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Adolph Reed has made a recent splash with his essay in Harper's Magazine and subsequent interview with Bill Moyers. His thesis essentially states that the Left spends too much of its time attempting to elect politicians that we believe will solve our problems, when in fact those politicians often betray us--in part because we have no solid liberal movement to hold them accountable.

That's not a new message, of course, but its blunt restatement is causing some consternation among a certain set of comfortable center-left types who either don't believe that a return to a pre-1980s liberal ethic would be a good thing, or that the intransigence of Republicans and the rightward shift of the country over the last few decades renders anyone to the left of President Obama an irrelevant afterthought in American politics.

It's hard not to sympathize with those working in the trenches against hardline conservative opposition every day, growing frustrated with what they consider to be progressive magical thinking. Those of us working in the everyday knife battle for the next electoral and news cycle know that it's sometimes frustrating to hear people argue for a more robust liberalism when the fight just for a $15 minimum wage looks like a monumental, 10-year struggle.

But that view loses sight of how we got here in the first place. There's a reason the country is in place where a $15 minimum wage seems like a nearly impossible fight, and the Left broadly speaking shares in the blame for our predicament. If we ever want a country that operates on different ideological footing, we won't just need to defeat the conservative opposition. We need to change our own tactics--and our own ideas.

To do that and assess where we need to go, we need a clear understanding of how we got here. After the Great Depression and during the rise of worldwide socialist ideas, it was clear that free market capitalism needed at least a major softening of its social effects. While Communism took hold in the East, a more moderate set of social programs were instituted broadly in the West. This created a widely shared middle-class prosperity in the West for about 30 years from around 1945 to the late 1970s. But that comfortable prosperity was not shared equally: minorities and women were shut out of the trend in upward mobility, particularly in the United States whose history on issues of race was especially troubled. Movements toward broader civil rights and access to the middle-class economy for all groups was made a priority, and the moral arc of the universe seemed secure in its advancement.

But a number of things happened to derail progress. First, a racist and sexist backlash against the civil rights movement created a voting coalition useful to wealthy interests in slashing social economic programs generally (this strain of revanchism was particularly virulent in America, but was present elsewhere as well.) Second, globalization, mechanization, flattening and workforce deskilling put downward pressure on wages and employment--a situation business interests were happy to exploit at the expense of workers. Third, the gigantic failures of state Communism in the East eventually led to its well-deserved downfall--but rather than be replaced with a softer mix of capitalism and socialism, western and plutocratic interests conspired to turn former Communist states into radical free-market and crony capitalist kleptocracies. Fourth, big business realized the threat to its power and decided to become much more aggressive in buying political influence wherever it could, specifically in the hope of destroying the power of labor unions and trade barriers.

The result of all this was a hard turn to the Right on all but social issues that, historically, seems to have been almost inevitable. Free market capitalism had no ideological counterbalance on the world stage, capital was free to hire labor anywhere in the world on the cheap or use machines to replace it entirely, moneyed interests gained greater influence over politicians, unions were crushed underfoot, and a coalition of voters motivated by racial and sexist resentments was newly empowered. To soften the blow of the downward slide of the middle class, policymakers shifted their focus from wage protections to asset inflation, with disastrous economic consequences for all but the wealthiest.

Not surprisingly, the Left responded to this by cozying up to moneyed power and by shifting its focus away from questioning the assumptions of the flawed capitalist pseudo-meritocracy, and toward attempting to expand access to that meritocracy to everyone. That shift allowed the Left to hold together its social coalitions while maintaining access and influence to big money donors. The "era of big government was over." Trade protections for workers, regulations on the financial industry, and taxes on the wealthy were all eliminated by bipartisan consent. The left, meanwhile, became singularly focused on social issues and on making sure that the poorest Americans didn't suffer too badly in the brave new plutocracy.

And thus was born the "New Left" whose organizing principle is that society will be perfected when even a transgendered racial and religious minority can also become a plutocrat or head of state, so long as not too many people are dying on the street without access to food or healthcare. Toward that end, the New Left focused on electing politicians who would in turn appoint judges to help that withered vision become a reality.

As an organizing principle in a world of Rightist economic dominance, it's not completely terrible. But it's a guaranteed loser in the present as well as the near and long-term future.

The middle classes in industrialized countries are collapsing worldwide as the plutonomy grows ever more unequal. Households that already pushed women into the workforce to make up for wage deflation and inflation in housing costs no longer have anywhere to turn, except toward the sorts of multi-generational arrangements usually seen in less developed economies. The cost of both housing and education has skyrocketed to the point that younger generations have been basically squeezed out of the economy entirely even as older generations desperately cling to the remaining assets and social insurance they have. Technological change is causing entire industries to disappear almost overnight, with very few jobs to replace them--a trend that is rapidly accelerating.

The result of all of this negative change is a population that is appropriately scared, desperate, and angry. Both the poor and the middle class feel threatened and increasingly pessimistic. Opinions of elite institutions across the board are at an all time low. Whether on the right or left, few believe anymore that anyone in government, business, or politics is actually looking out for their interests. In a world like this, the move to ensure that every single individual in society has an equal, infinitesimal chance to become obscenely rich loses its moral force. The rhetoric around "making sure that no one is left behind" in starvation and penury is far less compelling when the entire middle class feels like it's being left behind.

By damaging the middle class with economic policies favoring the rich, elite policymakers have created both the angry populist coalition and the credible policy rationale for a different, more muscular Left that makes its goal not simply expansion of the plutocratic meritocracy to all groups and the protection of society's most vulnerable, but that challenges the foundations of the plutonomy entirely. Not in the last forty years has the public been so primed for an optimistic populist uprising. During and after the financial meltdown but also even before it, President Obama tapped into that national feeling to win the White House. But he has seemed unable and even often unwilling to use it to create a different conversation about how our economy should be structured, and on whose behalf it should work. The Tea Party, meanwhile, insofar as it ever did reflect genuine populist sentiment, was quickly overrun by conservative politics-as-usual. But the anger on all sides remains, and for good reason.

Tapping into the backlash will require more than just a focus on winning elections, as voters no longer believe politicians can or even want to solve their problems. It will also require much more than the weak vision of progress that the New Left has been peddling for decades.

It will require an acknowledgement of the trends that continue to destroy the middle class and send the working class into abject poverty, and a commitment to not only protect those falling furthest behind but to reverse the broader trend.

It will require a willingness to propose and try ambitious and novel policy ideas, both at the federal level and through the laboratories of the states. Policies like a Wall Street transaction tax, or state-run banks, or incentives designed to decrease rather than increase the cost of housing, or even a universal basic income. Capital mobility can be a problem, but even that is soluble through international trade treaties that serve to protect the interests of workers rather than plutocrats. These sorts of ideas can and should serve as the template for a re-energized left that promises not just vague and increasingly unrealized "opportunity" to people, but that actually delivers tangible results.

Without such a newly energized, more determined commitment toward broad prosperity, the desiccated vision and goals of the New Left will be rightly abandoned by voters. The Right will eventually pick itself up off the political mat and, as it has done so effectively in the past, use middle-class fears and frustrations to ignite a conservative populist prairie fire that will leave only pain and destruction in its wake.

Those of us in the trenches would do well to abandon our fear and cynicism about big ideas, just because they seem impossible today in the face of elected conservative opposition. Political change, like biological evolution, often happens in punctuated spurts whose opportunities are often as forceful as they are unpredictable.

We have to at some point start the conversation about rebuilding an effective middle class in the 21st century. Politicians like Elizabeth Warren are proving that it can be both popular and effective. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.

Cross-posted from Digby's Hullabaloo

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (189+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    agnostic, Risen Tree, Eric Stetson, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, blueoregon, brae70, Publius2008, Boogalord, Hammerhand, on the cusp, Armando, lineatus, chrississippi, GussieFN, middleagedhousewife, Rachael7, Gooserock, RFK Lives, jbsoul, mudslide, JVolvo, Mogolori, Medium Head Boy, palantir, Livvy5, David54, tonyahky, Mr Robert, emal, k9disc, jnhobbs, bnasley, No one gets out alive, MartyM, Buzzer, Kombema, Arabiflora, Lily O Lady, LaFeminista, Keone Michaels, camlbacker, Mary Mike, YucatanMan, Alexandra Lynch, Floande, thanatokephaloides, Thutmose V, Panacea Paola, flowerfarmer, dankester, lcrp, poco, claude, Johnny Q, Sam Hill, civil wingnut, ruleoflaw, onionjim, Shockwave, side pocket, Sixty Something, Egalitare, EdSF, Matt Z, Dianna, gulfgal98, Ray Pensador, Subterranean, Jim R, maryabein, wishingwell, Meteor Blades, KayCeSF, CroneWit, whyvee, commonmass, DavidMS, flitedocnm, robert cruickshank, ItsSimpleSimon, WheninRome, run around, Tool, marina, FogCityJohn, joedemocrat, Jim P, No Exit, Naniboujou, Brecht, The Wizard, bibble, Joieau, Jazzenterprises, PeterHug, nuclear winter solstice, Lost and Found, brainwave, orestes1963, Onomastic, ehavenot, Redfire, Miss Jones, puakev, paradox, NoMoreLies, Thomas Twinnings, quill, GeorgeXVIII, TruthFreedomKindness, glitterlust, AlexDrew, RandomNonviolence, leeleedee, Polly Syllabic, AverageJoe42, jasan, lunachickie, tidalwave1, peregrine kate, mimi, eeff, Habitat Vic, starduster, stone clearing, Leslie in KY, nomandates, DeminNewJ, happymisanthropy, Joe Hill PDX, TracieLynn, enhydra lutris, Cat Servant, LamontCranston, RageKage, Throw The Bums Out, LeftHandedMan, cruz, bartcopfan, unclejohn, bronte17, wasatch, elwior, psnyder, LSmith, sillycarrot, Diana in NoVa, johnmorris, revsue, Mimikatz, eOz, chuck utzman, greengemini, aliasalias, janmtairy, angel d, 3rock, chuckvw, dotsright, socal altvibe, LillithMc, HappyMichBlogger, tofumagoo, KJG52, Coneria, begone, Danno11, WisePiper, Noodles, srkp23, lehman scott, barkingcat, caul, kbman, Dood Abides, blueoasis, northsylvania, cybrestrike, rapala, Aaa T Tudeattack, dkmich, MrWebster, copymark, basquebob, Just Bob, dksbook, Kingsmeg, radical simplicity, Simplify
  •  Reed's sensationalism got attention (42+ / 0-)

    I was not impressed by the article itself but the attention it has gotten is interesting.  

    I think that the practical problem is that Democrats and the left end of the spectrum generally, have been on the defensive much of the time since the JFK assassination.

    I look at that point in time, not as necessarily a cause, although it may be a factor, but as a demarcation that in my experience, feels like a very long time.  LBJ went in a good direction with his continuation of Kennedy's policies in the form of the Great Society, but then fell prey to the military industrial complex Kennedy was trying to disentangle from.

    The loss to Nixon in 68, following the assassinations of MLK and RFK, had far reaching ramifications.  

    We have pretty much been at a loss to develop a

     forward moving direction with a long term strategy more or less the counter to the conservative strategy, and instead have been pot shotting through protests that arise from time to time when some particular group has gotten fed up.  

    Perhaps, with 8 years of Obama in the White House, with the prospect of another 8 under a Democratic successor, there could be enough breathing room to develop a sense of purpose.

    We need to look at the 2050 horizon, which is not 40 years away, in terms of a big picture explanation for how the world of the 22nd century might be made to work for the largest number of humans on the planet.  The stakes are actually pretty large.  

    Progressives have something that the conservatives at this time do not have.  A very important something:

    The ability to look at what is real without denying it, and going to science for a problem solving approach that could work.  

    With that as a core strength, that begins to be the kernel of a strategy.  

    To me, Lester Brown in his "Mobilizing to Save Civilization" 4.0 laid out a pretty good case for a future that can be a vision to center goals around.  

    Most politics is however, based on short sighted, more bureaucratic visions of a limited here and now.  

    THe Democratic Party is full of people who don't really think much at all, and get all their information from looking backward, seemingly stuck in the view in the rear view mirror.

    As a baby boomer, I have to say that a lot of people in my age group seem to be self satisfied and complacent and content to think that retirement is the only issue.  It is a big one, if you are facing a senior status with question marks.

    But the true test of whether we have a viable Democratic Party is whether we are intellectually capable of stretching to the 2050 horizon and embracing a view of the future that can guide society forward through realistic leadership.  

    That is where the current failure is.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:15:02 AM PST

    •  Exactly (18+ / 0-)

      I want better for my kids when 2050 rolls around.   Roosvelt's 4 freedoms.  We can't lose the vision

      •  But time is not on our side. Just look at where (23+ / 0-)

        things stand with even the ability to get politicians elected who believe in rationalism, science and history:

        ...voters no longer believe politicians can or even want to solve their problems
        yet, the electoral strategy of nearly every single Democrat (necessarily) depends on endless pleas for more, and more, and more $$$ from people who can't afford to contribute much of anything, against the near certainty of hundreds of millions coming from right-wing billionaires intent on not only perpetuating, but doubling down on the status quo.

        I would suggest that the entire electoral strategy of the Democratic Party is bankrupt.

        President Obama may install a whiz-kid like David Simas as Political Director, but if he approves Keystone XL (as seems likely), then not only will the Democratic base be even more demoralized, but that will put another $100 billion or so into the hands of the supreme architects and financiers of the right-wing takeover and the deconstruction of our democracy: the Koch Brothers.

        I see the only solution being to inject true progressives into the leadership of the Democratic Party. Yes, people like Elizabeth Warren and even Bernie Sanders. Leaders who can articulate, with passion and reason, the kinds of change we so desperately need. Leaders who may inspire even the incredibly demoralized and increasingly cynical middle and working class voters who have just about given up after the incredible disappointment of a president who never really tried, or being kind, didn't know how, to be truly transformational.

        (And yes, with all due respect to Armando, I do believe that Hillary Clinton is NOT capable of being such a leader. Not only does she carry immense baggage of 3rd way triangulation, but she has been way too involved with the power brokers of Wall Street from way back, e.g. her time on the board of Walmart, where she never truly tried to change the culture of that icon of what we have become.)

        We may have only one more shot at this. If we elect another neo-liberal (or worse) as president, the middle class may disappear forever, the challenges of climate change will become overwhelming, and the plutocracy will be irreversibly entrenched.

        "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can't have both." - Justice Louis Brandeis

        by flitedocnm on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:59:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We will win in the streets, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          janmtairy, caul

          not with elections.

          Democracy is not limited to the polling station, which is merely a moment to comment on how things are going.

          We have already had some victories in the streets. For one Obama was forced to remove CPI from his budget proposal. At least for now retirees will not be further chiseled out of their meager Social Security.

          The 99% are watching.

          by unclejohn on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:48:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What forced Obama to remove it? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            flitedocnm, Aaa T Tudeattack

            Was it that Democrats would speak ill of him if he didn't?

            Perhaps we'd make him eat his peas at all state dinners?

            No, what forced him was the prospect of an even poorer electoral result in the midterms for our party than is currently forecast.

            This is what so many political activists don't understand, or refuse to acknowledge. In a democracy, our strongest weapon is the threat of withholding our vote.

            You can say democracy is not limited to the polling place - that victories are also won on the streets. But what's the logical inference of that truism? Aren't those street victories won (when they are) precisely because they portend negative electoral consequences if the targeted pols refuse to change course?

            In 2006 Obama explicitly ruled out a 2008 run for president and declared he would remain in the senate until his term expired in 2010. Encouraging Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016 is the right thing to do.

            by WisePiper on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:42:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  We will win when we demand campaign reform (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            northsylvania, flitedocnm

            That which takes the money out of the hands of politicians. When it becomes politically and morally wrong to buy a seat in office. To insist on a level playing field when the opponents for an office have exactly the same resources and we see who can use it better. Make it highly illegal to be a lobbyist and provide any funding towards a campaign or PAC, 527's etc.

            We must start demanding of every Democrat, and get on record the position of every politician, a pledge to institute public funding that outstrips private funding. Severe limits on how much can be spent by any citizen in any election so that the 'free speech' which is apparently money, is limited to an annual amount for PACs and 527's. Perhaps $500 per year for ALL political contributions. An amount small enough that nearly anyone can max out on it andet no one be able to exceed that limit. Full disclosure for anyone who spends over $200. No matter what.

            A demand that the campaign season be limited to about 3 months before an election so that they are doing their job and not campaigning and then when they do campaign they will then be campaigning with constituents if they cannot raise funds from wealthy donors.

            Until we stop the money flow we will not have control over our political system as the citizenry should.

            •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Noodles

              If we had a democratic political system in which votes mattered, we as a society could solve all our problems democratically, by popular will.

              But we DON'T have a democratic political system where votes matter--we have a faux electoral system where the most money wins and where both parties are bought and paid for.

              Until that changes, nothing else will change either.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:07:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well things will change but slowly and unevenly (0+ / 0-)

                Part of our problem is also at best about 50% of eligible voters vote. Be aisle they have no trust in the system. I wouldn't say we have no Democratic voting system. If that were the case Republicans would be in the White House and running both houses of Congress...which they almost do even with our majority in the senate.

                But even if we wind up running all 3 houses after 2014, we will still have too many Democrats loyal to their well heeled lobbyist funders. And sadly, if we take the blurry focus on campaign reform even here at DKos, it's going to be a while before any pressure is put on Democrats to change the system.

            •  Require completely transparent communications (0+ / 0-)

              NO ONE should be allowed to have a private, unrecorded conversation with an elected official unless there is a national or state security reason for secrecy.

              When lobbyists have to communicate out in the open, they won't be able to so easily buy elected officials. Those who offer personal gains can be banned, and elected officials accepting these bribes can be removed from office.

              States that have the power of the ballot measure should be enacting these laws right now at the state level. Enhancing them to include to and from Congress Critters would hamstring those states' elected members of Congress enough that they would have incentive to demand all of Congress provide transparency.

              There is absolutely no reason that an elected official has to keep secrets from the public. And the potential for abuse based on secrecy is clearly the downfall of this fledgling democracy.

    •  Chuck Todd - ugh (17+ / 0-)

      said on Meet the Press that Democrats WANT a culture war! -
      as campaign strategies.
      But Democrats don't enact legislation closing family planning clinics!
      Democrats don't enact legislation that stands between women and their doctors.
      Democrats don't enact anti-gay legislation.
      And on and on....

      "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

      by MartyM on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:38:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mentioning 2050 in this context makes no (16+ / 0-)

      sense.  Also, thus far I don't think progressives have had an advantage when it comes to an "ability to look at what is real without denying it."

      To the contrary, one of the biggest challenges progressives have faced has been coming to terms with the realization that the corporate-controlled Democratic party establishment has been working against progressive values, in the final analysis.

      In other words, progressives (or a significant segment within) were led to believe that the Democratic party establishment was an ally.

      This has been extremely damaging to the progressive agenda because it has contributed to the co-option of the progressive movement itself.

      What the progressive movement needs to do is disassociate itself from the corporatist wing of the Democratic party (which right now is the establishment), which is actually working cross-purposes so it can then be free to push a real progressive agenda unafraid and unencumbered by the co-option by entrenched interests.

      I argue that by doing this, the movement can then help turn the Democratic party around.

      •  The producer of "Inside Job" (18+ / 0-)

        had an interview in which he said something to the effect that historically and traditionally, once the Republicans abandoned the middle/middle right to chase after the wingnuts and religios, and the Democrats moved into the abandoned territory, a new party would have arisen on the left because as a matter of fact, the general public is significantly to the left on domestic issues than either of the parties at this point. We've got right and far right. That's pretty much it, apart from the distractions on the misogynist front.

        I think it might naturally have happened by now if it weren't being supressed in subtle and not-so subtle ways. This leaves very nearly half the population with no real voice at all. Which is probably just how they like it.

        There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

        by Joieau on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:33:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization - link (0+ / 0-)

      http://video.pbs.org/...

      It's my PBS station. You may have to select a different station. 1:24:10 in length.

      I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

      by Just Bob on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 01:16:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Since this diary is an open invitation to discuss (0+ / 0-)

      left ideas, I'd like to say a bit on left or progressive policies based on those ideas. Because some of our leftist ideas are conflicting.

      Case in point, may Kos readers understand both the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the attempts to prevent transparency and minimize input from the 99%, especially workers and environmentalists. We want policies that prevent a new NAFTA on steroids. From our experience with Obama, we now know we got hoodwinked by Big O and the Dems who secretly agreed to keep and reinvigorate the current plutocratic framework in medical care, but expand the market via more freebies to low income earners and the poor, and higher costs spread out among the middle class. What's not covered under higher premiums and copays will most certainly be paid for through tax input. Either way, our temporary thrill over winning Obamacare will soon turn to dismay as we realize the framework forces prices and costs to go up, up, up.

      Single Payer is/was a good left idea. Obamacare without the ever promised public option (disclosed as not workable mere hours before the ACA bill was released) is not a good idea, certainly not a leftist idea. We lost control of our elected officials, and the plutocrats snapped them up for service to their masters, in this case the insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

      Case 2: TPP is a horrible idea. It would be a NAFTA on steroids, destroying our middle class within one generation. It would bring in millions of foreign tech workers who will do to white collar jobs what illegal aliens have done to blue collar jobs in the past 40 years. Professional Americans simply can't compete with millions of foreign trained tech workers willing to work 80 hours/week without any expectation of payment for overtime. And for much lower wages. $15-20,000 instead of what professional Americans expect, $45-80,000 per year. Companies would receive tax breaks for creating jobs in America, then stuff them full of people who don't expect OSHA safety rules to be followed, who have no desire to rock the boat or even discuss unionizing. Why heck, Obama's plan would even offer them citizenship for the hard efforts dismantling our middle class.

      TPP would ensure environmentalists and product safety watchdogs aren't able to hinder corporate profits. Patents would be expanded so companies can reap in even more obscene profits off a wary public, some dying of cancer from corporate polluting. TPP would even allow other countries to extract future American wealth if we dare to enact or abide by current environmental rules that inhibit their ability to rape the earth.

      We should be against everything the TPP embodies, but liberals are still stuck on the concept of helping dewey-eyed farm hands become citizens. Most illegal aliens work in construction, home health care, landscaping and other non-farm jobs. Agriculture has no limit to the number of immigrant farm visas they can use. But progressives are still blind to the damage done to blue collar careers by freeloaders who sneak into our country, have a baby here, and live in Section 8 housing with their instant citizen child with free heat and air conditioning, free furniture, free food, free healthcare, free education, etc. But they're here, after all, in our communities. Therefore they should be a priority over children eating garbage in Mexico City because their parents didn't break into our country. Illegal aliens are even a priority over America's working poor. IA's working under the table
      don't show FAFSA income when their kids apply to college, so their kids get free college. In the interests of diversity, they get selected for programs over America's white working poor.

      This is our downfall on the left. We start with a good understanding of what policies would work (single payer socialized medicine, not socialized insurance) but we get suckered by the plutocrats in charge. "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is really just the first step to implementing the TPP. And progressives won't know what hit them until they are competing with millions of foreign trained (no student loan debt) low income, desperate workers who will be happy to take those high end middle class professional jobs for pennies on the dollar and no complaints about the lack of overtime pay for overtime worked.

      As progressives, we're going to have to think outside the "I want people to think I'm nice" box, and start pushing policies that actually help our county's masses. Maybe then some of those great polices we've fought and died for over the past two centuries (like Social Security, Workers Comp, OSHA rules, minimum pay, weekends off, evenings home with the family, no child labor, all those great middle class expectations we've created) might start flowing out to other countries, instead of their poor, desperate people flooding into ours.

  •  The left needs to do what it always needs to do. (66+ / 0-)

    Actually stand for and behind the principles in which it claims to believe.

    Stand for people, not corporations.

    Every time I've heard a Republican ad recently, they've made plain where they stand, boasting that they're working to make my state 'business friendly'.  I'd much rather have a human-friendly state.  

    We need a push for a Constitutional amendment, to make it clear that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and Constitutional rights are afforded to human beings, not to amoral, immortal legal fictions.

  •  If a true left doesn't rise up, the result will be (56+ / 0-)

    the de facto loss of democracy. Because most people won't embrace the right; they will simply retreat from political involvement, voting, or seeing government as an institution that has meaning in their lives and over which they have any influence. The government will become a stagnant "consensus" of thoroughly unpopular and unhelpful politicians from both parties who will basically just serve the interests of wealthy lobbyists and let the country rot as the people become resigned to the fact that "all the politicians suck and there's nothing we can do about it."

    The only way to regain a meaningful democracy is the rise of a new liberal movement based on a strong philosophical vision of the human future. And yes, as you point out in this excellent diary, it will mostly involve ideas that are currently seen as "ambitious and novel" or even totally outside the mainstream window of thought and dialogue as it exists today among the political class.

    The new liberal movement will have to come from outside the establishment; it will have to be populist and radical; and it will have to believe in and act according to its own people-driven power and potential, rather than accepting the status quo of powerlessness and conforming its expectations and actions to such limitations.

    In short, the new liberalism must operate outside the current Overton Window, putting forth a completely different positive narrative and vision especially on economic issues, which speaks to people's common sense and fills them with a feeling of empowerment and new possibility. As a paradigm-shifting progressive leader once said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself."

    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

    by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:19:12 AM PST

    •  Great comment (15+ / 0-)

      particularly this part:

      The new liberal movement will have to come from outside the establishment; it will have to be populist and radical; and it will have to believe in and act according to its own people-driven power and potential, rather than accepting the status quo of powerlessness and conforming its expectations and actions to such limitations.

      "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

      by gulfgal98 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:03:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't be so sure about not embracing the right (8+ / 0-)

      i don't want to go Godwin's Law on anyone, but it has happened famously in the past. Hell, just look at the rise of the Golden Dawn in Greece.

      •  Sometimes I wonder whether liberals should (12+ / 0-)

        start calling ourselves ultra-conservatives. We want to conserve Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the environment, the middle class, etc. We're all about wanting to conserve what is good, from the onslaught of evil. So we're the true conservatives, right? :D

        I say this half in jest. Only half though. Maybe nowadays the path to political success can only come through convincing people that you're more conservative than the other side. That seems to be the way things have been going for a long time. The only real action in terms of being on the attack, moving a policy agenda forward, is usually flowing from the "conservative" side of the spectrum. The "liberal" (so-called) side of the spectrum has in recent years seemed to be mostly about weakness, phoniness, retreat, and despair.

        So, perhaps liberals should just rebrand ourselves as "the real conservatives" -- go so far to the left that we loop back around to the ultra-radical right -- and call it a day. lol

        The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

        by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:38:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In a lot of ways (9+ / 0-)

          The Democratic Party is the US conservative party and the Republicans are the radicals, even (counter) revolutionary radicals.

          For decades, the Dems have consistently lost most of their fights to preserve the status quo. They keep trying tho. Just as the Rs kept on keeping on throughout their long night out of power (whether actually or psychologically) from 1932 until Reagan's advent.

          In our political system, both parties serve wealth and power first. Where the People fit in their calculus depends on what the pols want or need from them.

          Blogging as Ché Pasa since 2007.

          by felix19 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:27:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  To me that is too confusing (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eric Stetson, LeftHandedMan, Just Bob

          The current "conservatism" is not so much about preserving a status quo that includes preserving New Deal programs such as Social Security,  rather it is more about rolling these things back to the Gilded Age or even before.  Rove and Grover Norquist have publicly stated that their ideal was for the US to be modeled on the US of 1898.Therefore we need to take away the term conservative away from them and describe them by the proper terms of radical reactionaries or regressives.

    •  The two party system is the problem. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul

      Since there can only be two players at the table, one or both of the current parties is going to have to be taken out of the picture.

      I just finished watching season three of Game of Thrones so I'll keep my ideas on how to go about this to myself.

      We want to build cyber magicians!

      by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:11:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, it seems it needs the suffering (15+ / 0-)

    that has been and will increasingly be inflicted on the base.  Really, all we can do it point out what is increasingly transparent.  There's a battle outside and its raging, but Mr. Jones may not know or comprehend it yet.

    BTW, protest works and until people are out on the street, I doubt the politicians we have will significantly change a thing.

    "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

    by Publius2008 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:23:24 AM PST

  •  I heard that Orwell got the idea for (9+ / 0-)

    "Animal Farm" after watching a small boy boss around a big old horse. The horse chose to be prodded and pushed.

    The ingrained "Cult of Individualism" in the USA will be tough to get around. It seems every time I join some small group, it breaks up over stupid little things. If we can't work together...

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:38:22 AM PST

    •  Read Homage to Catalonia (0+ / 0-)

      Orwell had anarchist (free socialist) leanings. A lot of his ideas came from fighting against fascism, and being persecuted by Stalinists, in the Spanish Civil War. During the war he was exposed to anarcho-syndicalism and anarcho-communism.  And while you're at it look up the real history of anarchism. Orwell was socialist, but despised authoritarianism.

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 02:38:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Most of the Left Became Conservatives in 1970's. (25+ / 0-)

    Just because people and institutions aren't Republican, doesn't make them "left."

    Globalization did not "happen," it was no structural feature of time or technological progress, it wasn't all but inevitable, it was deliberate formal political policy enacted in law. And that process began 40-45 years ago around 8 minutes after the 99% and the federal minimum wage reached their all time economic high water mark.

