On the protests in Europe and the lack of them here

At this point, my best guess is that when push comes to shove in Europe, the left will actually win in most nations. They aren’t wimps, they are willing to fight, they are willing to clash hard with the cops and they are willing to directly attack the interests of the ruling class. Unlike in the US, where the people willing to risk violence are right wingers, in Europe more are on the left wing side.

Why is it that the US left from liberals to Marxists is so, well, timid lately? The fire from the anti Iraq War protests burned out a while back and not much has replaced it. Even the Marxists, notoriously agitators that they are, seem to be power snoozing rather than organizing. I genuinely don’t get why the US left is so enfeebled now. I mean, we got rampant theft and corruption by the elites, huge income disparities, a recession that threatens to be a depression, unemployment, massively obviously class differences – these are issues geared for the Left, which should be taking advantage of it and be in the ascendant. But instead, we’re mostly getting crickets from the Left. It makes no sense, but that’s what’s happening.

Student protest London Nov 11 2010. Indymedia UK

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  • The left needs a strong leader/voice to really get things fired up again.

  • And the left needs to figure out what it really stands for.

  • “I genuinely don’t get why the US left is so enfeebled now.” Mainstream liberals and progressives think the Democratic party is on their side.

    • And if the Democratic party isn’t changing as they think it should, they believe if they can just get the right message to Obama, he will mend his errant ways and morph into Liberalman. Good luck with that.

      Related to this magical thinking is the associated belief that Obama’s biggest problem is that he suffers from bad advisers, forgetting that he hired them.

    • That’s a big part of it. And the Democrats preach that “politics is the art of the possible,” which means, “don’t rock the boat in any way, shape or form.”

  • This is a small piece I wrote some time ago but feel it is still relevant.
    There are still those who believe that by writing letters and donating time and money to candidates and political parties they can effect genuine change within a country. They seem to hold the view that change must come from above, therefore we must petition the leaders, and once they realise the validity of our view, they will graciously make the changes. There is no evidence what so ever to support this view. The need is to resign from the debating society, stop expecting party political donations to change the world. There are too many longwinded responses to the right wing rhetoric, responses that only solicit more rhetoric.
    Mass organising outside the party political system, people on the streets, that’s what brings about genuine change. Our history tells us this story if only we would read it. The Glasgow rent strikes of 1915-26, women’s suffrage, the labour battles of the 20s & 30s, the American civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war protests, the Upper Clyde Shipyard work-in, the British anti-poll tax protests and there are many, many more. All these movements were successful because of the people on the streets, people taking direct action. All these movements were at first opposed by the major sections of the party political system. The social changes these movements created didn’t happen because people politely and meekly waited for the major parties to respond, they happened because the people ignored the party political system and forced the implementation of their demands.
    The government is there not to listen to the people, but to defend the system that keeps the wealth and power in the hands of the corporate greed machine. It will always do its best to defend its class, and if that means a series of unending oil wars, the death of thousands and the destruction of a country or two, then so be it.
    The ordinary people cannot rely on such a system, if we wish a better world for all, then we will have to do it ourselves.

  • sherlock

    You don’t get why there are no leftist movements in the U.S.? It’s because ever since Reagan poisoned the American working-class, rugged individualism, not revolution, has been the tune everyone sings. Students represent the best chance at organization, but have a long history of apoliticism and apathy, at least in the U.S. The fact is that there can’t be a real working-class movement as long as the rural poor continue to side with Republicans.

    The far-left will continue to be ostracized by moderate liberals and the political right until we break through the rhetoric which has convinced the lower class that capitalism will be their salvation, not bring about their destruction.

    • Oh, I get it just fine.

      Have you read ‘Deer Hunting With Jesus’ by Joe Bageant. He talks about precisely that. The rural poor were solidly Democratic until the Democratic Party deliberately ignored them starting in about the 70’s. The Republicans weren’t nearly so stupid. Hell, some of the grandfathers of coal miners today fought pitched battles against management goons during strikes. But the Dems in their ceaseless “move to the center” have destroyed much of their base and are now rudderless.

      But the far left shares some blame. Too often they insist on couching everything in Marxist terms which a) takes way too long to explain in the States and b) is generally greeted almost universally with suspicion. They marginalize themselves. because much of the time, they are primarily interested in recruiting for their little micro-cult and don’t really care much about the broader issues.

      And yes, I have been there.

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