Cornel West is a brilliant thinker. He is a man of and for the people. I’m in agreement with just about everything he stands for.
So why am I about to tell one of our most erudite scholars on the American…nay, human condition to shut the fuck up?
People who think for a living are idealists, by and large. And in a vacuum, all of their ideas are practical and their aims acheiveable. When overlaid upon objective reality, ideas often break down and become unworkable, and sometimes they even become the enemy of the original idea.
A new born Bolshevik Russia comes to mind. Marx would have been horrified by the way his communism was twisted as Lenin eventually killed his way to absolute power. And we all know that his successor was even worse. Marx’s proletarians would have rejected the brutality of the Communist Party. They would have known what it was like to be brutalized and would not wish that on any man even if he were from the most odious heights of the bourgeoisie. Any good Marxist rejects crude violence upon men to achieve Marxist aims. Because when you look into the abyss, it looks into you. You become what you despise-the oppressor. Marx wanted violence against the idea of classes and other social divisions, not people per se. Of course, sometimes when you get hit, you should hit back. Some would say that capitalism has thrown plenty of punches due to its inherent exploitative nature and therefore there is nothing wrong with a little “revolutionary terror” in return. But we must first and most importantly unite as the laboring class before we even decide upon the means of destroying capitalism, which I consider to be modern feudalism. And if the ruling class will not bend, we will break them-but I don’t necessarily think that requires cruelty and base evil to be in service to us. Much as I despise a petty tyrant like Donald Trump, I would much rather exile him before I put his head on a pike. I’ll pick up a gun again when one is aimed at me, and not a minute before. Of course, as a white lower-middle class male American, I’m not subjected to force on a regular basis so I will not speak for those who already need the gun.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with anarchic communism. I’m a bit of a statist and prefer creeping democratic socialism, myself. Anarchy could be just as inefficient as capitalism. But these are minor intellectual quibbles, debates which I am willing to have. I’m just saying that we are given a situation, and we must see it for what it is and prescribe remedies for improving it short of tearing it all down, thus ruining the good that was already there. Revolutions of all kinds have betrayed their intrinsic ideals all across the globe.
Bernie Sanders and his followers are also a first-class example of how a good movement turned everything into shit. He, perhaps inadvertently, helped the Democratic Party turn on itself. He caused open warfare between his idealists and Clinton’s pragmatists. And without even being a member of the party, he opened the door to the latest iteration of Clinton character assassination. That may not be his fault either. He was respectful and did not go into the mud during the race, except maybe for that time when he implied she wasn’t qualified to be President because of her putative ties to the business community. But his supporters had an appetite for destruction and wanted the whole system to go down. Lefties threw away votes on the Green Party in protest of the two choices (whose differences could not have been starker) that were viable. Those who did not know their right from their left chose Gary Johnson, whose claim to popularity hinged largely on the fact that he was out about smoking weed.
Oh, the system is going down. You who either did nothing or worked to fight Hillary Clinton will get your wish. I can only hope you are one of the people that Trump hurts with his bumptious policies and then perhaps you will learn something. But you probably won’t, since you are invariably white and young. Your privilege will protect you by and large from the Trump administration’s worst killer instincts. You are almost as much of a Me Generation as the boomers.
But anyway, Bernie poisoned the minds of a new generation of activist voters who wanted a “revolution”. Many said if Bernie doesn’t get the nod, then neither does Clinton. We have a zero-sum electoral system. That pretty much means a vote for anyone but Clinton was a vote for Trump. And some Bernie supporters were good with that. They hoped that once elected, Trump would mess up things up so badly that people will be dying for a game-changing choice like democratic socialism.
Not even Bernie Sanders believed this. When he lost, he told you to vote Clinton in the general because the alternative was bedlam. But you even stopped hearing him, and chose to play with your boogers instead.
It is and was a calculation based on a fantasy. Oh, Trump will mess up badly. But his voters don’t know that because anything that criticizes Duh Fuhrer is fake news. We still have to get out and vote as one movement. Peeling back the layers of corruption may take a long time, because Republicans are either complicit in it or don’t want to ruin the brand by having people find out that the party helped a Russian stooge come to power.
