Friday, August 29, 2014


sonder, n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life
as vivid and complex as your own.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Too Many Police Shootings

fm We're Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us.
by Kyle Wagner

[excerpt] The United States has no database of police shootings. There is no standardized process by which officers log when they've discharged their weapons and why. There is no central infrastructure for handling that information and making it public. Researchers, confronted with the reality that there are over 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, aren't even sure how you'd go about setting one up. No one is keeping track of how many American citizens are shot by their police. This is crazy. This is governmental malpractice on a national scale. We'd like your help in changing this.

Read on here.

fm What I've Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings
by D. Brian Burghart

[excerpt] "The biggest thing I've taken away from this project is something I'll never be able to prove, but I'm convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It's the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn't collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I've been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They've blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law."

Read this article here.

Here's my blog comment: What no one wants to say but secretly believes is that deep down cops want to pull their weapons from their holsters and discharge a few rounds into somebody. It's an ego thing. Notches on the gun handle. A badge of fear. Look at me with awe and respect -- I'm a killer.

If you don't believe it, then why not consider banning all patrol officers from carrying any sort of weapon? If they run into a situation where a weapon is required, perhaps they should back off and get on the radio to request assistance. I'd much prefer that than this state of martial law that currently exists.


Venus is the second planet from the sun and is named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It is the only planet named after a female and is probably named for the most beautiful Roman deity because it is the brightest of the five planets known to ancient astronomers.

In ancient times, Venus was to be two different stars, the evening star and the morning star. In Latin, they were known as Vesper and Lucifer. In Christian belief, Lucifer, or "light-bringer," became known as the name of Satan before his fall.

Venus and Earth are often called twins because they are similar in size, mass, density, composition and gravity. The similarities, however, end there.

Yes, but it's a dry heat!
Although Venus is not the planet closest to the sun, it is the hottest planet in the solar system. Its dense atmosphere traps heat in a runaway version of the greenhouse effect. As a result, temperatures on Venus reach 870 degrees F (465 degrees C), more than hot enough to melt lead. Probes that scientists have landed there have survived only a few hours before being destroyed.

The atmosphere on Venus consists mainly of carbon dioxide with clouds of sulfuric acid. The atmosphere is heavier than that of any other planet, resulting in a surface pressure 90 times that of Earth.

The surface of Venus is extremely dry. Roughly two-thirds of the Venusian surface is covered by flat, smooth plains that are marred by thousands of volcanoes, ranging from about 0.5 to 150 miles (0.8 to 240 kilometers) wide, with lava flows carving long, winding canals up to more than 3,000 miles (5,000 km) in length, longer than on any other planet.

Beneath the cloud cover.
Six mountainous regions make up about one-third of the Venusian surface. One mountain range, called Maxwell, is some 540 miles (870 km) long and reaches up to 7 miles (11.3 km) high, making it the highest feature on the planet.

Venus also possesses a number of surface features unlike anything on Earth. For example, it has coronae, or crowns — ringlike structures that range from roughly 95 to 360 miles (155 to 580 km) wide. Scientists believe these formations come into being when hot material beneath the crust rises up, thereby warping the planet’s surface. Venus also has tesserae, or tiles, that are raised areas in which ridges and valleys have formed .

With conditions on Venus that could be described as infernal, the ancient name for Venus — Lucifer — seems to fit. The name was not originally intended to carry any fiendish connotations; Lucifer means "light-bringer," and when seen from Earth, Venus is brighter than any other planet or even any star in the night sky because of its highly reflective clouds and its closeness to our planet. Since Venus is the hottest planet, maybe Lucifer is an apt alternate name.

Venus takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis, by far the slowest of any of the major planets, and because of this sluggish spin, its metal core cannot generate a magnetic field similar to Earth's. That means gravity is weaker on Venus.

If viewed from above, Venus rotates on its axis the opposite way that most planets rotate. So, on Venus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

The Venusian year is about 225 Earth days long. Normally, that would mean that days on Venus would be longer than years. However, because of Venus' curious retrograde rotation, the time from one sunrise to the next is only about 117 Earth days long.

Atmospheric composition (by volume): 96.5 percent carbon dioxide, 3.5 percent nitrogen, with minor amounts of sulfur dioxide, argon, water, carbon monoxide, helium and neon.

