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For a very long time I've been obsessively trying to figure out why the Left doesn't seem to be able to coalesce into a cohesive movement in American politics, at a moment when it is needed the most.

I have a few theories as to some of the reasons, but still, the whole thing is kind of perplexing to me.  One theory I have is that if people are being exposed to the type of media messaging I was exposed to today, that by itself may tend to manipulate people into inaction.

Today, I was really paying attention... I listened to several hours of NPR, and watched MSNBC "liberal" news shows, read the news paper, and even let myself be exposed to a few TV ads.

Where to begin?  Absurdities, false narratives, misinformation, and outright untruths for smart people?  I can't even imagine what the rest of the population (6th-grade level?) is being exposed to when they watch ABC, NBC, CNN, FoxNews, and CBS!

I've pointed this out before in my writing, but this stuff is at the same level of Orwellian science fiction.  But enough of that... Let me get to my point.

I think smart Lefties know what's happening.  The website "Money Wins Elections" provides a pretty straightforward summary: In 2012 there were 435 House of Representatives elections; "candidates that outspent their opponents won 95% of elections.  Less than 1 percent of Americans contribute 68 percent of all election funding.  These big funders use their influence to lobby for policies and laws that benefit themselves."

We know the rest... Austerity, militarization of police forces, total-information-awareness surveillance system, tearing down of the social safety net, looting and pillaging of the country's treasury.  All at the expense of an increasingly subjugated population.

So far so good; we're smart about that.  But why do we vehemently, dismissively, and stubbornly refuse to do the one (and only) thing that could actually give us the power we need to effect real change on the debased and totally corrupt political system we have: Organize at a national level into a cohesive movement capable of developing short-, mid-, and long-term strategies with clear goals and objectives.

Again, unless I'm missing something, what needs to be done is painfully obvious.  For example, we know about the problems of politicians of both parties being on the take, and acting in favor of the one percent and against the interest of the citizenry.

We know who is doing the bribery, and we know who is receiving the payoffs (campaign contributions, access, special favors, enrichment through the revolving door of corruption).

We know the U.S. media conglomerate is a very harmful propaganda machine.  We know about the military industrial complex and their war profiteers (is Syria next?).

Aside from signing petitions and pledges (which all progressive groups asks us to do), and aside from supporting more and better Democrats (through campaign contributions and campaigning), is there anything else we can do?  Of course; there are many other things we not only can do, but must do.

Imagine keeping track of every single meeting between politicians and corporate funders, and assigning people to picket those meetings, no matter where they take place, and no matter which party they belong to?

Or imagine launching a relentless counter-propaganda campaign against the mainstream media, contacting their management, sending press releases about the harm they are doing, contacting individual "reporters" and "journalists," and challenging them on the bullshit they are peddling?

And imagine groups in every city, some assigned to do research, to follow the trail of corruption, to keep track of the thousands of laws ALEC is pushing through State houses all over the country, and then share that information in a central database to discern patterns, relationships, and then from that come up with counter-strategies, with resistance campaigns, with campaigns to educate the public, and to recruit them into the cause (into the movement)?

Imagine stepping it up a notch.  Yes, continue with the political stuff, supporting good candidates, signing petitions, airing issues of importance, but also come up with pressure tactics, targeted protest rallies, coordinating with unions all over the country to organize picket lines at certain sites, agitating to organize big-box retail workers, standing up to big oil, organizing flash mobs, passing out carefully designed, high quality flyers with very strong messaging.

This stuff is a no-brainer!  Where are our leaders?  I don't mind people selling books, or charging for conferences, or getting donations, etc., but where is the oomph?  Where is the real honest-to-goodness grassroots street-level activism?

Why do you think there is no "oomph" in the progressive movement?  Is there a real progressive, social justice movement?  What's your take?

Each blue dot on the map below represents a member of a growing nationwide network of social justice and anti-corruption activists committed to finding the best way forward.  Join us in the effort!

Ray Pensador | Email List | Twitter | Facebook |  
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Comment Preferences

  •  The "reason", as you put it, is that (18+ / 0-)

    each person or sub group has his or her own pet cause which is of primary importance and all other issues are secondary.

    Which is why at the anti war protests in 2003 you saw environmental signs and messages, you saw anti drug war messages, and what not.

    You see it primarily when the G-20 comes to town or any kind of global trade summit like Seattle--where every group was there with their own little agenda fighting for the air time, which the networks were all to happy to give to the ones that sounded the most out there and to show how "disorganized" everyone was.

    And you know that until the entire left activist community starts speaking with one voice and acting with one action that this will be the case.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:05:25 PM PDT

    •  Yes, I've attended so many rallies and protests, (5+ / 0-)

      and usually end disappointed.  People wearing tutus, and costumes, etc.  Some women take their shirts off, some people put tape on their mouths, etc.  I don't get it....

      •  It is US against THEM, Repubs & Dems. are working (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jm214, PhilK

        for THEM.

        "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

        by Mr SeeMore on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:11:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The MAIN Reason the progressive movement (4+ / 0-)

        CANNOT come together constructively is because most people (99%) are STRUGGLING today to keep their heads above water, with each year getting worse.  They are focused on:
        1) Keeping their jobs
        2) Making enough money not to go into the red.
        3) Affording healthcare services (there is a massive assault on healthcare workers and services.)
        4) Spending a lot of time on trying to get contracted services from corporations (mistakes on phone bills and other bills, charges on bank statements, arguing with all sorts of insurance for contracted coverage, etc. etc. etc.) and sort through corporate scams (read about Medicare Advantage, eg.)

        And then after their daily HARROWING fight with the above, they are exhausted and really afraid of their future and the future of their children.

        In order to get up the next day to repeat Steps One to Four, they need some brain dead time of mindless entertainment.  

        With all the efforts of the plutocracy towards destroying the safety net, medicare, outsourcing, destroying the service and physical infrastructure (e.g. schools, and roads, respectively,) etc, etc. , it is pretty bleak to look at the future.

        Economic Survival needs to be the first issue addressed for people to even have the time to look at these other issues.

        So, in a perverse way, its "Follow the Money" all over again.

        That's why ALEC succeeds; bec. the corporations EMPLOY these people.  In the hierarchy of needs, food, shelter, healthcare, education, safety comes first.

        So, I think that answer to the question you posed, Ray, is as simple as that.

        We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

        by SeaTurtle on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:21:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, zenbassoon, you went straight to (11+ / 0-)

      the heart of the problem. We are now functioning as a coalition of left leaning groups with similar interests operating under a large umbrella, and we're no longer able to work together towards a common goal.

