Line up, y'all

By Michael J. Smith on Monday June 4, 2012 05:46 PM

Some fallout from a recent discussion of crypto-liberalism on the Left got me thinking, not for the first time, about the way many of my fellow Lefties seem to see the world. It's literally one-dimensional, for them, like the number line. There are Righties whose sign is positive, Lefties whose sign is negative, and a less than infinitesimal zero at the center(*).

Everybody has a position on the line, and A's position is either to the right of B's or to the left. A red-hot Trotskyite -- let's say, one of the one members of the Projectile Tendency -- is well to the left of a liberal, but even farther to the left of some poor schmuck who doesn't believe in evolution.

Since this is a one-dimensional world, it follows that liberals lie between Comrade Projectile and Mr Schmuck, and if Mr Schmuck could be nudged a little closer to being a liberal -- if he could be sent to a camp and made to believe in evolution, for example -- well, that would be a good thing, wouldn't it? The center of gravity would have shifted a bit closer to Comrade Projectile. Revolution would then be more likely. Or less unlikely, at any rate.

There's a not-quite-logical, but very compelling lemma: If Mr Schmuck remains obdurate about evolution, then revolution is impossible. I give up. These people are so fucking stupid. Pearls before swine.


(*) There's something to be said for that part, I admit.

Comments (42)

If you didn't learn the value of evolution while getting the briefest, most cursory explanation in school while being raised in a family of Christians, with whom you spend the most time, well obviously you are an irredeemable idiot of epic proportions. Revolution? Why you can't even be trusted to cut coupons!

In reality, Left and Right are at right angles to each other (or left angles, if you insist). Imaginary Left is the opposite pole of Right and imaginary Right is the opposite pole of Left. Nobody lives there. Liberals and Trots are scattered around the diagram like so many near-miss bullet holes on a target.

Meanwhile, politics has nothing to do with the chart.


Two dimensions is a good start. How about six?

In 1980, having come to see that college teaching was becoming a useless endeavor (but still needing a paycheck, so I didn't quit), I started teaching workers in Johnstown, PA. Mostly steelworkers at first, but as the mills closed, all sorts of workers. They had all kinds of beliefs with which I strongly disagreed. Some were racists, some were fanatic patriots, some hated teacher strikes, most were fervently anticommunist, many were, I am pretty certain, opposed to abortion, most were strongly religious, and so forth. No doubt, a fair number didn't believe in evolution, though I never asked. When it mattered, I would challenge them on their beliefs, say if racism reared its ugly head or US imperialism was defended. We'd discuss things, and hopefully by the end of the class, they at least were willing to entertain a different perspective. What united us and allowed the class to proceed in relative harmony was that they hated their bosses and I hated mine. I hated all bosses. I'd listen to their hatred, and we'd build on it, slowly but surely,moving outward from their workplaces, to the government, to the schools that had shortchanged them, to race and gender, even religion sometimes (they always loved that rich man and the eye of the needle story, and salvation by acts not faith alone). My liberal colleagues at college thought themselves above my rabble students, who often wrote and spoke roughly and who had probably never read The Emperor of Ice Cream or listened to Charles Ives. I never could get any of them to teach a class. And on various mailing lists, when I suggest that leftwingers ought to teach workers, I am always met with silence. Better to thumb your nose at the masses and harp about the barbarians at the gate.


Teaching is a dangerous occupation. If you do it seriously, it puts you in grave peril of learning.

That's a terrific anecdote MY. I've found that the less schooled are usually much more receptive to arguments based on sound morals and rather more perceptive to injustice than those of the educated classes. It makes sense since those that spent the most time chasing grades have been taught to look to an authority for verification of their thoughts. Church is usually once a week, school is a full time indoctrination program.

Fuck, no edit function! I hate this blog!

I would have liked to have removed 'classes' in 'educated classes' because I know a lot of people of education who are closer class wise to the workers referenced than they are to the classes they actually identify with. Another function of this wonderful education system.


And you get some rather mixed messages in church. The last shall be first, and the first last. Every Sunday evening in my little church, when I was a boy soprano, we sang the Magnificat: He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.

