The Holy Grail
By Lewis Beyman at Dec 30, 2007
The Left and the Holy Grail
All political camps want to have consistent ideology and program and try to enforce that position on all its members. This is of course sensible as consistency is important in presenting a policy that you endorse and hope to get widely accepted. There is generally logic and reasoning behind a particular policy that is sensible in the general scheme of the argument presented. However I am not happy with the new, new left.
What has happened is that “political” positions have shifted dramatically over time. In the 1920’s Leftists were usually behind the prohibition movement and opposed to gambling and greed. After all gambling and drink harmed the poorer people most. This was also the position of progressive churches that saw their Christian duty as to promote the interests of the poor. The Left was also opposed to the licentious culture as exemplified by the Roaring Twenties; the money drenched culture that the crass capitalist system promoted. The left was the supporter of “traditional values” as exemplified by the thinking of the Bellamy’s. and the Socialist Party and even the Industrial Workers of the World and other left groups. Now many right wingers are denouncing the licentious nature of capitalism. It is amusing that there has been an almost 180 degree shift in cultural perspective.
Another political position that has shifted dramatically is the question of dams and other large construction projects. Now so called leftists are vehemently against just about any large man made project in the name of environmentalism and in the name of defending indigenous people no matter how much the indigenous people would actually benefit from the project. It is quite amazing to see the convoluted reasoning that is put forward to defend what in my view is a reactionary position. Back in the thirties it was the left that promoted dams and the local people who applauded the electricity, fishing and recreation facilities that they created. Some of the well designed dams also reduced flooding and improved down stream agriculture. It was right wing reactionaries who called this creeping socialism. Now it is the World Bank that is promoting dam building. I have not come across any dam (or large) project that the so called left approves of.
Back in the 1920’s-30’s it was the lefts slogan to “let the nation own the trusts” or “let the workers own the trusts”. The left was not opposed to the large corporations but wanted the workers to take them over. The IWW I believe still holds that view and wants industrial organization to be based on Industrial councils, a rationalization of production. They wanted to make the corporations work for the benefit of the workers, the ordinary people. In fact they wanted larger organizations, they wanted industry wide organization and research centers, Technocracies, and organization based on “best practice” engineering principles. Now the so called left hates the corporations and talk about “small is beautiful” and completely refuse to understand why (in part) the corporations got to be so large that they can control our lives for their greedy ends. The left no longer respects sociology and a scientific perspective that started with Marx and Dirkheim. They no longer want industrial progress but a romantic notion of going back to small communities. In this regard the left has acquired strange bedfellows; a group of ultra right wing capitalists called Libertarians but with a strong paleoconservative bent. Now people like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are considered to be supportable by many elements of the left.
The Left’s bete noir is Wal-Mart, the object of derision and hate, no matter the fact that most people appreciate being able to buy cheaper goods. These blind ideologues ignore that Edward Bellamy pointed out in his book, Looking Backwards, that central distribution was just more efficient. These blind ideologues ignore C Wright Mills analysis of the competition ideology and the false nature of the attack on “competition” by the little guys, that is, the somewhat smaller merchants. The so called “left” entirely dismiss or ignore the business cycle and how and why there is always a contest between monopoly and competition in market economies. Marx pointed out that capitalism in the long run will end competition and create a mostly monopolistic market system. (Which it almost is now!). Wal-Mart is not anything new under the sun. They are no more exploitive of their workers than any other capitalist firm. The left can eat as heavy a dose of hypocrisy as the right.
It seems to me that the so called “mainstream” left does not know what it should stand for. They don’t understand elementary economics of the market system that they live under. They mostly claim they are opposed to socialism but they don’t know what socialism is. Sometimes it is hard to understand why they call themselves left as they now mostly champion reactionary positions in the name of the less well off. (except on foreign policy as they mostly oppose imperialism especially when the imperialists are Republicans as in
There are many different types of "left" in the world. Most Americans fall into the category of "liberal left", these are mostly the people I am talking about who have no conception of socialism. They espouse basically a form of idiocy. They want to stop imperialism but not change the nature of capitalism nor change the nature of the political organization that continues the domination of the rich and powerful. It can't be done!
On the other hand there is the more "radical left" that has a somewhat more realistic understanding of the world as they go to the root of issues and try to analyze the world in terms of the social sciences. There is an overlapping and a continuum of views but there is a greater need for clarity of thought. A greater need to avoid dogma!
Hopefully the left will move back to its radical roots and stop sounding like libertarian wannabees. Another absurdity of the so called left is “multiculturalism doctrine”. This too is 180 degrees off from the original left position. I will discuss this later.