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« Political Linkage | Main | Stained Glass Windows, Old and New »

June 09, 2009

What's Up With the Left?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Why has the Euro left been doing so badly with the Euro working class lately? Not to give too much away, but ... Some of it's down to i-m-m-i-g-r-a-t-i-o-n.

* Dean Baker thinks that the U.S. needs a healthy manufacturing sector.

* Michael Hastings wonders why the left isn't more upset about Obama's war plans.

* Is it time for anarchists to cut themselves off from the left? Jason McQuinn thinks so. Nice passage:

If we want to avoid being taken down with the wreckage of leftism as it crumbles, we need to fully, consciously and explicitly dissociate ourselves from its manifold failures—and especially from the invalid presuppositions of leftism which led to these failures.



UPDATE: The Kvetcher wonders why more people aren't asking why the BNP did as well as it did.

posted by Michael at June 9, 2009


"manifold failures" - is he talking about GM cars?

Posted by: dearieme on June 9, 2009 4:29 PM

Michael, I think that you are mistaken. There has not been a shift to the right rather there has been a shift from the internationalists to the nationalists. The BNP seems to have an evo-bio morality(much like the Nazi's and Communists) which certainly isn't traditional right wing. They BNP still seem to want a centralised government, controlled economy and the prole satiating welfare state. I thought it would be interesting to reproduce this insightful comment from the combox of that linked article:

I am 78 years old. I remember talking with my Grandfather just before the 1939 war. He asked me did I know the difference between a Communist and a Fascist. At 8 years of age I could think of no answer. Well replied Grandfather " they are both socialist parties the difference being the first is an International Socialist and the second a National Socialist. The National Socialist is supposed to put the well being of his country and countryman in front of any demands to the contrary. Maybe, someone has excavated this point of view and started to think that some party lines have big gaps in them. Hence the swing in Labour voting

Rhopke(whom I use as an example of "Old Europe" thought) would of been horrified by this development as he had seen it before in the 30's. This has not been a shift to the cultural right, it has been a shift from the over-tolerant to the intolerant left.

Posted by: slumlord on June 9, 2009 7:49 PM

Re: the anti-war left, it is amazing how quickly this crowd is controlled, isn't it? It's like turning a spigot on and off. You need agit-prop? You get it. Don't want it? It gets shut off. These protesters are obviously being told what to think and when to think it. If you want to know who controls this rent-a-crowd, just peep behind the curtain and see what the REAL foreign policy goals are. That will tell you who's in charge of the thinking. Your average lefty has about as much of an attention span as a howler monkey. But with fewer principles. If you don't think this is the case, just watch the journalism herd. Burning issues suddenly disappear into the back pages. Voila!

Posted by: Bob Grier on June 9, 2009 8:12 PM

Any proof, Bob?

Posted by: Ray Butlers on June 10, 2009 8:40 AM

What in the hell does it mean to be "anti-war," much less "anti-war left?"

War, like disease and death, is just a part of the human condition. What in the fuck does it matter whether somebody is anti-war? Hell, I'm anti-death, but what in the fuck difference does that make?

Being anti-war seems to me a distinction without any verifiable characteristics. Do those who are anti-war think that war is going to disappear just because they disapprove of it so strenuously?

I'm surrounded by cretins who like to puff out their chests and spout their anti-war agenda. What, exactly, is it that they are so goddamned proud of? I suspect that it is their sanctimony that evokes such self-pride.

The John Lennon, perpetual adolescent fantasy that things can be thought into non-existence by repetitive kumbaya-ing is so damned stupid. "Imagine" may be the dumbest, most offensive, most insipid popular song in human history. Talk about kissing one's own ass!

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on June 10, 2009 9:20 AM

"Any proof, Bob?"

I'd say the mass protests over the expansion of the war in Afghanistan and the continuation of US forces being deployed in Iraq is proof enough!

Posted by: Fetid on June 10, 2009 9:58 AM

Slumlord -- Great points. (Let me point out, though, that I only said the left has been doing badly with the working class, not anything at all about the right.)

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 10, 2009 10:11 AM

I'm going to still have to go through these articles, but the quote you posted is priceless! Someone from the right took an article about them, replaced "right" with "left" and called it done. Brilliant. This is EXACTLY what we bleeding heart lefties have been saying about the right since we crushed them in November. It's hilarious to watch them self-implode into their own irrelevance.

Posted by: Upstate Guy on June 10, 2009 10:55 AM

Should anarchism disassociate itself from the left? I don't know - should Esperanto? I'm afraid the questions are equally relevant.

