Far left

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The term far left is a label used for political movements and parties that champion the abolition of private property and the achievement and upholding of a society largely equal and free of coercion in terms of "to each according to need" commodity distribution, rejection of currency and advocacy of equal rights. Most of these movements fall under the label of either Marxist or Anarchist. Most far-left ideologies can be described as Communist. Some examples of non-communist far-left ideologies include left-wing market anarchist ideologies (not to be confused with "Anarcho"-capitalism.) Most other non-Communist socialist ideologies (such as democratic socialism) are merely left-wing, rather than far-left. If you hear it in American politics chances are it's being used as a snarl word to describe any liberal, even though many people on the actual far left may take offence at being called a liberal and vice versa.

Common stances[edit]

  • The abolition of private property.
  • The abolition of class and class distinctions.
  • Most far-left ideologies call for the abolition of currency.
  • In contrast to common opinion, nearly all far-left philosophies call for the eventual abolition or withering away of the state. Whether they actually achieve that may vary between philosophies.
  • The abolition of discrimination, since this is seen as a method of dividing the lower class from unity with one another. This one's somewhat of a headscratcher considering the extreme social conservatism present in many communist dictatorships such as under Stalinist or Maoist systems.
  • Far-left ideologies call for a society with limited hierarchy, or no hierarchy, as their end goals.
  • Far-left ideologies typically call for a single, united world, usually without borders, though the idea of "Socialism in one country" caused some far-left movements to become highly nationalistic. These movements claim their nationalism is "rooted in internationalism," though.
  • Methods used to obtain said goals range from embracing pacifism (unlike the far-right) to outright violence. Some far-leftists want to achieve their society by "creating the new society in the shell of the old," or slowly replacing capitalism and the state with parallel institutions from the bottom-up (collectives, cooperatives, unions, mutual aid, community defense, etc.) This is also commonly known as "building dual power." Some anarchists favor this method. Some modern Marxists, such as Democratic Marxists or Eurocommunists, want to achieve socialism (and later communism) through liberal democracy. Marxist-Leninists want to achieve communist society through a vanguard party that nationalizes and centralizes industry and prevents the reestablishment of capitalism and "bourgeois" thinking, and for the state to wither away when it is no longer needed, leaving a stateless, moneyless, and classless society.

Theory vs practice[edit]

Rarely do far-left movements actually enact these goals since in practice the most ruthless members of these movements tend to position themselves to take it over, at which point they tend to devolve into highly nationalistic and brutal dictatorships.[1][2][3] Anarchist or generally libertarian left movements have had more success in standing by their ideals, however, such as in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War (until both the fascists and the Stalinists killed them, that is) and MakhnovschinaWikipedia in Ukraine (until they were betrayed by the Red Army), along with the Neo-Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, and more recently, RojavaWikipedia during the Syrian Civil War.

Philosophies[edit]

  • Marxism. These ideologies include Libertarian Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Trotskyism, Orthodox Marxism, Centrist Marxism, and Left Communism, among others. Forms of Libertarian Marxism include Luxemburgism, Council Communism, De Leonism, Autonomism, and Workerism. Marxist-Leninist subtypes include Stalinism, Maoism, Hoxaism, Titoism, and so on. What Marxist ideologies all have in common is wanting some sort of transitionary socialist state, that eventually withers away, leaving a communist society.
  • Anarchist political thought, most notably Anarcho-Communism and Anarcho-Syndicalism, but also Anarcho-Collectivism, Mutualism and Market Anarchism, Individualist Anarchism, Anarcho-Pacifism, Green Anarchism, Anarcho-Primitivism, Anarcha-Feminism, Queer Anarchism, and so on. Some Anarchists support gradualism or "creating the new society in the shell of the old,"[4] while others believe the state should immediately be abolished, even through violence.[5][6]
  • Some socialists, such as Charles Fourier.

Not far-left[edit]

Like the label far-right, the term is oftentimes used inappropriately and pejoratively to movements that are not actually of the extreme left, such as;

  • Democratic Socialism: Most democratic socialists want to have a state in place indefinitely, so there is still the hierarchy of the state, even at the end goal of their ideologies. Also, many democratic socialists support some class distinction. Thus, they are typically just left-wing.[7][8][9]

Definitely not Far-Left[edit]

  • Social democracy: As social democrats accept the presence of a widespread market system, private property, and some degree of class distinction, they are not far-left. This label is even more absurd when applied to "Third Way" social democrats who are essentially centrists.
  • Social liberalism: As social liberals are even more toned down than old-styled social democrats (as they do not advocate for nationalization of any business), it's really hard to see how they are "far-left" in any meaningful sense of the word.
  • Nazism: Nazism is a form of fascism, which is inherently far-right. While the Nazis did enact some policies that could be seen as "left" by the US political sphere, their stance on ultra-nationalism, racial superiority, their promotion of social inequality and etc. makes them far-right. One must also remember that the NSDAP means "National Socialist German Workers Party"; while "socialist" and "workers" are left, wingnuts like to ignore that "National" and "German" were right-wing, "patriotic" terms in 1930's Germany. These were used essentially to steal from the left-wing, who were popular with the public. Economists also rate Nazi Germany as centrist in terms of economic stance as it had no clearly defined economic policy and hated both communists and capitalists.

In case of controversy[edit]

  • Radical liberalism (or simply "Radicalism"): This is a kind of classical liberalism that has deeply affected social liberalism. Until the early and mid-19th century, when the political environment was much more conservative than it is now, they were considered far-left forces. Later, Marxist socialism, reformist socialism, and illiberal left emerged, moving their political positions to the center-left.
  • Juche: This one's actually arguable. Most scholars today believe North Korea's ideology is actually much closer to ethnic fascism than communism, though. While this may be seen as bordering on a No True Scotsman, it's worth noting they recently removed all mentions of communism from their constitution in recent years, although their constitution still begins with the phrase "The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a socialist fatherland", and still contains dozens of references to socialism.[10]
  • Socialism with Chinese characteristics: This is the ideology of the current Chinese Communist Party. It can now be seen as China's economic system. (See the China#Economy_of_China document for details.) In short, China's economic system shares a lot of similarities with capitalism, putting its proclaimed "far-left" credentials into question.
  • Hard greens: While most hard greens are likely left-wing or far-left in nature (such as anarcho-primitivism), there are some hard greens which may be more aptly labelled as right-wing, or at least not left-wing. This is most evident for ideologies like ecofascism or the ideology of Ted Kaczyinski, which has more in common with rugged individualism and radical traditionalism than the far-left.

See also[edit]

References[edit]