Tidbits, Reader Responses and Announcements - September
* Re: Tidbits, Reader Response - Sept. 8 Re: Saving
Obama, Saving Ourselves (responding to Richard Curtis)
* Re: The Old Dawg Can Still Hunt (David
* Message from Greece - Neo-Nazi New Dawn
on the Rise (Yorgos Mitralias)
* Re: Chris Kluwe and the Greatest Political Statement
by Any Athlete Ever (Nick Unger)
* CORRECTION - Re: Friday Nite Videos --
Sept 7 - John L. Lewis: We Will Never Go Back (Bob
* Left Labor Projects Bill Fletcher, Jr. - A
Socialist Looks at Election 2012 - September 24 - New
* Re: Tidbits, Reader Response - Sept. 8 - Re: Saving
Obama, Saving Ourselves (responding to Richard Curtis)
Richard Curtis of Seattle writes: "Lesser evil
thinking has not moved American politics anywhere but
to the right for the last 40 years." I half agree. It
is not just lesser evil politics, but lesser evil
combined with a Democratic Party strategy which has no
goal except keeping enough daylight between them and
the Republicans to always leave them as the lesser
evil. I.e. the loss of a moral center that anchors and
shapes the and limits the necessary compromises of
And there is yet another part of the elections problem:
Curtis asks when "people like [Tom] Hayden recognize"
the need to stop voting for the DP-RP duopoly and
"fight Democrats in elections AND beat them"? To which
a counter question must be posed: When will people
like Curtis recognize that hectoring people without
providing a plausible route to victory is utterly
unpersuasive, and doesn't organize or mobilize anyone?
One critique of our quadrennial oligarchical
plebiscites, in which we get to choose which ruling
party faction we prefer, is that it's largely a
choreographed ritual. It usually keeps many of the
most pressing issues off the table, and also excludes
even more potential policies for handling those that
are on it. That's true enough.
But also at least since 1976 when I first voted there
has been a side ritual on what passes for "the left."
In it we ritualistically debate individual voting
choices with no result.
Me, I'm sick of that ritual. I am sick of the people
who tell me to shut up and just vote for the Democrat
already, despite hating and despising much of what he
does. And I am just as sick of the people who tell me
to vote my conscience and forget the consequences for
the millions of people who would be more hurt in
meaningful ways by Romney & Ryan than by Obama and
Biden -- since that actually proves to pose problems
for my conscience too.
There is no good choice. None. Voting for a duopoly
party is bad one way. Abstaining formally by not
voting at all is bad in another way. "Positive
abstention" with a protest or conscience vote is bad in
a third way. Do whatever you decide to do, it will be
wrong. Whatever I do will also be wrong. So don't
bother me with telling me why I should be wrong your
way. It's just stupid, it makes no sense.
Could we please change the electoral debate on the
so-called left, so that maybe we could actually have a
real left again?
1) If you want me to vote for the DP, don't just tell
me they're not as bad as the RP. I know it, I won't
listen and I won't care. Instead, tell me this: What
should we do, what can I do, to change the commitment
of the DP to opportunism as the only principle, or the
overwhelmingly beholden situation of most DP office
holders to monied ruling class interests? What should
we do, what can I do to change the failed strategy of
the DP that has moved it continually to right since
Ronald Reagan to the point where my DP choice for
president is a man who on all but a few of the
important issues is to the right of Richard Nixon?
Richard F'ing Nixon!
We don't need to be told to vote for the lesser evil.
Those who are persuadable that way understand the
arguments. So do those who are not persuadable. We an
account about how we can make the lesser evil less evil
next time around, and beyond, instead of more evil, and
change the DP dynamic so that our voices count for
something within it.
2) If you want me to vote for a small party, don't tell
me all the things wrong with the DP and how my values
have no practical place in the dominant politics. I
know it, I won't listen and I won't care. Instead,
tell me this: What should we do, what can I do,
outside of the duopoly context, that would give those
values any more real voice? If you want me to vote for
a small party, why will that help? How should I choose
among the small parties on the ballot who divide the
tiny positive abstention vote over narcissisms of small
differences and sectarian obsessions? How could such
an electoral approach be related to non-electoral
politics in a way with practical effects?
We don't need to be told about the similarities of the
duopoly parties. Everyone understands that. We need
an account of a strategy for building an alternative
politics that creates a left that has power that can't
be ignored. We also need an account that overcomes the
cul de sac of "street heat" politics construed so as to
be incapable of engaging the state, or real policy
outcomes with real consequences for actual human
beings, because of fear of cooptation by "the Dems."
3) And f you do give up the "how you should vote and
why you are wrong if you disagree" ritual and try to
take up the harder problem of "how can we build an
effective left strategy?" from whichever side of the
"inside-outside" divide on the left you begin, please,
please recognize that any potential for rebuilding a
left movement needs people from both sides of that
This post of course is just an additional epicycle
added to the ritual I am rejecting -- it is saying, not
doing. I fail to offer either kind of account, I offer
no initiative to join, I ask others to do what I am
failing to do. So I am part of the problem, and
perhaps others engage in the ritual because they have
no better answers to the real questions than I am
offering. This complaint is not offered from a
position of moral superiority, just one of enough
We know all the arguments, and they are not doing
anything productive. You are wasting time and energy.
Unfortunately it probably would not be better applied
to whichever bad choice and failed approach you prefer
out of those on offer. Perhaps that explains why you're
wasting your time with our pseudo-left ritual instead.
Please can we start asking a better question, which is
not about our individual votes or volunteer energies at
all, but how we can rebuild a left movement that
matters inside OR outside, because at present we matter
in neither case?
Am a I really alone in finding the quadrennial
pseudo-left ritual frustrating, fruitless, meaningless
Chris Lowe Portland, Oregon
* Re: The Old Dawg Can Still Hunt
Yes, Clinton's speech was absolutely stunning. Went on
too long but who cared. He had the audience in the palm
of his hand all the way through. Educated, cajoled, and
deftly destroyed Romney by referring favorably to
Republicans he had worked with. I was so impressed that
for a moment I wanted to join the Democratic Party -
and forget all the issues (not going into here) that I
would hold against Clinton. A rare example of a public
speech that dominated the convention and may have
helped seal the fate of Romney. How easy to forget this
man was impeached, or that his first speech (years ago)
to a Democratic convention went on so long and was so
boring the audience started to boo him. The come back
* Message from Greece - Neo-Nazi New Dawn on the Rise
A survey published yesterday (7/9/2012) confirms the
continuous rise of the Golden Dawn neo-nazis. They are
credited with 12% of vote intentions far ahead of the
PASOK (7.5%) and other minor parties (the Democratic
Left would obtain 4% and the Communist Party 6%).
Syriza comes first with 30% ahead of New Democracy -
credited with 28%. Nobody can pretend anymore that
Golden Dawn is a "temporary phenomenon" and that there
is no direct threat to workers movements and the left.
Indeed, a common misconception regarding the nature of
Golden Dawn needs to be debunked. Golden Dawn has
absolutely nothing in common with the French National
Front of the Le Pen family, nor with Vlamms Belang in
Belgium, nor even with any far right party of the
post-1945 Europe. Golden Dawn is already publicly
undertaking the physical liquidation of immigrants,
gypsies, national minorities (notably the Turcs of
Thrace), homosexuals and militants of the left. The
constant aggressions are following one another and dead
corpses are accumulating.
As for the ideology of Golden Dawn, here is a
"testimony" which speaks for itself: the neonazi deputy
(!) Artemios Matheopoulos, bassist of a band named
"Pogrom" (!), has composed songs with "eloquent"
lyrics. Here is a sample - a song called "Auschwitz":
Fuck Wiesenthal fuck Anna Frank
fuck Abraham's race David's Star makes me puke ah,
Auschwitz how I love you! You, shit Jews, I will not
leave you on the Wailing Wall, I will rather piss on
you Juden Raus! I am burning in Auschwitz...
So Comrades, will we remain spectators to the
repetition of the 1920s and 1930s European tragedy?
Will we - at last - mobilize in a unitary anti-fascist
mass struggle on a continental scale? And do not
forget: time is desperately pressing.
[Journalist Giorgos Mitralias is one of the founders
and leaders of the Greek Committee against debt, member
of the international CADTM and the Campaign for Greek
Debt Audit < http://www.elegr.gr/>.]
[thanks to John Pittman for sharing this with Portside
and the readers of Portside.]
* Re: Chris Kluwe and the Greatest Political Statement
by Any Athlete Ever
Sadly, pro football player Chris Kluwe's thrilling
political rant does not even make the "greatest
political statement by an athlete" finals. It is
seriously weakened by the very same macho trash-talking
sports culture Dave Zirin constantly exposes. Kluwe
could have schooled (Md. Del Rev.) "Burns on the
constitution, the first amendment and the history of
racism and segregation in the NFL ..." far more
effectively without calling him "mind-bogglingly
stupid" to pick just one example among many. The
problem is not the imaginative cursing, but the need to
attack and debase the person as well as the words and
Zirin understands better than most the "... but why do
you hate freedom?" argument does not come from, or work
from, the port side but is rather a staple of the
radical right. That someone as progressive as Kluwe
uses it shows how deeply it has penetrated popular
culture. Had Zirin pointed this out, as he often does,
he would not have so quickly elected Kluwe to the hall
of fame. Fans blindly cheer; partisans must cheer and
analyze. Portside is a tool to help find the most
effective ways to struggle over ideas. This example is
in part a teacher by negative example.
* CORRECTION - Re: Friday Nite Videos -- September 7,
2012 1 John L. Lewis: We Will Never Go Back
First video is NOT John L. Lewis, former head of the
United Mine Workers who died in 1969. Rep. John Lewis'
middle name is Robert.
Now, this video doesn't show John L. Lewis, head of the
United Mine Workers of America 1920 -60 and first
president of the CIO -- right? More likely, it's John
Robert Lewis of SNCC, now of the U.S. House of
Jane Power Vancouver, BC
* Left Labor Projects Bill Fletcher, Jr. - A Socialist
Looks at Election 2012
Monday, September 24 - 6:00 pm
CWA 1180, 6 Harrison St lower level, (NYC Subway: 1 to
Franklin, A, C, E to Canal)
What's at stake? Can Labor afford a Romney/Ryan win?
How can we have an impact on the direction of an Obama
second term? Thoughts from Brother Fletcher and
discussion from members and friends.
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