What Is To Be Done? A Message to the Left

I imagined the mood of the American people this morning to be like a bad hangover where none of us were quite sure what we did last night. Instead I hardly remember ever seeing this much optimism and triumph in people’s faces. It could be short-lived, or could be a prolonged sense of victory. But the important thing now is that all people, specifically the left, stay vigilant.

The republicans control both the house and the senate (albeit by a small margin) and the presidency. Trump is in position to manipulate a reactionary judge into the supreme court, raping the American people for decades. The question now is, what is to be done?

The first thing to do is to organize. The left has been in pieces for decades and this is the best chance to finally unify. Many people were content with the idea of a Clinton presidency merely to avoid a Trump regime, but that has all changed now. If Clinton had won I expected no real movement to spawn simply because there would be a universal feeling of dodging a bullet. But there can now be a shared feeling of anger. Anger towards Trump and anger towards the reactionaries that elected him, a feeling that could be shared by all on the left. But the danger here is to rebel through the establishment, meaning we cannot just hope for a new progressive hero to come from the democrats. If nothing else this election the democrats have proved they are unwilling to change when they need it most. The mistreatment and abuse of the Sanders campaign have shown that the DNC and the RNC alike must burn, this is what they asked for.

Why can we not accept the democrats anymore? Regardless if Bernie could have beaten Trump or not, the DNC manipulated the race and chose one of the most hated politicians in the country as their leader. Whether they were fully aware of it or not, they chose Trump instead of Bernie. They were unwilling to change. It is foolish to think that real change, the change we desperately need, can come from a party that is part of the problem. They are not the lesser of two evils, they are just evil nonetheless.

When we organize, what exactly do we need? Many will already call for grassroots action to help facilitate change but there are serious limitations to this approach. The absolute ideal is for top-to-bottom change. Grassroots action can be useful for specific issues, such as protesting the DAPL or for higher wages, but it cannot bring the systematic change that is needed. If we wish to truly change the political, economic, and social corruption that we face, we need first focus on the broadest issues that we can. Mass civil disobedience is now needed, not a passive resentment.

Part of the outrage last night was that Clinton did not speak at 2:00 am, that she waited until morning to give her speech. I hoped with all my heart that she would not concede, but of course that never happens. Previously I had little respect for Clinton but that would have changed immensely if she had just stood up for herself. But she’s spineless. She stood on stage and told millions of people that we’re “Stronger together” and that she accepted a Trump presidency. What would have happened if she did not?

First of all she would have jump-started the wave of protests that are sure to come. Her defiance would have meant everything, but instead she chose to crawl away in passivity. She gave the message that we should merely accept our position and try to make the best we can, but this is folly. The true message, the message they don’t want you to hear, is that you can reject this altogether, that you can revolt. This is not the time to work with our enemies. Don’t accept the decaying image of our country they want to push, we can still change it.

Organizing is crucial to the rebuilding of the left, but it is not the only factor. The second step is to learn. If we want to build a movement we must have the philosophical, political, and economic foundation firmly set if we are to avoid the mistakes made by leftists of the 20th century. We must read, learn, and know as much as we can to fight against the demoralizing propaganda and deliberate misinformation that will be shoved down our throats. We must no longer be subjects to the misinformed elite, they have shown with all fervor they cannot help the country any more than they can help themselves.

We cannot be afraid to express our opinions just because we are in the minority. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned being in the South, with my views being largely in the minority of my peers it’s clear their own beliefs can be without foundation and based on faith. The ruling elite, the ruling elite, cannot justify itself. It cannot stand up to scrutiny and that’s why an open discussion about the greatest issues we face are often suppressed. To quote Martin Luther King Jr:

You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.

This gets to the heart of the issue, if you question one aspect of the ruling ideology you must question the entire thing, and that is exactly what they don’t want you to do. People can be fight ferociously if the values they’ve been told they believe in all their lives are put into question.