The Democratic Party is the only party with the means and the ideas needed to unfuck the country. They are already in the system resisting Donald Trump and his threats to tear the country apart. If you all get your head out of your asses, we can take this Congress back, or at least make the margins by which Republicans control the House slimmer, slim enough to make Paul Ryan and the Freedom Caucus a little nervous. Democrats evolve. Republicans stay the same. That’s why one is called conservative and the other progressive (or liberal if you must quibble).
So you’ll excuse me if I tell you to fuck yourself if you think that starting a new left-wing party is going to work. We already cleaved the left during the 2016 primary and it is in no small part because of Bernie Sanders and his devotees. Now you want to split the left even further?
That’s called A Great Way To Re-Elect Donald Trump.
Like, I totally understand where he’s coming from. But he’s tall on sociology and short on political science. Furthermore, he makes assertions without explaining them. What to do with this?
As the first 100 days of the plutocratic and militaristic Trump administration draw to a close, one truth has been crystal clear: the Democratic party lacks the vision, discipline and leadership to guide progressives in these turbulent times.
And he just leaves that there. No exhaustive list or list of any kind cataloguing Democratic failure. To me, Democrats have been rather busy doing what they can as the minority party. There is literally only so much they can do. They do not chair a single committee in Congress. They can’t. The ranking member does not have the authority to override chairpersons, but they’ve been raising as much Cain as they can. Adam Schiff comes to mind, as does Elijah Cummings. Were it not for those gentlemen, Devin Nunes and Jason Chaffetz would have had a much easier time playing stupid about Trump and Russia. Kirsten Gillibrand is consistently resisting. Jeff Merkeley held a talking filibuster of Neil Gorsuch, and the party almost unanimously stood together to deny Republicans a supermajority on his nomination, forcing Mitch McConnell to change Senate rules to complete his betrayal of the process of advice and consent. Chuck Schumer called Trump’s bluff of threatening Obamacare dollars if they did not help fund his stupid and increasingly pointless border wall.
A goddamned Muslim is the vice chair of the national committee.
Those are just a few things off the top of my head that have made me proud to be a Democrat. Yet West sees it differently, writing things like
The time has come to bid farewell to a moribund party that lacks imagination, courage and gusto. …
Cornel, I’m sorry you don’t see fireworks every time the Democrats act. Sometimes this politics shit is boring as all get out. But the Democrats have not shown any interest in abetting Trumpward Babyhands at all, far from it-they seem to be in active resistance from where I’m sitting. Surely something short of burn motherfucker burn will do the trick.
In the not so recent past, the party has failed. There’s no denying that. Bill Clinton’s presidency was something of a failure in terms of what should be expected of a true party of the people. If you really want to be a stickler, Barack Obama’s drone warfare and his allowance of the the health insurance scam to continue to survive could be construed as negatives. I won’t argue too much if you put these in the L column. But, much as it bothers me to admit, Donald Trump has galvanized the party. It’s already the party we want it to be if we would just tell them how we feel, the way so many of us have told Republicans lately- and they don’t listen.
So let’s put a cork in this kind of talk:
The corporate wing has made it clear that the populist wing has little power or place in its future. The discipline of the party is strong on self-preservation and weak on embracing new voices. And party leaders too often revel in self-righteousness and self-pity rather than self-criticism and self-enhancement.
That all sounds good if I was in a rap battle, not in a fight for the soul of my country. Besides, it just isn’t true. The “corporate” wing is not mutually excluded from the “populist” wing anyway. David Lowery of the fantastic band Camper Van Beethoven said it quite well in a song from their 2014 album “Berkeley To Bakersfield”: It’s not that we don’t like the rich, it’s simply that we think this kind is boring. It is not a crime to be rich. It’s the way you do it that makes you shitty. Then this:
And if a class-conscious multi-racial party attuned to anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-militaristic issues and grounded in ecological commitments can reconfigure our citizenship, maybe our decaying democracy has a chance.
