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August1991

Do Leftists eventually turn Right?

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I think age has a little bit to do with it. I think education is a bigger factor. In poll after poll if you actually look at the breakdowns based on gender and education, people with a college degree or higher go towards the centre left and the people with high school or under cut centre right.

I feel like the original odd duck now.

I found school to be boring to the point where a root canal was preferable. I quit even before high school and went to work but I gave it the old college try and went back to Jarvis Secondary in 1970 or so. It was hopeless, with at least 50 students per class and little more than spit balls, paper airplanes and stressed out teachers to look forward to I left for good.

This lefty righty thing is silly for the most part. As far as I'm concerned the real unresolved issues are along the top bottom axis or between real flesh and blood humans and our government and corporate institutions. That said, I have to say that right-wingers seem a lot more tolerant of authority for authority's sake and that's probably the reason I would say I'm definitely not with them.

My first experience with the left right divide was in a big sawmill where I was hired at dawn and by noon everyone went on strike for some reason, for three months. It seemed a little silly so I went fishing.

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Hey... me too! :lol:

Heck I even voted for Mulroney when I was in my twenties. I even had suits back then. B)

:)

I believed that university campuses were "bastions of left-wing radicalism," as the phrase goes. Until I attended, and found the institution to be inherently quite conservative in most ways.

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:)

I believed that university campuses were "bastions of left-wing radicalism," as the phrase goes. Until I attended, and found the institution to be inherently quite conservative in most ways.

it depends on which university and which college within the university...social sciences and arts will be the most liberal and socially progressive...finance/commerce will be the most conservative...

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Someone (Shaw, Clemenceau, Briand?) said that if you are not a socialist in your twenties, you have no heart. But if you are still a socialist in your forties, you have no brain.

My query is different, and objective. Which way do people tend to move generally? And among movers in either direction, who is "worse" (who as a new arrival becomes more Catholic than the Pope)?

Ex-Leftists who grow up and convert to the Right? Or ex-capitalists who convert to an understanding of existence?

And why do people move? (Were you once a Leftist, or a Conservative? If so, what made you change your opinion?)

Thanks to whoever revived this thread. Every so often, it's good to take stock of what we believe and whether our political and social beliefs have changed over the years.

The reason why the majority start to move from left to right in their mid-20's is likely (all things being equal) that these are the years when we have become independent, are establishing or trying to establish careers...and noticing progressive taxation on income for the first time, and by the time we're 30, we're usually married and starting families....nothing like having toddlers running around to make you paranoid about security, morality, education etc. -- all issues that will tend to drive someone to wanting independence to earn income, but government to provide security....and there you go...you got your average rightwinger in a nutshell!

Now that I'm in my 50's, I have noticed a pronounced shift left....even further left than I was in my youth! I have even shifted leftward since joining this board almost three years ago. I can identify a number of external trends that have soured my opinions of neo-liberal economics and neo-conservative foreign policy....mostly they've been total shams!

The promises of Hayek, Friedman and supply side economics have fallen flat in the last 30 years as the wealth gap has reached third world levels, the claims that economic liberalism would lead to political liberalism have evaporated ( China, Chile under Pinochet), and their great advice about business deregulation now leaves us with international banking near collapse and corporations that have assumed effective control from elected politicians.

And what can you say about the neo-conservatives these days! The remaining neocons won't even admit who they are, let alone the claims that they made for advancing U.S. hegemony and regime overthrow.

But, the big one for me is the environment. The combination of overpopulation, dwindling fresh water levels and other resource, plus the now incontrovertible evidence that we are terraforming the environment to lead to a future extinction that will include our descendants if we continue on our present course. And when it comes to how economics affects environmental policy, I'm viewing our whole capitalist economic system as something that, for all the stuff it provides, may be something that we can no longer live with, since capitalism as it is configured today cannot exist in a finite world, where population and resource usage are not able to continue growing.