      If you look at the actions taken by the Third Way, the neo-liberals, and the blue dog coalition, then you know that some of our own Party members have been operating in direct opposition to us (the Progressive wing of the Party).

      And chief among those opposing us has been Barack Obama.

      His policies have pitted us against each other. His faithful followers are now supporting policies that no Democrat would have ever supported in a million years if a republican had proposed them. As a longtime Democrat, I never thought I would see the day come when a Democratic president would yank the social safety net from beneath the feet of elderly people, the disabled, and millions of hungry children...while liberals stood on the sideline and did nothing. But that is what is happening now. And it is destroying the Democratic Party.

      By 2016, we may be nothing more than a lite version of the republican party. That seems to be the direction we're heading.

      For a long time, many of us have been saying that Obama is leading us over a political cliff, and now that we're at the edge of the precipice, the Progressive wing of the Party is pretending nothing is happening. We just fight over small problems and overlook the destruction from within.

      If we can no longer work together, then who will fight to protect minority rights, or women's issues, or gay marriage, or environmental issues, or the poor and downtrodden. None of those groups are large enough to fight the opposition on their own. We sit at our computers and sign petitions, hoping someone will read them and do the right thing, while the corporations are paying our Democratic leaders huge sums of money to ignore us...and guess who is winning?

      Divide and conquer. It is an age old tactic.

      •  Quick: who said that? (7+ / 0-)

        "I don't belong to any organized party. I'm a Democrat."

        "It's like herding cats."

        Big Tent always means coming in at cross-purposes. We may need more coalition-building, but I would hate to have to toe the line the way the Teahadists demand of their GOPers.

        But you're absolutely right about getting Corporate Money out of politics.

        First, though, we need to get rid of a couple (or more) Gopasauruses in the Supreme Court.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:55:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Get rid of SCt justices? how the HELL do you plan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to do that?

          There's one bit of the problem, Ray -- lots of "solutions" that are just individual observations on a diagnostic screen. By people who are like the three blind philosophers arguing over the nature of the elephant from having touched just one part -- tusk, trunk, foot, tail. Can't see the nature of the whole beast, but argue heatedly over who's more correct and percipient.

          Obama will appoint any SCt newbies in his term, any bets on what kind of person(s) will pass the West Wing vetting?

          And what are the chances of this herd of really special cats, US, managing to "elect" a "better Democrat" to the White House next time around, since gee, the SCt after long packing by determined kleptocrats who are actually ORGANIZED and who understand the actual sources and application of POWER, have rendered "legal" the very activities that ensure that the ORGANIZED, the KOCHs and the coal industry and all that, will continue to prevail until the planet won't have us any more but they will have maximized their pleasures and died comfortable.

          While the rest of us, SPLITTERS, with our little issues, will continue to engage in "coalition building" and earnest turning of flip-chart pages or the new-digital equivalents, and not doing what used to be something the "left," as in LABOR that understood that POWER in the form of large numbers and a willingness to actually lay it on the line with their bodies and righteous anger, actually DID, for a time -- check the freepin' predations of the Gilded Tapeworms that are always there, always pressing, always pursuing power and advantage.

          "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

          by jm214 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:57:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It is heresy to say this on this site (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lorla, quill, Just Bob

        but I think we need to forget party politics and instead focus on individuals we want to represent us. AND we need to recruit more from other areas like academia and the arts. ACTIVE recruiting rather than passive letting the alpha's come to the fore.

        It does us no good to have a morally defunct party like the GOP still lurching around like a zombie while the slightly less morally defunct democrats use the zombies for cover.

        We have more problems than a diverse left. We can deal with a diverse left but we cannot deal with billionaires washing us out of the boat with their bucks. We cannot deal without having a megaphone.

        We COULD use a number of tactics to get a handle on that mike, but it will take determined and gutsy and creative activists. But not at all impossible if you think of the times protesters have commandeered radio and tv stations. And I think we have plans around for doing low powered radio stations.

        We also COULD use a number of strategic boycotts and ads and such to push lobbyists out of the dc area just as we are pushing corporations away from the Limbo.

        But most of all, we need to get over ourselves. Yes when we protest everybody out there has a message and we may not feel great about all the messages, but suck it up because we need them and they need us.

        A LOT of folks here on the left were holding their noses when it came to the Occupy folks. But I tell you true the occupy folks pulled support from all walks of life AND they learned how to make a community.

        Another thing I tell you true: Making a community is where it is at and it is the holy grail.

        American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

        by glitterscale on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 06:20:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Policies matter more than personalities. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bogieshadow, New Rule, praenomen

          Focusing on individual candidates is usually a bad idea.  Evidence based policy is a good thing regardless of the intelligence, moral character, race, creed, or sex of who supports it.

          Do we need more minority and female candidates?  Yes.  But there's no reason to believe that any individual candidate has "The Answer".  Overturning Citizen's United is a straightforward goal that can be done by any large coalition of elected officials.  Find them and support them.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:26:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's been this way as long as I can remember, and (8+ / 0-)

      that's a long time.  With the myriad, sometimes mutually exclusive causes within the party, it's a miracle to me that Democrats ever win elections.  The democratic "tent" is the ideological equivalent of the intergalactic saloon scene in "Star Wars."  

      That's not to say the Republicans aren't having their issues.  Their strength has always been the ability (or the appearance anyway) of walking in lockstep.

      They now appearing to be damaging themselves because of a developing rift between two factions.  Only two.  In the Democratic tent, with its hastily stitched together rips and tears, only two factions would be Shang-Ri-Lah.  

      Beside the problem of single-issue voters, progressives have a numbers problem.  There are simply not many bona fide progressives in the party, in the congress, and in the country in general.  

      With noted exceptions on this site,  progressives tend to project what they wish to be upon what actually is.  Case in point, President Obama.  The great masses who thought he was a liberal are disappointed.  Progressives who knew all along he was a centrist are simply disgusted.  I was among the former, and have only recently become disabused of my fantasy.

      That is some of the tattered, mismatched baggage we carry as we struggle to move the country into a more progressive direction.  It's not pretty, internally or externally.

      I can only hope the Republicans persevere with their apparent death wish in which they abandon their monolithic personage in favor of serious bickering and backbiting among themselves.  For some reason they seem to have imagined it politically advantageous to be us, and I welcome their determination to level the playing field.

      Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

      by ZedMont on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:38:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OMG, ZedMont, I love that: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The democratic "tent" is the ideological equivalent of the intergalactic saloon scene in "Star Wars."
        Brilliant analogy: and so very, very true.

        It has always been one of my favorite scenes in the movie...but then, I've always been a Democrat.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:59:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're missing the other half. (4+ / 0-)

      Many on the Left who don't agree with another person's "pet cause," as you put it, denigrate that cause and alienate them from the Left as a whole.

      As an animal rights supporter, believe me, I know what it's like to feel the intolerance of the Left.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:50:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ^^^^That right there^^^^ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Because we have proud carnivores, the vegans and those who advocate sustainable living through less meat are ridiculed by their fellow lefties.  And a lot of vegans will go after the carnivores with great gusto and vitriol.  Same with the feud between the anti-gun and the RKBA crowd.  

        And so on.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 03:57:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Assigned" (6+ / 0-)

      Ray touched on part of the answer to his own question with that word. What liberal wants to take orders and spend his or her own precious voluntary time on someone else's priorities?

      As for paid time, funds tend to be on the other side, as everyone is aware. Full pay for Heritage Foundation interns, versus volunteering entire summers for the privilege of working for liberal groups. Yes, virtue is its own reward, but that doesn't get you a comfortable standard of living. Money is power, and people asserting their proper power as citizens take it away from the currently powerful; how many rich/ powerful people want to expend some of their own power in order to diffuse and lose it? (Ralph Nader essentially gave up and called for a benevolent dictator benefactor.)

      Relatedly, liberal populist power is hard to control, by any leader. People really are afraid of the next French or Russian revolution.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:52:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Orwell saw a future where the truth was (17+ / 0-)

    controlled and guarded by a fierce centralized power.

    Huxley saw a future where the truth was buried in a sea of distractions.

    This is a country of consumers, not citizens. Consumers don't organize.

    collards, meat, butter, sourdough, eggs, cheese, raw milk

    by Tirge Caps on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:12:15 PM PDT

  •  It's because we are natural born rebels-- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, Simplify

    even against ourselves--and don't need the change badly enough.

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:29:51 PM PDT

  •  Years ago I had no idea what the spoof was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Just Bob

  •  Sorry for the duplicate video. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Was having some kind of trouble with it appearing.

  •  Or even simpler.... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, FG, Odysseus, New Rule, erush1345

    How many people would you say are moderately to strongly committed to left-wing positions in the entire United States? I have no idea, but for the argument's sake, let's say 45 million or so, 15% of the population (I know this is probably lowballing it).

    Now, again suppose you could get half of those people to contribute one dollar a day.

    You'd have over eight billion dollars to play with. You could buy a lot of progressive change with eight billion dollars. The system is rigged in favor of money? Very well then. Buy the system. Then you can reform it.

    If the masses put their cash together, they could out-bid the millionaires every time.

    However, liberals almost never put their money where their mouth is.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:49:56 PM PDT

    •  The thing is that even a highly organized group (7+ / 0-)

      of initially a few hundreds, could grow into thousands, and then tens of thousands, and take off from there.

      I'm truly perplexed by the almost pathological resistance to the concept of organizing in this fashion.  I've had the same conversation with people in different settings, including OWS rallies in San Diego, San Francisco, and Oakland.

      Once I start saying things like "cohesive, highly organized, strategic, clear objectives and goals" I lose them!

      •  Okay, with OWS (7+ / 0-)
        Once I start saying things like "cohesive, highly organized, strategic, clear objectives and goals" I lose them!
        that's no surprise.

        Gail Collins, op-ed columnist for the NYT, did a piece about leaderless meetings she attended (and fell asleep at) in the Sixties. You have to have 100 percent consensus? Never gonna happen.

        I suspect that you would have a better chance with "cohesive, highly organized, strategic, clear objectives and goals" if you were speaking to Democratic think tanks, or George Soros, or Dr. Dean, whose 50-state strategy was starting to work when someone snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:08:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And then you have a top-down, astroturf group (0+ / 0-) Freedomworks on the other side of the aisle.

        I think you're posting university-level existentialist questions for which there are no real answers.  Your heart is in the right place, but you're wasting your time even posing the questions because there are no real answers.

        "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

        by Richard Cranium on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:13:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "cohesive, highly organized, strategic, clear (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WB Reeves, bogieshadow, FG

        objectives and goals"  

        It seems to me like you're explaining what you think the end result should be, without actually explaining how to get there.  It's like saying you want me to drive to California, without telling me where to start or what roads to take.  Everyone knows you need organization, cohesion, and a clear vision to accomplish things politically - I don't think anyone is arguing with you on that (correct me if there are people out there who think a loose confederation of incoherent, disorganized whatever is a good idea).  

        The real question is - how do you get people organized and thinking with a clear message.  And that seems to be an eternal question in politics that no one really has the answer to.  Just take a look at the post-2012 election Republican party.  

  •  there is no imminent threat (5+ / 0-)

    Once the draft ended and the all-volunteer army started, the left lost the element of personal death for the monied class. Which is good, in a way, because nobody wants to be told to kill or possibly be killed, especially if the war in question is pointless and wrong.

    It's easier to get people who are threatened with that sort of thing to come together to shout "Hell no, we won't go" than it is to get people protesting financial inequality. Or drones. Or chained CPI....although that last one has potential.

    •  The threat is imminent, but abstract. I think (6+ / 0-)

      that's the challenge.

      •  How about real unemployment being 18% or (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SeaTurtle, New Rule

        more? Spain's at 27%, 57.5% for young people, and guess what? There are and are going to be more BIG demonstrations. People are starving there, but they're starving here too. People were crushed by the kleptocrats at various points in the industrialization and now financialization of the western world, and they saw who was doing it to them, a few vociferous leaders gave them a voice, and the threat of "unrest" that might ratchet back the "progress" of Great Wealth resulted in stuff like the New Deal.

        The abstraction, I think, comes from the complexity of the attacks, on all the sneaky ways the kleptos have of stealing the wealth that ordinary working people create. Especially since it now takes fewer working people to do the same or more (though by means that are killing the planet, not making us wiser and safer.) A "6 ounce can of tuna fish" is now 3.5 ounces at the same price; a half gallon of orange juice is now 59 ounces, not 64; everyone wants a 300-mph gasoline-powered yard blower to send his clippings and dog shit onto the neighbor's yard or into the streets and storm sewers and thus the rivers and lakes...

        Time, as you know, for some clarity and concentration of effort and ORGANIZATION which the PTB are doing their damnedest (by attacking unions, dumbing the schools, all that) to keep from happening.

