How Divided is the Left Today?

How Divided is the Left Today?


Hey David, can you delineate the factions
that exist on the left right now? So I’ll try to do this. No, I don’t think that anyone will agree about
the different factions on the left that exist. Right. Everybody would delineate it a little bit
differently, but I’ll give you my take on it and you know with the caveat that there
is overlap between some of these groups and there is some fluidity between some of these
groups. So you have what is called third way politics,
which exists in both the democratic and the Republican party. But it is in a sense it is, it is sort of
a center left centrism you could argue that like bill Clinton, uh, personified this to
some degree. There is third way we can call it third way
centrism which is a faction on the left. It’s a pretty establishment faction of the
left. Some of you might call these establishment
shills although that’s a pejorative term. So that’s kind of one faction of the left. And I, and I know that that one can be characterized
in a, in a few different ways. There is what I call modern progressivism
and another way to sort of call that would be true social democracy. Okay. So these are definitely capitalists. These are people who don’t want to destroy
the system that we have are buying large incremental lists, who have seen the successes of social
democracy in other countries and they want to move in that direction on the basis that
there are specific policy ideas, which if we elect the right people, the system that
currently exists can be tweaked and we can go in a direction that would be often more
like the Scandinavian economic and social model. That’s what I call modern progressivism, which
takes into account, um, things like Medicare for all or some other way of getting to universal
coverage. We’re talking about, um, in many cases, housing
subsidies, we’re talking about maybe like Bernie’s plan to make tuition of at state
and local state a, um, uh, schools, uh, tuition free. Uh, you’re talking about paid maternity leave,
you’re talking about a democratization of the workplace to different degrees. Still capitalism. Modern progressivism is sort of like true
social democracy. You then have actual democratic socialism. Okay. Which is a smaller subsection. Um, in the immediate, a lot of their goals
are very similar to those of the modern Progressive’s in that the next steps are very similar. They may want to totally socialize the means
of ownership of the means of production, but for the most part the democratic socialists
will often agree that the next step for their cause is the same one as for social Democrats,
which is we need to make sure that we are supporting um, uh, workers rights and labor
when it comes to health care. Modern Progressive’s and democratic socialists
for the most part want something like Medicare for all. Although they may disagree about the way to
implement it. And this is actually going to relate to our
next audience question, which is about, is the debate between social Democrats and democratic
socialists one worth having right now. But I’ll get to that later. So that’s your democratic socialists. And this is a term that’s often misapplied. You will often have people who call themselves
democratic socialists who really aren’t, they’re just modern progressives. They’re social Democrats. They don’t want to socialize the means of
production. They don’t want the government as involved
as an actual Democrat democratic socialists might want. Then we get to, and this is where it starts
to get a little tough, we get to what I believe are some of the fringe groups and I want to
be careful about what term to use. I’m not trying to be pejorative, although
I think that these groups often have a lot of bad ideas. You have a sort of, you’ve got what sometimes
is called the Leninist left. You have what sometimes are called tankinis
and I know that that’s a pejorative term. I’m trying to find a non pejorative. There is sometimes overlap with a sort of
more anarchistic movement within the left. These are relatively fringe and you will find
that they have overlap with some of these other groups on foreign policy. You will sometimes see overlap between the
Leninist left tanky types, uh, and democratic socialists, although maybe for different reasons. For example, you might have isolationists
and non interventionists who are actually different politically that sometimes we’ll
agree on what the policy should be. In a particular foreign policy situation. You will have Leninist left tanky types and
social Democrats who might agree on how should education and healthcare be dealt with for
example. Um, but there are definitely some framing
differences where the Lennon is left tanky side and I, if somebody has a better now I
want a non pejorative term for that group, please tell me what one would be. Um, if there are times where when you get
into conversations of very basic things like the concept of a nation state, um, should
militaries exist where you will get to like some pretty stark differences. There are, there is also a strong actual socialist
communist component, um, within the Leninist left as the name probably suggests to you. Um, that is how I see the divisions on the
left right now. And I think for the most part think that it’s
great to have these different factions. You know, the Republican party ha prior to
Trump did not suffer greatly because of the three way split between the tea party types,
religious conservatives and pro-business Republicans. They had all three, they won thousands of
seats at the local level and up. Um, and it did not do damage to them. And I see no problem with having all of these
different groups included in the context of, uh, the left when it starts to become toxic. And we’ve talked about when it does, I think
it does start to do damage to the movement. If you disagree with how I see the modern
left being divided up, let me know and please do let me know some other way to refer to
the Lennon. It’s left tanky types. Uh, I don’t want it to be pejorative. It also can’t be gushing right, because I
do think that there are major problems with that, with that movement