If you didn’t get a degree in sociology, that there above probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to you. Then again, I could be selling you short. Let’s take that piece by piece. I will concede to Cornel a point that sticks in my craw too: we fucking suck at class consciousness. That’s because we as Americans all think we are in the middle class. Every politician left and right always goes on and and on about the middle class. No one seems to give a rat’s patoot about the working class because we consistently improperly identify ourselves class-wise regardless of our income. Being poor in a capitalist society is the ultimate sin, and we have internalized this prejudice well. It’s still our own damn fault when we wind up in dire straits and that’s unfair to so many people who have found themselves in places that lack hope. So yes, we don’t talk enough about this struggle. Even Bernie Sanders failed to do so.
But Cornel seems to have a blind spot when he talks about the need for a party that understands multi-racialism and anti-sexism. Does he not know who was just president? Who the Democratic nominee was? Yeah, I get that it doesn’t mean that racism and sexism is over. But I’m trying to say that Democrats are moving in the right direction.
And it was our Democratic president who did this after the Supreme Court said love is love:
Obama did the best that could have been expected of him so far as the “militaristic” jab goes. It’s a militarized world. We are in a crazy competition for finite resources and that is the reason why we protect some really awful regimes from Saudi Arabia to Israel. We did our level best to make Iraq Iraq’s problem, even though as someone who went there to ostensibly liberate it I feel we still owe them for shredding and putting giant holes in what they still had. We have a very adventurous Russia back on the Risk board. This is no time to be a shrinking violet or to sickeningly veer into paranoid nationalism a la Trump. I would not characterize myself as an imperialist, but perhaps I am too conceited to admit otherwise. All I can say is without us running the show in large part, without us playing the great game, it all goes to shit in insane ways that make even less sense than today’s current chaos. There has got to be a way to ratchet down tension. There’s a magic word called diplomacy, and I think we really gave it a go during Obama. The Iran agreement will be talked about in the history books, provided retards like Tom Cotton of Arabia don’t get to willy-nilly tear shit up.
And I think he did right by ratifying Paris. I ain’t good on the specifics, but it looks like we were ready to stop committing quick suicide by poisoning the planet with the way we keep carrying on.
We can do better on all of this. And I think we will. I think it’s what we all want.
All of this is a long fucking way of saying that the wheel has been invented. I am not even a fraction of the thinker that Cornel West is, but I threw a few more words at my polemic in favor of the Democratic party than he did against it. That’s not to say that word count determines what is good and what isn’t…far from it. But I expect more from him as an intellectual. I expect more than something as facile as throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I certainly expect that he knows better than to continue the Republican darkness by rending the fragile left/center solidarity that the Democratic party works its ass off to cultivate.
Cornel West would have you believe we have learned nothing from the election of a fucking nincompoop malcontent who might be stupid enough to blow up the world if it plays well in the press.
Sorry, but I ain’t buying it. This was not an easy post to write because I would much rather use the invective I have to fight the wrong-wing. But we need to tighten our shit up and realize we already have the vehicle, and we just need to learn how to steer it to get the best mileage we fucking can out of it.
I’ve seen a lot of thinkpieces about why the Democrats were defeated last month. Where did we go wrong? Did we make bad choices? Is there something structurally unsound in our outreach?
It is natural for us to reflect like this after being stunned. But we Democrats and good liberals are beating ourselves up unnecessarily. So badly, in fact that we are considering abandoning our core mission, which is to stand up for the mistreated and misunderstood elements of our society.
In other words, we did not lose by employing what is called “identity politics”. The phrase seems to have taken on a pejorative quality. We’re afraid to say it, lest the other side use it against us.
Fact: Hillary Clinton was more popular than Donald Trump.
Fact: The nature of the Electoral College screwed us.
Fact: Donald Trump tapped into white ressentiment. Bigly.
Everyone seems to be forgetting the real causes of why we could not win this past election. Instead, many of us seem ready to tear up our coalition and retool the Democratic message.
