Monday, December 12, 2005

What's Left?

Someone with the name of Gothaminage commented in the space for initiating new posts: "Pocho, how do you define left? Is my blog left? You could argue either side. Actually , we are centrist."

I visit a lot of blogs and on some leave comments. I did not remember Gothaminage's and went there today to search through its comments. I found none by either myself or our contributors. He asks a common question. Here comes a response that has been pondered and partially repeated often in the Chat Room.

Gothaminage's site seemed in quick scan to have orientation toward what might be considered liberal democratic politics in the USA. There is an immediately noticeable difference between that and ours. We've discovered, often in surprise to new users from the USA, that there are two USA's and surrounding larger world's. One is that dreamed of by most inside USA borders, including those terming themselves "liberal". The other is the realistic one known elsewhere. Gothaminage's site reflects the former, while the nature and locale of Further Left users causes focus on the latter.

The Further Left Chat Room, followed by its Library, and then finally this Forum have been around for close to two and a half years. The count of nation hits reaching one or more of them now stands at 114. It should be no surprise that people have come to them with many differing concepts of the meaning of "left".

Extremes range on the one hand from crawling around jungles with automatic weapons and obliterating anything associated with capitalism or its attendant imperialism to casting a vote for the USA's Democratic Party on the other. Some seem believe definition of leftist hinges on what books are read or political theories ascribed. Others ignore the written word and cast definition on fields of action where doing counts more than saying.

There are those who see flying airplanes into tall buildings as "left" while others consider it eschewing all violence of any form. A lot, especially those from the USA, seem to link "left" to a spectrum spot between what they call "liberal" and "conservative" while having no idea that persons of differing cultures often hold sharply contrasting definitions of those terms or that yet others consider them irrelevant. And then there are the views of "left" held by our detractors. Those are best left unstated.

It is necessary before self characterization to realize what we are and are not. We are words on a publicly available computer screen, neither more nor less. There are no bricks for download here suitable for tossing through a Walmart window. We can talk about organizing people to move a particular direction but within this facility are unable to roam a neighborhood and knock on necessary doors to do so.

We can say we support or oppose this or that set of activities, but would not delineate beyond unverifiable words the form of that support. Even if actuated, a sincere and prudent actvist wouldn't tell of routes to send money or material to certain active forces or brag of contributing to the offing of this or that enemy. There are those who talk and those who do. Those who talk are often by nature not those who do. Those who do are often by necessity not those who talk. Our users probably include some of both stripes.

We've stirred the pot in our couple years of existance and tried to discern a concept rising to the top. Each of the Library, Chat Room, and Forum contains a consensually derived phrasing which can serve as answer to Gothaminage's question. That is:

"...The words "Further Left" are meant to indicate a process rather than position. They imply changing one's stance in order to better contribute to uniting and empowering oppressed peoples so they may strike at causes of their concerns as they see fit."

It is granted that "uniting", "empowering", and "oppressed" are open to personal interpretation. The "as they see fit" seems to bother some, especially those in safety high on the hill who count the wounded in battle below and in arrogance believe they hold answers to what should be done by other people in other situations.

I personally rank most defining the phrases "process rather than a position" and "changing one's stance". That inherits from being old enough to know what we are about was occurring long before we arrived on the scene and will continue long after we are gone. It brings realization the best we can do through this medium is encourage pushing the ball down the field toward yet unseen shifting goals while letting our hearts guide steps along the path.

That was the consensual view of our efforts here. My own personal take as drawn from experience is best described in the Further Left Library piece titled Radical Activism, An Organizing Know How.

May you take it as you wish Gothaminage and in so doing direct your efforts to making more concrete the slogan "Agitate, Antagonize, Educate, and Organize".

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