That's a good point, MJS. I know I developed a lot of my concern for others or whatever you would call it from what I learned about Jesus in Catholic school. He always seemed like a pretty righteous dude.

I see it this way, Mr. Smith: I prefer the company of the seizers of Munster (along with all their leveler, ranter and Rebeccah kin), to the good institutionalist liberal with his placid faith in the moral value of royal science.


There is still the odd practitioner of science who is capable of opposing both pedantic ivory tower types and also not joining what Michael Albert calls the "coordinator class" in service of the 1%.


Speaking of one-dimensional crypto-liberal "leftists", I noticed that the Junior Woodchucks at The Exiled have recently started bashing Obots and the Democratic Party (even though their site content previously hadn't been all that different from Media Matters since Obama took the oath of office). They're still wasting time attacking libertarians who can't even win local elections, though.


MJS, as a fellow former boy soprano, I of course must point out one of those lessons in Acts where they said the early Christians gave up ownership of all their possessions, shared everything, and took care of the neediest among them. Marxier than Marx. I mean it is right there in the Good Book, no mincing of words, no ambiguity. I guess some revolutionary thoughts did seep in during all those Sundays cramped in the chancel. And of course, in my experience anyway, in Brooklyn, NY back in the day, no one was more irreverent than us angelic choristers.

Come to think of it, in my neighborhood Episcopal church anyway, the messages were hardly mixed at all.


Acts 2:45

Peter Ward:

Apart from--but in some ways related to--the fallacy of treating political belief as a spectrum, tending toward opposite poles, is the tendency of assuming action is governed by philosophy.* Which it almost never is. The Good Book says give to the poor, the church enriches priests; the state promises to give power to the people while robbing the people of their power; corporations laud the inherent efficiency while stifling productivity with bureaucratic inanity. Philosophy--or theory, if you like--seems completely detached from, and irrelevant to, institutional operations.


On the other hand, pointing out such patent facts--cliches, really--seems to have as much effect as showing a cray person proof he or she is crazy. If we're not just intractably insane as a species; because as bat shit as our ideas are, it's our deeds where the shit really hits the fan, perhaps the emphasis on philosophy--on the academic--is where we keep going wrong--we need to focus on how to act rationally... if we can.

*(The prolific) examples to the contrary, it's explained, are caused by corruption. A bad gene. A mutation that fucks up the system.

If the Russian revolution is any indication, a people's ability to revolt is not a function of either their formal education or of their belief in evolution.

A people's ability to revolt is a function of their ability to revolt.

I once posited a circle. Sandwichman's diagram has been thought provoking. I now posit a sphere.

MJS: I reckon that extra-spatial dimensions correlate with more perplexing aspects of reality (to which the category of this discussion doesn't quite apply). That is, all of our petty socio-politics is hardly worthy of anything better than a nauseating 3D production.

Peter Ward for the win. I never met someone who could both (a) understand Hegel and discuss him like he wrote anything but mystico-voodoo claptrap and (b) talk to the average person about her real work conditions.


Let's just blame the French for the political spectrum? That always works in America.


You're giving your ignorance too much credit

And as an autodidact isolated from challenge you'd recognize as such
Self satisfied

It's garbage and indeed alpha wolf gab age to suggest
the egg head and the salt can't talk

Or that the egg head with practice can 't communicate with the salt

Suggesting there's a win in this reveals your intentions your motivations

You are indeed a bad influence on yourself


Only those easily hooked by a battered
marginalized self romanticizing isolate

Quixote ?

he never lost is humanity
You exchanged it long ago for a cankerous self glorification

That however only brings out the compassion in me

You need to humble yourself go to a class taught by a woman and admit your ignorance
Even if it's only ignorance of bourgeois economics or chemistry

Philosphy ?

No that's an intoxicant your mind needs a gym class

Not at all, op. I just don't confuse academic mumbo jumbo with solid language. Academic jargon exists to preserve academic jobs. That's all fine and well for those who need their jobs preserved - but "philosophy" is garbage.

And the last thing I or anyone else need is a class taught to us like we're fucking children. Not that I'm too surprised that an academic would see that as the solution to the problem presented by the existence of academia as an Enclosed space...