Internal structure: Venus' metallic iron core is roughly 2,400 miles (6,000 km) wide. Don't ask me how I know that -- I got it from the internet. Venus' molten rocky mantle is roughly 1,200 miles (3,000 km) thick. Venus' crust is mostly basalt, and is estimated to be six to 12 miles (10 to 20 km) thick on average.

The average distance from the sun: 67,237,910 miles (108,208,930 km) and its perihelion (closest approach to sun) is 66,782,000 miles (107,476,000 km). The aphelion (farthest distance from sun) is 67,693,000 miles (108,942,000 km).

Venus would be a very nasty place to live if you could live there. The very top layer of Venus' clouds zip around the planet every four Earth days, propelled by hurricane-force winds traveling roughly 224 mph (360 kph). This super-rotation of the planet's atmosphere, some 60 times faster than Venus itself rotates, is perhaps one of Venus' biggest mysteries. The winds at the planet's surface are much slower, estimated to be just a few miles per hour.

The Venus Express spacecraft that the European Space Agency launched in 2005 found evidence of lightning. The lightning is unique from that found on the other planets in our solar system in that it is the only lightning known that is not associated with water clouds. Instead, on Venus, the lightning is associated with clouds of sulfuric acid. Scientists are excited by these electrical discharges because they can break molecules into fragments that can then combine with other fragments in unexpected ways.

Unusual stripes in the upper clouds of Venus are dubbed "blue absorbers" or "ultraviolet absorbers" because they absorb light in the blue and ultraviolet wavelengths. They soak up a huge amount of energy — nearly half of the total solar energy the planet absorbs. As such, they most likely play a major role in keeping Venus as hellish as it is. Their exact composition remains uncertain.

European Space Agency's Venus Express
The United States, Soviet Union and European Space Agency have deployed many spacecraft to Venus, more than 20 in all so far. NASA's Mariner 2 came within 21,600 miles (34,760 km) of Venus in 1962, making it the first planet to be observed by a passing spacecraft. The Soviet Union's Venera 7 was the first spacecraft to land on another planet, and Venera 9 returned the first photographs of the Venusian surface. The first Venusian orbiter, NASA's Magellan, generated maps of 98 percent of the planet's surface using radar, showing details of features as small as 330 feet (100 meters) across.

The European Space Agency's Venus Express is now in orbit around Venus with a large variety of instruments, and has confirmed the presence of lightning. The next mission to Venus, Japan's Akatsuki, was launched in 2010, and will follow Venus' thick cloud layers as they are whipped around the planet by hurricane-force winds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Southern Manners

People in the Southern United States are known for being hospitable, religious, and proper. Generally, they are known as hard working and family-oriented as well.

Southern culture has many unspoken rules that have become a way of life in the South. These rules are engrained in the basic character of the Southern folk. When it comes to Southern living, Northerners can’t understand it because they didn’t grow up here. Oh, they've tried to subvert things, but the thing is, you can't bury the truth. It's like re-writing history. People still know what happened because we talk to each other and some of us still read books. Imagine that.

Anyway, if you're a Northerner and particularly blessed, maybe that big ole Yankee company you work for will transfer you down to its Atlanta office, or maybe you'll get real lucky and move to a beach-side city in Florida. If you hit the jackpot, they'll send you down to Texas. I need to warn you, though, that once you spend some time here, you'll never return to Yankeeland. In the meantime, here are some rules for getting along down South.

10. While driving on country roads, keep your speed down and lift a finger (wave) at every oncoming car. If you see someone pulled over with their hood up, they've got car trouble. Pull up and ask if they need help. Why? Because that's the Christian way, that's why. Were you born ignorant? Don't be shocked if people wave at you from their porches as you drive by. They're not calling to you so there's no need to stop -- they're just being friendly.

9. We like beef and pork and chicken with barbecue sauce and we don’t respond kindly to people suggesting we should try something vegetarian.

8. We like to drink iced tea because it's hot down here. When someone comes to your house, your first question should be whether they want something cold to drink.

7. We eat dinner about six o'clock, we go to church on Sunday mornings, and we go to the local high-school football game on Friday nights in the Fall. 7:30 pm sharp.

6. We don't speak sharply to one another unless we're asking for a fight. It's always good to remember that real Southern men are not averse to fighting. Talking it out is for girls.

