Can the American Left Be Resurrected?
Paul Craig Roberts
Readers: if your website dies it won’t be resurrected. Come to its support.
“Where is the leftwing when we need it” is a question I have asked at times. Some of my readers who confuse the left with Antifa and Identity politics have been confused by my question. Why, they ask, do I want more Antifa thugs and Identity Politics hatred of white people?
The answer is that Antifa and Identity Politics are the antithesis of the left. The real left is pro-working class, pro all of the working class, all races, genders, sexual preferences. Identity Politics splinters the working class into victims of white heterosexual males and destroys the cohesivenss of the working class, thereby making it easer for exploiters to exploit. Antifa aids in this process by focusing hatred on whites by accusing only whites of racism.
It was Karl Marx who said: “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.”
It is Identity Politics that says, “Workers of the world disunite, splinter into victim groups and hate white males.” In other words, Identity Politics is the worst enemy the working class has ever had. Capitalist expoitation unifies the working class, but Identity Politics divides the working class and makes it easier for capitalists to exploit and for politicians to ignore.
Does my call for a resurrected leftwing mean that I am a Marxist?
No. It means I agree with John Kenneth Galbraith that without countervailing power, the economic-social-political system goes out of balance, as the United States clearly has. In a short period of time the distribution of income and wealth in the US has gone from reasonable to unreasonable. Working and middle class wages, salaries, and job opportunities have declined. But irresponsible corporate jobs offshoring and irresponsible Federal Reserve inflation of the prices of financial assets have caused the income and wealth of the One Percent to reach fantastic levels. A handful of people have more wealth than 100 million Americans. Democracy is forfeited as Congress responds to a handful of people and to a handful of powerful organized interest groups. A tax cut designed to increase the inequality has just passed Congress at a time of the worst income and wealth distribution in our history. (See, for example, https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/12/04/plunder-capitalism/ ) Instead of addressing the dire situation, Identity Politics goes after white people and President Trump for being allegedly elected by the white working class.
When I read in CounterPunch the attack by CounterPunch’s radio host Eric Draitser on the white working class “Trump deplorables,” I thought Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch’s founder, must be rolling over in his grave. With CounterPunch degenerating into Identity Politics, the working class was without an advocate except for the World Socialist Web Site.
It is possible that Identity Politics has condemned the world to nuclear Armageddon by lining up the liberal-progressive-left with the military/security complex’s “Russiagate” attack on President Trump. As I have explained, the purpose of Russiagate is to prevent Trump from normalizing relations with nuclear superpower Russia and defusing the dangerous tensions that have been built up by reckless and irresponsible US government actions against Russia. On many occasions I have explained the world threatening consequences of Washington’s demonization of Russia and its leadership. ( See, for example, https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/12/05/walking-into-armageddon/ )
Yesterday my despair over the demise of the American leftwing lifted a little when I read in CounterPunch Michael K. Smith’s attack on Identity Politics for what it is: a despicable intent to destroy the working class by destroying its unity. You can read Smith here: https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/05/class-dismissed-identity-politics-without-the-identity/ Maybe this is CounterPunch’s opening gun in bringing the American leftwing back to life.
Without a strong and united working class there is nothing to balance corporate power. Capitalist greed ends up destroying itself by destroying working class income and consumer purchasing power. Greed then turns on public assets demanding that they be privatized or opened for looting as is now happening to protected national monuments and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
With the working class marginalized, now it is the influence of the environmental movement that is being rolled back. Next it will be Social Security and Medicare as the ruling oligarchy pushes the social system back to the era before the New Deal. In the absence of countervailing power, there is no limit to the unwinding of the reforms that made capitalist America a liveable society.
To prevent this we all have a stake in the resurrection of the American left.