I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want to defend the voting rights of minorities. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not defend equal pay for equal work. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want to defend the right to love who you want to love. I don’t see how you can be liberal and not want immigrants to live in fear.
These problems, whether we like it or not, are shackled to specific identities and we’re foolish to pretend otherwise.
The beginning of the liberal revolt against identity politics here in America can be traced back to what appears to be a misreading of some quotes in a speech by Bernie Sanders two weeks after the election. He allegedly said:
“Boston Magazine reported that an audience member told Sanders that she wanted to become the second Latina elected to the U.S. Senate and asked for his advice. Sanders responded by urging the crowd to move the Democratic Party away from what he called “identity politics.”
“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That is not good enough,” he said, according to WBUR. “What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries.”
Sanders’s big finish: “One of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”
This caused an avalanche of editorializing about how we should stop focusing on things like race, sexual preference, sex, and culture. That’s how we lost the election, they say. This British fop exemplarizes just how far this thinking goes:
“In America, as in Europe, older, white men are the only group that liberals can abuse and exclude with impunity.
British liberals, of whatever party, have spent the past six months fleeing one trauma after another, hurling insults over their shoulders. But as John Stuart Mill said: “He who knows only his own side of a case, knows little of that.”
The apostles of identity liberalism have fallen into Mill’s trap. They see authoritarianism in others, but not in themselves. They see discrimination in others, but not their own.”
If those older white men are anti-democratic, then yes, they will be excluded and dismissed. If they are racists and homophobes, you bet we don’t need you in the tent. I don’t think that just because someone was brought up in a different “time”, he’s allowed to hold discriminatory values. There’s nothing authoritarian or discriminatory about it-I’m intolerant of intolerance and I think I can speak for most liberals when I say that.
I could dig up other examples of this backlash against identity politics, much of it penned by white males who identify as liberal. They believe that class structures need to be attacked instead. Well, I have news for them-being “working class” is an identity too. There’s really no escaping the understanding that groups have similar and often unique problems. Furthermore, there’s intersections aplenty with your class status and your “identity”.
What I’m going to say is important, at least to me: groups were not created by liberals. Groups were created when the first African American received the first lash on their back. Groups were created when men refused to allow women to vote or do what they feel is right with their body. Groups were created when the first National Guardsman fired on the first striking mine worker. Groups were created when gay people were murdered because of religious hatred. When we started treating people different because they were just that-different or lesser-that’s when we created identity politics. We’ve been divided because that is how we chose to be. And speaking directly to those myriad groups who have had negative experiences in a white/hetero/christian dominated society is no sin-it’s what makes us good. We hate the injustice. And we will beat injustice’s ass someday soon. It is our principal fight.
Fortunately, it is very likely Bernie Sanders was misunderstood . “Going beyond identity politics” means we can go deeper and still not abandon civil rights. Interweaving class struggle and identity politics is exactly where we need to go as strategies for winning. It’s unclear at this point how many poor white Christian males can be brought to our side, if of course that’s the quarry we are chasing. The propaganda has been laid on thick and they vote against their own interests time and time again, because the right wing plays a nasty version of identity politics themselves. In the meantime, let’s stop being ashamed of what it means to be a liberal.
I am a political animal first.
Second, I am a humanist.
This means I will put party and country before religion, or lack thereof in my case.
Lord knows I have spent more time than I want to ballyhooing Hillary Clinton for the presidency. She’s the worst best hope we have. Anyone who can’t see her obvious advantages over Bernie Sanders as a candidate has horse blinders on. I’m not too keen on idealism. I am, despite the yearnings of my heart, a pragmatist. Half a loaf is better than none.
But I am still impressed with him. So far, he has not been able to project the encyclopedic breadth of knowledge that Clinton has. I think he will do better in the next debate. He’s probably been told he needs to jump her, even if that goes against his integrity. He’s stuck in a pattern of repeating himself robotically, speaking in platitudes where Clinton has been showing off her bona fides and experience. That will probably not make the nut.
