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(DV) Zingh: How the Left Repeatedly Gets the Wind Knocked Out of its Causes







Luffing the Leeward Sails
How the Left Repeatedly Gets the Wind
Knocked Out of Its Causes

by Zbignew Zingh
August 7, 2006

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We should expect it like the setting sun. 

In recent times, every time the populist ship of state tacks strongly into an issue -- be it the anti-globalization movement, the anti-war movement, the unraveling of capital chicanery, or the impeachment of the Bushkovites in Washington -- something extraordinary happens to luff our sails and stall the ship's progress. 
In September 2001, it was the terrorist attack of 9/11. Coming just when anti-WTO and anti-globalization sentiment world-wide was a rising tide, just when Mister Bush's poll numbers were plunging down the toilet, a diabolo ex machina appeared in the guise of one purported Usama bin Laden, et. al. to change the subject. 
Before the thermited steel trusses of the World Trade Center had even cooled, before the curious could ever begin to properly analyze the improbabilities and contradictions of the Official Story, war dogs were baying for the invasion of Afghanistan and, subsequently, Iraq. The barking soon drowned out the softer voices of reason and Mister Bush birthed his Legacy of Perpetual War on Terror. 
When the global movement against the occupation of Iraq was picking up steam in 2003 and 2004, it was the American elections that, once again, threw leftists' ships off course. Rather than focusing on the key issue of the moment -- ending The War -- political activists at the grass roots were sucked into the race for president between Misters Bush and Kerry, perhaps one of the most dismal, least differentiated political races of modern times. When the election was over, precious energy had been dissipated, precious momentum lost, and all in the cause of trying to get elected a Brahmin-class, keel-less politician who opposed neither The War nor the theft of his own election.  
Whenever world currencies begin to show their insubstantiality, whenever the skeletons of Wall Street begin their Enron, Long Term Capital Management or WorldCom danse macabre, some excitable event will suddenly thrust itself upon the public, like a serendipitous macro-distraction that will re-focus attention away from the financial follies. Sometimes the distraction is no more than a miraculous, and quite irrational rally in the stock market. Sometimes the distraction is a Hollywood sex scandal. Sometimes, most often, the distraction is a sudden calamity, a new claim on charity and time that instantly sucks off the wind from all other long term and important issues. 
How does this happen? 
Americans, on both the Right and the Left, are a mass of contradictions. The Middle is merely irrelevant. The Right chatters pseudo-patriotic, faux Christian claptrap that, with a slight substitution of nouns, could as well be uttered by hard line Islamic fundamentalists. The Right champions the supremacy of everything American while denigrating everything American. The Right routinely confounds democracy with Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart with Christianity, and Christianity with militarism. 
The contradictions on the Left, however, are no less glaring. 
We criticize the mainstream press because it is biased, unwilling to tell full, true stories and unresponsive to anyone except its corporate advertisers... and then we urge our compatriots to write letters to the editors as though this same mainstream press will pay any heed to what we write. 
We complain that the courts are slow and stacked with right-wing enforcers of the status quo... and then we expect the courts to solve our problems
We consider ourselves “activists” and “radicals”... but then we routinely seek change within the confines of the very system we abhor; and we seek “funding”, as NGOs, as 501C-3s, as community organizations that lap up government grant money or corporate funds or tax-exempt status to sustain our “radicalism.” 
We moan that the Constitution is dying and the Bill of Rights ignored, that the Congress is in cahoots with an autocratic, fascistic administration... and then we expect that our letters and constitutional appeals to the Congress and the Bushkovites will, somehow, persuade them of the rectitude of our cause
We argue that the elections are rigged, the voting machines' software contrived, and that the Democrats and Republicans are but two faces of the same party... and then we get dragged into two-party politics and demand that we vote -- time and time again -- at these same rigged ballot boxes for the same old tired candidates of the same old tired parties
Henry David Thoreau wrote in his 1849 tract Civil Disobedience:  
Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless when it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then. But it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight.” 
Voting is good, if votes are counted; but elections, in and of themselves, rank among the less significant acts of citizenship and activism. What counts the most is what you do, how you live, how and what you think, and the courage, constancy, and truth you express in it all. 
The Democratic and Republican parties, unlike most European and South American political parties that struggle among many in proportional or parliamentary systems of government, do not presently exist to drive any specific legislative or social agenda. Rather, they serve to advance the interests of their party members, and, in particular, those at the highest echelons of the parties. The Republicans, for the moment, support the Christian Right because it serves their needs. The Democrats, for the moment, support Labor (sort of) and Womens' Reproductive Rights (sort of) because it serves their needs. Both parties would ditch their present “constituencies”, however, in a flash, if doing so proved a direct path to power.  
In the process of advancing their own interests, politicians will, as sops, minimally advance a few matters that concern us, but only a few. That is why political “leaders” at the top of their game adopt and disavow positions and policies as easily as their advisers and consultants change their socks. Their purpose, however packaged and marketed to the voters, is always to secure the spoils of power for themselves and their associates. Why, then, do populists and leftists, so-called progressives and activists, get sucked into the vortex of the major parties, the Black Hole of electoral politics? Why do we always rush to luff our sails while supporting the lesser evil versus the greater evil? Are we collectively a little dingy? 
The banal truth is that America's Left is a lot thinner than we think. The majority, though not all, on the left side of the polit-o-meter really want the status quo, only Nicer. We long for an illusory, halcyon age of American innocence, a curious left-reactionaryism that yearns for a fabled America we were taught to believe in, but that never was. Most Americans, Left and Right, may actually be afraid of change and seek either to restore a mythological glory that never existed; or, they support incremental legislative fixes for particular issues wrapped in the gold leaf of generic “goodness”. 
The American Revolution, although it spawned a paperwork worthy of greatness, did not, in reality, give birth to a revolutionary nation. The United States that emancipated itself from the British commercial empire did not emancipate its own slaves. Despite the noble, and truly revolutionary, words of the Declaration of Independence, they remained just words. The New Nation embarked almost immediately on its own territorial expansion at the expense of indigenous peoples, embarked on a policy of militarization and, before too many years, took on the imperial robes that it stripped from Britannia. What we see today in the occupations of Iraq and in Palestine, in our satrapies of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Colombia and Jordan, in our AmerIsraeli war on Lebanon, in our soon to be launched aggression on Iran, on Cuba and on Venezuela, is the maturation of a nation that went bad in childhood and grew up not different, but unabashedly meaner than its imperial parent.  
What the American Revolution did inspire, however, was later revolutions in Europe, Asia, in Africa, in the Caribbean and Central America. Some sputtered, some died, some are still evolving. Some, particularly in South America, have just begun. It behooves us in North America to pay attention to, and to learn from, what others are begetting elsewhere. 
The essence of what we do, in order to avoid pointlessly and repeatedly luffing our sails, to avoid forever running aground on electoral party politics, is to look beyond party politics.  
We need to carefully observe and think about storms that have broken upon us, and storms that look like they are gathering. They seem to be of a global nature, and have been developing for hundreds of years.  
We ought to have a theory, that is, an explanation, for the origins of these storms, just as scientists explain the man-made acceleration of the extreme climatic changes we are experiencing. We need theories and explanations that go beyond “Democrats good; Republicans bad”. We also ought to consider solutions, which may or may not occur within existing structures, but will certainly require of all a radical change in our way of living. Sound political and economic theory are to movements what sails are to sailboats – they are necessary to propel you forward. 
Our leeward sails are luffing and we are muddling around in circles. Look for safe harbor and put in for reflection, deep thought and repair. The day comes when we will have to sail into strong storms, against the headwinds.

