I occasionally receive emails from someone who monitors right wing media, and they indicate that those on the far right often castigate other conservatives. These far rightists seem to nitpick over some of the smallest details and claim that others are not truly conservative—that they are in, essence, illegitimate conservatives. In 2016, the term “cuckservative” started appearing more often to denigrate those who did not hold the right right views, although I would not be surprised if other terms, unbeknownst to me, have now emerged.
This looks like an extension of the RINO movement–Republican In Name Only–starting in the 1990s. (Of course, there were similar attempts to purge even earlier, but without the RINO name. Remember Rockefeller Republicans?) But the name calling over ideological lint mostly makes me think back to the beginning of my legal career when I worked with various people who regarded themselves as socialists. These people had long, arcane arguments among themselves, although I believe they would have said that they had political discussions. When they started arguing about which socialist organization most resolutely carried forward or subverted Trotskyite principles, I did not laugh; I tuned out.
I had little interest in their disputes because I did not even know what they meant by socialism. I gathered it somehow differed from communism, but I thought that both involved the state or the government or the workers owning or controlling the means of production. Their discussions over arcane positions just seemed silly since it seemed clear that no socialist was going to be elected to office.
I did remember one Frank Zeidler, a socialist, who had been mayor of Milwaukee throughout the 1950s. While my impression was that he had been regarded as a good mayor, I did not know how as a socialist his positions were different from others who might have thought of themselves as progressive or liberal. (Zeidler, I believe, was aided because Milwaukee’s mayoralty election was nonpartisan, and he did not have to run under a socialist party label.) I did not know what in America makes a person a socialist.
I also knew that in the early and mid-twentieth century, people proclaiming themselves socialist were elected to various offices, but I had assumed that no socialist would ever be elected again. Thus, I was surprised when I first learned that Bernie Sanders, one-time mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and then U.S. Senator from Vermont, was a Democratic Socialist and that others now adopt that banner. If Democratic Socialism is a new movement, I don’t know what it means. If you do, let me know. I recently asked friends what Democratic Socialism was. Both quickly replied, “It’s what used to be called liberalism.” Indeed, in running for the Democratic nomination for President, Sanders seemed to indicate that he was not much different from other Democrats, and his ideas could fit within that party. Why else would he have sought to be head of that party?
I can’t take this new left seriously. It should learn from the alt-right who seems to have learned from the old left. To be seen as a new ideological movement, this new left needs to find things to argue about among themselves for the sake of purity. I don’t mean that there must be cell meetings where the true meaning of Bakunin’s collectivist anarchism is so furiously debated that violence is imminent. However, a political movement, to be a viable, apparently has to find ways to denigrate others who seem to hold similar, but not precisely the same, views.
Insults have to be found. I am told that “cuckservative” is a mashup of cuckold and conservative. The new Democratic Socialists need something like that. How about pervgressive? So for example, that president said he cared about liberal and progressive issues, but helped the deregulation of the investment industry, which aided his friends and donors on Wall Street; hurt American workers with NAFTA; signed a law that made it easier to discriminate in the guise of religion; supported the near gutting of habeas corpus; backed draconian drug sentences that disproportionately affected non-whites; did little to nothing about the stagnation of middle-class wages; and set back the reform of health care. That president was a real pervgressive.
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