On Handling Ideological Differences
3 min read

On Handling Ideological Differences

A.K.A.: We're all gonna die, so let's work together

One of the things I've noticed in the radical left space is that there are many ways to talk about the same end goal.

So far, I haven't yet come across a radical leftist who is against dismantling capitalism, decolonizing, and giving reparations. We all seem to agree on the fundamentals.

Usually, what seems to be the departure is what we do after all is said and done - do we create a temporary State to take over the dismantled mass, do we all go off and live in the woods forever and forsake society, or do we come up with something more organic?

None of us will see the fruits of our labor; we will all be dead before any of these things actually come to pass.

And yet, when we come across ideological differences - which can also present as terminology differences or ways to "spread propaganda" instead of just these Future Visions (tm) - many of us seem to come to a full stop.

We might not want to "work with" an individual or individuals based on these ideological and linguistic differences.

This to me is extremely dangerous and threatens further development of the radical left movement.

Today, I worked with a few people who disagreed on the use of the word "education." We were planning a semi-regular event where we'd pair free food with open discourse on radical left topics.

When we heard "education", one comrade and I thought of the structure of teacher vs. pupil, which is something we were inherently against implying. We didn't want to impose a sense of destructive hierarchy where learning was a one-way street.

However, the other two people in the conversation thought saying "education" was okay, especially since Mao often spoke of education in a different way - and that was the definition that most immediately jumped into their head when they heard the word. The best concise example of that I could find was this quote:

As for the method of training, we should unfold the mass training movement in which officers teach soldiers, soldiers teach officers and the soldiers teach each other.

Here, it's very clear that training and education is more than just a unidirectional teacher and pupil relationship.

We were talking about the same thing, but just using different words to get there - and we were visibly getting annoyed with each other about it, thinking the other didn't agree.

While I have doubts that most people who are just discovering the radical left scene will think of Mao when they hear the words "education" or "training," the issue still persists:

The thing we want to get in motion is the same. We (mostly) have the same methodology to get there; we're only going to be alive to the start of the relatively near-term goal of dismantling capitalism.

Why the fuck are we putting up walls against working with certain people, arguing about words?

This is exactly the kind of disarray that capitalism and its supporters are feeding off of. We're being too academic and too dogmatic about our adherence to certain labels and to dead people's ideals [1].

We need to think about the now, and what it looks like to galvanize people from all backgrounds regardless of class, race, gender, etc.

It matters at some point what we want the true end goal to be [2], but right now what needs to be addressed is the most immediate threat: that of capitalism quite literally destroying the world.

Not many people know or care about just how deep the problem of capitalism is, and that is something radical leftists across the spectrum can unite on fixing. Right now.

In fact, I think that it's imperative that radical leftists coordinate and innovate on that time-dependent platform. The process of fixing this gap in knowledge would give way for comrades to also connect and share from different backgrounds amongst each other.

There are reasons why certain ideologies appeal to us as individuals. It shouldn't be a way to separate us from our fellow comrades who might also share a similar journey to settling on another ideology.

I've got friends and partners who are anarchists, anarcho-communists, Marxist-Leninists, Maoists, and beyond; every one of them has compelling and wild story as to how they got to where they are.

We all want capitalism to be dismantled - and we all know that the only way to do that is to get more people radicalized.

We all want revolution - and we all know it's going to be a long, hard road.

Why are we fighting amongst each other? What the hell are we doing?

This post brought to you by a very high Hobbit. Footnotes needed to be made to corral my thoughts. Please refer to them below.

-- Footnotes --

  1. Not that the dead people who've written on this stuff are to be disregarded, but the playing field has changed and we need to adjust accordingly. There are new voices to be heard.

2.  Frankly, I think quite a few can co-exist instead of choosing a one-size-fits-all approach.