Left vs Left

Left vs. Left: What’s Happening Here Ain’t Exactly Clear

By Ken Ing, Guest Contributor

We welcome back Ken Ing as a Guest Contributor with his most insightful video Left vs. Left: What’s Happening Here Ain’t Exactly Clear. We introduce this video with Ken’s own words.

This talk is not intended to be focused on Unitarian Universalism. UU is currently experiencing an ideological rift, but I think that if we look at this clearly at its core the UU conflict did not originate in UU. It is an imported conflict. Many countries that trace their heritage back to the Age of Enlightenment are experiencing an ideological tug-of-war between traditional liberals and what I call an identity-centric movement.

 Most traditional liberals don’t understand the belief systems underlying the identity-centric movement. I’m going to try to explain those belief systems and the reasoning behind them.

I honestly have no ideas for how to resolve the conflict. The goal of this talk is to help us understand the conflict better. For instance,

  • If you’ve wondered why the left focuses so much on identity groups, this talk may help you understand that.
  • If you wondered why alternative points of view are sometimes suppressed, well, there’s a reason for that.
  • If you’ve wondered why it seems like anti-racism training is intentionally designed to be uncomfortable, this talk includes my theory about that.
  • If you’ve wondered how in the world reason and logic and evidence and even science are sometimes disparaged by the left, I’m going to try to explain that.

Ken Ing retired in 2019 after spending his entire career in Information Technology. He lives in the northwest portion of the state of Washington. He is a frequent contributor to the local UU Fellowship’s adult learning program, creating 13 talks over the past four years, usually about history or politics. He is a member of the North American Unitarian Association (NAUA) Academy Advisory Board. Ken’s previous Guest Contribution to the Fifth Principle Project was Concerns About the Draft of Article II in UUA Bylaws.

North American Unitarian Association

The North American Unitarian Association is a member service organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the practice of liberal religion by embracing freedom, reason, and tolerance—rooted in our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person and all peoples.

The Fifth Principle Project is very grateful that the NAUA Academy granted permission to publish Ken’s talk on our website.

Left vs. Left Video

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Julie
Julie
7 months ago

Thanks, Ken, for this highly informative, thorough and insightful deep dive into the subject of identity politics. This is a great video to watch together with fellow UU congregants who are interested in where this ideology came from, what its beliefs are, and how it affects UU. It of course goes far beyond just UU and would be interested to non-UUs interested in current politics also. I have ideas for how to resolve the conflict. By informing other people about this ideology and gathering together people who see the wisdom of aiming for progress through broad coalitions, rather than through… Read more »

Barbara Keating
Barbara Keating
7 months ago
Reply to  John Veneruso

Thank you. The Mounk article was very very worthwhile. I suspect that many of us can relate. I have been more disappointed, frustrated and irritated by the extremists on the left than their counterparts on the right. I expect better from liberals who are supposedly better education. I see, however, similar simplistic stereotypes, self-righteous arrogance, unwarranted assumptions and other logical fallacies and bullying on both extremes.

Jim
Jim
7 months ago
Reply to  John Veneruso

It is a challenge, when dealing with those one disagrees with, to continue to uphold the 1st Principle. From the article:

Ideologues of all stripes like to claim that the people with whom they disagree suffer from some kind of moral or intellectual defect

Julie
Julie
7 months ago
Reply to  John Veneruso

Thanks. Very interesting article. This is the first article I’ve read in a while that looks at the problems identity politics poses for Democrats and the Left. Most of even mainstream media seem to produce news and opinions about it only from a Right Wing point of view. Probably because they have categorized the subject as a Right Wing culture war subject, to be inserted into the Right Wing side of their “both sides” coverage.

I hope there will be more articles written in the future about the problems identity politics poses for Democrats and the Left.

D Rodgers
D Rodgers
7 months ago

Thanks, Ken. As usual, you have made an opaque topic almost understandable! What you have said tracks with what I have seen and read. I hope that UUs can survive.

Tim Bartik
7 months ago

This is a very well-done talk. I agree with the contention that the critical assumption here seems to be that “culture” is the main variable that maintains racial inequities. As an economist, I would say that racial inequities have more to do with (1) different material conditions faced by children, for example in family income/employment/earnings/wealth, school quality, neighborhood quality, which in turn are reflected in what happens in the next geneation, and (2) explicit racial prejudice in employment hiring, in the housing market, and in policing, which is illegal, but laws preventing these prejudicial actions are not always effectively enforced.… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
7 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I agree with your economist’s analysis and I notice that you state that progress on racial inequality since the 1980’s which also happens to be the time period when reduced taxation of the rich began and “trickle down” Reaganomics took hold. The resulting increase in income inequality has done much to hold back progress on reducing racial inequality.