        There must be a pathway into the literature and documentation that is the source from which the kleptos draw their inspirations and marching orders. Where the talk to each other in unguarded terms about the real motions and substance of what they believe, plan and pat themselves on the back for the effectiveness of. The ALEC materials might be one opening, I don;t know, and isn't it telling that if there were protests, with explications of what these shits are up to, at any of the ALEC ORGANIZING meetings at Palm Springs or wherever, it was invisible.

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:17:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is true. I"ve noticed that most people do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, New Rule

      not have the ability to project where some policy will take us in the future.  So the right proposes something that sounds good - it always sounds good, as long as you aren't able to project where it's logically going to end up in 10 years.

      People are not that smart, generally speaking.  The right understands that.  The left does not.  

      It's complicated but poor communication is part of the problem.   And then the right has multiple hugely wealthy people and foundations on their side promoting their agendas and the left simply does not.  We would have to coalesce around an agenda and find big money to support it.  I would imagine that it would be difficult to find a hugely wealthy person or foundation that is genuinely committed to economic justice for poor and working people, for example.

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:52:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, Ray, since you asked... (9+ / 0-)

    I think it's too great a sense of complacency. Those of us who follow the economic clusterfuck closely, of course, aren't complacent...but there are millions of middle- and lower-middle-class people who simply do not follow the issues closely, even though it would be important to them if they were aware of how they're being screwed.

    The really really poor are probably too busy fighting for survival to have the energy for much else.

    What do I think we need?

    I think we need a strong far-left movement to counteract the Teahadists.  I don't see it happening, though, until conditions are much worse.

    When the New Deal happened, it was after literally decades of people fighting for socialism, or communism, or the right to join a union.

    It also happened after the excesses of the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties brought the entire economy to a standstill...20-something percent unemployment...banks failing as far as the eye could see....

    You know, catastrophe.

    Both Roosevelts seem to have been something of reformers, but FDR had no choice.

    What's different now? A definite tilt the wrong way, a stimulus package that was too little but managed to avert another Great Depression, and billions of dollars being thrown at the shit-slingers of the GOP.


    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:48:56 PM PDT

    •  Fighting for unions and then the organization of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kristina40, New Rule, Youffraita

      working people into unions carried a lot of the weight for the left.  The left's decline can be tied to the decline of unions and there simply is not a comparable organization or institution by means of which we can reach out to ordinary working people and organize them to fight for economic justice.   And that is exactly why the right is against unions. They've understood that unions were the basis of the political power of the left and set out to destroy them. And they have largely succeeded.  Who is going to organize working Americans around the wholesale transfer of our manufacturing industries to foreign countries?  Why, the Democratic Party has played a major role in making it happen.  Now Obama is proposing an immigration law that will allow in tens of thousands and someday hundreds of thousands of guest workers to compete with Americans for employment.  I hear not a wimper of protest on the left.  And Trumpka is putting his seal of approval on it.   Generally, people on the left seem to think it's a good idea.  I don't get it.

      The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

      by helfenburg on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:57:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's am good idea because (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lorla, gramofsam1, Youffraita

        the existence of a large "illegal" work force is what puts a downward pressure on wages and working conditions. Undocumented workers can't organize or appeal to existing labor laws without risking arrest and deportation.

        The alternate "solution", the forcible expulsion of millions of undocumented workers and their dependents, all other questions aside, is simply impractical.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:41:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't refer to expulsion. I referred to the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves

          proposed new law that would authorize a new influx of tens of thousands of guest workers.

          Read carefully, please.  

          The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

          by helfenburg on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:32:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah, thanks for the correction (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador

            I'll have to have a closer look at that part of the law. Depending on the specifics though, the principle remains the same. Workers without legal status have no protections and no recourse. This makes them subject to hyper exploitation which in turn exerts a downward pressure on wages and work conditions for workers as a whole.

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 09:14:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Like I said, WB, I'm talking about something (0+ / 0-)

              else.  What's different about off-shoring our manufacturing or letting in waves of foreign workers to take our jobs away from us righ here?

              Please explain, because I don't understand why more people on the left don't find it problematic.

              The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

              by helfenburg on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 03:54:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well for one thing (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                if our jobs are being off-shored, what jobs do you imagine will be here for people to take away from us?

                I don't believe you are talking about something else. The only reason why immigrants can "take away" our jobs is because they are subject to hyper exploitation. Otherwise there is no advantage in hiring them over native born workers.

                In fact, if wages and working conditions were equal, the advantage would be with native born workers in terms of education, language and culture. The demand for cheap imported labor would evaporate because it would no longer be cheap.

                As I said before, this would depend on the details of the current proposal. If the plan treats immigrants as a lesser, second class pool of labor, that would be something different.

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:26:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Ray, when you write like this, you make a hell of (8+ / 0-)

    a lot of sense.

    I could make a ton of observations about what's wrong with the Left. In 40 plus years of activism I've had a chance to observe a lot. However, I'm going cut to the chase and try an identify the central problem. If past experience is any guide, that ought to be sufficient to get everyone pissed off at me.

    The left seems constitutionally incapable of constructive self criticism or reflection. When was the last time you saw an  attempt to identify errors committed by the Left and offer correctives? I don't mean ideologically driven polemic. There's never a shortage of that.

    I mean the kind of realistic self criticism that would take a hard look at fundamentals. What is the left for? What are our positive goals? What solutions and practical actions for achieving them do we propose? Who is it that we imagine we are speaking for or to?

    Before the left can advance we are going to have to agree on an affirmative agenda with practical goals and strategies rather than relying on the narrative of negation. The status quo may suck but you can't beat something with nothing.

    A necessary prerequisite for this is recognizing that the left has contributed to its own failure. It simply isn't credible to pretend otherwise. We have signally failed to adjust to shifting political, social and economic realities. We have paid and will continue to pay a high price unless we face up to this.


    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:51:22 PM PDT

    •  Those conversations happen (7+ / 0-)

      at Znet. at libcom, at revleft, at what's left of a functional indymedia.  Oh, you mean amng the reformist left?  No, you're right there, they haven't taken a serious turn to criticism and self-criticism the way the revolutionary left has.  They've sought to drown and liquidate their struggles through partisan participation in the Democratic Party.  Not only has it not borne fruit, the reformist orgs themselves have suffered, dwindled, shriveled and disappeared, from the unions to ACORN to the main bodies of civil rights organizing.  The revolutionaries were able tomproduce Occupy as a result of their seriousness of will and purpose.  What even modestly comparable have the reformists engendered?  Yes, some thousands of well-educated reformists secure continuing paid employment being political junkies, but their "prafmatic" capitulation to the hegemony of capital makes plain the empty opportunism of their careerist ambitions.

