Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stop using "socialist" and "left wing" as an insult

Maybe it is just me, but it seems that some people like to use these terms as insults. Actually, they do something worse than this - they use these terms to correctly associate the political perspective that raises certain ideas, but do this in a sneering way, as if being a socialist was something you would only admit to under duress.

I had written the idea for this before Tony Benn died, but he was someone who epitomised what actually being a thinking, committed socialist was about. It is not something to be ashamed of, but a political position that has at least as much credibility as any other. You may not have agreed with Tony, but nobody would say he was anything other than a very committed left-wing thinker. He expounded his views with politeness and consideration.

But I have heard too many people who use these terms to represent weakness, soppy libertarianism, pandering to the weak and the lazy, a push over for a sob story. Of course this is not who we want to be, we want to be on the side of the strong, the powerful, the influential, the important.

Like Jesus?

The thing is, it is far too easy to argue that Jesus conformed to your particular political position. In truth, he was not a socialist, because the term had not been invented then. But he did care for the underprivileged, the poor, the weak, those who society - often religious society - had abandoned. He was all for the downtrodden, the oppressed, those who society wanted nothing to do with. He did also associate with those who were rich and wealthy, but he would also challenge and confront them. He associated with the downtrodden, but also confronted and challenged them.

Now there are some people on the left wing of politics who are weak, pathetic push overs for sob stories. There are also those on the right wing of politics who are weak, pathetic push overs for money and influence. That does not make either of them right or wrong.

The think is, using these terms in a derogatory way demeans you. I would identify as a socialist, but that is not all about me, and I would not necessarily consider myself a good socialist. I am sure that others would also consider me a bad socialist.

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