Too Far Left?

buffett

W.J. Astore

Boris Johnson’s victory in Britain is generating predictable headlines in the USA.  Scanning the New York Times this morning, I saw a headline suggesting the Democratic Party is drifting too far to the left to win in 2020.  What arrant nonsense.

In the mainstream media, political issues in America are almost exclusively presented in terms of left and right.  Again, this is nonsense, because America has no leftist party.  We have two rightist ones: the Republicans and the moderate Republicans, otherwise known as Democrats.

In America, the true political divide isn’t about left-right; it’s about top-down, as in the richest Americans and corporations against the rest of America.  When Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Jeff Bezos are worth as much as the bottom 50% of Americans (that’s 160 million people), do you think top-down disparities in wealth and power might just be a bit more important than left–right issues?

At least Warren Buffett is honest about this.  “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”  The only candidate who’s willing to tackle this issue consistently, Bernie Sanders, is the one who’s either ignored or vilified as extreme by the mainstream media.

Sanders is right.  America needs a political revolution, one in which workers’ concerns would finally take first rather than last place.  And that has nothing to do with being a leftist or rightist.

18 thoughts on “Too Far Left?

  1. Yes. The wealth inequality is the real issue. But if it can be distorted into a left vs right issue, then people who can be manipulated into fearing the left will support the wealthy. Its a Chicken Little phenomenon.

    An interesting observation about taxation is that it is natural. If you think about wealth as size and look at a herd of animals you see a fairly even distribution of wealth. Some animals are bigger but you don’t see one animal being thousands of times bigger than the others. The reason is that nature taxes wealth. For example, gravity makes it much harder for a bigger animal to move. Animals can be greedy but the taxes assessed by nature reduce wealth inequality.

    The problem is that our system has removed constraints on human greed. The cure for greed is enlightenment. In the absence of a cure the treatment is taxation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “… America has no leftist party.”
    Thank you, thank you, thank you … glad to have someone finally say it.
    I don’t know who started that nonsense, but it’s pure-D intellectual laziness that keeps it alive.

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    1. The only “leftist” candidate we have is Bernie Sanders, a social democrat in the tradition of FDR. He’d be considered a centrist in countries like Sweden and Finland.

      What ever happened to Eugene V. Debs? Oh, right. He was put in prison.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brexit dominated the UK election.  Labour tried to make it about other issues and had a really good progressive manifesto, but people are still obsessed with Brexit.  This makes it a unique case and of no predictive value for the US election. – Nicolas J S Davies

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    1. Nicolas Davies — Without having finished reading the other comments that beat me to the punch on this thread, I have to heartily disagree with your opinion that the Brexit brouhaha has “no predictive value for the US election.” What got enough of the UK populace (those who vote, at any rate) sufficiently riled up to approve leaving the EU is PRECISELY the xenophobia that Trump rode to the US Presidency!!! Remember (and you may be writing from the UK yourself, I have no idea), the Brits have never really considered themselves part of Europe as a whole, referring to it as “the continent,” and deeming themselves a superior civilization. “Oh, those filthy Europeans, look at the suffocating regulations they’ve adopted, the absurd concept of a ‘borderless’ continent, their bleeding-heart sympathy for those darkies fleeing wars and warmer climes,” etc., etc. How many wars did England and France engage in over the centuries?? Many more than wars featuring France against Germany, for sure!

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  4. Refreshing to hear it said out loud. America has no leftist party. It’s not longer discernible what “left” and “right”, mean anymore; but whatever they might be plausibly taken to mean, America has no leftist party. And I am afraid that there are virtually no individuals with any profile who can be meaningfully be called “leftists”. What America has is not really two Republican parties, but rather two neo-liberal parties (“neo-liberals” are not liberals of any sort, although they claim to be), both perfused with neo-conservatives (who are not conservatives of any sort). I don’t agree with you, though, that the Democrats (meaning the Democratic elites, not necessarily the rank and file) are the more “moderate” party; I think that they are, if anything, less “moderate” than the Republicans. The Republicans are the more consistently vicious in enriching the already-obscenely-rich and screwing everybody else: the champions of vulture capitalism; but the Democrats are the more consistently murderous warmongering imperialists, champions of the deep state and followers of Joseph McCarthy. I don’t think that there’s any “lesser” as between these two evils. So, yes, Bernie Sanders is right; what’s needed is a revolution. That’s why we will never see him as a candidate, or Tulsi Gabbard either. People who think that either of the two perpetual parties can be “reformed” (this unfortunately includes Bernie) need to have their heads screwed on more tightly. The Democratic establishment would rather lose to Trump than win with Bernie; and as for Tulsi . . .