100 Comments on "How Divided is the Left Today?"


  1. David, instead of "Tankie," you can say Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist, totalitarian, or authoritarian.

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  2. The Left isn't, but the Democrats are. But that's how it has always been: Not every Democrat was in favor of the New Deal, The Great Society, Desegregation, NAFTA or Obamacare. The coalition of the party was always a lot of different people together and today we have the centrists, the progressives, the socially liberals, racial minorities (usually), etc. So naturally, there will always be disagreement among them.

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  3. I think it only seems so divided because the Democratic Party is going through a primary to replace one of the most damaging presidents

    Discussion is important because who replaces Trump will (likely) shape the democratic platform moving forward for the next decade

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  4. Split up not at all after the primary voting and we have a single candidate. We will join together as a block and wipe out the republicans running for congress and stop their cheating.

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  5. I don't even know why you're talking about irrelevant divisions that aren't reflected in major politics.

    Left: progressive/justice Democrats; Green party

    Right: corporate Democrats; Republicans; Libertarians

    The only actual division in major politics, that's left of centre, is between progressive Dems (who want to take over the Democratic party) and Greens (who have started a new party). Both of those groups would only be considered centre-left in most other countries.

    Corporate Dems are centre-right to right of centre. Republicans are right of centre to far right. Libertarians are far right, but are less authoritarian than Republicans. However, they tend to vote their economics over their authority issues. The right has more political divisions.

    As a party, the Democrats have a bigger split, because the party now has a wider range, from centre-left to right of centre. It's, mostly, a right of centre party. Right wingers in other developed countries support things like universal healthcare and gun control. US corporate Dems are right of them. Progressives are trying to move the party back to its more centrist position.

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  6. Sigh. David stop waisting you life with politics. you are aware enough where I know you know that the change is not with anybody in the government. I SAID THIS MANY TIMES THE GOVERNMENT, ALL OF IT AND ALL IN IT ARE INHERENTLY EVIL.

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  7. If the left wasn't completely fractured someone like Donald Trump never could have won. He is objective proof that the left doesn't really have its finger on the pulse of the commonwealth.

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  8. The Left isn't divided at all. Everyone on the left is a Bernie supporter. Biden supporters are centrists or Republicans

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  9. You're forgetting the – albeit fringe – actual anarchists who want nothing less than the complete abolition of "The State", and some overlap with "Anarcho-Communists" (Basically reverting back to a more organized feudalism) Although personally, I see them as even more extreme libertarians who want ultimate personal control

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  10. The left use to be the left 10 years ago now we have Democrats liberals progressives, and neo liberals .

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  11. Establishment Democrats are centrists, not leftists. I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, just in terms of policies. Also, Joe Biden is a conservative. God knows why he calls himself a Democrat.

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  12. A divided country cannot stand.
    But, I can't and won't stand with the American Terrorist Trump supporters.
    So, now what?

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  13. Actually, it is very much sign of how far the general political narrative has shifted to the right that many people count those "third way democrats" as being part of "the left". If you're less progressive than FDR, you're not progressive, but backwards.

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  14. Don't you think if you can't find a more adequate name for the far-left/post-capitalists then maybe you don't actually know enough to make an educated assessment of their ideologies?

