Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Day the American Left Died

.
"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

---The Hollow Men, T. S. Eliot

By MARC McDONALD

Many progressives are outraged over President Obama's caving on tax cuts for the rich. But I think this latest episode could signal something far more significant and disturbing in our society: no less than the death of the American Left.

Over the decades, the U.S. Left has suffered many thrashings, from the government's repression of the Wobblies nearly a century ago to Ronald Reagan's firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers in the 1981 PATCO strike.

But in the past, after each bruising setback, the Left always managed to pick itself up, dust itself off, and rally to fight another day.

Frankly, that's no longer the case in 2010. And Obama's habitual tendency to always yield to GOP demands shows that there really is no Left in America any more. Yes, there are individual progressives out there. But there is no real "Left" in the form of a significant national force that can counter the rabid Right.

Obama has stumbled on virtually all the important progressive issues during his presidency, from climate change, to the Employee Free Choice Act, to closing Gitmo, to ending George W. Bush's disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, he has even escalated the Afghanistan disaster.

Indeed, the only "progressive" victory Obama has to show for his time in office is his ridiculously wimpy health care bill---a convoluted mess that is so watered down, compromised and corporate-friendly that it's exactly the sort of thing that a Republican politician might have passed. (In fact, one did---and it's important to note that Obamacare is actually to the right of Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts).

Obama has had many chances to reverse the outrages of the Bush years---and time after time, he has failed, as he continues to cave in to GOP demands.

Reversing Bush's reckless and fiscally insane tax cuts for the rich was a golden opportunity for Obama to finally draw a line in the sand and stand up for what his supporters wanted him to do when they voted him into office.

The fact that Obama caved without even putting up a fight shows that there is no real Left in America any more. Even the corporate-friendly moderate Bill Clinton put up a fight to push through his modest tax hikes in 1993. And Clinton was no Liberal.

The worst part about all of this is that Obama's constant concessions to the GOP will, in the end, wind up pleasing no one. It certainly won't win him any allies in the upcoming new Congress, which is about to be stocked with a new crop of rabid, right-wing Tea Bagger fanatics who'll do everything in their power to undercut Obama.

And Obama's constant appeasement will only serve to further disillusion his shrinking base who invested such high hopes in him only two short years ago. Exactly, who does Obama think is going to be inspired to vote for him in 2012? Who among the progressives really wants another four years of his wishy-washy, bland, constant appeasement of the hard-care Right?

Yes, there are still fragments of a "Left" in America. There are a relatively small number of idealistic progressive politicians, like Bernie Sanders. But none of them has any real chance of ever wielding any significant levers of power in American society.

Make no mistake: the American Left is, for all practical purposes, dead. It has taken many beatings and brutal setbacks over the decades: from the slayings of JFK, MLK and RFK in the 1960s to the crushing of the unions in the 1980s to Reagan's ending of the Fairness Doctrine, to the Supreme Court's Democracy-demolishing "Citizens United" travesty.

It should be clear to everyone now that the Left is dead. After eight horrific years of Bush, the Democrats were handed the reigns of power with a simple mandate: to end the GOP's ongoing rape and pillaging of U.S. society.

Instead of responding, the Dems and Obama proceeded to give the GOP virtually everything it wanted on a silver platter. And instead of taking a principled stand on Bush's tax cuts for the rich, Obama merely caved yet again with a whimper---and showed just how impotent and irrelevant the Democrats are in 21st century U.S. politics.

One final note: to those who think I'm being too alarmist or pessimistic, I'd like to say that no one on earth will be happier than me if I'm proved to be wrong. In fact, I'll be happy to eat a very large serving of crow (literally)---and I'll Webcam it and put it on YouTube for all to see.

But frankly, I'm hardly alone in my pessimism for American society. In April, 2010, Noam Chomsky compared today's U.S. to Weimar Germany. He said that the "mood of the country is frightening" and that he'd "never seen anything like this" in his lifetime.

As Chomsky noted, in Nazi Germany: "...it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don't think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election."

Chomsky was right about the "crazed Republicans" sweeping the next election. Time will tell if the rest of his gloomy prognosis turns out to be true.

