On Building an Ideological Left

What is a Left? What is the task of the Left? What does a Left do? And how does it do it?

For a long time now the Left has been forced to play defense. That is apparent most strongly in the Democratic Party the (very) nominal political branch of the Left. The story of Democratic politicians since FDR is a story of staving off the attempts of the Right to destroy the Left….and they have succeeded.

The Right has pushed their agenda of destroying the New Deal and returning to a Wild West economy and Foreign Policy so viciously and hard …and effectively as far as The Middle is concerned that it has taken everything the Left has just to stop them.

Forgotten in all of this are the Principles of the Left. Discarded in the name of defense has been the true advocacy of the Principles of the Left. But most especially, in the decades long defense of the Left…the vision of the Left has fallen by the roadside.

Who is articulating and disseminating a vision of what a True Left, a powerful Left, an effective Left would make the world into? Who is painting a picture of what a country of a world run by true leftist Principles would look like?

Where is that bold vision for Lefty’s to rally around?

NOT framed in terms of electoral politics or government policies per se, (those would grow out of the vision) not framed in opposition to the Right, or opposition to the current Centrist (which as we all know, is basically Right Wing due to that Overton Window thingee) government…

But a vision of the Left framed for the Left’s sake alone?

A statement of how the Left would approach “fixing” the world apart from and not in reference to today’s political battles…

…which at the very very best would get us back to a true Center position of compromising with the Right as equals…instead of on defense as we are now?

Where are the the solutions that the Left would implement to take on the REAL underlying problems that the world faces…not the political problems, but the problems that lie behind the politics.

Where for instance, is a vision of a world where Humans are more important than Corporations?

Where is the story of how an Ideological Left would change the world, if it could?

Where is the narrative of a world “run by” an Ideological Left?

Without a solid ideological base, without a vision to rally around, without something to fight FOR….can the Left ever rise above merely playing defense? Is there one out there?

And/or….how do we create one?


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  1. Photobucket

    • Edger on October 25, 2009 at 19:14

    The climate?

    Start at the top and go after power, maybe?

    The mountain is our home, but it is also a symbol of strength and aspiration. True sustainability means recognizing that every part of our world is connected, and that every decision we make on our mountain has an impact on the world outside.

  2. You can’t get there from here.

    Hell, we had it nailed down 40 years ago.

    “Peace, Love, Dope”.

  3. Where is the story of how an Ideological Left would change the world, if it could?

    but I think we (and the world) need to get past ideological struggles of left vs. right which have done nothing but allow the Powers That Be to divide and conquer us.

    For instance, why aren’t left leaning Progressives aligning with Ron Paul types on Afghanistan and Fed Reserve/Treasury reform?  On these issues we both have very similar analyses and goals and could do far more together to reign in the corporatists than either could ever accomplish separately.  

    We really need to stop worrying about what team we are on and start trying to find common purpose with others whom we don’t primarily identify with.  Because only by building strategic alliances with other political factions can we ever hope to maximize our political relevance.

  4. Fixing this country is one thing but fixing the world is way out there.  We do know that the vast majority of people in all nations want peace and a fair chance at life.  The money and efforts all governments expend fighting among themselves could be more than enough to provide that if expended in the right direction.  How to prove that there is enough to go around for everybody, we simply need to reorganize.    

  5. “How come we always get the hard questions?”

    The simple answer is that we are the only ones who care, that’s why.  About the important things such as peace, love, prosperity (for all), and mother earth.

    As for the larger question that budhy posed, well, I’m stuck.

    But I am going to use that question in the coming days, to be sure.  I love it.  Thanks.


  6. Im quite likely to go off the rails today. excuse pleaze.

    I may be in the minority again but… I happen to think that Obama, during the 2008 campaign, was onto something with all this. Too bad for us, he started deviating and fucking up from minute one, once he was inaugerated elected…. but if you think about it, the whole shebang leading up to Nov 5th, I thought we were on our way. I really did. His whole “we are not right left, red blue, we are UNITED America…” meme. Y’know … That.

    And now, theres such a strong parallel in my own personal life, its very difficult for me to separate, to talk here about “politics” of the country and the world, without talking about the “politics” in my living room, my house, my domain. Which I just got off the phone talking with one of my Supporters (ha) for an hour so Im kinda fired up atm.

    Anyway… part of the problem is in… buying in to this whole stupid tug.of.war and the fantasy bullshit of “bipartisonship”. Uhhhhh, no. The idea of (forcing them to) sharing the power that, right now, They own. Thats just stupid. We know their answer: “No”.

