Último Reducto regards as “leftism” any current or social tendency that is based on the following values: equality, indiscriminate solidarity, compassion toward alleged groups of alleged victims (with these or other names as “social justice,” “cooperation,” “brotherhood,” “universal love,” “peace,” etc.).3
In general, the concept of leftism includes almost any ostensibly critical current that in reality doesn’t try to combat modern society, but to “improve it.”4 Leftism, usually, does not try to end techno-industrial society, but only tries to make it meet the above values. That is, (more) “justice,” (more) “equality,” (more) “solidarity,” etc. However, there are also radical leftisms that say they try to combat the system (normally adding the adjective “capitalistic” and/or “patriarchal”), always doing so on the basis of those values.
Leftism includes, in general, that which is usually understood as the left, but not only this. The concept of “the left” is usually almost synonymous with socialism (in almost all its versions -including libertarian or anarchist ones-), but there are also non-socialist “leftisms” (for example, all the currents and humanitarian initiatives derived exclusively from philosophical liberalism or from Christian philanthropy -certain foundations, certain charitable organizations, some missions, etc.-). In fact, at least some of the fundamental values and ideals of the greater part of what is today called “the right” are basically the same as those of what is called “the left.”
Leftism, in particular, includes all the struggles and initiatives, governmental or otherwise, for the equality and the rights of alleged groups of the so-called “oppressed” (“anti-patriarchalism” in general and feminism in particular, gay “liberation,” anti-racism, solidarity with immigrants, helping the poor, initiatives for the social integration of the marginalized and excluded, defense of the working-class, of the unemployed, of the disabled, of the animals, etc.), in favor of development (“sustainable,” they tend to add), of justice, of peace, of “freedoms” and “rights” and of democracy in general (struggles for the redistribution of wealth, currents favorable to the “normalization” of drugs or “sexual liberation,” anti-militarism, pacifism, social “ecology” -that current of so-called environmentalists who focus primarily on purely social matters, prioritizing them over real ecological problems- and environmentalism -those currents whose real function is to maintain an environment habitable enough so the human population can continue successfully fulfilling the demands of techno-industrial society-, anti-capitalism, etc.). It includes, then, all the practices of those things described as “social movements,” “anti-establishment,” “adversarial,” “counter-cultural,” etc. as well as the vast majority of NGOs, and any initiative, official or not, based on promoting equality, (indiscriminate) solidarity and the defense of alleged victims and helpless people (which today includes a good part of the activities of governments and institutions).
It is usually believed that “progressivism” and “leftism” are synonymous, and certainly this is usually the case, but not always. If the idea of progress5 that progressivism defends is based on the increase of equality, solidarity (beyond the natural social reference group constituted by close friends or relatives) and defense of supposed victims and helpless people, which is usually precisely the notion of progress in almost all of contemporary progressivism, then this progressivism is leftism. But not all progressivism has this humanitarian idea of progress: nineteenth-century colonialism, for example, used for the justification of its atrocities another, less “delicate” idea of progress, not compatible with leftist progressivism.
On the other hand, although leftism is usually openly progressivist, there are also minority leftist currents ostensibly contrary to progress, i.e., ostensibly not progressives.6
Nowadays, and for at least a decade,7 the dominant ideology in techno-industrial society is leftist. Institutions and the mass media are based on the fundamental leftist values of equality, (indiscriminate) solidarity and victimism, and they transmit and put into practice these values, supporting and encouraging proposals that were formerly defended exclusively by minority sectors (the left wing of a few years ago). It is enough to observe institutional propaganda, the news, mass forms of entertainment and art, etc., to notice it. As a result, the general population has more or less assumed the leftist values of this propaganda.
Nevertheless, many people are sure that these leftist values are, not only a minority view, but also contrary to those of modern society, which they consider unsupportive or a promoter of inequality. This belief is itself a fundamental part of leftism, justifying and promoting it.
All who really want to aspire to effectively combat the techno-industrial system should reject leftism, because:
- Equality and solidarity with individuals and groups who are not close friends or family, and helping alleged victims and helpless people, is essential to avoid conflicts, tensions and anti-social behaviors contrary to the efficient functioning of the social machinery. These values are necessary for the maintenance of the cohesion of techno-industrial society and to avoid its disintegration and disorganization. By assuming them as their own and promoting them, leftists help the system.
- Leftism is based, therefore, on values that are essential for techno-industrial society. As a result, what leftism questions is not the system itself, but only the instances during which, according to leftists, the system does not sufficiently live up to its values and therefore pursue the ends they imply. So, the effect of leftism is not the end of the system, but the “perfection of it,” so that it will run more efficiently. Consequently, leftism is inevitably reformist and never really revolutionary. When leftism does not recognize itself as reformist and presents itself as “revolutionary,” it is pseudo-revolutionary (which is common in the more radical forms of leftism).