In the meantime, it's clear that the Left is dead in America. Granted, we never really had much of a "Left" in this country anyway, compared to the likes of Europe. But what we did have is pretty much dead now. And Obama's impotence demonstrates the Left's extinction as a force in American society.

34 comments:

Fran / Blue Gal said...

I don't have time for a back and forth on a blog thread, but thanks for this. I think you're flat out wrong, and that the blog you're writing at is proof of that. One of our big mistakes is thinking we have to be negative all the time to appear intelligent.

People have been making big declarations of the end of the Left since at least the trial and execution of Socrates. Meh.

But that's just one left wing blogger's opinion. :)

Marc McDonald said...

One other point:

re:
>>since at least the trial and
>>execution of Socrates

I've never claimed that the Left is dead worldwide, only in the U.S. And speaking of Greece, the Left is alive and well there to this day, with Socialist, Radical Left, (and even Communist) parties making up most of the current Parliament.

Scoremore said...

If the concern is that a lot of the wealthy may cut or prevent job hires then why not provide a tax incentive for the business they are in charge of rather than boost their income? How many of those making 250K+ are directly responsible for hiring employees? I’d guess (I know I shouldn’t) that some proportion of these wealthy either inherited it, or or are responsible for a minimum (and not negotiable) number of jobs like doctors, lawyers, actors and sports players (the latter of course to a possibly negligible degree. It seems like a crude way to ensure job growth to just give them all tax reductions. I know there are already business incentives but proposing more to compromise would be much more helpful than flat out giving money to the wealthy. Of course there’s nothing wrong w/ giving money to anyone, except when there are people trying to make ends meet, with no purchasing power on their own to afford necessities like food and health care, which are by the way much more efficient for productivity than luxury cars and 4-star dinners. Something’s off here. Is it just that democrats are completely inept at explaining things or am I not understanding the message?

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Fran, thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

re:
>>I think you're flat out wrong,

No one on earth will be more happy and pleased than I will be if I'm shown to be wrong about this. I sincerely hope I am wrong and that the Left rebounds and thrives in future years.

re:
>>and that the blog you're writing
>>at is proof of that

Yes, there are plenty of individual progressives out there, like you and me. But what I was referring to is the Left as a significant political force in American life.

re:
>>One of our big mistakes is
>>thinking we have to be negative
>>all the time to appear
>>intelligent

Actually, I don't have any illusions that I am particularly intelligent. I have an average IQ. And I'm not sure I am being "negative." I'm just calling it as I see it.

Since 1980, I, as a working-class American, have been forced to eat one sh*t sandwich after another. I keep desperately looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and I have yet to see it.

I see a lot of progressives who seem way, WAY too happy-go-lucky and upbeat about things. Frankly, I don't know where they're getting their jovial, sunny optimism from, given how grim the situation is. We're not even talking about cynical gallows humor, which I could at least relate to.

The Right rages with bitterness and anger while many of us on the Left are upbeat and sunny and optimistic. As for why this is, I have no clue. I mean, I'm as much for having a positive attitude about life as anyone. But given our bleak situation in America, I just can't find anything to smile about when it comes to the politics of the past three decades.

Let's face it: the Right has won. They've gotten everything they've wanted in the past 30 years. (Well, OK, they've not abolished Social Security yet---but give them time). Since 1980, the pendulum has swung to the extreme Far Right---and I have yet to see the slightest indication that it will not continue moving even further right in the years ahead.

LarryE said...

A nitpick:

it's exactly the sort of thing that a Republican politician might have passed ... Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts

It actually wasn't Romney's plan, it was more Mike Dukakis's and was, of course, watered down before it got through under Romney. Don't give him even that much credit.

However, it's worthy of note on the same point you were making that Obama's plan in similar to one proposed years ago by Bob Dole.

That, of course, was in the days of yore before being conservative and being a flake became synonymous.

Manifesto Joe said...

From what I have ever been able to tell from U.S. history -- hell, we hardly ever had a real "left" here in the first place. What could die?