In 1943 Jean Paul Sartre wrote “If war breaks out, it is in my image, it is my war and I deserve it” and this can be true of today as well. This fate is our fate and we deserve, we all could have done more to prevent it. But the important thing now is to change the future, the future that we believe we deserve we can have if we just fight for it. Unification of the left is our only hope at this point as the wave of reactionaries continues to grow throughout the world. We are in uncertain times and we must fight to keep our hopes and dreams alive.

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22 thoughts on “What Is To Be Done? A Message to the Left

  1. Donald Trump doesn’t know where he’s going. He has no answers apart from cutting taxes for the rich and healthcare for the rest. He ran companies into bankruptcy and used his father’s money to bail him out. Can we expect better on a larger stage when he is clearly over his head?
    What happens will depend on the extent to which his kids take over and run his administration. That is what got his campaign on track, and I suspect what we have seen is what we will get. By the way, the kids don’t agree with many of his campaign promises. Don’t expect to see a wall anytime soon. Won’t happen.
    It may not be as bad as some fear, but it will be different than most of his voters wanted.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. By the way, the risk for the right is further marginalization. Most politicians aren’t of high intelligence, but they do remember who helped and hurt them. The left’s ability to influence DNC policy has passed its zenith. Cutting and running this election cost Hillary Pennsylvania and maybe another state or two, possibly enough to affect the result. The DNC will now not trust the left, period.
    However, what the entire discussion misses is that the key to control is at the state level. The states determine how many parties appear on the national ballot, and the position they hold on the ballot. The states control who runs for Congress. You build a solid base by fighting and winning at the state level. Do that, and whey you finally get someone of your choice into the presidency, you will have a Congress who will work with him or her. Without that, what’s the point?

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  3. I didn’t care for Trump, not toward the end but at first I admired his balsyness in speaking his mind although bluntly. Those initial remarks I blew off BECAUSE he comes from a liberal background, I was inclined to believe it was all talk to get the following, and I’ve heard others say the same thing, for the same reasons. I lost respect for him as time went on for his insensitivity and lack of respect toward women and those impaired in some way. Having been a victim of sexual abuse and having an autistic grandchild, I cringed and withered at his remarks that Clinton played and had replayed incessantly.
    Right now, everyone is fired up for all those same reasons. They think Clinton copped out. Clinton is hated by many and it crosses all ethnicity. Regarding both parties, they could have made better choices period. Before going to the polls I prayed and prayed as I know many others may have because no one on either side cared for either candidate and I asked God to pick the one he could use the best.
    My husband, in talking to several co workers, discovered that most of them voted but not for president, because they couldn’t conscientiously put a mark by either one. So, that left the few that felt compelled to pick one of two evils to determine who would lead this country. (I guess they trust God as well to leave things according to His plan.)

    All that aside, Until Trump assumes his presidency there is no way of anyone knowing for sure what the end result is going to be. Let him do his job and in four years if we don’t like it, we can change. He may surprise everyone. I think the only reason people voted for him was for change and they were sick and tired of the typical politico’s jerking us around telling us what we can say or not say.
    What I think is interesting is the number of protesters out there on the streets practically exceeding the number who actually voted. If you take a look the numbers, they were appalling. I mean come on, give us choices we can be proud of.
    I think if Bernie Sanders had been picked, he’d of won.

    No, Trump is not to blame for that. He is an opportunist and he took the ball and ran with it. Now, it’s up to us to give him leeway and see what he does with it.
    Look this country put up with and condoned a president balling women in the white house and on the presidents desk. Clinton could do no wrong despite his debauchery in the White House. Come on!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, thanks for following Words by K. Alan. (@kalanleitchauthor), and condolences about the election: unbelievable. I am not an American, but, as you can see from my second post, I have a deep love of the country and it inspires much of my writing. Besides, the whole world is reeling from this decision. Any writers out there, I’m anxious for your comments about my thoughts on the writing process and industry!

