The Silent Death of the American Left
by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
Is there a Left in America today?
There is, of course, a Left ideology, a Left of the mind, a Left of theory and critique. But is there a Left movement?
Does the Left exist as an oppositional political, cultural or economic force? Is anyone intimidated or restrained by the Left? Is there a counterforce to the grinding machinery neoliberal capitalism and its political managers?
We can and do at CounterPunch and in similar publications, such as Monthly Review and the New Left Review, publish analyses of capitalism and its inherent vulnerabilities, catalogue its predations and wars of military conquest and imperial exploitation. But where is our capacity to confront the daily horrors of drone strikes, kill lists, mass layoffs, pension raids and the looming nightmare of climate change?
It is a bitter reality, brought into vivid focus by five years of Obama, that the Left is an immobilized and politically impotent force at the very moment when the economic inequalities engineered by our overlords at Goldman Sachs who manage the global economy, should have recharged a long-moribund resistance movement back to life.
This is compelling reading, and some of the causes of this phenomenon should be explored.
1. the left has no leadership. period. Chomsky and Zizek are not leadership.
Chomsky sounds like a Mossad plant, very careful to toe the line on 9/11, and stuck on the American Empire theme, ad nauseam. Zizek is a Stalinist who has done a good job for neoliberals: advocate torture, defend Stalin, and make communism seem even worse than neoliberalism…
2. the most recent grouping on the left renounced leadership, for better or for worse. What’s the answer here?
3. the left needs assimilated Jews (like Marx) and secularized (ex-)Christians, but not stupid secularists. A Christian left should be welcomed, however. The New Atheists have wrecked Feuerbachian atheism. A better option is a studied agnosticism, a committed study of the history of religion, and, beyond that, a degree of anti-religion, but with a kind of secularized ex-buddhist openness. In the final analysis communism was a spiritual movement, with hidden spiritual guides. Historical materialism is totally misleading and doesn’t cut it. That doesn’t mean the left should compromise on religion. It is simply a hard question with, as yet, no real answer. If you wish to be a secularist, you must study your ground better than current loudmouths on the secular front. At a moment of social crisis, the god question is a waste of time and effort, as Kant could have reminded us.
Jewish leadership on the left will always fail, as Marx understood. That doesn’t mean Gentiles will be much better. It’s not nice to say it, but it’s true. Passive/aggressive philosemitism is completely misleading. In Marx’s generation, it was assumed by a large section of Jews that assimilation was their future, as was the secularization of Christians. Now, a century later, we have Bible Belt fundamentalist resurgence, a Jewish state with nuclear weapons, and a clear demonstration of the complete mess Jews can make of a secular state favoring Jews only.
Jewish leftists, in that context, leave most people paranoid, on sight.
Jews and Christians should band together and create a new culture of ‘Junjus’ and create an exit vehicle for Jews and Christians. Being an atheist self-styled “Jew” isn’t good enough. Secular humanists are incapable of this as the failed New Atheism shows. Again, consider Marx. He is taken as a Jew. He was not. He was, technically, a Christian, a fierce critic of Judaism, and committed himself to a life of poverty in solidarity. Now he is taken as a self-hating Jew, and antisemite.
This issue may be too hot to handle. Set it aside. But the result of 60 years of Israel can leave Gentiles unnerved and unable to credit liberal/left views from secular jews. The Holocaust out of nowhere totally disconbobulated everyone. That makes the problem hard to solve.
This issue is too hot to handle, and can’t even be discussed in public. Beware of this: I say this as a philosemite, and mostly quote Jews I have known on this.
4. A more immediate issue is the Obama strategy. It is not surprising the left is paralyzed. Obama is a cleverly designed object of rightist strategy of unknown particulars. People in the know warned about Obama, consider Tarpley’s book on Obama. The ploy was simple: create a black president who was crypto-conservative; and sink the FDR option. Try to get him to do the conservative revolution. Clever and very simple strategy: it has succeeded very well in paralyzing the left. The agents of this mischief must be laughing their arses off. It worked like a charm, with a number of added benefits: Rahm Emmanuel gave the game way: ‘Where will they go?” The left is so terrified of a republican president they will drop everything to vote for Obama. Nice! The strategy worked to deflate the left entirely. This was a very smart operation on the right.
You can, however, recover from this.
5. the left has no ideology, or game plan. Marxism could work, if it was completely upgraded, and if it can detach from the legacy of Bolshevism, indeed from the Second Internationale and Marx/Engels. But the left somehow expects everyone to drop everything to become American Stalinists????
The CIA doesn’t need plants here. Slavoj Zizek works perfectly instead to discredit the left.
6. This counterpunch article is a good one: I don’t pretend to have the answers.
I think a new left is brewing, but it has to have its basics right, and they are not right at the moment. Issues like Darwinism, dogmatic atheism (I don’t say this as an atheist, I am nothing), 9/11 hypocrisy, stale marxist cliches, splintered activism, non-violent fantasies of change (or the reverse!) etc… are hard to shake.
And the climate crisis is something new: an ecological critique is still lacking on the marxist left. Attempts by cadre marxists, cf. The Ecological Rift, to absorb the issue take up Engels’ braindead Dialectics of Nature as the basis of a marxist ecology.
Please, this is crude rehashed. Tear up your notes and start over.
7. The left is understandably in multitasking liberalism, which is good and bad. After exposing growth as a problem, one supports growth to create jobs to get out of the 2008 crisis. This is actually an incoherent stance, or set of stances. etc….