*edit, April 5, 2017 – If Linda McQuaig was a member of the real Left, she isn’t now. Also, This sentence, “When people choose to care, then they start to think about their own behavior and are not so quick to dismiss the seeming foibles and otherwise endearing quirks that give them their character,” I do not understand. I should not have used “them.” The reason for that is that now that I read that, I don’t know who I meant by “them.” If the writer doesn’t know what he wrote, how can the reader be expected to know? Sorry.
What lies behind the liberals’ lamentations over Obama? by Barry Grey
An excerpt from the above linked-to World Socialist Web Site article follows:
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of the Nation, bemoans “Obama’s Disastrous Path” in her December 7 column in the Washington Post. Defining herself as a “progressive supporter” of Obama, she lists the president’s right-wing moves since the mid-term election debacle, ranging from his abject apologizing to the Republicans to effectively abandoning his July 2011 date for beginning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Vanden Heuvel objects to Obama’s leaning toward the notion that “we should impose austerity now, instead of working to get the economy going.” The operative word here is “now,” as it implies her agreement with the official line of the administration that whether sooner or later, austerity must be imposed.
When I talk about a great middle, mainstream Left, this is that crowd of which I speak. Barry provides a handy list of examples of the middle (between the far Right and far, or real, Left), mainstream Left, a Left that is easier to be around than the Right, in some ways. Harder in other ways, since a fake friend is worse than a real friend.
This big mainstream leftwing crowd is, in fact, a part of the problem. Is it rightwing? You judge. If it aids and abets the Right, by killing clear thinking and avenues to finding solutions to problems caused by rightwing policies, Is it rightwing? In a way it is, even if much of what comes out of this crowd of cultural managers, by way of explanation and analysis, is supportable.
Often big problems are made up of many small problems, which is one reason I try to get people to care. When people choose to care, then they start to think about their own behavior and are not so quick to dismiss the seeming foibles and otherwise endearing quirks that give them their character. Here’s an easy one: “Obama is a progressive.” Telling that to yourself and, as a writer, to others, may seem harmless, a white lie that has some useful truthful elements in it. But I’m sorry to report that such a rationalization is just that. It’s a rationalization for behavior that is nothing more mysterious than staying still in a boat in stormy waters in which you can observe all manner of folk falling overboard. In a money system, in which money means life and those with most of that and the power to deny it to you, are in control, you may, consciously or instinctively, act with a view to keeping your job by keeping prinicples, like honesty, in check.
A frightened, blue pill-addicted, middle Left in fact is an important tool in the tool kit of elites who have chosen to society-build in a way that includes exploitation. As they say, Only Nixon was able to go to China, China being the Republicans’ arch enemy (in rhetoric anyway). And so Nixon went to China, behaved himself and conducted business. (This hoary Nixon anecdote provides a handy example of what I mean by saying that the large, mainstream Left is a useful tool to elites, but state enemies are not exactly what they seem to be in a corporatocracy.)
*edit, Dec 14 –
I was re-reading this and it occurred to me that this allusion might not have been helpful. It seemed simple enough at the time. My test whether an explanation I offer for something is good or bad, remains or goes, is simple. I must explain it clearly to myself. Because if I don’t understand what I’ve said to you, well…
Only China’s arch enemy, the American (harsher) rightwing Republican Party, could go to China – politically – in order to achieve some otherwise leftwing goal that the ruling class saw as necessary. For the voters who supported the ruling, and powerful, Republicans, a high ranking Democrat who went to China in order to do what it would naturally do (let’s say), would have been met with all out resistance from the voting public on the Right.
Now, How does that relate to our great mainstream Left problem? ‘This’ Left will be able to more easily go to the people, and to the real Left, in order to achieve what is actually a rightwing goal, namely the selling of the corporatocracy representative Barack Obama, and by extension, his rightward course. That Left, to the extent that it has legitimacy with the people and those of the real Left, will be more effective at overcoming resistance there to it’s otherwise unwelcome message.