Name me one U.S. president who could accurately be described as a "leftist." FDR? Maybe as close as we ever came, but not quite. He caught a lot of shit from people to the left of him for being far too accommodating. Truman? Good union man, but too much of a Cold Warrior. JFK? Mostly the same, at least for as long as he lived. LBJ? A Dixiecrat who had known a lot of black people, and eventually used at least a measure of his power to right some things that had been clearly wrong for centuries.

The nominees or candidates? McGovern got totally buried in 1972. In 1980, Ted Kennedy couldn't beat the Democratic machine to get the nomination away from the neo-liberal Carter. Humphrey was a good union supporter, but also a Cold War liberal. Ditto for Mondale.

Name me one U.S. president who was a true "leftist." The people who got things done were the pragmatists, the people who were willing to get into the nasty fight and get their hands dirty. They often had to do things they probably didn't want to do, but anything we have now that even resembles social progress happened because of them.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Manifesto Joe, thanks for stopping by and for your comment.
You make some good points, but I'd like to respond on a couple of issues:

re:
>>From what I have ever been able
>>to tell from U.S. history --
>>hell, we hardly ever had a real
>>"left" here in the first place.

I think there has been a real Left at certain points in U.S. history. There was the vibrant "New Left" of the 1960s, for example, led by people like Herbert Marcuse. Before that, there were the Wobblies, who did good work. And let's not forget Eugene Debs, who (despite being in jail) drew an astounding 913,693 votes as a Socialist candidate in 1920. Let's not write these good people out of the official history of America---although I'm sure the U.S. ruling class would love to do just that.

Yes, I realize that there were those who attacked FDR from the left and said he wasn't progressive enough. But let's not write their own contributions out of the history books----it was their pressure on FDR, after all, that made the New Deal more progressive than it would have been otherwise.

Having said that, I've been reading the responses to this piece both here and at Buzzflash and I've concluded that what I probably meant to say in this piece is that the U.S. Center has died. The Left died a long time ago. Now, the Center is pretty much dead.

If you doubt that, consider this: despite the fact that he was a moderate progressive, the U.S. ruling elite seriously considered taking out FDR in the Business Plot. It's hard to fathom that today's ruling elite would ever contemplate something similar against Obama. After all, they're still making out like the bandits that they are. Obama wouldn't dare rattle their cage the way FDR shook up things.

(Yes, I realize that the Secret Service reports that Obama gets record numbers of death threats. But these aren't from the Rich and Powerful----I'd suspect that they're from Rush-listening bigots who just can't get over the fact that there's a "nigger in the White House.")

I think the Center as a significant political force is dead in America. The Left died a long time ago. All we have left are the extreme Nazi right and the "moderate" right (which actually isn't really that "moderate" if you think about it).

Actually, I don't think there's that much difference between Obama and Bush. Obama is more articulate and gives a good speech---but frankly, I just haven't seen that much of a difference in things since Obama was sworn in. The rich are still getting richer and the poor are still getting poorer.

Manifesto Joe said...

It's not news to anyone that Obama has been disappointing on many levels. But yesterday afternoon, I had the TV on, and heard Clinton pitch this latest deal. He was surprisingly convincing. I honestly think that Obama is trying to get the best deal he can get now, while he still has a lame-duck Congress. Next year, he won't be able to get anything.

I fully expect life in America to get a good deal worse in years to come. We won't see the end of the Nazi-like right wing in our lifetimes. But as we can learn from the experience of decades past, that doesn't always end in disaster. People are going to get a good deal more uncomfortable, because this kind of pirate capitalism has repeatedly imploded. And then ... well, stay tuned. Things could get quite interesting.

Jack Jodell said...

Great post, Marc, and I share your angst. Those jovial "progressive types" as you describe them are indeed maddening. As another working class American who is sick to death of s*it sandwiches, I would LOVE to see the re-emergence of a President like Teddy Roosevelt who would stand to-to-toe with the powers that be in Wall Street, health care, and corporate America in general. But at this point, such a man or woman has not come into prominence. And you are right about this not being a truly progressive country. My Dutch and German friends laugh at our health care and the way our Congress has been bought out, and they are totally right to do so!

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Scoremore, thanks for your comment.

re:
>>Is it just that democrats are
>>completely inept at explaining
>>things or am I not understanding
>>the message?

