WHY I AM CRITICAL OF "THE LEFT" AND NOT JUST CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS
October 1, 2018
In stark contrast to my view, there is a Left**** (I capitalize it for emphasis only) view of ordinary people, which I disagree with, which is at the root of the thinking of virtually all organizations and publications that describe themselves as "of the left."
This wrong Leftist view of ordinary people is this: "Ordinary working class people have the wrong (bad, capitalist, selfish) values, and until we--the Left--somehow make them change their fundamental values, they will continue to be part of the problem and not part of the solution."
The Left expresses this wrong negative view of ordinary people in many different ways:
"They are not class conscious." "They have only trade-union consciousness." "They are sheeple." "They are complicit." "They are not woke." "They are de-humanized by capitalism." "The whites are racist and benefit from racism ['white privilege']." "They are homophobic and transphobic." "They just think with their belly [are selfish]." etc., etc.
It is because of this Leftist contempt for ordinary people that, when Leftists, in the name of anti-racism, deliberately antagonized the mainly white working class commuters on Interstate 93 by blocking them from driving to work in Boston in 2015, and thus helped the ruling class persuade white working class people that anti-racism is code for anti-white and thus drove potential allies into the welcoming arms of the conservative wing of the ruling class, NOT A SINGLE LEFT ORGANIZATION OR WRITER (that I could find with a due diligence google search and monitoring of the local left sources) CRITICIZED WHAT THESE LEFTISTS DID; THEY EITHER PRAISED THE I-93 BLOCKING ACTION EXPLICITLY OR IMPLICITLY PRAISED IT BY SIMPLY REPORTING IT AS AN ANTI-RACIST ACTION.
Here's another example of the problem with the Left. A Left professor wrote a book blaming ordinary Americans--their horrible values!--for the crimes of the U.S. ruling class around the world. I discuss this in my article here. I spoke personally (I invited him to my home and we ate a meal together) with the author of this book and tried to explain to him why I thought it was based on a profoundly false view of ordinary people and how it thus played right into the hands of people like Rush Limbaugh. But the author was adamant that his book was correct, and his attitude was "So what if it plays into the hands of Rush Limbaugh?" One will search in vain for a Left organization or writer condemning this horrible book as the unjustified attack on ordinary Americans that it truly is.
Here's another example. When the mainly white jury found George Zimmerman "not guilty" in his trial for killing Trayvon Martin, all observers of the trial--regardless of what they thought about Zimmerman's guilt--who commented on the quality of the federal prosecution's case said that it was the worst and most incompetent and unpersuasive prosecution they had ever seen (some even wondered if it had been deliberately unpersuasive.) These commentators all acknowledged that the jurors were never given enough evidence to come any where near establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the jurors had no choice but to return a 'not guilty' verdict.*
But the Leftist magazine, The Nation**, headlined
"White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman"
and insisted that the white jurors voted "not guilty" simply because they were so racist they wouldn't declare a white person guilty of murdering a black person even when the evidence was (supposedly) obvious; and the Left organized protest rallies based on the theme that ordinary whites are all racists (since the white jurors, after all, being randomly selected from the larger population, were representative of all whites.) Where was the Leftist organization or writer who said that The Nation was wrong? Nowhere to be found.
Here's another example. When the ruling class had President Richard Nixon initiate Affirmative Action, Nixon was also launching the War on Drugs specifically to target and incarcerate black people. Some people may find this behavior of Nixon contradictory, but it was not. The point of Affirmative Action [as I discuss here] was to destroy the solidarity that the earlier Civil Rights Movement had produced between whites and non-whites based on its demand to abolish racist discrimination such as the Jim Crow laws.
Affirmative Action was intended to make whites resent non-whites, by making sure that whites would be told, essentially, "We're sorry we couldn't give you the position you applied for; we had to give it to a less qualified minority person."