- Leftism is a mechanism of alarm, auto-repair, auto-maintenance, and auto-catalysis for the functioning and development of the techno-industrial system. With its pseudo-critique, leftism acts as an alarm mechanism that points out the weak points, the contradictions, the limits, the failures, etc., of the system. And with its proposals favors its repair and readjustment, promoting “improvements” or, at least, palliatives, actions that serve to reduce the social, psychological and ecological tensions that can hinder the maintenance, functioning and development of techno-industrial society. Leftism lubricates the social machinery instead of destroying it.
- With its proposals, activism, groups, environments, aesthetic, paraphernalia, ideology, etc., seemingly critical, combative, rebellious and radical, it offers artificial substitutes, innocuous to techno-industrial society, for certain tendencies and natural human psychological needs incompatible with the maintenance and development of the system (for example, it replaces the natural human sociability that demands, in order to be fully satisfied, that groups social groups are small-scale -groups in which all members are able to meet and interact directly with each other-, with the feeling of belonging to large organizations and/or to leftist environments and subgroups). It also redirects and makes harmless for the system certain impulses and reactions which, if expressed spontaneously, may be harmful or even destructive for the structure and functioning of techno-industrial society (for example, leftist activism serves to relieve the hostility caused by chronic frustration generated by the techno-industrial way of life, so that it will not really and seriously damage the functioning and structure of the system). Thus, leftism, with its proposals, offers to individuals a false illusion that embracing it will lead to acting naturally and freely within techno-industrial society, and with its practices it offers them the impression, no less false, of being rebels. It functions, therefore, also as a psychological escape valve for the system.
- Moreover, because of its role as a psychological escape valve and its appearance, often, of being pseudo-critical and pseudo-revolutionary, leftism acts as a trap that attracts truly critical and potentially revolutionary people and groups, incapacitating them and transforming them into leftists in turn. Leftist environments and currents make use of politically-correct oversocialization (taboos and dogmas) to imprison within its leftist ideological and psychological frames the natural, original, and potentially revolutionary ideas, values, motivations, ends, etc., of many of those that contact them. This way, those who independently come to feel unhappy with what techno-industrial society is doing with the non-artificial world and with human nature, in their attempt to contact others with similar concerns, often approach leftist currents, environments, and groups, since these appear to be critical. Many become unconsciously and psychologically trapped by these environments, having established affinities and social-emotional ties with them, negating the people’s capacity for response and criticism, and, just so, to a greater or lesser extent, tacitly or explicitly, and willingly or reluctantly, having them abandon and sideline their own values and original attitudes and adopt leftist values, dogmas, taboos, discourses, theories, and (sub)culture. And it also works in the opposite sense: when there are struggles, environments, currents, theories or initiatives critical of techno-industrial society, foreign to or little related to leftism in principle, many leftists (especially the more pseudo-radical type) usually feel attracted to them, invade the critical environments and struggles, originally outside of leftism, and/or adopt their discourses as their own, distorting them to ensure that they conform to the theories and basic values of leftists, resulting in the conversion to leftism of these struggles or initiatives that were originally not leftist initiatives, and thus their deactivation as potentially revolutionary struggles. Leftism, therefore, also acts as a self-defense mechanism to cancel out rebellious, dysfunctional and potentially dangerous to the system impulses, initiatives and attitudes, and to utilize them (by way of psychological and ideological “jujitsu”) in favor of industrial society, integrating them into leftist environments and currents.
- Leftism is a result of alienation, of psychological weakness and illness, often caused by the conditions of life inherent to techno-industrial society. Modern technology denies individuals the possibility of developing and satisfying fully and autonomously their natural behavioral tendencies, abilities, and needs, i.e., their liberty, inhibiting and perverting the expression of their nature. It totally deprives them of the ability to exercise control over the conditions that affect their own lives and it violates their dignity by turning them into beings that are helpless and completely dependent on the system. It forces them to live in unnatural conditions for which they are not biologically prepared (noise, high population density, fast pace of life, rapid change in the environment, hyper-artificial environments, etc.). It regulates and restricts their natural behavior in many respects. All of this creates psychological distress in many individuals (low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority, boredom, frustration, depression, anxiety, anger, emptiness, etc.). And that discomfort is expressed in the form of victimism, hedonism, hostility, etc. These feelings and attitudes are common in techno-industrial society and give rise to various unnatural behaviors. Leftism is one of these behaviors. Their core values are inspired by feelings of inferiority, and many of its theories, discourses and activities are motivated by a lack of self-confidence, hostility, and boredom. And since leftism in reality favors the development of techno-industrial society, it acts as a feedback mechanism for alienation and, with it, for itself.8
- Leftist values are contrary to reality, to reason, to truth and to Nature (human or otherwise). In many cases this is the effect of the alienation inherent in techno-industrial society in general, and in leftism in particular, and at the same time acts as a feedback mechanism for them. The majority of leftist theories are logically, empirically and philosophically absurd. And basic leftist theory and values, as well as some others that tend to be associated with leftism, are, at best, perversions of natural and correct values (for example, indiscriminate solidarity is a collectivist adulteration of natural solidarity between friends and family), and, at worst, mere nonsense (relativism, for example). Leftism necessitates, therefore, that facts be distorted to fit its theories and its values.
