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The Silent Death of the American Left. Sadly IMO

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.
Instead the Left seems powerless to coalesce, to translate critique
into practice, to mobilize against wars, to resist incursions against
basic civil liberties, powerless to confront rule by the bondholders and
hedgefunders, unable to meaningfully obstruct the cutting edge of a
parasitical economic system that glorifies greed while preying on the
weakest and most destitute, and incapable of confronting the true legacy
of the man they put their trust in.
This is the politics of exhaustion. We have become a generation of
leftovers. We have reached a moment of historical failure that would
make even Nietzsche shudder.
We stand on the margins, political exiles in our own country, in a
kind of mute darkness, a political occlusion, increasingly obsessed, as
the radical art historian Tim Clark put it a few years ago in a
disturbing essay in New Left Review, with the tragedy of our own defeat.
Consider this. Two-thirds of the American electorate oppose the
ongoing war in Afghanistan. An equal amount objected to intervention in
Libya. Even more recoil at the grim prospect of entering the Syrian
theater.
Yet there is no antiwar movement to translate that seething
disillusionment into action. There are no mass demonstrations. No
systematic efforts to obstruct military recruiting. No nationwide
strikes. No campus walkouts. No serious divestment campaigns against
companies involved in drone technology.
Similar popular disgust is evident regarding the imposition of stern
austerity measures during a prolonged and enervating recession. But once
again this smoldering outrage has no political outlet in the current
political climate, where both parties have fully embraced the savage
bottom line math of neoliberalism.
Homelessness, rampant across America, is a verboten topic,
unmentioned in the press, absent from political discourse. Hunger, a
deepening crisis in rural and urban America, is a taboo subject,
something left to religious pray-to-eat charities or the fickle whims of
corporate write-offs.
What do they offer us, instead? Pious homilies about the work ethic,
the sanctity of the family unit, the self-correcting laxative of market
forces.
The economic immiseration of black America, brutal and unrelenting,
is simply elided, erased from the political dialogue, even at jam
sessions of the Congressional Black Caucus. Instead, whenever

Obama
mentions the plight of black Americans (about once every two years by
my count), as he did in his patronizing commencement addresses this
spring, it is to chide blacks about cleaning up their acts, admonishing
them to stop complaining about their circumstances and work harder at
adopting the flight plan of white corporate culture.
The self-evident need for large-scale public works projects to green
the economy and put people to work goes unmentioned, while the press and
the politicians engage in a faux debate over the minutia of
sequestration and sharpen each others knives to begin slashing Social
Security and Medicare. Where’s the collective outrage? Where are the
marches on the Capitol? The sit-ins in congressional offices?
A few weeks ago I wrote an essay
on the Obama administration’s infamous memo justifying drone strikes
inside countries like Pakistan and Yemen that the US is not officially
at war against. In one revealing paragraph, a Justice Department lawyer
cited Richard Nixon’s illegal bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War
as a precedent for Obama’s killer drone strikes. Let’s recall that the
bombing of Cambodia prompted several high-ranking officials in the Nixon
cabinet to resign, including CounterPunch writer Roger Morris. It also
sparked the student uprising at Kent State, which lead the Ohio Governor
Jim Rhodes to declare a state of emergency, ordering the National Guard
to rush the campus. The Guard troops promptly began firing at the
protesters, killing four and wounding nine. The war had come home.
Where are those protests today?


The environment is unraveling, thread by thread, right before our
eyes. Each day brings more dire news. Amphibians are in stark decline
across North America. Storms of unimaginable ferocity are strafing the
Great Plains week after week. The Arctic will soon be ice-free. The
water table is plummeting in the world’s greatest aquifer. The air is
carcinogenic in dozens of California cities. The spotted owl is still
going extinct. Wolves are beginning gunned down by the hundreds across
the Rocky Mountains. Bees, the great pollinators, are disappearing
coast-to-coast, wiped out by chemical agriculture. Hurricane season now
lasts from May to December. And about all the environmental movement can
offer in resistance are a few designer protests against a pipeline
which is already a fait accompli.
Our politics has gone sociopathic and liberals in America have been
pliant to every abuse, marinated in the toxic silt of Obama’s mordant
rhetoric. They eagerly swallow every placebo policy Obama serves them,
dutifully defending every incursion against fundamental rights. And each
betrayal only serves to make his adoring retinue crave his smile; his
occasional glance and nod all the more urgently. Still others on the
dogmatic Left circle endlessly, like characters consigned to their
eternal roles by Dante, in the ideological cul-de-sac of identity
politics.
How much will we stomach before rising up? A fabricated war, a looted
economy, a scalded atmosphere, a despoiled gulf, the loss of habeas
corpus, the assassination of American citizens…
One looks in vain across this vast landscape of despair for even the
dimmest flickers of real rebellion and popular mutiny, as if surveying a
nation of somnambulists.
We remain strangely impassive in the face of our own extinction.


Jeffrey St. Clair is the editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book (with Joshua Frank) is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).


This is a condensed version of a talk delivered at the University of Oregon.


Added: May-25-2013 Occurred On: May-25-2013
By: omniradar
In:
Politics
Tags: Inept, Political, Left, !
Location: United States (load item map)
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  • Comment of user 'Eva_Destruction' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • They have been hypnotized by popularity. They are getting their way, and showing their true colors. "Equal Opportunity" was never about building up minorities. Its about pissing off the conservative white people. Abortion is not about a womans choice. Its about Eugenics, and population control. The EPA, and the green movement, was never about protecting the planet. Its about fleecing small businesses, girding large corporations, and the creation of more government agencies to soak up m More..

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  • first we get their guns, then we put them in reeducation camps run by atheist lesbians

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    • Comment of user 'Eva_Destruction' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Typical Right-wing pap. They take a position and treat it as though it is fact. Sadly delusional IMHO.

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  • Over there! See? The Left.
    On the scrapheap of history.

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    • Comment of user 'Eva_Destruction' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • ROFLMAO!!! Guess no one watched the last couple of elections huh?

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  • This guys illustrates rather nicely , the strange political world where the ultra left meets the far right .

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  • It's because you're hypocrites. You are the problem yet take no accountability instead blame everyone else. Do you know anyone like that personally? And if so, do you take them seriously or find them annoying?

    The left preaches economic equality. Yet their policies crush it. The people who preach the loudest live in Hollywood in 10 million dollar mansions and preach to the middle class guy that he's a jerk because he complains about taxes.
    The left strap themselves to trees to save them. More..

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  • Yeah, like we need more lefturd politics in this country. They need to be run off 1rst, and for good

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  • Comment of user 'GraveMatter-' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @GraveMatter-

      He's not a Marxist at all . He is very European in his political position . The far right in Europe hates capitalism as much as any Marxist .

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    • Comment of user 'GraveMatter-' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @ComradeAgopian I don't blame them. When is the last thing you picked up at Best Buy made in Spain or Italy? Socialism is a scam that plays to the bottom denominator. It has never worked and Europe is on the verge of collapse.

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    • @GraveMatter-

      So far I'm doing ok . Thanks for asking .

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