There's not a passage in McQuinn's essay that doesn't sound as if it were written in 1940, if not 1890.

Posted by: intellectual pariah on June 10, 2009 10:59 AM

"...It's hilarious to watch them self-implode into their own irrelevance."

The irrelevant are usually ignored.

Posted by: Fetid on June 10, 2009 12:31 PM

What in the hell does it mean to be "anti-war," much less "anti-war left?"

Yow, I'm not certain I'd want you monitoring the playground :-)

Unless you are directly invaded, war is the continuation of foreign policy by other means. i.e. it is a policy to be used like any other (cost-benefit analysis, etc.)

Thus by weighing factors differently, you can easily believe that most voluntary wars fail to pass such analysis. That, in current jargon, makes you "anti-war".

For a country like the USA, war is rarely something that occurs involuntarily. It is one option of many. Coward that I am, I'll leave argument as to whether its the *best* option to others.

Posted by: Tom West on June 10, 2009 1:29 PM

The European right/left continuum has little to do with ours. For one thing, European right-wing parties have economic and social policies that would generally be seen as to the "left" of the U.S. Democratic party. Also, there is little or no U.S. equivalent of the nationalist right in Europe. The U.S. Republican party is not anti-immigration and refuses to protect U.S. manufacturing or workers.

Finally, the Democratic party has about as much to do with the left as the Republican party has to do with the right. There's a tenuous connection, you can recognize a few ideological ties, but in terms of their actual policies the Republican and Democratic parties are both closer to a establishment consensus / corporate "center" than either is to the real left or right wing. At this point, the honest left might be closer to the honest right than either is to the establishment parties that are supposed to represent them. Check out Ron Paul, is he "left" or "right"?

Posted by: MQ on June 10, 2009 11:50 PM

...European right-wing parties have economic and social policies that would generally be seen as to the "left" of the U.S. Democratic party...

To say nothing of the often very intense anti-Americanism of the Euro right. It's foolishness indeed to try to impose right/left distinctions on the US, as MQ rightly stated, not only because of the bad fit between Euro right/left on the one hand and American liberal/conservative on the other, but because by Euro standards, America is governed by a very strong consensus about political (and even economic) fundamentals.

Just as it's absurd to call American conservatives "fascists", it's absurd to call American liberals "socialists". The US really has a strong core to it (still! despite everything!), though this core strength is probably not apparent to most Americans.

It's also why all the secession talk is so much hooey.

Posted by: PatrickH on June 11, 2009 9:21 AM

Could we have some clarification here as what do we actually mean by left and right?

Posted by: slumlord on June 11, 2009 10:03 AM

Left and right as political labels are severely limited and outdated ... especially if you try to attach them to political figures in the US from either of the Duopoly parties. Perhaps what is going in is the beginning of a wholesale shakeup in how citizens think about politics.

Posted by: Chris White on June 11, 2009 12:07 PM

"Left and right as political labels are severely limited and outdated ... especially if you try to attach them to political figures in the US from either of the Duopoly parties. Perhaps what is going in is the beginning of a wholesale shakeup in how citizens think about politics."

Are we still giving Obama "a chance?"

Posted by: Wondering on June 11, 2009 2:03 PM

I gave W a chance, too. That lasted until 9/11 was used by Dick & W to push through the misguided "War on Terror" which quickly became an illogical excuse to attack Iraq. His excessive use of signing statements, aimed at elevating the executive branch above the checks and balances that the Constitution sets up between the three branches of government, further degraded my opinion of his presidency.

Obama has done less than I would like (and more than I actually expected) to live up to his campaign rhetoric in terms of altering the approach to the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran and the Israeli/Palestinian conundrum. He seems to be moving the health care debate forward. The economy remains an open question. It seemed a foregone conclusion before the election that neither candidate would seriously alter the status quo of global corporate capitalism, so unless he actually begins to act like the radical socialist his detractors warned us about, I'm not terribly surprised or upset by his administration's actions so far.

My default position remains that I'd like to see Instant Runoff Balloting, which should open up the process to alternative party candidates. Until that occurs, I prefer the Good Cops to the Bad Cops. The Good Cops at least try to get the elite to keep the masses fed and sheltered, where the Bad Cops no longer seem to care for anyone making less than $300K per year ... unless they are fundamentalist Christians willing to get out the vote. In short, I still see Obama and the Dems as less bad than the Pubs, not a great alternative, but the only practical one we're given. Secession anyone?

Posted by: Chris White on June 11, 2009 5:32 PM

Because when jebus goes to war, its O.K. You no question jebus!

Posted by: rico on June 16, 2009 12:54 AM

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