As you probably know, voters will support a Muslim or a homosexual before they vote for an atheist. The only group more vilified than atheists are socialists. And by my lights, Bernie is both. He isn’t quite willing to come out of the closet, but I give points for effort:
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday night, Sanders was explaining his popularity and why he is electable.
“You say you’re culturally Jewish, you don’t feel religious,” Kimmel told Sanders. “Do you believe in God, and do you think that’s important to the people of the United States?”
“Well, you know, I am who I am,” he replied. “And what I believe in and what my spirituality is about is that we’re all in this together. That I think it is not a good thing to believe that, as human beings, we can turn our backs on the suffering of other people,” he continued, as the crowd applauded and cheered so loudly he had to pause.
“And you know, this is not Judaism. This is what Pope Francis is talking about, that we cannot worship just billionaires and the making of more and more money. Life is more than that.”
Yup, that’s one of our boys.
Hillary Clinton did the religion dance, and quoted the Bible as a great source for inspiration. My heart sank a little when she did that. I mean, the book is not all bad, but I can only stomach so much pandering before I get upset. I’m not exactly holding my nose to vote for her, but I would love some forward motion on the religion issue. But it is what it is and I have to do what is best-namely supporting a winner. Christ, we have a black man in the White House. Some people are not even going to vote for a woman yet, and that’s where we are at.
They will probably put my ashes in an urn before an atheist arrives at the White House.
Timing. And that time is not right yet. There is too much to lose if we do not keep the Oval Office.
If you are paying attention, and I know you are, you know that capitalism is nothing more than a modern day feudal system. The only difference is that the rich don’t rule by force today-they rule by the dollar. And everybody has to chase those dollars for their basic survival-these bastards make sure that just enough of them go around to stop the peasantry from burning their stately living complexes down. They want to enrich themselves as much as possible without risking their position in society. They are abetted by paid for politicians who exonerate them from their crimes against the lower classes, crimes which do not have a statute yet.
The last time the pigs almost got got was back during the Roosevelt years; the money grubbers nearly destroyed the whole system by exploiting it too much. This article alarms me, because it’s how you might suss that there is a huge problem about to happen:
…fear is proliferating, according to a New York Times Op-Ed this weekend by former marketing conglomerate CEO Peter Georgescu. Joined by his friend Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, Georgescu warns his fellow 1 percenters that “[w]e are creating a caste system from which it’s almost impossible to escape.” The column raises the specter of “major social unrest” if inequality is not addressed.
‘”I’m scared. The billionaire hedge funder Paul Tudor Jones is scared. My friend Ken Langone, a founder of the Home Depot, is scared. So are many other chief executives. Not of Al Qaeda, or the vicious Islamic State or some other evolving radical group from the Middle East, Africa or Asia. We are afraid where income inequality will lead.”
It’s sort of enheartening too.
Well, if you are really nervous about a new revolution or mass unrest, perhaps you should stop funding Republicans. Your motherfucking friends in high places are ready to take what little the people have left in your name by cutting your taxes and social spending. They’ve got a huge zombie army of sad sack capitalist wannabes that will keep them in power. Start by stunting their initiatives. I am glad you all went to the media to expiate your sins. Because it shows you are smart-and you didn’t get where you are by not being a clever motherfucker.
Perhaps, as the article states, these Richie Riches are watching the Sanders machine gain steam and this is part of why they’re publicly pooping their pants. I am not convinced that it will go anywhere-I still maintain Clinton will ultimately absorb the fed-up vote and win 2016 decisively. That’s the only option that makes sense because Bernie, for all his merit, might not survive the generals. We’ll get some of what we want, and that is good enough for now. There is no magic bullet, because that’s not how shit works in this piss-poor excuse for a society. The fix is still in, and we may as well admit that. Short of wilding in the streets, there’s very little we can do-we can still speak truth to power, for what that is worth. This article shows that the powers that be are willing to widen the scope of the debate and that is nothing but good.
