Monday, May 27, 2013

What Is Left of the Left? I

Trey Smith

Today's posts will feature parsed sections of an excellent editorial, The Silent Death of the American Left, by CounterPunch editor Jeffery 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.
From my perspective, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States was a master stroke by the ruling elites. For years, folks on the Left had dreamed of the day when a person of color or a women could ascend to the highest office in the land. It would show, many thought, that America finally had turned the corner, that we were poised to take the next giant step in the evolution of this experiment in democracy.

But how has this worked out?

Abysmally! Obama has proven to be nothing more than a Trojan Horse! He has emasculated not only the Left, but even lukewarm progressive voices. By any sort of objective standard, Obama's administration predominantly has been to the right of Republicans Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

This is the master stroke. The elites realized that, if they put a president in office who looked like the man of our dreams, he could legislate as one of them and liberals wouldn't raise so much as a peep because, to do so, would be to invalidate the original dream.

Barack Obama has done things that Team Dubya never even dreamed of. If Bush had created kill lists of American citizens, liberals would have exploded in righteous indignation. There would be protests in the streets that would have threatened the elites drive to suck as much money as possible from the public teat. A kill list would have been a bridge too far for a conservative.

But it turns out that it is not a bridge too far for a so-called liberal! It is not a bridge too far for the first black president who, by the way, was once a constitutional scholar.

In the end, this hollowing out of the Left and progressives doesn't say that much about the machinations of the elite. No, it says volumes about us. It shows how easily liberals allow themselves to be manipulated to do the bidding of the oligarchy as well as how quickly they will marginalize those of us who recognized the Trojan Horse from the start.

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