- Leftism is a threat to the autonomy of wild Nature, including true human freedom. By placing equality, indiscriminate solidarity or the defense of victims above all other values, it neglects, or even despises the autonomy of the non-artificial -because, in fact, it is incompatible with these basic leftist values.
Conclusion: [This point is especially aimed at all those who would like to do something to try to really end the techno-industrial system but, because they feel a genuine and justified rejection of leftism, they prove to correctly be very suspicious of the majority of currents ostensibly critical of the current techno-industrial society].
How must one act with respect to leftism?
- Criticize it, revealing what it really is: a deception, a trap, a mechanism to perpetuate and grow more easily and efficiently the system itself, a poor substitute for real rebellion and the crazy result of unnatural conditions inherent to modern life.But without said criticism becoming a goal in itself. It must only be a means, a practical requirement, essential nowadays, to try to achieve a much more important goal: to eliminate the techno-industrial system and to put an end to the subjugation of wild Nature -internal and external to human beings- that this inevitably entails.
- Avoid falling into the trap. Try to maintain a strict separation from leftism, its influences, its environments, its values, theories and speech. And, vice versa, keep leftism away from us; try so that our values, theories and speeches are not absorbed, perverted or disabled by leftism.9
- Do not be ashamed to have values and ideas that are not leftist. Do not allow the oversocializing10 reactions, the dogmas and the taboos of the politically correct leftists influence us. This in turn will help keep leftist away from our theories, speech, and environments, of our struggle, avoiding their harmful influence.
- Create and spread an ideology truly critical, non-leftist, truly revolutionary and contrary to the techno-industrial system, to civilization, and to all forms of social systems that unavoidably undermine the autonomy of the functioning of non-artificial systems.
- Perhaps “leftism” is not the most appropriate term to express what Último Reducto refers to here. Everyone has some intuitive notion of what “leftism” is, but often these notions vary considerably from one individual to another and few are able to correctly and consistently explain their idea of “leftism.” Furthermore, like a loony bin (and not by coincidence), ni están todos los que son, ni son todos los que están [Translator’s note: This is a difficult-to-translate Spanish proverb that references populations of people in insane asylums. It is used to mean that a given set of elements is wrong, because in some cases some elements that are included aren’t correct and some other elements that are correct are left out.] (certain incomplete notions or definitions, at least, do not cover all the forms of leftism really existing -for example, they consider leftism to by only Marxism-Leninism, or only anarcho-syndicalism, or only the “antagonist” subculture, etc.- and certain overreaching and vague notions and definitions might include currents that are not, in reality, really leftists -for example, certain kinds of Islamism-). All this complicates the definition and interpretation of the concept to which Último Reducto is referring to with the term “leftism.” However, the point here is trying to express, clarify and grasp the concept without getting lost in discussions about what to call it. Let each denominate the term as he is best willing and able.
- Updated version of March 2015. Copyright 2007, Último Reducto. English translation copyright 2015, John Jacobi.
- There is another trait that is also probably common to virtually all forms of leftism: the belief in the possibility of attaining some kind of utopia, i.e., a world or at least a society that is ideal, harmonious, with no conflicts or problems. Most, if not all, forms of leftism have as their goal the attainment of some kind of utopia. However, the belief in ideal and perfect worlds and societies, the desire of attaining them and embracing them as goals to pursue is not necessarily exclusive to leftism.
- Techno-industrial society must be fought, not reformed, because it inevitably undermines the autonomy and functioning of non-artificial systems, i.e., the wild Nature, both external and internal to humans. To investigate this issue, see, for example, Industrial Society and Its Future, Freedom Club.
- Progress: The belief in the absolute goodness of some process of development.
- Although, in reality, all defend, in one way or another, some form of progress, if only a progress that is immaterial, moral, “spiritual.”
- This has to be understood in reference to this text’s first publication date: 2007.
- This is only a general approximation of the psychology of leftism. One could make many distinctions in this respect, like for example, that it is not always the alienation produced by modern life that causes the psychological traits of leftism. Many leftists are simply psychologically weak by nature.
- In this respect, we must fall into naivety and superficiality by believing that anyone who appears to reject leftism is really not leftist. It is not enough simply to use the term “leftism” in a derogatory manner. Many leftists who paradigmatically meet the definition of leftism given in this text (for example, many anarcho-socialists, autonomists, anti-capitalists, insurrectionalists, situationists, anarcho-primitivists, Marxists, etc.) often tend to criticize something they call “leftism,” implying that they do not recognize themselves as what they actually are: leftists in turn. To identify leftists one has to look at their core values, their ideals, their goals, their ideological references and ascent, etc., and not only if they express explicitly and ostensibly rejection of “leftism” in their speech.
- Oversocialization: The excessive internalization of the values of an individual’s social environment, so that he is unable to violate them without feeling shame or remorse. It affects, to a greater or lesser extent, almost everyone, butespecially those individuals who are more susceptible to the influences of their social environment. It is a common phenomenon in the current techno-industrial society (although not only in it) and it is especially abundant and intense in its leftist subsystems. It has a lot to do, for example, with notion of “politically correctness,” since what it permits is already that which is imposed.