“It means A.O.C. campaigning for Liz Cheney” and it means Liz Cheney “putting on the shelf” many policy goals she and other Republicans cherish. “But that is what it takes, and if you don’t do it, just look back and see why democracy collapsed in countries like Germany, Spain and Chile. The democratic forces there should have done it, but they didn’t.” —Steven Levitsky
The above quote is lifted from a Thomas Friedman column in The New York Times which called for Joe Biden and Liz Cheney to unify together on a single Presidential ticket. The column also took a giant unrelated shit on Palestinians struggling for their basic right to exist.
I don’t mind the idea of Biden and Cheney joining up. What’s the difference between them anyway? The question is on which side of the aisle? Friedman and the rest of the corporate press claims to hate fascism but they are ready to concede one of the political parties to it. If they are serious about defeating Trumpism they would be advocating for the Republicans to absorb Biden, not for the Democrats to absorb non-Trumpian Republicans, which leaves fascists with full control of one corporate party and completely alienates the voters in the other corporate party who never signed up for Biden, let alone Cheney.
There was no call by Friedman to say put Biden and Cheney on one side of the aisle and leave the other side of the aisle to another kind of coalition. Say an inside-outside coalition between the Democratic Party’s most electric insider, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and their most eclectic outsider, say The Last Marxist, also known as Chris Cutrone. Why not have Biden-Cheney form a coalition and run against say a coalition of the populist AOC and the Marxist Cutrone? On the AOCCC ticket imagine Ocasio-Cortez galvanizing the public while Cutrone implements orthodox Marxism behind the scenes. Appetizing!
The coalition the corporate media would rather have run to defeat Biden-Cheney is Donald Trump and Glenn Greenwald.
It has been quite a time for Glenn Greenwald. He always had a gnarled world view and the way politics have aligned it appears to have come true. Glenn is capitalizing on the moment but he is wrong. I’ll admit I’m a recovering Greenwald apologist. I got help and you can too. For those wondering Matt Taibbi is worse, but he’s more complicated and I need more time to sort through some of his more sophisticated misdirections.
Briefly I will try to recap Glenn’s ideology, if it’s not just opportunism. For Glenn, the establishment is evil, supposedly. But he likes a lot of the establishment. The part of the establishment he likes is the fascist Republican Party. He frames this side of the corporate duopoly as anti-establishment to create confusion and situate himself as anti-establishment in order to cash in the checks for you guessed it, being a fascist!
Why call Glenn a fascist if not to provoke? Because it is time for the left to wake up to the slow coup of the Republican Party as it systematically rolls back, largely at a local level, every right we have to democracy. Worse than this, as someone who could take or leave democracy, the Republican Party is dead set on abolishing every environmental or economic protection for the poor. The Democrats are right beside them on all of this.
What has helped Glenn’s thesis is that the Democratic Party has accepted that there is going to be one fascist party in the United States and through obstruction, gerrymandering and big money they will make most of the decisions. The Democratic Party, like Greenwald, has used the left as a punching bag and disowned not only leftists but also centrists from their ranks.
Instead the Democratic Party has absorbed far-right Republicans who only differ from the fascists on the question of fascism itself. As for the conditions that create fascism, the Democrats are on board because their only issue is anti-fascism.
The Democrats are completely corporate and have no democratic tendencies. Thus they are only given room to argue for formal democracy and leave all other issues that create a real democracy, particularly wealth inequality, off the table.
Much like Greenwald, they trust any ideology that targets the left. For both sides there is a false opposition to the other. While Democrats warn of a disappearing democracy, they see the solution as AOC supporting Republicans or being gerrymandered out. For Greenwald, Republicans are honest populists because they are bigoted and authoritarian, while AOC is authoritarian and a whore because she speaks up for the working class.
The pundit left is largely stuck in an obsession with the progressive side of the Democratic Party and remains opposed to socialism. I buy into a particular kind of American Exceptionalism, stated plainly by the ‘last Marxist’ Chris Cutrone, that the world will only achieve socialism when the United States does, because the United States is the Empire of the world. Until that happens socialist governments such as China and Venezuela will always be unable to achieve socialism because they must formulate socialism within a global context of imperialism undermining them at every turn.
That’s why it’s useful to understand these governments as political victims. Sure it is accurate to say that as moral victims Xi and Maduro are lower on the list than the working class of the United States, but when we situate political victimhood we have to ask how much agency socialists really have until the cradle of imperialism is undone.
