Leaning left became lately a required badge for a part of the young Romanian generation. One would say it’s a breath of fresh air, after decades of demonising left-wing politics and identifying it with the worst political sins.
Only that it’s a strange kind of Left, one whose political fight against the economic disparities turned merely into a question of social attitudes, of activism for the minorities of any kind. I can’t help but notice that it is a continuous derive to the “progressive” side until there’s no more left in it. Seeing the most discussed subjects on social networks, one would think that everybody lives in SoHo or downtown NY. The radicalism and uncompromising stamina of these young hearts took a direction that ignores the needs of most of our country’s population. In fact, the entitlement endowed by the posture of being “civilised” “atheists” “queer” “vegans” “feminists” is staggering, just as the utter contempt shown for any religious, sovereigntist or, in any other way, conservative person. There is a complete severance between this “Left” and the working class.
In a recent interview, the well-known journalist Diana Johnstone is dealing with, among other things, what’s wrong with identity politics and how this puts off any real left struggle. She speaks about Antifa here, but her words perfectly suit our dear revolutionaries.
“Once this group of people just identify themselves as anti-fascists (…nobody has given them that role) they identify themselves as “we are essentially good, and the people we don’t like are fascists, or proto-fascists, or would-be fascists, or they were leading to fascism”, and they treat other people as they were essentially that – fascists. Rather than treating other people as people who have a different point of view; and we could discuss, and define our differences, or perhaps find ways to deal with them. It’s very essentialist that one group feels it has a vocation to eliminate others.
They have been extremely harmful to left movements everywhere. Most recently they’ve been harmful to the yellow vest movement in France by going in in groups to see who is not properly on the left and chase them out physically. At a time when you should be bringing people together against the tyranny of financial capital which is determining everything, which has taken away our democracy, when you should be bringing ordinary people together, to talk how in the world do we get out of this situation, how do we restore democracy, how do we accomplish things – instead, you have this group going around and saying “they’re not pure enough, get out!”
It’s absolutely catastrophic. There’s no thought there at all, there’s no analysis, they don’t have any positive program for anything, and that means what they are in fact doing is they’re acting as a thought police of the system. Because they don’t attack the real powers, they attack marginals, people who do not have power, they are simply the stormtroopers of the system. That’s not what they think they are but that’s what they are.
It’s all about spectacle. They don’t organize, they don’t educate, they don’t have a vision. They’re also a gift to the security and surveillance state because they allow the security and surveillance state to demonize the left and make people frightened of it.”
If I’m not an enthusiast of identity politics in general, I must say that what’s happening in my country is, as always, a caricature of the Western tendencies.
For example, I attach a translation of the “About us” section of the “Community of Romanian Queer Vegans” Facebook page.
It doesn’t sound well, obviously, but not because of a faulty translation. In Romanian, it sounds even worse, as the “concepts”, and even whole phrases were taken from English, and fit Romanian language or Romanian realities as a saddle suits a sow (to use an “oppressive language” for which I’d be instantly expelled from some precious communities). The plural in “x” is unpronounceable, but ideology is stronger than a language’s internal mechanisms. This newspeak is a fierce competitor, in attractiveness, of the communist langue-de-bois.
Web pages as https://antispeciesistaction.com/blog or http://www.consistentantioppression.com have a partially similar content, and have possibly inspired our vegan queer enthusiasts. The Romanian counterpart bettered the content by adding some more “progressivism”, and forced it into a language most of whose popular expressions and sayings come from the realities of a rural life.
I loved that being pro Palestine was a must, the declaration being squeezed between being pro polyamory and pro body positivity. Very edgy! Great positioning! Good asset in a progressist CV.
The funniest part is however, for me, that some of these “radicalx” are part of the “Romanian Communist Party (Maoist)” (sic!) I am deeply convinced Mao’s legacy goes straight into veganism and identity politics. I can imagine him starting his speeches by addressing his comrades with “My dear human animals!”