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  5. It is amazing how we have become a people that believes that their personal philosophies are to be imposed on others. If you truly are so dissatisfied gather those who agree with you move to and control a state and LAWFULLY pass an amendment to leave the union. Or move to a country that shares your sentiments. I believe you have the right to believe as you wish. I do not believe you have the right to burn others property or to expect me to be forced to live under your precepts of what you believe our social environment should be. This is the principle of the totalitarian state. No thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So your solution is to gather everyone that disagrees, put them all in one place and have them secede? This is like saying the early American revolutionaries should just leave the colonies and go settle somewhere else, it’s ridiculous. I never advocate the burning of others property, but society depends on the fact that others are forced to live in social environments they don’t want to be. If it weren’t so then a call to action would useless.

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  6. a lot of people just let things be…….they think this is the way they have to be and what can they do……..they surrender……
    maybe things needed to get worse before people wake up……realize and then work until they get better……
    hoping for a better and peaceful future for the world. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I find it fascinating that a previous commentator views a suggestion that the left make an effort to form a viable alternative party in the US and responds “I do not believe you have the right to… to expect me to be forced to live under your precepts of what you believe our social environment should be. This is the principle of the totalitarian state.” Fascinating, because it is, in all honesty, the principle of democracy under which most nations work– a bare majority (if that, when you consider most nations have more than two parties) get to impose their social ideals upon the whole of the nation.

    The bit I left out of that quote is also telling, because there is no reference whatever to “burn[ing] others property” in the post. As someone living in a country which inclines slightly more left than the US, but not as far left as Sweden or Norway, I’m always amazed at how people in the US fail to see that there is anything left of the Democrats short of Marxist-Leninism. There’s a world of difference between declaring an end to the concept of personal property (an attitude I’m against, really) and suggesting that a society works better if those who are at the bottom of the wealth structure be given a leg up, and that those at the top of the structure have a responsibility to the society which makes their lives so great. That’s all that a sensible left wants– a society which is not a zero-sum game, a society in which the rising tide actually does lift all the boats.

    And so, to the one whose blog this is, I say: I hope your thoughts are a spark to the fire in which a new and functional left is forged in the US. Your nation needs it, and the rest of the world would benefit from a US which has some better political balance in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very good points in this, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for your support. Part of the issue is that we get trapped in a box, to think that you can either be a Democrat or a Republican and there’s no other option. I would love to see an open discussion on these principles such as they have in other countries, just as you mention.

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  8. I find it interesting though how frequently with the “left” that any opinion other than their own is objectionable. So that in truth the only one with freedom of speech is that person who agrees with them otherwise a difference of opinion is viewed as ignorant, bigoted or anything else they deem it to be if it’s not in agreement with them.
    I see myself conservative on some issues but a liberal in others, yet I see the above to be predominately to be the case. I agree with Dirck in that we need to get our act together but he states only says what “the left wants” is… but that desire is not exclusive to them. Everyone wants the same thing. Promises are thrown out right and left and no one delivers. EVER. I think what the working class is tired of is working so that those who refuse to work and use whatever excuse possible to not do so at their expense was a motivating factor to the win. I worked for the welfare system and there are way too many people taking when they could/should be working. So the time was right for to usher in something new.

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  9. Good analysis and discussion. As to minority status…. 25% for Hillary, 25% for Trump, and 50% who didn’t vote… Trump (and the DNC) destroyed the Democrats this election but also the Republicans in a sense…. the political landscape may be entirely different in 4 years or even 6 months with opportunity for those who want to get involved, to do so. Watch closely.

