Sunday, August 1, 2010

The paralyzing struggle over purpose in the northern left

Posted by Adam Davidson-Harden
Canadian Dimension

Those who embrace the moniker of the ‘left’ in the richer, northern countries acknowledge that a host of issues and struggles play into its definition. While the labour movement embodies the core of what is conventionally understood as the left, the 20th and early 21st century has seen a blossoming of movements that have brought critical issues together in a mindset that cherishes principles of deep egalitarianism, substantive democratization, cultural diversity (respecting human rights), expansive and well-protected civil rights and freedoms, and increasingly, sustainability and ecological justice.

 Both the terms ‘social justice’ and ‘global justice’ hint at the passion which drives many who self-identify as being ‘on the left’, to work to advance and enact politics which can help steer the world onto a sustainable course by remedying both the terrifying inequality and deprivation, as well as the severe ecological impacts that attend our standard economic way of doing things in the north.
Read more here.


  1. I was frankly surprised and disappointed to see you aiding in the spread of this right-wing social-democratic nonsense. It's bad enough that Canadian Dimension acts as an enabler for this academic twit, but I had expected better of you.

    His message is simple: there are two kinds of leftists in the "richer, northern countries" - the "electoral left" and the "state-hating" left. The electoral left advances "left values and visions within the apparatus of the state" and the "state-hating" left goes around smashing things because it makes them feel good.

    Seriously. That's the level of sophistication that this Professor displays: The good leftists love the capitalist state and recognize that it is there to protect them and see to their needs. The bad leftists hate the state, and ipso facto support violent tactics against it.

    It's a position devoid of any historical context or understanding of the function of the state as an instrument of class rule. In fact, it has nothing in common with any kind of class analysis at all. Its sole purpose is to buttress and justify the author's unwavering adherence to pacifism and surrender in the face of violent oppression by the state.

  2. Jeff, you're right to identify the fact that I pose a critique of what I call the 'state-hating left'. To assert that I attempt to carve the left in Canada into two camps - state-hating and electoral, is misleading, however. I critique the state-hating left to suggest that its modus operandi and thinking are futile and destructive for the left overall, but of course there are many left activists who don't hate the state, but aren't necessarily 'organically' connected to the electoral left (I would identify myself as one of these, in fact..). This much goes without saying - there's a lot of diversity on the left. But I stand by my critique of the 'state-hating' sections...