What does it mean to be a leftist?

Let me start by saying that this is a pretty wankertastic question. Who cares, right? I think a discussion of the merits of various Ray Price albums would lead us closer to a more just society. It’d also be more fun. Also the answer is of course Night Life.

Anyway, you’ll have to indulge me here in a question with which I hate to engage. Nothing has served the left less than cleaving off those who weren’t “left” enough to increasingly ideologically pure and small organizations. I guess the Weather Underground was pretty left all right. And they were 50 people whose major accomplishment was blowing a few of themselves up making a bomb. Great.

But if we were going to define the left, at least in this country, I guess I’d say that it would revolve around something like people who were committed to the eradication of social, political, economic, gender, sexual, and environmental inequality both in the United States and around the world through the use of a variety of means, ranging from an activist government to revolutionary cadres. I don’t know, maybe you’d have a different definition. By all means feel free to argue the point.

Anyway, I would certainly include myself in this definition of the left. I don’t really identify with liberalism per se. Liberals can most definitely be leftists although many are most certainly not. Now, my first rule of life is that no one’s description of themselves should be taken seriously. I think that’s a very good rule to live by. So your opinion about whether I am left or liberal or whatever is a lot more important than my own.

That said, I believe in pretty much the entire range of left-liberal ideas. That includes the entirety of the socialist welfare system of Europe, gay marriage, stringent environmental regulations, access to abortion, etc. I’d argue that I am far to the left of most self-described leftists on organized labor, largely because I think many of them just don’t care or see it is an anachronism. I am opposed to much of U.S. foreign policy. And yes, like most self-identified leftists, I am disgusted by the so-called war on terror, torture, the treatment of Bradley Manning, etc.

Now none of this is particularly notable. But I have other positions as well that would certainly be more controversial and pretty “left” I think. Here’s a list of 10.

1. Make recognition of the state of Israel dependent on moving the boundaries back to the 1967 lines and destroying the settlements.

2. Repeal the 2nd Amendment

3. A constitutional amendment to guarantee employment

4. A constitutional amendment to guarantee collective bargaining

5. Extend the most vigorous provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the entire nation

6. A government ban on the harvesting of most fish with vigorous regulations and punishment provisions for violators

7. An 100% estate tax. You die, the government takes it all.

8. Pricing based upon percentage of income. You go to the gas pump–the price of gas is based upon last year’s income that would be encoded on a card you have to show.

9. U.S. companies can move overseas if they want–but the U.S. minimum wage applies to those workers. Also to contracted suppliers.

10. A constitutional guarantee to terminate a pregnancy, no questions asked.

I don’t really talk about these things much. Why? They are irrelevant. They are so far out of what is possible that why bother. Do they make me more of a leftist? Who cares.

The one area I am less convinced of the so-called leftist position is drones. Or DRONES!!!!!, to paraphrase those who are outraged by them. The only difference I can see between drones and the rest of the immorality of American militarism is that drones kill less people than human-piloted aircraft. I’ve yet to see anyone present a convincing case that drones are MORE immoral than other forms of warfare. They are immoral without a doubt. But the closest thing I’ve seen to a real argument about drones’ special immorality comes down to being like a video game and the fact that the opposition doesn’t have a chance to fight back against American soldiers. The first is a reality of our technological fetishism pervading our entire society, the latter grotesque. Please convince me why I am wrong.

That brings me to the real point here: Freddie deBoer.

de Boer’s comment to Scott’s post caused me to choke up my morning ice water (I don’t drink coffee, it’s gross):

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