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They all seem to have appeared on the right lately.  Not that long ago we had them on the left as well. Actually I'm inclined to ask where the left has gone, but that is a circular thing, isn't it?  That is, what used to be radical left is gone.  What used to be left is also just about gone.   I expect  a bunch of comments pointing out that we have a left that is alive and well.  The problem with such claims is that when we had a radical left it would have been more than clear that these are really moderates.  So if there is no real radical left why should I expect there to be radical left journalists?  Which is chicken and which is egg?  My inspiration for such babble is that I have started a fascinating book: American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone by D. D. Guttenplan. There are things happening in this country right now that are very radical.  They scare me.  Read on below and I'll say more about Stone and about the absence of a voice like his and what it means for all of us.

I grew up on I. F. Stone and he shaped a great deal of what I am.  Stone lived from 1907 to 1989.  I was born in 1936 so we overlap enough to make him a significant part of my life.  I didn't discover him until the 1950s but before that I knew nothing about politics other than the love my parents had for FDR.

Stone has no counterpart in American history that I am aware of.  Here is a guy who spoke out against Joe McCarthy as if it was not suicidal to do so.  In fact it did cost him but he recovered.  The moral price those who shut up or even turned quisling paid was far, far greater.  And that brings us to today's journalists.  What is it they are protecting?   I really do not understand.

Here's what Stone's biographer  wrote about the effect of the trial of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.  The history of this trial should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand how we got here.  

it seems clear that Feinstein (his original name) returned from New England a changed man.  Before he had been both idealist and cynic, no more serious about politics than he'd been about his weekend jaunts to Atlantic City.  Passionate, yes, but not committed.  Afterward, he   ----  and a whole generation of young idealists  ---  knew that American political dissent could have fatal consequences.  More than that, he knew something a subsequent generation of young radicals would have to learn for themselves in Kent, Ohio and Jackson, Mississippi: that the establishment was prepared to murder to preserve its hold on power.

 I have read and reread that passage.  It seems to hold a key to a deep truth I learned in my own way.  I don't think I was ever really a radical until that realization came to me.

I have written a lot here challenging those who believe we can achieve real change through electoral politics.  I participate often with a zeal that goes far beyond what a doubter should be able to muster up.  I think it is because this charade is all we have left.  The left is gone.  By that I mean the people who believed in their hearts and souls that the power structure of this country consists of people who will control us if they have to murder us  to do it.  

I used to think about that in the '60s and '70s as a kind of sorting device to evaluate the effectiveness of political acts.  There were a spectrum of them back then.  The idea was that if the establishment fought you with words you were safe to them.  If they came to hurt you that meant you were starting to have effect.

So that brings us around the circle.  Is the radicalism of the right a threat to the establishment?  Or , as often in the past, are they the cannon fodder being used to pave the way for something more?  I see no sign that they bother any one in power.  The present scene is frightening to me.  More frightening than the threat of establishment retaliation.  

Who knows more than this mystical establishment how bad the prognosis really is for this country?  Who needs to have thugs ready in case the downtrodden should eventually rise up as they always do when things get bad enough?

The rantings of an old man right?  Maybe so.  I have been at this too long and have seen too much to dismiss my unease that way.  You may, but it may be at your peril.  There is no I. F. Stone out there to sound the warning this time.  The other side owns every last one of them this time.  The theater they put on almost makes it seem otherwise but don't be fooled.  The whole thing is being produced and directed for your benefit.  That's right yours.  The so called left.  You are totally safe and will never have to fear harm.  Just go on with the pretense of a struggle.  It is good theatre.

Originally posted to don mikulecky on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 07:24 PM PDT.


Today's "left"

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 07:24:21 PM PDT

  •  There's Amy Goodman I suppose (8+ / 0-)

    Trouble is that the right embraces their radicals while we revile ours.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 07:43:22 PM PDT

  •  What's left (6+ / 0-)

    The traditional left, as in socialists and communists, was lopped off by McCarthyism and delegimitized by the actions and influence of the Soviet Union.