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  15. I think there's really two major factions of the left which comprisen of bernie supporters who believe in radical reconstruction of our political system, many of whom think even bernie doesn't go far enough but he's principled and the best we got, and then there's the warren supporters who want tweaks around the edges, namely getting rid of money in politics but lets be "pragmatic" about it. And then the third and fourth major (minor) groups are the anarchists and the true socialists in which there is probably some overlap. I would argue that the socialists and anarchists probably support bernie because he's principled and he would take us closer to what our country should actually represent

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  16. By your definition (and i agree) – most self declared progressives aren't progressives!
    And re ur "centrist shills"…extremists never like moderates. And it is very much the far left who despise centrists.

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  17. I'm sorry but "modern progressivism" is not "true social democracy" at all. It's the wants and needs of the few being forced on the majority. I get your point but we're a long way off from that. "Modern progressivism" is reparations, race/rage baiting, overblown climate change fearmongering and muh free money from the government every month

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  18. To call Democrats "the left" shows to me the lack of competence, who ever created or uses that definition. period !

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  19. Bill Clinton is center left? Well, the whole video is useless then.
    Socdems are center left. Bernie is center left.
    The issue with the left is that it hasn't existed in any real way for about 60 years. The U.S. is relearning what is left is. There's only been something to rally around for the last 3 years.

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  20. It's sad because I would have considered myself left wing a decade or so ago. Now it's invested with radical socialists, manbabbies, and trannies.I miss the democratic party that respected constitutional rights, capitalism, and the existence of your country. They used to be socially liberal and for the working class. Now they have become the elitists who want to control what you are allowed to say. Progressives are just as insufferable as the old fashion religious dogmatic right. Just as stupid too, they are so disconnected with reality that they don't understand that raising taxes is unpopular.

    The left used to make fun of the right for accusing the left of being socialists who are out to take your guns, now the left has become that caricature of itself.

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  21. Alternative word to “tankies”? You could use “authoritarian leftists” but ridiculous anti-SJW folks already took that term to their fuel their moral panic.

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  22. Tankies are internet-born, meme-fueled edgelords that have no clue what socialism is in the real world

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  23. During Dem primaries, only one: Bernie supporters. Anyone else is a corporate centrist and not a real progressive.

    If Bernie wins, only one: everyone must and will vote for and support Bernie and all that centrist corporate sell-out stuff is forgotten.

    If Bernie loses, still one: Everyone who votes for the Dem candidate is a centrist corporate sell-out, not a progressive. 4 more years of Trump will bring on the real revolution.

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  24. Neo-liberals came about largely after Ronald Reagan came to power and announced that “Government Is the Problem”. A large reason why Democrats were corrupted away from representing the people is because of the Republican proclivity to lie, cut taxes and give money to the rich. They should have doubled down with building the party with people power, but those in the seats of power became tempted by the golden calf being dangled in peoples faces and overcome by the fear of being left out of power if they did not join in the big money/ big business game. It began the year I graduated from high school 1981 and has been such a sad thing to observe 😢

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  25. Left really, in the US, I don't think so. Even your left is pretty centre compared to other western democracies. Socialism is a dirty word in the US, a rather stupid distinction frankly. All countries have socialist needs and all deliver in various degrees. In the US Socialism is still identified with Communism, which it clearly is not.

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  26. Biden is not on the left. Bernie is on the left, AOC is on the left, but the Democratic establishment abandoned any support of labor decades ago.

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  27. I wouldn't include Third Way Democrats as part of "the left" because I think their economic policies put them on the right. I consider them right-wing Democrats and their views are probably more in alignment with classical liberals. E.g. Biden, Delaney

    Liberals: Center-left economically, socially liberal. Not committed to specific policies. More "value-driven". Likes M4A but not committed to M4A exclusively. Like public-option as well. Can often be swept up by rhetoric. Can be reasoned with and can think in an evidence-based way. Most 2020 politicians fall in this group.

    Progressives: Social Democracy. Open to going further left but acknowledge that's when things get more experimental. Anti-imperialist. Knows M4A is the way to go and isn't fucking around. Wants action on a climate emergency, and wants policies that will actually keep us under 1.5 C

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  28. The difference between the 3 factions of the left n right are the right wingers no matter what know the end goal. So they will vote for the nominee regardless if thats their preferred choice. The left vote jill stein. Bernie or bust etc etc. the whole purity test.

