Monday, April 02, 2007

Rebuilding the left - 2: Necessity creates the organ

"Us workin' folkses, all get together,
'Cause we ain't got a chance anymore.
We ain't got a chance anymore."
Tom Joad - Woody Guthrie
David Seaton's News Links
Paul Krugman has a very good piece in the NYT abstracted below. In it Krugman illustrates the nub of the class-politics question: you can't have a "class struggle" if working people don't believe that class exists and that if they do believe that classes exist, they are deluded into believing that they really belong "in pectore" to the upper-middle class or even to the upper classes themselves.

You obviously can't have a "class struggle" if only the richest are "struggling," using organizations like the "Club for Growth" and the "Cato Institute", which Krugman mentions or by massive donations to the Republican Party's war chest. The Democratic Party, should any pin too many hopes upon it, is also controlled by huge contributions from rich individuals and corporations; that is why Howard Dean's strategies of micro-financing have such a potential for changing US politics.

Most troubling of all is the Republican Party's deliberate effort to disenfranchise people of color. I cannot think of a clearer proof of the neo-fascism that the party of Abraham Lincoln has come to represent.

I'm a huge fan of Paul Krugman's, but if one thing is obvious to me (and probably to Paul Krugman too) it is that university professors, because of the guaranteed employment which comes with tenure, are not going to be the backbone of the reborn left... It has to be the victims who stand up for themselves and make their own FDR's speech to Congress of April 29th 1938,
"The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.

The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe, if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.
America's challenge is to rebuild democracy, literally from the ground up. DS

Paul Krugman: Distract and Disenfranchise - New York Times
Abstract: Median income has risen only 17 percent since 1980, while the income of the richest 0.1 percent of the population has quadrupled. The gap between the rich and the middle class is as wide now as it was in the 1920s, when the political coalition that would eventually become the New Deal was taking shape. And voters realize that society has changed. They may not pore over income distribution tables, but they do know that today’s rich are building themselves mansions bigger than those of the robber barons. They may not read labor statistics, but they know that wages aren’t going anywhere: according to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of workers believe that it’s harder to earn a decent living today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.(...) The Republican Party’s adherence to an outdated ideology leaves it with big problems. It can’t offer domestic policies that respond to the public’s real needs. So how can it win elections? The answer, for a while, was a combination of distraction and disenfranchisement. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 were themselves a massive, providential distraction; until then the public, realizing that Mr. Bush wasn’t the moderate he played in the 2000 election, was growing increasingly unhappy with his administration. And they offered many opportunities for further distractions. Rather than debating Democrats on the issues, the G.O.P. could denounce them as soft on terror. And do you remember the terror alert, based on old and questionable information, that was declared right after the 2004 Democratic National Convention? But distraction can only go so far. So the other tool was disenfranchisement: finding ways to keep poor people, who tend to vote for the party that might actually do something about inequality, out of the voting booth. Remember that disenfranchisement in the form of the 2000 Florida “felon purge,” which struck many legitimate voters from the rolls, put Mr. Bush in the White House in the first place. And disenfranchisement seems to be what much of the politicization of the Justice Department was about. Several of the fired U.S. attorneys were under pressure to pursue allegations of voter fraud — a phrase that has become almost synonymous with “voting while black.” Former staff members of the Justice Department’s civil rights division say that they were repeatedly overruled when they objected to Republican actions, ranging from Georgia’s voter ID law to Tom DeLay’s Texas redistricting, that they believed would effectively disenfranchise African-American voters. READ IT ALL (bootleg)

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