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A Strategic Disadvantage

December 1, 2010

“Some things that work in one decade, don’t work in the next. So you mark it down as a noble idea that failed.” John Giorno


South Africa, 1990

We’re at a strategic disadvantage. There is nothing to believe in.

The Tea Party is sustained by a diet of faux Americana. It’s a simple and coherent myth that gives the group identity continuity over time.

A Common Party of the Left (CPL) would be sustained by, what? There is no simple unifying idea, only siloed groups of environmentalists, progressive humanitarians, socialists, human rights activists, animal rights activists, conservative-led labor unions and so forth, each with their own goals and, most importantly, their own vernacular.

In a story on the Maddow Blog, Senator Sanders says the goal of such a CPL would be ‘to demand that the Democratic leadership and the President fight for the middle class and for working families.’ Hardly an inspiring vision. And, of course, there is no middle class as a class in the United States. There is only an income range of often broken families that corresponds roughly to what industrial workers once made.

Surely Senator Sanders knows that the Democratic Party along with the labor unions purged the last of their ideological socialists and communists in the 50s. That is why Senator Sanders is a Socialist, not a Democrat.

What is missing in this discussion is the understanding that the Tea Party is a cultural phenomenon, not a political one. Its common culture and language is what unifies it. Its political faction, the Libertarians, will soon find themselves facing the contradictions within this group, and with the political opportunists who have already taken it over.

A cultural unification of the Common Progressive Left cannot be manufactured out of nothing. It must grow in the ground of its predecessors in art, literature, music, fashion and the radical anti-establishment actions of the 50s and 60s, and with the Situationists in Europe.

Efforts at legislative pragmatism simply will not work, as evidenced by President Obama’s attempts.

There is no point in complaining about the Democrats or the President. They’re doing what it is that they know, and what they think is right, just like everyone else. It simply won’t work.

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