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RX for the Left

by ALLAN H. KEITH

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.

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CounterPunch Magazine

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