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Leftists Just Never Do Create Police States, Do They?

The left is accused of authoritarianism – but it’s the right that gets away with it
Andy Beckett

1917 to 1989 really showed that one to be true, right?

For a wearyingly long time now, one of the right’s favourite tactics against the left has been to accuse it of planning a police state.

Hmm, gosh, so where the left did actually gain unrestricted power that didn’t happen then, right?

to last year’s warnings in the Tory press that Jeremy Corbyn would turn Britain into a version of Venezuela,

How could anyone think that when left politicians in this country were – earlier, agreed, before the wheels really fell off – insisting that Britain should become more like Venezuela?

The fact that no western democracy has ever been turned into a police state by the left hasn’t completely neutralised this argument.

Czechs would disagree you know. As would Grenadans. But presumably Beckett is using that special meaning of “western democracy” which is the one that reads “not turned into a police state by leftists yet”.

Because there have been so few elected socialist governments in the west, and even fewer that have enacted much of their programmes, the left hasn’t had many opportunities to prove that it’s not interested in ruling by authoritarian methods. Instead, the allegation has lingered.

Ah, yes, that is the meaning in use here, isn’t it? We can’t use those examples of where untrammelled power has led to that police state simply because we’re using as our examples the places where that hasn’t happened.

During the 1980s, Jeane Kirkpatrick, an influential adviser to the Republican president Ronald Reagan, argued that rightwing police states were “less repressive” than leftwing, “totalitarian” ones, and should be supported by the US when there were, from a conservative perspective, no better alternatives.

Pinochet was less bad for Chile than Maduro for Venezuela. Discuss. Varied Brazilian generals worse than Castro. Discuss.

It’s not wholly convincing this argument that the left never do abuse power when they gain it, is it?

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Spike
Spike
4 months ago

The essence of leftism is force, backed by the armed might of the state to initiate coercion. They might cloak this in genteel administrative procedures; they might merely say you merely have a “carbon tax” figured into retail prices, but at heart they don’t believe we can set our own priorities and they can, and if we don’t obey, they are willing to slap us around. See US state governors, notably Michigan NY Nevada California, over taking redundant precautions against a chest cold, and the implications of disobedience.

Spike
Spike
4 months ago

PS – Tim, what may be going on here is the usual leftie game that “it wasn’t really a police state” or “it wasn’t really leftism” if the result was unpleasant, because the real thing wouldn’t have led to that.

Ambassador Kirkpatrick was right that nations sometimes have to choose the lesser of two evils. She endorsed neither authoritarianism or totalitarianism. It would be nice to impose on them a democratic republic, and it’s disaster whenever we try.

John B
John B
4 months ago

‘ The fact that no western democracy has ever been turned into a police state by the left hasn’t completely neutralised this argument.’

All Western ‘democracies’ are now police states and the Parties of the political left and political right are indistinguishable.

TD
TD
4 months ago

I’ve been to Chile a couple of times and genuinely like the place. But I’ve always found it remarkable how Pinochet, a third rate tyrant in the grand pantheon of 20th Century tyrants, has become perhaps the most hated dictator ever by the left. Far more hated than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or plenty of others who killed far more people. Now, Pinochet was a nasty piece of work but he was not a genocidal maniac. He also had some fundamental understanding of economics making him rare among political leaders anywhere. But, he dashed the left’s dreams that Chile… Read more »

Spike
Spike
4 months ago
Reply to  TD

Even more remarkable how Trump, who often blustered and insulted but hardly “dictated,” has become perhaps our most hated dictator ever by the left.

jgh
jgh
4 months ago

“there have been so few elected socialist governments in the west”
That’s because democracy and socialism are incompatible.

If you give people the choice, they won’t choose to have their lives and stuff stolen from themselves. If you are stealing people’s lives and stuff from them you can only do it if they are prevented from stopping you.

Democratic Socialism is an oxymoron. If you have Democracy the Demos will never pick Socialism. If you’ve got Socialism you need to stop the Demos removing you, so you can’t have Democracy.

john77
john77
4 months ago
Reply to  jgh

Weimar Republic, France for most of the twentieth century until De Gaulle rescued it, Attlee and Wilson, Sweden (especially Olof Palme, most of the others were Social Democrats), Italy under the idiots who made Berlusconi electable, Greece several times, Scotland, San Marino actually elected a Communist goverment and then elected someone else next time because the Copmmunists had made such a mess … What happened in every case was that the Socialists made such a mess that they got voted out if there was a free election. Democracy and socialism are not incompatible but socialism and re-election in a democracy… Read more »

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

What are “left-wing” and “right-wing”? In Guardian-speak, “right-wing” is anybody who doesn’t immediately conform to their latest piece of progressive gibberish (unless they’ve been anointed as “left-wing” in which case they can do no wrong and any failure to conform to anything is brushed under the carpet, pace Stalin, Castro, Maduro, China) I would say that a more useful definition, and one which would probably get a decent hearing in most of the country is that “left-wing” is a bigger central government and “right-wing” is a smaller central government. Given totalitarianism requires a large, all-powerful central government, it is tautologically… Read more »

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