Monday, May 27, 2013

What Is Left of the Left? II

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.
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?
And what about the environmental movement? Where did it go?

At a time when we desperately need to change course to avoid or, at least, mitigate the misery and suffering we are sentencing future generations to, we continue to drive down the same road at breakneck speed!

As readers know, I am passionate about human and civil rights, economic justice, the rule of law and peace over war. While each of these issues is of vital importance to the whole of human society, each pales in the face of climatic calamity. If we render this planet uninhabitable for humans and most of the rest of current life forms, wealth and injustice will no longer be issues. There will no longer be Homo sapiens to argue about them.

That is the direction we are heading. It won't happen in your or my lifetime, but it IS coming down the road IF we don't drastically change our ways. When a future generation looks back at this current generation, they will curse our names. Our generation will be derided as a hedonistic one -- more concerned about our temporal wealth, power and pleasures than the health and safety of those to come after us.

And, for all the fundamentalist Christian out there -- the ones who believe that the second coming of Jesus will save a certain portion of the population from hell on earth -- my guess is that this second coming won't turn out like you think. Jesus will prepare to make his grand entrance, but then he will look at the utter mess we have made of his father's creation. He will decide that our species isn't worth saving! He will appear in the clouds only to give us the finger!

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