My SNA Visible Minorities 33: “Why Progressives keep losing” (short answer: because they alienate their own allies), April 18, 2022


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Hi Blog.  My most recent SNA column is a think-pied about how the Left keeps losing out to the Right. Because working with the Left is like herding cats.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.


Visible Minorities: Why Progressives Keep Losing

Shingetsu News Agency, April 18, 2022

SNA (Tokyo) — Shingetsu News Agency President Michael Penn wrote about my previous column:

“Debito found a way to provoke them again, and I must say that I don’t understand the way a lot of people think these days. Those who read the article and interacted with what was written tended to say on social media that they largely agreed with it. But there was a more vocal cohort who, not really disagreeing with any specific arguments made, were outraged on the basis that Debito, a white man, had dared to give any advice to Naomi Osaka. Apparently, we are now supposed to live self-contained within our own little tribal identities, and universal humanity is no longer recognized as sufficient grounds to express an opinion, even for a news columnist whose job is to comment on public affairs.”

There’s a lesson here.

Yale historian Timothy Snyder said recently in a television interview, “The Left loses for the right reasons; the Right wins for the wrong reasons.”

One of the reasons why the Left, particularly the Progressives who have not enjoyed much power worldwide for more than a century, keeps losing is because of their fractiousness.

Just as soon as they gain an advantage or start making headway in the policy arena, they lose focus and begin turning on themselves. They alienate natural allies because they are not ideologically pure enough, or worse yet, as seen above, the wrong skin color.

Granted, the Left has always had a tougher time mobilizing people than the Right. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the Left wants leaders they can fall in love with, while the Right wants leaders they can fall in line with.

Let’s unpack that. Voices from the Left are discordant and diverse, and expectations are high and sometimes uncompromising. It’s also a lot tougher for a Leftist leader to gain and sustain the “love” of their supporters since, no matter what else happens, there will always be winners and losers with every decision they make.

But for Rightists, it’s a lot easier to “fall in line” behind an ideological camp whose basic organizing principle is money (and the shameless acquisition of it). And once they gain enough of it, money in itself not only buys power, but also, oddly enough, credibility. […] Sadly, that’s why the Right understands power better…

But that’s Right vs. Left. Now let’s talk about Left vs. Left, and how they undermine themselves…

Read whole column at 

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9 comments on “My SNA Visible Minorities 33: “Why Progressives keep losing” (short answer: because they alienate their own allies), April 18, 2022

  • “Just as soon as they gain an advantage or start making headway in the policy arena, they lose focus and begin turning on themselves”

    The exact same thing happening in my home country. As a result, now the left is on the verge on not getting enough votes to get even a single MP, were the elections to be held any time soon..;/

    “How dare I, a white man, write anything about Visible Minorities in Japan, or anywhere? The assumption is that whites enjoy White Privilege anywhere they go, including Japanese society, so they’re somehow part of the problem.”

    “Remember, the binary in Japanese society is that you’re either a Japanese (wajin) or a foreigner (gaijin). From this paradigm flows all shades of differentiated treatment both in society and in the law.”

    This. White privilege as a term is highly misleading. Of course it exists in many Western societies, but it’s because the majority consists of whites..I believe a more accurate term would be ‘majority [race] privilege]’ – at least speaking from my 10y+ experience as a white gaijin in Japan… And I don’t think it’s a ‘uniquely unique’ Japanese phenomenon – I presume the same to be the case in Korea, Taiwan and other neighboring countries, at the very least, although I don’t have any research nor personal experiences to back up this claim

  • Well I was literally banned from a leftist sub reddit a few hours ago for suggesting that some „white people“ may know more about Japan and Asia than the average Japanese person, since there are white people out there who hold a Ph.D. in Japanology or related fields. The original comment was claiming that all white people know nothing about Asia except from anime (a very stupid thing to say obviously).

    Now I obviously don‘t care about being banned from a subreddit, but I‘m telling you this in order to illustrate how spot on Debito is again. Even leftists have started with the propaganda of „Don‘t talk about Japan, if you‘re not Japanese“ and it‘s generally scary to see what a lot of left leaning places online have become. I never believed in the horseshoe theory, but I‘m slowly starting to change my mind. Especially after seeing how some leftist people and organizations reacted to the Russia-Ukraine War. And a lot of leftist subreddits and forums have basically become anti-white in recent years. Case in point the example above, people told me I‘m not allowed to speak about Japan as a white man and then banned me. I don‘t really think this falls under racism per se, but it definitely has anti white sentiments.