    How do we get some kind of balance? If They had (and still have) ALL the Power and We have NONE of the power…? Do I fight WITH THEM to try to make Them give me some of THEIR Power? or do I say fuck them and go off and get my own Power somewhere else?

    I want my own Power that is mine, and it cant be won or lost or stolen or bartered or given or taken or fought over. Its just mine… period. (Personal, I need a job! Translation to Big Picture…  I like edger’s idea.)

    Instead of wresting their power away from The Corporations, Id love for them to just become irrelevant, and their “product” to just become obsolete, so they go broke, as a result of their own incompetence and lack of vision. And while they weren’t looking, we seize control of the real gold… which will be Energy. Alternative energy. And a couple of other things.

    well Im fantasizing… sigh … Ill be back after I get this laundry going…lol.


    • Edger on October 25, 2009 at 20:37

    • jamess on October 25, 2009 at 22:01

    Progressives should:

    Learn about and learn from “our current standard bearers” in the:

    Congressional Progressive Caucus

    The CPC’s founding statement of purpose states that it was

    “organized around the principles of social and economic justice,

    a non-discriminatory society,

    and national priorities which represent the interests of all people,

    not just the wealthy and powerful”.

    The founding members underscored that the Cold War was over,

    and that the nation’s budget and overall priorities should reflect that.

    They called for cuts in outdated and unnecessary military spending,

    a more progressive tax system in which wealthy taxpayers and corporations

    contribute their fair share,

    a substantial increase in federal funding for social programs

    designed to meet the needs of low and middle-income American families,

    and trade policies that increase the exports of more American products

    and encourage the creation of well-paying jobs and sound investment in America.

    Former members

    — Sherrod Brown (OH-13) – Elected to Senate

    — Julia Carson (IN-07) – Died in December 2007

    — Lane Evans (IL-17) – Retired from Congress

    — Cynthia McKinney (GA-4) – Lost Congressional seat to current caucus member Hank Johnson

    — Major Owens (NY-11) – Retired from Congress

    — Nancy Pelosi (CA-8) – Left Caucus when Elected House Minority Leader

    — Hilda Solis (CA-32) – Became Secretary of Labor in 2009

    — Stephanie Tubbs Jones (OH-11) – Died in 2008

    — Tom Udall (NM Senate)

    — Paul Wellstone (MN Senate) – Died in plane crash in 2002


    Congressional Progressive Caucus — Caucus Member List

    Progressives should:

    Learn about and learn from Progressive Programs that have worked before:

    Why We Need A New Works Progress Administration

    Progressives should:

    Learn about and learn from the History of the Progressive Movement:

    What are Progressive Values?

    by jamess

    Progressivism in the United States

    by wikipedia

    as far as that “Vision-thing” as 41 called it,

    it’s a rare politician that has it, and can lead with it.

    Leaders like Wellstone and Grayson, are few an far between.

    The Vision thing is hidden in the bit -players too.

    We need to hear from the Science & Economics Community as well,

    from people like James Hansen, Paul Krugman, and David Walker

    Until Progressives get our own Cable Channel

    or Until we can get the Money Out of Politics,

    the Progressive Vision will probably remain piecemeal at best.

    We can build websites, and blog, and research, and vote.

    But Real Change is tied to Education,

    and to Dollars, and to personal values & decisions.

    Real Change is tied to personal networking —

    and educated souls, one person at a time.

    Until those MSM Societal Triggers tilt in favor of a People-oriented Economy,

    we just need to keep rallying behind the Graysons, and the Frankens,  

    and the Krugmans and the Kuciniches,

    and the Gores, and the Deans, and the Moores …

    until they actually get the Vision thing,

    and can step up, and start to lead the parade,

    of Mass Citizen Action.  Consistently, and with Purpose.

    And NOT be de-railed …

    Until then the cat herd will continue frolic,

    and to hiss, spit, and scratch …

    and the People will keep getting played

    by the the Powers that Be — behind the scenes,

    far from the wheels of justice.


    on the positive side

    the People ARE learning,

    the People ARE awaking up.

    Could be in 10 years time,

    Americans who claim the Progressive label,

    will be way over 50%

    and then the Vision thing,

    takes on a whole new set of problems, lol

    me … I just blog on,

    and hope the Awakening continues.

    peace, out,

    My. Fellow. Progressives!