I think it is indeed that the Dems are dismal at explaining things. The Repukes also keep it simple, short, and to the point (no longer than what will fit on a bumpersticker). They then repeat it over and over in a loud voice. In our "political discourse" in today's America, logic doesn't win the argument----it's whoever shouts the loudest.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Larry, thanks for your comment.
I didn't know that, re: Mitt Romney. I'm just curious: has he tried to distance himself from the Mass. health care plan and tried to claim that it was all Dukakis's plan? I've often wondered how he will play this issue in 2012 when it comes up.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jack, thanks for your comment and your kind words.

re:
>>My Dutch and German friends
>>laugh at our health care

I've had the same experience with the Europeans I've known. And yet the interesting thing is, they always are taking to the streets to defend their rights. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., we sit around with our thumbs up our ass while the Bandit Ruling Class robs us blind.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Manifesto Joe, thanks for your comment.
re:
>>I fully expect life in America
>>to get a good deal worse in
>>years to come

I agree. I think future historians will record that the beginning of the end of the American Empire was in 2003 when we began our disastrous adventure in Iraq. And it's important to note that all the blood and treasure we've already expended in Iraq, that war is still far from over. Hell, we're still bombing targets there. I suspect there will eventually be a "Tet Offensive" type moment either there or in Afghanistan that will jolt the American public and cause us to wonder once again why the f*ck we're there in the first place.

Jerry said...

Marc, lighten up on your self-congratulatory tone. Lose the accolades and recognitions section. If you write well, bright people will figure it out. I have never considered myself a part of the "Left" and I believe those labels are divisive and more important, meaningless. By the way, you do write well and I'll be back. You can visit me at thebookofcletis.blogspot.com

Regards, Jerry

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jerry, thanks for your comment and kind words. I think I will follow your advice and lose the "self-congrats". I'm checking out your blog now, nice job.

Anonymous said...

The left only lives on in Europe. We're becoming China, a militant capitalist state with HUGE inequalities between the people running the monkey farm and those whose blood and misery lubes the machinery...

-WageslaveZ-

Marc McDonald said...

Hi WageslaveZ, thanks for your comment. Good to hear from you.

re:
>>>We're becoming China, a
>>>militant capitalist state

I'm not sure I agree with you here. Despite wishful thinking on the part of the U.S. corporate media, China is most definitely not "capitalist." Chinese technocrats call all the important shots on the economy. Indeed, China's economy is still mapped out by Stalinist-style "5 year plans." And most of the big, important industrial companies are still state-owned.
If the U.S. is becoming like any other nation, I'd say we're becoming like Mexico: a nation where the Top One Percent owns pretty much everything and the political system is corrupted to the point where it is systemically incapable of doing anything, otherwise than serving the interests of the rich and powerful.

Matt Iofe said...

Please stop using the talking point "tax cuts for the rich". Firstly many of the people whose taxes will go up are hardly rich. A couple making 250,000 may have children to put through college and other responsibilities that many people making 50,000 do not have. These are not millionaires and billionaires.
Being rich is not like being brown eyes. Many of the people who are in the highest bracket one year are not there the very next. They may have had a very good year in the market or sold a house or business. To soak them for this one good year is a little much. Many rich people have no taxable income at all. This is why they often push for higher taxes. It will not effect them.
Tax rates were cut under Harding, Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush. Every time tax RATES were cut, REVENUE increased, as did the percentage of taxes the rich paid. As Casey Stengel used to say "you could look it up". Unfortunately the left is into demagoguery, not data.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Matt, all you're doing is regurgitating what you heard on Rush. We get it: you Cons don't like progressive taxes.

You seem to be totally clueless about the fact that, in reality, taxes are highly regressive in the U.S. and working-class and middle-class people pay vastly more of their income into taxes than any millionaire or billionaire.

Warren Buffett, the third richest person on earth confirmed this---he pointed out that he pays less of a percentage of his income into taxes than does his cleaning lady.

