I became Left Wing out of Spite

Some people just pissed me off.

Shoshana Kaufman
14 min readApr 3, 2021


Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

I have done a lot of things in my life more or less out of spite. Like learning to play the violin because my best friend in 1971, a spoiled ten-year-old girl, told me I would never be able to play it. Fast forward fifty years, and I’m learning the first Beethoven violin sonata as my retirement project. So there, bitch.

But an initial spiteful impetus can lead to meaningful outcomes. And time mellows rigid ideas like an autumn ode by the unforgettable romantic poet John Keats, who coined the term “negative capability,” the ability to accept ambiguity.

When I was young, I could not accept ambiguity. And when my wonderful romantic poetry professor tried to explain Keats’s concept of negative capability, I was completely confused. I was not ready for such a mature, nuanced view of reality. I tuned out until he resumed our study of Keats’s beautiful poems. Here is one of them:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams,

I listened enraptured (the professor was a very expressive reader). I read Keats’s poems out loud after class and wept at their transcendent beauty. “Who needs abstract ideas?” I thought. For me, beauty was everything.

When I was in my second year of university, Ronald Reagan won the American presidential election. I didn’t know much about politics then, but I had a bad feeling about it. I thought Jimmy Carter was nice and should have won a second term.

Political candidates could only be either good or bad. Evil or nice. And please spare me the boring details, my younger self pleaded.

Also, the United States of America was a foreign country to me. I was much more caught up in Canadian politics. By that, I mean I was interested in the marriage and divorce of Pierre and Margaret Trudeau. Maggie had recently published Beyond Reason (1979), a memoir that dished all the juicy details of their disastrous marriage. It was a mismatch on par with Charles and Diana, only with more violence: picture Maggie…



Shoshana Kaufman

Mother, Teacher, wife, food lover, spiritual searcher.