5. We know people who work for the government are shiftless but we still call them sir and ma'am.

4. The flag of the Confederacy is not a symbol of slavery. Chains and manacles are. Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee are heroes. Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk.

3. Southerners love the outdoors and like to hunt and fish. We own a lot of guns and without question believe in our right to bear arms. We don’t expect non-southerners to embrace hunting or fishing, but if you don’t know how to hunt or fish, we don’t consider you a real man.

2. Southerners are patriots. It is not acceptable to burn an American flag. If you want to speak disrespectfully about America, go out to California and enroll at the University at Berkeley.

1. Finally, here in the South, we expect everybody to speak and act respectfully, even if we don't really care for one another. So, if you're from the North and want to shoot off your mouth about how backward Southerners are, you might expect a cold response. Southern culture is not an oxymoron. You see, we do things our own way down here. Furthermore, we don’t have an accent, you do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


A Lesson In Leftism

The following argument was taken practically in whole from other sources in an effort to show the logical inconsistency of what we term as Leftism -- you know, that definition of what drives Progressive politics. Necessarily, the argument starts off with the following statement: The presupposition of competitiveness grants competition as a rational process by any belief. This is why Leftism can't criticize the outcomes of economic competition without becoming inconsistent.

Leftism is defined as "The people and groups who advocate liberal, often radical measures to effect change in the established order, especially in politics, usually to achieve the equality, freedom, and well-being of the common citizens of a state."

Furthermore, "Leftists... claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated. According to leftists, a society without substantial equality will distort the development of not only deprived persons, but also those whose privileges undermine their motivation and sense of social responsibility. This suppression of human development, together with the resentment and conflict engendered by sharp class distinctions, will ultimately reduce the efficiency of the economy."

If taking these definitions to be sufficient of all derivations of Leftism-progressives, social liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists, etc.-then Leftism is necessarily anti-competitive, as competition by definition produces inequality. To be for the elimination of "excessive differences" and to advocate "a society without substantial equality", as defined previously, is still, albeit nonsensically, anti-competitive. The nature of competition is the existence of rival differences which tautologically create inequality amongst them - if these differences weren't defined as unequal by the definition of "different" to begin with. Competition itself is amoral, for does a fact such as the sky being blue have a moral value? Thus, the belief that competition ought to be different than what it is, such as through moralization (e.g. "a society without substantial equality will distort [its] development..."), is to be opposed to what competition is.

Having clarified that Leftism is necessarily anti-competitive, the realization that Leftism is self-contradictory is clear: An argument, theory, belief, or ideological position, which is anti-competitive invalidates its presupposition for existing, rendering it logically inconsistent through this contradiction. In other words, an argument, theory, belief, etc., presupposes a competitive nature for which it is a participant in. This is because the nature of discourse supposes that to put forth an idea-and certainly one of a political nature such as Leftism-is to have it rival or contend with preexisting ideas. You see, thought does not exist in a vacuum. This is not to say a belief is necessarily put forth with the intent to contend with a preexisting belief but it is to say that, if thoroughly scrutinized, every belief can be reduced to its fragments (e.g. axioms) which will necessarily expose opposition (e.g. belief A holds axiom X to be true while belief B holds it to be false) to the fragments of another belief. Otherwise, differences in beliefs would be nonexistent, as beliefs would be all identical, that is, equal.

Thus the necessary and sufficient supposition for any belief is its competition for preeminence. And it is this supposition of competitiveness which Leftism abides by and, by definition, contradicts.

In left-right politics, left-wing politics are political positions or activities that accept or support social equality, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. It is typically justified on the basis of concern for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others and an assumption that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.

Click to enlarge.
The political terms Left and Right were coined during the French Revolution (1789–1799) and referred to the seating arrangement in the Estates General. Those who sat on the left generally opposed the monarchy and supported the revolution, including the creation of a republic and secularization. Those on the right supported the traditional institutions of the Old Regime. Use of the term "Left" became more prominent after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815 when it was applied to the "Independents".

The term was later applied to a number of movements, especially republicanism during the French Revolution, socialism, communism, and anarchism. Beginning in the last half of the 20th century, the phrase left-wing has been used to describe an ever widening family of movements, including the civil rights movement, anti-war movements, and environmental movements, and finally being extended to entire parties, including the Democratic Party in the United States and the Labor Party in the United Kingdom.