And yet the United States remains painfully far away from socialism, even as it divulges into extremism. In the United States all the extremism is on the political right. All the moderation is on the political right too and we are left to choose between the two. The most prominent American leftist ideologues are not only anti-Marxist but increasingly anti-left.
The energy for extremist activity is entirely on the right and many find opportunities to express themselves there. This is a false revolution. A counterrevolution. Marxists have thrown away democracy before but they had a better reason to do it than Greenwald does. With the American Empire keen on undermining socialist governments we see that socialist policy has to have been defined in part by keeping up enough economic success to keep people afloat amidst economic pillage.
On the domestic front, centrists have no means to end the bleeding. Biden didn’t want to Build Back Better to pass. But how bad did he not want it to pass? Surely he could have, as Sam Sedar advocates, pushed the bill right away, when he had the political momentum of COVID emergency, Bernie Sanders and anti-Trumpism behind him. Biden at the very least wanted BBB to be drawn out long enough so he could accomplish his signature plan but nothing else. It also surely was important to Biden that Manchin, Sinema and everyone else picked apart at the bill until it was unrecognizable and essentially a handout to corporations.
Could it be even worse? Could Biden have, as David Feldman speculates, have colluded with Joe Manchin from the start, and be thrilled with no BBB at all? Maybe. Although at some point it doesn’t even matter. BBB is supposed to eat up at Biden’s two years in the majority one way or another. Even if he slightly preferred it passing it was so little, so late, it barely matters in the face of our climate catastrophe. He has already wasted over a year which one way or another was the main goal. Biden doing nothing is the best stretch of his conservative career and we were right to demand more, and wrong to expect it.
Not all hope is lost. Noam Chomsky is right about two things. Well, Professor Chomsky is right about a lot more than two things! But I’ll focus on two. Noam Chomsky is correct to warn us of the obvious that must be repeated: the Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in human history. Noam Chomsky is also right to say, as he has said, to critics who ignore him, that the left has never been better.
Upon a little examination, it is again obvious that Chomsky is correct and most left pundits are wrong when they claim for some reason that there is no left. There are so many more leftist organizations now than there ever have been. The problem we have is that the powers that be, as represented by corporations and the state can push anyone to incarceration/deportation (state) or joblessness/eviction (corporation) for even a small act of protest. The rich have endless resources and time. The poor have close to none of either. Even with that in mind leftists organize mutual aid at an incredible rate and the safety net established by people with no money continues to be remarkable, even though it is never enough, or close to it.
One could spend time bemoaning the loss of traditional instructions like unions or churches, and indeed we should fear the loss of unions. On the other hand, to act as if the organizing by the left isn’t at its highest point in human history would be wrong. The problem is that the discipline of this organization and the lack of institutions, in general, makes it so this organization does little to stop the onslaught of the elite’s endless coffers.
It is tempting to say there is no left. Anti-Greenwaldism is a solution that seems too easy because it assumes that Greenwald is on the left. At the very least Greenwald is to the right of Biden, perhaps to the right of Cheney. Of course, he believes there is no left.
Furthermore, by letting Greenwald stand-in for the left we are assuming that the establishment is correct and that anything to the left of Biden or Cheney is actually on the right. Not so fast. A harder pill to swallow is that the left has never been more active yet it hardly matters because the corporations and state have never had more power.
This conclusion leaves us with almost no hope but it does at the very least avoid left-bashing, which is a near miracle in times like these. We should have almost no hope. The entire ecosystem is under rapid collapse and in a matter of decades, we will find a world completely transformed into wars over basic resources. But why blame the left for this?
On the other hand, we should be open to any criticism because it is so clear that so much needs to change. The only solution will come from the world rearranging itself to socialism and that will only come when the United States does. Right now the United States has a left that has never been more active and yet has never been farther away from socialism because of forces outside of the left’s control. We should have almost no hope but we must keep hope around.
Our immediate choice seems to be between Biden-Cheney and Trump-Greenwald. The reason I say we should keep hope around is that even if there is very little hope there is even less democracy. When I think about the hope we have for even minor positive changes, let alone socialism, I question the existence of God. However, when I see that our democracy gives us a choice between Bush-Cheney and Trump-Greenwald, I know there must be a cruel and powerful God with a very dark sense of humor.