I have no problem I must confess with lining affinity groups up from left to right

But it surely is just a rough moment to moment
Useful simply to give e eryone a seat with ones likenesses in the assembly
Of all
So the groups feel each other at the elbow and a voice can be located
in position space so to speak

No worse then a random seat assignment
And often better

I guess one has to experience such an iterative convocation
In practice to get the gist of it

Left in form right in essence
And the unspoken right in form left in essence
Suggests the utter uselessness on the one d axis
Hardly improved by the liberals fringe circle with the liberal never in orbit but always at the vital center

The fringe orbits around and around

No I guess thebliberal paradigm is more like a movement toward one extreme
Continued long enough can put you at the other

Too much left is right too much right is left

And yet fringe types feeling an increased force pushing them away from the vital center can't travel so far right the endbup approaching the center from the left


P Yates
See if you can locate a community college in the fuck you state of granite heads
Where captain crow peer of The misfits
Can learn about chemical bonds


Jc are a child

And submission to a benign authority would do your soul much good

The bible served this purpose out of the mouths of those invested
with the holy spirit

Science is a holy spirit even if often traduced by demonic impostors and
Nasty power freaks

As to jargon as barrier to entry

In my field that barrier is math at about the third year engineer level

Calculus as Latin for the mundane contempo clericy
however that's spelt

Try it
There's no party worth a hang so try it where it at least has indifferent politick impact


Here's an unforced complement

Milton's Satan is indeed a seductive model for self placement in the cosmos

But I think Johnny had it's final import just about right
The venerable cox of lbo shit list
has a nice paper on this he linked me to


Jc if you used your clever sly brain
trying to get at the intent of others words
As you do trying to refute them
Maybe you might get the knack of co operation
And dialogue
Not just self assertion and lone wolf rally poliing
U and our dear flunutz
make a beautiful unmatched set of dueling pistols

But not all engagements are about dueling eh ?

And I hasten to add
Flug is ten fold more endearing
You are like a stray dog that bites a gently extended hand

Takes an uncommon human spirit to draw such a critter near

That's a lotta glossolalia, in paternal and patronizing tones, dished out for a "philosophy is bunk" type reply, Owen.

Too funny, given the thread in question. I'm grateful for the entertainment.


Irony is beyond your savory glands crow
You ate a mad dog
Become and Englishman
U can still stubbornly sweat on
in the noon day sun

Speaking in tongues by the way is scoffed at by fools and demons alike

Again try to understand before u bite

I wish I were less of a biting alpha myself
Hence my suggestion you bow the neck
K to a female teacher
I want to cure the disease not kill the patient
But I'm a unrecovered doc benway at heart


Irony is beyond your savory glands crow
You ate a mad dog
Become and Englishman
U can still stubbornly sweat on
in the noon day sun

Speaking in tongues by the way is scoffed at by fools and demons alike

Again try to understand before u bite

I wish I were less of a biting alpha myself
Hence my suggestion you bow the neck
K to a female teacher
I want to cure the disease not kill the patient

Indeed physician heal thyself all too obviously applies to me

A little more self criticism and less plain other criticism is in order for me
Most of all

Alas I must free you of one illusion
I am not now nor have I ever been
or wanted to be
an academic

I went from grad school pink boho straight to running a family retail business
Without a hiccup

Fortunately after twenty years I managed to run the fucker into the ground
Just before the year of 9/11

I was liberated to return to my boho ways
Ways quite suited to my disposition if not my So's

But I'm a unrecovered doc benway at heart

It's amusing that yet again a pony boy Leninist in his ivory tower thinks the most appropriate response to an anarchist is that who should get himself a boss...