    Stripping progressive individual taxation, loosening anti trust regs on biz and media, raising payroll taxes, stripping trade regulations, deregulating finance, shrinking safety nets, making education unaffordable --these were and are conservative to rightwing policies.

    Even when Democrats enacted them.

    America's microscopic left is glad there were Democratic conservatives fighting the Republicans, for what that's worth, but it has to be admitted that regardless of intentions, the fight that was fought in the trenches and in the party backrooms these past 40 years was over how fast and how far to take down the middle class, not whether to.

    And that remains the fight of the Democratic party, a fight over degree not kind.

    If you believe in merely freezing the 99% where they are today, "believe" meaning supporting economics that will actually stop the working classes from shrinking and declining, you are already too far left to be in today's adult conversation in the Democratic Party.

    Everywhere in our own past and elsewhere today in the developed world, history's only ever large middle class is always built on the same few principles: wealth and income compression in the upper 1/3 becoming severe around 5-10 x median income; heavy anti trust regs; trade regulation; financial regs especially on gambling, and a few other basics. We can quibble about how much in specific to revive from our New Deal = Great Society era but the priciples are unavoidable if democracy is to be restored.

    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 Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:42:56 AM PST

    •  part of it was inevitable (10+ / 0-)

      globalization didn't need to be accompanied by terrible trade treaties, but globalization was inevitable regardless. And it's not a bad thing.

      After all, it would be pretty selfish to continue to leave billions around the world in poverty just to preserve a nice existence for a few hundred millions Americans and Europeans. We all deserve a better future. And besides, mecanization and deskilling are taking half the jobs anyway, workers abroad notwithstanding.

      •  There are different ways (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis

        to envision and implement increased quality of life globally than the ways implemented by the global corporate cartel.

        No, billions around the world shouldn't be left to poverty. They also shouldn't have to submit to Chase, McDonald, Disney and Sons to rise out of it.

      •  That (0+ / 0-)

        is utter nonsense. Globalization was the deregulation of international trade that took place after Nixon floated the dollar to avoid tax hikes on business. Corporations took advantage of the anarchy resulting from the virtual repudiation of Bretton Woods and the continued existence of the B/W apparatti, the IMF and World Bank. If, in fact, the increase in productivity brought about by technology is currently eliminating jobs and lowering living standards, it will be the first time that has resulted since the beginnings of industrial society in, roughly, 1650. And the claim that "globalization" has lifted thousands out of poverty is easily refuted by a UN report entitled "The Global Slum". Look it up.

        http://www.ucl.ac.uk/...

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:50:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Today, a 39% top marginal rate is "socialism" (23+ / 0-)

      I'm still not sure what that made Ike, w/ his 91% top rate, or Nixon and Ford w/ their 70% top rates.

      If one were to look at Huey Long's Share our Wealth plan or Upton Sinclair's End Poverty in California plan, things get really funky.  I can't imagine Bernie Sanders advocating express caps on income, wealth, and inheritances.  Alan Grayson would never advocate state seizure of idle factories where unemployed workers could be put to work.

      We're now debating whether minimum wage will be increased to regain some of its lost buying power.  It's an entirely different playing field from what once existed.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:32:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  People are entranced by the glowing screens. (26+ / 0-)

        That's my view.  

        There are a few major physical/technological differences today that influence human behavior:

        1) The surging popularity of the personal automobile after WWII and the rush to suburbanization. People physically put distance between themselves, between their workplaces, between their homes, and between their modes of transportation.

        2) Glowing screens, from TV, to PCs, to laptops, to smartphones. Religion is no longer the opiate of the masses. Entrancing screens are. Waste your time before the glow and ignore real life interactions.

        3) Air conditioning. Keeps everyone inside their homes, inside their cars, inside their workplaces.  People mix with each other less in every way.

        Each of these acts to keep people from organizing, from gathering together to realize and discuss mutual experiences, from interacting face-to-face at all.

        We all know how people will be much more harsh with each other online than they will in person. It's a dividing influence.

        100 years ago, families lived above the grocer, the hardware store, the pharmacy. Others lived in tenements or close-packed townhouses. Everyone lived in close proximity. Everyone saw and heard each others struggles, difficulties, toil and sweat.

        Interpersonal relationships were different too.  The concept that a husband-and-wife provided all the companionship that people would need would be seen a foreign back then. There were all sorts of groups where people gathered together from The Grange to churches to fraternal groups to the corner tavern for an after-work beer.

        Gathering together, having groups of friends and allies was seen as more natural than today, where the wife is "my best friend and all I need" and vice versa.  In other words, interpersonal relationships included more people and different viewpoints of the world.

        Getting to work meant walking with your neighbors, even if you turned a different direction after the next block. Or riding trolleys or streetcars. Group dining was more common; sharing a table in a cafe or at the workplace. After work, you might join your coworkers for a couple beers or at least share the ride home.

        Entertainment consisted of more public events, bands, dances. Good speakers were in demand on a wide variety of topics. Chautauquas -- an adult learning movement -- were mass events, held in 10,000 communities and gathering as many as 45 million people per year.

        Imagine that!  People all over town coming together in the hundreds or thousands to hear a lecture and lean more about the world!  Not alone, reading books, but together, side-by-side. A lot of interesting discussions followed.

        Today, we are more "individualized" than at any other point in our history. There's a myth popularized that each of us does it all on our own. That's the entire Tea Party theology, but it runs through everyone everywhere.

        Nothing could be further from the truth, but that's where we are: thinking we don't need our neighbors or coworkers, when the truth is the opposite.

        And who is profiting from these shifts?

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:32:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Top comment, thanks (8+ / 0-)

          Your analysis of socialization is an uncommon perspective.  

          It's also pretty well established that video and audio are better at conveying emotions, while text is best suited for intellectual communication.  Thus when information sources switched to TV/radio, there was a profound shift in not only the sort of information transmitted, but the interpretation of the transmission by the populace.

          It has to do with how the brain is wired.  Reading recruits many different brain centers, while video has much more direct path to the amygdala (emotions).

          "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

          by Subterranean on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:56:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, and once communication moved from (5+ / 0-)

            face-to-face to TV, it was one-way TV from "the money" to the people.  Not the people themselves interacting.

            There are a lot of issues to overcome.  We've seen good movements in Moral Mondays and similar protests, but we need that sort of thing to spread much wider.

            With church memberships falling that may be a hindrance to liberal as well as conservative causes.  To what other groups do people belong where liberal/progressive action could occur..?

            "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

            by YucatanMan on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:23:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Catholic Pope Francis has an interesting (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LeftHandedMan, YucatanMan

              understanding of our capitalist society.  We need to be open to these sources of grounded philosophy and inspiration.

              An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

              by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:15:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Forgotten here (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              YucatanMan

              are the set of rules that forced the publishing and broadcast industries to give the public access to varying view points and the microphone for comment. They were the first things to go in the Reagan revolution. Now the "Free Press" is owned by the corporate world. That was not true before 1981.

              "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

              by johnmorris on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:00:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Reagan administration's work to dismantle (0+ / 0-)

                the Equal Time rule and the Fairness Doctrine has enabled right wing talk radio to flourish.  Rush Limbaugh wouldn't even be possible today with a strong Fairness Doctrine in effect.

                But more than that, the separation of news and entertainment sections of networks was undertaken during the Reagan administration as well.  Professional journalists are much more a rarity today in a world which emphasizes 'presentation' and 'presence' over content and facts.  

                Conservative programs and laws do not stand up to a close examination of the facts. Reagan didn't control the internal workings of the networks. Those changes were wrought by mergers, acquisitions, corporate scheming. And those changes were brought about by Reagan-era junk bonds, financial deregulation, greed, and corruption.

                One of the single most corrosive effects on democracy in recent times has been the concept of "the free market" or "Chicago School of Economics"  Krugman has called it "fresh water economics," because sensible people on the coasts don't buy the phony reasoning, but "the Chicago school" on the Great Lakes does.

                Prior to Reagan, the US actually had industrial policy. The US government worked to insure jobs, a positive manufacturing atmosphere, fair tariffs for imports, etc.  All were designed to support American companies and steady employment.

                With Reagan came the insane idea that government should just stay out of business, when it was government itself which had ended the boom-bust cycles that nearly destroyed the nation during the Great Depression. Without government regulation, it didn't take long until Wall Street concocted their own fantastic meltdown again. But that deregulation didn't just happen under Reagan. Bush I and Clinton assisted to a great deal. Glass-Steagall was repealed under Clinton and the financial system collapsed inside of 10 years!

                That's what "the free market" brings to the table: disaster and collapse. And with those, crisis capitalism, where financial disasters are used as a means to seize the assets of the middle class and transfer them to the 1%.

                None of this is a coordinated plan or a conspiracy. It is the natural outcome of capitalism when left to its own devices. There have been many participants in the process and many have been so-called "democrats."

                The belief in "the free market" will continue to corrode democracy until people realize what is happening and begin to demand government regulation to insure a Fair Market again.

                "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                by YucatanMan on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:17:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The best explanation (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  YucatanMan

                  of post war industrial policy as it was practiced is in:

                  http://www.amazon.com/...

                  I like this edition because it has very readable intro and foreward's. The best explanation of the "Market God" theory that Krugman (who is only recently waking up to it) calls 'freshwater', is John Galbraith's "Innocent Fraud".

                  http://www.amazon.com/...

                  in which he says "Market" is a propaganda term properly translated as "unfettered Capitalism". Fraud because it is a lie, innocent because so many of it's adherents actually believe it. I think 'innocent' may be over reaching. As the conversation has probed closer to the arguments, well educated and presumably intelligent "conservative" economists have begun to blather, suggesting that, rather than a sincerely held belief, they are defending a sincerely appreciated pay check.

                  "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

                  by johnmorris on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:43:42 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Ab solutetly... (0+ / 0-)
                    rather than a sincerely held belief, they are defending a sincerely appreciated pay check.

                    "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

                    by YucatanMan on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:57:15 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  alas, that is what a society of "every man for (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy, LeftHandedMan

          himself" does to people.

          PS--it really is a society of every MAN for himself, since in our society "white well-off males" are the default view.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:45:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Its probably the case that if Hitler and Mussolini (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeftHandedMan, YucatanMan

          had TV that we very might be speaking German right now.  The electronic media and the propaganda techniques that were just then being introduced by folks like Edward Bernays had not yet been polished to what they are today.  With TV and 70 more years of perfection and applications of PR and propaganda techniques along with the further atomization of the people you mention it is far easier to convince people to accept or even fight for their servitude in a friendly fascist society.

        •  The 'Market' (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          YucatanMan, Eric Stetson

          now not only decides the value of goods, skills and labor. It also decides the value of human beings themselves, both internally and externally. This shift is driven by mass media, social media, and the Internet.

          Hence, there is a much larger social battle to fight in addition to the political and economic fights that the previous generations had to contend with, in order to enact change.

          This aspect is the most discouraging to me, because in addition to the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of corporate money influence there is the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of the people's conception of humanity being absorbed into the capitalist market ideology.

          50's era conformity is nothing, imho, compared with the conformity of today that does not even have cognizance of the infiltration of market ideology into the very structure of personality and value formation.

    •  Best thing that could happen to the left (8+ / 0-)

      is for Mitt Romney to run again. We could finish the unfinished business of illuminating for the American voter how he is the poster boy for the "moocher" class.

      His candidacy educated a lot of people as to how and why this stuff is happening to us. Without him we couldn't get this through the mainstream media.

      OWS succeeded in pushing the "austerity" narrative aside and creating a space in public discourse for "income inequality". The protests were making minimal headway until the NYPD rioted and abused peaceful demonstrators.

      The left has been flailing for much of the past 30  years. Now we have an opportunity, but we need not just the vision, but the strategists to get the message to the people in a way that includes them in the fight.

      Where we are having some success with that is with the women's vote. Again, that is partly due to overreach by abortion opponents. It's also due to health care and other kitchen table issues that moms across the country are dealling with.

      Elizabeth Warren is right on target. I hope she becomes a leader in the Senate. We need a few more to go with her.
      We  have to win. We need good ideas and a strategy.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:57:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Carter was the first. His "New Democrat" ideas (17+ / 0-)

      were about privatization and deregulation. He set the stage for Reagan to adopt those concepts and go whole hog with them. Carter opened the door a bit and Reagan drove a semi through it.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:07:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Carter's open door (5+ / 0-)
        Carter was the first. His "New Democrat" ideas were about privatization and deregulation. He set the stage for Reagan to adopt those concepts and go whole hog with them. Carter opened the door a bit and Reagan drove a semi through it.
        Not semi. Train.

        As in, "through the Moffat Tunnel".

        And we ordinary job-workers certainly ended up feeling like we were run over by a train....

        :-(

        "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

        by thanatokephaloides on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:41:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm disappointed. I clicked on this, hoping (10+ / 0-)

    to disagree.

    Instead, I think it's tremendously well-said, and tremendously important. It strikes me as, in many ways, the question for the left.

    Thanks for writing it.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:52:49 AM PST

  •  You over define the Left to include (15+ / 0-)

    many Dems in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s when those folks are mostly moderate reform capitalists.  Are capitalists the Left?  In addition, the use of "New Left" is ahistorical.  The "New Left" was things like the Port Huron Statement and SDS in the 60s.  It contrasted itself with the Marxist-Leninist left (the Old Left).  It is confusing and obscures your ideas.  While there are some good concepts in your post, it often oversimplifies complex events (in part the nature of your medium, a blog post, and understandable).  Is the Left anti-capitalist?  Answering that would illuminate your direction.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:25:03 PM PST

    •  anti-capitalist (4+ / 0-)
      Is the Left anti-capitalist?  Answering that would illuminate your direction.
      I don't know about the diarist, but I know damn well I am!!

      ;-)

      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

      by thanatokephaloides on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:46:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So am I. But the struggle is long (4+ / 0-)

        and there are times in which coalitions with reform capitalists are useful.  Temporary coalitions.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:42:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  coalitions with reform capitalists (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TomP
          So am I. But the struggle is long
          and there are times in which coalitions with reform capitalists are useful.  Temporary coalitions.
          There are also times in my life when I wasn't as anti-capitalistic as I am now.

          These times were mostly in my childhood, when:

          capitalism had to earn its national keep, and knew it;
          roughly 30% of American workers belonged to a union;
          a cripplingly costly college education was an enrichment, not a necessity as it is now;
          etc.

          On that last one: a humorous parody of a for-profit university commercial which "tells it like it really is" can be found here .

          "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

          by thanatokephaloides on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:55:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Anti-Capitalist (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP

        There is no positive term with 'currency' any longer, I gather. (How capitalist ideology even affects the very selection of word choice!)  It used to be called socialist or anarchist. This in itself shows an aspect of the problem.

