Left Liberal Ideology

Siddharth Chatterjee siddhart at mailbox.syr.edu
Mon Apr 1 17:28:43 MST 1996

The following is a true story and has some bearings on the recent events
in this list:

When I was studying engineering (undergraduate), the freshmen and women
were subjected to severe hazing during the very first month after
entering the university. This hazing was carried out mostly by the progeny
of the city intellectuals and sometimes took serious forms of abuse.
After we went through this experience, it was decided by some of us to
form an anti-fascist faction to oppose this practice and to welcome and
show support to the new students entering our hostel. G, who although
quite young (late teens) and had read some Marx and Lenin, became the leader
of this left faction. In the hostel, there was another student A who
(we thought at that time) was a progressive or a left liberal. A had a
very pleasant personality, was well read (especially in English literature),
a good debater, and a jolly and kind young fellow who got along well with
every one in the hostel.

During our third or fourth year (I can't remember which), an event
occurred in the hostel which was to have far-reaching ramifications. One
evening, there was a knock on my door and one of my friends entered
with a serious look on his face. This friend, who was from a small town,
and had not read any Marx or Lenin, spoke with a slight embarassed stutter
and was the butt of jokes of the intellectuals in the hostel, was
a sincere supporter of the anti-fascist faction. He said that a freshman
had been been very seriouly abused by a senior and thereupon had run to
G' room in tears and had related his torture. G,immediately upon hearing
this, threatened to report the name of the perpetrator and his participating
cronies to the University officials (the university had an official anti-
hazing policy at that time). This was serious business since if the hazing
incident was found to be true by an university investigating committee,
the abusing student could be expelled from school according to unversity
guidelines. As soon as they heard this threat from G, the fascists had
gathered en masse outside his room threatening him with violence and
calling for a general meeting in the common room in which they would
ask G to take back his threat to report them. My friend said that
G wanted to hold an urgent meeting of the antifascist group to discuss
whether we should agree with this general meeting with the fascists.

My friend and I walked up to G's room to find the fascists hurling
expletives (red bastard, communist swine, etc.) outside his door and
threatening violence. After a brief meeting, we decided that we should
stick to our priciples of opposing all forms of hazing and should not
give in to the fascists' demand of a signed letter from G saying that
he would not report them. If they wanted to meet with us, it should be
without any prior imposed conditions.

During all this time of heightened tension,when physical violence by the
fascists could have been sparked at any momement, our left liberal
friend A was running back and forth between the fascist and anti-fascist
camps trying to "soothe things over". He said that there should be no
divisions in the hostel, that in outside events (sports, culture, etc.),
the hostel should present a united front (it was many years later that
I realized that he was calling for an unprincipled unity). He also
repeatedly asked us, especially G, to withdraw his threat of reporting
the fascists. When this was firmly declined, he made a move which
kind of shocked us. He suddenly accused one of the members of the
anti-fascist faction of threatening him with a knife. This was an out
an out lie and seeing his dramatic transformation from an apparently
"neutral" person and joining the camp of reaction, kind of made our knees
quake. Of all people in the hostel, he was the last person, we thought,
who could play a treacherous role like this.

We had a general meeting in the common room with A now clearly in the enemy
camp and denouncing us. After a lot of arguments, finally when the fascist
side agreed to stop their abuse of incoming new students, a verbal
agreement of not to report this particular hazing incident was made, but
they would be watched closely and the next trangression
would have serious consequences.

In this list also, the last two weeks have been a time of heightened
tension. This state has revealed the true ideology of some of the
left intellectuals (names are not necessary since they are obvious).
What was still amazing was the level of vitriol (pathology, lunatics,
perverion, pathogens, creeps, etc.) and hatred from apparently
intelligent and well-meaning people in their calls for expulsion and
censorship. A significant part of this left-liberal spectrum will
go over to the side of reaction in times of crisis (like A) when the
cover of "neutrality" can no longer be maintained. Left-liberal ideology
is "left in form" but "right in essence".

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