    As per usual, I fully agree with Debito here once again. I highly doubt I‘ll see leftist parties in power in Japan, or most developed countries in general. I don‘t even remember a time when leftists were so divided and with no clear plan like in the past 5 years. At least here in Europe. They‘ll rather spent time on silencing their allies due to fake wokeness, instead of actually changing the world for better.

    Thank you Debito for always being on the right side of history and always making clear that all minorities (whether White, Asian, or Black) should have equal rights in Japan and of course also have the right to criticize and talk about Japan in a public space. That‘s the only way to achieve true equality, which should be the goal of humanity as a whole.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I think that Dr. Debito could have taken this argument a step further to explain how denying him a voice on Japanese issues because he is a ‘white man’ plays directly into the Japanese right wing narrative that ‘Japaneseness’ is a function of blood, not a legal status.
    And then demonstrated how these Japanese narratives are the inspiration for the shakers and movers behind Trump’s political career that the left hates so much.

  • @ Niklas, really sorry to hear that. Its racist of them to suggest Japanese doesnt include Caucasians (Debito, the Ainu).
    Secondly, I would just start off any post with “Imperialist Japan; Colonizer” and that should shut down any such talk (though it probably wont stop apologists for that is what they are, for trying).

  • Exactly.
    I have been saying the same thing for years. I do not consider myself to be on the right or left of the political spectrum, but I have noticed that especially in the US, it seems that rightists/conservatives and leftists/liberals have been competing to make the most extreme appeals to their respective radical bases instead of focusing on mutually beneficial compromise and trying to appeal to those in the center. The only difference I see between the two groups is that while leftists/liberals claim to be the champions of tolerance and diversity, they are the only ones who eat their own due to perceived failure to be sufficiently woke/progressive.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    @ Baud, the Ainu currently not considered Caucasians, but they are certainly missing from any narrative involving Japan (except as people who arrived AFTER the fact – no, I am not making this up)

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I think this issue vividly reflects on the fallout of left/liberal stronghold in the west (i.e., the US and UK). I remember reading Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal” several years ago. It came out in a timely moment of 2016 election year. Frank warns that historical trajectory of Democrats that have shifted drastically from working class to professional class in the last 3 decades will lead to a graving consequence catastrophic to their constituents. He argues that their flirtation with neoliberal establishment–like Clintons — and utmost disregard of brewing public anger toward widening economic inequality during Obama era gave a fake populist figure like Trump an ammo. It has nothing to do with Russia that cost Clinton an election. Trump won in 2016 because Democrats alienated their constituents who voted for Obama twice, revealed their utmost bias toward Bernie Sanders–including “Bernie Bros” meme created by the Atlantic writer–and organizational corruption within Clinton campaign and DNC. Since then, they are totally in woke mode as MSNBC and CNN started conspiracy campaigns including Russiagate, Barisma, bounty hunter, Hunter Biden’s laptop, domestic terrorism/Jan 6 narrative. And now they are working closely with Silicon Tech giants to advocate for censorship of free speech in the name of suppressing the views they don’t like. Their abuse of superfluous power is working in a way to force their allies to become loyalists to corporatists like Chuck Schumer and Nanci Pelosi, while alienating their voters–especially blacks and hispanics, who have been struggling to make ends meet during this ongoing pandemic while facing the threat of eviction. And sadly, some progressives seem to toe the line with Biden and Clintonites. AOC called for more censorship. Pramila Jayapal just endorsed Shante Browne (a Clinton endorsed corrupt candidate) over Nina Turner. And a congressman Ro Khanna has been pushing for more military aid to Ukraine. And, I have to say Bernie Sander who showed his amicability to Joe Biden in 2020 election campaign is quite disappointing. That makes him look like Tsurunen Marutei (a former Finnish-turned-Japanese lawmaker) in Japan.

    The reality in which these progressive figures are making a choice to do favor for the powers-that-be shows a clear example of alienation that bodes ill for their political prowess. Some people like Glenn Greenwald and Saagar Enjeti believe that Trump could have a chance to win the election in 2024–even more so if Biden’s approval rating keeps slipping among young voters & other democrats remain unpopular as ever.

    I think progressives in Japan should pay attention to disposition of left/liberals in the US. It clearly teaches them how woke ideology-driven politics with utmost disregard of socio-economic needs common to all people across class and demographics ostracizes the most vulnerable — blacks and hispanics for the US, non-Japanese/migrants for Japan.

  • @Nikalas,

    Im not a student of political science, so I had never heard of the the horseshoe theory but interestingly, I had arrived at similar conclusions. The extreme right attracts racism while the left uses it for leverage, but both seem to end up at the same place.


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