Underneath The Labels: The Left, The Right, And The Clusterf**k In Between


Some right winger beat a left winger, whose not really a left winger, but might be, but probably isn’t. Sue Stevenson tries to make sense of the US elections. With mixed success.

So the party on the right apparently won the election by dint of its disaffected working class voters who traditionally would have voted for the party on the left.

But the party on the left rigged its primaries because its candidate was a Jewish socialist and they now happen to be a party of the centre, and they needed their Establishment candidate, and so now they’re no longer in power at all.

The party on the left could have possibly given the US a Jewish Socialist President, even though the polls did or didn’t guarantee he would or wouldn’t have got in. Instead the party on the right has given the US a left-of-the-right elite populist apolitical narcissist-for-the-people with few policies-type President-elect.

Some voters on the left voted for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman, because apparently some still don’t believe that women, like all people, should be as free as possible to be who they are, which could possibly include becoming president. But the problem with some of the voters on the left who voted for Hillary is that their politics apparently stop beyond identity, and they did not appear to care that Hillary is not even a woman of the left anyway, but a woman of the corporatists, who has a penchant for global interference that involves bombing the shit out of people in brown countries, which includes women. Because she is a woman, fuck it.

The President-elect of the right was apparently assisted in his success by Russia, traditionally an enemy of the right because Russia was so extremely on the left but might not be anymore but who the fuck really knows because our media only talk about Russia with paranoia, in caricatures, with pre-determined ideas, as if the West doesn’t even poo let alone the idea it may stink, in the way we learnt to think of them 50 years ago.

US president elect, Donald Trump.
US president elect, Donald Trump.

Voters on the right who are concerned about the effects of immigration on their potential to keep up the mortgage payments, or get a job so their neighbours stop calling them lazy welfare bludgers (as if the global job situation is actually all about their laziness) vote for the one person who happens to be a narcissistic nincompoop, but who actually talks about the practical effects of systemic shit on their actual lives, even though even he doesn’t talk about it from a systemic ideological point of view but projects it onto Mexicans.

And then there’s the voters on the left who voted for Trump, which I guess makes sense because nothing makes sense anymore anyway.

Voters on the left, who traditionally addressed systemic shit, prefer, at least on Twitter, to generally bring it down to individual blame these days, which is traditionally the preserve of the conservatives. This was commented upon by Mark Latham, who was once the head of the Labor Party, on its right faction, which was once on the left but is now in the centre. Mark Latham was at a Trump election get-together. No-one listens to Mark Latham anymore because he is a boor and an arsehole who said shit about people in a way that makes him reprehensible, even though once I heard him on Q&A say one or two things that seemed vaguely reasonable, if you looked beyond his boorishness and the things he said that did not seem so reasonable. But we on the left don’t want to listen to him because we refuse to listen to anybody who is an arsehole in any way, even though everyone is an arsehole in such a swirly age.

Which sort of makes us arseholes, too.

But at least we’re not as big arseholes as some of those arseholes who are also dumb and racist. It would be possible that if we engaged with them we may understand a little more about why they hold their views. At least we’d have that, if nothing else. But fuck them because they are fucking arseholes so just fuck them. Let’s use them instead for our half-hourly Two Minutes of Hate Twitter-scroll.

The voters on the right who voted in Trump were dismissive of the voters on the left who supported Obama who, though black, was, like, a Communist who wanted to abort full-term babies but who despite those blatant beliefs in actuality still managed to be a president who droned a shit-ton of people who we cannot see and who therefore don’t count. The voters on the left were voting for Hillary who, though a woman, nevertheless couldn’t stop ramping up talk about going to war with China and Russia, and who assured her buddies on Wall Street that they would continue to get to be parasites.

The voters on the right voted for a President-elect who appears to have as shallow a knowledge as most of us who tweet as if we’re omniscient on Twitter. The voters on the right are generally regarded as being too stupid to know much about policy, which is good because Trump doesn’t appear to have many.

