Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

RX for the Left


The belief that the political Left in the U.S. is in an extraordinarily anemic condition is a view shared by many.

This opinion is exemplified by Jeffrey St. Clair’s recent essay on CounterPunch titled “The Silent Death of the American Left.

Assuming that this viewpoint is correct, the question becomes — What can be done to resurrect the Left?

It is clear that the old, traditional approaches are insufficient to persuade large numbers of people to join the progressive movement.

Some of the traditional arguments used by the Left have been:

Big business is vastly too powerful, treats workers and the public atrociously and makes outlandishly high profits.

This ubiquitous exploitation is all too real and must continue to be spotlighted by the Left.

However, the public must be told this cold, hard reality —

That a moderate form of democratic socialism will be necessary, not just to improve the life of people who have to work for a living, but will become essential to the economic survival of the 99 percent.

Very real and extremely powerful Beasts threaten the economic survival of the 99 percent.

These include:

Globalization, Deindustrialization, Deunionization, Mechanization, Automation (Robotization), combined with Overpopulation, all of which endanger any ability of capitalist societies to create enough living-wage jobs for their populations.

And this list doesn’t include the other modern demons, such as climate change and serious environmental issues and civil liberties issues, as well as the ongoing, concerted effort to destroy the vital safety net.

The democratic socialist alternative must include robust government action and involvement.

However, it must also emphasize non-governmental, collective ownership mechanisms, such as voluntary cooparatives (both large and small), worker ownership of some businesses, as well as other forms of participatory economics.

Also, in the past the Left has made the mistake of placing near-total emphasis on economics and material well-being, with little or no mention of moral, ethical or spiritual issues, such as the little -mentioned issue of inheritance.

We have enormous estates, sometimes worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, that are inherited by people who in many cases have earned not even one dime of the estate.

Significant numbers of young people are handed trust funds which allow them to spend not even a single day of their lives having to deal with real work.

And adding insult to injury, many conservatives want to reduce taxes on the wealthy as well as totally eliminate the tax on large inheritances.

Only a reinvigorated left can successfully resolve issues like these and offer real hope for a viable future.

However, that can happen only if the Left is reborn and that can happen only if the Left radically modifies its approach and its message.

The citizenry must be told that the consequences of inaction might be much worse than simply being exploited by a powerful wealthy class.

Allan H. Keith is the author of “Socialism for Survival,” which was written in 1992 and which can be read free of charge on Google Books.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“It’s Only a Car!”
October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases