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The New York Times is accusing the left of being revolutionary:

The rhetoric of the Tea Party — the far right of the Republican Party — asserts a quite different view: that Obama’s mode of governing represents a betrayal of our revolutionary ideals and calls for a  “mission . . . to restore America’s founding principles.”  Although few Tea Party members advocate armed opposition, many, like the original Tea Party, are committed to much more than the conventional elective and legislative efforts to thwart the goals of “liberal” government.

Ever since Obama’s initial election, they have been willing to employ almost any “acts of disruption” short of civil disobedience or insurrection.  They routinely use filibuster to oppose legislation, obstruct the implementation of laws (especially the Affordable Care Act) already enacted, and put on indefinite hold appointments to key administrative and judicial positions.  In this sense, they are indeed a revolutionary party.

On the other side of the political spectrum, recent developments — particularly Edward Snowden’s leaks about government surveillance programs — have evoked similar revolutionary sentiments from the far left.  Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published Snowden’s information, maintains that it shows a “government [that] continues on its orgies of whistleblower prosecutions, trying to criminalize journalism, and building a massive surveillance apparatus that destroys privacy.”  Snowden himself sees such actions as “an existential threat to democracy.” Similarly, Noam Chomsky says the surveillance program is an example of how “governments combat their primary enemy — which is their own population.

We may well think that a proper response to a government so opposed to the fundamental rights of its citizens would be “disruptive action” to negate its power — which is precisely what Snowden undertook.  We might further think that at this moment, at least, both the far right and the far left are revolutionary parties: both insist that disruption is necessary because the current government, like that of our 18th-century British rulers, is violating our fundamental rights as citizens and so has lost legitimacy.  The principles of our original revolution, it would seem, once again require revolutionary action.

There is a lot of charter on the net wishing for revolution in America today (go read Slashdot).  At the same time I see no evidence that the progressive left has become violent or revolutionary.  Pissed off and seeking to influence our representatives, yes.  Violent, not so much.  Opinions like the one expressed by this New York Times columnist seem more likely to cause a situation (such as the protests some are planning tomorrow) to spin out of control.  We are a heavily armed and heavily divided country.  Equating Progressives, possibly the last group calling for a restoration of government legitimacy, with revolution strikes me as irresponsible and dangerous.  Calling a large portion of the political spectrum, both right and left, revolutionary before a day of planned mass protests risks upping the chances of a violent confrontation.  Perhaps the protests planned for tomorrow fizzle.  Perhaps they don't.  The New York Times should still know better than to brandy about the term revolution.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-) From Dictatorship to Democracy, Guide to Non Violent Protests. (some) encrypted browsing. - web search without data loging.

    by sdelear on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 04:48:49 PM PDT

  •  Looks to me that to interpret correctly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Simplify

    the author's point, you need to de-link "violent" and "revolutionary."  The examples given, the obstructionism of the Tea Party and Snowden's disruption, may be revolutionary but they are not violent.

    When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

    by litho on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 05:23:47 PM PDT

  •  There is a lot of wrong here (0+ / 0-)

    The columnist engages in the great sin of journalists and opinion writers, equasion.  We are not like the right that pines for a return to a past that never was and is ideologically predisposed to use threats of political violence or actual political violence to achieve them.  

    I can't imagine any sort of endorsement of political violence on the left.  And even then we would be more likely to emulate Otpor!

    We also don't question the need for intelligence.  We question the use of agent provocateurs and Okhrana like tactics.

    I'm a 4 Freedoms Democrat.

    by DavidMS on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 05:50:13 PM PDT

  •  What "Far Left"? (2+ / 0-)

    Who wants to have the State seize the means of production, nationalize all energy resources and send political monitors around to your house to see how many roommates you can be assigned?

    When we start doing those things, then clueless douchebags from the NYT can start blabbering mindlessly about the "far left," until then, he should shut the fuck up.

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:16:29 PM PDT

  •  I prefer nonviolent revolutionaries. (nt) (0+ / 0-)

    Stop the NRA and the NSA
    Repeal the Patriot Act and the 2nd Amendment

    by dream weaver on Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:24:37 PM PDT

  •  I Agree w Some Commenters, This Article Fairly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    specifically differentiates revolution from violence. They even quote Tea types as saying short of violence.

    We have far left individuals but there is no far left movement of any consequence in the US.

    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 Wed Jul 03, 2013 at 06:34:38 PM PDT

  •  There's no revolutionary movement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial, tuesdayschilde

    Revolution is years, perhaps decades, away.  Working Americans are divided against one another; many of them still vote Republican. There's no class-consciousness. There's no revolutionary vanguard; the Communist Party enthusiastically supports the Obama administration.

    And as for violence, the vast majority of people with guns in this country seem to be rightists not leftists. Any attempt to suppress democracy by violence would almost certainly come from the right.

    Socialist revolution, when it comes, will take place in the hearts and minds of the 99%, when it becomes clear to all that capitalism no longer creates wealth but takes it away. We are not there yet, and violence will not get us there.

    •  not a movement but strikes and unions (0+ / 0-)

      still succeed. The tea party as racist and anti-union hopes to divide workers and dismantle New Deal on model of overthrow of Reconstruction. This racist meme would have Obama's white successor cast as a redeemer. Racism would assist austerity as in 1876 with poor whites simply driven out of the system, unorganized, and dont vote unless recruited for security jobs.

  •  An op Ed in the NYT isn't the NYT opinion. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Making the statement, "The New York Times is accusing the left..." is inaccurate.

  •  So much for the NYT being a "liberal" rag (0+ / 0-)

    There is no revolutionary left in America.  A radical left, yes (I'm one of them), but even they have zero influence on the national political scene.  But teabaggers can drag AK-47's to their cheesy rallies, and that's ok.  So this is another lame center-right rhetorical strategy: if there is a highly-influential, albiet sub-cretinous far-right, then there must be an equally influential mirror movement on the far-left, so let's all just come together in the (neo-liberal) center, m'kay?  Complete bullshit.

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