That's pretty funny what you wrote about Reagan and taxes. All the Reagan tax cuts did was vastly increase the wealth of the Top One Percent. And it also led to the titanic deficits that the U.S. struggles with to this day.
Indeed, I suspect the only thing future historians will remember about the Reagan and GWB presidencies is that the huge deficits that emerged in those years eventually led to the end of America as the dominant world power.

Now, go back to listening to Rush
and rotting your brain.

Matt Iofe said...

I always clarify that I am a libertarian. Before the presidency of Bush I didn't mind being called a conservative. Indeed Bush and Reagan did leave with high deficits but that is because their massive spending could not keep up with revenues. That does not change the fact that revenues did go up after both cuts.
I suspect historians will remember Reagan very fondly. He left office with a 71% approval rating and won reelection with ease. He did shrink taxes and GENERALLY shrank government. Military spending did skyrocket.
I really don't care what the wealth of the top 1% is. Just because they have more money doesn't mean everyone else has less.
American taxes can be regressive but that is because of all the loopholes that the rich can exploit. Fix those holes instead of agitating for higher rates.
What you wrote about the poor/middle class is incredible. Nearly 47% of Americans pay no income tax at all. That number has gone up with income tax rate cuts as has the percent the top 1% pays. And again that is not a matter of my opinion but a fact.
I would prefer eliminating the income tax and massively shrinking government. That would dramatically increase standards of living. People do not realize how much wealth is stolen not just in the form of taxes, but inflation, and government forcing prices higher (tariffs, regulation, subsidies).
Until that becomes politically plausible, the least I can do is agitate against higher taxes.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Matt,
re:
>>I always clarify that I am a
>>libertarian.

I'm always leery of people who claim to be "libertarians." They claim to be for a smaller, less-instrusive government And yet when I talk to them, they always wind up sounding a whole lot like Republicans (who, in fact, have no problem with heavily regulating people's personal morals, on everything from sexual preference to drug use).

re:
>>>That does not change the fact
>>>that revenues did go up after
>>>both cuts.

Do you have any stats you can cite to prove this point? (And, no, "Because Rush says so," doesn't count.

re:
>>(Reagan) did shrink taxes and
>>GENERALLY shrank government.

Cutting taxes is the easiest thing any politician can do. That's not the hard work of politicans. Everyone wants to pay less in taxes. The hard work of politicians is cutting spending. And Reagan did not cut spending. In fact, spending soared under Reagan. He inherited a $900 billion deficit from Carter and turned it into a $2.8 TRILLION deficit. So this idea that you're peddling that "Reagan shrank government" is just total B.S.

re:
>>>Nearly 47% of Americans pay no
>>>income tax at all.

This is a highly misleading statistic that is regularly trotted out by the GOP. In fact, all you're doing is narrowly focusing on income tax when in reality, most working Americans pay more in payroll tax than income tax. As I mentioned before, working-class and middle-class Americans pay more of their income into tax than do the rich.
The only reason we haven't had a People's Revolution over this outrage is that most Americans are unaware of this fact.

Matt Iofe said...

Btw, there was a point you made on gun control in the old west in another post that is wrong. You claim that the old west had gun control because some towns had sheriffs confiscating guns. This is misleading because the sheriffs were confiscating guns of passers-by, not residents. Residents of these towns were armed and there were virtually no restrictions on them. And murder rates were indeed very low. The average was about 1/100,000. That is much lower than all of the cities with gun control today. It is 1/18th the rate of chicago!
FYI it is the opinion of the CDC and National Academy of Sciences that gun control does not reduce crime, unless they too are part of a vast NRA conspiracy to prevent life-saving gun control laws from being enacted. There is no correlation between a state's brady grade and its violent crime rate. My state of New Hampshire received one of the lowest grades, but in case you think I want to pack up and leave, New Hampshire has the lowest murder rate in the country. No income or sales taxes is quite persuasive too.
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-nationally-and-state
Most of the safest states in the country received low brady grades.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Matt, on the issue of gun control, I don't have much to say these days. I find the whole experience of "debating" this issue with the gun nuts to be creepy and surreal and it no longer interests me.

A nation like England has tough gun control and only around 30 gun deaths a year. Even the cops there don't carry guns. The U.S. has around 10,000 gun homicides yearly. And yet gun control doesn't work, right?

