What is a Leftist?

Once I avoided using labels for fear of polarising people, but since I get called a loonie lefty anyway I figured I may as well own the label. It may be used as an insult to embarrass me for my beliefs, but there is nothing wrong with calling yourself a leftist.

McCarthyian Red Scare tactics demonised and persecuted people for holding leftist views since the first World War and have given people such a distorted view of left-wing politics that now anything remotely resembling progressive policy is ignorantly labelled “communist”. For example, a politician that even mentions raising taxes is dragged over the coals, even though much higher taxes was once a mainstream policy for good reasons.

It doesn’t help that there are plenty of internal disagreements on the left (e.g. between anarchists and communists) which makes it easy for people to misrepresent our ideas. People also often confuse liberalism with leftism, which is a tad insulting, so I thought I’d start explaining some basics.

Where liberals, like conservatives, are largely supporters of the current economic model just with a little bit more fairness, leftists are strictly anti-capitalist. Capitalism, the economic system we live in, is based on the assumption of endless growth and accumulation of profit. This leads to wealth political power being concentrated in the hands of a few while ordinary people struggle to get by. When power consolidates in the hands of the rich, laws are passed to help companies pillage natural resources and pollute the environment.

The climate crisis is the result of human actions, specifically, the reckless actions of a few corporations in their quest for profit. The underlying value or force of capitalism is greed, and it is that we must oppose.
As leftists, we believe a better world is possible. We envision a world based on cooperation, where people aren’t left to starve or sleep on the streets because they don’t have enough money. Where those on the other side of the political spectrum love hierarchies (i.e. the status quo), leftists prefer a society where wealth and power are shared. In a more equal society, we will want for less and learn to live in harmony with the natural world, rather than seeing it as a commodity to be exploited for our short term pleasure.

As the climate crisis unfolds in front of our eyes, more people must realise that this economic and political system cannot continue. We are delusional to think we can keep living the way we do without consequence. Things need to change.