Monday, April 30, 2012

Reading List

 Michael Kazin says that American politics won't improved much unless we Revive Socialism. Interestingly, his piece appeared not only on Dissent's blog, but also in the New Republic. Kazin believes

an opportunity for radicals to offer the public, for the first time in decades, an argument for socialism grounded in ideals most Americans already cherish: communal responsibility and equal rights. As Michael Harrington, the last great leader of socialists in the United States, wrote back in 1966, “The democratization of concentrated economic, social, and political power is the only hope for the achievement of Western humanist ideals…[to the] possibility of a new order of things in which the people actually decide their own destiny.” It should be a good time to start such a discussion, since most Americans are rightfully disgusted with the order we have.
 Another historian Eli Zaretsky, also on Arguing the World, says that the US needs a resurgent left

What drives American history forward, then, are not horse-swaps, “grand bargains,” and “pragmatic” compromises between centrist liberals and centrist rightists but rather a struggle between the Center and the Left over the meaning of equality. The implications for understanding America today are clear. Obama’s first term disappointed not only because his pursuit of a center-right dialogue was still-born and vacuous, but also because it wound up empowering the Right. The immediate and welcoming response to Occupy Wall Street demonstrated how much Americans have missed the presence of a leftist voice; it was as if we had been waiting for someone to raise the question of equality again. We need the spirit of Occupy Wall Street to speak not only to our moment of national crisis but also to inspire a permanent radical presence in American life, one that builds on the egalitarian tradition at the core of our identity. Only a genuinely independent, radical Left can revitalize centrist politics and relegate the extreme Right to the marginal place it has historically occupied.
 On the French Presidential election, Left Foot Forward and a couple from Tendance Coatesy here on Sarkozy's pitch to Le Pen's voters and here with an analysis.

The Forward has two roundtables on their recent interview with Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. The first round features  Laura Kam of The Israel Project; Israeli security analyst Yossi Alpher; Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now; and Princeton University Prof. Daoud Kuttab.  The second features Laura Kam of The Israel Project; Israeli security analyst Yossi Alpher; Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now; and Princeton University Prof. Daoud Kuttab The links will take you to a page with teasers from the responders, click through to their entire responses.

Tim Murphy at Mother Jones on Mitt's nutty professor.

Bill  Fletcher is frustrated when he talks to (some) leftists about electoral politics.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ted Koppel Channels Alan West

Ted Koppel is a widely respected newsman, but this week in an NPR interview he channeled crazy right-wing Congressman Alan West who has been widely ridiculed for claiming that 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are members of the Communist Party. The standard form of this smear has been to claim that members of the Progressive Caucus are members of the Democratic Socialists of America.  Again and sadly, untrue. The inability of the far right to distinguish between liberals, progressives, democratic socialists, and Communists is a habitual deficiency that is, I suspect, scoffed at by the elite media like Koppel and NPR.

Koppel was talking about Sunday's French Presidential election, but he showed a similar ignorance of French politics. Here is what Koppel said, after a week in France preparing for a special report for NBC.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is the communist, who runs the leftist front way on the fringes - huge rallies, Neal, with tens of thousands of French communists who are coming out there.
Melenchon, however, is not a Communist. He is not even a former Commununist. He is a former member of the French Socialist Party. He was a Minister of Vocational Education is a Socialist government and former Socialist Senator. In 2008, Melenchon and others on the left the SP, exited and formed the Left Party, which is democratic socialist in its orientation. The Left Party has formed an electoral alliance with the much diminished Communist Party and other smaller groups.  That does not make Melenchon a Communist and it does not make the hundreds of thousands who have attended his rallies Communists. It should also be added that there are at least two Presidential candidates more on the left fringe than Melenchon.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm, drummer and vocalist for The Band, died today at age 71. Here is The Band performing "The Weight" at Woodstock