Early January my wife and I had a wonderful time with friends we hadn’t seen in 2 years. We spent our time catching up on our lives and talking about houses, religion and politics. Their politics are pretty close to my own, so we had fun talking left wing politics and our worries about today.
I mentioned that I most admire independent minded leftists, individuals who are to the left of the political spectrum but aren’t afraid of disagreeing with the Left if they think the Left is wrong. I had mentioned Pete Seeger as an example, but I would also include individuals like Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr, Bayard Rustin, Muriel Rukeyser, Grace Paley. They valued the movement for social justice, but also valued individual conscience.
Right now, there is a big problem of groupthink within the Right with the cult that has developed around Donald Trump. But I think any group is vulnerable to groupthink if we’re not careful. The Left has been guilty of groupthink too, as in the 1930s, when some leftists defended Stalin in spite of the purges and killings in the Soviet Union, or in the 1960s when some leftists extolled Mao while turning a blind eye to the horror of the Cultural Revolution.
I’ve personally had some bad experiences with groupthink in an Evangelical Church in the 1990s. I learned that I am as vulnerable as anyone else if I’m not careful. Which is why I gravitate to independent minded leftists.
Here is a trailer to a documentary on Pete Seeger, one of my favorite heroes, an independent minded leftist who used his music to fight for social justice.