How did the Left respond? Instead of explaining that the ruling class was using Affirmative Action to attack the working class by undermining its solidarity, the Left accused people of being racists if they said--perfectly reasonably!--they thought the qualifying test score for a job or school should be the same--not different--for all races of people! The Left did this because it has a contemptuous view of ordinary people. And because of this contemptuous view of ordinary people, the ruling class knows it can count on the Left to be its "useful idiot." I am not aware of a single Left organization or writer who has said the truth about what Affirmative Action is all about.
Likewise for the phrase "white privilege"--a phrase that Big Money has worked hard (using its big foundations) to replace the very good old phrase of "racial discrimination" (as I show in great detail in my article here.) The "white privilege" phrase is an attack on working class solidarity because it tells us that the most wonderfully insightful slogan of the labor movement--AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL--is false! I explain this in my article here. The false notion that racial discrimination against non-whites makes life better for ordinary working class whites is the idea that led the I-93 blockers to do their destructive act instead of, say, putting banners on the I-93 overpasses that said, "Honk if you oppose racially biased policing." Virtually every single Left organization and writer avoids criticizing the use of the "white privilege" phrase. Why? Because they all view ordinary white people as racists who benefit from racial discrimination.
Here's another example. In 2008 70% of African-Americans in California voted to ban same-sex marriage (i.e., they voted Yes on Proposition 8 [ http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#CAI01p1]. I asked a member of a Marxist organization about this. I asked him, "Do you believe that these African-Americans are fit to have a real say in society?" He replied, "No. But after we [his party] have educated them they will be." In contrast, I sympathize with those who voted as these African-Americans did, for the reason I discuss here.
Here's another example. The Left (including Jill Stein***) accuses anybody who doesn't approve of the new liberal "bathroom" laws that supposedly protect transgender people of being a bigot. But in fact these laws are absurd, and the reason people (including many transgender people) oppose them is because they are absurd, as I discuss here. The Left (acting as "useful idiots") joins with the ruling class in accusing good and decent people of being bigots because that's what the Left thinks about ordinary good and decent people. I have not seen a single Leftist organization or writer speak sensibly about this issue.
The problem, in other words, is not just this or that specific Leftist individual; the problem is the Leftist contemptuous view of ordinary people that virtually all of them share.
The problem is not simply that the contemporary U.S. Left has deviated from its otherwise good Marxist origins. No! The Marxist theory developed by Karl Marx is itself deeply contemptuous of ordinary working class people, as I discuss here.***** This is why Marxist regimes are so notoriously anti-democratic. And note that the very good ideas that people mistakenly think came from Karl Marx actually existed long before Marx, as I discuss here.
We will never build a mass egalitarian revolutionary movement until we soundly reject the Left's contemptuous view of ordinary people.
** The Nation's editor/publisher [more recently just publisher] is Katrina vanden Heuvel, who happens also to be a member of the ultra-elite ruling class policy-making organization, the Council on Foreign Relations. The Nation is the largest circulation Left U.S. magazine. The sources for this are:
*** See Jill Stein's tweet accusing people of being transphobic if they support the North Carolina HB2 law that says people should use the public facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate, WHICH A PERSON CAN CHANGE EASILY IF THEY HAVE HAD SEX-CHANGE SURGERY (a fact that the liberal media made sure to censor!): https://2016election.procon.org/view.answers.election.php…
**** By "the Left," I mean the prominent intellectuals and organizations and magazines/publications that describe themselves as "of the Left" and the many individuals who agree with them, or at least seldom if ever express any explicit disagreement with them, and who also self-identify as "of the Left." If an individual has a serious disagreement with the Leftist view of people that I discuss in this article and they agree with the view I express here, then I would suggest to them that they identify as an egalitarian, not a Leftist.