Tim Bartik
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

I think the increase in income inequality is part of it. But there is more: the slower overall growth in U.S. labor productivity, which means that increased inequality is even more of a problem for those at the bottom; worse trends for the Black population than would be expected based on the income inequality trends — for example, upward mobility of Hispanics is doing better, but not for the Black population. I think one plausible hypothesis for the worse trends for the Black population could be our much too excessive residential segregation by race (not just income), which means that… Read more »

Tim Bartik
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

As an added reinforcement of the idea that Black-white inequality is both a class problem and a problem related to explicit racial discrimination, my Upjohn Institute colleague Aaron Sojourner recently co-authored a short issue brief on recent trends in Black and white employment rates. https://econofact.org/is-black-employment-catching-up-with-white-employment The essay is VERY brief and written for a broad audience, but an even briefer summary: (1) For the first time in this data series (since early 1970s), the Black employment to population ratio (employent rate) recently exceeded the white employment rate. (2) Some of this is due to differences in the age distribution by… Read more »

Holly Maureen Hart
Holly Maureen Hart
7 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Thank you for so well articulating what I have been thinking. There are two excellent books by John McWhorter which provide a more detailed examination of what you have outlined: “Woke Racism” and “Winning the Race”

Tim Bartik
7 months ago

Thank you!

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
7 months ago

I am a UU living in France. And my classic UU faith has shaped who I am and what I have tried to do. I have been trying to understand why I have been feeling betrayed by the major shift in UUA orientation. This exposé helps immensely as do so many of the excellent posts on this site. One of my tasks for myself is the need to cope with a deep feeling of anger at having been let down. So once again, grateful thanks for this valuable work, and for those like me who are trying to keep their… Read more »

Robert Murphy
Robert Murphy
7 months ago

A fine presentation much appreciated by myself. Although I joke that Irish-American immigrants may have introduced identity group politics to Boston. And the Unitarians and Beacon Press howled for decades. Nietzsche loved Emerson and they’re two dead guys who continue to haunt much of Unitarianism. Nowadays, their influence continues because of postmodernism and the worst of Jungian analysis. God may be dead in many congregations. What’s celebrated in place of God is the Self and this celebration may be written into the new version of Article Two. Nietzsche would be delighted with the UUA’s emphasis on “change for the sake… Read more »

Julie
Julie
7 months ago
Reply to  Robert Murphy

Robin DiAngelo makes money in some common ways: —“I’ve solved a very large problem” (or so the sales pitch says.) and –habits/addictions Nicotine, sugar, alcohol etc.–Substances people get addicted to or dependent on–sell very well. Tons of money is made from them. Also, release from guilt is very addictive. A lot of liberals feel guilt and want to be released from it. Some are Christians. Some are UUs who were formerly fundamentalist Christians but still carry the guilt. Until DiAngelans help them to release it. and –The old hymn Amazing Grace says “Was grace that taught my soul to fear.… Read more »

Peter Morse
Peter Morse
7 months ago

Well, that was scary as hell. A rejection of the Enlightenment. Which is the one thing (having produced the agricultural and industrial revolutions) that has done more to reduce human suffering and promote human thriving than any other human achievement ever.

Robert Murphy
Robert Murphy
7 months ago

In response to Ken’s excellent presentation, there’s more irony that should be noted. A few points in particular. The “woke” attacks against science and objectivity are ironic. Because we’ve entered a new age of fake news. Some of the political leaders and some of the journalists know how to manipulate the situation. Climate change? It’s a hoax. The COVID-19 pandemic is another hoax. Satanists are killing babies in pizza parlors in Washington. President Obama was born in Indonesia. Tobacco smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer. UFOs have landed in Nevada or in New Jersey or in some other place. If you… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
7 months ago

Great presentation, Ken. Thanks for taking the time to create it. I plan to use it in discussions with UUs who are unaware or apathetic about what has been going on in our religion.

Janice Anthony
Janice Anthony
7 months ago

Thank you, Ken, for this excellent video. My husband and I are appreciative of your explanations and presentation of the differences between the sides. Your assessment of the divisive nature of the new “liberalism” is something I’ve grieved about for a long time. You’ve presented much that I agree with but haven’t verbalized to myself or my discussion groups nearly as well as you have. Many thanks!

