How Did You Become a Leftist? Let Me Count the Ways

In a simple but brilliant tweet, The Decolonialist asked Left Twitter how it got so Left. It’s an intriguing question; for some people who are highly politically engaged, these stories resemble conversion tales, moments on the road to Damascus that change lives. For others, political commitments evolve gradually over time, based on thousands of small experiences.

Coming to believe in something is a lot like losing faith: sometimes it happens slowly and sometimes it happens all at once. For everyone, though, ideology remains a way of making sense of the world. It’s not a mirror held up to the world, per se, but it is surely mapped on the terrain of everyday experience and corresponds to the world-as-it-is to one extent or another.

We post some of the most interesting responses, including those of many friends-of-the-blog, below. At the risk of over-generalizing, it seems like empathy is a common theme — as is switching from being a libertarian to being a leftist. (It’s almost like those two things are connected.) People speak of learning about or reading something in school, or rejecting the conventional wisdom they were being taught. Above all — and not surprisingly, perhaps — traumatic experiences with work, healthcare, and housing have prompted many people’s shift toward embracing socialism.