The President-elect of the right who himself is more on the left in some cases (whatever that now means) says he wishes to rein in US military presence from its worldwide tentacle stretch. This would be a change from the worldwide warmongering that both the left and right governments have indulged in, in order to keep the profits flowing for the excessively rich corporatists who run both sides of the show, in the same way that they funded both sides of the war. If a self-absorbed president managed to rein in the reach of the military-industrial complex’s invisible war of terror, then that would be a fitting Taoist silver lining in a world that is stark raving bonkers.

There is a famous Taoist story about a farmer whose horse bolted. His next-door-farmer-neighbour said what bad luck.

“Good, bad, who’s to say?” the farmer replied.

The next day the horse came home bringing with it a pack of brumbies it had befriended.

“Eh, good, bad, what are they?” Said the farmer.

The day after, the farmer’s son broke his leg trying to ride one of the wild brumbies, and again the neighbour commiserated on the farmer’s good-bad-good luck turned bad.

“What’s good? What’s bad?” responded the farmer.

The day after that, law changed on conscription and suddenly all the young men the farmer’s son’s age were called to go and fight the latest corporatist war for oil.

Good, bad, who’s to say? Though it does feel rather bad. But surely we are all Taoists now. (Except perhaps for the brown people in America and those with Obamacare).

US Presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. (IMAGE: US Embassy, Flickr)
US Presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. (IMAGE: US Embassy, Flickr)

And meanwhile, individual adherents of the parties traditionally of the left and the right continue to go into battle against each other underneath the articles online, themselves written by individual non-omniscient people just trying to make a buck, sometimes within the parameters of the corporatist media outlets owned by six enormous companies in a shrinking publishing market.

The things the people reading the articles accuse each other of are generally caricatured. Though the comments sections allow many more characters than 140, the accusations and assumptions and demonising will nevertheless be the majority of the comments, whilst in amongst them are a minority of nuanced, thoughtful commenters trying to make sense of it all. Trying to put the fragments together to understand where we were so we can know where we are, so we can consider where we might be, even with right-wing populists taking hold of disaffected white people who may or may not have the character flaw of racism, to point out systemic issues that are causing them to panic and using those people’s fear to turn them against individual Mexican people trying to earn a buck in a shitty economy that the US fucked with over 150 years ago.

Meanwhile, the silent surveillance goes on, day and night, as it has for decades. Whether you are of the left or of the right (whatever that now means), black or white, male or female or other, your comments against the other side will be tracked, along with theirs, with the advanced technological capability now possible, by the complex that has run unhindered, whatever party has been in power, since World War II.

It is invisible, and even if it never does anything with your data except sell it, its eye will watch you, adding to the silent, almost-unacknowledged anxiety that screeches through you as paranoia. But you would have been paranoid even without the surveillance, even without the corporate internet interference that subtly sets the scene for us to relentlessly fight against each other.

We are already destabilised by the fact that we do not know our neighbours, that we do not know where our next jobs are coming from (unless we’re lucky), that we do not have common shared stories anymore. That we feel alone and scared. And so we wrap around us whatever shreds will help bolster our identities.

If that happens to be defining ourselves against fuckwitted dickwads online who [insert the problem population category here], then so be it. For those few dopamine-fuelled seconds where we congratulate ourselves that we are not them, we feel a sense, so hard to glean the rest of the time, of who we are. Of the private us, with its complexities, its contradictions, its need to belong, to be seen beyond our labels and accepted as we are.

And that’s something that unifies us all. If only we could start to tolerate each other. A bunch of fucked-up arseholes. Our unity in diversity.

Then we would begin to have the kind of got-your-back assurance that we need as the pack animals we still are, limbically. The kind of clear-eyed assurance that you see in well-adjusted little kids secure in their parents.

We all deserve that. Fucked up as we are.


Sue Stevenson is an unironical hugger of trees. She can just about smell the next version of doing things differently.