  7. requires first and foremost a generalizing theory that encompasses and accounts for the political, social and economic features and characteristics of an era.  Given that in recent times what passes for a left in the US has been utterly bereft of such concepts, we’re probably served best in the immediate circumstance to look at the right to see a current ideological construct in American life.

    I think it would be fair to say that the post-60s ideology of the American right has been based on the premise that all in our national life is threatened with the anarchy and chaos of excessive freedom and excessive egalitarianism.  That the forces of liberty and equality that erupted out of the revolution of rising expectations of the postwar boom, the civil rights revolution, and the resistance to the Vietnam War are responsible for the economic decline and social decay that began in the 70s and have proceeded largly uninterrupted since.  That the decline and decay are coterminous with the period in which the right has been successfully advancing its ideology is a little fact that somehow manages to avoid scrutiny.

    What the right has been advancing is well-precedented, in the Counterreformation, in the Restoration of the French Monarchy post 1815, in all the counterrevolutionary movements and governments of the 20th century.  Thus all elements of today’s American right point to reinforcing systems of hierarchy and authority, to augment the power of the powerful and to marginalize and suppress the organized expressions of challenge to authority.  In the area of the state, despite the boilerplate rightist rhetoric about “ljimited government” (which is indeed upheld when it comes to limiting the ability of government to interfere with profit maximization), the powers of the authority of the state, and the concentration centralization of the power of the state within one branch, even one man, the Unitar Executive is patent.  Every element of the ability of the state to impose its will and its authority, both domestically and internationally, have been relentlessly increased.  Military budgets that eclipse the spending of the rest of the world combined, vast networks of intelligence and espionage both overseas and in The Homeland (The Homeland itself as an ideological fetish cold warrant its own discussion), law enforcement, the constant expansion of SWAT paramilitarism and repressive apparatus to enforce compliant submission from members of the public, from tasers (what Latin American fascist regimes called electric cattle prods) to highly toxic gases, sound wave trucks, and the impending arrival of large-scale microwave weapons to basically stir-fry dissenters.  Penal codes have been harshened radically for even minor offenses, while simultaneously members of the elite classes, the figures of hierarchy and authority, have been increasingly held to be beyond the reach and penalty of law for even the most heinous offenses.

    The same within the economic structure.  Regulations limiting the authority and freedom to act of management and ownership have been eliminated or simply summarily ignored (by administrations of both parties), while simultaneously, the rights and protections of workers and consumers have been legislatively and administratively gutted and leally, politically and socially suppressed. A vast ideological propaganda effort has largely succeeded in convincing working people to identify with the bosses, the figures of authority and hierarchy, in any conflict with their own fellow workers.  

    The same ideological tendency toward concentration of power within authority and hierarchy is seen in the rise of the religious right.  The easy-going, quasi-democratic mainline Protestant churches, which emphasized the sense of themselves as a nurturing community are rapidly vanishing from society, while fundamentalist churches under the total sway and command of a authoritarian leader, often with an explicitly militaristic form of organization, have been and continue to rapidly grow.  In particular these churches take the central leadership role in the fight against the “social anarchy and chaos” (undermining of traditional hierarchy) represented by the advancement of women’s rights and gay rights.

    Nonetheless, the point is not to get bogged down in any of these details, as none of them individually explain the ideology, except insofar as they represent elements of it.  What’s important is to recognize the cohesive, coherent (in the sense of being internally consistent, not as logical or rational) whole rpresented by this movement as its ideology.

    Now the good news is taht for the first time since the 60s there actually is significant intellectual ideological stirring on the left that goes beyond the abstruse academics of Foucault and Lacan, and intersects with the real conditions of those of us on the receiving end of the prevailing conservative counterrevolutionary ideology.  The bad news is that it’s happening mostly in Europe and Latin America, and the hegemonic control hierarchy and authority have established in the US will make it exceedingly difficult for us to engage in promulgating these debates here.  That’s another thing, these new left ideological debates are just that, debates, polemics in the classic sense, there is as yet no decisively dominant discourse.  But that’s good, it allows us the flexibility to see those elements that apply to our circumstances and build on those.

    Thanks for this Buhdy, it’s a difficult but a necessary beginning.

    • Inky99 on October 26, 2009 at 07:21

    The world is not left-and-right any more, not one bit.

    The whole notion of even calling something “left” is, frankly, kind of silly.

    None of the labels mean anything anymore.

