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The Difference Between Liberals and Leftists
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Living as they do in a bipolar political world where politics consists of Democrats and Republicans and no other ideology is real, media corporations in the United States use “left,” “liberal” and “Democrat” as synonyms. This is obviously wrong and clearly untrue — Democrats are a party, leftism and liberalism are ideologies, and Democratic politics are frequently neither left nor liberal but far right — but as Orwell observed, after you hear a lie repeated enough times, you begin to question what you know to be true rather than the untruth.

Sometimes it’s useful in this postmodern era to remind ourselves that words still have meaning, that distinctions make a difference.

Let us now delineate the difference between liberals and leftists.

Bernie Sanders votes and caucuses with the Democratic Party, campaigns as an independent and self-identifies as a “democratic socialist” — an ideology without a party in the U.S. but that draws comparisons to Scandinavia. His stances on the issues are left of center, but American politics have drifted so far right that he’s really a paleo-Democrat. There’s no daylight between Sanders 2020 and McGovern 1972. No wonder voters are confused!

Liberals and leftists want many of the same things: reduced income inequality, better working conditions, more affordable housing and health care. There are differences of degrees. A liberal wants the gap between rich and poor to shrink; a communist wants no class differences at all. They’re very different when it comes to foreign policy: Liberals support some wars of choice, whereas leftists would only turn to the military for self-defense.

It is tempting to conclude, as I used to and many people still do, that there is enough overlap between the two to justify, even require, cooperation. Liberals and leftists both want to save the planet and the human race from climate change. Why not join forces to fight the polluters and their allies, the denialists?

The Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz is the ultimate liberal: a professor at Columbia, ex-chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and former chief economist for the World Bank. An op-ed he recently published in The New York Times provides a perfect illustration of why a lasting working relationship between liberals and leftists will always be a pipe dream.

As is often the case with screeds by smart liberals, there is a lot to like in “Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron.” (Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Yes, it is.)

Stiglitz correctly identifies the problem: “Despite the lowest unemployment rates since the late 1960s, the American economy is failing its citizens. Some 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate or decline in the past 30 years. This is not surprising, given that the United States has the highest level of inequality among the advanced countries and one of the lowest levels of opportunity.”

He correctly apportions the blame on “wealth-grabbing (or, as economists call it, rent-seeking),” businesses like hedge fund management that do not create anything but profits and the legacy of Reaganism: “Just as forces of globalization and technological change were contributing to growing inequality, we adopted policies that worsened societal inequities,” Stiglitz writes. “We relied more on markets and scaled back social protections.”

Then: “We could and should have provided more assistance to affected workers (just as we should provide assistance to workers who lose their jobs as a result of technological change), but corporate interests opposed it. A weaker labor market conveniently meant lower labor costs at home to complement the cheap labor businesses employed abroad. We are now in a vicious cycle: Greater economic inequality is leading, in our money-driven political system, to more political inequality, with weaker rules and deregulation causing still more economic inequality.” Boom! This.

Liberals like Stiglitz and leftists like me part ways when the discussion turns to solution. As Lenin asked, What is to be done?

Stiglitz answers: “It begins by recognizing the vital role that the state plays in making markets serve society. We need regulations that ensure strong competition without abusive exploitation, realigning the relationship between corporations and the workers they employ and the customers they are supposed to serve. …

“Government action is required,” he says.

We need “a new social contract between voters and elected officials, between workers and corporations, between rich and poor, and between those with jobs and those who are un- or underemployed,” he says.

Stiglitz knows what is to be done. Mostly, he’s right. What he wants might not be enough. But it would do more good than harm.

What he does not know is how to make his proposals happen. Like the politics of all liberals, his is a toothless musing, a vacuous fantasy.

He said it himself: “Greater economic inequality is leading, in our money-driven political system, to more political inequality, with weaker rules and deregulation causing still more economic inequality.” This late-capitalism death spiral will not cure itself. There is no world in which corporations and their pet politicians and corrupt media propagandists will “recognize the vital role of the state.” They will not regulate themselves. They will not create “a new social contract.”

They are rich and powerful. The rich do not wake up one day and say to themselves: “Time to stop being a selfish ass. I’m going to redistribute my income.” The powerful do not care that the weak are miserable.

Money gets taken away from the rich one way: by force. The powerful are divested of their privileges the same way: when they have no choice.

Liberals and leftists identify many of the same problems. Only leftists understand that real solutions require serious pressure on the ruling elites. The credible threat of force — for example, a peaceful protest that could turn violent — may be enough to force reforms. But reforms always get rolled back after the left stops watching. Ultimately, the rulers will have to be removed via revolution, a process that requires violence.


Liberals do not demand change; they ask nicely. Because they oppose violence and credible threats of violence, they tacitly oppose fundamental change in the existing structure of politics and society. Unlike leftists, they are unwilling to risk their petty privileges in order to obtain the reforms they claim to crave. So, when push comes to shove, liberals will ultimately sell out their radical allies to the powers that be. And they will run away at the first sign of state oppression.

