I am certainly not rooted in a strict set of guidelines which define the Left, and I assume that the anti-Zionist left considers itself on the Left, or otherwise why wouldn’t it just call itself anti-Zionist. Nothing wrong with that. The center and Right can also be anti-Zionist.
But there must be some set of characteristics or essence, which define the Left, even though there may also be some disputes of what that is.
I wouldn’t think that asserting – “it is a basic leftist view that material drivers, especially in this capitalist age, are the main ones that drive political and social change,” – would be that controversial a position. Nor would I think it controversial to state that the following is a leftist perspective: “Religious belief is not by and large the main drivers in political and social change.” Samuel Huntington and his Clash of Civilizations is not a leftist thesis. You may not agree with the above assertions, but then why consider oneself to be on the Left?
I admit that there is some ambiguity of what we mean by the Left, so in its broadest sense Phil may be among it. But if we distinguish between the Left and Liberalism, then I find a hard time classifying Phil as a Leftist, even a dissenting one. Have we ruled out Liberal or even Neo-Liberal anti-Zionists a priori?
In his dissension, Phil gave a reductionist portrayal of the Left’s perspective and then he wrote that with respect to understanding events in Egypt that “ordinary human beings, acquisitive and selfish and powerhungry and hungry for belief systems…” created the problems in Egypt. Who else on the Left writes like this?
Phil wrote that most of his positions are leftwing. I’m not convinced. He states, “I’m a socialist in my views on income distribution,” which may be true, but you don’t have to be on the left to favor a narrower income distribution. You can find such people on various ends of the political spectrum. It is how you understand why the income distribution is what it is or how you believe the income distribution should in fact be narrowed that would put one on the Left.
And Phil states he does not agree with how the Left explains power relationships, writing “I also believe that human beings are competitive,” which is akin to Economic and Social Darwinism, and not a usual position of the Left. He seems to consider “overpopulation” not to be a concern of the Left, which may or not be true depending on how the issue is defined. And he also concludes that “climate change will make a lot of the left-right ideological battles irrelevant.” Hardly!
And this phrase is quite revealing, while downplaying the importance of material drivers, he gave the example of “corporations (which are not just run by materialistic human beings but owned by millions of other materialistic human beings.)” This is certainly not a Left position. First of all, there are billions of ordinary people on the planet, while only millions own shares in corporations. Second, even in the United States little more than half of the adults own shares, including 401Ks, and the average amount owned is $12000. Third, the overwhelming majority of these millions of “materialistic human beings” owning shares have absolutely no say in how the said corporations are managed. Most are just praying they have enough money for retirement.
There are conservatives such as Scott McConnell and Andrew Bracevich, just to name two, that take principled positions on Zionism and Israel, and many other issues as well, that have my respect even if I do not share all their values and disagree with them ideologically. Not everyone on the right is neo-imperial, neocolonial, interventionist, or pro-Zionist. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Phil to come out as a non-Leftist.