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  • Writer's pictureCarrick Ryan

5 ways the Political Left must change

The Political Left, which was once the fortress of intelligentsia and academia against the ignorance of the right, is quickly losing credibility amongst the general population who, with good reason, are beginning to recognise the Left as anachronistic delusionals, ill-equipped to confront the complex realities we face in the modern era. The recent rise of the Alt-Right and Far-Right has not been solely due to its usual Modus Operandi of preying on the ignorance of the politically malleable, it has also simply shined a light on a radicalised Left that has detached from its mandate that had for so long worshiped doctrines of equality, reason, and fairness. The Left has lost its political capital by alienating itself from the general population and attacking its own intellectuals that dare stray from the official narrative. It has, in its simplest terms, begun to eat itself. With this in mind I have identified 5 ways in which the political left must change their character to stem the loss of ground to those on the right. 

1. Stop undervaluing Western Civilisation

Yes, Europe colonised the world and shipped tens of millions of slaves out of Africa. We all know this because every kid in the Western World is raised to be well aware of our historical mistakes lest we ever repeat them. But don’t pretend that these are exclusive domains of the West. Europeans didn’t invent colonisation or conquest, they were just the best at it. Slavery existed in Africa well before the Europeans industrialised it and it was so accepted within the Islamic world that even the Prophet Muhammad is un-controversially known to have kept slaves. The fact is the Europeans were the first in the world to ban the slave trade and it is the West that have lead the way in the fermenting of the notions of inalienable human rights. History manifested itself in such a way that western institutions have dominated the world over recent centuries. As a result it is undeniable that those of European descent have found themselves economically and socially advantaged across the global population. Recognising this is important in identifying ways to mitigate inequality today. However it must be remembered that without the West we would never have had the institutionalised concepts of liberty, democracy, and equality that we now wish to make universal. The French Revolution, English Parliamentary Democracy, Suffragettes, the Declaration of Human Rights, and the overwhelming majority of significant technological advances over the past 500 years were all manifestations of Western Civilisation. 

This should not be mistaken for "white pride"; it was a number of complex historical factors that led to these advanced societies evolving out of Europe, none of which relate to our genetic make up. Any person on Earth can and should celebrate the achievements of humanity that have eminated from this branch of civilisation. The fact that so many on the left are keen to dismiss Western Civilisation as evil or regressive is not only ignorant, but they are insulting the centuries of progressive thinkers, activists, and martyrs that enabled the West to be the greatest civilisation in the world in the first place. 2. Condemn and disassociate yourself from the extremists Remember how outraged we were when it took Trump days to condemn Nazis? Well the burden falls equally on us to acknowledge the existence of an extremist fringe hailing the advancement of leftist ideals. Just because we may empathise with their motivations does not absolve us from the need to unequivocally and without delay condemn any person who advocates violence or aggression in any form. The rise of groups like Antifa or ‘anti-white’ racists are not only inherently bad because of the actions they encourage, but they do irreparable damage to the cause they claim to represent by immediately ceding the moral high ground to the other side of the debate. In addition, any person who uses hyperbole and ad hominem attacks during debate immediately degrades the legitimacy of our stance. We must have sufficient faith in the true pillars of our movement that we can confidently disassociate ourselves from those that may share our enemies but aspire to extreme means to reach their ends. A failure to show a clear distinction between the ‘left’ and the ‘far-left’ establishes a fairly easy avenue for any opposition to create fear over our collective intentions. 3. Don’t give Islam a ‘free pass’ In some instances, the failure of the left, or even the centre, to have a conversation about Islam has been an obvious cause of significant loss of political capital. Due to a reasonable concern that any candid discussion regarding a minority brings uncomfortable memories of historical mistakes, the left has for the most part refused to even engage with elements of the public that profess any unease with the religion. But remember, it is possible to dislike certain doctrines of Islam without disliking Muslims. If any politician who wants to discuss compatibility issues between Islam and Western Civilisation is silenced from fear of being called a racist, then the only politicians who will speak are those that are unafraid of being called a racist. This broadens their appeal which in turn normalises their other radical views whilst the Left is perceived as, at best, out of touch, or, at worse, complicit in the advancement of conservative Islamic ideology. The fact is there are major tenets of the Islamic Faith that should be incredibly affronting to anyone on the left. Its teaching on women’s rights, homosexuality, and violence in general all should be repugnant to even the most moderate of progressive and there are progressive elements within the Islamic faith that we should be supporting; yet there continues to be a deafening silence punctuated by ignorant catch phrases that show they know little of the religion they defend. It is clear there are major elements of the religion that need to be reformed if it is to coexist with many of our hard fought Western Values. This is not impossible to achieve and it should be the left leading the discussion on how it can be done. It is as if the Political Left has forgotten that Christianity has progressed to the tolerable state it is in now because progressive secularists have continually forced it to reform throughout history and continue to do so fearlessly today. No one on the left is ever afraid to call out any impropriety from the Catholic Church, it must be similarly unafraid to do so against the doctrines of the Islamic faith or it will continue to enhance the appeal of the Right Wing Politicians who enjoy a monopoly on the subject. 4. Do not silence anyone The right to freedom of speech was a right won by progressives not for the exclusive use of progressives. Any attempts to silence the ranting utterances of a Right-Wing poster child immediately embellishes their cause and turns them into a martyr of free speech. It confirms any suggestion that their ideas are dangerous in their brilliance and that we are unable to defeat them with reason and argument alone. We must have faith that the tenets of our beliefs can withstand the unchallenged monologues of our adversaries. Not only does picketing and censoring draw attention to speakers that would otherwise hardly draw a crowd, it is ethically incongruous with progressive beliefs. Fear and intimidation have never truly succeeded in preventing the advancement of a cause, it only serves to embolden them. Invite them to debate you at every opportunity or, if you fear adding to their legitimacy, dismiss them with ambivalence. 5. Stop calling people things they aren’t A person who supports a policy that you believe inadvertently disadvantages a particular demographic should not be automatically accused of hating that demographic. Being ignorant of the experience of a person of a different race, sex, or sexuality is common. Being actually racist, sexist, or homophobic is actually surprisingly rare. It is incumbent on you to distinguish between the two before you slander someone. By misusing these adjectives we serve two self-defeating causes. Firstly, we diminish the power of the word. For instance, the infinite number of times any person who was critical of the Islamic faith (see point 3) were loudly labelled ‘racist’ was not only semantically incorrect, but it eased the minds of actual racists who witnessed distinguished left leaning academics condemned with the same pariahed label. Secondly, we once again exemplify to the general population a propensity to use intimidation to silence debate (see point 4). Any reasonable person fears being publicly branded a racist, sexist, or other kind of phobic, however it is not our right to use this fear as a means to denounce people whose ideas we disagree with. This persistent threat may make people fear the left, but it will not make any of them respect us. None of these actions require any deviation from the standard doctrines and traditional ideologies of the Left; they could perhaps be seen as a refocusing of the principles we have always stood for. However it is necessary that the bulk of us on the political Left adhere to these 5 principles, at the very least, if we are to remain relevant to the hearts, minds, and aspirations of the general population.

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