Oh, and this is the part of the debate where the gun nuts go, "Well, they don't have any niggers in England, that's why they don't have the gun murder rates we have."

(Of course, the typical gun nut, having never left his double-wide trailer park, would know all about the demographics of England).

Like I said, debating gun nuts is a creepy experience and I lost interest in it a long time ago.

Matt Iofe said...

Gun control proponents are quite simply wrong. They cite England but in 1900 when London and New York both had virtually no gun laws New York had five times the murder rate. Likewise gun control proponents never mention that some of the most violent countries in the world have strict gun control - colombia, mexico, latvia, etc.
They cannot name a single state or country in the entire world where a gun ban has NOT LEAD TO A HIGHER murder rate. Keep in mind I am not even asking for a country where the murder rate went down! I have pursued this with the Brady campaign, Violence policy center, etc.
Gun laws have been liberalized in most states since the 80's and every time in every state crime rates have gone down.
The data is completely against the gun control proponents but it does not slow them down. Their crusade is an emotional one, not a factual one.
The people who want to restrict people's choices to defend themselves with guns are the same people who want to restrict what they eat, what schools they send their kids to, their choice to smoke cigarettes,etc.
They believe that everyone would shoot themselves if their guns are not taken away from them by their betters.
This is reflected in your comment that "gun nuts" do not leave their trailers.
Amherst, NH where I lived was one of the wealthiest areas in NH, had a very high gun ownership rate and a very low crime rate. Likewise if you look at gun ownership in many wealthy areas you will find it higher then in many low income gun control paradises. About one third of American households own guns. Far less than one third of Americans live in trailers or are criminals. You will find gun owners in trailer parks and in mansions. Somehow the left has gotten away with painting gun owners as criminals and "rednecks".

Marc McDonald said...

Hi, Matt, thanks for the comment.
I really think you're just making up stuff here.

re:
>>They cannot name a single state
>>or country in the entire world
>>where a gun ban has NOT LEAD TO
>>A HIGHER murder rate

Japan has tough anti-gun laws. And yet it only has less than one-tenth of America's murder rate. Think about that.
American has 10 times the murder rate of Japan.
And much of Europe, which also has tough anti-gun laws, has murder rates that are only one-fifth that of America.
Maybe not all gun owners are trailer trash people. But their mentality is definitely trailer trash. They have little or no understanding of the rest of the world. And more troubling, they have no desire to know what the rest of the world is like.

re:
>>Gun control proponents are quite
>>simply wrong.

This is rich coming from a typical gun lover who routinely makes up all kinds of B.S. to "support" his case.
In any case, I don't understand what you're worried about. America has virtually NO serious gun control proponents. What few people there are who favor more gun restrictions have ZERO power and ZERO influence.
By contrast, the NRA is the richest, most powerful lobby in all of Washington, D.C.
There is NO chance that there will ever be any sensible gun control with these assholes in power. So I really don't understand what you're worried about.

Anonymous said...

I would argue that despite a lack of fawning media attention that the left worldwide was reborn in Seattle. The IWW today has more members than it has had in decades, the same goes for the CPUSA, the SWP, and the Socialist Party of America. There is a real left out there with real political organizations, and they aren't shrinking--they are growing.

I think the "progressives" don't want a left-wing in this country because this will hurt the Democratic Party's "voting base". The biggest enemies of the left are not rightists, but the centrists and liberals who accommodate the right while marginalizing and crushing the left. Attorney General Palmer and Woodrow Wilson were considered to be liberals, it didn't stop them from ushering in a period of rightist red-scare terror known as the Palmer Raids.

You take a Republican and rip out his guts and his spine (a tempting thought but bear with me) and you get a Democrat. The liberal rhetoric of the DP is employed largely to convince people to vote and has no content beyond immediate electoral needs. Obama proved himself to be a better Republican than the Republicans so the same people who voted him into office stayed away from the polling places in droves. They didn't cease to exist, they just learned that "hope" and "change" aren't going to come from any ruling party.