      There are many reasons that I am increasingly planting my flag with the genuinely radical left.  Some of them, such as the whole question of seriousness of purpose, are entirely practical even [shudder] "pragmatic reasos to work with the revolutionaries rather than the reformists.

      Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

      by ActivistGuy on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:38:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh the "revolutionary" left (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, jm214, sewaneepat, FG, gramofsam1, erush1345

        Tell me, has the date been set yet?

        I've spent a lot of time in the "revolutionary left" ghetto. It's a right comfy place to be if you want to avoid talking to anyone who isn't already among the converted. You've certainly got the group speak down pat.

        Unfortunately, "revolutionaries" don't make revolutions. Revolutions make revolutionaries.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:51:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where' s the revolution? I know we'd all like to (0+ / 0-)


          The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

          by helfenburg on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:59:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Haha (0+ / 0-)

          Im sure you did spend time on the Left, based on the imagery you used I'll say the 80s, and none since.  Who do you think created Occupy?  MoveOn?  Haha.

          Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

          by ActivistGuy on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 01:46:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Unsurprisingly, you're wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ray Pensador

            Actually, I was one of the founding members of my local Indymedia collective and was in DC at the protests against Bush's first Innaugural where I got clubbed when the cops attacked the black block march. Participated in the resistance to both the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well and the anti-Globalization movement. Sorry to burst your self righteous little bubble.

            If I was going to date you by the rhetoric you employ, I'd tag you as an escapee from 1968-72. But that would just be because that was when I first heard this kind of tired, self aggrandizing spiel.

            One of the hazzards of playing the self appointed "revolutionary" is a unjustified confidence that you "know" things that you have absolutely no way of knowing.

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:16:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Now that there's no draft... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shahryar, Yasuragi

    ...and the wars are ending, the left has no one overarching cohesive issue that involves forced, mass death, like it had in 1968.

    Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

    by dov12348 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:06:08 AM PDT

    •  Go back decades before Nam. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dov12348, ActivistGuy, Yasuragi, jm214, MKinTN

      What got us the Great Society was the Great Depression. What got us the Great Depression was the Gilded Age plus the Roaring Twenties...

      but it was also about fifty years of clamoring for socialism, communism, and anarchism (remember Eugene Debs and Emma Goldmann?). Not to mention Karl Marx's famous work of philosophy.

      What we need is a far-left chorus loudly reverberating.

      And amid the cacophony of blogs and cable channels and mostly RW radio stupidity and all the circuses of distraction...

      Well, it will take things being MUCH worse than our current economic doldrums to shove the Overton Window back to where it was in 1933.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:16:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes; except that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...I think that that "much worse" economic moment will eventually, naturally come.  No leader or organizer will be able to push it before its time, though.

        Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

        by dov12348 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:27:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No leader of OURS would ever want it! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Say what you will about GWB and Obama -- even the Evil Leader didn't want the economy to crash so much under his watch! And Obama is mostly guilty of listening to the Freshwater School of Economics...i.e., the assholes from Chicago who didn't think major works projects were needed because Freedom.

          Never believe an economist who was trained at the U. of Chicago.

          What I meant was, it will take the Chicago School of Economics plus the GOP to trash our economy enough to make everyone in the 99 percent rebel. I am equating them with, well, the Twenties Banksters.

          Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

          by Youffraita on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 01:10:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You have to represent some kind of policy or (0+ / 0-)

          politics that promises something to people.  One thing the left does is always want to make it better for someone else.  That's nice - yes, I want all the good things for everyone, but what's in it for me?  I'd like someone on the left to address doing what it's going to take to make life better for American poor and working people.  I don't hear it.

          The elevation of appearance over substance, of celebrity over character, of short term gains over lasting achievement displays a poverty of ambition. It distracts you from what's truly important. - Barack Obama

          by helfenburg on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:01:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I remember Mr. Debs (0+ / 0-)

        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

        by livjack on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:09:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why is it that if they don't do what you want (9+ / 0-)

    it means that there's something wrong with the Left?

    Or something wrong with this country?

    Or something wrong with this world?

    Maybe you just need to have some respect for the other 50 million, 300 million, 7 billion people people who don't want to do things your way?

    Life is short.  It can end at any moment.  While you are making plans for how the other 300 million people in this country should be living their lives, they don't even know or care that you exist.  Which is how it should be.

    You know, there's an infinite universe out there and eventually, not that long of a time from now, humans will set out for the stars and we'll be a species of trillions.  Stop and think about the ridiculousness of one human asking why trillions of people can't see what is clear to him about how they should all live their lives.  It's just as ridiculous when it's billions or hundreds of millions.

    The left doesn't have anything wrong with it.  It's made up of tens of millions of individuals.  All of them responsible to live their lives and do their part in their own communities.  Being involved in what happens beyond that is a tiny bit of their lives, because that's what it should be since they are only a tiny bit of the whole that is the 300 million people in this country.

    The human species will always benefit from leaders who take steps that nobody else is taking.  Generally speaking, if the step seems to be a good thing, people will follow.  Slowly, but they follow.  It's social evolution.  What you are trying to do is speed up that process, but it doesn't work.  You can't speed it up.  You can only lead and then keep walking when others join you.

    The only way besides leading to get others to follow you is to force them.  But I think history has shown what happens when you do that.  When you usurp power over the lives of other people, it corrupts you.  And the next thing you know, you are everything you hate in the world.  

    So, you gotta stick to leading.  Which means action.  It means doing and by doing inspiring others to do.  Like Markos did with Daily Kos.  He just started speaking out and others followed his lead and slowly Daily Kos emerged.

    •  @AB: Nice thought, and disabling. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKinTN, Just Bob, New Rule

      Seems that the Kochs and others on that side of the species have done a dang good job of MAKING THINGS HAPPEN. They and Dimon and Blankfein and many others ARE making the rest of us do shit that is so totally against our interests, stealing our wealth and health and future. It's not a single human with that total clarity, but it's a very small group. Your premise seems nice and free and all that, the waves of history, etc., but PEOPLE, and relatively few of them, MAKE STUFF HAPPEN. By being driven and organized and concentrating their efforts. Mostly on selfish, "libertarian" intents. Like this tiny sample:

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:29:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ray is the One True Scottsman in Ray's mind (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misslegalbeagle, emelyn, erush1345, FG

      You nailed it. He's basically asking why doesn't everyone who considers themselves progressive see things exactly as he sees them and unite behind him in his new movement to overthrow "the system."