***** I recently came across an article by a local (Boston) Leftist named Joseph Ramsey. The title is "Recovering the Dialectic of Race and Class Struggle in the USA." Totally missing from this article is the absolutely crucial point (made, in reference to the Jim Crow laws, by MLK. Jr. in his Selma, Alabama speech, and made repeatedly by the best union ever to arise in the United States--the Industrial Workers of the World, a.k.a., Wobblies): that among working class people AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL; that the PURPOSE of racist laws and racial discrimination is to destroy working class solidarity of ALL races of workers and thereby to enable the upper class to dominate and oppress ALL races of workers; that racial discrimination against non-whites HARMS, not benefits, white workers; that ALL races of workers need to fight against discrimination of ANY group/race/ethnicity of workers in the knowledge that failure to do so enables the upper class to oppress not only the obviously targeted group of workers but ALL other workers as well.
How, one might reasonably wonder, could this Leftist, Joseph Ramsey, fail to make this most crucial point in an article with the title he wrote under? Here's how. The Leftist wrong and contemptuous view of working class people is the key to the explanation. The Leftist view denies a basic fact about working class people, which is this: unless the upper class uses very aggressive measures (such as chattel slavery or Jim Crow or more modern methods I discuss here) to destroy working class solidarity with lies and manipulations to make working class people of one race/group have contempt for or fear of or resentment against another race/group, working class people act in solidarity with each other against oppression.
Thus before the British upper class in the Virginia Colony figured out how to use systemic racial discrimination to prevent it, the bond laborers on the tobacco plantations (who were essentially slaves for a long number of years but not their entire life) consisted of people of European descent and people of African descent; these bond laborers (black and white in today's vocabulary) united in solidarity during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 and by so doing scared the living daylights out of the British ruling upper class, as I discuss in some detail here.
Even when racist lies infect white workers, there is still in them an inclination to act on their basic, gut-level, knowledge that An Injury to One (even a black worker) Is An Injury to All, as this incident, reported by Hillel Levine and Lawrence Harmon in their book, The Death of An American Jewish Community, about Boston in the 1960s, illustrates.
"One high school student who worked the swing shift in a South Boston [an all white neighborhood at the time] sportswear factory in 1967 recalled...: After a black worker's paycheck failed to arrive on payday due to an administrative snafu, the same white workers who had resisted an integrated work force called an immediate work stoppage. A burly cloth cutter known for his open contempt for blacks laid down the law to management in blunt language: "Nobody returns to the shop floor until the ni**er gets his fuckin' paycheck." [pg. 111, where the n-word is spelled out in full]
In the Leftist view, however, working class people are motivated only by self-interest, just as the capitalists are; the only reason for conflict between the two is that the self-interest of the former conflicts with that of the latter: the former want high wages and the latter low wages, etc. In the Leftist view, ordinary working class people have no inclination to act in solidarity with other workers, and it is the job of Leftists to somehow persuade or manipulate workers to do so in order to make the revolution that will place the Leftists in power (a.k.a. "socialism.")
In this Leftist framework, it makes no sense to focus on exposing how the purpose of racial discrimination is to destroy solidarity and thereby harm ALL races of workers, and NOT to benefit white workers; it makes no sense to assert the crucial truth that in order to achieve working class solidarity to win gains for white as well as non-white workers it is necessary to stop the upper class from using racial discrimination to destroy that solidarity. None of this makes sense in the Leftist framework because in that framework working class people have no desire to act in solidarity with other workers in the first place; they only want higher wages (etc.) for themselves and don't care about others.
In the Leftist framework, white workers have no particular self-interest in fighting against racial discrimination against non-whites. Therefore, Leftists have no basis for telling white workers they ought to fight against racial discrimination against non-whites. At the same time Leftists want to be against this racial discrimination. And so the Leftists write long tortuous articles, like that of Joseph Ramsey's, about how to balance the (supposedly!) conflicting aims of a) appealing to white workers with reform goals that don't address the fact of racial discrimination, and b) appealing to non-white workers with goals that do address the fact of racial discrimination. Leftists such as Ramsey like to call this wrongheaded balancing act, "being dialectical."