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    1. “mikjall” — Precisely!! I have no doubt the DNC and its spear-carriers (oh boy, I’m on fire today!) will be working diligently to get Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tulsi Gabbard, etc., DEFEATED next November. The Dem. Establishment is not interested in candidates who tell it like it is on US foreign and domestic policy. They want “pragmatic”–a polite term for SELLING OUT!–folks who can be elected, and re-elected, to keep the Dems in office, soaking up the perks. The GOPers have become quite expert users of Orwellian perversion of language. In the GOP Gospel now, the Dems on the whole are “leftwing extremists”!! It would all be totally hilarious if not for the success the GOP has gained in ruining the lives of those of us in “the 98%” and the tragedy of so many of us in that percentile signing on to the GOP program!!

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      1. Greg: Tulsi has already said she’s not running for reelection to Congress. (She was facing a tough Democratic challenger in her district, sponsored by the DNC, I think.)

        Hopefully Tulsi will have an important role in a Sanders administration … if I’m allowed to fantasize for a moment.

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  5. I will not pretend to be an expert on the recent British Election. This piece from an article made sense to me.

    It was hugely damaging that Corbyn refused to take a clear position on Brexit, the overarching political issue that dominated this election. To be fair, he didn’t have great options, and his promise to act as a “neutral referee” on Brexit reflected an awkward split within his party’s base. To oversimplify the equation slightly, traditional working-class Labour voters in the north of England tended to support Brexit, while affluent, cosmopolitan Labour voters in and around London overwhelmingly opposed it.

    The American McMega-Media as lap dogs to Wall Street would like us to believe that only a Joe Biden can unite the Democratic Party. What the McMega-Media types are saying in effect is that Biden will throw off some Progressive crumbs here and there that will bring the Progressives in as the only hope they have vs President Agent Orange. All the while Biden will be fully committed to Bill Clinton’s and Obama’s Neo-Liberal policies.

    Biden has no clear positions on issues, except he opposes President Agent Orange. The McMega-Media, except Fox, would have a terrible dilemma if Sanders wins the nomination. Sanders is anathema to the Corporatism. For all their opposition to President Agent Orange CNN and MSDNC are comfortable with their profiting. So another 4 years of President Agent Orange would not be the worst thing for their bottom lines, which is all that counts.

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  6. Speaking of class warfare and “free” speech, look at Bloomberg and his $100 million spending on bad campaign ads. I guess money really is speech — fungible, indeed!

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    1. Wow, that was a long article! I had to resort to skim mode eventually. (Lots of typos suggesting this was robo-transcribed from dictation.) But kudos to Prof. Alan Lichtman for sharing my view on Trump’s impeachability based on his anti-environment policies. I am not an individual who can reach a wide audience, but I’ve been making this point for many months.

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  7. The term “Left” was coined during the French Revolution as radical revolutionaries opted to sit on the left of the National Assembly president opposing the Royalists on his right. The content of the term has altered over generations as political realities changed. In my view, the advent of Neoliberal Capitalism now renders this binary division obsolete as regards parliamentary conduct. The ruling 0.001% has ideologically and practically captured parliamentary process so completely it now only functions as an aspect of dictatorship over the vast majority of people who work for a living. Thus, the UK election of the neoFascist Johnson Gang (having expelled the old Muddle Class middle of the road Torys – changing the content of “Tory”) marks a qualitative change in British politics. The parliamentary charade no longer offers the potential to change the status quo towards a progressive disposition. The faux-democracy in the US has reached the same moment of its development as Trump trumped the GOP. The realm of political transformation has now moved outside the fiction of “parliamentary democracy”. The task and struggle to defend and extend democracy – to restore to the process its original meaning – has become an extra-parliamentary process. Informing this truth to the 99% is the educational task of our period. And that means confronting the purveyors of ignorance rather than blaming the people they confuse for being confused. Lets go after the confusers, and remove their ideological grip on popular imagination. Johnson will not end Austerity because it’s the moduc operandi of his system. Trump likewise. And their system is in the deep trouble of an unresolvable indebtedness – incorporates, nation states and in terms of the real value contained in currencies. The coming financial crash will open a new phase of hostilities. Prepare now in local communities – and network them nationally as assemblies for a new democracy.

