Enough Already: Venting Over Four Decades of Right-Wing Activism

Today, Richard Nixon would be considered a flaming liberal. In Nixon’s day, Barack Obama would have passed as a typical conservative; except, if you remove considerations of civil rights from consideration, he might even be a fairly hard line conservative.

The Bill of Rights is pretty well shredded. Freedom of speech is fast becoming the special privilege of corporations. Economic pressures, fueled by greedy shareholders, have eviscerated the press, leaving freedom the press virtually meaningless.

The most important part of the Fifth Amendment is probably the takings clause, which is interpreted to restrict the right of the government to regulate property.

Perhaps, the Second Amendment is the most important amendment, giving people the right to arm themselves with anything short of a nuclear weapon.

All this right-wing nonsense might be somewhat understandable if it were necessary to provide for a good life; however, the economy is becoming as dysfunctional as the ridiculous political system.

Watching people rebel politically or in the streets in Iceland and Greece, while people in the United States express their frustrations with the tea party, makes me nauseous.  My problem with the tea party movement is one of political jealousy.  Many of the participants share my frustration at the class bias of the system, but they seem confused, mistaking late capitalism or socialism.  Sure, the tax system is rigged against ordinary people, but it works in favor of the same people who are running the tea party movement.

Unfortunately, the left (if there is such a thing) seems unable to articulate a strong call to action.  Instead, our anger bubbles up periodically — today, over the evisceration of education; tomorrow, over an escalation or extension of the war; or maybe even the promotion of a protest candidate, but a systematic program is nowhere to be found in the public dialogue.

What is to be done (but vent)?  I hope not.

15 comments so far

  1. futiledemocracy on

    This is a breath of fresh air. I keep coming across far too many pro-tea party, Republican, anti-healthcare, anti-anything that doesn’t involve big business in some way blogs. So this was actually a pleasure to read.

  2. RantWoman on

    Look, ya know, it’s International Freaking Women’s Day. This is a fabulous high-quality, top-of-the-line, premium grade tirade and I don’t quarrel with any of it. HOWEVER, if there is going to be some kind of synchronized, unified, systematized left program, paying at least lip service to an occasion like International Women’s Day might be a really bitchin’ awesome swell place to start! Thoughts? Comments?

  3. mperelman on

    Thank you both for your comments. I look forward to the time that we don’t have to have a women’s day, a Black History Month, Gay Liberation, etc. I look forward to the time when all such distinctions seem part of a primitive capitalist past & we can celebrate community.

    We have a long way to go before we get there. We need a hell of a lot of creativity, energy, and raw courage.

  4. ken hanly on

    Actually the mainstream press is being challenged by internet media, the blogosphere, twitter, You tube etc. At least the Tea Party shows that people are not completely passive even though there is much confusion and movement to the right. There are also positive elements. Ron Paul in spite of all his reactionary views is also an eloquent critic of US imperialism and of the Afghan and Iraq wars as well as government trampling on basic human rights such as habea corpus.

  5. mperelman on

    Ken, what you say about Ron Paul et. al. is in line with my central point — Many of the tea party people accept what we would consider to be progressive ideas, but then rail against those whom they should see as allies. The problem is that we do not have a good way of reaching out to such people to help them focus their rage more constructively.

  6. Grammatical Knight on

    You’re right, it makes you noxious, as evidenced by the above article, which made me nauseated.

  7. mperelman on

    Ah, the Grammatical Knight caught me. Voice recognition must be combined with better editing or I will be outed again.

  8. charles on

    but a systematic program is nowhere to be found in the public dialogue.

    ^^^^
    Here’s a systematic program.

    http://www.cpusa.org/party-program/

  9. Sheldon on

    The cpusa program? Please, that just lead some into voting for Obama.

    Confusion on the right seems to be the order of the day. Take for example Gingrich who says Obama is the most “radical left” president ever. Now he doesn’t believe that, but the rank file right do.

    Anyway, I hope to see things turn around eventually for the American left. It will come from the 20 something crowd who are getting shafted with the highest unemployment and reduced educational opportunities.

  10. charles on

    Today, Richard Nixon would be considered a flaming liberal. In Nixon’s day, Barack Obama would have passed as a typical conservative; except, if you remove considerations of civil rights from consideration, he might even be a fairly hard line conservative.

    ^^^^
    Yeah, Nixon and that flaming liberal Milton Freidman said “We are all Keynesians now”.

    There was a mass movement then that doesn’t exist now. It even forced LBJ not to run for reelection, which unfortunately got Nixon elected, a lesson in what ultraleftism can do.

    A mass movement… change comes from the bottom up. A mass movement can turn even Nixon into a flaming liberal.

  11. charles on

    The cpusa program? Please, that just lead some into voting for Obama.

    ^^^^
    But it is a comprehensive program. Have u got one ? Or are u flying by the seat of your pants politically (smile). What lessons from the history of left struggle have u drawn ?

    ^^^^^

    Confusion on the right seems to be the order of the day. Take for example Gingrich who says Obama is the most “radical left” president ever. Now he doesn’t believe that, but the rank file right do.

    ^^^
    The rightwing has been redbaiting Democrats since McCarthysim, ya know ?

    ^^^^

    Anyway, I hope to see things turn around eventually for the American left. It will come from the 20 something crowd who are getting shafted with the highest unemployment and reduced educational opportunities.

    • mark hansen on

      actually the “red baiting” started earlier than McCarthy.
      Truman started “loyalty boards” after the pressure he was getting from the right.

      • political economist on

        you can go back even further.
        Eric Foner writes (p.4 of “Who Owns History”) Shortly befor I was born, [1943] my father, Jack D Foner, and uncle, Philip S. Foner, both historians at City College in New York were among some sixty faculty members dismissed from teaching positions at the City University after informers named them as members of the Communist party at hearings of the state legislature’s notorious rapp-Coudert Committee, a precursor of McCarthyism.”

        The most complete book that I know of on “Political Repression in Modern America, 1870 to the present” is the book of that title by Robert J Goldstein, 1978. Sadly, I know of no one else who ever mentions it except for those who know of it from me. It’s over 650 pages with thousands of footnotes. A useful book for anyone, particularly those interested in the history of repression laws and their enforcement.

        HERE IS THE SUMMARY
        A history of the dark side of the “land of the free,” Goldstein’s book covers both famous and little-known examples of governmental repression, including the Haymarket affair, the repression of opposition to World War I, the McCarthy period, and post-World War II abuses of the intelligence agencies.

        Robert Justin Goldstein’s Political Repression in Modern America provides the only comprehensive narrative account ever published of significant civil liberties violations concerning political dissidents since the rise of the post-Civil War modern American industrial state. A history of the dark side of the “land of the free,” Goldstein’s book covers both famous and little-known examples of governmental repression, including reactions to the early labor movement, the Haymarket affair, “little red scares” in 1908, 1935, and 1938-41, the repression of opposition to World War I, the 1919 “great red scare,” the McCarthy period, and post-World War II abuses of the intelligence agencies. Enhanced with a new introduction and an updated bibliography, Political Repression in Modern America remains an essential record of the relentless intolerance that suppresses radical dissent in the United States.

  12. Sheldon on

    “But it is a comprehensive program. Have u got one ? Or are u flying by the seat of your pants politically (smile). What lessons from the history of left struggle have u drawn ?”

    I have drawn the lesson that the CPUSA is not likely to lead the working class to socialism.

  13. […] Perelman is jealous of the tea party movement: Enough Already: Venting Over Four Decades of Right-Wing Activism, by Michael Perelman: Today, Richard Nixon would be considered a flaming liberal. In Nixon’s day, Barack Obama would […]


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