The twin policies of the US government are crush the poor, and permanent war. These are driven by cold economic considerations and geopolitics, in short by the interests of the ruling class that can create its own consensus by controlling the dominant ideas of the age. The two parties only differ on the details but this is their single unitary policy. It is bolstered by a selective "biblical literalist" evangelical movement and a military machine that is represents a wasteful sucking pit of trillions of dollars of capital. This as we know is mostly spent on weapons systems and corporate graft as opposed to actually giving ordinary soldiers a living wage or decent benefits or anything like that.

The right in this country is doomed, their view of the future is of an apocalypse. Ironically the right in the US is doing the same thing that Stalinist hard-liners did in the USSR, that is wasting all the nation's capital on weapons and war debt, while resisting any sensible moderation in their own policies. Their politics and theology are nothing but lies. This is why they think Obama is a "socialist" and actually think there is a socialist threat to the "American way of life". If you haven't noticed the right has copied much of the rhetoric of the liberal "left" employed against Dubya--only reversing it against their political opponents. I believe it is desperation that makes them bluster and appear to be so strong. Media power and official DP/GOP ideology only go so far. Official ideology can dominate political discourse but it cannot withstand the blows of reality, nor will it withstand the death of the US empire.

The US is like a great big Yugoslavia just waiting to crack up.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi, Anon, thanks for your comment.
You make some great points. But I think my article may have been misinterpreted. When I said the Left has "died, I'm not saying that there are no progressives in America these days.
I'm talking about the Left as a political force that has real power.
The political pendulum in the U.S. has swung so far to the Right that what used to be called the
"moderate center" is now considered the extreme,
socialist left.
If you doubt this, then consider that Richard Nixon proposed a national health-care plan that would have been light-years to the left of anything that any Democrat has proposed in recent years.
As I mentioned in the article, Obama's watered-down, corporate-friendly health-case plan is exactly the sort of thing that a Republican might have passed.
The ferocious opposition it faced from the Right has nothing to do with how "progressive" it was and everything to do with wingnuts who are simply trying to derail
Obama's presidency any way that they can.

re:
>>There is a real left out there with real political
>>organizations, and they aren't >>shrinking--they are growing.

You wouldn't know that by looking at Congress, though, would
you? Outside of Bernie Sanders, who is there? Sanders is 69 years old and I'd bet money that, once he's gone, there won't be another one like him ever again in the Congress.
Indeed, it's a miracle that he is there at all. But far from more Lefty Sanders-like politicians entering the Congress, we're seeing them disappear (just like "moderate" GOP Congress
people have become all but extinct.
Last, but not least, if you think I'm just being pessimistic,
consider this fact: since around 1980, the Right in America
has gotten EVERYTHING it has wanted. (OK, they've not yet
abolished Social Security---but does anyone seriously doubt
that they will eventually?).
By contrast, what victories has the Left had in the past 30
years? Let me see: there was Clinton's Family and Medical Leave Act and a couple of other things. But, by and large, the Right
has gotten everything they wanted---and I see zero evidence
that this won't continue to be the case for the foreseeable
future.

re:
>>The US is like a great big >>Yugoslavia just waiting to crack >>up.

A great point and I think you're totally right. And I'm sure I'm alone on this, but personally, I'd like to see this happen. I'd
certainly rather see this scenario happen than Palin in the White
House in 2012 with her finger on the nuclear button. (And despite
the fact many people don't take her seriously, I do think there's
a real chance she could be elected. To suppose otherwise is to
overestimate the intelligence of the American people. After all,
these are the same people who returned George W. Bush to the White House in 2004 (or, at the least, made the election close enough to where the Right could steal it, as Greg Palast wrote).

LarryE said...

Something I hate about the blogspot comments is that they give the time but not the date, so it's impossible for me to know how recent the last comment was.

Still, I want to toss in a couple of things for you, Marc:

- Yes, Romney has tried to run away from "his" health care plan. I believed he's called it something like an example of government failure. Which of course it's not, certainly not entirely, but a state senator told me that it wasn't truly a new program but one mostly consisting of existing programs stitched together with some subsidies, which does leave it with some enormous loopholes and even absurdities.

