So, where’s the left? As Obama continues to morph into Bush Lite the left is off somewhere on life support. Sure, there are plenty of words flying round damning, condemning and suggesting. But there is no unified movement, no unified organization and no funding.
Part of this problem is that the bulk of the activity in on the net with the remainder being confined to progressive publications. Both are consumed in isolation, and the simple fact of the matter is that you’ve got to leave the house to start a revolution.
But there are other issues at work as well. The left sits by while the Tea Party rallies the working class that was once the left’s base. The reason is quite simple: the left turned its back on the working class in the sixties and continues to do so. Many on the left see the working class as beer-swilling Neanderthals and homophobes who care more about their guns then they do about the state of the country and who are constantly voting against their economic interests by returning one Republican after another to office. The left easily forgets that these are human beings groaning under the crushing weight of an oligarchy that continues to oppress them.
This split happened in the sixties when the left turned its back on the working class as the “new” left sought liberation in drugs and sex while damning all those who did not support its ideological goals. The Republicans, of course, capitalized on this split. What commentators call their Southern Strategy was really the GOP’s Blue Collar Strategy. The first thing they did after they locked in the working class was to screw them to the wall while distracting them with cultural warfare against gun control, abortion and gay rights.
At the same time, the left fragmented into a series of ideological encampments, each secure behind its own wall and so certain of the rightness of its fragmented cause that it was unwilling to enter into meaningful dialog. Consequently, the left today remains crippled by its own ideological prissiness.
There will be no viable left until it reestablishes solidarity with the working class. However, in doing so it must remember that the most important component of solidarity is listening! At the same time, the left must take a careful look at some of its ideological chestnuts and see if there is sufficient wiggle room to make its reunification with the working class a reality.
The irony is that one of the stickiest disagreements between the working class and the left is the one that could be easily resolved—gun control. This probably stirs a greater degree of working class anger than any of the other “culture” issues. Sure, the anti-abortion forces make a lot of noise, but it is gun control that can really get the working class enflamed.
Were it up to me, I would say to the working class, Keep your guns. But I ask one favor in return: teach your sons how to hunt. Hell! Teach your daughters how to hunt as well. Because hunting is environmentally sound. It takes 16 pounds of grain to raise one pound of beef. That works out to eight tons per steer, eight tons the hungry of the world will never see. The average male deer, when dressed, yields about 72 pounds of edible meat. That is 72 pounds of ecologically sound meat that has had a minimum impact on the environment. This venison displaces 72 pounds of beef raised on factory farms, which are environmental disaster areas.
Nor does any hunter want to see his wood leveled to make room for upscale condos or a coven of McMansions. This puts hunters in bed with the environmentalists.
Many will claim hunting is cruel because a lot of hunters can’t shoot straight. However, in nature animals rarely die peacefully in their sleep. Death comes slowly after weeks or months of suffering. Coyotes have been known to eviscerate a sheep while it still lives. And we must never forget that all of creation is grounded in death. (The most sacred thing we do is die. It’s so goddamn sacred we want nothing to do with it.)
It’s true, guns kill people and there have been some horrific acts of violence, but so do trains, planes and automobiles and there’s been no talk of banning them. They are, however, regulated, something the NRA would have to accept, and something it might be more willing to consider once it is convinced the left doesn’t care a whit about taking its guns away.
Gun control is only one example of an area where compromise could be achieved. And no, I am not talking about Obamaesque pragmatism or centrist triangulation. What I am talking about is the left’s core ideal of building a decent society in which all are cared for and in which our corporate oligarchy is brought under control. It is a decent society that would benefit the working class because it would guarantee that its children would have enough to eat, competent and free medical care and America would begin to rebuild its manufacturing base. It would be a country in which our hubric dream of global conquest would be recognized for the pipe dream it is and the Pentagon would be turned into the world’s largest indoor shopping mall.
Yet, none of this will happen until we win back the working class. Either we get them or the Tea Party does. This means our days of ideological prissiness must end.