I've asked rightwingers many times to explain to me how an economic system dependent on continuous growth can be meshed with finite space and resources, I'm not hearing anything useful....just the occasional promise of future technological breakthroughs that will maintain a peak population of 9 billion that want first world lifestyles......I'm not convinced, and that's why I am a leftist radical searching for something better than what we've got now.

Also, as I got older and my children grew up, I learned that they will turn out alright if they've got their priorities straight....so, I'm not even fractionally as conservative as I was about drugs, sex, homosexuality, or any other hot-button issue that brings out the religious right.

Of course, in the end, maybe I was never cut out for being a conservative to begin with. If there is a clear distinction between liberal and conservative, religious or secular, it is dependent on how one fits the authoritarian profile that psychologist Robert Altemyer identifies in his work: The Authoritarians (free online pdf) It doesn't mean that every conservative is an authoritarian, or every liberal is a freethinker, but in the West, authoritarians are going to line up with conservative politicos, and non-authoritarians find their arguments ludicrous on most issues.

Altemeyer is describing authoritarian followers of a movement, as opposed to "social dominators," the people who tend to be movement leaders...who are invariably amoral, self-serving opportunists that do not accept authority easily themselves, but love to wield it over others, and do not often share the fears, desires, and hatreds of their followers, but know how to use them.

On the other hand, the authoritarian follower is looking to be led by someone who will provide simple answers that placate his fears, resentments, hatreds etc. And since they are more likely than not to come from fundamentalist backgrounds, the proto-fascist leader will make sure that he mixes religion in with his appeals to this sort of follower. Add a heavy dose of nationalism and racism and voila...you've got a fascist movement just waiting to spring up when things get bad.

So, maybe after 9-11, I was willing to take the stuff I was reading from anti-Muslim neocons seriously. But, after a little time and a little reading, and finding one lie and misrepresentation layered over another, I wasn't willing to buy this bullshit any longer! So, as Altemeyer points out in his book, there are some of us who would have a liberal profile and be drawn in to authoritarian thought during times of danger or stress. But once things return to normal, we can't follow this way of thinking. But, I know many others who have never changed their opinions on anything over the last ten years.

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The reason why the majority start to move from left to right in their mid-20's is likely (all things being equal) that these are the years when we have become independent, are establishing or trying to establish careers...and noticing progressive taxation on income for the first time, and by the time we're 30, we're usually married and starting families....nothing like having toddlers running around to make you paranoid about security, morality, education etc. -- all issues that will tend to drive someone to wanting independence to earn income, but government to provide security....and there you go...you got your average rightwinger in a nutshell!

that's a conservative myth...if it were true we'd still be burning people at the stake and throwing children in prison...society always progresses forward and this wouldn't be possible if we became more conservative as we aged...what's happening is the old conservative bastards die off and the younger more liberal take over, of course those liberals are in the eyes of their children are conservative and so it goes every generation...ever notice how the NDP's policies are scorned by the liberals and conservatives only to be adopted by those same liberals and tories 10-20 years later, while the NDP have moved on...
I've asked rightwingers many times to explain to me how an economic system dependent on continuous growth can be meshed with finite space and resources, I'm not hearing anything useful....just the occasional promise of future technological breakthroughs that will maintain a peak population of 9 billion that want first world lifestyles......I'm not convinced, and that's why I am a leftist radical searching for something better than what we've got now.
at a giant ponzi scheme that must fail, and fail it will this century... globalization, continous growth along with a growing population and finite resources is an impossiblity...
Also, as I got older and my children grew up, I learned that they will turn out alright if they've got their priorities straight....so, I'm not even fractionally as conservative as I was about drugs, sex, homosexuality, or any other hot-button issue that brings out the religious right.
yup, no matter what you do kids turn out okay, don't sweat the small stuff and accept society changes and nothing disastrous happens when it does...I envy the freedom my kids have our society is so much better/liberal than when I was young... Edited by wyly

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it depends on which university and which college within the university...social sciences and arts will be the most liberal and socially progressive...finance/commerce will be the most conservative...

Yes, true enough, they're fairly liberal. But mainstream liberal and conservative are not especially far apart, I don't think, especially in the neoliberal age.