    The New Left, as in the 1960s revival of radical (socialist or non-socialist thought) died at Kent State.

    Since then, there has been a constant campaign of professional and public intimidation of anyone who remotely seems to be revisiting these ideas.  During the reign of Bush II, even being a Democrat was a risk in some places.  The loss of that sort of intimidation is one of the things that has set off a few factions of teabaggers who are outside the influence of Dick Armey's astroturf machine.

    I.F. Stone was one of a kind.  I can't think of anyone, even contemporaries of his, who have had the same determination and incisive analysis.

    It would be nice to have some thoughtful essays from whatever remains of the left because most of what I see right now are tired Marxian cliches and rote analysis.  The analysis of power elites done by C. Wright Mills have degenerated in current hands into mere conspiracy theories tied together by someone who knows or could know someone else.

    It would also be nice if there were a place in the Democratic Party for democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders.  During the New Deal such a big tent was not unheard of.

    It is time to fight against all of the stigmas created by Cold War propaganda.  In this, most other industrialized countries have gotten it right.  Here, we have an amputated eagle flying around in circles.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 07:50:39 PM PDT

  •  What do you think about Naomi Klein? (8+ / 0-)

    I don't know if I would consider her a radical (or a journalist) per se, but her film The Take is striking in its heroic portrayal of anarchists (even if it doesn't refer to them as such).

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 07:52:11 PM PDT

  •  You can find plenty of them on this radio show (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky
  •  You must be right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm 65 and define myself as a true liberal.  That, I always supposed to be "left".  I am not a Stalinist or a Marxist or a believer in the council of feminist druids.  So I guess that means I am not "left"?

    I traveled to the University of Wisconsin to bid on a CDC 3600 computer system that had been bombed by the Weatherman dudes.  That is as close as I ever came to radicalism.

    Yet I look at the results of that radicalism and I see the rise of the rabid Reich.  The "left" went way too far and they paid dearly for it.  Can we hold the line of reason?  Can we make the Reich look as bad as they really are?

    Yet you may be correct in your assessment.  We do not have the long view that rightardia had in the late 70's when they began the infiltration of the K12 system and the undermining of American history and civics and culture. Most people do not attend a university.  Yet they vote.

    "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

    by TheTrucker on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:03:41 PM PDT

    •  I'd say that you sound like a lot of right winger (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, Marja E

      people who totally distort the history of that time.  You conveniently leave out the core of us who went to workshops again and again to learn non-violent resistence.  Evey movement has fringe elements.  You focus on the fringe and sound very right wing.

      It was people like you who destroyed the movement not Kent State.

      Did you ever hear of Martin Luther King?  Did you ever attend an SDS meeting?  Did you have your phone tapped by the FBI?  Were you ever arrested at a demonstration for trying to keep order and then charged with subversion?  Did you ever face ten years in prison for non-violent draft resistence?  

      Thanks for your totally destructive comment.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:13:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Easy, Hoss (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky

        This is exactly the type of thing that marginalized the 'radical left' - excoriation of anything marginally to it's right.

      •  To you I _AM_ A RIGHT WINGER (0+ / 0-)

        But I am religiously attached to justice as you are to compassion.  I never adopted any other cause than justice in my life and I don't expect that I ever will.  All the altruism on earth will never make the mark on injustice and poverty that true justice will obtain.  It makes no difference how I feel about a damned thing.  "morality" derives from the Latin 'moralis" which simply means "of manner and custom".  Changing the alleged mind of society is not an easy task and I do salute the storm troopers that carry the signs and march the streets.  My best friends are "moonbats", and I actually get frustrated by them.  That is why I stay away.  I stay in my cave and try to teleport to the moon so I can look back here and see what we do.  And every time I see injustice as the hand of evil.  I cannot help one damned soul by carrying a sign.