The influential Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, published in 1848, asserted that all human history is the history of class struggle. They predicted that a proletarian revolution would eventually overthrow bourgeois capitalism and create a classless, stateless, post-monetary society.

In the United States, many leftists, social liberals, progressives and trade unionists were influenced by the works of Thomas Paine, who introduced the concept of asset-based egalitarianism, which theorizes that social equality is possible by a redistribution of resources.

The International Workingmen's Association (1864–76), sometimes called the First International, brought together delegates from many different countries, with many different views about how to reach a classless and stateless society. Following a split between supporters of Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, anarchists formed the International Workers' Association. The Second International (1888–1916) became divided over the issue of World War I. Those who opposed the war, such as Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, saw themselves as further to the left.

In the United States after Reconstruction, the phrase "the Left" was used to describe those who supported trade unions, the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement. More recently in the United States, left-wing and right-wing have often been used as synonyms for Democratic and Republican, or as synonyms for liberalism and conservatism respectively.

The following positions are typically associated with left-wing politics.


Leftist economic beliefs range from Keynesian economics and the welfare state through industrial democracy and the social market to nationalization of the economy and central planning, to the anarchist/ syndicalist advocacy of a council- and assembly-based self-managed anarchist communism. During the industrial revolution, left-wingers supported trade unions. In the early twentieth century, the Left were (with the notable exceptions of libertarians like the anarchists and revolutionary syndicalists) associated with policies advocating extensive government intervention in the economy. Leftists continue to criticize what they perceive as the exploitative nature of globalization, the race to the bottom and unjust lay-offs. In the last quarter of the Twentieth Century the belief that government (ruling in accordance with the interests of the people) ought to be directly involved in the day-to-day workings of an economy declined in popularity amongst the center left, especially social-democrats who became influenced by 'third way' ideology.

Other leftists believe in Marxian economics, which are based on the economic theories of Karl Marx. Some distinguish Marx's economic theories from his political philosophy, arguing that Marx's approach to understanding the economy is independent of his advocacy of revolutionary socialism or his belief in the inevitability of proletarian revolution.] Marxian economics does not exclusively rely upon Marx, it draws from a range of Marxist and non-Marxist sources. The dictatorship of the proletariat or workers' state are terms used by Marxists to describe what they see as a temporary state between the capitalist and communist society. Marx defined the proletariat as salaried workers, in contrast to the lumpen proletariat, who he defined as outcasts of society, such as beggars, tricksters, entertainers, buskers, criminals and prostitutes. The political relevance of farmers has divided the left. In Das Kapital, Marx scarcely mentioned the subject. Mao Zedong believed that it would be rural peasants not urban workers who would bring about proletariat revolution.

Left-libertarians, Libertarian socialists and anarchists believe in a decentralized economy run by trade unions, workers' councils, cooperatives, municipalities and communes, and oppose both government and private control of the economy, preferring local control, in which a nation of decentralized regions are united in a confederation.

According to Barry Clark:

"Leftists... claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated. According to leftists, a society without substantial equality will distort the development of not only deprived persons, but also those whose privileges undermine their motivation and sense of social responsibility. This suppression of human development, together with the resentment and conflict engendered by sharp class distinctions, will ultimately reduce the efficiency of the economy.

The global justice movement, also known as the anti-globalization movement or alter-globalization movement, protests against corporate economic globalization, due to its alleged negative consequences for the poor, workers, the environment and small businesses."

The environment

Both Karl Marx and the early socialist William Morris arguably had a concern for environmental matters. According to Marx, "Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together ... are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations." Following the Russian Revolution, environmental scientists such as revolutionary Aleksandr Bogdanov and the Proletkul't organisation made efforts to incorporate environmentalism into Bolshevism, and "integrate production with natural laws and limits" in the first decade of Soviet rule, before Joseph Stalin attacked ecologists and the science of ecology, purged environmentalists and promoted the pseudo-science of Trofim Lysenko. Likewise, Mao Zedong rejected environmentalism and believed that, based on the laws of historical materialism, all of nature must be put into the service of revolution.