But they're not especially "radical left." They tolerate it, among a handful of professors, but it is not a large part of what they are.

Edited by bloodyminded

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that's a conservative myth...if it were true we'd still be burning people at the stake and throwing children in prison...society always progresses forward and this wouldn't be possible if we became more conservative as we aged...what's happening is the old conservative bastards die off and the younger more liberal take over, of course those liberals are in the eyes of their children are conservative and so it goes every generation...ever notice how the NDP's policies are scorned by the liberals and conservatives only to be adopted by those same liberals and tories 10-20 years later, while the NDP have moved on...

My example was strictly anecdotal, based on my own experiences. I should have also added that during my conservative phase I was living in a new suburb, and I think where you live and who you interact with, has a lot to do with your cultural attitudes. In an all-white upper middleclass suburb, you don't come in contact with people on welfare, racial minorities and natives, Muslims, or any group that is the usual target of suspicion and contempt of rightwing ideologues and media; so it's easier to objectify them as something other than yourself. If you end up having to give up that expensive house and move into an older neighbourhood and be closer to work, you are likely to come in contact with these same groups. It doesn't mean that you are all of a sudden going to be their friends, but you have a new perspective on the propaganda that you've been fed to inspire fear and contempt for them.

So, my path may be unique, since most people who move to the burbs stay there until they either die or get carted off to the nursing home.

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I was conservative from the start pretty much. There were brief times when I looked into socialist ideas and agreed with some of them, still do. However I could not get over the whole take my money and give it to the lazy thing back then and that still is part of me. I worked hard for my money why is it taken from me at gun point?

When I was homeless I never blamed anyone else for my situation. It was my own fault, I was responsible. If I was going to improve my situation that was also my responsibility. I made use of all the resources available as well. Drop in centers, libraries etc. It was through a drop in centre that I got hooked up with a program at the YMCA downtown on Grosvenor to go through a job training program. That is what started to help me get off the streets.

Someone on the left would instead blame someone or something else for their placement in life.

Edited by Mr.Canada

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I was conservative from the start pretty much. There were brief times when I looked into socialist ideas and agreed with some of them, still do. However I could not get over the whole take my money and give it to the lazy thing back then and that still is part of me. I worked hard for my money why is it taken from me at gun point?

When I was homeless I never blamed anyone else for my situation. It was my own fault, I was responsible. If I was going to improve my situation that was also my responsibility. I made use of all the resources available as well. Drop in centers, libraries etc. It was through a drop in centre that I got hooked up with a program at the YMCA downtown on Grosvenor to go through a job training program. That is what started to help me get off the streets.

Someone on the left would instead blame someone or something else for their placement in life.

Why were you homeless?

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Why were you homeless?

Because I had a violent temper and terrorized my family until they kicked me out of the house. I was violent for years, in and out of jail until I decided to get some help and go back to God.

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Because I had a violent temper and terrorized my family until they kicked me out of the house. I was violent for years, in and out of jail until I decided to get some help and go back to God.

Were you a youth when you were removed from the family home?

Once on the streets what effort, if any did you make in securing employment?

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Because I had a violent temper and terrorized my family until they kicked me out of the house. I was violent for years, in and out of jail until I decided to get some help and go back to God.

These are things that signal a need to get real therapy. There are some things you can't fix yourself, Mr. Canada. You owe it to yourself (and everybody else) to take care of these things.

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These are things that signal a need to get real therapy. There are some things you can't fix yourself, Mr. Canada. You owe it to yourself (and everybody else) to take care of these things.

No reply ? I posted this in good faith. I do wish you the best, you know.

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These are things that signal a need to get real therapy. There are some things you can't fix yourself, Mr. Canada. You owe it to yourself (and everybody else) to take care of these things.

I'm still getting help to this day for my issues. That was my problem from the start I never thought it was that bad until I started taking honest stock of myself. It's sad that there is a stigma attached to people who seek professional help in Canada. I still have a temper but am much better at controlling the explosiveness then I used to be, it's a constant battle to be sure.