        If we are all treated "justly" there will be no real poverty. Unless the majority, based on emotion and ignorance, brings it and causes it, poverty cannot exist.  To cure ignorance is to cure injustice.  And it starts with curing my own.  In this exchange with you I am again reminded that we all work in different ways and have our own philosophies.  Most of what I think and promote is exemplified in "Progress and Poverty".  I am primary author of the wikipedia article on "economic rent".  I come here to test the waters.

        "I know no safe depository for the ultimate power of society but the people themselves" -- Jefferson

        by TheTrucker on Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 03:31:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Top line journos now make well into the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    middle six figures-- that's where the radical went.

    No more von Hoffman's out there, but I like John Young of Waco TX and Leonard Pitts of Miami FL.

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:07:28 PM PDT

  •  There are plenty... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...radical journalists out there. I could name at least a dozen off the top of my head.

    The thing is, many of those who would normally be following their work are instead ignoring them.

    Why, you ask? Because most of them are busy writing about issues related to the current administration's wholesale adoption of Bush/Cheney policies, from education to civil rights to on-going rendition to the continuing prosecution of illegal wars.

    Don't worry, though. Once the Republicans sweep back into power in a couple years, everyone can go back to reading left journalism and pretending to be the virtuous progressive opposition.  

    Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

    by mojada on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:07:44 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for making my point! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marja E

      Because most of them are busy writing about issues related to the current administration's wholesale adoption of Bush/Cheney policies, from education to civil rights to on-going rendition to the continuing prosecution of illegal wars.

      You consider this radical?

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:16:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you kidding? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky

        Under THIS administration?

        Hell, to even mildly suggest the possibility that greenlighting drone strikes on huts full of malnourished Afghan children might not be perfectly legal will get you branded a purist Obama-hater who wants the teabaggers to take over America.

        So you tell me.

        Illegal Alien: Term used by the descendents of foreign colonizers to refer to the descendents of indigenous people

        by mojada on Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 12:21:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Daniel Ellsberg not a journalist, still a radical (0+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary some time ago about Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the 'Pentagon Papers' being interviewed on NPR.

    Ellsberg really avoids the conventions of traditional interviews, saying some really aggressively liberal things about current politics, audibly shocking his interviewer (you can hear her gasp). I really appreciated this part about Obama's failure to renounce the executive powers Bush claimed:

    We had eight years of George W. Bush and Cheney who, I believe felt that all of these things were not and should not be crimes despite the Constitution despite our laws, because their attitude was that the president as commander in chief during the time of war had no limit on his power whatever. In effect, they were the kind of domestic enemies of the Constitution that I swore as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps and every Congress person every official in government, every officer is sworn to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The trouble is that President Obama - not to my surprise I'm sorry to say - as their successor has not eschewed any of those powers. And in effect an executive coup that took place under the Bush Administration was later ratified by Congress by both Democrats and Republicans and is being continued by President Obama.

    ...and this prediction that Obama's commitment to end the war is as shallow as his commitment not to pass HC without a PO:

    I believe that when President Obama - like all presidents before him in such situations - when he says to Congress in his State of the Union address, 'I am ending the war in Iraq. I will have all combat troops out of there in a matter of months or years or so'... I believe he is consciously lying - as did President Johnson - for the purpose of misleading the public about where we're heading and what his policy projects. I don't think there's a chance in the world that we will have American troops out by 2011. Or 2015.

    "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

    by efraker on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:15:04 PM PDT

  •  they're (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    around. Seymour Hersh. Meteor Blades. Gore Vidal. Some of the folks at Harper's. Andy Worthington. Jane Mayer. Frances FitzGerald. Oriana Fallaci, before she went sideways in the years before her death.

  •  Comparing I. F. Stone to the regular run (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky, Situational Lefty

    of 'radical' journalists is like comparing Shakespeare to Paul Rudnick. Anyone will appear diminished by the comparison.

  •  Journalists as referees of the facts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    Diary's Q: "Where have all the radical journalists gone?" Seems to me best answered by asking where have journalists gone who are "referees of the facts"? This was Jon Stewart's phrase in his plea to panelists to be "real journalists" in his guest appearance on "Crossfire" visit years ago, after which CNN promptly fired that guy with the bowtie and closed down the show.

