Sunday, March 26, 2006

What the Next Left Won't Look Like

An interesting web essay on the temptations facing the American left by Daraka Larimore-Hall

This is a tough time for the American left. We have seen a series of crushing electoral defeats and gains made by an increasingly bold far right. ... there is no real sign that the country can be turned around any time soon. Add to this the overwhelming feeling that huge swaths of American public opinion favor the repeal of the 20th Century, and it is easy to sink into defeatism, cynicism and frustration.

Nonetheless, opinion polls continue to point to solid majorities behind progressive reforms, in health care and education, and opinion tracking on gay rights and other social issues are, in general, trending our way. More people vote Democratic than Republican for the House and Senate, and the Republican edge in Presidential elections is miniscule, even if our electoral system makes it decisive. These are things to build on, to utilize as building blocks for a new progressive movement that is broad, multi-faceted, strategic and visionary. How, exactly, do we do this? To paraphrase Michael Harrington, if I knew this I would be President of the United States. I don’t know, and chances are any answers will emerge from trial and error as well as scholarly and popular debate- even blogging.

Below, however, is my attempt to outline a few of the tendencies which exist on the left which are decidedly not helpful: Minimalism, Denial, Sectarianism and Conspiracy Theory.

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