This post became too long, so i'm doing series on the Left and modern politics, for now i will restrict this just to demographics.
Today there is a clear and problematic divide between the Parliamentary Left Wing movement, and the activist Left Wing movement, and it is seriously hindering the whole process of getting our views out there. In part because it means we lack a forceful direction, more because it means that many middle ground lefties, between the radicals and moderates, which is still a lot of people, and the people who might be actually campaigning if they didn't feel so exempt and depressed by it all. The Left movement hinges far more on having a ground swell of activists ready to commit to work, and if we don't fix this, then there are just the career activists who few people relate too, and the people who write sneering blogs on the other side, Dan Hodges, i am looking at you.
So firstly, a bit of demographics and psychology of politics. So first things first, i am sure you are all aware that the way you perceive the world, is not the way everyone does, maybe you studied Plato, maybe you were talking with someone who just failed to get where you were coming from, the point is that people perceive the world in radically different ways and the way human beings as a whole have perceived the world has changed massively throughout history. In the stone ages a tree was green, brown and course, when i look at a tree i know these things, i also know that it is composed of billions of tiny cells that have millions of chemical reactions going on inside of them and that all of this is really just a consequence of atomic vibration stated by an explosion that occurred trillions of years ago, this means little to my day to day activities but it means that i know there is far more going on in the world than what my senses tell me, and to consequently value hardened research to reach my conclusions rather than personal experience (to brutally simplify.) So anyway, George Lakoff, in his little handbook "Don't think of an elephant" suggested that the contradictory ideas that make up our political standpoints are in fact defined by an overarching look on the world, the left tend to see the Human interaction as something that is maximized by cooperative and caring interaction, whereas the right tends to see Human interaction as one of dominance and self interest, the only thing to do is to look after yourself and your family (Gene's and all that). This view is taken in varying degrees, and among people it is usually contradictory, still the reason you will never get a political candidate get 90% of the vote, or even 60% is that there are usually people very hardened into one state of mind or the other, enough to consider themselves of one clear side anyway.
So firstly the center ground is a minority group, not the majority, just the one place where people are likely to shift allegiances. Lets break an imaginary country down then into three camps, the cooperation camp, the freedom camp and the Not sure camp, about 40% would say they are cooperative, 40% would say they are all about freedom and about 20% would be truly undecided, though there are of course people who are not 100% loyal to the first two camps and and might be tempted to opt in for the Not sure (Heard of the radical centrists anyone?). There are of course all sorts of mitigating factors, faith in politics or certain parties, nationality, race, the list is very long. But what is important to see is that there are clear ways of looking on the world, and so without ever listening to the debates or Parliamentary speeches most people with have a certain disposition to a certain political movement.
But right now we are in a real problem, there is a massive gulf between those on the Far Left and those on the Center left (Damn i hate saying far, radical or extreme) and this is knocking out a lot of people who solidly agree with left wing ideas but do not fit into either increasingly isolated camp. I feel a lot like this at times, i get bored when i hear talk about bringing about industrial revolutions and crushing capitalism because it just sounds so old, uninformed and narrow minded (not that we don't need to do this) but i get viscerally angry when i read something on Labour Uncut whinging about how the Labour party has gone all naive and left wing, or how social democracy is no longer affordable (How is it that we have more stuff but are unable to pay for what we had?). I don't think capitalism is Humanities final point of evolution, there is a lot we have to fix, but making lots of random jumps off into the darkness are not often the best ways of finding a better way, not to mention it will probably kill a lot of people in the process. But i digress.
This is a real problem because it means both the day to day social issues that activists get involved in are isolated from potential core members and the Parliamentary left (Centrists) don't have boots on the ground, meaning they have to cow tow more to easy populist ideas rather than meeting the genuine ideals of a Left wing party. This is why we need to reconcile, and it requires a great deal of effort from all sides, which i'll talk about later.