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The problems with the activist left

Started by Barrister, June 21, 2022, 11:30:34 AM

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Barrister

Okay, so recently saw two disconnected news articles, but seemed to relate a common problem.

First, locally about the Alberta NDP (our left-wing party):

QuoteExternal firm to examine staff and volunteer mistreatment by NDP, Notley says

Independent body to review the party's human resources policies
The Canadian Press ยท Posted: Jun 19, 2022 5:11 PM MT | Last Updated: June 19

Alberta's Opposition leader apologized to delegates during a speech to her party's provincial council on Sunday in Red Deer, saying complaints about treatment of staff and volunteers will be investigated by an external firm.

Rachel Notley also promised that an independent body will review the NDP's human resources policies to ensure they have "robust policies and proper codes of conduct in place."

She added that all of the party's executive staff, including herself, will take additional workplace training.

Notley told reporters last week that she and the party executive would recommend finding an independent body with expertise in harassment complaints, and the matter would be discussed by NDP leadership this weekend.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/ndp-rachel-notley-opposition-leader-mistreatment-volunteers-1.6494259

So, while I have a number of problems with the NDP, the idea that they systematically mistreat their volunteers seems hard to believe.

But I also saw this article, based in the US.

https://theintercept.com/2022/06/13/progressive-organizing-infighting-callout-culture/

It's really long, not easily excerptable, but goes through a whole bunch of US-based progressive groups having problems with their own employees.  But here's a couple of anecdotes that seems to sum up the problem:

QuoteFOR PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT organizations, 2021 promised to be the year they turned power into policy, with a Democratic trifecta and the Biden administration broadcasting a bold vision of "transformational change." Out of the gate, Democrats pushed ahead with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, funding everything from expanded health care to a new monthly child tax credit. Republican efforts to slow-walk the process with disingenuous counteroffers were simply dismissed.

And then, sometime in the summer, the forward momentum stalled, and many of the progressive gains lapsed or were reversed. Instead of fueling a groundswell of public support to reinvigorate the party's ambitious agenda, most of the foundation-backed organizations that make up the backbone of the party's ideological infrastructure were still spending their time locked in virtual retreats, Slack wars, and healing sessions, grappling with tensions over hierarchy, patriarchy, race, gender, and power.

"So much energy has been devoted to the internal strife and internal bullshit that it's had a real impact on the ability for groups to deliver," said one organization leader who departed his position. "It's been huge, particularly over the last year and a half or so, the ability for groups to focus on their mission, whether it's reproductive justice, or jobs, or fighting climate change."

QuoteDuring the 2020 presidential campaign, as entry-level staffers for Sanders repeatedly agitated over internal dynamics, despite having already formed a staff union, the senator issued a directive to his campaign leadership: "Stop hiring activists." Instead, Sanders implored, according to multiple campaign sources, the campaign should focus on bringing on people interested first and foremost in doing the job they're hired to do.

The source for the second article is The Intercept, which is not a news source I'm very familiar with.  Googling says it was founded by Glenn Greenwald (though he left 2 years ago).  Greenwald I am familiar with and he is... problematic.  A leftist more famous for criticizing the left, most known for working with Edward Snowden, and a definite Russia apologist.

But still - the problems the Alberta NDP is going through seem entirely consistent with the problems described in The Intercept article.

Any thoughts?
Quote from: crazy canuckBB's treatment is consistent with one who defends positions taken by the conservative wing of the Conservatives.

Berkut

I have thoughts, but they aren't anything new.

The left eats its own. It cares more about winning arguments then winning power and actually getting anything done.

I despair.
"If you think this has a happy ending, then you haven't been paying attention."

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garbon

Greenwald as been terrible for a long time. News 11 million years ago.
"I've never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they're only men with the useful bits cut off."

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

Berkut

Quote from: garbon on June 21, 2022, 11:52:53 AMGreenwald as been terrible for a long time. News 11 million years ago.
The article was not written by Greenwald.
"If you think this has a happy ending, then you haven't been paying attention."

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HVC

Activists are pretentious and annoying by default.  I could see working with them as terribly tiring.
Being lazy is bad; unless you still get what you want, then it's called "patience".
Hubris must be punished. Severely.

garbon

Quote from: Berkut on June 21, 2022, 11:55:20 AM
Quote from: garbon on June 21, 2022, 11:52:53 AMGreenwald as been terrible for a long time. News 11 million years ago.
The article was not written by Greenwald.

