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Bob’s Politics Meme: Five ideas which have had a good influence on the Left

I’m writing this in response to being  one of the people ‘tagged’ by Bob from Brockley to come up with five positive influential ideas on the Left, five bad influences and five ideas which are not influential enough. I am glad that Bob described this as an ‘impossible task’.   Here are the good influences – I’ll cover the other categories in separate posts in due course.

Statism Like ‘neocon’ this is a word usually used by its enemies.  But having just read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, I found myself irritated by his implication that just because excessive and authoritarian statism is bad, the opposite of these authoritarian movements – small state conservatism, laissez-faire capitalism – is automatically the right solution – it’s just another extreme. Goldberg is very good at depicting the excesses of state interference, but brushes aside the horrors of too little interference, dismissing Upton Sinclair, whose The Jungle exposed the plight of workers in Chicago’s meat packing industry, as a `muckraker’.

LGBT rights No, there’s no reason why this should be a left/right issue, and there are many supposedly left wing regimes with a poor record on gay rights.  But it was a Conservative government which introduced Clause 28, and a Labour government which repealed it and equalised the age of consent.

Minimum wage another good idea which got a lot of people on the right hot under the collar at the time but which now looks set to stay.

Secularism The freedom to practise your religion is an important human right, and I am against such rights being curtailed by those of other religions or none.  (The suppression of religious expression by those totally against religion could be seen as just as anti-secular as the suppression of one kind of religion by another.)  I’m in favour of state neutrality in matters of religion – while recognizing that different people may define ‘state neutrality in matters of religion’ in slightly different ways. Secularism is not the prerogative of the left – but it’s certainly a good influence on it.

The blogosphere Left wing blogs always seem to me much more appealing than right wing blogs – even right wing commenters prefer to hang out on them!

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