A call to build an anti-monopoly alliance and working class based progressive political party capable of challenging Wall Street for political and economic power is missed in both articles. Both are required.
Reed kind of ends the left's historic involvement kind of early, in my opinion. He should have taken us through the struggles to get the "Full Employment act of 1945" enacted--- labor and its left were very strong in this struggle.
Another thing; Reed doesn't mention by name either the Socialist Party or the Communist Party as the primary left organizations of this period from 1932 to 1946. Reed, like so many others, fails to point this out. This is very important. The left has always done best while the Socialists and Communists have worked together or at least were traveling along parallel paths. Working together worked out very well and very successfully with both of their involvements in the socialist Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party. No one seems to want to mention this very important fact.
I don't think Reed goes quite far enough in characterizing how many liberals, progressives and leftists were brought into creating a false image of Obama which he did not deserve and was not true. Many are still, to this very day, trying to characterize Obama as a liberal with a progressive agenda--- an outright lie. Reed is correct; Obama has a neo-liberal Wall Street agenda.
In discussing how the struggle for equality--- has been to a large extent abandoned--- Reed doesn't make clear the attempt of these same dishonest liberals, progressives and leftists to turn the discussion from fighting for equality to demanding "equity." The foundation-funded outfits, the think-tanks for the Democrats, have done this. "Equality" and "Equity" mean two different things. It's darn near impossible to gain equity while mass inequality persists.
The role of the Democratic Party hack and linguist, George Lakoff, in shaping the and defining the Democratic agenda has never been exposed--- not in Reed's piece below nor by anyone else. How are Lakoff's thoroughly reactionary writings and advice in the name of being "progressive" to the Democrats based largely on refining the dishonest and corrupt red-baiting politics Hubert H. Humphrey going unchallenged? This needs to be thoroughly discussed which means studying Lakoff's writings.
Again, I think some of these honest intellectuals are going to have to come to grips with the fact that most successful working class advances have come when the Socialist and Communist parties have been at their strongest points leading the working class. There can't be any beating around the bush on this point.
First Norman Thomas led his extremely influential, powerful, mass Socialist Party astray; then, a decade later, Earl Browder led the powerful Communist Party astray. Both after having contributed immensely towards building their respective parties.
We have different left parties simply because people coming from different walks of life having lived through different circumstances view the world and the role of our movements differently... but, the working together of the Socialists and Communists in Minnesota has proven unity in action can be achieved--- but; and this is an important BUT, but only when the grassroots and rank-and-file from both parties demand this.
We really need some kind of forums and round-table discussions bringing together liberals, progressives and leftists.
On many important issues from peace to full employment and the Minimum Wage becoming a real living wage along with real health care reform and the need for public child care centers we should be able to come to a meeting of the minds and find common ground uniting us in struggle in a way that brings our multi-national, female-male, young and old working class into action.
The circulation and organized discussion of these two articles could lead to very powerful action.
Alan L. Maki
The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals
Clinton ran partly on a pledge of “ending welfare as we know it”; in office he both presided over the termination of the federal government’s sixty-year commitment to provide income support for the poor and effectively ended direct federal provision of low-income housing. In both cases his approach was to transfer federal subsidies — when not simply eliminating them — from impoverished people to employers of low-wage labor, real estate developers, and landlords. He signed into law repressive crime bills that increased the number of federal capital offenses, flooded the prisons, and upheld unjustified and racially discriminatory sentencing disparities for crack and powder cocaine. He pushed NAFTA through over strenuous objections from labor and many congressional Democrats. He temporized on his campaign pledge to pursue labor-law reform that would tilt the playing field back toward workers, until the Republican takeover of Congress in 1995 gave him an excuse not to pursue it at all. He undertook the privatization of Sallie Mae, the Student Loan Marketing Association, thereby fueling the student-debt crisis.
“We’re Eisenhower Republicans here,” he declared, albeit exasperatedly, shortly after his 1992 victory. “We stand for lower deficits, free trade, and the bond market. Isn’t that great?”
Losing Our Way
By BOB HERBERT
Published: March 25, 2011
Damon Winter/The New York TimesBob Herbert
Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.
The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.
Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.
There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.
Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.
The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.
This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.
A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.
As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”
G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.
Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed.
The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.
New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.