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  10. I have been on this earth for seventy some odd years and I am very sorry to say that liberal thought has devolved into so much dog doo-doo. The idea of free speech used to be that one had both a right to one’s opinion and to express it publically. the rest of us may have thought such an opinion was crap but we respected the right to express it even if we did not respect the individuals for doing so. When did the progressive liberals change into fascists? We they lost “religion”, that is adherence to an organized form of worship according to a religious doctrine and took up this political-social-pseudo philosophy and moral standards. Funny thing is that the liberal thought sought to protect religious freedoms from the encroachment by ecclesiastical dictatorship. Funny how the roles are reversed. The constitution came into being because pure democracy did not work. So we came up with a republican government. The individual state practiced a form of popular democracy as did the federal government. That is what the house of representatives is for, popular election by geographical area. Until the seventeenth amendment was passed, Senators were selected by the each state and were subject to recall if they did not represent the state’s interest. Now they are elected by popularity and no constraint is placed upon them. States rights came to an end and the rise of big federal government came upon the land. Popular majority vote produced prohibition and the lawlessness that ensued.

    So now you don’t like the results of the election. I hear many progressives clammering for a do-over. That somehow they are morally entitled to have their candidate placed in office no matter how many would oppose that individual. On the other hand I see that many progressives want to engage in civil disobedience (lawlessness is the better word) because their pick was rejected at the polls. All this in the name of social issues and so called social justice, none of which any of you can define with any precision. What happened to rule of law, that very concept upon which is necessary for any society’s existence? Some how social justice has a higher calling that legal justice, how absurd a belief. I fail to see what your problem is. Was Hillary and her organization and her followers released from obeying the law just because it was inconvenient for their purposes? Is electing the elite so that the rest of the world can be ruled and forced into the various programs (take a look at the UN’s latest plan for the world) all that important? The law isn’t for the elites and billionaires, it’s for the little people like ourselves. Don’t like the election results, then let’s overturn it and impose our will on everyone else. Isn’t that the politics of fascism?

    I’ve always loved the quote from Paint Your Wagon, “By gum, I don’t care how a man prays, there’s room enough in hell for all of us.” But to force others to believe as you do is caring how a man prays and who the hell are you to say how it must be done? My god, I went through that time when the ALCU challenged prayer in public school. That was a liberal ideal, that no public institution should force any form of religion on any of its citizens. But then it went too far, it wanted to take any religion out of public institutions when society obviously subscribed to a variety of religions. The ACLU became the instrument for the politics of identity and victimization. It was the means to segregate society into identity groups and give legitimacy to victimization no matter how stupid. Then along came the progressive liberal to teach us about inclusion. Marginalization all groups into small units, give them identities and then declare how inclusive the process. Did I miss something? One must celebrate diversity by how differences between individuals no longer exist except in a symbolic or superficial manner. All groups of people must be diverse or else the membership is racist, sexist, ad nauseum. Is this the world you envision? All neighborhoods must have the requisite number of individual identities and must reflect the correct composition at all times. Did you people not read 1984 and Brave New World?

    All I can suggest is that you go read Fredrick Hayek’s Road To Serfdom. Hayek was part of the Vienna elite and during his youth espoused his admiration of Marxism. But in the twenties and early thirties that the marxism practiced by Russia was not the answer. Mass famine, political thuggery, political gulags, mass starvation, and an economy dependent on a central planning committee that could not work, well, Hayek saw the light and started questioning what he had once held true. That book was written early in WWII when he was in London as a refugee. It has become a classic on the problems of planned economies and how they always fail. So far, no one has proved him wrong.

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    • I think you are somewhat confused about my positions. It seems the entire first half of your argument is directed at a strawman caricature of “liberal” that I never mention ascribing to and you just assume that I inherit.

      The second half misses the point entirely. “Don’t like the election results, then let’s overturn it and impose our will on everyone else. Isn’t that the politics of fascism?” Despite the fact that your example has nothing to do with actual fascism, true democracies function when all members participate, even to the point of civil disobedience. If not the only thing left is a totalitarian state where everybody just sits passively and accepts their situation. I have read both 1984 and A Brave New World, but I encourage you to read Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, one of the most important texts in our history. It was the backbone of the thought of MLK and Gandhi alike.

