May 22 Open Thread: What's left of the left?
It's Day 142 of the Year 2019 CE (Gregorian), meaning that it's May 22, 2019 (Gregorian), or 188.8.131.52.3 by the long count
On May 22, 1964, LBJ launched "the Great Society". How bold and brash its naming, and how soft and quiet its demise. Who among us noted its passing with appropriate ceremony, or, for that matter, any ceremony? Yes, there is a double entendre in the title. It is no accident.
I keep hearing that some politician, some group of citizens or some ideas are (far) to the left of mainstream "america" (meaning the USA). This puzzled me until I realized that this rhetoric comes from a group of "centrist" + "Democrats" who see themselves and only themselves as representing that mainstream. They also, without any hesitation see and define themselves as not only "centrist" but also both "liberal" and "progressive". That this is oxymoronic seemingly escapes them, as does the fact that there is no such thing as centrism or centrists. "Curiouser and curiouser", said Alice. "WTF?" said enhydra, he of the now old "new left" that, in its birth throes converted the "American Left" into the "old left" in order that "the left" might become, for a while at least, the "New left". (For the record, Enhydra, like much if not most of the "new left" foot soldiery, was an amalgam of ideas, policies, and positions from both lefts, picking and choosing the best elements from each.)
Upon analysis it became clear that a massive linguistic upheaval had oleaginously slithered into common parlance. Hearken back to the USA's two "mainstream" parties, the
Whigs, no, no, the GOP and the Dems. Sometimes (often) referred to as the two wings of the business party, they were, by whatever name and description, well established and taken for granted. Then, a quiet revolution occurred ushering in a Brave New Era. A new third party arose, but instead of openly strutting and fretting their hour upon the stage, they took the sly name Brave New Democrats (hereinafter also New Democrats or New Dems), and quickly took over the existing Dem organization and ideology pretty much lock, stock. and barrel. "So what of it?", you may ask, as well you might. Well, as the somehow presumptive "liberal" or "left" party, the newly reinvented and newly renamed (Brave) New Democrats began to redefine political terminology. It didn't happen overnight, and has steadily evolved since its first Reaganistic beginnings some 26 years ago. Let's have a peek.
Rebranding Ronald Reagan
So what are the newly progressive policies of this new new left. The (Brave) New Democrats campaigned and delivered on being business friendly and proved it with various policies. Deregulation, especially of banks, financial instruments and the financial sector. A policy that government was the problem, and needed to be downsized, outsourced and privatized was implemented. Mergers and monopolies were deemed to be good things and facilitated and permitted across the board. Job exporting trade agreements, starting with NAFTA. Creation of the WTO to empower corporations to override health, environmental, zoning, safety, and labor laws or else be paid outrageous fortunes in blackmail for being forced to abide by such laws. Reduced capital gains, business and estate taxes, somewhat offset by increased taxes on social security benefits in the name of balanced budgets and their concomitant austerity. Economic policies and government actions were all to be "supply side" and "market based" or involve a supply side "public-private partnerships".
Not directly business related were many other policies. "Welfare reform." Increased policing and militarization of the police as part of the creation of the mass incarceration state, including the school to prison pipeline to round up all of those "super predator" minority and impoverished children. DADT and DOMA. "Charitable choice" was instituted to allow any social service and welfare funding left after welfare reform to be diverted to faith based organizations who could then use it for proselytization and spewing dogma such as replacing sex education with "abstinence only" non-education leaving graduates unaware of the basic operation of the reproductive system and what to do and how should they ever decide to get married and couple. This policy has since been expanded to involve active "partnering" with religious organizations, including officers embedded in key agencies to continuously seek out opportunities to divert more and more resources and responsibilities to faith based organizations.
It is difficult not to address the expansion and continuation of the newlanguage or newspeak of the newnewleft or (Brave) New Dems - DLC - Third Way, but I'm tired, have a cold, and am starting to bore even myself. This is not about whether you think those things are good or bad, nor whether you think those (re)definitions are appropriate for this "Brave New World We're Living In" ((Beatles), but about the need for a modicum of linguistic consistency. I'm not even arguing for decade to decade or even year to year consistency, but for consistency within the moment. It is preposterous, illegitimate, insulting and blatantly false to claim that somebody like Bernie or Elizabeth Warren is too progressive or too liberal, for they neither one want more deregulation nor even such amount as we currently have suffered. They do not seek, advocate nor support more consolidations and monopolies, nor do they approve of the carceral state and the school to prison pipeline.
We are not looking at some mere shift in the overton window, but a complete dislocation and translocation of both language space and concept space. It is all well and good for the insiders to adopt and use this vision and weltanschauung, but it is simply inapplicable to the old left and the old new left, old school liberals and all other outsiders, for they cannot be positioned anywhere in the concept space created by this newspeak and the doublethink that underlies it. It is not merely inapplicable in the way that the rules and concepts of Euclidean geometry are inapplicable to non-Euclidean spaces such as those of Lobachevsky or Reimann, but also in the sense that said rules are inapplicable to Urdu. They are simply of another universe. It is no longer possible for anybody or anything to be to the left of the left or any fragment or degree thereof. A stable discontinuity has occurred in language space.
And now, The Great Society:
When logic and proportion have fallen softly dead ....
When the truth is found to be lies and all the joy within you dies ...
Image is Hans Holbein's "Dance of Death" and is publi domain
Its an open thread so have at it. The floor is yours