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  29. I think between centrists there's also non-esthablishment more libertarian type centrist. not sure if that makes any sense. Just a perception I have.

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  30. I'm with the independent Left. Completely repulsed by much of the Left even though I'm mostly Left leaning on the issues.

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  31. The two party system has simply reached its limits cause the opinions and problems of the people are far too diverse to lump them together under one or another hat. It's also a side effect of capitalism. Everyone thinks of himself but i think of myself. Those who believe that an over 200 years old political system is still working without updates should better build a time machine that only travels into the past.

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  32. Bernie or Busters insist they'll spoil the election (again) if he loses the nomination, but this very threats guarantee that millions of Dems will never vote for Bernie. Catch 22.

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  33. The problem with finding a non-pejorative term for this tankie / Marxist group is that ANY new name comes up it will shortly become a pejorative because the group is such a pile of shit that any association with it is (rightfully) ridiculed.

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  34. The problem with the division on the Left is the fact that if Leninst left and Democratic socialists don't get their primary candidate as a candidate in general election, they won't vote for that terrible "establishment" Biden for example. That's what got us to Trump. Republicans don't have that problem. They are willing to suck it up on certain matters and topics as long as some of their values and interests are seen in candidate that they didn't support from the start. Snowflake millenials are the main problem with the Left…Period.

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  35. Tankies are those who supported Stalinist and post-Stalinist (i.e. Brezhnev) repression in the USSR and Eastern Europe. Members of the Communist Party of the UK were held to be Tankies, supporting the sending of tanks into Prague and other places. Trotskyists believe in "international socialism" (making Stalinism "national socialism?") The "Trots" may have been mistaken but they weren't actually evil- maybe they would have been if they had retained power instead of Stalin.
    https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/tankie

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  36. 3rd-way is supposed to suggest a "third way between Democrats and Republicans" and is center-right, not center-left. Classical liberalism is center to center-left.

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  37. And Social Democracy is a Capitalism/Socialism blend. Not as much socialism as Democratic Socialism but still a blend to keep Capitalism MUCH MORE in check.

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  38. "Leninists" are upper left quadrant authoritarian socialists and "anarchists" are the very bottom left "no authority" types who are not socialists.

    A non-pejorative term would simply be "authoritarian socialist".

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  39. There are those who insist that the Democratic nominee had just better be a true progressive (or else!!!!) and then there are those of us who are highly concerned, even fearful, of what a second term for the fool who's in office right now would bring as well as who are realistic about the actual chance that a Democratic candidate whose agenda is clearly one of massive government regulation/intervention in peoples' lives along with major tax increases would have, given a U.S. electorate that's historically tended to be, with the exception of circumstances such as the Great Depression, pretty skeptical of the government. Though Sanders and progressives and Donald Trump and his followers both seem to call for revolutionary change, the end result of a process envisioned by the former, i.e. a sizeable increase of both governmental regulation/programs as well as taxes, would be the diametric opposite of the end result of a process envisioned by the latter, i.e. government institutions stripped of their effective ability to act if not dismantled entirely and sizable tax cuts, with the one notable exception, which would be trade policy. Could Warren or Sanders actually carry Florida or North Carolina or Texas or the Midwest swing states? There are those who think that that's possible and the rest of us who fear that it's just not going to happen.

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  40. This analysis is completely leaving out one key factor — Black Democrats, who remain a highly significant constituency in the party and also, while they vehemently oppose Donald Trump, and possibly feel even more strongly in their opposition to Donald Trump than the (largely white) progressives, are just not, for example, obsessed with Medicare-for-All (or else!!!!).

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  41. If this country wasn’t so overrun by mainstream media propaganda touting that “business as usual” politics is great, then Bernie Sanders would be the frontrunner by a long shot

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  42. I'll throw in my 2¢. Americans are very unsubtle in their distinctions about left and right. Most of the current Democrats are really quite right wing, mostly because they've moved to the right to fill some space the GOP used to occupy (think of all the Democrats who've voted for Trump bills, in particular budget bills increasing military spending and reducing anything which might be funding positive things from national parks to food programs in schools). The GOP of course has moved so far right that anything left of it becomes shock! horror! LEFT! Imo the absolute left is pretty small, anarchists, old-style communists which are generally called New Left elsewhere (not Leninist, based on post 1968 reconstruction of leftist policies in capitalist countries ie: not realistically expecting to overthrow ownership of means of production) and a few other dribs and drabs including support of China (old style Maoists) and maybe some old-style socialists. There is huge confusion because you use "liberal" for "left" – in most other places liberals are Winston Churchill-style conservatives, although the parties all have varied names. The real central position are the democratic socialists in the Scandinavian mode, moving right to Justice Democrats. These are true centrists because they actually represent the needs and aspirations of the majority of Americans…. definitely Bernie and AOC fit here. Then we are on the border of centrist and right wing. That's where every other of the current crop of Democratic Party candidates are positioned including Warren, Gabbard, Yang, ie on the right of the DP. The rest of them are moving towards the extreme right of the Democratic Party eg: right wing like Hillary, who should have stayed a Republican. If they take money from industry lobbyists, big companies or millionaires/billionaires they eliminate themselves from being anything left at all. Whatever party they are in and no matter what they might say during campaigns they make themselves creatures of vested interests and anything but democratically-spirited by taking money which removes them from the interests of ordinary people. In short, it's less about where the label is, especially now, when all politics has moved so far to the right, but more about that old classic: follow the money. Journalists are terrible at helping us out here by being right-wing talking point questioners rather than real journalists trying to find truth in people, including candidates, and stories. Anderson Cooper, for example, is a total mouthpiece for money It's why we are here on sites like this, trying to find more "truth" than we're able to find elsewhere.

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  43. The left has always been more diverse. We are the "throw aways " of the "everything for wealth" mentally. This is why we are so difficult to get together as a bloc. Will Rogers said, back in the 30's, I’m not a member of an organized party. I’m a Democrat. Trying to get democrats to agree with just one policy is very much like trying to herd a group of cats".

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  44. Here we have David explaining the irrelevant differences in left politics to an audience of political junkies who still haven't figured out that there is no left or right ideologies among politicians. There is just business toadies who are in power at the time, and a willing public who keeps them in office to make laws for them to obey, and corporations to ignore. TrueDemocracyNow.org

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  45. Let me sum it up for you guys, America doesnt want the Communist-Leninist version of the democrat party, Trump is going to win 2020 easily and that's coming from a Liberal

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  46. All that matters is we come together after the Primary and Vote Blue No Matter Who. The alternative is a tRump dictatorship with the Government handed down to his daughter. Just study the way Hitler came to power he never had the majority he lost the election to Hindenburg. Hitler never got majority until after he was in power and put his propaganda machine to work..

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  47. The following assumes that the modern US usage is in accordance with international and historic usage. 'Tankie' is an old, British term for Stalinist. The word refers to their support for the USSR's 1956 intervention in Hungary, which was done by sending in more than 1000 tanks, resulting in some iconic pictures and film clips of tanks in the streets. They've since supported pretty much every military action by communist states, so the term has remained relevant. Their support hasn't always been unison or without nuance, but, unsurprisingly, internal discipline is significant, and tends to result in this outward impression. While I don't know the situation in the US specifically, calling the "fringe" is generally a gross overstatement about their political significance.

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  48. This is why Andrew Yang is the only true Modern Progressive who believes in Social Democracy.
    Warren is a Centrist, Bernie's a Socialist, and Yang is in that sweet spot of Social Democracy that we have to focus on and support.

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  49. You seem to be afraid of offending a group of radicals… Only a fool us worried about sparing the feelings of a group that crazy and willing to destroy anything and everything in the pursuit of their ridiculous ideals.

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  50. There is only one left political man on this topic, there is Sanders and Center right at best. A view from outside US

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  51. Man, the left isn't divided, it's lobotomized, it's dead. Nobody knows what they're arguing because the left's terms have been successfully rebranded by the right. The left don't know how to sell their ideas of solidarity and collective action because we've been successfully individualised. "Vote with your dollar" and "I think disruption protests go too far" are the groans of the undead left.

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  52. Genuine question – David, you mentioned that there are "capitalists who are interested in 'democratizing the workplace'. If the workplace is democratised (as in the stakeholders/workers all have a say on the direction of the company, including how the profits are used) how is this capitalism? In my understanding capitalism is about the individual furthering his/her private interests and property via the profit incentive. Sounds fairly socialized to me. Thanks.

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  53. Tankie = Stalinist or Stalinist Apologist, as in those who for whatever reason agree with Stalin's murderous, anti democratic definition of State Socialism (as defined by Stalin)

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  54. @David Pakman Show: Hey David, I think you forgot about social liberalism (it is not about "socially liberal"). Social liberals (the last notable examples of them were probably Mario Cuomo and Russ Feingold) are certainly on the left of centrists/Clintonists, share lots of similarities and goals with social democrats (free education, universal healthcare, climate action…), but on the right of Sanders people.

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  55. Huge divide David and here’s why: I see an anti intellectual strain in the far left that is just as vehemently suspicious of institutions of higher education as the the alt right is. And the far left can be equally distrusting, with near conspiratorial disdain, of the “mainstream media” and the “establishment”.

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  56. The left is divided. And that isn't a bad thing necessarily. It's the natural outgrowth of having a society that is diverse (in many ways) – reading a variety of media, racially, culturally, even division along communities, across state lines, geography, the list goes on. It can seem counterproductive, but it is simply impossible for a society to pick and choose what aspects of diversity it wants and which it doesn't want beyond a very limited degree (which will differ among every group – see how that works?).

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  57. The way I see it:
    Moderates (Centrists)
    Social Liberals (Center-Left)
    Social Democrats (Modern Progressives)
    Democratic Socialists (Left)
    Far-Leftists (Anarchists, Commies, other Socialists)

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  58. If the US the same democratic system as we have here in Norway, the democratic party would have been split.
    Probably the republican too.

    Such internal divide could only exist for long in a two-party system.

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  59. Non-pejorative term for tankies in the way you're describing them would probably just be Marxist-Leninists.

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  60. Lmfao @ David Pakman not understanding communists or anarchists at all. “Fringe” pshh. The left doesn’t begin at third way, it begins at dem socs.

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  61. I think maybe "communists" would be a better term for the group you're trying to refer to. "tankies" is a smaller slice within them, which is communists who refuse to acknowledge the negatives of previous massively failed attempts at communism. Like, will try to hide the idea that there were deaths caused by Mao's system and deaths caused by the system in the USSR in very large numbers. Non-tankies would be more like "Yeah, all that stuff was there and messed up and we need to try to work out how to avoid those problems for any future communism we have." And then the communists would be broken into so many more factions that basically there's a faction per person… I've listened to too many of them talk about their ideas and none of them seem to align other than them wanting some kinda communism. What does communism mean to them? Depends on the person.

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  62. I identify as an Eco-Socialist, since not only human wellbeing is important to me, but on equal ground planetary wellbeing, including all animals. I feel that plenty standard Socialists are forgetting about none-human life forms, and focus too much on jobs by any means necessary, even to the detriment of the environment. On economy however I’m all for government regulated Capitalism, not in total collectivism

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  63. I don’t think third way can be considered “left” at all. Right of center is a better description of them.

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  64. Your definition of Democratic Socialism is wrong. What you are describing is a very high-level definition of State Socialism: any (typically centralized) economy where the state takes control of the means of production on behalf of the people. Democratic Socialism, on the other hand, is a decentralized economy where the ownership of the means of production is through democratized unions. The "step by step" movement from right to left is simply a form of Marxism – which is the historical and projected shift from left to right. I can't speak for "tankie Leninists" – but while Leninism can arguably be described as a form of Marxism since its goal is Communism, they aren't really socialists since a Bureaucratical class owns the means of production: they're a command economy.

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  65. You should divide the moderates more. You have true centrists that are almost Republicans like Joe Manchin, and you also have clear liberals (or 80/90's liberals) like Biden who aren't progressive.

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