    •  I totally disagree. The analysis in this diary is (6+ / 0-)

      very clear and accurate.  The diarist also offers possible solutions.  I consider this diary one of the best things I've read here, ever.

      •  We disagree. I see the Left as anti capitalist. (4+ / 0-)

        Apparently you do not.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:40:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, I agree with you, but . . . (6+ / 0-)

          one must consider things as they are. The sad reality is that most of the people alive today in the US (and at DKos) have never even seen an actual LIBERAL Democratic Party, much less have ever seen an actual "Left". All they've seen are the John-Birch lunatics who blither that Obama is a "socialist!" and Social Security is "communist!", and the moderate center-right Democrats (who would be Tories in England).

          If some of these people were to go outside the US and see some REAL "Leftists", they'd shit their pants in terror.

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:19:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tom, even if one were to argue that capitalism is (10+ / 0-)

          good, as interpreted by economic theory (starting from Econ 101), the system we are actually living under has almost nothing to do with it.

          Rational decision making by informed buyers and sellers, supply and demand, proper regulation against cartels and monopolies, on and on, those things are practically non-existence except in the lip-service category.

          What we have, the real reality on the ground, is a corrupt kleptocracy.  We have influence-peddling corruption, waste, predatory practices.

          It has very little or nothing to do with capitalism as people envisioned it should be.

          My prefer system leans more towards social democracy, but I would not mind if we were actually living under a properly regulated capitalist system.  We don't.  This is a utterly corrupt corporate state oligarchy.

          •  I am an anti-capitalist. This is capitalism. (4+ / 0-)

            Some abstract system that this fails to meet is irrelevant.  Karl Marx would consider this to be capitalism.  

            Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

            by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:48:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Tom, I mean no offense, but did you take Econ 101? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bartcopfan, gerrilea

              In college I took Econ 101, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and a one more course (I'd have to look at my transcripts).  And of course I've read several books in economics, history, and politics throughout the years.

              If you did, you may remember topics such as supply and demand, trusts, anti-competitive (predatory) practices, monopolies and oligopolies.

              Those things hardly apply to reality on the ground, for all intents and purposes.  You want to call this system "capitalism?"  You are missing one operative word.

              This is what we have:

              CRONY CAPITALISM

              Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when business cronyism and related self-serving behavior by businesses or businesspeople spills over into politics and government, or when self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.
              •  Your answer shows how embedded your thinking (4+ / 0-)

                is stuck in a capitalist world view.  Econ 101?  I have a JD and BA in history and have done much independent reading in Marxist and anarchist writings since the early 70s.  I also have been a political activist on and off over the years.  But to rely on an undergraduate Econ class as at trump card in an argument shows a real bourgeoise world view.  I am quite surprised and have clearly misunderstood your writings here.  Academic abstractions in the field of "economic" are predicated on capitalism as the norm.  Moreover, they are models.  A bourgeoise dream of a well-run capitalism will not resolve the fundamental class conflict and exploitative nature of capitalism.  I also mean no offense.  

                Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

                by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:21:09 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  A JD and BA in history? That makes it even more (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  gerrilea

                  troubling.  And so with all that education you can't just admit the obvious about our system being Crony Capitalism and instead prefer to go the "academic abstraction" labeling route, which actually says nothing.

                  That is indeed very surprising given that background.

                  It's also surprising to throw around those words, "bourgeois," "fundamental class conflicts," but again saying nothing.

                  All I'm asking you is whether you agree that our system is not a capitalist system as most people believe it to be; meaning that they associate capitalism with democracy and the rule of law and fairness, a level playing field, meritocracy.

                  You instead answer with a word salad saying nothing--again.

                  Very disappointing from somebody that educated and well-read.

                  •  Ray, I gotta tell ya (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    AoT, TomP, johnmorris

                    Capitalism is right wing in any form, crony or not, in my personal metric. Capitalism in any form has a ruling, owning class who monopolize property used in the means of production. And thus it allows, and even requires, wage slavery. It requires a majority working class to serve the minority owning class. There is no "nice" form of capitalism. Sure, reforms can improve it. But reforms often don't last. Capitalism is wrong in so many ways it would take several volumes to explain it properly.

                    Fuck capitalism. It is a scourge upon humanity and all forms of biological life.

                    Unbelievable. You think you represent the left??

                    "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                    by ZhenRen on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:13:18 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  ZhenRen, relax dude. I pretty much agree with (0+ / 0-)

                      that.  I don't think it is sustainable.  I'm for social democracies.

                      Either way, I'm not here to say I represent anything.  I am who I am and I write what I want write about and in the way I feel like it.

                      However, there are no contradictions in my views.

                      I think capitalism is unsustainable (I've written about that several times).  All I was pointing out to Tom is that there is a discrepancy about what people believe capitalism to be vs. the reality on the ground (corrupt, crony, predatory).

                      I got to tell you thought, the more I read your stuff, the more I notice some kind of orthodoxy.  No matter what happens, the world will never be black and white.  There will always be shades of grey.  There will be no perfect system.

                      All we can do is to continuously work to help bring about a better world.

                      •  Ray (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        TomP

                        Orthodox? Ooookay.

                        No, what you're noticing is once I logically grasp a concept, I grasp it with depth of real cognizance. It isn't orthodoxy. It takes a long time for me to synthesize the input of disparate concepts, but once I do, it becomes very clear. Its a rather peculiar trait of mine. Once I grok a thing, I deeply understand it as if an equation. And consider yourself grokked.

                        [Edited out six paragraphs of pretty good observations that aren't for public consumption].

                        "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                        by ZhenRen on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:43:28 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  All capitalism is predatory and exploitative. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        ZhenRen, TomP

                        It can be softer or harder exploitation. But in the end, other than actual slavery, what could be more exploitative than taking someone's only truly irreplaceable thing--time--in exchange for mere money, and then profiting off of that time without giving the person a share of the profit?

                        There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

                        by srkp23 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:38:50 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Even if capitalism were "sustainable" (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        TomP

                        it would still be a horribly unjust system. The worst thing is once a person becomes what is called a conscious worker, becomes deeply aware of the reality of one's social position of servitude under capitalism, it becomes unbearable by geometric progression, increasing by multiples of how much one awakens to the reality of the wage slavery. The more aware of the relationship, the more oppressed one feels.

                        Thus, awakening to capitalism is a nightmare. It is no wonder people prefer to remain distracted. Once one is awakened, there is no excusing it or tolerating it as a form of "unorthodoxy". It is as wrong as chattel slavery.

                        You're not unorthodox, Ray. You're just another person who hasn't completely awakened to the stark reality of wage slavery (a shorthand term for all that the conscious worker experiences). There is no form of capitalism that will completely end the horror.

                        This must be thoroughly studied and understood.

                        And that you think there is a tolerable form of capitalism tells me you have a way to go before you can lecture me about orthodoxy. Capitalism has become the prevailing orthodoxy. It is the prevailing doctrine, the treacherous common sense "logic" that mesmerizes people into subservient docility.

                        "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                        by ZhenRen on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:19:16 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  nothing personal to either of you, but it always (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    TomP, johnmorris

                    makes me laugh when I see activists comparing academic credentials. I find it sad that most "activists" learn all they know about the world by reading a book. Which is why in the real world so many of them can't organize their way out of a wet paper bag.

                    Me, I learned economics the hard way--I worked in fucking factories for a few decades and then spent a few years as a union organizer.

                    That's also how I learned to organize.

                    Reality is a brutally harsh teacher, but her lessons never go away.

                    In the end, reality always wins.

                    by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:45:43 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Graeber (0+ / 0-)

                      Author of Debt, the First 5000 Years, has little respect for economics (as it is taught) as a science, since it bases the entire development of economics on money having replaced barter, which is a myth: Barter never really existed as a widely practiced economic system within homogenous communities.

                      Anyway... I'm no economist (econ 101 was a long time ago), but I know what exploitation is, since I live it everyday.

                      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                      by ZhenRen on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:10:41 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  It wasn't barter it was gift economies (0+ / 0-)

                        Should have added that. When economics is thought to be based on a barter market system, it leads to incorrect assumptions, and then what follows in economic "science" is based on those incorrect assumptions.

                        "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                        by ZhenRen on Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 10:11:23 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

          •  So... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP
            My prefer system leans more towards social democracy, but I would not mind if we were actually living under a properly regulated capitalist system.  We don't.
            You're a capitalist. Okay, I don't agree, but good to know where you stand.

            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

            by ZhenRen on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:46:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Formation of capitalism (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            I think most people, including myself, have a difficult time of conceptualizing capitalism.

            I'm not disagreeing with much of the substance of your post, but have a few thoughts on it.

            It seems to me that capitalism wasn't so much as envisioned as it came into being by gradual accretions over hundreds of years. It also seems to me that the aspects of softening capitalism's effects mentioned have always been, primarily, lip service as adopted by capital holders; they were aspects imported from the competing ideology of socialism implemented in order to constrain opposition to capitalism, rather than for the purpose of actually mitigating capitalism's negative effects.

            If we insist on capitalism + softening, it seems to me that we end up in a perpetual struggle against its negative effects rather than envisioning and implementing something that does not inherently have those negative effects.

            And, yes human centered instead of money centered should be the idea driving our ideas and actions.

            Which, brings me back to socialism vs. capitalism and the obvious that is held within the language itself:

            Socialism = the ideology of the social first.

            Capitalism = the ideology of capital first.

            It's right there in the words themselves.

          •  Well.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP
            Rational decision making by informed buyers and sellers, supply and demand, proper regulation against cartels and monopolies, on and on, those things are practically non-existence except in the lip-service category.
            That's because capitalism and the ruling owning class which capitalism fosters, always, over time, inexorably moves toward more and more power and wealth in the hands of elites. Wealth cannot exist in any exaggerated form without an elite ruling, owning class which exploits a majority working class.

            Capitalism always gravitates toward inequality, economic inequality, and the consequent concentration of power in the hands of the owning class. And the Keynesian reforms which people advocate do not solve the problem. Whenever there is hierarchy, and a class system, reforms will never be lasting. The individuals in control of capital will always turn toward exploitation. Only economic democracy, and a bottom up horizontal structure can keep that from happening.

            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

            by ZhenRen on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:25:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Meant to say "economic disparity" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TomP

              Too much champagne. I never repeat the same word twice in a single paragraph, I tell ya. Well.. almost never.

              "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

              by ZhenRen on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:30:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  You're right. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ZhenRen
              Capitalism always gravitates toward inequality, economic inequality, and the consequent concentration of power in the hands of the owning class. And the Keynesian reforms which people advocate do not solve the problem. Whenever there is hierarchy, and a class system, reforms will never be lasting. The individuals in control of capital will always turn toward exploitation. Only economic democracy, and a bottom up horizontal structure can keep that from happening.
              While I sometimes take a reformist path, that is the fundamental problem with such a path: it does not really work long term: "reforms will never be lasting."

              We have been fighting to save the New Deal and Great Society for decades, when they were insufficient when made.  

              In a real sense, I fight for reforms (ACA, increased minimum wage, etc.) knowing that they will not be enough and likely will not last.  They do ameliorate pain, and offer an opportunity to organize.  But I have always felt boxed in no matter which way I go.  In 2000, I saw the Green Party as a mechanism for deeper change, but that seems counter productive to me now.  

              If it were easy, change would have happened.  It's a long struggle.  

              We have clashed at times, but I respect your commitment to anarchism and your mind.  You see what is.      

              Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

              by TomP on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:25:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  the left, broadly speaking, is whatever (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeftHandedMan

      isn't the Right in our two-party system. In Europe, it's whatever the more liberal coalition happens to be.

      If your only definition of the "Left" is people who hold absolutely no power anywhere, it's not a very useful definition.

      •  That is not my definition. (6+ / 0-)

        To me, the left is anti-capitalist.  You include Hillary Clinton in the Left as you define it.  I think you definition obscures more than it illuminates.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:39:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure, Hillary Clinton is in the left. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thereisnospoon, LeftHandedMan

          If she's not, and if capitalism isn't, then the left in this country is about as large--and influential--as the libertarians. She's not as left as I wish she were, but this is America. She's left.  

          And, this the Point, I think: she doesn't just need better tactics, she needs a return to better ideas.

          If you define the Left as people who already have better ideas, then no, this diary doesn't make sense. If you define it as, y'know, what exists in this country at this time, however, it's a different thing.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:27:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The left in this country is perhaps (3+ / 0-)

            weaker than libertarians.  Progressives or liberals or Democrats are not.  At best, the vast majority of Democrats are center or center-left.  There are many reasons for that, but it is what it is.  I vote for Democrats and contribute, but I do not see them as the Left or leftists.  

            Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

            by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:55:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know a guy who doesn't (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              LeftHandedMan

              consider the US a democracy. "It's a republic, not a democracy! It's a republic, a republic! Look it up!"

              Words don't only mean what we want them to mean--or what they once meant, long ago. If you ask 1000 Americans if Hillary Clinton is on the left, the center, or the right, what results will you see?

              Claiming that she's not really a leftist is perhaps true, but definitely sophomoric. Van Halen isn't really Van Halen after David Lee Roth left.

              "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

              by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:57:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hillary Clinton does not consider (3+ / 0-)

                herself to be a leftist.  My comment is not sophomoric and your comment about the US not being a democracy is a non-sequitur.  Words have meanings.   You cannot play Humpty Dumpty and claim words mean whatever you want them to mean.  Why on earth does Hillary Clinton have to be a leftist to you?  I will vote for her knowing what her beliefs are and policies will be.  Calling her a leftist, when she never would call herself that, is important to you.  Why?

                Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

                by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:09:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You don't think (0+ / 0-)

                  that the vast majority of the American people would say she's part of the left? If they wouldn't say that, then I'm wrong.

                  Words do have meanings. In America, right now, I think it's pretty clear that Hillary Clinton--and Bill, and Obama--are part of 'the left,' however unfortunate that may be.

                  It's important to me because judging from the comments here, we find it easier to believe that 'the left' is some blameless ideal, instead of a flawed reality. And it makes me crazy, because it's impossible to move forward if the identified problem is that we're not embodying some idealized perfection, as opposed to accepting that we--the entire left, as identified by the American public--needs to change.

                  Obviously, parts of the left--those parts that you, I guess, would call the left--don't have to 'return' to better ideas, because they never walked away from them. But the left as a whole--including the people who seems like centrists you to--do need to return to those ideas. And making these in-group distinctions about who is really on the vanguard of the workers just strikes me as deeply unhelpful.

                  I think that the diarist's examples of 'better ideas' are really powerful. Do you like them? Do you prefer different 'better ideas?'

                  "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

                  by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:36:32 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  There are a number of long-suffering socialists (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TomP

              who have been hanging out under the big tent.  I'd guess at least 20% of registered Democrats have socialist leanings.  That would make us far greater in number than libertarians.

