Leftists have a problem—a BIG one. Besides being today mostly drawing in awkward teens and tweens who are trying ideologies like fashion, or focusing on appealing to ‘oppressed’ peoples by casting the net of social activism and theory wide because inclusion is just nice, the Left has a more important and basic problem. That problem is the self-presentation and communication of the Left towards those who are not part of the Left. The Left simply does not know how to talk to normal people, and people, we have to be able to talk to normal people to draw them in.
This problem is not insurmountable—it’s relatively easy to correct. Now, if we want to talk to normal people, we need to get some things straight.
- Don’t start with “My ideology is…” Nothing screams “I’m a zealous political believer” like saying you’re ideological—normies don’t know what ideology is anyway; they just think it’s religious cult zealotry. Marxists and those who use Marxism are well aware everything is ideological (not really), but we need to be aware that the typical liberal and conservative don’t take their world views that way. Normal people just know facts, not ideology. Economics, i.e. capitalism and markets, are just a fact, not an ideology. Private property? Just a fact of social life. Selfish human nature? That’s just a fact of nature, like gravity is a fact of physics. If you’re going to argue, don’t argue from “perspectives” of capital or worker. Just state your position as hard given fact. Nothing impresses like “facts” and truth with data to back up—just don’t let them know it’s communist data. Most people have a hard time comprehending issues of statistical methods and the biases of just what constitutes data worth considering, so don’t go into that unless you think the person can comprehend it. Just do what the Right does: state that the other side clearly fudged the numbers (they mostly do) to say what they want it to say. Sometimes you’ll get a hardliner ideologue who doesn’t budge; just move on if that’s the case.
- STOP. USING. UNNECESSARY. THEORY JARGON. Just stop. You sound like a weirdo straight out of the 1860s. Nobody normal goes around talking about the bourgeoisie, the proletariat, or capital. Change the terms and change the style. Boss and worker is good and relatable enough. Don’t get into the arcane theory unless the person shows particular interest. You can argue against the injustice of markets and the subjugation of workers to inhuman mechanical lives without getting very technical and religious sounding, proclaiming the inevitable conclusion of history’s dialectic in glorious human communism. Above all, don’t talk about dialectics. Most Leftists don’t even know what they are, and an average person just will think you sound nuts—which you do, especially when you yourself don’t understand them.
- Quit with the comrade stuff in public. This is like religious social terms that make you look not just antiquated, but pretty cultish, so keep it to the politburo meetings. Nobody but the weirder Christians go around calling people “brother/sister” outside of church (brothas excepted). If it’s fitting, feel free, but when it’s not, just hold it. Yeah, it’s a great thing to be part of the Leftist ‘in-crowd,’ and using the Leftist lingo and terms gives you serious cred in your Trotskyite splinter party, but control yourself outside in public. Realize that most people find it off-putting and weird. If you live in an area where this isn’t weird, then don’t mind this and carry on, comrade.
- Speak about what matters to the common worker. They care about their job. They care about their health. They care about their rent. They (usually) don’t care about your pronouns and certainly don’t care about Florida being under the sea in 100 years (except for maybe the Floridians). They don’t care much about objective exploitation or relation to the means of production or the rate of profit—just give it time; they will later if you can first get them to listen. They don’t care about radical democracy and alienation from the product of their labor. They want a normal life: some vacation time, an opportunity at education, not being leeched off by economic parasites [*cough* capitalists *cough*], and to not be at risk of starvation or homelessness if they lose their job. Don’t go jumping to “glorious fully-automated communism” as if anyone cares about the dream of a future that isn’t here yet. Most people are interested in theory, but give it time and ease them in. Let them know that the Left prioritizes the big issues they care about—the practical reality of the Left is not revolution or bust.
- Learn to actually communicate. Talking past an interested person isn’t going to help spread your cause or comprehension. Read theory and get a real grip on it. Don’t just read secondary literature where so-and-so says Marx or someone else said, but try your best to grasp and understand the original argument. Learn to translate as much as you can back into basic terms others understand. When we say capitalism and they hear capitalism, we don’t understand the same thing, and let’s be honest about it. Be careful with terms; translate and compensate for the common position—qualify and explain when it just can’t be translated. Don’t expect people to learn your theoretical language or even be interested in doing so.
Now, depending on where you are, your working class may just have some very reactionary views. You have to know how you are going to deal with that, and let me tell you, it sure isn’t dealt by browbeating your opponent with constant insults about their character or intellect. That gets you endeared real quick alright—to a slammed door on your face if not a fist. You may not like it, but realize that these are the very people you need to convince to act for increasing universal gains as a class. You’re going to have to work out a practical strategy that, if it doesn’t change hearts, at least changes actions. You obviously don’t need to stoop down and join in their reactionary views, but you’re not in a better position by getting on a high horse and screaming at them… just saying.