    Listen, what we have is a thoroughly corrupt government, corrupt media, and corrupt corporate system, all of which exist in a conspiratorial circle where they all help each other out, to continue their consolidation of corrupt power.

    There is only one way to get ANYWHERE right now, and that is to eliminate corruption from the system.

    I mean, we cannot even TALK about a “progressive agenda” or “right vs left” until these things are addressed and dealt with.

    Right now the entire government exists to provide Corporate Welfare and legal protection to a corrupt corporate class.   The media is there to do the same, and to propagandize the people into not being aware of any of this, and for the people to blame each other rather than those who are behind all the corruption.

    In this battle, politics shouldn’t play a part.   Corruption is corruption, thievery is thievery, gangsterism is gangsterism.

    All Americans need to realize that they are being SCREWED, and band together to get rid of the screwers so that we can get back to the quaint notions of discussing whether we should have small government, states’ rights, etc. etc. etc.  

    We are being robbed blind by a ruling class who has hijacked the government itself, and has bought the media.

    Listen, one year ago, I had to travel to visit my father, to help him out because he had fallen seriously ill.    He is a very intelligent man, an engineer with three graduate degrees, a career Army veteran, and is about as well informed as I am, only on the opposite side of the universe.  He is an unrepentant right-winger.    And so is his wife, my stepmom.    She is ignorant, relatively uneducated, racist, fearful, and superstitious.    She listens to Rush like he’s a member of the familiy.   They watch only Fox News.   They are the die-hard, right wing fundamentalist “Christian” types that represent a significant portion of the electorate, probably in the 25% range.  

    As I was travelling is when the stock market fell 777 points, and the “bailout” was announced.

    Never before in my life, and in a way that I never thought would happen, we were all on the same page.   We, for ONCE in our lives, AGREED on what was going on — that we were getting ripped off and SHAFTED.

    It was, really, a beautiful moment.   We could talk about what was going on and be in agreement, for the first time ever.  

    Americans all across the country felt the same way.  For, oh, about a week or two.   Then we all got distracted by the bullshit election (and the election WAS bullshit, seeing as how Obama is just another tool of the same fucking elite rich bastards who committed all these crimes), and we all moved on, and we all thought “oh well there’s really nothing we can do”.

    But underneath all of that is STILL a festering realization that we’ve all been shafted.  Not the left, not the right, not the moderates, but ALL of us.

    And that is what needs to happen, is we all need to get together and realize “okay, wait a minute, lets put our idealogical issues aside for a while and GET RID OF THESE LYING THEIVING MOTHERFUCKERS WHO HAVE TAKEN ALL OUR MONEY and who are LAUGHING THEIR ASSES OFF AT US.”

    Which leads me, for one, back to TocqueDeville’s essay on the Guillotine.

    I, for one, am for peaceful acts rather than violent ones.   Although I do honestly believe that a few brooks-brother-suited corpses hanging from lamposts would have a MONUMENTAL affect on the way these people operate.

    How much shit will Americans eat?

    That is really the only question worth talking about.

    Beyond that, who really gives a shit about progressive agendas?   A progressive agenda is never gonna happen as long as pirates are running the show.   Talking about it is pure fantasy, it’s masturbation.

    I’ve long advocated a new party, one that represents nothing but Common Sense.  In fact, I would call it the Common Sense Party.   It wouldn’t have anything to do with “left” or “right” or any of the crap that’s entrapped us for generations now, it would be about looking at problems and figuring out how to fix them.

    The biggest problem right now is that Corporate Welfare has destroyed this country.  Corporate Welfare has led to the corruption we now are experiencing.

    Military spending?   It’s not “defense”, it’s Corporate Welfare.   The money we spend on the “war?”   It’s not really spent on a war, it’s Corporate Welfare, i.e. $400 a gallon for gasoline.   Who gets that money?  Corporations!   Marking up the price every step of the way!    I mean, think about it.  

    The money comes from us, goes to the government, and is handed out, sometimes literally, to corporations who then rent PO boxes in the Cayman Islands so they can avoid paying taxes and avoid all the American laws.   They build their factories in China so they can avoid all the American laws including those designed to protect the environment, workers, and so they can avoid paying American workers American wages.

    Talking about a “progressive agenda” is like people sitting around talking about what they’d do if they won the lotto, or prisoners talking about what they’re gonna eat as their first meal once they get out of jail.

    Let’s get out of jail, first, then talk about it.  Okay?

  8.      Where is the narrative of a world “run by” an Ideological Left?

    This narrative has already begun.


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