      Unions, environmentalists, Democrats, whatever, they're wrong and not as smart as Ray.

      •  Well, he has some evidence to back him up. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus, lorla, Ray Pensador

        The serious decline of unions and their influence. The utter failure of environmentalists to take a bite out of climate change.  Democrats talking about cutting Social Security.

        If the old ways have led to these outcomes, perhaps Ray is not being ignorant in thinking his way is better, or at least offers a better chance of being better.

      •  you know, i don't say it to disparage Ray (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        he's a thinker and the world would be fucked without thinkers, but thinkers do need to realize at some point that when they are thinking about other people that there has to be some respect for those people.  it's called humility.  it doesn't mean that you shouldn't offer your ideas.  it just means that you have to respect that there's nothing wrong with people not taking you up on them.  

        •  Thinkers need to think verifiable and falsifiable (0+ / 0-)

          thoughts. The way they help society is by coming up with accurate ideas subject to being proven right or wrong.

          Ray's thoughts are along the lines of the guy on the subway claiming that Martians are communicating to him and only him through his dental filings.

          Unlikely, but also neither provable nor disprovable.

          I think he's better off in another line of endeavor and so are the readers of DK.

  •  We've been cowed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, Simplify

    beaten, abandoned, marginalized and scapegoated, stalked to extinction by the entire establishment, including both major parties, which each have their own standard rhetoric of abuse and scapegoating they direct at us.  We have no friends, no allies, we are left with ourselves alone.  From that can come either indefatigable resistance or supine submission.  Given our place in the world order, that the American Left has opted for the latter is ;ittle or no surprise.  Few of our own will actually die as the result of our failure.  So we find the convenient excuse, even that simply of exhaustion after fighting decade after decade nothing but losing rear-guard battles, and submit.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:22:06 AM PDT

  •  Too many marches and protests (10+ / 0-)

    not enough organized, purposeful direct action.

    Case in point. A little over a year ago I was involved in two large scale Occupy protests that shut down the Port of Oakland. Amazingly successful. Well over 10,000 people showed up at both rallies and stayed for well over 12 hours.

    The result? Nothing. What was the result supposed to be? Nothing as far as I know. Had there been specific goals they may have been achieved with such an action, but as it was it was full of sound and fury to no particular end. Not the first event I had been to that wound up seeming like a waste of time in retrospect.

    The irrelevance of the left seems to be that our marches and direct actions aren't particularly goal oriented and our tactics aren't effective so we look like clowns and no one pays attention to us. We lack good, old fashioned organizing know how. Leadership of progressive orgs are well meaning but inept in the face of corporate PR.

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men experience it as a whole. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” - Helen Keller

    by Jason Hackman on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:34:12 AM PDT

    •  Exactly. You can't just make an argument. (5+ / 0-)

      Protests are fine for getting people to think and getting out your message, but just because you got people to think about your message, even agree with it, doesn't mean a thing (at least in the short term) unless there's somebody who can act on it.  And acting requires power.  Which means that either someone with power has to act on your behalf or you have to obtain power yourself so that you can act.  

      The ironic thing about OWS is that they had the growing numbers to actually obtain power, just like the Tea Party did, but their anarchists roots of OWS wouldn't allow it.  So, nothing happened except that the GOP and Democrats used OWS for their own benefits.

  •  Good question (5+ / 0-)

    At first, I was tempted to say "bread" (cheap credit), "circuses" (reality tv) and "disinformation" (corporate media), but those are more descriptive of the consumer culture as a whole.

    After reading some comments, I think the "loose coalition" of "pet interests" description gets closer to the problem.  In fact, I wonder if the core problem is that the Left only takes a stand on pet issues, avoiding anything that involves real power dynamics in our society.

    When predicting how Obama (and Democrats as a whole) will act on any given issue, all one needs to ask is: to what degree does it involve power or money?  If the issue doesn't significantly impinge on those areas, then we have about a 50% chance of getting what we ask for.  If it does impinge on those interests, we have about a zero percent chance.  The small victories on our "pet issues" are merely crumbs those in power use to placate us because they don't actually cost them anything they consider important.

    But look at the reaction the Occupy movement got when they started talking about economic power and injustice.  That turned into a five alarm fire for the powers that be until the movement got distracted and bogged down by all the myriad "pet issues" competing for attention within the group.  If Occupy had kept it's focus solely on economic power and injustice, I believe it could have evolved into a serious change agent and challenge to the status quo.

    I think that in order to become relevant, the Left needs to take a clear stand on issues of power & injustice - issues that confront and challenge the status quo directly in the areas of power and money.  Until that happens, we'll just keep fighting over who gets the next crumbs from the table and nobody outside the group will ever care about our "pet issues."

  •  Here's a challenge (5+ / 0-)

    Anyone care to take a stab at articulating a clear, concise and comprehensive statement of what the left advocates?

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:41:30 AM PDT

  •  MoveOn is making efforts to organize (7+ / 0-)

    Organize at the local  level Councils of boots on the ground.  I have been a core council member for about a year.  We originally started responding to MoveOn action alerts in our own communities.  We are experimenting with how to activate people.  It is not easy even in a politically aware community but I see some progress. MoveOn has good tools for this and we arel working this out together. It is better to do something to move us forward than nothing.  I believe in the cumulative effect of small actions and" fight or get run over." Plus screw GW Bush and his pretend library.

  •  it boils down to what Tirge Caps said above (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PhilK, Kristina40, arendt, Kickemout, New Rule

    This is a country of consumers, not citizens. Consumers don't organize.

    The problem with an (alleged) democracy owned and operated by (conscienceless) Capital -- especially one that so fictitiously and spuriously seeks at all junctures to toxically mythologize itself as somehow the Ultimate Savior of Humanity Itself -- is not the democracy... it's the Capital. At the lies-are-truth, anything-for-money-and-power point the system has reached, participation in it -- required for survival, or so we all have been misled, fed and bred to believe -- has rendered its participants unable to connect with even the presence of the need for social justice in any meaningful way, just as it has made their auto-pernicious actions upon the finite resource base of Planet Earth ever more egregious with each passing day, month, year and decade. We get Death because the system -- demanding as it does ever-more-spectacular growth from a dwindling and finite biosystem, as well as ever-more-intense personal effort on the part of the citizen to keep up with those demands -- requires Death, period.