I wish I didn’t sound like such a Debbie Downer. But I like to think I am a realist and a pragmatist. Make no mistake, Bernie is good for us. I really hope the polls start showing some victories against the likely retards who represent the opposition. But without these creepy rich fucks bankrolling him, he will only go so far, I’m afraid. If you don’t believe me, take it from Chomsky:
I’m glad that Sanders is running. A good way to bring important ideas and facts to people. His candidacy might also press the Dems a little in a progressive direction. In our system of bought elections he has scarcely a chance of getting beyond the primaries, and even if by some miracle he were elected he wouldn’t be able to do anything, lacking any congressional representatives, governors, etc.
I think Bernie Sanders is a mensch. But even the “left” wing in this country is sometimes, well, right-wing. It appears that Sanders is an isolationist and a protectionist:
As Sanders has climbed in the polls… the (more) pro-capitalist and nationalist content of his politics (have) become increasingly clear. An interview with Sanders released Tuesday by former Washington Post writer Ezra Klein for the Vox web site is particularly revealing in this regard.
About halfway through the interview, Klein asks Sanders about his attitude towards immigration. “You said being a democratic socialist means a more international view,” Klein says. “I think if you take global poverty that seriously, it leads you to conclusions that in the US are considered out of political bounds. Things like sharply raising the level of immigration we permit, even up to a level of open borders.”
At this point, Sanders abruptly cuts off Klein, saying, “Open borders? No, that’s a Koch brothers proposal.” “Really?” Klein responds, apparently taken aback. “Of course,” Sanders replies. “That’s a right-wing proposal, which says essentially there is no United States… It would make everybody in America poorer.”
Sanders continues: “You’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that… What right-wing people in this country would love is an open border policy. Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour. That would be great for them… You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those [American] kids?
Here’s a great takedown of this remarkably non-socialist stance here.
We already have a de facto open border-and millions of people come to work and stay here under the harshest conditions-yet it is better to be here and toil than go back to Mexico to ply their trades. The correct answer to this problem is if you have an open border, there must be new labor laws that forbid the exploitation system as it is now. The economy will absorb all this extra spending by those people, and expand the tax base. That’s not right-wing at all. Sanders seems to think that Americans will want to do these jobs-and he’s wrong. As I have said before, you won’t see people up and doing like Tom Joad trying to find their way by moving to where these jobs are stationed. Better to work at the local Pizza Hut making $9 an hour and live in your mom’s basement than make that trek.
The important point to be made here is that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. Open border does not equal the loss of American jobs, nor does it equal a poorer nation. We are much richer because of our immigrants. Always have been.
FiveThirtyEight addresses the Sanders ascendance.
Some of you will be crushed by the analysis. I haz a sad for you.
Let me start by saying I would love living through a Bernie Sanders presidency. I’d pick him over anyone running, Democrat or Republican.
That said, I am throwing my support and donations to Hillary Clinton. And she is who I will press the button for in the primary and general. I’m sorry, Bernie.
The country is not ready for a socialist. I wish it were, but you are not the cure to today’s ills just yet. We can’t guarantee a victory if you are the candidate.
I want Hillary Clinton to crush the spirit of the right. I want them to rend garments. I want their pointy heads to explode.
I want eight years of darkness to envelope them. Maybe they will learn something. I very much doubt it, but the Republican brand needs to have a reformation. I want them more discombobulated than they already are, with their 25 bags of flotsam they call “candidates”.
I read left wing press. I admit it; I will never take right-wing news at face value, nor will I pay any attention to fascist, hyper-conservative pigs who call themselves “independents” who don’t think Republicans are pure enough for them.
My, my, have I gone off track or what? I was supposed to segue into this headline:
Wowee zowee! Jesus, people. A) It’s New Hampshire. They live next door to Vermont. That state makes no sense-Ron Paul was the runner-up in the last general. This is not news and B) Hillary Clinton is still kicking Bernie’s ass by 12 points. So why celebrate?
The lefty press needs something to write about, I guess, but it is already grating and irrelevant regarding the race. This shit is already over, folks. You can dream or you can win.