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    1. Trying to break the grip on “information” and “news” of the Ruling Class is a gargantuan challenge (the Tasks of Hercules pale in comparison). Frankly, I don’t see it as possible. We will have to await the Big Face-Plant of Capitalism you hinted at, before we can construct a just society. Those of us who survive, that is. Wall Street parties on, mindless investors keep throwing their money at US stocks, but something wicked this way doubtless comes (apologies to Ray Bradbury!).

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  8. Ah, the wonderfilled Ray Bradbury! How right you are to remind us of his brilliance. A visionary mind contemplating the motion of reality in its leaps and bounds. Even in Ireland, as national TV entered our lives transforming our consciousness in late 1959, Ray Bradbury was permitted to cycle across our B&W screens by the mid sixties. Well, he had written “The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge” in homage to my city, after all. And so we soon discovered he was an exquisite writer on real science as well as it’s entertaining fictional speculative variety. I think “The Illustrated Man” explores rather well what you (and the rest of us) are concerned about, Greglaxer. This relationship between the movement of the external world (in shorthand, Matter), and the fact of its reflection into our internal mental functions – human thought (the Ideal).
    In my view, objective reality exists in the ascent of humankind as the dialectically related aspects of Matter and the Ideal, their interplay and interdependence has only recently become cognised as the mutually conditioning energy of the motion of our species. Individually, and then Socially, we are forced to revise our soon-congealed theories as the external world around us develops and exceeds their limitations. The people will learn!
    This is the conflict between dogma and science. May I be permitted a wry smile here towards the misnamed in misconcieved concept of AI. Artifice maybe, but intelligence? Not human intelligence anyway! The nature of intelligence is the subject matter of philosophy, the Greeks told us. Machines or other tools don’t “know” that!
    Our infinite scope bears no comparison with the feeble finite fumbling robotic information storing postulated as AI.
    For we are always taken by surprise as our conceptual grasp becomes obsolete and we thrive on this challenge of open-ended cognitive process.
    Although old now, I may yet live to see The Debt Monster gobble up this failed Capitalist Mode of Production and spit it out, forcing us to imagine a more sophisticated not-for-profit mode of meeting human need collectively and co-operatively, and without destroying our finite habitat.
    Avaricious corporate, and inhuman ruling class state exploitation has become a barrier to human ascent. We humans must now chart our new paths, out of the dead-end street of primitive hierarchy, towards a new understanding of relative equality, rebuilding the communal integrity which has served our species for most of the vast span of its evolution. Competitive hostility is an aberration. Perhaps, a dialectical and necessary aberration, an opposite moment within the leap towards evolving a mature and real democracy, contributing to visioning a genuine social civilisation for our species? But aberrant, none the less. We have work to do, both young and old together now, please.

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    1. On Ray Bradbury: Since I learned to read, I immersed myself 90% or more in non-fiction. In my dotage (!!) I’m playing a little catchup on fiction. I regret to say I think “The Martian Chronicles” and “Fahrenheit 451” is all of Ray’s I’ve actually read thus far. Truffaut’s movie of “Fahrenheit 451” didn’t thrill me. I enjoyed the movie versions of “The Illustrated Man” and “Something Wicked…” As for “competitive hostility,” well yeah, Capitalism is a “dog eat dog” arrangement. Marx identified the class struggle as “the locomotive of history.” Unfortunately, for the longest time now, it’s been the working class getting its collective stuffing knocked out in the arena of class warfare. As Warren Buffett pointed out recently, his class is the one wielding the weapons in this day and age. The workers–despite the odd phenomenon like “the Yellow Vests” in France–in the so-called developed or “advanced” world have had their class consciousness squeezed out of them. Things will have to get very, very bad to awaken a spark of struggle. And, again, things WILL get very, very bad. I can’t name the exact date and hour, but I feel its approach.

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