Democrats, Liberals and Pseudo Progressives
My second website, NotTalkRadio (now defunct), later absorbed by IAmMyOwnReporter on Cuba and Latin America (now also nodding off) started with this essay, written even earlier as a note to myself and offered to embedded media who didn't want it, in reaction to the false progressivism of Air America. When I mention pseudo progressives today, which I often do, I'm talking about other more current examples, but this article is still instructive, as is my discussion of the birth of post-1990 pseudo progressives in Chapter Two of Cuban Notebooks, "When the American left back flipped."
The left flies right on Air America
My problem with (just for example) the
Air Americans is that they call themselves progressives and they're
not. They are as stuck in their own spot on the runway of intellectual
flight as Republicans are stuck in the hangar. In fact, it's sometimes
hard to tell the difference. They are nowhere close to the left-hand
edge of left, as their co-opting of the progressive label implies.
Oh they say some great things on Air America, but they always
stop - short - at the Democratic Party limits.
The Air America squadron fire sometimes
straight and sometimes wildly at specific individuals that need
to be shot down and they expose specific shenanigans that should
be exposed, but they always treat their targets as aberrations;
they don't forthrightly renounce the system. Fragment after fragment,
"youknow" after "youknow," stuttering wildly yet always accurately
dodging the word capitalism, these hot-aerial acrobats fly
all around but never land on the obvious conclusion that ugly capitalism
is normal capitalism and business ownership of the country is the
logical end of "free" enterprise.
They protest on behalf of certain poor
people in certain newsworthy instances as the victims of certain
acts of cruelty or neglect that are obviously the regular, mathematically
necessary side effects of competitive "free" enterprise under Democrats
or Republicans, but, though they can pronounce the word poverty
and propose band-aid solutions in very specific contexts, they never
quite manage to zero in on or even coherently protest social and economic inequality (which are, of course, brutally uncivilized), and, to protect their pro-democracy religion, they actually religiously, studiously fail to find poverty, i.e. economic
inequality, to be a locked-in PART of their 2-in-1 talismanic virtually-one-word slogan, freedomanddemocracy, and systemically inseparable from the concept of "free enterprise democracy" that they go on stupidly supporting because, religiously (pc) obligated to being "PRO-democracy," they are also obligated to be supportive of the greedy yearning to be rich, too, of "THE" people they profess to "love."
I once heard an Air America hostess
declare that what "we" want is to lift the poor into the middle
class, but how a bottomless class system is to be locked up without
taking the "freedom" out of "free" enterprise or why "we" want such
an obviously still unfair half class reshuffle she didn't explain.
I never heard any Air American support Kofi Annan's efforts to declare
inequality a human rights abuse, and I didn't expect to.
It's not (as the Republicans say about
Democrats) that they have no ideas, but, bold as they sound, like
Democrats with brassy voices, they seem afraid to carry their ideas
far enough leftward to legitimize them. And, like all Democrats
AND Republicans, they're far short of a full deck of ideas. They
occasionally mouth the words environment and ecology
as if reading them from someone else's notes; but they betray no
glimmer of understanding or concern about never-ending "free" enterprise
"development" as a catalyst of eco-collapse, and they certainly
can't pronounce overpopulation.
They often sneer at Republican
religious stupidity, but they also often invoke Jesus, and they
sometimes even set political correctness aside and claim they're
better Christians. Exactly parallel to that, they damn the Republicans
for wrapping themselves in the flag, but they constantly wave the
same flag while unctuously and often proclaiming themselves better
It would be too weird (or too obvious)
to call themselves better capitalists, so, in only blurred reference
to the economic dogfight that is the centerpiece of American life,
they curse only Republican pit bulls, demonizing the mean Republicans
with details, while sainting the nice Democratic bystanders by omission
of near duplicate details. Of course, that's no worse than should
be expected inside the actually general capitalist arena. "Free"
speech is often dishonest. What I'm talking about is the direction
and effect of their dishonesty, which is to confuse and co-opt what
little could-be-honest left is left in America by pretending to
They are NOT. They are as mainstream
as the Republicans. They reside fully within the mainstream religious
patriotic capitalist camp, which is divided between right wing Republicans
and centrist Democrats. There's no left in it. Democrats, after
all, range only from conservative to conservative liberal - i.e.
centrist. The Democrats have absorbed some surviving 60's liberals
and a meek mainstream version of 3 or 4 60's issues. But the truer
progressives of the 80's (who've been erased from both the main-stream
and somewhat alternative media's version of history), who were adamantly
to the left of liberal and almost consciously PROGRESSING, are now,
I suspect, a repressed nightmare of the post-1990 slightly liberal
centrists. I remember some 80's progressives talking about "working
from the inside," so maybe that's where they disappeared to. But
no Air American ever publicly remembers living in a shanty and sweating
with the poor to build anything in Central America or marching in
the streets to stymie Reagan's Nicaraguan invasion plans. Obviously,
if they were there, they've wiped U.S. progressive support of the
Sandinista revolution completely off their revised memory slates,
and I've never heard them support Cuba and I don't expect to.
You can verify what I'm saying about
Air America easily, but I could be talking about almost all the
known American so-called "left" since at least 1990, couldn't I?
My problem isn't just Air America. Air America is an example of
something that's gone very wrong with the entire American "left."
There are some young Americans in Venezuela now supporting Hugo
Chavez, a quantum leap past wringing one's hands for lost theocracy
in Tibet, but we don't hear much about them. The American "left,"
or the only part of the American "left" we regularly hear about,
has certainly turned right. So decisively that I am entertaining
a fantasy about it which, even though it seems a little on the far
side, I'm going to share with you.
In "Inside The Company," Philip Agee
told us the CIA so thoroughly infiltrated some South American leftist
student movements while he was there that CIA agents were both funding
and leading those movements. They could do that because a movement
needs supplies, transportation, facilities, refreshments, contacts,
and leaders with time and resources to be leaders. So the CIA was
literally paying their supposed enemies' piper and calling their
tune - a leftist tune, by the way, to facilitate U.S. and U.S. puppet
Surely, something like that can happen
in America, too. Why wouldn't it happen? The right are wrong and
often stupid, but their top cats are also rich so they have to be
somewhat cunning, and they're certainly energetic, dedicated, unscrupulous
and insidious, and they won't stop at anything to keep their wealth
and power and, with their incredible wealth and power and their
own embedded media covering for them, they don't have to stop at
anything. The CIA stunt Agee described would be easier to pull off
on their own turf.
To get the attention and effectively
keep the attention of any significant part of a crowd of millions
takes some resources, and he who provides the resources sets the
agenda. Obviously, a few people decide who will lead and set the
agenda for both the Democrats and the Republicans. Obviously, the
same people realize they can't prevent a grassroots leftist movement
from existing (especially on college campuses) but that any grassroots
group is greatly influenced by apparent friends who know how to
raise money, who have the contacts to get them what little substantive
publicity they get, and who boldly take charge of them.
It's certainly true that the leadership
of the American "leftist" movement on the national level is now
restricted to an elite group, that individuals who go beyond that
group's agenda are marginalized or squashed or effectively unheard
of, and that the leadership, who certainly somehow have resources,
have co-opted and are constantly, energetically (insidiously? cunningly?)
rigidly defining and limiting the American "leftist" agenda to the
politically correct. I think the main main-stream "left" today (not
just Air America) have popularized a nice, safe box that the insidious,
cunning, rich, resourceful right themselves might like to keep the
If that seems to me to be happening,
and if the rich right could and would like to make it happen to
keep the main-stream "left" toothless and nonthreatening to their
wealth and power, then why not assume it is happening? After all,
WHAT obviously very irresistible influence keeps the mainstream
"left" from ever promoting atheism (or even logic) or communism
(or even socialism - or even equality) or a one-world state or a
human population and encampment reduced to and kept at a size that
can subsist off the ecosystem without crushing it? WHO so pervasively
and successfully instead dreams up and promotes the conveniently
vague, ungrammatical, and development-friendly liberal babble about
"sustaining" development and growth and proliferating high-density
It's easy and maybe it's valid to tie
the main-stream "left's" lameness to philosophical cowardice, to
human genetic limitations, to the brain-tangle bound to result from
a chimeric alliance of mismated movements, to the inevitable over
involvement of confused youth, to the fatal effect of religiously
democratic chaos on intelligent organization. Maybe all of that
is the best explanation. Maybe the American left just scared themselves
so badly in the 80's and were so embarrassed by the one-two punch
of the fall of the Eastern Bloc and the 1990 Nicaraguan elections
that they haven't yet gotten over it.
There's no maybe about that last
sentence. I suspect some post-1990 now centrist "liberals" reluctantly
following me this far may have involuntarily shivered when they
read it. But the humiliation and apparently brain-shrinking trauma
of being smacked down and trampled when "the people" of Nicaragua
they'd thought they were helping suddenly stampeded right back over
them into the darkness didn't just happen. The effectiveness of
childhood brain-binding and a steady diet of mainstream media propaganda
for life set them up. That's a given. And it would only amount to
a continuation and refinement of that given if there were and are
equally cynical infiltrators at work now. Right?