No Jack
I think you need to play omega wolf for a while
I chose a female alpha so you wouldn't get mounted

That I suspect already happened in your nightmares if not in reality
I speak metaphorically here of course

Ivory cellar btw
I work as a cashier ..when sears gives me the hours


Anarchist by diabolic inner compulsion

Is not convincing as exemplary activity

You are too much the marginalized alpha

My guess you find it hard to follow anyone besides yourself
Was dad that big a bastard


I have your number crow

Its not that hard to profile you at least on the level of
Behavioural boundaries

You oughta repast some of your tough guy burglar shit here
Won't go down like it does at the arm pit of the crow or whatever
that cult of personality site of yours amounts to


Ya I love you but you are in need of a shampoo

Go get one ...make it an act of self kindness


Oh Christ. Here we go again. How I hate these pissing matches.

Take it up with your compadre, MJS. I agree with the sentiments expressed by six other people, and he wastes two thousand words suggesting that what I need is to be bossed and mounted...



You dah boss I sign off here

despite the suggestion I'm simply peeing for sport

The trophy would motivate me in this case

Ahem... cough cough. /awkward silence

Hey, speaking of pissing matches, I heard they've got one going in Wisconsin today.


As do many of you, I know many people at various points on that line. The more "conservative" among them want decent public schools for their kids (what decent means, another topic), paved roads or safe and smooth mass transit to work; they don't want their parents to be rendered destitute by health bills; they seem to be enamoured of capitalism and even The Rich in the abstract, but think actual capitalists they work for are heartless idiots who don't know what they're doing and would kick them to the curb in two seconds, without a second thought.

Some work in the public sector, like a very hawkish, somehwhat racist "conservative" doctor friend who toils in an inner city hospital. He wants more staff, more time off....and single payer insurance.

Most of the "conservatives" I know have become completely disillusioned by imperial adventurism (though they don't use that term, and some wouldn't know what it means), and are in no hurry to bomb Iran or "intervene in Syria," etc.

A general observation, related to above. Many "conservatives" I know are nominally hawkish and "small govt" at the national level, but operationally lefty at the local level.

As to the "liberals": they want most of the things above that the conservatives want, but they think the conservatives are idiots, and also think anyone in Washington with a D after their name will give them all of these things.

Just a couple of things from the Ironic Paradox Department:

In my high-school history and civics classes, I wasn't taught jack shit about the US labor movements; it wasn't until I entered college -- that useless credentialing mill that Fadduh Smiff so deeply loathes -- that I was taught anything at all about the likes of Debs, Gompers, Emma Goldman, Sacco & Vanzetti, Joe Hill, or the Wobblies, or about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, or the Haymarket riots. Ironically, if it weren't for the work and sacrifices of my Dad, a scruffy, trash-talking old working-class guy, I wouldn't have been able to go to college and learn about the history of the US labor movement.

Back in April of '00, when I was working on the IMF/World Bank mobe, I was covering the "big march" for the DC IMC. One of the most inspiring things I saw there was several thousand steelworkers who came down from Pennsylvania for the march. It was really weird, in a way -- thousands of guys in t-shirts, blue jeans, windbreakers, baseball caps and boots, like seeing two thousand clones of my late father (Dad was a JFK Democrat and a union man of the old school, whose summer job in high school was at a railroad car plant in Greenville, about an hour out of Pittsburgh, and who dropped out of high school to join the Army at 17)... and, like my Dad, I likely didn't agree with most of these guys on a lot of things except for our dislike for The Bosses™. The Seattle uprising was still fresh in my memory, especially the stories of how the Steelworkers joined the anarchists in breaking away from the permitted march to blockade intersections and confront the police. I was never more thrilled to see a huge-assed bunch of scruffy, PBR-drinking, high-school-educated at the most, hard-boiled blue-collar guys after all those months of sitting in organizing meetings with effete college-degreed progressive nonprofit think-tank types who couldn't quit scratching their heads over why a bunch of bottled-water-drinking, organic-produce-eating vegan progressives was having so goddamn' much trouble organizing the working class.

This here is a two-dimensional game. The axes are economic authoritarian vs. libertarian and economic collectivism vs. individualism, basically.

There are sections where you can see various historical personages plotted. Take a quiz and you too get to be a point on the chart.


Mike F: I don't think you were taught that stuff. I think you learned it. There is good to be had out of colleges if you follow your own nose, as it seems you did. I did too, and so I have some rather fond personal memories; though I think the institutions themselves are constantly trying to foreclose that option.

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