If you can’t trust your ally, they are no ally at all.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Democratic Party, Liberalism, Neoliberalism 
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  1. Rational says:


    This is a very strange article, containing many bizarre statements, such as “Democratic politics are frequently neither left nor liberal but FAR RIGHT.”

    First of all, both liberals and leftists and basically lib-barbarians. They do NOT care about the workers, the poor, or the environment, because if they did, they would be banning immigration, all promoted by the Judaists, to exterminate the goyim. The Democratic party (and the left) is a criminal enterprise, owned and operated by the Judaists. See online about 18 of 20 Hillary’s donors being Jewish Oligarchs.

    All the problems the liberals claim to fight against—low wages, income-gap, pollution, and congestion, the tearing down of trees to build homes for alien invaders, are all caused by immigration, and they support it.

    America is the 3rd most populous nation on earth, after China and India. Do the latter 2 push for more immigration and more people? No. Why? Because they do not have the Jewish problem.

    Immigration is being pushed by the Judaists to exterminate the white goyim.

    And a Jewish fraud like Stiglitz blames Reagan and spews mumbo jumbo—to fool the public and to cover up the crimes of his gang members, the Judaists, who have basically destroyed this nation through immigration, race mongering, whore mongering (VAWA, feminism), porno, depravity, and black criminality and looted the public with foreign aid to Israel, insider trading and special grants and contracts.

    90% of the problems of the Western World are due to the Judaists..

    • Replies: @Rational
    , @paranoidgoy
  2. The problem with your proposal, Mr. Rall, is that the megacorps and the federal government are one and the same. Which means they will have to regulate themselves. :rofl: The healthcare plan we are saddled with was written not by legislators but by the Heritage Foundation, a far right corporate-funded lobbying organ. Rank and file voters have no input on what laws are drafted or passed.

  3. Rational says:


    Jew Biden admitted that the Judaists are behind the liberalism racket and the alien invasion are responsible for all the sickness and depravity and human trafficking, whore mongering, race baiting, etc. that liberalism is synonymous with:

    The Judaists are behind the alien invasion:

    But in Israel, they passed a law to make Israel a Jewish state, hardly let in any 3rd world aliens, steal land from the Palis, shoot Pali children, and are building the world’s biggest prison to house blacks / Africans and an apartheid highway.

    How pure evil!!

  4. Dumb-ass question, sort of like ” Whats the difference between Ted Bundy and Charles Manson”?

    It really doesn’t matter as they are both totally destructive, malevolent lunatics, and either one of them in charge will bring chaos, pandemonia and the ultimate final coffin nails to the US.

    Authenticjazzman “Mensa” qualified since 1973, airborne trained US Army vet, and pro jazz artist.

  5. ”Whats[sic] the difference between Ted Bundy and Charles Manson”?

    No difference, as both were hoaxes.


    Ted Bundy

  6. Miro23 says:

    This late-capitalism death spiral will not cure itself. There is no world in which corporations and their pet politicians and corrupt media propagandists will “recognize the vital role of the state.” They will not regulate themselves. They will not create “a new social contract.”

    True, but it’s not necessarily a death spiral, it can be deep long term poverty. For example, the hopelessly corrupt Philippines has been stumbling from one economic crisis to the next for years.

    From Joe Studwell’s excellent book “Asian Godfathers”;

    The 2006 World Development Report said, “15% of Filipinos were living in absolute poverty, and 47% subsisted on an income between US$1 and US$2 a day. Half of the 12 million population of Manila lives in shanty towns that line the expressways, rail tracks and waterways of the metropolis. After 25 years of repeated economic crises, the Philippines economy is now critically dependent on the overseas earnings of an estimated 10 million, mostly female workers – out of a population of 80 million – employed as child carers, nurses and more in richer states around the world.”

    The Philippine’s best known living author, Francisco Sionil José (from an interview in the far Eastern Economic Review December 2004) says quite simply “We are poor because our élites have no sense of nation.”

    • Replies: @animalogic
  7. @Miro23

    You are quite right. As long as the establishment (liberals, the right & the pseudo-left) can control the death spiral, they can probably extend it out indefinitely. Just a question of controlling the heat as you boil that frog.
    Of course, the huge gravitational pull from the inherent contradictions & depravity of neoliberal capitalism & imperialism make such “control” rather tricky…. esp’ given that our current crop of “leaders” are so clearly inept, corrupt & cowardly. ( Jesus, Boris Johnson?? A guy whose entire assets consist in the charisma of a mop of blonde hair & a matey – nasty – sense of humour…)

  8. paranoidgoy says: • Website

    Gee, wiz, dude! Your comment reads like an ADL rant. Are we now going to find pro-zionist propaganda in the most insipid comment? Don’t lower yourself to the level of your ‘enemy’, that’s no way to build civilisation.
    The only offence anybody could really take to this article, is the missing paragraph after that one quote….

  9. There’s no daylight between Sanders 2020 and McGovern 1972.

    This! I’ve been calling Sanders the new McGovern since he first showed up on the national scene.

  10. Xyxyxh says:

    Yet they all want to loot superior people because they’re just worthless, envious shits.

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