The Left At War by Michael Berube. Firedoglake Book Salon

More please. Serious discussion of how the left often seriously shoots itself in the foot, and what we can do about it. The most glaring stupidity is the Manichean error which posits that whatever the US does is always wrong / imperialist and its corollary, that anything the US doesn’t like therefore must be supported.

What Bérubé calls the “Manichean Left” actually made it more difficult to mobilize against the Iraq war, because it provided pro-war writers with an excuse to brand all opponents on the war as crazy.

This error also leads to such derangements as supporting Ahmenijabad in the delusion that he stands against imperialism. The moderates are turned off by the message and the right attacks it gleefully. The error comes from calcified Marxism and its one-doctrine-fits-all mindset. It insists upon an interpretation of the sacred scriptures of Saint Karl that must be followed. But if the square peg of doctrine doesn’t fit into the round hole of reality, then whack it until it does. But this is no way to run an anti-war movement.

What would make things better? Here, Bérubé argues that a better understanding of culture – one which doesn’t equate the American people with the American sheeple – would help lefties avoid some of the critical errors that the Manichean left made.

It’s not just the insulting sheeple reference (which automatically makes the speaker part of the elite who Truly Understands) it’s worse than that. The left often goes out of its way to denigrate and mock poor whites, rural folks, and those loosely grouped as being rednecks. Lefties who wouldn’t think of insulting a person of color based on their ethnicity sometimes think themselves oh-so-witty when calling impoverished Caucasians “white trash.” But not to their faces, no doubt.

However, the majority of such people are not racists or drooling right-wing neanderthals and might well be open to leftie ideas, if presented in a friendly way that assumed they were equals, not lessers to be preached to by elites who know what’s best for them.

Republicans operatives have understood this for decades and have succeeded mightily because of it. But Democrats and lefties often seem to delight in ignoring tens of millions who could otherwise be open to their message.


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