The financial crisis. Where is the Left?

bailout nation
The far left has often dreamed about a financial crisis that would lay bare the rapaciousness of capitalism. Well, it’s here, but the far left has been conspicuous by its absence.

Instead, the really hardball analysis is being done by financial world insiders and a journalist who publishes in a music magazine. They are the ones who are forcing the issues into the mainstream and Congress.

A few examples:

Zero Hedge, an blog by a team of anonymous financial world insiders has broken major stories on flash trading, high frequency trading, and more. These noxious practices are now being banned. They have succeeded in exposing massive greed of insider’s profiting by quite probably illegal practices. Sounds like something the left should be doing, but instead it’s right-tilting libertarians who are doing it.

Naked Capitalism
Yves Smith also blogs frequently about such practices. In real life, she is Susan Webber of Aurora Advisors, another financial insider.

The Big Picture / Barry Ritholtz
Ritholtz is a blogger, financial commentator, runs a quant research company, and is author of Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy. Obviously, he’s far from happy about the current state of affairs and makes a point of linking to GoldmanSachs666 from his blogroll.

Matt Taibbi / Rolling Stone
Taibbi played a major role in exposing the dubious practices of Goldman Sachs. He does it on his blog, but his major articles appear in Rolling Stone, hardly a font of radicalism. His opening paragraph for the Goldman story has become a classic.

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.

By contrast, the response by the far left to all of this has been mostly to ignore it, except for maybe running an article about Why Capitalism is Bad filled with impenetrable-to-outsiders Marxist jargon. I’m genuinely dumbfounded at the lack of reaction from the far left to this huge and obvious organizing opportunity. This blog is one of the few left blogs that has consistently been on the financial meltdown story since it started with the early stories about subprime from Calculated Risk and Mish. The left should be taking the lead, hammering away at this, but instead it has mostly been oddly and inexplicably absent. Why is this?

  • DJ

    Thanks, Bob, for keeping your focus on this issue. Perhaps you’ve now learned (as I have) that the traditional Left has little to offer– in part because its two models (violent overthrow or trustworthy government) don’t play well in America. Obama, our so-called socialist (on the right) or progressive (on the left), is to the right of conservative Merkel. Our left looks a lot like centrism.

    If there is to be a New Awakening here, it must be something uniquely American, not the rantings of a German or Chinese thinker from a century ago. I agree with you: Alinsky holds the key, and the key is this: the people themselves have the answer, they just need help finding it and implementing it. It’s easy to dismiss the power of local change, whether the issue is corruption or global warming– but local organization can change the direction of a nation. (I’ve seen it.)

    I would also suggest that, just as Alinsky allied with the Catholics where it made sense, a true grassroots movement cannot ignore religion either– it is powerful, it is (to an extent) malleable, and it is looking for a political champion. Right now, the religious right is ascendant, well organized and well connected– but it has become a one-issue show, based on gay-bashing. Many folks are as frustrated with their religious leaders as they are with their political leaders. They WANT to do the right thing, but their leaders preach hatred and the End of Days. They’re looking for someone to turn to.

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