The Nation magazine, which Barry lists, has long been a big disappointment to me. I’ve often compared it to our Toronto Star here in Canada. I’ve referred to the Star as schizophrenic and as a fake friend. Of course, an organization can’t be schizophrenic. And it’s not an individual person. But enough of it’s members, and probably 99% of it’s editorial staff, are rightwing that the overall direction of the paper is against the people. The Star just happens to be very good, like our Liberal Party, at talking from the Left (often, not always) and governing from the Right. The Star’s editorials have consistently pushed the pro free trade line for example. On the other hand, The Star carries some writers who are not rightwing, like Thomas Walkom and freelancer Linda McQuaig. Other writers for the Star are inconsistenly rightwing, like Haroon Siddiqui. The reader must always read with filters on, and not just in any particular medium, but in all media. Note that I’m not suggesting that the token lefties writing for the Star are, like the mainstream Left itself, fake friends. Which isn’t to say that on occasion one of them might not slide a little toward the Right. When that happens, It’s always alarming.
I find the big boat metaphor to be useful on occasion, and this would be one of those occasions. A big problem (that is made up of many small problems) is like a big boat. What I like about the big problem idea is that, in pointing out that it’s made up of many small problems, I thereby point to a solution. It’s easier to deal with a small problem than a big problem. Therefore, hopefully, it’s easier to encourage people to try to deal with any of the smaller problems that make up the big problem. A big boat is harder to turn around, but it’s not impossible to turn around (although I happen to believe that we can’t fix this messed up earth on our own). You just shouldn’t expect to see that happen quickly or without a lot of effort.
I also have a saying: “The time to worry about the catastrophe is before it occurs and not after.” But let’s leave those sentiments aside for now.
My point would be that, Not only is our fake democracy a big boat that will be hard to turn around until it’s a real democracy. But one component, or problem within that bigger problem, is the fake Left that elites are using to keep people from thinking about and discussing real solutions to the problem, a relatively large problem in itself. Some within this Left crowd (perhaps including some who are to the left of the mainstream Left) are now talking about a new organization designed to address communication by progressives with a view to more successfully marketing the progressive message. We’ll see where that goes. I recall this disucssion being had years ago. And they’re only acting now?!)
Where do you begin to destroy the elements of the fake electoral system within our fake democracy when, for example, the seeming raison d’être of The Nation magazine is to protect and promote the Democratic Party, which in fact is nothing more than the good cop to the Right’s bad cop in a partnership designed to do the opposite of what its members would claim its purpose is. Rather than promote and safeguard democracy, the way most people would understand the term, Republicrats deter democracy. Where do you begin to destroy our fake democracy when the fact of the truly unrepresentative (not all citizens get genuine representation) nature of politics in corporatocracy-run countries (most countries, I would think) remains obscured by less than clear language, such as when you don’t even have your teachers, the public intellectuals (in this case on the so-called Left), willing to label this corporate-run system properly? (See my earlier post titled “Is Social Democracy Dying part 2”) Infuriatingly, writers like Katrina vanden Heuvel will write something and list all of the facts and reasons needed to draw a conclusion they then don’t draw, leaving confused readers to imagine that their own moments of clarity on the subject were just figments of their imaginations. Really helpful that!
How often do you come across the label corporatocracy in mainstream Left journals, in print or online? Not often, Right? The term, totally apt and useful (and coined by John Perkins), terrifies those whose incomes depend on not rocking the boat too much. The reward? There’s two main rewards. They have the immediate, mental satisfaction of not fearing catching the monster’s attention with a bright red idea that would enrage it. It’s just easier to not make waves. You can relax – in these stressful times. You can still say many good and true things in the course of talking around the problem, as the R.E.M. line goes.
Also, To the degree that ego and false pride enter into the picture, It may be that individuals within our technocratic society, including unprincipled leftwingers, like the idea that only they can do what they do. Our society is both technocratic and money driven. By technocratic, I mean that everyone is specialized into being dumb individuals, essentially. Picture individuals working away in cubicles, a rather common situation, in which they specialize in this or that, and use a lingo that’s peculiar to their stations. Well, for one thing, Not just anyone can do their jobs, which may be fine with them. (What about cultural managment by leftwing journalists and their bosses?) Two, They may be fine with that partly due to ego – Look at how talented I am! – and partly due to the reality that not just anyone can jump into their roles, and the incomes associated with them. I’m just saying.