Opportunism

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(from opportune; L. opportunum; something done or that happens at a particular moment, on purpose and when it is convenient). Personal behavior or political attitude that dispenses to a certain extent with moral principles, adapting to the prevailing public opinion and thereby receiving the corresponding favors and benefits from the powers that be. In contemporary political struggles adversaries frequently accuse each other of opportunistic practices to discredit their opponents in the eyes of the electorate. For this reason, allegations should be carefully weighed and substantiated, so as not to fall into politicking. In the political life of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mutual accusations of o. were commonplace in almost all political campaigns and electoral processes. A special propensity for leveling such accusations could be observed in the communist movement. Stalin accused all his adversaries, whether real or imagined, of being opportunists, now from the right, now from the left. In some cases, he even referred to “opportunistic monsters from the right-left” and stigmatized the “centrists.” This last was used by Russian Communists as the height of o., the worst insult of all. Victims of Stalinism were labeled “opportunists” if, prior to their arrest, they had been members of the Communist Party or of the Komsomol (Communist youth organization).