              We want to build cyber magicians!

              by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:29:31 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  You haven't hung out with many mellinails. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP

            The kids who came of age during the Bush years are way to the left of what was normal for Gen X.   They are totally put off by both parties and respond well to anti-capitalist ideas.

            We want to build cyber magicians!

            by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:25:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  In other words (5+ / 0-)

        the term as you use it has no ideological meaning or grounding.

        It's purely a political distinction. Thus a rightist -- even fascist -- party can be deemed the "left" if there is any party even slightly to the right of it.

        Got it.

        Blogging as Ché Pasa since 2007.

        by felix19 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:08:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Conservatism cannot fail; (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeftHandedMan, bartcopfan

          it can only be failed.

          Clearly this diary is about the flaws of the actually-existing left in this country at this time, not about some timeless pristine Left that exists untouched in the land of ideology.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:29:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  if that's how it breaks down in a two-party (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeftHandedMan

          system, then sure. If the choice were between total fascists and the modern Republican party, then the modern Republican party would ostensibly be on the left.

          And what you define as "left" would be functionally non-existent.

          Keep in my mind that a hardline Communist would say that you aren't on the left.

          Once you go down that road, purity can be an infinite regress.

          •  It's not about "purity" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, VelvetElvis

            It's about having and sticking to an ideological position on principle, not determining your position by reference to where the other party is.

            And you're right.

            Unlike almost any other ostensibly democratic political system, there is no real left in American politics.

            The Democratic Party is not leftist and institutionally can't be.

            The left in America exists outside the political system, as Reed is sometimes aware, though he often conflates the left with the Democratic Party and its candidates.

            Blogging as Ché Pasa since 2007.

            by felix19 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:25:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent comments by you in this thread. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              felix19, VelvetElvis

              This thread was interesting.  I guess I never thought about it, but to use some "classical" jargon, some of the "radical" people here push bourgeoise radical ideas.  I suppose it is to be expected, but it surprises me.  "If only capitalism was run right."  The perfect models of capitalism still exploit.  That is what capitalism is.

              Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

              by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:41:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  No. That is silly. Words must (0+ / 0-)

            have meanings to communicate.  This is not about purity or a two party system.  It's about rigorous thinking and communication.

            Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

            by TomP on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:26:27 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  The Left is ant-capitalist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      The Democratic party is not anti-capitalist or leftist.  We have two right wing parties and no organized left.

      We want to build cyber magicians!

      by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:20:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The joke (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      as the neoliberals advised the Russian PTB on the right wing rape of the crumbling Soviet Union was:

      "Everything Marx told us about Communism was a lie; everything he told us about Capitalism was the truth."

      It's really not a joke. The closer the world comes to unfettered capitalism, the more accurate Marx's economic analysis  becomes.

      "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

      by johnmorris on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:07:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I have thought that at times. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnmorris

        Marxism-Leninism failed.  It also was not a good society.  There are things in Marx's prescriptions (dictatorship of the proletariat) that are problematic and lead to the possibilities of Leninism.  But his critique of capitalism is still cogent.  Treating Marx as a useful thinker rather than a prophet is essential.  Some of his insights are still useful; some are not.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 09:28:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Agree with much of what you say but not this (13+ / 0-)
    Not surprisingly, the Left responded to this by cozying up to moneyed power and by shifting its focus away from questioning the assumptions of the flawed capitalist pseudo-meritocracy, and toward attempting to expand access to that meritocracy to everyone. That shift allowed the Left to hold together its social coalitions while maintaining access and influence to big money donors. The "era of big government was over." Trade protections for workers, regulations on the financial industry, and taxes on the wealthy were all eliminated by bipartisan consent. The left, meanwhile, became singularly focused on social issues and on making sure that the poorest Americans didn't suffer too badly in the brave new plutocracy.
    Arguably the Democratic Party did that. Any individual who did that was no longer by definition of "the left," which demands the end to the staggering degree of economic inequality and the putting in place of mechanisms to produce a reasonable range of economic parity in society.

    What you're talking about is social liberals, not leftists or "the Left."

    •  A legitimate criticism, IMHO... (10+ / 0-)

      ...and one that self-descirbed left/liberals here regularly make in this community, too. It's simple, if one provides support (either openly, tacitly, or by default) for neoliberal economic policies, no matter how hard they attempt to rationalize that (i.e.: invoking incrementalism, pragmatism, whatever the label), they have no business claiming they're really on the left. However, the diarist does pose some proper tactics, at least regarding effective focus on certain issues,  which would act to somewhat alleviate income inequality.

      But, as long as self-described faux "lefties" continue to support Krugman's recent, "mild" disagreement with Stiglitz concerning the Columbia University economics professor's well-known position on income inequality (re: it is at the root of this country's economic problems), wannabee lefties are kidding themselves, too.

      Furthermore, assigning much/most of the blame to technology (which the author of this post does), with regard to the never-ending hollowing-out of the middle class, is about as UNleft as it gets, IMHO. There's abysmal inequality with regard to taxation (corporate versus individual; and it's going to take MUCH more than a Wall Street Transaction Tax to properly address that); and inherently corrupt political class and financial services sector that runs rampant throughout our society, nowadays.

      Without significantly enhanced REGULATION--with regard to the sufficient allocation of taxpayers' funds supporting same, and a Department of Justice and other regulatory bodies that stop making excuse for a complicit lack of enforcement of same, and elected officials that stop exploiting policy for their self-enrichment so that they will truly get behind these types of effective efforts--this is all just an exercise in mental masturbation.

      So, if one is going to continue to either ignore or make excuses for our government's failure to act in these matters, they have no business calling themselves a member of the "LEFT," either. (And, I see that type of behavior pervasive throughout this community too, up to and including making excuses regarding same back in the first couple of years of the current president's first term, when both branches of government were majority Dems. (In 2009 and 2010, it was: we need 60 votes in the Senate.) Bullshit! FYI: Dodd Frank's a freakin' joke, and even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the one REAL benefit of it, is currently in the sights of the GOP for complete evisceration as you read this. On top of that, my own Rep, Sean Patrick Maloney, and CT-05's Jim Himes, a Democrat, are at the forefront of making derivatives regulation on Wall Street more meaningless, as you read this.

      Excuses, excuses; all from a bunch of sellouts that that describe themselves as being "on the left" and being "progressives." It's a status quo f*cking joke. (And, speaking of status quo, we're commenting in a diary in a community that many describe as the leading Democratic Party community in the blogosphere. And, right here, status quo propaganda, as of the past few months, is perfectly acceptable, as far as the site's management's concerned, ALL BULLSHIT TO THE CONTRARY.

      Last but not least, and referring back to technology--a business sector where the big money is HEAVILY behind neoliberal and quasi-libertarian economic policies, perhaps moreso than ANY other business sector, as UMass/Boston Poli-Sci Professor Thomas Ferguson has definitively demonstrated--the truth is that in that one needs to look no further than its relationship with this country's military-industrial-surveillance state and the inherently LIBERTARIAN business sentiments of the CEOs of MOST of the leading tech firms, too, to understand the inherent philosophical fail we're witnessing in today's Democrat Party, as well.

      (End of rant!)
         

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:19:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Typos abound in the above comment... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LeftHandedMan, lostinamerica

        ...but, I think most readers will catch my drift.

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:24:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  one summary of Bob's rant (6+ / 0-)

        just a quick note

        1. both parties work for the 1%

        2. thus they are playing all kinds of games to move more power from the state to the corporations. This is done in many ways as mentioned by Bob, but also by privatization. As pointed out in the excellent book "Are We Rome" that is what happened back then when they distributed power and  the steering wheel of government was no longer connected to the wheels

        3. another game that are playing, like the Romans, is to trash the republic. The voters are not connected to the legislative branch (one indication is a 10% approval rating) and the rule of law is moving more and more to support the oligarchs

        4. don't have parties, have factions as described in the founding documents of our republic. Thus focus on party politics goes no where. As stated in this diary, the dems have to become a party again and not a faction.

        this didn't turn out to be very short and I have to stop and get back to my jobs at home

      •  another comment - "A New World Order?" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LeftHandedMan, lostinamerica

        in my first comment on Bob's rant, I was thinking a lot about power with ideas from the book mentioned in that comment.

        a new article just arrived and a couple of paragraphs are on power and domestic issues

        In the meantime, its (i.e., USA Don comment) own political system has grown gargantuan and unwieldy; its electoral process has been overwhelmed by vast flows of money from the wealthy 1%; and its governing system is visibly troubled, if not dysfunctional.  Its rich are ever richer, its poor ever poorer, and its middle class in decline.  Its military, the largest by many multiples on the planet, is nonetheless beginning to cut back.  Around the world, allies, client states, and enemies are paying ever less attention to its wishes and desires, often without serious penalty.  It has the classic look of a great power in decline and in another moment it might be easy enough to predict that, though far wealthier than its Cold War superpower adversary, it has simply been heading for the graveyard more slowly but no less surely.

        Such a prediction would, however, be unwise.  Never since the modern era began has a waning power so lacked serious competition or been essentially without enemies.  Whether in decline or not, the United States -- these days being hailed as "the new Saudi Arabia" in terms of its frackable energy wealth -- is visibly in no danger of losing its status as the planet’s only imperial power.

        What, then, of power itself?  ........

        Missing in Action
        What Happened to War and the Imperial Drive to Organize the Planet?
    •  as i said in a response to a comment above (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GussieFN, LeftHandedMan

      the Left is whatever isn't the Right in our two-party system. In Europe, it's whatever the more liberal coalition happens to be.

      If your only definition of the "Left" is people who hold absolutely no power anywhere, it's not a very useful definition.

      Your criticism is similar to Tea Partiers claiming that the GOP establishment isn't actually on the "Right." They're wrong, too.

      •  Ideas have meaning and history (5+ / 0-)

        Political and economic philosophies that are part of coherent historical traditions have names and definitions. To deny that in favor of "Left is whatever isn't the Right in our two-party system" and sneer that "the Left" holds no power seems a bit short-sighted in its inspirational organizing potential.

        If your only definition of the "Left" is "Not Right" you're leaving it to the right to do the defining, of both terms. And that's a bad mistake, IMO.

        •  Ideas also change, to accommodate (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thereisnospoon

          different contexts and meanings.

          In our context, that of a two-party system with the two parties we've got, the right is whatever isn't the left, and the left is whatever isn't the right.

          I find all the lawyering about what, precisely, the Left means fairly petty and disheartening, considering that the point of this diary is that the left needs better ideas.

          Perhaps the immaculate Left our imagination, which never failed us, doesn't need a return to better ideas--perhaps that Left merely needs better tactics.

          But the left that actually exists in this country, which is considered by our fellow Americans, in their perfect philosophical ignorance, to be the left, and which then becomes by definition the 'left,' because that's how words work … that left needs to return to better ideas.

          The great thing about this diary is that it's an opening to speak about 'better ideas.' Not about the relative positions of various historical understandings of political policies on an idealized axis of left/right blahblahblah.

          What 'better ideas' are you most fond of? I kinda like making equal access to voting a constitutional right, myself.

          "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

          by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:36:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, (3+ / 0-)

            for one thing, knowing the difference between "left," "right," and their bastard child centrism lets you call compromised policies like Obamacare out for what they are, centrism, and leaves the space open for one day trying the actual leftist solution - single payer or some other nationalized and universally subsidized approach. Your approach is designed to let the Right hang the label "left" on every policy it opposes, particularly the bad/ unpopular/ corporate cronyist ones like the ACA, or even, incredibly enough, the bank bailouts.

            •  That's your 'better idea?' (0+ / 0-)

              You know the True Difference between left and right and center. But the True Difference doesn't matter, except for cocktail party discussions like this one, because the majority of Americans quite contentedly believe that Democrats = Left and Republicans = Right. And the way language works is, if the vast majority believe in a certain meaning, they are right.

              So we can either gnash our teeth and insist that the the left never fails, it only is failed, or we can say, 'the tactic of adopting crappy centrist policies is shitty; we need better (ie, 'True Left') ideas.'

              Getting into the weeds of definition is great for masturbation, but I don't see how calling Obamacare centrism, or even right-centrism, is any better than saying, it's a bad tactic, and we need better ideas. In fact, I think it's worse, because it's essentialist, and so doesn't move us forward.

              "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

              by GussieFN on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:48:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  and conservative fascists would say that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LeftHandedMan

          any party that accepts, say, interracial marriage, Medicare and gays openly teaching in schools isn't a true "right" by meaning and history.

          The problem with your view is that "meaning" and "history" are relative to the individual view, and you get into infinite "no true scotsman" fallacies.

      •  I'm a revolutionary socialist at heart (0+ / 0-)

        what differentiates me from Joe Leiberman if we're both "left?"

        We want to build cyber magicians!

        by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:33:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "You go into (political) war with the left you (5+ / 0-)

    have, not the left you might want or wish to have in the future..."

    For all the faults outlined above with the current thinking in the Democratic party, and to the left of the party, we need to get the gop out of the way. It would be best to do that in 2014, although we are already currently being brainwashed into believing that cannot happen, no way, no how, a fact which may prove to make our failure even worse than is probable due to the facts of gerrymandering.
    Suppose that we did have a historic, anomalous mid-term turnout and the gop base was demoralized, complacent.

    We can't even get time on Meet the Press. Much less time to outline bold strategies.
    Yes, we need to have some coalescence around some strong ideas and put them before the American people.

    But we are still going to have to slog this out and fight for every vote.
    So, my response to the diary is yes, but..

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 12:40:12 PM PST

  •  Good piece. I like the long view. (9+ / 0-)

    But I, too, am going to pick a little.

    First, the left does not suffer from a paucity of good ideas. You yourself supply a nice list near the end of the diary. What we lack are people in power who are willing to stand up and own those ideas, even at the risk of their political hides. And with those ideas proving popular in poll after poll (as long as they're not labeled "liberal!"), it's not even that big a risk.

    Second, you say that

    The result of all this was a hard turn to the Right on all but social issues that, historically, seems to have been almost inevitable.
    (emphasis mine)

    While the right hasn't been able to roll back all the social progress of the New Deal and Great Society eras, it's not like they've accomplished nothing on that front. We continue to make progress on minority rights, both of racial/ethnic and sexual orientation, but women's rights have taken a pounding. And we're not even a minority, though we continue to be second-class citizens.

    Even though Roe has not yet been overturned (and I suspect it never will be), there have been so many restrictive state laws appended to it that we are very close, in practical terms, to where we were immediately prior to Roe. Other social areas where we've lost a lot of ground are gun regulation and separation of church and state. On all three of these issues, elected Democrats have helped erode the party's position.