From the 1970s onwards, environmentalism became an increasing concern of the left, with social movements and some unions campaigning over environmental issues. For example, the left-wing Builders Labourers Federation in Australia, led by the communist Jack Mundy, united with environmentalists to place Green bans on environmentally destructive development projects. Some segments of the socialist and Marxist left consciously merged environmentalism and anti-capitalism into an eco-socialist ideology. Barry Commoner articulated a left-wing response to The Limits to Growth model that predicted catastrophic resource depletion and spurred environmentalism, postulating that capitalist technologies were chiefly responsible for environmental degradation, as opposed to population pressures. Environmental degradation can be seen as a class or equity issue, as environmental destruction disproportionately affects poorer communities and countries.

Several left-wing or socialist groupings have an overt environmental concern, whereas several green parties contain a strong socialist presence. For example, the Green Party of England and Wales features an eco-socialist group, Green Left, that was founded in June 2005 and whose members held a number of influential positions within the party, including both the former Principal Speakers Siân Berry and Dr. Derek Wall, himself an eco-socialist and marxist academic. In Europe, some 'Green-Left' political parties combine traditional social-democratic values such as a desire for greater economic equality and workers rights with demands for environmental protection, such as the Nordic Green Left.

Well-known socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales has traced environmental degradation to consumerism. He has said "The Earth does not have enough for the North to live better and better, but it does have enough for all of us to live well." James Hansen, Noam Chomsky, Raj Patel, Naomi Klein, The Yes Men, and Dennis Kucinich have had similar views.

In the 21st Century, questions about the environment have become increasingly politicized, with the Left generally accepting the findings of environmental scientists about global warming, and many on the Right disputing or rejecting those findings. The left is however divided over how to effectively and equitably reduce carbon emissions- the center-left often advocates a reliance on market measures such as emissions trading or a carbon tax, whilst those further to the left tend to support direct government regulation and intervention either alongside or instead of market mechanisms.

Nationalism and anti-nationalism

The question of nationality and nationalism has been a central feature of political debates on the Left. During the French Revolution, nationalism was a policy of the Republican Left. The Republican Left advocated civic nationalism, and argued that the nation is a "daily plebiscite" formed by the subjective "will to live together." Related to "revanchism", the belligerent will to take revenge against Germany and retake control of Alsace-Lorraine, nationalism was sometimes opposed to imperialism. In the 1880s, there was a debate between those, such as Georges Clemenceau (Radical), Jean Jaurès (Socialist) and Maurice Barrès (nationalist), who argued that colonialism diverted France from the "blue line of the Vosges" (referring to Alsace-Lorraine), and the "colonial lobby", such as Jules Ferry (moderate republican), Léon Gambetta (republican) and Eugène Etienne, the president of the parliamentary colonial group. After the Dreyfus Affair however nationalism became increasingly associated with the far right.

The Marxist social class theory of proletarian internationalism asserts that members of the working class should act in solidarity with working people in other countries in pursuit of a common class interest, rather than focusing on their own countries. Proletarian internationalism is summed up in the slogan, "Workers of all countries, unite!", the last line of The Communist Manifesto. Union members had learned that more members meant more bargaining power. Taken to an international level, leftists argued that workers ought to act in solidarity to further increase the power of the working class.

Proletarian internationalism saw itself as a deterrent against war, because people with a common interest are less likely to take up arms against one another, instead focusing on fighting the ruling class. According to Marxist theory, the antonym of proletarian internationalism is bourgeois nationalism. Some Marxists, together with others on the left, view nationalism, racism (including anti-Semitism), and religion, as divide and conquer tactics used by the ruling classes to prevent the working class from uniting against them. Left-wing movements therefore have often taken up anti-imperialist positions. Anarchism has developed a critique of nationalism that focuses on nationalism's role in justifying and consolidating state power and domination. Through its unifying goal, nationalism strives for centralization, both in specific territories and in a ruling elite of individuals, while it prepares a population for capitalist exploitation. Within anarchism, this subject has been treated extensively by Rudolf Rocker in Nationalism and Culture and by the works of Fredy Perlman, such as Against His-Story, Against Leviathan and "The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism".