You want an example of the latter? Here's one: My wife and I are insured as separate individuals under the program, not as a household, which is silly enough. Because our individual incomes are different, we get different coverage. Here's the kicker: Because of the way things were stitched together, my wife pays no premium for her coverage - but her deductible is $9000 every six months. That's neither a joke nor a typo: three zeros. Nine thousand dollars. We have it in writing.

- Next, I understand what you mean about there being "no left." There are a good number of lefties, but no "left" in the sense of an out-there, "don't mess with us, politicos," on the streets and in the hallways, "in yer face, wingnut" movement. There is no, as you say, left as a coherent political force.

There is a good deal of activism, generally pointedly ignored by the media, but it remains almost exclusively disconnected local efforts too often encumbered by tired styles of rhetoric (including parsing the words of non-True Believers in search of hidden derogatory meanings) and lacking a deep sense of connection to a whole.

And - something particularly true of those supposed lefties whose idea of a movement slogan is "more better Democrats" - they all too often lack as well a vital part of the ability to win: the readiness to risk losing.

- Finally, I hate to be contrary, but considering both the post and the discussion it generated, this should have been the one you submitted to the Jon Swift Memorial. :-)

LarryE said...

Something I hate about the blogspot comments is that they give the time but not the date, so it's impossible for me to know how recent the last comment was.

Still, I want to toss in a couple of things for you, Marc:

First is that yes, Romney has tried to run away from "his" health care plan. I believed he's called it something like an example of government failure. Which of course it's not, certainly not entirely, but a state senator told me that it wasn't truly a new program but one mostly consisting of existing programs stitched together with some subsidies, which does leave it with some enormous loopholes and even absurdities.

You want an example of the latter? Here's one: My wife and I are insured as separate individuals under the program, not as a household, which is silly enough. Because our individual incomes are different, we get different coverage. Here's the kicker: Because of the way things were stitched together, my wife pays no premium for her coverage - but her deductible is $9000 every six months. That's neither a joke nor a typo: three zeros. Nine thousand dollars. We have it in writing.

LarryE said...

Next, I understand what you mean about there being "no left." There are a good number of lefties, but no "left" in the sense of an out-there, "don't mess with us, politicos," on the streets and in the hallways, "in yer face, wingnut" movement. There is no, as you say, left as a coherent political force.

There is a good deal of activism, generally pointedly ignored by the media, but it remains almost exclusively disconnected local efforts too often encumbered by tired styles of rhetoric (including parsing the words of non-True Believers in search of hidden derogatory meanings) and lacking a deep sense of connection to a whole.

And - something particularly true of those supposed lefties whose idea of a top of the line movement slogan is "more better Democrats" - they all too often lack as well a vital part of the ability to win: the readiness to risk losing.

LarryE said...

Finally, I hate to be contrary, but considering both the post and the discussion it generated, this should have been the one you submitted to the Jon Swift Memorial. :-)

LarryE said...

Oops - one other thing because I left a sentence out of the comment on the state of the left. The very last sentence should be:

So while I disagree that the left is "extinct" as a political force, I strongly agree that it is comatose and will remain so until we can break the shackles both of individual one-upping sectarianism and national "omigod Sarah Palin is coming" obsession.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Larry, thanks for your comments, you make a lot of great points.

Your own experience with the insurance program makes me wonder if the Power That Be are deliberately sabotaging any government-led attempt to reform the health care system. That is, they set up a government plan that is so horrendous that no one will like it and then The Powers That Be can turn around and say, "See, we told you so: the government never works well."

re:
>>There is a good deal of
>>activism, generally pointedly
>>ignored by the media

I read your post on this---yes, you definitely hit the nail on the head. I wish progressive efforts nationwide would get one-tenth the coverage that Palin's idiotic tweets get.

re:
>>this should have been the one
>>you submitted to the Jon Swift
>>Memorial

I thought about this. But I decided not to, because I was worried that too many people would think that I was claiming that there were no progressives left in America, which is hardly the case.

Thanks again, Larry. I hope you have a great 2011!

LarryE said...

I was worried that too many people would think that I was claiming that there were no progressives left in America

From the comments here, apparently a valid concern.