I consider myself politically to be on the left. I have always believed in equality, free speech and the right of any individual to pursue his or her goals and dreams in life. Recently however, I have become increasingly wary of the attitude, actions and motives of those on the (and I deliberately say this provocatively) "far left." I want to engage people in healthy debate here, and it has become increasingly harder and harder to do so due to a disturbing rise in this extreme and highly regressive approach to conversation and political action.
One reason I feel this way is that there are a certain amount of people in this camp who, despite well meaning intentions, simply do not show that they truly believe in the morals and ideology which they will so quickly propound over a craft beer or two (yes, we'll come to that). For example, a particularly worrying trait amongst the group is the tendency to unintentionally promote racial segregation through, as I said, well meaning but very misguided intentions. In doing so they have taken to turning on those who are very much the kinds of thinkers and leaders that they should be seeking to influence and lead them in the first place.
Take for example the much talked about case of Professor Bret Weinstein at Evergreen State College in Washington state. Weinstein had voiced concerns over a change to one of the college's annual traditions "The Day of Absence" in which, as Weinstein explained "students and faculty of colour organized a day on which they met off campus - a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning." This year however, the college had decided that due to concerns voiced by certain POC students that they felt unwelcome on campus following the 2016 U.S. election, white students, staff and faculty would be asked to leave campus for the day.
Weinstein voiced concerns over this new format in an email to the organizers of the event. In it he stated:
"[T]here is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under appreciated roles... and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away... the first is a forceful call to consciousness... the second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself."
As a result of this letter, Weinstein was confronted with a gang of over 50 students claiming that he was a racist, white supremacist and more. The college police subsequently told him that they couldn't guarantee his safety on campus, and as such Mr. Weinstein was forced to hold his class in a public park.
It is clear from this particular example that there are those on the left who simply do not understand the concept of liberalism and free thinking. Bret Weinstein is exactly the model of a liberal, left wing, intellectual thinker that those of us who believe in these values should be listening to and understanding. This reaction was one of pure violence, mob mentality and a complete lack of understanding as to what he was saying in his email.
Indeed, even if Mr. Weinstein had written something which the students disagreed with (and it is profoundly hard to disagree with him on this), do you not believe in free speech? This has been a reoccurring theme on university campuses with the likes of Charles Murray having to be escorted off a university campus by police back in March.
Similarly the U.K. petition to ban Donald Trump from visiting the country (which received almost two million signatures and was debated in U.K. Parliament in February) was again an act of rejection against the right to free speech. If you disagree with someone, should you ban them from speaking? No, that's not how we should be doing it. Let him come. Then protest, make your views heard, write about it. Banning is simply not holding up to your values.
Then we have to think about the true motives of those in this new camp of "far leftism." In Britain, the unexpected rise of Jeremy Corbyn has prompted a fashionable rebirth of a kind of new socialism. This has been very much due to the middle-class fandom of the populist candidate. I indeed voted Labour in the last election, but for me it was tactical. I wanted to get the Tories out. But I do not believe that it is useful to not question the ideology or mentality of Jeremy Corbyn. There are many things which cause concern for me. His admiration of the likes of Castro for example. His ideas on socialism which prompt large government control concern me. The pandering to the middle class bourgeoisie (yeah, Glastonbury). I suppose we would call this champagne socialism. Except now they are drinking craft beer. Craft beer socialism. These are reasons why many of the working class still are not getting behind Corbyn.
Whilst there are certainly elements of Corbyn's rhetoric and policies which appealed to me greatly, I have felt increasingly uncomfortable in social situations to try and explain the faults in socialism - not least the fact that it doesn't work (before you start, no, Denmark is not a socialist country). People will turn on you. Brand you as a right winger, a Tory and (admittedly after a couple of large glasses of red) someone even suggested that I am probably a secret Trump supporter. Ha!
My point is, if you consider yourself to be on the left and a true liberal, then you should not be afraid to engage in healthy debate. You should be able to criticize the actions, motivations and ideology of those on the left, even if you share much of their opinions. It does not make you a Tory or a Trump fan if you criticize Jeremy Corbyn. You should be seeking to reform regressive beliefs. I want to see a movement towards a more sensible, compromising centre left ideology which above all promotes freedom of speech, equality and equality of opportunity for all.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
Also on HuffPost: