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From Ex-Leftists to Anti-Leftists

Isaac Deutscher has an article entitled “Heretics and Renegades,” delineating the path of people who begin by breaking with left-wing theories and positions and end up becoming fanatical anti-leftists.  They are characters who have, over time, populated the Right all over the world.

Some of them took advantage of Stalinism in order to condemn Lenin and, eventually, Marx and Marxism.  It’s no accident that a non-negligible proportion of them have Trotskyist origin.  Proceeding to equate Stalinism with Nazism in order to absolutize “Stalinist totalitarianism” was already a step toward liberalism and anti-communism.

Here’s a standard type: those who are on the Left, even militantly so, suddenly “repent,” drop everything, deny and denounce their pasts and their comrades, the idols whom they worshipped blindly, in order to surrender themselves — together with their arms, history, and, frequently, work — to the Right.

Some of them remain on the Left, in its most moderate corner, denouncing, in a strongly anti-left tone, what’s not “democratic” in the currents of the Left itself.  They are loud advocates of alliances with centrist and even right-wing currents, and they tend to dilute the distinction between Left and Right.

Others, more commonly, become militant right-wingers, of the most fundamentalist sort, in the style of anti-communists during the Cold War.  They get positions in the right-wing media — from editorships of magazines to columns in newspapers to invitations to appear on television — as rewards for their loyalty.

There are also writers, intellectuals, musicians, declining at the sad ends of their careers, who abandon the rebel postures of their pasts, to submit to the powers that be and the mass media in exchange for column inches, prizes, eulogies, which confirm their end-of-career losses of dignity.


Emir Sader is a Brazilian sociologist.  The original article “De ex a anti-esquerdistas” was published in Carta Maior on 21 May 2012.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).




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