The failure of revolutions in Germany and Hungary ended Bolshevik hopes for an imminent world revolution and led to promotion of "Socialism in One Country" by Joseph Stalin. In the first edition of the book Osnovy Leninizma (Foundations of Leninism, 1924), Stalin argued that revolution in one country is insufficient. But by the end of that year, in the second edition of the book, he argued that the "proletariat can and must build the socialist society in one country". In April 1925 Nikolai Bukharin elaborated the issue in his brochure Can We Build Socialism in One Country in the Absence of the Victory of the West-European Proletariat? The position was adopted as State policy after Stalin's January 1926 article On the Issues of Leninism. This idea was opposed by Leon Trotsky and his followers who declared the need for an international "permanent revolution". Various Fourth Internationalist groups around the world who describe themselves as Trotskyist see themselves as standing in this tradition, while Maoist China supported Socialism in One Country.

Some link left-wing nationalism to the pressure generated by economic integration with other countries encouraged by free-trade agreements. This view is sometimes used to justify hostility towards supranational organizations such as the European Union. Left-wing nationalism can also refer to any nationalism which emphasizes a working-class populist agenda which seeks to overcome perceived exploitation or oppression by other nations. Many Third World anti-colonial movements adopted left-wing and socialist ideas.

Third-Worldism is a tendency within leftist thought that regards the division between First World developed countries and Third World developing countries as being of high political importance. This tendency supports national liberation movements against what it considers imperialism by capitalists. Third-Worldism is closely connected with African socialism, Latin American socialism, Maoism, Pan-Africanism and Pan-Arabism. Some left-wing groups in the developing world — such as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Mexico, the Abahlali baseMjondolo in South Africa and the Naxalites in India — argue that the First World Left takes a racist and paternalistic attitude towards liberation movements in the Third World.


The original French left-wing was anti-clerical, opposing the influence of the Roman Catholic Church and supporting the separation of church and state. Karl Marx asserted that "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." In Soviet Russia the Bolsheviks originally embraced "an ideological creed which professed that all religion would atrophy" and "resolved to eradicate Christianity as such." In 1918 "ten Orthodox hierarchs were summarily shot" and "children were deprived of any religious education outside the home." Today in the Western world, those on the Left usually support secularization and the separation of church and state.

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Religious beliefs, however, have also been associated with some left-wing movements, such as the American abolitionist movement and the anti-capital punishment movement. Early socialist thinkers such as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, and the Comte de Saint-Simon based their theories of socialism upon Christian principles. From St. Augustine of Hippo's City of God through St. Thomas More's Utopia major Christian writers defended ideas that socialists found agreeable. Other common leftist concerns such as pacifism, social justice, racial equality, human rights, and the rejection of excessive wealth can be found in the Bible. In the late 19th century, the Social Gospel movement arose (particularly among some Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Baptists in North America and Britain) which attempted to integrate progressive and socialist thought with Christianity in faith-based social activism, promoted by movements such as Christian Socialism. In the 20th century, the theology of liberation and Creation Spirituality was championed by such writers as Gustavo Gutierrez and Matthew Fox.

There are also left-wing movements such as Islamic socialism and Buddhist socialism. There have been alliances between the Left and anti-war Muslims, such as the Respect Party and the Stop the War Coalition in Britain. In France, the Left has been divided over moves to ban the hijab from schools, with some supporting a ban based on separation of church and state, and others opposing the ban based on personal freedom.

Social progressivism and counterculture

Social progressivism is another common feature of the modern Left, particularly in the United States, where social progressives played an important role in the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, civil rights, and multiculturalism. Progressives have both advocated prohibition legislation and worked towards its repeal. Current positions associated with social progressivism in the West include opposition to the death penalty and the War on Drugs, and support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage, cognitive liberty, distribution of contraceptives, public funding of embryonic stem-cell research, and the right of women to choose abortion. Public education was a subject of great interest to groundbreaking social progressives such as Lester Frank Ward and John Dewey who believed that a democratic system of government was impossible without a universal and comprehensive system of education.

Various counterculture movements in the 1960s and 1970s were associated with the "New Left". Unlike the earlier leftist focus on union activism, the "New Left" instead adopted a broader definition of political activism commonly called social activism. U.S. "New Left" is associated with the Hippie movement, college campus mass protest movements and a broadening of focus from protesting class-based oppression to include issues such as gender, race, and sexual orientation. The British "New Left" was an intellectually driven movement which attempted to correct the perceived errors of "Old Left".