      And lastly I am quite aware of Hayek. From an economic point of view he’s a joke.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The history of “fascism” has many faces and definitions. Tens of thousands of pages have been written on that subject but the general tenor is one of a limited form of dictatorship, an oxymoron but nevertheless informative. Certainly National Socialism was one form of fascism as was the communist regime in Russia. Generally, it is some form of control over the economic, political, and social institutions of a country. As to your political beliefs, your writings tend to portray one who thinks as a progressive liberal (in general) thinks. You also miss the problem of the labeling. A “Liberal” is not a “Liberal” is not a “Liberal”. Liberalism has evolved over the centuries as has progressivism. Certainly today’s progressive liberal does not stand for the same ideals as Adelie Stevenson. And, of course we can go back to the ideals of Fabian Socialists and even further to John Locke.

        Now, just what is a “true” democracy? Does that mean any non true democracy does not or cannot function, properly or otherwise? It’s your term, define it. Who do we consider a democracy’s members? It is limited to only those citizens of that particular country? Is there an age requirement? And how shall they participate, popular vote wins all. That usually leads to that major problem of any democracy that is governed simple majority vote. The majority can very easily exercise tyranny over the minority. A republic tries to avoid that tyranny by limiting the majority’s power. We elect representatives to represent us in government as to the making of laws and other functions of government.

        Thoreau was an idiot. He puts the interests of the individual with all the inherent biases of that individual above the rule of law. His assumptions are faulty and poorly thought out. Rule of law is far more important than the idea that all men may act individually in their own interests to the exclusion of all others. The question is whether the group in general may make rules and adopt values that promote bias against other members of the same group without regard to the consequences. In any group, large or small, there are generally some methods of redress of grievances by the minority against the majority. Some of these methods are effective and part of the group’s values. Sometimes the redress is leaving that group.

        One such method is presenting a formal of informal protest to the group in general or to its leader or leasers. One may go down to city hall and speak one’s mind about the way the city is being run.

        Another is to ignore, protest, resist laws, rules, and regulations deemed illegal or unjust. The question about civil disobedience is whether one is justified in “breaking” some law. If you remember Shay’s Rebellion, that is sometimes seen as civil disobedience. The question before the court was whether the federal government had to power to tax whiskey. The farmers in western New York thought not. The court said yes, and said they may be compelled to pay that excise tax. The so called civil disobedience was on of general lawlessness and rebellion. Government officials were personally attacked, property was damaged, and so forth. The question is, did individual enrichment from non payment of an excise tax constitute an act of civil disobedience? Obviously not.

        But take the case of the city regulation that required all blacks to ride in the back of the bus and give up their seats to any white person. Here we have an unjust regulation, the protest of which does no public harm. There is no section in the US constitution that gives the states any power to discriminate (although through the decades many have believed otherwise).

        The problem with those who cite civil disobedience is the convenience with which they wish to cloak their lawlessness. Anarchy is a direct challenge to rule of law, not to government in general. It is rule of law that helps to hold a society together and hence, the use of any form of civil disobedience must be severely restricted. It must be remembered that the night that armed thugs attacked jews in Germany before WWII was a practice of civil disobedience. There were laws on the books against armed robbery, assault, and all the other civil disturbances committed. We tend to forget this very fact when we want to start demonstrations that may quickly turn into riots, all in the name of civil disobedience. It is a two edge sword.

        As for Hayek, he is anything but a joke. The fact that you consider him one tells me the depth of ignorance of economics. Yes, for decades the Keynesians said Keynes won the debate but guess what, most of what Keynes has posited has turned out to be faulty.

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  11. As Americans, who live under a system that elected Donald Trump, do we deserve his presidency since we voted for Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes? Or is it the system that deserves his presidency and will thus change?

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    • I very much doubt that we deserve a Trump presidency, unless you think we need to be punished for something. But I don’t think we deserve a Clinton presidency either. I do agree the system needs changing but Trump won’t be the person to do it. He seems to be fairly orthodox so far, assigning billionaires to his cabinet and promoting an exceptionalist ideology. In short, we deserve better.

      Liked by 1 person

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