[Marxism] Re: Tracking the evolution of former ex-leftists: Why?

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Wed Nov 9 05:05:25 MST 2005

On Wed, 9 Nov 2005 10:50:35 -0000 "Paul Flewers"
<trusscott.foundation at virgin.net> writes:
> Walter Lippmann asks why we should be interested in tracking the 
> course of
> renegades from the left. Having been a supporter of the 
> Revolutionary
> Communist Party (the UK-based one) and being one of the very few 
> RCPers who
> has remained a Marxist as opposed to following Frank Füredi and his 
> coterie
> into some sort of right-wing libertarianism, or (like most RCPers) 
> into
> political oblivion, I think that the probing of desertion from the 
> left is
> of considerable importance for socialists. After all, it is a sadly 
> familiar
> process; and one that is seldom followed in the other direction, 
> from right
> to left. A detailed political autopsy of the likes of David Horowitz 
> and
> Christopher Hitchens would be a useful piece of work.

Well, I can think of a couple examples of people who
went from right to left.  There is Doug Henwood who
was for a while as a student at Yale was active in 
the Party of the Right.  There is the case of our 
esteemed moderator who as
a high school student had founded a chapter of the
Young Americans for Freedom.  

Having said that, it is nevertheless quite rare for 
someone who after
having established a reputation as an intellectual
or leader of the right to become a leftist, whereas
there are many examples of people who after
having establishing reputations as left-wing
thinkers or leaders have defected to the right.
I think the most obvious answer is that there
are very significant rewards to be gained from
a defection to the right, both monetarily and in
terms of social prestige and access to political
power.  In other words such a defection is
in contrast with defecting from the right to the left.

There are certainly other factors too.  People
who are active in struggles for social change
often burn out after a while.  It requires very
considerable inner strength to stick it out
over the long haul.  Participants in such
struggles often take heart by becoming
attached to some particular
country such as the former Soviet Union
or China to which they develop very idealized
images that may not correspond to the
realities of those places.  When these
people realize the imperfections of
these idealized models they may become
very disillusioned and so give up entirely
on the struggle for social change.

> Paul F
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