The Sucker Punch of Right/Left Coalitions

A sucker punch is when an opponent hits you when you least expect it after being lulled into letting your defenses down. There are times when political reality creates temporary tactical alliances that cross right/left boundaries. Defending civil liberties as part of a coalition focused on legislation is one example. This is different, however, from urging strategic anti-government, anti-corporate coalitions linking the right and the left against political elites, elected officials, and trans-national corporations. There are many reasons why these types of strategic coalitions are a bad idea, not the least of which is that they were historically proposed by pre-WWII fascist social movements. These movements used right-wing populist rhetoric to call overturning corrupt and repressive regimes.

Once they seized state power, these fascist movements liquidated their leftist partners and instituted even more repressive and authoritarian regimes. While this is an unlikely outcome in the U.S., there are other dangers, especially when progressive activists challenging corporate globalization or government repression urge coalitions with right-wing populists who have considerable baggage around issues of oppression including racism, sexism, heterosexism, and antisemitism. Right-wing populists also tend to use a conspiracist analysis instead of a progressive institutional analysis that examines systems and structures of power.  The conspiracist worldview utilizes demonization and scapegoating; and frequently invokes historic antisemitic stereotypes. The links below explain this problem in detail.

The Repressive Side of Right Wing Populism and Anti-Elite Conspiracism

  • Right-Left - A Dangerous Flirt - Pressebüro Savanne - This page has an extensive collection of articles and links. It serves as the international clearinghouse for this discussion.
  • Militia Fever - The Fallacy of "Neither Left nor Right" - Janet Biehl
  • Right Woos Left - Chip Berlet - Political Research Associates (Very long study)

The Sucker Punch Series

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