Michael Hudson and Richard Wolff on the essential question of our time: “Where is the Left?”
Two excellent pieces by two dudes who know what know what they’re talking about and have a lot to say.
First, Michael Hudson on “What Americans Can Learn From Eurocrisis”
Michael Hudson: Isn’t that crazy choice, to have to choose between these two, between an absolute terrible alternative and just a bad alternative? That’s the choice we have. Yes, please, or yes, thank you, to a choice that—you know, where is the left in America? Where is the left in Europe? Where is what used to be the left? I don’t see it anymore anywhere.
Paul Jay, Senior Editor, TRNN:Well, there’s some left, I think, in America, but what—I think the question that needs to be asked is: where the heck are the leaders of the trade union movement in America? Not all but most of the main leadership are just—simply go out and campaign for whoever the Democratic Party leader is, and even though they get nothing—next to nothing when they’re elected, they’re back there out stumping for them again.
Michael Hudson:Oh, you’re such an young guy. Back in the 1950s, I used to go to socialist meetings, and people would say, why do the trade union people keep thinking they’re locked into the Democrats? And the answer is: well, that’s the two-party system. There isn’t really room for a third party here. And all the Republicans have to do is say, no, we’re worse, and it just scares people to actually vote for the Democrats. But people have been asking that question for 60 years, and nobody’s come up with a better answer since.
Paul Jay:Well, what’s your answer?
Michael Hudson:I think you need a third party or you need to break away from the Democratic Party for people like Dennis Kucinich or the more progressive people. You need what was called 50 years ago realignment. And that realignment that people saw even then was necessary hasn’t occurred, and it hasn’t occurred in Europe either. That’s why everybody is so frustrated. In France and Greece and everywhere else in Europe, they’re equally frustrated. There doesn’t seem to be any alternative. And that’s exactly what Mrs. Thatcher liked to say, there is no alternative. And it’s just amazing when there really are so many alternatives that people can be convinced that there aren’t and become so dispirited they just give up. So the fact is that most Americans are going to vote with their backsides. They’re just not going to vote this November.
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OK, I’m not sure about calling out Dennis Kucinich as someone we need to gravitate towards, but the rest of it is spot on.
Now, here’s Professor Wolff reiterating the tragic lack of choice our current political/economic system offers us:
Economic Democracy, Not Austerity or Keynesian “Growth”
The “great” debate between neoclassical and Keynesian economists is neither great nor much of a debate. Both sides endorse, celebrate and defend capitalism. Their “debate” – between Plans B and A, more or less government intervention to sustain capitalism – periodically revives as a substitute for seriously engaging with critical economic theories, anti-capitalist social movements and their demands for economic democracy. The debate between austerity and growth policies is a sideshow for the main event: capitalism’s weakening battles with its own contradictions and with looming demands for transition beyond capitalism to economic democracy.
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Wolff’s piece does not directly ask the question “Where is the Left,” but rather leads to that question by positing an alternative to capitalism, Economic Democracy. It seems to me that in the 30’s we had real, vibrant anti-capitalist Left. I wonder if those who currently self-identify with the labels “liberal” or “progressive” are really down with that. In my experience not.