Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.
Display:
I would like to submit the main problem is the inability of the US Left to organize anything larger than a hot dog stand.

I would submit that the problem with the "US Left" is that there is not Left in the US, only liberals. I mean this in the most derogatory sense, because they can't seem to get that belonging to the cult of radical individualism that rejects any idea of social rules and order means that you aren't part of the Left.

The focus is on the particularities of ethnicity and gender, rather than integrating them into a social whole.  At least in the US, I would argue that the principal problem facing people across the board is class.  People of color represent a disproportionate  part of our economic underclass.  That's a legacy of historical racism, but it's only by tackling class issues that we are going to get somewhere.

The problem is that the reason that race and gender are on the agenda is to soak up a lot of issues that at their heart relate to economic and social class.

Liberals undermine the Left here.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 02:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that identity politics is really such a problem. One argument I often have with American Leftist/Liberals is about their weird idea that there is a normative "rule of law" for top officials that Obama is tragically failing to "restore" - as if any top official of the security/military has ever paid a serious penalty except for working for another power. Or consider the Taibbi level analysis of the financial crisis in which the role of the Federal Reserve Bank to subsidize profits of and guard the oligopoly status of top banks is discovered as a recent scandal rather than as the purpose of the institution.
by rootless2 on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 02:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True up to a point. I think very few people on the left realise that politics, especially geopolitics, is played by completely different moral rules than the rules that apply to friends, neighbours and co-workers.

Then again the rules happen to be entirely criminal and sociopathic, so it's not completely surprising that more sensitive people want to blank them out.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 02:51:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One argument I often have with American Leftist/Liberals is about their weird ideathat there is a normative "rule of law" for top officials that Obama is tragically failing to "restore" - as if any top official of the security/military has ever paid a serious penalty except for working for another power

If someone is talking about this they are not a leftist they are a liberal.  Liberals think that there are universal norms, e.g. "truth", that stands above and beyond any particular power structure.  Leftists realize that "truth" is constructed by the people in power to justify why they can, and should be able to, do what they do.

As Thucydides put it so long ago:

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

Liberals are the type of people who express regret that there are those who are poor and exploited among us, and offer ways to deal with this after the fact.

Leftists ask why there are poor and exploited among us, and work to change what it is that makes this possible.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melian dialogues remain the best short introduction to bullshit detection in political disputes ever written.
by rootless2 on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am a real fan of the British historian EH Carr.

He called lassiez faire a paradise for the powerful.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 04:07:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I readThe Twenty Year Crisis, 1919-1939 around 1965 and it was one of the most influential books in my "education". In it Carr analyzes modern European History in terms the real and the ideal. A truly illuminating work and, in retrospect and in IMO, one of the foundational works in the development of a post-modern analysis of historical processes. E.H. Carr, E.P. Thompson and Eric Hobsbawn were true leftists as described above. Those who gave us Neo-Classical Economics came more from the Classical Liberal position.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 10:16:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You must know that the ones who play in the middle, like the folks in charge in America right now, are typically those who end up like the Melians, both literally (see Russia, October 1917 and thereafter, or France, summer of 1793 to 1794) and figuratively.

Progress tends to happen in great leaps forward, rippling in waves concentrically outward. But, sure, you can try to sell a people-powered centrist reform effort. It's been tried before.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:39:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The melian problem was not a flaw in their ideology, it was the standard problem of being in the way of the bulldozer.
by rootless2 on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 07:58:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
night...with this and Santiago's post below, I understand.

It hadn't been obvious to me who were the athenians and who were the melians in your schema. Really, it still isn't, though time will tell, and I would love to be wrong.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 04:22:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series