Why is there so much division among the Left? To help with creating unity among the Left, it is imperative to answer this very question.
These divisions likely stem from the core of what it means to be a leftist. To be a Leftist, it means you think society should change in a positive manner. I shall define a positive manner as such; the weakening of an existing power structure within society. However, this is such a broad term that there ends up being conflicts within the Left. This is due to different movements will focus on one specific power structure, and not others.
To demonstrate this; I shall make a comparison of two groups that are called Leftist to show what I mean. The two groups are Socialists and Feminists. Socialists see Capitalism as a power structure that should be weakened, and even dismantled completely. Feminists see Patriarchy as the power structure that should be weakened, or abolished.
Just from that you see we have division between two different leftist groups, but crossover does occur as well, which becomes apparent with the idea of Marxist Feminism. Then the divisions increase when you ask the simple question; how? How should we achieve that goal? Now when you had Socialists, now you have Marxists, Leninists, Left Communists, Revisionist Marxists, Anarcho-Collectivists, Anarcho-Communists, etc. All of these groups want the same goal, a society without capitalism, but they disagree on how to get there and what tactics are acceptable to use. Feminism does succumb to this as well with Liberal, Cultural, Anarchist, Radical, Environmental, etcetera types of Feminism.
As I pointed out earlier, the crossover of different leftist ideas, then create a new division. As Marxist theory only analyzes the nature Capitalism, it never delves into analyzing Patriarchy. And Feminist theory originally only analyzed Patriarchy, but never analyzed capitalism.
You see Leftists may see only one system of power, or they may see multiple systems of power.
When you have a Leftist that sees only one system of power, they will antagonize other Leftists who do not see their cause as a legitimate one. They may also antagonize other Leftists who see multiple systems. Often, I have seen Socialists who will say, “The only struggle is class struggle.” They do so without recognizing how that alienates other Leftists, and may push them to pursue other causes.
When you have a Leftist that sees multiple systems of power, then they may antagonize other Leftists by making them the enemy. I have seen many Leftists called Right-wing for either not being a Feminists, or not supporting class struggle. Socialists who also embrace Feminism will exclude Socialist who don’t, a term used quite often to describe these non-Feminist Socialist is Brocialist. In this case, we not only see that there is a conflict between these Feminist Socialists and the “Brocialists”, but that one side has created a pejorative term to describe the other. In response, these “Brocialists” will adopt pejoratives used by the Right-wing, such as “Feminazi” or “SJW”.
We tend to get too caught up in our differences, and wish for a pure form of Leftism. Of course, that pure form conveniently matches the specific form of Leftism we adhere to. Instead, we should look at other forms of Leftism and consider the thoughts and views of other Leftists, without antagonizing one another.
Note: I used Socialism and Feminism as examples, purely because they are the two Leftist movements I am most familiar with, and a one-to-one comparison makes it a lot easier and shorter to write. I am most familiar with Socialism, and I admit I haven’t read much Feminist theory.