portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

political theory

The "L" Word

Whenever two progressives/radicals/leftists disagree, one will invariably call the other a "liberal."

Why is this?
Name-Calling is not a logical strategy; it is a rhetorical one.

"Nazi" is the most common political epithet used by one group to denounce and discredit the policies or ideas of the other group. This word is used broadly and liberally, and does not necessarily reference policies that are actually fascist in nature.

As a well-known example, Rush Limbaugh calls feminists "femi-nazis." Republicans call liberals "Nazis," and liberals and progressives call republicans "Nazis."

Among radicals, however, I discovered a new epithet. "Liberal." If you want to insult a radical or progressive policy, political tactic, or point of view, one way to dismiss it is to call it, or the person who advocates it, "liberal."

I am wondering what the results of such a strategy might be. What are the goals of the people who use the word "liberal" as an epithet? I have actually heard it used against people like Noam Chomsky. Now, these people must not be familiar with Chomsky's work, because there is no way you can both be familiar with his point of view AND consider him a liberal.

I notice that there is a split in the Green party, the fault lines of which were drawn in the bitter 2004 election feud. A radical faction, called Greens for Democracy and Independence, hurled the "L" word against David Cobb, primarily because they don't agree with his willingness to work with progressive democrats like Dennis Kucinich, Medea Benjamin, John Conyers, and so on.

You know, lefties, greens, progressives, and radicals will always disagree on strategy, theory, and so on. When are we going to learn how to not let this divide us into faction upon faction upon faction? This is the left's biggest embarassment. When are we going to learn not to throw temper tantrums and start name-calling and attacking others' credibility when our view doesn't prevail?

What ever happened to solidarity? To tolerance for difference? To critical analysis and recognition that there is never only one true way?

Please help me make sense of this. I think the left could really use some assistance with internal conflict resolution.
not too difficult 26.Sep.2005 16:10

to understand

"Liberal" is an insult because of the behavior of liberal politicians and political activists. Liberals have demonstrated they're more interested in maintaining their standing in mainstream corporate society and advancing their careers than in changing anything. Gore AND Kerry both conceding stolen elections are good examples of pathetic, worse-than-useless liberal behavior. They can rehabilitate the word any time by changing their behavior.