Actually, there probably are. This is
a principal that supposedly always guides good investigative journalists:
there may not have to be, but there probably are because there could
be and because any cunning plan I can think of, somebody else can
think of and execute. The motive, the means, and the will exist,
so the end probably exists. If I had the computer skills of a Cecil
Adams, maybe I could dig up the evidence. But whether or not I could
prove that right wing moles have taken over and now run the left,
and whether or not it's true, it might as well be.
As for Air America, it may just be an
unusually aggressive and profane main-stream Democratic Party voice
that falsely calls itself "progressive" because it really doesn't
know the difference. But, whether unfortunately or insidiously,
it walks, quacks, and looks exactly like a right-wing mole luring
naive youth looking for actually leftist causes down a virtual mole
hole, so it might as well be a right wing mole.
And the same is true of most of the
post 1990 leadership of the lame American left. In fact, the left
has always been healthier outside U.S. borders, especially south
of the Rio Bravo, especially, ironically, now. Cuba exists, after
all, and is regarded as a beacon in every Latin American and European
country I've been in. Why are Americans never told that by their
own so-called left? Why have the elections of a series of potentially
socialist presidents in Latin America not even cast a shadow on
the agenda of Air America (or The Nation) or the (merely) liberal
Democratic dialogue in America? If I was in Howard Dean's shoes,
my platform would be to join the UN and the new Latin American "Axis
of Good," phase out the military, start treating the arms industry
like the tobacco industry, promote much more aggressive and comprehensive
world-wide strategies than the Kyoto Accord to try to restore the
ecosystem (global warming is NOT the only problem), end the Cuban
embargo and join Hugo Chavez (the kind of leftist leader America
needs) in subsidizing the Cuban experiment to help perfect a socialist
model the whole world can emulate.
If that sounds too radical, excuse me.
It's just the way we progressives talk. Come on, Air America! Take
off! Straighten up and fly left. You won't see Jesus sitting on
a cloud, but you'll get a better view of the complete absence of
lines running across the ground or through the Air between America
and the World.
Left & Right
I don't care where they put the aisle or who sits on which side of it in the British Parliament. The right might better be called the left, because the right is miserably primitively savagely wrong and, if the world is ever to progress toward a more civilized state, the attitudes and creeds of the right have to be left behind.
The left might almost be called the right, because, in recent history, the western left is or has been partly right about some things. But since right, philosophically speaking, should really mean correct, i.e. really in possession of the facts about reality, thus realistic, the problem with calling the left the right is that most of the left much of the time are philosophically just as mystical, i.e. unrealistic, as the right.
They usually aren't as brutal (these days, anyway). Only some religious and/or fascist governments in the past and, in the present, only Muslims can equal the American "right" in that respect.
But the "left," though sometimes timidly realistic, aren't honest. Truth is necessarily honest. What's 100% true, correct, right, real, has to be 100% honest. So, whether you call yourself a liberal democrat, a progressive (which democrats certainly are NOT), a leftist, a socialist, a communist, or a realist, to look yourself in the face, you should have to be at least as close to 100% honest as the physical limitations of human brains and your own mental limitations permit - even if that loses you the approval and the votes of the majority.
Patriotism; religion; strenuously pious belief in social, economic, ecological band-aids and in the potential of the lumpen majority and in the lumpen-level judgement of democracy; and especially any gottabe faked politically correct certainty that the chaos resulting from all this obviously disorganized mush will ever lead to anything but continued chaos - is DIS-honest!
Meanwhile, to consider what I'm saying here "negative," though it's typical for what are called right-wingers to do so, is NOT, philosophically realistically, "right," because it isn't correct. Negative is a word that today's miscalled "left" typically holds up in front of their eyes like a crucifix or garlic to ward off vampires - like dark glasses worn at night. As Bertrand Russell (echoing every realistic philosopher since Epicurus) said, "moral preference (he meant wishful thinking) has no legislative effect on fact." Take off your politically correct, defensively pious dark glasses and re-read the above carefully, because it's fact.
Intellectual dilettantes and liberals love poverty. They think it is picturesque or it's a cultural thing. The dilettantes would feel deprived themselves if nobody lived in an arty shanty. The woods would be as barren of photo ops without naked natives as without birds. Liberals never criticize poverty. They seem to think the poor cherish it even more than they do. The liberals fear equality would insult the poor. Distribution of good shoes would humiliate those whose "custom" is to go barefoot.
Pseudo leftists are loath to use right-wing turns of phrase, of course, but they actually share the convenient Republican convictions that the poor are happier being poor and that they would be ashamed not to have "earned" the ability to feed their kids. In their own pc terms, they'd consider it "paternalistic" to make the poor more like us. And the dilettantes and liberals are near hysterically protective of the "freedom" of the poor to go on babbling hopelessly across class lines in whatever languages they were saddled with at birth.
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