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Friday, December 09, 2005

The Unsexy Left

“The grandstanding leaders never deliver, their fury mounts and mounts, and nevertheless they turn out every two years to return their right-wing heroes to office for a second, a third, a twentieth try. The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get the government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly in everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists: receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated that ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.”

A prescient quote from Thomas Frank’s book, “What’s the matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.”

I heard Thomas Frank lecture on Conservatism and the idea of the backlash that is gripping America on Alternative Radio a couple of Saturdays ago. I work in the same building which houses the main bookstore for the University. Therefore if I listen to someone really interesting on the radio, there is a pretty good chance I can find his work in said bookstore. This nefarious spatial arrangement has serious negative consequences for my finances to say the least. However, I think that it is better to be well read and poor than ignorant and rich (if I repeat that enough, I’m sure I’ll believe it sooner or later).

Back to the book now, it was a great read. By great read of course I mean it made me angry at the current state of political affairs. Chomsky is always good for that, Zinn as well. It was a righteous fiery anger that had me agitated every time I picked up Frank’s book. Frank’s work also got me thinking about the politics of the left and what we have allowed them to become.

I think, to a certain extent, that the Left just is not sexy anymore. I’m not sure what happened but when people start voting conservative to vote against the establishment something is way wrong. The idea that the right-wing of today represents the people just blows me away. Yet, as Frank observes, it is exactly what is happening.

Living in Canada I can see the same sort of polarization creeping into our debates. It threatens much of the political fabric of our society. It is an old political fact in Canada is that you campaign from center-left and then run the country center-right. It concerns me when the paradigm might change to campaigning from center-right and then running the country from further right of that.

Next after a little goodness from Chomsky's most recent interview book, I intend to read "The Ingenuity Gap"by Thomas Homer-Dixon. It should sit well with the other 'End of the world' book-binge I have been on as of late. I cite Ronald Wright's "A Short History of Progress" and Joseph Tainter's remarkable "The Collapse of Complex Societies" as fine examples of the excellent work that has been done in this field.


Anonymous Boris said...

Nice blog!

What happened to the left? Same thing that happened to the right I think. Somewhere along the line, every new issue like climate change, gay marriage, religion, etc was championed by one side, and demonised the other. A variety of positions not necessarily complimentary or mutually dependent were packaged neatly under one label and sold err...forced onto the voters...oh, and people also found all kinds of other baubles more exciting or meaningful than politics to play with.

10:02 p.m.


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