This week our readers talked about the weakness of the U.S. left, the storming of the Capitol, and the crisis of U.S. imperialism. We share letters for “Freedom Rider: Why the Left Don’t Protest,” “mashing the state- Kristallnacht style,” and “US Imperialism Was in Disarray in 2020.”
In “Freedom Rider: Why the Left Don’t Protest” Margaret Kimberley argues that a commitment to electoral politics and the Democratic Party instead of direct action has severely damaged the U.S. left.
Lee Einer writes:
“Recently, a faction of the left conducted an experiment, called #ForceTheVote, and while some deem it a failure, I say it was quite a success.
“The #ForceTheVote experiment tested the hypothesis that, by supporting an alleged socialist faction within the Democratic party apparatus (the DSA) and by electing alleged socialist candidates into the Democratic Party, we could wrest power from the plutocracy and effect profound change. Specifically, #ForceTheVote was a call on self-described socialists and progressive members of the House to make their votes for Pelosi as speaker conditional on a floor vote for Medicare for All. The number of progressive and socialist representatives was sufficient that they could hold Pelosi hostage and compel this to happen.
“The result of the experiment? AOC, the “rock star” of the democratic faux socialists, gave a number of disingenuous reasons why not, and the rest simply ghosted us. The ‘socialist’ and progressive contingent in the House showed themselves to embrace party loyalty over social justice when the chips are down. Lesson learned, at least for those brave enough to abandon some cherished illusions.
“The core concept of the Democratic Party as a vehicle for a socialist people’s movement is profoundly flawed. If we recognize that the Democratic and Republican parties jointly comprise a ruling class social control formation that serves and legitimizes the plutocracy, it’s ridiculous to think that working class support for either party is anything but self-sabotage. Those who claim that they will be bringing the socialism by participating in the Democratic Party may begin as misguided, but they will continue as opportunists if they continue at all.
“The only purpose of party politics, from a revolutionary socialist perspective, is to use the electoral exercise as a pulpit for recruitment, and to build an organization and a power structure the endgame of which is not to participate in the current power structure, but to topple and replace it.”
Kip Husty writes:
“I thoroughly enjoy your analyses. Your article, is another incisive critique, however, it misses an intuitive element that struck me on that riot at the Capitol: the right idea but the wrong people/wrong reasons. I agree with you that a riot inside the Capitol is not necessarily what is needed -- in fact, it may be counter-productive. And certainly, right-wing racist supporters of Trump were disgusting. I could not watch it on television -- not because of the rioters, but because of the sanctimonious attitude taken by the news outlets. Look, I don't want to defend them, but the left should take note: this is what you might do, what you should be capable of doing, should your populist insurgent president (if we ever get one) gets hammered by ticky-tack opposition for four years (yes, it has happened to previous Democratic presidents, but not with the vitriol by so much of the media) and then there is a belief that the vote was stolen. (How ironic that the first impeachment was for delaying weapon shipments to Neo-Nazis and the second was for inciting Neo-Nazis - progress?).
“The point I am making agrees with your assessment about the weakness of the Left, but disagrees on a minor point -- the theater of seeing people wrecking havoc on the symbol of American genocidal, slave-holding, empire-building, oligarchy serving illegality kind of warms my heart, and the hearts of friends who are similarly yippie, punk and anarchical. We aren't the face of the future, but will be found in some small part of its soul. Please, accept this in the intended spirit of respect and support.”
In “mashing the state- Kristallnacht style” Raymond Nat Turner gives a poetic interpretation of the storming the Capitol building and the end of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tenure.
Robert Blandford writes:
“If a poem can define an age, turmoil, trouble, the agony and ecstasy of a troubled people and nation, and the seething contradictions inherent in that maddening world, then Nat Turner stands at the apex of singing and chronicling this revolution underway in America and earth wide. His poem, ‘mashing the state- Kristallnacht style,’ paints the black experience in all its pain, and the perpetrators as those culturally racialized ‘…who … shatter glass, skulls, and illusions…’
“In the Bible, we read that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first --‑in Heaven. Nat Turner, in the poem, ‘Kill Just For The Thrill… last days of Pompeo,’ ends the poem by singing of the dialectical nature of this world, that the inherent sovereignty of the people will spiral back into existence, and will have the final say -- on Earth. Yes, and we will heal, and no longer lament ‘what man has made of man.’”
Radio segment “US Imperialism Was in Disarray in 2020” covers Ajamu Baraka’s recent speech arguing that the US state is facing its most serious crisis of legitimacy since the financial crisis.
Paul Billings writes:
“Terrific program. As you are well aware, we are watching the rot/putrefaction of late-stage capitalism. US economic decline has progressed to the point where the very survival of the American Empire requires continued looting (i.e., stealing) of large amounts of public money from the US Treasury to: 1) prop up Wall St. and insolvent banks (circa $7 trillion in 2020), without which many will collapse, and 2) subsidize the Pentagon and strategic debacles in Afghanistan (longest war in US history), Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen.
“On another note, considering that Monday was MLK day, I saw this post:
‘The US has convinced many people that MLK day is a day of ‘service’. MLK wasn't interested in ‘service,’ he was interested in the redistribution of wealth to render poverty obsolete. Less service, more redistribution. He was called ‘the most dangerous man in America’ by the FBI, not because he was interested in 'community service', but because he was promoting anti-militarism and anti-capitalism. He was organizing a poor people's campaign to use direct action against the US government for maintaining economic inequality, not to ‘help out poor people,’ but to end the idea of poor people. People will remind us that King practiced non-violence. That is a half-truth. MLK practiced non-violent DIRECT ACTION. He and others physically put their bodies on the line against the U.S. government, against state and local governments, against police. The ‘direct action’ is often left out because the people we protest against want you to think that non-violence means inaction and it does not. Non-violence also does not mean peaceful. They don't want non-violent direct action. They don't want any action at all. So yes, clean your neighborhoods, plant your flowers, donate or whatever other service you want to do, but if you want to be in King's tradition of building a beloved community, join an organization, do political education, engage in nonviolent direct action, call out racism, capitalism, and militarism.”
The struggle to revive the real legacy of Dr. King and the movement he was part of will remain key in our time. This means that a serious left must seriously study the history of that period.
Jahan Choudhry is Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
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