Saturday, January 06, 2007

Lies And Exaggeration

Cynics say that left and right are the same, both a bunch of liars. Not really true, I say. Yes, there are left-wingers who can be dishonest – usually while on their way to a career on the right, and there are some honest conservatives, but I am referring to the general tendency. You see, the right-winger starts off at a distinct disadvantage. Exploitation, oppression and imperialist wars really do exist and it becomes well neigh impossible to deny their existence. Furthermore, unless one goes all the way over to out and out fascism, exploitation, oppression and imperialism are decidedly a-moral. The corporate state system that the right winger loves and admires continually produces these amoral products, indeed, as the left will point out, is based upon them. All the left need do is report the facts of the situation, nothing else.

These facts place the right in the same position as a child caught with its hand in the cookie jar – blubbering a whole lot of weak excuses. In order to see themselves as moral, rightists have to disguise or white wash these facts. Not to do so means admitting the truth and then one would be forced to adjust one's practices accordingly. But disguising reality is not enough, in order to see oneself as morally superior, rightists must degrade and besmirch the left. The left has to be converted into a gruesome tapestry of monsters against which the whitewashed corporate system and its ideological standard bearers stand sharp and clear in all their virtuous finery.

To degrade the left it must lie. (It is hard otherwise to knock people who are against exploitation, oppression and war.) The right has systematically told lies about the left ever since the notion of right vs. left came to be 220 years ago. These lies are repeated from generation to generation, as though they lack sufficient imagination to create new ones. Sometimes the names are changed but the falsehood is the same. Pacifists in WW1 were called “pro-German”, in the Cold War, “communist” and in the Iraq war, “Saddam-lovers”. Often the lies are identical to the originals. The US women's emancipation movement of 1850 was sneered at as being a group of women who “want to be like men”, and are “unattractive and hence bitter against men.” I read this nonsense in the 1970's attacks on feminism. Unrest is still the work of “outside agitators” and counter-cultural groups all the way back to the 1840's Bohemians, are castigated as criminals, drug addicts and sex perverts. Some of the most courageous and ethical individuals are demonized. Victoria Woodhull, pioneer socialist and feminist was re-named “Mrs. Satan.” Emma Goldman, Gandhi, M.L. King all suffered at the hands of right-wing mud throwers during their time upon this earth. Those demonized today have names like Chavez, Sheehan, and Moore.

I have a personal recollection on the criminalization of leftists. Back in 1965, I was involved in a sit-down in front of the gates of the Comox Air Base as a protest against nuclear weapons. I knew one of the airmen and he criticized me for hanging out with nuts, commies and criminals and pointed at one person in our group. “See that guy there, he is a known criminal!” The person in question being Scott Lawrence, a Vancouver poet and one of the least criminal people on the planet.

And what about the left? Yes, a minority of the left, now almost extinct thankfully, did engage in systematic lies. These lies and vilification were not aimed at the right, but other leftists. Stalinists engaged in a campaign of slander and lies against the Trotskyists and anarchists that would turn Ann Coulter green with envy. They also engaged in a cover-up campaign for Stalin's monstrous crimes. Anyone who brought up the Ukrainian famine or the purges was attacked as a Gestapo agent. (Once again Ms. Coulter is green with envy) But the Stalinist Communist Party DID NOT lie about the dangers of fascism, lynching in the South, the need to support the workers against the Black Legion attacks etc. All the CP had to do was report the evils of the system.

However, the left has exaggerated, and may still do, for all I know. The great bout of exaggeration occurred in the early 1990's with “political correctness”. But the PC era seems to have passed, and indeed, its incidence was largely exaggerated by the right anyway. The left has no need to stretch the truth. The truth is horrible enough as it is.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooo. Victoria Woodhull. I love her--recently had a conversation with her on my blog. Please read:

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Very insightful. As an added observation on PC, I have often found that, while originally meant to be inclusive, polite and respectful, all things PC were co-opted by the right and taken to extremes. They took them to ridiculous extremes in order to sabotage and undermine the original intent. Often this was done as a conscious effort.

So much so that PC is now a pejorative, when once it was a compliment.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Joyce, thank you for sending your blog. Really enjoyed your talk with Vicki (and your articles on all the other Bad Girls. Or as I might say , "Don't be sad, be bad!"

Mike, What you say is true. Much of the original intent was to be inclusive, and in retrospect, I am sure the right did consciously blow up every litle asspect of PC in order to attack the left.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Ian Snaith said...

The excellent Caitlin Moran in her book "How To Be Woman" argues that political correctness is what was formerly known a politeness. I tend to agree and that rather undermines the right wing critique of it....

7:19 AM  

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