Scott K
Scott K
7 months ago

Excellent presentation! Thank you!

But I wish you had included the questions and answers and discussion following the presentation as part of the recording.

Ken Ing
Ken Ing
7 months ago
Reply to  Scott K

Thank you Scott (and others) for the compliments about the presentation. The NAUA Academy chose not to record the Q&A. The concern was that audience members might be reluctant to express their opinions if their off-the-cuff thoughts were going to be recorded. The NAUA Academy had breakout sessions after the general Q&A, and those reportedly were also good discussions.

Shaun Allen
Shaun Allen
7 months ago
Reply to  Ken Ing

This presentation was so good, clearly and succinctly contrasting the philosophies involved. Can you make a PDF of the slides available? I think many of us would appreciate that.

Last edited 7 months ago by Shaun Allen
Terry Anderson
Terry Anderson
7 months ago

For all of us who enjoyed and learned from Ken’s presentation, (as I did) I recommend that you attend future monthly NAUA Academy sessions. If you become an NAUA member (https://naunitarians.org/membership/join-us/) you will receive regular emails reminding you of upcoming NAUA events including the monthly Academy class. As Ken noted in a comment, all NAUA activities to date and planned feature breakout room discussions after the presentation or service. These are a great way to make connections, rekindle friendships with old and new friends and garner support for the challenges that we face as citizens and as Unitarians. Free registration… Read more »

Mary Paynter
Mary Paynter
7 months ago

I watched the video, and want to share it. I found that if I click on “Copy Link” and paste the result into an email, the link does not work. The link below I found by searching at Kenneth Ing’s website. It does appear to work.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&ei=UTF-8&p=Kenneth+Ing+Left+vs+Left&type=E210US739G0#id=1&vid=7c3eaa77af75c8305a1e851477eecae2&action=click

Terry Anderson
Terry Anderson
7 months ago
Reply to  Mary Paynter

Hi Mary I found I could email the link from the top of this thread at https://youtu.be/v3U_BOoMvZE
The link you posted includes the introduction from the NAUA Academy gathering, which is fine, but the link above is “cleaner”. Both work.

Scott May
Scott May
6 months ago

Reason, Freedom and individuality are among the prominent building blocks of UU (part of our 7 principles, as it goes without saying) and expounded through the enlightenment that lead to the French Revolution, and ultimately the American Revolution. Author, Seth David Radwell, of his book “American Schism” (2021 Greenleaf Book Group Press) presents a thorough and rigorous review of a Moderate Enlightenment and a Radical Enlightenment competing elements in the formation of our society, and the Post Enlightenment (post modernist) views we see today (i.e. authoritarian, dogmatic, anti democratic take over of the UUA). For those interested I would recommend… Read more »

Scott May
Scott May
6 months ago
Reply to  Scott May

I should have commented on Ken’s excellent video presentation. By far the best on the topic I have seen yet. We all agree that racism is a huge problem. We share the same values on where we aught to be and as Ken states, that it is not a clash of people, but rather about ideas. Don’t we come from a vast arena of variety in ideas and welcome this?? Traditionally UU has focused on what we have in common, not on differences. UU’s didn’t sensor but supported a search for truth and meaning. We held the dignity and worth… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Scott May
Frank Casper
Frank Casper
6 months ago
Reply to  Scott May

Thanks Scott. A very good, interesting, and engaging post. I very much appreciate your optimism based on the merger of the 60’s, but then, as you point out, there was a good deal of respect, mutuality, and good will then. There seems to be none of that now. As you said yourself, in the current climate of the UUA, your point of view, grounded as it is in the Enlightenment that gave us our 7 Principles, is enough to get you in dutch as a racist. I’m hard-pressed to imagine how anyone can work constructively when that attitude prevails within… Read more »

Scott May
Scott May
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

It’s truly most unfortunate and astonishing at the same time. I deplore racism, have taken efforts to become educated on the subject when the choice was available, I consider myself an ally, have participated in marches, I’m aware of what privilege is whereas not everyone is thus try to be more educated whenever possible, belong to a liberal faith, vote for progressive candidates, try to bridge the gap socially when possible and so forth. Will me being me save the world? Heck no it won’t, but the alternative would be having a person support conservative (or neoliberalism) candidates, supporting segregated… Read more »