    While I agree that the economic argument is both our strongest one at this time, and the most urgent, don't overlook social outrage. For instance, it could maybe get Wendy Davis elected.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:15:19 PM PST

    •  Yes. It's not the lack of ideas that is the ... (11+ / 0-)

      ...problem (which doesn't mean we can't use more). We have a plethora of Left ideas over the past 80 years that have never been implemented. Getting them into paper and pixels is not the problem, getting them into policy is.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:36:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even getting them to be discussed is difficult. (6+ / 0-)

        That's what I don't understand: Why liberals with good ideas for much-needed reforms are simply ignored in the mainstream political conversation. It would be nice to at least be part of the debate, but no serious liberal ideas are even debated anymore. The debates are always about how conservative policy should be, how much more the government should help the already rich, the big banks, the multinational corporations, etc. I really can't think of any example of any serious debate in Washington in the last several years that was about a proposal for a truly liberal economic policy agenda.

        The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

        by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:59:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need to debate them here, too... (8+ / 0-)

          ...and make them part of our everyday concerns, bringing them up at every opportunity. But, in the past at least, you see a diary like this one by TINS, with a good discussion and then we're on to the next shiny object. We get led around by the mainstream media's latest objet du jour; instead of fighting to lead the narrative we are led by somebody else's.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:04:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps part of the reason for lack of discussion (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sidnora, LeftHandedMan, blueoasis

            about such ideas on a site such as DKos is that people would (quite legitimately) want to know what to do if they have such discussions and like the ideas and want to take some action in support of them. The main problem I see is that there is actually no one to vote for, for people who believe in such ideas (except maybe a few rare politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson). So, people wonder what's the point of having these discussions about serious liberal ideas if we can't follow up on it by supporting particular candidates in our House and Senate races, etc.

            What I keep wondering is why nobody with influence in Democratic Party politics, coming from somewhat of an anti-establishment position, tries to start a national movement to run a slate of truly liberal Democrats in the primaries? For example, the owner of this very blog could try to start such a movement -- he has influence. Why do we not have a liberal equivalent of the Tea Party, to try to move the Democratic Party to the left on economic issues? Why do we have nobody to vote for? Why doesn't anybody who's not just "some dude" ever try to organize such a movement?

            The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

            by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:13:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  this assumes that "doing something" necessarily (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bartcopfan, VelvetElvis

              means "voting for this or that savior" or "introducing this or that legislative bill".

              It doesn't.

              Occupy showed us the way (and the one thing about Occupy that really set my heart aflutter was its INTERNATIONAL scope). We need to learn the necessary lessons from Occupy's successes and failures, and go on.

              Electoral politics is a weapon, but not the only one--and at many times it is not even the most effective one.

              I'm a big fan of using the weapons that work.

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:23:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Occupy didn't work. (0+ / 0-)

                So why use that particular weapon, since objectively speaking it did not change political policy or the power structure of society whatsoever?

                I'm very open to ideas for action that are outside the scope of electoral politics. But I think the Occupy movement could have harnessed all that energy in a much more effective way than it did. It was a disappointment, IMO, and showed us that we need to use different strategies to make change other than the usually ineffective tactic of street protests.

                The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:30:45 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Occupy DID work (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bartcopfan, VelvetElvis, blueoasis

                  It changed the entire political dialogue in the US----indeed we STILL use its terminology (the 1%, the 99%) and we STILL talk about its aims and goals (economic justice and equality, controlling the banksters).

                  That is something the Dem Party never did (and never even tried--indeed, when Occupy was changing the entire economic discussion, the Dem party was arguing with the Goppers over how much austerity to impose and how much we should cut the social safety net).

                  Even Obama (and his 2008 campaign was a social movement, not a political campaign) never changed the political dialogue to the extent that Occupy did.

                  And you may want to have a chat with some civil rights veterans about the, uh, "ineffective tactic of street protests" . . .  

                  In the end, reality always wins.

                  by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:41:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It's hard to separate cause and effect. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bartcopfan

                    I'm honestly not sure to what degree the dialogue about economic inequality is an effect of Occupy or that Occupy is an effect of the fact that more people were already talking about economic inequality. Probably some of both.

                    I'm not saying Occupy was worthless, but I DO think it severely underperformed what it might have accomplished. Because it had no clear goals for demanding policy changes.

                    Ultimately, everything is about policy: what the laws and regulations are or aren't, and who has the money and power, which is mostly based on policy. If the policies don't change, that means things are still essentially the same. People might be more aware that there's a lot of inequality, which just makes it even worse since nothing has been done to reduce it. So now we might have more awareness of how bad things are and simultaneously more awareness of the fact that we were unable to make things better.

                    The failure of Occupy to produce any policy changes in government -- or even to produce any large-scale changes of people's own personal socioeconomic behaviors -- means that lots of liberals feel more pissed off and powerless than they were before. I don't see that as a significant victory, although who knows, if all that raised awareness and anger leads to a much-improved Occupy 2.0, maybe ultimately it could become a victory. We'll see.

                    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                    by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:19:51 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  you're kidding, right . . . . ? /nt (0+ / 0-)

                      In the end, reality always wins.

                      by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:09:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No. Let's compare Occupy to the example you cited: (0+ / 0-)
                        you may want to have a chat with some civil rights veterans about the, uh, "ineffective tactic of street protests"
                        Clearly, the civil rights protests were a success because policy changed; laws were passed outlawing racial segregation, discrimination, etc.

                        How did Occupy cause economic inequality to be reduced, or reduce the power of the corrupt banking establishment, or anything else that Occupiers wanted to happen? It didn't. If anything, the problems are worse than ever before. The only thing Occupy achieved is raising awareness of the problems. That is a partial success, but very partial indeed.

                        The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                        by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:20:03 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  so . . . your opinion is that the civil rights (0+ / 0-)

                          movement won because some folks in Congress decided one day, out of the goodness of their hearts, presumably, to pass a law and presto!!!! civil rights were won . . . . ?

                          The 20 years of marches, protests, bus rides, attack dogs, KKK shootings, and sit-ins, and even the riots that broke out in cities all over the US, didn't have anything at all to do with it . . .? That was all just a waste of time . . . ? All we really had to do all along was ask Congress politely to please pass a law pretty please. . . . ?

                          Wow.

                          Have you ever actually TALKED to anyone from the civil rights movement . . . ?

                          PS--sorry Occupy didn't win in three days.  It took the civil rights movement 20 years to win. It took women's suffrage and marriage equality 20 years to win, too. Ditto for the labor movement.

                          Maybe we should allow Occupy at least that long, too . . . .

                          (sigh)

                          In the end, reality always wins.

                          by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 07:51:40 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You misunderstood me. (0+ / 0-)

                            I said the civil rights protests worked because they succeeded in changing policy, as a result of the protests. The Occupy protests didn't work because they didn't succeed in changing policy.

                            And I very much doubt that a protest movement with no specific demand for policy changes would ever achieve policy changes. If you don't ask for something, you can't get anything. Maybe that's why Occupy didn't work. They had no specific demands. The civil rights protest movements had very specific demands -- and they got their demands enacted into law.

                            If a new protest movement starts on the issue of economic inequality, let's hope this time it will have specific demands. Better yet, let's start thinking and talking before a new protest movement starts, about what the demands should be. JMHO.

                            The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                            by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:09:27 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Occupy was pretty recent (0+ / 0-)

                            and there's still a foundation there to build on.

                            In retrospect I think it was of the occupiers to not let themselves be co-opted by the Democratic party like Republicans did with the Tea Party.  Ultimately, the Democratic party is part of the problem and will never be part of the solution.  As long as occupiers and Democrats share common goals, a useful coalition is possible.  The occupy movement was fundamentally anti-capitalist though, something the Democratic party never will be.  Occupy introduced a lot of young people to the idea that politics exists outside the two-party lock in.  IMHO the goal now should be education, spreading socialist and anarchist ideas to younger people who have never been exposed to them.  Many will be receptive.
                             

                            We want to build cyber magicians!

                            by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:44:06 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I was speaking of this part: (0+ / 0-)
                            we need to use different strategies to make change other than the usually ineffective tactic of street protests.
                            Street protests are not "ineffective" They are the only thing that has ever changed social policies.  No social movement--civil rights, labor unions, women's suffrage, gay rights--has EVER won simply by asking politicians to pass a law pretty please.  They all won by going to the streets.

                            Thinking we can win just by asking the politicos to pass some laws for us, is the height of naivete.

                            In the end, reality always wins.

                            by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:15:11 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I tend to think organized boycotts, Gandhi style, (0+ / 0-)

                            could be more effective than street protest in an age in which street protestors are just systematically arrested by paramilitary police forces.

                            I'm not discounting the positive effects that street protests have had in the past. But within my lifetime (c. 1980 onward) I have yet to see a single street protest movement actually accomplish policy changes. There have been the anti-globalization protests, the Occupy protests, and various other ones, but the wealth inequality just keeps getting worse and worse and government policies have become more and more friendly to the rich and the big banks.

                            I think the only way we can really change anything anymore, on economic issues, is to create a parallel economic system and boycott the mainstream system. That's why I've been a big supporter of the "move your money" movement, and also why I've gotten interested in alternative currency movements.

                            Bodies in the streets can just be rounded up and put in jail -- it's just another form of begging politicians to do something, and the government usually responds with brutally effective force to suppress it. On the other hand, actually refusing to participate in the mainstream economic institutions such as the banking system, and creating alternatives to that, might be more effective in today's world.

                            The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

                            by Eric Stetson on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:52:54 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  empirically, you are wrong (0+ / 0-)

                            Street protests and demonstrations HAVE won political fights. Indeed, they are the ONLY thing that ever has.

                            But within my lifetime (c. 1980 onward) I have yet to see a single street protest movement actually accomplish policy changes.
                            You are too young, then, to remember the ACT UP protests and street actions, which were instrumental in creating an entire new generation of gay rights activists.

                            In the end, reality always wins.

                            by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:55:29 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

      •  And..... We're NOT (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VelvetElvis

        going to get crucial policies into place with the current sort of democrats we have in office now... so I wonder why we continue to support them in any way??

        "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

        by Superpole on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:01:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What do you suggest (0+ / 0-)

          as an alternative? I'm not being snarky here, I'd love an effective alternative.

          I'm not even asking for them to fear their base. I'd settle for respect. Maybe even a dim awareness that we exist.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:28:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think we need a serious orgnized revolutionary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sidnora

            movement.  We don't need to just move the overton window, we need to destroy it.

            We want to build cyber magicians!

            by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:46:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  alas, as we ourselves prove here every day, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sidnora

              most of the "revolutionary movement" can't even get along with each other.  (shrug)

              In the end, reality always wins.

              by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:16:05 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's been true (0+ / 0-)

                of every "revolutionary movement" in history. People with disparate philosophies can unite and make change around a common goal, or against a common enemy. The trick is holding it together after victory.

                "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

                by sidnora on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:25:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Define revolutionary, please. (0+ / 0-)

              Are we talking about overthrowing the US government? Because that's what revolution means.

              "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

              by sidnora on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:27:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Is looking back 80+ years really the best idea? (0+ / 0-)

        I think there are plenty of great ideas that have come out of the American left in the last century or so but sometimes we have to confront the problems of the modern era on their own terms and not rely on the solutions of the past. For example "Universal Health Care" is a laudable goal but it's going to take a much different form today that it would have  in 1950 or even 1990. A minimum income program in 2014 may be more focused on wage subsidies than either welfare payments or tax credits.

    •  However The Right Certainly Has Crushed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora, happymisanthropy, blueoasis

      Labor and income equity over the last thirty years.

      That's a BIG problem.

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:05:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You'll get no argument from me (0+ / 0-)

        on that. And as I said at the end of my comment, I think it's also our strongest point right now...if only we could get more than a pathetic few elected Democrats to stand up for it.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:25:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am really glad this got posted on DKos. (3+ / 0-)

    We need a long term effort to find and implement a new economy and society.  The old solutions won't do the job.  Incremental change is not nearly enough.  The answers are not known, but we have to start looking for them.

    Most attention on DKos is in 2 categories: documenting conservative craziness and analyzing electoral prospects in minute detail.  These are useful, but much less important than trying to figure out a long term future for society that allows prosperity and freedom for all.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:19:35 PM PST

    •  The right has the well-formulated (0+ / 0-)

      and now widely-accepted theories of market economics and the "invisible hand", while the left has ..., what?  Marx is largely discredited, at least in the popular mind.  The left needs a new founding philosophy, an alternative theory of economics and social science.

      An illusion can never be destroyed directly... SK.

      by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:51:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Voting the lesser evil keeps evil in business (5+ / 0-)

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 01:57:33 PM PST

  •  These is one of the most cohesive and impressive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest

    analyses about the current situation and possible solutions I've seen here at Daily Kos.

  •  Demonstrate that there is a "left" (6+ / 0-)

    in American politics.

    There are varieties of rightists, but no left worthy of the name.

    Hasn't been one for decades.

    The Democratic Party is not a leftist party and institutionally it can't be one.

    So where is this "left" of which you speak?

    Part of Reed's problem is that he conflates the left and Democrats, and in the next breath says the left is absent from politics.

    In fact, there is an active and genuine left outside of the political framework in this country, but you won't find it in the Democratic Party.

    Blogging as Ché Pasa since 2007.

    by felix19 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:05:55 PM PST

  •  The left just needs to become the left again, (4+ / 0-)

    and not just 'left' of the (far) right. Other than social issues the current left isn't very far left of even Reagan, if at all.

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:42:15 PM PST

  •  The Vague, MIA "Left" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy

    the Left of course needs political leaders, which other than a handful of congresspeople.. some considered "cranks" or "nuts" by numerous people, like Sanders and a few precious others-- WE DON'T HAVE.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:55:20 PM PST

    •  I quite disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Thomas Twinnings

      Movements make the leaders, not the other way around.

      I do not subscribe to the Great Man theory of history. I do not look for any Savior to ride in on a snow-white horse and win all our battles for us while we cheer from the sidelines.

      Social change is made by organization, by lots and lots of little people all working and fighting together.  The "leaders" just make the speeches.  WE do all the work and win all the victories.

      If we are reduced to waiting for a knight in shining armor to save us, we are doomed.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:28:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent post (4+ / 0-)

    Seattle is proving David's points - a $15/hr wage is not only on the agenda but is something that is going to happen, in some form, this year. And it’s happening because people demanded it. Kshama Sawant had never held elected office before and ran as a proud member of the Socialist Alternative party, and beat a generally well-liked incumbent Seattle City Councilmember last fall on the basis of calling for a $15/hr wage. Both mayoral candidates endorsed it as well given the broad public support that was out there.

    Would love to see more progressives around the country getting aggressive in their fight for economic security.

    Welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.

    by robert cruickshank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 02:56:52 PM PST

  •  Principles, tactics, and elections are all needed (0+ / 0-)

    Breaking the Republicans electorally would give the Left a boost by allowing room for actual Left oriented legislation to be passed and executed. Ideas like transaction tax are quite good. But the left needs to move forward on every front--ideas, tactics, and get out the vote to destroy the GOP

  •  Don't break the Media Monopoly, we're jerking off. (4+ / 0-)

    I don't understand how people, even 'very serious people' don't get that the mass-reach Media sets the narrative. And the 'choices' follow the options set in the narrative. Nor how major things are left completely OUT OF the narrative.

    No, the internet does not change that, and it will not change it in some wonderful future date: it will be subsumed entirely long before it can become really dangerous to the 1%. As it stands it's been largely the tail of the corporate media dog. Don't think so? Go look at the stories that dominate blogs, and then tell me their source.

    In the meantime, you can 'like' or 'not like,' you can gather in the streets or not gather, you can fuck or not fuck whoever of whatever heritage and style... they don't give a shit. You can rant and rave all over the internet and offer irrefutable proof sworn to in writing and video by Jesus and Allah -- they don't give a shit, and they don't have to.

    What they give a shit about is that enough people BELIEVE that the debate is between that human-caused climate change is open to debate; that enough people NOT KNOW that the Banksters and Multinationals are running massive criminal enterprises; that enough people NOT UNDERSTAND how totally owned our politicians are. Owned from the Corporate Pre-Primary, where the winners get big bucks in exchange for their souls, right through the Corporate Media deciding who gets favorable or unfavorable treatment, or just plain ignored.

    Geez, grow up people. If you are serious about power, there is no way you can avoid taking head-on the most effective agit/prop apparatus in human history. And it shouldn't be so hard, because poll after poll shows that -- at least among people with political/social awareness, and of any political stripe -- the Corporate Mass-Reach media is DESPISED. Not disliked, not disapproved of, not suspect: despised.

    Analyze abstract political currents and history until the cows get cloned to hamburger bread, if you don't deal with mass-reach media directly, we'll keep losing. Why do you think democratic nations almost never get democratic outcomes?

    I don't see how that's not as clear as a cat nose in your eye first thing in the morning.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:03:41 PM PST

    •  What do you advocate to get around the problem (0+ / 0-)

      of not having access to the mainstream media to promote liberal ideas? Since the MSM is owned by corporate interests, it's not as though they're ever going to give a voice to serious economic liberalism. So, what ideas do you have for how to get around this problem and find other ways to spread liberal ideas into the national dialogue and the political debate? Or do you believe there is no hope for liberalism, and we are condemned to live in a new era of brutal economic feudalism under the robotic and inhuman reign of investment banks?

      The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

      by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:17:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Getting around it is our doom. We've got to pry (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Don midwest, starduster, blueoasis

        it out of the hands of the 1%. That means break it up. That means a) we actually use the Internet to beat the drum, b) boycott boycott boycott, c) pressure Congress/FCC to change the rule to 1 company, 1 outlet, 1 market.

        Then direct pressure on the newsreaders and their editors. Constant assault from every legal direction. Eminent domain, protests at city hall, confiscatory tax rates, whatever we can do to make it untenable for the media to go on as it has: excluding real America from forming narratives.

        Remember: EVERYONE hates the Corporate Media who cares about politics or society, whatever their politics.

        Look. If tonight every news station/major paper carries as their top Story: Hillary and Rand Paul caught in Love Triangle with Hermaphrodite Martian, ... you can certainly tell me what the top topic all over the internet will be through the next week.

        There will be the 'i sort of suspected,' 'here's proof it's a hoax' 'hey, it's okay' 'it's an abomination' crowds going at each other furiously on the internet. And anything meaningful will be buried.

        That's not theoretical: the perfect example being the contrived 'Dean Scream' which got 24/7 airplay even though the media (and thousands on the internet) knew the feed they played was with a crowd-noise suppression mic. Sunday, a top contender for the nomination. Next Sunday: crazy man go away.

        They create the narratives. We can't let them do it anymore.

        Or we will keep losing.

        Why? The mass-reach media can reach EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN in the space of a day, two max, with the identical news impression. There exists no comparable medium. And unless you're Oppa Gaga Style, there ain't going to be no 300,000,000 hits on your website, this website, any website, in your lifetime.

        The media control must be BROKEN. Not side-stepped. First order of business. It will require a fight, and well, Duh!

        But the fight could be won in a year, two, if we focused on it. No issue which matters to us will advance, or if it does, will advance quickly enough, without we open up the media to the public's ability to create the narratives. Period. Anything else is pure fantasy.

        If anyone were serious about human and democratic values winning, breaking into, and breaking up, the mass-market Media Cartel would be the very first order of business.

         


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:42:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a circular argument. (0+ / 0-)
          pressure Congress/FCC to change the rule to 1 company, 1 outlet, 1 market. ...

          If anyone were serious about human and democratic values winning, breaking into, and breaking up, the mass-market Media Cartel would be the very first order of business.

          It sounds like you're saying we should try to correct the problem of liberal policy ideas being part of the discussion in the mainstream media by enacting the liberal policy idea of breaking up big corporate ownership of the media.

          Isn't that totally circular? If liberal policy ideas aren't even being discussed in the media, and the media is what prevents us from advancing our ideas, then how are you going to enact the liberal policy of breaking up the media in the first place?

          The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

          by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:46:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Correction... (0+ / 0-)

            I meant to say:

            It sounds like you're saying we should try to correct the problem of liberal policy ideas NOT being part of the discussion in the mainstream media by enacting the liberal policy idea of breaking up big corporate ownership of the media.

            The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

            by Eric Stetson on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:47:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The pretense of Democracy is the last tool we (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis

            have. Congress still does 'something' if the people demand it. If enough demand it. Usually that something is mostly cosmetic, but not all the time.

            Remember when the younger Powell's FCC wanted to further consolidate big media? And Congress got something on the order of a million communications, in under a week, demanding this be stopped. This was from all wings, and even apoliticals who were teachers and parents and just folks. And Congress stepped in and stopped it.

            And besides, I'm not talking about just congress. There's towns, and cities, and states which can impose laws, invoke eminent domain, place taxes. Put pressure on the cartel to break up or sell off.

            Whatever the flaws in my presentation the one thing remains true: until we break the Media monopoly on public narrative we'll keep losing, doesn't matter what else we do.


            Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

            by Jim P on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:08:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  competition with honest journalism helps (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maryabein, Jim P, blueoasis

          the Snowden documents have led to an 8 month story. The powers that be dominate the news cycle and can wait out a story in a few days or maybe a week. This story has legs and there are more journalists involved, more companies whose business is at stake and more countries who are taking action and the story exposes that we have trashed our constitution under the scare tactic of terrorism.

          What if we had 20 Snowdens? CIA, FBI, the other spy agencies all need a Snowden to let us know what happens in secret in government. Last year the government said that it classified 92 million documents setting a record. But one could guess that that number is on the low side. And Obama is the one setting new records of secrecy.

          in the mean time, we now know that no one has privacy and any attempt to organize a political action will be tracked by the ones on our payroll in the government and by corporations with their own spy systems

          Can Greenwald's digital magazine Intercept help to reinvent journalism?
          Founder plans non-hierarchical newsroom and wants to build First Look Media on collaboration

    •  this thesis is exactly parallel to what you (0+ / 0-)

      see at Free Republic. They despair of the "liberal media" in the same way.

      The problem isn't the media. They're just part of the consensus class. Start talking about stuff outside the consensus and electing people willing to break the consensus, and the media will get interested and shift alongside.

      It's not as if Elizabeth Warren doesn't get media attention.

      •  You entirely misapprehend the role of media then. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy, blueoasis

        Dean Scream. 'President Clinton will have to resign within 1 week' on all the channels. Good grief, think it through. Review history.

        You don't remember when the '08 Bailout was being pushed at us, and 67% of the public was against it, and then Media pushed -- with no opposition broadcast at all, literally, at all -- talking heads saying 'the bailout must happen' and Public Opinion went to 50-50.

        You don't remember the run up to the Iraq War? Which left over half America believing Saddam was tied to 9/11?

        You don't remember when the internet, and yes, news reports had shown that there were no WMD, 2/3 knew that, and then media presented talking heads for two months 'Saddam gave them to Russia, to Syria, to Iran' and then a majority believed Saddam had WMD?

        Seriously? You're going to say that the occasional Warren outweighs literally days worth of Jamie Dimon is a genius, and no mention of 32 instances of fines for criminal activity?

        Well, we're a 'democracy' doncha' know. How else do you keep the public divided, and ineffective, if you don't have two extremes?

        Your 'consensus class' is a fantasy. These are paid agents of major corporations. Have you not looked at who sits on the Boards of Big Media; how those boards interlock?

        How can you say media doesn't form narratives. And include and exclude what they want. Seriously.

        Until the public has direct input into mass-reach media, we'll keep losing. That was my sig here 7 years ago, and it's still true this very moment.

        Tell you what: There's a few books in English now of what the Soviet Press looked like in the 1930s. Go read them. You'll see LTE complaining about corruption of both Party officials, and factory managers. You'll see debates about what laws should be passed. You'll see sports. If you can ignore the heavy-handed "Leader Stalin Presents Factory Medal" propaganda (we have our own versions except it's American Exceptionalism), you'll see a press every bit as free as ours.


        Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

        by Jim P on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:14:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and that Free Republic says the media stinks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis

          just underscores my point: the ENTIRE American political spectrum knows something is very very very wrong with how media is handled. You do, right?


          Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

          by Jim P on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 04:15:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think our entire approach is outdated and (6+ / 0-)

    now irrelevant.

    Too many of us are still viewing the world through the same lens we used in the 1960's, or even the 1990's. We still function as if we lived in a nation-based world, where national governments have power over what happens economically within their own borders, and we can change those economic circumstances by electing national leaders with the "correct" agenda.

    We are entirely wrong. That world no longer exists.

    Beginning in the mid-90's, the entire global economy changed drastically, and we have not changed with it. Today, there is no longer any such thing as a "national" economy. "National governments" no longer matter--they do not set economic policies, they do not control economic trade structures, and they cannot reign in the power of global economic forces. Today, economic decisions and policies,l worldwide, are set by global mega-corporations that are richer, bigger, and have more direct control over more people's lives than ANY national government does. National laws don't matter to them; national borders are irrelevant to them; national interests don't mean jackshit to them.

    Given that situation, there is only one way forward, and you hint at it here:

    Capital mobility can be a problem, but even that is soluble through international trade treaties that serve to protect the interests of workers rather than plutocrats.
    Not just "capital mobility", but everything else.  Living wages, environmental protection, workplace safety rules, product safety regulations--ALL of these are no longer under the purview of any national government, and no national government, no matter how big, is capable of providing or protecting these interests. If we want ANY of these things, we must force them into being through the same international economic structures that the corporations are now using. There are over 170 nations on the planet.  We cannot force them one by one to give us the protections we need (and if we don't, then the "race to the bottom" will simply continue).  But we CAN force these protections and interests into the international economic treaties themselves, which are binding on everyone everywhere.

    Our reliance on "national governments" to accomplish social justice, is outdated and irrelevant--national governments, including ours, are no longer capable of providing or protecting these things. The corporations have gone global and international.  We must, too. Nation-based strategies have already proben themselves impotent, ineffectual and outdated. The world has changed, and we must change with it. Uniting globally to beat the global corporations will be long, hard, and probably bloody. But it must be done. There is no other alternative.

    "Workers of the world unite" used to be just an idealistic politicxal slogan.  Today, it is our only survival strategy.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:11:07 PM PST

    •  yes indeedy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare, mimi, starduster

      I've written extensively about this. It's the inevitable result of the direction I'm proposing.

      See here. And here. And here.

      There's also a reason I've started writing essays for UN Global Dispatch, including this one on international worker safety treaties.

      •  I've been advocating this since the trade wars (0+ / 0-)

        of the 80's, when the US unions decided that the company was their friend, was "protecting their jobs", and the "forners" were the enemy. It was obvious to me where that would lead And it did.

        Alas, the Left  still has zero interest in actually organizing globally to beat the global corporations (alas, much of the Left has zero interest in organizing at all--they prefer sermonizing and preaching instead, and electing this or that Holy Savior who will win all our battles for us).

        Too many of us simply have not grasped the huge changes in the world since 1997 and what they mean for us. And until we do, we will remain powerless and impotent. We are quite literally not fighting on the same field as the corporados are.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:54:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There was once this slogan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen

          which is in actuality the only plausible solution to that challenge of our times:

          "Workers of the world, unite!"

          "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

          by ActivistGuy on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 01:46:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  indeed, that was once just an idealist utopian (0+ / 0-)

            rallying cry. Now, it is our only survival strategy.

            The corporations of the world have united, and they have lost their chains.

            We must follow them and fight them on their own field.

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:17:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The Democratic Party is corrupt to the bone (7+ / 0-)

    The progressive caucus is useless. We just went through two presidential election cycles with a politician who speaks like a progressive, but acts like a conservative. Hey, at least we know our policies are popular!

    Now we have Hillary Clinton in line, neoliberal extraordinaire, fully endorsed by the supposed progressive editor of this blog. The only thing saving the Democratic from complete electoral obliteration, is the insanity of the Republicans. Nothing else. Hyperbole? Read the front page of Daily Kos lately? That's on purpose.

    One day the Republican's fever for craziness might subside, and that will be a dark day for Democrats, for we have lied to a generation+ of new voters, and they ain't stupid. They like our ideas, but our club is corrupt to the bone.

    The Republicans are crazy, but why we follow them down the rabbit hole is beyond me.

    by Jazzenterprises on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 03:34:50 PM PST

  •  Look far enough forward to see guidance (4+ / 0-)

    If we survive as a civilization, Capitalism will not. It will be looked upon as an interim way to stimulate growth at an unacceptable cost.

    I'm and Engineer and I look at problems first from 50,000 ft. The challenge is to provide a stable economy that benefits all of our citizens. We have the means, the technology and the capital to do this. There is no reason that every citizen cannot have the right to health care, education and a decent job and security. Almost without exception, all people want the right to contribute. The cost to society for Capitalism is just too great. To say that we can't achieve the same level of economic output is to demean our intelligence.

    We have currently achieved an irrational confluence of maximum effort and risk, at the same time that we are achieving maximum efficiency in productivity. The question used to be about how to use our free time granted us by technology. Capitalism has put logic on it's ear .. essentially to the end of creating fabulous wealth and power for a few.

    Eventually the Left will come up with a model and a vision. We have had much working against this, primarily many of the early attempts were failures. A future model requires a re-examination of the concept of ownership of assets that effect all of society. The ownership thing is especially sticky as those with extreme privilege would rather die that give it up. Nonetheless a sense of believable fairness is critical to a functioning society. That's the one area where "the Emperor has no clothes". Getting the average American to the point of accepting extreme privilege and power has been a magic trick that can probably be undone by shouting out the truth, loudly and consistently.

