Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bury the Left at Weak-in-the-Knees

The February 2016 issue of Harper’s has a well-written, informative essay by Garret Keizer, a contributing editor, which brought dulcet memories flooding back to me of the halcyon days of the 50’s through the 80’s when the proletarian-on-the-street was more concerned with the economic forces of good and evil than with the natural and political forces of impending and concurrent doom.

“Left of Bernie: You say you want a revolution”, by turns, describes, reveals, reviles, and reviews the failures of the organized, and for the most part, disorganized, left in the United States. Keizer makes a strong case  for expecting Capitalism, as we know it, to outlive all of us despite our gutiest instincts to want it reformed.

He concludes his fair and balanced essay of the current state of our painfully "slow Bern" with the following musement:

“As one veteran leftist told me, meaning to deprecate no one but himself, to say that you’re a socialist and be in no party is something of a contradiction in terms. His remark made me queasy, as the word “party” always does. The problem with socialism is not, as Oscar Wilde reportedly said, that it takes up too many evenings but rather that it attracts too many people who don’t know what to do with their evenings. They scare me to death. But if I’m truly serious in my anticapitalism, I need to affiliate myself with some group. I see no way around it. Even a Sanders victory, much as I hope for one, will not let me off the hook. I need to find my own battalion, an outfit I can stomach that can also stomach me. It won’t be the Revolutionary Communist Party, I can tell you that much. But I can tell you this too, that I owe a debt to the Revolutionary Communist Party and, yes, to Bob Avakian, for moving me one paltry millimeter closer to the point of the spear.”*

*”The labor movement is not a revolutionary movement. It’s a reform movement. It’s a movement that throughout its existence has always sought to reform the conditions it’s working under. But in any radical transformation of society, working people are going to be at the point of the spear.”—Michael Eisenscher, former national coordinator of USLAW. (U.S. Labor Against the War)