The New Left opposed prevailing authority structures in society, which it termed "The Establishment", and became known as "anti-Establishment." The New Left did not seek to recruit industrial workers, but rather concentrated on a social activist approach to organization, convinced that they could be the source for a better kind of social revolution. This view has been criticized by some Marxists (especially Trotskyists) who characterized this approach as 'substitutionism'- or what they saw as the misguided and apparently non-Marxist belief that other groups in society could 'substitute' for the revolutionary agency of the working class.

Many early feminists and advocates of women's rights were considered left-wing by their contemporaries. Feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft was influenced by Thomas Paine. Many notable leftists have been strong supporters of gender equality, such as: the Marxists Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai, anarchists such as Virginia Bolten, Emma Goldman and Lucía Sánchez Saornil, and the socialists Helen Keller and Annie Besant. Marxists such as Clara Zetkin and Alexandra Kollontai however, though supporters of radical social equality for women, opposed feminism on the grounds that it was a bourgeois ideology. Marxists were responsible for organizing the first International Women's Day events.

The women's liberation movement is closely connected to the New Left and other new social movements that challenged the orthodoxies of the Old Left. Socialist feminism (e.g.Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women) and Marxist feminism (e.g. Selma James) saw themselves as a part of the left that challenged what they perceive to be male-dominated and sexist structures within the left. Liberal feminism is closely connected with left-liberalism, and the left-wing of mainstream American politics. (e.g. the National Organization for Women).

The connection between left-leaning ideologies and LGBT rights struggles has also an important history. Prominent socialists who were involved in early struggles for LGBTI rights include Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde, Harry Hay, Bayard Rustin and Daniel Guérin among others.

The spectrum of left-wing politics ranges from center-left to far left (or ultra-left). The term center left describes a position within the political mainstream. The terms far left and ultra-left refer to positions that are more radical. The center-left includes social democrats, social liberals, progressives and also some democratic socialists and greens (in particular the eco-socialists). Centre-left supporters accept market allocation of resources in a mixed economy with a significant public sector and a thriving private sector. Centre-left policies tend to favor limited state intervention in matters pertaining to the public interest.

In several countries, the terms far left and radical left have been associated with varieties of communism, autonomism and anarchism. They have been used to describe groups that advocate anti-capitalist, identity politics or eco-terrorism. In France, a distinction is made between the left (Socialist Party and Communist Party) and the far left (Trotskyists, Maoists and Anarchists). The US Department of Homeland Security defines left-wing extremism as groups who want "to bring about change through violent revolution rather than through established political processes."

In China, the term Chinese New Left denotes those who oppose the current economic reforms and favor the restoration of more socialist policies. In the Western world, the term New Left refers to cultural politics. In the United Kingdom in the 1980s, the term hard left was applied to supporters of Tony Benn, such as the Campaign Group and those involved in the London Labor Briefing newspaper, as well as Trotskyist groups such as the Militant tendency and Socialist Organizer. In the same period, the term soft left was applied to supporters of the British Labor Party who were perceived to be more moderate. Under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the British Labor Party re-branded itself as New Labor in order to promote the notion that it was less left-wing than it had been in the past. One of the first actions however of the Labor Party leader who succeeded them, Ed Miliband, was the rejection of the "New Labor" label.

Left-wing post-modernism opposes attempts to supply universal explanatory theories, including Marxism, deriding them as grand narratives. It views culture as a contested space, and via deconstruction seeks to undermine all pretensions to absolute truth. Left-wing critics of post-modernism assert that cultural studies inflates the importance of culture by denying the existence of an independent reality.

In 1996, physicist Alan Sokal wrote a nonsensical article entitled "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity". The journal Social Text published the paper in its Spring/Summer 1996 issue, whereupon Sokal publicly revealed his hoax. While this action was interpreted as an attack upon leftism, Sokal, who was a committed supporter of the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua during the 1980s, intended it as a critique from within the Left. He said he was concerned about what he saw as the increasing prevalence on the left of "a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking... that denies the existence of objective realities". He called into question the usefulness of such theories to the wider left movement, saying he "never understood how deconstruction was meant to help the working class."

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things
that you didn't do than by the ones you did do,
so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor,
catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore, Dream, Discover."

- Mark Twain