    Further, as the maelstrom of lies and distorions-for-ego-gratification become more and more the focus of human endeavor, it is inevitable that the political spectrum fragment into a never-ending panoply of special interest, single-issue obsessed monochromatic cells, each devoted to its own burgeoning, all-consuming myopia. This has been described most accurately in many of the comments to Ray's essay here, and is of course one of the central reasons for the utter failure of the broader social justice "movement" (such as it isn't) in the last 30 years.

    Take it down to the Eternal Now and what is in front of you in this moment and look at this blog. Millions of people, ostensibly Left in their persuasion, come here and type and type and for what? It's not the real and risky citizen action required to enact meaningful reform, it's convenient, technologically anointed consumption and it means next to nothing. Yet people think sitting on an internet connection -- itself provided by whatever draconian corporation that would sell Humanity to hostile ETs for a dollar -- and opinionizing from the relative comfort of their homes is some sort of substitute for the sort of boots-on-the-ground, take-no-prisoners, battle-focused activism that (despite the excesses) brought us the 1930s Socialist movement and the 1960s social justice movement way before the Gloryland called Internet even existed. You simply cannot bring a tasty beverage, an iPod and a keyboard to a gunfight or a war and expect anything but disaster and failure at every level, I'm afraid.

    Of course Ray is trying and he knows I highly commend him for making the effort to break the paradigm of what Markos has set this place up to be -- which outside of Ray's excellent contributions is pretty much all the usual horseracy, Dems vs. Reps status quo kabuki where we just identify and elect more spineless, well-fed and well-off lawyer types to go to Washington to exercise yet more legislative futility before they return at day's end to their posh-restaurant-eating, mansion-dwelling, never-see-or-hear-from-anyone-with-less-than-$250,000-in-the-bank lifestyles -- but at the end of the day you just cannot organize people for the Herculean task at hand (meaningful reform of the most hypocritical, corrupt "democracy" in the history of human polity) when what their everyday, real-life behavior amply demonstrates is that they are only interested in peripheral, personal aggrandizements that move the ball exactly nowhere for the greater good that is now all but subsumed in the essentially four-word American vocabulary of Me, Mine, More and Now.

    Add to this that the population has seen any persons who have attempted to effect meaningful, lasting change end up with their brains splattered across the sidewalk in the most graphic of ways, and here we are.

    "Some of you are going to die... martyrs, of course, to the Freedom that I will provide!"

    by emperor nobody on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 01:01:48 AM PDT

    •  sorry for the lengthy, obtuse screed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, Kristina40, arendt

      I guess what I meant to say is that consumption is the primary focus of human activity and it is all about competition and not cooperation, and until the behavior of humans begins to sincerely demonstrate that value is being placed upon the cooperative aspects of life and living, all we will have is a spectacular race to separation, desperation and extinction at every meaningful level of human experience.

      "Some of you are going to die... martyrs, of course, to the Freedom that I will provide!"

      by emperor nobody on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 01:07:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think that consumption (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emperor nobody, arendt

        and consumerism are the same thing. Consumption is a necessary fact of life and human history. Consumerism is a modern creation. An innovation of capitalist development. Ascribing it to "human nature" is anachronistic.

        That said, there's no question that it is corrosive to social cohesion and collective action.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 01:20:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and no (0+ / 0-)

      I agree that there will be no meaningful organization here. That's not to say our time here is futile. We're all students and teachers at the same time. We share our information. We use each other as sounding boards. We share our support on a very human scale.

      I'm of the opinion that until a majority of Democrats realize that the party is controlled by the center right there can be no change. The advantage of a two party system is in the balance between the right and the left with neither able to move too far in either direction. We lost that balance long ago with the founding and dominance of the DLC, New Democrats, and Third Way.

      What becomes of the country when the center right party is determined to compromise with the far right party?

      Where does that leave us?

      Now what?

      Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

      by Just Bob on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 06:00:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, start a new Religion!! I hear they get LOTS (0+ / 0-)

    of followers!!

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones." "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

    by roseeriter on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 02:07:54 AM PDT

  •  Half a Century of Ownership Activism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CitizenOfEarth, PhilK, arendt

    is what's wrong with the left. The actual left in this country of 2 conservative major political parties is numbered in the single digit millions.

    No access to the public square, not one single billionaire on earth backing it as scores fight to make the world a RW libertarian oligarchy, every major activist religion on earth fighting it.

    There is no important institutional power or infrastructure that is non-rightwing.

    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 Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:51:09 AM PDT

  •  Also, language and ideas matter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The moral and philosophical core of what the Democratic Party is supposed to be is socialist, yet people run away screaming at the mere sound of the word.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:54:31 AM PDT

  •  Well the Solution is NOT the Dem Party (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, Just Bob

    I can count true Dem Progressives on my 10 fingers and have a few fingers left over. The Dem Party SUX and the rot goes all the way to the top.

    Obama Style Justice: Make 99% of Bush Tax Cuts Permanent. Then cut Senior's Social Security to pay for it. Hey Grandma, F#@K YOU!

    by CitizenOfEarth on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:21:52 AM PDT

    •  And maybe the answer starts by admitting (0+ / 0-)

      the awful truth about the Dems that half of dKos worships like deities.

      Obama Style Justice: Make 99% of Bush Tax Cuts Permanent. Then cut Senior's Social Security to pay for it. Hey Grandma, F#@K YOU!

      by CitizenOfEarth on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:24:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and rec'd for an important discussion. (5+ / 0-)

    I think the answers are complex, but are touched on pretty well in the thread here, from the cat herding to the brutality, propaganda and capital used against us.

    It's not like people aren't trying to organize. A quick look at my inbox tells that tale. But we are fractured and dispersed, and up against the filthy rich and insanely powerful.

    Social conditions, as mentioned here by many, are a major factor: from hyper-consumerism to the distractions of propaganda central (television). The balance, so far, has favored the rich and powerful. That could conceivably continue for the foreseeable future. OTOH, a precipitating event could change everything.

    People are increasingly dissatisfied with the unresponsiveness and obstructionism of our political system and with the ever-worsening economic disparity and outright betrayal by the political class.

    I think we on the left should keep organizing, sounding off and pushing for action and solutions. Also, we need to step up our efforts to educate and enlighten people about the great ripoff our corrupted system has become.

    I am wary about the notion of leaders, for as mentioned in the thread, they have a way of getting shot down like dogs. But I believe our voices will eventually be heard. I suspect a tipping point is coming. I'm as impatient as anyone, but I believe this moment of reckoning will come.

