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Mon Apr 20, 2020, 12:23 PM

An interesting post-Primary article in the Jacobin

Titled The Liberal Center Must Be Beaten, it is the most telling and unobscured by the restraints of electoral politics insight into some key positions of the left wing represented by Jacobin I have seen so far:

While desperately and unconvincingly trying to conflate the terms "liberalism" and "neoliberalism" by using them interchangeably (these terms, of course, are not at all interchangeable, which betrays the author's desperation to obfuscate their respective meanings), the author makes a clear breaks between "the Left", represented by the campaigns of Corbyn in Britain and Sanders in the US, and "Liberal", or "Center-left". The author also talks about combining what he calls "parliamentary" and "extra-parliamentary" organizing of politics, which to me was the most dangerous part of Bernie's campaign. To me, if there is no distinction, or a commitment to maintain distinction between the two, it smacks too much of Weimar Germany in the 1930s. It would make it even easier for a populist leader to slide into authoritarianism than it has been for Trump to do so under our current system. Finally, the author talks about supplanting the current "establishment" of the Democratic Party with that of the left wing. This process, which started in 2016 with Bernie demanding, and getting, unprecedented input into determining the platform of the Democratic Party, is equally dangerous. It would have made one of two major US political parties an instrument in advancing the "non-parliamentary" means of getting and retaining political power.

The Liberal Center Must Be Beaten
Luke Savage
The bitter defeats of Corbyn and Sanders have changed nothing about the task before us: supplanting the neoliberal center and offering ordinary people a real alternative to the neo-nationalist right.


While both [Corbyn and Sanders] were certainly feared and hated by traditional conservatives, the force that ultimately hindered their efforts came not from the Right but rather from what is still, albeit with increasing absurdity, known as the center-left: that is, from people who might broadly be called liberals in the post-1970s sense of the word. Though arguably weaker and more ideologically exhausted than at any point since its zenith in the 1990s, this strand of market centrism still dominates the nominal “left” in many national party systems and, perhaps more importantly, its adherents mostly retain control of the levers of power in individual party apparatuses even when their ideas are discredited or their dreadful campaigning bungles winnable elections (as in 2016).
This peculiar combination of weakness and strength is the paradox at the heart of modern liberalism and the vulnerability both Corbyn and Sanders were nearly able to exploit. Had either succeeded in transforming their respective parties and winning power on the popular programs they championed, the undead center-left that has carried on in zombified form since the financial crisis of 2008 might finally have been buried for good. Alas, the task remains incomplete and the enervated neoliberal project continues to hold the reins of what is nominally the reform-minded electoral alternative to conservatism in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Left should not be content with this state of affairs.
Insofar as it still has a coherent objective that can be articulated, liberalism seeks not so much to humanize capitalism as it is to give capitalism a human face — that is: to provide a facade of inclusion and shared prosperity while fundamentally protecting the role of markets and the positions of their greatest beneficiaries. It is now, more so than at any point in its long history, a set of hollowed-out dogmas and unthinking reflexes without a real program or political imagination; so interwoven with wealth and celebrity it now sees them as ends in themselves.
That millions of ordinary people beset by declining living standards, weakened welfare states, increasing corporate incursion into daily life, and a planet growing less inhabitable by the day are routinely compelled to cast votes for people who do not represent them — be they neoliberals or formations on the nationalist right — is a predicament no socialist or small-d democrat should be willing to accept. Ultimately thwarted by the liberal center, neither Sanders nor Corbyn succeeded. But their efforts revealed the widespread appetite for a genuine alternative to neoliberalism and underscored the utility of leftist involvement in mainstream politics.

This is scary as hell. I am so glad Biden won the Primary.

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Reply An interesting post-Primary article in the Jacobin (Original post)
beastie boy Apr 2020 OP
Mister Ed Apr 2020 #1

Response to beastie boy (Original post)

Mon Apr 20, 2020, 12:37 PM

1. Wasn't it the historical Jacobins who presided over the Reign of Terror?

I don't think we'd want their philosophical heirs in power now.

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