rather more peeved. And I think the anger's not so much about policies or disagreement with accepting public consensus, but the hypocrisy of claims by all the mainstream to uphold certain ideals they don't practice.

Due to my politics the Conservatives bother me most as it pains me to hear claims of free-market etc from an uber interventionist and favouritist State, but that doesn't preclude being bothered by them all. If that evidences itself in seemingly angry responses or opinion I think that's fair enough. If the 'left' are angrier towards Conservatives than Labour I don't know why that is.

I've noticed on this forum that criticising Government policy or views (because they're in Government) results in a barage of bland counterpoints and assumptions about political bias - by some of you guys. When that's in turn countered by pointing out a disdain for all parties the critique diminishes. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but this thread and most responses unfortunately demonstrate the same self-righteousness echo chamber nature of contemporary 'right' opinion as well as left.

Speaking bluntly, I find it hard to believe that you're all similarly small state, pro market supporters. Else why are you so bothered about what the left think, rather than completely outraged by the bastardisation of right-wing ideals into the real options available today? To me and others with similar opinions Labour/Conservatives/UKIP/Libdems are basically the same thing, and it's offensive to consider any of them left or right. Thus I find it very difficult to understand the extent of defensive party posturing - whether it's token leftism or token rightism - and therefore find it very difficult to understand the OP's point.

So although I don't adhere to socialist ideals, if their frustrations stem from a similar origin to mine I can see their point of contention, and perhaps anger.

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Some of the bile in this thread doesn't exactly paint those who disagree with them in a very good light.

At the risk of massive oversimplification you've got one group who want to do something, another who wants to stop them. The "do something" group is usually going to look, at face value, less unpleasant and aggressive ("we're not trying to stop anything!") but who is actually in the right depends upon what they want to do. And people doing things you don't like tends to raise aggressive responses.

Oh, and northshore's post is a much better analysis of it than mine.

Edited by Riedquat

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I think the problem is that the leftists define themselves as "good" people and want nice things such as fairness, equality, first rate public services etc even if the reality of their policies usually results in the exact opposite. By extension anyone who opposes them must be against fairness/equality etc and therefore an evil capitalist scumbag.

Really it's a basic lack of intelligence on the leftists part, the inability to see that there's more than one way to skin a cat, that their way of doing things might not be the best, that there isn't an infinite supply of money and that if you want good public services you need a successful economy to pay for them.

They're a bit thick really.

Would the left firebomb mosques?...and of course the likes of the BNP and the EDL are all saints, and citizens of virtue..You get idiots on the left and the right..

Edited by Dave Beans

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That's all very well, but if I was running a right wing government and every 10 years or so a load of lefties got in an put everyone on welfare, I'd be a bit pi$$ed off. We have millions of people out of work / tax credits / housing allowance. How can you operate a free market when you have these 'hostages' that the left have left behind to look after. You can't. So you have what we have.

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Interesting points. To take an example of a Green Party policy: Employment for all.

In these debates before, one of the things I've asked those with far-left views: "Do you genuinely believe that everyone really wants to play a part? To have a job? To contribute?"

This seems to be the stance from the "there ain't no jobs" brigade. I'm thinking here of Liverpool where the unemployment rate before the recession was still just as high as during it - something like 22% IIRC. I may not.

I think that self-interest always comes first and so the premise is false. If you can get other people to pay for you, then frankly, you will. That *is* the clever option. Watch any episode of Poirot to see this in action at the highest classes of society too.

So to return to my opening point - without necessity, some people won't be employed. And therefore useful full employment is impossible because it ignores human nature.

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What's the point in full employment anyway? It sounds too much like finding work for the sake of finding work. Neither the left nor the right appear to have much of a clue how to deal with that (nor does anyone else to be fair).

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What's the point in full employment anyway? It sounds too much like finding work for the sake of finding work. Neither the left nor the right appear to have much of a clue how to deal with that (nor does anyone else to be fair).

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