    I expect that a spark will light the tender, the generation of which has been our work up to this point. OWS was a preview. I think we ain't seen nothin' yet.

    Keep the faith brothers and sisters. Venceremous.

  •  Easy answer: Money. (0+ / 0-)

    The Left is composed of people who are not exclusively obsessed with self-enrichment.  They do not amass piles of money to buy representatives and media outlets and PR firms.

    Instead, we all make the Right richer by buying the crap they've gotten rich producing in China while closing American factories and screwing over workers and those who'd organize those workers.  We make them richer by consuming the materials, especially fossil fuels, they extract from underneath us with processes that poison us.  We make them richer by accepting the drivel they distract us with.

    You want the Left to have an impact like the Right has?  Starve the Right.  Don't buy their crap.  Buy just what you need, and from sources that don't feed the Right.  Starve the Beast.

    That'd do for a start.

    •  It's a lot worse than that. (0+ / 0-)

      10% of America is 30M people.  30M people maxing out their IRAs is $150B.  Roughly 1% of GDP.  So the 1% owns 40% of America.  How fast  could you change that with this kind of movement?

      Every publicly traded company is a takeover target.  Corporate raiders like Carl Icahn understand this.  Leftists do not.  If you don't like what a company is doing, buy them out and run them differently.

      None of this requires new law.  It's all black letter law right now.

      US History: Declaration of Independence

      We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
      Read it and weep.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:43:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For a mass popular movement lots of people have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to be pissed off about the same issue that directly affects them right now. Issues like drones and animal welfare don't count, too remote for most people. Things that usually count are sudden change in economy (not due to natural events) that made lots of people miserable or smth like a stolen election or a long pointless war if there is draft involved. And people have to be really miserable. Look at Spain or Greece or at Arab Spring. It's just not the case in US. The country is still rich despite all the income inequality. OWS was about what you would expect here.

  •  I think part of it is here ... (0+ / 0-)

    Disconnected - one issue groups -
    we're not a "movement"

    I think the conversation may have started here between Thom Hartmann and Mike Papantonio.  I think Papantonio's frustrations are legitimate.

  •  People need leaders (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador

    Great discussion everyone. Agreed, the left is fragmented, everyone is too busy or too comfortable to do more than online activism. I think people do not rally around ideas or principles, but will rally around leaders. We are tribal, hierarchical beings, and we need strong leaders to identify with and inspire us. They will need to use social media and youtube. We need to see charismatic leaders on our screens, laying out the vision, belittling and ridiculing the clowns of the corporatocracy, calling for symbolic and tightly focused consumer actions that will generate media buzz when successful, so that people start to feel a part of something that is working. The times are ripe for change (heard that one before?) and even though Obama let us down, the need still remains for real leaders.

  •  the people in power (0+ / 0-)

    no matter if its govt, media, or business got into power using the current system, therefore they are not going to fool with , mess with, nor change the status quo, its what got them to begin with.

  •  The problem is people feel powerless (4+ / 0-)

    One of the reasons people turn off to the call for "organization" is most organizations consist of a small few who are looking for cadres of workers to implement their ideas, rather than organize people around what really matters to them. People have been kept at the bottom for so long they think that's the most power they will have no matter who governs. They aren't used to thinking for themselves, since no one listens to them. They feel exploited, but have accepted the exploitation is the natural order of things.  So they fight over the latest Wallmart sale, and feel powerful when they can take home some nice new toy, as if that is the essence of "survival" in America. The only power they are left with is acquiring products.

    Voting just reminds them of the powerlessness. They notice that little changes in their lives despite decades of leaders coming and going, at their expense. So they instead turn to activities that make them feel as if they have some control over their lives, like the school soccer game. 200 channels on TV gives them a feeling of choice, and they have a remote control that gives them control over something.  

    The common American, deep down, feels powerless in the face of the enormous, bewildering fusion of government and the corporatocracy, and feels that he or she will always be powerless. Elites in America fear direct democracy, and they fear trusting the judgment of the everyday person. Thus the elites huddle in the back rooms, plotting how to "lead" the rest of us, while keeping us under control. And after hundreds of years of being treated this way, people don't feel the need to participate in the useless exercise of thinking about how society should be managed, since they see no point. And thus they become increasingly ignorant and incapable of objectively analyzing modern politics. The logic then becomes circular, because elites can point to the ignorant masses which they created and say, "We must lead them, because they are incapable of leading themselves."

    We've been mesmerized by television, sports, shiny new electronic gadgets, spectacles of the market place. We are so distracted we are left with no time for reflection.

    We rarely hear honest dialogue on national mainstream news. And even when we do, people have little time for it, with kids to take care of, and jobs to attend, along with a gaggle of other activities that take up our attention. We are lied to, toyed with, manipulated, directed, herded.

    Years of pitting one group against another has divided us. Blacks against whites, men against women, natural citizens against immigrants, young against old.

    You want to organize? First find a way to talk to everyday people about what they really want. Help them find their own vision. Make them feel as if they are ruling over their own lives.

    But after all these decades and centuries of the working class cowering under authority in order to scrape by, it may take a long time before the social dysfunction is healed.

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

    by ZhenRen on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 11:49:51 AM PDT

    •  Honestly, that's one of the most insightful things (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've read here, or anywhere, about this issue.  Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to share it.  I for one, value it a big deal.  I will follow your advice.

      •  This in particular (0+ / 0-)
        You want to organize? First find a way to talk to everyday people about what they really want. Help them find their own vision. Make them feel as if they are ruling over their own lives.
        Far too many ostensible leftists are committed to telling others what they need, rather than listening to what they want.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 06:04:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sad to say, but where's the percentage in it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Ray Pensador

    ( Or as they say today, what's the 'business model' )
    for progressive change ?

    Forces for progressive change have limited power to punish opponents and reward proponents.

    The Powers-That-Be oligarchy rewards its insiders with favor and co-opts/ buys off potential disruptors ( See 'Wingnut Welfare', 'K-Street Revolving Door', etc. )

    The benefits for progressive change are greater for all, but more diffuse -- requiring a lot of short-term volunteer effort from folks barely making ends meet.  

    "..The political class cannot solve the problems it created. " - Jay Rosen

    by New Rule on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 12:00:19 PM PDT

    •  That is a very real problem; one that I do spend (0+ / 0-)

      time thinking about, exactly in the way you describe it.  I will continue reaching out to others in the hope of finding the right answer to it.

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