Oh I missed he left it.

Oh well.
"I've never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they're only men with the useful bits cut off."

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

Barrister

Quote from: garbon on June 21, 2022, 11:52:53 AMGreenwald as been terrible for a long time. News 11 million years ago.

Okay, so I acknowledged that in my post.

But still:

A. Greenwald has been out for The Intercept for two years; and
B. the reporting seems consistent with other things I've heard, including the otherwise unrelated story from the Alberta NDP.

So I don't know if just going ad hominem on Glenn Greenwald is enough to dismiss the article.

And yes, if you want to just tu quoque the article, I'll freely acknowledge yesterday's news story about the Missouri GOP Senate candidate wanting to go "RINO hunting" which was absolutely disgusting.
Quote from: crazy canuckBB's treatment is consistent with one who defends positions taken by the conservative wing of the Conservatives.

Sheilbh

I think there's two separate things there.

The HR stuff isn't particular to the left. I think organisations/institutions that have a purpose, or that people believe in are more likely to have cover-ups of really bad behaviour and, because of that, tolerate it. I think if people feel protective of an institution - which they definitely do about a political party they believe in - they'll prioritise protecting it of doing right by individuals. In the UK there's been scandals like that in every party, in the church, in the NHS, the BBC, the forces etc - I imagine there are equivalents in most countries.

I also think abusive is more likely to happen if you're in a sector with lots of young people who want to get in and limited roles - politics, charities, arts, fashion, video games. Combine the two (political parties, charities) and I think you can end up creating self-reinforcing really bad misconduct that people normalise but to anyone outside in another, less popular, job is unbelievable.

I definitely think there's something of the left's consultant class using donations as a make-work scheme for other highly educated lefties to "facilitate" sessions, consult or give training sessions etc. I think it's more of a cultural issue than a thing specific to the left though - if anything I think it points more to a capture of the left by (I hate to use this phrase but) the professional middle class and nepotism more than anything else. I think the activist left is far from the only area that has been captured and used by professional middle class as a make-work scheme for their mates - I think it does play into their alienation from supporters though.
Let's bomb Russia!

Jacob


Berkut

If the left put half the work int actually getting things accomplished that we put into figuring out why we don't need to do anything differently, we would run the show.
"If you think this has a happy ending, then you haven't been paying attention."

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Josquius

Probably doesn't help that young activists on the right are far more likely to have the means to support themselves and so can't be so easily exploited.
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Jacob

Quote from: Berkut on June 21, 2022, 03:20:53 PMIf the left put half the work int actually getting things accomplished that we put into figuring out why we don't need to do anything differently, we would run the show.

Not intended as snarky or anything - do you identify as left wing at this point? IIRC you were a self-declared centrist for quite a while.

If so... welcome :hug:

Berkut

I consider myself a practical progressive. I think the way forward for humanity is through technology, cooperation, and effective and practical use of our collected resources, which requires a strong and capable government able to actually get things done.

I don't know what that makes me. To the right I am Bernie Sanders, and to the "real" left, I am a right wing apologist, apparently.
"If you think this has a happy ending, then you haven't been paying attention."

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Jacob

Seems a reasonable enough position to me :cheers:

viper37

Quote from: Barrister on June 21, 2022, 11:57:40 AM
Quote from: garbon on June 21, 2022, 11:52:53 AMGreenwald as been terrible for a long time. News 11 million years ago.

Okay, so I acknowledged that in my post.

But still:

A. Greenwald has been out for The Intercept for two years; and
B. the reporting seems consistent with other things I've heard, including the otherwise unrelated story from the Alberta NDP.

So I don't know if just going ad hominem on Glenn Greenwald is enough to dismiss the article.

And yes, if you want to just tu quoque the article, I'll freely acknowledge yesterday's news story about the Missouri GOP Senate candidate wanting to go "RINO hunting" which was absolutely disgusting.

Quebec's largest unions have often been accused of mistreating their employees.  Fighting tooth and nail to avoid providing or expanding beyond minimalist insurance package to their own employees (when not simply trying to screw them out of their benefits), fighting against the unionization of corporations which they control through their investment funds (making Walmart and Amazon proud seems to be their goals :whistle: , sexual harassment, work-related harassment (again, some stories would make the 'best' Amazon managers blush) or outright racism by local union leadership.  
I don't do meditation.<br />I drink alcohol to relax, like normal people.

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