    Just a journalist -- that's radical enough.

    That said, I consider Bill Moyers and Amy Goodman some of the best journalists because they are capable of entertaining more than one point of view fairly, wing and wing, probing (and insisting on and chasing down) the objective points of each while using that capacity in service of the (generally speaking) progressive cause. Demonstrating open-mindedness without being a sieve, as it were. That's "radical" in terms of the root meaning of progressive.    

    •  Not Stone or any radical (0+ / 0-)

      Refereeing facts is not what they did.  Facts are useless without a context.  They knew this.  They showed how putting real facts into a false context was the way propaganda is done.

      Your examples are fine people.  I enjoy them.  They are certainly not what this diary is about.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:50:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To Niche Audiences Which Are the Only Markets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    serious journalists can reach under our system.

    The system doesn't work. The foundation of what doesn't work is the 1st Amendment. It creates information warlords and protects them against the people and civilization. Not corporate personhood, but press freedom which is a specifically corporate right.

    Whatever the people of a democratic republic need in this era, whatever the world needs a democratic republic superpower to have defining its information and communication environment, this isn't it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 08:52:01 PM PDT

  •  the demise of Communism and the USSR (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky, Marja E

    American economic might vanquished the USSR and from there has been able to stop any country or movement that might not subscribe to capitalism. In America it's fall discredited all leftist movements even if they wern't communistic. Of course the failure of socialism in the USSR and it's sickening decent into a Communist dictatorship began the decline of a socialist alternative to capitalism, but when the Soviet Union fell there was no longer any counter weight to world hegemony by the capitalist states who now rule the world. There are no longer any secular revolutions by working class people all radical revolts are now about religion.

    The modern police state is mostly complete and it's almost completly unopposed by citizens anywhere in the world. Unions are now a part and parcel of the ruling class where they even exist and radical organizations of citizens like the Black Panthers or my organization, AIM, are no longer tolerated in America, our leaders have been killed, bought off or eliminated. So when even not so extreme organizations attempt to organize within the body politic of America they no longer can speak about radical change or solutions, they must try to chip around the edges and be careful not to offend those in power lest they be delt with by Americas political police.

    I watched some leftists try to protest at both partys nominating conventions. They were completly silenced and could no way be heard the way we were in the Chicago or Miami conventions of 1972. Anti war protestors too were/are silenced with the complete agreement of the citizenry and the media.

    We knew and often predicted that when America became a police state no one would notice and we turned out to be right on.

  •  You can find a bunch of them here: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and here: ....

    But you already knew that...

    Scheer, Green, Englehardt, Hartmann, are a few worth mentioning...


    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 10:49:30 PM PDT

  •  Is radicalism the only valid approach (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to improving our society?

  •  If you want independent left wing journalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    try Counterpunch. They are anti-Obama, pro-Palestinian, Naderesque, with lots of independent quasi through cryptic Marxist analysis. Includes independent Marxists, radical paleo-conservatives, and an assortment of renegade Trotskyists and the like. Of course there is also the venerable Monthly Review with its independent Marxist perspective and the various on-line publications of a variety of marginal left-wing political parties which are all very polemical.

    Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

    by detler on Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 11:52:54 PM PDT

    •  Still not the same.... (0+ / 0-)

      MR is one I get as well as In These Times and Democratic Left......none of these reach the people Stone did.

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 09:38:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indymedia has had some sucesses (0+ / 0-)

        It used to be outstanding for protest journalism, and it's still reasonably good for that, although it has systemic problems. It pushed hard for citizen journalism, but many activists now post video and photos to YouTube and other corporate sites instead of to Indymedia and other activist sites.

        Remember Duanna Johnson. Tortured by the Memphis PD for being black and trans. Killed by the Memphis PD for speaking up.

        by Marja E on Sun Mar 21, 2010 at 06:12:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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