Nothing Left


The other night I heard Anderson Cooper, the latest well-coiffed fool de jour, saying something about Obama needing to change the perception that he’s “left of the American center.” He was following up on something Bill Bennett had said earlier. Yes, Bill Bennett. That bastard is now on CNN’s “best political team on television,” which should make you gag if you haven’t lost that reflex from overuse.

Left, right. Right, left. Those terms we all use, derived from the seating arrangements at the National Assembly in Paris over two centuries ago—terms that long ago lost their usefulness to any meaningful discourse. And what is most absurd is that bobble-heads in the media still talk about “the left”—as if it were a viable political force in the United States.

News flash: there hasn’t been a real left wing in this country for at least thirty years. Not if you mean a movement or a political group that has political clout within the American system. During Vietnam, there started to be one, but it was mostly confined to students and other draft-age youth. The rest of the country stayed stupid and apathetic. The powers-that-be made sure that the “new” left of the Sixties was undermined, suppressed, busted, and co-opted into irrelevance. But the vehemence of the antiwar movement, and the brief rise of a so-called “counterculture,” scared America’s owners so much that they’re still hysterically railing against them.

The wingnut nation propped up “liberalism” as its straw man, and pretended that this was the “left.” They actually wanted us to believe that Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and the rest of the feckless Democratic wannabes, who were in fact corporate shills to the bone, were dangerous leftists. They’ve persuaded even themselves that they are an embattled minority holding out against a powerful left-liberal threat.

Every news talk show has right-wing pundits on its regular staff. George Will, Pat Buchanan, Glenn Freakshow Beck, the list goes on and on. Now, name one left-wing pundit with a regular TV gig. There’s no such thing. No, don’t give me some prevaricator like Mark Shields—he’s a reporter who tries to be “balanced,” not an unabashed spokesman for an alternative to the “conservative” paradigm the way Will or Buchanan are vocal, unabashed rightists. There is no left-wing pundit on TV. None. So when some variety of butt-licking cable anchor talks about the “left,” he (or she) is talking about someone who is not there.

They always talk about “the center,” too. The “center” is a con-man’s trick. The marker keeps getting moved farther and farther to the right. What is considered “the center” now was crazy-ass John Birch territory forty years ago when I was a kid. Ronald Reagan was correctly viewed as a hate-mongering extremist then, not the revered grandpa figure we’ve been presented with since. The Republicans have perfected the art of pushing the boundaries beyond what anyone thought possible, so that you can never be conservative enough, unless you’re with them, and even then you’d better be careful.

There is not a single person in the entire government that I know of who is willing to go on TV and say “I’m a leftist.” If there were, the news show wouldn’t allow him on. To even use the word “left” in mainstream discourse is to imply something perverse and wrong and scary, something that will undermine your patriotism, sell drugs to your kids, outlaw your religion. Every coward in the Democratic Party wants to be known as a “centrist.” If they’re not outright Lieberman turncoats who dream of obliterating nations like Hillary Clinton just did in public, then they’re timid Democrats who want to be decent, but get fwightened whenever Dick Cheney waves his Bin Laden shadow puppet at them.

If the wingnuts were to wake up one day and find that there was an actual “left” in this country, they would piss themselves in fear. In Europe they still have a labor movement, for chrissake. They have labor parties, and viable socialist parties that win fucking elections! The left is embattled in Europe, too, for sure, and was badly tainted by association with the criminal Soviet and Chinese regimes. But there is an actual left-wing there! In America, we have a right-wing monopoly on the political process with a phony straw man “left” used to prevent us from speaking up. What there is of a progressive movement is totally outside the system, and it’s still a small minority.

If you’re a student interested in getting ahead in the political game here in the U.S., what do you do? If you’re a right-winger, even a pinhead like Dinesh D’Souza, you will have opportunities galore to advance yourself. People will throw money at you. You can write for rags like The American Spectator and The National Review. You can write books and get invited on talk shows. It doesn’t matter that you can’t write, that your mind is a stagnant pool of banality. Just string the usual half-assed opinions together and you will be rewarded. Take Jonah Goldberg, for instance. Please.

You see, there’s a lot of money behind the rightist movement. A whole lot of money, and more where that came from. And if one wingnut is discredited, they’ll just buy another one. There’s always another one, because there’s money in it. That’s all conservatism is. There are no actual principles involved other than that.

Now, let’s say you’re a left-winger. What do you do? You can maybe start a blog for no pay. You can go work for a Democratic politician, get betrayed and corrupted, write position papers and get swallowed by the system. You can compete for the few low-paying gigs at The Nation or Mother Jones or whatever. Probably you’ll just go back to academia and become a professor. That’s the one place your leftism might be tolerated. As long as you don’t attract too much attention.

So don’t talk to me about the left. There is no left. It was killed when the labor unions bought into the war machine and became fat and complacent. It died when working people indulged racism and hatred and voted for smooth-talking liars who turned around and screwed them for everything they had. It was murdered when so-called liberals sent thousands of kids down the pipeline to Vietnam. Now we just sit and wait for scraps, hoping that some candidate will bring us “change.” But I don’t believe in left and right any more. I believe that there are greedy corporate pigs who own the country and are running the government. And then there are the rest of us, mostly trying to just get by.

Hint: the rest of us outnumber them.


~ by cdash on April 24, 2008.