    The Left are a bunch of pansies. It's amazing how radical you can get without turning of people as long as you are rational and are coming from a set of humanitarian values.

    •  The model... (0+ / 0-)

      Economic theory has always had a good understanding of pricing and incentives, externalities, and the relationship between macroeconomics and microeconomics.  And conservatives are afraid that we'll figure out how to use this: when Clinton was elected President, conservatives didn't see him as a blue dog, they viewed him as a terrible malignancy that would use market forces to defeat conservative values.  Whether that's true or not, it was a concept that terrified them.

      But we don't need to communicate an elaborate theory.  We need to be able to identify what the secular left is, and then find the ways (likely more than one) to make people want to be part of that.  And at the same time, we need to go look at how the right wing built its infrastructure (hint: it wasn't Wall Street or big business) and begin a more determined effort to build a counterstrategy.

  •  The Left needs to get people (0+ / 0-)

    out to vote. We always get trounced in turnout in mid-terms and sometimes 4 year elections.

    We don't need ideas... we need boots on the ground with clipboards.

    Suddenly, it dawns on me, Earnest T. Bass is the intellectual and philosophical inspiration of the TeaParty.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 05:49:53 PM PST

  •  Would be nice if this would be posted to the FP (0+ / 0-)

    ... should have been, imo.

  •  I believe (0+ / 0-)

    that we are on the very edge of Marx's crisis theory, where capitalism runs headlong into its own contradictions.
       Back in the 1930's there was an alternative: communism.
    Thus, when faced with an alternative that was unacceptable to the capitalists, they softened their thievery.

      But now the capitalists don't feel endangered because communism isn't around anymore.
       For instance, in China the only communist legacy is the one-party political system. Everything else has been tossed aside.

      So with no alternatives capitalism can plunge headlong into its contradictions without distraction.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

    by gjohnsit on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:29:22 PM PST

  •  First, nice job on the diary. (0+ / 0-)

    Just a couple points...You wrote "Second, globalization, mechanization, flattening and workforce deskilling put downward pressure on wages and employment--a situation business interests were happy to exploit at the expense of workers."

    This isn't quite accurate, or it seems misleading. Business interests were in fact largely responsible for each of these developments; stating they were "happy to exploit" these developments makes it sound as if they just happened by accident. They did not, and there's a lot of evidence for it. Check out the book Forces of Production by David Noble. It shows that automation (mechanization) and deskilling of the workforce were not only done by business with the intention of weakening labor, but were done with the support (subsidies and research) of the federal government.

    Second, there was a concerted effort since the late 1930s to put the brakes on the labor movement, and an all-out, EBTKS appraoch began in earnest after World War II to weaken unions. Lots of documentation on this too.

    Again, a good read. Rec'd.

    Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

    by cruz on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:37:34 PM PST

  •  can't have a fact based national discussion of ide (0+ / 0-)

    ideas until the left does something about right wing radio

    the ideas are there and have been but they've got carnival barkers on every corner and stump in the country ready to read the think tank generated scripts and distort and disfigure and divert.

    the left can keep having these debates and come up with all sorts of great ideas but as long as there is no organized opposition to the right's ability to kneecap them, what's the use?

    it's getting late.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:19:05 PM PST

    •  on a more positive note- job one- fix the radio! (0+ / 0-)

      it'll make all the other ideas so much easier to explore, try, and implement.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:22:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i'm not sure AM radio, a dying medium (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      has the impact you think it does.

      Remember also that more people in the United States own ferrets than watch Fox News. We often overestimate their media impact.

      •  the ferret factor- i didn't know. i know that fox (0+ / 0-)

        very overrated - it's really talk radio's little brother.

        we've seen lately how much damage the tea party and ALEC have done to obama and the dems abilities to fix things as well as enabling their reluctance to reform - that is largely talk radio at work- 25 years of it.

        in most part of the country there are still no free alts for politics while driving or working. and many of those 50 mil people who catch some talk radio every week pass it on to people who are too busy or apathetic to pay attention except when it comes time to vote. there is a pervasive general secondary effect always moving the country's center rightward, polluting and distorting the national discussions we need to have to function as a democracy.

        how many elections will be lost by a few % this time around?

        waiting for the GOP to self destruct is not good strategy - we don't have time. and the talk radio monopoly problem (ALEC/GOP with the biggest sustained bully pulpit in history) is not going to get significantly better until there's a lot more high speed internet.

        talk radio is still the problem. the inability to get gun reform after newtown is a recent eg  of that. half the bullshit we waste time on, interfering with and distorting the discussions of the ideas you're talking about is the direct result of the free speech free ride we give talk radio.

        rw radio is really the only medium that allows them to create the kind of buzz that turns benghazi, IRS, fast and furious etc, into time wasting leverage and distractions. it's not the money.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 07:16:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here is my epic plan. (0+ / 0-)

    The Christian Radicals have taken over the Republican party, and have actually turned the clock backwards when it comes to women's rights.   Abortion is now impossible or illegal to obtain in many areas.  Planned Parenthood has now turned into the evil empire, rather than a modern clinic that hundreds of thousands of women have turned to in the past for help.
    So, we have a problem, and it's religion taking over politics.
    Here's the plan.

    We need to start up another branch of the Tea Party and be the Republican wing, of this tea party, and get behind the smaller races within the states, and, campaign behind those republicans, and as the election gets closer, demand that we make pornographic movies, illegal.  All of them. Even the ones online.    YES.  Out Christian, the Christians, so what is left of any sane person, will simply not vote or support the candidate.

    I know it's complicated, but it can work.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 08:53:29 PM PST

  •  Some positive possibilities (0+ / 0-)

    JP Morgan shareholders are suing the company saying they want the bank split between commercial banking and investor banking or a return to Glass-Steagall.  Nebraska farmers who are being damaged by the Canadian pipeline and sold-out by their elected representatives may respond.  Paul Ryan came out today with a new revision of social programs.  We may be able to work on that.  Assume Congress and DC are all corrupt.  Grass-roots can make changes if enough people have the same mind-set.  We have at least 6 GOP Governors in trouble with corruption.  Start pounding on Democrats who are really Third Way.  Protest the Supreme Court dangerous actions.  Lots of environmental damage especially in red states where the people are treated badly and may react.

  •  The challenge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, LillithMc

    Most of the right in the United States subscribes to a fundamentally different world view than we do.  The very decision to pose public policy as a matter of economics is a difference between right and left.  Conservatives don't give a hoot about capitalism one way or the other: it's only interesting to them to the extent it can be used to support their ideology.

    In particular, economics -- market based, capitalist, socialist, state-run, toy-rock based monetary policy, whatever -- are, in the eyes of conservatives, a set of individual moral judgments.  It is a completely different meaning of "individual" than the way we'd use it, just as "freedom" in the right wing lexicon does not mean political freedom, but the freedom to make the right moral decision.  It is the ideology of the middle ages.

    I consider this to be an American disease, but given our status as the only superpower it's rapidly being exported globally.  We're still stuck in a mindset where we view everything through an economic lens.

  •  And electing Hillary Clinton president is going to (0+ / 0-)

    bring about change how?

    Once we're done helping the Republicans make themselves irrelevant, I'm never going to support a non-Marxist again.

    We want to build cyber magicians!

    by VelvetElvis on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 10:06:55 PM PST

  •  Great Diary, thereisnospoon, thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis

    A spot-on analysis.  One comment.  You said:

    We have to at some point start the conversation about rebuilding an effective middle class in the 21st century. Politicians like Elizabeth Warren are proving that it can be both popular and effective. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.
    The challenge we face is that when we begin that conversation we are going to have to face the hard reality that it is no longer going to be possible to rebuild the middle class as long as oil stays at or above $100/bbl.  The type of economic growth that built the middle class was fueled by low oil costs for a couple of generations, and unfortunately those days are never going to return.

    The existing middle class is struggling to hang on to what they have as their wealth is being expropriated by financial top predators.  A breaking point is going to be reached here in the US, just as it is already unfolding elsewhere in the World.  We're last on the list, of course, but i wonder how bad it will get before unrest sets in across our streets.

    Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

    by lehman scott on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 11:30:09 PM PST

    •  yeah, there's the whole sustainability (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lehman scott, LillithMc

      and climate thing.

      That's a whole other long diary, and I didn't want to complicate this piece by getting into that.

      Suffice it to say that a Green Energy Apollo Program would be among the policy proposals a more muscular left could unite around.

      •  Oh, I understand and agree! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thereisnospoon

        It is hard enough to keep up with developments in all the individual components of this complex and interrelated smorgasboard of problems, let alone the nearly incomprehensible whole!  We really have reached a nexus wherein we no longer face isolated problems with singular solutions; our current milieu is one that is a set of interlocked dilemmas that can at best only be managed.

        Pessimism of the intellect; optimism of the will. - - Antonio Gramsci

        by lehman scott on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 06:31:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  No it didn't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZhenRen, blueoasis
    the Left responded to this by cozying up to moneyed power
    No it didn't.  By definition, the Left is the element in society that does not do that.  One might say that former leftists and/or pseudo-leftists " the Left responded to this by cozying up to moneyed power", but that's the fundamental opposite of everything that an authentic Left is, its entire reason for being.  You can't ever say that an a social agency that serves the purposes of moneyed power is the Left, it is a contradiction in terms.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 01:40:04 AM PST

  •  Shock-seizing: 1 reason for 1-way ratchet to right (0+ / 0-)

    is that rightists seize opportunities to exploit shocks, while leftists have not done so in the USA since FDR. This trend, and how to reverse it, are discussed in this diary.

  •  Oddly enough, I think the corporations are showing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Stetson

    us the way forward . .

    The most ironic thing about the 21st century mega-corporations is that they have accomplished nearly everything that the radical Socialist Party of the 1910’s wanted to do. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate the private ownership of capital and replace it with collective ownership; today the corporations are not owned by individual proprietors, but by a collective body of shareholders. The Socialist Party wanted to remove ownership from management and introduce managers who held their position by election, rather than by ownership; today the corporations are run by professional managers who are hired by a board of directors that is elected by the shareholders. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate economic competition and replace it with economic cooperation; today the corporations have become vast interconnected networks who own parts of each other through cooperative joint projects and multilateral ventures. The Socialist Party wanted to replace what they called the “anarchy of the marketplace” with planned economic production over long-term goals; today corporations try in every way to eliminate the shocks of market uncertainty by long-term planning. The Socialist Party wanted to eliminate national borders and replace them with internationalism; today the corporations have become multinational, have built up a global economic framework, and have made national boundaries economically irrelevant.

    In essence, the corporations have already socialized the entire process of production. The task that will now face them is how to socialize distribution—how to insure that people can still receive the necessities of life in a world where automation and mechanization continue to make more and more jobs unnecessary, where globalization continues to move more and more jobs to low-wage havens, and where economic processes push “normal” unemployment rates higher and higher. Inevitably, there must be a decoupling of job income and consumption, allowing people to obtain what they need whether they have jobs or not.

    Another utopian goal of the Socialist Party was “world government”, and once again, the corporations are today moving along the same path. The corporations have already built international economic structures—the WTO, IMF and the various free trade agreements--and these already have control over national economic policies and legal veto power over national laws.

    Along with the buildup of international economic power must inevitably follow the buildup of international political power. Just as the “nation” has become irrelevant economically and has been replaced by international economic structures, so too has the   “nation-state” become irrelevant politically, and will inevitably be replaced by international political structures—and the corporations have already begun that process.
    The seeds of that international political structure (the United Nations) are, of course, completely undemocratic and are dominated by the handful of wealthy powerful nations.
    But the poor nations (and poor people) of the world are now no longer powerless. Globally, progressives must force the UN to democratize, by degrees, and turn it into a real international government. It is, in essence, the very same process we have already done in the process of democratizing various national governments, but this time we must repeat it on an international scale instead. Just as we once fought for national democracy, now we must fight for international democracy. It’s no longer a question of whether we should have a world government or not—we already have one. The only question now is whether it should be democratic, or continue to be dominated by the wealthy and powerful.

    Fortunately for us, we do not have to start from scratch.  There already are national organizations for democracy and for social justice, for fair trade and for control over corporate power, for labor rights, environmental protection, consumer safety, etc all over the world.  What we need to do is unify those separate parts into one coordinated whole.  Instead of Ford workers in Detroit and Ford workers in Shanghai being in different unions (or in no union at all), we need all of them in the same union, under the same contract.  Instead of environmental groups focusing just on their own country, we need to unify them into a global environmental group which fights for the same environmental protections everywhere. In every area—consumer rights, workplace safety, product standards, minimum wages, fair labor laws—we must fight to implement global laws and regulations which apply everywhere, rather than the current patchwork of laws and regulations which only apply in this nation or that. Just as the corporations are seeking a uniform set of global rules, so too must we--but we must force those rules to protect our interests, not theirs.

    That is how we get the beginnings of a supra-national social justice movement—by unifying all the national ones that already exist. And “unify”, doesn’t just mean “give money or moral support to each other”, nor simply “we share the same goals”.  It means unify into one single global organization, just like the corporations already have. The corporations are already unified at the global level. They have already led the way.  We must follow.

    "Workers of the world, unite!" was once just a utopian political slogan. Today, it is our only survival strategy.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 04:51:48 AM PST

    •  I agree with a lot of what you say here. (0+ / 0-)

      But I think we need to create new global democratic institutions instead of trying to reform the UN and other establishment-dominated, corrupt institutions that already exist. The already existing institutions don't want to be reformed; they like having their power the way it is. But nothing is stopping people from just creating new parallel institutions in the world to compete with existing centers of power. Nothing's even stopping people from creating our own new forms of money to compete with the private money creation of the for-profit banking establishment. Let's get started.

      The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

      by Eric Stetson on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 08:58:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  why waste our effort in reinventing the wheel? (0+ / 0-)

        The institutions are already there--we need only make them democratic.

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 12:56:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And how do we "make" them become anything? (0+ / 0-)

          The existing institutions do not want to change. Reform-minded people talk a lot about changing the government, changing this, changing that -- yet on matters of substance, the policies and powerful institutions of society never really seems to change. There's always so much talk on the left about about wonderful ways we could reform government. It simply never happens; it never moves beyond the stage of talk among liberal intellectuals. I feel the time has come for a workaround solution. I want to actually do something to create change, not just beg politicians (in the voting booth, in the streets, through petitions, etc.) for changes that they never are willing to make.

          The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

          by Eric Stetson on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 01:46:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  the left needs better leaders (0+ / 0-)

    people who can either work with the log jam or clear it up.
    I do not think the left is as well served by its leaders as the right is.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 05:05:22 AM PST

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