Sunday, September 17, 2006

Other Losers of 9/11
To continue this thread, another of the losers who lost via 9/11 was the 'American Left'. By this I mean not the "liberal left" of neo-conservative "horror dreams" but rather the left in the USA extending from what would be called "social-democrats" in civilized countries, through more dogmatic socialists and into the eerie netherworld of Leninist sects and "left-over new leftists" ensconced in various parts of academia. I deliberately leave the anarchists for later, even though the rise of the modern American anarchist movement is intimately connected to the lost opportunity that the American left was a victim of.
Remember the time. It was a time when the events of Seattle 1999 were fresh in memory. Intelligent leftists such as Barbara Ehrenreich and many others were reaching out to this new generation of radicalism. Meanwhile the Stalinist and Trotskyist sects were pretty well moribund. Their potential for lasting another decade was remote.
Here's the astonishing fact. The American left "lost" by winning. The fact that what they had been saying to a diminishing audience for decades was getting further and further from reality was gradually dawning on them. many "protestants" had arisen to proclaim that the left should recover its connection with ordinary people. The birthing pains of American anarchism were only !! a part of this. The left stood poised to recover the commitment to such things as participatory democracy and a genuine populism that decades of identity politics had obscured. The Leninist left looked poised to finally fall into the trash-bin of history, a fall very much predestined with the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1989.
This didn't mean that the American left would likely become "anarchists", though it did mean that they would be more than willing to "steal from the anarchist kit of ideas", often giving a version more sensible than that of the originators. It meant that they could have reformed and abandoned so many of their practices that made them a running joke amongst those who had the misfortune of coming in contact with them.
What happened ? An out-of-control imperial crusade on the part of the American government suddenly breathed new life into the terminal patient of American leftism. The Leninists began to recruit again. The academics found a cause to escape the growing knowledge of their futility. The inevitable reckoning was put off- perhaps for decades.
The gift that the Bush presidency gave to a tiny minority of their opponents was a gift of inestimable value. "War" tends to focus the mind just as almost dying does. This focus,however, pushes other matters way into the periphery. The left will now coat-tail the more "loyal" liberal opposition and imagine that it is gaining success after success. The success will be entirely illusionary.
The left would have had a very important role to play in "remaking America". Now they have put all their eggs in the one basket and continued on with business as usual in other matters that are more important in the long term. They will ignore pressing matters just as much as the conservatives that they hate do.
The left has failed because it has missed an opportunity for reformation, for abandoning a lot of its very bad habits. The opportunity will come again, but at a less opportune time. Perhaps when the American public is mindlessly casting around for villains to blame for its defeat, a defeat for which hubris is far more responsible than so-called traitors.
Next installment: We finally go overseas in examination of the losers.

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