With a concerning upsurge in the popularity of right-wing conservative politics, the need for the Left to put up a unified front to curb what is labelled as “a significant threat to the democracies around the world” is now more than ever. However, the Leftist Discourse is engaged in a battle within itself, with its supporters divided into their stances, ideologies, and aspirations.
The complexities of many political battles could be reduced to a confrontation between two extremes of a spectrum – the Left and the Right wings. The difference between the two boils down to their core beliefs – the Leftists emphasize social equality and egalitarianism. At the same time, the Right-wingers believe that certain conservative social hierarchies must exist for a stable existence of the nation.
In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the global political paradigm, with right-wing, conservative politicians taking the front row in the seats of power. The elections of Donald Trump in the United States, Narendra Modi in India, and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil are among some of the many concerning signs highlighting the growing prominence of right-wing politics. Concerning because the patterned dots of history leading up to the present day are clear indications that right-wing supremacy is often accompanied by segregation, alienation, and oppression of the minorities – the build-up to the ultimate crime in countrywide genocides. The oppressed class constantly challenged such oppressive regimes, the majority of which identifies as Leftists, more so out of necessity than anything else. Therefore, the Leftist Discourse has always been a channel of unification to raise a collective dissent against the ruling parties. While such uprisings carried themselves with significant weightage and garnered massive attention in the past, the modern-day activists have failed to establish a common ground for the Leftists to march on.
The Left is divided into many categories – Marxism, Authoritarian Leftism, Libertarian Leftism, and plenty of other complex terms that I cannot pronounce correctly on the first try. These branches of Left-wing politics contain mere tweaks in their respective ideologies that deviate from the original concept of Leftism in terms of various factors, including the economy, governance, and so on. And that seems to be the major hurdle in the political assimilation of the Leftist Discourse – the heavy fragmentation makes it difficult for the participants to find a pragmatic approach to realizing a common goal. The ultimate concept of the Leftist Discourse was supposed to remain the same for everyone – to factor in the emphasis on equality and equity while battling systematic injustices and oppressions.
The political Left, in that sense, was a beacon of hope for the minorities and the unprivileged – the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. was the primary example. The movement successfully created a massive ripple across an entire continent, with minorities and activists working together on a common ground to achieve a common objective. And that is what modern Leftism is failing to accomplish – the fragmentation has morphed into deep divisions between different Leftist groups, spreading a kind of toxic animosity within the members of – in the grander context – the same political ideology.
It has gotten to an extent where different members of diverse Leftist groups feel a sense of superiority over their knowledge of political theories, leading to an obnoxious rise in the number of pretentious “scholars” gatekeeping and scornfully undermining those who are not well-versed with, for instance, the writings of Marx and Lenin. The trend is marked with the introduction of performative activism – where the privileged educate themselves with political theories to establish that the use of jargon on social media makes them the pioneer of the struggle against Right-wing domination. The Leftist Discourse on the internet, as a result, has been reduced to pointless debates and discussions inaccessible to the common folk – the people who are actually feeling the tremors of oppression are left alienated. This fragmented Left-wing is no match for fully-fledged right-wing supremacy, the supporters of which operate on common grounds – the simple mutual hatred towards the existence of the minorities.
This deep fragmentation of Left-wing politics has had such large-scale ramifications that the confusion has seeped beyond the common supporters of Leftism and into the very heart of the ideology. Indeed, this eternal state of confusion is reflected in how Leftist political parties continue to experiment with whatever aligns with their rigid ideology. These political parties are often subjected to much speculation when they form a coalition with centrist parties – as it is, most centrist parties are actually leaning more towards the Right-wing, making them less-than-welcome allies for the ‘champions of equality’. Other socialist parties fail to garner the support of unconventional Leftists who claim that the Capitalist economic system is the only viable option in the long run.
Thus, the political parties are subjected to extreme inspection. Leftists often measure their support of any political power by how much their respective theories align with the principles of different Leftist parties. Ideas were meant for a Utopian world; Real-life Leftists lack the desire to adopt a more pragmatic approach to activism in order to make lasting changes in a deeply resistive society. All this brings us to the root of the problem – the slight differences in ideologies divide the support for various Leftist movements and channels. The compulsion to always be on the moral high ground is the most significant fatal flaw in modern Leftism – all the ideologies are flawed to an extent, and none of the Leftist groups is holier than their counterparts. Only after the admittance of this realization a united Leftist Movement can be put forth to challenge the growing prominence of Right-wing politics.
At their core, all Leftists groups care about alleviating the issues and problems of the minorities and encouraging equality within the social and political frameworks. The fragmentation is deep but not unfixable – in the face of oppression, these minor differences are nothing but tiny hurdles in the path to collective resistance. It is as they say – united we stand; divided we fall.
Anzal Khan is a student pursuing B. Com (Honors) from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Diptarka Chatterjee