15 Responses to “Nothing Left”

  1. A truly well written and articulate post from the ‘Write Wing’.

    //During Vietnam, there started to be one, but it was mostly confined to students and other draft-age youth. The rest of the country stayed stupid and apathetic.//

    And it cost us over 50,000 dead young men!! This administration will try to stay away from students for their cannon fodder and concentrate on mis-using National Guard troops (Stop Loss).

    All of them are assholes!

    //then there are the rest of us, mostly trying to just get by//

    Boy&Howdy. I am proud to be one of US.

  2. I never watch the Cheerleaders’ Neutered Network. There’s no point in it for me; if I want FOX, I’ll watch FOX. Cheap knock-offs just piss me off.

    I wish there was a left in this country. I believe the last left we had got assassinated in a hotel in Los Angeles about 40 years ago.

  3. No one on the left, at least on the teevee? I suppose Chris Matthews doesn’t count? He has magical hair, too!

    For there to be an actual ‘left,’ there would have to be a sudden proliferation of cojones by politicians to start up the process of returning ‘left,’ ‘liberal’ and other such words to their once-accepted meaning. Since that would upset the gravy train, it’s best we get back to drinking.

  4. Good rant.

  5. ‘There is not a single person in the entire government that I know of who is willing to go on TV and say “I’m a leftist.” ‘

    What about Dennis Kucinich? And in terms of pundits, have you forgotten about Rachel Maddow?


    “Take Jonah Goldberg, for instance. Please.”

    No thanks.

  6. Funny you should mention this. When I was younger, I always considered myself a moderate. Within the last decade-plus, I’d thought I’d become more liberal, more “left-wing.” Maybe I haven’t actually moved? Something for me to think about, Dash. Good post.

  7. Merci as usual.
    Anita: Ah, Dennis Kucinich. Yes, yes. But does he actually identify as “left”? If so, j’avais tort. Not familiar with Maddow. Don’t watch enough MSNBC. And that’s a good thing, let me tell you. Does she say the word “left” or “leftist” in reference to herself, or must we tacitly assume so without disturbing the fragile mind of Joe Scarborough? 🙂

  8. Damn! What an excellent post. I listen to old Woody Guthrie songs and think what in the hell happened? That was some liberal/left wing stuff!

  9. Wow! we are pissed off today. I am not only pissed off, I’m finally scared. Depressed, bitter and thinking of Canada.

    What about Olbermann?

  10. CDash. It’s interesting how you ask if Kucinich “identifies” as liberal.

    When I think of that usage, I tend to think of gender. People “identify” as gay, straight, transgender, whatever. I am sure there are all kinds of psychological reasons and ramificiations to that.

    My own experience with that term was when I went to a new doctor once for a physical> As she was running down the questions required to develop my medical history, she asked me how I “identify” … I remember completely not understanding what the f*ck she meant. She then explained to me that she basically wanted to know if I was gay or straight. She probably had to ask the question as a matter of professional protocol but to ask it right out could be deemed either politically incorrect or overly invasive. On top of that, if acknowledges both the individual’s privacy as well as the reality that some people are confused or not at terms with their own sexuality.

    So ………. my point being that, and this I think props up your arguement: “liberal” is to political orientation as “gay” is or has been to acce[tamce within an intolerant straight society.

    Either that, or I’m seroiusly confused. But, to be honest, I do “identify” as the occasional blathering idiot.

  11. After Rush Limbaugh made “liberal” a dirty word, people began to shy away from identifying themselves as such. Sad. But, hey, won’t we look sharp goose-steeping about in perfect formation?

  12. Excellent post, and sadly true. You’ve done a great job of showing how the center gradually moved right. Like Utah Savage, I am depressed about the state of this country too. I’d move to Canada but it’s too darn cold…

  13. the left basically died when nixon waved goodbye in august 1974 and that last helicopter left vietnam in April 1975 —

    then slowly the american population began to fall the fear card of the right — and nothing works like fear. Munich, the oil embargo, Entebbe, the fall of the shah and the rise of reagan — the republicans mastered the marketing of fear and pushed all semblance of the left into a little hole that was barely seen and something to be made fun of.

    then the coup d grace — reagan deregulated the media and his buddies and enablers – under the mantra that greed is good — began taking over the airwaves and the radio (see limbaugh, rush) and kept pushing the right is good message….

    until bush —- bush and rove thought they could just do anything and the tin soldiers would line up — they havent

    there is still no left and i dont know if there will ever be one again in this country, but a least 8 years of corrupt horrible and incompetent right wing leadership has shown that the left can have a voice — we are a long way off though

  14. Dash: I agree except I find the “left-right” continuum more useful than “liberal” and “conservative.” Back in the super-stone age I remember the New Republic using a 2×2 matrix of: “liberal” (they meant someone who favor no government in personal matters but yes government in the economy), “libertarian” (no,no), “populist” (yes, yes) “conservative” (yes,no).

    Using their binary choices, I’d prefer the terms “Social democrat,) “Skateboard kid,” “Conservative,” “Republican”

  15. The left are scattered and put on their moderate masks that mute any left wing phrases they might accidentally mutter while in public. How many do you think are in hiding? Or have they all moved out of the country? I threw off my mask a while back and lost a few “friends” in the process. No regrets. It’s amazing how people run when you come “out” flaunting your liberal boa.

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