Zbignew Zingh can be reached at: Zbig@ersarts.com. This Article is CopyLeft, and free to distribute, reprint, repost, sing at a recital, spray paint, scribble in a toilet stall, etc. to your heart’s content, with proper author citation. Find out more about Copyleft and read other great articles at www.ersarts.com. copyleft 2006

Other Articles by Zbignew Zingh

* The Daze of the Living Dead
* Garden Variety Politics
* The Subsurface World of Inflation, Cannibalism and the Plight of the Squeezees
* Cracks in the Coalition of the Crackpots
* Dear George... Have I Told You How Much I Appreciate You?
* Facilitating Fascism
* Detroit Dialectic: The Irony of the Super Bowl in a Supercilious Nation
* The Nuclear “Threat” At the End of the Age of Petroleum
* Roberts' Rules of Order
* Project for the New American Colonies (A Neoconned American Revolution)
* Pat Robertson's Fatwah and the Emergence of Medieval America
* The Neocon Cookbook: Savory Recipes for the Power Hungry by the Power Elite
* President Bush Supports Alternative Fuels Research Instead of Conservation
* Bush Wants Answers: Did Chavez, Castro and Bin Laden Lead Embassy Siege in Iran?
* The University's Biocontainment Lab: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You!
* The Convergence
* The Political Descent of Mankind
* Soviets “R” US
* November Strategy
* New Dogs for the New American Century
* Vive la Difference
* Dennis, We Hardly Knew You
* The 2004 Political All-Star Game
* George Bush, Destroyer of the Faith
* Zbignew's Inferno
* The Statue of Liberty is Missing
* Monuments To The New American Century
* What Are We Trying To Achieve?
* Bush Administration Relents: American Style Elections Promised for Iraq
* E.U. Researchers Publish Findings of Widespread Mad Cow Infection
* The Declassified Ads

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