I'd bet good money that more people would talk to someone if there wasn't that "crazy" stigma attached to seeking therapy of any shape or form.

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I'm still getting help to this day for my issues. That was my problem from the start I never thought it was that bad until I started taking honest stock of myself. It's sad that there is a stigma attached to people who seek professional help in Canada. I still have a temper but am much better at controlling the explosiveness then I used to be, it's a constant battle to be sure.

I'd bet good money that more people would talk to someone if there wasn't that "crazy" stigma attached to seeking therapy of any shape or form.

Nobody can look down their nose at anyone who is trying to improve themselves. I was on the brink of getting therapy more than a few times in my life, but ended up making discoveries on my own that got me through.

Best of luck.

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I don't know, Oleg. When I was younger and less financially stable, I was more conservative then I am now.

Then I started thinking and reflecting. Voila!

The only thing that I am liberal about is having multiple wives if possible in my old age..the only thing conservative would be to take a conservative protectionist stance in the guarding of my harem.

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The only thing that I am liberal about is having multiple wives if possible in my old age..the only thing conservative would be to take a conservative protectionist stance in the guarding of my harem.

LOL

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I was conservative from the start pretty much. There were brief times when I looked into socialist ideas and agreed with some of them, still do. However I could not get over the whole take my money and give it to the lazy thing back then and that still is part of me. I worked hard for my money why is it taken from me at gun point?

When I was homeless I never blamed anyone else for my situation. It was my own fault, I was responsible. If I was going to improve my situation that was also my responsibility. I made use of all the resources available as well. Drop in centers, libraries etc. It was through a drop in centre that I got hooked up with a program at the YMCA downtown on Grosvenor to go through a job training program. That is what started to help me get off the streets.

Someone on the left would instead blame someone or something else for their placement in life.

While we're all of course influenced in some ways by our own lives and circumstances, whether explicitly or in some ill-defined ways, I'm a lot more cautious about thinking of my personal experience as a means of determining my stances on such things.

By the logic you use here, I should think that any man who does not have a woman as intelligent and beautiful as I do...well, they must have something wrong with them. I did it; why can't they? Must be a character defect. My children are smart, kind-hearted and respectful; therefore, anyone's whose aren't is exposing his or her failures as a parent.

Such self-aggrandizement is pointless, and I don't consider it accurate anyway.

And I managed to improve my life, materially; but I don't subscribe to the idea of bootstraps and "everything is possible." Not wholesale, anyway. A lot of people struggle, for various reasons, and I think it's ultimately senseless to play what I call the Oprah card: Look what I've achieved...what's wrong with the rest of the world?

Folks have difficulties, and everything can't be easily relegated to the pop psychology of total and utter "personal responsibility." Much of what happens and matters to us occurs in our absence, after all. A person's life can't be pushed as emblematic of everyone else's.

A lot of success--a hell of a lot--needs to be looked at not only as personal achievement, but also as great good fortune. Luck, basically.

And in the end, Compassion is wisdom.

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I'm glad this thread has been resurrected, I missed it the first few times. A lot of great insight here, even from those who's conclusions I disagree with.

I started out politically very much a leftist. I was an NDP supporter, and not only thought that Ed Broadbent should be Prime Minister, I blindly believed he could win. I was a Liberal supporter during the Mulroney years. Throughout that time, my perspective was gradually shifting conservative, but I didn't like and didn't trust Mulroney. Then Reform came around. When I read their initial policy manual, it was as if I had written it myself. I found myself shouting out loud in agreement with nearly every proposal in it. The Conservative Party of Canada I'm far less enthusiastic about, because they are not nearly Conservative enough for my liking.

So what happened in that time? When I was an NDP, I was a kid. I had nothing other than what my parents gave me, and I feared the idea of being left to fend for myself. By the time I was a Reformer, I was going to University, owned my own home, and work to pay my bills.

There are still some left-wing concepts that I strongly support though. I guess that's the Mennonite in me. You'd be hard pressed to find a more conservative group of people, and yet they are very much socialists at heart.

Edited by Bryan

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